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.
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
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.
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
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.
American Motors’ Javelin 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
Sporty, useful, practical, some hatchbacks have it all
Hatchbacks are fantastic and Hyundai’s latest entry the Elantra GT proves the point.
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
SL epitomizes elegant roadsters of 1950s, ’60s
Mazda’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
Iconic split-window Vette a beauty
Come on now, this is the Vette of all Corvettes. Autoart has kicked out a gorgeous rendition of the 1963 Corvette Sting Ray coupe, and in Daytona Blue no less.
This was an iconic year for Corvette as 1963 was the first year of the second generation Vette, known as the C2. Its sleek and pointed shape made it seem futuristic and both the convertible and coupe models sold like, well like down parkas in Alaska. Famed Corvette designer Larry Shinoda was responsible for melding designs based off GM design chief Bill Mitchell’s 1959 Stingray race car and the 1961 concept Mako Shark.
In addition, this was the first year for a coupe, which made it especially popular right off the assembly line. Overall 10,594 coupes and 10,919 convertibles were made and only 3,475 Vettes were painted Daytona Blue like this one. Autoart is making just 6,000 of this model, ironically nearly double the original. Continue reading Die-cast: Autoart 1963 Chevrolet Corvette Sting Ray
RDX soothes this Savage beast
Flying into Washington D.C.’s Dulles Airport for a family wedding, I was frazzled from a day of flight delays, noise and airport confusion. But there in the parking lot was my soul soother, my nerve mender, a new 2013 Acura RDX.
This RDX is more spacious, more luxurious feeling and a better all-round performer than its predecessor, which was no slouch to be sure. The interior is roomy, comfortable and quiet. Its power hatch welcoming to a big load of luggage. Everything looks and feels right for a small to mid-size crossover. It didn’t hurt that mine was the upscale AWD Tech model, which means it was slathered with goodies and gadgets.
But at its base is solid performance that any luxury crossover owner would want.
Its new 3.5-liter i-VTEC V6 delivers a healthy 273 horses, up from 240 hp with the previous turbocharged 4-cylinder. But the turbo delivered it with more low-end oomph. This is silky smooth after harnessed to Acura’s 6-speed automatic that features Sport/Shift, including paddle shifters behind the steering wheel. I doubt most drivers will use that feature often, but it’s a perk if you prefer more performance. Continue reading 2013 Acura RDX AWD Tech