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Book Excerpt: Jim Dunne’s Car Spy

This sleuth trades his handgun for a Minox.

by on Dec.29, 2011

Jim Dunne pens a tell-all about the business of car spies.

His name is Dunne.  James Dunne.  And if Ian Fleming had written about the world of automotive espionage, this is the man who might have served as his role model.  But where some spies sleuth for competing car companies, this septuagenarian Grosse Pointer serves a more noble purpose.  Or so he’d prefer to think.  The fact is, you’ve probably seen some of his work over the years in the pages of monthly magazines, in countless newspapers around the world, or on various internet sites, including TheDetroitBureau.comJim Dunne is the undisputed king of automotive spy photographers.

Dunne insists he’s retired – though the spy shot of the 2013 Nissan Altima he provided us with yesterday suggests otherwise.  (Click Here for that story.) It’s a way of life and not something someone easily walks away from…especially if they still keep a camera close at hand. 

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As accomplished a story-teller as he is with the camera, Dunne is finally revealing some of the secrets of his successful career, captured in his new book, “Car Spy,” which you can find via Amazon.com.  (Here’s the link to buy a copy.) We’ve done a little spying of our own, however, and nabbed one of the more interesting chapters, the story of Dunne’s incursion into the top secret GM Design Dome.  Here’s the excerpt:

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Spy Shots: 2011 (U.S. spec) Ford Fiesta Sedan

Ford’s new subcompact caught.

by on Aug.31, 2009

A first good look at the U.S. version of the new subcompact, the 2011 Ford Fiesta.

A first good look at the U.S. version of the new subcompact, the 2011 Ford Fiesta.

Ford has recently launched its  new Fiesta Sedan in China, but we caught the U.S. spec version – and – for the first time – a good look at the unique (North American-spec) grille and front fascia. It also appears that the Fiesta sedan will have different front and rear bumpers from those seen on the cars it has shown elsewhere, as well as minor interior changes.

The Fiesta will finally put Ford back into the subcompact market, which company officials have said is a critical step in their switch from a heavy emphasis on light trucks to a more fuel-efficient passenger car model mix.

More pictures can be found at www.LeftLaneNews.com

Brenda Priddy & Company

Spy Shots: 2011 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG

New supercar caught along the coast.

by on Aug.20, 2009

The thin disguise does little to hide the shape and dimensions of the 2011 Mercedes-Benz SLS.

The thin disguise does little to hide the shape and dimensions of the 2011 Mercedes-Benz SLS.

Automakers typically go to great pains to keep their future products concealed from the prying eyes of the press.  But sometimes, a simple bit of serendipity comes into play – as happened today, when Mercedes-Benz engineers just happened to take a break during testing, parking a convoy of cars along the legendary Cannery Row, in Monterey, California.

They just happened to pull over in front of the Clement Hotel, where a number of us in the automotive media just happened to be holed up for a preview of the latest Mazda line-up.  The resultant spy shots, shown here, were snapped before the men from Mercedes could get back behind the wheel and move on.

Your Spy Shot Source!

Your Spy Shot Source!

What you see is the thinly-disguised 2011 Mercedes SLS AMG, the replacement for the German automaker’s SLR supercar, which never came close to living up to its initial expectations – Mercedes hoped to sell 4,000 SLRs during its lifetime, but has to come up with a variety of variants to come close to meeting that demand, including the 722 and a convertible version.

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Sneak Peek: 2011 Hyundai Tucson

Also known as Hyundai ix35, crossover set for Frankfurt debut.

by on Aug.18, 2009

This is a rendering of the 2011 Hyundai Tucson that the Korean carmaker plans to unveil at next month's Frankfurt Motor Show.

This is a rendering of the 2011 Hyundai Tucson that the Korean carmaker plans to unveil at next month's Frankfurt Motor Show.

There’s little doubt that Hyundai is on a mission to rebuild its image.  Forget “cheap and cheerful,” the South Korean carmaker’s products are moving steadily up-market, even as the brand’s latest offerings show a distinctive design flair that wouldn’t have been imaginable just a few years ago.

Days after confirming that it will enter the premium luxury segment with the Equus sedan, Hyundai has released a pair of renderings giving a clear hint of what it has in store at next month’s Frankfurt Motor Show.  What you see here is the 2011 Hyundai Tucson – the vehicle the rest of the world knows as the Hyundai ix35.

News, reviews, spy shots - turn to TheDetroitBureau.com!

News, reviews, spy shots!

Hyundai says the shape is part of its new “fluidic” design language, though a quick glance suggests the influence of such competing Japanese CUVs as the Nissan Murano or Infiniti FX.  The crossover/ute was penned by chief stylist Tomas Buerkle, at Hyundai’s European design center, in Russelsheim, Germany.

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First Look: 2011 Infiniti M

Finding the Essence of the brand.

by on Aug.16, 2009

The 2011 Infiniti M prototype bears the unmistakable imprint of the automaker's well-regarded Essence concept vehicle.

The 2011 Infiniti M prototype bears the unmistakable imprint of the automaker's well-regarded Essence concept vehicle.

It’s often said that the most successful automakers are those who understand the fundamental essence of their brands.  At least, that’s what Infiniti is counting on as it translates its Essence concept vehicle into its flagship sedan, an all-new version of the M sedan.

The curvaceous Essence made its first appearance, earlier this year, at the Geneva Motor Show.  Stuck in a back corner of the sprawling PAL Expo center, it might have been easily overlooked, considering more than 50 other cars, concepts and crossover vehicles were launched during the annual European car show.  But word-of-mouth quickly spread, and by the time the show wrapped up, the Infiniti prototype was generally regarded as one of the event’s most significant debuts.

“It’s not easy translating a concept vehicle into a production car,” cautions Shiro Nakamura, global design director for Nissan Motor Co., Infiniti’s Japanese parent.

Capture the essence of the day's news!

Capture the essence of the day's news!

And there’s no question that some of the exaggerated lines of the prototype coupe have had to be toned down, while the new M gets an extra pair of doors.  In production, the M will be a bit longer, notably wider and, as one executive puts it, “more planted” than the concept.

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Spy Shot: 2012 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

Hyundai finally readying a gas-elecric

by on Jul.31, 2009

Late to the party, the Korean carmaker intends to finally get into the gasoline-electric market with the launch of the 2012 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, captured here by our spy photographers.

Late to the party, the Korean carmaker intends to finally get into the gasoline-electric market with the launch of the 2012 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, captured here by our spy photographers.

The Sonata, codenamed “YF,” was penned at Hyundai’s design studio in Irvine, CA. We were told there was heated debate in the boardroom over the styling direction of the new Sonata. The final design sports a much sleeker, coupe-like roofline.

We’re hearing that the hybrid model of the Sonata, shown here, will use lithium polymer batteries instead of the often discussed lithium-ion. The polymer batteries are said to be more durable and cheaper to make. Besides obvious clues (our quick sneak-peek under the hood and small exhaust pipe) – this test group consisted of Hyundai’s well-known hybrid battery specialists, and the Sonatas were tested alongside a variety of competitive hybrids.

Your spy shot source!

Your spy shot source!

While the regular Sonata should start production for the U.S in the summer of 2010, the hybrid model should follow sometime in 2011 – likely as a 2012 model.

More pictures can be found at www.LeftLaneNews.com

Brenda Priddy & Company

Honda Confirms Accord Crosstour

Japanese maker planning wagon-like Accord variant.

by on Jul.08, 2009

Honda will launch the 2010 CrossTour by September, with the crossover targeting a niche between CR-V and Pilot.

Honda launches the 2010 CrossTour by September, targeting a niche between the CR-V and Pilot.

With the economy continuing to stumble and car sales languishing, new models like the Toyota Venza, a wagon – or, if you prefer, crossover-type vehicle — built off the Camry platform, haven’t exactly set the world on fire. That’s all the more so after Toyota shut down production last winter as part of a broad campaign to reduce inventories.

Nevertheless, Toyota executives remain relentlessly upbeat about how will it has done in the current market. Since the first of the year, Toyota has delivered 20,463, including more than 4,500 in June.

Now Honda, which often tends to mirror the moves of its chief Japanese competitor — more than its own executives ever want to admit — has confirmed plans for its own wagon-like crossover, this one to be built off the Accord platform.

Crash Resistant!

Crossover Now!

Dubbed the Accord Crosstour, the all new CUV will go on-sale in the fall of 2009 as a 2010 model, according to officials from American Honda Motor Co., Inc., who are only belatedly confirming what had been widely suspected for months.  (The spy shot shown here, provided by our own Brenda Priddy, first appeared on TheDetroitBureau.com more than a month ago.)

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Spy Shots: 2010? Dodge EV

Will Chrysler’s little battery-roadster be its first EV to charge into the market?

by on May.18, 2009

These are the first shots we've seen of an undisguised Dodge EV, suggesting the 2-seater could be getting readied for a launch as early as 2010.

These are the first shots we've seen of an undisguised Dodge EV, suggesting the 2-seater could be getting readied for a launch as early as 2010.

Chrysler is getting charged up about electric vehicles.  In a surprise move, last year, the ailing American automaker rolled out a trio of battery-powered vehicles that it announced would go into production during the coming decade.  Vice Chairman Jim Press has since said that one of them is set to debut as early as 2010.  But which one?

Would it be the Jeep EV, a modified version of the Dodge Wrangler?  Or perhaps the Chrysler EV, which starts out as a Town & Country minivan?  Both of these products fit into the Plug-in Hybrid – or, if you prefer, the extended-range electric – category, since they use a combination of lithium-ion batteries and an electric motor drive system paired with a conventional gasoline engine.

Well, if what we saw rolling down Woodward Ave., Detroit’s main drag, this past weekend, is any indication, the ailing automaker is getting ready to make a move with the third of its EV trio, the little Dodge EV.  The sexy little 2-seater fits into the pure battery car category.  If the basic design looks familiar, that’s because it starts out as a Lotus Europa modified to accept a lithium-ion battery pack, electric motor and computer control system. (more…)

Spy Shots: Maserati Hardtop Convertible

by on May.12, 2009

Lift the camouflage and you'd see the bones of Maserati's newest coupe and convertible.

Lift the camouflage and you'd see the bones of Maserati's first-ever hardtop convertible.

In the words of our photographer:

Maserati’s most exciting car at present – the GT – will soon be given a beautiful sister, and she’ll be walking around topless at times: Spotted at the German Nürburgring earlier today was this prototype of a Maserati Spider.

Judging from the heavy camouflaged packed onto the car and in par with the brand-new Ferrari California, we reckon the Spider will be given a retractable metal roof rather than a conventional canvas top. Competitors like the Aston Martin DBS, on the other hand, will not follow this trend and will soon come with a traditional soft top. A Porsche 911 Cabrio, too, will never be built with anything but a canvas roof.

Different from the new GT Spider’s predecessor, the new model will apparently come as a 2+2- rather than a pure 2-seater. Engine and mechanics of the Maserati Spider won’t change compared to the coupe. We expect the cabriolet to debut at the 2009 Geneva Show.

More pictures available at www.leftlanenews.com    Brenda Priddy & Company

Spy Shots: Scion IQ

Captured by TheDetroitBureau.com's spies, a week before its NY Auto Show debut.

by on Apr.01, 2009

You'll see the rest of the Scion IQ Concept Car at next week's NY Auto Show.

You'll see the rest of Toyota's Scion brand IQ concept car at next week's New York Auto Show.

After a long stakeout (on a public street, of course) outside a top-secret Toyota facility, we caught a quick glimpse of Scion’s upcoming New York Auto Show Concept.  The” super-compact” hatchback, named IQ (same name as Toyota’s version), will debut as a Scion next week, and is expected to be sold here in the States.

The IQ, the first real competitor to the Smart, will likely be powered by a 1.5-liter engine, and will roll into dealerships in the $15,000-range.

Although our pictures were snapped through open doors of a car carrier and the lighting was extremely limited and filtered, we were still able to capture several details that weren’t supposed to be revealed until next week.

We find Scion’s version of the IQ more stylish and appealing than Toyota’s, with exaggerated fender flares, unique wheels and a new front fascia – as well as an interesting scoop-looking detail behind the front wheels.

More pictures available at www.LeftLaneNews.com

Photo Credit: Brian Williams for Brenda Priddy & Company