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31 Aug 2014

Volvo PV444 turns 70

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Volvo PV444

Volvo has made all manner of vehicles over the course of its long history, including coupes, convertibles, hatchbacks, sedans, wagons and SUVs. But the vehicle that started it all was the PV444.

Or rather, we should say, the PV444 is what re-started it all. Because while it wasn’t Volvo’s first model, it was the first one it produced after the war. Monday, September 1, will mark 70 years since the PV444 first debuted at the Royal Tennis Hall in Stockholm pictured above, where the company received 148,437 visitors.

That presentation there took place shortly before the end of World War II when the vehicle wasn’t even finished yet. A team of 40 engineers and designers were still fine-tuning the final version, but were eager to show the public what it would start building after the last bullet was fired and peace would return to Europe.

The exhibition garnered 2,300 pre-orders (though we doubt that’s what they were called seven decades ago and in Swedish). It would take Volvo another few years to begin delivery, but once it did, people got Gothenburg’s first small car, built on a monocoque chassis with an overhead-valve engine – all pioneering features at the time. That OHV engine displaced 1.4 liters and offered just 40 horsepower, and all those initial examples were painted black with green interiors.

The first examples delivered to the United States arrived in Los Angeles on August 15, 1955, and established Volvo’s presence in the North American market. Though Volvo had only made 2,000 cars at that point, it ambitiously set the production goal of 8,000 units for the PV444… and ended up building 200,000 of them by the time production ended in 1958. That total is 440,000 if you include the updated PV544 that followed until 1965. In short, it was a pivotal model for Volvo, and one worthy of celebrating.

Continue reading Volvo PV444 turns 70

Volvo PV444 turns 70 originally appeared on Autoblog on Sun, 31 Aug 2014 08:58:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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31 Aug 2014

Corvette museum to fill in sinkhole, leave five cars unrestored

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Sinkhole at the National Corvette Museum

Preservation or restoration. That’s the question that faces anyone dealing with classic cars, and it’s the issue with which the National Corvette Museum is grappling in the wake of the sinkhole that opened up in its midst this past February.

In the months since the damage was inflicted, the museum had planned to keep at least part of the sinkhole open as a sort of memorial and tourist attraction so that visitors could see what happened. Unfortunately, it turned out that keeping the hole open would cost the museum more than closing it up. Much more, if you can believe it: instead of the earlier estimates that initially placed the cost of preserving a portion of the sinkhole at around $500,000, the eventual cost estimates rose to over $1 million.

Even if the museum had the funds in order to do so, the visible portion of the sinkhole would still require 35-foot retaining walls, steel beams and other reinforcements (not to mention proper humidity control required to deal with vapors emitted from the hole) that would have defeated the point altogether. So in the end, the board of directors have voted at its quarterly meeting to completely fill it in.

The hole itself, however, is not the only area in which the museum has had to choose between preservation or restoration. General Motors had originally pledged to restore all eight of the Corvette display models damaged in the natural disaster, but following an outpouring of requests from visitors and fans, both Chevy and the museum have opted instead to keep five of the less-damaged Vettes in the same condition in which they were extracted from the sinkhole.

In the end, Chevy will still restore two of the more substantially damaged Corvettes itself – namely the 2009 ZR1 “Blue Devil” prototype and the 1992 C4 convertible that was the millionth Corvette ever made – and will bankroll the restoration of the ’62 model to be undertaken off site. The others will stay as they are. So while you may not be able to see the sinkhole for much longer, you’ll be able to see at least part of the aftermath in those heavily patina’d cars for the foreseeable future.

Continue reading Corvette museum to fill in sinkhole, leave five cars unrestored

Corvette museum to fill in sinkhole, leave five cars unrestored originally appeared on Autoblog on Sun, 31 Aug 2014 10:58:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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30 Aug 2014

The sunniest Ferrari collection you’ve ever seen, shot for Forza mag

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Ferrari Collection in Tennessee

There’s a stable of about 40 beautiful prancing horses hiding in a Tennessee garage. These thoroughbreds aren’t out to win the next Triple Crown, though. Instead, this is one of the best collections of Ferraris in the world where you would probably least expect it.

Photographer and auto journalist Clint Davis went there to write a story about collector Phil Bachman for the Ferrari-focused Forza magazine, and he took some dazzling photographs to go along with his words. At the same time, he brought along a friend to film their day meeting Bachman and his sublime collection.

Amassing this many sensational vehicles would be amazing anyway, but Bachman takes his Ferrari obsession even further. He prefers to get his cars in yellow and tries to get the last production example of a given model. In fact, he already has a reservation for the final LaFerrari. You can probably figure out in what color. Keep your eyes open here for glimpses of a plethora of vintage beauties, but the star of the show might be a yellow FXX.

Continue reading The sunniest Ferrari collection you’ve ever seen, shot for Forza mag

The sunniest Ferrari collection you’ve ever seen, shot for Forza mag originally appeared on Autoblog on Sat, 30 Aug 2014 19:02:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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29 Aug 2014

Jaguar design boss Callum reinterprets classic Mark 2 for himself [w/video]

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Jaguar Mark 2 By Callum

As the man behind the styling of basically every Jaguar since the mid 2000s, two things should be known about Ian Callum – he’s a big fan of the brand, and he can bloody well get whatever kind of Jag he wants.

His newest car, though, is not what you might expect. Rather than an F-Type or an XJ, Callum has gone old school, and commissioned a custom, resto-modded Jaguar Mark 2.

Designed by Callum and built by Classic Motor Cars in Shropshire, England, the Mark 2 was an 18-month project between the designer and the garage. The essentially new car draws its power from a 4.3-liter engine that’s been pilfered and modified from an XK. It’s mated to a five-speed manual transmission.

The suspension has been dramatically altered, with a new independent rear suspension, and upgraded springs and adjustable dampers at all four corners, as well as new front and rear roll bars. The result is a ride that sits 1.18 inches closer to terra firma. A new power steering system should also add some life to the Mark 2’s rack.

Aesthetically, Callum has crafted a stunner. 17-inch, split-rim, multi-spoke wheels start the excellent design, while new, functional louvers have been fitted into the Mark 2’s fenders. The interior is a leather masterpiece, done in a shade of red that is usually reserved for couples behind closed doors. As Callum’s creation is meant to be a more modern version of a classic vehicle, a new flip-out touchscreen system has been fitted that will allow the designer to bump whatever tunes he sees fit.

“This is a very personal statement. A long held notion that, although the Mark 2 has always been a beautiful car, it could be even more exciting in shape and performance. Whilst maintaining the purity of the car’s form, I wanted to add a number of modern twists to the design. Simplification and clarity was my objective,” Callum said in a statement.

Objective completed, Mr. Callum. Take a look below for the press release and the video on the Mark 2 by Callum, and then scope out the gallery of images up top.

Continue reading Jaguar design boss Callum reinterprets classic Mark 2 for himself [w/video]

Jaguar design boss Callum reinterprets classic Mark 2 for himself [w/video] originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 29 Aug 2014 20:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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27 Aug 2014

This forgotten Chrysler was its bid for Humvee contract

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Chrysler Humvee Proposal

Today, the Humvee might be as associated with the dead automotive brand from General Motors as it is with the hard-working truck that has long served as one of the backbone vehicles of America’s military. But Autoline host John McElroy is showing off a practically unknown part of the model’s story by digging out some old photos from his personal archive.

The High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle project, better known today as the Humvee, can be traced back to a US Department of Defense request for bids to build a new military truck. According to McElroy, he was invited to the Chrysler proving grounds in 1981 to check out the bid from the brand’s defense division. The company’s concept was that it might be able to build an inexpensive, capable vehicle by using off-the-shelf parts.

The angular body panels gave the truck a look almost like a modern, stealth vehicle. However, the flat look was actually just to make the tooling as cheap as possible to produce. Still, this Chrysler looked surprisingly futuristic for the early ’80s. It’s actually not too far away from the famous Lamborghini LM002, itself intended as a possible military-spec machine.

Obviously, Chrysler’s proposal never made it to production, but it’s interesting to think that if history had gone differently, this could have been America’s military vehicle rather than the Hummer. Fast-forward to the 3:35-mark in the video to get the full scoop on this forgotten piece of automotive history.

Continue reading This forgotten Chrysler was its bid for Humvee contract

This forgotten Chrysler was its bid for Humvee contract originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 27 Aug 2014 16:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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26 Aug 2014

Toyota celebrates 30th anniversary of Land Cruiser 70 with Japan rerelease [w/videos]

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Toyota Land Cruiser 70 Series Re-release

It’s a common refrain among auto enthusiasts to bemoan the current models being sold for being overly complex and expensive and to wish that automakers would just make vehicles like the old days. Sure, they might not have been as safe or efficient, but there was often a certain rugged simplicity that’s gone today. Well, Toyota is actually doing it and thinks there’s enough demand to put the Land Cruiser 70 back into production in Japan for its 30th anniversary. Sadly, it’s only for one year.

The original Land Cruiser 70 served a long life in Japan from 1984 to 2004. Even today, the proven model remains in production in some regions abroad. People in its home country still love the vehicle though, and Toyota is brushing off the mothballs to give customers what they want. For the first time ever there, it’s also offering the double-cab pickup version in addition to the traditional enclosed body. The company thinks that it can move about 200 of these classic trucks this year, which isn’t too shabby for a vehicle that’s three decades old.

Looking at the pictures above, these look like the same old Land Cruisers, but Toyota is updating them slightly to meet modern safety rules. The grille, hood and headlights are all tweaked, and they now come with airbags and anti-lock brakes. A 4.0-liter V6 is under the hood making 228 horsepower (170 kilowatts) and 266 lb-ft of torque (360 Newton-meters), and the only available gearbox is a five-speed manual. Part-time four-wheel drive is standard. If you’re really afraid of getting stuck in the wilderness, locking front and rear differentials and a winch are available as options.

Prices for these throwbacks start at 3.6 million yen ($34,600) for the SUV or 3.5 million yen (33,700) for the truck. Scroll down to watch some videos of these awesome “new” models showing what they can do off-road, and to read Toyota’s official announcement.

Continue reading Toyota celebrates 30th anniversary of Land Cruiser 70 with Japan rerelease [w/videos]

Toyota celebrates 30th anniversary of Land Cruiser 70 with Japan rerelease [w/videos] originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 26 Aug 2014 19:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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26 Aug 2014

Here’s what a front-row seat looked like in 2014 Mille Miglia

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Jaguar F-Type Mille Miglia

From 1927 to 1957, the Mille Miglia was one of the great, romantic European road races of the golden era of motorsports. The cars were fast, beautiful and loud but also extremely dangerous and regularly claimed drivers’ lives. After two fatal accidents in ’57, the event finally had to reform and came back in 1977 as a historic rally held over the course of several days. That didn’t make things boring, though, and Xcar found that out firsthand with a front-row seat to this year’s race in a 2015 Jaguar F-Type R Coupe.

Xcar was actually following the Jaguar team this year that included Ian Callum and Jay Leno in an XK120, which we previously got a glimpse of when it was covered on Jay Leno’s Garage. Where Leno focuses on a more personal story of competing, this one takes a more macro view. You really get an idea of how crazy the Mille Miglia still is, and while the F-Type is way too new to actually compete in the rally, it can still wear an event sticker and drive with the vintage racers.

One amazing fact about today’s Mille Miglia is that if you’re competing in the event, there are basically no rules. The roads are technically still open to traffic, but the police shut down intersections and provide a rolling roadblock. Xcar‘s F-Type alternated between following on the course with the classics and snipping off chunks of the route to watch the participants arrive at each stop. Check out the video to experience fantastic historic rally.

Continue reading Here’s what a front-row seat looked like in 2014 Mille Miglia

Here’s what a front-row seat looked like in 2014 Mille Miglia originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 26 Aug 2014 12:46:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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25 Aug 2014

Dirt Every Day tries to find the best 4×4 for under $4k

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2014 Dirt Every Day Cheap Truck Challenge

If you want to build a cheap truck that can still do dirty deeds off the beaten path, it’s best to start with solid axles and a solid V8 engine. That sums up the lessons learned after watching the 2014 Cheap Truck Challenge from the Dirt Every Day video crew, who took to the deserts and surrounding areas near Reno, NV, in an attempt to find the best 4×4 for under $4,000. Fortunately for us, the whole sordid journey was captured on video.

This isn’t the first time the boys from DED filmed a Cheap Truck Challenge, and this year’s festivities pitted together a 1993 Chevy S10 pickup, a 1995 Jeep Grand Cherokee and a 1975 International truck in a series of challenges ranging from donuts to drag races, with plenty of hill-climbing and rock-crawling action in between. We don’t want to spoil all the fun, but suffice it to say one competitor was found to be lacking while the other two performed (mostly) well. See for yourself in the video above.

Continue reading Dirt Every Day tries to find the best 4×4 for under $4k

Dirt Every Day tries to find the best 4×4 for under $4k originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 25 Aug 2014 14:58:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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25 Aug 2014

Jay Leno drives postcard-perfect ’32 Ford Highboy Roadster

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1932 Ford Hot Rod

At the turn of the century, it was arguably the Honda Civic that best defined inexpensive performance tuning, and in the ’50s it was the Tri-5 Chevys. One of the earliest platforms to gain a huge following among young people looking for a cheap way to go fast was the classic ‘32 Ford Highboy Roadster. This week, Jay Leno’s Garage looks at one of the very first vehicles that defined the look of the hot rod heyday.

This ’32 Ford was built in the ’40s and graced the cover of the fourth issue of Hot Rod Magazine back in 1948. All of the hot rods that you see shining at car shows today owe a serious debt of gratitude to this roadster. It bears all of the cues that define the look, including a notched frame and hidden door hinges. Under the three-piece hood is a flathead V8 boasting all sorts of period modifications, including copper cylinder heads. It was seriously fast in its era too, and proved it by reaching 112.21 miles per hour on a dry lakebed in 1947.

These days, this hot rod is on display at the Petersen Automotive Museum. Although, if you can’t make it to California to see it, the United States Postal Service is celebrating this Ford with one of its two hot rod Forever stamps. Like Jay says in the video, in terms of hot rodding, “it all comes back to this.” Check out the video to learn more about this rolling piece of tuning history.

Continue reading Jay Leno drives postcard-perfect ’32 Ford Highboy Roadster

Jay Leno drives postcard-perfect ’32 Ford Highboy Roadster originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 25 Aug 2014 20:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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22 Aug 2014

Camaro Z/28 and Mitsubishi Starion meet in this nostalgic vision of ’87 Japan

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Orange Orchid music video

The ’80s is just far enough away now that it no longer seems like an era defined by Reagonomics and neon clothing. Filmmaker Matt Clark has embraced the look of the music videos of the decade in his new short film titled Orange Orchid, set in 1987 in Chiba and Yokohama, Japan. The video features some great sports coupes of the time and is set to the song I Know There’s Something Going On from Abba-alum Frida (along with drumming and backup vocals from Phil Collins).

Clark really embraces the pop-culture look of the era’s videos with big hair, a healthy dash of neon, inexplicable smoky rooms and big, over-wrought movements. However, the real stars for us are the pair of ’80s sports coupes that also kind of personify the main characters. Nijo in her denim jacket has a modded Camaro Z/28 with huge, dished wheels sticking way out past the fenders. Naturally, the Chevy also features some great butterscotch paint and a car phone inside. Alex, the guy pursuing her, forgoes any obvious upgrades in favor a clean, all-white Mitsubishi Starion to go along with his tailored suit and giant cell phone.

We wish this video featured the cars a bit more prominently, but that drumbeat from Collins on this forgotten 80s gem is pretty fantastic, too. Give it a listen in the video.

Continue reading Camaro Z/28 and Mitsubishi Starion meet in this nostalgic vision of ’87 Japan

Camaro Z/28 and Mitsubishi Starion meet in this nostalgic vision of ’87 Japan originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 22 Aug 2014 16:57:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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