Some cars are sexy, some are nasty, some are fast. The Mercedes-AMG GT3 racer is all of the above, a lawn dart of an automobile with a long nose and a monster rear wing. Looks like it could nail any competitor to the pavement.
Autoart creates a beautiful 1/18 scale version of the GT3 racer as it was presented to the media a couple years back in a gorgeous matte metallic gray paint scheme with yellow racing stripes and a No. 1 on each door. Who’s to argue with that?
If you’re deep into NASCAR or IndyCar racing you may not know much about GT3 cars. But Group GT3 cars are Grand Touring (get it?) cars that race in various series around the world. The GT3 designation started in 2005 under rules set by FIA, the international racing rules group.
In essence GT3 cars must be based on production GT cars and have 500 to 600 horsepower and weigh between 1200kg (2,645 lbs.) and 1300kg (2,866 lbs.). They also feature ABS, traction control and include built-in air jacks to facilitate quick pit stops. Currently about 40 cars have been approved, or homologated to race in GT3, including the likes of Audi, Aston Martin, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, Ford (GT), Ferrari, Lamborghini, BMW, along with the Chevrolet Corvette and Dodge Viper.
The Mercedes-AMG GT3 is built in conjunction with Mercedes’ AMG performance unit in Sindelfingen, Germany. Under its massive hood is a 6.2-liter naturally aspirated V8 that creates 622 horsepower, while the production model has a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 that tops out at 577. The older naturally aspirated engine is simpler and more reliable for racing, hence the difference. Oh, and top speed is 206 mph. Read more
Let’s face it, you’d better have a pretty strong, competent vehicle if you’re going to give one of its models the TRD moniker.
We all know what that sounds like, but in Toyota’s case it means Toyota tough, as in Toyota Racing Development. And that’s why the new 4Runner proudly touts TRD in its name and on its haunches.
The test truck was the mid-level TRD Off-Road Premium edition with four-wheel drive and a sparkling Barcelona Red Metallic paint job. It also features a tough-looking exterior with distinctive nose and a hood air scoop that not all models have, not to mention few of its competitors.
4Runner is a big ute, rolling on a 109.8-inch wheelbase it’s a sizeable 191.3 inches long and weighs a hefty 4,750 lbs. So move over mid-size crossovers and SUV pretenders, 4Runner is ready to go rock-climbing, and the TRD version thumbs its nose at rough terrain. Read more
From what I’ve seen recently shows drivers care less
I’ve been thinking about doing this blog entry for a while and this morning an experience drove me to the keyboard. I’m stopped at a busy intersection on my way to work. I had just missed the left turn green arrow so I was waiting for traffic to clear and make my turn when this guy behind me honks his horn for me to go. Go, where, there’s lots of traffic here dude and I’m on a motorcycle. The light turns yellow and I wait. Recently I’ve seen too many drivers here in Wisconsin run the red light and I don’t want to get wacked. The guy gets out of his truck and gives me a lecture on how I didn’t have to wait for the green arrow and could have turned on the orange. Not this rider. He also said that I was holding a whole line of vehicles behind him and I should show some courtesy. OK, whatever. When I turned on the next green arrow, guess how many vehicles I was holding up. Yup, just him. Read more
As a kid I, like many folks at the time, liked cars with jet-like fins. Plus I’ve always been a sucker for the cool fake spare tire molded into the trunk lid. So Imperials, Chrysler’s luxury brand, were, and are, a favorite.
Few Imperials were more impressive than the 1957 Crown Southampton, a monster of a car, but dripping with style. Its nose with twin dual headlights favored Cadillac styling, but its slightly outward leaning tail fins and aircraft-like pointed taillights set it apart from the more staid luxury models of the day.
BoS-Models now creates a beautiful 1957 Southampton in a stunning bronze paint scheme with a cream-colored roof and enough chrome to blind an army of car show onlookers on a sunny day. This is in 1/18 scale and the body is cast resin.
Imperial became its own brand, like Cadillac for GM and Lincoln for Ford, in 1955. The second generation Imperials debuted in 1957 and had their own distinct platforms, something that lasted until 1966.
These brutes were big and strong, so sturdy in fact that they were banned from most demolition derbies as being too tough to knock out of competition. Much of the reason was the Imperial’s full perimeter frame with box cross sections forming an “X” for strength. Meanwhile most cars were moving to lighter unibody construction.
The Imperials of 1957, which were part of Chrysler designer Virgil Exner’s “forward look” styling, also featured Torsion-Aire suspensions that used an indirect-acting torsion bar system up front. It lowered the car’s center of gravity and moved it rearward to improve handling. Read more
Roughly once a year a test car knocks my socks off, trips my trigger, simply surprises the heck out of me and this week’s Kia Niro Touring has me amazed.
Looking at it you’ll say that’s no car, that’s a crossover vehicle. And that’s what Kia wants you to say. The styling is typical Kia wonderful with good looking nose, tail and beautifully proportioned profile. It has a taller stance like a crossover, but (and this is one of at least two surprises) it is front-wheel drive, and as of now AWD is not an option.
Second surprise, from a driving standpoint, this little beauty is a hybrid.
Sure, left in Normal drive mode the acceleration here is (yawn), shall we say, modest. But simply by sliding the 6-speed Sportronic gear lever to the left into Sport mode the Niro jumps to life. Acceleration is quick and quiet as the electric motor propels this honey to normal city cruising speed.
I found myself leaving the shifter in normal mode, which is the most economical way to go, and then slipping it into Sport at stoplights. Fun, and zippy! Read more
Young folks wanting a Jeep for its looks and rugged personality, but who are on an entry-level budget and prefer comfort to mudding ability can find refuge in Jeep’s Renegade.
This is a multi-trim model that ranges from $20 grand, including delivery, up to $30 grand for an off-roading version. Renegade is built on the Fiat 500X chassis in Italy, so quite a ways from Toledo, Ohio, the spiritual home of Jeep and its predecessor, Willys.
But Renegade, despite being a downsized Jeep offers much more civility for daily driving, plus that low-ball entry price. Mine was a near fluorescent neon green (dubbed Bright Hypergreen) that seemed to glow in the parking lot like one of those radioactive bars that Homer Simpson gets stuck in his pocket.
Folks at the office taunted me about the color, but it turns out to be quite fun to drive around in such a glow stick and was incredibly easy to find in any parking lot.
It’s the civility that strikes me most about Renegade. Ride is downright comfortable and tame, not the usual don’t-come-knocking-when-this-baby-is-rockin’ ride of its original off-roading cousin, the roughhewn Wrangler. Even on Wisconsin’s crumbling roads the Renegade delivered a relatively well-controlled an smooth ride, no small accomplishment for a vehicle riding on just a 101.2-inch wheelbase. Read more
Jaguar has its first sport-utility truck, the F-Pace and it’s already its best-selling vehicle. That tells you a lot.
First, it tells you that tradition and heritage take a back seat to the overwhelming popularity of sport-utes and crossovers. Second, it tells you Jaguar buyers were ready for a Jag truck. And third, it tells you that the F-Pace must be pretty good at satisfying that itch.
Jaguar smartly delivers three engine choices in its new ute. The same 3.0-liter supercharged V6 as in last week’s Jaguar XE sedan will likely be the main choice of buyers. It cranks a healthy 340 horsepower with 332 lb.-ft. of torque, but drinks premium fuel and gets just 18 miles per gallon city and 23 mpg highway.
The dark metallic gray test truck went the other way, packing an Ingenium 2.0-liter I4 turbo diesel under the F-Pace’s muscular hood that even includes a mild hood bulge. The diesel features 180 horsepower and a grunt-rich 318 lb.-ft. of torque.
Fuel mileage is impressive. The diesel is rated 26 mpg city and 33 highway. I got 27.7 mpg in driving that was heavier on city driving this time. There also is a stop-start feature here to save fuel, but it can be turned off, which makes sense from a smoothness of operation standpoint once the truck’s engine is warmed. Read more
I have to admit that European rally cars, the little high-powered mini racers with big engines and wings to match, fascinate me visually. They look tough and aggressive and fast and fun.
Now Autoart releases a sharp all black 1/18 scale version of the Peugeot 208 T16 that was raced up Pikes Peak here in the U.S. in 2013. It looks like it rocks with a giant wing on an equally giant pedestal and with tires so fat they look like they’d hold on to any road even if the car were upside down.
This is a beautiful little beast! Here’s the story on it.
Rally superstar Sebastien Loeb (9 titles) was chosen to run this custom built Peugeot up Colorado’s Pikes Peak in 2013 to challenge the record time of 9:46.164 set a year earlier by Rhys Millen. Loeb crushed it, making the 19.9 km run in 8:13.878.
The French Peugeot had to straighten 156 corners while climbing to Pikes Peak’s summit. The video is amazing (insert it), as there is no guard rail along the route that the likes of Bobby Unser and most of the other Unser clan have proven themselves champions through the years. Read more
I was a regular at Road America
While doing sports on Green Bay TV during the 80’s and 90’s I had some fantastic opportunities to meet really interesting people. Sure, all the Green Bay Packer players of that era, but my main passion was auto racing. Anytime there was anything going on at Road America, I was down there. I loved being there and still do.
On the list of nice guys were Roger Penske, Walter Payton, and Tom Cruise. He’s a short guy. The nicest on that list, and also short, was Mario Andretti. I interviewed him a bunch of times and it was like we had known each other for ever. Check out this story on Mario done a week ago today on CBS Sunday Morning. Enjoy.
I wish I had come up with this idea
Back in my public relations days I knew the media in the Milwaukee market really well. I was the only PR professional that specifically designed events that were just about slam dunks in getting the media out. How’d I do it? By designing unusual things that participants normally couldn’t do and then invite the media out to try it ahead of time.
I remember two events that were a lot of fun, one especially since one was centered around aviation. Here’s a live interview I did on one of the TV stations’ morning show. The other one was an Urban Adventure race, sort of like the Amazing Race on CBS, where I repelled four stories while doing a live interview at the same time. That was a rush.
Now I’m on the other side of the fence…
…and found this video where 15 radio control trucks work together to pull a full-size Toyota Hilux. This wasn’t their first time to this rodeo. They staged a slightly different version in the 80’s. Hats off to your PR staff Toyota. You definitely got my attention along with lots of other outlets.
If looks are important to you, styling that will get you noticed or at least be recognized as a non-generic luxury car, then Jaguar’s new entry-level luxury sedan, the XE, should have your name printed on its title.
The new small Jag has dashing looks that communicate immediately that it’s a Jaguar. Oh there’s the leaping animal’s silhouette on the trunk lid and steering wheel, but it’s the car’s lean looks, long hood and big chrome grille that tell folks this is a Jaguar.
That’s all well and good, plus Jaguar offers nearly as many model choices as do the domestic pickups. The XE comes in 19 models, all the way from a rear-drive 25T model to a 35T First Edition with all-wheel drive. The vast numbers come from all trim levels coming in either rear- or all-wheel-drive and offering three engine choices.
The base model in each trim, including Premium, Prestige and R-Sport, is the 25T with a 2.0-liter, I4 turbo generating 240 horsepower and 251 lb.-ft. of torque. A 2.0-liter 4-cylinder turbo diesel also is available. It cranks 180 horsepower but features a tremendous 318 torque rating. The tested supercharged 3.0-liter V6 delivers a healthy 340 horsepower and 332 lb.-ft. of torque.
Confused? Well, there also are a couple First Edition models, but we’ll let the dealers explain all that to you.
For now, let’s focus on the pretty white test car, the XE 35t Prestige. Its targets include the BMW 3 Series, Mercedes E Class, Audi A4 and possibly the Lexus IS. Each has their advantages, and the Jaguar’s is its looks. Read more
You never know what you might find
This article caught my attention because I’m getting our 2008 Chrysler Pacifica ready to sell on Craigslist. This is not my first rodeo as I sold our 1994 Dodge Intrepid with no problems a couple of years back. I love looking at the listings, just to see what’s out there like this Lotus Esprit. Read on.
Every kid of the 1950s and 1960s remembers the extremely long brightly colored ambulances of the day, either from seeing them as they ran our city’s streets with lights flashing and sirens blaring, or from TV shows of the day.
Cadillac ambulances with their big tailfins were popular to be sure. We all remember the Ghostbusters’ Ecto-1. But many ambulances were based on Buicks too, in fact from the 1930s forward Buicks were the basis for both ambulances and hearses.
BoS-Models, also known as Best of Show, has just launched a beautiful cream and crimson 1960 Buick ambulance in 1/18 scale and it’s a stunner. This diecast resin ambulance is more than 13 inches long, finely finished and reflects a custom ambulance created by The Flxible Co. in Loudonville, Ohio.
This long-wheelbase Buick built by Flxible (the E was dropped to create a registered trademark) was the Premier model and listed at the time for $8,615.
Flxible made ambulances, hearses and buses, but started as Flexible Sidecar Co., making motorcycle sidecars. The name came from a patented flexible mounting that allowed sidecars to lean in corners with the motorcycle, making them safer and easier to control. Flxible closed in 1996 after 83 years in business.
In the 1960s the firm used primarily Buicks to create their ambulances and hearses and had a smaller model, the Flxette, that rode on the 126-inch wheelbase of a Buick Electra. The premier was more than 27 inches longer.
The 1960 Buick Electra had a concave grille, with side-by-side quad headlights, and the first tri-shield Buick logo on its grille. Plus the front fenders sported four VentiPorts, the chrome portholes of a sort that had started in 1949 Buicks and had returned for 1960. All of that is perfectly captured in the resin BoS model.
This Buick’s front and rear bumpers, and naturally that toothy grille, are all chrome as are the door handles, mirror, and taillight surrounds. The roof sports two standard red bubblegum lights trimmed in chrome and the center-mounted red light and siren to get folks attention. The thin white-sidewall tires also feature full chrome hubcaps and they’re pretty darned fancy looking for an ambulance, but were standard fare in 1960.
Buick is spelled out in photo-etch on the hood’s nose and BoS puts red Fire-Rescue and Ambulance decals on the roof. A fire and rescue emblem is emblazoned on the big wagon’s back door and Ambulance markings with a cross are printed on the rear side windows. The model also has a no. 138 decal on each side in front of the doors to represent the car’s fleet marking. Flxible script logos are on both front fenders too.
This is a sealed body model, so no doors open, nor the hood. All windows are posed up too so the light and dark gray interior will stay dust free if you display this outside a case. You’ll need a larger than usual acrylic case if you want to enclose it due to the car’s length.
Inside there’s the new, at the time, Buick two-spoke steering wheel with horn buttons instead of the usual chrome horn ring. Gauges are raised on a pod atop the dash, very modern for the early 1960s, while the shift lever is still on the column.
Naturally the ambulance’s tail is most interest and there is a gurney there with yellow mattress and white pillow, plus two jump seats to accommodate an attendant or two. There is no other medical equipment in the rear and I really wish the tail’s big door opened to give a better view inside.
Still, this is a beautiful long-wheelbase ambulance, not your typical subject matter for a 1/18 scale model!
Stock No.: 213558
When Toyota launched Lexus in 1989, its first sedans impersonated Mercedes-Benz models, but cost a lot less. Now Hyundai has launched its impressive new Genesis luxury car lineup with two models and the top-level G90 looks like a Bentley. Even its logo resembles that of the British make.
Again the formula is to create a car that visually screams luxury while undercutting the original by thousands of dollars. To be sure the new G90 competes mostly with the large Audi, Mercedes, BMW, Lexus and Cadillac sedans. But if you could convince your neighbors you were driving a Bentley, yet only spent $70 grand or so, well, you just might try.
Certainly the G90 is impressive and dressed in Caspian Black, a metallic black paint job, the tested rear-drive Ultimate model turned heads. People asked what it was. Genesis didn’t ring any bells.
But it may soon. Along with this 5.0-liter, 420-horse, V6-powered G90 Genesis offers the G80 with a 3.3-liter twin-turbo V6 that creates a substantial 365 horsepower. Both models are rear-wheel drive, but offer all-wheel-drive versions too. Read more
No newsflash there because it happens everyday
Just because there are those of us like me who drive Jeeps doesn’t mean we don’t get stuck every once in a while. Hey we have the most capable 4×4 ever so we’re going to push the envelope. Count on that. Getting stuck is one story while getting out is another like this dude who went in the mud with one Jeep Wrangler and came out with two. This is a classic video of how not to pull a Jeep stuck in the mud.