Given how enthusiastically Ford has mined the Mustang’s rich history, it was only a matter of time before we would see the Boss nameplate again. Well, the time has come: Ford rolled out the new Mustang Boss 302 (for static display only) at the historic races at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in California. The car will rumble into dealerships next spring as a 2012 model. The corral of high-performance Mustangs is getting crowded. After all, the Mustang GT is newly fortified with 412 hp from its recently introduced 5.0-liter engine, and the Mustang Shelby GT500 pounds out 550 hp from its supercharged 5.4-liter V-8. So one might reasonably wonder where the Boss 302 fits in. The short answer is: between the two, in both price and performance. But the more in-depth answer is that this car isn’t supposed to be merely an intermediate step in a hierarchy of hopped-up Mustangs; it’s actually something racier, more hard-core, and really, really cool. Like its 1969 namesake-which … [Read more...] about 2012 Ford Mustang Boss 302 and the 10 Greatest Mustangs Ever
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When the editors of AUTOMOBILE proposed that I name the 25 greatest car designers of all time, it seemed like a rather simple task. But after the first few obvious names, it became apparent that selecting just a couple dozen people from the thousands who have practiced the craft over the past hundred-plus years was impossible. Bear in mind that few of them are or were individual practitioners. For the most part, when you name chief designers, you are in fact referring to quite large teams of talented and skilled people, many of whom worked at various times for two or more of the major groups. So this is not—cannot be—an exhaustive list. Rather it names designers whose work was highly influential on the industry or has been highly impressive to me personally. I learned from all of them, and I have had the fortune to encounter many of them during my 60-plus years in automobile design. Click here to jump to each section:Part I: Beginnings in FrancePart II: The Rise of In-House … [Read more...] about The 25 Greatest Designers of All Time
We the people now own about 60 percent of General Motors. Thank God. I know the old joke about being from the government and here to help; I’m familiar the anti-socialist swell that’s been rising since Obama’s inauguration. I am also convinced that right now federal control of what was once the world’s largest car marker could be the greatest thing to happen to the company since Alfred P. Sloan.Putting aside the obvious—that the General would not have survived the battles of the last 12 months without Uncle Sam’s support. A controlling interest of GM in the fed’s hands isn’t all that bad for one simple reason: the government isn’t all bad. The bad gets more press. There are lots of success stories out of Washington that for lack of drama, or surfeit of politics, don’t immediately enter the fray when the free-market arguments start.Defeating the Nazis or putting a man on the moon are the easy ones and not all that … [Read more...] about Editorial: American Leyland Watch: This Is Gonna Be Great!
When it comes to cars, I much prefer discussing the deeply flawed and/or obscure to, say, getting into a debate over the relative merits of the E36 versus the E46. Give me a Sofia B or ZIL 112 any day! 24 Hours of LeMons racers who wish to bribe the judges and ensure fair treatment know that diecast replicas of weird/obscure vehicles make me very, very happy. Here’s one of the best yet— can you identify it?Leyland P76. The P76 was one of the greatest motor vehicles of all time, in the same sense that Richard Nixon was one of the greatest American presidents of all time. Sort of a British/Australian response to the ’71 Oldsmobile Delta 88, the P76 featured Buick/Rover V8 power, Lucas electrics, and a trunk designed to fit a 44-gallon drum with the lid closed. What comes in 44-gallon drums, and why are such drums so important to Australians? That, my friends, is like asking why Richard Nixon couldn’t make money shipping frozen— but not concentrated— … [Read more...] about What The Hell This Thing?
Yeah, yeah, yeah… America is different things to different people. But there are still core beliefs and values that almost all of us share. These are things like forthrightness, and appreciation of abundance, and confidence in the future. In sum, we like things bold, big, and bodacious.So here C/D presents, as American stares down its 238th birthday, the 17 most ’Murican of American cars and trucks. Not just production vehicles, but the machines that express the essence of American character and ambition.You know, whatever, here’s a list. 1. Bigfoot Sometimes the aesthetic of things gets out ahead of any function. Back in 1975, Bob Chandler was running his Midwest Four Wheel Drive and Performance Center in Missouri and using his 1974 Ford F-250 4×4 pickup to run errands for the business and as his family hauler. If that blue F-250 looked good with big tires under it, then it was going to look even better with bigger tires. Then why not even bigger tires? And … [Read more...] about America’s 17 Most-American Cars Made In America By Americans For Americans Who Love America
Richard Teague is probably my favorite car designer. No disrespect intended towards the many other talented people who design cars and trucks but Teague was the original silk purse from a sow’s ear guy. He’s best remembered for heading the styling department at American Motors from 1961 to 1986, where limited development budgets forced his team to be creative. The compact 1970 Hornet, itself based on Rambler mechanicals, ended up being the basis for a showroom full of cars. It got chopped into the subcompact Gremlin, upfitted into the slightly more upscale Concord and eventually lifted to make the Ur-crossover, the AMC Eagle 4X4 wagon. Teague was a master at recycling design ideas but keeping products distinct. The two-seat AMX concept was stretched to become the Javelin production car so the production AMX and the Javelin are obviously related but they are still easily distinguished from one another. Before coming to AMC, Dick Teague worked for GM and then Packard, … [Read more...] about American Motors AMX/3 – You Can Own Designer Dick Teague’s Favorite Concept Car
All 12 North American employees have been officially notified that their jobs are saved. … [Read more...] about Just Kidding! Suzuki Decides To Play Late April Fools Joke On North American Employees
Americans and Europeans had similarly themed but opposite problems after World War II.Americans had big, rumbling V8s in big, heavy cars that were decidedly un-sporty.Europeans had small, lightweight sportscars without the power to back up the looks.The solution was simple: combine them. The slinky Euro shapes were stuffed full with giant American engines in many guises — and the results spoke for themselves. The AC Cobra captured hearts of enthusiasts and race victories alike around the globe.The Cobra was neither the first nor the last of these conglomerates that took V8s from Chrysler, Ford and General Motors and popped them into all sorts of coupes, grand tourers, sedans and convertibles.I’ve restricted the pool of candidates slightly. Excluded is the aforementioned Cobra — probably the shining example of this combination that everyone knows about already. Also excluded: the Rover V8 and all of its derivatives. This … [Read more...] about Old World Style, New World Power – A History of Merging European Design with American Displacement
“Failure is the condiment that gives success its flavor.” —Truman Capote “My other Maserati is also a piece of shit.” —bumper sticker seen on a Chrysler’s TC by Maserati in Berkeley, California As nouns go, “flop” is a good one—short, peppy, and to the point. Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary defines a flop as “an act or sound of flopping,” or “a complete failure.” It implies a cheeky, jovial kind of bad, a light-hearted crappiness of fate that goes beyond simple notions of success or defeat. By the same token, in the automotive world, a flop isn’t necessarily a bad car. Bad cars come and go all the time, but flops are something more—they’re an unholy convergence of economic, corporate, and design conditions; a perfect storm of bad luck, bad planning, and— say what? —engineering. Four-wheeled flops don’t have to be … [Read more...] about The Greatest Automotive Flops of the Last 25 Years
Make America Great Again! It’s a dynamite slogan, simultaneously implying that America has fallen a little short of greatness lately and that a return to said greatness can absolutely be accomplished in short order. It’s a winner’s slogan, and it did wonders for that noted repeat winner, Ronald Reagan. By contrast, “I’m With Her,” the current slogan of choice for Mrs. Clinton, sounds like something a henpecked live-in boyfriend would tell a too-inquisitive salesperson at the Pottery Barn.Whether or not Mr. Reagan truly made America great again is a discussion for another time. I will say, for the record, that I am on a particular side of that discussion, and the quasi-musician known as “Jello Biafra” is on the other.What cannot be denied, however, is that the Reagan era saw the arrival of some truly great American cars. The C4 Corvette and its third-gen F-body cousin. The 225-horsepower Mustang GT. The Dodge Rampage 2.2. The list goes on … [Read more...] about Let’s Make American Cars Great Again, While Remembering That Some American Cars Are Already Great