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. Read more
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. Read more
Ninco, now being distributed exclusively by Professor Motor in the U.S., is reintroducing a series of five somewhat generic Formula 1 cars to its lineup, a good product for clubs or groups that enjoy racing identical cars.
These racers resemble the former SCX F1 cars in that the front suspension looks real, with A-arms and wheels that are steerable, being controlled by the slot’s movement. The body resembles a Team Jordan F1 car from the late 1990s to early 2000s and in fact is labeled Jordan on the chassis.
This racer is sturdy and likely the body will hold up well in heavy use. The nose wing is thick and well attached to the body shell as is the rear wing, which is molded into the bodywork, so less likely to snap off when the car de-slots. Its mirrors are the most likely body part to be lost over time.
That said, as with the former SCX models with steerable front wheels and a more detailed suspension, I suspect the thin suspension parts will snap after several heavy hits into other cars or during a serious de-slot. The good news is the cars will run even with damaged front suspensions, they just won’t look as realistic while on track.
Ninco uses its normally peppy NC-14 Speeder motor that generates 20,600 rpm. Straight line speed should be good, but on my test track the car was more than a full second slower than a similar Scalextric open-wheel car, with silicone tires. Silicones usually will cut a half-second off a lap time.
The standard tires here are a very hard rubber and grip is minimal. They also are quite stiff, so hard to remove from the wheel, but you’ll want to purchase proper silicones to give the car more grip. That helps in turns, but also in putting power to the track in a straight line.
The magnet Ninco uses is small too and sits in front of the inline motor instead of behind it, as in many other slot car chassis. That placement doesn’t help give it good rear tire grip or balance, so likely with slicks the Ninco will still be a hair slower that competitors. Again, if your buddies are all racing the other Ninco F1 cars, that won’t matter.
For gearheads, literally, the Ninco F1 has a 2.48mm axle and 9-tooth pinion and 24-tooth crown gear. The car weighs 73 grams and feels quite solid.
The test car was red with white and black trim on the wings and car’s sides and engine cowling. This is car No. 3, while the other cars in this series are No. 5 in black with slight yellow trim, No. 2 in blue and white, No. 15 in yellow and black, and an all-white model you can decorate yourself.
Experienced slot car racers will recognize this as a somewhat simplified F1 car, but a good looking car for a newcomer. But you’ll need silicone tires and likely an additional magnet to keep it firmly planted on the track and able to use its power.
Product: Formula 1 (red)
Maker: Ninco (now available from Professor Motor and hobby stores)
Stock No.: 150697
MSRP: $64.99 (you can usually find this for sale in the $40-45 range)
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.
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. Read more
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. Read more
Let’s face it, most of us don’t have a pile of money
So collecting cars, like this Ferrari GTO, which is now the most expensive car ever after being auctioned off for $38 million this summer, is pretty much not going to happen. Boy if I had that kind of cash and bought it the car would spend much of its life in my garage with me oogling all over it. Even with insurance which has to be at least the size of or mortgage payments I’d be afraid something would happen. I mean you wouldn’t drive it to the grocery store to get a gallon of milk.
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. Read more
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. Read more
That four letter word that starts with an “S” came early.
I can’t even mention the word and I live in Wisconsin. How about those folks in Buffalo who have been buried with feet of snow? I drive a Jeep Wrangler Unlimited so this video caught my eye. South Bend, IN. always get lots of snow because of Lake Michigan. Take for example this morning. Even the trucks got stuck and in this case a Jeep was there to help out. Go Jeep!!!
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 Read more
Jay Leno’s Collection
I love Jay Leno for a couple of reasons, he’s funny, and a car guy. Huge car guy! Has almost 300 cars and motorcycles in his collection, and every car is liscensed and street-legal. What I wouldn’t give for a tour. I asked to give away a tour as part of a promotion I was planning for a magazine I was doing the marketing for and NBC said no:) Bummer.
His 25 coolest
It would be tough for me to pick his 25 coolest since they are all cool. Yahoo Auto gave it a crack. Here are my “faves of the faves”, the Chrysler turbine and Yenko 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. Read more
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.
I can go faster
Guys were essentially taking large jet engines and build a car around it to break speed records in the mid 60’s. Art Arfons was one of the big names with his Green Monster which at one time was the world’s fastest car. His competition came from Craig Breedlove. This was pretty cool stuff and each driver was out to top the other.
The Rube Goldberg of land speed record cars
Arfons was the ultimate gear head shade-tree mechanic from Akron, Ohio who started building drag racers so powerful they got him banned from sanctioned events mainly powered by jet engines he scrounged the U.S. Air Force considered worthless. Listen to his secret.
Born on February 3, 1926, he started with his Green Monster dragsters powered by piston and jet engines. Feeling the need for more speed, more speed, he took it up a notch with his turbine-powered speed cars. He held the world land speed record holder three times from 1964 to 1965. It was on November 7th, 1965 that went 576 mph and never as able to beat it. He was announced as a 2008 inductee in the International Motorsports Hall of Fame three days after his death.
The first person in history to reach 400, 500, and 600 mph
I remember Craig Breedlove even better. Beyond the records he set on the Bonneville salt flats, he also set records for American Motors. Hired in 1968 to prepare AMC’s pony and high-performance cars, Javelin and AMX, for speed and endurance records which he set. From my collection, this is one of the ads AMC ran to promote the records.
Back to the jets
Breedlove’s competition came from not only Art but his brother Walt. Breedlove’s response was more engine power upping the record to 468.72 mph and then to 526.28 mph making him the first man to exceed 500 mph.
I remember this pass because one of Breedlove’s drogue parachute‘s shroud lines parted, and Spirit of America ran on for five miles before just missing a telephone pole and coming to rest in a lake. This record stood all of twelve days before Green Monster broke it, recording a two-run average of 536.71 mph. Back and forth they went. Arfons did is 576 run then Breedlove responded with 600.601 mph. Now let’s throw in Gary Gabelich‘s Blue Flame (top right). In 1970 he broke Breedlove’s record running 630.388 mph. After that things shifted into low gear for Breedlove. He took a break to sell houses and then returned in 1996 with Spirit of America Formula Shell LSRV (right) pumping out 22,650 pounds of thrust but crashed on his first run at about 675 mph. Wow! Enter the British ThrustSSC which then went over 700 mph. Breedlove made one more attempt after repairing his car and thinking it could do 800 but the best he could go was 676 mph and that was pretty much all she wrote. There were some attempts by other drivers after that but nothing like what happened during this period.