Tag Archives: Corvette

2022 Jaguar F-Type P450 Convertible

Curvy F-Type’s V8 growls, but for a price, eh guv …

I’m not here to tell you how to spend your hard-earned bonuses or stock options but if you yearn for power, prestige, and eye-popping styling the folks at Jaguar have a V8 powered suggestion.

Its aging F-Type is a triple threat on the above and one look will tell you the eye doctor would prefer you put on blinders. The tested Caldera Red F-Type P450 Convertible displays sinuous lines and haunches that either remind you of its namesake or make you blush.

The P450 is new for 2022 as Jag, a longtime Brit-built performance prestige brand, decided to turn its tail on conventional wisdom and drop its turbocharged 4- and 6-cylinder engines.

Nope, just good ol’ throaty V8 power here to push the rear-drive sports car up to, and well beyond highway speeds. Car and Driver magazine says this model will clip off 0 to 60 mph in 4.0 seconds with a top speed of 177 mph. Pretty darned quick, eh guv?

And if you prefer more burble and pop when you tromp the accelerator or back off for a tight corner, there’s a button on the console to acoustically boost the exhaust note, or when off, slightly calm it. The neighbors agree that’s the setting they prefer.

The 5.0-liter supercharged V8 with aluminum block and heads will create 444 horsepower and a 428 torque rating when fed premium petrol, accounting for its impressive acceleration via a fine 8-speed automatic. But, and you knew one was coming, you COULD get 575 horsepower and raise a royal ruckus by moving up to the top-level F-Type R model.

That requires selling a bit more stock though. The tested F-Type P450 lists at $74,150 while an AWD P450 Dynamic tips the scales at $84,275. The R? Well, in either coupe or convertible (both available in all trims) it begins just short of $110,000.

Being a short-wheelbase, rear-drive two-seater the F-Type handles well, with keen cornering and a sporty flair, but without full-on sports car steering feedback. The electric power steering assist seems to ease steering effort, yet it’s still fun to toss into tight turns and chop off the apexes along a winding country road. A Dynamic drive mode also firms steering effort and suspension feel.

Its racy 20-inch Pirelli P Zero performance tires add grip on warm days, but six of the seven test days I dealt with cool, wet, and windy conditions, even enjoying our first trace of snow one day. That’s not great for traction, so all-weather tires would help if driving in the northern climes after mid-October.

Watch Mark’s video: 2022 Jaguar F Type P450 Convertible review by Mark Savage – YouTube

The big tires and the sport suspension that Jaguar uses here with control arms up front and a multi-link in back deliver an overly firm ride, which is not bad on the freeway, where I spent much of my time. But around town, the expansion joints and pot holes shake the Jag a bit.

Braking is fine though and painting the calipers red only adds $550 to the bottom line.

Exterior styling speaks for itself and the interior is attractive, but feels cramped due to an extremely wide center console. Plus the F-Type, first introduced in 2013, hasn’t changed all that much in here beyond adding some additional electronics.

This tester wore black leather all around with red stitching in the seats, along the dash and in the door panels. Looks sharp and feels fine too, but that console pressed pretty tight to a driver’s right leg and could become a bother over a long haul.

Trim is a smoked chrome that somewhat resembles carbon fiber and the steering wheel hub, door control inserts and air vents are a satin chrome.

An overly tall instrument gauge binnacle feels like it limits the driver’s front view, at least for short drivers. Meanwhile the info screen mid-dash is wide enough, but narrow top to bottom, so seems smaller than it is. Functionality was ok for the touchscreen, but a few items, like the map, weren’t intuitive initially.

Seats are extremely supportive with aggressive side bolsters and were upgraded Windsor leather performance models, so added $1,650 to the cost. Making them 12-way power numbers that also were heated and cooled tacked on $1,800 more.

Not a fan of how one must press in the large temperature control knobs, which are great for temp control, but then must be adjusted for the heated and cooled seats with a further click or three. Additionally, the fan noise for heating and cooling the seats was overwrought, sort of like turning on a small food processor just behind your seat.

The info screen is wide, but narrow.

I should note too that this model already had added a $2,000 luxury package that upgraded leather once and included premium overhead lighting and illuminated the kick plates. The overhead lights above the mirrors needed just the slightest touch to turn on, much needed at night in a black cockpit.

Standard safety equipment is well represented, but does not include a blind-spot assist or rear traffic monitor. That costs $550 extra but seems it should be standard like the parking sensors, lane-keep assist, and emergency braking. Smart cruise control also wasn’t standard, which I found out abruptly on the freeway as I closed in quickly on slow moving trucks even though cruise was engaged.

The test car went with a tan cloth top. I think I’d prefer black.

Pluses included a wireless charger and power tilt/telescope steering wheel, although it was not a flat-bottom wheel which would have increased knee room and helped lighten up the closeness of the interior. Also the wheel isn’t heated, an oversight in our climate.

The tan cloth ($650 extra) power top functions well and is easily engaged via a console button. Note that there is a fair amount of noise that still infiltrates the top, whereas a hard-top convertible, such as with Mazda’s MX-5 (Miata), would normally be quieter. Road noise from the tires also was considerable, so a highway drive is not conducive to easy conversation with a significant other or friend.

A few drawbacks to consider. Naturally there’s little cargo room, this being a convertible and all. Just 7 cubic feet of trunk space and not all flat space either, so a couple small overnight backs or briefcases would fit, but certainly not golf clubs.

Sun visors are absolutely miniscule too and oddly the push-button entry and fob add $500, which seems petty when a car lists at $75 grand.

Gas mileage is respectable for a V8-powered sports car, the EPA rating it at 17 mpg city and 24 highway. But I managed 25.4 mpg in about 80% highway driving, and yes, this drinks premium. But premium gas prices are not a concern once you’ve liquidated your holdings.

A look at the stylish door trim as it blends to the dash.

With all the add-ons the test car revved up to $84,350, which puts this in a price class with such hot rods at Chevy’s new rear-engine Corvette and Porsche 718 Boxster and Cayenne sportsters. All of those have a lower entry fee. Heck, the Corvette could be loaded and pack more power for the Jag’s out-the-door price.

Penny or pound pinchers should note that at least two or three great options exist. The Toyota GR Supra and Nissan Z Performance that I’ve tested would suffice and save a buyer tens of thousands of dollars as they start in the low $40,000 range. You give up some power and prestige, but blimey, you save serious coin.

Quad pipes gives the V8 a throaty sound.

For even less Mazda’s Miata with a power hardtop convertible is a fun drive, just not as bleeping powerful.

Such choices mostly depend on whether you’re a king or a commoner.

FAST STATS: 2022 Jaguar F-Type P450 Convertible

Hits: Stylish 2-seat convertible w/power top, excellent power, balanced handling, good brakes, nice throaty V8 sound. Good supportive seats, heated/cooled seats, wireless charger, big temp dials, power tilt/telescope wheel, solid safety systems.

Misses: Over firm ride, tight cockpit due to wide console, considerable road noise, no heated steering wheel and no flat-bottom wheel, no smart cruise control, narrow info screen, heated/cooled seat fans quite noisy, little cargo room, miniscule sun visors, blind-spot warning system costs extra, and prefers premium fuel.

The leaping Jag logo jumps along the F-Type’s sides.

Made in: Castle Bromwich, U.K.

Engine: 5.0-liter supercharged V8, 444 hp/428 torque

Transmission: 8-speed automatic

Weight: 3,953 lbs.

Wheelbase: 103.2 in.

Length: 176 in.

Cargo: 7.0 cu.ft.

A snazzy Jag head graces the grille!

MPG: 17/24

MPG: 25.4 (tested)

Base Price: $74,150 (includes delivery)

Invoice: $69,895

Major Options:

Interior luxury package (leather upgrade, premium cabin lighting, illuminated kick plates), $2,000

Blind-spot assist/rear traffic monitor, $550

12-way power heat/cool seats, $1,800

Ebony Windsor leather performance seats, $1,650

Black exterior pack, $1,100

Meridian surround sound system w/770 watts, $900

Beige power top, $650

Red brake calipers, $550

Keyless entry, $500

Auto-dimming heated power door mirrors, $400

Air quality sensor, $100

Test vehicle: $84,350

Sources: Jaguar, www.kbb.com

Photos: Mark Savage

#Jaguar

#Jaguar F-Type

2023 Nissan Z Performance

Z (it’s only Z now) nails modern, yet retro, looks and power …

Not many car lines go all the way to Z.

But Nissan has been going all the way since 1969 when it launched the Datsun 240Z its long-hooded sports car for the rest of us. I thought of it as a mini-Corvette at the time and, well, I still do.

In fact, Nissan’s relaunched 2023 version, now just called Z, has a nose that reflects both past and present Corvettes with its sleek pointy snout. Yet the new model has been smoothed and the hatch roofline slimmed to give the care a sleeker look. The Z also has been powered up with a 400-horse twin-turbo V6 and given a spiffy new digital-laden interior to bring it in line with today’s usual electronic wizardry.

My pre-production test car (dealers are to get theirs soon) was a stunning Seiran Blue Metallic with black roof, that two-tone paint scheme adding $1,295 to the sticker. But if ever I’d pay extra for paint, this may do it. Folks looked, some gave a thumbs up, others came out of their houses to see it up close at the curb. No doubt Nissan nailed the modern, yet retro, styling.

No pretense of this being a family car or carrying more than two as there are just two seats here and a long cargo area under a glassy hatch, but still just minor cargo space. Again, there will just be two of you with a suitcase each and Z accommodates that. Golfers may have to make other arrangements and forgo a hand cart.

Styling aside, and that’s hard to even say, the tested Z Performance was a well-controlled rocket with those 400 rear-wheel-driving horses pushing this up and down highway entry ramps like it was heading out of the pits at Road America. Heck, it just might!

Watch Mark’s video: Mark Savage reviews the 2023 Z Car – YouTube

Unlike almost any other sports car the Z comes standard with a 6-speed manual, otherwise known as a standard transmission or stick shift. Younger drivers may not be aware, but this is the way many vehicles used to arrive, an automatic tranny costing extra. Ironically, today’s automatics (a 9-speed is optional) now get better fuel economy than the manuals, but that’s another issue.

The stick is fun and easy to slide between the gears, although the throws are longer than I had anticipated. Mazda’s Miata still has the shortest throws I’ve encountered, but this works nicely and the clutch is moderately weighted so not a leg cramper in stop-and-go traffic. My one initial concern was how hard I had to push the shifter down to slide it far right for reverse. I got used to it.

Also need to mention that there’s a SynchroRev Match system here to blip the engine and match its revs to the gear you’ve selected. So as you downshift into a corner that sweet burp of the engine lets your passenger know you’re a legit road racer. Thanks techies!

Nissan’s twin-turbo 3.0-liter engine is stout and smooth. It feels strong as you slip through the gears and can easily lead to tire squawks. This had low-pro performance 19-inch tires that gripped the road like crazy until we had an early fall monsoon. Shifting early to maintain traction was needed in the wet. All-season tires would help, but then you lose performance and, well, Performance is this model’s last name.

Handling as insinuated above was sports car fun, meaning responsive. Wheel feel is moderate and this steering wheel is wrapped in leather, as is the shift knob. The Nissan Z is well-balanced with neutral handling. I’ve heard some say it’s too easy to swing its tail, but until it rained I was having no issues.

Ride is firm as you’d expect in a car of just 100-inch wheelbase. Plus the Performance model adds a sportier tuned suspension, so if like me you prefer a bit softer ride (I’m 60+) then the standard Z may be a more comforting choice, plus it will save you some dough.

Z’s brakes also deserve a mention here. The Performance trim gets enhanced brakes with red calipers with Nissan labeling. Front and rear discs are vented 14 and 13.8 inchers, so stopping distance and quickness is awesome. I suspect the standard brakes aren’t too shabby either.

Inside Nissan designers have created a very comfy, livable interior that would allow for long highway jaunts.

The digital dash is clean and the 9-inch touchscreen (8-inch is standard) is big enough but not overpowering, plus simple to use. I had no issues and the Bose sound system is solid too.

Interior styling and the comfy seats likely will dazzle most riders though.

First, this one featured blue leather seats and blue dash and door trim under a soft black dash top. Door inserts are suede trimmed in leather and the seats feature a suede center section that’s perforated.

Console and dash are basically a matte black so no nasty sun reflections here, something other car makers could learn from. That console is trimmed in blue leather to add visual pop too.

Retro gauges, but more useful ones would be a help!

Atop the dash for a retro look are three gauges that might matter if you were racing as they tell Boost, Turbo Speedm and Volts. I’d challenge most folks to know what voltage their car should be showing on a gauge (about 14 here) and as long as I can feel the turbo boost I’m not sure I need a number placed on it. So while I appreciate the retro look, I’d say substitute more useful info such as a fuel gauge or clock.

Nissan’s performance seats are beautifully sculpted and fitted to encircle the driver and passenger so they don’t slide about, or even move, when the car is rocketing around tight rural highway twisties, or during a track day. Shorter folks may find these a bit too confining, but I loved the seats, which are partially powered. That’s right, there are two power buttons on the inside edge (toward the console) of the seat. These control fore and aft movement and the seat back’s angle. Takes a bit to get used to the location, but I did within a week.

The power seat controls are on the inside seat edge.

On the left side are manual controls to adjust the seat bottom’s angle and a height adjustment for the rear of the seat bottom. I’d like it to go just a tad higher, but I’m just 5-5. Nissan heats the seats too.

The Z’s steering wheel is a manual tilt/telescope model, but round and not heated. I’d prefer a flat-bottom wheel in any sports car and especially to create more knee room when one is shifting a manual and also when exiting. I found too that unless I could open the door to its maximum sweep I had trouble getting my right foot clear of its edge when getting out.

A couple other issues to consider inside. First, the cup holders are so far back on the console they are difficult to use, although easier for long-legged drivers who may position the seat all the way back. The storage box there also is way behind the elbow, but then again, this is a two-seater and space is limited, especially with a manual shift lever on the console.

There also is no wireless phone charger in the tray under the center stack, just a nice spot to lay your phone. And while I know this is a sports car with a throaty growl, road noise, especially on cement, can make listening to the radio a bit of a chore.

That hatch opens wide, but the cargo bay is mighty shallow.

I did like the three climate control dials, all of which can be set to automatic for fan speed, temperature and the directional. Nice!

Safety features are solid here too with smart cruise control, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, a lane departure warning, and blind-spot monitor.

Fuel economy is nothing special, but you’re buying this for power, not efficiency. The EPA rates Nissan’s Z at 18 mpg city and 24 highway for the manual version and I got 22.8 mpg in a mix of city and highway. And yes, this drinks premium fuel.

Note that the automatic is rated better at 19 mpg city and 28 mpg highway.

Big disc brakes with red calipers confirm this is a sports car!

Pricing?

The base level Nissan Z is an absolute bargain for power, looks and handling, starting at $41,015, including delivery. So think of it as 400 hp for $40k. There are two more levels though, and these push the envelope a bit, exceeding $50k.

The tested Performance model starts at $51,015 with delivery and ended up at $53,210 adding just the snazzy paint job, illuminated kick plates ($500), and floor mats ($400). The top level Proto Spec lists at $54,015.

Z epitomizes modern fastback style sports car and is an automotive icon. At its base price it’s extremely attractive. Move up to the higher versions and you’re in the Audi TT and BMW Z4 range. So at that level you may just want to consider a Kia Stinger or Ford Mustang and get a rear seat to boot!

FAST STATS: 2023 Nissan Z Performance

Hits: Stylish 2-seater, excellent power, balanced neutral handling, good brakes, slick stick shift. Excellent seat comfort, heated seats, automatic climate control dials, good info screen size and function and good level of safety devices.

Misses: Firm ride, considerable road noise at highway speeds, tough exit when door isn’t 100% opened, awkward cup holder placement, no heated steering wheel, no flat-bottom wheel, long shift throws, no wireless charger, little cargo room and premium fuel preferred.

Snazzy door handle styling on the Z!

Made in: Japan

Engine: 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6, 400 hp/350 torque

Transmission: 6-speed manual

Weight: 3,507 lbs.

Wheelbase: 100.4 in.

Length: 172.4 in.

Cargo: 7.0 cu.ft.

MPG: 18/24

MPG: 22.8 (tested)

Base Price: $51,015 (includes delivery)

Invoice: N.A.

Major Options:

Illuminated kick plates, $500

Two-tone paint, $1,295

Floor mats, $400

Test vehicle: $53,210

Sources: Nissan, www.kbb.com

Photos: Mark Savage

#Nissan Z

#Z car

#Nissan

2022 Cars & Guitars Show

Green Bay car show packs in everything from Vettes to Rovers …

This 1958 Chevy 310 Apache is as sharp, or sharper than the day it drove off the showroom floor.

Summer is car show season and it’s a short season in Wisconsin, so buddy and videographer Paul Daniel and I hit the Cars & Guitars show in Green Bay recently.

The awesome Automobile Gallery on Crooks Street in downtown Green Bay sponsors and organizes the show, which is limited to 400 cars, many by invitation. But the show includes everything from current Dodge Challengers and Chevy Corvettes to snazzy 1950s lead sleds and everything in between.

Old Rovers are the coolest Rovers as this 1969 model proves.

Ferrari? Yes there was one! Ancient Land Rover? Yes again.

Plus many, many Mustangs, Firebirds, Camaros and Vettes of all ages and descriptions. Paul will be doing a video of one special car soon. But we wanted to post up some of the unique cars, truck and images from the show. So here goes!

Enjoy, and next year mark your calendar for the Saturday of Father’s Day weekend. And thanks to The Automobile Gallery’s PR guru, executive director, and walking car encyclopedia, Darrel Burnett for showing us around. … and the Guitars? Oh, that’s the super music the show puts on stage behind the museum and that can be heard all the way to the far end of the outdoor show area!

Note too that there are about 90 cars and trucks displayed regularly at the museum, some pretty incredible and special stuff too, including an early Electric back when gas, electric and steam were all being tried out for propulsion. The cars rotate through as some are owned by the museum and others on loan, permanent and otherwise.

So a great day outing and you could even stop and see a big football stadium when in the neighborhood, OR take the kids to Bay Beach.

Watch for some special Car Spots coming soon from Paul. Oh, and which car or truck that you see here would YOU like to own?

Car Spot: Chevy SSR

A craft vehicle from Chevy that never took off

In the early 2000’s it seems that just about every manufacturer was into the retro movement. There was the Mini Cooper, new VW Bug, and PT Cruiser. One of Chevy’s entry was the SSR which stood for Super Sport Roadster.

Introduced in 2003 on New Year’s Eve, Chevy had big plans. It was built for speed and used GM’s 5.3 L 300 hp Vortec V8 making it go from 0-60 in 7.7 seconds with a 15.9 second quarter mile run at 86.4 mph. In 2005 the upped the hp to 390 by using the LS2 V8, the same engine found in the C6 Corvette. It was mated to a six-speed manual taking the 0-60 time down to 5.29 seconds. It also came with all the luxo items available at the time.

The manufacturing process was unusual to say the least. It rode on a GM368 platform specific to it, and featured a steel body retractable hardtop designed by Karmann and built by ASC. The front fenders, were made with deep draw stampings, a forming technique that had not been used in automotive stampings in decades. It sold for around 42 hundred bucks.

Despite heavy promotion, it was the 2003 Indy 500 Pace Car, it never sold well. On November 21, 2005, GM announced that it would close the Craft Center, where the vehicle was built, in mid-2006, and that was the end for the SSR. The final SSR, a unique black-on-silver model, was built on March 17, 2006. Total production was just 24,112.

Like the Cadillac Allante I shared a couple of weeks ago, the long term prospects for this GM oddball probably aren’t great. Giving it any juice right now is interest from retirement-age guys like me but the younger buyers, not so much. Even with a six-speed it’s not rare enough. So what are they going for now? According to the Hagerty Price Guide they are selling for slightly over their original sticker and the 2005 and 2006 LS2-powered SSR are the most desirable. It you’re looking for one of the 2,200 sold with a six-speed you’ll need to add, and in an extra 5 grand. I kind of like it because of its quirky design and how it stands out. I mean look, I saw this one in a grocery store parking lot next to the mundane SUVs and pick up trucks.

Thanks for stopping by and be sure to check back next Friday for another one of my car spots. Have a great weekend.

1957 Chevrolet Bel Air Convertible

Auto World launches its first Barbie Bel Air in 1:18 scale …

Turquoise and pink certainly team up to shout 1950s car fashion, but in this case they also scream Barbie dream car.

I’m no Barbie expert (no sisters), but I do know that the bosomy blonde doll has been partial to brightly colored cars through the years, from Corvettes to Campers. And although the iconic toy doll debuted in 1959, it took until 1988 before maker Mattel slipped her behind the wheel of a 1950s American classic, a 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air Convertible.

This was the original plastic Mattel Barbie Bel Air.

 Well, that classic was plastic, and not very detailed. Now comes an eye-popping die-cast metal version from Auto World, which makes dozens of 1950s-1970s muscle cars and other vintage automotive icons. The same quality and attention to detail as in its other cars and trucks is present in this Barbie special, being marketed under its Silver Screen Machines category as the “Coolest car in town!”

Indeed, Barbie has driven a lot of cars from an Austin Healey early on to Ferraris and the ’57 Chevy. All have been various shades of pink, with other bright colors mixed in. But mostly Barbie is seems a girly girl, so pink drives her world.

Auto World knows that, so it will offer two 1:18 Bel Air convertibles, the first out being a turquoise and chrome stunner with a Pepto pink interior. Trust me, this one will stand out in any die-cast collection. Later (as if this isn’t eye-melting enough) Auto World plans to release a bright pink version. I’d stick with turquoise, which was a popular Chevy color back in the day.

Here’s what you get.

The Model

               Like all Auto World die-cast models there is plenty of functionality here, with opening doors, hood and steerable front wheels. The trunk here is sealed.

               In addition to the stunning paint scheme, there’s enough chrome to create a worldwide chrome shortage. That’s a good thing, right?

               The massive front and rear bumpers are chrome, as are the head and taillight surrounds, the rocker panel trim, the side accent line trim and fins, plus door handles, wiper arms and windshield frame. Plus the two hood sights and vent window frames are chrome too.

               Hub caps are chrome with chrome center wheel nuts with red centers and tiny Chevy bowtie logos. I might have gone with pink centers, to go full-on Barbie here.

               Those big protruding bumper guards on the front that look like, well, you know. Those are black-tipped, as they would have been on an original ’57 Chevy.

               On the lower fin trim in back is Bel Air in copper script while just in front of the doors are the patented crossed Chevy flag logos with Fuel Injection printed beneath.

               Under the hood is the Chevy red engine block with silver air filter and fuel injection system, a black battery and radiator with black horn on the front left. Big hood hinges allow the hood to be easily posed in the up position.

               The Barbie car’s interior is what you’ll likely notice first, and if you’re a Barbie fan and collector this is what will light your fuse. The seats are bright pink with white (or is that pale pink) inserts with Barbie in cursive on the driver’s seat back. The pink tonneau includes a white silhouette of a pony-tailed young woman at its center and tiny painted silver snap heads all about the tonneau’s edge, ostensibly to keep the tonneau in place.

               Door handles and window cranks are chrome or painted silver and there’s a pink dash with chrome trim on its face, plus three nicely detailed instrument panel dials. A radio face graces that chrome dash trim and Barbie is again in script on the passenger’s side dash top. Overhead? Pink sun visors, of course. Heck, even the steering wheels is pink, with a chromed horn ring.

               As with other Auto World cars there’s a detailed undercarriage with dual exhausts.

               Finally, under the trunk’s golden chevron and Chevy script is the 1957 California license plate you may already expect. It reads … Barbie.

Final Word  

Could there be more Barbie cars in the future? Well, a quick look around the internet found there are others to choose from to be sure, including racer Collete Davis’ version of a Nissan Z car. Hmmmm!

How about this hot rod (Collete’s Z car) in 1:18 scale?

Vital Stats: 1957 Chevy Bel Air Convertible

Maker: Auto World
Scale: 1/18
Stock No.: AWSS135
MSRP: $131.99

Link: Autoworldstore.com

2021 Lexus LC 500 Convertible

Lexus LC 500 drop-top redefines beauty … 

It is not sufficient to see and to know the beauty of a work. We must feel and be affected by it. – Voltaire

Beauty, thy name is Lexus LC 500.

OK, the name isn’t beautiful, but Toyota’s luxury brand understands beauty and sure as heck knows how to affect us … mix beauty, power and luxury, then drop the top.

If you’ve seen the bodacious LC 500 coupe since its 2018 debut you know it’s a looker. Sleek lines, stylish corseted nose and sexy rear end. For 2021 Lexus creates a drop-top version that exudes even more beauty. Continue reading 2021 Lexus LC 500 Convertible

Die-cast: Replicarz 1964 Cheetah

 

Silver Cheetah a muscular winner in 1/18 scale  …Replicarz 1964 Cheetah

Hard as it is to imagine, the funky Cheetah sports car has never been reproduced in 1/18 scale, at least not this stunning silver version that Replicarz has chosen to make as part of its Sports Car series.

This sealed body cast-resin model highlights the Cheetah’s truncated rear end and long muscular hood with air filter cover and giant wheels under its bulging fenders. Continue reading Die-cast: Replicarz 1964 Cheetah

Wrangler/Corvette Mashup

He wanted to build what?

jeep wrangler, chevy corvette

The Jeep Wrangler and Chevy Corvette couldn’t be farther apart in automotive categories yet Chris DeSpears from Milwaukee had the idea to bring them together in a really fun build.

He picked up a 2003 Z06 C5  Vette a couple of years ago as a donor car that somebody had wacked and was originally looking for a Factory 5 wide body Shelby Cobra kit to mate it with only to find out that they are no longer made so he went to his Plan B.

Continue reading Wrangler/Corvette Mashup

2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk

Jeep Trackhawk boasts 707 hp, too … 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk

There is now a 707 horsepower Jeep.

You read that right, and the first question most folks ask is, Why would Jeep do this?

The answer: Because they can.

There’s no reasonable or logical reason, except that Fiat/Chrysler, which is the overindulgent parent of Jeep and Dodge, has been playing up its youthful exuberance via high-powered vehicles for several years now. Yes, this has a Hemi in it!

First it was the Hellcat, both as a Dodge Challenger and Charger, using the same 6.2-liter supercharged Hemi V8 that powers this Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk. Then there’s the Demon, another Challenger with even more power and aimed directly at the drag strip crowd. But there’s little chance many folks will be buying a Jeep to race at the local drag strip, especially when the tested Trackhawk’s price tag nudged $91 grand.2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk

Yet a few folks, and you know who they are, always need to have the biggest, well, engine on the block. They are the buyers that previously have snapped up the top-end sports cars and muscle cars of the past. Think Corvette envy.

The Hellcats, Demons and Trackhawks are shoving that with both hands to a new level, and doing so with in-your-face marketing. Continue reading 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk

2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF

Mazda MX-5 Miata RF
Robby DeGraff photo

Mazda’s power hardtop adds romance to Miata …

 

Love may be what makes a Subaru a Subaru, but Mazda’s MX-3 Miata has been luring drivers into its open-air summer of romance for 28 years, yet seems never to age.

That was with its soft-top model, but now comes its RF (retractable fastback) with power folding hardtop, and suddenly love turns to lust. While there has been a power hardtop model before, this one improves the Miata’s looks. Cosmetically it adds a Targa-like bar behind the cockpit that remains there after the roof has neatly folded down behind the seats. Think Porsche Targa profile, but much cuter and less costly.

Hold up a toggle on the center stack and in slightly more than 10 seconds the folding hardtop has powered down to transform the sporty metallic red roadster into a convertible. Where the old soft top let in a lot of wind and road noise, the hardtop muffles nearly all of it. Ah, you can cruise in style and listen to your stereo without straining an eardrum.Mazda MX-5 Miata RF

So the RF creates a quiet interior, resolving one of my few complaints of past Miata drives, plus creates a snazzier profile that had people asking me “What?” I was driving.

Still Mazda continues its mission of creating a simple car, a convertible that’s affordable, fun and won’t embarrass you at the gas pump. Mazda calls it zoom-zoom.

A couple years back Mazda slightly downsized the MX-5, a rare act in the car world. The goal was keeping it light and lively, not letting it take on a middle-agers’ weight around the beltline. Continue reading 2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF