By on June 2, 2020

Most examples of the popular first-generation Focus lived life as appliances. Use and abused, they filtered to the used car lots during the late 2000s alongside brethren like the Mercury Cougar and Jaguar S-Type. However, a select few were spared from such an ignominious fate by performance tuner Saleen. The Californian company took some new Foci and imbued them with extra performance.

Today’s Rare Ride is among the chosen — it’s the 2005 Saleen Focus.

(Read More…)

By on March 4, 2020

We continue our exploration of vehicular design from the 2010s today. Thus far, we’ve covered the best and worst examples of more affordable car design, following it up last week with the best design among upscale vehicles.

Now it’s time to consider the worst of the upscale.

(Read More…)

By on February 26, 2020

We’ve had two prior posts discussing the highs and lows of automotive design from the decade most recently closed. Both those times we kept our choices in the affordable category, where starting prices were under $100,000 when new. Today we double that limit, and consider upscale designs.

(Read More…)

By on February 12, 2020

2011 BMW 535i GT - Image: BMWOn Wednesday last week we looked back on the recently ended decade, seeking the best design found on the sort of cars people can actually afford. Today, we’ll flip the question and go in search of the design failures.

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By on February 5, 2020

As we’ve entered a new decade, I thought it might be time to take a look back at the 2010s and see if, among the largely nondescript egg-shaped crossovers, there were some design gems. The sort of cars that’ll be looked back upon fondly down the road.

Got one in mind?

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By on September 10, 2019

Rare Rides previously featured two vehicles that resulted from racing legend Carroll Shelby’s association with Chrysler in the Eighties. The first was a rakish and special Charger GLHS liftback, followed a few months later by the Shelby Dakota. Both of those examples wore their Dodge badges proudly, front and center amongst the additional Shelby tinsel. But the 1987 CSX took a more independent approach to branding.

(Read More…)

By on July 17, 2019

Lotus has finally revealed its new halo vehicle, the Evija, claiming it will become “the world’s most powerful production car.” However, due to the Evija’s extremely limited availability and 1.7 million-pound ($2.1 million) price, there’s a lot undercutting that claim. It also leads Lotus away from its role as a scrappy underdog, delivering stripped-down featherweights designed to embarrass similarly priced sporting vehicles with more luxurious amenities.

When you think of present-day Lotus, you don’t typically think grandiose — but that term sums up the Evija rather well. Lotus Cars CEO Phil Popham said it would be like nothing else and “re-establish our brand in the hearts and minds of sports car fans and on the global automotive stage,” while simultaneously paving the way for new models.  (Read More…)

By on June 7, 2019

Briggs Automotive Company, better known as BAC, doesn’t make a lot of announcements, but that’s not unheard of in the weird world of British sports car manufacturers that focus solely on low-volume, high-performance models.

When BAC launched the Mono in 2011, reviewers praised the car for delivering a unique driving experience and merging track-car dynamics with on-road legality. It became an overnight automotive celebrity, spending the next few years starring on programs like Top Gear, in video games, or on popular auto-themed YouTube channels. A decade later, little buzz surrounds the company.

Fortunately, BAC says it will bring forth another vehicle in 2019.  (Read More…)

By on May 21, 2019

Buy/Drive/Burn returns this week with three American sports cars in their most basic, purest form. The Big Three are represented here, and they don’t get any cheaper than this. No options or fripperies are allowed, and one must receive the Buy.

Start your (small) engines — it’s sports car time.

(Read More…)

By on February 4, 2019

2013 Mazdaspeed 3 - Image: Mazda Canada

These days it seems as though every automaker, no matter how small, has a performance division on hand to offer up the occasional heart-pounding model variant to be coveted by enthusiasts. However, it only seems that way. Many brands have to go without.

Despite once branding itself as the everyday performance brand, Mazda hasn’t delivered a new Mazdaspeed vehicle since 2010. This left us wondering if the brand’s performance division would ever return. We even asked the company to weigh in on the situation back in 2017, with Mazda suggesting that all of its models are performance oriented (before saying it couldn’t comment on future products or any associated speculation). Subsequent inquiries were met with nearly interchangeable explanations.

Similarly dissatisfied, the folks at Road & Track adjusted their line of questioning in the hopes of prying more information out of Mazda. Rather than asking what’s happening with Mazdaspeed, they asked what it would take to see it produce another automobile. Unfortunately, the answers aren’t particularly encouraging.  (Read More…)

By on August 17, 2018

An enterprising GM executive, a British tuning company, and a compact hatchback came together in 1975 to make a very special, limited-production Chevrolet.

It’s the Cosworth Vega, naturally.

(Read More…)

By on August 1, 2018

We know you like to dog on supercars, and we’re right there with you. They’re extravagant toys for people you’re unlikely to encounter unless you were born into high society or made some exceptionally wise financial decisions. And that’s always lurking in the background whenever we discuss them. We drool over the specs as we gripe about their existence — riding the line between envy and disdain.

However, we’re still glad they’re here. Extreme performance machines show us what’s available at the outer limits of engineering and income. It’s also a great time to be the kind of person who loves mind-bending performance but hates supercars, as they’re becoming truly hideous.  (Read More…)

By on July 20, 2018

Nissan unveiled the Leaf Nismo EV this week, with sales commencing in Japan at the end of the month. This is a big surprise for the Western automotive media, as few of us truly believed it was possible. While rumors suggested the existence of such a vehicle, we presumed it would either not happen or manifest as a pathetic appearance package on a vehicle entirely consumed with efficiency.

We were wrong. Nissan actually retuned the Leaf’s computer for improved acceleration and gave it a bunch of meaningful performance upgrades. (Read More…)

By on May 9, 2018

Lotus Esprit S1 1977

For Lotus, life has been good under Geely. The British automaker is finally turning a profit again and now has access to more resources by way of its Chinese parent company. Presently, the brand only offers the light-and-nimble Evora for sale in the United States. But its global fleet isn’t exactly huge, either.

However, the plan calls for Lotus to expand through the introduction of a crossover vehicle, an entirely new sports car, and a rumored successor to the Esprit. The CUV, nearing the final stages of development, should take advantage of the Geely-owned Volvo SPA architecture (which underpins the XC60, among others). Lotus is also expected to adopt powertains from its kindred companies, which could include electrified units from Polestar and Volvo’s twincharged applications.

It’s unlikely the brand will set any horsepower records, which is fine (as that isn’t Lotus’ style), but the new motors should do the trick. Besides, who wouldn’t want to brag that their sports car is turbocharged and supercharged?  (Read More…)

By on October 3, 2017

nismo-leaf

Nissan appears to be considering adorning the Leaf with a NISMO nameplate and appearance. Unveiled on Monday at Nissan’s Futures 3.0 event, the stock 2018 model provides improved performance, range, and less nerdy looks. However, Nissan wants further improve the Leaf’s image with a NISMO-trimmed variant.

Oh goodie.

While we get that economy models can morph into fun-to-drive little darlings, we also scrunched our noses at Toyota’s performance-enhanced GR Prius last month. Not every car can be the next GTI and, if automakers would like to build something that could be, they’ll have to provide us with more than a bodykit and a set of custom wheels.  (Read More…)

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