This Near-Perfect 1973 Iso Grifo Is Bargain Priced at $475,000

A restored 1973 Iso Grifo, one of the finest supercars of its day, is on sale in New York City for a cool $475,000.

Iso was created by industrialist Renzo Rivolta, who made his fortune manufacturing refrigerators. Based in a suburb of Milan, Italy, the company manufactured scooters and the iconic Isetta three-wheeled bubble car that provided cash-strapped Europeans with transportation in the aftermath of World War II. BMW purchased the rights and tooling to the Isetta in 1954 and sold more than 160,000 of them through 1962.

The Giorgetto Giugiaro-designed Grifo is decidedly rarer than that; only 412 (some say 413) were produced between 1965 and 1974. The Grifo featured open headlights and Corvette engines for most of its run, but later models, like the one featured here, had semi-covered lights and Ford powerplants. The 351-cubic-inch Cleveland V-8 puts out 350 horsepower in this Grifo, allowing for an impressive 160-mile-per-hour top speed. Some earlier Isos featuring giant 7.0-liter Chevy engines could approach 186 mph, which was almost unheard of at the time.

Decades-old Italian supercars aren't known for ease of maintenance, but basic upkeep on the Iso shouldn't be too bad, thanks to its stout muscle car heart. These were well-built and well-finished cars with strong steel frames, four-wheel disc brakes, and all-independent suspensions. Dependability, paired with a luxurious interior and large trunk made them reasonably practical for daily use. The Grifo even featured a vestigial back seat over its rear storage area suitable for the fancy pedigreed dogs of the upper class, or two of their lesser-loved children.

Finished in red with a light brown interior done in rich leather, this particular Grifo appears as-new. Its pronounced hood scoop features fine metal slats along the front and sides to let in air. The car is from the collection of designer and film producer Stuart Parr and is listed at $475,000 on the Classic Driver auction site. The seller notes the car has a new interior with Wilton carpeting, factory air conditioning, and power steering. The odometer shows 43,500 kilometers (27,029 miles).

Now, $475,000 may seem like a lot to ask, but not when you consider the stratospheric pricing achieved by contemporary competitors such as the Ferrari Daytona, of which more than 1,400 were sold. At press time, Hemmings had two Ferrari Daytonas listed for $675,000 each—a 42 percent price premium for a more "common" car.

See? The Grifo is practically a bargain.

Iso Grifo interior 351 Cleveland in Iso Grifo

Florida Is the Most Dangerous State for Pedestrians, Study Finds

Orlando is the most dangerous city for pedestrians, and Florida the most dangerous state, according to a new report from Smart Growth America.

The nonprofit, which advocates for transportation and livability issues, analyzed National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) data for its Dangerous By Design report released last week. Overall, it found nearly 50,000 people have been killed while walking between 2008 and 2017, including 656 in the Orlando area.

While traffic deaths among motor vehicle occupants decreased 6.1 percent from 2008 to 2017, pedestrian deaths rose 35.4 percent, the organization stated. It cited a slight dip from the 6080 pedestrian deaths in 2016 to 5,977 in 2017, but noted that those were the two deadliest years for pedestrians since 1990.

The nonprofit assessed pedestrian danger by looking at fatalities, population, and the number of people who walk to work. It notes that the most dangerous roads are wide, fast, carry heavy traffic and lack safe crossing places, touting that they are designed for the convenience of drivers, rather than pedestrian safety.

The Orlando Sentinel noted that eight of the 10 most dangerous areas in the country are in Florida, including the area around Daytona Beach – which Smart Growth America considers the second most dangerous in the nation with 212 pedestrian deaths between 2008 and 2017, and the Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville region, with 165 deaths.

Orlando had also been found to be the most dangerous in the nation in earlier versions of the report in 2009, 2011 and 2014. Last year, the area around Cape Coral, Florida topped the list.

Smart Growth America recommended officials set performance targets and prioritize safety over vehicle mobility. One way to do this is reducing road speed, where possible. "The likelihood of surviving a crash decreases rapidly as speeds increase past 30 mph, the report noted.

Auto Loans Rank Third-Largest Factor in American Consumer Debt, Rates to Rise in 2019

Interest rates are likely to continue rising this year, raising the specter of increasing defaults as the economy slows, said Greg McBride, chief financial analyst at the financial publisher Bankrate. He foresees rates averaging 5.5 percent for a five-year new car loan and 6.4 percent for a four-year used car loan by the end of the year. This would represent increases of more than 10 percent over current rates, which are just under five percent for new cars and 5.7 percent for used.

“We've been in a low-rate environment for a long time,” McBride said, noting that the last time new-car loans hit 5.5 percent was in 2011. The Federal Reserve raised rates four times in 2018, and policymakers expect two hikes this year.

An estimated 44 percent of American adults have active car loans, according to a recent study by the information service Finder which looked at Federal Reserve Bank of New York data. And the loans we're taking out are substantial, averaging more than $31,000 for new car buyers. Most auto loans use fixed rates that do not change over the borrowing period. A rise in interest rates would affect those with active variable rate loans, however, as well as new borrowers.

At 5.5 percent interest, a $31,000 car loan would cost $35,528 over five years, according to loan calculators. At the 4.95 percent rate available at the beginning of the year, total costs would have been $35,058, nearly $500 less. That difference in expenditures is not enough to change buying habits, McBride said, but the incremental additional financial stress, when coupled with an economic downturn, could nudge more people into bankruptcy.

In 2017, there were nearly 109 million active car loans in the U.S., a third higher than in 2014. Auto debt reached $568.6 billion at the end of 2017—9.3 percent of total U.S. consumer debt. It is the third-largest source of consumer debt in the country after student loans (10.5 percent) and mortgages (67.6 percent). By comparison, credit card debt is fairly low at 6.2 percent of the total.

To minimize the effects of any rate increase, McBride recommends consumers work to improve their credit score and shop around for the best rate possible. “Cast a wide net when you're looking for a loan,” he said. “Credit unions, big banks, and manufacturers all compete on loans, and even dealers will trot out low rates if they're trying to move inventory.” Finally, he recommends avoiding loans longer than the standard five-year term. Though seven-year and longer loans are available, they aren't ideal for most borrowers, McBride and other experts say. “It's like putting yourself on a treadmill, where payments go on and on,” he said. “You'll fall out of love with the car before the loan ends.”

The effect of credit scores on loan rates is substantial. A report found borrowers with credit scores of 781 or higher paid an average of 3.68 percent interest on new car purchases in the third quarter of 2018. By contrast, deeply subprime borrowers, with credit scores of 300 to 500, faced vastly worse rates that averaged 14.41 percent.

Justin Bieber Sorry After Suggesting Teenaged Nickelodeon Star’s BMW Be Cleansed With Fire

Justin Bieber was compelled to apologize after getting into a fight with a kid over a car. Bieber had joked on social media that 15-year-old JoJo Siwa, a dancer and social media celebrity signed with Nickelodeon, should burn the car her parents bought her for Christmas.

Siwa's 7.7 million Instagram followers were not amused, and her mom kindly suggested Bieber burn his own things instead. After the popular man-child pop star issued an apology, Siwa light-heartedly suggested he perform at her upcoming 16th birthday party and posed with his cardboard cut-out in the car.

Though Bieber often displays questionable taste—he celebrated his 18th birthday back in 2012 by chrome-wrapping a Fisker Karma—we find ourselves reluctantly on Team Biebs in this case.

Siwa's new ride looks like a tween's vision board somehow found its way out of the conceptual realm and into reality. The car, a BMW 4 Series convertible which starts at $53,000, features a rainbow color scheme with a multitude of candy-colored stars, at least two smiling unicorns, Nickelodeon branding, and a gigantic picture of her own face on the hood. Inside, the central console has been bedazzled with sparkle and pink trim, while the seats have been rendered in red, teal, and purple. West Coast Customs handled (committed?) the customization.

To take in the car, in its awesome totality, you can see this video Siwa made, but keep the volume down if you're at work (it's safe but loud).

Like many teens before her, Siwa is struggled with a goth phase.

Wraps are easy to remove so the most garish elements of the car can be lessened in time. Until then, we expect Ms. Siwa will have no problem finding where she parked.

2019 Chrysler Pacifica Claims Only IIHS Top Safety Pick for American Automakers

Chrysler's Pacifica minivan is the sole American-branded vehicle to earned a Top Safety Pick rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) for the 2019 model year. On Dec. 19, the organization announced 57 vehicles earned Top Safety Pick or the even higher Top Safety Pick+ designation, making the percentage of American vehicles comparatively meager to their European and Asian counterparts.

Japanese and Korean brands dominated the awards this year, with Subaru alone claiming seven. Genesis also did well, as its entire three-car lineup—the G70, G80, and G90—won accolades. Chrysler, which actually assembles the Pacifica at its plant in Windsor, Canada, is the only American brand to make IIHS's 2019 list.

The Pacifica earned a top safety pick in 2018 and 2017, as well, but it was joined by a larger field of American entries those years. In the 2018 model year alone, the Buick Envision, Chevy Volt, and Lincoln Continental also made the cut. So what happened?

The IIHS tightened its standards for awarding Top Safety Picks this year; models now need "acceptable" or "good" ratings in passenger-side crash tests to qualify. To earn the Top Safety Pick+ designation, models also must have a good rating in passenger-side small overlap testing.

IIHS tests measure how well a vehicle protects occupants in a crash, but also how well they avoid collisions and the effectiveness of their headlights. The institute separates vehicles by class so that, for instance, small cars are not compared to midsized SUVs. "Size and weight influence occupant protection in serious crashes," the IIHS notes on its website. "Larger, heavier vehicles generally afford more protection than smaller, lighter ones. Thus, a small car that's a Top Safety Pick+ or Top Safety Pick doesn't necessarily afford more protection than a bigger car that doesn't earn the award."

Within the minivan category, only the Pacifica and Honda Odyssey earned Top Safety Picks for 2019. Both vehicles needed optional front crash prevention equipment and specific headlights to earn the designation. For the Chrysler, the IIHS deemed the Limited model equipped with the optional Advanced SafetyTec package, high-intensity discharge (HID) low beams, and halogen high beams the safest trim. That package comes with forward collision and lane departure warnings. Most vehicles making top grades with the IIHS are specifically optioned with front crash prevention equipment and extra-cost headlights.

The IIHS is a nonprofit funded by auto insurers. Its safety testing, along with that of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), is the most comprehensive in North America. Other large automotive markets do their own testing, such as the European New Car Assessment Programme.

LA Car Wash Employees Win More Than $1 Million in Back Pay After Making 1/3 of Minimum Wage

Workers at two Los Angeles car washes will receive thousands in back wages as the businesses and their supervisor agreed to pay more than $1 million to settle a wage theft lawsuit.

Local news reports that Silver Lake Car Wash and Catalina Car Wash, along with their primary supervisor, Yoosef Aminpour, have agreed to pay $1,084,972 in restitution to those they employed from early 2014 to June of this year. The defendants also agreed to pay over $519,000 in civil penalties and nearly $36,000 in litigation costs. They will be placed under a four-year injunction to compel compliance with all applicable wage and hourly pay laws and regulations.

The Los Angeles attorney’s office lawsuit alleged that the car washes underreported the work hours of about 60 employees and didn't provide them with the boots and gloves they needed to do their job. The suit said the defendants paid employees as little as $45 for workdays stretching 10 hours or more, with no overtime pay or breaks. The Federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. Los Angeles, with its high cost of living, sets rates at $13.25 an hour for companies employing 26 workers or more, and $12.00 an hour for smaller employers.

Employees who reported wage theft will receive between $17,000 and $40,000 in back pay.

Wage theft is all too common amongst Californian car washes. This July, a car wash kingpin accused of stiffing hundreds of his employees agreed to pay $4.2 million in back wages and penalties.

The California Labor Commissioner’s Office, the Bet Tzedek Employment Rights Project, and the Community Labor Environmental Action Network worked with the attorney's office on the settlement.

Fiat Chrysler Should Merge With GM, Sell Its European Brands, Investor Says

A longtime investor is urging Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) to sell some of its European brands to focus on the U.S. brands that generate most of its profits. In addition, the investor also wants the auto conglomerate to consider merging with General motors or possibly Ford.

The open letter to FCA's board came from ADW Capital Management, where founder Adam Wyden notes that 95% of FCA's profits are generated in North America, primarily from Jeep and the Ram truck division. It recommends the automaker to look into spinning off the Maserati and Alfa Romeo brands to better concentrate on its American businesses. Merging with Ford, or especially GM, meanwhile, would allow for billions in savings through factors such as shared platform development, better leveraging of operating expenses, and optimized manufacturing investments, Wyden argues.

The suggestions are meant to raise FCA's share price, which Wyden describes as undervalued compared to its Detroit rivals.

Though stock prices dropped since July, when Mike Manley replaced the deceased Sergio Marchionne as CEO, Bloomberg notes that FCA shares have done well over the longer term – more than tripling since 2014. In addition, company profits have more than doubled in the last five years.

A spokesman for FCA declined to discuss the letter, but pointed to comments Manley made in a conference call to analysts on Oct. 30, when the new CEO said the company's five-year business plan calls for it to remain independent and that the recent multi-billion dollar sale of component maker Magneti Marelli put it in a strong position. FCA is controlled by the Agnelli family, who possesses more than 50 percent of voting rights in the Italian-American conglomerate through a holding company.

ADW is not one of FCA's 100 largest shareholders, Bloomberg notes, but it has held the automaker's stock since 2014 and the equity represents the greatest single holding in its $150-million portfolio. Last month, ADW urged another of its holdings, software provider PAR Technology, to pursue a sale.

Startup Electriq-Global Is Developing a Water-Based Fuel

Australian-Israeli startup Electriq~Global is developing a type of fuel that is based on water, according to a company press release. Electriq~Global's system uses a liquid fuel made up of 60 percent water. The technology used in its system extracts hydrogen from the water-based fuel, which is then used to generate electric power.

The company, which was founded in 2013 and originally known as Terragenic, states that its water solution is more energy dense than existing battery systems, and safe at ambient temperatures and pressures. The new fuel will enable zero-emission vehicles, according to the startup.

Guy Michrowski, Electriq~Global's CEO, said the company is developing automotive prototypes now and expects to begin road testing in 2019. "The cost of the fuel will be half the cost of gasoline and will enable double the range," he added.

Fueling stations using the company's solution, dubbed Electriq~Fuel, would use two nozzles: one to pump in fresh fuel, and the other to remove spent liquids. This used fuel will be brought to a plant and replenished with water and hydrogen, so it can be reused. Michrowski said his fuel solution allows hydrogen-powered electric cars to replace the need for a big battery or high-pressure compressed hydrogen tanks. He noted that the catalyst needed to remove hydrogen will need to be replaced annually, but described the process as comparable to replacing a car's air filter.

The startup also has plans to disrupt power storage and public transportation, and has stated buses powered by Electriq~Fuel could have a range of 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) and be refueled in five minutes.

Agency for the Disabled Cited for Over 1,700 Traffic Violations in New York City

A New York state agency that cares for the disabled accumulated more than 1,700 traffic violations between 2015 and 2018, including running red lights and speeding through school zones, according to a report.

The October report from State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli's office found that, between April 1, 2015, and June 26, 2018, the New York State Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) paid $200,000 in fees for the transportation violations. The offenses included speeding through school zones and failure to stop at red lights. In addition, seven staffers at the agency with suspended licenses were allowed to drive vehicles assigned to transport clients. The OPWDD's lesser violations including parking in unauthorized areas, failure to display meter receipts, and expired registrations.

The report did not study whether individuals with developmental disabilities were in any of the vehicles at the times violations occurred. The audit that led to the report only looked at the OPWDD's transportation services in New York City, not the entire state.

"Much more needs to be done to ensure the safety of the agency's disabled clients," said DiNapoli, as quoted by the Associated Press. "The disregard for safe driving is troubling, both for the clients and the general public."

The Office for People With Developmental Disabilities serves more than 130,000 New York residents with housing, employment, and other support. The comptroller's report notes that the OPWDD has more than 3,000 state-owned vehicles, including hundreds in New York City, which are used to transport clients to and from residences, and to medical and other appointments.

A spokeswoman for the OPWDD issued a statement noting that all violations cited in the report have been paid.

"We are always working to enhance procedures and processes to further ensure the safety of the people we support," the agency's statement read. "To this end, OPWDD is in the process of documenting and reinforcing policies and procedures relating to the Department of Motor Vehicles License Event Notification Service (LENS) to ensure monitoring efforts capture all employees whose licenses have been suspended or revoked."

"In addition, OPWDD is enhancing its controls by formalizing and issuing written directions to its Business Offices on the procedures to be used to pay fines and to identify, notify, and collect reimbursement from employees responsible for traffic violations," the statement concluded.

Here are Some Expert Car Buying Tips on Avoiding Flood-Damaged Vehicles

Last hurricane season, Harvey and Irma damaged more than a million vehicles, and September's Florence could flood many thousands more. As a result, used car shoppers need to watch for unscrupulous salespeople or independent sellers who may lie about flood damage.

According to CarFax, 325,510 flooded vehicles were put back in use in 2017, including 12,166 in Philadelphia, 10,037 in Chicago and 6,995 in Detroit—large cities not traditionally known for excessive flooding. So, what gives?

"People with bad intentions buy cars that have been totaled by floods and move them to other parts of the country," Richard Reina, the product training director for aftermarket auto retailer CARiD, explained. This process, meant to remove a salvage designation from a car's documentation, is called title washing. There's a good description of the scam on the Fraud Guides site.

Flood damage can corrode sheet metal and frames, warp brake rotors, short circuit the electrical systems affecting steering, airbags and lights, and allow dangerous mold and bacteria to grow in a vehicle. These problems are not always immediately apparent and can take weeks or even months to become obvious.

You can minimize your chances of buying a flood-damaged vehicle by following some simple(ish) steps. It's a topic The Drive's Justin Hughes has covered before, but with Hurricane Florence's wide devastation on the East Coast, we thought it prudent to revisit.

  • Get a vehicle history report, such as AutoCheck or CarFax. These will usually tell you if a car or truck has been damaged by floodwaters, even if it crosses state lines. "A reputable seller should have a report printed out and ready for when you check out the car," Reina noted. If you can't get a vehicle history report, doing a free Google search of the VIN can also turn up flood damage history, but it's not as accurate.
  • Check every electrical system you can. While triggering an airbag deployment or automatic emergency braking is a bit excessive, there are still plenty of electrical systems you can test, including power windows and door locks, interior and exterior lights, and infotainment screens. Are they all working as they should? If not, you should find out why.
  • Check for rust. Flood damage can occur even if a vehicle isn't completely submerged. So, if you're looking in the engine bay and notice a line under which the car or truck is visibly rustier, that might be the high water mark from a flood. Reina also suggested looking at the rods that connect to fuel and brake pedals. These don't rust under normal circumstances, so if they appear corroded, that could indicate flood damage.
  • Do you know how to pop off an inside door panel? If so, you can check for muck buildup or a moldy smell inside the door. An unscrupulous seller might replace the carpeting or have a damaged car's seats thoroughly cleaned, but they're less likely to address the insides of doors, Reina said.
  • Finally, use common sense. The Latin phrase caveat emptor (let the buyer beware) is always good to keep in mind. "If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is," Reina said.

If you do find a flooded car being misrepresented, report it to your insurance company, local law enforcement, or the National Insurance Crime Bureau at (800) 835-6422.