Category: Enthusiasm

By on January 18, 2017

checker-pickup-1

Being a non-conformist used to mean driving a German or Japanese car. For those who really wanted to make a scene, Sweden was more than happy to provide a quirky Volvo or Saab. Well, that strategy is out. Everything’s just too mainstream.

What’s an individualist to do? Electric cars have become too commonplace, and regulations make building your own car too much of a hassle. Enter Checker, which tentatively plans to build two offbeat versions of an already offbeat classic starting next year. Read More >

By on January 12, 2017

1971_dodge_demon (Wikimedia)

Here’s some sage advice: there’s no known way to use snippets of Metallica’s ‘Fuel’ in an automotive video without prompting audience eye-rolling. Scientists are working around the clock, but hopes remain dim.

The song appears towards the end of a teaser video produced by Fiat Chrysler’s Dodge division, featuring a snarling, caged beast that suddenly shape shifts into a fiery demon once released. There’s no new vehicle in sight — just a Ram Heavy Duty pulling the cage. More videos will follow, we’re told, but it’s the name that’s the focus here.

Demon. Read More >

By on January 11, 2017

2015 Chevrolet SS front

Unless your local police force harbors a crop of non-conformists, it’s easy to believe rear-drive Chevrolet sedans bowed out in the 1990s.

Of course, that’s not true. General Motor’s Australian Holden division saw fit to continue sending a limited number of rebadged Commodore sedans our way, long after the Impala and Caprice faded into the history books. Gussied up with a few tell-tale styling cues, the Commodore easily morphed into the performance-oriented Chevrolet SS and fleet-only Caprice PPV. Both models sell in limited numbers on this side of the Pacific, but not for long.

With Holden poised to pull the plug on Australian manufacturing later this year, the old-school Commodore has only months left to live. That means the exotic, badge-engineered American brothers will cease to exist after the 2017 model year.

Read More >

By on January 8, 2017

2018 Kia Stinger

Kia uses the more accurate and less offensive term “fastback sports sedan” to describe the new Stinger, unveiled tonight ahead of the 2017 North American International Auto Show. Kia will offer the rear-drive, coupe-like 2018 Stinger liftback with turbocharged four-cylinder and V6 powerplants, and optional all-wheel drive.

Read More >

By on January 5, 2017

1998 Subaru Impreza WRC; Image: Prodrive

The name Prodrive isn’t one you’ll stumble across every day, and sounds a bit like a company that might offer teen driving courses. However, it’s one of the world’s most successful race car shops, and bests many individual manufacturer efforts.

How successful?

How does six World Rally Championships, four Le Mans wins, five World Endurance Championships, and four British Touring Car Championships victories sound for a start?

But while “race on Sunday, sell on Monday” is the parable that motivates many marques in motorsport, Prodrive sells no road cars.

How does a small, generally unheard of firm compete against the likes of Porsche, Honda, and Ford? Simple — those companies hire Prodrive to run their race programs. Read More >

By on January 4, 2017

New Civic Type R Prototype breaks cover in Paris

An optional CVT, to be clear.

We all know true motoring — as Mother Nature intended — should involve the manual changing of one’s own gears, but even scrappy, youth-infected Honda knows that stick shifts are not the way to have customers beat down your doors.

Hence the availability of a traditionally tepid transmission in its upcoming Civic Type R. Read More >

By on December 19, 2016

MARKHAM, Ontario, Canada, Dec. 16, 2016--Raj Nair, Ford executive VP, global product development and chief technical officer, drove the Ford GT supercar off the line to help celebrate the event along with employees and guests. The all-new Ford GT is entering the final phase of development and production has begun. One of the first Ford GTs is being driven off the line at the Multimatic assembly location with the first behind the scenes look at the assembly line for all-new Ford GT. The Ford GT is the culmination of years of Ford innovation in aerodynamics, lightweight carbon fiber construction and ultra-efficient EcoBoost engines. Photo by: Sam VarnHagen

An invitation to automotive industry supplier Multimatic in suburban Toronto is one you never turn down.

It’s legendary in the racing world, winning countless major races and championships, and it’s also the unsung hero supplier behind cars like Aston Martin’s One-77 and Vulcan. With those projects, it produced the carbon tubs, suspensions, and performed much of the engineering required for Aston to deliver complete cars.

While Ford’s been trotting out GT prototypes and pilot cars for what seems to be an eternity, I’m a bit impartial to the project given my indifferent relationship with the carmaker. Still, for Multimatic, assembling the Ford GT takes its business to another level altogether. In the back of my mind, I know the Multimatic factor is going to figure prominently into this car.

Read More >

By on December 16, 2016

2017 Subaru BRZ

The Subaru BRZ has been struggling along since hitting its sales peak in 2013, and its recent refresh hasn’t done much to help it rebound on the sales charts.

Now, thanks to conflicting information from Subaru itself, the future of the rear-drive coupe is as clear as San Francisco Bay at 7 a.m.

Read More >

By on December 15, 2016

Ford GT Rear, Image: Ford

To complain is to speak a First World Problem of the highest automotive order. But to catch my drift?

Here’s our latest, graphic free, HTML communiqué from the Ford GT Concierge:

We are pleased to inform you that it’s time to mark your calendar! Your anticipated Ordering Window for your new Ford GT should fall within April – June, 2018.

Read More >

By on December 14, 2016

Toyota Yaris Gazoo sketch

Hot on the heels of yesterday’s unveiling of the Toyota Gazoo Racing-crafted Yaris Gazoo WRC rally car, Toyota has said a road-going hot hatch for the common man is on the way.

The automaker’s European division let the news slip in Helsinki yesterday, confirming rumors swirling around a possible hot hatch variant of the brand’s staid subcompact.

Still, Toyota left many questions unanswered. Read More >

By on December 5, 2016

NASCAR (public domain)

The old NASCAR adage “Win on Sunday, sell on Monday” still temps modern automakers, and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne isn’t immune to its spell.

After pulling out of stock car racing in 2012 to get its financial house in order, FCA now wants to see the Dodge brand back on the track. Read More >

By on November 30, 2016

Audi RS 3

While the general populace will likely remain confused, automotive enthusiasts will now be able to differentiate between Audi’s all-wheel-drive system and its performance sports car subsidiary.

The company has officially taken its Quattro GmbH division and renamed it Audi Sport GmbH. Quattro (which means four) will now only refer to the all-wheel drive system and Sport (which means sport) will denote the high-performance RS cars, Audi-exclusive customization, and customer motorsport.  Read More >

By on November 25, 2016

1979 Mercedes-Benz 450SLC 5.0 (C107), Image: Daimler

In 1978, Mercedes-Benz made the decision to expand its efforts in rally competition. But its choice of platform to enter into the World Rally Championship was, to say the least, unique.

At the time, the WRC was dominated by small sedans like the Fiat 131 Abarth and Ford Escort RS1800 — cars that finished first and second in the championship that year. Mercedes-Benz took a decidedly different route, as it had no small sporty sedan.

What it did have was a large, heavy and expensive personal luxury coupe in the C107 SLC. While the choice would seem unnatural, under the direction of Erich Waxenberger the premier 450SLC was prepared and developed over the next few seasons into a rally winner. Read More >

By on November 22, 2016

2016 Ford Mustang GT Convertible

The Ford Mustang entered the world with a 170 cubic inch inline six, but heritage alone likely won’t be enough to keep the six-cylinder ‘Stang alive.

Product information from Ford’s ordering system has appeared online, and a 3.7-liter V6-powered version of the 2018 Mustang is nowhere to be seen.  Read More >

By on November 18, 2016

1983 Volkswagen Scirocco BiMotor (A1), Image: Volkswagen

Though today’s hybrids have popularized it, the idea of installing more than one engine in a car to supplement power isn’t particularly new or innovative. In fact, it’s almost as old as the automobile itself.

There are plenty of historical examples of multi-engine cars; probably the most notable are absolute land speed record attempts. Just last week, for example, was the 51st anniversary of the American-made Goldenrod’s 409 mph record, set using no less than four 426 Hemi V8s borrowed from Chrysler.

But even further back, Alfa-Romeo had tried to break the stranglehold of the Silver Arrows in Grand Prix racing by utilizing two straight-eights in a P3 Grand Prix chassis. The solution was innovative, if not particularly successful.

But the exploits of sticking multiple motors in a vehicle to boost power and traction were not limited to exotic racers and record setters. In the 1980s, the concept was reintroduced in a few interesting packages. As it became increasingly clear that Audi’s all-wheel drive would revolutionize the world of rally, Volkswagen Motorsport director Klaus-Peter Rosorius felt Volkswagen shouldn’t play second fiddle to the Quattro.

Instead, they’d play with a second engine.

Read More >

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