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2017 Kia Cadenza Limited

Kia’s Cadenza delivers luxury economically … 2017 Kia Cadenza

Back when I was kid in the 1960s and ‘70s a large luxury sedan meant a Buick, Lincoln, or certainly a Cadillac.

Today, nearly every car maker has a large luxury model, some on the sporty side, but more favoring the luxury end, emphasizing smoothness and quietness. As us Boomers age, both sound pretty good. But we’ve been smitten with SUVs and crossovers, so the big sedan market has languished, shrunk like cotton elephant bell jeans that went through the wash too many times.

Into this market Kia re-introduces its Cadenza, a large luxury sedan that falls between its even larger K900 and its popular mid-size Optima. Competitors include the likes of Chevy’s Impala, Toyota’s Avalon, Ford’s Taurus and Dodge’s Charger, one that definitely falls more in the sport sedan category.

I praised the first gen Cadenza for nearly everything but its ride. Consumers met it with a yawn. The revamped 2017 model should receive cheers from Boomers who like soft leather seats, a supple ride, excellent power and all the electronics we’ve grown to expect in a car, especially one starting north of $40 grand.2017 Kia Cadenza

Before that figure scares you off, consider the base Premium model (see what they did there with naming?) starts at a reasonable $32,890 and the Technology model at $39,890. Both include delivery and both have all the same mechanicals as the tested top-level Limited, which lists at $45,290 with only a pittance of options even available beyond that.

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Die-cast: Chevy Corvette C7 Z06

Autoart creates a stellar Corvette C7 Z06 …Autoart Chevrolet Corvette C7 Z06

Vettes are cool even if their current buyers are skewing gray and retired.

Still, you gotta have a little coin to own a new Vette, especially the Z06 model, one of the racier versions. A new one will cost you $79,500, so that’s why Autoart’s 1/18 scale version seems so reasonable at $160. Plus this one won’t run up your insurance payment of deplete your monthly fuel allowance!

Autoart now has several color choices in the newest Chevrolet Corvette, the C7, in Z06 trim. Our test model was a brilliant medium metallic blue. Some might call it electric blue.

The History

We all know the story. Chevy launched Corvette, a two-seat sports car in 1953. It was underpowered and not a big hit initially. But as its power grew, and its refinement with it, the Vette became a go-to car for club racers across North America and then serious racers who put what are now high-horse beasts, through their paces at the 24 Hours of LeMans in France.Autoart Chevrolet Corvette C7 Z06

Now in its seventh generation, the C7 is as refined, yet racy as any street-legal sports car out there, and a darn sight less pricey than many. The C7 debuted as a 2014 model and rumors persist that the next version will be mid-engine powered, but the C7 already abandoned Corvette’s roll-away headlights.

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2017 Toyota Corolla XSE

Toyota Corolla still running strong 50 years on …2017 Toyota Corolla

Like Energizer’s bunny, Toyota’s Corolla just keeps on running through the generations and has succeeded like no other car model. It’s now 50-year run has resulted in more than 40 million Corollas being sold, most of any model.

That’s more than the VW Beetle, the other long-term, low-cost people’s car. Corolla really owns that title now. Everyone has either owned one, or had a kid that owned one, or an aunt, uncle, step-child or, well, a family member that has owned one.

Full disclosure, our family bought a new Corolla in 1983 when we had a 2-year-old and a second child on the way. It was reliable (we wisely decided against a Chrysler K car and Renault Alliance), economical, came with a stick-shift to help us save fuel and had a big enough trunk to hold a highchair and loads of diapers for trips to the grandparents.

Today’s new Corolla furthers that high value statement while remaining highly reliable and actually a bit more stylish than in years past. Toyota has put some effort into styling the last few years and so the 2017 Corolla is more than just an econobox. It looks good and drives well while remaining affordable and economical to run.2017 Toyota Corolla

Let’s start with price. That’s what most of us think of as relating to value.

A base Corolla L starts at $19,365 and the tested top-level XSE lists at $22,680, plus $865 delivery. A few other brands have similarly priced models that drive a bit sportier, but Corolla comes with most everything a buyer would want, plus is laden with the latest safety equipment.

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Die-cast: Auto World’s 1968 Olds Cutlass 442 W-30

Olds’ Cutlass 442 was a beautiful beast …Auto World Oldsmobile Cutlass S

One of the cars I learned to drive on was our family’s 1969 Oldsmobile Cutlass S – no power steering and a big throbbing V8 under its long hood. The car was a beast, but beautiful dressed in its Aztec Gold paint scheme.

For that matter, the Cutlass was one of the best-looking muscle cars of the late 1960s and early ‘70s, pacing the Indianapolis 500 three times between 1970 and ’74. (Remember the Hurst Shifter girl? You know you do!)

So when Auto World announced it would reproduce the 1968 442 W-30 model it made a lot of sense. Thank goodness they did their 1/18 scale die-cast model in a beautiful deep gold, known officially at the time as Cinnamon Bronze, with white 442 accent stripe and white interior. Sharp!Auto World Oldsmobile Cutlass S

The History

For 1968 the 442 was its own model, but it had begun back in 1964 as a $285 option package on both the F-85 and Cutlass models. Originally it was listed as the 4-4-2 package because it referred to adding a four-barrel carburetor, four-speed manual transmission and dual exhausts. Clever!Auto World Oldsmobile Cutlass S

It was a response to crafty Pontiac pumping the performance of its LeMans model, a cousin to the intermediate-sized Olds F-85. Pontiac dubbed it the GTO, and the rest is history.

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Die-cast: CMC’s 1934-’38 Mercedes-Benz race car transporter

CMC creates a breathtaking Mercedes racer transport …CMC Mercedes-Benz race car transport

OMG, the detail here is incredible, breathtaking. Put this in a case, atop a desk, in any room and it’ll be the center of all conversations. Put one of CMC’s 1930s Mercedes race cars on it and, well, folks will be speechless.

CMC is known for nailing the details in all of its vintage racers, European cars and now, trucks. This Mercedes-Benz LKW L0 2750 is phenomenal, and particularly attractive because it ties in to a number of Mercedes racers CMC already has produced. This is the Mercedes transport that carried its dominant Silver Arrows racers, the W25, W125, W154 and W165, to and from European racetracks in the 1930s.

Like the rest of CMC’s lineup, the truck is 1/18 scale and features 2,365 parts, of which CMC says 1,991 are metal. I believe it as there are even metal rivets holding wooden planks in the truck bed in place. Not surprisingly, this hand-made transport carries a lofty price of $764, so it’s not for everyone. But we all wish we could own one.CMC Mercedes-Benz race car transport

The History

Suffice it to say this 2.75-ton truck was around for a lot of Mercedes‘ early racing history, which is why CMC recreated it. These were specially built rigid steel-framed trucks to carry the racers and had a low floor with sides and tail that flipped down for easier loading, and viewing. Thin metal ramps were attached to the tail to aid loading.

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2017 Lexus LX 570

Pilot wannabes will like button-happy Lexus LX 570 …2017 Lexus LX 570

If you’ve always dreamed of being an airline pilot, but never got the training, you should try landing the new Lexus LX 570.

Lexus has created a cockpit fit for a pilot wanna-be with buttons galore. About the only thing missing is an altimeter.

Here’s a quick count of what you’ll get for nearly $100 grand. The center stack has 15 buttons plus four temperature control buttons, and two knobs for the radio. The console features 11 buttons, two toggles, and two knobs, plus a small park brake lever.

Need more? Oh there’s more. The power adjusted tilt/telescope steering wheel’s hub has 10 buttons, plus a 4-way directional pad and there’s a cruise control stalk behind the wheel. There are another 8 buttons on the dash’s face, plus the start button. Ironically the foot-wide screen atop the dash is not a touchscreen, but controlled by Lexus’s awkward and touchy mouse pad on the console.

If ever there were an argument for an autonomous car, this would be the starting point.2017 Lexus LX 570

Once you’ve mastered the maze of buttons, toggles and screen controls you’ll find the LX570 is the luxury version of Toyota’s Land Cruiser, a big beast of an SUV with serious off-roading capability. It has a wheelbase of 112.2 inches and is a full 199.4 inches long. The Lexus weighs in at a stout 6,000 lbs., but will tow 7,000.

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Don’t let your FOMO show for the Fate of The Fast & Furious

Fate of The Fast & Furious will rock

By Paul Daniel

fast and furious 8, ford escort Rs 1600, car movie stunts, the fate of the furious For those of you who are not up on the latest slang FOMO means “Fear of Missing Out” and you will not want to miss the eighth installment of the Fast & Furious franchise. I was tardy to the party for this series.

It was my car gal Meg who rented the movies to watch at home and give me the 411 on the upcoming movies. We’re both hooked now. She gave me this Ford Escort RS 1800 1/32 scale slot car as a Christmas gift because it was in one of the movies. I wish I could do all the cool stuff that’s done on the big screen with it. But then again, the movie version crashed and was toast.

My daughter Meg and I went to see the new Star Wars movie, which also rocked, and during the previews they showed the trailer for the new movie. OMG! A huge wrecking ball that swings in and takes out about a dozen cars on the street, and a sub surfacing through the ice with vehicles driving just in front of it. Words don’t describe it well enough. See the clip and then start the countdown to the premier on April 14th, 2017.

 

Die-cast: Replicarz’s 1970 Indy winner, Al Unser driver

Replicarz goes big with its 1/18 scale PJ Colt … 1970 Indy 500 winner

One of my favorite race cars, and that of many other youngsters in the 1970s was the PJ Colt that Al Unser drove to back-to-back Indianapolis 500 wins in 1970 and ’71.

It was colorful and with its lightning bolts on the nose and tail the car looked fast and, well, cool!

Replicarz knows that and created beautiful versions of both the 1970 and ’71 cars in 1/43 scale a couple years back. Now it turns its considerable attention to the more detailed 1/18 scale model of the original 1970 racer. This takes the detailing on the Colt to a much finer level and creates a stunning desktop display car.

The History

Al Unser teamed up with former racer Parnelli Jones’ race team for 1970, driving its Ford V8-powered PJ Colt chassis to win the national driving title and the Indy 500 that year. Sponsorship, and the beautiful car livery, came courtesy of sponsor Johnny Lightning, a toy die-cast car maker (Topper Toys) competing with the likes of Matchbox and Mattel’s Hot Wheels brands.1970 Indy 500 winner

Unser won 10 races in 1970, none bigger than Indy. This was the first of Unser’s record four Indy 500 wins and put him on a path to racing fame, along with brother Bobby. Al was the fastest qualifier in 1970 and led 190 of the race’s 200 laps. You can’t get much more dominant than that.

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You want to race what against me?

My truck, your car, even up

volvocarracesvolvotruckAt first glance it would be a no-brainer who the winner would be, right? The car. Unless of course you are Volvo with what they call the fastest truck in the world, put against their World Touring Car Championship Volvo S60 Polestar TC1 in both a drag race and a single-lap dash on a road course.

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2017 Volvo S90 T6 AWD Inscription

Volvo’s S90 a near perfect blend of sport, luxury …2017 Volvo S90

There are many truly wonderful mid-size, luxury, sport sedans, both heavy on the sport and heavy on the luxury. Few blend the two as well as the new Volvo S90 T6 AWD Inscription.

The S90 may be the best driving car I’ve tested this past year.

There’s irony though, because the Volvo, like an increasing number of luxury sport sedans is loaded down with a gaggle of electronic goodies aimed at nearly driving the car for you. It’s no secret that autonomous cars are just around the corner and the Volvo proves that.

Each year our vehicles have more safety and driving aids and the S90 has plenty.

But first let’s consider how much fun the Volvo is to drive.

The S90 rides on a 115.8-inch wheelbase and features a double wishbone suspension front and rear. The result is a smooth yet athletic ride that makes the car feel one with the road, but not so glued to it that every crease and bump disturbs its occupants. The Volvo had one of the best rides I’ve experienced this year.2017 Volvo S90

Even more amazing is the power. A hot little 2.0-liter turbocharged I4 is under its long lean hood. Oh, and it’s also supercharged. That pumps the power to 316 horses with a torque rating of 295 ft.-lbs. The car leaps to life in Comfort driving mode and yet (wait for it) there is a Dynamic mode that turns the S90 decidedly racy. The lower gears are held longer, and there are plenty of those with an 8-speed Geartronic automatic standard on all models.

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2017 Nissan Rogue SL AWD HEV

Hybrid Rogue pulls up a bit short2017 Nissan Rogue hybrid

I’m always thankful to get an early crack at a new vehicle to market, and that’s what I had with an early release 2017 Nissan Rogue SL hybrid.

Nissan has revamped the popular Rogue for 2017 with a new gloss black V-Motion grille, wider headlights and restyled taillights to freshen its look. Inside there’s a D-shaped steering wheel and now a hybrid model to put Nissan solidly in the hybrid market.2017 Nissan Rogue hybrid

Rogue along with Altima are Nissan’s top-selling vehicles and Rogue has been a fine gas-powered model for years with its 2.5-liter I4 creating 170 horses and earning a reasonable 25 mpg in the city and 32 mpg highway.

The hybrid model, which had not even had its price set when I drove it, features a 141-horse 2.0-liter I4 coupled with a 30 kW electric motor to create 176 horsepower. Nissan says its hybrid system will turn off the gasoline engine and run in electric mode even while on the highway if you keep accelerator pressure constant. With a slight increase of pressure the gas engine kicks back in.

An Xtronic CVT (continuously variable transmission) is linked to the hybrid system aiming to further increase gas mileage. Preliminary EPA numbers put the hybrid Rogue at 31 mpg city and 34 mpg highway, right in line with a primary competitor, the Toyota RAV4 hybrid, which I drove earlier this year.

By comparison, I got 32.9 mpg in the Toyota and 27.5 mpg in the Nissan, albeit the Rogue was driven in much colder weather.2017 Nissan Rogue hybrid

Still, here’s the main difference I found. The RAV4 feels peppy and eager to go, especially in its Sport mode, while the Rogue felt lackluster upon acceleration, even using its Sport mode. Never mind both have and Eco mode, as that further weakens acceleration to the point of stirring road rage from drivers behind you at you leave a stoplight.

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Most Loved Cars in America

Sure you love your car but do others?

car reviews, savageonwheels, honda, subaru, Hyundai, chevy, ford, chrysler, savageonwheels.comIt’s called the Customer Love Index (CLI) and was created by Strategic Vision. It measures the amount of love that buyers feel toward their new vehicle. To calculate CLI, Strategic Vision looks at five measurements to calculate CLI: Total Quality Impact, Total Value Index, Vehicle Emotional Delivery, Overall Feelings and Advocacy. It compiles data Over 120 different aspects of the ownership experience are compiled and on a scale that ranges from 1 (I Hate It) to 7 (I Love It) with 4 (Satisfactory) at the middle of the scale. Here are the 2016 winners.

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2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee Ltd. 4×4

Jeep’s Grand Cherokee touts power, toughness and luxury …2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee

What could be more patriotic than a Jeep? And the brand, now part of Fiat-Chrysler, is celebrating 75 years of Jeepdom, although the test model wasn’t specially adorned.

This was a dark metallic gray Grand Cherokee Limited with 4-wheel-drive, starting at a relatively sane $39,895 and ending up at a luxurious $47,930 after adding one hefty $4,200 option package and three others that were more fiscally conservative.

Jeep lovers love the fact that many models can be taken for serious off-roading. While Wranglers are the primary off-roaders, Jeep is happy to tell you that Grand Cherokees can be too.

The Limited could as it came with a 4-wheel-drive system with five traction settings, sand, snow, mud, rocks and automatic. Guess which one gets used the most?2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee

This is all handled by a neat dial on the console so it’s easy to dial up the traction your Jeep currently needs. In automatic it was fine on damp Wisconsin roads.

There’s plenty of power too. The base engine is a 3.6-liter V6 with variable valve timing and a healthy 295 horsepower and 260 lb.-ft. of torque. The Grand Cherokee will move and a Sport button will amp up the power by holding lower gears longer while also firming the steering effort considerably. Entering a highway the Sport setting is the way to go.

As with many cars now, the Jeep has an automatic stop/start feature that turns the engine off at stoplights and other times where it otherwise might idle. This saves a bit of gas, but this one is particularly rough. However, you can turn the feature off for smoother operation. Speaking of which, the 8-speed automatic tranny standard on the Grand Cherokee is exactly that, smooth.

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2017 Ford Escape Titanium FWD

Ford refines its Escape crossover . . .2017 Ford Escape

For 2017 Ford has restyled its popular Escape inside and out, plus developed two new engines for the entry-level sport-utility, er crossover.

There’s no mistaking the Escape for something else as its profile remains much the same, but there’s a new hexagonal grille, LED trim headlights and revised tail-end styling. Overall the look is a bit more upscale, which is ironic because Escape remains very much a low-end to mainstream crossover for a family of four.

It’s roomy and comfortable and the new 1.5-liter I4 EcoBoost engine in the tested top-tier Titanium model is stellar. Pricing and gas mileage also are in Escape’s plus column.2017 Ford Escape

Let’s start with acceleration, which is excellent with the new turbo I4 that delivers 179 horsepower and a similar 177 torque rating. Escape is quick from a standing start and the fine 6-speed automatic shifts easily and smoothly.

The turbo is standard on the Titanium model, but the base S model starts with a 168-horse 2.5-liter I4 and an incredibly peppy 2.0-liter turbo I4 is available for $1,295 extra. It boasts 245 horses and a 275 torque rating. For most of us, the smaller turbo will do.

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Die-cast: TSM’s 1971 BRE Datsun 510

A special BRE Datsun driven by John Morton . . .1971 BRE Datsun 510

In the early 1970s Trans-Am racing was a big deal, even among the small sedan makers, like Datsun, which is what Nissan was known as in the U.S. at that time.

A lot of folks will think of the pony or muscle car racers, the Mustangs, Camaros and Cudas, but Alfa Romeo was big in the under 2.0-liter (U-2) class and Datsun dominated the class in 1971 and ’72 when it had become the Trans-Am 2.5 Challenge.

Cars were simply modified street cars, but Datsun put a lot of cash into the class sponsoring Brock Racing Enterprises (BRE) headed by Pete Brock, a noted sports car designer. The red, white and blue BRE Datsun 510’s soon became synonymous with success. Now TSM Models comes out with a high-value 1/18 scale version, available through Replicarz.1971 BRE Datsun 510

The History

Brock’s small team of racers and mechanics won six of the 10 races in 1971 and driver John Morton was the Trans-Am 2.5 champion, although in somewhat odd fashion, not that Morton and the Datsun weren’t dominant in most races. He set many fast laps and was often on the pole.

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2017 Honda Civic Touring Coupe

Civic Coupe is sleek, peppy, responsive, but …2017 Honda Civic Coupe

Honda’s new Civic Coupe has a sleek profile, peppy turbocharged engine and responsive handling, but it also has a few issues that reinforce it’s an entry-level car.

Through the years the Civic has grown up. It has gotten larger and now rides on a 106.3-inch wheelbase. It’s no longer an econobox. Civic also comes as a sedan, coupe and for 2017, a hatchback, with the coupe having the best overall styling.

Previously I’d driven the economical sedan with base 2.0-liter 158-horse I4. It’s underpowered, so the coupe was more fun to drive with its 1.5-liter I4 turbo that creates 174 horses. It was linked to Honda’s 6-speed CVT, which is adequate, but groans quite a bit under heavy acceleration.2017 Honda Civic Coupe

Power though is good and could only be improved with a 6-speed manual.

Handling is the car’s strong point though with quick steering that is responsive, making it fun to drive in town. Civic feels heavier than the car’s 2,888 lbs. would seem to indicate, but the Honda carves through corners well and there is no play in the wheel.

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Die-cast: Autoart Honda RA272 1965 Mexico GP winner

Autoart crafts delicate 1965 Honda F1 beauty …Autoart 1965 Honda RA272

In the glory days of Formula 1 racing new teams joined the ranks of the old standbys, Ferrari, BRM and Lotus to prove they too could build fast open-wheel racers with strong engines. For the fans it was exciting, not the least of which was because all the cars looked different and featured their country’s racing colors, not corporate sponsors.

Into this racing environment came Honda in 1964. The Japanese car maker had only been building road cars for four years and already was set to challenge the established F1 teams, plus it built its own chassis and engine. Few race teams did both at the time.Autoart 1965 Honda RA272

Autoart has created the Honda RA272, Honda’s second F1 racer as it competed in 1965, its first full season on the F1 trail, which was conducted mostly in Europe with European race teams. This 1/18 scale model of the car American Richie Ginther drove to Honda’s first F1 win is a delicate beauty befitting the simplicity of mid-1960s racers.

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2017 Audi A4 Premium

2017 Audi A4Audi’s new A4 is the epitome of fun driving …

Here’s a simple truth. It’s fun to drive a car that’s fun to drive.

That may seem silly, but let’s break it down.

First, cars have taken a back seat to trucks for years now as first SUVs and then crossovers replaced the family sedan as the vehicle of choice.

Second, fun often means power and that ebbs and wanes in popularity based on the price of oil.

Third, fun also means responsive handling and that frequently is achieved by engineers designing an overly stiff car that tortures your tushie.

So finding a fun car to drive is a rarity, yet Audi has absolutely nailed it with its new A4 sedan. I drove a crisp bright Ibis white Premium model that, contrary to its name, is the base A4. Mine was loaded with Premium Plus and Technology packages though, so more likely reflects a mid-level A4 in performance and feel.2017 Audi A4

Audi’s A4 is speedy, fun and sophisticated. It’s a joy to drive and ride in and has everything a driver could want, although once loaded it becomes pricey, like a BMW.

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2017 Cadillac XT5 Premium AWD

Cadillac XT5 long on style, short on details …2017 Cadillac XT5

Cadillac has mastered the styling, now it needs to work on the details.

The new Cadillac XT5 crossover continues Cadillac’s sharp chiseled styling with tall taillights and noteworthy nose and headlight stylings. Its interior is luxurious and attractive in a way most German makes have yet to figure out because of their love for black leather.

But the XT5’s seats are way too snug in the hip and the ride too firm for our crumbling Wisconsin roads that are cracked by time, winter and a lack of willingness to pay for improving them. Additionally its CUE audio screen is improved, but still not the easiest to master while driving.

2017 Cadillac XT5The XT5, which replaces the SRX and rides on what should be a smoothing 112.5-inch wheelbase delivers a firm ride that turns too sharp and bumpy on cracked streets and highways.

Yet like other Cadillac’s and GM products, the XT5 delivers ample power with a new 3.6-liter direct-injected V6 with variable valve timing. It’s rated at 310 horsepower and 271 ft.-lbs. of torque, so it’ll scoot when required to. That happens best when in Sport mode which holds gears longer in the 8-speed automatic. In normal mode acceleration is moderate.

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2017 Honda Ridgeline Black Edition

New Honda Ridgeline redefines pickups2017 Honda Ridgeline Black Edition

Honda has reinvented the pickup and it’s a darn sight nicer than whatever you’ve driven before.

To be honest, it’s a suburban cowboy’s pickup, but that’s what so many pickups are used as anyway – kid haulers and the occasional run to a home improvement store or big-box garden center. This one is just being honest about it and making your ride simply oh, so, comfy.

The Ridgeline is not about who has the bigger engine, toughest body, greatest towing capacity, it’s about refinement in a crew cab pickup body with a big open bed for hauling. It’s also quite a bit more.

2017 Honda Ridgeline Black EditionMy test truck was the Black Edition, which (not surprisingly) is black, with black wheels and a black grille to give it a decidedly elegant, yet macho look. Think I wanna be formal, but I’m here to party too! This is Honda’s top-of-the-line Ridgeline.

Like all Ridgelines it comes with a 3.5-liter i-VTEC V6 that creates 280 horsepower and 262 lb.-ft. of torque. That’s just fine. Acceleration is good and steady from a stop and ultimately Honda says it’ll carry a 1,584-lb. payload, best in class. It’ll even tow 5,000 lbs., which is well shy of competitors like the Chevrolet Colorado and Toyota Tacoma, but plenty for pulling a camper or boat or snowmobile trailer.

Ridgeline rides on Honda’s sturdy Global Light Truck platform with a 125.2-inch wheelbase that calms road imperfections. This feels smooth and controlled like Honda’s Pilot, a full-size SUV.

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2017 Mazda CX-3 Grand Touring AWD

Mazda CX-3 Grand Touring AWDMazda CX-3 flickable fun, but practical too

Small hatchbacks have always been fun to drive and practical too. So why shouldn’t a small crossover with a hatch be much the same?

Well, more and more tiny crossovers are being made and mostly they are pretty entertaining to drive. This week’s bright metallic blue (dynamic blue mica) Mazda CX-3 Grand Touring AWD fits that bill.

Steering is light and lively with quick handling and downright perky acceleration when you toggle the Sport mode on the console. That pumps up the revs so the 146-horse 2.0-liter I4 has maximum torque, which also is 146. The Mazda zips away from stoplights with relative enthusiasm, but you’ll need to toggle back to the normal setting or it holds the engine’s revs way too long and eventually will suck down gas mileage.Mazda CX-3 Grand Touring AWD

But hey, toggling the Sport mode is almost as much fun as shifting a manual transmission – almost.

Add to that the practicality of all-wheel-drive to help steady the little crossover in winter slop, plus excellent fuel economy and you’ve got an attractive and cute ute, er crossover to take the place of any small sedan or hatchback.

The CX-3 is Mazda’s smallest crossover, just down a notch in size and wheelbase, from the CX-5. Both handle well.

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2017 Fiat 124 Spider Classica

Fiat’s 124 a Miata remake long on style, better ride2017 Fiat 124 Spider

It has been a long, long time since an affordable convertible with Italian styling was available in the United States, but now we have Fiat’s 124 Spider.

Actually, we had it all along, or at least since 1989, in the form of a Mazda Miata. The new Fiat is mostly Miata, not that there’s anything wrong with that. Ah, but there are differences.

For stylistas who prefer a long hood reflecting the styling of previous Fiat Spiders and other Italian sports cars, Fiat’s restyling of Miata’s body will be alluring. And it is. The Spider looks longer and leaner than the cute, but edgy Miata.

Yet there’s amore; I mean more.2017 Fiat 124 Spider

The 124’s headlights are round and taillights are rectangles, similar to the 1960s Spider, the ride is a tad smoother and well, plus there’s a bit more oomph under that long hood. Fiat uses one of its Multi-Air turbocharged 1.4-liter I4 engines to propel the roadster.

That’s not a huge upgrade in the pony department, moving from Mazda’s 155 horses generated by its 2.0-liter I4 to 160 in the Fiat. But the torque, the oomph if you will, is more substantial at 184 lb.-ft. with the turbo.

Dimensionally Fiat’s Spider is about 5 inches longer (most of it hood we suspect) and 100 pounds heavier. But what’s that among friends.

From a driving perspective the feel is nearly the same in a 124 Spider as in a Miata – simple fun. Handling is quick and light, the car feels you totally control it and can put it anywhere you want on the road. The roadster corners well on twisty roads and thanks to the turbo, it leaves a stoplight with a touch more zip than the Miata.

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Die-cast: NEO’s 1957 Buick Roadmaster Hardtop Coupe

1957 Buick Roadmaster Hardtop a two-tone beauty1957 Buick Roadmaster

Fins were fun and gave the 1950s cars both personality and a hint of aerodynamics that merged the streamlined models of the 1930s with the aerospace world of the 1960s to come.

Buick may not be the first brand you think of when it comes to ‘fin’ish styling, but in 1957 it was tastefully incorporating fins into its sleek designs. Witness the 1957 Buick Roadmaster Hardtop Coupe with is four ventiports and straight tailfins with round projected taillights hinting at being afterburners in those beautifully sculpted chrome rear light surrounds.

NEO does another fine job of re-creating the look of a 1950s chrome-laden model in 1/43 scale resin with the Roadmaster, and for a still modest $74.95. Some 1/43 models are now creeping over the $100 mark.1957 Buick Roadmaster

The History

All Buick hardtops were considered Riviera models in 1957 and 4-door sedans were eliminated. The clean, sexier look of the hardtop with no B-pillar was setting the styling and sales trends. Two-tone paint was being enhanced by chrome sweeps on the hardtop’s sides and around the windows.

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Die-cast: NEO’s 1/24 scale 1949 Cadillac Series 62 Club Coupe

NEO’s smaller scale ’49 Caddy nearly as nice as big 1/18

If you do something well, it often behooves you to repeat what you did. NEO knows that and creates a new 1949 Cadillac Series 62 Club Coupe, this time in 1:24 scale.NEO 1949 Cadillac Series 62 Club Coupe

As with its previous 1:18 scale version, this Club Coupe is a car with presence, class and substance, just a tad smaller. The real one also was a sales standout for Cadillac as the brand fought to re-establish itself after World War II.

This black resin beauty continues the detail NEO brought to its earlier model, but in the smaller scale so popular with plastic car model builders. Both Cadillacs are distributed by American-Excellence, which supplied our review model.

The History

In case you missed our Scale Auto DC review of that model, here’s a refresher.NEO 1949 Cadillac Series 62 Club Coupe

Cadillac launched the Series 62 in 1940 as an entry-level Caddy, but production ended in 1942 as auto factories turned their efforts to war machines. The third generation Series 62 designed by GM’s noted Harley Earl went into production as a 1949 model, riding on a 126-inch wheelbase, measuring 214 inches long and touting GM’s new overhead-valve V8.

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20
Jan

2017 Kia Cadenza Limited

Kia’s Cadenza delivers luxury economically … 2017 Kia Cadenza

Back when I was kid in the 1960s and ‘70s a large luxury sedan meant a Buick, Lincoln, or certainly a Cadillac.

Today, nearly every car maker has a large luxury model, some on the sporty side, but more favoring the luxury end, emphasizing smoothness and quietness. As us Boomers age, both sound pretty good. But we’ve been smitten with SUVs and crossovers, so the big sedan market has languished, shrunk like cotton elephant bell jeans that went through the wash too many times.

Into this market Kia re-introduces its Cadenza, a large luxury sedan that falls between its even larger K900 and its popular mid-size Optima. Competitors include the likes of Chevy’s Impala, Toyota’s Avalon, Ford’s Taurus and Dodge’s Charger, one that definitely falls more in the sport sedan category.

I praised the first gen Cadenza for nearly everything but its ride. Consumers met it with a yawn. The revamped 2017 model should receive cheers from Boomers who like soft leather seats, a supple ride, excellent power and all the electronics we’ve grown to expect in a car, especially one starting north of $40 grand.2017 Kia Cadenza

Before that figure scares you off, consider the base Premium model (see what they did there with naming?) starts at a reasonable $32,890 and the Technology model at $39,890. Both include delivery and both have all the same mechanicals as the tested top-level Limited, which lists at $45,290 with only a pittance of options even available beyond that. Read more

15
Jan

Die-cast: Chevy Corvette C7 Z06

Autoart creates a stellar Corvette C7 Z06 …Autoart Chevrolet Corvette C7 Z06

Vettes are cool even if their current buyers are skewing gray and retired.

Still, you gotta have a little coin to own a new Vette, especially the Z06 model, one of the racier versions. A new one will cost you $79,500, so that’s why Autoart’s 1/18 scale version seems so reasonable at $160. Plus this one won’t run up your insurance payment of deplete your monthly fuel allowance!

Autoart now has several color choices in the newest Chevrolet Corvette, the C7, in Z06 trim. Our test model was a brilliant medium metallic blue. Some might call it electric blue.

The History

We all know the story. Chevy launched Corvette, a two-seat sports car in 1953. It was underpowered and not a big hit initially. But as its power grew, and its refinement with it, the Vette became a go-to car for club racers across North America and then serious racers who put what are now high-horse beasts, through their paces at the 24 Hours of LeMans in France.Autoart Chevrolet Corvette C7 Z06

Now in its seventh generation, the C7 is as refined, yet racy as any street-legal sports car out there, and a darn sight less pricey than many. The C7 debuted as a 2014 model and rumors persist that the next version will be mid-engine powered, but the C7 already abandoned Corvette’s roll-away headlights. Read more

13
Jan

2017 Toyota Corolla XSE

Toyota Corolla still running strong 50 years on …2017 Toyota Corolla

Like Energizer’s bunny, Toyota’s Corolla just keeps on running through the generations and has succeeded like no other car model. It’s now 50-year run has resulted in more than 40 million Corollas being sold, most of any model.

That’s more than the VW Beetle, the other long-term, low-cost people’s car. Corolla really owns that title now. Everyone has either owned one, or had a kid that owned one, or an aunt, uncle, step-child or, well, a family member that has owned one.

Full disclosure, our family bought a new Corolla in 1983 when we had a 2-year-old and a second child on the way. It was reliable (we wisely decided against a Chrysler K car and Renault Alliance), economical, came with a stick-shift to help us save fuel and had a big enough trunk to hold a highchair and loads of diapers for trips to the grandparents.

Today’s new Corolla furthers that high value statement while remaining highly reliable and actually a bit more stylish than in years past. Toyota has put some effort into styling the last few years and so the 2017 Corolla is more than just an econobox. It looks good and drives well while remaining affordable and economical to run.2017 Toyota Corolla

Let’s start with price. That’s what most of us think of as relating to value.

A base Corolla L starts at $19,365 and the tested top-level XSE lists at $22,680, plus $865 delivery. A few other brands have similarly priced models that drive a bit sportier, but Corolla comes with most everything a buyer would want, plus is laden with the latest safety equipment. Read more

11
Jan

More Mopar muscle!!!!!

Because what engine comes with the vehicle is never enough

hellcat jeep engine conversion, jeep wrangler, dodge hellcat

Photos: Dakota Customs

I’ve been doing some research about installing a turbo on my 2015 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited. Sure it has enough grunt, lots more than our 2011 anyway, but how about a little more. But then I found the ultimate in a power upgrade, a supercharged 6.2-liter V-8 Hellcat engine! There’s a company I came across, Dakota Customs based in Rapid City, South Dakota where you can buy your very own Hellcat-powered Wrangler. What a hoot this would be. It’s still the same Hellcat that comes in the Dodge Charger and Challenger, 707 hp and 650 pounds-feet of torque. Man that for sure would get that big stump I have in my yard out. Read more »

10
Jan

Die-cast: Auto World’s 1968 Olds Cutlass 442 W-30

Olds’ Cutlass 442 was a beautiful beast …Auto World Oldsmobile Cutlass S

One of the cars I learned to drive on was our family’s 1969 Oldsmobile Cutlass S – no power steering and a big throbbing V8 under its long hood. The car was a beast, but beautiful dressed in its Aztec Gold paint scheme.

For that matter, the Cutlass was one of the best-looking muscle cars of the late 1960s and early ‘70s, pacing the Indianapolis 500 three times between 1970 and ’74. (Remember the Hurst Shifter girl? You know you do!)

So when Auto World announced it would reproduce the 1968 442 W-30 model it made a lot of sense. Thank goodness they did their 1/18 scale die-cast model in a beautiful deep gold, known officially at the time as Cinnamon Bronze, with white 442 accent stripe and white interior. Sharp!Auto World Oldsmobile Cutlass S

The History

For 1968 the 442 was its own model, but it had begun back in 1964 as a $285 option package on both the F-85 and Cutlass models. Originally it was listed as the 4-4-2 package because it referred to adding a four-barrel carburetor, four-speed manual transmission and dual exhausts. Clever!Auto World Oldsmobile Cutlass S

It was a response to crafty Pontiac pumping the performance of its LeMans model, a cousin to the intermediate-sized Olds F-85. Pontiac dubbed it the GTO, and the rest is history. Read more

6
Jan

Die-cast: CMC’s 1934-’38 Mercedes-Benz race car transporter

CMC creates a breathtaking Mercedes racer transport …CMC Mercedes-Benz race car transport

OMG, the detail here is incredible, breathtaking. Put this in a case, atop a desk, in any room and it’ll be the center of all conversations. Put one of CMC’s 1930s Mercedes race cars on it and, well, folks will be speechless.

CMC is known for nailing the details in all of its vintage racers, European cars and now, trucks. This Mercedes-Benz LKW L0 2750 is phenomenal, and particularly attractive because it ties in to a number of Mercedes racers CMC already has produced. This is the Mercedes transport that carried its dominant Silver Arrows racers, the W25, W125, W154 and W165, to and from European racetracks in the 1930s.

Like the rest of CMC’s lineup, the truck is 1/18 scale and features 2,365 parts, of which CMC says 1,991 are metal. I believe it as there are even metal rivets holding wooden planks in the truck bed in place. Not surprisingly, this hand-made transport carries a lofty price of $764, so it’s not for everyone. But we all wish we could own one.CMC Mercedes-Benz race car transport

The History

Suffice it to say this 2.75-ton truck was around for a lot of Mercedes‘ early racing history, which is why CMC recreated it. These were specially built rigid steel-framed trucks to carry the racers and had a low floor with sides and tail that flipped down for easier loading, and viewing. Thin metal ramps were attached to the tail to aid loading. Read more

5
Jan

2017 Lexus LX 570

Pilot wannabes will like button-happy Lexus LX 570 …2017 Lexus LX 570

If you’ve always dreamed of being an airline pilot, but never got the training, you should try landing the new Lexus LX 570.

Lexus has created a cockpit fit for a pilot wanna-be with buttons galore. About the only thing missing is an altimeter.

Here’s a quick count of what you’ll get for nearly $100 grand. The center stack has 15 buttons plus four temperature control buttons, and two knobs for the radio. The console features 11 buttons, two toggles, and two knobs, plus a small park brake lever.

Need more? Oh there’s more. The power adjusted tilt/telescope steering wheel’s hub has 10 buttons, plus a 4-way directional pad and there’s a cruise control stalk behind the wheel. There are another 8 buttons on the dash’s face, plus the start button. Ironically the foot-wide screen atop the dash is not a touchscreen, but controlled by Lexus’s awkward and touchy mouse pad on the console.

If ever there were an argument for an autonomous car, this would be the starting point.2017 Lexus LX 570

Once you’ve mastered the maze of buttons, toggles and screen controls you’ll find the LX570 is the luxury version of Toyota’s Land Cruiser, a big beast of an SUV with serious off-roading capability. It has a wheelbase of 112.2 inches and is a full 199.4 inches long. The Lexus weighs in at a stout 6,000 lbs., but will tow 7,000. Read more

4
Jan

Don’t let your FOMO show for the Fate of The Fast & Furious

Fate of The Fast & Furious will rock

By Paul Daniel

fast and furious 8, ford escort Rs 1600, car movie stunts, the fate of the furious For those of you who are not up on the latest slang FOMO means “Fear of Missing Out” and you will not want to miss the eighth installment of the Fast & Furious franchise. I was tardy to the party for this series.

It was my car gal Meg who rented the movies to watch at home and give me the 411 on the upcoming movies. We’re both hooked now. She gave me this Ford Escort RS 1800 1/32 scale slot car as a Christmas gift because it was in one of the movies. I wish I could do all the cool stuff that’s done on the big screen with it. But then again, the movie version crashed and was toast.

My daughter Meg and I went to see the new Star Wars movie, which also rocked, and during the previews they showed the trailer for the new movie. OMG! A huge wrecking ball that swings in and takes out about a dozen cars on the street, and a sub surfacing through the ice with vehicles driving just in front of it. Words don’t describe it well enough. See the clip and then start the countdown to the premier on April 14th, 2017.

 

1
Jan

Die-cast: Replicarz’s 1970 Indy winner, Al Unser driver

Replicarz goes big with its 1/18 scale PJ Colt … 1970 Indy 500 winner

One of my favorite race cars, and that of many other youngsters in the 1970s was the PJ Colt that Al Unser drove to back-to-back Indianapolis 500 wins in 1970 and ’71.

It was colorful and with its lightning bolts on the nose and tail the car looked fast and, well, cool!

Replicarz knows that and created beautiful versions of both the 1970 and ’71 cars in 1/43 scale a couple years back. Now it turns its considerable attention to the more detailed 1/18 scale model of the original 1970 racer. This takes the detailing on the Colt to a much finer level and creates a stunning desktop display car.

The History

Al Unser teamed up with former racer Parnelli Jones’ race team for 1970, driving its Ford V8-powered PJ Colt chassis to win the national driving title and the Indy 500 that year. Sponsorship, and the beautiful car livery, came courtesy of sponsor Johnny Lightning, a toy die-cast car maker (Topper Toys) competing with the likes of Matchbox and Mattel’s Hot Wheels brands.1970 Indy 500 winner

Unser won 10 races in 1970, none bigger than Indy. This was the first of Unser’s record four Indy 500 wins and put him on a path to racing fame, along with brother Bobby. Al was the fastest qualifier in 1970 and led 190 of the race’s 200 laps. You can’t get much more dominant than that. Read more

30
Dec

You want to race what against me?

My truck, your car, even up

volvocarracesvolvotruckAt first glance it would be a no-brainer who the winner would be, right? The car. Unless of course you are Volvo with what they call the fastest truck in the world, put against their World Touring Car Championship Volvo S60 Polestar TC1 in both a drag race and a single-lap dash on a road course. Read more

30
Dec

2017 Volvo S90 T6 AWD Inscription

Volvo’s S90 a near perfect blend of sport, luxury …2017 Volvo S90

There are many truly wonderful mid-size, luxury, sport sedans, both heavy on the sport and heavy on the luxury. Few blend the two as well as the new Volvo S90 T6 AWD Inscription.

The S90 may be the best driving car I’ve tested this past year.

There’s irony though, because the Volvo, like an increasing number of luxury sport sedans is loaded down with a gaggle of electronic goodies aimed at nearly driving the car for you. It’s no secret that autonomous cars are just around the corner and the Volvo proves that.

Each year our vehicles have more safety and driving aids and the S90 has plenty.

But first let’s consider how much fun the Volvo is to drive.

The S90 rides on a 115.8-inch wheelbase and features a double wishbone suspension front and rear. The result is a smooth yet athletic ride that makes the car feel one with the road, but not so glued to it that every crease and bump disturbs its occupants. The Volvo had one of the best rides I’ve experienced this year.2017 Volvo S90

Even more amazing is the power. A hot little 2.0-liter turbocharged I4 is under its long lean hood. Oh, and it’s also supercharged. That pumps the power to 316 horses with a torque rating of 295 ft.-lbs. The car leaps to life in Comfort driving mode and yet (wait for it) there is a Dynamic mode that turns the S90 decidedly racy. The lower gears are held longer, and there are plenty of those with an 8-speed Geartronic automatic standard on all models. Read more

23
Dec

2017 Nissan Rogue SL AWD HEV

Hybrid Rogue pulls up a bit short2017 Nissan Rogue hybrid

I’m always thankful to get an early crack at a new vehicle to market, and that’s what I had with an early release 2017 Nissan Rogue SL hybrid.

Nissan has revamped the popular Rogue for 2017 with a new gloss black V-Motion grille, wider headlights and restyled taillights to freshen its look. Inside there’s a D-shaped steering wheel and now a hybrid model to put Nissan solidly in the hybrid market.2017 Nissan Rogue hybrid

Rogue along with Altima are Nissan’s top-selling vehicles and Rogue has been a fine gas-powered model for years with its 2.5-liter I4 creating 170 horses and earning a reasonable 25 mpg in the city and 32 mpg highway.

The hybrid model, which had not even had its price set when I drove it, features a 141-horse 2.0-liter I4 coupled with a 30 kW electric motor to create 176 horsepower. Nissan says its hybrid system will turn off the gasoline engine and run in electric mode even while on the highway if you keep accelerator pressure constant. With a slight increase of pressure the gas engine kicks back in.

An Xtronic CVT (continuously variable transmission) is linked to the hybrid system aiming to further increase gas mileage. Preliminary EPA numbers put the hybrid Rogue at 31 mpg city and 34 mpg highway, right in line with a primary competitor, the Toyota RAV4 hybrid, which I drove earlier this year.

By comparison, I got 32.9 mpg in the Toyota and 27.5 mpg in the Nissan, albeit the Rogue was driven in much colder weather.2017 Nissan Rogue hybrid

Still, here’s the main difference I found. The RAV4 feels peppy and eager to go, especially in its Sport mode, while the Rogue felt lackluster upon acceleration, even using its Sport mode. Never mind both have and Eco mode, as that further weakens acceleration to the point of stirring road rage from drivers behind you at you leave a stoplight. Read more

17
Dec

Most Loved Cars in America

Sure you love your car but do others?

car reviews, savageonwheels, honda, subaru, Hyundai, chevy, ford, chrysler, savageonwheels.comIt’s called the Customer Love Index (CLI) and was created by Strategic Vision. It measures the amount of love that buyers feel toward their new vehicle. To calculate CLI, Strategic Vision looks at five measurements to calculate CLI: Total Quality Impact, Total Value Index, Vehicle Emotional Delivery, Overall Feelings and Advocacy. It compiles data Over 120 different aspects of the ownership experience are compiled and on a scale that ranges from 1 (I Hate It) to 7 (I Love It) with 4 (Satisfactory) at the middle of the scale. Here are the 2016 winners. Read more

16
Dec

2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee Ltd. 4×4

Jeep’s Grand Cherokee touts power, toughness and luxury …2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee

What could be more patriotic than a Jeep? And the brand, now part of Fiat-Chrysler, is celebrating 75 years of Jeepdom, although the test model wasn’t specially adorned.

This was a dark metallic gray Grand Cherokee Limited with 4-wheel-drive, starting at a relatively sane $39,895 and ending up at a luxurious $47,930 after adding one hefty $4,200 option package and three others that were more fiscally conservative.

Jeep lovers love the fact that many models can be taken for serious off-roading. While Wranglers are the primary off-roaders, Jeep is happy to tell you that Grand Cherokees can be too.

The Limited could as it came with a 4-wheel-drive system with five traction settings, sand, snow, mud, rocks and automatic. Guess which one gets used the most?2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee

This is all handled by a neat dial on the console so it’s easy to dial up the traction your Jeep currently needs. In automatic it was fine on damp Wisconsin roads.

There’s plenty of power too. The base engine is a 3.6-liter V6 with variable valve timing and a healthy 295 horsepower and 260 lb.-ft. of torque. The Grand Cherokee will move and a Sport button will amp up the power by holding lower gears longer while also firming the steering effort considerably. Entering a highway the Sport setting is the way to go.

As with many cars now, the Jeep has an automatic stop/start feature that turns the engine off at stoplights and other times where it otherwise might idle. This saves a bit of gas, but this one is particularly rough. However, you can turn the feature off for smoother operation. Speaking of which, the 8-speed automatic tranny standard on the Grand Cherokee is exactly that, smooth. Read more

10
Dec

Exactly like your car down to the paint code

Carpeting and paint codes

1968 AMX, 1970 AMX, promotional model cars, American MotorsAs a kid my first promo model was a pink ’63 VW Bug. I had my eye on this at the local hobby shop for the longest time lusting over it although I doubt at age five I knew what lust was. Dad said is was mine if I would give up dragging around my blanket, yup just like Linus from Peanuts. Tough but I did it for my first promo model and the rest is history. I bet I’m not alone either touching up promo models or redoing them the exact paint code. Dad brought home lots of them when he went to work for American Motors in 1963. I didn’t have to give anything up when those started rolling in the door and I had boxes of them. Most promo model cars will come in the colors that their big brothers were painted in like this rare red 1970 AMX that I have in my collection. Sure AMC made a red AMX in 1970 but this color is more of an approximate, not exact color match. I must have painted and detailed lots of them but none to the detail I have seen on the auction sites. Read more »

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