Category Archives: Opinions

Discussion of matters in the automotive industry and in car culture. Our opinions on what is going on, manufacturer’s products, etc

What the Pagani Zonda tells us about the future of the sports car

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Pagani said the Zonda would be finished after 2013. AMG stopped producing the V12 at the heart of it, and well, the whole world was going turbo, right? Even so, there’s been at least one or two new Zondas produced every year since it’s production was supposed to stop. People have actually been willing to pay AMG to custom fabricate the V12 engine, paying astronomical sums that make a mere Huayra seem affordable. Prices of pre-owned Zondas are also through the roof at multiple millions, depending on model and spec.

It seems pretty clear that the market still has quite an appetite for the Zonda, and what’s more, many of them being ordered even have a true manual gearbox.

The Zonda you see above is the Pagani Zonda HP Barchetta, revealed just this past weekend at Pebble Beach. It looks pretty fantastic for a car that was originally designed in the early 1990’s, and that finished production four years ago. I know there is word going around that the three Pagani Zonda HP Barchettas may in fact be the last three Zondas, but I think that would be a big mistake on Pagani’s part.

Continue reading What the Pagani Zonda tells us about the future of the sports car

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The new BMW 8 Series Concept looks incredible

The old BMW 8 Series was many things, good and not so good, but it was most definitely sexy as hell. This is BMW’s concept for a new 8 Series, and I think they’ve managed to capture the sexy very well so far. We’ll see how much makes it to production.

This car is supposedly set to replace the current BMW 6 Series, which I had said was already basically filling the shoes of the old 8 Series. I’m all for this, and I hold out some hope that we may also get a genuine 6 Series again, you know, one that isn’t based on the 7 Series platform. One step at a time, though.

I love what I see here so far.

-Nick

Ford GT: The Half-a-Million Dollar Question

With the release of press all over the internet and the first cars making their way into customer hands, the hype surrounding the new Ford GT is at maximum right now. The first 500 owners of the total 1,000 cars have been selected by Ford, with the next round of selections coming in a few months time.

The big question everyone seems to be asking is, is the Ford GT worth the $500,000 asking price? Those already on the list certainly hope so, and those who will apply for the second half of production are frantically trying to figure it out.

I was very skeptical when I first heard Ford was going to charge over $400,000 for the new GT. But I also expected the general formula for the car would be similar to that of the previous car, just updated for 2018. What has become abundantly clear, though, is that Ford has taken a totally fresh approach in developing the new GT, and that does change some things.

Continue reading Ford GT: The Half-a-Million Dollar Question

What American Muscle Car would I buy on a $15k budget?

$15,000 is an interesting price point if you’re looking for a solid muscle car. You can have most of the early-mid 2000’s contenders with reasonable miles on them, or you can have one of the newer 400+hp options with higher miles.

I’m more on the high performance side of things, rather than wanting a muscle car for the style just to cruise in. I do intend to do burnouts, I do intend to explore the car’s high speed capabilities, and I do expect it to handle corners competently. Also, there is no such thing as a muscle car with 4 or 6 cylinders, so 8 cylinders is a given here. Lastly, a manual transmission is a must for me. This is a car to be driven, not an outfit to wear.

I should also state up front that I am pretty much non-partisan when it comes to American Muscle cars or American car brands. I know there are those who live and die by Ford, GM, or Mopar, and for them the $15k choice is a lot simpler.

My top 3 options for a $15,000 muscle car are as follows…

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Am I the only one who likes the idea of a Jeep Renegade-like Toyota FJ?

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This is the Toyota FT-4X Concept, and it’s a clear hint that Toyota may be developing a small FJ SUV to take on the funky Jeep Renegade. A lot of people are hating on it, but I’m digging the idea a lot. I, for one, like a lot of things about the Jeep Renegade, and I think Toyota has a real opportunity to take a lot of that market. All they have to do is make a dependable small off-roader with some funky FJ style, and they will eat Jeep’s lunch.

I hope the FT-4X does make it into production, donning the FJ name when it does.

Call me the island in a sea of haters.

-Nick

The Dodge Demon Heralds a New Era of Hyper Muscle Cars, and I’m Pumped!

 

2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon

The Dodge Challenger SRT Demon has now officially dropped. I must say it’s mighty impressive, and I feel similar to how I felt about the Bugatti Veyron when it came out. The Bugatti marked the real jump from supercar to hypercar in our modern era, and I think the Demon could do the same relative thing in the muscle car sector.

Yes, Chevy made the COPO Camaro a few years ago, but you can’t put a license plate on that one so it doesn’t count. The Dodge Demon is set to be the new King of the Streets, in the most-classic muscle car sense.

The Challenger SRT Demon is a street legal drag-prepped hyper muscle car, and it runs an NHRA-verified 9.65 sec 1/4 Mile @ 140 mph, bone freaking stock. That’s at least 2/10ths of a second faster than any of the hypercar hybrids from Porsche, Ferrari, or McLaren. Sure, the Demon isn’t made to conquer such cars on a road course, or even top end, but at the drag strip, it will rule.

Having said all that, the NHRA has also banned the SRT Demon from any official street car competition. Dodge says “because it’s too fast,” but that can be fixed with the proper license and some extra safety bits.

Also, the Demon will only come with a drag-optimized automatic, but I’m okay with that so long as we can still have a Hellcat with three pedals.

Other impressive features for the Demon include a max output of 840hp and 770ft/lbs, 0-60 in 2.3 sec (or 2.1sec on prepped tarmac), 0-100 in 5.1 sec, a charge cooler that runs off the air conditioning, and a supercharger with more displacement than the engines in all three of my own cars, and a factory switchable tune for race gas. The price will also, supposedly, be reasonable, like south of six-figures (until you actually go to buy one at a dealer). That said, with only 3,300 being built values may go up long term, or at least not fall too much.

Lastly, can we just take a sec to appreciate how badass those wide fenders look?

So with the Demon dropped on the world, we can now anxiously await the response from Ford and GM. This should be a horsepower war that is too good to pass up.

-Nick Walker

Mercedes just dropped my dream SUV, the GLC63 AMG

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Yesterday I reviewed the impressive, but massive, BMW X6 M. In that article I talked about how the performance of large SUVs will always be held back by their hefty physical size and weight. While the X6 M was mighty impressive for what it was, I still found myself wanting one of the options one size smaller. As it so happened, the same day my review went live, Mercedes-Benz decided to drop their trump card. Meet the GLC63 AMG.

How did we get to this point, where there is now a 503hp twin turbo V8 engine in a medium-size crossover. Less than a decade ago, a crossover like this was a sign that a car enthusiast had given up on fun, that family life had beaten them into submission. But you can fit a car seat, or two, in this AMG just the same as you can a basic Subaru Forester. It’s still a fully functional crossover, but now with some brutally serious high performance credentials. This is a family car I’ll be more than happy to consider whenever that time comes (If I can afford one by then, of course).

Performance wise, the thing we most need to consider when comparing the GLC63 to the likes of a BMW X6 M is weight. The 4.0L twin turbo V8 only adds around 100lbs to the weight of the Mercedes C-Class, comparing the C43 and C63. Apply that same difference onto the GLC43, at 4,150lbs, and the GLC63 should weigh around 4,250lbs. That’s 1,000lbs less than the BMW X6 M, and the GLC63 S still has over 500hp. So it’s a LOT lighter and will handle much better as a result, and it’s also not much less powerful at all. In short, this new Merc will be better than any of the bigger options, BMW, Mercedes, Porsche the like.

I already loved the Mercedes GLC43 AMG, the Porsche Macan S/GTS/Turbo, and the Jaguar F-Pace S, and they only have 350-400hp. The GLC63 AMG S is upping the bar to 500hp, and as of now it’s only real rival will be the Alfa Romeo Stelvio QV.

I love that we’re actually at a time where I can be genuinely excited about SUVs. These medium size high performance models drive like luxurious rally cars, and they’re a phenomenal package for the real world.

It would appear that BMW and Porsche need to catch up…

-Nick Walker

Are Electric Cars REALLY the Future for Driving Enthusiasts?

Watching the first episode of the new season of Top Gear, and Chris Harris made a comment about the Ferrari FXX K possibly being the last gasp of the combustion engine. It’s a comment we’ve heard before, and I’m sure it’s a comment many will continue to make. But I don’t buy it for a number of reasons.

Sure, I do think electric cars, specifically self-driven electric cars, are the future for mass independent transportation. I think so many people out there have so little interest in driving that they’re a danger to themselves and everyone around them when they get behind the wheel. Those folks should leave the driving to the machines, the world will be a much happier place.

But what about those of us who live to drive for recreation, just because driving is so much fun? Obviously you can totally forget the self-driving cars, but are electric cars even that desirable to us?

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My take on the 2017 Geneva Motor Show

The Geneva Motor Show happened this week, and every year it’s like Christmas has come for the car industry.

Here are the highlights for me, and my thoughts on each…

Ferrari 812 Superfast

The front-engine V12 Ferraris are by far my favorite Ferraris. They have always been the ultimate expression of what a grand touring car can be, and their lineage goes all the way back to the beginning of Ferrari road cars in the early 1950s.

The 812 Superfast takes the insanity of the Ferrari F12 Berlinetta, and takes it up yet another notch. With damn near 800hp on tap from its still-naturally-aspirated-V12 engine, the 812 Superfast is now the ultimate GT car (really more of a supercar) that money can buy. I also think it looks absolutely manic, yet somehow still in an elegant sort of way.

Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid

Do you think anyone ever imagined this when the Toyota Prius first came out? Hybrids were once pathetic little econo-boxes, but here is a 680hp Porsche Panamera with a hybrid system developed from the 918 hypercar. This is exactly how hybrid technology should be used. I want a 680hp bullet that can still get decent MPG when I’m not thrashing it. If nothing else, isn’t technology all about having your cake and eating it too?

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What will the new 4.0L Porsche 991.2 GT3 do to the 911 Market?

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Porsche has finally done it, they’ve brought back the manual GT3 and have given it the 4.0L engine to boot. It’s basically the Porsche we’ve all been dreaming about, and it’s the car Porsche once said they’d never build again. Right after Porsche said the days of manual GT3s were over, values of 997 GT3s immediately went through the roof. It became abundantly clear that Porsche was making a mistake, and this new 991.2 GT3 is here to set things right.

But what’s going to happen to the values of all of those 997 GT3 models that skyrocketed in the last few years? This new 4.0L GT3 with a manual is pretty much an attainable version of the coveted 997 GT3 RS 4.0 or the mighty 911 R, and with PDK it’s a little too similar to the much-inflated 991 GT3 RS.

With pricing starting from $144,650, and surely going up to cross $200,000, loaded with options, why on earth would you want to buy a 997 GT3 or RS for the same money? And can the PDK-only 991 GT3 even have a prayer? How about the 991 GT3 RS?

The 991.2 GT3 is about to make things very interesting in the Porsche market, and not everyone is going to be thrilled about it. I sure as hell wouldn’t want to be the guy who just dropped $200,000 on a 997 GT3 RS, or $175,000 on a 991.1 GT3.

Continue reading What will the new 4.0L Porsche 991.2 GT3 do to the 911 Market?

The Range Rover Velar Looks Incredible!

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I think this is the best-looking SUV on sale, and by a decent margin. BMW and Mercedes need to take notes, this is how you make an SUV look properly sleek. You don’t need some awkward “Coupe SUV” thing like the X6 or GLE Coupe. Instead of chopping off the rearward roof section, Land Rover’s designers chose to give the teardrop treatment to the entire SUV shape. It’s absolutely beautiful.

Even better, underneath, the Range Rover Velar shares its platform with the lovely-to-drive Jaguar F-Pace. The Jag handles great, and is a ton of fun on back roads, and I hope this Range Rover will retain that trait. Engine-wise buyers can choose between a turbo gas 4 cylinder, a diesel 4 cylinder, or the fun model with the 380hp supercharged V6.

The Range Rover Velar slots between the Range Rover Evoque and Ranger Rover Sport, competing with the Mercedes GLC, Audi Q5, and BMW X3/X4. It’s up against some decent competition, but with looks to kill, the Velar may have a leg up on the Germans. I was blown away by the style of the Evoque when it came out, but this takes the design past the next level.

I can’t wait to see the Velar in person because it will probably look even better than in photos.

-Nick Walker

Ford Focus RS Power Modifications and Tuning

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The Ford Focus RS is the hottest $40,000 car around right now. A new addition to the rally car segment in the US, it takes on the STI, the Golf R, and the echoes of Evos past. All things stock, the Focus RS seems to have them all beat, outgunning them by around 40 or 50hp, but what happens when aftermarket mods and tuning come into play?

The simple fact is the Focus RS’s stock turbo is out of breath around 380-400 crank horsepower on pump gas. Ford doesn’t use way oversized turbos in their cars, and as a result its basic tuning potential may seem a little lacking compared to, say, the Golf R or the Evo.

Having said that, fear not, because peak horsepower numbers are only a small portion of the story, especially for a street-driven car. So let’s have a look…

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