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.

2012 Hyundai Azera

Azera is aces in luxury, quiet, comfort

 If you are among the folks who thought Hyundai would never make it in the U.S. car market, well, get over it.

I’ve driven quite a few Hyundai models of late and the new Azera is the finest yet. This is a large front-drive sedan to challenge Toyota’s Avalon and entry-level sedans from Lexus, Infiniti, Acura and the like.

Granted the Azera looks much like a Lexus and, similar to that make, it tends more toward luxury than sport. The emphasis here is on smooth, starting with its gentle curving roofline and profile to the car’s stylish soothing leather interior. Continue reading 2012 Hyundai Azera

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Die-cast Car: Automodello Griffith Series 200

Newcomer Automodello scores with Griffith

I know cars, but beyond the Griffith sports car name, this Series 200 race car was new to me. That’s how rare they are in the car world (only 192 were made), and in the die-cast car world.

But rare is good when you’re collecting. The review car is a stunning 1:43 metallic blue Griffith Series 200 from Automodello, a newer specialty die-cast car maker from Buffalo Grove, Ill. To make this one even more special, it’s one of just 85 Tribute Editions that were made to mark Jack Griffith’s 85th birthday. He founded the car company. The car’s license even reads “85 Jack.” Plus this model is autographed by Griffith and Bill Warner, who puts on the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance each year and which recently honored Griffith. Continue reading Die-cast Car: Automodello Griffith Series 200

Die-cast car: Autoart’s Parnelli Jones Saleen Mustang

Triple threat: Parnelli, Saleen and Mustang = winner

Parnelli Jones, Steve Saleen and Mustangs, now there’s a recipe for success.

Saleen is known for his customized high-performance Mustangs, while Parnelli is known for his success racing pony cars in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The fact that Ford’s venerable muscle car has been restyled beautifully in the last 5 years makes it perfect timing for the three forces to come together, both in the real automotive and die-cast car worlds.

Autoart has been cranking out near perfect versions of the Mustang now for several years and its new 1:18 version of the 2007 Saleen Mustang Parnelli Jones edition is yet another winner. Continue reading Die-cast car: Autoart’s Parnelli Jones Saleen Mustang

Die-cast car: CMC 1931 Mercedes-Benz SSKL

CMC recreates a legend with 1931 Mille Miglia-winning Mercedes SSKL

Legends have made auto racing though the years and Germany’s CMC delivers three-in-one with its latest die-cast model, the 1931 Mille Miglia-winning Mercedes-Benz SSKL. The Mille Miglia, a 1,000-mile race up and down Italy’s country roads from 1927-57 was the ultimate endurance race of the day. Mercedes itself began building its racing reputation at that same time. Couple those facts with that of legendary Rudolf Caracciola (Real first name was Otto; he was German) driving the SSKL (the White Elephant) to victory in the 1931 race, and you have the triple wammy of fame, an iconic brand and racing history. Continue reading Die-cast car: CMC 1931 Mercedes-Benz SSKL

2012 Suzuki Grand Vitara

Suzuki finally earning some respect as quality improves

For years Suzuki’s cars and small utes didn’t garner much respect, but you have to earn respect, and NOW Suzuki is getting some.

That’s after its fine Kizashi sedan and SX4 small crossover raised awareness in the brand by being well designed and executed, with quality more on par with other entry-level and value brands. Another winner is its Grand Vitara, a small sport-ute that’s fun to drive, simple and delivers excellent value.

My silver tester was the mid-level Ultimate Adventure model with 4WD. And even with its impressive sounding name, it lists at $23,949, including delivery. This is where entry-level sport-utes used to be priced and what some, like Jeep’s Liberty started out to be. Continue reading 2012 Suzuki Grand Vitara

2013 Hyundai Genesis Coupe

A Sculpted, Sensuous Styling Home Run

Hyundai’s new Genesis Coupe is a styling home run, sporty, sculpted and sensuous.

I’ve gotten in trouble before using sensuous to describe a car. But I’m just saying, this baby has all its curves in all the right places. Heck, a co-worker who saw only the 2013 coupe’s nose out our office window asked me if I was testing a Maserati this week.

Part of that perception of the Genesis Coupe as something special comes from the four creases in the hood and the way the blend into the nose. Helping are two angular air scoops (fake, sadly) that perfectly accent the hood’s lines too. Not so subtle creasing of the sheet metal along the sides also makes Genesis look quick, even sitting still. Continue reading 2013 Hyundai Genesis Coupe

2012 Mazda MX-5 Miata

A Sports Car as Good as it Gets

This is the Miata I actually drove, but a few weeks before the test. Here it sits near the Carousel at Road America at a Midwest Autowriters outing.

To look at Mazda’s MX-5 Miata you’d think little has changed since its introduction nearly 25 years ago.It’s still the quintessential two-seater, a sports car for the ages with a simple layout, simple lines, simple controls and for today’s market, a simple price tag.

The base Sport with a soft convertible top goes for $23,470, but the tested Special Edition with a power hardtop lists at $31,225. Add in the $795 destination charge and you’re looking at $32,020, not an economy car, but there aren’t many convertibles available in this price range anymore.

Yet Miata is a pleasant mixture of change and stability. The petit, some might call it cute, styling has been cleaned up a touch through the years, so now it reflects a bit more crispness, like the former Honda S2000 roadster. Continue reading 2012 Mazda MX-5 Miata