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Heard it through the grape #vine

You’ve probably heard about Twitter’s new video-sharing service, Vine. The app, which is now available to download for iPhone, replicates the short and sweet nature of the micro-blogging network. We’ve been having a play around with it at TMG Towers and having watched others 6 second video contributions we’re now convinced that this is a pretty exciting development for social media.

Creativity thrives with constraints. It’s the unique selling point behind Twitter’s success. Where other social networks allow you to rant and rave until the cows come home, Twitter (should) make you tweet only the important details. Now Vine will encourage people to work within the channel’s constraints to produce clever videos that make the very best of a 6 second moving image.

Here’s a few of our favourites so far…Oh and you can click here to watch the full McLaren MP4-12C review:


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Men drive hard bargain: Owners’ Guide

The economic downturn has turned British motorists in to such good barterers that they haggled an average £939 off the price of a car, according to the Q3 2012 Auto Trader Owners’ Guide. Men apparently drive a harder bargain than women when it comes to price, on average saving £300 more than female car buyers.

The Auto Trader Owner’s Guide  is a quarterly in-depth examination of the automotive marketplace and what it means to car buyers, owners & sellers. The latest findings show how far the market is currently skewed towards buyers, with three-in-five motorists paying under the asking price for a new or used car in the past quarter (July-September).

Nathan Coe, Group Director of Auto Trader, said: “With so many sellers getting less than they were expecting for their cars it raises the question of whether this is people not valuing their cars appropriately or whether it’s buyers taking advantage of a weak market. Everyone knows buyers look at the state of the market before they purchase, but consumers have a lack of understanding about accurate pricing when it comes to selling. Sellers should do research through online valuation sites to prevent disappointment.”

Auto Trader’s Retail Price Index, which tracks the average asking price of used cars, indicates that the situation is starting to improve for sellers. Nathan Coe continues: “While it is a good time to buy, the market is starting to turn so buyers should not be complacent. Those who are willing to do their homework will usually get the best deals. It’s advisable to research the price and specifications of cars online ahead of making a purchase so buyers are armed with the knowledge and confidence that enables them to make more informed decisions.”

You can download the full Auto Trader Q3 Owners’ Guide here and check out some of the key facts below…

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Top 10 Halloween Cars

Here at Auto Trader, we love compiling a good list. Today we bring you a very bad list. A list of our favourite Halloween inspired cars – from the creepy to the downright terrifying.

10. Scary Smart Car

This little guy may not have the smartest costume but sometimes it’s the simplest things that work best. Genius!

9. Pinky and the brain

Looking like that weird brain villain, Krang from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, this bub wouldn’t need to beep to get us out of the way.

8. Coffin-mower

Not strictly a car but 10 points for effort goes to this kid’s coffin-mobile

7. Car vs Alien

We found Ridley Scotts’ Aliens scary enough when they were on legs but just imagine if they were motor powered!

6. Christine

No one wants to mess with Steven King’s evil-minded motor, Christine was way more than Arnie Cunningham bargained for when he bought this rather lovely looking Plymouth Fury – cue scary headlights.

5. Car Skeleton

If Gunther von Hagen made cars instead of frighteningly inappropriate anatomical exhibitions, this is probably what you’d get.

4. Ghost truck

Never mind the Ghost Train, that might have scared you when you were a child but it doesn’t have a patch on this terrifying truck!

3. The It car

Steven King inspires our fears again with this clown Beetle. We could never look at clowns the same way again after that Georgie scene in It.

2. Goldilocks car

Arguably the most frightening car you’ll never hope to see in real life. We reckon that Bear can just keep that car now, who’s going to ask him to give it back?!

1. Car Carnage

That’s a lot of effort they’ve gone to there, keeping that windscreen real clean.So this Zombie killer car had to top our list.

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In Skoda we trust

Skoda SuperbCycling has ruled the headlines this summer, with a historic first British Tour de France win for Bradley Wiggins and no less than seven gold medals in the Olympic velodrome, spearheaded by Team GB’s Sir Chris Hoy and Victoria Pendleton.

The increasing success of our cyclists over the past few years has inspired more and more amateurs to follow in their heroes’ footsteps, including our very own Picture Editor, May Starey. For the second year in a row, she headed to France for the L’Etape Du Tour, an event which lets you experience stages of the Tour de France route for yourself, a few days before the pro riders.

The challenge in the office was to find the right car to get May, her husband and friends to the famous hills. It needed to be economical enough to cover long distances without breaking the bank, comfortable enough to relax tired legs and have as much space as a cruise liner.

After a few hours of head scratching and Top Trump style debates, we decided to do the same as a stumped exam candidate, and copy remorselessly. We’d drive the same motor as pretty much every official and team member who drives the 2,100-mile route. And that meant taking a Skoda Superb.

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No less than 300 Skodas supported the Tour this year, so each time you witness a sinewy cyclist grimacing with effort, there’ll be a Superb in chase, normally with a team coach shouting words of encouragement from the window.

Puncture a tyre, or worse, and a new part will be whisked from one of their roof racks before the riders say, “can I just sit here for a minute”.

And it’s not just because Skoda wants to sell cars to the two billion people watching on TV. Very few other models would fit the bill.

The Skoda Superb is effortless to drive, unbelievably commodious and hushed, even at speed. It’s one of those cars which will turn you into its biggest fan. Do you remember its TV advert? No, we don’t either. That’s because Skoda hardly needed to bother with one. It’s owners – and journalists like us – will keep telling people how good it is until we border on being the worst bore at the party.

In May’s words, “It was amazing, simply amazing. My husband’s mum kept trying to move the seats forward, because she couldn’t understand how she had so much legroom. If I was buying a family car it would go straight to the top of my list. I liked driving it so much I didn’t let anyone else behind the wheel in 1,000 miles.”

It wins our unofficial gold medal for team pursuits hands down.


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Dire Straits beats Queen in Auto Trader’s top 10 driving songs

We all know the importance of a good driving song which is why we asked our customers to vote on the very best tracks to accompany any road trip.

Unfortunately the classic sing-a-long track Bohemian Rhapsody didn’t quite make it in to our top 10 list of driving songs and two other Queen tunes also failed to beat The Dire Straits hit ‘Sultans of Swing’ to the top spot in our survey of the UK’s top ten driving songs.

When we asked our customers, 76% revealed they turn up the volume when their favourite driving song comes on the radio, while 60% sing along (but only if by themselves in the car) and 38% used the steering wheel as an impromptu drum.

Worryingly, 7% said they ‘jigged about’ to the song, 2% played the air guitar and 1% sang into an imaginary microphone!

So without further ado, the Auto Trader top ten driving songs are:

1. Sultans Of Swing – Dire Straits

2. We Will Rock You – Queen

3. Another One Bites the Dust – Queen

4. Good Vibrations – Beach Boys

5. Go Your Own Way  – Fleetwood Mac

6. All Right Now – Free

7. Born In The USA  – Bruce Springsteen

8. Rolling In The Deep – Adele

9. I Heard It Through The Grapevine – Marvin Gaye

10. I Can’t Get No Satisfaction – Rolling Stones

You can listen to the whole playlist, here on YouTube or the top tune below

Nathan Coe, Group Director at Auto Trader said: “We all have a favourite driving song and it’s interesting to note that although Auto Trader’s customers are from all age groups it is the hits from the 1970s, with four out of the top six, that dominate with only one recent hit making it into the top ten. Maybe they just don’t make them like they used to anymore.”

(Auto Trader Survey – May 2012: 1217 respondents)


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Gap Insurance: Explained

Buy a new or used car and you may be invited to take out GAP insurance alongside the various finance products offered by your local dealership. What is it? And more importantly, is it worth it?

GAP – standing for Guaranteed Asset Protection – insurance is designed to cover the difference between the cost you paid for your car and its current market value. Many people make the mistake of thinking that their standard car insurance will cover the cost of the car at the time of purchase, when in reality your insurer will only pay out the current market value in the case of a write-off or theft. This can lead to a shortfall of many thousands of pounds, particularly if there is a large amount of finance left on the car, or if it has depreciated heavily.

There are a number of different types of GAP insurance:

RTI or BTI (Return to Invoice or Back to Invoice)
Take out an RTI GAP insurance policy and should you lose your car through accident or theft, the insurer will pay the difference between the amount of your settlement claim and the amount you originally paid for the car.

AVG (Agreed Value GAP)
Available for cars bought from private individuals or auction.. It underwrites the Glasses Guide Retail value of the car at the time of purchase and pays back to this value for up to 3 years.

Finance GAP insurance
This covers the amount of any outstanding finance or loan agreements on the car. This is particularly relevant if you lease rather than buy your car outright, as you will still be liable for the cost in the event of loss or theft. This can mean no car and a huge debt to pay.

BTI+ (Back to Invoice+)

This is a combined RTI and Finance GAP policy that will either pay back to the original invoice price or clear the outstanding finance, whichever the greater.

VRI (Vehicle Replacement Insurance)
Under this cover, the insurer will cover the cost of replacing your vehicle with a like-for-like new model, usually even if the retail price has increased since your purchase.

Whether you think GAP insurance is worthwhile expense will depend on whether you are able to cover the difference between any potential settlement and any outstanding finance yourself. It is not likely to be particularly useful is the market value of your car was particularly low at the time of purchase, though some insurance companies are now offering agreed value gap insurance on privately bought second hand cars.

Taking out GAP insurance may also be useful if the car you have bought is likely to depreciate heavily, as this can mean the gap between your cover and liability can increase rapidly over a short period of time.

Before you do sign on the dotted line however, it’s worth checking with your insurer before taking out a separate GAP policy, as many are now offering the service as part of normal car insurance cover.

SPECIAL OFFER: Get 10 per cent off your order by entering the code AT12 into the promotional code box when choosing your GAP insurance with us


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25 years of the M25: Fascinating Facts

Bad day on the M25 (Ben Gamble) / CC BY-SA 2.0

The infamous M25 turns 25 this week. Londoners may hate it, but millions of them would be lost without it. So to ‘celebrate’, Auto Trader have 25 fascinating facts to share with you about the (ring) road to hell.

1. At 118 miles long (that’s almost 200km) the M25 is one of the longest ring roads in the world.

2. The M25 doesn’t complete a full circle. At the Dartford Crossing the road briefly becomes the A282.

3. Nor does it completely enclose Greater London. North Ockendon lies outside the M25.

4. Unsurprisingly there is no fastest lap for the M25. At 70 mph a ‘lap’ would take 1hr and 40 minutes – but this kind of driving is best kept to computer game ‘M25 racer’.

5. The Orbital road lent its name to a series of raves in the late eighties and early nineties. This in turn gave house duo Orbital their name.

6. It was Britain’s most expensive motorway when built at a cost of £909m over 11 years – that’s £7.5m per mile.

7. The original plans that eventually led to the construction of the M25 date back to 1911. It was finally opened in 1986 by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher – the 14th different PM since planning began.

8. It was originally supposed to be one of four ring roads around London. But political conflicts and money shortages meant the plans were botched. M25 expert Chris Marshall explains: “The M25 we see today is two halves of two different ring roads. It’s no surprise that it’s the country’s most congested road today.”

9. In the sixties London County Council tried to keep quiet about their radical plans to build four ring roads. The truth came out when Battersea Borough Council had a request for a new swimming pool rejected – because one of the roads would have been built over it.

10. In one part the M25 is twelve lanes wide.

M25 Opening Ceremony by Neil Barnes

11. Among its various nicknames one stands out: “The world’s biggest car park.” On 17th August 1988 a 22-mile long queue of stationary traffic grew between junctions nine and ten.

12. Despite its length and the volume of traffic it only has three service stations – Thurrock, South Mimms and Clacket Lane. The latter are the largest in Europe.

13. Six different police forces co-operate on managing the traffic. They are the Metropolitan Police, Thames Valley, Kent, Essex, Surrey and Herfordshire forces.

14. It has 10,606 lights and 2,959 illuminated signs along its length.

15. Five years after the formal opening of the M25 the Dartford Tunnel area was expanded. The original tunnel, opened in 1963, was complemented by the Queen Elizabeth II bridge.

16. The toll on the Dartford Crossing has been controversial. It was supposed to run from the opening of the bridge in 1991 until April 1st 2003, to cover the cost of building and maintenance. Yet the toll remains and The Department for Transport has discussed plans for the price to increase for cars from £1.50 to £2 this November and to £2.50 in April next year.

17. It has 33 junctions (31 are numbered but include 1a &1b and 21 & 21A) and connects 9 other motorways – the M1, M3, M4, M11, M20, M23, M26, M40 and A1 (M).

18. In parts the junctions are four levels high – but not quite matching the tortuous complexity of Birmingham’s Spaghetti Junction.

19. It passes through the arches of Chalfont Viaduct, a century-old bridge that carries the railway from High Wycombe to London.

20. The variable speed limits on parts of the M25 were innovations when introduced. But the Peripherique ring road around Paris boasts cameras that detect the average speeds of traffic and display the predicted time to the next junction.

21. The M25 is used by 250,000 vehicles per day. At its busiest part 196,000 vehicles a day were measured in 2003 between junctions 13 and 14 near Heathrow Airport.

22. The road is at its busiest on the western side where a system known as MIDAS (Motorway Incident Detection and Automatic Signalling) has been implemented in an effort to control speeds and reduce congestion.

23. In building the motorway a special Act of Parliament had to be passed to authorise the crossing over the northern part of Epping Forest.

24. Novelist Iain Sinclair walked anti-clockwise around the motorway in 2000 for his book “London Orbital”.

25. The same company that completed the final length of the M25 in 1986, Balfour Beatty, also built the first section of the M25 in 1975

If you want to know more about Britain’s network of roads, check out Chris’s British Roads Directory


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Car tech: Ford announces 1-litre Focus as ST goes global

Ford Focus STFord will feature a 1.0-litre, three-cylinder EcoBoost engine in the Focus and C-MAX in 2012, followed by the B-MAX soon after. The engine is the latest addition to the global family of EcoBoost engines which currently ranges from 1.6 to 3.5 litres.

The 1.0-litre EcoBoost engine will be the smallest currently produced by Ford, but its engineers say it delivers power and performance to rival a traditional 1.6-litre petrol engine while emitting less than 120g/km CO2 in the Focus. It will be available in 99 and 118PS configurations, and will develop 125bhp. Continue reading


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FREE WordPress Themes from AutoTrader

Auto Trader is pleased to announce our new line of FREE Theme’s for WordPress.

As part of our ongoing relationship building with bloggers the world over, we decided to start putting out some great (and free) WordPress theme’s this year. We shall be adding new ones all the time, so be sure to come back often and check for new ones.

Download WordPress Themes

Ford Focus WordPress Theme (download ZIP file)

Also be sure to check out our selection of New and Used Ford Focus

BMW WordPress Theme (download ZIP file)

Also be sure to check out our selection of New and Used BMWs

NOTE – background image files are in the ‘images’ directory

Click here to subscribe for Theme updates

To get you started we’re going to give a simple overview of how to install and use them.
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Win tickets to the Goodwood Revival

Every September there’s a magical weekend at Goodwood Motor Circuit. The Goodwood Revival transports over 100,000 visitors back in time – and Auto Trader have 5 pairs of tickets to the Saturday show to give away!

The inaugural Goodwood Revival took place in 1998. The event’s raison d’etre was simple; to transport those attending back to the heyday of motor sport, as accurately as possible. The Revival is a nostalgia-fest on the circuit, eschewing anything post-1966. That means only pre-1966 cars are racing, only pre-1966 cars are on display, and as many attendees as possible are wearing clothes from the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s.

As Goodwood’s Gary Axon puts it: “The Goodwood Revival really is a magical step back in time; a unique chance to revel in the glamour and allure of motor racing in the romantic time capsule of the golden era of motor racing at one of the world’s most authentic circuits. The Revival is the world’s most popular historic motor race meeting and the only event of its kind to be staged entirely in the nostalgic time capsule of the 1940s, 50s and 60s that relives the glory days of Goodwood Motor Circuit. It’s the biggest and best historic motor racing party of the year.”

It’s the track action that holds the greatest allure for many, and it’s no wonder when you can look forward to Ferraris and Aston Martins dicing with each other. There’s also a Jaguar E-Type race to celebrate 50 years of the icon from Coventry, while other highlights include Ford Galaxies, Jaguar Mk2s, big Healeys and Maserati 250Fs at full tilt.

It’s not just about cars though; whether you’re into vintage aircraft, culture, cars or bikes, there’s plenty to amuse.

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To be in with a chance of winning this amazing prize, simply email with your contact details and the answer to the following question: Competition is now closed – see our Facebook page for winners


Which manufacturer is celebrating the 50th Anniversary of their iconic E-Type?

a) Ford

b) Jaguar

c) Alfa Romeo

Terms and conditions:

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