Latest auto news, reviews, editorials, and podcasts

By on July 7, 2022

We return to Kia’s large sedan history today, at a point shortly after the launch of the K7. Kia’s full-size front-drive for the 2010s, the K7 was called Cadenza in all export markets, and was a successor to the unfortunately styled Opirus (Amanti in North America). Kia hired Peter Schreyer from his longtime employment at Volkswagen Group in order to usher in a new stylistic era at Kia.

Though it went on sale for the 2010 model year, Kia wasn’t quite ready to send the Cadenza to the North American market. With the market’s general rejection of the Amanti in mind, Kia called on Schreyer to refresh the Cadenza and lux it up before its North American launch.

Read More >

By on July 6, 2022

best car cleaning products

There are some unassailable truths ingrained in the minds of most gearheads: the check engine light will illuminate just after you catch up on all your bills, fuel prices will rise before a long weekend, and a clean car runs better.

Read More >

By on July 6, 2022

Honda

Americans continue to buy vehicles nearly as fast as they arrive on dealer lots, as the nation is rife with stories chronicling perpetually empty lots and some establishments making bank with obscene markups.

We’ll leave those latter two topics for another day. Meanwhile, despite a consumer hunger for new cars, the market is down sharply compared to this time last year – double-digit percentages, in fact.

Read More >

By on July 6, 2022

Kia

I’ve seen the new Kia Sportage in person. I’ve also seen the new Hyundai Tucson up close. Both show the companies’ latest take in a series of outrageous designs that are meant to win over consumers.

Read More >

By on July 6, 2022

Konstantin Egorychev/Shutterstock.com

Editor’s note: This is the first in an occasional series.

Enzo Ferrari. You probably know who he is, thanks to the eponymous car brand he started in 1947 — but what you probably don’t know is that il Commendatore was already a legend, years before he hung out his own shingle … and the twin-engine, Alfa Romeo Bimotore racer from 1935 is a big part of the reason why.

This wasn’t some crazy, “let’s see if we can” sort of project, either. This twin-engine terror was born out of necessity — the necessity to beat the German Auto Union and Mercedes-Benz “Silver Arrows”, anyway.

To give you a bit of context, the Germans had been absolutely crushing the international motorsports scene throughout the 1930s. The Auto Union and Mercedes efforts were every bit as dominant then as Mercedes-Benz’s Formula 1 team has been over the last decade, if not moreso. This was the era of Hans Stuck — the father of future rally legend Hans Joachim Stuck — the era of the Berlin Avus, and about the same time that the familiar “four rings” logo first appeared on the nose of an Audi-built car. It was an era of brave men, cutting-edge engineering, and slippery, wind-cheating, death-defying streamliners. And through it all, Alfa Romeo’s racing team — Scuderia Ferrari — was having its ass handed to it on the regular.

By 1935, Ferrari was sick of it, and determined to take the fight to ze Germans with a deceptively simple concept: if one engine is good, two engines must be better.

‘DECEPTIVELY’ IS THE KEY WORD HERE

So, Enzo had the idea. He was going to build a twin-engine racer. He pulled his engineer, Luigi Bazzi, from the normal day-to-day operations and tasked him with building the new car in secret, so that the German teams wouldn’t have time to respond before it appeared on the track.

Together, they took two of the successful Alfa P3, 3.2-liter supercharged inline-eight cylinder engines the team had been running since 1932 (with guys like Tazio Nuvolari and Louis Chiron — a driver who was so fast that Bugatti eventually named a hypercar after him), and got to work building the beast.

Remember, this was Enzo Ferrari. Enzo, “aerodynamics are for people can’t build engines” Ferrari — and it’s easy to imagine that he looked upon the Auto Union streamliners with the sort of derision you’d expect. He believed, utterly, that the key to defeating the Silver Arrows was in making more power than they did, and the Bimotore certainly did that. The Alfa’s dual P3 setup delivered an astonishing (for its time) 540 hp. A contemporary Ford Model T, meanwhile, made about 20 hp, while the Auto Union Type B made do with “just” 375 hp.

On paper, then, it seemed like the Alfa had a shot — in practice, however, the deceptively simple “two motors” idea proved how deceptive it could really be.

For starters, the powertrain was insanely complex. Bazzi placed one engine in the front, and the other in the rear, behind the driver. Each engine sent power through a driveshaft to a centrally-located transmission, which then sent the two engines’ combined power through a third driveshaft that went to the rear axle. Each engine had its own fuel tank, mounted on either side of the driver and pumping fuel through its own system, into its own set of eight carburetors.

If you’re trying to follow along with a back-of-the-napkin sketch of what’s happening there and scratching your head at all this, you’re not wrong: That’s a lot of moving parts, a lot of complexity, a lot of mass, and a whole lot of things to go wrong!

Still, four months after they started, Ferrari and Bazzi’s high-horsepower racer was done. It was designed specifically to compete in the Formula Libre class (read: Run what ya brung) at race tracks like Tripoli, Avus, and Monza — and it was time to put it to the test.

IN THEORY, YES — IN PRACTICE, WELL…

Ferrari entered a pair of Alfa Romeo Bimotore Formula Libre cars in the 1935 Tripoli Grand Prix, to be driven by Nuvolari and Chiron.

The Alfas were fast, without a doubt, but the added mass of the second engine, second fuel system, and driveshafts running hither and thither throughout the car meant the cars ate through their tires far more quickly than the relatively featherweight Auto Unions. Nuvolari took the early lead but had to pit after just three laps for tires.

On its second set of tires, Novolari’s Alfa did significantly better — this time running four laps before needing to pit again for tires and fuel.

Despite all the extra cardio for the pit crews, the Alfa Romeo’s huge power advantage and straight-line speed (it was trash in the corners, as you’d expect) kept them in contention, and they eventually finished 4th and 5th (Nuvolari ahead of Chiron).

That was as good as it ever got for the Bimotore. Everywhere the car raced, it was sort of like that: fast — but hungry, thirsty, difficult to tune, surprisingly fragile, and never really in contention for racing victory … but that’s not to say the car was an overall failure. Nuvolari would eventually set a world record for the flying mile behind the wheel of a Bimotore, hitting 321 km/h (about 208 mph) and ensuring that the Germans wouldn’t be able to claim the coveted title of “World’s Fastest Car.”

Which, for marketing purposes, could certainly be called a win.

That’s my take, anyway. What do the Best and Brightest think? Was snatching that world record a big enough win for Ferrari’s efforts here, or did Alfa make a mistake keeping him at the head of their racing team for another decade-plus? You tell me in the comments.

[Image: Konstantin Egorychev/Shutterstock.com]

Become a TTAC insider. Get the latest news, features, TTAC takes, and everything else that gets to the truth about cars first by subscribing to our newsletter.

By on July 6, 2022

I’ve always had mixed feelings about Lexus’ NX compact crossover. I’ve found it to be fairly sporty – in general, and not just by staid Lexus standards – and overall more engaging to drive than the larger (and highly popular) RX, but also a bit cramped inside. Not to mention that the NX, like most Toyota and Lexus products, just seemed a step behind when it came to infotainment.

Lexus addressed two of those criticisms with the current model and did so quite nicely.

Read More >

By on July 6, 2022

The Big Idea

When one’s employer tells you that you are required to go to San Diego, California for a company event I guess most people’s reaction would be “hey, I hear they have a great zoo there”.

I suspect I am slightly an outlier in that my first thought was “I should buy an old car and drive up the Pacific Coast Highway and consign the car with a shipping agent to transport it home”.

Read More >

By on July 5, 2022

Yes, yes – we’ve talked about this subject and the related topic of ceramic coatings in the past. We promise we’re not repeating ourselves, at least not until we’re safely ensconced in the Old Age Home for Recovering Gearheads. We’ll be in the wing where they keep folks who had an odd affinity for terrible ’90s GM cars, like the Oldsmobile Toronado Troféo.

Compared to a ceramic coating, polishes are a lot easier to apply, taking less effort and fewer steps. One shouldn’t slap this stuff on their car in direct sunlight – that goes for most of the car washing process, by the way – but it is certainly possible to spend a lazy afternoon treating your car to one of these polishes in the shade of a tree. Those with more motivation will get the job done far more quickly.

We’ll see you in the old age home.

By on July 5, 2022

Lincoln

Maybe it’s just automotive Stockholm Syndrome, but after 15 years of testing vehicles, a huge percentage of which have been crossover SUVs, I’m ready to say it: Crossovers aren’t so bad.

Yeah, I know, you’re going to ask me to blink twice if I am OK, but hear me out.

Read More >

By on July 5, 2022

Kia

Kia’s continual improvements are getting noticed by Wards Auto.

Read More >

By on July 5, 2022

Edsel received an honorary mention a couple of weeks ago, in our current Rare Rides Icons series on the Lincoln Mark cars. Then it was mentioned again the other day in Abandoned History’s coverage of the Cruise-O-Matic transmissions. It’s a sign. We need to talk about Edsel.

Read More >

By on July 5, 2022

Those of you who prefer wine and cheese over beer and burgers would probably find yourself at the Monterey Car Week 2022 & Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance rather than the Woodward Dream Cruise – both are held on the third weekend of August. While your author is firmly in the latter’s camp, he appreciates the bonkers amount of money being tossed around at the former.

As they often do, RM Sotheby’s will be using the occasion to hold a high-dollar auction. Lots include the likes of a 1955 Ferrari 410 Sport Spider by Scaglietti allegedly raced by Fangio himself.

Read More >

By on July 5, 2022

John Muir once wrote, “The world is big and I want to have a good look at it before it gets dark,” and when you’re pushing 60, as I am, “the dark” isn’t just an abstract concept anymore – it’s quite real.

Read More >

By on July 5, 2022

Almost every automotive journalist and enthusiast I know hates the new BMW grille – the one that took the twin-kidney look and made it as bucktooth as a beaver.

Read More >

By on July 5, 2022

1949 Plymouth in Colorado junkyard, RH front view - ©2022 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsI’ve been living in Colorado for 12 years now, and I’ve found that the junkyards here have plenty of both the rust-free Japanese cars you’d find in California yards and the late-model Detroit machinery of the Midwest yards (the liquor stores here also stock the watery yellow beers of both the Pacific Northwest and the Upper Midwest, great news if you’re throwing a Denver party that requires both Rainier and Hamm’s). The one thing that really sets Colorado car graveyards apart from those elsewhere (besides all the Scouts and edge-case 4WD cars) is the huge numbers of pre-1960 American vehicles that end up in the U-Wrench-It-type yards here. Here’s the latest, a 1949 Plymouth Special Deluxe sedan in a big self-service yard between Denver and Cheyenne. Read More >

Recent Comments

  • ToolGuy: 6 engines (and still weighs less than a Mazda crossover): https://youtu.be/-w-AwqySGSs?t =213
  • ToolGuy: Here’s a current production vehicle with two engines: https://s7d2.scene7.com/is/...
  • DenverMike: If they’re big fans of Rush, geeze Styx will blow their minds. Bring a big mop. They just don’t know...
  • DedBull: I would be curious to know what the average days in inventory is for new vehicles. Are sales down because...
  • Kendahl: Three major brands are up significantly from last year – Tesla, Genesis and Chrysler.

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Who We Are

  • Adam Tonge
  • Bozi Tatarevic
  • Corey Lewis
  • Jo Borras
  • Mark Baruth
  • Ronnie Schreiber