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Guide To Safe Driving During Winter – PART 3

Winter Driving

In the first and second part of the article we talked about considering alternative transportation and how to prepare your ride for the snowy season. Also, we shared a few tips about how to drive on snowy and icy roads. In this third and final part of the article we are going to talk about emergency measures and what to do when you get stuck in the snow.

If your vehicle begins to slide, first you need to take your foot off the accelerator without hitting your brakes. For those of you driving a stick you should take your foot of the acceleration pedal, don’t hit the brakes and fully depress the clutch pedal. You should steer into the direction that you want to go which in most cases is the same one with the direction of the skid. So, if the tail end of the car starts skidding to the right, you should turn the steering wheel to the right. The vehicle should start to self-correct if everything goes smooth. You need to accelerate in a gentle matter in order to get the wheels of the vehicle moving again and increase their traction. If you want to make a stop it is highly advisable to brake gently. It is best to avoid hitting the brakes hard because by doing so it will stop your wheels and will eliminate any traction that you have had.

For the cars equipped with antilock brakes, the brake pedal should be pressed gentle. There are very good chances that you will feel the brakes pulse, don’t get scared as this is a very normal thing. For traditional brakes, you need to pump the brakes gently.

If you have the misfortune of ending up stuck on the side of the road or in a snowbank, it is advisable to press the acceleration pedal in a gentle matter in order to see if you can get free. Don’t overdo it because if you hit the pedal very hard the wheels will most likely start spinning and you will remain in the exact same position as before.

If that doesn’t work, now you can try rocking your way out. If the vehicle moved just a little bit, you should gently drive forward up to that point and after that release the acceleration pedal and hit the clutch (for those of you that have a manual gearbox), letting the vehicle slide back. With the risk of repeating ourselves, the idea behind this move is to nudge the vehicle back and forth by using a gentle touch of the acceleration pedal. Think of it like pushing on a swing. If you are lucky enough and you weren’t badly stuck, in most cases you will make sufficient room in order to get enough speed to break out of the annoying snowbank. Whatever you do, it is best to avoid spinning the wheels of the car because by doing so, it will polish the packed snow under the car’s wheels into ice. While rocking, you could very well steer by turning the vehicle to an angle opposite the snowbank.

If you haven’t resolved the problem yet, you should put the vehicle in park, set the handbrake and get out of it in order to start digging the snow away from the vehicle’s wheels and also under it if you think this is what stops you from going forward or backwards. In the first part of the article we mentioned the shovel, now would be a good time to use it as this is the only one that is able to get under the car and clear the snow. Don’t try removing the snow with your hands, arms or any other body part, it is useless. The sand you hopefully packed should be placed under each wheel, especially on the drive wheels of the vehicle. For those of you that drive all-wheel drive cars or four-wheel drive, sand should be placed on each of the four wheels of the vehicle.

If all of the above don’t work for your situation, try flagging down an incoming motorist or call a friend/member of the family who could arrange for a tow truck. Most likely they will try to help you by pushing your vehicle, but remember the following: In the front, by turning your wheels while spinning, the tires will throw stuff in the direction of the helper and in the back, a spun tire will throw stuff back, which again isn’t a fortunate situation for the helper.

If you have the extra money to spare, you could increase your car insurance by adding towing coverage. Another idea would be to get an automobile club membership; the decision is up to you.

If you decide to stay close to your immobilized vehicle, avoid sitting in the front of it and try sitting in the back in order to let other motorists see you better and who knows, they might stop and give you a hand. In addition, if another motorist plows into the back end of your vehicle, we are certain that the last place where you would want to be is in the front of it.

As you can see, driving a car on snowy roads can get a little bit tricky if you don’t take the necessary precaution measures. If something really happens when driving, like getting stuck in a snowbank, you should be aware of the fact that there are a couple of ways to get out, without having to call for a towing truck. With the risk of repeating the same thing all over again, do your best and don’t press the acceleration pedal too much. It is highly advisable to drive slow and be very attentive at what is going on around you as the risk of getting in an accident is high in these difficult weather conditions. As they say, better safe than sorry. Good luck and safe driving, especially during the winter months of the year.

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Tesla Motors – Present & Future

2012 Tesla S

First of all I would like to say that I find the Tesla S to be one of the most beautiful cars in the world, next to my personal favorite, the now archaic Peugeot 607. Tesla Motors became famous with the introduction of the Roadster which showed the world that the company is fully capable of designing a top-notch electric car. With the Model S, they showed us that they are able to come up with an extraordinary, almost perfect design. However, building the S model is somewhat problematic.

Tesla has already made three “alpha build” Model S cars and all of them were assembled at the company’s headquarters in Palo Alto, sunny California. The bodies of the car were made by a supplier located in Michigan. In the months to come, the company will test the hell out of these cars to find out the good and bad parts of the subsystems and components. In the near future (hopefully), Tesla Motors will enter the “beta builds” stage by making the cars at its factory located in Fremont, California. The cars that will roll out of the factory will be most likely used for federal crash-testing and certification as well as for various additional tests and system integration.

Some people say that the entire fate of the company relies on the success or failure of the Model S. The officials at the company promised some time ago that the S will be able to offer a range of up to 300 miles. In addition, they said that the car will feature all the luxury of a BMW 7-series and space for seven passengers. Speaking of the interior cabin, I really doubt that seven people will fit in the car, maybe five adults and two midgets. Moving on, the company received $465 million from the United States Department of Energy for building the S model; we hope that the money were put to good use and the car will get the green light for production in the near future.

The Tesla S will feature an aluminum body and the company targets a curb weight of about 4,000 pounds, similar to the Audi A8, another all-aluminum model that is considered to be a benchmark for Tesla’s car. Another promise made by the company regards the fact that the S will have the “best in class” aerodynamics from a body designed in-house with the help of Franz Von Holzhausen, the guy responsible for the beautiful Pontiac Solstice and for the bold Mazda Furai concept car. In addition, the aerodynamics of the car will be further tweaked by Robert Palin (ex Williams F1 driver) and Shaun Johnson (ex Ferrari driver).

2012 Tesla S

What we don’t know about the S is the size of the battery pack, but taking into consideration that the Roadster sports a 53 kilowatt-hour unit, the S should have one just about the same. Although the new S model will be a lot more heavier than the Roadster, people over at Tesla Motors said that the two models will use just about the same amount of energy to cover a given distance. Most likely, the S will be capable of reaching the autonomy of the Roadster thanks to its efficient drivertain and superior aerodynamics.

Kurt Kelty, who is the director of Tesla’s storage technologies, said that the car will get more performance out of the battery packs. The pack used for the Roadster offers an energy density of 120 watts-hour / kg that was boosted to more than 135 in the packs that Tesla made for the Smart Electric Drive prototypes.

As far as the suspension is concerned, it was designed by Huibert Mees, a man that worked on the legendary Ford GT and it is tuned by a Lotus employee, Malcolm Burgess. Tesla Motors decided to design its own suspension configuration, although they could have very well chosen to pass this responsibility to Toyota or Mercedes-Benz, companies that have a partnership with Tesla. In the front, the suspension consists of double control arms whereas in the back the S will be fitted with a multilink configuration. Basically all of the major and important components of the car were made in-house – bushings, steering knuckles, control arms and so on, all of them made out of cast and extruded aluminum. The company borrowed other components from big time suppliers like Bilstein, Bosch and Brembo.

2012 Tesla S

Thanks to the fact that all of the above mentioned major components will be placed under the car, the cabin will be more than spacious. According to Tesla, the S will have a trunk where the engine is installed on most cars and will feature an optional rear-facing third row jumpseat, offering the car room for seven people. The company promises to offer 29 cubic feet of cargo space which should be more than enough for most of us.

In addition to all of these goodies, the S promises to be “a driver’s car”. Officials at Tesla said that their new car will offer the best handling capabilities in its class, better than what Lexus, Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz are offering in the segment. We are very eager to find out if this statement will come to life. But in order to find this one out, Tesla needs to make the car, a production model not an alpha/beta one.

Sources say that the S will enter the production line next year, but the company still needs to finish the car, equip the factory and train the employees. Automotive experts are a little bit concerned regarding the bold 2012 target, although Tesla does not have any problems with money or talent. Basically we will have to wait and see when the car will be launched and if it will stand a chance against the electric 7-Series from BMW which has a starting price of $70,650. The S model will have a base price tag of $57,400 which is very attractive in my opinion.

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Guide To Safe Driving During Winter – PART 2

Winter Driving

If you haven’t read the first part of our article now would be a good time to do it. If you are planning to take out the car during winter and you obviously will otherwise you wouldn’t read this article, top off the windshield-wiper fluid and replace it with de-icing fluid which will protect your windshield even at temperatures below -30 degrees Celsius.  Some people recommend that the gas tank of the car should be filled as this extra weight will offer additional traction especially on slippery roads. The full tank gas will also come in handy if you get stuck somewhere and you will definitely want to keep the car running to provide the necessary heat. Check the tires before taking the car and fill them to the recommended PSI level. If the pressure is low, it will lower the car’s reaction to steering.

If you happen to live in an area where you rarely need studded snow tires, you might as well mount normal tires with chains in advance of the snow storm. Try to get some cheap steel rims from a salvage yard or any other place where you can get them and purchase also two used tires to match, make sure they fit the wheel! Once you got the tires, chain them up. Go to a tire shop so that the guys over there will remove the excess chain links. After that, inflate the tires you’ve got to the recommended PSI level. Drive slowly and carefully on these chained tires in order to minimize the risk of broken cross-links.

The vast majority of the new chain models can be fitted on the car even if you are already stuck in a pile of snow as you won’t need to remove the wheel or drive on them. It is advisable to practice mounting them on a dry environment and warm weather to get the hang of it. For people living outside the US, with other words, people that use a manual gearbox, it is highly recommended to park the vehicle in reverse of first gear, not on the handbrake as the brake has the tendency to freeze up and on brined roads it tends to rust stuck. If the brake of your car gets stuck because of frost or rust, gently tap it by using a hammer, don’t overdo it! If this won’t work, try to find the car’s parking brake cable housing and give it a yank or two, this should do it.

Once you get down the road make sure that you wear your seatbelt at all times and take it easy. When driving on difficult snowy roads, it is crucial to move slowly and be very attentive at what is going on around you. One of the most important causes of accidents during winter is high speed. For this reason, it is recommended to accelerate and brake in a gentle manner and evenly. Try to look ahead of obstacles, intersections and turns before you encounter them. Avoid making sudden movements which will most likely cause your vehicle to lose traction and fishtail or slide.

The lights of the car should be on at all times. Most of the new models (2009 and forward) are equipped as standard with DRL – day-time running lights, which are very useful during the day, improving the driver’s visibility. The high beam lights should be used only during the night for extended vision when necessary. Once a vehicle approaches, dim them immediately.

Especially on downhills, it is advisable to downshift if you want to decelerate, instead of using the car’s brakes. When climbing up a hill, use a low gear to have more power. When you are downshifting be very attentive because if you have too much speed and shift into an inferior gear, the transmission will force the wheels to skid some while the wheel-speed will reduce in order to match the gear ratio. In order to avoid this situation it is advisable to release the clutch in a slowly and gentle matter.

Be very attentive on those roads that are more apt to be icy, like on lightly-traveled roads and especially when you are crossing bridges. While you are driving and you happen to notice a truck that is dumping salt on the road, it is best to not overtake it and stay well back from the equipment. It is best to use a higher gear if possible and shift in a smooth matter with low rpms. If possible, set your automatic transmission in the winter-setting mode. Some people say that the best gear to drive off the car is the second one, give it a try.

If you have a front-wheel drive car and you use chains make sure that you are very careful when decelerating. The vehicle will have the tendency to break out from the back due to the fact that the braking force on the front wheels is considerably bigger in comparison to the one for the back wheels. A standard modern car is most likely equipped with ABS – anti-lock braking system and drive stability systems like ESP – electronic stability program, which work like a charm during these harsh conditions. This anti-spin control system should be turned off in special occasions when it detects wheel spin and will refuse to give power to the car’s drive wheels.

If the car starts to slide it is advisable to avoid hitting the brake. You should however take the foot off the accelerator pedal and if you are driving a car with a manual gearbox, fully depress the clutch pedal, without hitting the brakes. You should steer the vehicle in the direction you plan on going. In most cases, this is the direction of the skid so if the tail end of your car is skidding left, steer left.

Join us tomorrow for the third and final part of our article where we will be offering useful info for when you get stuck on the road.

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In Depth – 2011 Subaru Forester

2011 Subaru Forester

Subaru sure took their time in updating their powertrain lineup in the last two decades, a period where most of the manufacturers focused their attention in implementing the newest technologies for squeezing every last bit of energy from every drop of gasoline. Subaru’s parent company, Fuji Heavy Industries recently revealed the 3rd generation of the boxer engine, a power unit aimed to keep the pace with the emissions and fuel economy standards that get tighter day by day.

Giving the new engine a quick look, you will say that nothing has really changed as the 3rd generation offers basically the same horsepower, fuel economy figures as the old one. Unlike other rivals that invested plenty of money in direct-injection systems, Subaru decided to skip this technology entirely. The question is: what are the new improvements of this engine? What most of you don’t know is that Subaru invested plenty of money in opening a new factory, especially for the 3rd generation of this engine. To see what the new power unit is capable of we need to have a closer look at the 2011 Forester model.

The 3rd generation of the Forester was launched back in 2008 and it still looks quite fresh, at least in our humble opinion. Nothing has really changed if we put the 2010 and 2011 models head-to-head but the car still looks quite good for a CUV. In the front, the swept headlights along with the grille come together in order to create a rather cohesive look that will most likely draw you eye down the side of the car. The SUV flavor is more accentuated thanks to the boxy side-view mirrors along with the flared fenders and large insets for the fog lights.

2011 Subaru Forester

Moving inside the car, the feeling of old-new is there, with the same well-grained plastics that do a pretty decent job, but the entire cabin could have been a little bit colored and cheerful. The driver will enjoy the well-sorted steering wheel of the Forester, a wheel that has controls for stereo, hands-free calling and cruise within the reach of the driver. Although the gauges are quite plain, they can be easily read both during day and night. By having a quick look at the cabin you will find that everything is in order, except the position of the switches for the heated seats which are installed under the car’s arm rest on the driver’s side of the cupholder. It goes without saying that passengers have literally no chance of finding them without browsing the instruction manual. It would have been wise to place them somewhere near the center where they could have been accessed more easily.

Although the new engine has just about the same figures as the old one, it is indeed an upgrade because the old one had a belt-driven, single-overhead design whereas the new one comes with a more modern chain-driven dual-overhead cam configuration, making it more efficient. Thanks to this upgrade, the car is now one mpg in the city more efficient according to the EPA ratings. In comparison to the old engine, the new one has a larger bore and a longer stroke as the tweaking displacement has grown from 2,457cc to 2,498cc which means that the 2011 Forester is capable of offering an additional four pound-feet of torque at 300 rpm sooner than the old powertrain.

Although the engine has received some minor yet well-deserved updates and improvements, it still is linked to the same old 4-speed automatic gearbox, making this configuration quite similar to what we were used to in the previous generations of the Forester.  The new engine is however more smooth and considerably more quiet than the last generation.

2011 Subaru Forester

The 2011 Subaru Forester still is a great car to drive despite its cons in the engine and gearbox department. The new model is very well capable of offering terrific driving dynamics, mostly because it borrowed a couple of things from the very popular WRX.

The starting price of the 2011 Subaru Forester 2.5X Premium is $23,495. For an optional package that will set you back $1,095, you get windshield wiper de-icer, heated front seats (with the annoying controls) and a useful TomTom navigation system. If you want the very outdated automatic gearbox you will have to pay another $1,000. Don’t forget about the destination charge which is $725. Add all these and draw the line, you will notice the price tag is not very affordable, standing at $26,315.

In the opinion of many, getting the car with that archaic 4-speed gearbox would be a terrible thing to do. It is best to get the 5-speed manual transmission or wait until Subaru launches a proper modern automatic gearbox. If you are looking for a CUV that offers plenty of cargo room and a lot of space for the passengers, the 2011 Forester is a viable solution to your requirements despite its flaws.

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Review – Hurst Hemi Challenger Series 5

Hurst Hemi Challenger Series 5

The Challenger is considered by many as one of the greatest muscle cars in the world, but what does it happen to it if it gets the Hurst treatment? Simple, it gets better. The standard version itself is a true-core muscle car, but by making it even meaner, louder and lower, the result is simply outstanding.

The primary target of the Hurst Challenger is to keep the philosophy of the original car and instead of messing it up; they enhanced the car’s gentleman hotrod core. The pre-production model had a rear spoiler that stuck up similar to a duck’s tail. Luckily, this isn’t a problem anymore as the retail version simply extends back flat from the Challenger’s decklid. In addition, the “Hurst” badge is now history. The car is fitted with massive 20-inch wheels covered by BFG KDW tires, which give the car a very masculine look.

Hurst Hemi Challenger Series 5

Both the white and black versions are equipped with a very powerful 527 hp HEMI engine that has a massive torque of 528 lb-ft. Fitted with an automatic gearbox you simply just have to get in the car, start it and push the pedal to the medal for the ride of your life. Of course, this car was not designed for your daily commute; you would be better off with a BMW 5-Series or other similar cars. The centrifugal Vortex supercharger kicks in similar to a traditional turbo and adds more boost in a progressive matter – the more power you need, the more it will give you, simple as that.

If you leave the driving aids on while you start off in first gear, you will get very accustomed to the traction control lights, if you know what I mean. For pure fun and excitement, turn off all the driving aids and enjoy the raw power of this monster., but be careful as the level of power this has to offer is out of this world.  As far as the suspension is concerned, the Hurst Hemi Challenger Series 5 comes with a high-performance Eibach kit which is fully capable of keeping the vehicle’s weight and mass in check, maintaining it even through turns and steady for those side-to-side inputs.

Hurst Hemi Challenger Series 5

It would be a very bad move to consider this a sports car as it isn’t. Although it is a highly tuned car it still is a proper “Challenger”, which should be able to tell you about the purpose of it and what it is capable of doing. Think of this Hurst Challenger as a toned-down Dodge Viper that has rear seats and a decent trunk, without losing any of the performance of the legendary car. This is the ultimate gentleman’s hot rod and one of the most frightening cars that were ever produced in the US of A.

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Anderson Audi Q7 Revealed

Anderson Audi Q7

Anderson Germany, a tuning company best known for their Ferrari-based projects has decided to have their take on one of the most popular SUVs out there – the Audi Q7. Based on the V12 TDI Family Edition, the Anderson Q7 comes with a carbon exterior styling package for the roof drip moldings, the mirrorcaps, bordergrill and front- and back diffuser. A shiny black lacquer was used for the logos and the grill gate. The taillights and the panes are darkened and so are the exhaust ends.

Anderson Audi Q7

The Anderson Audi Q7 rolls on black wheels that have a white edge and they measure 10×22-inches, covered by 295/30-22 tires for all four wheels. Taking a closer look behind the rims you will notice the red painted brake calipers. In order to improve the behavior in curves, the Q7 has been fitted with a module that lowers the car. The 12-cylinder power unit under the hood is now 10% more powerful thanks to software optimizations brought and special air cleaners installed. The standard Audi Q7 offers 500 hp which means that with the Anderson tuning program, the V12 engine outputs 550 hp.

Anderson Audi Q7

Carbon-applications were also used inside the cabin for the steering wheel, the edges of the illumination, door handles, armature edges, switching jacks, parking brake grasp and on the ventilation shafts. The trim in the doors, radio screen, speedometer, center console, shift levers, steering wheel and ventilation edges were colored opposite in black. Upholstery is made out of black Alcantara and black leather. The Anderson Q7 got a new dimmable LED floor space lighting that fits perfectly in the front and back into the surrounding field. Modifications were also brought to the child seat which now is capable of orienting itself in such a way at the design of the entire interior.

Dusseldorf-based Anderson Germany has not released yet any information regarding the price of this tuning package for the Audi Q7 V12 TDI.

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GWA Tuning Ciento Once Revealed

GWA Tuning Ciento

Here is something that you don’t see every day, a revival of a very interesting 1970s Mercedes-Benz Gullwing prototype that never received the green light for production. GWA Tuning is responsible for this exciting car and they offered a modern flavor to this classic car.

1970 Mercedes C111 II

First of all, let’s talk about the original car developed by the German automaker. In 1970 at the Geneva Auto Show, MB shocked the world with its very bold second C111 experimental test car and people immediately started dreaming about the revival of gullwing Mercs. For those of you that remember this car, it was one of the most sought-after vehicles of the decade, along with the Lamborghini Countach, the legendary Lancia Stratos (a car that also got a revival) and the Porsche Turbo.

Similar to its predecessor, the second iteration had a very lively orange paint which unfortunately isn’t available for the modern SLS.  The car was equipped with a 345 hp rotary power unit that was installed behind the driver and passenger seats and was linked to a 5-speed manual transmission. With its fiberglass body, the C111 II was able to reach 60 mph in just 4.8 seconds, onto a top speed of 186 mph (the magic 300 km/h mark of the 70s).

1970 Mercedes C111 II

Although it was a hit at Geneva, Mercedes didn’t put the car into production because of the power unit. 10 years ago, Dr. Hans Liebold, the guy responsible for this car said that “The Wankel engine was not yet mature enough to be handed over to customers in line with company standards”.

Time to end the history lesson and talk more about the GWA Tuning Ciento Once. The engine under the hood of the car is a powerful 408 hp capable unit that is linked to a 6-speed Cima H type transaxle transmission. The car also benefits from a very special tuned exhaust system, a coil-over suspension while the braking system was borrowed from the Mercedes-Benz S55.

GWA Tuning Ciento

This modern iteration of a classic features a handmade aluminum body and an aerodynamically functional rear diffuser and front spoiler. In addition, it sports an electric-operated rear adjustable wing. With a curb weight of only 1,400 kg and with more than 400 hp under the hood, it should offer enough performance.

Moving inside the car we will find carbon fiber seats along with brushed aluminum pedals as well as illuminated door sills. The wheel-tire configuration is identical to the one found on the Mercedes SLS AMG as in the front you will find 19×9 rims wrapped in 265/35/19 tires and the back wheels measure 20×11, covered by 295/30/20 tires.

The price for this car has not been announced yet because the vehicle is still in its prototype phase. We hope that it will go into production as it is the perfect revival of a very interesting car presented back in the 70s along with other interesting models that changed the automotive world.

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History Lesson – 1961 Elite S1

1961 Elite S1

Today we are talking about the beautiful Lotus Elite, manufactured from 1958-1963. The car you see in these pictures was acquired as a basket case, dissembled and incomplete by its current owners back in 1983. Over more than 17 years, this Elite was brought back to life and it has been fully restored to current racing configuration. In 2004 the car participated in its first Historic race and has also run in other vintage races since then. The car was also present for three years at the Wine Country Classic and in 2007 made its very first appearance at the Monterey Historic Automobile Races.

The Lotus Elite was the first road-worthy, real production closed automobile developed by Colin Chapman. The racing program was funded with the money earned by the company from their road cars which were a huge hit during those times. This racing Elite features a glassfibre monocoque that is comprised of eight box sections. For that decade, the car was both strong and light and it featured a 4-cylinder aluminum 1216 cc power unit thanks to Coventry Climax. The car was capable of doing the 0-60 mph sprint in about 12 seconds, onto a top speed of 115 mph, pretty impressive for the early 60s. The engine was linked to a 4-speed manual transmission and disc brakes were used for all four wheels for proper braking. The suspension of this Elite S1 was independent, a rarity in comparison to other cars back then.

1961 Elite S1

The first prototype was launched a year earlier than the production model at the Earls Court Auto Show. During its production years the Lotus Elite was manufactured in 1050 units and then it was replaced by another hit, the Elan model. Without any doubt, the Elise was a road worthy vehicle, but it also managed to grab a couple of class wins at the very demanding 24 Hours of LeMans, making it a suitable car for both road and racing environments.

The Lotus Elite is considered to be the first modern car from the British automaker with a curb weight of only about 1,300 lbs thanks to its fiberglass unit-body construction. The Elite’s entire structure was composed of fibrous material in comparison to the more popular fiberglass body-on-steel frame design of those days. The engine of the Elite was also something impressive. Manufactured by Coventry Climax, it was capable of outputting between 75 and 105 hp, depending on the tune. Although it was a very common single overhead cam conventional four cylinder power unit, it was capable of reaching very high horsepower levels in reference to its size. The 4-speed gearbox we mentioned before was made by both ZF and MG during the car’s lifespan.

The car was known for its very good handling capabilities thanks to its very modern suspension configuration, aside from the low curb weight. It had wishbones and coil springs in the front while at the back it sported a MacPherson-like strut, also known as the “Chapman strut”.

1961 Elite S1

Aside from all of these technical figures which are very impressive for a car made in the late 50s / early 60s, the Lotus Elite is even now considered to be a very beautiful car. With its long nose and the short tail lent made the tiny Elite look more like much bigger grand touring cars. The cabin of the car was very comfortable and airy and it sported pretty good materials along with the simple yet very intuitive switches. The very nice 3-spoke steering wheel had a light wood rim contrasting the simple dashboard.

Without any doubt it will remain in the history of automotive as being one of the best road cars of its period, combining great looks with high-performance engineering, all wrapped in a lightweight package that made the car very fast back then. Also impressive is the Elite’s 0.29 coefficient of drag which is a very impressive figure even in 2011, regardless to say that in 1957 it was unheard of.

Source: ConceptCarz.com

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Guide To Safe Driving During Winter – PART 1

Winter Traffic

For drivers, winter is by far the hardest season of the year and the rate of accidents during these months goes sky high. For this reason, we have come up with a couple of tips to make your life easier during these months.

First of all, consider alternative transportation for getting from point A to point B. Before starting to search for your car through the pile of snow, think of the advantages and disadvantages of driving today. Of course, you might want to say: Why the hell did a bought a car from my hard-earned money if I’m going to take the bus? Of course, driving a car is far more convenient than taking the bus but during the winter months, a bus is considered by many to be more suitable and faster. If you choose to take the car, you will be spending at least 20-30 minutes getting rid of all that annoying snow. A bus nowadays is safer than any type of car and provides the necessary warmth and in many cases (more than you might think) it could get you to the destination faster.

However, if you still want to take the car (and we fully understand that) you should prepare it ahead of time (a little bit too late now, but bookmark this article for the next winter). The first thing to do is take out your wallet and spend a couple of hundreds of dollars for snow tires. In addition, you could also get a set of tire chains and deposit them in the trunk of your car. If you haven’t used them before, you will be shocked to find out how much traction they offer to the automobile. More than that, in some mountain passes it is obligatory to use chains. On the flip side, in some states in the US the use of chains is prohibited due to the fact that they cause damage to the road so make sure you check the current laws.

You should pack a sleeping bag or a blanket if you plan on going far away from home on long rides. Don’t forget to take the old shovel with you, along with flares, matches, candle and a small bag of sand; you don’t know when you might need it. The blanket will help you keep warm if get stuck somewhere. You will be using the flare in order to alert incoming motorists. No point on explaining what you should do with the shovel.

If you plan on travelling longer distances don’t forget to pack some food and water supplies. Speaking of water, it is useless once it’s frozen and for this reason it is highly advisable to keep it in the passenger compartment with you, otherwise the container might burst and no point of explaining the mess it will create. Once you arrive at the hotel, take the water with you.

A flare is very useful if you have had an accident but the downside is that it lasts only a few minutes. For this reason, it is highly recommended to get a battery-powered strobe which will last you a few hours. You might as well tie or tape it to the antenna of your car so that the wind won’t take it away.

Here is something that not many people know, if you take a roll of toilet tissue and remove the cardboard inner tube and stuff it in your coffee can, you will now have a stove that will help you survive the harsh cold inside the vehicle. Don’t forget to pack 3-4 12 oz. bottles of isopropyl alcohol which you will use to light the toilet tissue. Also, remember to take with you disposable aluminum pie plates. In order to set the stove on as a heat shield, take one of those plates and turn upside down and use it. The heat can be controlled with the other plate by simply covering the part of the can opening. Although this type of alcohol does not emit carbon monoxide it is advisable to open the window of your car just a little bit in order to allow fresh air to come in. You will be surprised of how useful this so-called stove can prove to be when you are stuck.

Just as well you could pack a bar or a towing rope in your car so that if you are stuck somebody could help you or vice versa. If this situation occurs, remember to carefully read the owner’s manual to find out the suitable attachment points for tow ropes because if you are not attentive, the car’s plastic bumper could become history.

It is highly advisable to remove all of the snow from your car before driving away. For this reason, you must scrape the ice/snow located on the windows, headlights, taillights and side mirrors. NEVER start driving if the windows are still fogged. Let the vehicle warm up at least until the windows are not fogged anymore. Before heading out, check all the doors of the car to see if they open and close properly. You never know when a door will open during driving due to frozen latch hardware.

By removing all the snow from your car, you will probably get some of it on your clothes. Most likely, this snow will spill into the edges of your shoes/boots too. Remove all of the snow from your clothing and shoes before getting inside the vehicle because if you don’t do so, the snow will melt and soak all of your clothing as well as the seat of the car which means that you will have a very unpleasant drive.

With the risk of repeating the same thing, warm up the car before leaving home and also remove your coat and hat before driving the car. It is advisable to take off your boots and use sneakers for better paddle handling.

Join us tomorrow for the second part of our guide. Stay tuned.

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2012 Buick Verano Revealed

2012 Buick Verano

The 2011 Detroit Auto Show is just around the corner but automakers are already starting their 2011 attack. The 2012 Buick Verano was just announced and in our humble opinion it is a “baby Regal” as there are many similarities between these two models. The new Verano is made on the Delta II platform developed for the Chevrolet Cruze and it is very close as far as the dimensions are concerned to the larger Epsilon II-based Regal model, making the Verano half Cruze / half Regal.

Standing at 181-inches long, the 2012 Buick Verano is only 9 inches shorter than its Regal sibling and only half inch shorter in height. In the front, you will notice the LaCrosse-inspired fascia which makes it very attractive, at least we think so. The new Verano borrowed the upward sloping lower character line on the sides from the Regal. The car comes as standard with 17-inch rims but for extra money it can be fitted with more generous 18-inch wheels, available on the higher trim levels and in two variations.

Similar with the Regal, the Buick Verano can be bought only with a front-wheel drive and like the first one; it uses a 2.4-liter direct injection power unit that churns 177 hp and 170 pound-feet of torque. The car will do 22 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway with this engine. The Cruze however uses different engines, either a 1.4-liter turbocharged or a normally aspirated 1.8-liter.

2012 Buick Verano

Moving inside the car, the interior is the result of mixing the Cruze with the Regal as the Verano borrowed its styling from these two cars and added a few Buick-spec materials here and there to make it feel more familiar to the company’s fans. In comparison with the Regal, the Buick’s cabin is only approximately two cubic feet smaller and this should be quite enough for most of us taking into consideration that the Chevrolet Cruze offers plenty of room for four adults.

Some of the most important optional features available for the 2012 Buick Verano include the push-button engine start, the dual-zone climate control with standard air conditioning, heated steering wheel, heated leather-appointed seating, uplevel front and rear reading lamps, steering wheel radio controls, console armrest that slides and locks, electronic parking brake and power windows with express up/down in the front and express down in the rear.

In the front, the Verano utilizes a decoupled MacPherson struts suspension that allows a better isolation and provides greater separation of extreme road conditions. In the back, the car sports a technically advanced Watts Z-link design that aids during cornering the center of the axle, improving the car’s handling on both left-hand and right-hand turns. In comparison to a regular fully independent rear suspenson, the Z-link design requires less space and is lighter, making the car lower its curb weight.

2012 Buick Verano

In order to efficiently stop the car, the engineers at Buick fitted the Verano with four-wheel disc brakes that feature standard anti-lock as well as electronic brake distribution plus the StabiliTrak electronic stability control (with traction control). In the safety compartment, the 2012 Buick Verano offers 10 airbags as standard, OnStar with Automatic Crash Response and a collapsible pedal system.

Official pricing will probably be revealed once we get closer to the car’s official launch date which should be at the end of this year. The expected retail price of the 2012 Buick Verano should start from approximately $21,000 for the entry-level models and work his way up to about $26,000 for the top-of-the-range models. More information should be available next week when the car will be presented at the 2011 Detroit Auto Show.

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In Depth – 2011 Aston Martin V12 Vantage

2011 Aston Martin V12 Vantage

The 2011 Aston Martin V12 Vantage looks better than previous generations and according to the guys responsible for this automotive work of art, nothing on the car was altered only for cosmetic purposes as all of the changes were done in order to enhance the Vantage’s driving dynamics. The aerodynamic lift was reduced thanks to a couple of things borrowed from the N24 race car program and this has been done without any penalty in drag.

The very aggressive looking front splitter is now channeling the air more efficiently to the big front brakes and the radiator of the Vantage, but at the same time it still produces downforce. The uberlight carbon fiber louvers cut right into the aluminum hood allow the heated air into the power unit compartment to escape, thus lowering the air pressure and lift which occurs at very high speeds. When you look at the new side sills you will probably say that they look good and there’s nothing more to it, you’d be wrong as even these are functional. The side sills channel the air around the Vantage rather than under it. Another modification brought to the 2011 model is in the rear decklid spoiler which is now a little bit bigger, allowing the carbon fiber lower diffuser to channel the air through the high-capacity rear-mounted oil cooler and increase the downforce.

The top-of-the-line V12 Vantage borrows its platform from the entry-level V8 Vantage but this isn’t a downside of the car. Under that gorgeous aluminum body hides an all-alloy aluminum monocoque platform, dubbed VH architecture. This framework is not only strong but also very rigid, the perfect solution for a robust powertrain, like the one found on the V12 Vantage.

2011 Aston Martin V12 Vantage

Inside the car, you won’t notice anything out of the ordinary but there are a couple of things that should draw your attention. First of all, the driver and passenger seats are covered with one of the finest leather and Alcantara materials and are upholstered for both holding power and comfort. The carbon fiber handles of the doors look and feel very nice and the gearshift is made out of aluminum.  Updates have been brought also to the instrument clusters in order to guarantee an improved clarity as the engineers at Aston Martin used higher contrast numerals and an intuitive splash of color for allowing the driver to find the necessary information faster than before.

The baby Vantage is equipped with a V8 4.7-liter 32-valve power unit that churns 420 hp and 346 pound-feet of torque. With this engine the V8 Vantage will do the 0-60 mph sprint in 4.7 seconds which isn’t bad at all, but there are many other cars, less expensive, that are able to beat this time very easy.

Maybe for this reason, Aston Martin decided to put its biggest and most powerful engine into its smallest platform. As a consequence, the 2011 Aston Martin Vantage was fitted with a massive V12 6.0-liter 48-valve engine that displaces 5,935 cubic centimeters, producing 510 hp and a generous torque of 420 pound-feet. All this large amount of power is transmitted to the rear mid-mounted transaxle with the help of a carbon-fiber propeller shaft. The engine is linked exclusively to a traditional yet very efficient 6-speed manual gearbox. The regular mechanical limited-slip differential is in charge for keeping the rear wheels in check.

As far as the suspension compartment is concerned, nothing new on the horizon as the V12 Vantage has an independent double wishbone up front that incorporates monotube dampers, an anti-roll bar, coil springs and the anti-dive geometry. In the back, the 2011 Vantage uses independent double wishbones with monotube dampers, an anti-roll bar, coil springs and anti-lift / anti-squat geometry. Something different from the baby Vantage is the more compact dual-rate spring design which allows a more aggressive wheel/tire configuration. In addition, the V12 Vantage’s spring rates have been stiffened by 45% and also the anti-roll bars are now 15% stiffer in the front and 75% in the back. The ride height of the 2011 Aston Martin V12 Vantage has been lowered by .59 inches which means that the center of gravity has also been lowered. The ADS – Adaptive Damping System developed by Aston Martin is not available (or necessary) on the big Vantage.

2011 Aston Martin V12 Vantage

In order to efficiently stop this monster of a car, the Vantage has been fitted with 15.67 ventilated and drilled carbon ceramic discs in the front that have 6-piston calipers. In the back, the car is equipped with 14.17 ventilated and drilled carbon ceramic discs that have 4-piston calipers. The 19-inch wheels are forged aluminum alloy and are covered by 255/35ZR19 Pirelli P Zero Corsa tires in the front and 295/30ZR19 in the rear.

The downside of this power upgrade is the fact that the car is now heavier as the V12 power unit is 220 pounds heavier than the V8 plant, but thanks to the massive use of lightweight materials, the big Vantage is only 100 pounds heavier than its V8 sibling. The curb weight of the V12 Vantage is 3,704 pounds and weight distribution is almost perfect, standing at 51/49. The 0-60 mph sprint is done in exactly 4 seconds, onto a top speed of 190 mph.

The price for all these goodies starts from $176,995. Don’t forget adding the $1,615 destination charges and the $3,000 gas guzzler. If you want one of those special paints, you have to add another $1,895 to the final price tag. Other worth-getting optional features would have to be the $1,250 satellite radio and the $7,200 Bang & Olufsen Audio. Sum all of these up and you get a $193,755 price tag which is quite expensive but we believe that Aston Martin won’t have any problems in selling 1,000 units of their 2011 V12 Vantage.

Although there are other cars less expensive and probably faster, the Vantage stands out from the crowd with its wonderful bodywork, making it one of the most beautiful cars in the world.

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11 Cars To Die For

If you have tons of money and you don’t know what to do with it, here are 11 solutions to your “problem”. The following 11 cars will be auction this month at The Scottsdale Auction, organized by Gooding & Co. There will be a couple of beauties auctioned, like the FXX Evoluzione and the legendary F40. All of the cars were in the possession of Benny Caiola, a man known for his love for Ferraris. Check out some of the cars from his garage:

1973 Dino 246 GTS

A good way to spend a good amount of money would be to get this 1973 Dino 246 GTS, a real looker in our opinion. Although it isn’t one of the fastest cars in the world, it sure looks drop dead gorgeous. The idea behind this model was to build an “accessible” Ferrari and it was made by Enzo Ferrari himself, to honor his late son Dino. The car featured a V6 2.4-liter engine that offered 175 hp. There were only 1,274 GTS built. The car in the picture was first sold in California and after that spent a couple of years in Hong Kong and Japan, returning to the US about seven years ago. The car is expected to sell for at least $160,000.

Ferrari F40

Another Ferrari on the list is the iconic F40 which was a hit from day one. Launched back in 1987, it featured a V8 engine, twin-turbo, capable of outputting 478 hp. It was the fastest car in the world from 1987 and 1989. Ferrari’s initial plan was to build only 400 units, but due to high demand, it rolled out 1,315. This F40 you see in the picture is one of the 213 units that were sold in the United States. The first owner of this beauty was Richard Slobodian. It is almost brand new if you looking at the odometer which shows only 3,448 miles. The car will probably be sold for at least $475,000.

Ferrari F50

Looks like Gooding & Co. love Ferraris as they have another one listed, the successor of the F40. Although it wasn’t just as popular as the Enzo or the F40, the Ferrari F50 shared just about all of the F1’s technology available at that time. It was built in order to commemorate the company’s 50th anniversary in 1995. The car had a powerful V12 4.7-liter engine that produced 520 hp and it was based on the F92A F1 racer. Pininfarina was responsible for designing the bodywork and they emphasized on proper handling and optimal downforce. The car will do the 0-60 mph sprint in 3.7 seconds, onto a top speed of 200 mph. The car pictured above is the 38th unit of a grand total of 349 cars the Italian supercar maker produced. Similar to the F40, it is barely driven, only 4,000 miles. It will probably fetch at least $750,000.

1999 Ferrari 333 SP

Here is something that you don’t see every day, a 1999 Ferrari 333 SP. This one was developed by Dallara and had a carbon-fiber monocoque with a F1-inspired suspension. The 4.0-liter V12 engine, which was mounted right in the middle of the car, offered 650 hp. Introduced in late 1993, this one grabbed 69 pole positions and won 56 races. It will probably sell for about $800,000.

2005 Maserati MC-12

Finally, something that doesn’t have the Ferrari badge, a 2005 Maserati MC-12 that features an F1-inspired suspension, a V12 5.9-liter power unit that unleashes 630 hp; it is the same engine you will find in the Enzo. The car will do 0-60 mph in 3.8 seconds, onto a top speed of 205 mph. The company’s initial plan was to build only 25 units, but due to high demand, they made 50 cars. The car in the picture is the 39th one and was only driven for 730 miles. It will probably go for about $1.1 million.

2006 Ferrari FXX Evoluzione

My vision of the ultimate car is the 2006 Ferrari FXX Evoluzione. This one has the Evoluzione Kit, priced at $300,000. With this package, the FXX offers 860 hp in comparison to “only” 790 hp available for the standard version. In addition, the response time of the paddle-shifted transmission has been reduced to only 60 milliseconds. Other updates include improved carbon ceramic brakes, revised traction control and suspension geometry. The body got rear flaps in order to increase downforce and a new rear diffuser. It can be yours if you have at least $2.2 million.

2007 Ferrari 430 Challenge

Here is a car that suffered two crashes during its lifetime – the 2007 Ferrari 430 Challenge. With a 4.3-liter V8 engine that outputs 483 hp, it isn’t a Buick. Caiola crashed it twice, but this doesn’t mean that the car is worthless. On the contrary, it will probably sell for about $125,000.

2008 Ferrari F430 Scuderia

Another 430 – this time the 2008 Scuderia. Michael Schumacher helped out Ferrari’s R&D when they made this car. The car is almost brand new with just 625 miles shown on the odometer. It will probably go for about $225,000.

2008 Mercedes-Benz SLR

Something from Germany, the 2008 Mercedes-Benz SLR, which Caiola purchased in January 2008 and drove it for only 525 miles. It will be probably sold for $240,000.

2009 Lamborghini Gallardo LP560

Probably the most down-to-earth car from this list is the beautiful 2009 Lamborghini Gallardo LP560. With a 525 hp engine that allows the car to reach 60 mph in just 3.6 seconds, I wouldn’t mind driving it for a lifetime… Again another car barely driven showing just 612 miles on the odometer. It can be yours if you are willing to spare about $175,000.

2010 Ferrari 599 HGTE

Last but certainly not least, the newest car from this list – the 2010 Ferrari 599 HGTE. In fact, this is a 2008 599 GTB but received the Handling GT Evoluzione treatment last year. With just 237 miles on the odometer, it is almost new. If you are willing to part about $275,000 – it’s yours!

My favorite car from this list is the FXX, but I wouldn’t mind getting the Gallardo which is the “dullest” model from this long list of automotive beauties.

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In Depth – 2011 Volvo XC60 R-Design

2011 Volvo XC60 R-Design

The 2011 Volvo XC60 R-Design doesn’t offer any additional horsepower under the hood but it does pack some nice features that make it a pretty nice crossover. The car has now a stiffer suspension and a special red paint, a real eye-catcher. This red paint, dubbed Passion Red, is exclusive to the R-Design and you can easily distinguish it from the rest of the colors available. Another exclusivity of the car is the impressive 20-inch rim with the generous XC60 logo. The last outside tweak of the car would have to be the new color-matched cladding located along the lower realms of the R-Design’s bodywork.

Moving inside the car, you will notice the center shack which is now covered by a new, more expensive dark material and the leather seats which sport contrasting leather panels for extra style. To really stand out from the crowd, the “R-Design” logo has been embossed in the leather. Our favorite addition to this package is the steering wheel covered by perforated leather and a bundle of contours available.

One of the variations of the car is the T6 AWD that packs a 3.0-liter 6-cylinder engine that is capable of outputting 300 hp and 325 pd-ft of torque. The engine is linked to a 6-speed automatic gearbox that offers all that power to the four wheels. Although it has a considerable weight of 4,225 pounds, the R-Design doesn’t have any problems, especially when the turbo kicks in. Although the car is not as fast as many might have hoped, it will do the job quite nicely in any given conditions.

2011 Volvo XC60 R-Design

The acceleration of the 2011 Volvo XC60 R-Design doesn’t have anything impressive and you will notice that the car still has plenty of room for upgrades. The reworked dampers along with the stiffer spring make it a jarring ride over pockmarked roads and broken pavement and you will notice that basically it still drives like a CUV. The car has the tendency to understeer when you start sawing that beautiful wheel, but it still is a pretty nice car to drive.

2011 Volvo XC60 R-Design

A more significant downside of the car is the navigation control which is located behind the steering wheel, making the buttons almost impossible to reach. You’d think that for a 2011 model engineers would have worked to make the interior very intuitive and easy to access, you would be wrong. Luckily, the 2011 Volvo S60 ditched this awful system and most likely so will the XC60 once a refresh arrives.

Another problem of the car is the key system. The XC60 is operated by a key fob that has the approximate size of a box of matches, but it doesn’t use the same radio frequency technology that the rest of the luxury automakers use. In order to start the car, the driver of the XC60 must insert this fob, wait for an electric motor to suck it into the dashboard and after that he can press the start button. It is not a very good system in our opinion, especially if you are in a hurry as this can get a little bit annoying after a while.

The price for the R-Design starts from $41,550, but by adding the 20-inch rims mentioned above, it enters the BMW X3 xDrive35 pricing range. Although the bimmer offers a more comfortable suspension, the looks of the Volvo are just great, both inside and out. With a little bit more power, a new set of dampers and without that awful starting system, the 2011 Volvo XC60 R-Design would be a great car, it still is despite its minor flaws.

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History Lesson – 1960 Ferrari 250 GT

1960 Ferrari 250 GT

At the end of 1957, the Ferrari 250 GT Cabriolet Series started its production and at the same time, the Italian automaker was preparing another open-variant of the 250, designed especially for the North American market which was very important in those days and it still is now. Both Johnny von Neumann and Luigi Chinetti impressed upon the automaker the need for a dual-purpose, high-performance and more focused car, like the TdF – Tour de France and the SWB – Short Wheelbase Berlinetta.

The car you see in these pictures was finished in Ferrari’s factory in January 1960. This 1963GT was the fifth of a total of 54 SWB automobiles that were ever produced by the Italian automaker, and one of the very few who got the beautiful covered-taillight treatment. When it left the factory, it also had an optional hardtop. During those times, these weren’t off-the-shelf items; they were custom-ordered parts which were entirely design to fit the perfect lines of the GT. After the car was 100% completed, it was delivered to the company’s importer Auto-Becker, located in Dusseldorf, Germany.

Originally, the car was white and it had a black interior along with a black hardtop. There are very few cars that attract more eye than a red one; the 1963GT is one of those cars that look way better in white. In the course of two years after its original delivery in Germany, this beautiful car was sold to its next owner, located in Lugano, Switzerland. A brief period after this, the car returned to its homeland to be serviced at Ferrari’s Assistenza Clienti in Modena. At the time, the car was driven for 27,290 km and had Swiss license plates.

Two months later, a many by the name of Bob Jeffries who lived in Joplin, Missouri, put an ad of the car in Road & Track, asking for a price of $10,500. The car remained in the Midwest for some time and Don Devin got it six years later. In 1974, the California Spider was purchased by Jim Southard from Georgia.

1960 Ferrari 250 GT

Two years later, the California was again put on sale, this time in Autoweek. On August the 3rd, 1976, Ron VanKregten bought the car and interesting to say is that the sale’s bill still exists, showing Ferrari of Los Gatos (a dealer) as the seller of the car. It is possible that the dealer purchased the car from Southard or they acted as a broker.

Nowadays, the car looks just about the same as it did a few decades ago, although it has been painted red. The dashboard, the carpeting and the exquisite leather seats all look brand new. Having a look at the engine bay of the GT and the straight-row radiator is still there, and so are the exhaust heat shields and the generator, all original. Probably the most important aspect regarding the car is the fact that it still has the original drivetrain and engine. That wonderful V-12 engine is still there and can be turned on with the help of the original key.

The California Spider still retains its original fog lights, Marchal headlamps, Borrani wire wheels and dual Talbot mirrors. The trunk still has the same carpeting, the jack as well as the holding spare which is located on the original tire strap. It has a small flaw however, a minor area of rust located behind the right rear passenger, but it can be easily fixed.

The production of the 250 Series began in 1954 and ended in the beginning of the 60s. There were a bundle of configurations of the 250, making the most successful line of the company in those days. The 250 was Ferrari’s first car to receive disc brakes, at the end of the 50s. Another important fact is that the 250 was Ferrari’s first 4-seater.

1960 Ferrari 250 GT

During those days, all of the Ferraris were custom built as the company didn’t mass produce a car. The Italian automaker provided the chassis and the power unit while the Italian coach builders offered the body. For this reason, the specifications varied greatly from car to car and so did the engine hp rating, displacement and torque. The same situation was available for the 250 GT which had various body styles and types. The 250 had in most of the situations two wheelbases, the 2400 mm one and the 2600 mm. The first one was known as the SWB – short wheel base while the latter was the LWB – long wheel base.

The very first Ferrari 250 was introduced in 1952 and it was the 250S model, available in both spider and berlinetta configurations. The engine under the hood was a 3-liter Colombo that produced 230 hp. One year later at the Paris Motor Show, the company launched the 250 Europa and Export which were the only cars in the 250 lineup equipped by a V12 Lampredi engine, which was available in F1. The Europa had a 2800 mm wheelbase while the Export was shorter, with a 2400 mm wheelbase. Only 18 units were ever produced and Vignale and Pininfarina were responsible for creating the coachwork.

In 1954 Ferrari built 4 units of the 250 Mona which were designed for racing. They were quite similar with the 750 Monza, but were fitted with Colombo 3-liter power units. Three years later at the Geneva Auto Show, the Italian automaker launched the beautiful 250 GT Cabriolet. From 1957 to 1959, Ferrari made the TdF. In 1959 production of the SWB started and the company made 250 units.

One year later, also at the Geneva Motor Show, Ferrari exhibited the Scaglietti 250 GT Spyder California SWB; only 55 units were ever made. From ’57 until ’58, the Italian automaker sold the 250TR and only 19 units were manufactured. The car featured a 300 hp engine and had a curb weight of only 800 kg, allowing the 250TR to reach a top speed of 168 mph, pretty impressive for that era.

Source: ConceptCarz.com

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Review – 2011 Mazda 2

2011 Mazda 2

The Mazda 2 follows the same line of design as the rest of the lineup of the Japanese automaker. Featuring that same maniacal smile in the front which projects silliness rather than aggression, it will most likely annoy subcompact buyers as well as brand loyalists. At the same time this design is able to attract new customers that like a car that doesn’t take itself too seriously. When put side by side with the rest of the lineup from Mazda that has a massive black-toothed grin, the 2 looks quite nice thanks to its petite size.

However, there is something wrong with the design of the car – the oversized headlamps are simply too big for a car of this size and the illumination they offer is pretty low, a real surprise for a 2011 model. It is by far the smallest Mazda available; the next largest one is the beautiful MX-5 Miata. The 2 is 1.8 inches shorter, 1 inch narrower and 8.7 inches taller in comparison with the Miata. However, it looks good in our opinion, especially with those 15-inch alloy rims that are covered by Yokohama all season 185/55 R15 tires. We also like that soft shoulder line that starts below the top of the front rims and rises above the taillights. In the back there isn’t anything special, except the roof spoiler which is a nice addition, but is an optional feature.

The exterior looks quite nice and fun, but don’t expect to find the same thing inside the Mazda 2. All you will get is restrained grays and somber black. The only splash of color you will get inside the cabin is a silver of red piping on the dark seats. There aren’t any special features for the car, except the 6-speaker AM/FM/CD audio that has an auxiliary jack and the climate control system.

2011 Mazda 2

The 2011 Mazda 2 is available with 2 trim levels: the first one, dubbed Sport has a starting price of $14,180 while the Touring will set you back $15,635. The latter offers cruise control, that nice spoiler we mentioned before, the red seat piping, six speakers (instead of four on the Sport), trip computer, halogen fog lamps and alloy wheels.

Being such a small car, it has a curb weight of only 2,306 pounds, making it 174 pounds lighter than the MX-5 Miata. Basically it is one of the lightest cars in its class, making it an ideal car for any commuter and other drivers as well. You would be surprised to find out that an average-sized driver will fit very nicely inside the car, despite its small dimensions. The audio controls will not get in the way and the steering wheel tilts. The climate and audio controls are very easy to use and the floor-mounted shifter is raised, making it very reachable. The biggest downside as far as comfort is concerned would have to be the lack of a center armrest, especially if you take longer trips, but that can be easily fixed with an aftermarket armrest.

The Mazda 2 is fitted with a tiny 4-cylinder 1.5-liter power unit that is capable of producing 100 hp @ 6,000 rpm and 98 pound-feet of torque @ 4,000 rpm. If you think that this engine is slow, you are right as the car needs 10.2 seconds to reach 60 mph. Of course, the point of this car wasn’t to make it fast, but it will not disappoint you once you take it down the highway.

2011 Mazda 2

The anti-roll bar and the independent front suspension guarantee very sharp cornering and thanks to the 10.2-inch front rotors, the Mazda 2 will stop in no time. Although the car uses drum brakes for the back wheels, it isn’t really a downside for most of us because using discs it would have been overkill and the price of the car would have been bigger, without any solid reason.

As standard, the engine is linked to a 5-speed manual transmission, but if you want the optional 4-speed automatic, you will have to pay extra $400. Being a cheap car, it is very affordable to drive as the 1.5-liter power unit has an EPA rating of 29 mpg in the city and 35 mpg on the highway. The almost defunct Chevrolet Aveo is capable of doing 27 mpg in the city while the Nissan Versa, which is 452 pounds heavier than the Mazda 2, will do 34 mpg on the highway. Both of them come really close to the Japanese but they lack something very important: they aren’t as much fun to drive as the 2. However, there are a couple of cars in the subcompact segment that will be able to do 40 mpg on the highway, like the 2011 Hyundai Sonata and the 2’s platform mate, the Ford Fiesta.

Although the Mazda 2 might not be the most fuel efficient car available, it is the living proof that even a small and affordable car like this one can be very fun to drive. There are other cars in this segment that have more premium features, more power and better fuel economy, but the Mazda 2 is the only one capable of putting a big smile on your face, similar to the one that you find on the car’s front bumper.

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