All posts by Mark Savage

Mark Savage is a writer and editor. He has written a car review column, Savage on Wheels, for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel since 1989 and was a business news reporter there for 16 years. He also is the editor of American Snowmobiler magazine and has written about diecast cars and slot cars for various hobby magazines. He also is an avid Indy 500 fan, attending races since 1962.

2020 Zoomie Awards

Savage names his top 14 vehicles of the year …

After a four year hiatus (I should be well rested), Zoomie is back.

What’s a Zoomie?

It’s my annual (at least for 26 straight years) award of the top vehicle I’ve driven in the past year. I name one top dog and a lot of little pups to highlight the great cars and trucks I’ve driven in the past 12 months.

And I’ll state right here what I’ve been saying since 1990. My intent is to select a vehicle for the masses, but one with styling flair, something that’s fun to drive, yet also delivers value, an everyman’s car of the year. So don’t be expecting a Tesla or Ferrari here! Continue reading 2020 Zoomie Awards

What are Zoomies?

Everyman’s Car of the Year, where style and value still matter  …

Nothing lasts forever I’m told, so my Zoomie Car of the Year awards appeared in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel for 25 years, then got kicked to the curb. I wrapped up my Zoomies on the Savageonwheels.com website and on WUWM in 2015, and that was that.

But now that my auto review column appears weekly on WUWM’s website, and the annual Milwaukee Auto Show is rolling back around from now until March 1, it seemed a good moment to bring back Zoomie.

For the criminally curious, here’s how Zoomie came to be. Continue reading What are Zoomies?

2020 Dodge Durango SRT 392

Durango SRT rocks the SUV world …

Dodge’s Durango SRT is the truck version of a NASCAR stocker.

SRT is all about power, muscle and grunt with an engine grumble that sounds like a stock car ready to bust out of the pits and head up the banking at Daytona. Otherwise, it’s a fine, luxurious mid-size SUV that will haul a family, or a load of friends in comfort all the while satisfying their need for speed.

How so? Continue reading 2020 Dodge Durango SRT 392

2020 Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro

Army Green tells you this SUV isn’t for wimps!

4Runner TRD Pro a muscular drive …

My wife calls Toyota’s 4Runner a manly man’s truck, and it certainly is.

Tall, muscular looking, big tires and wheels, a hood scoop, a husky luggage rack on the roof and an engine that growls along with knobby tires that rumble on the road. Yes, manly and a serious off-roader, made even more so by being the TRD Pro edition. Continue reading 2020 Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro

Die-cast:1986 March 86C, Indy 500 winner

Rahal’s 1986 Bud/Red Roof racer looks a winner in 1/18 scale …

Not to namedrop, but as a young newspaper reporter I was in Bobby Rahal’s garage at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway just after driver Gordon Smiley was killed in a horrific qualification day crash in 1982. It was Rahal’s rookie season and the young driver was moved by the tragedy.

I never forgot that slice of humanity I witnessed and always was a bit of a Rahal fan after that. My son picked up on that and cheered for Rahal as a youngster, even making a Pinewood Derby car with Rahal’s name on it.

So, I’ve been eager to see Replicarz latest 1/18 scale release of an Indianapolis 500 winner, the March 86C that Rahal drove to his lone Indy win in 1986. This is one in an ever-expanding series of Indy 500 winning cars Replicarz has produced. It’s other latest is the 1990 winner that Arie Luyendyk drove. I reviewed that car a couple weeks ago.

The History

Bobby Rahal was a sports car and road-course racer that had been supported in his amateur racing career by former racer and businessman Jim Trueman, who also founded the Red Roof Inns motel chain. In 1982 his Truesports Team entered a car for Rahal in the Indy 500, and Rahal quickly became a contender in the IndyCar series (then CART).

He won two races in his first season, including the Michigan 500, and finished second in the championship. Some rookie!

His success continued, finishing third in the IndyCar championship in 1984 and 1985, winning six more times in that period. Then came his exceptional 1986 season when he won six IndyCar races, including the Indy 500.

With two laps remaining Rahal passed leader Kevin Cogan on a restart and held on to win the 500 in his Cosworth DFX turbocharged V8-powered March. The win was an emotional one for Rahal and the team as Jim Trueman, 51, was dying of cancer, but was in the pits to celebrate the win. Trueman died less than a month after Rahal’s win.

Rahal retired after the 1998 season, his last IndyCar win being at Nazareth Speedway (now closed) in 1992 when he earned his third series championship with four wins. He also was the IndyCar champ in 1987 and finished second at Indy in 1990 and third in 1994 and ’95. He now owns and IndyCar team with his son Graham serving as driver.

The Model

Oh boy is this a good-looking car in its deep bright red Red Roof Inns and Budweiser livery, a white No. 3 on the nose and sides of the engine cover and rear wing.

Ground-effects and aerodynamics were playing a big role in IndyCars by the mid-1980s, but the cars were still relatively clean and the monster wings of the 1970s had been outlawed. Here the air rushes through sidepods and over radiators to escape the pods just behind the cockpit. There are tiny winglets in front of each rear tire to redirect the air over the tires creating more downforce. Each is held by twin adjusting wires. There’s also a modest air scoop at the engine cover’s tail to direct more air into the Cosworth’s turbo.

The tail of the powerplant and transmission extends out the back of the car and is nicely wired and plumbed. Cool too are the shocks on either side of that air scoop.

Wings had been regulated to remain no wider than the inside of the rear wheels and this one juts up on a red support with Bud logos on each side and Budweiser lettering spread across the wing’s top.

The March has thin winglets on the nose with Red Roof’s moto, “Sleep Cheap!” in white atop them. There’s also a small antenna on the car’s nose, black trim around the windscreen’s lower edge and two tiny red mirrors extending off each side of the car’s cockpit wall. The fuel filler outlet is just behind the cockpit to the driver’s left and a thin roll bar extends above the cockpit, tapering into the bodywork.

Suspension work is all solid and painted matte black with tiny screws holding the rear assembly together. Tires are black slicks with Goodyear Eagle labeling on both sides, as on the real racers. Wheels are silver racing wheels, not chrome, with gun metal center locking nuts. And while there are a bevy of sponsor logos on the nose, the key white logos, mostly trimmed in black are Red Roof Inns, Budweiser with Valvoline and Goodyear in a couple spots.

Inside, the cockpit walls are matte black as is the low-slung seat, but there are red cloth shoulder and seatbelts with photo-etched metal clasps. The dash includes a couple dials, the three-spoke racing wheel, pedals and a small silver gearshift lever to the driver’s right.

Once again Replicarz delivers an Indy champion caliber car deserving of a trophy. Snag one before they’re gone.

Vital Stats: 1986 March 86C, Indy 500 winner, Bobby Rahal

Maker: Replicarz
Scale: 1/18
Stock No.: R18030
MSRP: $249.95

Link: Replicarz.com

 

2020 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport 2.4GT AWC

New Outlander Sport a simple, effective, high-value crossover …

            Mitsubishi’s new Outlander Sport crossover is simple, yet effective.

By that I mean it’s nothing fancy, but it’s a solid family hauler with four-wheel-drive, enough safety equipment to satisfy most folks and a sporty new nose to refresh its looks so it doesn’t look like the styling fairy has passed it by. Continue reading 2020 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport 2.4GT AWC

Die-cast: Johnny Lightning 50th Anniversary cars

The metallic green ’63 Corvette and its matching metal storage tin.

Anniversary release cars feature metal storage tins …

We knew that Johnny Lightning would be surprising us with some unique releases to mark it’s 50th Anniversary, and the latest releases offer a fun twist with snazzy metal storage tins.

Our review product is Release 2 with the tins, with version A and B cars. We like the special collector’s tins, which remind us of our younger years with Matchbox cars that came in their blue and yellow cardboard boxes. But these tins are much spiffier and more colorful, not to mention sturdy and have a sharp image of the car that’s to be stored inside printed on the tin. Continue reading Die-cast: Johnny Lightning 50th Anniversary cars