Chrysler seems to be on a roll
Sometimes bad weather leads to good things like increased sales for Chrysler’s Jeep and Dodge brands. Jeep brand sales, up 47 percent in February, are the brand’s best February sales ever and the largest percentage sales gain of any Chrysler Group brand for the month. The Compass, Patriot and Wrangler each set sales records for the month of February. Grand Cherokee sales were up 34 percent while the all-new Jeep Cherokee mid-size SUV were up 12 percent compared with sales in January. Dodge Ram pickup trucks posted its best February sales in eight years, up 26%. Read more here.
Nissan, Maserati, McLaren, Jaguar, Jeep unveil new vehicles
Mark and I would have loved to have made the trip to Geneva. Plenty of announcements, like the 2016 Nissan Juke. Don’t get all excited here because it still looks weird. Read more here.
Maserati unveiled the Alfieri, a 2+2 concept car, a 100% functional prototype that says much about the design DNA of future Maseratis. I think this looks so much better than what Maserati has out now but still like a lot of other cars.
McLarens on the other had have a look all to themselves. I got to sit in one at the Chicago Auto Show. Introduced at Geneva is an open-top 650S joining the 650S coupe. Boy would I love to have one of these.
Jaguar confirmed the name of their all-new sports sedan coming to the U.S. in 2016, the XE. Another car on my list I would love to own simply because it’s a Jag.
Last but not least is Jeeps new entry into the small SUV segment, the Renegade. Great name from the past and I hope it lives up to it. I really like the styling but will wait to give it my blessing until I have a chance to drive one. This will be the first Jeep not built in Toledo or Detroit since the hookup with Fiat. The final assembly location for the Renegade will be at the Melfi Assembly Plant located in Italy built off a Fiat platform. We’ll see.
Equus has it all, nearly literally
I’m sticking by that, but if anything, the Equus has gotten better and that means other luxury makes might want to rethink their pricing. Because Equus is a superbly quiet, comfortable and powerful luxury sedan, but priced to grab market share. Hmmm, think I’ve seen this strategy before, from the Japanese makes, and now both Hyundai and Kia.
Get this, the tested dark metallic brown Hyundai Equus Signature that I tested lists at $61 grand with a $920 delivery charge. Now before you go passing out from the price tag, consider that a Lexus LS460, which is similarly sized, but not quite as well equipped, lists at $71,990. My grade school math tells me this is almost exactly $10,000 less.
For that amount, I could live with a lesser logo on the hood or trunk. Want to go full monty on this? OK, a top-level Equus Ultimate lists at $68,000, still less than the Lexus. And let’s not get into the German luxury makes that even a Lexus beats on price.
Value is certainly a big selling point, as it has been with Hyundai for years. But if the car doesn’t perform, isn’t as quiet and luxurious feeling, well, then a lower price doesn’t cut it.
Ah, but Equus is, as I said in my earlier review, large, loaded and luxuriously quiet. Read more
Detailed D-Type Jaguar a replica of 1955 LeMans winner
The C was a straightforward sports car with a long nose and a 3.4-liter straight-6 that made 220 horsepower.
But by 1954 the competition, mainly in the form of Mercedes-Benz and Ferrari, was stepping up and Jaguar needed a new design that was lighter and faster, so its D-Type was developed with a distinctive stabilizer fin and airplane technology that included a monocoque cockpit and an aluminum alloy to keep the car light.
Its shape was aerodynamic too, thanks to the design work of Malcolm Sayer, plus its frame was strong and rigid. Other developments included a dry sump lubrication system, canting the engine at 8.5 degrees and a deformable aviation style bag in place of a standard gas tank.
Jaguar kept the underbody clean too in an effort to boost top speed on LeMans’s famously long Mulsanne Straight, where racers today can hit 250 mph. In 1955 the Jag was reaching 172 mpg vs. about 160 for other competitors. The C Type had been capable of about 120 mph. Read more
Volvo loves auto shows to reveal concepts
After introducing their Concept Coupe at the 2013 Frankfurt Auto Show, the Concept XC Coupe at the 2014 Detroit Auto Show, Volvo will utilize the Geneva Auto Show next week to introduce their Volvo Concept Estate. Besides being cool looking, it is packed with technology. According to Thomas Ingenlath, senior vice president of design at Volvo Car Group. “The new user interface is designed to create a smooth, logical and safe interaction between the driver and the car,” says Ingenlath. “This goes far beyond just putting a large tablet in the center of the dashboard. We have created a digital environment that is fully integrated in the car.” I love the sun roof! Read more about this concept car that may soon become a reality here.
Like two kids in a candy store
That’s the best description of Mark and I at the 2014 Chicago Auto Show. We did lots of stories about the new cars and dream cars. When I was getting to reformat the SD card I found this one on exotics that Mark thought would look good in his garage, or mine, or yours. We all can wish, can’t we?
Fun came in a different package at this auto show
OK, I’ll admit it, the Chicago Auto Show blew me away. Lots of cars and especially lots of cool cars, some that were just ideas. The Chicago Auto Show is in McCormick Place and has one million square feet so they can pack a lot of cars in while Milwaukee’s is in the much smaller convention center. Not making the trip up to Milwaukee included Toyota’s Ft 1 concept car (left). But to make up for that, Milwaukee had cool cars you normally would not see like the K.I.T.T. movie car and a street-legal version of Speed Racer (far right) brought up from the Volo Auto Museum, just down the road from Milwaukee in Volo, IL.
Camp Jeep was even more fun than Chicago
I was wondering with a smaller building how Milwaukee was going to handle the space needed for Camp Jeep, and the answer is they set the track up outside on West Wells Street. Brrr it was cold but they had heaters everywhere and you got right into the Jeep. They had all the elements in Chicago but added two more and made it a blast. Come along and hear me laugh, along with my 15-year-old daughter Meg, who by the way asked go to the show. Great kid. Loves cars, airplanes, and golf.
I love Bond movies!
What’s not to like about them? Spies, lovely ladies, gadgets, and hot cars. I love seeing what car will be featured in the newest movie, how it’s modified for spy use and the chase scenes. You see them the cars come for auction every once in a while and usually go for big bucks. Now the world’s largest collection of Bond vehicles are up for sale. Boy if you thought the single cars at auction were out of your range, this one is past the moon. A cool $33 million and it’s yours. Boy would I like to be friends with the person who buys the collection. Click here to see what could be yours.
Songs about the GTO
I love cars! I love music about cars too which might be the reason I like the Pontiac GTO so much. Overall there are over 15 songs about this car mostly in 1964, the first year the GTO was built. Songs range from Little GTO by Ronny and the Daytonas, to Mighty GTO by Jan and Dean, to Here comes the Judge by Shorty Long. I have several on my iPhone.
History of the GTO
Built from ’64-’74 and then again by Holden from ’04-’06, It was a classic muscle car of the ’60′s and ’70′s and considered by some to have started the trend with all the big four automakers offering a variety of competing models. The GTO was the brainchild of engine specialist Russell Gee, Bill Collins, a chassis engineer, and Pontiac chief engineer John DeLorean. GM had a ban on sponsored racing on tracks and events at the time so these guys took it to the street. DeLorean came up with the name idea inspired by the Ferrari 250 GTO. Good luck on trying to find one of those now! GTO is an Italian abbreviation for Gran Turismo Omologato, in english “Grand Tourer Homologated”, which means officially certified for racing in the Grand-Tourer class. The Ferrari guys were not to happy about it. Go figure.
Consumers began calling the GTO ”The Goat,” because the animal is known for eating anything in this case on the street. Acronym for GOAT was turned into “Gas Oil And Tire” burner. Those who had a GTO probably spent time and money purposely burning the three resources, and with gas costing only 32 cents a gallon, who cared.
Huge engines, nice investment
V8′s anywhere between a 389 to a 400! What’s not to like? These were fast street racers and the public knew it and still do. Daily drivers run about $20,000 to $50,000. Not too bad for all that fun. These are a favorite collector car of the Baby Boomers. On the high end, I found this ’71 GTO Judge which was sold for, wait for it, $232,500. What makes this special is that of the 357 GTO Judges that Pontiac sold in ’71, only 17 convertibles were made. You can click on the image to read more about it at Hemmings.
Promo model GTO’s can be a bit pricey too.
While you won’t be dropping the kind of cash I mentioned above, good GTO promo model examples will cost a couple of hundred dollars. I found this hard to find MPC ’71 Quezal Gold Hardtop which sold for $245. While this MPC ’70 Cardinal Red GTO Hardtop sold for $245. Sure you can find lower cost ones for around $20 but there is nothing like having a pristine model of one car that inspired so many songs.
Ron Patrick’s Street-Legal Jet Powered Volkswagen Beetle
Well I thought I had seen just about every crazy think in the automotive world until a friend of mine sent me this article about this car. Real Deal! So he drives around with a regular engine and then for fun fires up the turbine. No not on the open road silly. You need to see it to believe it. Click here to read the article and here for the video. I need to try to figure out how to get one of these engines in the back of my ’08 Chrysler Pacifica.
Quick, what is your favorite Corvette?
I know most of you will say the new one but in this blog entry you have to pick one year except that. 1953, the first year, or 63 split window, or a 1967 Corvette L88 Convertible. Just one of 20 produced during that year, this rare breed made history for its $3.2 million price tag at the Mecum Auction in Dallas recently, the highest price ever achieved for a Corvette at any auction! My favorite is the 63 split window just because it looks cool. I know they all do. One cool one was on display at the 2014 Chicago Auto Show. Split window looks with all kinds of new stuff produced by Lingenfelter Performance Engineering. Mark and I caught up with Ken Lingenfelter, the guy who came up with the idea for the ultimate dream machine. Check out the video.
Mazda3 delivers good looks, modest price, driving flair
The new Mazda3 is better looking than its predecessor, gets better gas mileage and still delivers driving flair, a fair accomplishment for a modestly priced family sports sedan.
First, Mazda reshaped its former gaping smiling nose with this more Audi-like big grille and swept its profile lines back enough to make the tested 4-door sedan look almost as good as the hatchback version. This is a low, lean, lithe sedan at just shy of 2,800 lbs. in this brilliant “soul red” test car.
Like other automakers, Mazda also has grown its formerly subcompact to compact dimensions, with a 106.3-inch wheelbase and 180.3-inch long body. The result, a car that handles four adults easily and offers a fair sized, 12.4-cubic foot trunk.
That’s the practical side, then there’s the fun stuff, like how the car performs (although still highly efficient) and all the tech features that you get.
Mazda uses what it calls Skyactiv technology to provide a high-revving, high-performing four-cylinder engine that also remains surprisingly fuel stingy. The base car, and the tested Grand Touring, top trim level for the base i models, features a 2.0-liter Skyactiv-G I4 that creates 155 horsepower. That’s tops, says Kelly Blue Book, for base models in this segment. Next in line are the Mitsubishi Lancer and Kia Forte at 148 horses. Read more
Concept cars are cool
At the Chicago Auto Show not only did Mark and I see the newest models offered by the manufactures, but also concepts, one of them the Kia Niro. Positioned as a new urban lifestyle concept that is set to become a possible future B-segment contender. The Niro is powered by a 1.6-litre T-GDi engine with hybrid electric drive. Butterfly doors open, of course not when we were there, into the roof panel and swing up high with low-set flush handles. It is one cool little car. Mark and I would have loved to have taken it home. Click on the image on the right to see the video of our walk around.
Fisker Automotive Holdings has a new owner
It used to be you and me as part of Obama’s green energy push but we’re off the hook now, and out the money, because the new owner is…..wait for it….China’s Wanxiang Group with a $149.2 million bid. Cool cars but the market is not ready for this type of technology despite what the White House says. I’m showing my political side here. Sure I believe in climate change, it changes every day. Today here in Milwaukee, it’s 45 and sunny. Tomorrow it will be 40 and rain. As an FYI, buddy Mark is on the exact opposite side. We love to disagree! Read more, not about us, the car.
In other automotive news, and politics aside
Maserati Debuts the All-new Ghibli and 2014 Line-up in 50th Anniversary Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. Can’t wait to pick that one up. Read more here.
McLaren releases first images of their 650S coupe prior the reveal in Geneva. Wish Mark and I could attend that one. Read about it here.
Did you hear about the sinkhole that sucked in a bunch of Corvettes at the National Corvette Museum a couple of weeks ago. Pretty wild and sad at the same time. But they will be back thanks to GM who’s pitching in to bring them back to their glory.
Audi has a new car coming out, their S3 Cabriolet, a drop top which seats four. Come on Powerball and that baby would be sitting right in my garage.