CA DMV skewers Tesla “Autopilot,” MB Classic expands West Coast shop, V-12 Aston Martin concept honors DBR1

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Flickr | Thomas Hawk

California DMV skewers Tesla “Autopilot,” “Full Self-Driving”

Intake: Ten months after Tesla moved its headquarters from Palo Alto, California to Austin, Texas, the California Department of Motor Vehicles charged Tesla with making “untrue or misleading” statements concerning Tesla vehicles equipped with advanced driver-assistance features. Under the microscope are Teslas with “Autopilot” and “Full Self-Driving Capability,” about which the company claimed, “All you will need to do is get in and tell your car where to go … Your Tesla will figure out the optimal route, navigating urban streets, complex intersections and freeways,” according to the suit. And, “The system is designed to be able to conduct short and long-distance trips with no action required by the person in the driver’s seat,” which the California DMV considers misleading. The advertisements may be a “deceptive practice” under California’s Civil Code. Tesla chairman Elon Musk still hasn’t responded to the situation specifically, tweeting this weekend only that Tesla had made its one-millionth car in China, bringing Tesla’s total to well over three million. Similarly, Tesla has had little to say about the scrutiny it is receiving from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration regarding its self-driving capabilities. Since July 26, 2022, there are 48 crashes on NHTSA’s the agency’s Special Crash Investigations list, 39 of which involved Tesla vehicles. Nineteen people, including drivers, passengers, pedestrians, other drivers, and motorcyclists, were killed in those Tesla crashes, according to The Verge.

Exhaust: It’s a fascinating exercise in public relations—or the formal lack of them—when it comes to Tesla’s decision not to issue statements countering criticism of its products. Any other auto manufacturer would have sent out a half-dozen statements per incident, but Tesla’s policy is to remain mum, thus keeping the issues out of the public scrutiny by refusing to engage in a conversation. It’s a risky strategy, but so far it seems to be working. —Steven Cole Smith

Full-size Lego 007 DB5 used almost 360,000 bricks

Intake: Visitors to London’s flagship Lego store can get behind the wheel of a one-to-one replica of James Bond’s Aston Martin DB5. The massive model took 1366 hours, or almost 57 days, to construct, and used 357,954 bricks. Weighing in at 2300 pounds, the Aston features rotating number plates, working headlamps, and illuminated instruments. Alongside the car is a life-size 007 minifigure and Blofeld’s cat. The spy sculptures mark Lego’s 90th and James Bond’s 60th anniversaries and are on display in London’s Leicester Square.

Exhaust: If you don’t happen to have two full months to spare, then a 298-piece 007 Aston Martin DB5 Speed Champions model might be a little more practical. It’s based on Bond’s No Time To Die Aston, comes with a Daniel Craig minifigure, and costs just $19.99. —Nik Berg

MB Classic tosses open doors of expanded West Coast shop, museum

Mercedes Benz Classic US headquarters grand opening 2022
Conner Golden

Intake: Mercedes-Benz Classic just bid auf wiedersehen to its 28,000 sq-ft dedicated facility in Irvine, California, and guten tag to a new workshop up the coast in Long Beach. The German automaker reworked 40,000 sq-ft of its sprawling West Coast Campus facility for the vintage stuff, now operating adjacent to the existing Vehicle Preparation Center, Western Region Office, and a personnel training facility that take up a stunning 1.1-million sq-ft of real-estate. Fresh digs, but the familiar MB Classic services remain the same. If you’ve enough coin and patience, the automaker will restore your classic Mercedes from any era and provenance to better than when it left the factory. The new workshop is prepared for any restoration challenge, right down to using an English wheel for hand-shaped aluminum or rebuilding ultra-complex race-engines. Aside from the obvious benefit of having the original manufacturer resuscitate your car, MB Classic maintains an unparalleled historical archive containing detail production information on every single car to ever wear the tri-star, supported by a wide catalog of OEM replacement componentry to boot. If you don’t yet have a Benz oldtimer of your own, MB Classic can help you source one to your specifications. Or, simply serve you a cup of coffee and give you a tour, if you’d like—right after you stop by the gift shop and pick up your MB Classic apparel, mugs, models, and other branded accoutrement.

Exhaust: We were part of 400 guests to the new Classic Center’s red carpet unveiling. For all its motions toward its electrified future, MB is quite proud of its heritage, and opening a new, state-of-the-art restoration workshop goes a long way in showing its support for the gas-burnin’ old stuff. The inimitable 300 SL is clearly the centerpiece of this pride; prior to the dramatic curtain drop, a veritable fleet of gleaming Gullwings lined the red carpet. Inside, the theme was “A star is reborn”: A W116 like that featured in Ronin, a W111 Cabriolet similar to the car from The Hangover, and a W113 mirroring the same in Audrey Hepburn’s Two for the Road, among many other four-wheel movie stars. Additional 300 SLs filled the nooks and crannies of the workfloor in various states of repair and restoration. Our favorite spectacle was the freshly painted bodyshell of a 300 SL Roadster done up in dark gray. The corner of that space, which held a large pegboard filled with MB Classic paint swatches, was too cool not to futz with. —Conner Golden

James May in Grand Tour Evo crash

James May
Ellis O'Brien

Intake: James May was hospitalized after filming a stunt for The Grand Tour went horribly wrong. According to a report in The Sun, May hit a rock wall in an underground tunnel inside a military base in Norway. While shooting a scene for the Amazon Prime show, May, Clarkson, and Hammond had to drive their cars through the unlit tunnel, whose lights flicked on as they progressed through it. At the end was a rock face, and the trio’s task was to brake before hitting it. Captain Slow arrived at the braking point rather too fast in his Mitsubishi Evo 8 and hit the wall, breaking at least one rib in the process. After being checked out at a local hospital, May was able to join his pals to film the rest of the show, which will be released later this year.

Exhaust: It’s not the first time May has been injured on adventures with Hammond and Clarkson. In 2010, while filming the Top Gear Christmas Special in Syria, he was floored by a tow rope and suffered a concussion. Normally, however, it is Richard Hammond who is the most accident-prone, having crashed a dragster at almost 300 mph in 2006 and then launching a Rimac off the side of a Swiss mountain in 2017. Thankfully everyone is okay and we’ll be able to see exactly what they were up to when The Grand Tour season five hits our screens. –NB

Aston Martin isn’t done with nostalgic V-12 concepts, thank Q very much

Aston Martin Q DBR22 V12 concept
Aston Martin

Intake: Aston Martin has digitally revealed a new concept, dubbed the DBR22, which will make its physical debut later this week in Monterey, California. The roofless wonder is meant to celebrate the 10th year of Q, Aston Martin’s in-house, bespoke-creations division responsible for some of the brand’s wildest achievements: the track-slaying Vulcan; the road-going Victor, which was basically a Vulcan converted for street use (with a manual, no less); and older machinery, such as the V-12-powered Vantage V600. The DBR22 pays homage to a few notable open-cockpit beauties from its past, too—specifically, the alloy-bodied 1953 DB3S and the DBR1, which won Le Mans under the hands of none other than Carroll Shelby and Roy Salvadori in 1959.

The DBR22 features a 5.2-liter twin-turbo V-12 good for 705 hp and 555 lb-ft of torque, as well as an eight-speed automatic transmission. There’s a 3D-printed rear subframe, a first for Aston Martin, and adaptive dampers at all four corners. However, this is first and foremost a style statement. From the tiny windscreen to the nacelles behind each seat, the resemblance to older Astons (like the DBR1 with which it’s pictured) is uncanny. There’s loads of leather and carbon fiber inside, as well as a new dashboard design. Aston says that while the DBR22 is just a concept right now, it intends to make the striking machine a reality for a select group of customers who have already been involved with Q by Aston Martin.

Exhaust: Homage cars can get cringy from time to time, but Aston knocked this one out of the park (pitch?). The single panel for the rear lid of the car must have been wildly complex to make, but the result pays dividends here, making that bespoke paint pop in all manner of lighting. No word on the price, but we’re guessing that, like us, you haven’t spoken with Q lately. —Nathan Petroelje

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