By on January 14, 2016

enthusiast

Forgive me father, for not only have I sinned (at least for right now), but I’m going to make a sordid confession about my daily work life that will tick off 99 percent of the people here.

I find that auto enthusiasts — that’s you — are completely irrational. In fact, sometimes you’re just plain nuts.

It has nothing to do with conspiracy theories, the federal government, or the fact that every manufacturer wants us enthusiasts to become mindless traders and renters instead of long-term keepers. What it really comes down to is that most auto enthusiasts I know simply act like emotional fools.

(Read More…)

By on December 23, 2015

18 - 1992 Mercury Capri in California junkyard - photo by Murilee Martin

Imagine it’s 1992 and you’re shopping for a sporty convertible: Do you get an Australian-built front-wheel-drive Mazda based on the 323 … or do you get a Miata?

Exactly. (Read More…)

By on December 14, 2015

14 - 2013 Scion FR-S - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden

November 2015 produced the lowest full-month U.S. sales total for the Scion FR-S in its history.

November 2015 also produced the sixth consecutive year-over-year Mazda MX-5 Miata monthly sales increase; November was also the fifth consecutive month in which the Mazda MX-5 outsold the Scion FR-S.

The FR-S and MX-5 are clearly not direct rivals. One is sold exclusively as a coupe with rear seats; the other is a two-seat convertible.

But the comparison between the pair, like the forthcoming comparison between the Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Camaro, is pertinent because of the contrast between old and new. From June 2012, the first full month of availability of the FR-S, through June 2015, the Scion was the fresher sports car parked outside A&W on a Thursday night. However, it suffered from the same malady that typically afflicts most sports cars early on in their tenure: DDDD. Drastically Decreased Demand Disorder.

(Read More…)

By on August 6, 2015

GT4 Stinger

Kia’s chief in the U.K. says the automaker will have a new sports car by the end of the decade, Autocar is reporting. Hyundai probably won’t.

The two reports roughly detail a global business case the Korean is making for a small, lightweight sportscar that would be sold worldwide and further positioning for the brands.

According to Kia’s chief in the UK Paul Philpott, the car would be based on knowledge gleaned from the Stinger GT4 concept car.

(Read More…)

By on June 29, 2015

Corvette sales chart

After averaging fewer than 1,200 monthly spring sales in 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013, the launch of the C7 presented Chevrolet with more than 3,000 sales in March and in April and in May 2014.

Surely that’s all because of pent-up demand, right? After the C6 battled quite respectably through a recession, the craziness of the C7 was bound to generate a great deal of initial demand.

And yet one year later, long since its launch, the Corvette is selling just as well. Better, in fact. (Read More…)

By on June 3, 2015

IMG_0204

Constant readers may recall I recently traded a 2008 Honda S2000 for a new Volkswagen GTI 6-speed. Both can sprint from 0 to 60 mph in the mid to high 5s, but with the turbo lag on the VW and the pre-VTEC lack of punch on the Honda, the power delivery on both cars is nonlinear, which grows tiresome at times.

I need a break from millennial motors and motorcycle-inspired engines. I want torque and I want it now, damn it.

Enter the 2016 Nissan 370Z.

(Read More…)

By on April 27, 2015

BMW Z4

It’s been five months since BMW’s sales boss, Ian Robertson, made news by questioning the long-term viability of the sports car. “The sports car market is roughly half of what it used to be. Post-2008, it just collapsed. I’m not so sure it’ll ever fully recover,” Robertson said.

BMW, of course, is the maker of the Z4, a car which generates only one-tenth the volume now that it did when launched as a successor to the Z3. In other words, it’s not much wonder BMW wonders whether outright sports cars have a future.  (Read More…)

By on February 24, 2015

2015 Audi TTS Coupe CompetitionPerhaps it’s age or jaded eyes. Maybe it’s a desire to move the conversation forward. It might even be experience. One way or another, I’ve become increasingly less likely to allow exterior styling to garner more than a passing mention in my reviews of cars, trucks, SUVs, crossovers, and minivans.


• USD Price As-Tested: $54,595

• Horsepower: 265 @ 6500 rpm

• Torque: 258 lb-ft @ 2500 rpm

• Observed Fuel Economy: 16.9 mpg


But after feasting my eyes upon a second-generation Audi TT sitting in my driveway – even in 90s yellow; nearly nine years after we first saw the second-generation TT and some 16 years since the first TT went on sale; with the third-generation TT already revealed and about to go on sale – how can my lips be silent?

(Read More…)

By on February 18, 2015

04 - 1980 Fiat 124 Sport Spider - Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinWill the steady procession of Fiat 124 Spiders into America’s self-service wrecking yards never cease? So far in this series, we’ve seen this ’71, this ’73, this ’75, this ’76, this ’78, this ’80, this ’80, and now yet another sporty little Fiat from the Malaisiest year of them all. Here’s a beat-up but not hopeless example I spotted in Northern California. (Read More…)

By on February 9, 2015

ku-xlarge

As some of you know, I recently owned a sports car. It was bright red, and flashy, and lots of fun, and it provided many enjoyable days of ownership, such as a) the day I sold it, and b) the day I mailed the title to the new owner.

(Read More…)

By on January 18, 2015

2014 Scion FR-S redThe U.S. market, long in need of an affordable, compact, rear-wheel-drive sports car, allowed the hype to initially take hold. The Scion FR-S’s best ever month was its first full month of availability – June 2012 – when 2684 copies were sold.

But in the second-half of the FR-S’s first full year in the U.S., FR-S volume slid 4%.


• FR-S accounts for 24% of U.S. Scion sales

• Scion accounts for 2.4% of Toyota Motor Sales, USA, Inc. volume

• Subaru sold 25,492 WRX/STi Imprezas in 2014


The numbers weren’t terribly low. 18,327 FR-Ss were sold in the U.S. in 2013. But they weren’t terribly high, either. Nissan, for a reference point, sold 36,728 350Zs in 2003.

Regardless, only 18 months into the car’s tenure, monthly declines became notable because of their severity and consistency. (Read More…)

By on October 2, 2014

2016-Audi-TTS-03

You’ve seen the Audi TT Sportback. Now, it’s time for the 2016 Audi TT Roadster to shine at the 2014 Paris Auto Show.

(Read More…)

By on September 26, 2014
Lotus CEO Jean-Marc Gales

Lotus CEO Jean-Marc Gales

With news that Lotus won’t be selling any 2015 model year cars in the United States, minuscule sales in their home market of the UK, and announcement of the impending layoff of about a quarter of the firm’s global workforce, many observers think that the company Colin Chapman founded 62 years ago is circling the drain. While there are certainly dark clouds in Lotus’ financial picture, having booked about $447 million in loses over the previous two fiscal years, there is some silver lining some of those clouds. Worldwide Lotus car sales are up dramatically. (Read More…)

By on September 24, 2014

1024px-LotusEvora-front

Reports of the demise of Lotus in America have been greatly exaggerated. Lotus will revive the Evora for a 2016 model year run, complete with up-to-spec airbags, while dealers will be held over by whatever remaining inventory is left from the 2014 model year (or earlier).

(Read More…)

By on August 20, 2014

03-corvette-c7-bowling-green-deliveries-1-550x338

If you ask Jack Baruth, the Chevrolet Corvette Stingray is probably the finest sports car on sale today. And with the addition of a new 8-speed automatic (a feature that will be more popular than many enthusiasts will care to admit), the C7 will add gains in performance and fuel economy. The 0-60 mph and 1/4 mile sprints shed a tenth of a second each: 60 mph comes up in 3.7 seconds, while the 1/4 mile is covered in 11.9 seconds. Highway fuel economy is up 1 mpg to 29 mpg. Yes, these are incremental improvements, but it’s also amazing that you can buy something with supercar performance and highway fuel economy within spitting distance of a mid-size V6 sedan.

(Read More…)

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