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.

2013 Nissan Altima 2.5 SV

Refined family sedan with superb CVT deserves its due

As in the political world where the frontrunners get all the hype and some worthy candidates get brushed to the sidelines or back pages, Nissan’s Altima doesn’t always get its due.2013 Nissan Altima

That may be about to change. The 2013 Altima has been revamped to be slightly wider and infinitely quieter and more comfortable. Its styling is even tweaked to give it more arrow-like front lights and a smoother overall shape. This is a fine family sedan that should send shivers down the spines of Honda and Toyota engineers. Continue reading 2013 Nissan Altima 2.5 SV

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Die-cast: 1967 Shelby Mustang GT500

Shelby Mustang gorgeous in red, well priced

There may be something sweeter and more nostalgic than a 1967 Shelby Mustang GT500, but I can’t think just what.1967 Shelby Mustang GT500

Autoart outdoes itself with this gorgeous red 1:18 diecast with broad white LeMans stripes nose to tail and at a relatively low MSRP of 164.90. Let’s face it, quality 1:18 die-cast cars are now in the $150-$175 range regularly. Continue reading Die-cast: 1967 Shelby Mustang GT500

2012 MINI JCW Cooper Coupe

Two-seater delivers attitude, power, performance – at a high cost

 Perfect timing! I had just driven the raciest version of Fiat’s tiny 500, the Abarth, when an even racier MINI Cooper Coupe, the John Cooper Works, or JCW, edition slotted into the test garage.2012 John Cooper Works MINI Cooper Coupe

The Coupe is MINI’s new model, with no back seat and a lowered roofline that gives it a distinctive profile, and some might say, a more buglike appearance. Bathed in Midnight black paint with a red racing stripe – reversed on the red roof with a black racing stripe – the JCW was hot. Women loved it! Even my car-neutral wife commented on its great looks, and THAT’s rare!

Continue reading 2012 MINI JCW Cooper Coupe

2012 Fiat 500 Abarth

Cute and powerful, but overpriced and a rough rider

A co-worker put it perfectly after seeing my black and white Fiat 500 Abarth, it’s the Beanie Baby of cars – Cute with a capital C.Fiat's new Abarth

I like small cars, appreciate their efficiency, their fun factor and generally their lower cost. The Fiat 500 is cute, almost to a fault. At its base Pop trim level it’s a fun sub-compact that starts at an extremely attractive $15,500.

The Abarth (Fiat tells us that’s pronounced AH-bar) is its racy version. Think of its 1.4-liter MultiAir turbocharged engine as a Mini-Hemi, seeing as how Fiat and Chrysler are now linked up. Continue reading 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth

Diecast: Auto World 1969 AMC AMX Hurst SS

Two-seat muscle car a rarity, but ready to race

AMC’s AMX was an automotive rarity, a two-seat muscle car on a short wheelbase that most folks at the time agreed handled more like a sports car.1969 AMC AMX

American MotorsJavelin had just come out a few months earlier when AMC unveiled the AMX for 1968 ½ in February of that year. Auto World’s 1:18 version is a “frost” white 1969 AMX Hurst SS version, the rarest of the rare.

Only 52 AMX models were made, all starting out white as they rolled off the assembly line headed to Hurst Performance for tuning, the aim being drag racing. Continue reading Diecast: Auto World 1969 AMC AMX Hurst SS

2013 Hyundai Elantra GT

Sporty, useful, practical, some hatchbacks have it all

Hatchbacks are fantastic and Hyundai’s latest entry the Elantra GT proves the point.2013 Hyundai Elantra GT

Sporty, useful, practical and bordering on fun to drive a hatchback often gives you more for your money than any other car design on the market. Think of crossovers as hatchbacks on steroids and you get the picture for useful and practical, but without the sporty. Continue reading 2013 Hyundai Elantra GT

Die-cast: Autoart Mercedes-Benz 190 SL

SL epitomizes elegant roadsters of 1950s, ’60s

Mercedes-Benz 190 SLMazda’s Miata wasn’t the first small drop-top to gain popularity in the U.S. market. Way back in the 1950s and early ’60s Mercedes-Benz created an iconic roadster, the 190 SL.

This wasn’t the first famous roadster either, but it was a big hit for Mercedes, and set the styling trend for upscale two-seat convertibles for the better part of a decade. Autoart’s 1:18 version is bathed in a creamy white finish that accentuates its smooth elegant lines, lines that captured well-off driver’s attention, and cash, during those heady classic sports car years.

Like Miata today, the 190 SL had a removable hardtop ($4,295), but also was available with a soft top, that model going for just $3,998. Remember, in 1953 a new Corvette started at $3,490. Continue reading Die-cast: Autoart Mercedes-Benz 190 SL