Here’s Your 1,000 Horsepower Minivan


I found a $900 minivan for sale and I seriously thought for a moment that it would be a great idea to buy it.

I know, I know. What self-respecting car blogger buys a used minivan for $900 and then goes back to writing about Porsches?

Well, first of all I would have never offered more than $700 for the van. Secondly, cars for under a grand are probably a common occurrence for auto writers. We may spend our days lusting after 1,000-hp super machines, but we spend our nights lugging families around in cheap vans.

If only there was a 1,000-hp van to bridge the gap…

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News from Mazda, Not All of It Good

Mazda MX-5 Miata Spyder concept

We really like Mazda cars, despite their occasional styling goofs (please stop with this Kodo and Shinari design nonsense). But it isn’t setting the world on fire with its U.S. sales. October sales here were 18,326 vehicles, up 1.7 percent over last year.

Mazda also reported a $51-million loss for its current fiscal year, first half. Sales are off in Japan, Europe and China, and the outlook for the second half is that business conditions (including a weak dollar and strong yen) will remain “harsh.” We’ll talk below about how they might turn their fortunes around.

Mazda makes sporty, well-built cars that should have wider appeal. It made a splash at SEMA with the MX-5 Spyder concept (above), a slick, soft-top, possible Boxster-fighter.

Full description is here. The so-called Bikini top just looks weird and impractical (photo after the break), and I can’t believe that part of the car would be headed for production.

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Green Update: Three Hotted-Up City Cars

Scion iQ RX

There are three transformed Scion iQ city cars at SEMA, each interesting, but the one that caught my attention is the iQ RX version, above, by Jon Sibal. The pumped-up and pimped-out cars that typify SEMA are frequently joke material, but Sibal’s car is beautiful, I think.

Details are here and include an engine fitted with a Nitrous Express injection kit. How’s that for improving fuel economy? It’s also got “an Xbox 360 game console, 32-inch Samsung LED TV and an Apple iPad2.” I know, I know.

Michael Chang’s iQ-RS, more straightforward in design, is strictly for racing and is fitted out with all the goodies you’d expect. More pix after the break.

Why are these guys modifying the iQ? Because it is coming to Scion stores soon and is arguably the best of the small city cars, or micro-subcompacts. It’s not like driving a go-kart, but the iQ is very different from most larger cars in being nimble, sporty, eminently parkable and stable—especially compared to the Smart fortwo.

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Sharp Supercharged Lexus IS 350C at SEMA

Lexus IS 350C

Some folks laugh at SEMA, the auto aftermarket show that opens next week in Las Vegas: the dopey cars with bolt-on wings, the girls with bolt-on bras (lots of photos here) and so forth.

But SEMA represents a vast industry of automotive specialty manufacturers and distributors that make and sell all kinds of accessory auto parts—performance and cosmetic—for every kind of vehicle.

Every once in a while, you see a car there that truly improves on what the factory has offered. Such is the Lexus IS 350C as modified by VIP Auto Salon. These guys seem to work on Lexus cars almost exclusively, and while most Lexi leave me cold, the 350C is beautifully executed, and VIP has left nothing untouched.

The standard 350C is far from a bad car, even though it doesn’t offer a manual gearbox and can’t really compete with the convertible offerings of Audi and BMW. Its 3.5-liter V6 outputs 306 hp and will do 0-60 mph in 5.8 seconds, says LeftLane.

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