Sporty, stylish ATS Coupe takes aim at younger monied buyers
Cadillac has a hit on its hands with the compact luxury ATS sedan, and now there’s a sporty coupe for you to tuck in your garage next to the 4-door.
That’s certainly Cadillac’s hope. Its marketers are looking for a lot of well-off younger buyers opting for one of each, as both are fun and modestly priced in the entry-level compact luxury sport market. My previous ATS sedan test was mostly favorable, so I wasn’t surprised at how much I enjoyed the “majestic plum metallic” (metallic grayish purple) test coupe. This was the 2.0T RWD Premium model, so closer to top-end than bottom.
Top-end is the 3.6L Premium with all-wheel-drive, listing at $52,430 with delivery. The test car started at $47,590 and added $995 for delivery for a total of $48,585. Price aside, the ATS has a fair amount of pluses in its portfolio.
First, ATS looks great, even better than the snazzy sedan. It repeats the sedan’s vertical lights front and rear and those front lenses fold over the fender pointing up toward the cockpit. Spiffy! So nose and tail look great and its profile is sportier than the sedan with a hit of the fastback look. Overall its body is still taunt and well chiseled with a lean athletic stance.
Like the sedan the coupe handles well and this one packs a turbocharged 2.0-liter I4 with variable valve timing and direct injection. Numbers? It creates 272 horses and a 260 torque rating. It’s quick, but there is some turbo lag and you’ll need to use premium fuel if you expect full power.
Packard Twelve highlights elegant 1930s styling
While I prefer post-war cars, probably something to do with my age, I appreciate fine car design from earlier eras, such as the 1930s.
Automodello’s fine 1:43 resin models seem to know no styling limits and certainly bridge a variety of decades. So there’s no surprise that Automodello now turns its attention to the stylish 1938 Packard Twelve, the review model being a convertible Victoria, with removable tan top over an ivory white body. I’d consider the body a creamy light yellow, but one man’s ivory is another’s yellow.
This is one of 499 pieces in this compact scale that fits so well on display shelves and stack so neatly atop other 1:43 model’s acrylic cases. That’s more than the original Twelve Victoria though, only 11 were built. Talk about exclusive!
Coming off its best sales year since its introduction in 1932, the Twelve was slightly restyled for 1938. The Twelve, so named due to its Twin-Six engine design that gave 12 cylinders, had become the U.S. equivalent of a Rolls-Royce. Its 473-cu.in. 12-cylinder engine ran smooth and quiet.
New TLX a blend of two Acura winners
Acura basically blends two of its fine sedans, the TL and TSX into one, now the mid-size TLX.
Beyond the alphabet scrambling, the tested dark blue TLX 3.5L SH-AWD Tech is a solid luxury sedan that will seat four in comfort, five if needed. This version comes too with all-wheel drive, a strong quiet V6 and all the tech features most folks expect at $40 grand and change.
Looks? Well, the TLX is pleasant, but certainly offers no standout styling. Instead, it goes all in for quiet interior comfort and smooth operation, doing everything well.
Power is silky with a 3.5-liter VTEC V6 that makes 290 horsepower hooked up with a nine-speed (you read that right) automatic transmission. That’s one more speed, by the way, than most of its key competitors. Drop the pedal and the Acura is quickly up to highway speeds in Normal mode, but becomes racier in Sport and Sport+ modes. Like many higher end cars the Acura offers you four driving modes. In all cases power is smooth and steady. You can hear the engine getting serious, but passengers won’t be disturbed by excessive grumbling.
In addition to the tranny offering nine gear choices, it’s a push-button system, which is not new to cars as our family’s 1963 Plymouth Valiant had this when I was a kid. But with electronics taking over all car functions, it’s likely to grow in usage, and will seem new. The buttons are on the console and only reverse requires more than a tap. For reverse you must pull back the R switch with a finger. There seemed a fair lag when you shift from reverse to drive.
Chubby Challenger falls short in muscle car wars
Funny, muscle cars came and went in the 1960s and early 1970s as gas prices soared and insurance prices became an issue for many buyers. Yet muscle cars made a strong comeback in the last decade, despite high gas prices and a shift toward “green” eco-friendly vehicles.
So here we are with a refreshed Dodge Challenger for 2015. Its nose and tail have been tweaked and its interior remade to try and work some Mopar magic on this market segment. Hopes are that THIS Challenger will steal sales away from the ever-popular Ford Mustang, itself remade for 2015, and Chevrolet’s Camaro.
While one could argue the new Challenger looks better coming or going after its cosmologist-like stylists did their nips and tucks, the fact is Challenger still appears, and drives, heavy. Its stance and view from the rear quarter panels gives it a more Rubenesque appearance. That is, well rounded but a bit on the chunky side.
The Challenger looks a little too Rubenesque for a muscle car.
Now anyone who knows anything about Dodge Challengers will overlook all that because its Hellcat edition has kicked all the other performance coupes to the curb this model year. Hellcat touts a thrust-busting 707 horsepower from its supercharged 6.2-liter HEMI V8. For the record, that’s a record. The supercharged HEMI makes Hellcat the most powerful U.S. production car – ever! So take that Shelby Mustangs, Camaro Z28s and even you, you puny ol’ Corvette Z06.
Maserati MC12 a winner on track, or on display
For a century Maserati has been churning out distinctive, sporty and often championship winning cars. Maserati’s place in the U.S. market has never been huge, but their cars’ reputations for speed and style have been legend. They are considered rare gems in the U.S.
Autoart knows that and introduces another stunning Maserati model in 1:18 scale, this one the racing version of Maserati’s two-seat supercar, the MC12. The review car is the 2010 FIA GT1 Champion in the beautiful turquoise and black Vitaphone Racing Team livery.
Maserati got back into racing in 2004, after a 37-year absence, creating only 25 MC12 models initially and another 25 the following year. That gave the Italian car maker plenty in order to be eligible for FIA endurance racing in Europe.
Always having a close relationship with Ferrari, due to their proximity in Italy, Maserati planted the MC12 on the Enzo Ferrari exotic sports car chassis. So the Maserati has bona fide performance DNA at its core. The body and engine tuning was all Maserati, but at its heart is a true Ferrari heartbeat, a 6.0-liter Ferrari V12 mounted at 65 degrees.
Outlander remains a middler in SUV market
Mitsubishi’s new Outlander is a handsome SUV, but remains a middler.
Its performance falls in the middle of the crowded small to mid-sized sport-utility market. Little stands out.
The tested “rally red” ute was the 3.0 GT S-AWC model, meaning it’s loaded with Mitsubishi’s more desirable V6 engine and all-wheel-drive. This model’s base price of $28,195 isn’t bad, but not the lowest cost on the market either.
Trust me, you’ll want the 3.0-liter V6 version because it generates a decent 224 horsepower. Although torque is a modest 215 so you’ll have to jam the accelerator to get it to jump up to passing speed or to hustle onto the freeway. The base model touts a mild 166-horse 2.4-liter I4, not a great choice to haul around a 183.3-inch long sport-ute that can weigh between 3,200 and the test unit’s 3,571 lbs.
While power is decent in the test ute, its forte is handling. Steering is relatively quick with very minor play in the wheel. Handling is good with only modest lean in high-speed turns. It’s a pleasant highway cruiser and easy to control.
Ride though is relatively firm, with the Outlander’s tail seeming to jump and bump readily over sharp road creases. While not uncomfortable, the jolts are more noticeable than in many utes of this stature. For instance the Nissan Rogue and Subaru Forester’s rides feel more compliant.
Sonata loses styling pizazz as it attempts to blend into mid-size market
Looks aren’t everything and price isn’t either, but on both, the new 2015 Hyundai Sonata falls short of its predecessor.
The previous Sonata, the South Korean car maker’s mid-size sedan, featured chiseled good looks with a side accent line that gave it a fresh, energetic look that borrowed more than a bit from several recent Mercedes-Benz models. But as with all mainstream car firms, once they experience a little success, they blah-down the styling to make their cars look more generic. So it is with Sonata. While pleasant looking, it reminds of a Ford Fusion from the rear and nearly every other mid-size sedan in profile.
Too bad, looks HAD been Sonata’s secret weapon until now.
Its price also has been a major selling point, as have the prices of most Hyundai and Kia models. While the tested Sport 2.0T with 245-horse turbocharged I4, is reasonably priced, starting at $28,575. It’s loaded with a monster $4,950 “Ultimate” package that pushed the Venetian Red (metallic red) test car to $34,460, including its $810 delivery fee. By way of reference, last week’s similarly equipped Subaru Legacy with a boxer 6-cylinder engine and all-wheel drive, was about a grand less.
For the record, a base Sonata SE with a 2.4-liter I4 that creates 185 horses starts at $21,960. As with most mid-level sedans today, there’s also a hybrid starting at $26,810 and a Limited 2.0T, much as this was equipped, starting at $34,335. So you could get into a Sonata at a lower cost than the test car. A 1.6-liter I4 turbo model is coming soon too, as an Eco model.
Subaru upgrades Legacy to take on Camry, Accord, Fusion
Subaru strengthens its position in the mid-size market with an even more appealing Legacy sedan, but it retains a major advantage, all-wheel drive.
While past Legacy models (see the reveal at the Chicago Auto Show) may have felt a little bargain basement in their interiors, the new Legacy eradicates any hint of that and takes full dead-on aim at the segment leaders, Toyota’s Camry, Honda’s Accord and Ford’s Fusion.
What Legacy lacks in styling it makes up in quality feel, good interior design and performance. My Venetian Red Pearl (metallic red) test car was the top-end 3.6R Limited. Outside of an option or two, Legacy doesn’t get any better than this.
First, that number means it comes with Subaru’s strong 3.6-liter boxer 6-cylinder engine that generates 256 horsepower and 247 lb.-ft. of torque. The boxer, which is a flat engine that can be placed lower in the chassis for better balance, delivers heady power for getting on the freeway. Not sure about a boxer? Well, Porsche engines are of similar design!
Now linked with Subaru’s excellent Lineartronic (Subaru’s name) CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission), the power is delivered smoothly, but with good low-end torque to get this luxurious sedan moving from a standing stop. Many CVTs lack low-end oomph, but that’s not a problem with Subaru’s LCVT.
The Racer Pacer
I had never heard of this before my dad gave me a book to read “The Cars of American Motors”, by Marc Cranswick, McFarland Publishing. The “this” were not the Pacers that rolled off the assembly line in Kenosha, WI. I had one, just like this, a 1975 with a 258. My buddies and I tailgate with this at Milwaukee Brewer games and made a trip to Cleveland in it to visit a friend going to John Carroll University. Side note: Bob Hope was the commencement speaker. What fun. Named it the Astrodome or Astro for short. Later I sold it to my buddy who went to school in Cleveland after he graduated. Sorry Joe but it was good when I had it. The AMC Pacer was built between 1975 and 1980 and was the first modern mass-produced, U.S. automobile design using the cab forward concept. AMC marketed it as “the first wide small car.” Later in the production run a 304 V8 was an option.
Enter Carl Green Enterprises (CGE) who took the Pacers which came with the 304 and dropped in AMC’s 401 along with some other mods. Swapping out engines was no big deal because the blocks were the same size. Here is where the magic started. Green loved the Pacer because its design was a breath of fresh air
Automodello creates John Fitch’s souped up Corvair
John Fitch is NOT a household name. But he was an incredible person.
Fitch not only was a leading American sports car racer in the 1950s, racing at LeMans six times and finishing third once, winning big name events such as the 12 Hours of Sebring and 1955 Mille Miglia in Italy, but he was an inventor. Fitch, who lived to be nearly 100, held patents on a variety of safety devices, much of it to do with racing. He was a car guy, through and through.
In the 1960s he fell in love with Chevrolet’s Corvair as a possible sports car to be raced. He had already been the first manager of Chevy’s Corvette racing team. So Fitch put his design and racing experience into a series of customized Corvairs that became known as Fitch Sprints.
Automodello, the maker of fine resin models of unusual and rare cars, now rolls out its own 1:43 version of the 1966 Sprint, and it’s as sharp as Fitch was creative.
Winner announced this morning on Fox
According to Motor Trend this is the vehicle that best represents exceptional value, superiority in its class and most significant development on the 2015 new car scene. In all there were 42 contenders and as you can see from this image you might be scratching your head like me when MT picked the 2015 Volkswagen Golf as the winner. Really? The winner is chosen in the following criteria:
Advancement in Design
Quality execution of exterior and interior styling; innovation in vehicle packaging; good selection and use of materials.
New VW Golf looks old, feels new
There’s a saying about everything old being new again, and the reworked 2015 Volkswagen Golf is a sterling example.
The Golf and Rabbit hatchbacks have been sold by VW since 1974, this latest iteration being the seventh generation. Toyota’s Corolla is one of the few competitors to be around longer, it launching in 1966.
Still, the essence, the useful four-door hatchback that’s fun to drive remains the same for Golf. And while its lines have been tweaked a bit and the car stretched by 2.1 inches, you’ll have no trouble picking out of a crowd. Golf looks like a Golf, for better or worse.
That’s a matter of taste, but from a performance standpoint, the Golf is easily one of the more fun compacts on the road. Handling and ride are as good as, or better, than most of its competitors, and it has a lot of worthy competitors, such as the Mazda3, which also is a delight.
Golf is just flat out fun to drive. Its steering is light and easy, helped by the car’s modest 2,963 lbs., about 79 lbs. lighter than the previous Golf. The car also is responsive so you can toss this hatch into a corner at speed and feel good about it.
There is precious little body roll and Golf’s front-drive layout helps it track well through a corner, while the electrically assisted steering is speed variable, so firms as you hit the highway. Naturally we’re not racing these, but you feel sporty in the Golf and more importantly on Wisconsin’s deteriorating roads, the car handles and rides well over bumps. This is what surprised me most.
Automodello’s Avanti offers sharp detail in resin
Eyeballed my first Studebaker Avanti at my first Indianapolis 500 in 1962. The car was just about to be produced and was the “ceremonial” pace car for that year’s race, won by Roger Ward. A Studebaker Lark convertible was the “official” pace car.
This car looked futuristic, and still looks contemporary. Its fastback styling, edgy nose and tail and sporty dimensions made it a head turner. If only Studebaker hadn’t gone bankrupt just a few years later. But now collectors can get their own 1:43 scale resin version from Automodello, which continues to turn out some of the more rare and unusual classic cars, and in a variety of scales.
Studebaker needed what is now known as a Halo Car, one that exudes creativity and set the tone for the company. Chevy had its Corvette, and Ford its Thunderbird at the time. Avanti was Studebaker’s sports coupe, designed by a crew led by famed designer Raymond Loewy. Supposedly they had 40 days to crank out the concept and thus Avanti was born.
But Studebaker was desperate. After about 110 years in business, first as a wagon maker and after the early 1900s a car and truck maker, its sales were sagging. It had merged with Packard in the mid-1950s, but that didn’t help much and by 1962 the South Bend, Ind.-based company needed a big shot in the arm, or showroom.
Even in 1:18 scale Jaguar XKR-S is sleek, sexy
When Ford first owned Jaguar, the storied maker of racy touring coupes and sedans, the British car maker was in a serious slump.
Then along came Ian Callum and designs returned to near classic proportions, one being the sleek and sexy XKR-S coupe. By the way, Callum also styled the Aston Martin DB7 and Vanquish, and you’ll note the noses look similar to the Jag, or is it the other way round?
In either case, Autoart brings the XKR-S to life in Italian Racing Red and 1:18 scale, with strong detail inside and out. Pricing also is reasonable for such detail and a 1:18 model with opening hood, doors and trunk, at just below $150.
The XKR-S was introduced in 2005 and production didn’t end until this past summer. Folks liked its looks right away with an oval grille that reminded many of the 1961 E-Type. They also liked its power and refinement. The XKR-S touts a 550-horse supercharged 5.0-liter V8 with a 0-60 mph time of just 4.2 seconds and top speed of 186 mph. That’s faster than any of us need to run a car, but I can vouch for 110 mph coming up quickly as I got to test drive an XKS-R at Road America. Check out the video link here.
C300 helps Mercedes moves back toward top
Mercedes-Benz has rejoined the top-tier of luxury automakers after a decade, or more, of struggling with design and execution while other luxo-makes were raising the bar.
Nearly two years ago I praised the GLK350, a small luxury ute that hit on all cylinders for luxury, equipment and performance. Now Mercedes goes deep again with its C300 sedan, one of its bread and butter offerings, a compact to mid-size sedan along the dimensions of a Lexus IS or, for us less monied folks, a Mazda6.
The C Class rides on a smoothing 111.8-inch wheelbase and weighs a middling 3,583 lbs. The car feels delicious.
How so? It’s a scrumptious blend of sporty power, an eager 2.0-liter turbocharged I4 with 241 horses, and comfort. All that starts with a silky 7-speed automatic transmission that easily harnesses the turbo’s 273 ft-lbs. of torque, and cushions the ride with independent suspension at all four corners.
Ride is absolutely stellar, controlled and easy on the occupants, but still responsive enough to lend the car a sporty edge. Cornering is smooth with minimal body lean and as precise as you want it to be.
That’s courtesy of the test car’s Agility Select system that allows the driver to toggle through four settings, from Eco, to Comfort to Sport to Sport+. Moving up from Eco, each setting adds a few hundred engine revs and slightly firms the steering and ride. Eco naturally provides lackadaisical acceleration and a soft steering effort, but Comfort is close to right on for city driving. The C300 still has good power and handling is forgiving.
TSM nails Chevrolet Impala with crisply executed body
Growing up in Indianapolis our neighbors across the street bought a new Chevy every two years, and yes, there was a bit of “bowtie” envy on our side of the street.
We had a green 1955 Chevy 210, a plain Jane Chevy. The neighbors always had Impalas, including a white 1967 with its sloping rear window that blended beautifully into the long trunk, sort of a fastback look. The car had excellent lines, especially for a big car, but in subsequent years Chevy ruined its looks.
A lot of other folks liked the Impala Coupe’s looks at the time, and now TSM mines that market with its crisply executed Impala Coupe, this one in “Marina Blue,” a medium metallic blue, and 1:43 scale, so a perfect fit for your display shelf.
Chevy redesigned its long lean Impala for 1967 to enhance what was then called Coke-bottle styling. I never saw it that way, but there was a certain streamlining to the sport coupe’s profile, something that made it more than just another big car, and not as boxy as the Fords of the era.
GMC Yukon continues to go BIG!
If you’re the type of driver that feels bigger is better you’d better hustle off to a GMC dealer and declare your love for the 2015 GMC Yukon.
This is a heavyweight that’ll pull at least 8,200 lbs., has room for 6 or 7 adults, rides high and commands the road like little else, except its bigger brother, the Yukon XL. Note that Chevrolet has its own versions of both, with Chevy’s Tahoe being a twin to Yukon, while the Suburban is comparable to the Yukon XL.
Let’s be perfectly clear, you don’t need a Yukon, unless you tow a big boat, large trailer or happen to have a big-boned large family. But you may want one if even a bit of the aforementioned is true and you intend to tow something heavy.
Start with its dimensions. The tested Yukon rides on a 116-inch wheelbase and is 203.9 inches long. The XL expands the wheelbase to 130 inches and grows 21 inches in length. That’s a lot more cargo room. The XL also is the one you want if you need to carry 9 adults. There’s more legroom in the third row seats.
But legroom and headroom are decent in the second and third rows even in the Yukon. The downside with Yukon is that there’s precious little cargo room behind row three. In fact, grocery bags are about it, unless you strap some cargo to the roof.
It’s official my and Mark’s slot car tracks are crap
When I worked with Mark at Kalmbach Publishing he and a couple of other guys there got me into slot car racing. They gave me one crappy car and I was hooked. What car guy wouldn’t be? I was sucked in and started buying more cars off eBay. Most of the other guys I raced with had tracks and of course I had to build one. Mine is a much smaller replica of Road America, a track Mark and I both love and have driven on multiple times. I was happy with it until I saw this track pictured on the left.
Lexus IS350 a BWM 3 Series fighter heavy on luxury
Star Trek groupies may already believe in mind melds, but BMW and Lexus engineers and designers have convinced me it’s a real phenomenon.
Their convincing argument is their creation of two like models that if more identical would be sold in the same showroom. Lexus calls theirs the IS350, while BMW sticks with 335i.
It’s no surprise really, BMW’s 3 Series rear-drive sport sedan has for decades been the holy of holies for auto enthusiasts and many magazines that cater to their Bimmer fetish. Lexus got the idea to fight the 3 Series about 10 years back, launching the IS series in 2005 as it looked to induct younger buyers into the Lexus family.
Optima Hybrid a looker with spunk, yes a hybrid with spunk!
Let’s put this right out there, I like Kia’s Optima.
Optima is one of the best looking mid-size cars on the market, looks like a luxury sedan and rides and feels like an entry-level luxury sedan. It also is well equipped for its price, making it a high value front drive car that will carry five comfortably.
What pushed me well toward the “love it” end of my rating spectrum is the tested blue-gray’s hybrid system. Many hybrids are still lackluster when it comes to acceleration and refinement. Kia’s Optima Hybrid EX not only looks great it performs well.
I tested this for a week that included about a 500-mile round trip to Miami County, Ind., and several days of the usual area city driving. I could have gotten by with just one gas fill-up in that period as I averaged 39.5 mpg, basically confirming the EPA estimates. On the highway the trip computer boasted 41 mpg and range was listed at more than 600 miles.
That alone makes Optima a fine highway cruiser, but riding on a 110-inch wheelbase (2 inches shorter than last week’s Ford Fusion) Optima offers a pleasant ride with just a bit of rump bumping on severe bumps. You feel well insulated in the Kia, which features a luxury-quality quiet interior.
But performance is equally smooth and comfortable. Acceleration is decent in full Eco mode where the electric motor portion of the hybrid powerplant does most of the work. However, you can flick off the Eco mode with a touch of your right thumb and the gas engine does more work to give you better than average acceleration. This may be preferred when you’re in serious city traffic where acceleration may be needed to avoid a jam.
While a gas-powered Optima features a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine with a stout 192 horsepower, the hybrid system with the same sized gas engine plus electric assist ups that to 206 horses and 154 lb.-ft. of torque, a bit less than the gas-driven version, but still reasonable.
New MINI Hardtop maximizes motoring fun
MINI has a deceptively simple message for its potential buyers, Let’s Motor!
Yet it delivers exactly that, simple motoring fun.
A new, larger MINI was reintroduced in 2002 by BMW, the former Mini was a British make. Now, a dozen model years later, its third and again larger (about 5 inches nose to tail) iteration, continues to be a cute boxy hardtop that is a blast to drive. This is especially true of the tested Volcanic Orange S version with a new 2.0-liter twin-turbo 4-cylinder engine.
That smooth running BMW-designed powerplant belts out 189 horsepower and features a torque rating of 207. It kicks you in the seat of the pants, especially when the car is set to Sport mode. The S model offers three driving settings, Eco that reduces power and saves fuel (MINI-malizing they call it), Mid (perfectly fine for nearly all driving) and Sport (booster rocket power).
You simply turn a ring on the base of the shift lever housing and once it hits Sport you know it. Power is instantaneous. The MINI zips forward like a race horse set free from a starting gate. Sport also firms up the suspension, which might be needed on the race track, but only further intensifies the rump thumping you already get in the MINI on the street. Despite the 2014 model’s wheelbase growing 1.1 inches, the ride is no smoother and the shock damping feels almost non-existent in the Sport setting.
The Mid setting eases shock stiffness some, as it does the horsepower and torque. But MINI still hustles away from stoplights quickly and power is near instant with the twin-turbo booster set at the Mid, default, level. Go Eco and you’ll feel the car ease away from a stop, but power is substantially reduced. This may work well in jammed city driving where you just crawl from stoplight to stoplight.
Handling is go-kart like responsive all the time, but extraordinarily quick in Sport mode. That’s what makes MINI so much fun, especially around town. You can flick the car into a tight curve or corner and zip out the other side like you’re an F1 racer on a quick practice lap. Steering is immediate and easy.
…and guys should never be seen driving in.
Before I reveal what they are, I want to get a couple of things out there. I love cars, some that get great mileage, some of them are small, and some of them are unusual designs. This comes from a guy who drove a Gremlin and a Pacer which by the way are no longer manufactured. However, a Gremlin X with a 304 and Levi’s interior is a popular collector car since they are difficult to find in good shape. I’ve seen some for sale in the $20,000 range. I know you’re probably thinking, a guy who lives in a glass house….. you will for sure once I get rolling on the list so here goes.
Art Deco Alfa Romeo 8C delivers museum-quality look, details
Everything opens and everything is replicated in great detail on the CMC model.
The automotive Art Deco era, where sleek streamlined profiles and styling flare were at their peak left us an astounding number of quirky, yet beautiful cars.
European makers were at the forefront of such styling in the 1930s with the likes of Bugatti, Delahey and Alfa Romeo wowing the wealthy aristocracy of the day. One such beauty was the Alfa Romeo 8C, a sports coupe that seemed hell bent on performance.
Now CMC brings its prestigious moniker and die-cast model skills to the Alfa 8C 2900B Speciale Touring Coupe. It’s a recipe for a deliciously lavish 1:18 scale model.
Vittorio Jano was famous for his engines at Alfa Romeo before Enzo Ferarri lured him away to help create powerplants for the red racers that made Ferraris into an icon. But in the 1920s Jano created his first straight-eight cylinder engine for Alfa Romeo and then the P3 single-seater that was a constant winner in Formula 1 during the 1930s.
Yet in the 1930s racing was only a part of the Alfa story. The Italian car maker was cranking out beautiful road cars too, their bodies being built by the finest coachbuilders of the day and featuring radical sweeping designs. The 2900B Special Touring Coupe is but one.
The 2900 was designed first and foremost to compete in the Mille Miglia, the most important road race in Italy, winning in 1936 and ’37. In all Alfa won four Mille Miglia. But by the end of the decade the 2900 was also a fine coupe and roadster with a sexy body created by couch builder Carrozzeria Touring.
Big Rover a tough powerful beast, and pricey too
Land Rover has pounded out rough-terrain handling trucks for years. Think of safaris and you think of Land Rovers, usually with a tire mounted on the hood and a rhino charging after it.
Today’s Land Rovers and Range Rovers are just as capable in the bush, but civilized enough to lug the queen around her estate, if need be. The tested Aintree (a town in England) Green Range Rover Supercharged LWB (long-wheelbase) is exceedingly long on the luxury, while still designed to dominate any terrain you throw at it, mud, slush, rocks and streams.
You might be surprised to find out that the tested Rover’s starting price is $105,300, plus an $895 delivery fee, which compared to the base price seems a bargain. Amazingly at six digits the Rover did not come with any running boards or power step-up and nary a third-row seat. Yet there were options that pushed this luxury land yacht to $122,900.
What’s an option once you hit $106 grand or so? Many apparently.
The lovely test ute added a vision assist pack that included a surround-view camera that allows you to view the truck’s perimeter. Cool! It also included automatic high-beam headlights and adaptive Xenon lights, plus a blind spot monitor with a closing vehicle sensing & reverse traffic detection system. That alerts you if you’re about to ram a stopped or suddenly slowed vehicle and also see out the back. Many luxury cars and trucks now have similar systems. The package also featured configurable mood lighting (Shagadelic baby!) and a leather steering wheel (again, something most $30 grand vehicles have, or offer). Price tag? A modest $1,760.
But there was so much more.
What says Continental more than the fake tire sculpted into the trunk lid?
Resin Continental Mark III a rare offering
Rarity plays a big role in full-size vintage auto prices.
This is true too for diecast models, which is what makes Automodello’s new 1:24 Lincoln Continental Mark III a hit, even at its strong $299 asking price. This is a car for baby boomers who favor the classics over muscle cars. (I know that’s heresy.)
This is rare in that I’ve never seen a 1971 Lincoln Continental Mark III in cast resin and in 1:24 scale. On that front Automodello has created a stunningly accurate and beautiful body with crisp accent and trim lines that reflect the Continental’s long, lean elegance.
The Mark III was a Lee Iacocca idea that legend has it came from his desire to see a Thunderbird of the day equipped with a big Rolls Royce grille. That pretty well sums up the Mark III’s appearance.
The giant grille is reminiscent of that used by Rolls Royce.
But it was 300 lbs. heavier than the T-bird, yet packed 365 horsepower coming from a new 460 cu.in. V8. That engine was created to help Lincoln challenge Cadillac’s Eldorado, along with the likes of Oldsmobile’s Toronado and Buick’s Riviera.
CMC’s Bugatti Corsica a work of art
Bugatti has always been a brand for the upper echelon buyers, folks who want the best, the most beautiful and who value quality and uniqueness as much as performance.
No wonder that CMC has chosen a 1938 Bugatti as its latest 1:18-scale work of art.
In 1938 Bugatti created one of its most rare cars, the Bugatti 57 SC Corsica Roadster. The 57 SC chassis and engine was all Bugatti, but its flowing body was a combined effort designed by Jean Bugatti along with Eric Giles. Giles was designing the car for his brother, British Col. G.M. Giles, later chairman of the Bugatti Owners Club. This was back in the day when the wealthy could basically design their own coachwork to be installed exclusively on a manufacturer’s chassis.
Coachbuilder Corsica, of North London, constructed the car’s sensuous body with its large sweeping pontoon fenders and long lean arrow-like hood. Alligator, then a popular luxury hide, was used for the interior.
Now owned by Californian John Mozart, the car won Best of Show at the 1998 Pebble Beach Concours. There’s no denying this is a beautiful car, well restored.
How can a car guy not like James Bond movies?
The cars in the movies could almost be listed as co-stars with all the gadgets and those chase scenes. But it didn’t start that way. James Bond’s first car was the modest ’62 Sunbeam Alpine Series II, in lake blue appearing in Dr. No (1962). Still it’s one of my favorites along with the following.
The Bond franchise began it’s long relationship with Aston Martin with a ’63 Aston Martin DB5 appearing in the movies Goldfinger (1964), and Thunderball (1965).
After a couple of years off Aston Martin makes a return starring role with a ’68 DBS introduced a new James Bond, George Lazenby, in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1968).