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From teacher to student: how a Golf GTI started the education of a lifetime

Valbuena proposed to his now-wife during a road trip in the 1995 GTI. If you’ve ever been interested in a career in the automotive industry, Andres Valbuena has something to teach you. What began as just getting an interesting car to drive to work has turned into a life-long passion for the industry and fascinating…

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Valbuena proposed to his now-wife during a road trip in the 1995 GTI.

If you’ve ever been interested in a career in the automotive industry, Andres Valbuena has something to teach you. What began as just getting an interesting car to drive to work has turned into a life-long passion for the industry and fascinating machines – especially a particular 1995 Volkswagen Golf GTI.

“A car can change your life, as silly as it sounds,” says Valbuena. “They can make a commute more enjoyable or your life better.”

Valbuena started his working career as a teacher in Detroit and bought the Golf GTI as a commuter. After school and on the weekends, he took the GTI to autocross events, and while there met an auto enthusiast who spoke Spanish like him and worked in an auto shop. They formed a friendship, and Valbuena made a deal to work in his new friend’s shop for free to get experience working on cars.

Through his work at the shop, Valbuena met other car enthusiasts and eventually interviewed at Volkswagen of America, landing a job as a technical writer in 2005. He also worked as a product specialist and was a product launch manager for the 2012 Beetle.

“I didn’t even know working for an auto brand as something other than a mechanic was possible,” said Valbuena. “Getting to work on Volkswagen’s emotional brands, especially the GTI, was great.”

Valbuena sold his 1995 GTI in 1999 to make room for his growing car collection; he’s owned more than 120 Volkswagen vehicles. But as time went on, he realized that the 1995 GTI was special. He and his wife had taken a romantic drive in the GTI from Michigan to Asheville, North Carolina, where Valbuena proposed.

“My wife likes to joke that there were more pictures of the GTI from that trip than photos of us,” laughed Valbuena. “The GTI had so many wonderful memories and I regretted selling it when I was younger.”

Valbuena worked on executing the vision behind the 2021 Jetta GLI Enthusiast Fleet concept car. Disclaimer: Modifying vehicles can adversely affect warranty coverage and compliance with required safety and other standards.

Valbuena tapped his network of Volkswagen friends across the country to keep an eye out for the car. In 2014, his friend in North Carolina called Valbuena to let him know that he had potentially found the GTI. After matching the VIN number and a tough eight-month negotiation period, Valbuena was reunited with the car that started it all.

When Valbuena got the car back it was a rusted mess in need of a total restoration. He got to work replacing parts, restoring the original motor and touching up the car’s original paint. While he focused on keeping everything on the car original, he did add some black trim. The restoration process took several years, but after a thorough rebuild, it’s once again Valbuena’s daily driver.

Valbuena values the community that the group of auto enthusiasts provides and credits his career in the auto industry to the kindness and willingness to teach other fans. While Valbuena no longer works for Volkswagen, he works with the team responsible for the Volkswagen enthusiast fleet.

His passion for car restoration and Volkswagen has also become a family affair. Valbuena and his 16-year-old daughter are working to customize a 2012 Beetle as her first car.

“I won’t let her get rid of that Beetle like I did my GTI,” he said. “She will always have a place to store it with me.”

The 2012 Beetle Valbuena and his daughter are modifying. Disclaimer: Modifying vehicles can adversely affect warranty coverage and compliance with required safety and other standards.

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Mountain bike bravery with a Proace

Perched on a blustery granite outcrop, Derek Evans sits astride his mountain bike and surveys the scenery. A few miles to the north he can see the Bristol Channel shining dark blue. Further to the south, he can just make out the English Channel through the midday haze. Fifty yards behind him a Victorian folly,…

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Perched on a blustery granite outcrop, Derek Evans sits astride his mountain bike and surveys the scenery. A few miles to the north he can see the Bristol Channel shining dark blue. Further to the south, he can just make out the English Channel through the midday haze. Fifty yards behind him a Victorian folly, hewn from the same stone, juts out abruptly from the scenery. And just below him, an unmade track winds its way through clumps of yellow gorse and past a white van.

There are many routes down from this 738ft high summit on Carn Brea near Redruth in Cornwall. Derek is spoiled for choice. But one thing is for sure – his descent will be fast. “I’ve ridden bikes off-road for as long as I can remember – since I had stabilisers!” laughs Derek as he dances his mountain bike onto its front wheel. 

He’s riding a very smart full-suspension, mountain bike which he built himself around a custom-made black carbon fibre frame. “I ride all over the country – often in the Surrey Hills and the Brecon Beacons in Wales. I’ve also cycled in Les Gets and Morzine in the French Alps” explains the 41-year-old vehicle technician.

His bike’s chain and gears clatter and click as he points his bike down the yellow stony track towards the van. The smart white Proace Compact is his. Perhaps he’s going this way so he can look at his van on the way down. “I love vans,” he said. “I always have done. I’ve always had a van. But I’ve been without for two years. 

“I bought this one from Parklands Toyota at Carland Cross in February after my girlfriend spotted it. Other manufacturers have a string of issues and are very expensive. This is the small Compact version. It suits me well with all the little country lanes around here.

“My dad was a car-nut and got me into Toyotas. I’ve always liked their technology. He imported a Mk 4 Supra from Japan about 20-years-ago. He drove it to Spain and all around Europe and I used it to go out on dates.

“I really like the look of the Proace. I’m going to make a few cosmetic modifications, and turn it into a proper day van so I and my girlfriend can both take our bikes out, have adventures and picnic in it. I’ve already fitted insulation so I can carpet it floor-to-ceiling. I’ll probably put 20-inch alloys on it and maybe a spoiler and splitter, but I don’t want it to be too showy.”

Derek’s Proace is an L1 manual in Comfort spec with leather seats. He paid £12,500+VAT for his immaculate three-year-old van with 80,000 miles.

As he loads his bike back into the van after an afternoon on his mountain bike, he looks fondly at his van and says: “I don’t see me ever getting rid of it”

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World Premiere of the New Lexus “UX” | Lexus | Global Newsroom

Lexus globally announces the new UX 200/250h. The vehicle is scheduled for summer 2022 launch. Introduced to the Lexus lineup in 2018 as an urban compact cross-over, the UX uses the “Creative Urban Explorer” concept, with the aim to be the “CUE” to exploring a new lifestyle. The muscular body exudes toughness and strength, while…

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Lexus globally announces the new UX 200/250h. The vehicle is scheduled for summer 2022 launch.

Introduced to the Lexus lineup in 2018 as an urban compact cross-over, the UX uses the “Creative Urban Explorer” concept, with the aim to be the “CUE” to exploring a new lifestyle. The muscular body exudes toughness and strength, while the flared fenders evoke agile driving in order to create a bold and refined exterior. The interior cockpit combines a sense of driving excitement with a visually expansive space. In addition, we have pursued excellent steering response, handling stability, and refined ride quality.

Since its launch in 2018, a cumulative total of approximately 240,000 units have been sold in more than 80 countries and regions as of the end of March 2022. The expanding lineup of electrified vehicles of Hybrid (HEV) and battery EV (BEV), achieved the percentage of electrified vehicles of approximately 80% of sales globally, making it the leading model in the Lexus electrified lineup. Going forward, we will continue to contribute to the practical spread of electrified vehicles toward the realization of a carbon-neutral society, while tailoring to the diversifying needs and lifestyles of customers.

Based on the “Always On” philosophy of continuous improvement through agile development, the new UX200/250h has further refined and exhilarating driving performance, enhanced its advanced safety systems by expanding the preventive safety technology functions and added the latest multimedia system.

To enhance the driving experience, structural rigidity was improved by adding 20 spot welding points on the body and the EPS and shock absorbers tuning was performed accordingly. It achieved refined and exhilarating performance and to further improve the refined, direct feeling and response through extensive testing at Toyota Technical Center Shimoyama.

For advanced safety system enhancements, we aimed to make driving safer and more reassuring by enhancing the functionality of the “Lexus Safety System +” preventive safety technology. The UX also features a new state-of-the-art multimedia system with a larger/higher-resolution touch screen display. Usability has been improved by optimizing the shapes and switch layout of the instrument panel and console area. Two USB charging connectors (Type-C) have also been added in the front of the console.

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LEXUS DESIGN AWARD 2022 Grand Prix Winner Announced | Lexus | Global Newsroom

TOKYO, Japan (May 12, 2022)―Lexus announced today that “Rewind” by Poh Yun Ru has been selected by the judging panel as the Grand Prix winner of the 2022 LEXUS DESIGN AWARD, the award’s tenth edition, which drew 1,726 entries from 57 countries and regions. The LEXUS DESIGN AWARD was established in 2013 with the mission…

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TOKYO, Japan (May 12, 2022)―Lexus announced today that “Rewind” by Poh Yun Ru has been selected by the judging panel as the Grand Prix winner of the 2022 LEXUS DESIGN AWARD, the award’s tenth edition, which drew 1,726 entries from 57 countries and regions.

The LEXUS DESIGN AWARD was established in 2013 with the mission of supporting and nurturing creators early in their careers to help shape a better future and enhance the happiness for all through design, while articulating the Lexus brand’s three core principles: Anticipate, Innovate, and Captivate. The Grand Prix winner “Rewind” contributes to a better tomorrow by using technology to help people stimulate their memories when their recall ability is challenged, for example by dementia.

The six finalists selected this January spent three months developing their original proposals and creating prototypes under the enthusiastic and highly skilled guidance of Sam Baron, Joe Doucet, Yosuke Hayano and Sabine Marcelis. Mentoring by the world’s leading creators was a once-in-a-lifetime learning experience for these young talents. This process facilitated the impressive evolution of the finalists’ projects, not to mention that of the Grand Prix work, “Rewind.”

Poh Yun Ru commented: “I feel immensely grateful that Rewind is now a step closer to improving the lives of more people. This couldn’t have happened without the unwavering support of my mentors, my team of dedicated engineers, programmers, healthcare experts, and users. This opportunity from LEXUS DESIGN AWARD to turn a project into a real-world product felt nothing short of amazing, and I feel heartened to have met and learned from so many passionate designers from around the world. It has been such a rewarding and inspiring journey, and I am excited to continue designing for a better world and a better tomorrow for all.”

In a new benefit for 2022, the finalists met one-on-one with the design world’s elite panel of judges: Paola Antonelli, Anupama Kundoo, Bruce Mau and Simon Humphries following the 10th LEXUS DESIGN AWARD event. After the judging session, the finalists received not only direct feedback on their work, but also career advice and tips for improvement. This beta-feature of the 10th anniversary LEXUS DESIGN AWARD turned out to be an extraordinarily valuable experience.

After the judging session, all four judges provided comments.

Paola Antonelli told of the overall importance of design in today’s world: “The LEXUS DESIGN AWARD 2022 finalists offer a wide range of products in different fields of design, employing different types of technology, but they all have one thing in common: care. Care for the environment, care for the elderly and differently able, care for the needs of families and communities, and more. They demonstrate that at a time of emergency in the world, design can offer suggestions that are poetic and beautiful, and also feasible and scalable. In the hands of great designers, doing the right thing―by society, the environment, the world―also becomes inspiring and elating.”

Anupama Kundoo and Bruce Mau commented on the Award’s feature of mentorship: “I particularly enjoyed the unique feature of the LEXUS DESIGN AWARD, namely, that the talented visionary designers are first identified, and then supported personally in their further development through dedicated mentorship.” Kundoo said, while Mau commented, “The LEXUS DESIGN AWARD’s process, where the finalists are connected to design mentors, is absolutely brilliant. And the impact was plainly evident in the final submissions.”

Simon Humphries praised all finalists for their creativity and imagination in addressing the judging criteria: “The power of creativity and its ability to enrich people’s lives never ceases to amaze me and this year’s entries only reinforced this further. Congratulations to all the finalists who showed such imaginative insights into challenging problems that many just take for granted.”

The six LEXUS DESIGN AWARD 2022 finalists’ projects will be shown at Lexus exhibit during Milan Design Week 2022, the world’s largest design event, to be held in June.

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