Fast & furious new Stingray sets a new standard
The company parking lot was alive with color, as was the driveway at home. People stared, gave a thumbs up and admired what for 60 years has been America’s Sports Car.
This was a Torch Red Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Z51, fresh off the assembly line in Bowling Green, Ky., and raring to have its legs stretched, its engine thrummed, its giant near slick ZR-rated tires warmed and spun. The Corvette remains a two-seater, but by the late 1960s had transitioned from sports car to muscle car.
Oh, these babies are raced to be sure, but on the highway, on our city streets, it’s their muscle that most folks admire. They are low, so low I found myself looking up to a Mini Cooper that I was passing on the freeway. Vettes are fast. Chevy claims 3.8 seconds from 0-60 mph and even it if it’s 4.0 or a touch more, it’ll haul butt.
Top speed? It’s rated at 190 mph and there’s no good place to test that out, legally. Suffice it to say I got within 90 mph of that. Highway entry ramps are too short in a Corvette, which for its seventh generation that debuts as a 2014, brings back the much loved Stingray name.
For the record Chevy has revamped its giant 6.2-liter V8 to add direct injection and variable valve timing. That translates into 460 horses and a torque rating of 465. Consider that a Porsche 911 Carrera S manages 400 horses, albeit from a flat-6, and costs almost twice as much.
Your chance to dream big
I daydream a lot about “if money was no object” and I had a place to store them (like Jay Leno’s Garage) what five cars would I own. Of course I’d want more but in this blog entry decided to stick with five. So here you go.
70 AMC AMX (Photo credit: DVS1mn)
I admit this is an emotional pick because I had one of these. It was my first entry into restoring cars and turned out to be a disaster. The engine blew up on me, there were holes in the floor pan and the back sail panels were mostly Bondo. I call it my $1,500 lesson. Ouch. But more on the car.
The AMX was built by American Motors from 1968-1970. Since it was a two-seater the only other car like it was the Corvette. This was one of AMC’s entries in the muscle car era although also classified sports car and touring car. It was available with a massive 390 V8 and one version pumped out and incredible 420 hp! I picked this year because I had one and it was the last and was built in small numbers, around 2,000 making it the most collectible of the AMX’s. A really good one right now would go for around 25 grand.
1963 split-window Corvette
1963 Chevy Corvette Split Window (Photo credit: Chad Horwedel)
I love all Corvettes so it was tough to narrow it down to just one. I picked the ’63 because these are rare finds now since they only made them that one year. Legend has it that Corvette chief engineer Zora Arkus-Duntov never liked the split rear window because it blocked rear vision, but Bill Mitchell thought it to be a key part of the entire design. In the end Duntov won out and it was gone the next year. This was also the first year when they began designating them Sting Rays. According to Hagerty’s price guide, a split-window Z06 (big tank) with the 327cid/360hp F1 L84 will dent you for $335,000. But wait, money is no object, right?
1969 Camero SS
DSC_0045 (Photo credit: WalterPro4755)
This was the last year of the first-generation Cameros. Remember, Ford had already beaten Chevy to the gun with the Mustang. Chrysler and AMC also fielded entries. I picked the SS version because of the power option, an 8-cyl. 396cid/375hp 4bbl L89. Wheeee, that’s a lot of juice under the hood. Parts for 1967-69 Camaros are limited only by the restorer’s checkbook. But then again, who cares in this case. The one I would have is currently valued at 107 grand. This of course for your insurance.
1962-63 Studebaker Avanti
1964 Studebaker Avanti (02) (Photo credit: Georg Sander (GS1311))
Studebaker positioned this as “America’s Only 4 Passenger High-Performance Personal Car!”. It sure was. Equiped with it’s 289 cid/240 hp V8, it was a screamer. A Paxton supercharger was offered as an option and many of these Avantis went on to break Bonneville speed records. Twenty nine of them with the fastest with a Paxton almost 200 mph while a stock one 168 mph!
Maybe it’s because I like the underdogs I like this car but it’s bold new styling was not enough to save Studebaker as it shut down its South Bend, IN plant in 1963. I also like the rarity. The ’62 model had about 1,200 come off the line while the ’63 had slightly less than 4,600. With these low numbers I thought the Avanti would command a six figure price, instead found them around $20,000 (for insurance purposes) and the supercharged ones around $60,000.
1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4*S N.A.R.T. Spider
Courtesy RM Auctions
I struggled for the last spot for a while because there are lots of cars I would have, if I could. This time I decided to hit it out of the park with one of the rarest of the rare Ferraris, a 275 GTB/4*S N.A.R.T. Spider, one of only ten made. This is not the same model that appeared in the movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. That was a 250 GT California. Why this? It’s a Ferrari and just recently set an auction world-record for a non-race car going for…wait for it…$27.5 in Los Angeles this past August!
I know there are lots of more expensive cars I could have put on the list but these are the cars I had an a certain coolness factor. What is your top five car list? Let’s start the discussion.
Replicarz creates scorching ’73 Indy Eagles
The 1973 Indy 500 winning Eagle, driven by Gordon Johncock.
Editor’s Note: An earlier review I did on similar models was pre-production prototypes. These are the real deal and are on sale now from Replicarz.
Swede Savage was not a relative of mine, but as a teen in the 1970s I was a big fan, mainly because of the name and his association with AAR and Dan Gurney. But Swede was always quick and the blinding fluorescent red of his 1973 STP racer made pulling for Swede an easy task. He and long-time top-tier racer Gordon Johncock were teammates that year, creating an exciting duo, both with a good shot at winning the 1973 Indianapolis 500.Now Replicarz has nailed both the color and the giant-winged Eagle racers themselves. The No. 20 was driven to victory by two-time Indy champ Johncock, and No. 40 by his youthful teammate Savage.
Johncock’s ’73 winner was created a few years back by Carousel 1, and that was well executed, but Replicarz ups the ante. First, the color is much closer to the glaring red that STP used. Replicarz also updated the driver’s seat to make it matte white, creating a more realistic look along with the cars’ black-trimmed-in-white numbers, which are more true to the actual cars that raced in the tragic, rain-shortened 1973 Indy 500.
Replicarz also includes a lot more sponsor logos on the cars’ side pods. Logos include the likes of Ashland Oil, Bell helmets, Aeroquip, Raybestos, Perfect Circle and PowerHouse.
Brian Fothergill of Replicarz tells me that he and his design team have modeled the cars as closely as possible to the way they were raced. That means more logos than a car might have had during practice or qualifying. A web search turned up the 1973 winner and indeed, the decals match very closely.
Lackluster new RAV4 underwhelming
Underwhelmed, that was how the new Toyota RAV4 left me.
Oh it looks fine, pretty much like every other compact ute out these days, and with all the features and electronic options and doodads you’d want. But given Toyota’s history, I was surprised by how lackluster it felt and it had fit and finish issues.
First, there was a small hole in the console. Was a button missing? And what would it have been for?
Second, there was an obvious and annoying squeak in the dash and it squeaked no matter what speed you were going, or how rough the road. The ute had only about 2,800 miles on it when I received it. I’d expect that squeak on my wife’s 12-year-old Camry because it has 100,000+ miles on the odometer. Actually, I think her car’s interior is quieter, which leads me to point three. The RAV4 interior is noisy, very echoey sounding.
Fourth, well, the 2.5-liter, I4 engine simply feels down on power. Maybe it’s the gearing, but acceleration is flat and dull. The engine is rated at 176 horsepower, but acceleration is lackluster. There’s an ECO button to give it better gas mileage and even less oomph, or a Sport button to give it more torque. That helps, but you still must mash the gas pedal to get that power, and at that point the power train whines and moans like it’s being tortured.
New MDX lighter, loaded with gadgets galore
Acura put its popular MDX sport-utility on a serious diet, tweaked its dimensions a bit and in the test version, attached every electronic gee-whiz feature its engineers could muster – hence the $57,400 price tag.
First, the sport-ute added considerably to its use of high-strength steel and a new rear suspension to trim 275 lbs. from the previous MDX. It also dropped the vehicle’s dual exhaust in favor of a single pipe, cutting weight and engine noise.
The former 3.7-liter V6 also was replaced by a 3.5-liter V6 that develops 290 horsepower. That’s down just slightly from the earlier model, but with the weight savings you’ll never notice. Power is good and the ute gets reasonable gas mileage too for something that will haul 8 people. It’s rated at 18 mpg city and 27 mpg highway. I got 21.7 mpg in about 60% highway driving. The engine’s variable valve timing helps it run more efficiently.
Acura mates the quiet V6 with a 6-speed automatic that shifts smoothly, but not as crisply as you might expect. It doesn’t seem to want to rev the engine up to provide tons of oomph. Still, you easily reach highway speeds.
Handling is good for a largish ute though, the SH-AWD, super-handling all-wheel-drive system, giving the MDX both good grip in sloppy weather and helping cut its turning radius. Steering feels much quicker than in most similar-sized utes.
WOW … Autoart’s Countach an eyeful of detail
It’s hard not to be wowed by most Autoart Signature Series models, this is diecast near its peak. And there’s a lot of wow factor with a bright orange Lamborghini Countach LP400. You may need sunglasses to examine it up close.
Countach was the first Lambo to go full bore with the wedge shape and sharp angles front to rear. It was launched at the 1971 Geneva Auto Show and praised for breaking through the styling envelope and taking the wedge shape to an extreme.
Some folks consider Countach the first true supercar and it’s hard to argue that, at least from a styling standpoint. This broke all the rules and norms.
Performance was no slouch either. The real car got its power from a monster mid-engine V-12 that made 375 horses, considerable for the time and with all the body panels made of aluminum this had a great power to weight ratio. Under that lightweight body was a space-frame made from curved 40mm tubular steel for strength too.
Challenger SRT8 puts 470 ponies under you
Muscle is one thing. Looks are another. But I still expect a boatload of amenities at $41 grand.
This is the RT version and the SRT8 just takes it to a whole new level … yes, it has a HEMI.
The “TorRed” Dodge Challenger SRT8 Core that I blasted around town in last week targets the fanatical muscle car lover. It packs a 6.4-liter V8 SRT HEMI that punches out a nasty 470 horses. You don’t think that’s enough? You may want to get your noggin checked.
Slapping the 6-speed manual shifter through its gate you can squeal the rear tires in any gear, exploding up to 60 mph, or beyond, in just under five seconds. You can embarrass about any other vehicle you want with this wild child of a car.But even at $41 grand, including delivery and a Gas Guzzler tax (the price for all that power), you won’t have a navigation system, back-up camera, automatic lights or leather seats. I guess that’s why this is the Core SRT8.
SRT is Chrysler Corp.’s high-performance team and it makes any of the Fiat-owned firm’s vehicles, including the Jeep Grand Cherokee, into land rockets. Certainly performance is SRT’s main focus, along with some street-ability, but many daily driver features and comforts are side-stepped.
New Silverado quieter, more refined and plenty strong
A pickup is a pickup, there’s no two ways about it.
Pickup trucks are tall and boxy and, well, originally intended for work, primarily in farm fields and on construction sites. That’s why they ride higher and even the new – nose to tail – Chevrolet Silverado has an impressive 8.7 inches of ground clearance.
But you and I know that somehow over the last two decades pickups have gone from being affordable work trucks to expensive everyday vehicles, although still plenty capable of work. Pickups aren’t simple in any sense of the word anymore and their price tags prove it.
A base 2-wheel-drive standard cab starts at $23,590, but the tested Crew Cab, which is more popular because you can carry the whole family to the mall or to town if you’re still a rural dweller, started at $35,855, about $4 grand higher than an average new car. A base Silverado Crew Cab with standard bed lists at $32,200, plus a $995 destination charge. Want 4-wheel drive? That’s just $300 more.
Beautiful E-Type one of Autoart’s best efforts
One of my favorite early toys was a Jaguar XKE, a metallic red Matchbox car. I loved it for its shape, that long lean hood and its rounded tail. It was exotic.
I’m not alone in my love for the early 1960’s E-Type, it was a landmark design that stirred the automotive world, and still does. The E-Type was unveiled at the 1961 Geneva Motor Show to rave reviews and the early Series 1 Jags, made from 1961-’68, are noted collector cars, even if their electronics were a bit sketchy.
Now comes Autoart’s long-awaited version in 1:18 scale, and while it will be available in a variety of colors, the review model is a glorious Carmen Red – perfect!
For the record, the rear-drive E-Type featured a 3.8-liter DOHC 6-cylinder engine with aluminum head and twin cams and three SU carbs. While it might not seem like much today, the Jag punched out 265 horses and delivered a top speed of 150 mph – exotic indeed.
A Mustang collector’s dream
67 Fastback Mustang (Photo credit: christopherallisonphotography.com)
While the Mustang was pretty much the king of the pony cars it was about to get some competition and in 1967, the Mustang saw its first major redesign. For the first time since its launch, the car faced some serious competition. This resulted in Ford evaluating the Mustang’s strengths and weaknesses. In addition to the Pontiac’s Firebird, Mercury’s Cougar, and Plymouth’s Barracuda, Chevrolet had plans to roll out their new Chevy Camaro muscle car. This resulted in Ford duking it out with its competition by creating a more muscular and powerful Ford Mustang. Sound familiar? More power is back! Hear the roar of the engine in this YouTube video!
OK, how much?
Well that depends on how much cash you have. According to Hagerty the average price is now to around 50 grand up from 35 grand a few years back. How many of your investments were growing like that? There, I gave you a good case to sell your wife on getting one.
Forget it, you won’t be able to sell your wife on getting one of these
As with any classic car, the rarer the more the price goes up. Are you ready for this one? A 1967 Ford Mustang used during filming of 2000’s hit movie Gone in 60 Seconds has sold at auction for a staggering $1 million. Can’t swing a cool mil? Well then check out this one I found on Auto Trader. An ultra rare, 1967 Ford Shelby GT500 C.S.S. This car was licensed by Carroll Shelby and it comes with a certificate of authenticity signed by both Carroll Shelby and Barry Smith (president of Legendary G.T. Continuation Cars.) This Shelby is number 014 of the Snake 3 continuation cars built and has just 206 miles on it. Yours for $650,000. Boy if you can swing something like that I will be your new best friend.
The promo model, a smaller, cheaper alternative
You never have to worry about rust, changing the oil, or putting a new set of tires on it. You can find “OK” promo models on the auction sites priced around 50 bucks but if you want a cherry example be prepared to pay more. I found this one with no cracked posts and the chrome is all good. This classic example went for $350. Now if you could add a chip to get that engine sound, maybe with bluetooth, and run it through your home stereo, that would be totally AWESOME. I can see it now. Speakers cranked and your wife just rolls her eyes.
Genesis 5.0 R-Spec a styling winner, but a mixed bag
Hyundai certainly knows what it’s doing as far as styling and creating a quality car these days, that’s why it continues to gain market share.
But its large Genesis luxury sedan is a mixed bag. Here’s why.
First, the tested Genesis 5.0 R-Spec is a great looking car that reflects a new Mercedes look. Obviously Hyundai designers were heavily influenced by Mercedes styling as its mid-size Sonata also very much borrows from the German car maker’s designs. Where Hyundai one-ups Mercedes is inside the cockpit. Hyundai successfully executes simple, elegant interior design with logical button and control placement and layout.
Likewise, Hyundai has figured out how to create beastly power and silky transmissions to tame it. Case in point, the pearl black test car’s 5.0-liter, V8 with dual CVVT creates a monstrous 429 hp. (R-Spec stands for Race-Spec, thus the prodigious power.) Yet linked with an 8-speed automatic with the Shiftronic feature so that you can manually shift if you so desire, the power is delivered with seamless shifts.
Want to fly up to freeway speeds? Just drop the pedal and the rear-drive Genesis rockets in a well-controlled burst, up to 60 in just a few seconds.
New Chevy Impala brings GM all the way back
Originally I thought Chevrolet’s Cruze signaled that the giant automaker was back, back to its 1960s world of innovative, high-value, handsomely styled vehicles. Cruze may have been the beginning, but Impala really says that Chevy has arrived.
Sleek and modern, the new Impala is a looker!
Since 1958 Impala has told folks that their neighbors have arrived, financially. It was pretty much the top of the line Chevy for a family. Oh sure, there was the Corvette, but that was for single guys or mid-life crisis guys. Impala was a loaded family sedan with a bit of styling flair, and sometimes even a sporty edge.
The 2014 Impala is all that in today’s crowded large sedan marketplace, but unlike many previous attempts to catch the competition, this Impala is top-shelf and maybe even a step or two ahead of some competitors.
Styling is crisp and attractive with a fastback style rear window and C pillar to give the car’s profile a swept back look. Folks noticed, and that’s not something Chevy has heard often in the past four decades. People weren’t sure what it was, asking if it were a Lexus and one suggested a Jaguar. Well, it does look inviting and muscular in profile with a clean nose and tail.
Under the hood? The tested 2LT model packs a 3.6-liter, direct-injection V6 that provides 305 horsepower and is linked to a smooth-shifting 6-speed automatic. Torque is strong and the car will dance up to highway speeds quickly and efficiently. There is a tad of engine noise, just enough to let you know Impala means business.