Archive for the ‘Best & Worst’ Category

By Marc Lachapelle of MSN Autos


   A car can be sexy in the same way a person can be sexy — although the trait is a bit harder to define when you’re talking about sheet metal versus flesh. Part of a sexy car’s appeal is purely physical: proportions and curves, size and muscle. Humans have eyes, lips and hips; cars have headlights, grilles and fenders. But then there’s the truly intangible — the basal attraction that turns mere mortals into drooling buffoons. For this, a machine must be bold, distinctive and aggressively elegant. And there’s the sound, too — a car’s voice. A beautiful car you admire; but a sexy one you desire. Here are our 10 choices for the sexiest cars of all time. They are not necessarily the most beautiful of their breed, but they will get your heart racing and your blood boiling.

Mercedes-Benz SSK

   This race-bred German roadster from the early 1930s doesn’t have the swoopy elegance of a Bugatti Type 57 Atlantic, but there’s sheer elemental beauty in its spare bodywork, wire wheels, big headlights, stubby windshield and the three large exhaust header pipes shooting out from either side of its long, narrow hood. The SSK embodies the very essence of a classic sports car and was among the best and fastest of its time, with the top models powered by a supercharged 7.1-liter inline 6-cylinder engine that develops 250 horses. Derived from the Super Sport model, it rides on an 18-inch-shorter wheelbase, for greater agility. Hence the ‘K’ for ‘kurtz’ [German for ‘short’]. The SSK was the last car designed at Mercedes-Benz by Ferdinand Porsche, and fewer than 40 were built.

1957 Cadillac Eldorado Brougham

   Tail fins unquestionably remain the defining feature of American cars from the Fabulous Fifties (check out these fine fins). They were used liberally, sometimes to excess, but never more gracefully than on the 1957 Cadillac Eldorado Brougham. Watching it roll down the street from behind is like watching Shakira wiggle her hips on stage, only the Caddie’s rear end is wrapped in chrome. Cadillac’s first-ever 4-door hardtop has rear-hinged “suicide” doors, is 18 feet long and weighs more than 5,300 pounds. The 6.0-liter 185-horsepower V8 engine is a must with such mass. The Brougham was largely hand-made and was more expensive than even a Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud. The Brougham has unique features, such as a stainless-steel roof, air suspension, and the industry’s first memory power seats.

Jaguar XKSS

   While the Jaguar E-Type is the very essence of automotive beauty and elegance, the XKSS is raw energy on wheels. Only 16 copies were ever built of what is basically a road-going version of the sublime D-Type racer that won the 24 Hours of Le Mans from 1955 to 1957. The XKSS has the D-Type’s bulging fenders but skips the large, vertical fin that stood behind the racer’s driving quarters. Jaguar also added a second seat and door, a windshield and a folding top. The XKSS is powered by a 3.4-liter 250-horsepower inline six, good for a top speed of 150 mph. Actor Steve McQueen reportedly acquired an XKSS for about $5,000 in 1959, sold it after a decade and bought it back a few years later. The car is worth millions today.

Ferrari 250 GTO

Ferrari 250 GTO   Long, low and lean, the 250 GTO is one of the rarest Ferraris in the legendary Italian carmaker’s 63-year history. Only 36 were built to obtain racing approval, as a GT in the World Manufacturers’ Championship, hence the abbreviation for “Gran Turismo Omologato.” The GTO subsequently won this title from 1962 to 1964. It is powered by a 3.0-liter V12 engine that develops 300 horsepower, but the car weighs only 2,400 pounds — less than a Mazda Miata. In its time, the GTO was the quintessential Grand Touring car; it could win races at the highest level yet be driven on the road. Its interior is Spartan but all is forgiven with the addictive howl of that V12 engine. You could buy a new GTO for $18,000 in the early ’60s, but a collector paid $42 million for a pristine 1962 model in 2008.

Lamborghini Miura

   By 1966, the mid-mounted engine had become the norm in Formula One, ruled at Indianapolis, and helped Ford beat Ferrari at Le Mans. That year also saw upstart Italian automaker Lamborghini reveal the first exotic sports car with a mid-mounted engine. The Miura premiered at the Geneva Motor Show, featuring a 3.9-liter 350-horsepower V12 engine mounted transversely behind the cabin and stunning bodywork by Italian designer Marcello Gandini. The Miura’s impossibly low, long and wide body, draped over big alloy wheels and tires, created the template for the modern supercar. Its flowing lines have a sumptuous elegance that would be lost in Gandini’s next famous design at Lamborghini, the fighter plane-like Countach.

Shelby Cobra 427 Roadster

   In the early ’60s, a tall, lanky Texan named Carroll Shelby set out to beat Ferrari at the highest level of sports-car racing by stuffing a Ford V8 engine under the hood of a classic British roadster. The AC Cobra was born. By 1965, with Ford’s backing, Shelby’s team had won the FIA Manufacturers’ Championship with the roadster and its streamlined version, the Cobra Daytona Coupe. The original narrow-fender Cobra, most notably powered by the 4.7-liter 289 engine, was followed by the legendary Cobra 427 Roadster with its radically flared fenders and 7.0-liter V8 engine. Rarest and most valuable are the S/C models (what does this mean?), barely detuned race cars of which only 31 were officially built. The Cobra roadster was a beast of a car then, and nothing has ever quite matched its raw power and brutish looks.

De Tomaso Mangusta

   Alejandro de Tomaso was a fiery, ambitious Argentine who took on Ferrari and Lamborghini at the game of building exotic sports cars. The Mangusta still looks stunning more than four decades after its 1967 debut, but it is by no means perfect. The impossibly low, mid-engined supercar has nasty handling traits and is anything but a paragon of comfort, tameness, or reliability. Reportedly named after a snake-killing critter, when engines promised by Ford went into Shelby Cobras instead, the Mangusta was nonetheless powered by V8s from the Blue Oval. Only 250 are still around. A 1969 Mangusta made an appearance in this Quentin Tarantino film as Mr. Bill’s vehicle of choice.

Porsche 911 Turbo

   The Porsche 911 family of sports cars is the grandest ever, and the Turbo is its wildest child. The first 911 Turbo was launched in 1974, in the wake of the first oil crisis. It is powered by a rear-mounted, turbocharged, air-cooled 3.0-liter flat-six engine that develops 260 horsepower. The Turbo became just as famous for its generously flared rear fenders and a large rear spoiler that was quickly nicknamed “whale tail.” Engine displacement and horsepower grew over the years, culminating with the rare 1993 Turbo 3.6S, the last and most powerful of the rear-wheel-drive Turbos, with its 3.6-liter 380-horsepower engine. The Turbo’s notoriously tricky handling was mostly tamed with all-wheel drive in the 1995 Type 993. The newest 911 Turbo is both slick and fast, with its water-cooled 500-horsepower 3.8-liter engine.

Aston Martin V12 Vanquish

   The Aston Martin Vanquish is the most exquisite iteration of the superb form that was introduced by the Aston Martin DB7 in the early 1990s. Both cars were shaped by Ian Callum, currently Jaguar’s Design Chief. The Vanquish was Aston Martin’s flagship from 2001 to 2007. The V12 DBS, which replaced it, is spectacular in its own right but doesn’t have quite the same pure feline appeal. The Vanquish is powered by a 460-horsepower 6.0-liter V12 engine with a 6-speed gearbox with automated clutch (the S upped the ante to 520 ponies). Its “hand-tailored” aluminum body panels were precision-fit over a monocoque structure that combines aluminum extrusions and a carbon-fiber transmission tunnel.

Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione

   The mere name Alfa Romeo is already music to the ears. For more than a century, this fabled Italian automaker has honed its reputation for auto racing exploits and beautiful machines, none more so than the 8C Competizione. Its gorgeous lines are inspired by Alfa racers from the ’30s and ’40s (see photos of these classics), and it is named after the 8C racer that won the 24 Hours of Le Mans four straight years from 1931 to 1934. The 8C Competizione was introduced at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 2003 as a concept with only limited production. The 8C coupe has a carbon-fiber body and is powered by a 4.7-liter 450-horsepower V8 engine with a 6-speed automatic gearbox.

They see me rollin’

Surprising Facts About 10 American Muscle Cars

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Article by Ben Stewart | Popular Mechanics online

   America loves speed. The 1960’s and 1970’s might have produced the wildest and rarest muscle cars packing giant torque-rich V-8s, but the 1980’s brought its share of powerful machines to the street too – cars that were quick and yet met the more stringent emissions controls. And behind the horsepower there are some surprising stories.

1968 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500

   The first two years of Carroll Shelby’s Mustangs are the most desirable to many Mustang purists. Those 1965 and 1966 GT 350s were light, simply styled, and perfect for track work. But the later 1967 and 1968 cars offered more fun under the hood and were the machines of choice if you wanted to win drag races.


1968 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500

   For the first time, ’67 to ’68 GT 500 Shelbys came with 355-hp 428-cubic-inch big-block power under the hood. Car testers of the day saw quarter-mile time slips in the mid-to-low 14-second bracket—quick for the day. The Shelby Mustangs received more scoops and flashier styling than the older cars to match the new-found power and torque. And the even quicker KR (King of the Road) high-performance model was available in 1968 too.

The Little-Known Fact: The 1967 Shelby Mustangs used Mercury Cougar tail lamps, but the 1968 models used tail lamps from the ’66 Ford Thunderbird.

1984 Chevy Corvette

   The third generation of America’s sports car, the Chevrolet Corvette, had an incredibly long run: 1968 to 1982. So when it came time for GM to launch the next-generation C4 Corvette, there was wild speculation about the car. Some predicted it would use a mid-engine chassis, like an Italian exotic. And others thought it might use a rotary engine, like Mazda’s.


1984 Chevrolet Corvette C4

   In the end, the next ‘Vette wasn’t so radical. It still had a small-block Chevy V-8 up front driving the rear wheels. The first year, it cranked out a meager 205 hp. But after a switch to a new, tuned port fuel-injection system, horsepower jumped — and so did performance. Five years later, Chevy debuted the first ultra-performance ‘Vette since the 1960’s: the 375-hp ZR-1.

The Little-Known Fact: There is no production 1983 Corvette. Although 1982 was the last year for the third-generation Corvette, Chevy decided to wait until the 1984 model year to launch the all-new car. Why? Some sources claim tighter emissions regulations necessitated more time for development. Others say that quality glitches at the factory were the real reason. All we know is every 1983 Corvette prototype was destroyed, except one: a white car that now lives at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky.

1969 Dodge Charger Daytona

   The 1969 Dodge Daytona and its sibling, the 1970 Plymouth Superbird, are arguably the most radical vehicles to emerge from the muscle car wars. But the Daytona, as the name might suggest, wasn’t designed for street racing. It was built to win NASCAR races on the super-speedways — the longest and fastest tracks in America.



1969 Dodge Charger Daytona

   To increase top speed, Chrysler engineers took the Charger to the wind tunnel. The aerodynamic modifications to the big Dodge included a nearly 2-foot-tall rear wing, a flush rear window, and a longer, sloped nose cone. The results were impressive. The race version of the Daytona became the first car in NASCAR history to break 200 mph. After numerous Dodge wins in 1969 and some by Plymouth in 1970, NASCAR’s new rule book banned these high-powered cars. The production cars, which came packing a 440 big-block or the legendary 426 Hemispherical head engine, are sought-after collector cars today that bring more than $150,000 at auctions.

The Little-Known Fact: The Daytona’s aerodynamic modifications over a those of a standard Charger helped lower the coefficient of drag to 0.28 — an excellent figure even by today’s standards. But did that huge rear wing really need to be so tall to maximize rear-end downforce? According to legend, no. The reason for the exaggerated height of the wing was so that the trunklid on the production cars could pass underneath it and fully open.

1970 Oldsmobile 442

   The 442 (which gets its name from its four-barrel carburetor, four-speed manual transmission, and dual exhausts) was based on the Cutlass and became the hot muscle machine for the Oldsmobile division of General Motors. It shared its platform with two other hot GM machines, the Chevy Chevelle SS and the Pontiac GTO. And like the GTO, the 442 was only a cosmetic trim level at the beginning. But by 1970, you could get a huge 455-cubic-inch big-block V-8. And when equipped with the even more potent W-30 parts, the motor made 360 hp and a whopping 500 lb-ft of torque. It could hit 60 mph in less than 6 seconds, which was very quick for the time — especially for an Oldsmobile.



1970 Oldsmobile 442

The Little-Known Fact: Actor James Garner raced a beefed-up 1970 Olds 442 in the NORRA Mexico 1000 (a precursor to the Baja 1000), where it won second in class. The Goodyear Grabber, as it was known, was built by legendary Baja-race-vehicle guru Vic Hickey and sponsored by Goodyear tires. The vehicle was recently restored and put up for sale.

1978 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am

   By the late 1970s, muscle car performance was a mere shadow of what it had been years earlier. The latest emissions controls, combined with high gas prices and stratospheric insurance costs, caused most automakers to severely dial back horsepower.


1978 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am

   But not Pontiac. The Trans-Am had been riding a new wave of popularity since its starring role in the movie Smokey and the Bandit. For the 1978 model year, Pontiac added to the excitement by actually increasing the horsepower of its top-level Trans Am from 200 hp to 220 hp. The brand also developed a special handling package called the WS6 that added a sport-tuned suspension, wider 8-inch wheels, new tires, and quicker steering. The result was a Pontiac Trans-Am that was actually quicker and handled better around a track than the Chevy Corvette.

The Little-Known Fact: The Pontiac’s T-top roof, which first became an option in 1976, was as close as a buyer could get to a convertible Trans Am. These lift-out roof sections were initially made by Hurst and were known as the Hurst Hatch. The problem was, they leaked. This led Pontiac to develop its own T-tops within GM’s Fisher Body Division and launch the option midway through the 1978 model year. So some ’78 Firebirds have Hurst T-tops and others have the Fisher units. You can spot the difference because the Fisher glass roof panels are larger than the Hurst Hatch.

1969 Ford Mustang Boss 429

   In the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, NASCAR was in its golden age. Automakers took the business of stock-car racing seriously and would dream up engines and bodywork for racing that were often too wild for the street. All the automakers needed to do was sell 500 of these radical cars and they could run them in NASCAR.


1969 Ford Mustang Boss 429

   The Boss 429 Mustang was just such a beast. Although the Mustang never competed in NASCAR, the 375-hp 429-cubic-inch V-8 under its hood was designed specifically for racing and built to rev to 6000 rpm. The problem was, this motor did not perform well on the street. It was slower than the other big-block Mustangs at the time. The NASCAR-bound V-8 was monstrously large and did not fit in a stock Mustang’s engine bay. So Ford contracted Kar Kraft in Brighten, Michigan, to handle the job. The company relocated the shock towers, widened the track of the front end using unique components, relocated the battery to the trunk, and fitted a smaller brake booster—all to make room for this beastly powerplant to fit in the Mustang. Today, the rarity and mystique behind the Boss 429 has pushed values at auction well beyond $200,000.

The Little-Known Fact: There were actually three different 429 engines installed in the Boss 429 between ’69 and ’70. The hardcore “S-Code” was installed in early cars and filled with race-duty parts. But the S-Code had warranty problems, reportedly because of an incorrect assembly process. So the “T-Code” with lighter-duty parts was used in some cars. The later “A-Code” version of the 429, equipped with smog equipment and a new valvetrain, appeared toward the end of production life.

1970 Chevy Chevelle LS6

   When GM relaxed its longstanding rule forbidding engines larger than 400 cubic inches to be installed in midsize cars, it set off a muscle frenzy across the company’s divisions. Oldsmobile put the huge 455-cubic-inch into its 442, and Chevy installed a unique 454-cubic-inch V-8, the LS6, into its Chevelle SS.



1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS

   A conservative estimate of the LS6’s power puts it at 450 hp and 500 lb-ft of torque. But thanks to its high 11.25:1 compression ratio and giant Holley 780 CFM carb, the LS6’s real output in the Chevelle SS was closer to 500 hp, many experts claim. Our pals at Car and Driver tested one in 1970 and found it hit 60 mph in just 5.4 seconds, running through the quarter-mile in 13.8 seconds. And that was with the skinny low-grip tires of the day. That same car with modern rubber would be much quicker. The LS6 carries the highest factory horsepower rating of all muscle cars.

The Little-Known Fact: The Chevrolet Corvette has always been Chevy’s top performance car. And up until the LS6, GM wouldn’t allow any other Chevy to carry a horsepower rating higher than that of the Corvette. But somehow that stance was relaxed for 1970 — the highest horsepower engine you could get in a 1970 Corvette was a 390-hp LS5 454. An LS7 was planned with 465 hp, but it was never officially sold. So why no LS6? An LS6 Corvette was offered for 1971, but its potency slipped (at least officially) to 425 hp.

1969 Pontiac GTO Judge

   Pontiac owned the muscle scene in the early 1960s. In fact, the 1964 Pontiac GTO is widely regarded as the very first of the breed. But by 1968, that car had plenty of competition. The thought within Pontiac was to make a cheaper version of the GTO with a smaller 350-cubic-inch engine called the ET (for “elapsed time”) a drag-racing term.


1969 Pontiac GTO - "The Judge"

   Pontiac boss John DeLorean didn’t like that idea. To him, no GTO could have an engine that small. Instead, the team built a car one step up from the regular GTO. DeLorean himself named the car after a popular skit on the TV show Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In. “The Judge” featured the 360-hp Ram Air III engine standard, but buyers could also opt for the more hardcore 370-hp Ram Air IV. The rarest of all were the GTO “Judge” Ram Air IV convertibles — only five were built in 1969.

The Little-Known Fact: The original TV commercial for the “Judge” featured the rock band Paul Revere and the Raiders singing about the GTO out on a dry lakebed. According to the book Pontiac Pizazz, by Jim Wangers and Art Fitzpatrick, the lead singer, Mark Lindsay, was a car guy and loved the Judge, so he wrote a song about it. Wangers claims this commercial is considered one of the earliest rock-music videos.

1969 COPO Camaro

   Chevrolet’s Central Office Production Order (COPO) system was designed for fleet sales. It was intended to spec out heavy-duty suspensions for cop cars and stain-proof interiors for taxicabs. But enterprising dealers with the right connections, such as Yenko Chevrolet in Pennsylvania, figured out that Camaros could be ordered this way, too. And given the right order codes, the dealer could spec out a fire-breathing monster-of-a-Camaro that Chevy didn’t really want you to own.


1969 Chevrolet Camaro Special Order

   The production order 9561 specified a 427 big-block V-8 rated at 425 hp — just like a ‘Vette. But the even rarer COPO 9560 called for an all-aluminum ZL-1 427 V-8. Though this engine was rated with just 5 more hp, it was widely known that this race-spec engine delivered more like 550 hp. Only 69 ZL-1 Camaros were built, and these cars command prices in the $400,000 range at auction.

The Little-Known Fact: The aluminum ZL-1 427 V-8 in the 9560 COPO Camaro is essentially a race engine. Chevy originally developed this 427 motor for the Chaparral racing team to use in the Can Am series. There are no external emblems on a ZL-1 Camaro that let you know what’s under the hood — only plain-vanilla Camaro badges.

1987 Buick GNX

   Long after the big block V-8-powered muscle cars of the 1960’s and 1970’s went, Buick brought back some of that magic in the 1980’s. The Buick GNX, based on the Grand National (which is itself a hot-rod version of the Regal coupe), was equipped with a potent, turbocharged V-6. The GNX package brought the Grand National’s horsepower from 245 up to 276. Car and Driver tested one in 1987 and recorded a 0-to-60-mph time of just 4.6 seconds, making it one of the quickest cars on the market. Buick made only 547 of these black beasts. Many were squirreled away into storage as investments.


1987 Buick Grand National GNX

The Little-Known Fact: Buick had quite a few of these engines left over when it stopped production of the GNX — so Pontiac picked up the turbo V-6s and put them in the 1989 20th Anniversary Trans Am. It was conservatively rated at just 250 hp, but true GM enthusiasts knew the potential that lay under the hood of that Trans Am.

[Source: 10 Surprising Facts About American Muscle Cars | Popular Mechanics]

The TOP 10 Sexiest Cars of all Time

The Chevrolet Camaro

Honda Engineering

Posted: May 24, 2012 in Best & Worst, Cars
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A drawing I made after seeing a miniscule Honda Civic CVCC for the first time.

 
The original Mini Cooper

The Cog (video)

Posted: May 23, 2012 in Best & Worst, Cars
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This video is a commercial made in England by Honda to showcase the engineering precision of the Honda Accord. It is a two minute video that shows Honda Accord parts interacting with each other in flawless perfection. >>>

 

 
This garage is perfect size for the the smallest car ever built.

 

 
Now that you’ve seen the smallest car ever built, take a look at the smallest garage in the world.