Investing In Cars Could Save Your Life

August 28th, 2015

1966 Griffith 400

You wouldn’t think a former school teacher could have owned so many rare and exceptional cars in his life.

Gary, though, is different.

I met Gary, a 72-year-old retiree, at his home on Priest Lake in Coolin, Idaho. My family went to escape the Washington wildfires and rented his home on the beach. As we sat near the water and discussed life, we discovered a common love: cars.

Gary, it turns out, also dabbled in the buying real estate during his teaching career and amassed a small fortune that he used to invest in cars. One investment turned out to be a silly mistake, but the others ended up saving his life.

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CarGurus’ Top Ten Family-Friendly Kid-Haulers

August 27th, 2015

2014 Honda Odyssey

With another school year about to begin, parents nationwide are preparing to spend lots more time driving children to and from after-school activities. According to a recent CarGurus online poll of car shoppers with school-age kids, 38% of parents estimate they spend between 30 minutes and an hour shuttling their kids around on a typical weekday, while 33% of parents polled say they spend more than an hour. If your current daily driver isn’t up to the task, here are 10 vehicles with high safety ratings that also offer plenty of cargo space, seating capacity, cabin comforts, and a host of modern technology features that should at least make that extra time spent shuttling children around a little more comfortable for the whole family.

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Transmissions: With So Many Numbers, How Do You Choose?

August 27th, 2015

1956 Dodge push button automatic transmissionOnce upon a time automotive transmissions were simple things. Three-on-the-tree was a popular manual transmission mounted on the steering wheel through the early ‘70s. Automatic transmissions hit their stride in the ‘50s and have become ubiquitous to the point that they can be found in more than 90 percent of vehicles in America.

That helps explain, in part, why manufacturers offer such a variety of automatic transmissions. Also driving their development has been a need for greater fuel economy as automakers struggle to hit a corporate average fuel economy of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025.

Currently, there are 6-speed, 7-speed, 8-speed, 9-speed, manual and continuously variable transmissions on the market. How do you choose? Let’s look at the offerings to give you some perspective.

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Chevrolet Missed the Mark With This New Ad

August 27th, 2015

Chevrolet Silverado bear commercial

Dear Chevrolet,

I’m embarrassed for you. I watched your new advertisement for the Silverado, and I can only shake my head and wonder what you were thinking.

It’s a great truck. It’s a beautiful truck. It’s a truck that has powered the American legacy for many decades.

But it’s also a dying truck.

Not to say the Silverado will lose the sales race to Ford and Ram and be discontinued. It won’t. But the Silverado, in its current form, won’t last much longer. You and I both know its days are numbered.

So why did you make that ad? The collective truck-buying market cringes for you.

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Here Comes the Revolution of Nissan’s Z Car

August 26th, 2015

1970_nissan_240z

When I was nothing but a gleam in my father’s eye, he raced his 1967 Mercury Cougar XR-7, with the 390 cubic-inch Ford V8, against anything that was up for the challenge.

Dad raced Mustangs, Camaros, Corvettes, Chargers, and virtually all other muscle cars that were around in the late ’60s and early ’70s. He didn’t win all of those impromptu races, but he had fun and knew exactly what to expect when challenged by one of the familiar American cars.

Then something strange happened. A small Japanese car wanted to race. Dad revved his engine, and the two cars bolted ahead.

Dad lost.

The challenger was a 1970 Datsun 240Z, a car that went on to become a Nissan and dominate the hearts of sports car lovers everywhere.

Now a new Z could take over the streets and challenge unsuspecting cars everywhere. Only this time the targets will be the likes of the CR-V and RAV4.

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Your Next Buick: Made in China?

August 25th, 2015

2015 Buick Envision

The gleaming new Buick sits in your driveway. It’s a proud statement of your success and a beautiful example of American design and ingenuity of engineering. It’s a Buick like never before and leaves the stigma of Buick as an “old man’s car” far in the past.

This is the Buick of the future. It’s sleek and shapely. It’s desirable and impressive. It’s fresh and invigorating.

This is the Buick for young families and emerging professionals.

This is the Buick Envision. It’s most likely coming to the United States.

And it’s made in China.

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A Scary Reminder to Perform Some Basic Maintenance

August 24th, 2015
Wildfire Ash-Covered Car, Spokane

If this is on the car, imagine what’s in the car

As you might have heard, the state of Washington is currently on fire. As it so happens, the state of Washington is also where I currently live.

While flames have not directly threatened my family, countless others have been evacuated from their homes or lost them altogether.

The resulting smoke in the air has been suffocating. Even in cities miles from the fires, smoke chokes out residents as embers from burned trees fall from the sky. Flecks of white ash cover cars.

My family and I, desperate to escape the heavy blanket of smoke, packed up the car and left the state to find a place where we could breathe some clean, crisp air. We ended up at Priest Lake, deep in the forests of North Idaho. The first day was perfect. On the second day, though, we discovered that Idaho is on fire, too.

I only tell this story because there’s an important lesson to remember here about cars:

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Have Hypercars Met Their Nemesis?

August 21st, 2015

Trion Nemesis

It’s time for your Friday dose of extreme unobtainable automobile extravagance.

Today’s example comes from the U.S. state of California, where a 2,000-horsepower hypercar is said to be capable of completing the 0-60 sprint in 2.8 seconds on its way to a top speed of 290 miles per hour.

All that insanity comes from a twin-turbo 5.0-liter V8.

Sound too good to be true?

It probably is.

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Which to Choose: Alfa Romeo 4C Spider or Mazda MX-5 Miata?

August 20th, 2015

Alfa Romeo 4C SpiderTwo great open-air, 2-seat roadsters have hit the marketplace recently: the 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C Spider and the 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata. Both are spirited, lightweight, and fun to drive. The question is, which do you choose?

Performance
The Alfa Romeo 4C Spider (see our Alfa Romeo 4C Overview) is equipped with a 1.8-liter turbocharged inline 4-cylinder that produces 237 hp at 6,000 rpm and 258 lb-ft of torque at 4,250 rpm. The Mazda Miata MX-5 (read our Overview) comes equipped with a 2.0-liter DOHC 16-valve 4-cylinder engine with 155 hp at 6,000 rpm and 148 lb-ft of torque at 4,600 rpm.

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Guess Who Would Have Been 50 This Month?

August 20th, 2015

1970_Ford_Bronco

Nine days ago there was a birthday that went largely unacknowledged. On August 11, 1965, a legend was born that would go down in history as one of the most influential of its kind.

This legend helped found an all-new category of vehicle and established itself as a forerunner of all others to exist since.

Unfortunately, like too many other world-influencing figures, this legend died an early death. That was in 1996, and even today rumors abound that it’s not really dead, just hibernating and waiting for the right time to return to Earth.

August 11, 2015, would have been the 50th birthday of the great Ford Bronco.

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