Archive for category Cars

The Shooting Brake – An Overlooked Car Design Makes A Comeback

Although most Americans say no to wagons, the European in me would much rather a wagon than most of the SUVs or crossovers that are out there today.  Recently, automakers are trying out new “crossover” bodystyles that combine elements of different types of cars and trucks to try and broaden their range of offered vehicles.  Although some styles are completely new, a few companies are bringing back some old styles and putting a new twist on them.

One of those styles is The Shooting Brake which is a two-box car body style that takes styling cues from both a wagon and a coupe.  Although some may view it as slightly awkward looking, I think the design makes for a very sporty looking wagon.  Although the design won’t likely be mainstream or used by most of the automakers out there, new models like the Ferrari FF  and Mercedes CLS Shooting Brake are starting to be unveiled.

First a look at an older Shooting Brake, the 1965 Aston Martin DB5 – maybe James Bond would have driven this if he had more gear to haul around?

1965 Aston Martin DB5 Shooting Brake

The latest Shooting Brakes to hit the streets:

2012 Ferrari FF - Oh and the FF is all wheel drive – could be the ultimate ski car:

Ferrari FF

Ferrari FF

Mercedes CLS Shooting Brake Concept:

Mercedes CLS Shooting Brake

Mercedes CLS Shooting Brake

What do you think?  Wish the design never made a comeback or let’s see some more?

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New Land Rover Defender in 2015?

2011 Land Rover Defender X Tech Limited Edition (UK Model) Shown

2011 Land Rover Defender X Tech Limited Edition (UK Model) Shown

When I was a kid, I was drawn to cars and trucks of all kinds, but the exotics from Europe were always parked in my dream garage.  Although most kids drooled over Porsches and Ferraris, I had a simpler, and more rugged four wheeled dream; the Land Rover Defender 90.  Don’t get me wrong, European sports cars still make my heart skip a beat, but the simplicity and boxy style of Defenders will forever make them my first automotive love.  After owning a Discovery II for 8 years, I have learned to appreciate the British craftsmanship and utilitarian style that have made Land Rovers synonymous with off-roading and adventure.  Athough many Land Rovers are mechanical nightmares (mine didn’t last much more than 85,000 miles), there is no denying their good looks and rugged charm.

Although still on sale throughout most of the world, Defenders have not been sold in the US since 1997 due to government safety regulations.  This has made the Defender a rare truck that has in effect driven prices for used Defenders up into the $40,000+ range.  For years, i’ve wondered if Land Rover was ever going to bring the Defender back and have grown very skeptical after introducing models like the Freelander which strayed from their rugged, off-road roots.  Recent reports from Land Rover indicate that they are planning on coming out with a new Defender in 2015, with a preview of it coming in 2013.  Although I am very excited with the prospect, I just hope that they stick to what made it famous and not deviate too far from it’s current look and functionality.  If they could keep the price reasonable and the mechanicals more reliable, that would also be much appreciated!  I hope Land Rover has their best and brightest on the project and I look forward to seeing what they come up with in a couple of years.

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Classic Porsche 911 Meets Modern Power In The Shape Of The Singer Concept 911

Ever dream of driving a classic Porsche 911 which has the body and heart of a modern Porsche?  Well the folks over at Singer decided to turn this dream into a reality and they are calling it the Singer Concept 911.  The Singer 911 is a modern Porsche drivetrain with a 410 HP 3.82 L flat 6, wrapped in a custom carbon fiber body that takes its styling cues from the classic 911 shape.  This beautiful and brand new classic like you may have guessed, doesn’t come cheap with a price tag of $200,000.

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Icon FJ & CJ: Classic Trucks Reborn

They don’t build them like they used to.  Whether it’s a fridge or a truck, modern goods just aren’t built to the same standards of quality and durability as they used to.  Trucks today can hardly be called trucks.  Most have leather interiors with navigation systems and smooth suspensions that are more aimed at driving to soccer practice than up a mountain.  Although most people don’t need locking differentials or 12 inches of travel for most of their driving needs, it’s nice to know that some companies are still making trucks that are just plain trucks.

Icon, based in Los Angeles has taken two classic 4×4s and transformed them into modern off road machines.  The Toyota FJ and the Jeep CJ are two iconic 4×4s that were always built as true trucks that could go anywhere and would withstand years of abuse and wear.  Many people restore classic FJs and CJs but at Icon, they have taken things to a whole new level.  Instead of taking old FJs and CJs and restoring old frames and parts, they create brand new replicas based on the original platforms and outfit them with the highest quality modern materials and parts.  The result is a brand new truck that looks like a classic FJ or CJ.  These amazing trucks do come at a price though…..although they are all fully customizable with varying prices, most Icons sell for north of $100,000.  For most enthusiasts, the price is too high but for those who can afford a six figure truck, there is no better choice than an Icon.

Head to http://icon4×4.com for more info about these unique trucks.

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What I Would Buy If I Had An Extra $250,000 Lying Around……And I Lived In Europe

I often like to play the game of “what if” when it comes to cars.  What would I buy if I had a cool quarter of a million dollars lying around?  Ferrari, Lamborghini, Aston Martin……..it would be quite a nice dilemma to have.  Recently Porsche decided to create a very rare and special 911 and offer it exclusively to our friends across the Atlantic.  The 911 Sport Classic is based on the Carrera S, but done in a very cool Grey color with some throw back Fuchs wheels, a duck-tail spoiler and some other very sexy upgrades.  Although you can buy a much faster and more performance oriented car for this price, this Porsche is about exclusivity and style.  They only made 250 of these Sport Classics and all were spoken for very quickly after they came on the market.  It doesn’t hurt to dream right?

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Carstache: The Ultimate Car Accessory

Looking to give your ride a little bit more personality?  Forget new wheels or a fancy body kit, what you need is some automotive facial hair.  Yup that’s right, a mustache for your car.  A lot of great men have sported the mustache, so why not put one on your car?  For just $39, you have your choice of 5 luscious colors.  If you want to give your car a studious look, i’d go for the wisdom grey.  If you want to kick it up a notch, the firestache will definitely make your grill pop when you are cruising around town.  Based out of San Francisco and just a month old, Carstache is sure to blow up quick so be the first in your hood to trick your ride out with a Carstache.  Check them out on the web at http://www.carstache.com.

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2010 Audi A3 TDI: Green Car of The Year and Best Super Bowl Commercial?

Of course I watch the Superbowl for the football, but when the Giants are not busy ruining perfect seasons, I turn my attention to the high priced Superbowl ads.  This year, the ads were pretty mediocre in my opinion, but as a car lover and a big fan of Audi, I have to say I was most impressed with the Audi A3 “Green Police” commercial.  Obviously as it was a Superbowl ad and focused on a hot topic like being green, it drew a lot of attention and after a week of articles and analysis, it looks like most of the reaction to the ad has been positive.

audi-a3-tdi-super-bowl-2010The green movement and the emphasis on green cars is a topic which could populate this whole blog, but for now, here are my quick thoughts about the commercial and the green car movement:  First off the commercial is funny and original, taking the usually serious green ad and giving it a bit of edge.  Second, Audi managed to get late 70s/80s rock band Cheap Trick to remake their popular “Dream Police” song into a new “Green Police” version for the commercial (which seems to still be stuck in my head a week later).  Unlike most of the hybrid car commercials that are aimed at folks who really pride themselves on their green practices, Audi chose to take a different path and reach out to a different more “regular guy” demographic.  The hybrid demographic doesn’t really care about being “cool”.  They buy a hybrid because it’s good for the environment and thats their focus.  But what about the people who would like to help out the environment (and their wallets), but still want to be “cool”? The Prius in my opinion is not a cool car but its practical, its green and they are everywhere out here in California.  I understand why people own them and the gas mileage is amazing.  Recently a friend bought one because as he put it, the gas mileage is great, its compact and its pretty affordable.  But come on man, you are 26, surely you can drive a compact car that is good on your wallet as well as the environment while still being “cool”.  Audi thinks they have the answer to this “green” car issue and I think they have hit a home run.  As the ads show, the new Audi is for the person who wants to be green but may not be an uber-environmentalist.  The Audi appeals to people who believe they should be green but still want to drive a fun and sporty car.  David Roberts of Grist Magazine puts it well in his Huffington Post article:

“To scratch one layer deeper: what is Audi’s message to these guys who want to be good but find the effort anxious-making? Here’s a way to meet your green obligations and still have a bad-ass car! The Audi A3 is both green and desirable – indeed more desirable because it’s green. Buried deep in this ad, in other words, is a bright green message: prosperity, pleasure, and sustainability can be achieved together.

Anyway, not to overthink it (ahem), but the ad is not just another pot shot at greens. It’s an appeal to a new and growing demographic that isn’t   hardcore environmentalist – and doesn’t particularly like hardcore environmentalists – but that basically wants to do the right thing. Audi’s effort to reach them, however clumsy, is actually a bit ahead of the curve.”

So there it is, although you may have just thought it was a funny car commercial, it turns out to be much deeper than you thought.

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Now is the time, however, when the staunch environmentalists will come out and say, well the TDI, even though it’s a new breed of “clean” diesels, it’s still bad for the environment.  It looks like they are right to a certain extent as diesel does not burn as clean as gasoline, but there is a much bigger picture.  According to The Daily Green, the A3 “produces 15% more carbon in a year than either the Nissan Altima or Toyota Camry hybrid, which also get 34 mpg. It emits 9% more than the Toyota Yaris, which burns gasoline in a conventional engine and gets 32 mpg.”  So although diesel does produce a bit more carbon, it still is getting 42 MPG on the highway, which is more than pretty much every car on the road these days (minus a handful of hybrids).  These numbers will be disputed however as the Audi website claims that clean diesel emits 30% less CO2 than gasoline powered cars, so I guess the numbers are not too scientific at this point. As for hybrids, certain reports suggest that if you look at the big picture, hybrids might actually not be as “green” as you might think.  Hybrids require large complex batteries which are made of Nickel that is produced in a very dirty and environmentally harmful process in Canada.  That nickel is then shipped to Europe to be refined and then over to China to be made into “nickel foam” and lastly on to Japan to be assembled.  All of these manufacturing processes and shipping create pollution of its own which in the end could ultimately negate the benefit of driving a hybrid.

So kudos to Audi (VW) for developing the TDI engine and kudos to The Green Car Journal for picking the A3 TDI as the green car of the year.

To find out more about the 2010 Audi A3 TDI head on over to http://www.audiusa.com

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The Ultimate Ski Car!

Most ski cars are good at getting you to the mountain, but this new machine will not only get you to the mountain it will take you up it!  With 400hp and a set of mean cat tracks, this Subaru is sure to stand out on your next drive to the mountain.  Behold the new half car/ half snow machine – the new Subaru Trax STI.

Check out the GIZMODO article for more on Ken Block’s new toy.

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British Man Driving Around The World……In An MG Midget?

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Every once in a while you hear of someone embarking on a round the world adventure. Many have done it in a car or truck, but i’m pretty sure that Roy Locock will be the first to drive across the world in a 1977 MG Midget 1500. Roy is a retired software company founder from England who restored a ‘77 Midget (named Bridget) and decided that he needed to take a very long road trip. Although he is driving solo and has no mechanical knowledge, his year+ journey has been a great success so far. On top of the adventure he is experiencing, he is doing it for a good cause, raising money for UNICEF.

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Roy and Bridget started their journey on June 22, 2008 from just outside London and as of today September 15, 2009, they are on their last leg in Canada, somewhere around Ottawa. It’s hard enough to imagine driving in any vehicle for over a year, but the fact that this guy is doing it in a small and quirky British sports car makes this story that much better.

As far as what he brought with him…..not a whole lot because as you can imagine, there is not a ton of trunk space. Talk about packing light for a year+ long trip…..here is what he said about his challenge before leaving:

Bridget has just 3.5″ ground clearance under her engine sump. She has enough fuel to drive a maximum of 450 miles, this includes two 20 litre jerry cans. I have a compass and will purchase a map when I enter the the different countries, I have also secured 5 days emergency rations should I need to abandon Bridget somewhere in the middle of the wilderness. The only other thing I need is a good psychiatrist.

So hats off to Roy and Bridget who seem to be nearing the end of their incredible journey. Although most people retire and want to relax on the beach or golf all day, Roy has shown that retirement doesn’t have to be boring. We also have to give some kudos to Bridget the Midget who seems to be holding up quite well for a 32 year old sports car! You can read about the adventures of Roy and Bridget on his website which he has been updating from the road; http://bridgetthemidget.co.uk.

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Do You Own A Camaro? Do You Like Papa Johns Pizza? Today Is Your Lucky Day!

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Remember your first car?  Do you wish you could have it back years later to re-live your glory days?  Would you pay $275,000 to do so?  Yeah I wouldn’t either, but I also don’t own one of the largest Pizza companies in the world (and I still own my first car….)

John Schnatter who is the founder of Papa Johns Pizza, had to part ways with his 1971 1/2 Chevrolet Camaro Z28 way back in 1983 in order to keep his fathers pizza business afloat.  The $2,800 sale  turned out to be a very solid move.  25 years later with the help of that $2,800, Johns little family pizza joint has turned into an International chain which is worth a reported $3/4 Billion.  Despite all his success and the fact that he could buy as many Camaros as he wants today, he still hasn’t forgoten about his old Camaro.

In fact, for the past 20 years he has been looking for his Camaro.  First, he put out a reward for $25,000 through the FBI, but that led nowhere.  $25,000 then turned into $250,000 and a spot on a TV program.  The program was a success, leading John to his old car which as it turn out, had only been with 3 different owners since John sold it back in 1983.

The latest owner had turned the Camaro into a 825 horsepower dragster but after he was offered the $250,000, he gladly sold it back to John.  The people who tipped John about its whereabouts collected the $25,000 finders fee.

Although this is a great story, it has turned into much more for those lucky enough to be Camaro owners.  To celebrate his find, John is giving away a free Papa Johns Pizza to every Camaro owner for one day only – TODAY (August 26th)!  So if you are one of those lucky people, grab your keys and head on over to your local Papa Johns to grab some pizza on the house.

For more on the quest to find his Camaro check out: http://www.papasroadtrip.com/

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