The early 1980s loom large when it comes to rally cars for a crushingly good reason – it was the unrepeatable, unsurpassably brilliant Group B era. This was a time of high-speed techno madness, but, better still, car manufacturers had to homologate 200 cars for road use in order to qualify for the WRC. Audi Quattro SWB, Metro 6R4, Peugeot 205 T16, Ford RS200 –take your pick. We’d happily have any one of them – yes, even the Metro – preferably on a private island getaway with a dozen special stages and an unlimited supply of high octane fuel. Then there’s the Lancia 037. Yes, we know this is supposed to be a list of coolest racing cars, but this week we’re in street mode and entering the back door stage right on full opposite lock. In Stradale (aka street) form, the 037 is surely the prettiest of all the admittedly bombastic Group B road-legal spin-offs, a chiselled slice of pure Italian mid-engined lunacy, with hungry … [Read more...] about Top Gear’s coolest racing cars: Lancia 037
Coolest 2016 cars
The retro Nissan IDx Freeflow and its Nismo sister from Tokyo 2013 have to be among the coolest concept cars in recent times, with strong inspiration from the classic Datsun 510. Compact, turbocharged and rear-wheel drive, the pair got enthusiasts dreaming of a Nissan alternative to the Toyota 86 and Mazda MX-5. That will not happen. Top Nissan execs told Auto Express at NYIAS 2016 that while the firm’s GT-R supercar and Z sports car will always remain in the range due to customer loyalty, plans to add a smaller sports car to the family have been shelved for now. Shiro Nakamura, Nissan’s senior VP and chief creative officer, said that the biggest stumbling block is the costs associated with building a new platform for the project. “You need a proper platform because it has to be light and small and also affordable. In reality that is not easy to find. It also has to be rear-wheel drive – if we make it front-wheel drive it would be cheating. It is expensive and … [Read more...] about Nissan design chief rules out Toyota 86 sports car rival
For many attendees, the annual Muscle Car and Corvette Nationals has become a yearly pilgrimage. Filling up the Stephens convention center in Rosemont, Illinois, minutes from O’Hare Airport, people travel from literally around the globe to be here. For most of the year leading up to it, managing MCACN member Bob Ashton is out locating a few great cars to invite. Well, more than a few; a lot of really great cars. There are no bad cars at MCACN. The best of the best originals, the best historical examples, the best modern and accurate restorations, and some of the best stories all come together. Bob made a great statement in the annual program about how our cars erase the political, religious, color lines and gender lines that fissure modern culture. As the unifier in these somewhat turbulent times, there is a level appreciation for the finished and found, the rarest and “realest”, and more. But then Ashton goes and finds area managers from every interest and discipline … [Read more...] about Car Craft’s Top 25 Picks From the 2017 Muscle Car and Corvette Nationals
We didn’t need to hear the slide whistle of the turbos or the rhythm of the oversized camshaft to stop and inspect Jim Hallowell’s Nova. We could see the pinwheels right through the grille from 100 paces. Then we had him start the car for the payoff. There was a day when an 8-second car was track only. The big-dumb camshafts with fragile valvetrains and expensive race fuel for the high-compression guaranteed a long day if you got too far from the trailer. Turbos changed all that and guys like Jim are taking advantage by planning and building streetable 8-second cars using simple, durable small blocks. Jim started with a Motown block and other good parts like a LA Billet crank, Olivier rods, and Edelbrock Shaver cylinder heads. Then he added a pair of 75mm Borg Warner S475 turbos with the goal of 1,000 rwhp, a real possibility with this combo. Blocks and cranks aside, a real barrier to this kind of power is the fuel system. Jim uses a FAST electronic fuel injection and a … [Read more...] about Did You See this 1963 Nova? Car Craft Summer Nats FTW!
The 2016 Paris motor show presented plenty of new metal to gawk at, but while the SUVs and electric cars stole the headlines, there were still plenty of other interesting models that caught our attention. We run through seven of our favourites below. Fiat 124 Spider America Somewhat ironically, the Fiat 124 Spider America won’t be sold in the good ol’ USA. Instead, its name pays homage to the 1981 Fiat 124 Spider Pininfarina 50th Anniversary, a limited-edition car commissioned by Fiat USA to celebrate the Italian design house’s then golden anniversary. Like that original car, the America stands out from the regular Spider thanks to its magnetic bronze paint, tobacco-coloured interior and truly gorgeous four-spoke alloy wheels. Small touches, such as silver mirror caps and a celebratory plaque, help add to an already distinctive package, but the best feature is without a doubt the optional vintage-look luggage rack. Ultimately, we can’t quite work out if … [Read more...] about Seven weird, wacky and wonderful cars you might have missed in Paris
► Driving Alfa Romeo's 155 DTM► At the 2017 Goodwood Festival► Plus Alfa GTAm and Honda NSXI’m in the world’s best traffic jam. In front of me is the double-decker wing of a Sierra Cosworth touring car, behind me the diveplane winglets of a Mercedes CLK DTM. A man in Audi overalls taps on the window. ‘You might want to switch the engine off so it can cool down – it’s a hot day, and this is a nice car.’It really is. Somehow, I’m in the driving seat of an Alfa Romeo 155 DTM – the very one in which Nicola Larini won the 1993 German touring car championship, complete with those iconic quad tailpipes. And the man in the Audi suit is nine-time Le Mans winner Tom Kristensen. Goodwood is that kind of place. I agree it’s a very nice car, and add that it’s not mine. ‘Perfect – then you can go flat out!’ he grins.I should explain. A flurry of emails prior to the festival and a say-yes-to-everything … [Read more...] about The coolest touring car of all time? Driving Alfa Romeo’s legendary 155 DTM
More than five million Camaros have been sold over the better part of six decades, a feat to which Chevrolet can credit, at least in part, a generous marketing budget. With the sixth-gen car now in the public domain—you can read all about it here—we decided the time was right to gather some of our favorite Camaro print advertisements from throughout the car’s history. From fashion to typefaces and photography to design, it’s clear that many things beyond the Camaro have evolved significantly since 1967. Click/tap any of the images to enlarge, all the better to read some of the fantastic—or not-so-fantastic—ad copy.Note that during the fourth and, especially, the fifth generations, General Motors focused a lot less on print advertising in favor of stuff like “Bumblebee” of Transformers fame, and so those cars aren’t as well represented here. Also, vintage ads are way cooler. Now, to … [Read more...] about Mad ’Maro: 45 of the Coolest Chevrolet Camaro Ads of All Time
One little-known but incredibly cool variant of the original Nissan/Datsun 240Z sports car was a rally version decked out with knobby tires, a full array of auxiliary lights, and mud flaps. That racing Z won the East African Safari in 1971, and now it is forming roughly half the inspiration for a crossover concept from Nissan debuting at the 2015 Frankfurt auto show. The rest of Nissan’s inspiration for the impending show car, which goes by the slightly silly name “Gripz,” came from racing bicycles.Setting aside the tenuous overlap between road-racing bicycles and one of the coolest rally cars of the 1970s—Nissan says that those old rally cars were “proof that sports cars didn’t have to be low to the ground to be fun” and that they were the automaker’s first “crossovers”—the Gripz concept looks quite interesting. There is a sporty roofline and sporty 22-inch wheels and a very sporty front end, the … [Read more...] about Nissan’s Gripz Concept Is “Proof” that Sports Cars Can Be Tall
About twenty years ago, I made a decision that had the potential to severely limit my earning potential, increased my chances of becoming an alcoholic, and statistically ensured that I would die much, much younger than most people.That’s right, I decided to major in Jazz Saxophone Performance. Yes, you can do that. No, I wouldn’t recommend it. Luckily, a combination of factors led to my ceasing to pursue music as a career a long time ago, but not before I spent nearly four years working behind the counter of a musical instrument store in the Brass and Woodwind department as a part-time college job. We sold three levels of most instruments – Student, Intermediate, and Professional. Guess who we sold the most “Professional” instruments to? Professionals? Uh, no. A professional-level saxophone retails for more than $4,000 in most cases. For your average professional musician, that’s like, a year’s worth of ramen noodles and Crown … [Read more...] about Bark’s Bites: Why Does The Public Accept Car Reviews From People Who Can’t Drive?
I recently got up behind a Smart car in traffic the other day, and I realized something: Smart has managed to do what very few other brands can boast about. They’ve successfully redesigned a car that sells primarily based on its style.Now, you might think this is a bit of an unusual point, because you probably don’t think the Smart Fortwo is a very stylish car.In fact, you probably think it looks like a shopping cart with alloy wheels. But hear me out, here, because I think one of the biggest challenges automakers face is redesigning stylish cars. And I think the good folks over at Smart deserve some credit for doing it right.First, a brief overview of the problem. When you debut a car where style is the main selling point, buyers all want to be the first in line to own it. “THAT’S SO COOL!” people say. “I WANT TO BE THE FIRST TO OWN THAT!” And then they rush down to the dealership, and they pay over sticker, and then three years later they … [Read more...] about Doug Drives: The Problem With Selling A Stylish Car