While many auto journalists will tell you they’re just trying to scratch a living out of whatever they can, it’s an undisputed fact that the job has some definite perks. Although we can’t live the life of the rich and famous every day, we do occasionally get invited to drive the cars we cover. For a couple of beautiful days in October, Monticello Motor Club—one of the most exclusive and impressive automotive country clubs in America—opens its doors for the International Motor Press Association‘s (IMPA) Test Days, where schlubs like us get asked to drive some of the best new cars in the world on both a technical race track and the back roads of the Catskill Mountains.
Road & Track columnist Peter Egan once wrote, “Cars are considered to be an art form, yet the Mona Lisa, I’ve noticed, never needs a cooling system flush or new brake pads.” Automotive design has been an integral part of the car industry since the 1920s, when GM began to develop the first year-over-year changes to their cars’ visual appearance. As makes and models have evolved, so have the varying design languages associated with them—with varying degrees of success.
Way back in 2010, we noticed the auto world’s inconvenient truth: Manual transmissions are dying out. Any red-blooded gearhead will agree that learning to drive a manual-transmission car is a rite of passage, an art form every true CarGuru has to learn. The trouble is, how do you learn to drive a manual if you don’t own one? Many of us learned in our parents’ cars, where the sound of grinding gears didn’t incite mechanic-shop nightmares. Others had friends who cared about sharing the secrets of the stick shift more than preserving the mechanical well-being of their own transmissions.
We had just finished considering whether or not our current car would be held in such high regard if it came packaged with a different badge on the steering wheel. Would it elicit stares and draw myriad cell phones, all pointed in our direction, as it does now? Surely, plush carpeting and massaging seats are common enough nowadays to be found in a Kia K900 or a Hyundai Equus, let alone one of the more and more ubiquitous luxury brands. Was our car really so special?
Then we saw it. Driven by what very well may have been a chauffeur, a brand spanking new Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG pulled alongside us and, sure enough, compelled my co-driver to utter the following:
Mother’s Day is quickly approaching, and if you still haven’t gotten Mom that gift to show her you appreciate all those years she lost out to raising the fine individual you have become, you might want to look into some quick gift ideas. So head to the flower shop, pick up a nice heartfelt card from the convenience store down on the corner, or head over to a used-car lot and pick her up something nice. If you really wanted to show Mom how much you appreciated your childhood, maybe you should get her a car that takes her back to a time before she had kids. Get her something sporty, something fun, something that will remind her of her more carefree days.
Of course every shopper wants to purchase a reliable car. When pouring this much money into a single item, you probably expect that purchase to last a good long while, especially one as important as a car. That’s why reliability in a vehicle becomes such an important metric when considering where to throw your money. But how do you measure reliability? It certainly is a measurement that has to be taken with quite a few grains of salt. But, by the way we look at it, the issue of reliability can be addressed with one question: Would I feel comfortable buying this vehicle if it had over 100,000 miles on it?
It’s that time of year again. Well, not really, but we can certainly start looking forward to it. As the days get longer, the air gets warmer, and the smells get a little sweeter, it’s hard not to dream about one thing: convertibles. The snow hasn’t completely melted here in Boston, but what’s on the ground now is a far cry from the over 8 feet we’ve gotten this winter, and that completely justifies our looking months into the future.
An average car will run a quarter-mile drag race in 15–16 seconds. That’s not a blistering pace, but it’s just enough to give a slight rush while accelerating up an on-ramp before settling into a steady stream of 65-mile-an-hour commuters.
The Mazda Miata, while relatively sporty and fun to drive, typically falls somewhere within that average time in stock, off-the-showroom-floor form. It’s nothing spectacular, and it won’t win many drag races, but the time is good enough to warrant the designation of “sports car.”
A quick quarter-mile time in the Miata might fall somewhere in the 11–13-second range. When that stock speed just isn’t fast enough, upgrades can be applied, and the Miata, like any car, can become a drag racer.
An extreme case would be taking a Miata, stripping it completely of its powertrain, and replacing it with a source of power sure to embarrass even the most seasoned of racers.
“Hey, did you hear a 20-year-old rookie won the Daytona 500!?”
The phone call came from a friend last week within minutes of Trevor Bayne’s unlikely victory. I couldn’t even pretend to be interested.
“Oh, was that today? I don’t really follow NASCAR.”
In fact, not being from Virginia or North Carolina, I don’t even like NASCAR racing, much less follow it. That’s not to say I don’t like any car racing – I do. I’m a fan of F1, and partly thanks to this massively cold winter, I’ve become a huge fan of ice racing.