The Truth About Cars » Ford http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Wed, 01 Jul 2015 19:00:11 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.2 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars » Ford http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Junkyard Find: 1979 Ford Ranchero http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/junkyard-find-1979-ford-ranchero/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/junkyard-find-1979-ford-ranchero/#comments Wed, 01 Jul 2015 11:00:29 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1103057 Ah, the Malaise Era! Engines making one horsepower per three cubic inches. Broughams, Landaus, and molded-in fake stitching on petroleum-distillate Simu-Vinyl™ upholstery. And, of course, a pseudo-pickup based on the Ford Thunderbird platform. 1977-79 Rancheros still show up in California wrecking yards now and then, and that’s where I saw this green-on-green-on-green-on-some-more-green ’79 last fall. […]

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08 - 1979 Ford Ranchero Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

Ah, the Malaise Era! Engines making one horsepower per three cubic inches. Broughams, Landaus, and molded-in fake stitching on petroleum-distillate Simu-Vinyl™ upholstery. And, of course, a pseudo-pickup based on the Ford Thunderbird platform. 1977-79 Rancheros still show up in California wrecking yards now and then, and that’s where I saw this green-on-green-on-green-on-some-more-green ’79 last fall.
02 - 1979 Ford Ranchero Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

It’s hard to imagine a greener interior. We’ve seen this phenomenon before.

06 - 1979 Ford Ranchero Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin351-cubic-inch V8 making 19 horsepower, or something like that. I don’t feel like looking up the exact number, because it will make me sad.
00 - 1979 Ford Ranchero Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

Still, this face has a certain appeal. I know it’s wrong, but I could see driving one of these every day (I blame Mr. Mehta for this sickness).

00 - 1979 Ford Ranchero Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 01 - 1979 Ford Ranchero Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1979 Ford Ranchero Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1979 Ford Ranchero Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1979 Ford Ranchero Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1979 Ford Ranchero Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1979 Ford Ranchero Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1979 Ford Ranchero Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1979 Ford Ranchero Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1979 Ford Ranchero Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1979 Ford Ranchero Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1979 Ford Ranchero Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1979 Ford Ranchero Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1979 Ford Ranchero Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - 1979 Ford Ranchero Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 16 - 1979 Ford Ranchero Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

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Chart Of The Day: 2015 Will Be Ford Fiesta’s Seventh Consecutive Year As UK’s Best-Selling Car http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/chart-day-2015-will-ford-fiestas-seventh-consecutive-year-uks-best-selling-car/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/chart-day-2015-will-ford-fiestas-seventh-consecutive-year-uks-best-selling-car/#comments Sat, 27 Jun 2015 13:00:59 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1095769 The Ford Fiesta is on track in 2015 to celebrate a seventh consecutive year as the best-selling vehicle in the United Kingdom. A streak which began in 2009 – following the Focus’s own tenure atop the leaderboard – appears completely secure now that the Fiesta has outsold its nearest rival by 19,000 units over the […]

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UK best-selling autos market share chart

The Ford Fiesta is on track in 2015 to celebrate a seventh consecutive year as the best-selling vehicle in the United Kingdom. A streak which began in 2009 – following the Focus’s own tenure atop the leaderboard – appears completely secure now that the Fiesta has outsold its nearest rival by 19,000 units over the course of just five months.

The Fiesta is not a popular car by the standards with which Americans identify popularity. On this side of the pond, for example, the Ford F-Series is America’s best-selling line of vehicles, but the F-Series accounts for 4.3% of the overall auto industry’s volume. The Fiesta generates 5.3% of UK auto industry volume.

The Fiesta also outsells the second-ranked Vauxhall Corsa to the tune of nearly 1.5-to-1. The F-Series, on the flip side, isn’t even outselling the combined efforts of its nearest rival, the Chevrolet Silverado and its identical GMC Sierra twin so far this year in the U.S.

Then consider the fact the Fiesta is absurdly popular despite the fact that the third-best-selling car in the UK – and the Fiesta’s predecessor among top sellers – is sold right alongside the Fiesta on dealer forecourts.

The Fiesta is also on the rise. Although the UK auto market is up 6% this year, Fiesta sales are up just 1%. But the Fiesta is old, and the growth it has achieved through the first five months of 2015 comes after annual year-over-year increases in 2012, 2013, and 2014.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures. Follow on Twitter @goodcarbadcar and on Facebook.

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Marchionne Not Yet Ready For GM, Fields Not Interested In Any Merger http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/marchionne-not-yet-ready-for-gm-fields-not-interested-in-any-merger/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/marchionne-not-yet-ready-for-gm-fields-not-interested-in-any-merger/#comments Fri, 26 Jun 2015 20:00:09 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1100777 FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne says he’s not ready to court General Motors’ shareholders for a merger, while Ford’s Mark Fields prefers no mergers at all. Though Marchionne was said to be gathering allies in the finance field to help persuade GM’s investors to consider consolidation — having been rebuffed already by CEO Mary Barra — […]

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Fiat 500 At Tuscany Wedding Circa April 2014

FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne says he’s not ready to court General Motors’ shareholders for a merger, while Ford’s Mark Fields prefers no mergers at all.

Though Marchionne was said to be gathering allies in the finance field to help persuade GM’s investors to consider consolidation — having been rebuffed already by CEO Mary BarraReuters says he stated the following while on the sidelines at Wednesday’s unveiling of the Alfa Romeo Guilia:

We are very far removed from any of those scenarios today. None of my staff has spoken to them, I haven’t spoken to them, nobody is under instruction to speak to them.

When asked about the possibility of going hostile in his ongoing need for industry consolidation, Marchionne’s reply was to proclaim those who “kept wasting capital” were the ones meting out the hostility.

One such individual would likely be Fields. Per The Detroit Bureau, the Ford CEO told reporters attending the annual Further With Ford conference mergers with any automaker, let alone FCA, were out of the question:

We have no interest or plan other than accelerating the One Ford Plan; delivering product excellence and driving innovation in every part of our business. We are never going to take our eye off of being a great developer of cars, trucks and utility vehicles.

Fields added he would consider ways to improve his company’s overall business model, stating it was important for Ford “to open up that lens” in order to lead the industry towards betterment.

(Photo credit: Monica Arellano-Ongpin/Flickr/CC BY 2.0)

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2016 Ford Focus RS Delivers 345 HP With ‘Specially Engineered’ EcoBoost Mill http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/2016-ford-focus-rs-delivers-345-hp-with-specially-engineered-ecoboost-mill/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/2016-ford-focus-rs-delivers-345-hp-with-specially-engineered-ecoboost-mill/#comments Thu, 25 Jun 2015 17:00:09 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1099817 Ahead of its arrival at this year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed in West Sussex, England, the 2016 Ford Focus RS’ horsepower figures were officially revealed. Ford says the hot hatch’s “specially engineered 2.3-litre EcoBoost engine” is good for 345 horsepower and 324 lb-ft of torque to all four corners. The turbo-four shares the basics with […]

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2016 Ford Focus RS

Ahead of its arrival at this year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed in West Sussex, England, the 2016 Ford Focus RS’ horsepower figures were officially revealed.

Ford says the hot hatch’s “specially engineered 2.3-litre EcoBoost engine” is good for 345 horsepower and 324 lb-ft of torque to all four corners. The turbo-four shares the basics with the all-aluminum mill found on the Mustang, with upgrades including: a “low-inertia twin-scroll turbocharger with larger compressor”; “less restrictive intake design” for more breathing capability; larger intercooler and radiator for increased cooling; high-temp-resistant cylinder heads and high-tensile cast iron cylinder liners; and “a large-bore high performance exhaust system with an electronically controlled valve in the tailpipe that helps optimise the balance of back pressure and noise output.”

Other features linked to the powertrain include Ford’s Ford Performance All-Wheel Drive with Dynamic Torque Vectoring system, launch control, and a handful of driving modes, including an “industry-first” drift mode so one can drift in Formula D without first yanking out the front differential.

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Piston Slap: Focusing on Steelies, Unsprung Weight? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/piston-slap-steelies-unsprung-weight-bull-breeding/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/piston-slap-steelies-unsprung-weight-bull-breeding/#comments Thu, 25 Jun 2015 11:00:22 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1096721   Mark writes: Sajeev, I just ordered a new Focus ST, pretty much the only way to get the zero-option set up I wanted. Can’t wait for it to arrive. The car’s not here yet, but the questions are. This time, a wheel & tire question for your consideration. While we don’t get a massive […]

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tint

(photo courtesy: islandsjake @ www.focusst.org)

Mark writes:

Sajeev,

I just ordered a new Focus ST, pretty much the only way to get the zero-option set up I wanted. Can’t wait for it to arrive. The car’s not here yet, but the questions are. This time, a wheel & tire question for your consideration.

While we don’t get a massive amount of snow here in Southern Illinois, we do get some. I’ve learned the hard way that relatively wide, low profile summer tires and all-seasons are bad news in the winter. I’m ready to go the winter tire route, so I wanted to get your thoughts on wheel choices for winter tires in a minus-1 size.

The cheapskate in me thinks steelies look good in a retro/purposeful way (and better than most cheesy aftermarket alloys) and they are a whole bunch cheaper than aftermarket alloys. But then I saw how steelies are on the order of 10 lbs per wheel heavier. Do you think the extra weight would make much difference in ride and handling? I’m not exactly hypersensitive, but I can tell when a set of tires are crap or when a car’s suspension tuning is all out of whack.

What’s your take, or Sanjeev’s thinking, for that matter: Is unsprung weight much of a factor in a street-driven car’s ride and handling?

Sajeev answers:

Both Sajeev and Sanjeev are disappointed with you!

A REAL cheapskate embraces Ford’s recent history via 16″ alloy Thunder/Cougar/Conti/Mark VIII/Fusion/Windstar/Sable or Taurus wheels of the same bolt pattern. I betcha the FWD Ford’s offset is good enough to just bolt right on, too.

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Bull Breeding Stock (photo courtesy: Brake_L8 @ www.focusst.org)

Oh yeah, that’s just perfect. I’m sleeping like a stone tonight, knowing that the wholesome Taurus Oedipus Wrecking goodness – that really spun my crank in TTAC’s early days – fits on Ford’s latest Hot Hatch.

But if you wanna sell yourself short, likely spending more for a set of newer steelies, the Internet is cool with that. And what of the steelies’ extra unsprung weight?

Take it from the guy that added a ton (from the stock 15×7 “turbine” to aftermarket faux-Cobra 17×8.5″) to losing 40-50lbs (15×7″ steelies to forged Alcoa 15×7“), you get used to the difference.  It’s subtle, much like comparing the same dish made in different restaurants. The lightweight Fox instantly felt big body AMG Benz-esque over expansion joints and sweepers with slower, “smoother” inertia transfer from a standstill. The Ranger did the opposite: sluggish with unresponsive steering to…uh, somewhat less sluggish and kinda jittery steering feedback sometimes? 

This conversation parallels the whole dancing about architecture thing: irrelevant regarding winter tires in nasty weather.

If you are driving hard enough feel a significant “this restaurant added mangoes to my hamburger!” difference, you’re probably defeating the purpose of driving conservatively in bad weather. Or you are on a racetrack, not enjoying coffee on your morning commute.

ad_ford_taurus_sho_silver_1994

 

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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Ford Unveils Carsharing Pilot Program For Select Ford Credit Consumers http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/ford-unveils-carsharing-pilot-program-for-select-ford-credit-consumers/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/ford-unveils-carsharing-pilot-program-for-select-ford-credit-consumers/#comments Wed, 24 Jun 2015 15:00:53 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1099089 Financing a Ford and looking to bolster your monthly payments? The automaker has an idea: rent your car to others. Ford owners financing their rides through Ford Credit can rent them out to other drivers through its Peer-2-Peer Car Sharing program, announced Tuesday evening. The pilot program will invite 14,000 and 12,000 owners “in six […]

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2015 Ford F-150

Financing a Ford and looking to bolster your monthly payments? The automaker has an idea: rent your car to others.

Ford owners financing their rides through Ford Credit can rent them out to other drivers through its Peer-2-Peer Car Sharing program, announced Tuesday evening. The pilot program will invite 14,000 and 12,000 owners “in six U.S. cities and London, respectively” to rent their vehicles to prescreened drivers on a short-term basis, with rental payments going towards paying down the note.

To enable this, Ford partnered with rideshare companies Getaround (U.S. market) and easyCar Club (London), whose respective “Web-based, mobile-friendly software” will handle all transactions.

The six U.S. cities selected to participate in the sharing program are the California cities of Berkeley, Oakland and San Francisco, as well as Portland, Chicago and Washington. The program is slated to run through November 2015.

(Photo credit: Alex L. Dykes/The Truth About Cars)

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HEMI Engine Family Receiving Upgrades To Fuel Economy, Power http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/hemi-engine-family-receiving-upgrades-to-fuel-economy-power/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/hemi-engine-family-receiving-upgrades-to-fuel-economy-power/#comments Tue, 23 Jun 2015 20:00:54 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1097977 Changes are coming to FCA’s HEMI engine family, ranging from increased fuel economy, to higher horsepower. Though details are scant, the 5.7-liter HEMI V8 could receive direct injection to increase its fuel economy, Allpar writes. In turn, the upgrade would be enough to reduce or remove the need for FCA to buy CAFE credits. Meanwhile, […]

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Supercharged 6.2-liter HEMI® Hellcat V-8 engine produces 707 ho

Changes are coming to FCA’s HEMI engine family, ranging from increased fuel economy, to higher horsepower.

Though details are scant, the 5.7-liter HEMI V8 could receive direct injection to increase its fuel economy, Allpar writes. In turn, the upgrade would be enough to reduce or remove the need for FCA to buy CAFE credits.

Meanwhile, the Hellcat’s development splits two ways. One modification — for the upcoming Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk — would be tuned for greater refinement to better match the character of both SUV and driver, likely leading towards less horsepower under the bonnet.

The second modification is in response to Ford and Shelby bringing to market an engine said to be more powerful than the Hellcat. Thus, for 2017, FCA are looking to push the Hellcat beyond 707 horsepower against the Blue Oval’s twin-turbo 5.0-liter with direct injection and a potential 740-plus horses pushing the 2017 Shelby GT500 down the highway.

Beyond what is known, no models have been discovered as recipients for the upgrades, while said upgrades may not be ready in time for the 2016 model year’s start.

(Photo credit: Dodge)

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Renault-Nissan’s Carlos Ghosn Banks $16M In 2014 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/renault-nissans-carlos-ghosn-banks-16m-in-2014/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/renault-nissans-carlos-ghosn-banks-16m-in-2014/#comments Tue, 23 Jun 2015 16:00:52 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1097801 Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn did well for himself in 2014, banking around $16 million in compensation compared to the salaries of other automotive CEOs. Breaking down the numbers, Nissan paid Ghosn ¥1.035 billion ($8.39 million USD) during 2014, Reuters says, up 4 percent from what he made in 2013. On the Renault side, Ghosn took […]

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Carlos Ghosn

Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn did well for himself in 2014, banking around $16 million in compensation compared to the salaries of other automotive CEOs.

Breaking down the numbers, Nissan paid Ghosn ¥1.035 billion ($8.39 million USD) during 2014, Reuters says, up 4 percent from what he made in 2013. On the Renault side, Ghosn took home €7.2 million ($8.17 million), bringing total compensation to $16.56 million.

Ghosn’s combined paycheck is in line with compensation paid to two of the Detroit Three’s CEOs, where both Ford CEO Mark Fields and General Motors CEO Mary Barra made $16.8 million and $16.2 million respectively at the end of their first year helming their companies. Meanwhile, FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne’s compensation paints a complex portrait, with figures ranging between $8 million and $72 million depending on the source.

Among the rest of the ToHoSan Zaibatsu, Toyota’s Akio Toyoda made ¥229 million ($1.84 million) in 2014, while Honda’s Takanobu Ito brought home ¥150 million ($1.21 million).

In Germany, the Teutonic Trinity’s CEOs took home €6.57 million ($7.35 million – Audi’s Rupert Stadler), €7.25 million ($8.11 million – BMW’s Norbert Reithofer) and €9.35 ($10.5 million – Mercedes’ Dieter Zetsche).

Finally, under the remaining stripes of the Tricolore Français, PSA Peugeot Citroën CEO Carlos Tavares received €2.75 million ($3.07 million).

(Photo credit: Nissan)

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Piston Slap: A Fusion of Moonroof Drainage Problems? (Part II) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/piston-slap-fusion-moonroof-drainage-problems-part-ii/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/piston-slap-fusion-moonroof-drainage-problems-part-ii/#comments Tue, 23 Jun 2015 14:00:54 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1096217   Matt writes: Hi Sajeev, I’ve got a follow up question to this one. The leak is still happening. It seemed to have stopped over the winter because of the snow and cold. The snow wasn’t melting enough to cause water to come into the car but we’ve been getting heavy rain lately and the […]

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(photo courtesy: OP)

Matt writes:

Hi Sajeev,

I’ve got a follow up question to this one. The leak is still happening. It seemed to have stopped over the winter because of the snow and cold. The snow wasn’t melting enough to cause water to come into the car but we’ve been getting heavy rain lately and the leak seems to be back.

I noticed a couple days ago that the sunroof is rusted out on the inside of the rubber seal that runs around the moon roof itself. I’ve attached some pictures of it. The rust seems to stop, from what I can tell, around the drivers side front corner of the moon roof but along the front and especially the front passenger corner of the moon roof the rust is really bad.

I have an appointment next week at the dealership to see what can be done about it but I am really hoping that even though the car is 6 years old that Ford will step up and fix on their dime what, in my opinion, is clearly a case of defect when it was manufactured.

Will the entire moon roof unit need to be replaced? I can’t leave it the way it is because its only going to get worse and worse, but I am wondering what my options are in terms of fixing it – assuming Ford leaves me hanging in the wind which, lets face it, given the cars age is probably what I am looking at. Honestly, I am very upset by this whole thing. I don’t think a 15 year old car let alone a 6 year old one should be suffering from a rusted out moonroof.

Any help would be much appreciated.

Sajeev answers:

Turns out, from your last query, the B&B nailed it. Kudos to “vinnie” for this nugget of wisdom:

“Hey, so the dealer just figured out this same exact problem in my 2012 SE. It took several calls to Ford engineering and a year of trial and error for them to figure it out. It ended up being the moonroof glass itself. Apparently the metal band that is around the actual glass can become separated and water can get in there and leak into the headliner. Based on what Ford told them, they put in 3 brand new moonroof glass panels before they found one that worked, so there seemed to have been a bad batch or two where the metal and glass were not bonded correctly. Good luck…”

With that in mind, I suggest:

  1. What does your owner’s manual say about the corrosion warranty’s duration? You still might be okay on years, but IIRC, you will be way past it if they limit your mileage.
  2. Talk to the dealer and see if you can get the name of a Ford warranty/claims rep. Plead your case, professionally. Don’t ruin someone’s day – someone that had nothing to do with your problem and has their hands tied. Generally speaking: good customers that make their case known in a pleasant manner get things done far more often than nasty-tempered customers.
  3. Manufacturers (and dealers, ‘natch) love customers that come back for service to the dealership. This paper trail makes it easier for either Ford or the dealer to get you a new moonroof glass for no charge. It’s called goodwill repairs and it happens all the time.

Answering your final question: moonroof glass can be replaced separately from the entire assembly in the roof.  It’s usually a handful of screws attaching it to the”arms” of the assembly.  If Ford leaves you out in the cold, just get a replacement moonroof from a junkyard based in a rust free portion of the US.

 

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

 

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2015 Ford F-150 Platinum 4×4 3.5L Ecoboost Review [With Video] http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/2015-ford-f-150-platinum-4x4-3-5l-ecoboost-review-video/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/2015-ford-f-150-platinum-4x4-3-5l-ecoboost-review-video/#comments Mon, 22 Jun 2015 12:00:53 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1094033 Ford’s F-150 is an important vehicle for Ford and it’s not too much of an exaggeration to say it’s an important vehicle for America. In 2014, the F-150 was not just the most popular truck in America, it was the most popular anything in America, selling more than 740,000 examples. For those that love their […]

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2015 Ford F-151

Ford’s F-150 is an important vehicle for Ford and it’s not too much of an exaggeration to say it’s an important vehicle for America. In 2014, the F-150 was not just the most popular truck in America, it was the most popular anything in America, selling more than 740,000 examples. For those that love their numbers, that is more F-150s than everything Hyundai sold in the USA put together.

Redesigning the F-150 isn’t just putting Ford’s profits on the line. Hundreds of suppliers and countless employees are worried about Ford’s aluminum gamble.

First let’s talk aluminum. There seems to be plenty of confusion about the first “all aluminum pickup.” Here’s the deal: the F-150 is aluminum bodied. If you were worried about how an aluminum frame would hold up, fear not, the F-150’s body rides on a high strength steel frame, which is half the reason for the high towing and payload numbers. The other half is the aluminum body. Although, there has been plenty of argument about the supposed 700 pound weight saving, Ford does say that about 450 lbs comes from the aluminum body alone. In a simplistic sense, for every pound you take out of the body, you can put it right back in the form of payload. This is the single largest reason the F-150 has payload figures that are 400-600 lbs higher than comparable GM and RAM models.

The majority of the body is made of 6000-series aluminum, which is about 33% lighter than sheet steel of the same thickness. Ford heat treats most of the F-150’s aluminum panels to improve strength and saves a little bit of money by using less expensive 5000-series aluminum in areas like the cab floor and interior parts. According to an engineer at BAE Systems, aluminum also has better dent, ding and corrosion resistance than steel, which is why it is used in military vehicles where those properties are important. If you’re thinking about how easily an aluminum soda can bends, a steel can of that same thickness would dent easier and, according to the engineers, shatter more easily. This is a huge benefit in the bed of the F-150, where Ford was able to make the panels thicker and still save weight. The bugaboo of course is the cost of repair. Body shops have less experience with aluminum, it’s more expensive to replace and labor costs are higher at the moment.

2015 Ford F-158

Exterior
As you’d expect from a modern American pickup, the F-150 is bigger, bolder and angrier up front than the model it replaces. If you’re willing to pony up the cash, Ford will sell you the segment’s first full-LED headlamps, but I found the headlamp brightness to be somewhat lackinglike all the main players in this segment. Out back we find a new tailgate design that is not only lighter because it’s aluminum but also damped like the Japanese competition so it doesn’t slam down on you. The benefit of an aluminum tailgate is immediately evident as it was much easier to close than the competition even though our model had the integrated tailgate step.

Although I think the RAM is attractive, the growing overbite is a design I’d have left on the cutting room floor, and GM’s square wheel arches have always made me scratch my head. Therefore the pickup aesthetics award goes to Ford since the 2015 model brings just enough “butch” without looking ridiculous.

2015 Ford F-166

Interior
When designing a vehicle that spans from $26,100 to over $62,000 there will invariably be trade offs. If you use the same core interior parts in all models, you have to either be willing to make the base models look and feel more expensive, or be willing to have some hard plastics in the top end trims. Ford, like GM and Chrysler, chose the latter. This means that our nearly fully-equipped Platinum model sported real wood trim and soft leather, but inches away were hard plastic door panels and trim pieces. Note: that’s not a negative, it’s simply a statement of fact. Personally, I don’t have a problem Ford’s use of hard plastics because that’s the norm in the pickup truck segment. It would only be a problem if nobody else was doing it.

While I think the RAM’s interior is better looking, especially in the brown and tan version, the F-150 is the king of the hill in terms of parts quality, especially in the platinum trim where you get acres of aluminum trim and fit and finish beats the competition. While I found the base front seats in the Silverado to be more comfortable than the Ford, the Platinum model gets Ford’s massaging and anti-fatigue system. Basically, it’s the same system we saw in the Lincoln MKS. Ford places several air bags inside the seat bottom and back cushion that are tied to a compressor and computer-controlled valve system. In addition to providing multi-way adjustable lumbar support, the software can inflate and deflate the bags in sequence to “massage” your back and improve leg circulation. At first, it just seemed like the truck was slowly groping my bottom, but after an hour and a half in the seat I was hooked. Most luxury cars with similar systems only run for 15 to 20 minutes, but the Ford system stays on until you turn off the car or the compressor noise gets to you.

 

2015 Ford F-162Infotainment
Ford’s touchscreen infotainment system is slated to be replaced by the highly anticipated SYNC 3 system as soon as next year. Until then, the F-150 soldiers on with the same infotainment systems we’ve seen for some time. Base models get a 4.2-inch color LCD radio with SYNC voice recognition software and 4-speakers. Top end trucks jump to 11 speakers (with a subwoofer) and the screen grows to an 8-inch touchscreen with navigation, satellite and HD radio.

Dropping LCDs into the instrument cluster is all the rage, and Ford has three to choose from. Base models get a small 2.3-inch LCD, mainly for trip computer functions; mid-level trucks use a 4.2-inch LCD and top end trims get customizable 8-inch display. Compared to the RAM and Chevy disco dashes, the Ford LCD looks more polished and was more responsive than the system in the Chevy

Drivetrain
The big three have chosen different paths to fuel efficiency nirvana. Chrysler is doubling down on the ZF 8-speed automatic, GM designed a new family of 6 and 8 cylinder engines with aggressive cylinder deactivation and Ford has chosen a two prong strategy with aluminum bodies and small displacement turbo V6 engines.

smart-trailer-moduleThe engine lineup starts with Ford’s familiar 3.5L V6 used in everything from the Explorer to the Taurus. Good for 283 horsepower and 255 lb-ft, the V6 is a little down on power vs the Chrysler 3.6L V6 and certainly less “torquey” than GM’s new pickup-only 4.3L V6. Instead of a V8, the next stop is a 325 horsepower 2.7L V6 with twin turbos. While that sounds down on power vs the GM 5.3L V8, keep in mind the Ford is lighter than the Chevy and the 375 lb-ft of torque comes to the boil sooner and hangs out longer than GM’s V8. Chrysler’s 5.7L HEMI and 8-speed automatic yield better power, torque and 0-60 performance, but fuel economy is drastically lower.

Next up is the only V8 on offer, but it’s not the top-end engine option. Producing 385 horsepower a 387 lb-ft, the 5.0L produces more torque just above idle and over 3,000 RPM, but at certain speeds the 2.7L actually beats the V8. The halo engine is the same 3.5L twin-turbo V6 we have seen for a while. For 2015, it’s tuned to 365 ponies and 420 lb-ft of twist but Ford has implied it will get some significant updates for the upcoming Raptor.

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All four engines are mated to a 6-speed automatic and available four-wheel-drive. This puts Ford two speeds behind most RAM models and the 6.2L Chevy which finally gets GM’s heavy-duty 8-speed. The Raptor will receive Ford’s new 10-speed automatic and we should see that filter down to other V6 models, but Ford hasn’t said when. In the mean time, the most efficient F-150 is the RWD 2.7L Ecoboost model at 22 MPG combined while the least efficient, the 5.0L V8 4×4, rings in at 17 MPG combined. Meanwhile the Chevy ranges from 17-20 (despite the cylinder deactivation on the 4.3L V6) and the RAM runs from 15-24 thanks to a thirsty 5.7L V8 and the fuel sipping diesel at the top end.

2015 Ford F-155

Drive
Although the F-150 was put on a diet, the base V6 still feels a bit sluggish compared to the competition. RAM’s heavier 1500 has a hair more torque, a lower first gear and 33% more gears to choose from overall. GM’s 4.3L V6 offers considerably more low-end torque which allows it to feel peppier when towing.

Of course, the naturally-aspirated V6 and V8 engines are arguably less important to the F-150 shopper since a whopping 63% of sales have been twin-turbo equipped. Ford hasn’t broken out sales of the 2.7 and 3.5L Ecoboost engines separately, but I suspect the new 2.7L engine is quiet popular. While our tester was 3.5L equipped, I spent a day in a dealer provided 2.7L model for comparisons.

Although the 3.5L Ecoboost is fun, I think the 2.7 fits my needs better. The turbos largely make up for the slight torque reduction you get compared to the competition’s V8s, and although the 5.7L HEMI and 8-speed auto are faster and nicer to tow with, the 2.7L engine is quite simply the most well-rounded truck engine out there. There’s more than enough torque for towing 7,500 lb trailers with ease, dropping 2,000 lbs into the bed, or piling the kids into your SuperCab. Over 110 miles in the 2.7L RWD tester, I averaged 21 MPG, below the EPA numbers but still above the V8 competition.

2015 Ford F-153

The 3.5L twin-turbo engine allows up to 12,200 lbs of towing in some configurations thanks to the healthy torque figures. 0-60 times came in at 6.45 seconds, among the faster times in this segment, but thanks to GM’s new 8-speed automatic, the 6.2L  Silverado is fastest. Fuel economy in the 3.5L Ecoboost model was lackluster, coming in at 16.4 MPG during our week, nearly 1MPG behind the 2014 6.2L Silverado before GM added the 8-speed to the mix.

Apples to apples comparisons are hard because of the multitude of cab, bed, axle, tire, wheel and drive line choices in all the trucks in this segment, but you can bet if everything were equal, the F-150 would be the handling champ simply because it is lighter. When it comes to the ride, the RAM 1500 wins hands down due to the coil springs in the rear and the available cushy air suspension system.

I hinted about it earlier, but the main benefit to the reduced curb weight of the F-150 is not fuel economy but load capability. It’s most obvious when we compare like model to like model as shown below. All three models are within $1,000 of one another with the F-150 being the most expensive at $43,950 and the RAM the least expensive at $43,010. I chose the 2.7L V6 in the Ford because it is seen as the alternative to an entry-level V8.

F-150 TowingFord advertises a maximum 3,300 lb payload capacity and 12,200 lb towing limit, but like every other truck, most configurations are below the maximum. The take away here is that the payload is consistently higher than the competition. Keeping in mind that the payload is the total of cargo and passengers, it is easy to see how this improves practicality. In the F-150 you and your two 190-pound friends can grab 1,500 lbs of concrete at Home Depot with ease. In the Ram or Chevy you’d have to make two trips. Opt for the 5.0L V8, and the payload jumps to 3,020 pounds and towing increases to 9,200 in the same configuration. If that’s not enough the 3.5L Ecoboost will tow 10,700 in approximately the same configuration. You should note that conventional towing over 10,000 pounds will require a commercial Class-A or non-commercial Class-A license in some states, so depending on where you live, towing over 10,000 may not be material.

If my money were on the line, I suspect I would be torn between the 2.7L F-150 and the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel. In that mash-up, the EcoDiesel with the air suspension would be my choice largely because I tow more than I haul and the EcoDiesel not only has a higher tow rating but the way it tows it also superior thanks to the epic torque and the 8-speed automatic. Does that make the RAM the better truck? No, it’s just the one that suits my need better. After a week with the F-150, I have to say the 2.7L engine is a 10-speed automatic away from perfection and the 3.5L Ecoboost would be perfect if the fuel economy was 4 MPG better.

Ford provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review

Specifications as tested

0-30: 2.4 Seconds

0-60: 6.45 Seconds

1/4 Mile: 15.12 Seconds @ 92.56 MPH

Average Fuel Economy: 16.4 MPG

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Low-Mileage Venom GT, Penguin-Owned Ferrari Set To Hit Auction Block http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/low-mileage-venom-gt-penguin-owned-ferrari-set-to-hit-auction-block/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/low-mileage-venom-gt-penguin-owned-ferrari-set-to-hit-auction-block/#comments Sun, 21 Jun 2015 17:00:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1096609 Should you happen to be in Cheswick, Penn. next Sunday, you could be the new owner of a 2014 Hennessey Venom GT, or a Ferrari once owned by a Penguin. Constantine & Pletcher owner and auctioneer Dan Pletcher says to TTAC he was putting together a single, nationwide auction with a handful of consignors, with […]

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2014 Hennessey Venom

Should you happen to be in Cheswick, Penn. next Sunday, you could be the new owner of a 2014 Hennessey Venom GT, or a Ferrari once owned by a Penguin.

Constantine & Pletcher owner and auctioneer Dan Pletcher says to TTAC he was putting together a single, nationwide auction with a handful of consignors, with the Venom GT — whose owner was said not to be happy with the vehicle — having been in his sights for a couple of months. He adds this may be the first time a Venom as new as the one put up by the owner is hitting the public auction block.

The Venom — one of 20 produced in 2014 — participated in the Concept Lawn exhibition at last year’s Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, is the only white model in the United States, and has only 745 miles on the odometer. Pletcher conservatively expects the exotic will leave the block for anywhere between $700,000 and $900,000.

Another vehicle of interest is the 2012 Ferrari 458 Italia once owned by Pittsburgh Penguin centerman Eugeni Malkin. Pletcher explained how this celebrity-owned Ferrari arrived in his auction house:

[The Ferrari] came through a friend of mine in the auto auction business that deals with [Malkin’s] agent. The Pittsburgh market is not really the best market for selling higher-end sportscars and performance cars… our roads are not the best for these type of vehicles.

Instead of placing the Ferrari on the showroom floor, Pletcher and the parties involved decided to add the car to the auction. He believes the Italia would fetch between a conservative estimate of $190,000 and $225,000 once the final bid is accepted, though the bidding could end much higher based on Malkin’s star power.

Three other cars set to join the Venom GT and 458 Italia include a numbers-matching 1957 Ford Thunderbird E-Code — referencing the roadster’s 270-horsepower 312-cubic inch V8 with dual four-barrel carb and automatic transmission — a numbers-matching 1968 Chevrolet Camaro RS/SS convertible, and a 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air with only 9,000 miles on the odometer. The trio are from a collection of 30 cars Pletcher plans to sell over the next two years.

The auction will be held in Cheswick, Penn. June 28 beginning at noon Eastern.

(Photo credit: Constantine & Pletcher)

2014 Hennessey Venom 2012 Ferrari 458 Italia 1957 Ford Thunderbird E-Code 1968 Chevrolet Camaro 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air

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Republican Hopeful Donald Trump Threatens Ford With Tariffs Over Mexico http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/republican-hopeful-donald-trump-threatens-ford-with-tariffs-over-mexico/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/republican-hopeful-donald-trump-threatens-ford-with-tariffs-over-mexico/#comments Thu, 18 Jun 2015 19:00:49 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1095409 Republican presidential hopeful and billionaire Donald Trump wants to bring the pain via punitive tariffs to Ford for manufacturing vehicles in Mexico. During his announcement of his 2016 campaign Tuesday, The Detroit News says Trump vowed he would levy a 35 percent tariff on Ford parts and vehicles imported from Mexico if the automaker presses […]

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Smug Motherfucker Donald Trump Douching It Up Like He Always Does

Republican presidential hopeful and billionaire Donald Trump wants to bring the pain via punitive tariffs to Ford for manufacturing vehicles in Mexico.

During his announcement of his 2016 campaign Tuesday, The Detroit News says Trump vowed he would levy a 35 percent tariff on Ford parts and vehicles imported from Mexico if the automaker presses forward with a $2.5 billion investment in the nation, claiming the move would “take away thousands” of jobs from American workers.

Trump then proceeded to roleplay how he would deliver the “bad news” to “the head of Ford,” CEO Mark Fields:

Let me give you the bad news: every car, every truck and every part manufactured in this plant that comes across the border, we’re going to charge you a 35 percent tax — OK? — and that tax is going to be paid simultaneously with the transaction. They are going to take away thousands of jobs.

Announced in April, the $2.5 billion investment would add 3,800 jobs to the 11,300 already employed by Ford in Mexico, and would include new engine and transmission plants aimed toward the export market in the United States and other global markets.

Trump continued on with his roleplay, stating Ford would use lobbyist power to persuade “President Trump” to drop the tax, only for him to sandbag the automaker into submission. He added he knew Fields personally, and thought Ford was a good company overall.

In response, spokeswoman Christin Baker reiterated Ford’s investments into its home market:

We are proud that we have invested $6.2 billion in our U.S. plants since 2011 and hired nearly 25,000 U.S. employees. Overall, 80 percent of our North American investment annually is in the U.S., and 97 percent of our North American engineering is conducted in the U.S.

Of course, Trump wouldn’t be legally able to punish Ford for building its plants wherever it wanted, let alone single-out Ford with his plan without also doing the same to General Motors and FCA (how he would deal with Fiat owning Chrysler would be a whole other round of metaphors and hyperbole altogether).

At least one thing is for certain in Trump’s campaigning thus far: the dead cat on his head is actually his hair.

(Photo credit:Gage Skidmore/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0)

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Small Screen, Big Car: The Hawaii Five-O Mercury Marquis and the Supernatural Impala http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/small-screen-big-car-hawaii-five-o-mercury-marquis-supernatural-impala/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/small-screen-big-car-hawaii-five-o-mercury-marquis-supernatural-impala/#comments Thu, 18 Jun 2015 17:00:21 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1083865 Smoke and mirrors – but sometimes also steel. In the odd world of movies and television, things are not always what they seem: the fake blower on the Mad Max Pursuit Special, the digital tire smoke from the Merc’ 6.9 in Ronin. It’s always a bit disappointing when you meet a hero car to learn […]

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Impala vs Marquis

Smoke and mirrors – but sometimes also steel. In the odd world of movies and television, things are not always what they seem: the fake blower on the Mad Max Pursuit Special, the digital tire smoke from the Merc’ 6.9 in Ronin.

It’s always a bit disappointing when you meet a hero car to learn that, behind the polish, it’s all hat and no cattle. But not with these two beasts. These are the real deal: guts, dents, motor, and chrome. One’s a modern hearthrob, the other’s a lantern-jawed archetype that even today outshines its modern co-stars.

One Ford product, one vehicle cranked out by the General. Black paint, V8 rumble, and more character than the small screen can contain. Here are their stories.
IMG_7968

Supernatural‘s been filming in my hometown for close-on ten years now. The show’s premise is pretty straightforward: the trials and tribulations of a pair of demon-fighting brothers as they wander around America in a 1967 Impala, putting evil back in the ground. Dukes of Hazzard meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer: justa good ol’ boys, never meaning no harm; beats all you ever saw, punched the Devil in the jaw, and gave Death a dead arm.

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Sometimes it’s serious, sometimes it’s goofy, sometimes it’s overdramatic, and sometimes the show’s genuinely funny. The fanbase is large and loyal, and there’s a lot of love for the Impala, which is sort of a third Winchester brother on the show. It’s a constant companion, rumbling into a new town with a trunk filled with salt, crucifixes, and wooden stakes. They call it Baby, as that’s so often what Dean Winchester – played by Jensen Ackles – fondly calls his lead sled.

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As is usual in filming, there are multiple copies of this thing, all suited up identically in shabby black. Of the seven, one’s a buck cut up into movable sections for filming (not used much any more with the compact nature of modern cameras), a couple are stunt cars with extra pedals to lock up the rear brakes, and a couple are stand-ins for positioning shots. And one main one.

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A 1967 Chevrolet Impala hardtop sedan is a pretty rare car in its own right; people preserved more coupes and convertibles than sedans, and over the years many of these things rusted away unloved. It landed the role essentially out of the necessity for a musclecar large enough to have a cameraman riding around in the back seat while filming. The LA-shot pilot used a couple of ex-cop machines and a star was born.

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Part of the Supernatural Impala’s charm is its slightly menacing air and garage-project look. It doesn’t wear huge Chip Foose style rims, nor is it factory-trim prim and proper. The doors creak when you open them. There’s a line-lock strapped to the gearshift stalk. And then there’s what’s under the skin.

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Six of the Impalas are just props. One of them is something else: a fully-built car that’s used for closeups and star work. The work is partially Ackles’ doing – rumor has it he’s hoping to keep the car after the show wraps, so he’s pushed for a few upgrades. More than a few actually.

Under that huge hood is a fully-built big-block Chevy V8, a 502 cubic-inch monster that idles like a bowling ball in an industrial dryer and barks like a Hellhound when you prod the throttle. The suspension is a complete Hotchkiss set up, and the car actually handles and brakes reasonably well. When the crew needed to set up a few establishing shots for a season’s traveling, they strapped cameras to the Impala and spent a week aimlessly roaming around the canyon roads and deserts of BC’s interior. “Most fun two weeks of my life,” says the car’s long-time caretaker.

The Impala is at least as potent in person as it is on screen, even if the demon-fighting apparatus in its trunk is just a prop. Supernatural? No – it’s the real deal.

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In far rougher shape, but no less impressive, is the 1974 Mercury Marquis from Hawaii Five-O. This was Detective Steve McGarrett’s (as played by Jack Lord) car in the original series for six seasons. It continues to feature in the modern remake, functioning as the link between the two shows.

Unlike the Impala, there was only ever one Marquis. While a ’67 coupe was used in the pilot episode, and a ’68 Park Lane sedan filled in for the first six seasons, the black ’74 that saw out Five-O‘s run didn’t have a stunt double to take the punches. Like the original Ectomobile, it was the only car used, and that meant week after week of damage and repair. Often-times the mechanic, Mike Sakamoto, would be welding it back together into the wee hours of the morning.

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The old girl’s in pretty sad condition. That salt-filled Hawaiian air is easy on the skin but rusty murder on old Detroit iron like this. Open the door and a small shower of iron oxide hisses down – it’s a miracle that a forty-year-old unrestored car survives like this.

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Yet survive it does. The owner, John Nordlum, puts the key in the ignition and cranks the engine. The starter whirrs creakily, there’s a weak tuff-tuff-tuff of an old engine coughing to life, and then she fires. The Ford 460ci V8 sets up a beat, and once again McGarrett’s car glides off the set, and out onto patrol on the streets of Honolulu.

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Nordlum was Jack Lord’s body double, and later Tom Selleck’s double on Magnum PI (which mostly used the same crew as Five-O). He was given the Marquis at the end of shooting the series, a gift from Jack Lord. Notoriously a forceful personality, Lord steamrollered any studio objections, and Nordlum got the keys.

The Marquis rumbles around the block without a catch in its step, though the body rolls like an ill-ballasted ship through the corners. There’s creaks and rattles aplenty, and even the shifter is liver-spotted with patina. But she still runs and drives, even after all these years. “We can’t get crew that’s lasted as long as that car,” Nordlum laughs, “It’s got a life of its own.”

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Perhaps either the show or some eager fan will foot the restoration bill for the Marquis. Perhaps the Impala will end up in Ackles’ personal garage, to be trotted out now and then for a blitz around the block.

That’s the hope anyway – sure, both have been immortalized through the lens of a camera already, but each is not just a ephemeral fantasy. There is solidity here, realness beyond the showbiz glitz. It’s something to be honored and preserved.

Impala vs Marquis IMG_7973 IMG_7968 IMG_7960 IMG_7958 IMG_7955 IMG_7948 IMG_7934 IMG_4343 IMG_4333 IMG_4320 IMG_4317 IMG_4314 IMG_4313 IMG_4306

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Billionaire Investor Kirk Kerkorian Dead At 98 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/billionaire-investor-kirk-kerkorian-dead-at-98/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/billionaire-investor-kirk-kerkorian-dead-at-98/#comments Tue, 16 Jun 2015 19:00:31 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1093817 Billionaire investor Kirk Kerkorian died Tuesday at the age of 98, leaving behind a legacy which included the automotive industry in his twilight years. Aside from his numerous holdings in Las Vegas casinos — including MGM Resorts International — air charter businesses, and movie studios, Kerkorian held shares among all of the Detroit Three, Bloomberg […]

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1989 Chrysler TC
Billionaire investor Kirk Kerkorian died Tuesday at the age of 98, leaving behind a legacy which included the automotive industry in his twilight years.

Aside from his numerous holdings in Las Vegas casinos — including MGM Resorts International — air charter businesses, and movie studios, Kerkorian held shares among all of the Detroit Three, Bloomberg reports.

Though he once sold one of his businesses to Studebaker — only to buy it back two years later — Kerkorian’s dealings in Detroit began in 1990, when he acquired nearly 10 percent of Chrysler’s stock after being impressed by then-chairman Lee Iacocca. Five years after, he and Iacocca were rebuffed by the automaker and its then-new chairman, Bob Eaton, when the duo sought to buy the remaining 90 percent of the automaker for $22.8 billion; Daimler AG would buy Chrysler three years later.

Though he initially supported the so-called “merger of equals” — his outside analysis helped lead the two companies down the aisle, Automotive News says — he sued DaimlerChrysler for $3 billion in damages in 2000 for misleading him with said merger. Kerkorian would ultimately lose his suit in 2005, his appeal of the federal trial verdict also proving unsuccessful.

Two years later, Kerkorian sought to buy Chrysler once more, offering $4.6 billion to Daimler before being outbid by Cerberus.

Around the same time of the Cerberus bid, he bought nearly 10 percent of General Motors shares, selling them back a year later after his patience ran out with the automaker’s management when he failed to convince then-CEO Rick Wagoner to join forces with Renault-Nissan. He also lost $600 million in 2008 selling his 6.5 percent stake in Ford — citing a lack of confidence the Blue Oval could turn its fortunes around — which he had purchased for over $1 billion in the same year.

[Photo credit: Greg Gjerdingen/Flickr/CC BY 2.0]

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Toyota, Ford Show No Interest In Heading Down The Aisle With FCA http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/toyota-ford-show-no-interest-in-heading-down-the-aisle-with-fca/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/toyota-ford-show-no-interest-in-heading-down-the-aisle-with-fca/#comments Fri, 12 Jun 2015 16:00:51 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1091505 When General Motors ultimately rebuffs FCA’s attempts to put a ring on it, Toyota or Ford could be the one true love, right? Not so fast. Toyota North America CEO Jim Lentz told those attending a groundbreaking ceremony at the Toyota Technical Center in York Township, Mich. his employer had not been contacted by FCA […]

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Toyota North America Groundbreaking Ceremony

When General Motors ultimately rebuffs FCA’s attempts to put a ring on it, Toyota or Ford could be the one true love, right? Not so fast.

Toyota North America CEO Jim Lentz told those attending a groundbreaking ceremony at the Toyota Technical Center in York Township, Mich. his employer had not been contacted by FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne about consolidation between the two, The Detroit News reports.

Had the suggestion been made, however, Lentz says it wouldn’t happen, as there would be “no advantage” for Toyota to consider such a move, citing Ford’s decision to avoid bankruptcy by selling off brands like Volvo and Land Rover to focus on a simpler portfolio:

To me, a large OEM today taking on Chrysler is contrary to what was very successful for Ford. FCA has a very strong Jeep brand, and especially today with fuel prices, it’s a great brand to have… but it really isn’t a fit for what we need at Toyota.

Speaking of Ford, CFO Bob Shanks said consolidation could occur at the supplier level, as well as partnerships with other automakers to share powertrain and transmission technology. As for Ford marrying FCA, however:

We’re not a suitor for FCA. We don’t see that type of opportunity as one that applies to us.

We have a lot of experience with mergers… We’re not babes in the woods. Based on that experience, for us that doesn’t seem to be where we’d want to go. We want to have a more forward-looking perspective in terms of what’s happening in the industry… It doesn’t seem to be that it would be doubling down on the past.

Kelley Blue Book senior analyst Karl Brauer had some encouraging news for Marchionne, stating FCA would its true love eventually, just not among the larger automakers, whom Brauer believes already have enough on their minds as it is without seeing a Ram 1500 in the parking lot blasting “Every Breath You Take” and “Wrapped Around Your Finger” from its custom bed with embedded nine-speaker audio system:

Poor Sergio; always a bridesmaid, never a bride.

[Photo credit: Toyota]

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2015 Ford Mustang EcoBoost Review http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/2015-ford-mustang-ecoboost-review/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/2015-ford-mustang-ecoboost-review/#comments Fri, 12 Jun 2015 15:00:24 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1084361 I’m giddy like a school girl when the Mustang shows up. This is my ride to southern New Jersey for the 24 Hours of Lemons race, and it’s a perfect tool for the job. I think the new Mustang looks much better in person than pictures. This color combination is love at first sight. Upon closer inspection, it has the coveted […]

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2015 ford mustang ecoboost front side

I’m giddy like a school girl when the Mustang shows up. This is my ride to southern New Jersey for the 24 Hours of Lemons race, and it’s a perfect tool for the job.

I think the new Mustang looks much better in person than pictures. This color combination is love at first sight. Upon closer inspection, it has the coveted Performance Package, and a peek inside reveals its optional Recaro seats and, most importantly, a proper six-speed manual transmission! Yes, the car Gods have smiled upon me.

Yet, the biggest surprise is when I start the engine…

2015 ford mustang ecoboost engine

…which sounds like the Ford Escape.

Yup – it’s the new four-cylinder Mustang EcoBoost. That deep V8 tone, pronounced by a sweet rumble at start-up that makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, is gone. Instead, I get the sound and fury of a CUV.

I keep an open mind because surely no one at Ford would put this four-banger into a Mustang if it’s anything but great. To be honest, to me, this is the most interesting engine of the three available, if for no other reason than I simply don’t not know what to expect.

Right away, this engine feels different than most sporty turbocharged fours. For one, it feels heavy. It does not rev very freely, as if there is a heavy flywheel attached. Interestingly, I said the exact same thing of the 1.0-liter three-cylinder in the Fiesta. Secondly, the torque curve is very flat and without much lag, both good. Ford says the engine’s peak 320 lb.-ft. is available between 2500 and 4500 rpm. There are 310 horsepower at 5500 rpm and it seems to drop off when approaching the redline.

2015 ford mustang ecoboost rear side

Accompanying that power from 2500 rpm up is the sweet sound of turbo whistle – quite addictive. During street acceleration or highway passing, this engine whistles blissfully while pulling hard, and it almost makes up for the lack of the V8 sound. Almost. But I question the noise: is it organic or is Ford fooling me?

So it’s got torque, but is it fast? That’s depends on your definition of fast. Buff books say the EcoBoost ‘Stang will achieve 0-60 mph in 5.5 seconds and complete the quarter in 13.9 seconds. That was fast some years ago, but today that’s hardly quick; a V6 Accord is just two tenths slower through the traps. The EcoBoost Mustang requires persuasion to really move fast, whereas a V8 engine would seemingly have all the power, all the time.

Even when driven in anger, I wouldn’t go racing any V8 Mustangs and, trust me, every Mustang driver on the road will want to race you. Just look away. If you’re into modifying, you’ll be happy to know there are EcoBoost Mustangs running around with 400 horsepower at the rear wheels.

2015 ford mustang ecoboost dash

Despite being the smallest of the three American muscle cars, the Mustang isn’t a small sports car, being six inches longer and two and a half inches wider than the BMW 428i coupe. It weighs 3,532 pounds, which is about 100 pounds more than the Bimmer and 170 less than an equivalent Mustang GT.

While it feels heavy, Ford has somehow managed to make this weight work, and it’s damn fun to drive on any road. Despite being at a race track, I did not have permission to do any laps in the ‘Stang, but I am certain it would do quite well with the Pirelli P-Zeros as part of the Performance Package.

What I’m disappointed with is the fact Ford went through all this effort to make the F-150 body out of aluminum but only the hood and fenders on the ‘Stang. Less weight, which one would expect in the change to a four-cylinder engine, would drive the fun factor way up. It would improve the fuel economy, too, which the EPA rates at 22 mpg in the city, 31 mpg on the highway and 26 mpg combined. On my somewhat casual New Jersey Turnpike drive I got about 27 mpg. With the overall trip average, which included the fun Merritt Parkway and crowded Bergen County, I averaged 23 mpg. For comparison, the manual V6 gets 17 mpg city and 28 highway, while the V8 manual is rated for 15 mpg city and 25 highway. Not that fuel economy is a selling point of the Mustang.

2015 ford mustang ecoboost interior details 2

The rest of the car, to be brief, is great. The Recaro seats, despite lacking side bolster adjustments or bottom cushion extension, are very comfortable for the six-foot-two me and drew cheers from the dozen guys who asked me if they could check out the car. While supportive, the seats are not difficult to get in and out of and not at all tiring over my six hour drive. Unlike the conventional seats, the Recaros are not heated or ventilated, and they don’t return to their original position after accessing the rear seat. If I had one wish, it would be for slightly more headroom for the times one is wearing a helmet. The rear seats are best suited for shorter folks.

The shifter is damn near perfect for enthusiastic driving – not too short, with only the sixth gear not always where expected; little to the right. It was as if the car wanted to shift naturally from fifth to fourth, but going into sixth requires more decisiveness, which makes sense. The clutch pedal feels a bit stiff, reminding you this is no econobox, but it is not difficult when stuck in gridlocked traffic on the George Washington Bridge approach.

2015 ford mustang ecoboost exterior details

Once seated, forward visibility is very good and much improved over the previous generation, but the side mirrors are a bit small. The dash is nicely laid out, with all controls within easy access. Some things, such as the toggle switches chrome-like trim or the “ground speed” speedometer, may not be to everyone’s taste, but everything worked very well. It has taken me many years, but I have finally warmed up to the love-it-or-hate-it, soon to be replaced MyFord Touch system, which in this car was complimented by the Shaker audio system. The HID headlights are excellent, too.

What irks me are the selectable drive and steering modes. There are four driving modes (normal, snow-wet, sport, and track) and three steering modes (comfort, normal and sport). With each restart they default to normal. I understand all automakers do this now for various reasons, but I shouldn’t need to tell my Mustang to be sporty each time I get into it. It should have two modes: Go! and LMHBSMA!, let-me-hoon-but-save-my-ass track mode.

2015 ford mustang ecoboost other details

The 2015 Mustang EcoBoost starts at $25,300. This Premium model punches it up to $29,300. The Shaker audio system is $1,795, adaptive cruise control is $1,195, Performance Package (19” wheels with Pirellis, 3.55 LSD, thicker rear sway bar, bracing, larger rotors and 4-piston front calipers, larger radiator, gauge pack) is well worth $1,995, $1,595 for Recaro seats, few other minor options and destination charge bring the price of the reviewed vehicle to $38,585. For comparison, an equally equipped GT model would cost over $5,000 more.

Minor annoyances aside, I really like this ‘Stang. I love how it looks (especially in this color combination, which seemed especially tricky to photograph). I like all the features, the fun-to-drive factor, comfort, refinement, and its surprisingly large trunk – but it does leave me somewhat puzzled. It’s not significantly lighter, cheaper, or economical than a Mustang with the proper V8 engine. It’s also not much faster than the V6. It exists so Ford can sell the Mustang around the world, but anyone who buys one anywhere will be reminded they should have gotten the V8 every time they start the engine.

2015 ford mustang ecoboost

Kamil Kaluski is the East Coast Editor for Hooniverse.com. His ramblings on Eastern European cars, $500 racers, and other miscellaneous automotive stuff can be found there. He and his team were doing really great in the race right until they blew the engine

Ford Motor Company provided the vehicle for the purpose of this review. 

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2017 Ford GT Entering 2016 24 Hours of Le Mans http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/2017-ford-gt-entering-2016-24-hours-of-le-mans/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/2017-ford-gt-entering-2016-24-hours-of-le-mans/#comments Fri, 12 Jun 2015 13:43:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1091553 Nearly 50 years ago, Ford threw down against Ferrari at Le Mans, sweeping the podium in so doing. Come 2016, Ford aims to do the same with the 2017 Ford GT. The 2017 GT will compete in the 2016 FIA World Endurance Championship season in LM GTE Pro, as well as the 2016 TUDOR United […]

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FORD_LE_MANS_10

Nearly 50 years ago, Ford threw down against Ferrari at Le Mans, sweeping the podium in so doing. Come 2016, Ford aims to do the same with the 2017 Ford GT.

The 2017 GT will compete in the 2016 FIA World Endurance Championship season in LM GTE Pro, as well as the 2016 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship season, where it will make its debut at the 24 Hours of Daytona in January.

The two-team effort will be led by Chip Ganassi Racing, who will campaign four GTs at Le Mans, with Roush Racing responsible for preparing the exotic’s 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 for endurance competition; driver announcements will come later.

Our own Ronnie Schreiber will have more on the Ford GT’s return to Le Mans later on; for now, these photos and the promo video will do.

2016 Ford GT FIA-WEC Gallery
FORD_LE_MANS_6 FORD_LE_MANS_5 FORD_LE_MANS_4 FORD_LE_MANS_8 FORD_LE_MANS_3 FORD_LE_MANS_1 FORD_LE_MANS_7 FORD_LE_MANS_2 FORD_LE_MANS_9 FORD_LE_MANS_10 FORD_LE_MANS_14 FORD_LE_MANS_13 FORD_LE_MANS_12 FORD_LE_MANS_11 FORD_LE_MANS_17

2016 Ford GT IMSA-TUDOR Gallery
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[Photo credit: Ford]

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Bark’s Bites: Ford’s ST Octane Academy Should Be Rated at 100 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/barks-bites-fords-st-octane-academy-rated-100/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/barks-bites-fords-st-octane-academy-rated-100/#comments Thu, 11 Jun 2015 16:00:40 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1089489 Many car manufacturers will sell you a hot hatch. Only Ford will teach you how to drive one after you’ve bought it. Thanks in part to the success of their Boss Track Attack program (of which your author is a proud graduate), Ford made the decision to offer a one-day track experience to anybody smart enough to […]

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Ford Fiesta ST Octane Academy Race Car

Many car manufacturers will sell you a hot hatch. Only Ford will teach you how to drive one after you’ve bought it.

Thanks in part to the success of their Boss Track Attack program (of which your author is a proud graduate), Ford made the decision to offer a one-day track experience to anybody smart enough to buy either a Focus or Fiesta ST.

Since I had such a great time at the Boss Track Attack two years ago, there was no way I was going to pass up this opportunity to head back to Miller Motorsports Park and burn the brakes out of wring out one of their STs at one of the finest motorsports facilities in the world, especially if the track is as doomed as some say it is.

After arriving in Salt Lake City and checking in at the sumptuous Hotel Monaco in the city’s beautiful downtown, I took my rental Toyota Yaris hatchback out to Ken Block’s Hoonigan headquarters in Park City, Utah, where a buffet dinner awaited the ST Octane Academy participants.

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I have a lot of things to say about Ken Block and DC Shoes, none of which are particularly nice, so I will just focus on the fact that I met some super cool guys at dinner. Seated at my table were three young men who worked as engineers for Ford in Livonia, MI, and another young man from NYC who had to take a eighty-five dollar taxi from the airport to Park City because he was only twenty years old and wasn’t allowed to rent a car.

When I visited MMP for Boss Track Attack two years ago, I was the second youngest participant at 35 years old. At 37, I was among the oldest of the nineteen STOA participants. This pleased me immensely to know there are still many, many so-called “millennials” that have a passion for not only owning such great cars, but also for learning how to drive them. That being said, none of the other participants had any track experience, and only a couple had even autocrossed before.

We were strongly advised by the lovely young lady who was in charge that we should save the partying for the next night, because we needed to be at MMP no later than 7:45 a.m. the next day. Also, for anybody who hasn’t spent much time at the altitude levels of Salt Lake City, dehydration is a serious concern. This was confirmed for me when I awakened the next morning at 6:30 to find that my nasal passages had completely dried out and filled with blood overnight, despite the fact that I had consumed two sixteen-ounce bottles of water right before going to bed.

No matter – I was going to get to drive at MMP that day! No blood-covered pillow could dampen my enthusiasm. I hopped out of bed and headed out for a thirty-five minute drive west to Tooele, the home city of Miller Motorsports Park.

DSCN1351

Okay, so maybe I was a bit overexcited. I was the first one to arrive at the classroom by a rather wide margin, so I decided to go speak to the young lady who was working in the souvenir store about the day’s schedule.

“Excuse me, miss, but do you know which course we’ll be running today for ST Octane?” I asked.

Miller Motorsports Park’s road course has several different configurations, including the ability to be split into two separate courses – East and West. I had driven the East course for Boss Track Attack, and I was hoping that maybe, just maybe, West would be used that day. Gotta add to that track count!

“Well, normally they use the East course, but there’s a Porsche Club HPDE today on East, so you guys will be on West,” she replied.

“YES!” I shouted, startling both of us a bit. “I mean – cool. I’ve never driven West before!”

“Well,” she said as she backed away slowly, “you will today!”

One by one, the other participants filed into the classroom. One of the instructors asked everybody to grab a pretty blue firesuit and white open-faced helmet from the racks.

“I brought my own,” I mumbled. Apparently, I was that guy. Here’s the class pic to verify my douchiness:

 

stoa class picture

Who is the douche with the full face helmet and triple-layer racing suit? Oh, wait, that’s me.

Before any track driving could happen, we had to receive a bit of classroom instruction on cornering theory. Our excellent classroom instruction was provided by Ronnie Swyers, a noted driving coach, karting champion and LeMons/ChumpCar driver.

 

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Here, Ronnie shows everybody how I will be overcooking the entry to corners

He explained the Focuses and Fiestas we’d be driving had some mild performance upgrades – improved brake pads, brake fluid, rollcages, handbrakes – but they were otherwise very much like the cars  we had in our respective garages (fortunately, they also had different tires). After our classroom session, we were split into two groups – one group would be doing a handbrake turn exercise that we’d be using on the UrbanCross X course later in the day, as well as a apex exercise, while the other group was sent off to drive the skid car and take a couple of laps on the West course as passengers in a van. I was in the handbrake turn group. Take a look below at my effort at making a 180 handbrake turn in the Focus ST:

Next up was my attempt at driving the skid car. What’s a skid car, you may ask? Well, it’s a car that is suspended on casters that can be raised and lowered on hydraulics to simulate oversteer at very low speeds. I remembered my complete and utter failure at driving it the last time I tried. “Prepare for a humbling experience,” I told my fellow classmates. Sure enough, after giving us a few seconds to become acclimated to the car, instructor Charlie Putnam dialed up the hydraulics and made it nearly impossible to drive the Ford Fusion skid car in a straight line. Each of us got a chance to practice shuffle steering and applying the throttle under oversteer conditions.

Finally, they piled all of us into the van for a ride around the track with Ronnie, who explained the proper entrance and exit of each corner on the West course. The apexes were clearly identified with cones. “We’ve made it point-to-point for you guys,” Ronnie explained. We took two complete laps of the course then headed back to the classroom for lunch. My major complaint about Boss Track Attack was the poor quality of the lunch [You should be an automotive journalist! -Mark]. Luckily, this has been remedied.

After lunch, it was time to take the Focuses (Foci?) and Fiestas out on track. We did two lead/follow sessions – one in the Fiesta and one in the Focus – then we were allowed to pick our own poison for the following instructor ride-along laps. Since I’ve already tracked my Fiesta, I decided to pick the Focus. My instructor, Donny, rode with me for one full lap, advised me to stop using the brakes like an On/Off switch, and to track out more on corner exit. He then hopped out and let me fly solo. Here’s the resulting three-lap session:

Why only three laps, you may ask? Well, I had caught the driver ahead of me and no passing was allowed, so I decided to roll through the pits. When I came back down pit lane, the brakes were, um, on fire. So they didn’t let me go back out. Can’t say I blame them.

After driving both cars on track, I felt incredibly glad that I bought the Fiesta and not the Focus. The Focus felt slow and plodding in comparison to the Fiesta. It understeered nearly everywhere. I felt as though I was constantly battling the car to get the nose pointed the right way. The Fiesta, on the other hand, was nimble and agile on course. Later in the day, the instructors each chose the Fiesta for their Hot Lap student ride-alongs. When I talked to Focus owners who drove the Fiesta, more than a couple of them said the experience made them wish they owned a Fiesta, not a Focus.

Fortunately, the only choice for the UrbanCross X course was the Fiesta. The UrbanCross was essentially a short autocross course that was slightly complicated by a forward 180 turn at the beginning and a 90 degree box turn at the end. If you didn’t get all four wheels inside the box, you got a four second penalty. This was the only timed event of the day, so there was a “fabulous prize” offered up to the winner of the event. We had four practice laps then one final run that would be the only one that counted for all the marbles. I had heard the best time of the first group was around a 53.0, so I was pretty pleased when my first lap was a 51.3. I got down to about a 50 flat, but I crunched a couple of cones. For my final lap, I decided to play it a little safe and stay off of the cones. Here it is:

It ended up a little slower than my best, but still fast enough to win by about three seconds over the second-place finisher. For my efforts, I won the following:

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As you can see, it’s a baby traffic cone and a disturbingly large sex toy. I think.

We finished up with a round of karting action, which was a fun way to put a bow on an outstanding day. So, to summarize:

Pros:

  • Great instruction
  • Plenty of time behind the wheel
  • World-class facility
  • It’s FREE*

Cons:

  • Not enough track time (Boss Track had two twenty-minute sessions, STOA had one 15-minute session and the UrbanCross)
  • Ummm…I can’t think of anything else

Listen, y’all – as we’ve reported here previously, Miller Motorsports Park is at risk of closing. FOR GOOD. If you have a Focus or Fiesta ST, you simply must find a way to take advantage of this opportunity to receive professional instruction on one of the most exciting (and equally important, safest) tracks you can drive before the end of the program on October 31st.

If you don’t own a Focus or Fiesta ST…well, why the hell not? If anything, this program proves these cars are nearly track-ready right out of the box, particularly the Fiesta. There’s no more fun to be had per dollar.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m making plans to get back out on track with mine.

* Ford Focus ST or Fiesta ST lease or purchase required.

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Cobra vs. Camaro: A Brief Recap Of The Modern Era http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/cobra-vs-camaro-brief-recap-modern-era/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/cobra-vs-camaro-brief-recap-modern-era/#comments Mon, 08 Jun 2015 16:00:59 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1087329 As a child, I was told that it was impolite to mention religion or politics at the dinner table, because such discussions tended to elicit irreconcilable differences between guests who would otherwise be perfectly compatible. Many years later, as an itinerant observer of the Midwestern street racing scene, I learned that there was a dinner […]

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cobrastory3

As a child, I was told that it was impolite to mention religion or politics at the dinner table, because such discussions tended to elicit irreconcilable differences between guests who would otherwise be perfectly compatible. Many years later, as an itinerant observer of the Midwestern street racing scene, I learned that there was a dinner topic that combined the worst aspects of religiosity and partisanship in its prospective combatants, and that topic was known to all and sundry as “Ford vs. Chevy”. It’s the third rail of car-guy discourse, and you’ll touch it at your peril. People take this stuff seriously; the bowtie and the blue oval were common tattoos back in the days before every size-12 Millennial female womens-studies graduate and her bewildered, low-testosterone life partner routinely got full ink sleeves as a way to ensure that they were exactly as different as everyone else.

It’s no surprise, then, that when I posted a reasonably popular article on the R&T website about driving a new-in-box 1995 Mustang Cobra R on a racetrack for the first time, my casual use of the phrase “Z28-killer” to describe said 5.8L, 300-horsepower ponycar caused hundreds of Facebook commenters to lose their collective minds. In short order, I was roughly e-Educated on the fourth-gen F-body’s clear and present superiority by people whose collective amnesia regarding things like Optispark wouldn’t be out of place in a Fifties-era Moose Lodge discussion of Executive Order 9066. Some of these people threatened my life. Worse still, they’re wrong. The ’95 Cobra would smoke a stock ’95 Z28 around a road course. Duh.

But that was just one battle in a long ponycar campaign that has raged since before most of us were born, and with additional violence since the “Cobra” name was first put on a Mustang. What follows, therefore, is a highly opinionated recap of this war without end. We’ll pick a winner for each battle, and we’ll skip the Sixties and Seventies – this isn’t Collectible Automobile – starting instead with the Year Of Our Lord 1993.


Round One: 1993 “Fox” Cobra vs. 1993 Z28
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“The mood is BMW”, C/D enthused regarding the 1993 Cobra, but the mood – and the rear discs, a long-overdue upgrade over the prehistoric drums on the “5.0” GT – didn’t make up for the massive deficit in power and pace between this and the new-for-1993 Camaro Z28. It wasn’t the first Cobra on this platform – that would be the 132-horsepower 1979 Cobra Turbo – and it wasn’t the first “special vehicle” on this platform – that would be the legendary Mustang SVO, also a four-cylinder turbo – but it was the debut vehicle for the re-imagined Special Vehicle Team. Had it arrived in 1992 to face the automatic-only 5.7 Z28, it would have been a superstar. Against the LT1 fourth-gen, however, it was an also-ran. A very limited-production Cobra R added big brakes and bespoke suspension but had no additional power, making it easy meat for the Chevrolet anywhere but the autocross course. Advantage: Camaro

Round Two: 1994 Cobra 5.0 vs. 1994 Z28

94cobra

The “mod motor” was well established in full-size Fords when the “SN95″ Mustangs reached showrooms for the 1994 model year, but the first two years of SN95 production used the beloved five-point-oh for reasons that were never clear to me even though I was an employee of Ford Credit at the time. The Cobra, too, used what was basically a carryover engine from the previous year, mildly bumped to 240 horsepower. It wasn’t enough and the extra weight of the new platform didn’t help at all. C/D confirmed that yet again the Cobra couldn’t run with a stock Z28.

The Cobra R, on the other hand, had the ability to run thirteens in private hands and a suspension that was well beyond anything that General Motors could offer. I enjoyed the heck out of the one I drove last month, I’ll tell you. Still, it cost twice as much as a plain Z28, making it more of a Corvette competitor. Advantage: Camaro

Round Three: 1996 Cobra 32v vs. 1996 Camaro SS

mysticcobra

I was a Ford salesman when the 32-valve Cobra appeared. It seemed like the perfect weapon to avenge three years’ worth of humiliation at the hands of the fourth-gen Camaro, and the optional “Mystic” color-flipping paint was just the icing on the cake. (I blush to admit that I wanted a Mystic Cobra so badly back then that I ended up buying a MusicMan JP6 Mystic Dream earlier this year just out of nostalgia for the car.) Unfortunately for Ford fanatics, Chevrolet had the pumped-up SS – and when C/D performed an unusually thorough comparison between it and the Cobra using champion drivers at a drag strip, an SCCA-Solo-II-style autocross course, and Michigan’s Grattan Raceway, the Camaro smoked the Mustang on all three fronts. Oh, the humiliation! But the margin of victory was much closer than it had been in 1994, so if you liked the Mustang’s superior driving position, park-ability, and quality control, you could put the Cobra in your garage and not feel too guilty about it. Advantage: Camaro

Round Four: 2001 New Edge Cobra vs. 2001 Camaro SS LS1

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The Mustang was revamped into the so-called “New Edge” for 1999. The Cobra got an independent rear suspension and a 320-horsepower version of the 32v 4.6. Unfortunately for Ford, the engine didn’t make the advertised power and in the resulting kerfluffle the Cobra was discontinued for 2000. When it returned in 2001, it was able to match the Camaro SS in all performance categories despite the Camaro’s upgrade to a Corvette-sourced LS1 aluminum small-block. The price difference was about ten percent in the Chevrolet’s favor, but the addition of IRS emphasized the Mustang’s real-world superiority. A 385-horse big-bore variant, the Cobra R, was priced against the Corvette but couldn’t match it for pace. Advantage: Tie game.

Round Five: 2004 Terminator Cobra vs….

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The supercharged SVT Cobra, nicknamed “Terminator” during development, ran a 12.9-second quarter-mile. And it handled, after a fashion. And it looked bad-ass. It was arguably the best Mustang since the original Shelby GT350. The Camaro SS, preparing to depart the market without a successor, had nothing for it. Advantage: Cobra, by a knockout.

Round Six: 2013 Shelby GT500 vs 2013 Camaro ZL1

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To my immense dismay, the successor to the Terminator Cobra was badged as a Shelby for reasons of pure and simple marketing. The first iron-block GT500 was a pretty good car and if you’re interested in watching low-res footage of spectator-shoe heel-and-toe you can watch my old video of one at MSR Houston. The 662-horsepower “Trinity” Cobra, however, was a high-water mark in ponycar history, a nearly perfect blend of power and poise and charisma. It impressed me beyond all words – okay, I came up with a few words – and, along with its Boss 302 sibling, put an exclamation point on the end of the retro-Mustang era.

The Camaro ZL1 was the HHR to the Shelby’s PT Cruiser. More refinement, more visual drama, delivery to market about four years after the car that inspired it. Our friends at Car and Driver preferred it to the GT500, citing its superior composure on track and more comfortable ride while sniffing that the Mustang was “over-the-top brutish”. Since that is precisely what is required in a big-bore ponycar, that over-the-top brutality, I have no trouble calling this one Advantage: Cobra.

Round Seven: ?????

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What does the future hold for the Cobra vs. Camaro rivalry? Will there be a counterpart to the GT350? Will both manufacturers field another supercharged V-8, or will Chevrolet attempt to build a sort of hybrid of the Z/28 and ZL1 that competes directly with the new Shelby? Will the lighter and smaller 2016 Camaro play the role of Fox-body to the 2015 Mustang’s third-gen Camaro, using a weight and dimensional advantage to capture reviewers’ hearts? I have no crystal ball, but I can offer one piece of advice: Don’t be in a hurry to buy a ponycar, because ever since 1979 there’s always been a better one around the corner.

Unless, that is, you have an order slot for a GT350.

You can go ahead and get that. And if you’d like to see how it compares to a 1995 Cobra R around a racetrack, you know how to reach me, right?

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Weekend Roundup: Top Gear Show, F1 Show and New Subaru Blue is All Show http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/weekend-roundup-top-gear-show-f1-show-and-new-subaru-blue-is-all-show/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/weekend-roundup-top-gear-show-f1-show-and-new-subaru-blue-is-all-show/#comments Mon, 08 Jun 2015 14:45:19 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1086473 As Richard Hammond and James May wrap up the “lost episodes” of Top Gear sans Jeremy Clarkson, the three are rumored to be heading to Netflix with the unsuspended pair turning down deals worth 4 million GBP. Here’s what caught our eyes over the weekend. I Don’t Need A Monster Truck (WIRED) Small trucks were virtually […]

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Top-Gear-Live-Richard-Hammond-and-James-May

As Richard Hammond and James May wrap up the “lost episodes” of Top Gear sans Jeremy Clarkson, the three are rumored to be heading to Netflix with the unsuspended pair turning down deals worth 4 million GBP.

Here’s what caught our eyes over the weekend.

gl_brown_ff-582x588I Don’t Need A Monster Truck (WIRED)
Small trucks were virtually the only good thing about the ’90s. Oh, and music. The music was good.

chris-evans-car-fe_2455765bTop Gear doesn’t need Chris Evans. It needs a woman (The Telegraph)
“Personally, I didn’t really care. Clarkson was finally off our TV screens. After 13 years of racist comments, general rudeness and physical violence (Piers Morgan also fell prey to his wayward fist), the BBC got some balls and sacked the man.”

Top-Gear-Live-Richard-Hammond-and-James-MayTop Gear’s Richard Hammond and James May to refuse £4MILLION return for show with Jeremy Clarkson (Mirror)
This time it won’t be “back to the studio” for the three Top Gear hosts. Instead, they’re off to Netflix.

604771ea1d4348e79a4cf5c178243e55F1 teams reject mid-race refueling plan (AutoBlog)
Risks outweigh benefits in F1’s latest idea to spice up the show.

Mazda BT50Facelifted Mazda BT-50 Pickup Gets The Kodo Look (CarScoops)
Mazda’s Hilux competitor is getting a facelift in the style of many of the brand’s other offerings.

15FordF150_16Ford running short of F-150 frames (AutoBlog)
Due to an issue with Ford’s frame supplier Metalsa, production has lagged and demand isn’t being met.

toyota-discontinues-trd-superchargerToyota Discontinues TRD Supercharger Program (AutoGuide)
Goodbye, TRD superchargers. Though, we can’t say you’ll be missed.

Benz to power houses too (Motoring.com.au)
Tesla isn’t the only automaker looking to bring electrons to your household outlets.

Finnjet_1800-700x454Finnjet, the only car with a chrome bill bigger than its gas bill, comes up for sale (Hemmings Daily)
Mother of Chrome God.

1966-Toyota-Crown-Deluxe-FrontEscalade V8: 400 HP 1966 Toyota Crown Deluxe (Bring A Trailer)
While I usually dump a bit on Japanese restomods, this one deserves your attention.

subaru-reveals-hyper-blue-color-01Subaru Reveals New Hyper Blue Exterior Color (AutoGuide)
New blue shade tries to out-Polestar Polestar.

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Versata Sues Ford Over IP Theft Linked To Configuration Software http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/versata-sues-ford-over-ip-theft-linked-to-configuration-software/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/versata-sues-ford-over-ip-theft-linked-to-configuration-software/#comments Fri, 05 Jun 2015 19:00:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1085577 Texas software company Versata is suing former partner Ford over claims the automaker stole code from its proprietary technology. The lawsuit, presented before a U.S. District Court judge in Texas and filed May 7, says Ford received a patent in 2014 for internally developed software meant to identify incompatible parts across a million vehicle configurations […]

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17FordRaptor_04_HR

Texas software company Versata is suing former partner Ford over claims the automaker stole code from its proprietary technology.

The lawsuit, presented before a U.S. District Court judge in Texas and filed May 7, says Ford received a patent in 2014 for internally developed software meant to identify incompatible parts across a million vehicle configurations to avoid recall issues, Automotive News reports. The company goes on to claim said patent was based upon code for its own software, which was used by the automaker between 1998 and 2014 under an agreement netting Versata $8.45 million per year, and was denied a request to examine the new system in violation of the agreement.

Versata is seeking an injunction to block Ford from using the latter’s so-called Automotive Configuration Manager, and gives the automaker until June 29 to respond.

Ford denies the allegations, proclaiming the new software was developed in 2010 after Versata declared its technology “obsolete,” adding its replacement handles vehicle configuration “very differently, and more efficiently” compared to Versata’s software. The automaker also is seeking to dismiss or transfer the case out of Texas to Michigan.

[Photo credit: Ford]

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Junkyard Find: 1970 Ford Econoline Custom 200 Van http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/junkyard-find-1970-ford-econoline-custom-200-van/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/junkyard-find-1970-ford-econoline-custom-200-van/#comments Fri, 05 Jun 2015 12:00:56 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1082609 The second-generation Ford Econoline van abandoned the forward-control layout of its mid-engined predecessor and was a big sales success. I still see these vans in junkyards (in fact, I found one in Sweden last year), but I tend to photograph only the most hantavirus-laden campers, attractively weathered window vans, or Chlamydia-enhanced customs. I saw this […]

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12 - 1970 Ford Econoline Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

The second-generation Ford Econoline van abandoned the forward-control layout of its mid-engined predecessor and was a big sales success. I still see these vans in junkyards (in fact, I found one in Sweden last year), but I tend to photograph only the most hantavirus-laden campers, attractively weathered window vans, or Chlamydia-enhanced customs. I saw this workhorse cargo Econoline (the technical term, coined by angry neighbors, for a featureless Detroit van with no windows is “Molester Van” or “Free Candy Van”) in a Denver yard recently, and it seemed like a good time to shoot this worn-out piece of van history.
19 - 1970 Ford Econoline Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

It appears that someone might have been living down by the river in this Econoline, based on the shag carpeting and insulation.

03 - 1970 Ford Econoline Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

The driver’s door top hinge broke, was rewelded, and then broke again. This may have been the camel-back-breaking straw that sent this van to The Crusher.

24 - 1970 Ford Econoline Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

I had no idea that Econolines came with the slide-out-step option, like my Dodge A100. These things are cool, but also a shin-bashing hassle.

25 - 1970 Ford Econoline Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

Stickers with grenade logos are very popular these days. Anybody have an idea of what FS! stands for?


So much better than a forward-control van!

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Could Aviator, Not Continental, Begin the End of Lincoln’s Alphabet Soup Naming Scheme? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/could-aviator-not-continental-begin-the-end-of-lincolns-alphabet-soup-naming-scheme/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/could-aviator-not-continental-begin-the-end-of-lincolns-alphabet-soup-naming-scheme/#comments Thu, 04 Jun 2015 15:46:59 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1084433 Updated with statement from Lincoln at bottom. If rumors prove true, Lincoln could end its love affair with MK alphabet soup names with a new Aviator based upon the new Ford Explorer. According to a second-hand source, TTAC has been told Ford engineers are working on a project internally called ‘Aviator’ based on the new Explorer. The source also stated […]

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2003 Lincoln Aviator

Updated with statement from Lincoln at bottom.

If rumors prove true, Lincoln could end its love affair with MK alphabet soup names with a new Aviator based upon the new Ford Explorer.

According to a second-hand source, TTAC has been told Ford engineers are working on a project internally called ‘Aviator’ based on the new Explorer. The source also stated there will not be a next-generation Ford Flex and will kill off the Lincoln MKT in the process.

A switch to the Aviator name, supported by recent trademark filings for the name, could be the first in many name changes at Lincoln. In April, Ford President of the Americas Joe Hinrichs said he was “very excited about the Continental name and the attention it’s gotten.” However, it could be the Aviator – not the Continental – to get the name change ball rolling.

In addition to the Aviator information, our source also stated the next Expedition and Navigator would get the 10-speed automatic transmission and an all aluminum body, making the full-size SUVs more efficient and lighter than their key competitors at General Motors.

In an email, Stéphane Cesareo, spokesman for Lincoln, said, “We do not comment on speculation. MKT continues to be present in our lineup, with a new model in 2015. By 2020, we expect to expand the segments that we participate in by adding two new nameplates to the Lincoln brand. We have not provided any indications about the products or their names.”

 

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Long-Term Tester Update: Fiesta ST Plus Track Night in America Equals Hella Fun http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/long-term-tester-update-fiesta-st-plus-track-night-america-equals-hella-fun/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/long-term-tester-update-fiesta-st-plus-track-night-america-equals-hella-fun/#comments Thu, 04 Jun 2015 14:00:52 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1084017 I was once told that it’s good to start any piece of writing with a curious introduction – you know, something that makes the reader want to click through and find out more about the story. The more controversial the statement, the better. Well, here goes nothing. You no longer have any excuse to not […]

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NCMCHARLEY 694

I was once told that it’s good to start any piece of writing with a curious introduction – you know, something that makes the reader want to click through and find out more about the story. The more controversial the statement, the better. Well, here goes nothing.

You no longer have any excuse to not track your car. Want to find out more? Of course you do!

The Sports Car Club of America and I have had a rather sordid history as of late. I declined to renew my membership two years ago, citing a vast proliferation of autocross classes and unnecessary rules. I felt that the club was headed entirely in the wrong direction, so I did what any customer would do in that situation: I voted with my dollars. I stopped autocrossing with the club and started spending my motorsports dollars with 24 Hours of Lemons and American Endurance Racing. As a whole, I have felt like this was a good and correct decision, one that I have yet to regret one bit.

But then somebody at the SCCA had a brilliant idea. Why not rent out some great tracks across America, send out some very qualified organizers and instructors to run some open lapping days, and let anybody and everybody show up in whatever they’ve got in the driveway? The best part of the idea: it’s only a hundred and fifty bucks for sixty minutes of track time. That’s a dollar and a half per minute to drive as fast as you possibly can on great circuits like New Jersey Motorsports Park’s Thunderbolt, Willow Springs Raceway, Grattan Raceway, NOLA Motorsports Park, and the brand-new NCM Motorsports Park in Bowling Green, Kentucky, home of the new Corvette C7. Appropriately enough, they decided to call it Track Night in America.

Well, shoot. Looked like the SCCA and I were about to become reacquainted.

I headed out to the Track Night event at NCM Motorsports Park on May 19th, excited to drive my Fiesta ST on track for the first time. You see, I leased the ST because I wanted to track that mofo – I truly don’t understand anybody who buys the performance variant of a vehicle only to watch it collect dust in the garage. Also, I had heard nothing but great things about the track from everybody who had experienced it, including a text from Matt Farah, who had been there the day before driving the new C7 Zo6, that read: “This track is fucking amazing.” I had no doubt NCM would be amazing in a gazillion-horsepower supercar, but how would it be in the Little Sports Car That Could?

I had also encouraged some of the local autocross crowd to show up and test their personal mettle. I love my autocross friends, and I wanted to remove any and all mental barriers they might have had about tracking their autocross cars. Luckily, the SCCA had already pretty much thought of everything.

Tracking your car is too expensive? Nope. It’s $150, about what you already pay for six minutes of seat time at Nationals, and you get three twenty-minute sessions on a world-class circuit.

Never done this before and I’m not sure I’m ready for it? No problem. Come and drive in the free paced laps session. Seriously. It’s free. Ride along in somebody else’s car. IT’S FREE.

Don’t have all the necessary safety equipment? If you have an SA2005 helmet, you’re good. Nothing else is required. Tech your own car and go.

Car isn’t track ready? Again, no problem. You can bring anything you want. Bring your Passat. Bring your Sentra. Drive it as fast as you want. Nobody is timing you.

It’s too dangerous? Nope. They have a Novice group with strict rules about passing and distances between vehicles and wonderful classroom-style instruction. The most dangerous part of driving at a Track Night is likely driving to Track Night.

Which brings me back to my original curious introduction. There’s simply no reason to not go to a Track Night event. They’ve covered everything. They’ve made it as easy as possible for anybody from a total noob to an experienced racer to get on track and have as much fun as possible.

My favorite thing about Track Night is that it isn’t about competition. As Intermediate and Advanced group coordinator Jon Krolewicz told me, “This is all about creating an atmosphere of safety. The only thing they can win tonight is the chance to go home safely in their undamaged cars. I don’t even have a six dollar plaque to give them. If somebody is behind them, and they didn’t just pass them, that means that they’ve been caught and they need to move over. I encourage them to think of the other drivers on course as teammates, not competitors. We’re all trying to ensure a safe environment where people can have fun.”

Tom O'Gorman leads the Novice meeting at Track Night in America

Tom O’Gorman leads the Novice meeting at Track Night in America

Novice coach and driving instructor Tom O’Gorman, whom I’ve had the pleasure of knowing since he was about sixteen years old, echoed these sentiments in his Novice drivers’ meeting. I observed Tom’s meeting with about twenty-five novice drivers, many of whom were driving on a racetrack for the very first time. He provided crystal clear instruction on passing, flagging, and how closely they should follow the car ahead of them. After each session, Tom was available to give coaching to anybody who wanted it, offering opinions on braking zones, corner entry and exit, and just about anything that any of them wanted to know. I found myself wishing that my first track experience had been in such a risk-free, supportive environment.

Drivers were able to self-select into Novice, Intermediate, or Advanced. Although I definitely wanted to experience each of the groups, I felt as though I’d have the lowest chance of on-track incident in the Advanced group (Jon informed me later that I was wrong about this. They’ve only had two incidents so far in the program, and both were in the Advanced group). I grabbed my helmet and gloves and headed out on track in the Fiesta. My advanced group “teammates” were as follows:

  • A Nissan GT-R
  • two fully prepped actual caged racecars on slicks
  • a Cayman
  • some long-haired hick in a C7 Z51 OH WAIT THAT’S JACK
Two extreme ends of the American sporting vehicle spectrum in one picture

Two extreme ends of the American sporting vehicle spectrum in one picture

Needless to say, I let them all go out on track ahead of me – no need to be waving them all by the little ST in the first corner. Speaking of which, let’s look at the track.

NCM course map

We would be driving the West course with the chicane, which meant the Fiesta wouldn’t be at much of a disadvantage – but let’s not kid ourselves here. Also, I had to remember that it wasn’t a competition. Right. There was no way in hell that I was going to let that C7 lap me in a twenty-minute session.

I could give you a turn-by-turn description of the track, but this is the year 2015. LET’S GO TO THE VIDEO!

If you’re at work or something lame like that, let me explain what you didn’t see. The Fiesta is a freaking champ. Yes, it understeers a bit. No, I haven’t quite figured out how to unwind it properly in tight corners when the brake vectoring kicks in. The OEM Bridgestone tires squeal like angry banshees. But what a car. What. A. Car. I drove it in Sport mode, but I never once felt the AdvancTrac kick in. In the back straightaway, I was seeing speeds of between 105 and 108 mph. The suspension handled the curbing magnificently, settling the little hatch back down after every apex.

If you did watch the video, you’ll notice how easy the car is to drive. My hands were relatively calm, as the car just went where I pointed it. Heel-toe shifting is really only possible in legitimate racing shoes, as the brake pedal and accelerator aren’t positioned exactly where you would want them to be for proper heel-toe execution. That being said, once you get it, it’s sublime; notice how the car just hustles from the front straight into the chicane, maintaining great balance and holding the proper racing line. Virtually nothing upsets the ST. It’s definitely a better FWD car than I am a FWD driver at this point. I’m still learning exactly when and how it likes to have the throttle applied in corner exit, as there’s enough available torque to overpower the front wheels at nearly any point on the torque curve.

However, the brakes weren’t really up to sixty minutes of track time. By the time the third session started, the brake fade was noticeable, and halfway through, it was nearly unmanageable. I had just decided the car wasn’t really drivable any more when the checkered flag waved from the final corner station. You can watch me overcook several corner entries due to the brakes in this next video, but, much more importantly, you can watch me catch a Cayman that started nearly a minute before I did. (Disclaimer: SCCA TRACK NIGHT IN AMERICA IS NOT A COMPETITION. IT DOESN’T MATTER IF YOU PASS ANYBODY OR IF THEY PASS YOU!)

So, in summary, let me just say this: Track Night in America is the best and cheapest way for virtually anybody to experience a track in his own car. You could spend your Tuesday nights watching a sitcom or passively observing a sporting event or you could get your ass into your car and be a DRIVER. Even if only for an hour. Even if you never actually race. You’re participating. You’re an active member of your own entertainment. I promise you, you’ll catch the bug.

As for the Fiesta, I’m ordering a set of real, track capable brake pads for it as we speak. I’m happy to thrash the OEM Bridgestones to within an eighth of an inch of their lives, but after that, I’ll be ordering a set of something a little more appropriate for dual duty on the track and the street. The old saying about “driving a slow car fast?” Eff that. The Fiesta is a Fast Car that you can Drive Fast. You, too, can go Porsche hunting for less than twenty-five grand.

So what’s stopping you?

The Sports Car Club of America provided the entry to the Track Night in America event at NCM Motorsports Park. Photo credit goes to the legendary Danger Girl.

NCMCHARLEY 868

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Ford Drops 526 HP, 5.2L V8 Into Shelby GT350, GT350R Mustangs http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/ford-drops-526-hp-5-2l-v8-into-shelby-gt350-gt350r-mustangs/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/ford-drops-526-hp-5-2l-v8-into-shelby-gt350-gt350r-mustangs/#comments Wed, 03 Jun 2015 16:00:19 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1083561 Future Shelby GT350 and GT350R Mustang owners will have plenty of firepower for the strip and track, thanks to Ford’s new 5.2-liter naturally aspirated V8. The new flat-plane crankshaft engine generates 526 horsepower and 429 lb-ft of torque, delivering 102 horses per liter of displacement. Redlining occurs at 8,250 rpm, making the V8 the highest-revving […]

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Shelby GT350 Mustang 5.2L V8 TTAC Style

Future Shelby GT350 and GT350R Mustang owners will have plenty of firepower for the strip and track, thanks to Ford’s new 5.2-liter naturally aspirated V8.

The new flat-plane crankshaft engine generates 526 horsepower and 429 lb-ft of torque, delivering 102 horses per liter of displacement. Redlining occurs at 8,250 rpm, making the V8 the highest-revving unit used by any of Ford’s lineup, while 90 percent of its peak torque occurs between 3,450 rpm and 7,000 rpm.

The power generated by the 5.2-liter will be funnelled to the back via a Tremec TR-3160 six-speed manual, the only transmission available aboard the Shelby GT350 and GT350R. The six-speed uses a die-cast aluminum case and clutch housing for increased stiffness, and the dual-mass flywheel and dual-clutch disc were both optimized to reduce inertia and weight.

The engine itself is based on an aluminum engine block whose cylinder walls use Ford’s patented plasma transferred wire arc cylinder-liner technology, replacing iron cylinder liners with an electroplate coating. Further weight savings include a gun-drilled flat-plane forged-steel crankshaft, and a high-capacity composite oil pan whose baffling can handle sustained high-speed cornering and hard braking situations.

Ford 5.2-liter V8 01 Ford 5.2-liter V8 02 Ford 5.2-liter V8 03 Ford 5.2-liter V8 04 Ford 5.2-liter V8 05 Ford 5.2-liter V8 06 Ford 5.2-liter V8 07 Ford 5.2-liter V8 08

[Photo credit: Ford]

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