Diecast: Autoart DeLorean DMC12

DeLorean still looks futuristic …

The tale of DeLorean automobiles and their brains and creator, John DeLorean, is a twisted affair that didn’t end well. Yet the DeLorean DMC12, the make’s only car, was quickly famous as the Back to the Future movie car used by Marty McFly to time travel.

Folks remember the DeLorean because of its stainless-steel finish, gull-wing doors and futuristic styling, courtesy of Italian designer Giorgetto Giugiaro. This was a two-seat sports car with an edge, an attitude that hinted at where automotive design might go, but never did. Continue reading Diecast: Autoart DeLorean DMC12

So that’s a Matador! And an expensive one!

Print ad from my collection

A line used by American Motors in marketing the Matador. AMC introduced a newly designed two-door coupe in 1974 as a luxury coupe. Members of the automotive press pretty much loved it. Car and Driver said, “There’s an undeniable smuggnes stamped on the fenders of AMC’s new Matador X. And each arrogant crease is integral to an overall air of confidence.” The X package, the sportiest, was one of three offered, the other two being the Broughram, and upscale Oleg Cassini.

For 74, production totaled 62,269, 31,169 base coupes, 21,026 Brougham coupes (including 6,165 in Cassini trim) and 10,074 of the X. That was a huge jump from the previous year’s boxy design when 7,067 went down the line in Kenosha. It was a Matador coupe that reached a production milestone for AMC becoming the six millionth car they produced since its founding in 1954. Its competition was the Chevy Chevelle Coupe, Ford Torino Coupe, and Plymouth Satellite Sebring. Base price was $3,699, with a loaded one at $4,350. Engine choices were the 232 and 258 6-cyl along with three V-8’s, 304, 360, and 401. Continue reading So that’s a Matador! And an expensive one!

2019 BMW M2 Competition Coupe

BMW M2 a fast car on track, but tough on the tushie …

BMW is as synonymous with racing as Porsche and Ferrari, but also known for making road-worthy sedans and coupes that offer at least a modicum of civility and practicality.

As its 3 Series and 5 Series cars have continued to grow, both in size and price, BMW wisely stepped back toward its roots to create both a 1 and 2 Series. These are smaller and less pricey, comparatively, from its mainstream offerings. Continue reading 2019 BMW M2 Competition Coupe

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2019 RAM 3500 Laramie Longhorn Crew Cab 4×4 Long Box

Heavy-duty RAM a cowboy Cadillac beyond words …

No words, no matter how many, can adequately describe RAM’s heavy-duty 3500 pickup, but I’ll try.

Check in the dictionary under Cowboy Cadillac and I’m pretty sure you’ll see an image of my fancy metallic walnut brown test truck. This was the RAM 3500 Laramie Longhorn Crew Cab with 4-wheel-drive and a long bed, just one notch down from RAM’s top-level Limited. Continue reading 2019 RAM 3500 Laramie Longhorn Crew Cab 4×4 Long Box

2020 Toyota Corolla LE Hybrid

Corolla hybrid delivers high value, high mpg, low cost …

After 60 years in the U.S. market Toyota continues to impress when it comes to value and its redesigned 2020 Corolla is a prime example.

Toyota revamped its popular Corolla to lower its ride height, widen its track, lower the cowl for better visibility and looks and then shorten the front overhang and lengthen its rear overhang. Still, you likely won’t drop a molar in excitement, but the compact is modestly pleasing to the eye. Continue reading 2020 Toyota Corolla LE Hybrid

2019 Mazda3 Platinum AWD Hatch

Mazda3 hatch with AWD is sleek, fast and fun …

I’ve owned a couple Mazdas through the years. I’ve liked them for their sporty handling and edgy styling that set them apart from many competitors.

The new 2019 Mazda3 Hatchback does nothing to spoil those differentiators, in fact it improves on the looks and upgrades the interior to make it even more attractive. But there’s more, Mazda also adds AWD as an option, putting it in direct competition with the sporty AWD Subaru Impreza, but with a touch more zip. Continue reading 2019 Mazda3 Platinum AWD Hatch

MAMA 2019 Spring Rally: Car heaven for auto journalist

So many cars to choose from

Mark and I love this event. We get to hang out at our favorite race track, Road America, that’s practically in our backyards. For two days, May 22-23, we attended The Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA) annual Spring Rally.

We joined about 100 other automotive journalists from all over the country driving the latests from the automotive manufacturers on the track, on the streets of Elkhart Lake, off-road and even some autocross. The manufacturers tell us they love this event because of the quality time they get to spend with all of us and receive lots of feedback on their vehicles. So, what to hop in first? Hop in and go for a ride.

There were some other fun cars that we took for a spin that we did not capture on tape like the Ford Mustang GT 350 that had the best growl of any of the cars. The color kind of reminds me of the Mustang that Parnelli Jones drove in the Trans-Am series during the late 60’s.

Dodge had two of their Challengers, the Redeye and this Hellcat Scat Pack. The Redeye was pulled from the track because of the slick conditions that morning so we hopped in the Scat Pack. I’ve driven one before but not at Road America. The 485 hp Hemi did not disappoint and even though they did their best to keep our speeds down at Kettle Bottoms I was able to get the Challenger up to 127 mph.

We closed out the afternoon both with an opportunity to drive this brand new Acura NSX. If the other cars we drove were cuts of meat, this was the prime rib. So smooth to drive. We both decided to start saving up to buy one but at $199,000, it’s going to be a while.

By far the best paint job of any vehicle at Road America. It takes the factory 5 days to paint this Acura TLX PMC edition. It was almost like you could put your hand in, it was so deep.

Time to do some off-roading

Mark and I split up in Thursday morning with him going to do so auto cross on Road America’s go kart track while I headed for some good muddy fun at the off road course. There, I got my second chance to drive the new Jeep Gladiator.

Related: Read about my first drive of the Gladiator.

This Rubicon edition was the most capable of the test vehicles in its class, which included the Chevy Bison and Ford Ranger. While the course wasn’t as large as the one I drove on in California, it had a good mix of mud ruts and hills. It’s not just me that has this love fest going on with the Gladiator, my fellow automotive journalists liked it as well as it was one of three nominated for MAMA’s Family Vehicle of the Year. There was also a Gladiator Overland Edition (MSRP* Starting at $40,395) went for a spin in enjoying the twisty roads around Elkhart Lake along with the sunny day topless. Good windy fun especially remembering how Wednesday morning was so damp and cold.

Next I grabbed the Gladiator’s little brother, the Renegade, to get dirty. I have been really sceptical of this Jeep since it’s based on the Fiat 500 L which has a choppy ride and interior that looks like it assembled with a bunch of cheap plastics found in a dumpster. Not so with the Renegade. This Trailhawk edition came with the 177 hp, 1.3L turbo mated to a nine-speed automatic. Other features included, all-speed traction control, electronic stability control, Select-Terrain System with rock mode, and 17 inch wheels among other goodies. With the Trailhawk package, a running ground clearance of 8.7 inches, approach angle of 30.5 degrees, break over angle of 25.7 degrees, and departure angle of 34.3 degrees, it’s clearly the most off-road capable against its competitive set which includes the Mazda CX3, Chevy Tracy, its cousin the 500L, Honda HRV, and Kia Soul. It’s optional My Sky Power Retractable/Removable Panels added $1,595 to the $27,290 base.

The beast of the group, and by far muddiest, at the event was the Ram Power Wagon. There was no mud hole or hill that challenged this bad boy. I even had a couple off opportunities to goose it and heard its 6.4L, 410 hp Hemi growl.

While the Ford Raptor is built for speed, the Power Wagon is built for rock crawling. Its approach, departure, and breakover angles are big, 33.6, 26.2, and 23.5 degrees. It has 14.3 inches of ground clearance and can ford up to 30 inches of water. Oh, in case you were to get stuck, it comes with a Warn winch that can pull 12,000 lbs, almost a third more than the truck weighs. If you’re into rock crawling, at $53,015, it’s a good deal.

Mark and I both had a chance to take the Kia Telluride out for a spin. I was impressed with Kia’s biggest SUV yet. It reminded me of my 2017 Dodge Durango but I think the interior in the Telluride is nicer. Its 291 hp V6 was very responsive, it had a really quiet ride, and the latest tech. Pricing ranges from $31,690 all the way up to $43,490. If you’re in the market for an SUV, the Telluride is for sure a consideration.

It’s hard to say goodby

So Mark and I were done for the day but took one last look at some of the cars that were in the paddock area taking a break from the racing event going on Thursday. We saw this Corvette that looked as if someone had lobbed paintballs at it. I kind of liked it. Then there was this cherry Mustang, and finally the official car of Road America, the Corvette in Elkhart Lake blue.

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