Bburago moves a bit more upscale with new Ferrari line
First the news – Bburago is moving more upscale with its Signature Series. Even bigger news, Bburago again has the license to create Ferrari models and has a full line for 2015 and beyond.
Bburago began as an Italian die-cast car maker 40 years ago when the Besano brothers created Martoys. Production took place in Burago di Molgora in Italy’s Monza province. In 1976 the company was renamed Bburago, combining the B from the brothers’ name with their plant’s hometown name. Now the May Cheong Group of China owns Bburago along with its other noteworthy die-cast brand, Maisto.
That’s the corporate history lesson, but the big deal is that Ferrari is back in the fold after 15 years and by way of celebration Bburago has created a 1:18 scale Ferrari California T in a striking dark metallic red with black roof. And it moves well beyond toy to collectible.
Yes, Ferris Bueller drove an old version of Ferrari’s California, but this model, the T first appeared in 2014. The T stands for turbo, as in turbocharger, something Ferrari had not used on any of its models since the stellar F40. That’s been a while!
Move over Camry, Accord, the new Mazda6 is a gem
After all these years reviewing cars (30+) I find it hard to understand why Mazda doesn’t sell a lot more cars.
Its midsize Mazda6 is another gem that is sporty looking, handles well, provides a comfortable ride with good power and delivers extremely good fuel economy. Sounds like a lot of checkmarks in the average buyer’s “want” boxes.
Yet Toyota’s Camry and Honda’s Accord, among others, outsell the Mazda6 regularly, and have for years. Could it just be buying habits that work against other sedans that easily challenge those top dogs? Could be. But if you’re looking for a midsize family car with more pizazz, then the Mazda6 should be dead center on your radar.
I drove a sharp looking Blue Reflex (light silvery blue) Grand Touring model. That’s top of the line, so it’s loaded with standard equipment, leather seats, etc., plus this one added the $2,180 GT technology package, a cargo mat and door sill trim plates to push a $30,195 base price up to $33,395, including an $820 delivery fee. That’s almost exactly the average selling price for a new vehicle these days.
Here’s what you get and how it drives.
Chrysler nails full-size luxury with 300S AWD
Remember full-size cars that were comfortable for five adults? Probably not, unless you’re of a certain age.
A few remain, the distinctive and elegant Chrysler 300 being one of the better efforts. First, it looks great with a big grille and chiseled lines that have only been somewhat softened around the nose for 2015 along with LED taillights added.
There are a variety of 300 models, but one feature, AWD, separates the big Chrysler from most other full-size cars. The bright metallic red test car was the sporty S version with AWD and a strong 3.6-liter V6 with variable valve timing. The V6 creates 300 horsepower and 264 ft.-lbs. of torque.
Acceleration is quick and responsive. Getting up to highway cruising speed is a breeze and the 8-speed automatic shifts easily and uses the engine’s power well. Sport Mode is standard on the S and it allows you to adjust the transmission, throttle and steering at the press of a button. Sport mode on means heavier steering feel, longer shift points and more responsive throttle. Those with a racier driving attitude will appreciate the change, others can pass on the S and go with a lesser 300 model.
Handling is decent, a little body lean in hard cornering and the rear-drive (normally) car pushes some in corners too, but then you probably won’t be driving it that hard most of the time.
New Mustang flat out gorgeous, ride improves
Fifty years in and Mustang is still behaving like a teenager with his first set of wheels and looking as sexy as ever.
The previous sizzling Mustang design was so reminiscent of the 1960s icon that some felt Ford had taken a step back, just to glom on to sales from us Baby Boomers. So what? But the 2015 model keeps Mustang’s styling heritage, a long hood, fastback styling a pony on the grille and tri-bar taillights. Wisely it also kept Mustang’s long-popular profile.
But indeed Mustang looks leaner and sleeker now from the front, a bit more youthful with its smoother sides. In back I like the way its tri-bar lights lean forward, but its rump has been broadened visually with accentuated wheel flares, shades of J Lo! The bet is the overall effect will still appeal to Boomers, but will increasingly lure younger buyers. Works with the Kardashians!
Looks may go a long way to broaden interest in the Mustang. The car is gorgeous, but its refinement also makes it less rough around the edges and that will help too. The big upgrade starts with a fully independent rear suspension, something racers and enthusiasts have been calling for to replace its older live rear axle. While Ford had gone a long way to perfect the live-axle’s ride, this is better.
Special Lamborghini Countach beautifully recreated
Some consider Lamborghini’s Countach the first modern supercar, or at least the first via design to slap the auto world awake to say that styling AND performance dictate what’s a supercar and what’s not.
Countach launched us into the wedge-shaped era for supercars with its trapezoidal panels and slick scissor doors.
Autoart is no stranger to this market either, having launched quite a few Lamborghini models through the years, including some stellar Countachs. Now it recreates the silver 25th Anniversary Countach, marking Lambo’s 25th year in 1988, with a Signature Series 1:18 model.
Only 658 of the anniversary edition cars were made between 1988 to 1990, all featuring Lambo’s massive 5167 cc mid-engine V-12 and representing Countach styling at its zenith. The car went out of production in 1990 as Diablo was launched.
Life before iPhones
If you’re 50-60 “ish”, you will get a great laugh at this blog entry. “I need to get to a phone.” or “Pull over, I need to get to a phone”, were phrases everybody used. Almost always said at least once on detective shows like ‘Starsky & Hutch’ (1976 Ford Gran Torino), ‘Kojak’ (1973 Buick Century Regal 455), and ‘Mannix’ (originally drove a custom Toronado convertible made by George Barris’ shop, then early 70’s Dart GTS, then a ‘Cuda). Had to toss the cars in. If you’re a millennial then this will be a history lesson before we became so connected. I told my 16-year-old daughter about what I was going to blog about and she was amazed.
This gorgeous dark blue model is the rarer Tribute Edition from Automodello.
Automodello creates stunning 1934 Packard Twelve Convertible
Packard was a big deal prior to World War II, a player, one of the top makes in this country and recognized overseas for its quality and luxury.
Even in 1934 when the Depression was at full song, Packard was turning out fancy machines for the upper crust and its Twelve, named after its impressive 12-cylinder engines, was top-shelf.
Automodello likes Packards, this being its second Twelve release in the last two years. The former 1:43 model was the 1938 Twelve Victoria convertible, while this is the stately ’34 Twelve Victoria, with body designed by Raymond Dietrich. As with many Automodello models, there are three versions.
Dietrich worked for many car companies over his career, including Lincoln, Studebaker, Franklin and Erskine. He co-founded LeBaron and was Chrysler’s first design director. Side note, he also designed the famous Gibson Firebird guitar in the 1960s.
Volvo XC90 not mainstream, not good with details
Volvo has never been mainstream and it’s not about to start now.
Its new XC90 crossover that replaces a quite dated crossover of the same name is a high-end luxury vehicle that offers typical Volvo safety and substance, but drops the ball on a variety of details.
First, know that Volvos are still made in Sweden, but the company now is owned by Geely, a Chinese carmaker. That hasn’t seemed to hurt, or help, Volvo, which continues to do things its own unique way. For instance, the keyless start system is a switch you rotate on the console, sort of like you would turn a key. Most folks now offer a push button.
Different can be better, and the giant (12.3-inch) iPad-like navigation/radio/information screen mid-dash would be one of those ways. It’s large and you slide the screen to other settings with your finger. That’s where you can adjust many of the crossover’s individualized functions, plus the radio and navigation screen.
Good also is the high-powered Drive-E engine, which is the first engine I’ve ever encountered that is both supercharged AND turbocharged. The result is a hefty 316 horsepower and equally peppy torque rating.
Audi’s S3 sportier than A3, but much costlier and turbo still lags
I drove and enjoyed the Audi A3 with a turbo diesel a few weeks back and told myself I’d be ecstatic with the sportier looking and driving S3 this week. I wasn’t wrong, I still liked the S3, but I was less enthusiastic than I’d imagined. Here’s why.
First, the 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine has the same major turbo lag as the diesel. I thought it would be much smoother, but no, it still takes 2-3 seconds from pressing the accelerator hard until the turbo spools up enough to give the small Audi a kick in the tail end. When it does, the S3 is a little driver-guided missile. Torque is a massive 280 ft.-lbs., and horsepower is an equally impressive 292.
You’d think that would kick your fuel mileage in the gas, but I got a very reasonable 27.6 mpg in about 60% city driving and 40% highway. Sadly the S3 drinks premium fuel, but the car is rated 23 mpg city and 31 mpg highway.
Ride was on the stiff side in the A3, but this Premium Plus model with the Prestige package ($5,900) and 19-inch performance tire package ($1,500) was no better and weighed 275 lbs. more than the A3. Ride was sporty, but could be pretty abrupt over crumbling area cement street surfaces. It was calm and fine on the highways.
2015 Dodge Charger R/T Scat Pack
There’s no reason to be coy when addressing the strength of Dodge’s new Charger R/T Scat Pack. That’s Pack with a P as in Power.
No this is NOT the Hellcat with its ridiculous 707 horsepower. This is the macho family sedan, the four-door with 485 throbbing HEMI V8 horses under its hood with a bulge big enough to let you know it has a pair, er, a 6.4-liter 392 cu.in. engine in its bay.
This is Dodge’s second most powerful V8, just behind the supercharged 6.2-liter V8 in the Hellcat. But heck, let’s not talk about Hellcat and its $64,990 price tag here. That’s for the rich folks.
Related Video: Hop in with Mark as he drives a Hellcat at Road America.
The R/T with the Scat Pack package starts at a more family friendly $39,995. That’s right, Buster, this Charger is under $40gs and still will kick your neighbor’s BMW or Audi to the curb with a guttural V8 roar that will let everyone in the neighborhood know who the alpha male is.
I liked it.
Mine was a beautiful bright metallic blue that matches the old Charger blue from the early 1970s. I know because I pulled up next to one at a stoplight. We both did a double-take.
First Lexus turbo turns up the juice in angular NX F Sport
If I were selecting a smallish sport-ute solely on looks Lexus’ NX would be my first choice.
I like its angular lines, its exciting sporty appearance, its 3D taillights and its front lights that appear to be large checkmarks laid sideways. I like the modern sporty look of its interior, again full of angles, and soft-touch materials used everywhere from dash to console.
The tested NX 200t F Sport was the same silver as an earlier pre-production hybrid NX I’d driven, but its interior was a sporty black and dark red leather with textured chrome dash and door inserts and satin finish chrome around the console and center stack. All the leather, seats, dash, steering wheel and door trim features red stitching. NX looks sharp, inside and out.
Honestly, I liked this one better than the hybrid because there was power when I pressed the accelerator. The 2.0-liter I4 is pumped up with a turbocharger, Lexus’ first, and includes dual variable valve timing to create a fairly efficient power source that delivers 235 horsepower and 258 ft.-lbs. of torque. If you need to scoot, the NX with turbo will scoot.
That puts something rare, sport, into a small sport-ute.
Sharp looking CX-5 also performs
The 2016s are in!
Not all of them mind you, but Mazda has released its revamped CX-5 small sport-ute early and it remains a good-looking ute in a mostly ho-hum market segment.
That’s the first plus, because generally you aren’t hung up on looks if you’re shopping for a small ute. But the tested Grand Touring model with AWD was decked out in Soul Red Metallic paint, a sparkling red that added $300 to the sticker, but worthy of the charge. Mazda has refined the big front grille some and this model featured a smoke gray grille along with black lower fascia on the sides and over the wheels for a sportier look that also protects those areas.
Better yet for looks, the test ute came with silver and gray sport 19-inch wheels, up from the standard 17-inchers.
Related Video: See Mark put the Mazda 3S to the test at Road America.
While a base Sport CX-5 will run you just $22,675 for a front-drive model, the tested version lists at $29,470, plus an $880 delivery fee. With options, this one hit $34,140. That’s above average for the segment, but then the Grand Touring more than performs to the price.
First, it has AWD for winter traction, something we’re not so concerned about on these warm summer days, but come December, you’ll be happy to have it.
Auto World delivers unique 1967 Chevy Impala SS
You can’t get any rarer than a one and only model, a one and done.
In this case, Auto World has reproduced what experts say is the ONLY 1967 Chevrolet impala SS with a 427 cu.in. L-72 V8 under the hood as original equipment.
The rare, make that one-of-a-kind, Impala hardtop is owned by Bill Wickman and graced the September 2012 cover of Hemmings Muscle Machines magazine. Now it’s a 1:18 knockout from Auto World. Here’s the scoop!
In 2011 the Muscle Car And Corvette Nationals scored this unusual Impala at 992 of a perfect 1,000 points, which led to the gorgeous emerald turquoise SS ending up on the Muscle Machines cover.
Experts at the show say there’s no record of any 1967 SS models being equipped with the mighty 427 V8 that created a whopping 425 horsepower. The big block Chevy engine was introduced in 1966 and the L71 version used in Corvettes.
Rogue grows to happy medium in SUV/crossover market
Nissan restyled its entry-level crossover, the Rogue, last year to give it a less trucky appearance and smooth its ride along with its appearance.
It works and offers a little more interior room and overall length than most small SUVs, like Toyota’s RAV4 and Ford’s Escape. Rogue feels a little bigger, hitting a happy medium between small and compact crossovers.
The test unit was a metallic red SV, the mid-level Rogue, with AWD. Base price is a reasonable $25,840, so with an $860 delivery fee comes in at $26,700, well below the median price of a new vehicle, now $31 grand plus. The tester added a premium package for $1,590 and a few smaller options to set the bar at $28,660, a high value crossover to be sure.
Handling was good with a fairly substantial feel to the wheel, but quick steering for a crossover. And the Rogue stays well planted even in tight turns and on damp pavement thanks to its AWD system.
The Nissan’s ride is compliant too, not as truck-like or sharp on bumps as some smaller utes and crossovers. Potholes and railroad tracks are minor annoyances, not major events.
Durango R/T is SUV that looks like a racy minivan
Dodge generally doesn’t try to blend in as a brand, favoring bolder styling than most competitors. That’s what some of us like about Dodge.
Dodge’s Durango though is a bit different in that it stands out from other large SUVs, especially with its wide full-body width taillights. Yet, in its own way, Durango blends in with Dodge’s own minivan styling. Several people asked me if this was a new Dodge minivan, when, to me at least, it seemed obvious the Durango is an SUV.
First, it looks bigger than a minivan, and to be honest, Dodge did its best to distinguish the bright red (Redline Pearl) SUV from anything on the road. The test ute was the R/T version, which means there’s a HEMI under the hood, and this also was the Blacktop edition. Who doesn’t like the sound of that?
Blacktop means the red ute has gloss black aluminum wheels, gloss black Durango badges and an equally gloss black grille and outside mirrors. All that glossy black costs just $295 extra and actually makes this big ol’ SUV look pretty darned sporty, like a ute with attitude!
Naturally putting Chrysler’s muscle-bound HEMI V8, all 5.7 liters worth, under the hood gives it some rumble power. The V8 cranks 360 horsepower and a monster 390 ft.-lbs. of torque. Tromp the gas pedal and Durango R/T gallops to life. That’s no small deal for a 5,531-lb. SUV with all-wheel-drive. But this one feels energetic right from the get-go.
Great-looking Lexus RC 350 packs performance
Lexus cars always look luxurious, rarely racy, until now. Lexus stylists have cranked up their angular mojo to create their first truly sporty looking sports coupe – the RC 350.
I’ve read or heard all sorts of jawing from other car writers that the RC isn’t racy enough, sits too high, has too big and bulgy of wheel wells, won’t break the sound barrier, etc. Let me tell you that’s hogwash – except the sound barrier thing.
First, the RC is exceptionally good looking with a rakish stance, sleek sloping windshield and roofline, extreme spindle grille that Lexus has made its trademark of late, and slim beautifully sculpted lights front and rear along with fins on the lower rear bodywork. Plus those twin exhausts sound pretty sweet. Yes, this baby would look fast in a car wash!
Speed, handling, ride and performance are all first rate.
One could argue that this isn’t as track worthy as an off-the-truck Porsche, but it’s a street racer of distinction. And by that I mean it’s plenty fast, sounds like it means business and handles like a high-end sports coupe. It’s not an $80 to $100 grand racer, it’s a $42,700 sports coupe and as tested with the F Sport package and other goodies, hits $54,815. That’s not cheap, but it’s not so pricy you’ve got to sell the house and kids.
Power is generous. A typically smooth Lexus 3.5-liter V6 with variable valve timing and direct and port injection gives the RC 350 its oomph. Officially it creates 306 horsepower and 277 ft.-lbs. of torque. Because the Lexus is refined, not a beast, its engineers provide it with Drive Mode Select, allowing the driver the option of Eco mode to save fuel (it drinks premium), Normal, or Sport. The later keeps rpm up as it holds lower gears longer to boost acceleration.
2015 Toyota Sienna XLE Premium AWD
Minivans are wonderful for families, no other vehicle is more practical.
But in saying that, I know I’ve scared off at least a sizeable portion of my readers. Hear me out, Toyota’s Sienna is a fine people and cargo hauler and get this, it offers all-wheel-drive. It’s the only minivan that still does, so is perfect for wintery Wisconsin.
My test van was a handsome Sky Blue Pearl, a silvery blue, Sienna XLE Premium with AWD. It seats seven with captain’s chairs in the front and middle rows, and by that I mean the individual seats feature fold-down armrests. The split bench in back will seat three and folds neatly down into the van’s cavernous cargo area to create a flat floor.
Lower both seats, a manual operation here, and then fold the two center seats and you’ve got 150 cubic feet of cargo area, much larger than a pickup’s bed. Oh, and it’s enclosed so you can haul stuff even when it’s raining and snowing.
How easy is this? A sliding side door allows you to easily buckle in small kids.
This model also features a power hatch, so with the push of a button on the key fob or dash, the hatch powers up, or down. Hatches, by the way, are great for protecting a person loading or unloading in bad weather.
Not sold yet?
OK, for young families there’s the benefit of power sliding side doors, on both sides. Got a load of stuff AND a couple of wee ones to strap into a car seat? Press the button as you approach and then let them crawl in by themselves. Now you can put down the diaper bag, groceries or other kid gear and step into the van to strap them in. Again, if it’s inclement you’re out of the muck. Also, it’s easier to latch a kid in a car seat when you’re not trying to reach over their squirming selves.
Need more to like?
Ford’s Expedition King Ranch a big, luxurious hauler
More than 10 years have passed since I last reviewed a Ford Expedition, which tells you something about how little Ford’s biggest sport-utility truck changes.
Like the Chevrolet Suburban and Tahoe and GMC Yukon it competes with, the Expedition is a steady Eddie. It’s truck-based and remains much the same from model year to model year. Expedition and Expedition XL (14 inches longer, like Suburban compared with Tahoe/Yukon, are body-on-frame like many past sport-utes. But years ago Ford moved its other utes to car platforms and dropped the monster Excursion.
That leaves Expedition to tow the boats and trailers that outdoorsy folks need to haul. And this new version, which looks pretty similar to previous boxy models, will pull up to 9.200 lbs. That’s a gob lot.
Yet the 2015 model does have a freshened nose and tail to smooth its boxy looks a bit, and more important, Ford drops its 3.5-liter Ecoboost V6 under the hood in place of the former 5.4-liter V8. The goal with the turbo-assisted V6 is to improve gas mileage, which the EPA rates at 15 mpg city and 20 highway. That’s still pretty low, as a Tahoe/Yukon is rated 16 mpg city and 22 mpg highway with its 355-horse V8. I managed just 14.9 mpg in my Expedition test drive, which was about 60% city driving. I had gotten 18.7 mpg in a GMC Yukon last fall.
Auto World flexes its muscle with drop-top Chevelle SS
Chevrolet was in the sales driver’s seat in the 1960s as it churned out hit after hit as we were all busy seeing the U.S.A. in our Chevrolet.
But even then its cars were growing in size and stature so quickly that by 1964 Chevy realized it needed a more moderate sized model to compete with Ford’s Fairlane. Chevelle was Chevy’s answer, and it too was a resounding success.
Not only was Chevelle more modest in dimensions, it handled better and when Chevy started souping it up, quickly became one of the earliest muscle cars.
The past few years Auto World has created a variety of Chevelles due to their popularity, but now goes back to the first generation, built for model years 1964-’68. Again, Auto World creates a well-detailed 1:18 scale model at an attractive price, making this offering especially appealing to a wide audience of muscle car fans.
The Model: Auto World’s review model is the Tuxedo Black convertible version of the 1967 Chevelle SS, honoring the 50th anniversary of the first 396 Chevy V8. Can it really be that long?
Ultimately, BMW’s M235i a great drive
BMW made its mark in the U.S. market years ago with the likes of the BMW 2002, a compact sporty handling car that could run circles, or ovals, or whatever shape you wanted, around most other cars. It was quick and lithe and fun to drive.
But as all cars, BMWs included, have grown in dimensions, especially weight and length, many Bimmer fans have bemoaned the Bavarian firm’s stray from the small coupe market. Some of us also wish there were still an “Ultimate Driving Machine” that a few more of us could afford.
Well, BMW nails, or should we say re-nails, the lithe fun sports coupe with its 2 Series. A base 228i with 240-horsepower and a manual transmission now comes in at $33,050 including delivery, so in line with an average car’s cost. I’d love to drive one in that trim. Yet this week I was granted an audience with the M235i xDrive, which takes the 2 Series to its raciest extreme. The M with xDrive drops a 320-horse twin-turbo I6 into the smallest BMW coupe with terrific results.
That twin-turbo pumps out a delicious 330 ft.lbs. of torque and turns the 2 Series into a street legal racer. Slap down the throttle and the M235i pushes you back in the seat and you hold on to the thick leather-wrapped steering wheel praying there are lot of winding roads just over the horizon. The car’s steering is moderately heavy, but extremely precise, exactly what you’d expect from a BMW. Yet the coupe doesn’t feel heavy, tipping the scales at just 3,695 lbs.
Ride is good, not as comfortable as the marvelous 428i that I drove last year, but then it rides on a 110.6-inch wheelbase compared with 105.9 inches in the 2 Series. Five inches goes a long way to smoothing rough roads. Still, as in the 4 Series, the M235i mates the superbly designed suspension with BMW’s Driving Dynamics Control system that adjusts the chassis and modulates the engine’s power curve too.
1970 Indy winning PJ Colt in Johnny Lightning trim.
Replicarz adds stunning 1:43 Unser Indy 500 winning Colts
By 1971 Al Unser was no longer just Bobby Unser’s younger brother, he was a 2-time Indianapolis 500 winner, while Bobby had won just once.
The decidedly quieter, more humble Al had wisely hooked up with Parnelli Jones’ team and had the dominant PJ Colt chassis and a Ford V8 engine behind him. That helped Al lead 190 of the 200 laps after winning the pole position as fastest qualifier in 1970. He would not only win Indy that and the following year, but the Indy Car National Championship in 1970.
Unser and the team also were lucky to have the colorful sponsorship of Johnny Lightning, a then new die-cast toy car maker that was challenging the likes of Hot Wheels and Matchbox. The result was a colorful bright blue racer with yellow lightning bolts in 1970 and a darker blue version with those same electric bolts for 1971. Every kid in America knew this car and its color scheme.
Now Replicarz reprises the car brilliantly in 1:43 scale with excellent attention to detail. This is part of Replicarz new 1:43 scale Indy Car series that already includes the 1947-49 Indy-winning Blue Crown Spark Plug specials that won Indy three years straight.
Subaru’s new Outback epitomizes luxury AWD wagon
Subaru could be credited for starting the crossover craze as an early adopter of AWD on all its vehicles, including its wagons. Jeep could argue, but Jeeps are unique unto themselves, at least in their original form.
The Legacy wagon comes to mind from the Subaru camp and that morphed into the Outback years ago. Basically it’s a tall wagon with AWD, good cargo room and an interior that easily seats five. Yet it wasn’t, and isn’t an SUV. Oh, it has 8.7 inches of ground clearance to help it straddle snow piles and the stray large rocks if it goes off-roading.
But this is a luxury wagon in the best sense of both words.
The new 2015 Outback is slightly longer and larger than its predecessor, with a bit more cargo room, better gas mileage and a quiet comfortable cabin that encourages conversation, not the thrum of road noise.
My dark blue Subaru test car was the Limited, with an impressive $2,990 option package that added virtually everything, except a heated steering wheel, that most folks might want. Its base price is $30,295 and with delivery fee, this one hit the turnstiles at $34,207. Cheap? No, but a high value crossover that nearly perfectly blends luxury sedan with crossover usefulness.
Here’s what I like.
Tundra CrewMax looks, feels big … and luxurious
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.
Autoart nails sexy Aston Martin One-77
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.
Auto World creates flashy second-gen Camaro Z28
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.
Chevy’s new ‘mid-size’ Colorado only slightly smaller than Silverado
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.
No denying the Colorado Crew Cab is a smart looking truck.
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.
Replicarz delivers 3 vintage Indy 500 winners in 1:43 scale
Bill Holland’s 1949 Indy 500 winner, the same basic car as Rose drove the two previous years, but in a brighter blue.
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.
Mauri Rose’s 1948 Indy 500-winning Blue Crown Spark Plug Special, No. 3.
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.
Luxury laden Mercedes ML400 will spoil you
Most of us will never drive a Mercedes-Benz M Class, and that’s probably just as well because we’d all just be spoiled.
There’s not much to put a person off, unless it’s the price. But even there you have some choices to make that might allow a few more of us to afford one.
I drove a “steel gray” ML400 4Matic, the bi-turbo V6-powered unit that is one step away from the ultimate luxury mid-size sport-utility truck from Mercedes. It listed at $62,900, but ladled on 16 options that pushed it to $79,310.
Don’t let that price scare you off completely though. While this had all-wheel-drive and that powerful 329-horse V6, a lesser buyer could sneak into an ML350 with just rear-wheel drive and a 3.5-liter V6 that cranks 302 horsepower along with a torque rating of 273. The ML350 starts at $49,225, including delivery.
For those who prefer the slightly better mileage a diesel offers, Mercedes even has a BlueTEC model with 2.1-liter 4-cylinder diesel for $50,725. It delivers 200 horses, but a whopping 369 lb.-ft. of torque.
All this is to say that luxury has its price, but you do have copious options from power down to goodies to coddle you and your favorite passengers.
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.
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.