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23
Sep

Die-cast: Replicarz’s 1940 Boyle Special, Indy winner

Wilbur Shaw’s 1940 Indy winning Maserati a beauty … Replicarz 1940 Indy 500 winner

If you are collecting all the Indy 500 winning cars then Replicarz has another beautiful model to park in your Victory Lane – the 1940 Boyle Special.

This is the same car that Wilbur Shaw won the 1939 Memorial Day classic in, but wearing the No. 1 that he earned by being national champion in 1939. The dark metallic red (maroon really) Boyle Special is a Maserati 8CTF and was financially backed by Mike Boyle, a big Chicago union boss that some say had connections to organized crime – the mafia, not Congress!

The History

Shaw won the Indy 500 three times in four years from 1937 to 1940. He was the first to win Indy in consecutive years.  He darned near won the 1941 Indy 500 too, if not for a freak garage fire before that year’s race. He was leading when he crashed out.

Boyle had bought the Maserati for Shaw after several years of frustration fielding cars at Indianapolis. The Italian-built racer regularly raced the European grand prix circuit and claimed 365 horsepower from its 3.0-liter straight-8 engine that featured two Roots-type superchargers bolted on the engine’s nose. The car weighed roughly 1,700 lbs. and featured an aluminum body. Read more »

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21
Sep

2017 Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid Limited

Hyundai’s Ioniq takes hybrid competition up a notch …2017 Hyundai Ioniq 

Hybrids are beginning to come in all shapes and sizes. Toyota’s Prius remains the dominant player, but like a college football player moving up to the NFL, the Prius’ will be facing stiffer competition.

Now comes Hyundai to the hybrid big leagues with its Ioniq. It’s oddly named and spelled, but everything else about it is big league. Its styling is more sophisticated than the dowdy Prius, but not quite as sporty as its sporty cousin, the Kia Niro.

Ioniq is a small hatchback, but it’s loaded with all the goodies you’d ever want, plus gets dynamite fuel economy. In fact, it boasts the highest fuel economy rating of any hybrid at 57 mpg city and 59 mpg highway in its entry-level, eco-minded Blue model. The Limited, two models up, is rated 55 mpg city and 54 mpg highway. I managed 45.2 mpg, while the trip computer insisted it was 53.4. All models have aluminum hoods and hatches to keep weight down and improve gas mileage.

For the record, I had gotten a still good, but less impressive, 35.6 mpg in my Niro test drive. Niro, which looks more like a crossover also is about 150 lbs. heavier than the Ioniq. Meanwhile, when I tested the Prius Two Eco earlier this year I got a stellar 57.5 mpg. That’s hard to beat.2017 Hyundai Ioniq

Ioniq though handles nicely with generally light steering effort and good cornering because it has a low center of gravity. In Sport mode the steering firms a bit too. Plus Hyundai tells us the Ioniq has the best drag coefficient of any car on the U.S. market. That means it cuts through the air more easily, which aids fuel efficiency. Mind you the differences in drag coefficients among most cars is small. Read more

16
Sep

Die-cast: CMC’s 1937-39 Talbot Lago Coupe T150C-SS

Gorgeous ‘teardrop’ Talbot Lago Coupe  a classic … 

CMC Talbot Lago Coupe

This Talbot Lago coupe is a sterling example of 1930’s Art Deco design.

About a year ago I was lucky enough to tour the Petersen Auto Museum in Los Angeles and even luckier, they had an incredible display of streamlined and art deco era cars on display.

Part of the display was the swoopy teardrop-shaped Talbot Lago T150C-SS coupe with its beautifully shaped body, metal sunroof (unheard of in the day) and rear-opening doors.  This was automotive beauty at its finest 1930s best.

Happily CMC recognized the Talbot Lago’s beauty and was hard at work recreating the coupe in its standard 1/18 scale and in museum quality detail in a delicious cool light metallic blue paint scheme.

The History

Automobiles Talbot came into existence in 1922, but really had been around since 1896. That’s when Alexandre Darracq launched an auto manufacturing firm using his name and the cars were successful racers at the time. He sold the firm in 1912 and  it was 1922 that the Talbot name emerged.

CMC Talbot Lago Coupe

Everything opens on this museum-quality piece.

This fascinating teardrop shaped coupe was born amid financial woes during the Depression. Antonio Lago had been named Talbot’s managing director in 1932 and in 1936 he oversaw a management buyout of the struggling firm. Noted coachbuilder Fioni & Falaschi, created the T150C-SS coupe that debuted at the Paris Motor Show in 1937. Read more »

13
Sep

2017 Volvo V90 Cross Country T6 AWD

New Volvo V90 Cross Country a big, slick wagon … 2017 Volvo V90 Cross Country

Give Volvo credit for creating a high-end wagon that looks like no other. The V90 Cross Country is big and features a swoopy profile that looks downright slick.

The Cross Country part tells you the Volvo prefers to think of itself as a crossover, and it does have all-wheel drive and 8.3 inches of ground clearance. But it looks more like a wagon and feels absolutely enormous. It most reminds me of Chrysler’s former swoopy (in a different way) Magnum wagon.

The V90 Cross Country is nearly as big as last week’s full-size luxury sedan, the Genesis G80, but weighs a couple hundred pounds less.2017 Volvo V90 Cross Country

That’s important because despite its weight advantage the 2.0-liter supercharged and turbocharged I4 doesn’t give it the pep I’d heard that the Volvo was to have. The I4 boasts 310 horsepower and a 295 torque rating, but there’s hesitation every time you get on the gas and the wagon simply feels heavy. Not sure if it’s the engine or the 8-speed automatic transmission that seems to make it hiccup when you first want the power. Read more »

10
Sep

Holy crap, I think that car might have been mine!

My one shot at a collector car

promotional model cars, AMX, AMC, American MotorsCame in 1987 while living in Green Bay. I always kept an eye out in the papers, this was before that interweb thing got big, looking for, well, I wasn’t sure. Then, bingo, a 1970 AMX was for sale in Milwaukee similar to the image of this model I built to remind myself about the experience. I had to have it. Never mind I hadn’t even seen it yet. They seller didn’t want too much for it, $2,500, which should have been a red flag, but I was laser focused. I needed fast cash since I didn’t have that much saved up and this was an impulse purchase so I went to my local bank Read more »

10
Sep

Die-cast: Spark’s 1982 Ligier JS19, Monaco GP

Laffite’s Ligier JS19 a blue flying wedge … 1982 Ligier JS 19 

In the early 1980s Formula 1 cars, like open-wheel racers at Indianapolis, were quickly progressing through a series of aerodynamic changes to give them more downforce for faster cornering speeds.

The drivers sat nearer the car’s nose while the engine and tunnels and wings were alongside and behind them. The Ligier team, a French-based and sponsored F1 team had top-shelf drivers and plopped them into these flying wedges with some success.

One of the more interesting looking F1 cars at the time was the Ligier JS19 with its boxy tunnels that extended from the driver rearward to a big boxy wing on the tail. That’s what Spark creates in 1/43 scale and with handsome results.

The History

The JS19 followed the relatively successful JS17 in which French driver Jacques Laffite won two races in 1981 and finished fourth in the F1 standings. As with the 17, the new JS19 was powered by a Talbot-badged Matra V12. Laffite and American Eddie Cheever were the drivers. Read more »

6
Sep

Genesis G80 RWD 3.3T Sport

Genesis G80 Sport stirs comments, all good … 2018 Genesis G80 Sport

I’m used to getting questions about the test cars I drive, but few get as many comments as the Genesis G80 3.3T Sport I just drove.

Dressed in Caspian black, a deeply layered sparkling metallic black, the G80 oozes luxury and authority on the road. Old and young folks alike asked what it was, guessing everything from a new unmarked police car to a Bentley. What it is, is fantastic, and Bentley-like, but without the horrible price tag.

If you’re not a car geek you may be unfamiliar with Genesis, as were several of the questioners. It’s Hyundai’s new luxury brand. Think Toyota’s Lexus or Honda’s Acura.

Like those makes, it has invaded the luxury sedan market with a generously equipped model at a price that seriously undercuts the existing luxury brands. Its looks are a mix of BMW and Audi, and the badge on its nose and tail resembles the spread wings of a Bentley. Hyundai did its homework!

2018 Genesis G80 Sport

Hmmm, this sure looks like a Bentley logo to me!

I consider this the best looking luxury sedan today, with the exception of Audi’s sleek A7 fastback.

A little more history. For 2018 the G80 line adds a Sport model with a new engine, a twin-turbo 3.3-liter V6 that cranks an amazing 365 horsepower with a torque rating of 376 lb.-ft. Some offer more, some less, but even weighing in at a solid 4,519 lbs., this new G80 will move. Read more

2
Sep

Die-cast: Automodello’s 1965 Buick Riviera Gran Sport

Riviera was one of the few sleek Buicks, ever …1965 Buick Riviera Gran Sport

I can still remember the first time I saw a Buick Riviera. As a kid, I was wowed. Its sleek lines, the headlights canted forward to make it look fast and sporty. There was just something about it that oozed elegance and class, and a bit of speed too!

Automodello brings us a bevy of new 1965 Riviera Gran Sport models to fulfill any collector’s fantasies about owning one. These are 1/24 scale resin models that continue Automodello’s tradition of creating beautifully finished models that fit well in any plastic car modeler’s collection.

Like variety? Automodello delivers the Riviera in seven colors and in various quantities, from the snazzy Astro Blue with 299 models made, to the Enthusiasts Editions in Arctic White, Flame Red with black top and interior, and Burgundy Mist with black interior. Just 19 will be made of each Enthusiasts Edition.

There also is an Homage Edition in Regal Black, with 24 models made, and two Tribute Editions in Verde Green and Sahara Mist, with just 50 of each made.1965 Buick Riviera Gran Sport Read more

30
Aug

Jeepless for the 1st time in 30 years and the quest for 71 inches

Jeepless in Pewaukee

Photo: Jeep Blog

For those of you who have not read my posts before, I love Jeeps! My love affair began in 1970 when American Motors purchased The Jeep Corporation from Kaiser Industries. My dad worked for AMC at the time at its National Parts Distribution Center in Milwaukee, WI. so now I would receive employee pricing on Jeeps. Dad was the first family member to hop on when he purchased a Cherokee Wagoneer in 1988 exactly like the one in the picture. This wasn’t the larger SJ version but the XJ built on the new Cherokee platform introed by AMC in 1984 and over its 17-year run, just under three million were sold. This was ground-breaking stuff at the time essentially kicking off the SUV segment. Later on, mom wanted something easier to get in and out of and he sold this Jeep to me. That started a relationship that would last a very long time. Read more »

30
Aug

2017 Lexus RX 450h

Lexus RX 450h perfect for a comfy, long haul …2017 Lexus RX 450h

Mostly my test drives are a couple hundred miles around Southeast Wisconsin over the course of a week, but this week was a rare exception when I drove the Lexus RX 450h to Omaha and back, more than 1,100 miles.

As many a high-end suburban household has discovered, before me, the RX is a perfect prescription for an enjoyable highway drive. And the 450h, the hybrid model, adds fine fuel economy to its other attributes of style, comfort, ride and room.

The RX, which some claim started the crossover fad, is stylish with a grille that no amount of overstatement can describe beyond large and aggressiveness. It’s distinctive, and not many vehicles can make that claim.2017 Lexus RX 450h

Overall the RX looks chiseled and modern and with its C-pillar blacked out at its base the Lexus’s roof appears to float. Pretty cool for a crossover!

But loaded down with boxes and luggage and two passengers the RX proved it can haul and do it comfortably. We folded down the rear seats, triggered the power hatch and piled in suitcases, overstuffed boxes and photo equipment. The RX swallowed it all and we could even see out the back window, mostly.

Ride is luxurious and smooth. Highway driving (and there was plenty) was a breeze and we barely felt a jiggle or bump inside the Lexus. As with many luxury vehicles there are several ride modes here, Eco, Normal and Sport. Normal was fine and provided moderate steering feedback and good acceleration from the 3.5-liter V6 combined with an electric hybrid system to create 308 horsepower. Read more »

27
Aug

World’s fastest ??????????

The need for speed

Photo: Hennessey

Show of hands, who likes to go fast? Relax, nobody’s going to tell. I’d be in the group and have had my 2007 Suzuki Hayabusa up to 130 mph. There was plenty left too because I’m told it will go 186. The Busa was the fastest production motorcycle at one time but today, that title goes to the Kawasaki H2R street version which will go 206 mph. When automakers throw cost and reason out the window, they come up with the Hennessey Venom GT which will go will go 270 mph. But that’s slow compared to the Thrust SSC, 771 which is a super-sonic, jet-propelled car crossing the speed trap at  763.035 mph in the Black Rock Desert, Nevada in 1997. Heck there’s even a bike, not a motorcycle, which can go just under 90 mph.

Yup, we like our “fast” in just about anything on wheels, even sheds. Leave it to a guy from Great Britain, where just Read more »

26
Aug

Die-cast: NEO’s 1935 Stout Scarab

1935 Stout Scarab, the first minivan … NEO 1935 Stout Scarab

I’ve seen two Stout Scarabs in my life, one up close and personal, one in a museum. Both were amazing.

The Scarab was a minivan before anyone even thought of minivans. It’s a rounded aerodynamic bug of a car, before the world was aware of the VW Beetle, although it may have already been on Ferdinand Porsche’s drawing board in the 1930s. It’s light before automakers were thinking of weight reduction.

Now NEO creates a beautiful 1/43 scale 1935 Stout Scarab in silver and it’s an eye-catcher that’s smartly executed.

The History

The Scarab came from Stout Engineering Laboratories, later Stout Motor Car Co. in Detroit and was designed in 1932 by William Bushnell Stout, an aviation and car engineer. He believed in strong lightweight bodies, so created a unitized body structure from aluminum aircraft metal with the help of designer John Tjarrda. The result was a car that would seat at least six and weighed less than 3,000 lbs.

In back they dropped a Ford V8 and with that rear-end placement, eliminated the weighty driveshaft found in other cars. Unlike most cars in the 1930s, the Scarab had no running boards and used coil springs and independent suspension at all four corners for a better ride. Seating inside could be reconfigured too to face backward or forward.   Read more »

20
Aug

2017 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport 2.0T ULT AWD

Hyundai’s Santa Fe Sport still a leader …2017 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport

Hyundai continues to pace the small to mid-size crossover segment with its Santa Fe and Santa Fe Sport.

A few years back Hyundai split its Santa Fe crossover lineup with the larger being the Santa Fe and the smaller, sportier model being the Santa Fe Sport. The test drive was a dark metallic blue version of the Sport with AWD and the Ultimate trim level. So this is the top-shelf model and therefore becomes a bit pricey. More on that later.

The Sport Ultimate looks and feels luxurious and features all the electronics you’d expect on a top-level vehicle. But unlike some utes and crossovers, the Sport handles well, rides well and has enough power to make it interesting.2017 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport

This has the more powerful of Hyundai’s two engines, a 2.0-liter turbocharged I4, which generates 240 horsepower and a torque rating of 260. The base front-drive model features a 2.4-liter normally aspirated engine that creates 185 horses.

At that level the Sport lists at $26,245, but this top-line model starts at $38,250, plus an $895 delivery fee. Add in some options and the test crossover hit $41,355, a bit much in my book.

But there’s plenty of value, even at that.

Start with the power. The I4’s direct injection and turbocharger give you power when you need it, but allow the four-cylinder to work more efficiently when you’re just running errands. So you can get 240 horsepower tromping the gas getting on the highway, but power feels more modest around town. Read more »

13
Aug

2018 Audi A5 Coupe 2.0T quattro

Audi A5 Coupe a rare breed …2018 Audi A5 Coupe

Coupes used to be a more plentiful subset of cars, but as cars become a smaller subset of vehicles the coupe appears closer and closer to extinction.

But Audi, for one, is committed to the segment and its A5 Coupe is a good example of how much pleasure can be derived from a coupe. It looks sharp, and melds sporty handling and power with a smooth-shifting 7-speed automatic transmission and 4-wheel drive, which Audi calls quattro.

The A5 does everything well, but is not a racer, nor a true family car, unless your little ones are in booster seats and can latch themselves in, or big enough to not need a booster, yet not too long-legged. Rear seat room is fairly cramped.

But a coupe is meant to transport two folks, mostly, and here they ride in comfort and style.2018 Audi A5 Coupe

The silver test car ($575 extra for the paint job) came with Audi’s stout 2.0-liter turbo I4 that creates a spirited, if not rambunctious, 252 horsepower and 273 ft.-lbs. of torque. Turbo lag is non-existent, in fact, I looked under the hood to make sure there was a turbo. The power here comes on so smoothly and in such a linear manner that it’s not obvious that all this boost is from a turbo. Read more »

12
Aug

Die-cast: Looksmart’s 2016 Ferrari SF16-H

Looksmart delivers sharp Vettel Ferrari from 2016 Australian GP …Ferrari SF-16 F1 racer

Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari joining forces seems a deal worked in heaven, or at least Maranello, which to the tifosi is one and the same.

Vettel is a four-time world F1 champ and Ferrari has the most wins of any F1 team ever, 227. So when Vettel came aboard three seasons ago the tifosi’s dreams of another F1 title grew quickly.  By 2016 they were expecting wins, if not a title, and the new Ferrari SF16-H looked to be the car to do it.

Looksmart, a fairly new Italian die-cast maker, has just begun making gorgeous 1/18-scale resin models and this version of the SF16-H is as it appeared in its debut race, the 2016 Australian Grand Prix. The review car is a replica of Vettel’s ride that day. He finished third. Replicarz provided the review model.

The History

Scuderia Ferrari, started by Enzo Ferrari in 1929 to be Alfa Romeo’s factory racing team, has been successful in Formula 1 racing since its inception. It’s the only F1 team to compete in each season since F1 was formed in 1950.Ferrari SF16-H F1 racer

Ferrari has won 16 constructors’ championships and its drivers have won 15 driver championships, most recently Kimi Raikkonen in 2007.

The SF16-H (SF for Scuderia Ferrari, and H for hybrid) ran the entire 2016 season. Vettel had the best results for the team although the car never won a race. Vettel notched seven podiums including three second-place finishes, while Raikkonen had four podiums and two seconds. The team was third in the constructor’s contest.

However, this car led to the SF70-H which is proving much more successful. It already has won three F1 races as of this writing, putting Vettel atop the F1 driver’s championship. Read more »

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