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3
Feb

2017 Infiniti Q60 Premium AWD

New Q60 emphasizes performance, but ride suffers …2017 Infiniti Q60

Driving similar cars back to back puts both into perspective, an unfortunate turn for the sporty Infiniti Q60.

I’d driven the Mercedes-Benz C300 coupe with 4Matic, its all-wheel-drive system, the week before I slipped behind the wheel of the new Q60, which replaces the fine G37 in Infiniti’s lineup.

The Benz and Infiniti are nearly identical in profile, length and wheelbase. But the Infiniti’s ride, no matter the Drive Mode, was inferior, and by that I mean harsh. The Infiniti felt like I was driving on square tires from time to time when the road surfaces turned crumbly. If you live in a southern clime, or California, where smooth blacktop is prevalent, this wouldn’t be an issue. In the Midwest it’s an issue.

Like the Mercedes, the Infiniti is strong on power and handling. This is a luxury sport coupe with the emphasis on sport, so it actually feels sportier than the Benz. It packs more punch with its 3.0-liter V6 with twin turbos. It’ll crank 300 horsepower and 295 lb.-ft. of torque. It feels powerful from the get-go and will zip away from a stoplight with help from its 7-speed automatic that allows for rev-matching manual downshifts. The Infiniti is fun from a performance aspect.2017 Infiniti Q60

Handling likewise is fairly firm in all modes and precise so the driver feels in total control. There’s even an all-wheel-drive system on the Premium model I drove, or you can go with the standard rear-drive. This AWD system did not seem to keep the car from spinning its wheels under heavy power on wet pavement as well as the C300 though. Read more »

1
Feb

For the Rekord

Photo: WikiCommons

Photo: WikiCommons

Spellcheck went crazy with this

Lots of red lines below my copy when I wrote this blog entry about the Open Rekord. It kept wanting to change it to “Record”. You know me and odd ball cars. I was actually running through eBay looking at promo models when I came across a Record, oops, Rekord. More about the promo model in a minute but first I needed to find our more about the real deal since I’d never heard of the car. This car was no one-hit wonder as there were approximately ten million sold between 1953 and 1986. It was produced by GM’s Opel brand and was the second best-selling brand in Europe behind the Volkswagen Beetle. Check out the spot but brush up on your German. Read more »

29
Jan

Die-cast: Auto World’s 1957 Ford Thunderbird

1957 T-bird wonderful in white! …1957 Ford Thunderbird

Early Thunderbirds were a lovely blend of two-seater styling and boulevard cruiser with dandy hooded headlights and tiny jet-like fins on the tail.

This was Ford’s effort to Americanize the sports car market that the British car makers had created after World War II, and it worked. Thunderbirds were around for a long time, although sadly they morphed into giant near luxury hardtops eventually.

Thankfully Auto World sticks with the two-seat 1957 Thunderbird for its new 1/18 scale diecast for the recently ended holiday season. This is Auto World’s third Holiday Muscle Edition vehicle and is done appropriately in snowy white.1957 Ford Thunderbird

The History

Thunderbirds, or T-birds to most of us, debuted in 1955 and the last one was made in 2005, 11 iterations in all. The last, was a retro model reflecting the styling and two-seat configuration of the original. It did not approach the success of the original. Read more »

27
Jan

2017 Mercedes-Benz C300 Coupe 4Matic

Mercedes’ sporty C300 coupe a smoothie …2017 Mercedes-Benz C300 coupe

            Mercedes-Benz is on a roll. Not only has its Formula 1 racing team dominated for three straight years, now its street cars are back on top of their game.

A couple years ago I sort of fell for the C300 sedan and now, in the dead of winter I get to drive the C300 coupe with 4Matic, Mercedes’ all-wheel-drive system. Glad I had the extra grip as we had snow and slush and sloppy roads during the test.

This model features slimming sporty coupe lines that make it stand out among today’s usual humdrum car designs. And while it leans heavily toward sport, the luxury and pleasantness of the sedan are ever present.

The C coupe rides on the same smoothing 111.8-inch wheelbase and weighs a bit more than the sedan at 3,770 lbs. The car feels deliciously well balanced.2017 Mercedes-Benz C300 coupe

As in the sedan Mercedes delivers a scrumptious blend of sporty power, the eager 2.0-liter turbocharged I4 that kicks out 241 horses, and comfort. All that starts with a silky 7-speed automatic transmission that easily harnesses the turbo’s 273 ft-lbs. of torque, and cushions the ride with independent suspension at all four corners.

Ride is absolutely stellar, controlled and easy on the occupants, but still responsive enough to be sporty. Cornering is smooth and as precise as you want it to be courtesy of Mercedes’ Agility Select system that allows the driver to toggle through four settings, from Eco, to Comfort to Sport to Sport+. Read more

25
Jan

Big cash for small cars

A tale of two companies

matchbox cars, matchbox car valuesIt all began almost 67 years to the date in a closed down pub in London where an industrial die-casting company, Lesney, was born, leading to a huge collector market for metal 1/64th scale model cars. Lesney is the creator of Matchbox vehicles. The name itself came into being when one of the owners’ daughters wanted to bring a toy to school but the school only allowed children to bring toys that could fit inside a matchbox so a scaled down version of a Lesney model went with her to school. Thinking they might have something, they used the one-0ff creation, the idea of selling a model of  a vehicle small enough to fit into the size of a matchbox. Matchbox was born and propelled Lesney to worldwide, mass-market success. Read more »

24
Jan

A home any car guy would love to own

It will take some deep, deep pockets

250 million dollar mansion, $250M mansion, Homes for the hyper-rich, collector cars, exotic cars

Photo: Bruce Makowsky / BAM Luxury Development

250 million dollar mansion, $250M mansion, Homes for the hyper-rich, collector cars, exotic cars

Photo: CNBC

250 million dollar mansion, $250M mansion, Homes for the hyper-rich, collector cars, exotic cars

Photo: Bruce Makowsky / BAM Luxury Development

This 38,000-square-foot mansion is located in Bel Air, California. It has 12 bedrooms, 21 bathrooms, three kitchens, six bars, a massage room, a fitness center, two wine and champagne cellars, and a 40-person home theater. One of my favorites is the 85-foot infinity pool complete with its own 20-foot TV on a hydraulic lift. I can just imagine the pool parties I would have when the Green Bay Packers play. Sadly not anymore this season.

What’s in it for the car guy?

Well I’ll tell you. It comes with a $30 million car collection parked right in the home. When’s the last time your wife let you park your collector car in the house? Included in the collection are cars we can only dream about like a faster than snot Pagani Huayra, a Rolls-Royce, a Bugatti, and a vintage Allard. OK, the cost. Are you sitting down? $250 Million. That’s $250,000,000. Lots of zeros. Let me know when one of you guys buy it and Mark and I will be your two newest best friends. Read more and be sure to watch the videos.

22
Jan

Almost $1M for an AMC

I’m a pretty happy AMC fan this morning!

gooding & company, gooding's auctions, amx 3, american motors, amx, amc

Photo: Gooding & Company

That’s because last night at the Gooding & Company auction in Scottsdale, AZ  this AMX 3 sold for $891,000 setting a new world record price for an American Motors creation. More than other cars in the auction like a 1935 Auburn 851 SC Boattail Speedster which sold for $693,000 but not as high as the top seller, a 1925 Bugatti Type 35 Grand Prix hammering for $3,300,000. Read more »

22
Jan

Die-cast: Replicarz’s 1968 STP Chevy C10 & tandem race trailer

Truck, trailer and ‘Mr. 500’ make racy display …Replicarz Chevy pickup, trailer

Collectors who like to create scenes for displaying their models will be thrilled by three new items from Replicarz, a 1968 Chevy C10 pickup and tandem race trailer, plus a figure of Andy Granatelli. All are sold separately, so you can create your own diorama to fit your display needs.

Best of all, these are all in STP trim, which means the shocking Day-Glo Orange that STP used on so many of its sponsored racers in the 1960s and 1970s. In fact, Replicarz has created at least four Indy Cars that fit the trailer and time period. There’s the new Paxton STP Turbine model, Mario Andretti’s 1969 Indy 500 winner along with the 1973 Eagles of winner Gordon Johncock and his teammate, Swede Savage.

The History

Unlike today when race teams haul their cars and other equipment to racetracks across the country in giant semi-trailers that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, in the 1960s and 1970s, many teams still used a pickup and trailer. Some even stuck with station wagons and trailers until about 1980.Chevy C10 and Andy Granatelli

The Chevrolet C10 pickup was standard fare and would easily pull a tandem trailer and car from say, Indianapolis to Milwaukee, Wis., or Trenton, N.J. you could pile your tools and extra parts in the truck bed and put spare tires on the trailer’s front rack and be on your way. Read more »

20
Jan

2017 Kia Cadenza Limited

Kia’s Cadenza delivers luxury economically … 2017 Kia Cadenza

Back when I was kid in the 1960s and ‘70s a large luxury sedan meant a Buick, Lincoln, or certainly a Cadillac.

Today, nearly every car maker has a large luxury model, some on the sporty side, but more favoring the luxury end, emphasizing smoothness and quietness. As us Boomers age, both sound pretty good. But we’ve been smitten with SUVs and crossovers, so the big sedan market has languished, shrunk like cotton elephant bell jeans that went through the wash too many times.

Into this market Kia re-introduces its Cadenza, a large luxury sedan that falls between its even larger K900 and its popular mid-size Optima. Competitors include the likes of Chevy’s Impala, Toyota’s Avalon, Ford’s Taurus and Dodge’s Charger, one that definitely falls more in the sport sedan category.

I praised the first gen Cadenza for nearly everything but its ride. Consumers met it with a yawn. The revamped 2017 model should receive cheers from Boomers who like soft leather seats, a supple ride, excellent power and all the electronics we’ve grown to expect in a car, especially one starting north of $40 grand.2017 Kia Cadenza

Before that figure scares you off, consider the base Premium model (see what they did there with naming?) starts at a reasonable $32,890 and the Technology model at $39,890. Both include delivery and both have all the same mechanicals as the tested top-level Limited, which lists at $45,290 with only a pittance of options even available beyond that. Read more »

15
Jan

Die-cast: Chevy Corvette C7 Z06

Autoart creates a stellar Corvette C7 Z06 …Autoart Chevrolet Corvette C7 Z06

Vettes are cool even if their current buyers are skewing gray and retired.

Still, you gotta have a little coin to own a new Vette, especially the Z06 model, one of the racier versions. A new one will cost you $79,500, so that’s why Autoart’s 1/18 scale version seems so reasonable at $160. Plus this one won’t run up your insurance payment of deplete your monthly fuel allowance!

Autoart now has several color choices in the newest Chevrolet Corvette, the C7, in Z06 trim. Our test model was a brilliant medium metallic blue. Some might call it electric blue.

The History

We all know the story. Chevy launched Corvette, a two-seat sports car in 1953. It was underpowered and not a big hit initially. But as its power grew, and its refinement with it, the Vette became a go-to car for club racers across North America and then serious racers who put what are now high-horse beasts, through their paces at the 24 Hours of LeMans in France.Autoart Chevrolet Corvette C7 Z06

Now in its seventh generation, the C7 is as refined, yet racy as any street-legal sports car out there, and a darn sight less pricey than many. The C7 debuted as a 2014 model and rumors persist that the next version will be mid-engine powered, but the C7 already abandoned Corvette’s roll-away headlights. Read more »

13
Jan

2017 Toyota Corolla XSE

Toyota Corolla still running strong 50 years on …2017 Toyota Corolla

Like Energizer’s bunny, Toyota’s Corolla just keeps on running through the generations and has succeeded like no other car model. It’s now 50-year run has resulted in more than 40 million Corollas being sold, most of any model.

That’s more than the VW Beetle, the other long-term, low-cost people’s car. Corolla really owns that title now. Everyone has either owned one, or had a kid that owned one, or an aunt, uncle, step-child or, well, a family member that has owned one.

Full disclosure, our family bought a new Corolla in 1983 when we had a 2-year-old and a second child on the way. It was reliable (we wisely decided against a Chrysler K car and Renault Alliance), economical, came with a stick-shift to help us save fuel and had a big enough trunk to hold a highchair and loads of diapers for trips to the grandparents.

Today’s new Corolla furthers that high value statement while remaining highly reliable and actually a bit more stylish than in years past. Toyota has put some effort into styling the last few years and so the 2017 Corolla is more than just an econobox. It looks good and drives well while remaining affordable and economical to run.2017 Toyota Corolla

Let’s start with price. That’s what most of us think of as relating to value.

A base Corolla L starts at $19,365 and the tested top-level XSE lists at $22,680, plus $865 delivery. A few other brands have similarly priced models that drive a bit sportier, but Corolla comes with most everything a buyer would want, plus is laden with the latest safety equipment. Read more

11
Jan

More Mopar muscle!!!!!

Because what engine comes with the vehicle is never enough

hellcat jeep engine conversion, jeep wrangler, dodge hellcat

Photos: Dakota Customs

I’ve been doing some research about installing a turbo on my 2015 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited. Sure it has enough grunt, lots more than our 2011 anyway, but how about a little more. But then I found the ultimate in a power upgrade, a supercharged 6.2-liter V-8 Hellcat engine! There’s a company I came across, Dakota Customs based in Rapid City, South Dakota where you can buy your very own Hellcat-powered Wrangler. What a hoot this would be. It’s still the same Hellcat that comes in the Dodge Charger and Challenger, 707 hp and 650 pounds-feet of torque. Man that for sure would get that big stump I have in my yard out. Read more »

10
Jan

Die-cast: Auto World’s 1968 Olds Cutlass 442 W-30

Olds’ Cutlass 442 was a beautiful beast …Auto World Oldsmobile Cutlass S

One of the cars I learned to drive on was our family’s 1969 Oldsmobile Cutlass S – no power steering and a big throbbing V8 under its long hood. The car was a beast, but beautiful dressed in its Aztec Gold paint scheme.

For that matter, the Cutlass was one of the best-looking muscle cars of the late 1960s and early ‘70s, pacing the Indianapolis 500 three times between 1970 and ’74. (Remember the Hurst Shifter girl? You know you do!)

So when Auto World announced it would reproduce the 1968 442 W-30 model it made a lot of sense. Thank goodness they did their 1/18 scale die-cast model in a beautiful deep gold, known officially at the time as Cinnamon Bronze, with white 442 accent stripe and white interior. Sharp!Auto World Oldsmobile Cutlass S

The History

For 1968 the 442 was its own model, but it had begun back in 1964 as a $285 option package on both the F-85 and Cutlass models. Originally it was listed as the 4-4-2 package because it referred to adding a four-barrel carburetor, four-speed manual transmission and dual exhausts. Clever!Auto World Oldsmobile Cutlass S

It was a response to crafty Pontiac pumping the performance of its LeMans model, a cousin to the intermediate-sized Olds F-85. Pontiac dubbed it the GTO, and the rest is history. Read more »

6
Jan

Die-cast: CMC’s 1934-’38 Mercedes-Benz race car transporter

CMC creates a breathtaking Mercedes racer transport …CMC Mercedes-Benz race car transport

OMG, the detail here is incredible, breathtaking. Put this in a case, atop a desk, in any room and it’ll be the center of all conversations. Put one of CMC’s 1930s Mercedes race cars on it and, well, folks will be speechless.

CMC is known for nailing the details in all of its vintage racers, European cars and now, trucks. This Mercedes-Benz LKW L0 2750 is phenomenal, and particularly attractive because it ties in to a number of Mercedes racers CMC already has produced. This is the Mercedes transport that carried its dominant Silver Arrows racers, the W25, W125, W154 and W165, to and from European racetracks in the 1930s.

Like the rest of CMC’s lineup, the truck is 1/18 scale and features 2,365 parts, of which CMC says 1,991 are metal. I believe it as there are even metal rivets holding wooden planks in the truck bed in place. Not surprisingly, this hand-made transport carries a lofty price of $764, so it’s not for everyone. But we all wish we could own one.CMC Mercedes-Benz race car transport

The History

Suffice it to say this 2.75-ton truck was around for a lot of Mercedes‘ early racing history, which is why CMC recreated it. These were specially built rigid steel-framed trucks to carry the racers and had a low floor with sides and tail that flipped down for easier loading, and viewing. Thin metal ramps were attached to the tail to aid loading. Read more »

5
Jan

2017 Lexus LX 570

Pilot wannabes will like button-happy Lexus LX 570 …2017 Lexus LX 570

If you’ve always dreamed of being an airline pilot, but never got the training, you should try landing the new Lexus LX 570.

Lexus has created a cockpit fit for a pilot wanna-be with buttons galore. About the only thing missing is an altimeter.

Here’s a quick count of what you’ll get for nearly $100 grand. The center stack has 15 buttons plus four temperature control buttons, and two knobs for the radio. The console features 11 buttons, two toggles, and two knobs, plus a small park brake lever.

Need more? Oh there’s more. The power adjusted tilt/telescope steering wheel’s hub has 10 buttons, plus a 4-way directional pad and there’s a cruise control stalk behind the wheel. There are another 8 buttons on the dash’s face, plus the start button. Ironically the foot-wide screen atop the dash is not a touchscreen, but controlled by Lexus’s awkward and touchy mouse pad on the console.

If ever there were an argument for an autonomous car, this would be the starting point.2017 Lexus LX 570

Once you’ve mastered the maze of buttons, toggles and screen controls you’ll find the LX570 is the luxury version of Toyota’s Land Cruiser, a big beast of an SUV with serious off-roading capability. It has a wheelbase of 112.2 inches and is a full 199.4 inches long. The Lexus weighs in at a stout 6,000 lbs., but will tow 7,000. Read more

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