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18 Oct 2014

How to turn a Pontiac Fiero into a trackday car

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Pontiac Fiero track car video

Imagine hitting the track in a mid-engine, rear-wheel drive sports coupe that’s affordable and has pretty good parts availability. It might sound like a pipe dream, but it’s actually quite possible, if you’re willing to think a little outside the box. The Pontiac Fiero is out there just waiting for a little work to turn it into a competent racing machine.

Think about it for a second. Of course, we would all like to be snaking through the curves in something exotic, but what happens when you crash or something breaks? The bills are going to mount up quickly. However, if you ball up a Fiero at the track, as long as you’re not hurt, then it’s not a huge tragedy.

That’s basically the story of Steven Snyder in a new video from Drive starring Matt Farah. Snyder wanted to go to the track cheaply and ended up with an awesome little Fiero with a huge wing and a claimed 220 horsepower at the wheels thanks to a V6 from a Chevrolet Lumina. Check out the video to see how this pint-size Pontiac performs.

Continue reading How to turn a Pontiac Fiero into a trackday car

How to turn a Pontiac Fiero into a trackday car originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 17 Oct 2014 16:58:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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17 Oct 2014

Jaguar Heritage Driving Experience throws you the keys to the museum

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Jaguar E-Type

As automotive journalists, we get to drive a lot of really cool, high-performance vehicles. It really is the single best thing about this job. However, our access to vehicles is generally limited to the newest offerings on the market. That means, much like the general public, we don’t really get access to vintage iron.

Jaguar is trying to rectify that issue for journalist and enthusiast alike, with a new program called the Heritage Driving Experience. It allows British enthusiasts to pop into the brand’s Warwickshire testing site, drop anywhere from 100 to 300 pounds ($160 to $480) and go for a spin in some of the brand’s most legendary offerings. That includes the more typical classics, like the Mark 2 saloon and the E-Type sports car, but you can also pay for access to stunners like the XK150, XKSS and the race-spec D-Type. In addition to the classics, most of the tests include time in their modern successors. So an hour with the Mark II can be split with time in an XFR-S, while the E-Type is complemented by its spiritual successor, the F-Type.

Most of the events are limited to 30 or 60-minute sessions, although the brand does offer a half-day and full-day event. The former, the Jaguar Le Mans Experience, includes time in the C-Type, D-Type, XKSS and F-Type R. The full-day Grace and Pace Pack, meanwhile, gives you access to nine vehicles, covering a huge gamut. That means time in the C-, D- and E-Type, XK150, Mark II, XKR-S GT and F-Type R, among others. Not surprisingly, prices aren’t listed for the half- and full-day pack. Much like Jag’s finest cars, if you have to ask, you probably can’t afford them.

It’s an intriguing program for sure. Now, if Jag would just offer this in the United States and if other manufacturers were to get on board with the idea, we’d be very happy indeed.

Jaguar Heritage Driving Experience throws you the keys to the museum originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 16 Oct 2014 16:27:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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17 Oct 2014

MotorWeek remembers retro icons, Supra and NSX

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1991 Acura NSX drive from Motorweek

It’s easy to poke a joke here and there about John Davis, the long-time host of MotorWeek. His voice is so monotonous that, from time to time, if you closed your eyes, you may think it’s generated via a computer. But you have to give him and the rest of the show a lot of credit. The program has been on the air for decades, giving people direct, straight-down-the middle automotive reviews.

MotorWeek‘s massive back catalog of reviews are slowly making their way onto YouTube, and they provide a fascinating chance to look back on how performance cars rank against their contemporaries from back in the day. Two recent additions include the show’s old looks at the 1986 Toyota Supra, the dawn of the third-generation model, and the now-iconic 1991 Acura NSX.

Both reviews are interesting in their own way. These days you hear nary a negative word about the original NSX, but MotorWeek isn’t afraid to point out a few flaws. And the Supra really shows the progress of suspension tuning in the intervening decades because it has some serious body roll in the corners. Scroll down to check out both videos and get a blast from the automotive past.

Continue reading MotorWeek remembers retro icons, Supra and NSX

MotorWeek remembers retro icons, Supra and NSX originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 16 Oct 2014 16:58:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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17 Oct 2014

Jay Leno’s new CNBC series will indeed be Garage-based [w/video]

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TV Leno's 15th

Last we heard, Jay Leno was almost ready to sign a deal with CNBC to get back on television regularly for the first time since he left The Tonight Show. Well, it’s official, and with the ink on the contract barely dry, we’re getting some new details about Leno’s upcoming car show.

Tentatively titled Jay Leno’s Garage, just like the fantastic web series, it premieres sometime in 2015 with spotlights on restoration projects and road tests of supercars and classics. Being on CNBC, the show is also taking a financial angle to “focus on the car collector’s market, including best investments and valuations in the space,” according to the network.

Leno said in the statement published by CNBC: “The show will be about anything that rolls, explodes and makes noise. We hope to highlight the passion and the stories behind the men and women who made the automobile the greatest invention of the 20th century.”

Based on that description, it sounds like we’re getting the Jay Leno’s Garage series directly transplanted to television with touch of financial info too. As long as the quality remains high, that doesn’t sound so bad.

Scroll down to see a video announcing the show from CNBC, though it mostly focuses on Leno himself and his opinions on Elon Musk. Jay must be taking the deal seriously because he’s not wearing the usual head-to-toe denim in the clip.

Continue reading Jay Leno’s new CNBC series will indeed be Garage-based [w/video]

Jay Leno’s new CNBC series will indeed be Garage-based [w/video] originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 16 Oct 2014 18:32:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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16 Oct 2014

Nigel Mansell’s Ferrari F40 sells for $870k

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Nigel Mansell's Ferrari F40

If you look at the $1.35 million price tag on the new LaFerrari and wonder how Ferrari can possibly charge that much for a single car, you could look at the prices of its competitors like the McLaren P1 that lists for almost as much at $1.15 million, you could look to the $2.5 million which Ferrari is said to have charged for the exclusive F60 America – or you could look at the prices at which LaFerrari’s predecessors are still trading. Take, for example, this Ferrari F40 which, 25 years since it was built, just sold for nearly $870,000 at auction.

The F40 in question, a 1989 model, may be just one of 1,315 examples made, but it has a rather noteworthy provenance: the car once belonged to Nigel Mansell, the only driver ever to hold both the Formula One and Indy titles at the same time. That Mansell – a man who had access to some of the fastest and most capable racing cars ever made – selected the F40 as his personal ride of choice speaks volumes about the car’s abilities and appeal. But then he did, after all, drive for the Scuderia that season, winning the Brazilian and Hungarian grands prix.

The celebrity provenance, however, may not have actually jacked the price up at all. While it may rank towards the top of the list, this was hardly the highest price paid for an F40 at auction. According to Sports Car Market, which tracks such sales, the record currently belongs to a 1993 Ferrari F40 LM that Bonhams also sold for $2.2 million at Monterey. The highest price for a standard, non-LM model was recorded at the same event at $1.43 million.

The Mansell F40 sold to an unidentified telephone bidder during the Bonhams auction event at Knokke-Le-Zoute, Belgium. Other noteworthy lots included a 1984 Lamborghini Countach 5000 S that sold for the equivalent of $420k, a 1972 Ferrari 365 GTC/4 for over $360k, a ’65 Lancia Flaminia Zagato for $375k and a Maserati Sebring 3700 for $240k, driving total sales for the day up beyond $4.6 million.

Continue reading Nigel Mansell’s Ferrari F40 sells for $870k

Nigel Mansell’s Ferrari F40 sells for $870k originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 15 Oct 2014 14:16:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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16 Oct 2014

History of BMW touring cars looks splendid in Adrenalin trailer

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Adrenalin documentary video

More high-quality documentaries about the history of motorsports are always welcome. When thinking about racing, we generally focus on moving forward to go a little faster or shave a tenth of a second off a lap. There’s not much time to look backward. It’s too bad, because there are so many fantastic stories from the sport’s history. Thankfully, an upcoming doc is taking on the challenge of telling some of these tales, and it looks like a movie not to miss, especially for BMW fans.

Adrenalin – The BMW Touring Car Story mixes high-quality, vintage footage with new interviews from many of the drivers of these machines to craft what looks like a fantastic experience. Covering the period from the ’60s to the modern DTM era, just the trailer shows racing from the 2002, 3.0 CSL and of course the E30 chassis M3 of the ’80s. You also get to hear from legends behind the wheel like Hans-Joachim Stuck, Johnny Cecotto and Joachim Winkelhock telling their stories.

Adrenalin comes out in November on DVD, Blu-Ray and on-demand. Check out its trailer above for a taste at what it’s aiming for. The documentary definitely looks like one to watch.

Continue reading History of BMW touring cars looks splendid in Adrenalin trailer

History of BMW touring cars looks splendid in Adrenalin trailer originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 15 Oct 2014 12:46:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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16 Oct 2014

German man drives Mercedes G-Wagen on 557k-mile, 26-year road trip [w/video]

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Mercedes G-Class

It’s a common dream to just drop everything, load up the car and make a life on the open road traveling from place to place. The vast of majority of us just fantasize about it, but it’s a reality for the German couple Gunther and Christine Holtorf. They are just finishing what might be the world’s longest road trip covering around 560,000 miles in a Mercedes-Benz 300GD named Otto (pictured above right) over the past 26 years.

Their goal was to visit as many countries as possible, and they ended up reached 215, including places like base camp at Mount Everest; they definitely achieved their dream. The same distance would have gotten them from the Earth to the moon and back, plus a few thousand extra miles to just cruise around.

Holtorf claims that Otto remained mostly stock for the odyssey. “The entire drivetrain with the engine, transmission and axles is still original,” he said. However, some upgraded suspension parts were installed to handle the extra load from all the supplies the couple needed to carry.

Otto isn’t retiring quite yet, but the hard part is over. The 300GD is going on display briefly at the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart and then taking a tour of the company’s dealers in Europe beginning in February 2015.

Coinciding with the latest stop in Otto’s voyage, the G-Class is celebrating its 35th anniversary. To commemorate it in Europe, Mercedes is launching the Edition 35 version (pictured above left) of the long-living truck. It gets obsidian black metallic parts for the bumpers, wheels arches, side mirrors and roof and a similar motif for the interior, as well. “I promise that there will still be a G-Class in the future,” said Daimler chairman Dr. Dieter Zetsche in the company’s announcement.

There’s a full chronicle of the trip with many videos, but it’s in German. The BBC also has an excellent long-form piece about the couple in English. Scroll down to watch a brief video about the journey that’s also auf Deutsch and read Mercedes’ press release.

Continue reading German man drives Mercedes G-Wagen on 557k-mile, 26-year road trip [w/video]

German man drives Mercedes G-Wagen on 557k-mile, 26-year road trip [w/video] originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 16 Oct 2014 08:44:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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16 Oct 2014

1969 Chevrolet Chevelle vs 1987 Buick GNX in Generation Gap showdown

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Chevy COPO Chevelle versus Buick Grand National GNX

Generation Gap generally tries to adhere to a theme for each episode, and for the final video from the Lingenfelter collection, the series might have its best idea yet – limited-production muscle cars from General Motors.

On one side you get a 1969 Chevrolet Chevelle COPO, and it’s an absolute sleeper. Other than the SS wheels, this classic coupe looks practically bone stock, at least until the engine fires up. Under the hood is a 427-cubic-inch (7.0-liter) V8 making a claimed 425 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque. This was the sole year for the COPO package on the Chevelle, and Chevy only made about 323 of them.

The Chevelle’s challenger is almost as rare and arguably just as cool. The 1987 Buick Grand National GNX looks just as mean today as when new. It eschews a traditional muscular V8 in favor of a 3.8-liter turbo V6 making a claimed 276 hp and 360 lb-ft, although that number is supposedly a bit underrated. Also, just 547 examples of the GNX version were ever built making it quite a collector’s item too.

So what era of muscle do you prefer? Undoubtedly, both the Chevelle and GNX are certified classics, but they make their performance credentials in very different ways. Ken Lingenfelter even weighs in during the video to pick his favorite. Check it out to see which one he prefers.

Continue reading 1969 Chevrolet Chevelle vs 1987 Buick GNX in Generation Gap showdown

1969 Chevrolet Chevelle vs 1987 Buick GNX in Generation Gap showdown originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 15 Oct 2014 20:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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16 Oct 2014

Petrolicious documents the motorsport-changing Ferrari 512M

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Ferrari 512M David Hobbs

Petrolicious has had plenty of beautiful cars and big-time personalities in its videos, but today’s interview is sees one of the series’ most well known subjects – US Formula 1 commentator David Hobbs.

Hobbs is an accomplished racer, capturing a number of podiums and a pair of class wins at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, in addition to short stints in F1 and at the Indianapolis 500. One of his Le Mans runs was behind the wheel of this, the Ferrari 512M, a car that’s notable for two things – running a 1971 season that included the 24 Hours of Daytona, 24 Hours of Le Mans, 12 Hours of Sebring and Watkins Glen 6 Hour races. The other thing it’s known for? Failing to win a single one of those enduros.

Still, the Ferrari 512 is one of the Italian marques most iconic 1970s racers and Hobbs’ example is a proud member of that breed, delivering a delicious 5.0-liter V12 exhaust note that makes this an easy video to sit through.

Continue reading Petrolicious documents the motorsport-changing Ferrari 512M

Petrolicious documents the motorsport-changing Ferrari 512M originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 15 Oct 2014 15:02:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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15 Oct 2014

Allan Hill, last resident of Detroit’s iconic Packard plant may get pushed out [w/video]

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Allan Hill lives at the Packard Plant

The old Packard Plant in Detroit is one of the city’s icons. All at once, it represents the vibrant history of the Motor City, its rocky past decades and the chance for something new to spring up. Despite the Packard buildings sitting empty for years, there’s still life there. Among other things, it’s a common spot for artists to practice their work, including Banksy several years ago. However, recent demolitions might bring a final end to the famous spot as we know it and threatens to make the site’s only legal resident homeless, along with it.

According to The Detroit News, Allan Hill has been living in a warehouse on the Packard Plant campus for about the last eight years. He has become the site’s caretaker of sorts by trying to prevent further destruction there and giving tours to visitors.

Now, the owner of the warehouse is putting the building up for sale, as part of increased development at the dilapidated factory. Read The Detroit News’ report to learn more about Hill and the plant’s future, and scroll down to watch a video about this fascinating man and his home.

Continue reading Allan Hill, last resident of Detroit’s iconic Packard plant may get pushed out [w/video]

Allan Hill, last resident of Detroit’s iconic Packard plant may get pushed out [w/video] originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 15 Oct 2014 09:45:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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