Beautiful Jaguar XJL delivers power, luxury + AWD
Sometimes in life we are lucky, and I was all of that as I slipped behind the wheel of Jaguar’s gleaming limo of a sedan, the XJL.
This is a beautiful car aimed at the beautiful people that have the money to spend on luxury and looks.
It’s a long car, hence the L in its name. Yet the XJL looks lean and muscular, like an Olympic sprinter ready to pounce on the competition at the start of a race. This is a spirited road car riding on a 124.3-inch wheelbase. Such length puts it in the league of full-sized SUVs, inside and out. UW’s starting five basketball players could ride comfortably in the XJL. And this was my second ride in such a luxury liner in the past year. Lucky me!
Overall the car is 206.8 inches long. By comparison, the sizeable Lexus LS460 AWD I drove just a few weeks back is 6.8 inches shorter in length, and it was plenty big.
Yet unlike the Lexus with its smooth gentle giant of a 5.0-liter V8, Jaguar tucks a 3.0-liter V6 under its long hood. Ah, but the secret is that Jaguar supercharges its V6 to create 340 horses, 20 shy of the Lexus. But here’s the deal. Jaguar always has an eye on performance and keeps the XJL trim at 4,153 lbs., or about 500 lbs. lighter than the Lexus. Read more
A supercar of the 70’s returns with a new look and more power in the 20’s
The Plymouth Superbird and Dodge Daytona where and are still head turners. Who could miss that huge spoiler on the back. NASCAR racing was huge and it was a big deal for a manufacture to have their car win. The Superbird, a modified Road Runner, was Plymouth’s follow-on design to the Charger Daytona fielded by Dodge in the previous season. Chrysler didn’t just slap on the aero stuff and get it out the door. It was the first American car to be designed aerodynamically using a wind tunnel and computer analysis. Only 1,935 Superbirds were built. Not only collectible now because of the look but also the ginormous amount of horse power packed under the hood make this highly collectible. A good example will go for well into six figures. See more history here.
Meet the new Superbird
This is over the top cool. Developed by Joel Highsmith who took a 2008 Dodge Challenger pounding in 1,000 hp in the engine bay it has a top speed of 194 mph. I am still drooling.
Need a big truck? Toyota has one, the Tundra CrewMax.
Need a luxury pickup? Consider the Tundra Platinum version. That’s what I drove this past week and luckily it was the 4-wheel-drive model as we still had a fair amount of snow to navigate on the side streets.
Toyota continues to apply pressure to the top-selling Big 3, Ford, Chevy and Ram (formerly Dodge). One model year back the Toyota designers beefed up the hood and grille on Tundra to prove it was manly enough to challenge the big boys. Production also moved to San Antonio, Texas, an aim to calm buyers’ fears that their truck was being made overseas. Point taken!
So at 5,675 lbs. and riding on a 145.7-inch wheelbase, the crew cab model is hefty and a hauler. It’ll pull 9,800 lbs. and packs a strong 5.7-liter I-Force Flex Fuel direct-injected V8 that creates 381 horsepower. That’s 26 more ponies than Chevy Silverado’s plenty strong 5.3-liter V8. Torque rating here is 401 and Tundra uses a 6-speed automatic to put that power in action. Yet, for the record, the Silverado will pull 11,400 lbs. with trailering options. Read more
New reveals, but kind of laid back
Laid back, that’s how Mark and I sum up this year’s Chicago Auto Show as far as the new models go. Of course nobody could top Subaru’s reveal of their new Legacy last year. No car was cooler than the new Ford GT, which you can see in the image here and in one of the videos below.
Lexus has created the sedan we’d all like at some point in our lives, the time of life I’ve always referred to as the Buick stage of life.
No offense to Buick, as it and Cadillac and many others have delightful sedans with comfortable rides and interiors. But alas, they are not a Lexus LS460. The LS has been the Lexus flagship of luxury and understated comfort for years and the latest iteration is as, well, cozy and sublime as any car you’ll drive.
Its dimensions and leather-laden interior are such that they coddle you, wrap you in a cocoon of comfort.
The basics here, and really there is nothing basic here, are this. The LS is long and solid, riding on a 116.9-inch wheelbase and the tested AWD model weighing 4,651 lbs. That along with major sound-deadening material under the dash, hood and doors ensures, along with a well-tuned suspension, that your ride is smooth and well insulated. Bumps? Forget about it!
Lexus uses its hush quiet 4.6-liter V8 with dual fuel injection, 32 valves and electronically controlled intake valve timing to propel this massive, yet comforting vehicle. Power is good, as you’d expect, with 360 horsepower that climbs to 385 in the rear-drive model. But this is not a super thruster that rockets you to 60 mph. It’s a strong unit that gently guides you to highway speeds via a silky 8-speed automatic.
Drive Select Mode is standard, as it should be at the $75,465 starting price for this AWD model. That allows you to dial back the car’s steering, suspension and engine performance to Eco mode if you’re on a relaxed trip where all that engine power isn’t required. Normal mode is perfectly fine for most occasions and a driver gets that by pressing the DSM knob down on the console. A Sport mode firms things just a tad and gives the car a bit more juice by holding the lower gears longer. I used it in town a few times when a quick lane change was in order. Even in Sport, the car doesn’t feel aggressive. Read more
Fortunately not many cars cost nearly $2 million, but then the rarity of such cars makes them all the more curious and collectable.
That’s especially true with smooth, slinky, sexy hot rods like Aston Martin’s limited production One-77. Only 77 were made from 2011 through 2012. Now Autoart unveils its version in 1:18 scale as part of its Signature Series, and what a beauty it is.
Talk about a “halo” car, the One-77 is an extremely limited production super car of sorts created by England’s Aston Martin. It was an exercise in art and automotive technology first teased at the Paris Auto Show of 2008 and fully revealed at the Geneva show the next year.
Its highlights include a carbon fiber monocoque chassis with hand-made aluminum body to help it click the scales at just 3,594 lbs. That’s unusual, but Aston Martin, which won the 24 Hours of LeMans back in 1959 with Carroll Shelby and Roy Salvadori at the wheel, has always been a purveyor of power. So the One-77 drops a gutsy 7.3-liter, 750-horse naturally aspirated V12 under its long clean swept-back hood.
That’s one of the most powerful naturally aspirated engines ever and reportedly will push the One-77 to 220 mph and 0-60 mph in about 3.5 seconds. Quick indeed, but some super cars have bettered that mark already. Read more
My Uncle Wink had one of the original Camaros and that’s the car I learned on to drive a stick shift. Talk about spinning your tires and kicking up gravel!
But in 1970 Chevrolet launched its second generation Camaro and its looks, with those single headlights that blended into the front fenders and the split front bumper, along with its fastback styling, wowed us teens. At the same time Chevy was introducing the Vega, Camaro’s little brother, reflecting similar sporty lines.
So I’m always happy to see the 1970 pony car, as Camaro was known then, in any model or format. Thanks to Auto World, the Z28 version in its Galaxy Gray (dark metallic silver) paint scheme with black racing stripes slashing across the hood and trunk is ready to kick your die-cast collection up a few notches. Best yet, Auto World’s 1:18 American Muscle series delivers at a reasonable price, just $84.99 in this case. Heck, a lot of 1:43 models cost that now. Read more
Chevrolet is patting itself on the back and most of the automotive media are ladling on the praise for Chevy’s new “mid-size” pickup, the Colorado.
The later probably has more to do with ad dollars being spent in the national publications, but there’s some justification. Yet let’s not go too full-bore crazy here, this is simply a slightly smaller pickup.
First, the idea of a mid-size truck has been out there a while, witness the Dodge Dakota. Years ago, Ford and Chevy both made compact pickups too, the S-10 in Chevy’s case. DO NOT confuse the Colorado with the S-10.
As trucks have gained popularity, they, like cars, have grown in size and stature. So this second generation Colorado is still big, just not as big as a full-size Silverado.
Let’s take some stock of the differences. But first note that the Colorado comes in two styles, Extended Cab and Crew Cab. Gone is a Standard cab without extra cargo room behind the front seat. Extended cabs now are the norm. The bright red test truck was the crew cab, which gives you full-size rear doors and a second row bench seat. This allows five people to ride in the Colorado comfortably, with rear seat room being particularly generous.
But here are the numbers you need to consider. The Colorado rides on a 140.5-inch wheelbase, just three inches shorter than a full-size Silverado. A Colorado is 224.9 inches long, just 5.1 inches shorter in length than a Silverado. The width is where you’ll notice the most difference when riding in a Colorado, as it is just 74.3 inches wide, about 5.7 inches narrower than Silverado. You’ll notice that in a lack of elbow room. More on that in a minute. Read more
Rare counts for a lot in the real, that is 1:1, vintage car world, and it’s making its mark in the diecast car market too.
CMC, the premier high-end diecast car model maker has made a habit of creating beautiful 1:18 models of rare race cars and elegant 1930s automotive style icons. The cost is up there, but so is the detail. You almost expect these models to start and drive off your desk or display shelf.
So it’s not surprising that CMC has chosen the rare 1961 Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato as its latest artistic endeavor, and in sumptuous Aston Martin racing green. For the record, the rare Zagato, which is the lightened version meant for racing, consists of 1,825 parts of which 1,394 are metal.
Only 19 Aston Zagato models were made over a 2 ½-year period from late 1960 into 1963. All were custom-made and designed by Gianni Zagato and featuring soft curves, which became popular in the 1960s on high-end cars like Astons, Jaguars and Ferraris.
At the time, Aston was trying to beat Ferrari’s 250 GT in sports car and endurance racing, so it made sense to go with a lightweight body made of thin aluminum plates and featuring minimal amenities in an effort to cut weight and increase performance. Riding on a short, 93-inch, wheelbase and weighing just 2,701 lbs., the DB4 was just 168 inches long. That’s about the same length as today’s Nissan Z350, but the Nissan is roughly 400 lbs. heavier. Read more
Kia becomes more competitive in the minivan market with its new Sedona, a roomier van with more power.
Pricing and extras, for that price, have been a hallmark of Kia products for several years once the South Korean automaker got serious about the U.S. market. Sedona is all that.
First, it’ll carry up to 8 passengers, with a second row bench, and its interior is many times quieter than the previous model as sound deadening technology has been used to the max. So it feels high-quality and looks sharp too with a less angled nose that Kia says helps it appear more like an SUV. But to be truthful it still looks like the minivan it is, just a tad different up front than other minivans.
A new 3.3-liter V6 engine with continuously variable valve timing and direct injection gives it 32 more horses than the previous 3.5-liter model. Still, in a van weighing 4,656 lbs. the van can feel heavy and a bit slow even when you give the accelerator a serious push. Most minivans feel this way though, so no surprise.
Interior room is generous and a rider feels comfortable, not cramped. The tested dark metallic brown van was the SL Limited model, the top of the line. It featured captain’s chairs in the second row and a third row folds down into the floor in back. These middle row seats also recline and feature foot rests too. Kia calls them Slide-N-Stow seats, which are standard even on the base L model that begins at $26,795 (including delivery). They flip forward and stow up against the front seat backs if you need more cargo room. Read more
Replicarz delivers 3 vintage Indy 500 winners in 1:43 scale
Before there were A.J. Watson or Frank Kurtis roadsters to dominate the Indianapolis 500 there were Lou Moore’s Blue Crown Spark Plug Specials.
These were blue (naturally) cigar-shaped front-wheel-drive, front-engine racers that, like Team Penske or Team Ganassi’s sleek cars today, were perfectly prepared and driven by some of the best hot shoes of the day. The result: three straight Indy 500 wins from 1947-‘49.
The beneficiaries of these superb race cars were Mauri Rose and Bill Holland, top-flight drivers of the day.
Now we’re the beneficiaries of Replicarz’s efforts to bring accurate replicas of these historic racers to Indy fans in 1:43 scale, a bit more affordable and shelf-friendly than the 1:18 scale models that Replicarz has built its reputation on for detailed home-grown diecast and resin models. These new models list at $89.95 each.
After WWII there were a lot of old recycled race cars from pre-war that made the Indy 500 starting field for several years as racers retooled. It was only natural as the war had stopped racing in its tracks from 1942 until resuming in 1946. Read more
The reveals continue in Detroit
I really love the big auto shows like the NAIAS going on in Detroit. The manufacturers pull out all the stops with new concepts. Some make it into production and some don’t. I hope this Hyundai Santa Cruz crossover truck hits the streets soon.