By on November 8, 2021

1992 Ford Taurus SHO in California junkyard, RH front view - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsFord introduced the high-performance version of the Taurus sedan— the SHO— in the 1989 model year, and enthusiasts rejoiced over the cheap new factory hot rod that blew away far more expensive European sedans. I’ve documented quite a few discarded SHOs during my junkyard travels, but this is the first ’92 I’ve photographed. Why is 1992 special for the SHO? Simple: It’s the final year for the mandatory five-speed manual transmission. Here’s one of those rare cars in a San Francisco Bay Area self-service yard. (Read More…)

By on July 15, 2021

Hyundai’s commitment to performance vehicles is really starting to become impressive. Despite the brand’s decision to terminate the standard Veloster for 2022, it’ll be retaining the crackling N model in order to appease a small number of fun-loving customers. While not unappealing, the model had some quirks that likely made it less appealing to the average commuter. Packaged as a three-door hatchback prioritizing style over utility, the Veloster made less practical sense than a similarly priced sedan or crossover. We’d wager some would-be owners ultimately settled upon the Elantra or Kona unless they were in the market for the N and the backroad shenanigans it encourages.

But future customers will have an even more difficult choice ahead of them now that the 2022 Elantra N is officially on the docket. Rather than build a performance sedan that simply offers more go than the standard model, the South Korean manufacturer has opted to target the big dogs.  (Read More…)

By on July 27, 2017

2016 Chevrolet SS - Image: GM

Last week, we discussed the fact that the gap between automotive perception and automotive reality can lead to some remarkable cognitive dissonance on the part of “car people.” That’s why the breadvan Civic Si was sold as a budget-priced Bimmer-beater and the breadvan Scion xB was sold as a Portland-friendly mobile Millennial drum circle. They knew very few Civic “intenders” would look at a Scion and vice versa.

This sort of stuff runs rampant in the business and, if you want any further confirmation of it, just take a look at the staggeringly different demographic profiles for the mechanically similar Cadillac Escalade, GMC Yukon Denali, and Chevrolet Tahoe Premier.

But wait, there’s more. Thanks to a wide variety of advances in materials, design methods, and computing power, the capability envelope of modern vehicles is expanding in all directions. My 2017 Silverado 6.2-liter just got an average of 22.1 mpg on a 680-mile drive from Ohio to South Carolina; my 2006 Phaeton got 17 mpg flat on the same trip despite being a thousand pounds lighter, 100 horsepower weaker, and considerably more aero-friendly. Next week, you’re going to hear a lot about how the Audi TT-RS is faster than (insert name of supercar here) from 0-60. Much of that will be regurgitated pablum from a staggeringly expensive press trip that includes a private helicopter ride from Manhattan to Lime Rock, and some of it is due to advances in tire tech, but there’s some real truth to the fact that the mighty Ferrari Enzo can be humbled in a short sprint by a car that is basically a VW Jetta in a party dress.

As cars become more capable, they are also going to engage in hitherto-unseen marketplace conflicts. Should you buy a 7 Series Bimmer or a Denali XL? A Corvette or a Macan Turbo S? Which brings us to today’s unusual matchup… but before we click that jump, here’s a reminder to send your most burning questions to [email protected]

(Read More…)

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