Italian car shows are always full of interesting things. Often the first things to come to mind are exotics like Ferraris, Lamborghinis, and Maseratis, which were all well accounted for at this year’s event. However, if you go to a lot of car events like I do, then your typical Ferrari 430s and Lambo Gallardos get a bit mundane after a while. Luckily things at this year’s Angelina’s Italian Car Show in Staten Island, NY got spiced up with the arrival of an eclectic bunch of Fiat Ciquecentos. Each one was unique with its own appeal, from the modified Abarth model to the yellow standard 500. I cannot emphasize enough how these cars stole the show from the Ferraris when they arrived. There is just so much personality in each one that they are irresistible, even when compared to cars that cost as much as a house. Regardless of whether you share my enthusiasm for these classic Fiats or not, one thing is certain; the Italians sure know how to make some appealing cars. Enjoy.
We were in attendance for this year’s Concours d’ Elegance in Scarsdale, NY. This show is one of my favorites because the venue and time of year are just perfect for this sort of event. The Fall air is a bit crisp, the trees are turning all sorts of beautiful colors, the town is quite nice, and the cars are incredible. This is an overview gallery of the event, and certain cars will get their own features later on. Enjoy.
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.
I have yet to meet an owner of a Mazdaspeed3 (MS3) who didn’t legitimately love their car. Something about the car seems to inspire people, they always have that “I know something you don’t” smirk on their face. Mazdas have always had a good sporting dynamic to them, but the enthusiasm that owners seem to have about this car goes beyond that. I have always known about the MS3, but somehow, while I’ve been out driving all sorts of fun cars over the years, it has eluded me. So recently, I decided it was time I take one out for a spin to see what these owners are so smug about. Read the rest of this entry »
I just saw Chris Harris’ new video on Drive where he informed us he had sold his Porsche GT3 RS 4.0 and had bought a Ferrari 599. While I understand his motives, this made me wonder if he had just made a financial mistake that he would regret for the rest of his life. I have talked to far too many people with the same story, “If only I had held onto that (now incredibly valuable car) I had back then…”. You see, looking forward I think that the 997 series of GT 911s may well be a pinnacle generation for Porsche, just as the 993s were, being the last air-cooled cars.
Rumors have been circulating that there will come a time when GT series 911s will no longer be available with a clutch pedal, and it could even happen soon with the 991. Porsche has already wet their feet in this approach with the 997 Turbo S, which was only offered with their PDK transmission. Paddle shift gearboxes have basically become the norm for high performance cars, and they are undoubtedly faster on the track. So, is there any reason to doubt these rumors? Unfortunately not, and that could make the 997 GTs some of the most sought after Porsches in the future.
This is especially so of the top spec RS models, cars that had very limited production. The GT2 RS and the GT3 RS 4.0 will command the highest amounts for sure, but I see more normal GT3 RSs and standard GT3s appreciating as well. Sure I expect the 991 GT3 RS to be faster and more powerful than the 997 RS 4.0, but without the manual it will never offer the same sort of experience. A similar situation can be seen today where 991 Carrera Ss match the power and performance of the old 993 Turbos, but the 993s still command the same money as a new 991 and will definitely continue to appreciate whereas the 991s will not.
Whenever there is a big change in the Porsche 911, enthusiasts tend to respond with skepticism and turn to the best of the old 911s with their money. It happened with the death of air-cooling, and I believe it will happen again with the death of the manual transmission. So if you are in the market comparing your options, it may be smarter to buy that GT3 RS, or GT2 instead of a Ferrari 430 or Lambo Gallardo right about now. We will see what happens, but you may thank me in a few years.
Mclaren released their one off X1 at the Quail motorsports gathering in Monterey this past weekend. It is the culmination of “3 years of hard work” they said, and I have to ask for what? I find the X1 unappealing; it looks like its design is trying to hard to be extreme, and real supercar beauty usually comes from function and purity of design. There is also the obvious influence of elegant 1930’s French cars, and that sort of Cruella de Vil look does not work well on a supercar. The covered rear wheels take the car’s aggressive stance away as well, leaving us with an appearance that is just plain awkward. On top of this, that 3 years of work has only gotten the customer a normal 12C with an ugly body kit, so again I have to ask, why?
Looking at all the supercar news sources I can see the usual amount of oogling over this car. Most people only like this car, and cars like it, because they are rare, expensive, or just stigmatized as a “supercar”. That, to me, is mindless dribble. I will give credit where credit is due (like the Ferrari P4/5), but I am at a personal point now where I don’t care at all about a car being a status symbol. It must have its own legitimate merits to get my good graces, and this Mclaren falls way short. I saw a normal 12C go by tonight, and it looked brilliant. So why bother making this ugly thing if not only to use as another soulless status symbol by someone with far more money than self security?
Different is not always a good thing, and I could care less if the owner locks the X1 away for eternity. In fact, I kind of hope he or she does.
The new Dart is the first car to market that is truly a joint effort between Fiat and Chrysler. The chassis and mechanicals come straight from the European Alfa Romeo Giulietta, while the exterior, interior, and Tigershark engines are all American. This is a critical product for Chrysler, one that will serve as a first impression for their alliance with Fiat, and the things to come. I went in to find out for myself if this new car marked a positive beginning for “Second Half America”, or a fumbled, Frankenstein-like creation from two companies caught in their own financial struggles. In many ways I felt a lot was riding on this drive when I stepped into this hot blue Dart. Read the rest of this entry »
This is my Mom’s Volvo S80, and it seems very boring. It is beige, one of a few selectable shades of beige, and it looks just like every other Volvo on the road. Volvos are known for very solid build quality as well as their huge emphasis on safety; they are great cars but they generally aren’t synonymous with the term “exciting”. Looking at this S80 you can see the design is very conservative, and while it does have clean lines it is still basically the same exact car Volvo has been making for years. It would seem then that this S80 is just a continuation of mundane motoring from Volvo, and hardly worth a second look. However, after 9 years with this car, I can tell you that is definitely worth a second look because this beige Volvo has some extra tricks up its sleeve. Read the rest of this entry »
Ten years ago if someone had told me that Hyundai would soon be making sports and luxury cars I would have laughed in their face. Hyundai was basically the poster child for offensively cheap cars that people would only buy because they couldn’t afford a Honda or Toyota. Over the next decade though, Hyundai would make one hell of an effort toward improvement, becoming one of the best real values on the market. I have been a huge fan of Hyundai in recent years, applauding their innovation and commitment to quality in their drive up market. The Genesis Coupe you see here is one of the cars that helped vastly step their game up, a fast sports car from a company with little racing history. It couldn’t possibly be that good, could it? Read the rest of this entry »
The Lancer Ralliart is the second born of the Mitsubishi clan, overshadowed in many ways by its older brother the Lancer Evolution. The Evo has made a huge name for itself in automotive performance over the years, and the Ralliart is clearly riding that wave in the market. It is placed to compete with Subaru’s WRX, but Mitsubishi waited 3 model generations into the US market before they finally produced a true, turbocharged competitor for the highly successful Subaru. What you see here is that car, the supposed “baby Evo”, but I will tell you right up front, that the Ralliart is far from that. It is something all its own, and it should be more widely recognized as such. This Ralliart belongs to my friend Josh, and he agreed to let me take the wheel for an afternoon to discover what it’s all about. Read the rest of this entry »
This is the Alfa Romeo Tipo 33 Stradale, and I’m sure your eyes have already informed you that it is one of the most beautiful cars ever built by anyone. The word “Stradale” of course means that it is street version of a racing car, and it is indeed. The Tipo 33 Stradale was made in 1967 as a road going version of Autodelta Alfa Romeo’s Tipo 33/2 racing car. Only 18 Stradales were ever built, making it one of the rarest, most sought after cars in the world. One that just gets more and more interesting with every new detail you uncover. 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 »