Muscle Cars

Muscle Cars

This post is for all the muscle car fans out there…I decided to put a few pictures of my favorite muscle cars up, in the hopes that someone will enjoy them. I have not been a big muscle car fan, and especially don

Dyson V6 Car & Boat Vacuum

Dyson V6 Car & Boat Vacuum

Dyson is cool.  Their products are not just different; they are cutting edge and modern.  For me they are the Apple of home appliances, with design and technology that instantly makes you want to buy their products. 

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The Dyson V6 Car & Boat vacuum is a handheld vacuum with the amazing Dyson V6 digital motor.  It is the most powerful handheld vacuum on the market, and uses a 2 Tier Radial cyclone design, which creates 15 cyclones that work in parallel to increase airflow and capture more fine dust.  It comes with 6 tools, including a crevice tool, motorized brush tool, hose, and assorted other tools, used to get into all the awkward spaces in your car or boat.  Powered by a redesigned Lithium-Ion fade free battery, it has a charge life of 20 minutes, which is more than enough to clean the inside of a car.  However, if you use the motorized brush attachment, that time is cut to about 6 minutes of charge.  The vacuum is small enough (8.2 X 5.7 X 15.6 inches) to be used without too much effort, and weighs only 3.4 pounds.  The vacuum also has a boost mode which increases the suction (and the noise) considerably.  As with all Dyson handheld vacuums, it comes with a two year warranty

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Packaging – The box is pretty standard, and the vacuum and attachments are all nicely packed.  One of the first issues I had was with the accessory tools.  There are six different tools and I had no idea what to do with any of them.  The manual and box show no explanation.    The Dyson website has a section explaining each tool, but none of the photos would load on the site, so I couldn’t tell which tool went with which description.  So Dyson, get to work on your website. It kind of sucks. 

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Design – As with every Dyson product, the design is futuristic and cool.  The Vacuum is weighted so it handles well and is not heavy to use.  The clear collection basket lets you easily see when it is full, and the cyclone effect is kind of fun to watch.  One button emptying of the basket means no mess.  All of the attachments snap into place easily, though with nowhere to store them, you need to carry all six attachments out to the car when you use the vacuum, which was slightly annoying.   

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Functionality – The vacuum is pretty sweet.  It works just as you would expect, though it is a little loud.  All of the attachments work as expected, and the motorized brush picks up dog hair from places that I have never reached before.  Unlike any other vacuum I have used, the Dyson cleans with one stroke, so it takes less time.  Suction is pretty amazing, and the charge lasts just long enough to get even the most disgusting car clean as a whistle. 

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Overall – I love it.  Even with a retail price of $239.99, I think it is a great deal.  Yes, it is more expensive than the others, but the technology and attachments are worth it.  This vacuum is a must have for every garage. 

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Rating – On a scale of 1-5, I would rate the Dyson V6 Car & Boat Vacuum as a 5.  Sleek, modern and powerful, this vacuum delivers.    

Article by Chris Raymond

Photos by Chris Raymond and Dyson.com

 

BooEnn Sunglasses – Powered by the Sun

BooEnn Sunglasses – Powered by the Sun

BooEnn Sunglasses – Powered by the Sun

Our first new product review for Chris on Cars comes from a company called BooEnn.  The product is a set of smart driving glasses with “anti-collision” lenses that change instantly depending on light.  Powered by a low power consumption solar battery mounted right above the nose, they act to brighten or darken the lenses, depending on conditions.

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For a start, the idea is pretty standard.  Many sunglass companies over the years have offered lenses that change with the lighting conditions.  The major difference here is that these lenses are made from a patented flexible LCD material, and the transition is amazingly fast.

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Packaging – The box is similar to an iPhone, but lime green in color.  The packaging includes a lime green cleaning cloth, a matching pouch to hold the glasses, and company literature that is badly translated from its original language.  The packaging is in line with the expected price point for the glasses, and has an expensive feel.

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Specifications – The sunglasses are made from something called Ultra-light Antiskid TR100, according to the company literature, a “light weight, collision-resistant, high temperature-resistant material with no chemical residue release”, which is in line with European requirements for food grade material.  I’m not sure what that means, but it could be soy based or some sort of “green” material.  The lenses are a flexible LCD material made from 13 layers of nano-materials, all designed to improve visibility.

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Drive Power: Solar battery

Reaction time(s): ≤0.2

Visible light transmittance(%):≤35%

Ultraviolet rays: UV400

Working temperature(℃):-20—70

Weight: (g):30

Size (mm): General frame: 340*165*15

Lens material: Plastic flexible liquid crystal

Frame material: TR100

Design – The frame design is bulky, and not very attractive.  The glasses are large and wide, and tend to sit high on your face due to the molded nose pads.  When worn, the glasses tend to be large on the face and stick out at least a quarter inch on each side of my head.  Overall, the look is something between Buddy Holly and Giordi from Star Trek.  When folded, the glasses do not fold flat, so pocketing them is out of the question.

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Functionality – The glasses function well and work as described.  The darkening effect from shade to sunlight is amazingly quick, and visibility is definitely improved with the glasses.  Even in conditions that require the lenses to change continually, the transitions are quick and not distracting.

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Overall – While the design of the frame needs work, the technology is so good that I would buy a pair myself.  After checking with friends, most decided they would tolerate the terrible design of the frame to have the technology.  BooEnn has not announced a specific price for the glasses, but I was told they are initiating an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaignwith prices ranging from $75-$150 depending on the perk.  I am also told that the company plans to update its marketing literature to be more in line with US standards, and tweak the design to be more fashion conscious.

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Rating – On a scale of 1-5, I would rate these a 3, with the caveat that if BooEnn tweaks the frame design to be more fashionable, they would be a 5.

Article by Chris Raymond

Photos by Chris Raymond and Booenn.com

 

 

Layla – The Boat Tail Riviera

Layla – The Boat Tail Riviera

 

I tried to give you consolation…When your old man had let you down. Like a fool, I fell in love with you, Turned my whole world upside down. – Eric Clapton

This past week I decided to buy a new toy.  I found a beautiful 1972 Buick Riviera Boat Tail on Craigslist, and couldn’t pass up the opportunity to own an iconic classic and an appreciating collector automobile.

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The Riviera is rare, with only 31,557 examples originally built, and the design was overseen by none other than Bill Mitchell (55-57 Chevy BelAir, 63 Corvette Split Window, 63-72 Buick Riviera).  .  Its flowing lines are immediately identifiable, and the boat tail design is unique in modern automotive styling.  Finding a decent one for sale is like discovering a unicorn.

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Originally I was on the fence about buying a car the size of a English Channel ferry boat, but a twist of fate forced my hand.  During a conversation with my website designer/SEO guy name Brian, I discovered that the actual car I was buying was one he and his friend owned in high school.  The seller was his best friend, and the two worked on the car, made the upgrades and know every detail about the cars history.  It is a small world, and knowing that there was that connection made me believe I could be safe in taking the chance on the car.

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The Riviera is beautiful, in a slightly ungainly way.  Mine is painted a Subaru WRX blue, and sports raised white lettered tires and Cragar SS rims.  Inside, the car is equipped with a front 60/40 split bench seat done in black with white leather inserts.  The previous owner had redone all of the body issues, added new carpets, and added a few cool chrome Edelbrock upgrades under the hood.  These upgrades made the engine shine and probably added a ton more horses to the stable.   It also has cherry bomb mufflers, and sounds like a true muscle car.  Once I started it up, I was hooked.

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The body is in excellent shape, with no rust or dent issues.  The paint is older, and pretty poorly done, with lots of orange peel and a few areas of dripping and waving.  The interior is also in good shape, with only the driver’s seat having issues, while the rest of the interior is un-molested.

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Driving the car is an experience.  The engine starts right up, and settles into a smooth idle after a few moments.  The cherry bombs on the exhaust give the car a mean growl, and every time you step on the gas, you expel a little more of the rear tire rubber.  Speed was never on the list of goals for the Riviera, but it still manages an impressive 0-60 in close to 8 seconds, which is not bad for a 19 foot long, two and a half ton behemoth.  With the upgrades to the engine, the car is now much faster, which means it is a challenge to drive.  The steering is like guiding a ship though a series of hard turns.  The steering feel is not only loose, it feels disconnected from the car.  When it does finally turn, the whole side dips and rolls like an aircraft carrier in high seas.  One major fault is the seats, which have no lateral support whatsoever.  On even the slightest turn, you often find yourself in the passenger seat.

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Of course, now that I own the car, I need to figure out what to do with her.  Originally I had grand ideas of transforming her into the ultimate Grand Tourer.  I wanted to repaint her in a dark gray metallic and have the top section, that includes the roof, boat tail and the center of the hood, sprayed a slightly lighter color.  The interior was to be a medium saddle color, and the carpeted rear shelf under the massive rear window was to be transformed into a mahogany wood floor, much like a classic yacht.  I wanted to lower her by 2 inches, enough to highlight the lines without making her into a slammed custom.  I also wanted to add larger lower profile tires and larger chrome mag rims that would suggest a more refined hot rod look.  Finally, I wanted to cut the middle section of the bumper to highlight the full grill and make it a split bumper car, and add a center body colored fin in the center of the rear window, á la the 1963 Corvette Stingray Split Window Coupe.

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In reality, I probably won’t get a chance to do any of these things.  If I decide to flip the car for profit, then it would make sense to see if the blue paint can be salvaged, either with a light re-spray or a color sanding and clearcoat.  One thing I will keep are the blue LED lights under the front grille – the same lights I have on my motorcycle.

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In the interim, I have named her “Layla”, which means ”night”, or “dark beauty”.  I will continue to pilot her through the neighborhood scaring small children and wildlife, and have the time of my life playing with my new toy.

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Of course, I want to hear from you…write me a comment and let me know what you think of Layla, and share any ideas you have on how to customize her.  I am always looking for cool design tips.

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Article by Chris Raymond

Photos by Chris Raymond, Google Images, vilinstore.net and pinterest.com

Car Lister’s Epic Giveaway!

Car Lister’s Epic Giveaway!

The following is a sponsored post

Car Lister’s Epic Giveaway

Those of you who have followed my site know that I joined a website called Car Lister.co a while back to connect with my car-enthusiast friends and to post my content.  Car Lister is a new website that promises to be an all-in-one consumer car buying solution.

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Utilizing technology, Car Lister simplifies the transaction of a vehicle between two parties in the online world in a way that’s never been done before. Car Lister has solved the problem of selling a car online, with a fully integrated, automated process that incorporates real time notifications and full validation throughout the entire process.

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The system allows buyers to shop for new and pre-owned cars from any smartphone, tablet or desktop. What I like most about Car Lister is that it’s like Facebook for gear heads.  I can connect with my friends, talk about my rides, or post and read articles about the stuff I am interested in.  Users can even form groups, trade pics, and network with people from all over the world.

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To celebrate the launch of their new website, Car Lister is introducing the 2016 Car Lister’s EPIC Giveaway.They are giving away daily,weekly,and monthly prizes. The grand prize will be a $25,000.00 voucher to purchase a vehicle at one of their participating Car Lister dealerships every month!  Daily prizes include gas cards and oil changes, weekly prizes include new tires, jumper box, and vehicle detailing and the monthly prizes are a $500.00 service voucher and the previously mentioned voucher for a car.

With everything that they are giving away, Car Lister also have a weekly contest that is called You Share, We Repair.  If you share your story with Car Lister, you will be entered to win up to $3,000.00 towards vehicle repairs at a participating Car Lister dealership.

Restrictions are listed on the rules page on their website.  Just sign up for a free Car Lister.co account and click on sweepstakes then click “enter to win” and you will have access to daily,weekly and monthly giveaways.

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Check out theWinner’s Circle,” and you will see that there have already been 118 winners from 37 states, winning prizes ranging from gas cards all the way up to the lucky February “Grand Prize” winner who won a $25,000 voucher to buy the car of their choice.The best part about this giveaway is that it’s just the beginning. The entries have reset as we enter March, and I am crossing my fingers that this could be my (or your) month to win!

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If you’re like me, you’ll be making this Epic Giveaway part of your daily routine. By the time your coffee is finished brewing, you have plenty time to log into your account and enter the daily, weekly and monthly drawings. Considering that the promotion is still in its early months, the odds to win are incredible. With just over 8,000 entrants into last month’s grand prize drawing, I can’t think of another promotion with better odds to win $25,000.00 (plus the cost of taxes) to put towards the car of your dreams. #Epic

Joining Car Lister is a great way to network with people who love cars, and a great way to make friends.  Once you join, check out the Chris On Cars page for articles, comments and discussions on the latest cars…don’t forget to join my group and connect with me.

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Ford SVT Raptor, Designed for Men

Ford SVT Raptor, Designed for Men

Look at this truck and tell me what you see?  Wrong.  It’s the new Ford F-150 SVT Raptor, a tough as nails he-man truck that wants to rip your arms off.  Now look back again, what do you see?  Wrong.  It’s a truck so manly it sweats, a truck you need to shave three times a day, a truck that will grow chest hair.   This truck is dangerous, in the same way you are.

Ford designed this truck for men, not ladies, and certainly not little boys.  This brute is not the truck you take to the local Starbucks for a double non-fat soy chai macchiato latte or to the boutique to get Mr. Jingles a new outfit.  No, this is the truck you use to hunt Wildebeest on your private game reserve, or to chase down local gangs to deal out some street justice.  The Ford SVT Raptor was designed on a mountaintop, by secret disappearing ninjas using the greatest technologies known to man.  They built it with a massive 6.2 liter V8 that makes 411 horses, and 10 million lb-ft of torque.  That’s enough torque to pull the sewer pipes right through your front lawn, and enough power to outrun the cops.

Don’t let this truck scare you, because it will cruise down the highway smoother than your M1 Abrams Main battle tank, and when you get where you’re going, just throw on the Advancetrac system and crawl up over that Prius parked in your spot.  They won’t say anything, they won’t dare.  The SVT Raptor is comfortable too, with enough room for those blonde hotties you picked up on the way to your fight club.

Fully loaded, the Ford SVT Raptor will cost around $42,000 dollars, but you won’t care because this truck will outlast you, and the seventeen children your testosterone flooded body will undoubtedly spawn.  This truck will outlast democracy, and become an impressive monument to the level of machismo you’ve attained.  Throw it into mud-bogged rainforests in Bolivia, use it to tear through the 38th parallel and show those Koreans who’s boss, toss a trailer hitch on it, and drag that mother-loving M777 155mm Howitzer right up to the nearest Al-Qaeda cave, you can do anything in this truck.

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This Raptor is designed only for ripped, hulking, brutish, macho, Chuck Norris lookalikes who enjoys Mixed Martial Arts fighting, threesomes, blonde threesomes, rugby, choppers, blondes and eating fried scorpions.  And don’t worry if one of those hotties has a twin…Ford made a crew cab version.

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(This happens every time you park it!)

Photos courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Article courtesy of Chris Raymond

Snowpocalypse!

Snowpocalypse!

If you are a regular reader of this site, you may have noticed that I recently took some time off from my writing duties.  It seems that with the weather, the holidays, and the cold, my motivation level wasn’t what it used to be.  In order to cover things up, I reposted some old articles and hoped for the best.  Well…things are getting back to normal here, and I should be updating things with the regularity of the past.  So, thanks for staying with me.

First, some housekeeping.  I am always looking for ideas on what to include on the site, and would greatly appreciate any comments or suggestions.  I am also looking for anyone who may be interested in posting their own articles and photos.  If you are interested, please send me an email at raymondcj@aol.com.

This week, I have decided to post some photos from around the net showing the snowpocalypse that is making life difficult for most of the country.  Included are some favorite photos from failblog.org, which is a great site to waste time on if you are housebound.  The rest of the photos are from around the world, and include some great shots of the mess the snow made in Chicago, and an amazing car accident from New Hampshire.

Photos courtesy of failblog.org, thatwillbuffout.com, jalopnik.com.

Article courtesy of Chris Raymond
The Rake of the Riviera

The Rake of the Riviera

In the United States, the automobile is synonymous with one name, Ford.  In the rest of the world, that name is Agnelli.  Rather than spend this week discussing the latest supercar, or who won at Pebble Beach, I am going to focus on an Italian iconoclast, Giovanni (Gianni) Agnelli.

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Agnelli was the namesake to Giovanni Agnelli, the founder of Fiat S.p.A. and heir to the Fiat fortune.  Fiat is an Italian conglomerate, founded in 1899.  Besides being the carmaker who bought us the 500, the iconic Italian mini car, they are (or have been) the owners of brands like Maserati, Ferrari, Lancia, Alfa Romeo, Abarth, Chrysler, Autobianchi, Innocenti, Piaggio, Vespa, Simca, SEAT, and Iveco trucks.  In addition to vehicles, Fiat owns companies as diverse as Case Tractors, Alitalia, the newspaper La Stampa, Olivetti, and a slew of other companies making everything from weapons to pharmaceuticals, and from railcars to aircraft.  At one time, Fiat owned substantial shares of Edison, Rockefeller Center, Chase, and even Club Med.

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Fiat, which is older than Ford by 4 years, was a major force in both European and Italian markets.  At one time Fiat employed over 500,000 people, and controlled 4.4% of Italy’s GDP, 3.1% of its industrial workforce and a massive 16.5% of its industrial investment in research.  He was the richest man in modern Italian history.  At one time, Agnelli controlled more than one-quarter of the Italian stock exchange, a control unparalleled on any world stock market.  It is amazing to me how much power can come from just making cars.

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Agnelli’s life was one of finance and hedonistic fantasy, with himself as the company chairman, and the Italian playboy.  Married to a half-American, half-Neapolitan noblewoman, he was known for his pursuit of beautiful women and sports cars.  His affairs included actresses Rita Hayworth, Hedy Lamarr, “La Dolce Vita” star Anita Eckberg, among others.  One of the more salacious stories is of an affair with Jacqueline Kennedy, before she married Aristotle Onassis.  The rumor includes the allegation that John F. Kennedy Jr. was actually his illegitimate son.

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Agnelli was also a major trendsetter in fashion.  Esquire magazine named him as one of the five best dressed men in the history of the world.  He was famous for introducing the spread collar shirt, and the loosened off-kilter tie.  He wore exquisite Italian suits with hiking boots, and had a peculiar habit of wearing his watch over his wrist cuff.  His nickname was “The Rake of the Riviera” and was popular enough to inspire a classic menswear magazine called “The Rake.”  His love of fast cars almost killed him…twice.  Once he drove his Ferrari into a tree and wrecked his legs, then he drove it into the rear of a meat truck.

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Fiat and its other entities moved the world.  The company built a huge plant in the former Soviet Union which became the linchpin of Soviet auto production.  He once sold 10% of the company to Libya, making Colonel Muammar el-Qaddafi a partner in the business.  This move forced Libya to spend money it would have used for weapons, and also strengthened the failing Soviet leadership with Libyan investments.

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Agnelli also changed Fiat over the years.  He admired the American automakers modern methods of manufacturing, and copied them at Fiat plants.  He built better and larger cars for the European market, and overtook Volkswagen as the continent’s largest seller of cars.  He improved on quality, and reversed Fiat’s reputation of “Fix it again, Tony.”  Agnelli diversified Fiat, a move that saved the business more than once.  He linked Fiat with General Motors in 2000 with the provision that GM buy out Fiat by 2004.  It was a move eventually cost GM $2.9 billion to escape.

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Over the years Agnelli developed a close group of friends that included the Kennedys, Fords and the royal houses of Europe and members of the Politburo.  Other friends were a diverse group, and included Henry Kissinger, Margaret Thatcher, George Bush, the Clintons, Fidel Castro, Nixon, Reagan, de Gaulle, Onassis, and Winston Churchill.

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He also partnered on many US ventures.  He was on the board of General Electric and Chase Bank, and owned a major part of Rockefeller Center in New York.  He was also a member of the Bilderberg Group, the shadowy secret society that supposedly runs the world.  Gianni Agnelli’s life and death was like a Puccini opera.  He died in 2003 at age 81, on the same day that his family was to gather to argue about his will and legacy.  He was a symbol of Italy’s postwar renaissance, a country where the rule was “Agnelli is Fiat, Fiat is Turin; and Turin is Italy.”

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What does this have to do with cars?  Everything.  The history of the automobile is not just cars; it’s also the people behind the scenes…the designers, the owners, the marketing people.  Agnelli is an icon who accomplished great things, and his life is interesting to anyone who loves history.  For the gearhead, his life story should be required reading, because of his connection to some of the greatest marques in history, and also because it shows how one little car company changed the world.

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Article Courtesy of Chris Raymond

Photos Courtesy of Classicandperformancecar.com, bigpower.co.uk, autoham.ru, moteverdiclub.com, zcoches.com, cargurus.com, pistonheads.com, casa.mitula.it
Genesis and Ferrari, Design in 7 Days

Genesis and Ferrari, Design in 7 Days

According to the bible, it took God just seven days to create the world as we know it.  Unfortunately, God doesn’t design cars, because the average time to develop a new car can be as long as four years.  With computers and high tech design systems, the time can be shortened, but the process is still massive, costing an automaker billions of dollars.  Even a single component can take years, as in the case of Jaguar and its 17-year development of the V12 engine.

Like God, the automotive world has its own “divine” being, controlling beauty, power, and inspiration.  Of course, I am talking about Ferrari, and when Enzo Ferrari decided it was time to replace the 275 GTB/4, he called Pininfarina studios, who gave the job to a young designer named Lionardi Fioravanti.  Like Genesis, the Ferrari 365 GTB/4 was created in just seven days.

Nicknamed the Daytona, much to the disdain of Enzo, the car first appeared at the 1968 Paris Motor Show and became an instant sensation.  To describe the design intent, Pininfarina said “The whole idea was really a search for this sense of lightness and rake, a slender look.”  In 2008, Fioravanti described it as “the best I have ever done and the one I am most proud of” adding, “there isn’t much I would change.”

The Daytona was the last classic-era, front engined V12 Ferrari produced before Fiat ownership, and was aimed directly at the Lamborghini Muira.  The car was a Grand Tourer, capable of speeds of 174mph and costing $10,000 when new.  Designed to be more angular and shark-like than previous Ferraris, it still paled in comparison to the outrageous looks of the mid-engined Muira.  Performance and drivability was the Daytona’s strong suit, and the Muira’s design fell short due to a design flaw.  The Muira’s gas tank was mounted over the front wheels, making the car very light in the front when the tank was low, and very difficult to drive at speeds.

The production Daytona’s V-12 displaced 4.4-liters and, like the Ferrari 275 GTB/4, had four overhead cams.  This magnificent engine was crowned by six downdraft Weber carburetors and produced 352 horses at 7500 rpm.  In its first road test of the new car, Road and Track exclaimed, “It might as well be said right now, the Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona is the best sports car in the world.”  Autocar Magazine came to the same conclusion, stating “It is hard to capture in mere words all the excitement, sensation, and sheer exhilaration of this all-time great among cars.  For us it has become an important new yardstick, standing at the pinnacle of the fast car market.”

Though the designer never envisioned a convertible version, Italian coachbuilder Sergio Scaglietti created an open-air prototype, and Ferrari was inundated with requests for a Daytona Spyder.  The convertible was finally introduced at the 1969 Frankfurt Auto Show, and designated the Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona.  Production began in mid 1970 and fewer than 125 were built over three years, with almost 80 percent going to America.

The 365 GTB/4 Daytona was one of the most popular cars ever produced by Ferrari.  It remains one of the most recognized, and beautiful cars ever made.  The Daytona, and the creation of the world, prove that with the right designer, it is easy to make something magnificent and unforgettable.

Photos courtesy of Google Images

Article courtesy of Chris Raymond and Car Design Review.com

Top 7 Cars USA Gave To the World This Decade

Top 7 Cars USA Gave To the World This Decade

The following is a sponsored post

 

With the ferocious competition coming from the European continent, the American automotive industry had to step up on all fronts: performance, style, and overall awesomeness. Disregarding the latest VW scandal, it is right to say the USA provided a series of awesome cars over the years, both for the American market as well as the international market. Here is a list of some of the best cars built by US-based automakers this decade.

  1. Ford Focus ST

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It is highly important to outline the difference between price-bargain and value-bargain. While low-priced vehicles will try its best to constantly remind you about its inferior capabilities, a car with great value (even if not the cheapest) performs differently. It will aim to provide the best choice within a certain budget. Although Ford Focus isn’t the cheapest choice in the compact class, it delivers a lot. Whether you are choosing the 140hp standard or the 252hp hot-hatch version, Ford Focus competes head to head against bold names in the industry: Mercedes, Porsche and Lotus. Expect to see and feel a pumped up version of a Volkswagen GTI, which roars and makes tires scream on every corner, while sweating power and rage through all its pores.

  1. GMC Yukon

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Falling right between the cheaper Chevy Tahoe and the more expensive Cadillac Escalade ESV, the 2015 GMC Yukon rests along the few remaining body on frame full sized SUVs on the market. Nailing the big, blocky theme, GMC Yukon is able to run from 0 to 60mph in just 5.5 seconds, competing directly with Porsche’s Cayenne GTS. The overall design has been improved dramatically compared to its previous versions, although some may argue there is still room for improvement, as Infinity QX80 has proven. Nevertheless, GM doesn’t show signs of closing up production of the model, thus we can expect even further improvements on design and functionality.

  1. Chevrolet Impala

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While being nothing more than a company fleet duck in 2013, Chevrolet did a complete makeover for the 2015 Impala, including interior design, bodywork and powertrain. All elements have been updated in order to produce a new vehicle able to stand out of the crowd. A 2.5 liter 4 cylinder engine featuring an aluminum block pushes the car forward with 196hp and 186 lb-ft. The bigger brother, a 3.6 liter V6 engine available in 2LT trim pushes the performance index even further. With a front-strut and rear multi-link suspension, 2015 Chevrolet Impala is able to offer a smooth ride along with a 21 mpg average fuel economy. Now, you may just stop by to check it out instead of passing by, unbothered by a dull design.

4. Dodge Durango

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One of the best choices when you need to look badass but still provide enough room for up to six people, 2015 Dodge Durango also makes the cut for the best American made vehicles of this decade. The unique Hemi sound coming from beneath the hood distinguishes Durango from other street vehicles, while the suspension and chassis work together to provide an unexpectedly high level of rigidity. Don’t expect to drive 2015 Dodge Durango like you would drive a sports car though; it is still a big SUV with a considerable curb weight. With premium features and an 8-speed gearbox designed for luxury cars, 2015 Dodge Durango also offers a rather affordable price.

  1. Cadillac CTS

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The CTS deserves the compliments for Cadillac’s continued renaissance over the years. The biggest news for 2016 is the replacement of the original 6-speed gearbox with an 8-speed automatic. According to Cadillac, the newly implemented ratios offer faster acceleration and a bolder sense of instant performance. The steering is alive and body roll is almost non-existent, with or without the optional magnetic dampers. A Premium package adds sophisticated features to the already pumped-up sedan, making it even more comfortable and enjoyable on the road. A 2L engine unit is responsible for pushing 268hp and 295 lb-ft to the wheels.

  1. Chevrolet Suburban

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Being on the scene long before anyone knew how to spell SUV or Crossover, the Chevrolet Suburban reached its 11th version this year. While other competitors came around and left in a hurry, the Suburban passed the test of time with impressive scores. The 2015 edition of the Suburban comes with a body-on-frame design sharing many mechanical underpinnings with Chevrolet’s Silverado. A 5.3-liter V8 engine makes use of a 6-speed automatic gearbox with manual shifting mode selector, delivering 355hp and 383 lb-ft of torque to the ground, through a set of 19” wheels. Buyers can opt between 6-seater or 9-seater versions, depending on what’s needed the most: more people or more trunk space.

  1. Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat

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We’ve left the best for last, and for good reason. With 707hp, there is little need for words when describing the 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat. It all starts at the heart of the beast, where a 6.2 liter supercharged and intercooled Hemi gives its tremendous force: 707hp and 650 lb-ft, enough to burn out a set of tires in seconds. Called the most powerful muscle car of the moment, the 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat breathes fire upon everything daring to stand on its path. It scores a 0-60mph time of 3.4 seconds and a top speed of 165 mph. It travels over the quarter mile in just 11.1 seconds. The numbers could keep flowing, but at this point, it is basically useless. This demon-child is the ultimate American big-block car.

American automakers haven’t wasted any time in producing automotive products which can easily compete, and in some cases surpass, their European and Asian competitors. Everything from compacts to full-sized SUVs and insanely powerful models have been released by Ford, Chevrolet and Dodge. All working to improve the overall automotive market in the US and around the world.

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7.

Fear and Loathing in Design

Fear and Loathing in Design

Recently, I started talking to car designers, asking for information about their projects, the environments they worked in, and car design culture.  The responses were interesting, in that most were concerned about their jobs and did not want to be identified.  It was surprising that the same people who designed the Chevy Malibu, could not comment on their work for fear of retaliation.  The present culture is one of people who have witnessed their friends fired from jobs, and who think they could be next.  It is fear and loathing in the design studio.

John, our first designer, worked for GM, and was immediately turned off on big corporate car design.  He worked on advanced design, new production techniques, and in the energy efficient sectors, but could not be more specific.  For him, GM had an environment of waste and fear.  Thousands of dollars spent on items for the mock up of a car, and yet pennies pinched on the final product.  The environment made no sense to him as a designer, or as a consumer.

GM was the only company John wanted to work for, but when he got there in the early 1990’s he discovered a company that made poor choices in how they executed vehicles and spent resources.  GM was making disposable cars, not the classics and icons of his youth.

He eventually realized that he needed to search for a design firm that had a similar attitude towards design as his own.  Not satisfied with committees and bean counters, who distorted designs beyond recognition, he realized auto design was actually a small, closed world, where it was difficult to find work.

John felt that GM stifled much of the creativity needed for new designs, and the intense time constrains made success difficult. He summed it up best when he said, “A car designer left to his own devices will produce a 1966 GTO.  A car designer under the control of a committee will produce a 2006 GTO.”  He now works on industrial design projects.

There are still magical places where the designer rules, but not in the American auto industry.  It is only through innovative design, and quality products, that Detroit will finally shake off its troubles.

Article Courtesy of Chris Raymond

Photos courtesy of GM, Ford, Chrysler, and Google Images

Cars Found on eBay

Cars Found on eBay

eBay and Craigslist are the best places to look at cars you have no intention of buying.   This is a good thing, because many of the cars are hiding more problems than you could ever afford to fix, and some even have stolen VIN tags.   Occasionally, there are some interesting finds, and today we are focusing on four cars representing the life of the de Tomaso brand.

de Tomaso Automobili SpA is an Italian car company founded in 1959 by Alejandro de Tomaso and is the product of another race car driver who wanted to build cars.  Over the years, the company purchased the Ghia and Vignale design studios, the car makers Maserati and Innocenti, and the Benelli and Moto Guzzi motorcycle brands.  De Tomaso also partnered with Ford to create the popular Pantera, and Qvale for the Qvale Mangusta.

De Tomaso suffered from a long history of marriages that went bad and was responsible for more than its share of atrocious cars.  A look back over the years will bring up embarrassments like the Biturbo, a car that ruined the Maserati name, Shamal and Ghibli II, which were desperate redo’s of the Biturbo, the obscene Chrysler TC Maserati and the hideous Dodge 024 de Tomaso.

Today, however, things are much better.  Maserati is again producing cars that live up to its heritage and de Tomaso was recently purchased by a former Fiat executive with plans to bring back the marque.   So, on that happy note here are my four picks of the week:

1969 de Tomaso Mangusta


Known more for its design than its quality, this Mangusta is one of 401 made and about 200 left on the roads.  This car is completely restored and is fitted with a new 302 cubic inch racing motor.  Everything on this car looks perfect and can be yours for about $55,000.

1972 de Tomaso Longchamp

Built as a coupe version of the Deauville, which was aimed at the Jaguar XJ series, it sports another Ford V8 and is one of only 395 coupes produced from 1974 to 1989.  It was a true Grand Touring car, rare but unpopular, and styled somewhere between a Mercedes and a Lancia.

1973 de Tomaso GTS Pantera

This was the George Clooney of the family.  Anyone with money who wanted an Italian car with American muscle bought a Pantera, and for much less than a Ferrari or Lamborghini.  Ford V8 power, Ghia wedge design and sold through Ford, some 6 thousand plus were made until 1993.  Later examples started to lose their Italian looks, becoming more like Batman rejects and shark-nosed kit cars.   This was the car of rock stars and rich delinquents and eBay is loaded with both good and bad examples.  This particular one is fully restored and for sale at 65,000.

1996 de Tomaso Guara

This is the car that replaced the Pantera, and the last project of founder Alejandro de Tomaso.  One of only 50 in the world and powered by a Cobra 4.6 liter V8, this car is the last of the breed.  Based on the Maserati Barchetta, it has a true formula one Indy car suspension, the looks of a squashed Mazda, and is offered at 100,000 dollars.

Article Courtesy of Chris Raymond

6 Iconic Cars from TV and Film

6 Iconic Cars from TV and Film

The following is a sponsored post

If you think only actors can have memorable roles in films, you’ve never been so wrong—even cars can hog the spotlight too. And over the years there have been dozens of memorable cars in film, so memorable indeed that some have overshadowed their actors.

Have a look six of the greatest rides of the silver screen, which have become the stuff of every kid’s—and even grown up’s—dreams.

1964 Aston Martin DB5, James Bond

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James Bond has always been known as a character who loves to enjoy the finer things in life, and when it comes to automobiles he’s not one to get left behind. The 1964 Aston Martin DB5, driven in Bond films Goldfingerand Thunderball, has left a mark in popular culture and began Bond’s legacy for far-out gadgets and cars. The original DB5 was in fact so iconic that it sold a staggering $4.6million in an auction.

1981 DeLorean DMC-12, Back to the Future

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With special features like Flux capacitor, hover conversion and a Mr. Fusion generator, Doc Brown’s DeLorean DMC-12 from Back to the Future undoubtedly deserved its legendary status. A simple stainless steel stunner, the DeLorean wasn’t just a car, but a time machine invented by Doc Brown. It appeared throughout all three blockbuster Back to the Future films, instantly becoming an icon.

Batmobile, Batman Returns

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The original Batmobile designed by George Barris sure caught the attention of car enthusiasts back in the days. However, the redesigned militaristic version that appeared in Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins definitely looked a lot more powerful and a whole lot sexier. Powered by a 350-cid Chevy v8, Nolan’s Batmobile appeared to be a cross between a tank and a Lamborghini. It had two 94.0/15.0-15 Hoosier Checkerboard dirt tires in the front, and Interco “Super Swamper TSL” rear tyres at 44/18.5-16.5. Despite its unusual and different tyre sizes, the beefy tank runs at 60mph in around 5 seconds.

Ecto-1, Ghostbusters

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Everyone’s favorite ghost busting team wouldn’t be able to travel throughout New York City and clean up places overrun with evil spirits without the trusty Ecto-1. A converted Cadillac Miller-Meteor ambulance, the Ecto-1 was bought by Dr. Ray Stantz for $4,800 and restored it, adding the distinct yet particularly famous siren, logo, and lights. After some much needed makeover, the Ecto-1 was able to fit the entire squad, along with their proton packs and ghost busting equipment.

The Mystery Machine, Scooby Doo

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The Mystery Machine was the green van in the hit animated series Scooby Doo. It was the van that transported Scooby Doo, the cute talking dog, along with his owner Shaggy and other friends as they went on their crime-solving and ghoul-debunking adventures around the world. The Mystery Machine appears to be a modified 60s Ford Taunus Transit van. However, in live-action films an 80s Chevrolet Chevy van and an 80s Ford Econoline were used.

Bumblebee, Transformers

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The list wouldn’t be complete without including the tough bee from the Transformers movies, Bumblebee. An autobot with attitude, Bumblebee first manifested himself as a battered 1970s Camaro but transformed himself into a sleek 2009 Camaro after being insulted for his looks.

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Article Courtesy of Jack K

Photos Courtesy of pursuitist.com, giantfreakinrobot.com, anglefire.com, douglassonders photography, pinterest.com, caranddriver.com, sodahead.com