Tag Archives: Nissan

Die-cast: TSM’s 1971 BRE Datsun 510

A special BRE Datsun driven by John Morton . . .1971 BRE Datsun 510

In the early 1970s Trans-Am racing was a big deal, even among the small sedan makers, like Datsun, which is what Nissan was known as in the U.S. at that time.

A lot of folks will think of the pony or muscle car racers, the Mustangs, Camaros and Cudas, but Alfa Romeo was big in the under 2.0-liter (U-2) class and Datsun dominated the class in 1971 and ’72 when it had become the Trans-Am 2.5 Challenge.

Cars were simply modified street cars, but Datsun put a lot of cash into the class sponsoring Brock Racing Enterprises (BRE) headed by Pete Brock, a noted sports car designer. The red, white and blue BRE Datsun 510’s soon became synonymous with success. Now TSM Models comes out with a high-value 1/18 scale version, available through Replicarz.1971 BRE Datsun 510

The History

Brock’s small team of racers and mechanics won six of the 10 races in 1971 and driver John Morton was the Trans-Am 2.5 champion, although in somewhat odd fashion, not that Morton and the Datsun weren’t dominant in most races. He set many fast laps and was often on the pole. Continue reading Die-cast: TSM’s 1971 BRE Datsun 510

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2016 Honda HR-V 2WD EX-L w/Nav

Honda’s new HR-V just another solid little utehonda2

Honda makes many fine cars that perform well, get good gas mileage and are reliable and its new small personal-sized crossover, the HR-V fits that mold.

But Honda, like Toyota before it, seems to have neglected styling in pursuit of its other laudable attributes. So the HR-V, like its name, seems uninspired. It’s another small ute/crossover box, not cute, not edgy, not imaginative and not even a name to remember.

While Toyota has come out of its styling doldrums one can hope Honda won’t be slumbering much longer. Because at its core, as with most Hondas, the HR-V is a solid little people mover. Its economical, gets good gas mileage, has a pleasant ride and comfortable seats.

If anything Honda has put more effort into the crossover’s interior space, than anything. The cargo room under its hatch is spacious and much deeper than in last week’s much more stylish Mazda CX-3. Both rear seats fold flat in one quick easy motion. Some little utes, and mid-size ones for that matter, require you to pull the bottom seat cushion forward first before lowering the seat back. Some require you to take out the headrests first. Humbug! Continue reading 2016 Honda HR-V 2WD EX-L w/Nav

Die-cast: Spark 1:43 DeltaWing 12 Hours of Sebring

Spark delivers uniquely shaped DeltaWing racer

Every once in a while a new shape surprises the racing world. In the late 1950s and early ‘60s it was the rear-engined F1 racer that eventually took the Indianapolis 500 by storm. In the 1970s it was the 6-wheeled Tyrrell F1 racer. Today it’s the DeltaWing.delta1

This shiny silver racer features a triangular shape with two wheels close together in its needle-like nose and a wider rear-end complete with a vertical wing, so a delta wing shape. Spark Models now brings the shape to an eye-catching 1:43 diecast model that will stand out in any racecar collection.

The History

DeltaWing, the racer, started on the drawing board of designer Ben Bowlby back in 2009 and originally was a proposed chassis for IndyCar, which was looking to revamp its racecar package. While it didn’t fly among the upper brass there, likely because it wasn’t a fully open-wheeled racer, it did gain support in the racing world.

Ostensibly the DeltaWing’s design is aimed at cutting drag so it is faster in a straight line and also more fuel efficient, plus reducing weight for better fuel economy. Its nose is thin with the front wheels creating just a 2-foot wide track, while the rear tires’ track is about 5 ½-feet wide. You’d think the car would be unsteady, but it’s not and turns crisply into turns.

delta2Major IndyCar team owner Chip Ganassi funded the DeltaWing project and Dan Gurney’s noted All-American Racers built it to be entered as an experimental racer at the 24 Hours of LeMans in 2012. Nissan provided the engine, originally a 1.6-liter turbo I4. At LeMans it qualified 29th out of 50+ cars and was running well before being involved in an accident with another racer. Continue reading Die-cast: Spark 1:43 DeltaWing 12 Hours of Sebring

2013 Nissan Leaf SL

All-electric Nissan Leaf fun, functional and easy to recharge

I’ve driven my first all-electric car, Nissan’s latest Leaf, and I can assure you that if electric cars are to be our future, driving enthusiasts will still have fun behind the wheel.

A metallic slate Leaf, like I tested this summer.
A metallic slate Leaf, like I tested this summer.

Contrary to many perceptions the car isn’t slow, it isn’t cumbersome in any way and topping off the battery pack is as easy as plugging in your sweeper at home. In fact, the Leaf was enjoyable, earning praise from everyone who rode in it, even the driver.

First, put hybrids out of your mind when you think of the Leaf. This is 100% electric with an 80kw AC synchronous motor that generates 107 hp. Sure, that sounds flimsy, but it’s not. Electric motors generate monster torque from the get-go. Press the accelerator and the Leaf leaps to life, unless you put it in ECO mode. Don’t unless you need to extend your range a few miles in an emergency.

Linked up with what Nissan calls a 1-speed automatic transmission, basically a CVT as in so many other Nissan models these days, the power is delivered in one smooooth shot that keeps the mid-size Leaf (it rides on a 106.3-inch wheelbase similar to a Mazda CX-5 sport-ute like I drove last week, or a Chevy Cruze if you’re looking for something more mass market) moving relatively quickly.

This is not some Dinky or Tootsie toy car that feels like it’ll break if you hit a big pothole. It feels like a solid mid-size hatchback that’ll go the distance with its occupants cloaked in quiet comfort. Now that distance IS limited because Leaf, being Only electric, has a limited range. Driving it mid-summer (cold weather will further limit its lithium ion battery’s ability to hold a charge) I saw a 103-mile range after a full charge twice. Other days I had 98, 93 and 88 miles of range. Continue reading 2013 Nissan Leaf SL

2013 Nissan Sentra SL

Sharp new Nissan Sentra has its mojo back

A few years back Nissan’s Sentra lost its way. For years it had been right up there with Toyota’s Corolla and Honda’s Civic as a premier entry level sedan, great for young families.

sentra1But then it started to look like a cheap little car, inside and out. Worse yet, it drove like one, maybe a step or two up from a Suzuki. Then Hyundai and Kia came into the market and leapfrogged right over Sentra with their entry-level cars.

Nissan’s restyled 2013 Sentra aims to put a stop to that, and it certainly should make a dent in the segment, likely gaining Nissan a chunk of market share. The reason is way more than skin deep, although the skin looks decidedly more attractive and upscale than its preceding models. There’s chrome around windows and along the sides and on the trunk. The taillights look sporty like other Nissan models.

No, with this one you won’t be singled out in your elementary school kid’s parking lot as the parent who couldn’t afford a nice car. This looks sharp, and its interior is equally impressive. Continue reading 2013 Nissan Sentra SL

2013 Nissan Pathfinder SL AWD

No longer truck-based, Pathfinder a softer, more civilized crossover

            Back in the day, which wasn’t long ago, Nissan’s Pathfinder was a sport-utility truck that was truck tough and set for off-roading and hauling gear.path1

Today, like many of us as we age, it has gotten a little softer and is tailored now more for comfort. Oh, it can haul and is available with all-wheel-drive, but you are not going to take this off road. In fact, with its remodel for 2013 it is pure crossover, leaning toward minivan. That’s because it’s no longer truck-based, instead riding on the Nissan Altima sedan’s platform.

The silver test vehicle, a pre-production model, was the almost upper end SL model, so begins at $36,070 and with just a trailer towing package at $400 and the $780 delivery charge ended up at $37,250. You can spend less if you opt for the entry-level S model with front-wheel drive. It begins at $28,650 and bumping up to an AWD model moves you to $30,250. There’s a mid-level SV with cloth seats and then the SL, plus a Platinum edition 4×4 model at $41,150.

If mall cruising and hauling a family is your main purpose, the Tennessee-made Pathfinder is accommodating. Its interior is spacious, like a minivan, with oodles of head and legroom in the first two rows of seats, plus a third row is standard and folds easily into the rear floor to boost cargo room. Continue reading 2013 Nissan Pathfinder SL AWD

2012 Nissan Murano SV AWD

Luxurious crossover, quiet comfortable family mover

A lot of time has passed since I last tested Nissan’s fine Murano crossover, yet it remains a solid, quiet, comfortable family mover.Nissan Murano exterior

While many folks buy this in front-drive form, Nissan says, I had the next to top level SL model with AWD. That means it goes for nearly $41 grand, which seems high, until you consider many other crossovers with luxury leanings.

The tested dark metallic blue Murano started at $38,000 and ended up $40,855 with mainly a navigation system upgrade adding to the price. If price is a concern, start shopping at the S level, which begins at $29,960 for front-drive and $31,560 for AWD. There are four trim levels, the top, LE, going for $40,560 with AWD. Continue reading 2012 Nissan Murano SV AWD