Cars that bridged the gap between pre-war America and post-World War II are an interesting lot, often dowdy and pedestrian of styling. Most consider the 1930s and 1950s as primo styling eras.
But Chevrolet’s hot-selling Fleetline series, starting in 1941 is an exception, particularly its sleek streamlined looking Aerosedan, a two-door family car with a fastback design that looks slick still today.
That’s the 1948 Chevrolet that NEO has produced in 1/43 scale, a somewhat sporty full-size car that GM began cranking out for the 1941 model year, just before converting its car plants to war machinery. And for the 1946-48 model years they cranked up the assembly lines again using the satisfying 1941 design.
Look at a four-door Fleetline and you’ll quickly see why the two-door Aerosedan and its smooth curves was such a hit. Blah describes the former, but Chevy knew it had a winner with the Aerosedan. In 1948 it sold 211,861 of the cars vs. just 64,217 of the four-door. Of course the baby boom hadn’t quite caught on just yet either.
The car, which was a sub-series of Chevy’s Fleetmaster, featured a Chevy Blue Flame 216 cu.in., inline six engine that created 90 horsepower. That meant the car was no slouch. It could hit nearly 80 mph. The Fleetline rode on a 115-inch wheelbase, about three inches longer than the current Chevy Impala, and was 197 inches long, about four inches shorter than today’s Impala.
NEO’s resin bodied Aerosedan is beautifully shaped and perfectly reflects the smooth lines of the sedan, plus hood, trunk and door seams are all stellar. This tiny Chevy also includes all the chrome trim as seen on the original.
That includes three thin chrome styling strips flaring back from the front wheel well and along the rear fender to the taillights. Bumpers are chrome too and include dual raised guards front and rear. There’s a chrome Chevy hood ornament along with all window trim, including vents and the flat split windshield. Door handles, gas filler cap, headlight bezels, wipers, trunk release and grille are chrome.
I like the fine detail of the photo-etched Fleetline logos along the hood’s sides, the script name on the trunk and winged Chevy logo on the nose. Head and taillights are fine too and there’s a yellow Ohio license plate front and rear. Broad whitewall tires treaded tires with large chrome hubcaps put the car on the road. Those caps are the fancy Chevy models with painted red swooshes (sorry Nike, Chevy beat you) and Chevrolet in blue too. Cool!
Inside is a reddish brown dash and door trim that really sets off the gray bench seats in the interior. The dash top doesn’t look as metallic as it might, but the color is nicely mated to the car and the dash face looks authentic, including a giant clock in the glove box door. This was a wind-up clock that would run for a week on one full wind. The speedometer is similarly large and visible, of course the side windows are all up, which does slightly limit your taking a peek inside.
NEO creates a fine two-spoke cream steering wheel with horn ring, and the steering column and hub match that reddish brown dash color. Sharp!
A cool addition to the model would be a green translucent sun visor like so many of these have worn over the years to keep the sun from reflecting from what was a metal dash. Maybe on a future model!
Stock No.: 45830
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.
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. Read more
I notice this more on my motorcycle
I took my what most likely will have been my final ride of the season on my Hayabusa here in Wisconsin as it was 51 degrees. The weather folks forecast it all downhill from here. Actually riding this late has been a nice bonus because most years I put my bike away much earlier so I’ve been putting lots of miles the last couple of weeks and have been seeing some of the worst drivers. Read more
It’s really tough for me to even say the “W” word.
I go into full denial when this time of the year comes which I call the off-season. Off-season from going flying, rides on my Busa, and having the top down and doors off our 2015 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited.
It used to be a big pain in the ass to remove the soft top to make room for the hard top until I devised a sort of pulley system which now takes just about an hour to do as you’ll see in this video. Hold on a second fellow Jeepers, and those who are not yet, because I had some fun and sped it up so the whole process takes just over a minute. Enjoy.
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.
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. Read more
My uncle had a late 1950s Chrysler 300, a creamy thing that took up his entire garage and sported giant fins. I thought it was wonderfully exotic.
But I’ve come to appreciate the beauty of earlier 300s, which were launched in 1955 as Letter Series cars, beginning with the 300C that was even raced on the NASCAR circuit. Its paint scheme proclaimed it the “world’s fastest stock car.”
NEO moves forward a year from that premier model to create the 1956 Chrysler 300B, yes they went backward in the lettering phase for one year before the ’57 300C appeared with its big yawning front grille. But back to the ’56, which NEO so beautifully produces in 1/43 scale and in a creamy white; this is a handsome car.
While the ’55 may be the most famous because it kicked off the Letter Series 300s, the 1956 300B seems more stately and elegant to me. Its fins are modest in size and blend well with the car’s profile while the taillights are remeniscent of upscale Lincolns of the day. Read more
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.
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. Read more
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 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. Read more
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.
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. Read more
There was a fine line between sports cars and two-seat boulevard cruisers as the 1950’s midpoint approached. The British were exporting tiny, nimble, two-seat sports cars in growing numbers to the United States.
This was the heyday of MG, Austin-Healey, and Triumph. Chevrolet, Ford and upstart Kaiser Motors were about to respond, with their Corvette, Thunderbird and Darrin, none exactly sports cars.
Kaiser’s Darrin was by far the most stylish, but was basically a one-year wonder. The others had staying power. Now Automodello has created its own 1/24 scale resin model of the daring Darrin that once was described as looking like it was trying to kiss someone with its puckered oval nose grille.
Howard “Dutch” Darrin had a long car styling resume, most recently with Packard, before Henry J. Kaiser and Joseph W. Frazer brought him onboard their new Kaiser-Frazer Corp. after World War II. Darrin went on to design a sports car on his own time and with his own funds, then presented it to Kaiser, looking for the company to produce the roadster. Read more
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.
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. Read more
Just prior to World War II it was rare to see European race cars competing at the Indianapolis 500. Winners usually drove Millers or a derivative thereof, with engines from Studebaker, Duesenberg or Miller, later Offenhauser.
There was one exception. Mike Boyle’s team had deep pockets (think Roger Penske today), and connections, so in 1939 it landed an Italian racer for its successful Hoosier driver, Wilbur Shaw. Shaw already had won Indy in 1937, but hooked up with Boyle, who headed a large Chicago union. It was a visible sign that money bought the best drivers, and equipment.
Replicarz now has created a gorgeous dark red, nearly maroon, Boyle Special, a Maserati 8CTF, to expand its Indy winning model lineup that includes both the larger 1/18 scale like this one, and 1/43 scale racers for those of us with limited display space.
Shaw was a successful Champ car racer in the 1930s and hooked up with Boyle to drive a Maserati for an East Coast road race. Read more
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.
My 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. Read more
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.
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. Read more