Pickups used to be for farmers, builders and such, tradesmen if you will. That was before we all decided we need pickups just to drive around town taller than the rest of the world and to haul sod, peat moss and soccer players on weekends.
Well Chrysler, under the guise of its truck brand, Ram, thought tradesmen needed a good solid low-cost truck. Voila! The 2012 Ram 1500 Tradesman 4X4 in basic white, the most popular color for vehicles in the U.S. market.
This is a bare bones workers truck with standard cab and comes with a 4.7-liter, 310-horse V8. Base price for a 2-wheel drive standard cab pickup, with RamBox cargo system is $22,125. An even more basic model without the RamBox system, which entails two giant toolbox bins built into each side of the cargo bed, is $21,125 and that’s with a 6-foot 4-inch bed that’ll hold a sheet of plywood. Continue reading 2012 Ram 1500 Tradesman 4×4→
W25 dominates die-cast like real racer did the track
Before WWII and before Formula 1 racing there was the European Championship with major European automakers like Alfa Romeo, Auto Union, Maserati, Bugatti and later Ferrari. But in 1934 Mercedes-Benz jumped into the fray with its W25 racer and by 1935, after a year of development, the W25 was dominant.
The silver racer’s inline 8-cylinder engine boasted up to a monstrous, for the time, 430 horsepower and the team featured three top drivers, Rudolf Caracciola, Manfred von Brauchitsch and Luigi Fagioli. Caracciola would win six of the 11 races in 1935 and become European Champion. Fagioli won the lead-off Monaco Grand Prix and two others that season. Continue reading Die-cast: 1935 Mercedes-Benz W25 racer→
Let’s start with a bit of trivia first. What TV show did Studebaker sponsor? I’ll start singing the theme. Ooops, forgot you wouldn’t be able to hear me. By the way, I do know all the words. One clue. Alan Young f was the star, at least the two legged one. Give up? It was one of my favorite old shows, Mr. Ed. You know, a horse is a course of course of course. Ok, I’ll stop now. Do go and check out this commercial I found. I like Studebakers, maybe because like AMC, their cars are now orphans. Again like AMC, they had to compete against the Big 3 with limited assets. Also like AMC, their collectors are total geek about their cars as they should be. Their reputation was one of well-built cars but ran into trouble trying to go up against the Big 3 in a pricing war in the early 50’s. The independents only hope was seen as a merger of Studebaker, Packard, Hudson, and Nash into a third giant combine. This had been unsuccessfully attempted by George W. Mason. In this scheme, Studebaker had the disadvantage that its South Bend location would make centralization difficult and its labor costs were also the highest in the industry. What eventually happened was a merger with Packard but it made no difference. The last cars rolled out of the South Bend plant in 1964 and two years later at their Canadian operations.
They had one car in the hopper for 1964, this cool looking Spectre prototype was built in metal by Sibona-Bassano of Torino, Italy. It was a 2-door, 5- place coupe and destined to be the pattern for a 4 door family sedan and a 8-passenger station wagon. Brooks Stevens had been hired to do design work for Studebaker in its waning days and even though the company had few resources to devote to product development, Stevens managed to come up with some extremely innovative concepts. The Sceptre could have been Studebaker’s flagship car had it been introduced in 1966 as Stevens envisioned. It boasted a bevy of advanced features including full-width lighting in front using a system developed by Sylvania and fully adjustable instrumentation that could be configured almost any way the driver wished.
Some of the cars which did make it off the line were cool. My favorite is the Avanti, which is still being made by another company, the Gran Turismo Hawk, and the later Hawks which were designed by Brooks Stevens. I’ve seen 1963 Avantis going for $30,000. I found a Grand Turismo Hawk on eBay for $37,000 The sedan Larks are much more affordable, under $20,000, except for the convertibles.
Because of those prices, which are out of reach for a lot of us, there are the promo models. The ones that I found, a couple of Hawks, and a Lark Convertible, were all very affordable. You will find the later models have little or no warp so it’s going to be difficult finding an older one in perfect shape. These are great little gems from a time gone by. After you buy a promo model, all you need is a Mr. Ed model standing right next to it.
Luxury always has its price and for Cadillac, that price is $60,385 for its new XTS sedan.
Don’t gasp, that’s nowhere near where the price for luxury starts, nor where many other midsize luxury sedans end up. This one added but a $920 delivery charge to end up at $61,305, yet it’s still loaded with enough electronic goodies to give Bill Gates a headache.
First, the XTS is Cadillac’s new top-level sedan, replacing, in a way, the bigger DTS and more similarly sized STS. This one rides on a 111.7-inch wheelbase, is 202 inches long and weighs in at 4,215 lbs. By comparison a Lexus GS350 sedan tested earlier this year is roughly the same size, weighs about 250 lbs. less and costs just $1,500 less. So XTS is right in the gated neighborhood it wants to occupy.
This graphite gray metallic test car was the uppermost AWD Platinum model, so it has the advantage of all-wheel drive. A “base” front-drive XTS starts at $44,075 and a Luxury version that adds AWD begins at $50,915. So less expensive models are available. Continue reading 2013 Cadillac XTS AWD Platinum→
Smaller hybrid easy on gas, hard to get out of its own way
The new Toyota Prius C is what most folks think of when they imagine a hybrid car.
They think of an extremely small car that gets great gas mileage, but has a hard time getting out of its own way. But unlike many hybrids, the original Prius’s smaller cousin also comes with a smaller, more entry-level price, the base C One starting at $18,950 and the tested C Two starting at $19,900. That’s about $4,000 less than many hybrids, including the Prius II that is about 19 inches longer too.
The C looks more like a Honda Fit, which is to say it’s sort of pointy-nosed cute with a lot of glass and bathed in a bright red paint job, the test car looked fun and spritely. Certainly its handling is light and accurate enough to be rated spritely, but its power, its acceleration skews toward methodical. And that’s after Prius C dropped about 500 lbs. from that of the original hybrid. Continue reading 2012 Toyota Prius C Two→
No secret, I’m an Indy 500 nut job. Love the cars, love the history, love all the wild crazy designs over the years. I also love die-cast models of historic Indy racers.
Don’t want to brag here, but I’ve got some sneak peak shots of the Replicarz 1:18 Marmon Wasp model that should be released in the next several months.The Wasp, with its distinctive yellow color and pointed tail (wonder how it got the “wasp” nickname?), was the only single-seat car in the inaugural 1911 Indianapolis 500. And Ray Harroun, a Marmon test driver and racer, won that rough and tumble first race for the Indianapolis-based car maker. Continue reading 1911 Indy 500 winning Marmon Wasp→
The rarest of the rare for both the real deal and the promo model
I track a lot of auctions both on eBay and some of the others specific to promo models. This weekend, on eBay, I was watching a ’69 Dodge Coronet 500 convertible with bidding in 4 figures, something I have not seen in a long time. While waiting for the auction to end, I started checking into the real deal as I get excited about rare cars.
In 1949, Dodge introduced the Dodge Coronet, a full-size car. The Dodge Coronet was initially Dodge’s highest trim line car although from 1955, but then became the lowest trim line. During the 1960s, Dodge Coronet name was moved to Dodge’s mid-size entry. Dodge made eight generations of the Dodge Coronet which ran from 1949 to 1976. It was placed just above the Plymouth line in the Chrysler lineup. Continue reading Promo model: 1969 Dodge Coronet 500 Convertible→