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. Read more
Picture a blue open wheel racer with Elf sponsorship and you likely think of Jackie Stewart in a Tyrrell F1 car circa the early 1970s.
No wonder then that TSM Models created that car, the Tyrrell 006 in 1:18 scale to tempt Formula 1 and open wheel racing fans. This was the car that Stewart wheeled to his third and final F1 World Championship in 1973. Stewart won 6 F1 races in his final season and 27 overall, a record at the time he retired to become a TV commentator, author and business spokesperson.
Everyone knows Jackie Stewart and race fans of a certain age loved the look of the 1970s F1 racers, back when ground effects were new and took varying shapes. Here the front and rear wings are large, but look planned. In the late 1960s and early ‘70s the wings often looked odd or like they were thrown on just before the race to see IF they would help.
The giant air scoop right behind the driver’s head also gives the Tyrrell 006 a unique, futuristic look.
TSM’s Tyrrell is the car Stewart drove to victory in the 1973 Belgian Grand Prix, the No. 5 with just the Elf, Ford, Motorcraft (a Ford auto parts brand) and Goodyear sponsorship decals, plus the Team Tyrrell logo. At that, the car is beautiful in its simplicity, even though its shape is interesting, to say the least. Read more
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.
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. Read more
Cadillac is beyond just being back, it’s now about kickin’ butt and takin’ numbers.
First, unlike most sporty luxury brands, Cadillacs now exude style. The new CTS is the beauty queen of luxury sport sedans leaving others only to compete for Miss Congeniality.
CTS’s well chiseled profile with long, wide hood and big mouthy grille give it some panache. But those vertical taillights that carry over from previous models, some dating back to the 1960s, plus the big headlights that extend back into the slender fenders give it an athletic presence – think pro athlete in a fitted Ralph Lauren suit.
Beyond the edgy styling that catches a potential buyer’s eye, Cadillac continues to deliver performance and luxury in equal doses.
The tested CTS Vsport, the top-level model, now boasts a 420-horse twin-turbo V6. The 3.6-liter unit earns a torque rating of 430 that reportedly pushes the rear-drive sedan to 60 mph in 4.6 seconds. Power is readily available and smoothly delivered with Caddy’s first 8-speed automatic, which offers a manual mode and steering wheel mounted paddle shifters.
Ride is comfortable too with GM’s magnetic ride control and a performance suspension that provides a firm, well-controlled ride. Plus CTS offers four driving modes, selected via a switch on the console between the front seats. Touring is for everyday driving and smoothes the ride while offering responsive steering. This would do for most of us 90-95% of the time. Read more
When it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! Mazda’s designers and brain trust have shown great wisdom to follow that axiom with the Miata sports car.
For 25 years now the MX-5 Miata has made its mark by NOT changing much. There have been tiny body styling tweaks and interior tucks and thankfully the horsepower grew from 116 originally to 167 today. But Miata has remained true to its original design and purpose, being a lightweight, superb handling sports car with enough pep to put a perpetual smile on a driver’s face.
Soon Mazda will unveil a new Miata, and we’ll hope the designers still don’t break what isn’t broken. But for now we can relish in the fun and modest price tag the current model embodies.
Two years have passed since I last drove a Miata and reading back over that review I couldn’t find anything I’d disagree with from the most current drive. Here’s my latest synopsis.
The “true red” test car was the mid-level Club model with a black power hardtop. That means it’s a convertible, but the hardtop keeps it quieter inside than the standard cloth top. Naturally you pay more, but Miata is still a value-minded roadster. The base Sport model with soft top lists at $24,515 with delivery and the tested Club with hardtop was $29,460, with delivery. Moving up to the Grand Touring hardtop pushes the sticker to $31,345. Read more
Toyota better be careful. It might be cutting into its Lexus sales with its latest Highlander.
Who needs a Lexus when Toyota’s Highlander is so darned luxurious?
First, the styling is sharp for a sport-ute. Everything from the hood creasing to the elongated swept-back lights to the profile make the Highlander look like it’s in motion, even as it sits, all 4,861 lbs. of it, in the driveway. Mine was a handsome silver model, the top-level Limited Platinum version with hybrid power system and all-wheel drive.
Price of admission? $51,761 as delivered, with a base price of $49,790 and an $860 delivery fee, plus a few options. A Lexus will cost you more.
Yet Highlander is pretty much state of the art luxury as it arrives in Limited Platinum trim.
Seats are leather and powered, with both front and second row seats heated. Front seats are cooled too, with three settings, and the thick leather steering wheel is heated to take winter’s chill away quickly. There’s a power rear hatch (more about that later), and a power panoramic sunroof and shade. Read more
BMWs are racers at heart and BMW’s M Series are the hopped up versions of already racy coupes and sedans that the Bavarian automaker squeezes out of its German factories.
Naturally, Germans love to put their BMWs, Audis, Mercedes and Volkswagens to the test on the racetrack. So in the 1980s they began testing their home-country metal on road courses as part of the Deutsche Touring Masters Championship, popularly known as DTM. Think of it as German NASCAR.
Back in the late 1980s and early ‘90s BMW’s awesome M3 (first built in 1986) dominated the DTM series. The M3 was the souped up small coupe that sold well as the 3 Series in the U.S. market and was known as the E30 overseas. BMW sold hundreds of thousands of these, the original rear-drive 3 Series being made from 1982 to 1992.
That’s the timeframe Autoart focuses on with a variety of 1:18 diecast models, including the review car, a colorful green, white and gold Tic Tac-sponsored 1991 racer from Tauber Motorsports. That year the car was driven in many of the DTM’s 12-race season by Canadian Allen Berg, who had a varied racing career, including one year piloting a Formula 1 car.
Berg and the No. 43 Tic Tac M3 Sport Evolution machine did not have great success that season, the 9th for DTM, but the car looks like a winner and was popular because of its unusual sponsorship and paint scheme. An M3 won DTM championships in 1987 and ‘89 by beating the likes of worthy competitors like the Audi V8 Quattro, Ford Sierra and Mercedes 190E. Read more
Scion’s tC edges out some competitors with style, quickness … a fun drive
I think its styling is edgier and more fun, and despite it being a front-drive coupe compared with the rear-drive FR-S, it handles extremely well. Plus, with its easy shifting 6-speed manual and more than sufficient 2.5-liter VVT-I 4-cylinder engine, it’s quick and fun to drive.
Then there’s the base tC’s starting price of just $19,200, with a $795 delivery fee. That’s affordable, and my bright “absolutely red” test car managed 27 mpg in about 60% highway driving. Quite respectable! The EPA rates this t 23 mpg city and 31 mpg highway.
The tC is bare bones fun without a totally bare bones feel. It’s great for first-time buyers needing value and valuing style and fun behind the wheel. The coupe doesn’t feel cheap and looks spectacular. For 2014 the nose is restyled with a wide-mouth grille, more attractive lightning-bolt-shaped headlights with LED running lights and I like its flat roofline that gives it a distinctive profile compared with the plethora of round roof sports coupes.
You already know some of what I like, but the heart of my appreciation for the coupe starts with its performance.
Slip into the well-shaped sports seats and the car delivers a straightforward no nonsense dash, albeit a blah gray plastic trim that looks a little too value minded. But turn the key, yes it still has a key, and the test car fired up with a throaty roar that would make most drift car pilots envious. This is a big can that really stirs up the 4-cylinder’s exhaust tone. All that is due to a TRD (Toyota Racing Development) performance exhaust that costs $699 extra. You’ll love the sound, so if you can spare the cash, go for it. Read more
Automodello cranks out a rare Mustang I in 1:24th
That’s what the folks over at Automodello have cranked out for you, and only a limited number will be made – 499 to be exact. There’s also a limited run 1:43 model too. But let’s get to the history and the model here.
Sports and sporty cars had been the rage throughout the 1950s among the racing set. Chevrolet had responded with its Corvette and Ford went a bit more luxury touring oriented with its Thunderbird.
Next up was Chevrolet’s lower cost sports coupe, the Corvair, with its rear-mounted engine. Ford needed an answer.
So in 1962 Ford tried something different, an open 2-seater that was quick and light and independently sprung at all four wheels. Ford’s new baby was the Mustang I, a concept that noted Formula 1 racer Dan Gurney showed off during an F1 race weekend at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) in October of 1962, setting times that were nearly competitive with the open-wheeled racers running in that weekend’s F1 race.
The white hand-hammered aluminum bodied concept car was petite, with a 90-inch wheelbase, an 89-horse V4 and tipping the scales at just 1,148 lbs. and with a top speed of 100 mph. Folks at the Watkins Glen race weekend were eager to get their hands on the car. But in its concept design, the Mustang was not to be. However, two years later the iconic Mustang sports coupe would debut, also in New York, this time at the World’s Fair.
The historic Mustang I Concept got the ball rolling and lent its name to what would become Ford’s iconic pony car. Now Automodello out of Buffalo Grove, Ill., releases a sharp 1:24 re-creation, along with a 1:43 scale model, both in finely detailed resin. The company says just 499 will be made in the larger scale, while 150 Tribute Editions are planned. Those will all be signed by Gurney, its first on-track driver, and cost $150 more. We reviewed the standard 1:24 version. Read more
Wow this car is fun!
We like the 70 retro looks of this car. Both Mark and I remember the Shaker hoods the first time around. Dodge has done a great job of reproducing the looks. Oh, and the performance, what a hoot. Handling is super too as you’ll see when Mark and I took it for a spin at Road America. Hop in for a ride and make sure you buckle up!
There, now I feel better, it’s out there. I’ve gone road hunting in CJ’s that still hurt my back, but it was still fun! I have owned a 1986 four-door Wagoneer (XJ), then a 1996 Grand Cherokee (ZJ), a Liberty (KJ). Designed by Diamler at the time and not my favorite because it was way to top-heavy as you can see here after an Illinois driver on his cell phone clipped me. I walked away.
It’s the only vehicle I have exited through the sun roof. We currently area about to purchase our 2011 Wrangler Unlimited (JK) off our lease and I can’t wait to start making it more our Jeep. First thing I’m going to do is put a cold air intake to give it some zip. I have been to Camp Jeeps at both the Chicago and Milwaukee auto shows. Milwaukee was the better ride. Check out the videos from my rides. Yup, all in.
It was when American Motors, where my dad worked, bought Kaiser’s money-losing Jeep operations in 1970 that I started to dig into the history of the Jeep brand. AMC was hurting at the time and this was a big gamble for them but the Jeep utility vehicles complemented AMC’s passenger car business. Actually it saved the company. AMC was able to share components, achieving volume efficiencies, as well as capitalizing on Jeep’s international and government markets.
It created the Sport Utility market
The four-door Jeep Wagoneer (SJ) set the pace as it was the first luxury 4×4 sold and produced from 1963 to 1991, nearly 30 years before the term SUV was in vogue. Compared to what GM, International Harvester, and Land Rover were offering at the time, it was the Wagoneer’s luxury that set the bar. Adding to success of the Wagoneer, and it’s two-door version Cherokee AMC introduced in 1973 was the Quadra-Trac full-time four-wheel-drive system which attracted even more people to Jeep products who wanted four-wheel-drive traction without the inconvenience of a manual-shift transfer case and manual locking hubs.
The Wagoneer Limited you see in these images which later morphed into the Grand Wagoneer, had the whole deal, deep pile carpeting, advanced overhead cam inline six and then later a monster AMC 401 V8 engine, auto transmission, power windows, a/c, power steering, power brakes, an independent front suspension and yes, real wood outlining the fake vinyl wood as you can see in this example which I think is a 1981. It’s a little on the rough side but there are lots of places that specialize in full restorations like GrandWagoneer.com. The vehicle still has a following even though the last Grand Wagoneer rolled off Chrysler’s Toledo assembly plant on June 21, 1991. Now that Fiat owns Jeep there were images floating around showing a modern version of the Grand Wagoneer which I have heard won’t come on the market for another couple of years.
I would love to have a Grand Wagoneer to show off to the people I know who drive Cadillac Escalades or Range Rovers. Sure buddy, one on one! I made a trip to one of my favorite sites, Hemmings, and found Grand Wagoneers from the mid-20’s to all the way up to 50 grand like this one. Have you looked at the current prices of the Caddy or Rover?
So what if you don’t have the cash?
Surprisingly with such a long run, you’d thing there would have been a promo model made but it never happened, however this Grand Wagoneer produced by AutoArt is a great alternative. I picked up this 1/18th scale diecast about five years ago for around $100. Even though AutoArt has stopped producing them, they pop up on eBay except for the white one which is nearly impossible to find. Check out the details on this. All the doors open, along with the hood and rear lift gate. The interior has real carpeting and upholstery. Check out the engine bay. I love looking at this. I keep hoping that someday there will be a way to take it and scale it up into the real deal.
Spark recreates iconic 1958 Edsel in 1:43 scale
As a kid I thought Edsels were cool. I loved the big horse collar grille, the pair of twin headlights and those slim cat-eye taillights. This was styling extreme to the max in an age of styling extreme. It was an age where giant tail fins and portholes in the sides of cars were welcome.
Who wouldn’t like this in your face design from Ford?
Well, apparently nearly everyone, as the Edsel lineup fell flat on its crankcase and was discontinued just a few years later. But styling fashionistas, those of us who appreciate styling daring do, can still get our fix via Spark’s new 1:43 scale Edsel Citation Hard Top Coupe.
Spark recreates the 1958 model in black with a white roof, and the two-tone paint job just makes this all the more attractive because it reflects the fun and style trends of 1950s autos.
Spark is no newcomer to 1:43 cars, it offers a variety from standard street cars to race cars of all ilk. Here’s what I like about this one. Read more
Fiat gives Chrysler a fine mid-size car with new 200C
The former Chrysler 200 was so long in the tooth you may have wanted to nickname it Snagglepuss.
It was updated a couple years back by Fiat, after it snaggled Chrysler away from bankruptcy and the U.S. government. Mostly, that change in ownership has done nothing but help Chrysler’s various lineups, and the new Chrysler 200 again confirms that.
The midsize sedan, which rides on the Jeep Cherokee platform (see my interview with the lead engineer done at the Chicago Auto Show) so is available with all-wheel-drive, carries the rounded styling first seen on the sporty Dodge Dart. This is a handsome sedan with swept back rear quarter to give it both a modern and sporty profile. The tested C model with AWD tops the 200 lineup and its $30,195 starting price reflects that. This isn’t your great aunt’s old Chrysler 200 winter beater car.
The 200 comes in basic LX trim with a list price of $22,695 and in that form is front-wheel drive with a competent 184-horse MultiAir 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine. A mid-level S model is available in all- and front-drive as is this upscale C model.
This C stands out due to its more powerful 3.6-liter V6 that features variable valve timing and delivers 295 horses and a torque rating of 262. Tires also grow to 18 inches and the interior is decked out with leather trimmed heated seats and a load of bells and whistles. The vivid blue pearl (bright metallic blue) test car ladled on three option packages to doll itself up and hit a rather optimistic $34,675, including a $795 delivery charge.
The car itself feels more modern and refined that past 200 models. The engine is strong and will get to highway speeds easily, even with four people aboard. This is a fine highway cruiser for the family and the giant 16-cubic-foot trunk will accommodate a load of luggage.
While the car feels strong, it doesn’t really jump from a stop as you might expect. It feels heavy despite a moderate 3,473 lbs. Its 9-speed (that’s right!) automatic transmission is designed to save gas, but not to put the car on a speedy trajectory, especially in city driving. The car is rated 18 mpg city and 29 mpg highway. I averaged a fine 24.2 mpg in about 75% highway driving and with up to four aboard. Read more
My previous test of the compact Dodge Dart was near perfect. That was the Limited model, this metallic red beauty was the sportier GT.
Blame it on age or our increasingly decrepit roads, but this one was harder on the derriere.
Oh, I still like the Dart and would recommend the Limited or any model without the sport suspension that the GT features. This one is just too stiff with the ride bordering on harsh. Racy R18-rated tires didn’t help either. The GT intends to be a boy-racer toy at a modest price and it comes close to that goal.
There’s strong power here with a 2.4-liter I4 Tigershark engine with MultiAir to increase fuel efficiency. It generates 184 horses and a torque rating of 171. So pound the gas pedal and the Dart GT responds.
In normal city driving there’s good power too, although some hesitation as you accelerate. Linked to a 6-speed manual, which is standard, you could likely have some fun with the GT. But the test car added an optional $1,250 6-speed Powertech automatic that tames the oomph factor, mostly. You’ll still hit highway speeds easily, but the car feels a bit heavy and the shifts are not as crisp or timely as they would be if the driver was handling those duties.
Still, the car looks sporty with trim lines and an attractive profile. I like the car’s nose and the full body-width LED taillight that reflects other Dodge model styling. Dart looks sharp. Read more