Category Archives: Automotive

2019 Fiat 124 Spider Abarth Track Drive: The Scorpion Turns 70

By | November 17, 2018

One wrong step in the Mojave Desert can bring you within striking distance of a scorpion. This is something I know all too well.  One recently followed me around at Honda’s desert proving ground with its arms raised and its beady eyes staring like it wanted me for dinner. Could you imagine coming face-to-face with one weighing 2,500 pounds?



Fortunately, I don’t mean one of those giant arachnids from a ’50s sci-fi movie. But rather, my encounter was with the much sleeker 2019 Fiat 124 Spider, decked out in Abarth’s famous red and yellow scorpion logo.

The Abarth emblem was inspired by Carlo Abarth’s astrological sign—Scorpio. For 70 years it’s been intimidating competitors in its various incarnations as a race car and performance road-car builder, as a demon tuner, and since 1971, a symbol of adrenaline-addled Fiats.

In commemoration of Abarth’s seven decades, Fiat invited us out to the Mojave’s best 1.55 miles of asphalt designed for determining handling and cornering prowess and faults—the Streets of Willow road course—for some laps in the 124 Spider Abarth (as well as a Fiat 500 Abarth) under the tutelage of the friendly Skip Barber Racing School. With a heart full of excitement, I stepped into the Spider without hesitation.



Prior to transforming into its Abarth form, the base 124 Spider is already an excellent sports car. A 23andMe test would find that most of its DNA has been replicated from the spritely Mazda MX-5 (it’s even manufactured in Hiroshima). However, don’t let that information fool you. Although it shares a similar foundation, the 124’s 160-hp 1.4-liter turbocharged heartbeat, handling poise, and coachwork couture are all-Italia.

To explain its Scorpion details, Daniel Fry, the Fiat 500 vehicle development engineering manager for North America, walked us around the 124 Spider Abarth before setting us loose on the track.

Give me Sport mode

Car journalism 101: The first thing to do is select Sport mode. In the case of the Abarth, Fry says, it “quickens acceleration response, changes [the automatic’s] shift points and quickness, and turns up [the manual’s] boost.” Plus, it slides the 184-lb-ft torque peak down from 3,200 rpm to 2,500 rpm for better acceleration exiting the corners. To me, acceleration felt instant. The throttle was significantly more responsive, and steering had better precision than before. It made it very easy to maneuver spiritedly through corners. And on the notorious L.A. freeways, gliding around traffic as to not miss the oncoming exit proved to be an effortless task. In its default drive mode, the 124 was already a fun car, but Sport mode makes the drive more engaging and zippy. Like adding jalapenos to a burger, it gives it that extra kick that allows it to surpass its already glorious experience without overwhelming you.

Ever heard a scorpion growl?

Sound plays a key role in the way many of us experience driving. There are some cars that you want to be a quiet, elegant ride and others that need to roar. This edition of the 124 Spider Abarth features an available Record Monza exhaust, which adjusts exhaust tone and flow in response to driving dynamics and engine load.

I first heard it as I slithered through the autocross course with a Skip Barber instructor riding shotgun. Just idling, it sounded majestic, but on the course its real growl properly emerged—a stunning aria that sounds like the aggressive howl of a beast right before it attacks. The Record Monza exhaust runs an additional $995 on top of the $30,535 base price, but I believe it’s more than worth its price tag.

As a back-to-back, I went out again in a 124 sans Monza exhaust, and it was so quiet that it sounded dull—an acoustic 180 that significantly diminished my initial excitement to drive. Safe to say, this one needs to roar.

Veleno Appearance Group

In addition to its ferocious snarl, the 124 Abarth also has an aggressive look that truly distinguishes it from the tamer Classica and Lusso models. Veleno, which translates to “poison,” symbolizes the iconic Abarth scorpion, and this exclusive appearance group ($495) gives the Scorpion a unique exoskeleton that goes hand in hand with the Monza Exhaust. This option includes a bright footrest, Abarth-branded carpeted mats, red exterior mirror caps, a red lower fascia lip, and a red front tow hook. These pops of red provide a beautiful contrast against the neutral exterior colors, which include Puro White Tri-Coat Pearl, Brillante White, Forte Black Metallic, and Chiaro Silver Metallic. As for the interior, the two options include Nero (black) or Nero/Rosso (black/red). On the track, the 124s with this option significantly stood out from the crowd. And when it was “first come, first served” to choose which 124 to lap around the track, I was always immediately drawn in by the poison.



Sharp handling

In conjunction with lapping Streets of Willow, Fiat and Skip Barber ran us around a skidpad and autocross course, where I was most struck by two things: the 124’s minimal body roll around the racetrack and autocross (compared to the Mazda version) and its electric power-assist steering’s responsiveness, which made for some pretty quick recoveries on the skidpad.

Simply put, if you wanted the car to follow an intended course, that’s exactly where it took you. The Skip Barber instructors were very thorough in providing us with the necessary protocols should we find ourselves spinning out or losing control. However, there was no point in time when I felt uneasy with the 124’s handling capabilities,

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2020 Toyota Corolla Sedan is Lower, Broader, and Wider

By | November 16, 2018

When we last tested a Toyota Corolla, we found it slow and outdated. It wasn’t a bad car, though. Just badly in need of a redesign. Well, the long-awaited redesign is finally here, and we have to say, we like what we see.

If you’re interested in the 2020 Toyota Corolla when it goes on sale next spring, here’s what you need to know.

While cars tend to get bigger with each redesign, Toyota chose to keep the new Corolla’s wheelbase the same at 106.3 inches. The engineering team widened the track to improve handling, but the roof is 0.8 inch lower than it is on the outgoing Corolla, the front overhang is 1.3 inches shorter, and the center of gravity is now 0.4 inch lower.

The 2020 Corolla’s roofline may be lower, but Toyota promises there’s still plenty of headroom. Expect a front seat with an improved driving position and a spacious rear seat with more than enough legroom for passengers.

The current Corolla’s 1.8-liter I-4 only makes 132 hp and 128 lb-ft of torque, which makes it one of the slowest, least powerful cars in the segment.

For 2020, the Corolla gets a 2.0-liter four-cylinder good for 169 hp and 151 lb-ft of torque. That’s 1 hp more than the same engine in the Corolla hatch.

We don’t have many details at the moment, but Toyota says it plans to introduce a hybrid version of the new Corolla. Based on Toyota’s history with hybrids, expect the Corolla Hybrid to be the quickest version, as well as the most fuel-efficient.

Base Corollas may get 16-inch steel wheels with hubcaps, but for the first time ever, you’ll be able to order yours with 18-inch wheels. They’re standard on SE and XSE trims, while the XLE gets 16-inch alloy wheels.

Most Corollas will come with a continuously variable transmission that uses a launch gear to take off from a stop more smoothly. But drivers who prefer to shift their own gears haven’t been left out. Toyota will also offer the Corolla with an optional six-speed manual transmission.

Toyota says it worked hard to make sure the 2020 Corolla was as quiet as possible, using several sound-absorbing materials to minimize powertrain and road noise. In addition to using thicker insulation and better seals, the engine is said to run quieter, as well.

In addition to eight airbags, stability control, traction control, and anti-lock brakes, the 2020 Corolla comes with several more advanced safety features. That includes automatic emergency braking and lane departure alert.

Toyota also made adaptive cruise control with lane-centering steering assist standard on the new Corolla. Technically, it’s considered a safety feature, but it should make highway driving much more relaxing, too.

The new Corolla gets a 7.0-inch touchscreen (an 8.0-inch unit is optional) with Toyota’s latest infotainment system, Apple CarPlay support, Amazon Alexa integration, multiple USB ports, and available in-car WiFi. Higher trims also come with a nine-speaker, 800-watt JBL audio system.

Stay tuned for more details about the all-new Corolla when it rolls into the Los Angeles auto show later this month.

The post 2020 Toyota Corolla Sedan is Lower, Broader, and Wider appeared first on Automobile Magazine.

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BMW 330e Plug-In Hybrid Returns With 50 Percent More EV Range

By | November 16, 2018

When we first drove the 2016 BMW 330e, we came away impressed with how much the plug-in hybrid felt like a regular 3 Series. Well, a regular 3 Series with way more torque. Even with a tiny 14-mile range when running on electricity alone, the 330e showed that hybrids can actually be pretty fun to drive. And now that BMW’s redesigned the 3 Series, the 330e is back, looking more appealing than ever.

Perhaps the most important thing to know about the BMW 330e is that its EV range is now 50 percent better than before. Battery size is up from 8.8 to 12 kWh, which BMW says is enough to drive 37 miles (60 km) on a single charge. European range tests tend to be extremely generous, though, so when the EPA tests the 330e, expect that number to drop to about 21 miles. Still, that’s enough to allow most commuters to get to work without using a drop of gasoline.

But the electric motor can do more than maximize fuel economy. BMW also used it to give the 330e a temporary power boost. When needed, the motor can add an extra 40 hp, bringing the system total to 288 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque. According to BMW, that’s enough to launch from 0-60 mph in less than 6 seconds. Top speed is 143 mph. In EV mode, top speed drops to 87 mph.

In addition to the battery and electric motor, the 330e gets its power from a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, while power goes to the rear wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission. BMW says the 330e will also be available with almost every option the regular 3 Series gets. In addition to having your choice of colors and leather upholstery, that means you can also add the adaptive M suspension, sports steering, and M sport brakes.

BMW has yet to announce pricing or an on-sale date in the U.S., but considering how promising the new 3 Series prototype felt, we’re looking forward to getting our hands on this hybrid. As long as it doesn’t get too pricey, it sounds like a great way to have some responsible fun.

Source: BMW






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McCormick’s 65th Annual Palm Springs Classic Car Auction

By | November 16, 2018

PALM SPRINGS, California — There is no cooler way to jump-start the weekend than by browsing a parking lot filled with cars that most folks can only dream of.

I spent Friday morning at day one of McCormick’s 65th Annual Classic Car Auction in the fabulous Palm Springs. This three-day auction in the Sonoran Desert features hundreds of cars with prices ranging from $200 to over $250,000. I got a sneak preview of the cars to be auctioned and gazed at everything from immaculate to in need of some “TLC.”

Car Auction Favorite: 1960 Morris Minor Woody 4×4 (Morzuki)

There were easily more than a handful of cars that landed on my favorites list, but I decided on this ultra-cute and rare 1960 Morris Minor Woody 4×4. If you were not able to make it to Southern California please worry not I got you covered. You can catch some live action here or you can browse the spectacular photo gallery below. Have a great weekend!

























































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Refreshing or Revolting: 2020 Toyota Corolla Sedan

By | November 16, 2018

The Toyota Corolla hatchback returned to the U.S. market earlier this year, bringing with it a sleek exterior design, modern interior, and all the benefits that come with the TNGA platform. Now, Toyota has taken that car and tweaked its body to create the 2020 Corolla sedan. With the obvious exception of the trunk, the Corolla sedan looks a lot like its hatchback sibling. But how does it compare to the car it replaces? Take a look below and decide for yourself.








Up front, the 2020 Corolla sedan looks pretty close to the hatch, wearing similar angular headlights and a wide-open lower intake area covered by black mesh. The sedan moves its Toyota emblem out of the grille and onto the piece just before the hood. The outgoing Corolla sedan was last refreshed for the 2017 model year, which brought an equally gaping mesh lower valance and more creases and vents in the front bumper.






When viewed from the side, the front end remains the biggest distinguishing feature between the new and old sedan. The new Corolla has a more natural slope to its C-pillar, and the greenhouse shape is less angular than before. Thanks to the TNGA switch, the 2020 Corolla sheds 0.8 inch in height and has a hood that’s 1.8 inches lower, which lowers the beltline compared to its predecessor. Top trim levels get the 18-inch alloy wheels seen here, which are lifted straight from the Corolla hatch.








The rear end is much more conservative than the front, but there are a few details that help it stand out. Perhaps due to the 0.9-inch wider rear track, the new model looks more planted than before with rear fenders that bow out ever so slightly. The taillights have been redesigned, but rather than make a statement like those on the Camry or Avalon, these are just kind of there. We like them better than the old Corolla’s notched lamps, but they’re not terribly distinctive. To help offset that plainness, there’s a black lip spoiler for the trunklid, a rear bumper with black mesh valance and faux-diffuser, and dual exhaust tips. This is a sportier XSE model though, so keep in mind that not all Corolla sedans will get the same exterior treatment.








Inside, the 2020 Corolla sedan looks nearly identical to the hatch, using the same Avalon-derived dashboard design and free-standing Entune 3.0 touchscreen. Given this development, the dash is much less cluttered than the one on the old Corolla since most of the controls are now consolidated in the infotainment screen. The cockpit also looks more open now that the center console no longer connects to the dash.

So how does the 2020 Toyota Corolla sedan compare to its predecessor in the styling department? Tell us in the comments on Facebook.




















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Rennsport Reunion VI as Seen Through Film

By | November 16, 2018

Don’t adjust your monitor—these pictures are supposed to look grainy and washed out. Well, maybe not “supposed to.” The effect is the byproduct of using a double-stroke Leica M3 with a collapsible Summicron 50mm f/2 lens that has been untouched and unserviced since the 1950s.

While I was running around Rennsport Reunion VI with my regular DSLR, my father captured the Porscheapalloza through the rangefinder of our Leica, which was originally purchased new by my great uncle in Germany—straight from the factory. Over the years, he used it to photograph a British GP, a local car club in England, his Austin Healey Sprite, and more importantly, his Porsche 356C. He posed with the coupe in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, using the Leica to shoot an incredibly cool self-portrait.

Given that the lens is a bit fogged, these images (shot on Kodak Colorplus 200 film) are a little lo-fi. But it’s the kind of patina—like a 356 that’s logged decades worth of miles—that’s impossible to replicate. Maybe we won’t get it serviced after all.








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Hyundai, Jaguar Top 2019 IntelliChoice Certified Pre-Owned Car Awards

By | November 16, 2018

Hyundai and Jaguar beat the competition in IntelliChoice’s 20th annual Certified Pre-Owned Car Awards this week. With the awards in its 20th year, Hyundai won in the Popular category while Jaguar earned top scores in the Premium category.

IntelliChoice, a MotorTrend Group subsidiary, evaluates manufacturers’ certified pre-owned vehicle programs in nine areas for its CPO Car Awards: warranty coverage, inspection criteria, title verification, roadside assistance, special financing, return and exchange policies, dealer compliance, used cost of ownership, and market penetration. A total of 24 manufacturer-backed programs were analyzed in two different categories—Popular and Premium—based on market position and pricing of their vehicles. This year’s study looked at 12 Popular and 12 Premium programs.

IntelliChoice praised Hyundai for its “excellent warranty coverage coupled with a more consistent offering of special incentive financing over their competitors.” Jaguar is a return winner, having taken the same award in 2016. This year, Jaguar won because of its strong warranty program and consistently high marks in all other weighted areas.

In addition to the overall awards, IntelliChoice gave out awards in the Popular and Premium categories for best warranty and used ownership costs. Kia won the Best Popular Warranty Award with its 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain coverage and 1-year/12,000-mile platinum comprehensive coverage. In the Premium segment, Lexus snagged the warranty award for its L/Certified Limited Warranty offering six years of coverage with no mileage cap. General Motors swept the Used Ownership Costs Awards, with mainstream GM brands taking the award in the Popular category and Cadillac winning for the Premium segment.

Check out IntelliChoice’s page on MotorTrend for more info.

Source: IntelliChoice

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Toyota Introduces Avalon and Camry TRD

By | November 16, 2018

Toyota is expanding its TRD lineup in an unexpected way. The 2020 Toyota Camry TRD will arrive alongside a new Avalon TRD next year, and both will come with significant performance upgrades.

The models receive chassis tuning by Toyota Racing Development. Special shock absorbers, thicker underbody braces, and unique coil springs promise better body control and handling, as well as a 0.6-inch lower ride height. Meanwhile, the front brakes have been upgraded with larger 12.9-inch diameter rotors and dual-piston calipers.

2020 Toyota Camry TRD

Both TRD vehicles receive a familiar 3.6-liter V-6 engine making 301 hp. Thanks to a cat-back dual exhaust, that engine should sound more impressive than before. Like on standard Camrys and Avalons, the engine pairs to an eight-speed automatic transmission.

In the looks department, the Camry and Avalon TRD gain red brake calipers, 19-inch black wheels, TRD exhaust tips, and TRD badges. Supersonic Red, Windchill Pearl, Celestial Silver Metallic, and Midnight Black Metallic are your available color choices. Beyond that, an aerodynamic body kit adds a special front splitter, side aero skirts, a rear diffuser, and trunk lid spoiler. Inside either model, you’ll find red seatbelts and plenty of red stitching. A TRD-badged shift knob completes the look.

2020 Toyota Avalon TRD

The Avalon TRD and Camry TRD go on sale in fall 2019. Before that, the vehicles will debut at the L.A. Auto Show.





















The post Toyota Introduces Avalon and Camry TRD appeared first on Automobile Magazine.

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2019 Kia K900 Priced From $60,895

By | November 16, 2018

After a year-long hiatus, the Kia K900 is back with an updated exterior and interior design, new technologies, and the 3.3-liter engine from the Stinger. But with all these improvements,  you also get a much higher starting price.

The 2019 Kia K900 is priced from $60,895, according to the official configurator. With this price, the K900 is still less expensive than the 2019 Acura RLX, which goes from $62,895. But it’s a huge price jump from the last K900 that Kia offered.

The 2017 Kia K900 started at just $50,850. Note that rear-wheel drive was standard instead of the rear-biased all-wheel-drive system that’s standard on the new model.

Kia streamlined the K900 line, moving it slightly upmarket. Instead of the V6 Premium, V6 Luxury, and V8 Luxury trims, Kia is now offering a single Luxury model with the new V-6 engine replacing the 3.8-liter V-6. On the generous list of standard features, you’ll find quilted Nappa leather seats, rear seat heaters, 64-color interior ambient lighting, a 9.7-inch head-up display, and rear seat ski pass through opening. Very few options are available, the main one being the VIP Package. Priced at $4,000, this package brings ventilated rear seats, a 12.3-inch full LCD TFT instrument cluster, rear wireless phone charging, tri-zone climate control, and more.

Source: Kia




































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2020 Toyota Corolla Sedan: 10 Things to Know

By | November 16, 2018

When we last tested a Toyota Corolla, we found it slow and outdated. It wasn’t a bad car, though. Just badly in need of a redesign. Well, the long-awaited redesign is finally here, and we have to say, we like what we see. If you’re interested in the 2020 Toyota Corolla when it goes on sale next spring, here’s what you need to know.


Ban that Bloat

While cars tend to get bigger with each redesign, Toyota chose to keep the new Corolla’s wheelbase the same at 106.3 inches. The engineering team widened the track to improve handling, but the roof is 0.8 inch lower than it is on the outgoing Corolla, the front overhang is 1.3 inches shorter, and the center of gravity is now 0.4 inch lower.


Small but Spacious

The 2020 Corolla’s roofline may be lower, but Toyota promises there’s still plenty of headroom. Expect a front seat with an improved driving position and a spacious rear seat with more than enough legroom for passengers.


Way More Power

The current Corolla’s 1.8-liter I-4 only makes 132 hp and 128 lb-ft of torque, which makes it one of the slowest, least powerful cars in the segment. For 2020, the Corolla gets a 2.0-liter four-cylinder good for 169 hp and 151 lb-ft of torque. That’s 1 hp more than the same engine in the Corolla hatch.


Electrifying Fuel Economy

We don’t have many details at the moment, but Toyota says it plans to introduce a hybrid version of the new Corolla. Based on Toyota’s history with hybrids, expect the Corolla Hybrid to be the quickest version, as well as the most fuel-efficient.


Roll in Style

Base Corollas may get 16-inch steel wheels with hubcaps, but for the first time ever, you’ll be able to order yours with 18-inch wheels. They’re standard on SE and XSE trims, while the XLE gets 16-inch alloy wheels.


Shifting Gears

Most Corollas will come with a continuously variable transmission that uses a launch gear to take off from a stop more smoothly. But drivers who prefer to shift their own gears haven’t been left out. Toyota will also offer the Corolla with an optional six-speed manual transmission.


Quieter Ride

Toyota says it worked hard to make sure the 2020 Corolla was as quiet as possible, using several sound-absorbing materials to minimize powertrain and road noise. In addition to using thicker insulation and better seals, the engine is said to run quieter, as well.


Safety Standard

In addition to eight airbags, stability control, traction control, and anti-lock brakes, the 2020 Corolla comes with several more advanced safety features. That includes automatic emergency braking and lane departure alert.


Road Trip Convenience

Toyota also made adaptive cruise control with lane-centering steering assist standard on the new Corolla. Technically, it’s considered a safety feature, but it should make highway driving much more relaxing, too.


Tons More Technology

The new Corolla gets a 7.0-inch touchscreen (an 8.0-inch unit is optional) with Toyota’s latest infotainment system, Apple CarPlay support, Amazon Alexa integration, multiple USB ports, and available in-car WiFi. Higher trims also come with a nine-speaker, 800-watt JBL audio system.

The post 2020 Toyota Corolla Sedan: 10 Things to Know appeared first on Motor Trend.

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Toyota Gives Camry, Avalon the TRD Treatment

By | November 16, 2018

Toyota is expanding its TRD lineup in an unexpected way. The 2020 Toyota Camry TRD will arrive alongside a new Avalon TRD next year, and both will come with significant performance upgrades.

The models receive chassis tuning by Toyota Racing Development. Special shock absorbers, thicker underbody braces, and unique coil springs promise better body control and handling, as well as a 0.6-inch lower ride height. Meanwhile, the front brakes have been upgraded with larger 12.9-inch diameter rotors and dual-piston calipers.

2020 Toyota Camry TRD

Both TRD vehicles receive a familiar 3.6-liter V-6 engine making 301 hp. Thanks to a cat-back dual exhaust, that engine should sound more impressive than before. Like on standard Camrys and Avalons, the engine pairs to an eight-speed automatic transmission.

In the looks department, the Camry and Avalon TRD gain red brake calipers, 19-inch black wheels, TRD exhaust tips, and TRD badges. Supersonic Red, Windchill Pearl, Celestial Silver Metallic, and Midnight Black Metallic are your available color choices. Beyond that, an aerodynamic body kit adds a special front splitter, side aero skirts, a rear diffuser, and trunk lid spoiler. Inside either model, you’ll find red seatbelts and plenty of red stitching. A TRD-badged shift knob completes the look.

2020 Toyota Avalon TRD

The Avalon TRD and Camry TRD go on sale in fall 2019. Before that, the vehicles will debut at the L.A. Auto Show.

Source: Toyota





















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2019 Lamborghini Urus Review (W/Video): The Age of Exploration

By | November 16, 2018

The driver’s window was down long before he stopped next to me, so I rolled mine down. Clearly, he wanted to talk, but the driver stared at me a few seconds first. Then his eyebrows raised, but his face otherwise remained deadpan. Over the clatter of his diesel, finally: “Holy s–t.”

It was a common sentiment, if not always so eloquent. In a land where “Super Jeeps” like his—all 40-plus-inch tires and snaking snorkels up the windshield pillars—are a common sight, my Lamborghini Urus attracted as much attention as Ed Sheeran, who’d recently added a second night to his debut Icelandic performance due to popular demand (fun fact: Iceland has half the population of Vermont).

That it was, as far as I could tell, the only yellow vehicle on the island certainly contributed.

For an automaker looking to make a splash in the frigid North Atlantic, that’s reason enough for us to be here. Being the first X to do Y always gets attention, and Lamborghinis are all about attention. In a place where sports cars are nonexistent and luxury cars appear to be outnumbered by American heavy-duty pickups (seriously), the locals took up a nationwide game of “spot the Lamborghini” on Snapchat.

Celebrity Drive: Steve Darnell of “Vegas Rat Rods”

By | November 16, 2018

Quick Stats: Steve Darnell, Discovery’s “Vegas Rat Rods”
Daily Driver: 1957 Chevy 210 (Steve’s rating: 10 on a scale of 1 to 10)
Other cars: See below
Favorite road trip: Vegas to Pomona
Car he learned to drive in: Old Ford and Chevy truck
First car bought: 1973 Datsun

A 1928 Dodge from his late grandfather started it all for Steve Darnell of Vegas Rat Rods.

“He was a World War II vet, he was a bad-ass, and he was the nicest guy on the planet. I rebuilt the car and I called it ‘The Destroyer’ because he was on a destroyer battleship and he did nine battles and he lived through two or three typhoons. I feel like such a wuss compared to what he went through as a young man at 22 years old.”

Inspired by his grandfather, Darnell dedicated the rat rod to him. “He was a pretty amazing guy, there’s a lot about him here at WelderUp and my life,” he says.

Even though Darnell has built many cars since then, the Destroyer remains WelderUp’s mascot. “It sits in my showroom and we have a lot of people who come to Vegas and … want to see that car,” he says.

This rat rod, a perfect 10 in Darnell’s eyes, epitomizes the world of fabricators and welders who want to channel their creativity into something automotive. Darnell says he’s built fantasy cars for professionals including doctors who drive Porsches during the day, but these rat rods induce a different effect.

“They jump in the front seat of this thing, and it just changes their whole way. They want to go out and do burnouts and piss people off a little bit, be somebody different for a minute,” he says. “And a lot of these are people going back in time of like, ‘Dude, my grandpa had one like that.’ We’re building out now an inspiration for all these kids and their dads. They’re all out building cars in their garages because of this TV show. I hear it every day, ‘You’ve inspired me and my kid to build a rat rod.’ We’re bringing families together, they’re out in the garage and they’re building stuff and it goes from something that looks like you’re a bad-ass to where it’s actually a family thing.”

Besides the WelderUp mascot car, Darnell has a few other favorites in his garage of about 30 cars, such as his 1957 Chevy 210.

1957 Chevy 210

Rating: 10

“What I like about it, is it’s drivable, it’s got a fuel injected motor in it. It’s turbocharged, it makes about 740 horses, it’s no joke,” Darnell says. “What I like about it is I can pull up next to somebody and they’re in their brand-new Camaro and Mustang and I [can smoke them]. That’s what makes it fun. It’s a sleeper.”

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The 57!!!

A post shared by Steve Darnell (@welderupvegas) on

1968 Dodge Charger

Rating: 10

“I love it. It’s got a diesel engine in it, which doesn’t belong in the car, two superchargers, two turbos on it, sticking right through the hood, and the car is just insane,” he says about the Charger, which was built for a music video.

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Overcharged!! @fassfuelsystems

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1930 Ford Model A sedan

Rating: 20

This Ford is like WelderUp’s own Trevi Fountain, drawing fans in for what it stands for, and a place they can toss coins for good wishes.

“My general manager, his little boy had cancer and I decided to do it right in the middle of our filming season the year before this one. We stopped the shop and I said, ‘I want to build a car about cancer.’ I built a car that literally looks like it has cancer in the front of the car and it just goes through the car, it’ll come out to being brand new,” Darnell says.

That’s a car Darnell had to set aside in its own area. “We’re like a family, so when you have a little boy who barely can talk, already dealing with this, it was a lot to go through as I built the car,” he says.

On a scale of 10, Darnell rates it off the charts with a 20, commenting on how each one motivates him in a different way.

“Every time I build one, I have to go into that place and live it. They’re all different to me. The motivation for most of my builds are something positive,

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Someone Has Just Listed a Delorean Hovercraft on eBay

By | November 16, 2018

A special hovercraft that resembles the iconic Delorean car has just listed on eBay. What started out as a passion project for owner Matt Riese in 2008 has since turned-into local monument, appearing on numerous blogs, newspapers and TV shows in San Francisco.

Inspired by the character Doc Brown from the Back to the Future trilogy, Riese spent years perfecting the watercraft, working odd jobs to fund the ambitious project; he even put his project on Kickstarter where it garnered close to $6K USD in backing. While the Delorean hovercraft is not actually made from the chassis of the real car, the styrofoam/fiberglass vehicle does sport some noteworthy modifications including a 36-inch thrust fan that’s powered by a 23hp Briggs & Stratton Vanguard motor, a 24-inch lift fan, an optional windscreen, and gull-wing doors. The majority of the build is based off Universal Hovercraft’s UH-13PT design, and can support up to 325lbs while traveling at a top speed of 31 mph.

The listing goes on to let bidders know that the Delorean hovercraft has just been completely overhauled, and is for sale at a price of $45,000 USD OBO. Another point worth mentioning is that 10% of the sale will go directly to The Michael J. Fox Foundation, funding the research in finding a cure for Parkinson’s disease. Watch the video below to see the Delorean hovercraft in action.

In other automotive news new, watch the Dubai police’s new hoverbike in action.

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2020 Kia Soul Getting Sleek New Headlights

By | November 16, 2018

Kia has released its second teaser for the next-generation Soul before it debuts at the Los Angeles auto show later this month.

The new teaser reveals a much more polished headlight design for the 2020 Kia Soul. The lights are narrower and integrate more naturally into the grille. Kia is also showing off a striking white and red paint job.

Just yesterday, Kia teased the Soul’s rear end. It keeps its boxy shape, as well as the vertical-oriented taillamps. But it adopts a new floating roof that incorporates a “Soul” badge.

It’s likely the new Soul will adopt the same platform as the Hyundai Kona. If so, it could share the same 1.6-liter and 2.0-liter engine options. Kia hasn’t confirmed specs, but says it will offer “several drivetrains,” including turbocharged and electric versions.

The 2020 Soul is a bit overdue for a full redesign, considering the previous generation debuted for the 2014 model year. The design of the second-generation model didn’t change radically from the first generation, but this third model looks like it could shake up that trend. Judging from the new headlights, we’re thinking the change will be for the better.

The post 2020 Kia Soul Getting Sleek New Headlights appeared first on Automobile Magazine.

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A Classic 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing Is Now up for Auction

By | November 16, 2018

A Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing from 1955 with a classic silver grey exterior is now up for auction. Known for its distinctive gull-wing doors and direct fuel injection, the postwar model was the fastest production car of its day and the first iteration of the SL-Class grand tourer.

This 300 SL was first owned by Ambie Collins in New York before making its way across the Atlantic in 1979 to join the Wiesenthal Collection in Vienna. The car still has its W-7990 number plate issued on February 28, 1979, making it likely to be one of the last Gullwings in the country with a black plate. The model was fully restored in the early-’90s with thorough documentation, replacing its original checker print interior with black leather.

Take a look at the 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing above and head over to Dorotheum to place a bid.

For something more futuristic, Aston Martin unveiled the official images of its Valkyrie Hypercar.

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2020 Toyota Corolla Sedan First Look: Civic’s Prime Competition Is Back

By | November 15, 2018

Toyota’s freshly minted Corolla hatch, based on the hot new TNGA architecture, has been winning friends and influencing editors ever since we first clapped our eyes on it in March. We’ve since buckled in and strapped our gear on a few times and lauded the little hatch for its quantum-leapfrogging of its dreary Corolla iM predecessor. Sprightly dynamics and an upscale cockpit have drawn praise, while stingy rear-seat and cargo space drew raspberries. Those problems would seem to be easily solved by stretching the wheelbase (and rear leg environment) by 2.4 inches and grafting on a trunk. Yes, after testing out the tooling and letting the youth troubleshoot its hatchback for a few months, Toyota is now revealing the Corolla sedan for sale to everybody else starting in March.

Like the 2019 Corolla hatch, the 2020 Corolla sedan gets a broader stance, with its front and rear track widened by 0.5 and 0.9 inch, respectively, relative to the outgoing sedan. It also gets the hatch’s new 18-inch aluminum wheels on top trim levels, with lesser trims making do with steel or alloy 16s. Following a trend that started with the Camry, the whole car stands a bit lower—the height comes down 0.8 inch, the hood sits 1.4 inches lower, and with it the cowl, beltline, and instrument panel each come down a bit. The driver even sits an inch lower and 1.6 inches further rearward. All of this helps lower the center of gravity by 0.4 inch, while thinner A-pillars improve outward visibility.

Other refinements include a huge new one-piece floor silencer pad to hush road and tire noise, and a clever stratified climate control system that can feed fresh dehumidified air to the greenhouse to prevent fogging while recirculating warm air lower in the cabin. A killer nine-speaker 800-watt JBL stereo is offered featuring the brand’s Clari-Fi technology, which can analyze, rebuild, and restore audio details lost to compression.

The top powertrain offering in the SE and XSE models matches that of the sportier hatch—Toyota’s new 2.0-liter port- and direct-injected engine featuring a lofty 13:1 compression ratio, electric cam phasing, and variable cooling and lubrication circuits. Here it produces 169 hp (1 more than in the hatch) and 151 lb-ft of torque and comes teamed with a six-speed manual (featuring new micro-polished gear teeth for reduced noise, hill-holding, and downshift rev-matching) or a CVT that uses a torque converter and a conventional first gear, which then hands off to the belt-and-pulleys system. Base L, LE, and XLE grades get an updated version of the last model’s 1.8-liter engine in essentially what was its Eco trim, producing 139 hp and 126 lb-ft of torque. We’re told the fuel economy improves, but no numbers have been shared yet. But the big news, fuel economy-wise, is the later arrival of a hybrid model. We’ll learn more about its specifics in a few weeks at the L.A. auto show.






The sedan and hatch share most of what’s forward of the B-pillar, with the notable exception of the sedan’s two new fascia and grille designs. The Toyota sombrero moves up from its central grille location on the hatch to that little island of painted bodywork that sits forward of the hood on the sedan. The Avalon-esque dash carries over, complete with its 8.0-inch touchscreen featuring the Entune 3.0 infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa compatibility (sorry, no Android Auto yet). Base L models must make due with a less feature-rich 7.0-inch screen. Top models share the hatch’s 7.0-inch digital instrument cluster speedometer display, while lesser grades get a 4.2-inch multi-information display flanked by analog speedo and tach dials. A full suite of connectivity features is available, including accident reporting, remote vehicle status reporting via phone app, onboard Wi-Fi powered by Verizon, and concierge services.

Continuing where the last-gen model left off and matching the 2019 Honda Civic, every 2020 Toyota Corolla will feature Safety Sense 2.0 gear as standard. This includes a radar- and camera-based pre-collision system that warns and brakes, adaptive cruise control (on CVT models it even handles stop-and-go traffic), lane-departure alert that will steer to prevent lane departure, or with the CVT, “Lane Trace Assist,” which keeps the car centered in its lane. There’s even auto-high-beam assist and Road Sign Assist to interpret and display speed limit, stop, yield, and do-not-enter signs.

The 2020 Corolla’s predecessor placed a disappointing sixth out of seven compacts in a 2016 Big Test comparison. Many of us were underwhelmed by the 11th generation Corolla. This new car’s TNGA bones, high level of standard equipment, and improved refinement seem poised to regain our respect. Once the new sedan arrives, we look forward to seeing whether its performance improves without overshadowing the practical strengths that have made the car a sales success for so many years. Of course, the proof of this rice pudding will be in the driving—and determining how eagerly its new and retuned engines can pull the skin off said pudding…




















The post 2020 Toyota Corolla Sedan First Look: Civic’s Prime Competition Is Back appeared first on Motor Trend.

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First Drive: 2019 Volkswagen Beetle Final Edition

By | November 15, 2018

PUEBLA, Mexico As I’m writing this, there’s a question lingering in my mind: Why didn’t Volkswagen go out with a bang by creating a truly special homage to the classic Beetle as a way of properly saying auf wiedersehen to one of its most treasured nameplates? Instead, it’s sending the Bug off with a whisper in the form of the 2019 Volkswagen Beetle Final Edition.

This isn’t the first time Volkswagen has produced a final edition Beetle for North America. A few years after introducing the New Beetle in 1998, production of the last of the air-cooled Bugs was marked by an “Última Edición” Beetle in Mexico. Then in 2009, Volkswagen revealed the 2010 New Beetle Final Edition at the Los Angeles auto show. But that wasn’t the end of the line for the modern interpretation of VW’s famed model thanks to the arrival of the current generation Beetle for the 2012 model year.

So is this the final Final Edition Beetle? Volkswagen has indicated as such, although according to the rumor mill an electrified Bug may be in the offing. One thing’s for sure, given its steady sales decline it’s clear that the Beetle will need to be completely reimagined if in fact VW does decide to revive it once again.

As production of the present generation Beetle starts to wind down, Volkswagen had us out to the factory where it builds them in Puebla during Mexico’s Día de Muertos celebrations for a drive of the Final Edition models and a little celebration of its own. Appropriate, given that the Beetle will be muertos as of next summer.

But before I dive into my analysis of the 2019 Beetle Final Edition, I’d like to share some trivia with you:

When the Volkswagen Beetle was first introduced in Germany in 1938, it was almost called the “strength through joy” car, but later became known as “the people’s car.” Upon receiving a contract from Hitler to build a low-cost vehicle, Ferdinand Porsche designed the Beetle after the Tatra 97, which he was sued for and later settled. More than 20 million copies of the air-cooled, 1938-2003 Beetle model were sold worldwide—making it the most manufactured single design car of all time.

If thou shall ever make it to Jeopardy and any of this information deems to be helpful in winning a huge load of cash, don’t forget about yours truly.

Alright, back to the review. For starters, the 2019 Final Edition Beetle is available in two trims: Final Edition SE and Final Edition SEL, and you can get it in either coupe or convertible flavors. Pop the hood and you’ll find a 2.0-liter turbo engine with 174 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque that powers the Beetle lineup, mated to six-speed automatic transmission. The combination helps the car post solid EPA numbers of 26/33/29 mpg (city/highway/combined). A manual transmission option would’ve made the Beetle Final Edition a more thrilling proposition, but sadly those days are long gone.

The Final Edition SEL convertible, priced at $30,690 with destination, is the most expensive trim in the Beetle lineup. It features a premium package most other Beetle buyers will need to pony up $2,500 for that adds a Fender premium audio system, 6.3-inch touchscreen with navigation, Volkswagen Car-Net, Bi-Xenon headlights, and Nappa leather seats. But the best part of the package is its set of sweet, retro-style 18-inch wheels with white accents that add some personality.

Aesthetically speaking, other than the available rims, what makes the 2019 Final Edition Beetle more desirable than the rest of the Beetle lineup? Not a whole lot, unfortunately. Just for kicks I did a side-by-side comparison with a 2018 Beetle Coast model I drove earlier this year and they’re almost identical. That said, there are a few unique exterior touches, including a Beetle badge which replaces the Turbo badge on the rear deck. There are also two colors exclusive to the Final Edition models that were inspired by the Última Edición: Stonewashed Blue Metallic and Safari Uni.




Inside, Final Edition refinements include a high-gloss black center console, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with an added “Beetle” badge, and stainless-steel pedal caps. To set the right mood at night there are three ambient lighting colors to choose from. Final Edition SEL models get the aforementioned, more upscale Diamond-stitched Nappa leather seats, though the Rhombus-pattern cloth and leatherette seats in the Final Edition SE are arguably as attractive. Final Edition SE trims and above also get a neat, throwback style glovebox known as the “Beetle bin,” with an upward folding lid. Safety features standard on all Beetles include blind spot monitor, rear traffic alert, rearview camera, and a tire pressure monitoring system.

Out on the streets of Puebla, I sampled a Final Edition SE convertible and a Final Edition SEL coupe, but spent most of my time behind the wheel of the convertible.

As expected, the humble Beetle managed to keep up with the unforgiving drivers of Puebla and it survived the ever-changing road surfaces like a champ. In all seriousness, I invested more time dodging other drivers, which in my eyes is the ultimate driving test. Given that the Beetle is manufactured in Mexico, the friendly Bug was socially compatible with the rest of its family members on the road.

There’s no point in driving a convertible with a top that goes down in 9.5 seconds if you aren’t going to put it to good use.

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Next-Gen Porsche 911 Teased Once Again

By | November 15, 2018

We’ve known for a while that a new Porsche 911 is coming soon. Yes, the 991-generation 911 has been on sale since 2012, meaning it’s about time for a redesign, but Porsche’s also told us exactly that. In fact, earlier this year, Porsche even released official “spy shots” of the redesigned car. But when will we actually see it? The latest teaser, released as a video on Facebook, suggests it’ll be very soon. Most likely coinciding with the Los Angeles auto show that starts in a few weeks.

If you’ve ever seen a 911 before, the video doesn’t reveal much. Shadows obscure most of the car, with only the outline visible in most shots. But like the last time Porsche redesigned the 911, the biggest differences will probably be the way the car drives, not the way it looks. Besides, why would Porsche mess with such a timeless shape?

This teaser does, however, come only a few days after Porsche released a new set of photos showing the redesigned 911 undergoing endurance testing. Photos of what looks to be a completely undisguised car, by the way. If Porsche’s releasing more teasers on social media, showing off the full car, and generally announcing that it’s done hiding the new 911, you have to assume the reveal is close.

How close? We’d be willing to bet the official reveal will be right after Thanksgiving. Media days for the L.A. auto show start November 26, making that the most likely place for the new 911 to make its debut. Then again, keep an eye out. You never know whether Porsche will decide to reveal it early.

The post Next-Gen Porsche 911 Teased Once Again appeared first on Automobile Magazine.

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Bertone Treasures Up for Sale in Final Bankruptcy Auction in Torino, Italy

By | November 15, 2018

This Saturday, fans of the now-defunct Bertone design house in Torino, Italy will have one last chance to buy parts, models, artwork, signage and even complete cars from the Italian design firm’s warehouse.

The sale is projected to be the fourth and final auction for the remnants of Bertone, the first three auctions having already run their course following the Italian design firm’s 2015 bankruptcy filing.

As one might imagine, the pickings are a little slimmer this time around, especially compared with the large amount of concept cars and full-size renderings available at past Bertone auctions. Nevertheless, there are still plenty of interesting items and cars to pique the interest of enthusiasts.

Among the offerings are many lots of memorabilia, including scale design models of the Lancia Stratos Zero and Lamborghini Countach, along with rarer concepts and prototypes such as the Alfa Romeo Pandion and Bertone Nuccio. There are also design sketches, trophies and auto show display items aplenty.

Need parts? There are two sets of brand new Lancia Stratos seats, a complete Lamborghini Espada V-12 engine and five-speed gearbox, plenty of various wheels (most designed by Bertone)  and various Ferrari F430 components removed from the production of Bertone’s final concept, the Nuccio.

Cars available include Bertone designs—such as a 1980 Fiat/Bertone X1/9, a 1968 Fiat Dino Coupe, and a 1971 Alfa Romeo GT Junior 1300. Non-Bertone designs include a pair of Porsche 911s, a 2000 Audi S3 and a Mercedes-Benz 420 SL.

Were we to place a bid, it would have to be for the drafting table with a modified adjustment mechanism said to be favored (and possibly used in-period) by legendary Bertone stylist, Marcello Gandini , designer of the Lamborghini Miura and Countach, among many other automobiles.

The auction is being orchestrated by the Aste Bolaffi auction house and is scheduled for Saturday, Novemeber 17. Have a look through the listings yourself here.

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