Neil Armstrong died on August 25th of this year and the nation mourned, doubly so. First for the man, and second for what he stood for: hero, explorer, icon of a time when all that was best in America rose up on a pillar of smoke and flame to dance among the heavens.
The astronauts, of course, all drove Corvettes. GM gave a white ’62 to first-flyer Alan Shepard upon his return to Earth, then a Florida dealership provided subsequent one-year leasing deals to put astronauts behind the wheel of the latest models – clever PR for sure, and yet it seemed a perfect fit. While the very first ‘Vettes were more Piper Cub than Bell X-1, those that would be piloted by the likes of Gus Grissom and Alan Bean had the Right Stuff; the fastest and best machines America could produce.
Sixty years after GM built the first Corvette (and about fifty-six since they got the recipe right), here we are with an explorer on Mars, and it’s a robot with a sarcastic twitter feed. Heroes are scarce; the cult of celebrity now shines a spotlight on the kind of people you’d cross the street to avoid. And as for the Corvette? (Read More…)
When the “F01″ 7-Series arrived in 2008 followed by the “F10″ 5-Series in 2009, I saw the writing on the wall; BMW is the new Mercedes. My theory was “proved” after a week with the 2011 335is and 2012 X5M. BMW fans decried my prophesy as blasphemy. I repeated my statement with the 2012 328i and caught the eye of egmCarTech. A Mercedes fan tried to run me over in a parking lot. My colleagues in the press thought I lost my mind. BMW’s media watchers were eerily silent. A month later I was told that BMW would allow me a week in the all-new 2012 M6 Convertible. Would the most expensive M car change my mind or prove the point once and for all?
I plan to visit the Brain-Melting Colorado Junkyard later today (to discuss the purchase of a certain early-50s machine I covet), and that means I’ll have a chance to ask the proprietor a question that’s been bugging me for over a month: What is this mysterious vehicle in your yard? (Read More…)
After the Miata (introduced in the United States as a 1990 model) turned out to be an instant hit for Mazda, the marketing wizards at Ford decided to put Mercury badges on the Australian Ford Capri, a four-seat sporty convertible, and beat Mazda at its own game. Sure, the ’91-94 Capri was a Mazda under the skin (it was based on the 323), and it had front-wheel-drive, but so what? (Read More…)
One of the most popular “Out of Thin Air” stories over the last 24 months has concerned the existence of a factory turbocharged Scion FR-S. In second place, the existence of a convertible Scion FR-S. At long last, a reliable source of information has confirmed their existence – but we won’t be getting them.
I currently drive a 2005 MINI Cooper S convertible. I’ve been swapping winter/summer tires for the past few years but I was thinking that this year I might get a beater car for the harsher weather months. The combination of FWD and wear and tear on the fabric roof are my main reasons for these considerations.
I live in NJ, so most of my driving is on the highway but as part of my job as a systems admin in a datacenter, I’m occasionally called into work at times when even the highways haven’t been plowed.
Do you think it’s possible to find a cheap (around $1000), preferably AWD car that would work well for winters in the northeast? Craigslist searches so far have turned up a handful of Subarus, Volvos, and Audis Quattro.
One of the worst things about the Malaise Era (other than the ascendance of Captain and Tennile) was the lack of cars with convertible tops during the period. The last convertible Cadillac Eldorado rolled off the assembly line in 1976, but the decline of the convertible had started a few years earlier. The top-down drought held until the last of the Malaise years, when machines such as Rabbit Cabriolets and LeBaron convertibles became available. Chrysler kept making the K-based LeBaron convertible until 1995, but you don’t see many of them these days. Here’s a pair of early-90s examples I found side-by-side in a Denver wrecking yard. (Read More…)
Even though the BMW 1 Series M Coupe is gone forever, performance-minded 1-Series customers must have a high-end performance model, even if a lot of them don’t even know if the car is front-drive or rear-drive.
What’s the difference between the Range Rover Evoque and the Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet? About $545, and the fact that people will actually buy the proposed convertible version of the Evoque, solely due to the “Range Rover” lettering on the front end.
Dentists and divorcees, rejoice! The BMW M6 will debut as a convertible first, with deliveries starting in June. The hardtop will go on sale later this summer – both will get all the same mechanical bits as an M5, but with only two-doors, you can shed the family image in favor of someone who pays (or receives) alimony.
Luxury roadsters have always been niche vehicles. With the economic implosion over the last decade, that niche has become even smaller. Last year the Mercedes SLK and BMW Z4 each sold less than 3,500 units on our shores, down from over 10,000 each back in 2006 and Canadian sales are roughly a tenth of that. While Mercedes is likely crying in their delicious geflügelsuppe, roadster shoppers benefit by being able to drive one of the most exclusive Mercedes models available on our shores. While the last model awkwardly aped the unholy union of a Mercdes F1 car and a bottlenose dolphin, the new model sells itself with sexy new sheet metal, 29 MPG on the highway and a $54,800 base price.
I must admit I’ve lost track of the variations on the DeVille name used by Cadillac over the decades; according to the 1970 sales brochure, this car— which I found at the same Denver yard that gave us the ’82 AM General Postal Jeep yesterday— was a “de Ville” (two words, first starting with lower-case letter). It’s pretty well used up, but you can still see the genuine pre-malaise luxury. (Read More…)
What you see before you will be the best-selling Porsche 911. It is sad but true: in the watercooled era, the convertible has generally outsold the coupe. For that reason alone, Porsche was eager to introduce a droptop 991. Add all-wheel-drive and a PDK transmission, and you have
a sickening parody of Butzi Porsche’s original 901 concept a great way for high-net-worth people to get to their yoga lessons.
Full-size high-end luxury convertibles that don’t have budget origins are not as common as you might think (or like). E-Class Cabrio? Too cheap. A5 Cabrio? Same problem. So if you’ve $90,000+ burning a hole in your pocket for a topless two-door what should you get? Obviously Astons and Bentleys are out of your price range in this down economy (we all must economize after all), and you have trouble justifying the stretch to the Maserati GranTurismo Convertible’s $132,000 base price, that leaves BMW and Jaguar to battle in this broom-closet sized market. Whatever is the almost-wealthy shopper to do? Let’s find out
Thirteen years after the Mercedes-Benz SLK reintroduced the hard top convertible, the novelty has once again begun to wear off in the face of concerns about cost, complexity, and curb weight. Even high-end manufacturers like Audi, BMW, and Jaguar have fit their latest convertibles with soft tops (albeit multi-layered ones to retain heat and keep out noise). In other words, the retractable hard top has not rendered ye olde ragtop obsolete. This isn’t to say that the retractable hard top is pointless, at least not when innovatively executed. The recently updated Volkswagen Eos remains the best. But would you want one?