Just Car Blog
|Big Muscle Drives A ‘Bank Robber’s Special’ Chevelle: Video||
Love, it’s said, is blind. It’s also mysterious, meaning that when something grabs ahold of your hormones, sometimes you’re just along for the ride. By way of example, we give you the mysterious case of Sean Rich: in high school, Rich fell in love with a 1973 Chevy Chevelle, and the two have proven to be inseparable ever since.
Fourteen years is a long time for any kind of relationship these days, especially one with an unlikely parter. Sure, the Chevelle name is the stuff of legends in muscle car circles, but most discussions end with the 1972 model. By 1973, the Chevelle had grown to plus-sized proportions, with any hint of performance choked by stringent emissions regulations. If you were going to build a pro-touring car, a 1973 Chevelle would be among the least likely choice of candidates.
Despite this, Rich’s car has gone through several evolutions throughout the years. In current form, he describes it as a “car he’d build to rob a bank.” We’re not sure about that, since the car blends into the background about as well as Ted Nugent at a PETA rally.
Under the hood is a “mildly built” 350 V-8, which puts out in the neighborhood of 400 horsepower. As Mike Musto sums it up, that’s enough to be entertaining without getting you into trouble; beside, we’re in total agreement that the car sounds fantastic, and we’d drive it with the windows down all the time, just to better hear the engine come on-cam.
|Toyota & BMW Collaborate – Potential Sports Car||
Partnerships with Toyota are nothing new even when you consider the joint venture in development of the new Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ. As it seems, working with Toyota is usually a good thing, which is part of the reason BMW seeks a partner in Toyota to potentially develop a new sports car.
Sources from BMW and Toyota have reported today that they have signed a memorandum that they will expand their development and research partnership, not only for new battery technology and Diesel engines, but to delve into other things including a sports car.
Already, Toyota and Subaru have made a positively received move with Subaru and they are probably thinking why not keep the forward momentum moving. Working together on a 4-part puzzle, composed of lightweight technologies, fuel cell systems, powertrain electrification and a sports car, it could mean a match made in heaven that satisfies many different future vehicle segments.
“I get so excited thinking about the cars that will result from this relationship. I think I can say I am the one who is most looking forward to a sports car that is environment friendly and truly excites car fans around the world,” said Toyota.
The collimation of BMW and Toyota could really do a lot for future innovation in the automotive world. Just think, Toyota has been the perfect (boring) driving appliance for many years, as BMW has been a very exciting and sports- conscious brand in their accomplishments of building the ultimate driving machines.
|2013 Jaguar XJ, XF Available With Supercharged V-6||
When it comes to engines, U.S. buyers of Jaguar XJ and XF models have had it pretty easy. On these shores, both Jaguar sedans came packing a 5.0-liter V-8, so the only decision to be made was “normally aspirated” or “supercharged.” Since even the base engine made 385 horsepower and 380 pound-feet of torque, the decision was usually made by the consumer’s budget.
In Europe, there are a dizzying array of engine options available for Jaguar models, starting with a turbodiesel four and running through a variety of gas and diesel V-6 models before topping out at the V-8 variants. Jaguar does this to broaden its appeal to a wider variety of customers, but also to meet stringent Euro 5 emission standards.
For 2013, it looks like buyers in the U.S. will get a broader range of engine options, too. Though market-specific details are still a bit hazy, it looks like Jaguar will drop the normally aspirated 5.0-liter V8 from base XF and XJ models, replacing it with a supercharged V-6.
The new-to-the-U.S. engine will make 335 horsepower and 331 pound feet of torque, which is noticeably less than the previous V-8. The big gains come in fuel economy, and Jaguar reports that the new engine is some 14-percent more fuel efficient than the unit it replaces. It should be lighter, too, which will make the new base XF and XJ models feel less nose-heavy than their predecessors. All engines, regardless of output, now come mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission.
If that’s not enough horsepower to amuse you, don’t worry: you’ll still be able to get both the normally-aspirated and supercharged V-8s, which also pick up fuel economy gains of 8 and 11-percent, respectively.
|Toyota, BMW to develop sports car||
Toyota and BMW have announced that the two companies will collaborate in fuel cell technology, powertrain electrification and lightweight technologies to create a new sports car.
An agreement between BMW and Toyota was signed at the BMW headquarters in Munich by BMW CEO Norbert Reithofer and Toyota President Akio Toyoda. The agreement, aimed at expanding on long-term strategic collaboration, is an expansion on the original alliance established last year in December between the two auto makers.
Commenting on the agreement Reithofer said that, “Toyota and the BMW Group share the same strategic vision of sustainable individual future mobility. Together we have a great opportunity to continue leading our industry through this transformation.”
Toyoda also said that “Toyota is strong in environment-friendly hybrids and fuel cells. On the other hand, I believe BMW’s strength is in developing sports cars. I am excited to think of the cars that will result from this relationship.”
Included in the the official press release was the following:
“In March 2012, the BMW Group and TMC signed a binding agreement on collaborative research in the field of next-generation lithium-ion battery cells. In addition, the BMW Group and Toyota Motor Europe entered into a contract under which the BMW Group will supply highly-efficient 1.6 litre and 2.0 litre diesel engines to Toyota Motor Europe, starting in 2014.”
Source: Auto News
|New 2013 SRT Viper GTS In Jay Leno’s Garage: Video||
Just about every popular sports car gets to grace Jay Leno’s garage with its presence. Even though some of these hot cars only get to visit for a day, Jay tends to share his unique experience with the lovely public in exclusive Jay Leno’s Garage episodes.
The latest Jay Leno’s Garage video features the all-new 2013 SRT Viper GTS, as Jay does a comparison to previous generations of the lethal Snake. Jay gets to chat things up with Head of Design, Mark Trostle and Beth Paretta, Director of Marketing and Operations for SRT, about the new Viper inside and out. Hit up the video below and enjoy!
|Toyota to Debut 315 Horsepower Gazoo Racing Toyota GT86 (FR-S/BRZ) at Goodwood||
The new Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ here in America, together, are the hottest and most-talked about compact sports cars around currently. Aftermarket vendors have recognized this and gone into overtime to develop and market modifications for the vehicles. Overseas, known as the Toyota GT86, the new RWD sports coupe has received modifications from all angles, specifically, forced induction courtesy of Gazoo Racing.
The twin-force-fed Toyota GT86 utilizes a combination of a turbocharger and supercharger to work in sync virtually eliminating lag and peeking out at 315 horsepower with 311 pound-feet of torque. The modified Gazoo Racing Toyota GT86 is set to debut at the Goodwood Festival of Speed this weekend.
Another surprise to Goodwood will be a TRD variant of the Toyota GT86 featuring aesthetically accessorized modifications instead increased power. The TRD version also receives a short-shifter kit, larger 18-inch wheels and tires, performance exhaust and TRD badges. Reportedly, the GT86 TRD package will be available in the U.K. sometime in 2013.
With the barrage of new modifications and TRD add-ons coming down the pipeline, it is only a matter of time that we see new variations of the Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ offered here in the states. Of course we should not expect forced induction mods to be offered at your local dealerships, but the TRD ‘kit’ may be a realistic probability.
|Ford To Introduce Semi-Autonomous Driving System & Safety Technology: Video||
Today’s driving environment has evolved much in part due to new safety devices in cars of today. We have virtual nannies constantly monitoring our driving through new innovations such as traction control systems, stability control and even tire pressure monitors. Ford, for one, has stepped up to be on the forefront of introducing semi-autonomous driving systems to vehicles.
Considering how fully-autonomous vehicles, such as from Google, remains to be many years off before consumers get their hands on it, Ford may lead the pack by introducing a system that utilizes current equipment to conjure up a system called Traffic Jam Assist.
There are already systems that assist the driver in heavy traffic conditions such as Distance Control Assist from Infiniti or the Mercedes-Benz Distronic system. Those particular systems only control brake and throttle, while Fords new Traffic Jam Assist would be able adapt steering inputs based off of data received from adaptive cruise and lane keeping assist sensors and cameras.
Considering how distracted people are now days from eating behind the wheel to texting and driving, the new semi-autonomous system from Ford could help make the world a safer place.
Ford has also taken charge to develop a perpendicular parking system, which will naturally be an evolution of the current parallel ‘Active Park Assist’ function. Hit up the demonstration video below to take a glimpse into the near future.
|Video: Euro Car and Driver Thrashes Ariel Atom 300 on the Track||
The Ariel Atom is undoubtedly the vehicle to push the limits of automotive handling dynamics to the brink of unbelief. With 300 horsepower and suspension tuned by Lotus, the lightweight Ariel Atom is good for 0-60mph runs in under 3 seconds. Of course you could always opt for the 500 horsepower version and attempt to desecrate your body with much success.
Car and Driver’s European correspondent, Jethro Bovingdon, recently took the street legal Atom out on the track proving that it is the ultimate track machine. Check out the exclusive video below and enjoy!
|Colorado Forest Fires Delay Pikes Peak International Hill Climb||
The Pikes Peak International Hill Climb (PPIHC) is the second oldest motorsport event in the United States, behind only the Indianapolis 500. This year will mark the 90th running of the PPIHC, but only one thing is certain at the moment: the race will not be run on its originally scheduled date of July 8.
The state of Colorado is currently struggling with the worst wildfires in its history, and the area surrounding Pikes Peak is among the hardest hit. Many roads in the region have been closed, and it’s simply not possible to forecast when the fires will be contained. While the event is important to the community, the safety of area residents, spectators and competitors has to take precedence.
Tom Osborne, chairman of the event, assures that the event will still take place this year. A new date is expected to be announced within two weeks, and tickets currently issued for the event will be honored.
Going to the PPIHC is on our motorsport bucket list, and we’d given serious thought to attending this year’s race, which will be the first with a fully-paved road to the summit. The race draws competitors from all over the world, and we can’t name another motorsport event that gives competitors so little margin for error. We’ll update you when new dates are announced, but in the mean time we’re giving you the video of Monster Tajima’s record run from last year. Enjoy.
|Aston Martin bespoke DB89 1M unveiled||
There’s no better reason to build a new luxury car than to celebrate a brand reaching the one millionth fan mark on its dedicated Faceebook page.
It is for just this reason that Aston Martin has unveiled the bespoke DB9 1M model at its Gaydon Headquarters. For the production of the one-off Aston Martin, the company looked no further than its Facebook fans by creating a series of polls with which fans were asked to select the car’s trim, design and of course name.
While some might argue that the car isn’t the most attractive that Aston Martin has produced it does feature an “Aero” wrap, black brake calipers and 20-inch diamond-turned alloy wheels.
As far as power goes, a 6.0-litre V12 engine produces 470 hp (350 kW / 477 PS) and 600 Nm (443 lb-ft) of torque. It is connected to a six-speed automatic transmission which enables the car to accelerate from 0-100 km/h in just 4.8 seconds reaching a top speed of 300 km/h.
|Mazda Builds Its Last Rotary Engine, For Now||
On Friday, June 22, Motor Authority notes that the last rotary engine powered car, an RX-8 Spirit R, rolled off of Mazda’s assembly line in Japan. After a lifespan in production vehicles stretching some 45 years, poor fuel economy and high emissions killed what fans would argue is the smoothest engine ever built.
On paper, it’s easy to point out the advantages of a rotary engine. They’re small and lightweight, and consist of far fewer internal components than a piston engine. When properly tuned, rotary engines are exceptionally smooth and produce a surprising amount of power for their size.
On the downside, early rotary engines had problems with apex oil seals, and high oil consumption became an associated trademark of rotary power (although, by design, all rotary engines consume some oil). While theoretically simpler than piston engines, rotary engines proved difficult for some dealerships to master, leading to a hit or miss service experience. Finally, to make decent power, rotary engines need to be run to high RPMs, sucking down an impressive amount of fuel in the process.
While the Renesis (short for “Rotary Genesis”) engine introduced in the Mazda RX-8 was as step forward in engine design, the elemental problems still existed. Customers complained of poor fuel economy and high oil consumption, and even print magazines panned the car for being down on power unless revved to the sky. By 2010, all this proved to be a moot point when the Renesis engine failed to meet Euro 5 emission standards, and was dropped from Mazda’s lineup in Europe. American sales ended in 2011, although there are still plenty of RX-8s to be had from dealer inventory.
What happens next is the big question for Mazda. The rotary engine is elemental to Mazda’s history, especially in relation to sports cars. Still, the company is struggling financially at the moment, and has placed all its chips on the SkyActiv marker. Ironically, for the rotary engine to be reborn, Mazda needs its SkyActiv fuel-sipping technology to be a commercial success.
We’ve driven enough rotary-engined cars over the years to know this much: the automotive landscape is that much bleaker without a Wankel-engined sports car alternative from Mazda. We hope this is a temporary gap, not a permanent one.
|Bugatti Veyron Successor Confirmed – Could Be Hybrid||
Recent reports have confirmed Bugatti working on a successor to the Veyron, which could end up being a hybrid. Chief engineer Jens Schulenburg, told Auto Express that “We are working on the next super-sports car.”
Of course the Bugatti Galibier, appearing as stunning Luxury-Exotic concept a few years ago, will still be in the new lineup expected to debut in 2014 alongside of the Veyron successor. What tips us off as the Veyron successor potentially being a hybrid, is Schulenburg saying “The big challenge on the next car will be reducing weight – we are looking at some incredible technologies, such as wheels made entirely from carbon fibre. Hybrids are definitely something we’re looking at, too.”
Could you imagine a new Veyron with over 1,000 horsepower sporting a hodgepodge of electric motors and a big petrol engine? I sure could, as long as it makes some cool noise and pushes the current top speed of 268 mph to the next few notches.
|2013 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT Rips Nurburgring in 7:30||
Mercedes-Benz’ new SLS AMG continues to get better with the introduction of a new more-powerful roadster version and now a new SLS AMG GT for the 2013 model year. The new SLS AMG GT is the now moniker for Benz’ halo car and to show off its improvements, it rips the Nurburgring just under 7 minutes 30 seconds.
Powered by a retuned 6.3-liter V8 with 591 horsepower, the new Benz SLS AMG GT accelerates from 0-60mph in under 3.7 seconds.
According to Autoblog, AMG chairman Ola Källenius uncovered the new lap time in recent talks. The new 2013 SLS AMG GT will go on sale in the U.S. November of this year with a price about $5,000 north of the outgoing model year coming in at $195,000 and $200,000 for the coupe and roadster respectfully.
|Lotus Marks The Elan’s 50th Birthday||
In October of 1962, Lotus launched an all-new roadster at the British Motor Show that would eventually go on to re-write the book on modern, lightweight sports cars. Dubbed the Lotus Elan, the car debuted the use of a backbone tube chassis on a production, road-going car, sported a lightweight fiberglass body and utilized a four wheel independent suspension.
For the day, it was surprisingly well equipped, featuring amenities like wood veneer dash trim, power windows, full (but tissue-thin) carpeting and even a functioning heater. Later versions (namely, the Elan Sprint) could dash from 0-60 mph in just 6.6 seconds, which was seriously impressive back in 1973.
The Elan turned out to be a commercial success for Lotus, and quite possibly pulled the company back from the brink of bankruptcy despite modest production numbers. In total, just over 17,000 were built before production ended in 1973.
The Elan served as inspiration (and a role model) for Mazda’s original MX-5 Miata, a car that’s now gone on to become the best selling sports car in history. Lotus says the Elan influenced today’s Lotus Elise, too, although we have a hard time seeing the similarity between a front-engine, rear-drive roadster and a mid-engine, rear drive Targa, ourselves.
Today, you can still see the occasional Elan on the road or in SCCA Solo competition, proving how good Ron Hickman’s original design was. We tip our hats to Lotus on this occasion, and wish the Elan a very happy 50th birthday.
|2012 Toyota Camry XLE V6 Review & Test Drive||
The Toyota Camry has been at the pinnacle of automotive dominance for many years when it comes to sales. The all-new 2012 Toyota Camry received a new design inside and out continuing a forward movement of the best-selling vehicle in America. The new Toyota Camry in its most athletic form, sporting a silky smooth 268 horsepower V6 engine, offers buyers a taste of mid-sized luxury performance wrapped up in a boldly-styled package.
I previously reviewed the new 4-cylinder Toyota Camry LE proving to be my connotation of the best tasting Vanilla Ice Cream on the market. With that said, the new 2012 Toyota Camry XLE V6 test vehicle that I recently tested seems to spice up Toyota’s perfect mid-sized sedan recipe. The biggest difference in the two vehicles is obviously the powertrain. Carried over from the previous year, the 3.5-liter V6 engine remains virtually unchanged still pumping out 268 horsepower and 248 lb-ft of torque. The V6 engine is mated to a smooth-shifting 6-speed automatic always eager to quickly find the right cog when power is demanded.
Surprisingly, the new 2012 Toyota Camry XLE V6 is quite the straight-line performer. Power comes on fast and surges the Camry forward with authority. Torque steer from the front-wheel-drive setup is kept to a minimum but begs for your attention if accelerating into a turn. Though, the new Camry V6 is a long shot from being considered ‘sporty’ in the since that it is still a soft sedan to the average enthusiast.
There is a slight price to pay in highway fuel consumption when it comes to the added power of the V6 Camry over the 4-cylinder. My Camry XLE V6 gets a respectable 25 mpg city, same as the 4-cylinder, and 30 mpg highway while the 4-cylinder Camry lands 35 mpg highway. Having practically the same city fuel consumption figures, the V6 is my weapon of choice considering my Camry V6 dashes to 60 mph from a standstill in only 6.6 seconds. With this admirable performance attribute, it is almost attractive to a mild enthusiast.
The new 2012 Toyota Camry has a style that stays on the same path as its predecessor. The front fascia has been updated with new lines but does not depart far from the Camry’s original persona. The rear styling, however, is a far move that may take some getting used to. The bold part of the new 2012 Camry’s styling starts and ends with the rear. New body lines seem to somewhat fade into the background only to be highlighted by the subtle exterior chrome trim.
On the inside of the new 2012 Toyota Camry is a dashboard that seems afraid to thrill the driver and passenger. In one way the dashboard soft-touch surface and stitching seems to be a sporty aspect of the interior although the hard plastics found on the face tend to diminish that initial perception. The wide gauges in the dashboard cluster are rather contemporary and expected, but lack any new innovation found in some of the Camry’s competition. The LCD touch-screen blends the rear-view backup camara, audio controls, GPS navigation, specialized smartphone Entune apps (Pandora, Bing search, Weather, Sports, Stocks) vehicle settings. While intuitive and user-friendly, the center LCD screen interface is not all that eye-catching. Maybe a good part about the new 2012 Camry dashboard loaded up with options on the XLE V6 trim, is that it all blends together well and nothing really stands out like it is misplaced.
In traditional Toyota fashion, the perception of the interior quality is good. The cabin, larger than it has ever been, is quiet with only a slight intrusion of the V6 engine’s roar at full throttle. Wind and road noises are also kept to a minimum by the optimized placement of sound insulating materials and acoustic windshield glass. The leather seating areas proved to be comfortable during my 300 mile highway trip. Toyota left no stones unturned with improvements in the 2012 model combining forward-thinking engineering and a taste of today’s technology through the Entune smartphone and web integration applications.
The new 2012 Toyota Camry is on a level, mostly flat, playing field when it comes to drivability. The new 2012 Toyota Camry can be compared to the most reliable home appliance there is. It does what it is supposed to do every time without drawing too much attention or causing drama.
Steering is a bit numb but I contribute that to the new electric steering rack giving ease to operation at low speeds while slighting adding weight when cruising. Handling is somewhat like a sponge and may allow a considerable amount of body roll on sharp turns. Though, proving to provide a lot of comfort on long hauls, the new Camry XLE does not advocate driving like a fool. With smaller 17-inch wheels and tires on the Camry XLE model, it leaves much to be desired for enthusiasts. The larger 18-inch wheels, standard on the SE model, are more than likely to spruce things up a bit in the handling department.
Offering a total of 4 trim levels, (L, LE, SE and XLE) the new 2012 Toyota Camry attempts to appease most mid-sized sedan consumers. Starting with the Camry L trim, with an MSRP of just $22,055, you get a standard 2.5-liter 178 horsepower inline 4-cylinder engine, Bluetooth, iPod input, tilt-telescoping steering wheel, power windows & mirrors, 60/40 split folding rear seats and a six-speaker CD audio system with USB and aux inputs. The LE trim adds power locks with remote keyless entry, streaming Bluetooth audio, auto headlights and a LCD touch-screen for audio, car information and Bluetooth phone connection. SE and XLE trims add the availability of the peppy V6 engine, where the SE model has sport-tuned suspension, both opening up a wider selection of options. Standard SE trim features include 18-inch wheels, leather-wrapped steering wheel, distinctive body accents, and upgraded LCD screen interface with Entune apps. My XLE V6, in addition to LE and SE trim features, gets standard fog lights, leather upholstery, power front seats and rearview camera.
The all-new 2012 Toyota Camry has been redesigned inside and out with an adept accolade to its followers and future buyers. In no way does the new 2012 Camry really depart from its roots, which is a good thing considering its historic sales figures.
Being that there is an abundance of competition within the mid-sized sedan segment, the 2012 Toyota Camry must place a firm grip on its #1 sales crown. Offering drivers with a nice blend of luxury, bold styling and a powerful yet efficient V6 engine, the 2012 Toyota Camry V6 trim begs to be the best Camry yet.
Images Copyright: 2012 Harvey Schwartz
- Price: Base Camry XLE V6 $29,845.00 / As-Tested Camry XLE V6 Loaded $33.330.00 including $760.00 destination
- Engine: 3.5-liter DOHC V6 268 horsepower @ 6200 rpm / 248 ft. lbs. torque @ 4700 rpm
- Transmission: 6-speed automatic
- Wheelbase: 109.3in.
- Total length: 189.2in.
- Total width: 71.7in.
- Total height: 57.9in.
- Track: f/r-62/61.6in.
- Headroom: f/r-38.8/37.9in.
- Legroom: f/r-41.6/38.9in.
- EPA passenger volume: 101.3cu.ft.
- EPA cargo volume: 15.4cu.in.
- Fuel tank: 17 gallons
- Turning circle: 36.7ft.
- Curb weight: 3,395lbs.
- 0-60 mph: 6.6 seconds (Camry V6)
- EPA mileage: 31mpg/city, 30mpg/highway