The three letters “G-T-O” are legendary in automotive culture. They stand for “Gran Turismo Omologato”, an Italian phrase which means “Grand Touring Homologation”. Ferrari is the most famous manufacturer to use this phrase, as the famous 250GTO entered history as one of the most famous and sought-after Ferraris ever built. The other manufacturer to use this acronym heavily was General Motors during the same time period. From 1964 to 1974, Pontiac built its GTO, at first just an option package on the midsize Tempest, then later on a fully-fledged model. The GTO kicked off the muscle-car era, an era that went down as one of the most famous in American automotive history, but died in 1974 as a flabby memory of its former self, downgraded to an option on the Ventura (Pontiac’s Chevy Nova clone). But, in 2004, GM decided to bring back the name, 30 years later. They took the Holden Monaro, slapped a new front and rear end on it, moved the steering wheel, and gave it a few Pontiac badges. I took this used 2004 model to the streets to see if it was any good.
While taking a walk around the Rutgers University campus in New Brunswick, NJ, I ran into this very tasty ’63 Impala drop-top sitting in a parking lot behind the College Avenue Gym. I’ve seen it around town a few times since I started here in 2008 and this is the first time I’ve ran into it in at least a year. More pictures after the jump. Continue reading Spotted! 1963 Chevrolet Impala Convertible, New Brunswick, NJ
The cops have had an interesting automotive history in this country. Chrysler had a great grip on the market until the Eighties, then Chevy, and now Ford. But, the Crown Victoria, Ford’s greatest offering to the altar of the fraternal order of police, died on September 15, 2011, after being in production for over three decades. It’s not the best looking ride in the stable, and it certainly isn’t the one that gets all the girls. But, it’s got room for six, eight cylinders, rear wheel drive, and a reputation for working around the clock and then some. I grabbed the keys to this decade-plus old detective’s chariot and asked myself a very good question: Can a modern-day Blues-Mobile be worth 3 grand? Continue reading Test Driven: 2000 Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor
Back when I was a kid my first real “Dream Car” was the Viper GTS. There was something that was just so cool and awesome about it, and thats what matters when you’re a kid. Now as I’ve grown older, and have learned more about cars and driving, I realize how insane the Viper is as a car. I still love Vipers though, and they will always have a special place as my first automotive love, however my tastes have since gravitated to the more refined offerings from Europe. That said, seeing this new car brings me back to when I first saw the GTS. It’s shape is much more that of the original Viper than of the previous generation, and for me that is a major step in the right direction (not that I disliked the previous gen at all). The Magic seems to be returning, and this new Viper looks very promising in many ways. Continue reading Thoughts on the SRT Viper
Jeep can be considered the inventor of the SUV in America. The Wrangler, still in production today, is a reminder of where the original SUV came from. The TJ model, produced from 1997-2006, is, in my opinion, the best interpretation and the best mix of modern technology and old-style design, with time-tested engines, classic styling, and unlimited ability to go anywhere. Continue reading Secondhand Saint: Jeep Wrangler TJ
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. Continue reading Test Driven: 2009 Chevrolet HHR SS (6/10)
“And best of all…it’s a Cadillac!” Those words certainly meant something back in the days of 8-tracks, pimpmobiles, and Gerald Ford. But, now is the time of iPods, hybrids, and Barack Obama. So, I wanted to know if this 10 year old Cadillac Eldorado was in any way still a great cruiser. I grabbed the golden keys and started her up. Cadillac has not produced the Eldorado since 2002, and only recently started producing two-door coupes again with the CTS Coupe.
I saw this very cool Jeep on George Street before leaving for Spring Break on Friday.
Spotted by: Albert Davis
Pontiac’s long history came to an end in 2009 amidst GM’s bankruptcy and Pontiac’s lack of distinction within the General Motors family. But, the announcement came at at time when Pontiac began to distance themselves from the GM marching order, and a few years before had started producing some models with some real “driving excitement”. The GTO, which was a bit of a market fluke, may not have looked the part of a muscle car, but certainly went like one. The Solstice, the General’s answer to the Miata, hit the streets in 2006, after a very positive reception on the auto show circuit. On the heels of the Dodge Charger (and the renaissance of the big RWD-V8 American sedan), Pontiac launched the G8 in 2008, right when I turned 18–and I kept going back to the local Pontiac dealership waiting for one to arrive.
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. Continue reading Some thoughts on the past year’s sales.
Chrysler’s Superbowl ad with Clint Eastwood was a nice way to incite faith that the American auto industry will recover. Chrysler has shown much improvement in the last few years, and as soon as I saw the new Dodge Dart I knew they were on the right track. It is based on the Alfa Romeo Giulietta, meaning its European roots should make it much more attractive than the Civic or the Corolla, which are both shamelessly boring at this point. There is however another market segment that exists with cars in that segment, one where engines are turbocharged, suspensions are stiffened, and priority is given to high MPH over high MPG. Dodge has competed here before with their SRT-4 Neon and Caliber, and everyone is eagerly awaiting the Dart SRT-4 in the next few years. Prior SRT-4s were relics of first half America though, the one that had to be bailed out, so the question is now, what should the SRT-4 of the second half be like?
Continue reading Dodge Dart SRT-4, part of “Second Half America”
Back in the fall at the Radnor Hunt Concours, I took an opportunity to drive a couple of new Cadillacs. Most of you know I drove an Escalade Hybrid, but the real treat was to yet again sample that great-tasting supercharged V8 which lies in the engine compartment of the CTS-V. In this case, the test car was the deep gray sedan you see above. It had a few options that the coupe I drove back in June did not, so I took it for a drive (on much different roads than the coupe) around the rolling hills of Pennsylvania’s countryside. Continue reading Test Driven: 2011 Cadillac CTS-V Sedan