Americans and Europeans had similarly themed but opposite problems after World War II.
Americans had big, rumbling V8s in big, heavy cars that were decidedly un-sporty.
Europeans had small, lightweight sportscars without the power to back up the looks.
The solution was simple: combine them. The slinky Euro shapes were stuffed full with giant American engines in many guises — and the results spoke for themselves. The AC Cobra captured hearts of enthusiasts and race victories alike around the globe.
The Cobra was neither the first nor the last of these conglomerates that took V8s from Chrysler, Ford and General Motors and popped them into all sorts of coupes, grand tourers, sedans and convertibles.
There comes a dreaded moment in many automobile enthusiasts’ lives when the reality of having a family and the need for practicality outweighs all other considerations.
Enter that dreaded “V” word.
Getting a van — especially a minivan — is for many the automotive equivalent of getting neutered. You’ve given up, capitulated. Your desires to apex corners and outrace sports cars are now parked firmly in the third-row tier of importance, and haulin’ ass has been replaced by just hauling asses.
But getting a people-hauler doesn’t have to be all bad. In fact, there are quite a few vans people claim are “good to drive.” While I’ll take their word on such things for the time being and soldier on with my wagon addiction, let’s take a look at some more inspired options for heavy-duty hauling that made the prospect of a van actually seem quite cool.
Countless hours of development, design and construction. Exacting details wrought in boardboardrooms and wind tunnels. Exotic materials, experimental engine designs, hand crafted bodies. The goal?
Simple. Make the fastest car in the world.
But even if a designer or firm achieves that goal, they don’t necessarily have a winner on their hands. Even when the facts and figures support one supercar design over another, intangibles often decide which one will be a success.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at some superlative automobiles over a few decades and see how fate played out.
The old NASCAR adage “Win on Sunday, sell on Monday” still temps modern automakers, and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne isn’t immune to its spell.
After pulling out of stock car racing in 2012 to get its financial house in order, FCA now wants to see the Dodge brand back on the track.
While the general populace will likely remain confused, automotive enthusiasts will now be able to differentiate between Audi’s all-wheel-drive system and its performance sports car subsidiary.
The company has officially taken its Quattro GmbH division and renamed it Audi Sport GmbH. Quattro (which means four) will now only refer to the all-wheel drive system and Sport (which means sport) will denote the high-performance RS cars, Audi-exclusive customization, and customer motorsport.
Though it may seem hard to believe, we’re only a month away from celebrating the 50th anniversary of the start of the Wedge Era in automotive designs.
To those of us who still think of the Countach as a sharp enough design to be considered cutting edge, this is a sad reality. Yet the prototype of what would become the 1980s poster child was first shown in a hard-to-conceptualize 1971.
The influence of the angle extended far beyond the Countach in the 1980s. It also started before the scissored doors opened on the stand in Geneva in 1971 and was seen in many more marques than just those wearing the Raging Bull. Even more impressive than its age is the reach of these designs, some of which are still being refined today. So, let’s take a look at some of the interesting and influential doorstop shapes and where they later found a home.
In 1978, Mercedes-Benz made the decision to expand its efforts in rally competition. But its choice of platform to enter into the World Rally Championship was, to say the least, unique.
At the time, the WRC was dominated by small sedans like the Fiat 131 Abarth and Ford Escort RS1800 — cars that finished first and second in the championship that year. Mercedes-Benz took a decidedly different route, as it had no small sporty sedan.
What it did have was a large, heavy and expensive personal luxury coupe in the C107 SLC. While the choice would seem unnatural, under the direction of Erich Waxenberger the premier 450SLC was prepared and developed over the next few seasons into a rally winner.
If one of your DIY car enthusiast friends built a home or office audio system from the muffler and exhaust pipes of their favorite car as both an acoustic and visual part, you’d probably think it was a clever idea — something like using an engine block for the base of a glass coffee table, only more practical.
What, then, to think of the $3,500 Porsche Design 911 Soundbar Bluetooth loudspeaker that incorporates an actual titanium rear silencer and twin chromed exhaust tips from a Porsche 911 GT3 in its subwoofer?
The Ford Mustang entered the world with a 170 cubic inch inline six, but heritage alone likely won’t be enough to keep the six-cylinder ‘Stang alive.
Product information from Ford’s ordering system has appeared online, and a 3.7-liter V6-powered version of the 2018 Mustang is nowhere to be seen.
A concept, or the first of many? That’s what Volkswagen execs need to decide once feedback rolls in from the conservatively sporting Passat GT concept shown off at this week’s Los Angeles Auto Show.
Hot, but not too hot, a Passat GT would be an affordable enthusiast offering for the embattled automaker, spicing up an aging model that’s slipping in the U.S. market. The public’s reaction — be it interest or yawns — is the real deciding factor, but here at TTAC, we’ve been of two minds.
Though today’s hybrids have popularized it, the idea of installing more than one engine in a car to supplement power isn’t particularly new or innovative. In fact, it’s almost as old as the automobile itself.
There are plenty of historical examples of multi-engine cars; probably the most notable are absolute land speed record attempts. Just last week, for example, was the 51st anniversary of the American-made Goldenrod’s 409 mph record, set using no less than four 426 Hemi V8s borrowed from Chrysler.
But even further back, Alfa-Romeo had tried to break the stranglehold of the Silver Arrows in Grand Prix racing by utilizing two straight-eights in a P3 Grand Prix chassis. The solution was innovative, if not particularly successful.
But the exploits of sticking multiple motors in a vehicle to boost power and traction were not limited to exotic racers and record setters. In the 1980s, the concept was reintroduced in a few interesting packages. As it became increasingly clear that Audi’s all-wheel drive would revolutionize the world of rally, Volkswagen Motorsport director Klaus-Peter Rosorius felt Volkswagen shouldn’t play second fiddle to the Quattro.
Instead, they’d play with a second engine.
Politicians walk back policy promises as frequently as Ram announces special edition 1500s, so it’s not unwise to take campaign pronouncements with a big grain of salt.
Environmentalists and those close to the electric car sphere aren’t happy right now, as Donald Trump’s ascendancy to the Oval Office could put the kibosh on green ambitions. There’s talk of a rollback of fuel economy targets, of California no longer being allowed to be “special” (at least, when it comes to auto industry regulation) — basically, the sky could be falling, but they aren’t sure if it is yet.
Let’s take that frenzied speculation to its natural conclusion. Say the sky falls, environmental regulations are left gutted like tuna on a wharf, and the government incentives to buy an electric vehicle dry up.
Can EVs stand on their own?
While in recent months TTAC has reported on the declining popularity of the four door, there are still a plethora of fast sedans in the marketplace.
In fact, the performance extracted from them was unfathomable even a generation ago. How did we end up at a 500-horsepower Audi, a 640-horsepower Cadillac and 707-horse Dodge? What were once numbers reserved for otherworldly exotics now are found in a pedestrian nameplate.
But this is no new trend, for while the current power war we’re experiencing has generated outlandish performance numbers for a mere average Joe, the recipe of sticking the most punch possible into a sedan for the masses goes back a long way.
For the automotive aftermarket, SEMA is all about showing off the latest and greatest gear, and more often than not that comes in the form of vehicle builds around the Las Vegas Convention Center. There’s everything from mild to wild, but there’s also plenty of trucks and SUVs that go so far over the top that they reach a level of absurdity.
That leads us to this collection of trucks. Although fitted with suspension lifts and aftermarket wheels, in spite of the aggressive tires these trucks and Jeeps at the 2016 SEMA Show will live their lives on asphalt and never see the dirt.
Forget about your tame, hand-me-down Celebrity Eurosport or Lumina Euro of yesteryear, Chevrolet wants you, yes you, to go further in gussying up what could be a very mild vehicle.
The automaker has launched its 2017 Chevrolet Performance catalog, which now boasts added heat for almost every model in the lineup. For some vehicles, the new offerings could be the makings of a performance monster. For others (such as the Malibu), you’ll want to give those factory-backed add-ons some sober second thought.
It should come as no surprise that some of the most iconic automobile designs have interesting associations in their geneses. Where those associations come from, though, can sometimes be surprising, as companies leapfrog the globe trying to find the talent, technical expertise, and productive capacity to build a new or unique model.
These stories seem to pop up more often when there’s a shift in a company’s priorities or an attempted to redefine its direction or mission. Large organizations can be slow to adjust to these changes, and so often these major manufacturers turned to small teams to produce what have often become standout models from already legendary lineups.
Often, but not always, as we see in this montage of odd couples.
Updated with pricing more reflective of the U.S. market for this M-B Canada press car.
There’s no replacement for displacement. Or so I was taught during my formative years, a period in which I read multiple buff books per month and listened to old men attempt to define torque.
But Audi USA announced last week it would slot the engine from its smallest sedan, the A3, under the hood of Audi’s largest utility vehicle, the Q7.
This week, I’m driving a 4,045-pound, $70,465 Mercedes-Benz E-Class sedan. Labelled the E300, this heavily optioned E-Class is equipped with a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine related to the 2.0-liter in the company’s front-wheel drive, entry-level sedan, the CLA.
4,000 pounds. $70,465. 2.0-liter inline-four. Y’alright with that?
It was impossible to escape the word “Turbo” in the 1980s.
There were Turbo Aviators and Turbo Hoover vacuums. Turbo was a character on American Gladiators. There was even Turbo chewing gum, which came with a cool mini car poster wrapper. Turbo was a helluva drug in the 1980s, and Chrysler took note.
BMW offered one turbocharged gasoline model. Porsche offered three. But Chrysler? Over a 10 year span, the Pentastar turbocharged its entire car lineup, bringing us some 20 turbocharged models powered by no less than six different variations of the 2.2- and 2.5-liter inline-fours.
The buying public wants one. You probably want one. But Ford executives on both sides of the Atlantic are growing cold feet over the idea of a hotter Focus RS.
The automaker is walking back expectations for the proposed RS500 and is ready to scrap the hotter hot hatch (scalding hatch?) idea altogether, Autocar reports.
Toyota doesn’t immediately spring to mind when a buyer thinks of driving excitement. Far from it, in fact.
While the brand carries an enviable reputation of reliability, strong resale value and general popularity, it suffers in the performance and youthful appeal department. That could change, with Auto Express reporting that Toyota could build on its return to the World Rally Championship with a production hot hatch.
Volkswagen Golf R, Honda Civic Type R, Ford Focus RS…Toyota Yaris?
Until now, the formula for most “sporting” crossovers was simple: make north of 300 horsepower and ensure the suspension can get a two-ton vehicle around a corner without drama.
That status quo may be changing, as Autocar reports that Audi is putting the finishing touches on a SQ5 focused specifically on creating a little drama in those corners.
Is Audi starting new trend or merely fixing the old one?
The story goes that someone at a recent Fiat Chrysler Automobiles dealer meeting acted quickly when the automaker flashed images of future Jeep models across the screen.
While FCA hasn’t given the public so much as a hint of what the upcoming, range-topping Jeep looks like, we now have a better idea, all thanks to that person’s quick-draw camera. Oh, and there’s plenty of 2018 Wrangler details to gleam, too.
Since the 1980s, draconian federal importation laws have meant enthusiasts in the United States must wait a full 25 years before some of their favorite brand’s models are legal on these shores. And every year, groups of enthusiasts take to the internet to contemplate what cars will be available for importation with the turn of the new year. The arrival of each new calendar year then becomes a celebration of the past, a revisit of forsaken models, a festival of other-market obscurity.
The Land of the Rising Sun is becoming more than just a source for tuners looking for their next drift car. That’s right, Japanese cars are now collectible.
A modern take on one of the sexiest four-cylinder cars of the 1960s will officially debut before the end of the year, and there’s a chance it will find its way to these shores.
Alpine, a reborn subsidiary of Renault, is putting the final touches on the production version of its Vision concept, a practical sports car that harkens back to the glory days of the nearly forgotten brand.
The Jeep Wrangler rumor mill has run with a wide-open throttle ever since Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ sweater-clad chairman started work on the next-generation model.
Details are still scarce, but we know that the 2018 Wrangler sports plenty of aluminum parts and an oh-so-careful redesign. However, one Minnesota Jeep enthusiast believes he got his hands on a piece of the real thing, and from an unlikely source.
To say that details on the next-generation Honda Civic Si have been limited would be a massive understatement. Honda fanboys — and even normal people — have been hungry for even the barest scraps of information.
Well, we finally have a scrap. The Los Angeles Auto Show recently let loose in a press release that Honda will introduce the tenth generation Civic Si at their expo in November. They also ended some of the speculation on what type of engine we can expect.
The Dodge Viper’s plug is damn near pulled.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles steadfastly claims that 2017 is the final year for the Viper, and recently halted orders for the V10-powered road beast, The Detroit News reports.
However, this doesn’t mean the model has reached the end of the line. At least, not just yet.
Who built the first 250-horsepower Quattro? The first turbocharged German wagon? The first long-wheelbase Audi with all-wheel drive? The first all-wheel-drive convertible? The first off-road-inspired Audi? The first aluminum space-frame car? The first mid-engine car with Volkswagen’s Audi Group underpinnings?
They all came from the mind of one incredible engineer named Walter Treser.
It’s not that Treser was without connection to the company, though, as he was intimately involved with developing the legendary Quattro and other models, then later headed up Audi’s rally program. Sure, Ferdinand Piëch gets all the credit for being the visionary that made all-wheel drive possible, but Treser is the engineer that actually turned that vision into reality.
But he didn’t rest on his laurels for long.
Mustang GT and EcoBoost owners can now revel in the pleasures of warranty-compliant performance upgrades from Ford Performance Parts.
The 2.3-liter Ecoboost four-cylinder can now be paired with a cold air intake and engine recalibration that Ford says raises peak horsepower by 25 and bumps torque up by a notably large 70 lb-ft.
Apparently, the 2017 Ram 1500 Lone Star Silver Edition was such a hit at the State Fair of Texas, visitors stole the badge off of both trucks.
Located in a lower corner of the truck’s chrome mesh grille, the badge lets everyone know that this isn’t just any other Ram model. Texas-sized amounts of polished metal and chrome are other giveaways.
Unfortunately for Ram representatives at the fair, those badges walked away as milled aluminum bling, possibly bound for a hat, vest or belt.
Mazda has kicked off presale orders for its 2017 MX-5 RF, the “retractable fastback” that gives would-be convertible buyers an extra feature to help win their spouse’s support.
Introduced to salivating journalists at the New York Auto Show, the model starts at $32,390 (including a $835 destination charge) in Club trim — a $2,955 increase over a 2016 MX-5 Club.
Guess who’s back?
Henrik Fisker, the designer-turned-entrepreneur behind the ill-fated Fisker Karma, wants to try his hand at building a green luxury vehicle again.
The Dane wants to erase the cloud of failure that hangs over his name by building a new electric car with a Tesla-beating range, Bloomberg reports. Naturally, his name is all over the new company. In fact, it is the company.
Update: Added statement from Buick.
Speaking with a well-placed source, TTAC gleaned details on the forthcoming Buick Regal, which will be revealed in the second quarter of 2017, possibly at the New York International Auto Show.
We reported in July that Ford canceled a total of 220 Focus RS orders for model year 2016 and moved them to the 2017 model year. These orders were set to start cranking out of the Saarlouis factory as manufacturing resumed on August 15, with priority going to those orders first, but many customers are reporting no updates and no car in sight.
According to emails obtained by TTAC, one such customer is approaching the one year mark since placing his order on October 23, 2015, which was reportedly one of the first 400 placed as the customer received a special diecast Focus RS to commemorate the purchase.
But where’s the car?
The Chevrolet Cruze Diesel returns in 2017, packing a smaller oil-burning four-cylinder and more torque than the first-generation model, but there’s another major change from its predecessor.
Finding an E30 M3 isn’t particularly hard.
Unlike contemporaries such as the Audi Quattro, locating a good example on any given day of the week is easy. eBay has no less than seven for sale at the time of writing, all in generally good shape. Specialists such as Enthusiast Auto Group (EAG) have the same number, none of which would be unwelcome at a high-brow show. Since BMW brought over 5,000 of these homologation specials to the U.S. market, you don’t need to search long and hard to find exactly the E30 M3 you want.
Paying for it is another matter entirely.
The Blue Oval will only confirm that two new products will take the place of the soon-to-depart Focus and C-Max at the Michigan Assembly Plant. However, in response to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s recent comments about Ford, the plant’s UAW chairman identified those products to the Detroit Free Press.
Throughout its life, the Mustang GT has been called many things, from sexy, to speedy, to downright stupid — but never has it been called a fuel sipper. Ford UK doesn’t seem to care.
For the UK’s annual fuel economy challenge, one of Ford’s entries will be the 410-horse Mustang GT convertible, which is rated for an optimistic 20 miles per gallon in Great Britain.
If you were to take a moment to ponder the death of the wagon in America and had to put a timeline on when it all started, quite a few people would wager it arrived in the 1990s. That timeline makes a lot of sense, since that’s when the SUV craze really started to take off. But there isn’t a specific date when it all came crashing down, and that’s frustrating as a historian.
We can nail down the end of the Roman Empire to the year that Odoacer overthrew Romulus Augustus (476, if you were concerned), but there was never an “okay, no more wagons starting now” moment in our country.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the highlights of the longroof market in the Naughts.
Honda has provided a glimpse of the U.S.-bound Civic Type R at the Paris Auto Show, albeit in concept form (though the automaker prefers the near-production term “prototype”).
This Type R — designed in Japan, built in the UK, and destined (at last) for America — uses the Civic Hatchback as a canvas, then adds every visual performance indicator the automaker could get its hands on. Reportedly, it will have the power to back up its looks.
Having been a player in the small car category since its 2001 reboot, Mini now seeks to take on the burgeoning premium sporty compact segment with this, the new John Cooper Works Clubman.
It wasn’t for kit cars, the Pontiac Fiero would have never realized its dream of becoming a Ferrari or Lamborghini, and we’d be just fine with that.
That product, born of the heady 1980s, seems tame compared to N2A Motors’ latest offering. The U.S. coachbuilder has taken three classic American designs and melded them, Island of Dr. Moreau-style, into the 789 SS.
It’s a questionable way of hiding a fifth-generation Chevrolet Camaro.
It’s a sad day for Volkswagen Golf GTI purists and fanboys. The GTI — one of autodom’s quintessential hot hatches — will lose its two-door variant in the U.S. as the scandal-rocked automaker jettisons low-volume offerings.
As an automotive journalist, I’m bound by blood oath to promote the manual transmission and station wagon, preferably together. And I acknowledge that arguments made in support of three-pedals and D pillars are often more emotional than practical.
There are no fewer than four sets of logical reasons Ford should reintroduce the midsize, mainstream wagon to American life (though probably with an automatic).
Everyone needs an SUV. That’s the mantra in today’s automotive market, and it’s not solely applicable to consumers.
Jaguar, an automaker that’s traditionally sold sedans and grand touring coupes, has seen its sales skyrocket atop an F-Pace emblazoned missile. Also from England, the Bentley Bentayga sports a fascia only a mother could love. Yet, it seems Bentley has found a number of maternal mothers with deep, offshore bank accounts more than willing to adopt Crewe’s latest offspring, resulting in 56 percent of Bentley’s total U.S. sales coming from its new SUV in August, the Bentayga’s first month on sale.
But those are established, luxury automakers. Surely, a small, single-model automaker can buck the SUV trend if its plan is to offer a limited number of models.
Or maybe it’s more important that it offers an SUV to its deep-pocketed clientele.
Nissan is filling in all the unfilled niches today.
The automaker unveiled a turbocharged variant of the sensible and unexciting Sentra today at the Miami International Auto Show, promising a performance version of a sedan known mostly for its value and grocery capacity.
In doing so, Nissan implies that a hotter NISMO version is around the corner, while closing the casket lid on the IDx concept once and for all.
Very few people enjoy Canadian films, and there’s damn good reason for it. Public funding is heavily bureaucratized, giving birth to movies essentially “filmed by committee.” Artsy, yes. Depressing? Very often so. But Scandinavia already has that covered!
This wasn’t the case in the glorious, sleazy 1970s. For a brief era, Canada was a free-wheeling, balls-out orgy of low-grade filmmaking, all thanks to insane tax write-offs. Slasher flicks and soft-core porn, lewd sex comedies and gritty crime dramas, this era had it all — and most of it was awful.
One film crew, who probably saw Bullitt way too many times, knew what audiences — American audiences especially — wanted to see, and set about filming one of the most un-Canadian films ever shot north of the border.
They also produced one of the greatest and least-known car chases ever filmed.
Just a few short moments ago, I was converted.
No, not by electric drivetrains or other alternative sources of transportation fairy dust.
I was converted by the four men in charge of the Fisker Karma’s resurrection — now called the Karma Revero — into believing the company’s viability as a future going concern.
The calendar says it’s closer to 2017 than 2015, but last year’s Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution Final Edition hasn’t finished bleeding media ink.
The last Evo FE to roll off the assembly line is currently up on eBay, placed there by its parent company. A southern California food bank stands to benefit from the online auction, while a deep-pocketed Evo fanboy will gain untouchable bragging rights.
The Dodge Challenger is well known for fouling empty parking lots with smoke-belching burnouts, but Fiat Chrysler Automobiles clearly feels its muscle coupe needs four-wheel traction.
Horsepower lovers in northern climes are likely celebrating the news (reported by Automotive News) that the Challenger will gain an all-wheel-drive variant.
Accurate numbers haven’t rolled in yet, but we believe that this is the one millionth Ram 1500 variant offered in the past five years.
Okay, that’s far from the truth, but it seems like the folks at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles announce new pickup packages each time the tide goes out. The latest, announced today, is the Night package, available on 2017 Ram 1500 models.
A group of Toyota engineers clearly had time to kill this summer, but at least they spent it with one of their products.
For whatever reason, members of the automaker’s Michigan research and design team took a stock Corolla iM (formerly the Scion iM) and entered it into a rally, possibly just to see what would happen. Then they entered it into another.
Ford hasn’t told us when we’ll see the 2017 Fusion Sport on dealer lots, but it does want us to know how the 325-horsepower sedan alters its personality.
The top-shelf performance variant of Ford’s midsize family hauler lets its hair down with the press of a single button, which switches seven settings from “Jekyll” mode to “Hyde.”
Hyundai’s plans to diversify the Elantra lineup continues apace, with the automaker dropping teaser images of the next GT hatch and posting a video of a possible N-badged high-performance variant.
Expect more maturity and style from the hatchback Elantra, and, if the automaker is really serious about its N Division, a turbocharged stick-shift funmobile with room for camping equipment.
Ford Mustangs are hot. They’re hot in America, and they’re unusually hot in Europe, too. People like driving them, and they sure as hell like talking about them. But it’s no secret that Ford thinks the Mustang isn’t hot enough, given its third-place standing in the pony car horsepower wars.
We’ve heard that Ford wants a Mustang to challenge the Dodge Challenger Hellcat and Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, but a new report claims that the next Shelby GT500 will beat them both.
Every country has its linguistic eccentricities. The Brits continue to call transport trucks “lorries” (and then there’s all that “boot” and “bonnet” stuff), while other locales adopt their own unique terminology for the same object or thing.
The first-generation Buick LaCrosse was sold as the Allure in Canada because “lacrosse” is Quebecois slang for something to which an entire Seinfeld episode is dedicated.
Australia is no different, but many people Down Under aren’t happy with a new term that is creeping into the country’s vernacular: “truck.”
If you go through Volkswagen’s historical model catalogue, you’ll notice many occurrences of the exact same model sporting unique names in the U.S. and Canadian markets.
For example, Volkswagen marketed the last-generation Jetta Wagon in the United States as the Golf Wagon in Canada beginning in 2010. Roll ahead to present day, Volkswagen has called its Golf SportWagen (U.S.) the Golf Sportwagon in Canada since 2015.
Thankfully, that’s about to change.
According to Volkswagen Canada representative Thomas Tetzlaff, the Canadian outpost will drop the Sportwagon name in favor of the name used in the United States — SportWagen.
If you collected all of the ink spilled over the Hyundai Santa Cruz pickup’s chances of entering production, it would overflow the unibody model’s abbreviated bed.
Well, Hyundai just put a year and a half’s worth of rumors to rest, confirming to Motor Trend that the car-based pickup is definitely a go, and will appear in 2018 as a 2019 model.