On Labor Day weekend, Lead East held its 30th annual party in the Parsippany Hilton complex. Lead East is essentially a block party and a car show, as well as a 50′s revival, all rolled into one weekend. This year was the first time I have attended in quite some time (not since 2006) and this year, the caliber of automobiles was incredible. The vehicles in attendance were not quite concours quality but definitely represented a wide variety of American and a few foreign marques, with a heavy emphasis on muscle cars and vehicles from the 1950s and 60s, as well as some very offbeat rides. It rained, but the weather did little to dampen the spirit of the day–there was even one guy (the owner of an immaculate 1970.5 Ford Falcon two-door sedan) ripping around the parking lots in a golf cart for no apparent reason. Enjoy the photos, some features to come in the month to come.
-Albert S. Davis
Cadillac hasn’t really been the “Cadillac of cars” since the mid 1960s. Even though their tag line is “The Standard Of The World”, anyone who’s been paying attention knows that they are really going through a renaissance after around 30 years of terrible products. The triumphant V16 cruisers, which made Cadillac’s name, are distant memories of the past, and even the classic finned cars are now over half a century old. The 2013 XTS is Cadillac’s new flagship model, replacing both the STS and DTS in the lineup. There has obviously been lots of talk about Cadillac’s CUE infotainment system because the XTS is the first to feature it, but my purposes going into this drive were focused on one thing: has Cadillac made a world-class luxury car, or is the XTS more of the same?
The Chevy Spark has had a successful reception around the world since it came out in 2010. Now GM has brought it to the US market in hopes to peak the interest of younger buyers living in urban areas. It is a city car that competes with the Smart Fortwo, Scion iQ, and Fiat 500. The Spark is on the same chassis as the Chevy Sonic, but features notably smaller proportions that allow it to fit in with the city car segment. The Spark I drove was one of the first cars to hit showrooms, and given the buzz around these things right now I wanted to go try it out.
The ’63 split window Stingray is the most beautiful Corvette of all time in my opinion. I liken the Stingray to being the “American E-Type” because it was of the same generation as the Jag and had a similar significance on car design. The 1963 model was the only year to feature the split rear window design, and after seeing it all of the subsequent Stingray coupes look a tad awkward without it. The car you see here was the top of the line ’63 Vette with a fuel injected 327ci (5.4L) V8 that produced 360hp. It was a brilliant machine, seemingly in Concours condition, and the owner had parked it in a great spot for photos. Enjoy.
When the Buick Verano Turbo was announced, Jalopnik proclaimed “The Buick Verano Turbo just slapped your grandmother in the face.” While that was my favorite headline of the day by far, it is more accurate to say that GM is really slapping themselves. The Verano Turbo looks promising in every way, with 250hp, a manual transmission, a price likely to range from around 26k to 32k, all a little too promising for the likes of the Buick Regal GS and Cadillac ATS 2.5.
The Chevy Sonic comes from a line of shamelessly terrible econo-boxes. The first generation Aveo made car lovers cringe every time they saw one, and the Sonic is its replacement. So, things don’t look good for the Sonic if its family tree is anything to go by, but thankfully it seems the Sonic was adopted. Up front I will tell you that this car is a vast improvement, and tangible evidence of GM’s improvement over the last few years. I had seen the Sonic at a few car shows, and I thought it was pretty cool for what it was, but other than that I never gave it too much consideration. Then I recently started seeing comparison tests in magazines pitting the Sonic against the Fiat 500 Abarth and the Mini Cooper S, which peaked my interest big time. Read the rest of this entry »
Ever since Pontiac was killed off as a result of the financial crisis, GM has not had a proper American sedan to compete with the successful Dodge Charger. The Pontiac G8 had been in this segment, but it came out right as many people became wary of buying GM products, due to their economic uncertainty at the time. A replacement for it has not yet been seen, although there has been talk of it coming back as the Chevrolet Caprice. I think this would be a great seller now, if GM’s lineup were structured properly, because they have basically recovered at this point and have been doing great things. Read the rest of this entry »
The HHR is a car that is definitely overlooked by most people. It was a reaction to the Chrysler PT Cruiser, but it took GM 5 whole years before it was in showrooms. The HHR was often referred to as a small SUV, but honestly its proportions are only slightly larger than those of a Mazda3, and it lacks the ground clearance of a true crossover. It is a bit of an oddball car, and it looks like an old milk truck to boot. That however does make it more interesting than the average car, especially the SS, where Chevy decided to throw in the same turbocharged 2.0L motor from the Cobalt SS. In fact I got the idea to do this review off of a whim when a bright red HHR SS pulled up next to me at a light. The car looked cool, and it peaked my interest enough that I went out and found one to test drive. Read the rest of this entry »
On January 3rd, all the sales results for each major car brand sold in the United States were made public for the month of December, and consequently, the entire previous year. For the most part, 2011 was an excellent year for sales in the auto industry, a big step in the right direction since the turmoil of 2009. There were of course, some nasty issues that clearly affected sales across the board, but this year, only a select few CEOs should really need a drink today. So, let’s take a look at these numbers and see what falls out of the tree. Read the rest of this entry »
Although I was not in the country for this year’s NAIAS, I followed it closely from my phone when I was in Israel for the past two weeks or so. Overall, I have to say there’s a lot to look at this year, and the new model debuts give me hope that 2012 is going to be even more exciting than 2011 was. The market is changing fast, and as I watch everyone attempt to catch up, there are some clear indications that some brands in particular have most of their ducks in a row. Then again, there’s indications that some are definitely struggling to come up with new ideas. I’m going to go through each country, by major manufacturer, and discuss what I think are the best and the worst of this year’s show. Read the rest of this entry »
Back in the Sixties, John Z. Delorean was one of the greatest men working at General Motors. But, by the middle of the Eighties, that all came to a crashing end in a federal courthouse. Most of us know what happened. But, what about the car he badly wanted to put on the market? The DeLorean DMC-12 is still known by most of the public as a time machine, but its own story is a look back at one of the most famous storylines of all time in the small-manufacturer books. Read the rest of this entry »