Yes, from the Volaré to the Troféo, Detroit marketers of the 1970s and 1980s knew that an accent in the car’s name meant “no need to buy one-a-them fancy imports with no pushrods in the engine, we got your class right here!” to American car shoppers. Unfortunately for General Motors, the Cadillac Allanté cost much more to make than those other accented cars, what with flying the bodies (on customized Boeing 747s) between the Pininfarina shop in Italy and the Hamtramck assembly plant in Michigan, and the Mercedes-Benz S-Class-grade price tag on the Allanté scared off most buyers.
One of the interesting things about frequenting high-inventory-turnover wrecking yards is that you get a sense of when a vehicle’s value has reached a certain “not worth fixing when it breaks” threshold.
There will be no examples of this type of car in such yards, and then suddenly I’ll see a half-dozen in the space of a few months; the Mazda Miata was such a car, being extremely rare until about 2008, at which point you could count on finding a couple at most California U-Wrench-It-type yards. The BMW Z3 appears to have reached that point about now, with this one showing up in a Northern California yard that I visited last week. (Read More…)
When fire destroyed Jaguar’s Browns Lane plant on Feb. 12, 1957, nine of the 25 existing XK-SS models were consumed by flames. The spartan roadster — a road going version of the famous D-type race car — went on to become a legend and the remaining 16 examples are among the most valuable collector cars on the market.
Now, the lost nine are going to rise from the ashes, as Jaguar plans to use their serial numbers on a limited run of exact replicas, mirroring last year’s E-type Lightweight.
After teasing Americans from a distance at the Geneva Motor Show earlier this month, a production version of a meaner Fiat 124 Spider has been unveiled by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles in advance of its New York premiere.
The 2017 Fiat 124 Spider Elaborazione Abarth is a mouthful to pronounce, but the Old World name should help add some metaphysical distance between this massaged roadster and its Mazda MX-5 Miata underpinnings. (Read More…)
Mazda is teasing a new model reveal for next week’s New York Auto Show, and it could be a MX-5 Miata with more shade.
The invitation to the model’s world premiere later this month asks participants to help Mazda “blow the lid off.” Hmm, let’s think about that one for a minute …
The previous generation MX-5 Miata was available in power retractable hardtop form, but that option died in 2015 when the fourth-generation launched in soft-top guise only. (Read More…)
The Indian auto industry is … unusual. Most personal transport is via motorcycle or scooter, but there is a history of car production spanning seven decades. As the country was one of Britain’s largest colonies, it’s not surprising that most of these cars are derived from English ancestors.
Enter the Chinkara Roadster S: an Indian interpretation of the iconic Lotus Seven, built with rough roads and ease of servicing in mind.
Most luxury roadsters are related to a practical, rear-wheel-drive sports sedan, but Audi prefers to march to a different drummer.
Since its inception in 1998, the Audi TT has been based not on the A4, but on the Volkswagen Golf. The original TT was the product of Audi’s best and brightest and it not only blew minds at its debut for its design, it was a hoot to drive as well.
The second generation of the TT on the other hand, failed to impress. It’s not that it was a bad car, it just didn’t excite me like the first generation did. The handling was good, but BMW’s Z4 and Mercedes’ SLK were more fun. The exterior was bolder and meaner than the original, but the interior was too “VW Golf” for the price tag. Every time I sat in one I would say to myself, “Something is missing.”
As luck would have it, Audi’s engineers were also searching for that “something.” And they found it.
If there is one constant in the automotive world, it is that every redesigned vehicle gets bigger, more powerful, heavier and more complex. Bucking that trend is Mazda’s latest MX-5, one of the smallest and lightest cars sold in the United States.
Since the launch of the Miata in 1989, Mazda’s tiny roadster has been a beacon of light to those who prefer a “pure” driving experience. The MX-5’s core mission of being an affordable, lightweight, two-seat convertible has hardly changed. More impressive: The 2016 MX-5 is about the same size as the original Miata, and the new roadster is only 182 pounds heavier despite producing 50-percent more power and being 30-percent more fuel efficient. The price tag has also been kept in check. The 2016 model still costs about the same as a mid-sized sedan.
Making the MX-5 even more special is that it stands alone in America. Sure, Alfa is now selling their sexy and expensive 4C here, BMW still has a Z4 roadster, and Scion and Subaru are selling their two-door coupé — but none of these are like the MX-5 and that’s a good thing for Mazda.
The familiar, yet disconcerting sound of a medium-duty diesel was our first clue. It was the early ’90s, a time before ubiquitous cell phones, and my dad and I had been waiting for several hours for my stepmom to arrive in her MGB that we were putting away for the winter. She arrived eventually, in the cab of a rollback.
The engine decided to pop about 10 miles from our storage facility, a garage at my stepmother’s childhood home about 90 minutes from our house. The plan had simply been to keep it there until spring, but it would be a couple years before the old MG would see daylight again. Along the way, I learned about engine rebuilding, the importance of a good engine hoist (ours was crap), proper placement of jackstands (my toe still hurts a bit when it rains), and what happens when a Lucas distributor gets installed 180 degrees out of phase.
What sucks the most? I never got to drive it, as it was sold before I turned 16.
Mazda will show two different concepts of its lightweight convertible next month at the annual SEMA show in Las Vegas.
Throughout the ’80s and ’90s, Honda could do no wrong in enthusiasts’ eyes. Nearly everything was a hit. The CRX, Civic, Prelude, NSX and Integra all handled beautifully, taking well to both motorsport and unwise modification.
Near the turn of the century, however, some folks decreed that Honda had lost its way. The double-wishbone suspension was phased out in most cars, replaced by the space-saving, less-expensive McPherson strut. Honda enthusiasts decided that this change fundamentally altered the character of the cars.
As it turns out, Honda had one last round in the chamber.
I like the unusual when it comes to cars — as must be quite clear from the pieces I’ve written over the last few months. However, my current fleet is quite mainstream, consisting of a Chrysler minivan, the wife’s Chevy Trailblazer, and a first-generation Miata. Perhaps that explains my wandering eye.
Over the last couple years, I’ve developed an appreciation for Fiats that is nearly inexplicable, and potentially unhealthy. I’ve even caught myself ogling Yugos in junkyards. I’ve said it before; I’m a sucker for a great exhaust note, and somehow even this single-cam four cylinder sounds amazing.
Rust, of course, is always an issue with anything built in the Seventies. This 1981 Fiat X1/9 isn’t immune, and it appears to have some of the typical surface rot in the sills. The seller claims that the paint is mostly original, so it shouldn’t be hiding anything.
He also says it’s unmolested. I hate that term.