What You Should Fill Your Two Car Garage With

If you had such strong brand loyalty that you had to fill your two-car garage, what car combinations would they be? Here are mine. Tell me what you would fill your garage with!

  • BMW i8 and X5 M: For the moment, the closest thing to a spaceship you’ll get is the BMW i8. It has liberal use of carbon fiber, and it’s fast enough for most of us mortals. The X5 M is fast, luxurious, comfortable, and can haul a lot of people or random things you get. The funny thing is that the i8 gets better fuel economy than the X5 M, and the X5 M is almost as fast as the i8. Sounds like a good combination to me!
  • Cadillac CTS-V and Escalade: Cadillac aimed for the throat when they introduced  the CTS-V in 2004. That hasn’t changed one bit, and we should be grateful. The CTS-V uses a barely-detuned version of the Corvette Z06’s LT4 motor. If you need to haul a bunch of people in the lap of luxury, go for the Escalade. The Escalade radically changed the SUV game in 1999. This might be even better than the BMW combination.
  • Chevrolet Corvette Z06 and Colorado Z71: The Corvette Z06 is the automotive equivalent of a fighter jet that an inexperienced pilot can dogfight in. The Z06 will hold it’s own against a flat-out racecar on a track, but you can daily drive it. However, you’d be better off daily driving the Colorado Z71. Get the Colorado with the Duramax diesel engine, and you’ll get great fuel economy and have more fun than with a gasoline-powered Colorado in the process.
  • Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 and F-150: You’ll get the utmost in performance with the Mustang Shelby GT350. Road & Track named it their Performance Car of the Year. I can’t say the 2017 F-150 SVT Raptor is the perfect garage-mate for it because it hasn’t come out yet. You’ll have to make do with the F-150, which is a great truck in it’s own right. Plus, good luck carrying anything bigger than a shopping bag or briefcase in your Mustang.
  • Jeep Wrangler Rubicon and Grand Cherokee SRT-8: Few unmodified cars can do as well off-road as a Jeep. However, when you build one towards the heavens to explore places few others have been, they tend to be horrific on the street. See, the solution to that is to have a Grand Cherokee SRT-8 for actual streets. If you’re only going to drive a Jeep on the streets, it might as well have 475 horsepower…
  • Mercedes-Benz AMG GT and E63 AMG wagon: Mercedes has a giant killer on their hands with the spectacular AMG GT. We shall see if it will topple the giant that is the Porsche 911. Either way, the AMG GT is a fantastic driver’s car. In fact, Motor Trend named it their Best Driver’s Car. If you need more utility than a two-seat supercar can offer you, but still want to go fast, get the E63 AMG wagon. It’s slower than the AMG GT, but you can take the whole family with you.
  • Porsche 911 GT3 RS and Macan Turbo: Unless you go out and buy a legitimate race car, the Porsche 911 GT3 RS is the closest you’ll get. It’s street legal, so you can drive it to the track. It won’t be at all fun with potholes, speedbumps, and road imperfections, so fill out your garage with a Macan Turbo. If you squint hard enough, you could convince yourself it’s just a hatchback with really big wheels.
  • Tesla Model S P90D and Model X P90D: I’m sure that most of us would love to own a Tesla. The Model S was a groundbreaking car. The Model X is pretty damn cool as well. I’m still holding out for the Model 3, and would love to see a Tesla Roadster version 2.0, but this would be the perfect electric garage.
  • Volvo S60 Polestar and XC90 T8: I’ve always been a fan of Volvos. However, very few of their cars are truly exciting. However, the S60 Polestar is by far the sportiest car that Volvo has offered in a very long time. The XC90 rivals Range Rovers in terms of luxury, but at a much lower price. Go for the T8, and you’ll have a 400 horsepower hybrid to play around with. How can you not love that?
  • Mazda Miata and Miata Cup Racer: It’s just like with Jeeps. If you buy one to build it up to win races, you should have a stock one to drive around. With the ND generation (4th generation) of the Miata, you can get a stock Miata for daily driving, and a full-out race car. The Miata Cup Racer costs a tad more than $50,000, and a loaded stock Miata goes for around $30,000. While not everybody can afford both of these Miatas, it’s likely that nobody on this list could buy the combinations of cars I’ve listed.

Why You Should Buy a Classic Station Wagon

Most Americans over the age of 40 grew up waging hell in the backseat of a station wagon. Most of those station wagons were Buicks, Fords, Oldsmobiles, Chevys, and Mercurys. Some might have even been Pontiacs.  Here’s why they could turn into the next collector cars.  Those Americans who grew up turning the backseat into a war zone fondly remember them.  That same generation fondly remembers the Smokey and the Bandit Pontiac Firebirds (the one with the “screaming chicken” on the hood), so they buy them.  Station wagons from the 1970s and 1980s are now being bought more.  Prices are going up for these massive beasts.

The collector car market is going crazy right now.  People have more money to spend, and they want to enjoy an older car with their family.  They tend to buy cars that they remember fondly.  That’s why Chevy Blazers, “screaming chicken” Firebirds, and station wagons are starting to creep up in price.  Now is the time to buy them.

For all those people who say that station wagons are dorky and stupid, here’s a response:  station wagons have as much, if not more utility than most modern crossovers, and some SUVs, look better, and are far more fuel efficient.

Some station wagons are already highly sought-after collector cars.  They include the Chevrolet Nomad, antique woodies, and high-performance Pontiacs from the 1960s. However, there are still plenty of station wagons that can be enjoyed.  Here are some classic, and new wagons that you should consider buying.

  • 1991 Audi 200 20V Turbo Quattro Avant:  There is no point in going into the details of the 1986 60 Minutes debacle that came close to killing Audi.  There were some good cars that came out in the company’s darkest days, and one of them is the marvelous 1991 200 20V Turbo Quattro Avant.  This one-year-only package is incredibly rare.  Only 1,000 four-door sedans and about 200 station wagons got this package, and it was standard equipment on the two-door hatchback.  It’s a close cousin to the 1986 sedans that Audi used to dominate SCCA Trans-Am racing.  The twin-cam, 20-valve engine has five cylinders and goes through a five-speed manual to all four BBS wheels.  Maintenance is going to be a wee bit tricky, but enjoying this car won’t.
  • 1950-1991 Ford Country Squire:  This behemoth of a station wagon is what many Americans grew up in.  Early Country Squires are the expensive, sought-after woodies from the early 1950s.  Avoid them unless you have serious money and plans to upgrade just about everything on them.  However, starting in 1960, the Country Squire became the familiar family hauler.  They’ve covered millions of miles, millions of Americans remember them fondly, and they have starred in multiple movies.  They came with a Ford small-block V-8 (usually the 351 Windsor V-8 found in most Fords of the 1970s through the 1990s) and a mushy automatic transmission.  If you get a pre-1976 model in California, you can upgrade it to make the ultimate family hauler.  Just put in a modern Ford Coyote motor (the same engine as the Mustang), a Ford T-5 five-speed manual transmission, and some better suspension pieces and you’ll have the ultimate road trip/family hauler.  They are fairly reliable cars to begin with, and Ford made a lot of them, so finding one isn’t the challenge of the century like the Audi mentioned above.
  • Volvo V60 Polestar:  OK, who wouldn’t want a 345-horsepower station wagon that looks really cool?  Speak now or forever hold your peace.  While a mere 120 cars scheduled to come to the US over this summer isn’t a lot, it’s enough to make it a true collector car.  It’s a fast car, and Volvo has a rich history of deceptively fast station wagons.  It looks really cool with the big wheels, low-profile tires, blue paint, and it’s somewhat-bulbous styling.  Get one while you can, and enjoy it!  This is a car that’s meant to be driven, so drive the wheels off of it.
  • Saab 9-2X:  Why buy a re-badged Subaru WRX because GM said so?  Because it’s a more comfortable, tame early Subaru WRX.  For Saab faithful, it was too Subaru, even though it wasn’t nearly as blasphemous as the 9-7X “Trollbazer” which was just a Chevrolet Trailblazer with different wheels and badges.  For the rest of us automotive folks, it’s a more refined version of the spunky Subaru WRX.  Unlike the WRX, it doesn’t turn the wheels 90 degrees when you floor it.  Unlike other Saabs, you can get same-day service on it by simply going to a Subaru dealer.  It’s a far better car than the sales charts show.  Owners love it, and others snap them up.  They aren’t very big, and are more of a hatchback than a station wagon, but they are fun, reliable little cars that can really take a beating.  That’s something that most other Saabs can’t claim.
  • Morris Minor Traveller:  This cute little station wagon is based off of the popular Morris Minor.  Sir Alec Issigonis started his automotive success career with this car. The Morris Minor coupe and convertible debuted in 1948, and the Traveller station wagon followed suit in 1953.  It came to our shores through 1967. When other station wagons were ditching real wood for fiberglass and vinyl, the Traveller had real ash wood from the tailgate all the way to the B-pillars.  Not only does it look great, but it’s also the superstructure for the back half of the car.  That means you’ll have to sand and re-varnish periodically, but that’s going to be the extent of your automotive woes with this car.  Parts are cheap and easily sourced, and it’s an incredibly reliable car.  Not something you can say about most British cars.
  • Buick Roadmaster/Chevy Caprice:  Yes, they may have been the final gasp of GM’s RWD land barges, but who doesn’t want something that seats eight people, has a (slightly detuned) Corvette engine, and is gigantic?  These behemoths were the final iterations of the big American station wagons that so many Americans grew up in. They are still available and cheap for us to thrash around and haul kids around with.  You don’t need to do much to unlock the true potential of these engines – you just get the Corvette’s ECU, as the engines in these cars were the same as the Corvette’s LT1.
  • Cadillac CTS-V:  OK, most of us would LOVE to own a 556-horsepower station wagon that comes with a six-speed manual.  Look no further than the previous-generation Cadillac CTS-V wagon.  I know that this implies that there is another one coming, which we can only hope for, but this is probably the ultimate family burnout/drift/autocross/trackday/hoonmobile.  Period.  My friend Jonny Lieberman of Motor Trend had one as a long-term car for a year, and I’m still feeling the pangs of jealousy.  It has a detuned Corvette engine, but 556 horsepower is still plenty to rage through the quarter mile.  It would make the ultimate backup car for your local autocross/track day, and it would be a fun daily driver to boot.

I’m sure that many of my readers have some fun memories of being in station wagons as kids…let’s here them!

 

 

1991 Audi 200 Avant

 

1967 Ford Country SquireVolvo V60 PolestarSaab 9-2XMorris Minor Traveller1992 Buick Roadmaster WagonChevy Caprice WagonCadillac CTS-V Wagon Drifting

The Vehicles That Forever Changed the Automotive Landscape

These are not the best cars ever made.  Rather, they are the cars that have shaped modern cars.  I hope that you enjoy my list.  Please share any corrections if you feel necessary.

  • Ford Model T:  This was the car that made the production line possible.  It was also the car that made cars affordable to the American public.  Ford produced well over 15 million of them before production ended in 1927.  They are fairly simple to own, and they can keep up with city traffic if you want.  With so many built, there are many clubs and associations for the Model T all over the country.  Just look up “Ford Model T club <insert your area here>” on Google.  I can practically guarantee you that there is at least one club that you can join if you are the new owner of a Model T.  People drive them all over the place on tours.  You can take one into Alaska if you so please.  There are always plenty for sale anywhere between $10,000-40,000.  If you want to daily drive one, all you need is a good arm to crank-start it, and some adjustments to the timing.  Just retard the timing a big, be gentle with the gas, and you’ll have a car that gets up to 35 mph.  That’s plenty good for most city driving.
  • 1916 Cadillac Type 53:  Every single modern car owes a lot to this Caddy.  It was the first car EVER to come from the factory with an electric starter and a modern control layout, both of which we take for granted today.  The Type 53 wasn’t popular with Americans or the world, mostly because of it’s price (about $3,000).  However, the Austin Seven copied the Caddy and set the die for all cars to come.  Yet, I still credit the Cadillac.
  • 1932 Ford:  This was the first affordable car available to the American public with a V-8 engine.  It had a flathead V-8 making a whopping 85 horsepower.  Today, that’s comparable to a car making 500 horsepower from a V-6 (not unheard of).  Anyhow, it was affordable to some Americans.  It became known as “The Deuce,” as did the third-generation Chevrolet Nova.  It was the fastest affordable car of it’s day, which is why it was the escape vehicle of choice for Bonnie and Clyde.  It’s unclear how many were made, but it’s estimated that well over 1.5 million were sold.  Remember that Ford was selling these cars in 1932, right before the peak of the Great Depression!  It became one of the most popular cars to hot rod.  I want one, and we can call ourselves lucky that there are reproduction steel bodies, chassis (yes, that is plural and singular), and used engines aplenty.  How’s that for cool?  You can build your very own reproduction Deuce for about $20,000.  It’s going to be so much more fun than that Corolla you’ve had your eye on.
  • Willys/Bantam/Ford Jeep:  WWII veterans say that the Jeep was the vehicle that won WWII.  They are right.  It can still embarrass most purpose-built vehicles on a dirt road or in mud.  It was the first 4X4 to be sold to the American public en masse, and it proved to be popular.  After WWII, Willys decided to market the Jeep as an alternative to a tractor for farmers.  Chrysler still rakes in hundreds of millions on new Jeep Wranglers every year.  It’s truly an iconic vehicle.
  • 1948 MG TC:  This little wood-framed British roadster is what allowed such amazing cars as the Lotus Elise, Mazda Miata, and even the mighty Shelby Cobra to be.  Every single great American racing legend – Carroll Shelby, Phil Hill, Richie Ginther, and many others got their start in an MG TC.  On a winding road, this little car that only made 55 horsepower and 64 lb-ft of torque would simply run away from any American car, regardless of power output.  Much of what we hold dear as an automotive enthusiast was started by this little car.  It’s influence on every single sports car from 1948 on is immeasurable.  It’s still fast enough to embarrass a modern Chevy Camaro Z/28 on a windy road.  That’s pretty damn fast for a car that makes 450 less horsepower.
  • VW Beetle Type 1:  It’s the single most-produced car in history.  It’s an elegantly simple design that has stood the test of time better than most cars produced at the same time.  It was the foundation for the legendary Porsche 356, Meyers Manx dune buggy, and VW Transporter bus.  It was FWD, came as either a convertible or a coupe, had a tiny rear-mounted four-cylinder engine, and cost far less than any new American car on the road.  It became extremely popular with people of all ages and demographics.  Many new parents went out and bought a Beetle, and it would serve millions of families around the world faithfully for 20 years or more without major problems.  Most new cars can’t say that.  In the hippie movement, it became extremely popular.  Once the off-roading community got their hands on one, the legendary Baja Bug was born.  It is still fast enough to keep pace with a modern Trophy Truck in the horrible dirt roads of Baja, or the sand dunes of Pismo Beach.  Almost every desert town in the world will have at least several Baja Bugs running around.  It’s fast, sturdy, and capable, yet can be driven around town without complaining.  And the best part is you can build yourself one for about $5,000!  That’s not including a starter vehicle, by the way!  My grandparents owned one.  You probably know somebody who’s owned one.
  • Toyota 2000GT:  This was the car that put the Japanese automotive industry on notice with the world.  It was a more expensive alternative to the Jaguar E-Type, Chevrolet Corvette, Ford Thunderbird, Porsche 911, and the like.  It’s achingly gorgeous, and only a handful were built.  It’s also achingly expensive.  Toyota proved that they could hang with whatever Europe happened to build.  James Bond drove one.
  • Lamborghini Miura:  It’s not the quintessential Lamborghini – that goes to the equally-amazing Countach, but it set the standard for supercars.  It came around because Ferrucio Lamborghini wanted to build a better Ferrari.  When Lamborghini was going to debut the Miura concept car at the Geneva Motor Show in 1965, they didn’t even have a body!  They had a chassis with a V-12, a transmission, and wheels.  That was it.  However, the Miura looks absolutely stunning.  It’s one of the most beautiful cars ever built, and every single supercar owes a lot to the Lamborghini Miura.
  • Citroen DS:  When it debuted in 1955, it was the most technologically-advanced car in the world.  It had hydraulic suspension, a streamlined fiberglass body shell, four wheel disc brakes, a twin-cam V6, and many other technological innovations.  It was one of the first truly modern cars.  One can compare it to the Tesla Model S.  That’s how revolutionary it was.
  • 1955-1957 Chevrolet 210/Bel Air:  The Tri-Five Chevrolet’s are some of the most beautiful cars ever produced.  My personal favorite is the 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air coupe.  The 1955 Chevy became forever immortalized with Two Lane Blacktop and American Graffiti.  Yes, the sinister ’55 is the same car in both movies!  The 1955 Chevrolet introduced the revolutionary Chevrolet small-block (Mouse motor) V-8 to the world.  The 1957 Chevy Bel Air with the 283 cubic-inch V-8 and Rochester mechanical fuel injection became legendary on NASCAR tracks and dragstrips around the country.  It was as fast the Jaguar E-Type 10 years later.  I’m still wanting one!
  • Austin Mini:  Alec Issigonis sketched it on a bar napkin.  He never knew that it would become one of the most popular vehicles of the 20th century.  Let’s forget that it’s a cultural icon for a moment.  It was the first FWD car to come with a transversely-mounted engine (the engine was mounted sideways), which means that it’s the template for most FWD cars on the road today.  It became a motorsports icon in everything from endurance racing to rally racing.  It also became iconic in several movies – The Italian Job, The Bourne Identity, Mr. Bean, and Goldmember.  It’s also a major cultural icon.
  • Ford Explorer:  This was the vehicle that kicked off the SUV craze of the 1990s-today.  It was based off of the lowly Ranger pickup, but had a comfortable interior and the second generation had good looks.  It’s still a best-seller today.  It’s popular with the off-road community because it’s a Ranger with more space for people.  My parents owned one.  You probably know somebody who’s owned one.
  • Shelby Cobra:  Yeah it’s an obvious one for this list.  Carroll Shelby took a British roadster, and put a small-block Ford motor from the Mustang into it.  Then, he went hog-wild and put a big-block Ford into it.  That catapulted the Shelby Cobra into automotive fame.  Anybody who knows something about cars knows of the Shelby Cobra.  It could hang with anything.  It could beat a Chevrolet Corvette with the coveted L88 big-block V-8 in the curves and straightaways.  It dominated endurance and road racing for a glorious 3 years before Shelby stopped production of it.  It also dominated the NHRA Pro Stock drag racing class for a few years.  Today, there are at least 20 different companies who will sell you a Cobra replica.  Get a Factory Five replica.  It’s Shelby of North America licensed, and it comes with modern mechanical parts, yet can still hang with a modern hypercar.  
  • Chevrolet El Camino:  In it’s first generation, it was quite a looker.  Chevy didn’t sell too terribly many of the Impala-based ute, but you’ve probably seen a few driving around your town/city.  The second generation proved to be much more popular.  It was based off of the massively popular Chevelle, and you could get one with the rare, coveted LS6 V-8.  I remember reading an article about an owner of an LS6 Elco (a nickname for the El Camino), and he said that he has to drive it around with sandbags in the bed to keep it from spinning out.  That’s what happens when you have a massively-underrated 450 horsepower and no weight over the rear tires.  If you could get it to hook up, it would go through the 1/4 mile in 13 seconds flat at 125 mph.  That’s about as fast as a modern sports car.  I’ve heard driving one isn’t any different than driving a Chevelle, except for throttle modulation.  Flooring it from a stop, even with the still-powerful 327 cubic-inch V-8 will give a glorious burnout.  I want one.
  • 1968-1970 Dodge Charger/Charger 500/Daytona:  The second-generation Dodge Charger is one of the most beautiful cars ever built.  It’s got muscular elegance.  It had curvy “Coke Bottle” styling, and a plethora of engine choices.  The base engine was the “poly” 318 cubic-inch small-block V-8 that stayed in production in one form or another from 1959-2004.  The next step up was the 383 cubic-inch “Commando” big-block V-8.  After that, it was the 440 “Super Commando” big-block V-8.  One rung above that was the 440 Six Pack – a 440 with three two-barrel Holley carburetors.  The top of the ladder was the mighty 426 HEMI “Elephant Motor” big-block V-8.  The Charger 500 was designed for NASCAR, so it had a rear window flush with the body, along with other small aero modifications.  The Daytona was truly legendary.  Only 503 were sold to the general public, only 70 of which had the 426 HEMI.  The rest had the 440 Six Pack.  It was designed for NASCAR superspeedways, and it truly dominated.  It looked comical with it’s 19-inch long nose cone and nearly two-foot tall rear wing.  The only reason the wing was so high is that anything shorter and the trunk wouldn’t close! The Charger was catapulted into fame by The Dukes of Hazzard for one generation, and for the millenials, they were captivated by the supercharged 1968 Charger used in Fast & Furious.
  • Datsun 240Z:  This little Japanese sports car wasn’t a smashing success, but it certainly left it’s mark on sports cars.  It was light, looked drop-dead gorgeous, had a reliable, powerful engine, and a five-speed manual transmission.  Very few cars at the time had a five-speed.  All of that combined meant that it was a serious threat on a windy road.  Today, they are becoming collector cars, which is a shame, as they are built to be driven.  That’s not to be said that you can’t find a cheap one – you still can.  Hot rodders who are enamored by Japanese cars, but love the power of an American V-8 put a Chevy small-block V-8 and some suspension bits in, and have one hell of a ride.  My grandparents and dad owned one.
  • Audi Quattro:  This AWD notchback with a turbocharged 5-cylinder engine was so successful on the rally circuit that AWD was banned from the sport for about 10 years.  Stock, it’s not at all reliable (except for the first two years of production), but upgrading the engine internals will give you a strong, reliable, fast, and cool daily driver.  It’s truly an all-weather car.  I chose this car because of the impact that it had on rallycross and rally racing.  Any car with AWD past 1985 would have been much worse if it weren’t for the Audi Quattro.  My uncle owned one.  He should have kept it and given it to me.
  • Ford Mustang:  This was the car that started the ponycar craze.  No matter how much Ford hypes it as a muscle car (and Chevy with the Camaro), it IS NOT and never will be.  It is a pony car.  The Dodge Challenger is a muscle car.  Sorry Ford, but I’m just stating the truth.  Don’t shoot the messenger.  That being said, Ford introduced a whole new type of car to America.  Buying a Mustang with the base six-cylinder engine meant that you were carefree but had to watch your cash.  Getting it with the V-8 meant that you were carefree, but who cared about money – you only live once!  Getting it as a convertible only reinforced that.  The Shelby GT350 Mustang of 1965 was part of a deal with Hertz where you could rent the car on Friday, drive it to the racetrack on Saturday, race and win, go again on Sunday and win, and then drive it back to the rental lot.  It was somewhat streetable, but it really did well on the racetrack.  Carroll Shelby originally didn’t want to do it – he told Lee Iaccoca that “Lee, you can’t make a racehorse out of a mule.”  Yet that so-called mule became a massive racing success.  It’s still in production 50 years later.  Many American moms went from a station wagon to a Mustang and never looked back.
  • Pontiac GTO:  Originally offered as a package on the mid-size Tempest in 1963, the GTO took the thundering 389 cubic-inch V-8 from the Le Mans and shoved it into the considerably smaller Tempest.  It was a smashing success, so Pontiac decided to turn it into it’s own model in 1964.  It was much more popular that way, and the ultimate model was the 1969 Judge Ram Air IV.  It came with the then-new 455 cubic-inch V-8 and a functional Ram Air hood (the Ram Air package came in four stages), a Muncie M-22 “Rock Crusher” transmission, and bodywork that let you know that you really were king of the street.  It was truly stunning, especially in green.  It went dormant for 20+ years before appearing as a rebadged Holden Monaro in the US.  It wasn’t very popular.  It’s probably because Ford launched the retro-styled S197-generation Mustang right around the same time.  The 2004-2006 GTO looked nothing at all like any other GTO.  It didn’t look very good.  Nowadays, the modern “Goat” is popular with hot rodders who want to have all of the modern conveniences and glorious power.  Some even take the body off of the GTO and put on a classic car’s body.  Voila, you have a car that looks like a classic, but handles and drives like a new car.  Plus, they are easy to put bigger engines in.  Drifters are starting to find them.  Beware.
  • Lexus LS400:  This big Lexus was the car that sent Germany scrambling back to the drawing board.  The LS400 competed with the Mercedes-Benz S-Class and BMW 7-Series.  The German cars were stodgy cruisers that were heavy, large beasts on the street, but smooth on the highway.  The Lexus took that trademark Japanese agility and feeling of being a smaller car, threw in a buttery-smooth engine and transmission (the ads showed a champagne flute on the hood while the engine revved.  The champagne never overflowed – or came close to that!), a sumptuous leather interior, and made it a fun car to drive.  Lexus kept it in production from 1989-2000 in one basic form or another.  It sold well, and is a completely bulletproof car in terms of reliability.
  • Chevrolet S-10:  OK, I am a bit biased on this, but hear me out.  The Chevrolet S-10 replaced the dismal LUV pickups of the 1970s in 1982.  It came with an underpowered 4-cylinder engine or a more powerful 2.8-liter V-6.  In 1988, Chevy added their new 4.3-liter V-6 to the S-10.  It literally doubled the towing and hauling capacity, as well as making it a far more enjoyable truck to drive.  My S-10 is a 1989 Tahoe model.  That means that it was top of the line.  It has a cloth interior, an AM/FM radio, air conditioning, and it has fuel injection (the 1988 model had a carburetor).  You could get it as a regular cab or an extended cab.  Bed sizes were a 5-foot bed or a 6.5-foot bed. That’s not huge, but for somebody in a crowded city who needs a pickup, it’s perfect.  You could get it in 2WD or 4WD.  Mine is 2WD.  It was wildly successful, and you can still see a lot on the road.  Some people are taking modern Chevy LS3 E-Rod engines (smog-legal V-8’s) and stuffing them into an S-10.  They’re quite the sleeper.
  • Porsche 911 Turbo:  When it first debuted in 1975, it was a total animal of a car.  Lift off of the gas going into a corner, and you’d hit the guardrail with the backside of the car.  You had to keep your foot in it.  It made an underrated 276 horsepower (think closer to 350), had no ABS, a clutch that was so stiff that some had to literally push their leg down to depress the clutch, and a 5-speed manual transmission.  It was a total monster of a car that dominated the racing circuits, but was completely and totally unstreetable.  But, put one on a windy canyon road, modulate the throttle, and you had a recipe for speed.  Porsche still makes it.  However, it now makes a ridiculous 520 horsepower, and is truly the ultimate all-weather supercar.
  • Ford GT40:  This was the car that dominated endurance racing during the 1960’s.  It was the result of Enzo Ferrari refusing to sell his company to Ford in 1964.  Henry Ford II decided to beat Enzo Ferrari at his own game on his own turf.  Talk about owning a bully.  The GT40 was aerodynamic, muscular-looking, and was built for racing.  Ford built about 20-40 for the street (it’s unclear how many).  The first models came with a Shelby-tuned 289 cubic-inch V-8 that made 300 horsepower via a tri-power (three two-barrel carburetor) setup and forged internals and an Isky cam.  This engine was so durable that when Ford disassembled the engine after the season was over, it looked brand-new.  Later models came with Ford’s mighty 427 cubic-inch FE-Series “Cammer” engine.  This engine was the same one in the Shelby Cobra.  It made about 500 horsepower.  Both engines were mated to a four-speed manual.  The GT40 simply dominated the 24 Hours of Le Mans and 24 Hours of Nurburgring.  It was insanely fast, and it could be heard from over a mile away.  It beat Ferrari at their own game for years, before the FIA changed the rules, and both Ferrari and Ford had to comply.  Ford pulled out of Le Mans endurance racing for 20+ years and let Ferrari dominate.

 

 

 

Yes, that is a young Harrison Ford standing next to one of the most iconic hot rods ever.  It’s a 1932 Ford Hi-Boy (the body was lifted off of the frame so the frame could be tweaked).  It has a Chevy 283 cubic-inch small-block V-8 with crackling sidepipes.  This was the car that made me appreciate the little deuce coupe.

This is a fuelie 1957 Chevy Bel Air.  It became known as the “Black Widow” because it only came in black with white tape stripes, a black-and-white interior, and the red center caps on the wheels.

This is a gasser.  Gassers got their name because of the drag racing class they were in (B/Gas or blown/gas).  They had big engines with no supercharger, or smaller supercharged engines.  Look up “Roadkill Blasphemi” on YouTube for the build and cross-country blitz of one of my favorite cars – “Blasphemi.”

This is probably the ultimate Shelby Cobra.  It’s called the “Super Snake” because it has twin superchargers on top of an already-powerful engine.  Bill Cosby almost bought one, but took it on a test drive and thought he was going to die.  Carroll Shelby bought it.  Only two were made, but it was incredibly fast.  It’s rumored that in testing the car hit 210 mph – in 1966!  To me, it’s the ultimate factory hot rod.

This is a 1969 Dodge Daytona replica made by a host of the /DRIVE Network, Mike Musto.  It’s one of my favorite cars ever.  He took a 1969 Charger and turned it into a Daytona.  It’s the ultimate cross-country cruiser.  Just looking at it sends shivers down my spine.

The only stock part about this Mustang is the roof, A-pillar, and C-pillar.  It’s the latest creation from the brilliantly mad folks at RTR and Hoonigan.  Ken Block had it built.  It’s got a stroked NASCAR-spec engine that makes 850 horsepower that goes to all four wheels.  That’s right, this car is AWD.  You need to watch “Gymkhana 7” if you haven’t already.  It’s simply amazing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

10 Cars that Could Make You a Millionaire!

We all like to make money.  All of you like cars (me included!).  Ten cars could (theoretically) allow you to make a cool $1,000,000 – most of them NOT by themselves.  Anybody who has been buying/selling old cars knows that the classic car market has been taking a crash course on Wall Street.  It’s either boom or bust.  Bust happened in 1990 when a hyper-inflated Ferrari market crashed in the time frame of a year.  In 2007-2008, the market for Mopars with Hemi engines crashed, with many cars losing 2/3 of their value within 18 months.  The basic premise of this blog post is to tell you what cars you can buy for not too much money, and sell for a hefty profit.  Well, there are a few exceptions to that rule, but I think you’ll agree with my decisions for those cars.

However, that’s not to say that the market is dead.  In fact, it’s quite the opposite.  The market is globalized in a way it couldn’t have been just 10 years ago.  Only 20% of Russia had internet access in 2007, but now almost 80% have access.  Now that Russians have more money to spend, they are looking for ways other than cheap economy cars or an old Mercedes-Benz with 300,000 miles on the odometer to get around.  Cars continue to be more accepted as investments among those who wouldn’t care about them otherwise.  Sure, one could consider it a bubble, but until then, here are some cars, erm, investments, that I would buy with my tiny fortune.

  1. 1962-1965 Shelby Cobra.  The original Shelby Cobras are what I am referring to (Shelby makes continuation Cobras).  It’s quite possible that prices for the Cobra have already priced, as prices for these things are literally enough to make a Wall Street investor empty their bank account in a few short minutes.  The MkI and MkII (260 and 289 cubic-inch V8 Cobras) will run you about $800,000.  Forget buying a 427 Cobra – those are at least $1 million!  For the small-block Cobras, prices are up from $500,000 just five years ago, and that was up from $150,000 in 2003.  Yikes.
  2. 1970-1973 Datsun 240Z.  Remember when you could buy a Datsun 240Z for $4,000 in 2004?  Well, the average sale for 2013 was $19,000.  People who wanted one when they were young now (hopefully) have the discretionary income to buy one.  Plus, the Z looks timeless.  It’s like a more mature, cheaper Toyota 2000GT.  It’s great, easy and cheap to own, and a hoot to drive.  That won’t change.  What will likely change are the prices.  If the Datsun 240Z is any indication of the rising market demand for 1970s Japanese sports cars, expect prices to rise dramatically in the next few years.  If you want one, get it NOW!
  3. 1970-1971 Mercedes-Benz 280 SE 3.5 Cabriolet.  Nobody really thought that any regular-production, post-300SL Mercedes-Benz would be worth anything.  I didn’t for a while.  Nobody thought much of them because they were designed to last forever.  How can a car become more valuable when it never changes?  Then, three 280 SE 3.5 Cabriolets sold last August at the RM Monterey Auctions for a whopping average price of – brace yourselves – $265,833.  In 2010, the average transaction price was a still-high $94,000.  It’s hard to think that this extreme inflation will continue for much longer.  But, it’s not showing any signs of stopping.  Time to re-mortgage the house if you want one of these!
  4. 1976-1981 Ferrari 512BB.  Most of the male readers of this blog likely had posters of this car on their bedroom walls.  Combining absolutely timeless bedroom-wall-poster looks with the exotic, screaming power of the Berlinetta Boxer’s six-carburetor, vee-crank flat V12, you can’t go wrong.  Prices haven’t changed much since 2007, with prices staying right about $140,000.  However, you can still find one for under six digits.  For about $95,000, you can buy one for the price of what a grey market car would have cost you 35 years ago.  If that’s not a deal, I don’t know what else is.  Buy two and wait patiently.  Time to sell the house!
  5. 2009 Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione.  Alfa Romeo is back into the U.S. with the 4C.  It’s a great car.  It’s better looking than any new Ferrari, it’s faster than anything from Japan or America on a race track, and I want one.  The 8C was an amazing one-year blip in Alfa Romeo’s 19-year absence from the American car market.  The price now?  Hard to tell, as they were about $250,000 new, and only 84 were ever sold in the U.S.  Nobody is letting go of them, either, so yeah, good luck finding one.  Most are being held in private collections, but it’s going to be a challenge to start a market for them if nobody sells them.
  6. 1972-1974 BMW 2002 tii.  The BMW 2002 was a great car.  All of the automotive magazines said it was better than any muscle car out there.  It was nimble, light, and deceivingly fast.  The most desirable 2002 is the fuel injected version, called the 2002tii.  It was light, potent, reliable, and it favored fun over everything else.  Like the Datsun 240Z, they weren’t worth much of anything for a very long time due to their abundance.  In 2004, a nice 2002tii was carrying about $10,000.  Now, prices have blown past $20,000, and people are really only beginning to appreciate them.  Yeah, BMW only made 38,000 of the 2002tii, but an awful lot of them were used up.  Even if you buy one and it doesn’t go up in prices, you’ve still got one helluva car.  It’s a win-win situation.  Basically, for the price of a smallish shapeless blob painted silver, you can get a reliable daily driver that will get you thumbs up all over the place, and a tidy look.  Why not buy one?
  7. 1944-1986 Willys CJ.  The Willys CJ is one of the record holding cars for being in production.  It remained in production basically unchanged for 42 years.  The older models are pretty cool.  Parts are abundant for them, and there is a thriving after market for them.  They look cool, can go literally anywhere, and are so reliable that it makes any Honda or Toyota’s reliability look like a joke.  Plus, any old Willys CJ will be a barrel of fun.  It may not make you a million bucks, but you can buy one for a relative song right now.  Prices for these cool little vehicles that helped win WWII are cheap.  You can buy a really nice one for about $15,000, but where’s the fun in something that’s been restored by somebody other than you?  Get one that needs some work for about $7,500.  If you want to get even more on the cool factor, get a genuine Willys military Jeep.  That’s about $7,500.
  8. 1970-1974 Dodge Challenger:  The Dodge Challenger was one of the cars that lost 2/3rds of its value in 2007-2008, but prices are once more on the rise.  The R/T models with the 426 Hemi “Elephant” engine are the most desirable.  If you can’t swing one with the 426, get one with the massive 440 cubic-inch V8 (that’s 7.2 liters!) Six Pack.  That has six carburetor throats feeding gas and air into those wonderful sounding 440 cubic inches.  Even the models with the 383 cubic-inch V8 are fun.
  9. 1955-1957 Chevrolet Bel Air:  The Tri-Five Chevy’s are great cars.  They are fun, beautiful, reliable, and the prices are always climbing.  Now is the time to get one.  My personal favorite is the 1957 Bel Air convertible.  It looks like a Cadillac.  If you want one to be a pro-touring car, a drag car, or a show queen, there is no shortage of parts availability for these cars.  The 1956 models are the cheapest of the three years, but they are still pretty expensive.  If you get one now, enjoy it, show it, do burnouts, and have fun with a priceless piece of Americana.
  10. 1970-1972 Chevrolet Chevelle SS454 LS6:  This is probably one of the most iconic Chevrolet’s ever.  It’s got a massive Chevrolet 454 cubic-inch V8 (7.4 liters) with the legendary LS6 code name.  It makes a thundering 450 horsepower in LS6 form.  In the lesser LS5 form, it makes a still-impressive 360 horsepower.  If you can’t swing the climbing prices of the LS6 Chevelle, go for a still-mighty Chevelle SS396.  It’s still going to be a lot of fun, and it will handle better, thanks to less weight on the front of the car.  Plus, you can yank out the 396 and put a crate 454 underneath.  If you want more power, you can put a 468 cubic-inch V8, a 489 cubic-inch V8, a 572 cubic-inch V8, a 598 cubic-inch V8, or a 632 cubic-inch V8.  I would go for the 468 stroker motor, as it doesn’t add too much weight to the front, but it adds far more power.  Nelson Racing Engines (nelsonracingengines.com) makes a 600-horsepower 468 that sounds just about right for a Chevelle…

That’s all that I have to offer you, but I’m sure that you have your own suggestions.  Let me know in the comments section.

 

A Lincoln Town Car for the Modern Day

Fans of Ford’s Panther platform will no doubt cry “blasphemy” and a whole other host of names.  Haters gonna hate.  If you’re a Panther fan, keep it to yourself and read this blog post, or come back next Tuesday.

Not only does the Hyundai Equus Ultimate serve as Hyundai’s flagship, it also costs as much as a premium midsize sedan like the 2014 Cadillac CTS.  I’m not suggesting a comparison – the CTS is in a completely different league than the Equus.  While Hyundai’s execution of a fullsize flagship sedan is good, it’s not quite as good as the Lexus LS460, Mercedes-Benz S550, and BMW 750i/Li.  It’s just that you can’t really build a value-oriented flagship and expect it to compete against manufacturers that have at least 25 years of practice.  It’s the equivalent of In-n-Out going completely vegan.  You just don’t expect it to be good.

Panther platform enthusiasts will be quick to point out that the 12.3-18.3 inch-shorter Equus doesn’t have body-on-frame construction.  The Equus DOES, however, have a 2.7-inch longer wheelbase than ANY Panther platform car.  Like the Town Car, the Equus is styled much more conservatively than the love-it-or-hate-it Cadillac XTS and bulbous Lincoln MKS.  The Equus has a roomy, comfortable interior filled with amenities and options that the Lincoln Town Car never offered.  It’s also rear-wheel-drive, and it’s got a smooth, very powerful V8 shared with the Hyundai Genesis.  It’s the only modern car to have clear Lincoln Town Car DNA in it.  It’s obvious who Hyundai is trying to attract.

Rear seat passengers can now individually control the infotainment system, look up restaurants on the go, and even enter destinations while moving.  All 2014 Equus models get a standard three-zone climate control system (driver, passenger, rear passengers) standard.  Ultimate models now seat five people instead of four.  Very few of its competitors offer four seats instead of five in top-of-the-line models.  Ultimate models also come with cruise control with a unique 0 mph stop-start function, front, rear, and multi-view cameras.  It also comes with a proximity key that turns the exterior and interior lights on and off, as well as unfolding the side mirrors.  The doors automatically close a la minivan, and power lumbar support for rear outboard passengers.

For those drivers who want to have performance, fear not.  The engine is a 429-horsepower 5.0-liter V8.  The front bushings are completely new.  As for the Sport and Tour modes, they have been revised for improved ride and handling, respectively.

Because its cabin is so insulated, and its powertrain is so smooth, the optional heads-up display is justifiable.  Since the suspension is engineered for comfort, lots of brake dive and body roll make it less than ideal for back road barnstorming.  It also probably diminishes driver confidence on the street, especially in the city.

While the Equus isn’t quite up to par with the Lexus LS460 in terms of interior quality, it has a 12-way power-adjustable driver’s seat with separate lumbar controls.  The front passenger seat has 10 ways to make you more comfortable.  Outboard rear seats have four ways and lumbar.  Like the S-Class, the Equus has many of its front and rear switches conveniently located high on the doors.

Up until the end of the 2013 model year, the Equus Ultimate only sat four people.  It had a massage function for the driver and the right rear passenger (where many passengers sit).  The 2014 model offers seating for five people, but no massaging seats.  The 2014 model also has controls for the:  Infotainment system, rear climate control, and rear seats on the fold-down center armrest in the rear seat.  A “Relax” button moves and tilts the front passenger seat forward before reclining the rear passenger seat.  The “Return” button returns both seats to their previous positions.  Now that both rear seats recline, the available power footrest is no more.

Like the Lincoln Town Car, the Hyundai Equus Ultimate offers full-size space and all of the luxury touches one would expect in a flagship.  Another similar thing between these two vehicles designed for those like to be chauffeured around – neither lives up to the standard set by the Lexus LS460, Mercedes-Benz S550, and BMW 750i/Li.  While the value-oriented Equus can be compared to a modern Lincoln Town Car, it does have something that the big Lincoln never had – a 429-horsepower, 5.0-liter V8 and 8-speed automatic transmission.  In my mind, the Hyundai Equus picks up right where the Lincoln Town Car left off.  Now, the one thing that Hyundai has left – the monumental task of convincing everybody the virtues of a bargain-priced flagship sedan.

 

The 12 Stunning Detroit International Auto Show Debuts!

The Detroit International Auto Show always has a lot of cool new debuts.  As one might expect, a LOT of new American metal debuts there.  But, foreign cars are also starting to be debuted at Detroit more and more.  Enjoy my top 12 debuts

  1. 2015 Ford F150:  With the majority of the 2015 Ford F150 made out of aluminum, the 2015 Ford F150 lost almost 700 pounds.  In terms of design, Ford clearly heard the raving about the Atlas Concept.  The 2015 F150 looks almost exactly like the Atlas!  In terms of engines, Ford’s taken the liberty of making smaller, more powerful engines the norm for the F150.  The base engine is a 3.5-liter V6 (the same one residing under the hood of the Explorer).  Ford also dropped the thirsty 6.2-liter V8 from the lineup.  The only available V8 is the splendid 5.0-liter “Coyote” V8 shared with the Mustang.  The 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V6 stays, but the EcoBoost has a smaller EcoBoost sister engine.  The smaller EcoBoost engine displaces a seemingly small 2.7 liters, yet makes as much power as the outgoing 3.7-liter V6.  All four engines will be mated to Ford’s six-speed automatic, but don’t be surprised to see the 10-speed automatic being co-developed with GM come into the mix sometime soon.  I can’t wait to see the 2015 F150 in person!
  2. 2015 Chrysler 200:  Chrysler’s been hit hard the last five or six years.  First, it’s bankruptcy.  Then, it’s being bought out completely by Fiat, then it’s just about every model coming out of the Auburn Hills factory being blasted with hate mail from every single automotive magazine in the U.S.  Chrysler’s trying to make up that image.  The design of the 2015 Chrysler 200 is simply stunning.  Based on the Dodge Dart’s platform, the 2015 Chrysler 200 will be instantly recognizable to anybody who has seen a 2013 Dodge Dart.  Chrysler’s trying to make the 200 easier to live with.  It’s got standard pass-through storage, better ergonomics, and most things in the cabin are electronic.  The 9-speed automatic that is used in the Jeep Cherokee will be standard across the line.  A 2.4-liter TigerShark 4-cylinder engine borrowed from the Dodge Dart is standard.  The step-up engine is a 295-horsepower 3.6-liter Pentastar V6.  I don’t know about you, but Chrysler just might be able to make an extremely competitive car in an extremely competitive segment.
  3. 2015 Cadillac ATS Coupe:  Cadillac’s seen a massive resurgence in past years.  The 2008 CTS won Motor Trend’s 2008 Car of the Year trophy, and the 2013 ATS and 2014 CTS have both been praised for their good looks and fun-to-drive factors.  Just about everything is shared with the ATS sedan.  That’s a good thing.  The 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine has 295-lb-ft of torque available at 3000 RPM.  Amazingly, the ATS coupe is said to weigh just 45 more pounds than the ATS sedan.  Cadillac’s even partnered with AT&T, Verizon, and T Mobile to ensure that the ATS Coupe has 4G LTE hotspot connectivity.
  4. 2015 BMW M3/M4:  BMW’s become obsessed with turbocharged engines.  Not only do they offer more performance, but they reduce weight and give better fuel economy.  The 2015 M3/M4 have a twin-turbocharged inline-six-cylinder engine that makes somewhere in the neighborhood of 425 horsepower.  The standard transmission is a six-speed manual (score for the purists), and a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission borrowed from the M5 is optional.  BMW says that they cut 175 pounds compared to the E90 generation M3, so the 2015 M3/M4 should weigh about as much as an E46 M3.  The M3/M4 look extremely aggressive.  The front ends have massive air intakes, a bulging power-rise hood, and a wider front and rear track compared to the standard 3/4 Series models.
  5. 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray ZO6:  The 2015 ZO6 makes 625 horsepower (13 less than the ZR-1), and it has an 8-speed automatic transmission that shifts faster than a Porsche PDK transmission.  Chevy’s offering THREE aerodynamics packages borrowed from the C7.R race car, and it has the seven-speed manual transmission from the regular Stingray standard.  GM says that the 2015 ZO6 shattered course records at the Milford proving grounds on its FIRST time at the track!
  6. 2015 Ford Mustang:  Since I’ve already covered the 2015 Ford Mustang, I won’t spend too terribly much time on the 2015 Mustang.  Ford won’t answer many questions about the 2015 Mustang, which means that they’re still working on it.  Whatever.  It looks great, and I expect it to handle much better, as it’s been redesigned from the ground up!
  7. 2014 Porsche 911 Targa:  Finally, Porsche’s come out with the return of the iconic 911 Targa.  The 911 Targa doesn’t have the sliding top like previous Targas.  The Porsche 911 Targa is sure to bring back fond memories for many.  Because it’s a Porsche, expect to be set back at least $100,000 for a Targa 4S.  I can’t wait to see the 2014 911 Targa in person!
  8. 2015 Subaru Impreza WRX STI:  Subaru has made it’s reputation for making pocket rockets.  The 2015 WRX gave some hope for enthusiasts.  It’s equally at home rocketing down a gravel road or zooming around a track.  The STI improves on that.  It makes 305 horsepower (it uses the same engine as the previous generation), but it looks a whole lot better than the previous generation.  It looks more like a DTM race car combined with a WRC rally car.  Subie won’t tell ANYBODY how much the STI will weigh.  That’s a shame, because previous Subaru WRX STI’s have been plump.
  9. Kia GT4 Stinger Concept:  I think that I can safely agree with everybody here that Kia seriously needs to stop making amazing-looking concept cars until it decides to build them.  The GT4 Stinger has four seats, a turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, rear-wheel drive, and a six-speed manual.  Naturally, one’s mind drifts towards the Subaru BR-Z and Scion FR-S, the natural competitors to the GT4 Stinger.  Before Kia shoves this car into some secret bunker at the 38th Parallel, they need to build this car.  The engine is essentially a depowered version of the 400-horsepower engine used in the Pirelli World Challenge Optimas.  Kia, are you reading my thoughts?  If you are, BUILD THIS CAR!
  10. Toyota FT-1 Concept:  Toyota’s trying to appeal to enthusiasts.  The last car that did that?  The Supra.  Toyota’s FT-1 looks stunning, and it’s even available in Gran Turismo 6!  Toyota won’t tell what’s under the hood.  We all know that the Supra engine is dead.  Lexus is experimenting with high-powered 5.0-liter V8s in the IS F, and I could easily see the IS F’s engine under the hood of this stunning concept.  Even if Toyota doesn’t build this car, it still shows what future Toyota styling might look like.
  11. Volvo XC Concept Coupe:  Volvo’s made it’s living with industry-leading safety advances, but safety doesn’t sell millions of cars.  So, Volvo’s started cranking out extremely promising concept cars.  Considering that Plug-in Hybrid is etched into the fenders, it’s obvious that the XC Concept Coupe is definitely a hybrid.  Volvo stresses the fact that the XC Concept Coupe has “rich XC Heritage.”  Considering Volvo’s been making SUV’s since 1997, one could agree that the XC Concept Coupe would look stellar as a shooting brake.  
  12. Audi A8 L Security:  Some fullsize  luxury sedan buyers want theirs to be bulletproof.  Audi’s joined the fight against gunfight victims with the A8 L Security.  The A8 L Security is beefed up to an extreme.  It takes 450 man-hours to make all of the bulletproof components for the A8 L Security.  It is able to withstand sub-caliber machine gun fire, and buyers can even opt for an emergency exit system that blows the hinges off the doors, as well as a fire suppression system and an emergency fresh-air system.  The extra weight will substantially hamper performance, but the driver and passengers can get out of a sticky situation safer.

On a separate note, I have to go in for surgery next week.  During my time in the hospital, I will not have access to a computer, and I probably won’t be up to publishing anyways!  I don’t know how long I will be out for, but keep yourselves entertained with the Motor Trend Youtube Channel!  My favorite show is Roadkill.  I think you’ll enjoy it just as much as I do.  You can start watching the videos now at http://www.youtube.com/user/MotorTrend

Is the 2014 Cadillac CTS VSport a V-E Day for Caddy?

When Cadillac introduced the 2nd generation CTS back in 2008, it blew the wheels off of the competition.  It was just that good.  It remains that good to this day, but it also happened to snare Motor Trend’s 2008 Car of the Year award.  That’s some pretty prestigious territory.  Caddy didn’t rest on their laurels for long.  They took the V8 engine out of the Chevrolet Corvette ZR-1, detuned it to 556 horsepower and 551 lb-ft of torque, and shoved it into the CTS.  Thus, the CTS-V was born.  The CTS-V was good enough to win multiple comparisons against the BMW M5, Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG, and even the Mercedes-Benz CLS63 AMG.  All of those cars that were defeated have been significantly updated and/or redesigned since 2009, but the CTS-V remains a high-water mark for GM.  Cadillac even added a coupe and a station wagon version for both the CTS and the CTS-V in 2011, and all of the CTS iterations are true champions.  For us mere mortals that want better fuel economy than 12 or 13 mpg, then the 2014 Cadillac CTS VSport might be the ticket to success.

When Cadillac started designing the 3rd generation CTS for 2014, their goal was to make the car leaner and meaner.  What they meant by that was make its dimensions larger to better compete with the BMW 5 Series, Acura RLX, Mercedes Benz E Class, and the Jaguar XF.  They also had to make it lighter.  That’s when forged aluminum and high-strength steel come into hand.  The 2014 Cadillac CTS is reportedly lighter by up to 350 pounds in some versions.  But, I want to talk to you about the 2014 Cadillac CTS VSport, which is the car that is a step below the still-available CTS-V.

Cadillac has said in multiple press releases that they will use V6s whenever possible.  Not only are they able to cram more technology into the V6 engines, but the V6 design reduces weight.  But, won’t BMW and Mercedes-Benz have V8s in their 550i and E550.  Won’t Cadillac be bringing a butter knife to an RPG fight?  Not necessarily.  The 2014 Cadillac CTS VSport’s twin-turbo 3.6-liter V6 makes 420 horsepower, versus 400 horsepower (probably much more than that, according to dyno tests) for the Bimmer, and 402 for the Benz.  However, torque is down a bit, compared to the competing V8s.  The CTS VSport’s engine makes 430 lb-ft of torque, while the BMW makes an astonishing 450 horsepower, and the Benz makes 443 lb-ft.  But, the CTS has a better power-to-weight ratio, with 9.5 pounds per horsepower.  This will make up for any power deficit.  The BMW makes 10.9 pounds per horsepower, and the Benz makes 11.3.  Cadillac also has a new turbocharger intercooler plumbing, which pretty much eliminates any turbo lag.

Cadillac claims a 0-60 time of 4.4 seconds out of the 2014 Cadillac CTS VSport, but Motor Trend got 4.7 seconds.  It’s not a bad thing for an auto magazine to be a bit off the time, because the engineering team has been developing the CTS VSport for a couple of years now.  Cadillac also got a quite respectable quarter mile time of 13.1 seconds at 108.4 miles an hour.  That won’t catch a Corvette, but it will embarrass a Ford Mustang with the V6.  The 0-60 time and quarter mile time are enough to send the Germans hustling to the drawing board.  The standard Brembo brakes will out stop a BMW 550i or a Mercedes-Benz E550, with a short stopping distance of 103 feet.  That’s good enough to out stop a 2014 Corvette Z51.  Put the CTS VSport up against an Infiniti Q70 (previously the M37/M56), and it’s pretty much even.  Motor Trend tested a M56 last year and got 4.8 seconds to 60, and it then went on to blast through the 1/4 mile at 13.1 seconds at 108.1 mph.  Remember, these are all in controlled, nearly-ideal settings.  DO NOT attempt this at a stoplight!  I don’t want you to reenact the rental-car bashing scene from Days of Thunder!  As awesome as that was, Ford and Chevy paid a lot of money for those cars to be thrashed like that.  You’ll be paying that amount of money for repairs!

Also new is a ZF eight-speed automatic transmission also found in the Rolls-Royce Ghost, Range Rover Sport, and many other cars.  It senses corners up ahead, using the sonar sensors in the front bumper, as well as the adaptive cruise control radar box.  It then downshifts or upshifts at the appropriate moment, and supposedly does its job quite well.  GM added a function to the transmission called “Performance Algorithm Shift,” which basically renders the steering-wheel-mounted shift paddles useless.

There are a couple of different trim levels offered for the CTS VSport.  There is the CTS VSport, which is a perfectly luxurious car in its own right, starting off at $59,995, and that mode has a large number of options.  The VSport Premium trim tacks $10,000 to the price, bringing the price up to $69,995.  When I “built” a car on Cadillac’s website, the 2014 CTS VSport Premium that I optioned came in at $71,745.  Granted, that’s when it’s got the optional high-performance brake pads and sport seating package.  If you decide to buy a VSport, I recommend getting it with the following options:  Analogue gauges (you’ll have a display that you can personalize in between the speedometer and tachometer), no sunroof, and a quite presentable interior.  You’ll also want to get the optional high-performance brake pads (Brembos).  All of that will ding you a grand total of $60,005.  Not bad, considering you can smoke a BMW 550i for $5,675.

You can check out the 2014 Cadillac CTS webpage at http://www.cadillac.com/cts-sport-sedan.html.  Enjoy noodling around on the website and building your own CTS VSport.  Build one to your desired specifications, and then tell me how much it cost!  I’ve also attached a couple of pictures, from the requests of a couple of readers, so enjoy them.

Out ‘N About In Sonoma County

I am going easy on you, what with the holiday rush.  So, here’s a picture heavy/text light post.  Look at what great cars I get to see as I go about my daily life.

The photos of the Datsun pickup are of our mechanic’s 1973 Datsun 1/4 ton that he inherited from his grandfather.  IMG_0705

IMG_0703It’s a pretty cool truck with a nice leather interior.  It’s got American Racing Torqthrust wheels that give it a shiny aftertaste.  It’s a nice little hauler/daily driver!

IMG_0694A couple of weeks ago, my mom was driving by a smoke shop and happened to see this lovely 1930s Cadillac.  I like the Chevy Aveo trying to look cool in the picture!IMG_0693IMG_0691In Santa Rosa, CA, there is an avid fire truck collector/restorer.  I happened to be driving by and there was an early Ward LaFrance fire truck from the 1960s!  They don’t get much nicer than this one!  IMG_0709

IMG_0708We also saw a lovely 1942 Ford Tudor Convertible (I know that they didn’t make any Tudor convertibles, but the owner seems to think so…)

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While volunteering for community service at an event at John Ash & Co, I happened to see this lovely 1952 Chevy delivery van.  It’s driven most days, from what I’ve heard.  Go to the event in style and have a lot of space left over!  Booyah!

Photo0112My mom snapped the pictures of this lovely Ford Ranchero when she was at “work.”  IMG_0715

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Yet another beauty we saw was this pristine 1960 Chevrolet Impala wagon.  IMG_0713

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For those of you who enjoy old Ford pickups, this one’s for you.  My mom and I were going to pick my sister up and we saw this beautiful old Ford F-2 from around 1955 driving along.  From what I could see, it’s used a lot.

Photo0120When my dad and I were at a regatta, we saw quite a few lovely old trucks.  I’ll start off with this old Dodge rat rod.  I’ve seen it a lot, but it’s usually being driven too fast for me to take a picture!  It’s pretty cool.

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We also saw this ancient Chevy Cameo pickup from Oregon.  It’s loaded with a lot of miscellaneous items, but it’s a hard-working old pickup that earns it’s oil changes.  Photo0101

While there, we also happened to see this period-correct Ford F-1 ice cream truck.  The owner was raking in the cash, and the truck got a lot of thumbs-up!  Photo0100

The El Camino peeking its nose into the picture with the ice cream truck is driven daily, and looks amazing.  It was marketed as a truck that drove like a car.  This one is from the late 1970s, and is all original!  Photo0098

I hope that you had a bountiful holiday season, and wish you a happy New Year.  Since New Year’s day is on a Tuesday, I’m going to take a mini-vacation from the blog, and will be back next week.  Thanks for being such loyal and wonderful readers.  You can look forward to more interesting and wonderful posts in 2013.  I happen to have a FABULOUS one up my sleeve!  Stay tuned.

Happy New Year!

Making A Grand Entrance, or Getting to Thanksgiving in Style

As you know, Thanksgiving kicks off the holiday season with a full belly.  At least 80% of all Americans travel for the holiday.  I know that those who are traveling by road will be traveling the crowded interstates.  For those taking the back roads, I’ve put together a list of ten cars that have at least 400 horsepower and seat four people comfortably.  Tell me which one you’d like to take.

  1. Audi S8:  The 2013 Audi S8 has 520 horsepower, yet it isn’t a car that is 6000 pounds and fast in a straight line like a Rolls.  Instead, it weighs 4400 pounds.  With Audi’s signature Quattro AWD system, the S8 will go where a Rolls would never think of going.  Do you know of any full-size sedans other than the S8 than can get to 60 in 3.5 seconds?  Plus, the interior will enclose you in Alacantara and leather sourced from the finest tanneries in the world.  Not a bad way to travel…
  2. Bentley Mulsanne:  Would you like to make an even grander entrance than the S8?   If you do, take the 2013 Bentley Mulsanne.  A 505 horsepower 6.75 liter, twin turbo V8 powers the massive Bentley to a heart-stopping 4.8 seconds to 60.  It might not be as fast as the S8, but it will look better at speed.  All four of you and your lucky friends will be enshrouded in pillowy, massaging seats that have leather.
  3. Cadillac CTS-V Wagon:   The Caddy is one of the more powerful cars here, yet one of the first choices for a back-road blast.  The CTS-V Wagon is fast, with a top speed of 190 mph (governed!), and it will carry turkeys, luggage, and plenty of eggnog and brew for Thanksgiving without breaking a sweat.  Plus, it will look like you are having a blast.  Which you WILL be, right?
  4. Dodge Charger SRT-8:   The Charger has long held a soft spot in my big car heart.  It’s fast, it makes a statement, and it’s loud.  What’s not to love?  Plus, the SRT-8 can be purchased for under $50,000!  60 mph comes up in a show-stopping 4.3 seconds.  This makes it the large family-oriented performance car of the century!
  5. Hyundai Genesis 5.0 R-Spec:  The Hyundai is the first Korean performance sedan.  It competes with the Mercedes-Benz E550, yet offers almost as much room as a MBZ S-Class.  It may be smaller than the gigantic Equus, but it’s MUCH more fun to drive.  Plus, it will get people asking what it is.  Some will think it’s a Lexus, others will think is a Mercedes.  Tell them it’s a Hyundai, and take some photos for me!
  6. Jaguar XJL Supercharged:  The 470 horsepower, 5.0 liter engine is powerful enough to move this big boy.  Fast.  The interior is even nicer than the engine.  There is a suede-like material that Jag used for the headliner that is very soft and nice.  The engine is so powerful that you can load up the trunk and have your friends in the back stretched out.  What’s not to love?
  7. Land Rover Range Rover Supercharged:  The Range Rover Supercharged has a 510 horsepower engine that is basically the same one you’ll find in the XJL Supercharged.  This powerful engine will take the nearly 5000-pound SUV to 60 in a mere 5.2 seconds.  Plus, it will haul all your gear wherever you want it.  You can quite literally load up the shotguns and go hunting wild turkeys in the Rockies.  Plus, it’s got  a very similar interior to the XJL Supercharged.  Not bad for an SUV that costs almost $120,000.
  8. Mercedes-Benz GL550:  The GL wowed the 2013 Motor Trend SUV of the Year judges so much that they named it SUV of the year.  It’s the first MBZ to win that title since 2001.  The GL550 doles out globs of torque and 429 horsepower.  It’s powerful, fast, quiet, AND it will follow the Range Rover Supercharged.  For a while.  The Designo interior rivals that of the luxurious S-Class, with comfortable leather seats that seat seven.  Plus, you can take all your gear in the back and still have room.  It’s bigger than an Escalade, yet smaller than a Navigator EL.
  9. Porsche Panamera GTS:  The powerful Panamera GTS will haul four people in relative comfort, thanks to it’s leather-covered Recaro seats.  It has AWD and 430 horsepower.  It’s like the Nissan GT-R Black Edition, with two more doors!  And a rumbling V8!  Plus, it will get 24.5 mpg on the highway!  VROOOOOOOOM!
  10. Tesla Model S Signature Performance Edition:  The 2013 Motor Trend Car of the Year deserves to be on this list.  Why?  It’s extremely powerful electric motor produces 416 horsepower at the wheels.  This means that it’s there as soon as you start it.  It might not have the range of the Mulsanne or the Panamera, but it will make the most amazing entrance ever.  It carries almost as much as a Chevy Equinox, plus it has 285 miles of range!  Plus, you can get to 60 in jolting 4.0 seconds!  This is one silent VROOOOOOOOOOOM!

Have fun daydreaming about what could be, when you’re stuck on the interstate wishing you’d taken the backroads. These cars may not be ‘The Family’s New Car’, but they definitely have serious style!   P.S.  Do you have any cars that have at least 400 horsepower and seat four comfortably?  I’m sure you do…

One of the World’s Oldest Luxury Automobile Makers is 110 (and two days)!

Happy Birthday to you, Cadillac!  110 years and two days ago, Cadillac was formed by Henry Leland.  Henry Leland took the remnants of the Henry Ford Company, and started Cadillac.  110 years and two days later, Cadillac is still very much a part of the luxury automobile industry.  In honor of the 110th anniversary of Caddy, here is a list of the top five coolest Cadillacs from Motor Trend.  After that, I will add about one or two to the list.  Feel free to comment with your favorite Caddy.  I can’t wait to see what your favorites are!

1937 Cadillac Phaeton model 5859 — Look up classic beauty in the dictionary, and you’ll see an image of the custom-built 1937 Cadillac Fleetwood V-16 shown here. The Phaeton model 5859 was built by coachbuilder Fran Roxas who relied on the original blueprints of Cadillac designer John Hampshire. The original sketches of the powerful V-16 car served as inspiration for the Ciel concept car.

1937 Fleetwood Cadillac V16 300x187 image

1937 Cadillac Phaeton model 5859

1949 Cadillac— The 1949 Cadillac was a major step forward for the company, as the outgoing car’s ancient L-head V-8 was replaced by a flathead V-8 that put out 10 more horsepower (160 versus 150). The new engine was about 200 pounds lighter, revved higher, and got better fuel mileage. The Cadillac was also named as Motor Trend’s very first Car of the Year!

1949 Cadillac Series 62 Club Coupe

1959 Cadillac Eldorado — This beauty incorporated new styling, with sharp and massive tailfins that have gone down in automotive history. Its twin-bullet taillights, and jewel-like grille added to its appeal, and let’s not forget its name translates to “the golden one” in Spanish.

1959 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz Convertible

Cadillac Ciel concept — The Cadillac Ciel is just a concept, but it’s still one of the most gorgeous cars we’ve ever seen wearing the brand’s logo. Cadillac Ciel Concept Left Front Driving 300x187 image

The Ciel concept stunned spectators at Pebble Beach last year with its effortless combination of strong retro themes with Cadillac’s current design language. The four-door convertible wears rear-hinged “suicide” doors, and is powered by a twin-turbocharged 3.6 liter V-6 mated to a hybrid all-wheel-drive drivetrain producing an estimated 425 hp and 430 lb-ft of torque.

Cadillac CTS-V (second generation) — Where do we even begin? The CTS-V is fast, has a wonderfully composed chassis, and looks like a million bucks on the road. How do we know? We had a CTS-V in our garage for a year, and nearly everyone who got seat time with the beast fell in love.

2009 cadillac CTS V

2009 Cadillac CTS-V

Here’s my list of MY favorite Cadillacs:

2003 Cadillac CTS:  The 2003 Caddy CTS was a game-changer for Cadillac.  This was one of Cadillac’s darkest days, and the CTS is really what saved Cadillac from becoming limos.  It was the first sporty Cadillac since the mid-50’s.  This is a beautiful car that deserves a lot of recognition.  Over 300,000 were sold before production ended for the first generation in 2008.

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

2003 Cadillac CTS

Cadillac Escalade:  All three generations.  The Cadillac Escalade was introduced for the 1999 model year in response to the Lincoln Navigator, the Mercedes-Benz ML320/350/500, and the Lexus RX300.  The first generation didn’t sell well.  The second generation sold very well.  Money was looser than it is now.  People bought Escalades because they could.  The third generation is currently the best-selling Cadillac of the 21st Century.  According to the National Highway Loss Administration, the Cadillac Escalade is the most-stolen vehicle in the U.S.

1999 Cadillac Escalade

P.S.  Google Images is always a good place to find nice pictures of a Caddy that you want to attach for the comment.