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Diecast: Autoart Suzuki Jimny

Jimny (JB64) is a cute, well-detailed Jeep wanna-be …

Suzuki’s Jimny is a fun little runabout, and even cuter as a 1/18 scale diecast model from the hot shot designers at Autoart.

There’s no doubt this Jeep-like two-door sport-utility is useful and nimble. It has sold like Pocky sticks in its home market, Japan and has been a hit for Suzuki all around the world, with the exception of the United States where Suzuki stopped selling vehicles at the end of 2012.

But Suzuki’s low-cost small vehicles could well be considered something akin to the Beetle of Japan, economical and fun. And lest you think Suzuki is a small-time carmaker, well, it’s the fourth best-selling brand in Japan, behind the giants Toyota, Honda and Nissan, not bad company.

The History

Suzuki launched the Jimny in 1970, so it has had a long run and according to Wikipedia, Suzuki had sold 2.85 million of the little gems across 194 countries as of the fall of 2018. There’s an interesting history behind Jimny too.

It started as the HopeStar ON360. Say what?

Yes, it was originally designed by the Hope Motor Co., a small Japanese manufacturer that Suzuki bought in 1968. So, Suzuki re-introduced the vehicle as its LJ10 (Light Jeep) in 1970 with an air-cooled, two-stroke, two-cylinder engine. It had nowhere to go but up.

From there the engine grew and grew, becoming liquid-cooled as the vehicle began gaining popularity and was shipped off to Australia and then was Suzuki’s first vehicle sold in the U.S. market as a Samurai in 1986. Along the way the Jimny name became its moniker in Japan, and Jimny Sierra elsewhere.

Lest you think it incapable off-road, in 2007 a modified version set the high-altitude record for a 4-wheel-drive vehicle on a mountain at the Chile-Argentina border. It climbed to 21,942 feet, beating a Jeep Wrangler’s mark at the time.

This JB64 version is the fourth generation Jimny, launched in 2018 and the model reflects the styling of Japanese-market models, with no added plastic fender flares, whereas in other markets the black flares are much more pronounced. Jimny remains a body-on-frame vehicle, like a Jeep Wrangler and most of today’s trucks.

The engine is a turbo 3-cylinder that makes about 100 horsepower, rides on a short 88.6-inch wheelbase and weighs less than 2,300 pounds. So it may be appropriate to still consider it a Light Jeep, as it was originally.

The Model

               I’ve grown to love many boxy Jeep-like vehicles over the past 50 years of driving and testing new vehicles. So this Jimny strikes me as a fun, cheap Jeep wanna-be. It’ll certainly stand out in your collection and being an Autoart model you can be sure the design and build quality is high.

               Autoart offers several color combos, but the sample was an earthy Chiffon Ivory Metallic (shiny tan) with a black roof. It appears ready to wander off down a dirt road to bang some ditches.

               The doors fit nice and flat to the body, those wheel wells just showing a slight bulge and the front and rear bumpers are a sturdy black. The nose features running lights in the bumper, black mesh grille work there and in the upper grille featuring what looks like a Superman (Suzuki) logo at its center. Headlights, as with Jeeps and now Ford Broncos, are round, these adding an amber turn signal just above the light and toward each side’s fenders.

               Mirrors are black with white turn signal lamps embedded and the windows are all trimmed in gloss black with a couple black wipers extending from the cowling just behind the hood.

               A small black antenna extends from the rear driver’s side (right drive) roof and a big spare tire hangs on the tail, just as with a Jeep. The tailgate opens out like a door and includes a high-mount brake light atop its frame, black hinge covers and the words Suzuki and Jimny in silver low on the gate. The three-lens red and clear taillights sunk into the black rear bumper look sharp too. Below is a Jimny license plate too.

               Tires are all branded Bridgestone in black, so hard to read, but typical of the real vehicle. Wheels are sort of a matte silver/gray with black Suzuki-logoed caps.

               Naturally the hood, doors and hatch open on this Autoart model, with a nicely detailed engine compartment and fine metal hinges to hold that hood up for display. There’s a tiny hood rod there too, but don’t try to use it, it’s just for decoration.

Engine wiring and plumbing look appropriate with a sharp-looking battery including labels on top. There’s also a white washer-fluid reservoir, a steering master cylinder with white fluid container and other appropriate hoses and filters. The hood’s underside detailing is handsomely molded too.

               Not much to see inside the rear tailgate, except seatbacks and headrests, but the front cockpit looks realistically detailed, and with the wide-opening doors this interior is simple to see. Black interior here with bucket seats, a center console-mounted shift lever, 3-spoke steering wheel with Suzuki logo, and nicely detailed gauges across the dash, including a reflective screen in the dash’s center. Air vents are trimmed in silver.

               U.S. collectors have a rare opportunity with the Jimny to add a popular world vehicle to their collections, and it’s so darned cute they may want a couple in varying colors.

               For the record Autoart offers Jimnys in Pure White, Jungle Green, Bluish Black, Brisk Blue, Kinetic Yellow, most, except the white models, with black or body-colored. Also, the world market models, known as Jimny Sierras (JB74), are available in the same colors, but with the bulging black fender flares that give Jimny a slightly more muscular look.

               Either way this is a cute ute.        

Vital Stats: Suzuki Jimny

Maker: Autoart
Scale: 1/18
Stock No.: 78500 (Chiffon Ivory Metallic/Black roof)

MSRP: $190

Link: Autoartmodels.com

2022 Chicago Auto Show is back

Dealing with Covid the best they could

It has to be tough putting together an event and dealing with all the Covid restrictions but the organizers of the Chicago Auto Show, running today through the 21st, pulled it off. They went to the city and state with a plan and it was given the green light. It’s not going to be like past years. First, all entrants will have to show valid proof of being vaccinated before entering, and second, the show is only about half the size.

Normally filling both halls of McCormick Place, it only fills one. Noticeably absent are manufacturers like Mazda and Mercedes-Benz. But what the show is lacking in displays, it more than makes up for with experiences as there are five different test tracks. More on that in a moment.

The big reveal of the show came from Ford who now only showed off its Bronco Raptor but also its Everglades edition. The Raptor is Ford’s answer to the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited 392, essentially a Bronco on steroids ready to tackle any kind of terrain.

Power comes from Ford’s twin-turbo 3.0-liter EcoBoost® engine targeted to deliver more than 400 horsepower. I can’t wait to see these two go head to head.

The Everglades is more meant for those who don’t mind getting wet. Designed with offroading and mudding in mind, the new model builds atop the Black Diamond trim and the Sasquatch off-road package. It comes with a factory-installed Warn Zeon 10-S winch rated at 10,000 pounds. I don’t recall seeing that on a production truck.

A snorkel keeps the engine breathing clean air. The only bummer is that it is only available with the base 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder engine and a 10-speed automatic. Ford plans to open orders in March, with priority going to existing Bronco reservation holders who don’t have a build date. 

Of course, they had an electric. Seems to be the fad right now. They showed off their F-150 Lightning which delivers a targeted 563 horsepower, up to 300 miles of EPA-estimated range, and hands-free driving. MSRP is under $40,000 before incentives to that should help sales. Ford claims it can power your house for up to three days. I file that under “good to know” but not a reason to buy.

But the coolest display they had was a pair of Ford GT’s introducing the 2022 Ford GT Alan Mann Heritage Edition. Right next to it is the 1966 Fort GT 40 that Alan Mann and his team raced at LeMans. No pricing was announced on the new GT although it will probably be around $800,000 like the other special editions, Ford, as rolled out. I have never been this close to one of the older GT’s.

From the “Why would they even think of doing that?” area, Ford took a classic F-100 and ripped the engine out of it replacing with an electric motor. The Eluminator EV Concept electric pickup is now powered using a 2021 Mustang Mach-E battery-electric powertrain. This is an e-crate motor Ford Performance is providing to guys crazy enough to want to do something like this.

Not to be outdone by Ford, Chevy was also on hand to show off its new Silverado EV coming this spring. This isn’t their current Silverado converted to EV power. It was developed from the ground up as a fully-electric truck on GM’s advanced Ultium EV Platform. Rated at up to 664 horsepower with more than 780 lb-ft of torque it certainly will be able to haul a lot of stuff. It can haul up to 10,000 pounds and has a 400-mile range. MSRP before any tax break is a reasonable $40,000.

Also on display is the new Z06 Corvette. It is powered by the all-new 5.5L LT6, the highest horsepower, naturally-aspirated V-8 to hit the market in any production car, ever creating 670 hp. Go and check out the reveal video Chevy did. Most important, listen to its sound. If that doesn’t give you chills running up and down your spine, well I don’t know what will. This is a car I lust after and so did buyers at Barret-Jackson in January where the rights to the first one off the production line went for 3.8M!

OK, back to the test tracks. There are five of them, Camp Jeep, Ford Built Wild, Ford Built to Electrify, Ram Truck Territory, and Toyota Proving Grounds. During our media preview day on the 11th, I did the Ford Built Wild so I could see what the new Bronco is all about.

And Then Camp Jeep which has been at the Chicago Auto Show for 18 years now. I went for a ride in the new Wrangler Unlimited 4xe.

Note: In the past, the lines for these are fairly long so plan on hitting them earlier in the day. The show runs through the 21st. Go, have some fun.

Why I despise EV’s but am big on electric propulsion

Born into a car family

I don’t have blood, pretty sure I have motor oil in my veins. It started before I was even born. My mom’s dad sold Pontiacs and Hudsons while my other grandpa was a Chevy guy. My dad worked for AMC/Chrysler for 27 years and I’ve been told that I was conceived in the back of a Nash. I love everything about cars, from how they are designed, manufactured, marketed, and tested. I especially love high-performance cars and have driven, the new Corvette, Dodge Challenger Hellcat, Ram TRX, along with several Jaguars. It’s the sound, I love the sound, and the power when I step on the gas. I love the way they handle and have driven several of them at Road America.

I all smiles after experiencing the Ram TRX

EV’s to me are a waste of time.

I will admit that most of them can out-accelerate even the biggest and baddest V8 but outside of that, I see no upside. Ok tree huggers, jump in telling me how they save the planet with their zero o2 tailpipe emissions but you are forgetting one huge item, actually several. First, all the current EV’s are manufactured the same way ICE (internal combustion engine) vehicles are. In a factory that uses tons of electricity to make the steel and or aluminum used in the body, frame, and other areas, the plastic found in the interior, and carpeting. How about that glass. Forged in the same factory that supplies manufacturers of ICE vehicles. And let’s not forget about the batteries. Their carbon footprint for manufacturing is even larger and where do they go when they wear out?

Mustang Mach-E we reviewed earlier this year. Nice car but not a Mustang

Related Video: Come along with Mark as he reviews the Mustang Mach-E

So much for the manufacturing. Now let’s talk about tax revenue. Except for Teslas, owners receive a tax credit. Less revenue to run this country which almost always seems to be running out of money. Now since EV’s don’t fill up with gas, there’s lost tax revenue there that goes to many things like road construction and repairs. Boom, gone!

Now let’s talk about charging. It’s gotten a lot better. The longest range EV according to the EPA is the Tesla Model 3 Standard Range Plus which will get you 263 miles before needing a charge. But here comes the downside and deal-breaker for me. It requires 8.5 hours to get a full charge and that’s assuming you can plug into 220V. Sure, the standard argument is that you can do that overnight but what if you need to travel a longer distance? I hate waiting.

Tesla Model 3, Photo: Tesla

Let’s talk about them spontaneously bursting into flames. Have you read about the Chevy Bolt? Here’s a new term for you, thermal runaway. This happens when the battery overheats, over-pressurizes, and boom! (I’ll talk about my experiences in a bit). This happened so much that GM was forced to recall all of them. Do EV’s catch fire more than ICE cars? There is no reliable data. What is a fact though is that because of all that energy in the battery they generate more heat and take longer to put out.

Remains of a Chevy Bolt. Photo: Electrek.com

My blogging partner, Mark, reminds me that EV’s are coming. More like the flavor of the month. With virtually no infrastructure for charging, they are decades from any mainstream acceptance. Here’s an example. Kwik Trip is a large midwestern gas station/convenience store operator and I go there a lot.

EV plug at Kwik Trip in Wisconsin

I found this example recently. Their charging station with the same 120 v plug you’d find in and outside plug at your home. Think of the charge time on that bad boy. Even with tax credits according to Pew Research about 231,000 all-electric vehicles were sold in 2020, down 3.2% from 2018. In each of the past three years, EV’s accounted for about 2% of the U.S. new-car market which is tiny. It would most likely be even smaller if it were not for government tax credits as incentives, some as high as $7,500.

I’m fine with hybrids and had a chance to drive two very different ones recently at the Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA) event at Road America.

First, there was the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited 4xe which I had a chance to take off-road. The first thing I noticed, especially after just driving the Wrangler 392 with its rumble, was how quiet it was. And it was never lacking for power when I needed it to climb a hill or get through some mud. FYI, it is the number one selling hybrid. What does that say for saving the planet and having a whole lot of fun doing it?

Jeep Wrangler Unlimited 4xe doing what it does best, get dirty.

The other vehicle was the Karma GS-6, a masterpiece of design. This car oozes cool both inside and out. The interior looks like it were designed for the 25th century. So futuristic-looking but with a price tag of just over 100 grand, not for everybody.

Karma GS-6 looks like it would do well on the four-mile track.

Electric propulsion works well on a smaller scale

Here’s where I’m big on battery-powered propulsion. One of my time, and money-sucking hobbies, is radio-controlled airplanes. This is the segment that has experienced a huge jump in technology in the last couple of years. My first electric plane was a small Piper Cub or something that resembled one, with a two-foot wingspan. It carried six nickel-cadmium batteries slightly smaller than AAA’s. The battery took about an hour to charge and the plane flew for maybe five minutes. Charging the battery was sketchy at best. If you looked at them the wrong way, they would burn up. Sound familiar? The plane barely had enough power to get out of its own way.

Several of my LiPo batteries

Flash forward to today. Now we fly with Liquid Polymer batteries (LiPo’s) which hold tons more energy. I just sold my last gas-powered airplane and except for my turbine jet am now an all-electric fleet. This wasn’t something that I had decided to do on a whim. It took a while so that I could have several planes utilizing similar batteries based on their size. While there are still electric planes that will have very short flight times, mine can fly on an average of five to eight minutes. That might sound like a short time but it’s maybe slightly shorter than gas-powered planes. Care must be taken with the batteries just like the ones that go in the car because they can catch fire and have been known to burn up a car or entire garage.

EDF from my A-10.

Some of my planes are actually jets with electric ducted fans powering them. Sort of like a little turbine except with an electric motor. It takes 30 minutes to an hour to charge the batteries on one of the several chargers I have. All of the flying fields have the power for me to charge the batteries. One even uses solar cells that charge storage batteries. Unlike the EV auto industry, there are no tax breaks for guys like us for doing this. It is driven by demand only and doing really well. Each time I show up at the field I see new electric planes.

While converting planes from fuel to electric is popular I want to share an example of one of the planes that I built designed specifically for electric power. The Avro Vulcan was a cold-war era four-engine jet bomber the English flew. It was designed to defend England from a Russian nuclear attack. Go check out this video and turn up the volume to hear what’s called the Vulcan Howl. The Jet was so far ahead of its time.

Avro Vulcan in flight

My radio control model is a large one, an 80-inch wingspan, the fuselage is 74 inches long and it weighs just 14 pounds. It’s powered by four electric ducted fans and requires four Li-Po batteries. Efficiency in the build was critical here and with a combination of balsa, ply carbon fiber, and foam it has a 14-1 thrust ratio.

A friend of mine and I both built Vulcan’s a few years ago and they are a blast to fly. We have had both of them up at the same time as you can see in this video.

My RC Avro Vulcan is on display at EAA’s AirVenture

Will commercial aviation go all-electric? Not in a mine or your lifetime. Right now they are just getting into that but on a very small scale. Commuter aircraft is a possibility but that represents about 2% of all commercial flights.

And finally my point

A good friend of mine, Mike Dorna, who works at Briggs & Stratton here in Milwaukee, forwarded a great article on this whole electric bruh haha. Mike’s dad was one of the Model Makers who developed an EV hybrid for the company while they were still just dreams. Jay Leno did a segment on it.

Briggs and Stratton Hybrid was designed and built-in Milwaukee. YouTube screengrab.

The article by Tony Adams, who launched Engine + Powertrain Technology International brings up valid points that are often ignored by the media. He points out that gigafactories are being built but the eco-ramification of building them is being ignored. The exhaustion of cobalt and other rare earth materials with questionable supply chains is being overlooked. Then there are the eco-credentials of the batteries themselves is being disregarded and so are the weight and generally negative dynamic effects of heavily over-burdened cars.

Rather than trying to create a totally new system that will expend gobs of energy, how about alternative fuels like maybe hydrogen? It’s free and the most abundant chemical in the universe and we don’t even have to drill for it! Talk about zero emissions, this is it and cars can be developed to run on it. Gas stations can dispense it just like they do gasoline now and it’s a much better alternative than electricity.

They simply take energy and turn it into rotational movement – the difference is that in a normal electric car, this energy only comes from an onboard battery that needs to be charged up, while in a hydrogen car it comes from an onboard generator that uses hydrogen. A hydrogen car can be taken from empty to full in a few minutes at a fuel pump, like a petrol or diesel car – so in this way, they’re better than electric cars, and it’s convenient.

Photo: Porsche

Porsche is testing a synthetic eFuel made out of CO2 and hydrogen and is produced using renewable energy. This creates a liquid that an engine will burn the same as if it was gasoline made from crude oil, but in theory, an eFuel can be produced in a climate-neutral manner. They expect to have its first small test batch, 34,340 gallons ready by 2022.

Ok, I’m done now. Watch carefully how the EV game is played out in Europe. The UK has set 2040 as a date where they are going to ban the sale of ICE cars. Good luck with that. Please somebody make sanity take over. The market should be determined but consumers, not politicians. This is nuts!