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Jeep Wrangler, Iconic Off-Road Vehicle

SUVs August 4, 2017

The Jeep Wrangler has been through its share of upheaval, from being passed around by various automotive companies (such as American Motors in the late 1980’s to the Chrysler chain from the late 1990’s to the 2010’s and now to Arab American Vehicles since 2014), to being called by several different names (including the Jeep Sahara, the Jeep Willys, and variants on YJ, TJ, and JK), to downward sales in the early 2000’s (it is currently trending up at over 255,000 sold in 2015), but in spite of all the turmoil, the Jeep Wrangler has managed to stay afloat with the help of several awards recognizing it for best re-sale value (2009, 2012 and 2013 Kelley Blue Book) best retained value ( 2011, 2012, 2013 Canadian Black Book), and even a Guinness Book of World Records title (though it was later surpassed) in 2007 for highest altitude attained by a four-wheel vehicle.

It has also won awards for Four-Wheeler of the Year, 4×4 of the Year, and One of the Most Iconic Cars of the Last 20 Years (2009 Business Week Magazine).

With a possible military-inspired past and off-road cababilities, the Jeep Wrangler has been used around the world in places like Iceland and Egypt to traverse difficult places, with various packages created to supply options for specific areas, such as the Rocky Mountain Edition (complete with 32-inch tires, easier-to-fold soft-top, and integrated vanity mirrors), the Islander Edition (which includes rubber slush mats, 32-inch tires and visual enhancements), and a Mountain Edition (offering tail light protectors, four doors, and special edition seats).

To celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Jeep Wrangler, a special “anniversary edition” was sold with features including satin chrome accents, leather accents, the 70th anniversary logo, and Berber floor mats. There is also a special Call of Duty edition that came out in 2012, which was inspired by the video game. It includes graphics from the game as decals and logos, accent stitching, and a modified hood. The Jeep Wrangler will undergo another update in 2018 as it begins its four generation.

425 total views, 2 today

Morgan Roadster, What’s Old Is New

Cars August 4, 2017

The Morgan Roadster may appear to be an old-timey touring vehicle, but don’t let that fool you – it has only been around since 2004, as a replacement for the Morgan Plus 8 (the only difference being updated Ford V6 mechanicals). Touted as a powerful, luxurious, classically styled vehicle suited for long drives, the Roadster manages to do this with the help of an aluminum, galvanized steel and ash wood body, a new, lighter engine (more power, less torque), and better fuel economy.

The luxurious qualities of the Morgan Roadster include air conditioning (standard in U.S. models), natural leather, and ash wood, with a top speed of 140mph (It can go from 0-62 in about 5 1/2 seconds). It’s available as a two-seater or four-seater, in a small range of classic colors, including Royal Ivory, Corsa Red, Indigo Blue, Connaught Green, and Black, as single colors or in two-tone combinations.

It has a six-cylinder Ford 3.7 Cyclone V6 engine and a six speed transmission, a fifteen gallon gas tank, and gets on average almost twenty-nine miles per gallon. It weights 2,072 pounds with a maximum weight (including passengers) of 3,086 pounds. The average ground clearance for a two-seater is just about four inches.

Styled as a sports car for the extremely wealthy, the Morgan Roadster hearkens back to an earlier time, perhaps the Industrial Age or the Roaring 20’s, when people had more wealth than wants, able to purchase personalized items in every category imaginable. The Roadster is similarly imminently customizable, each vehicle made to specifications by the purchaser, with choices ranging from special paint options and custom stitchwork.

The Morgan Motor Company, situated in the United Kingdom, offers luxury sports cars including the Morgan Roadster, and driving accessories (such as tailored driving jackets, aviator goggles, and leather wheel covers)  for sale to complement a high-class lifestyle.

525 total views, 4 today

Only One of Its Kind, the Phantom Corsair

Cars August 3, 2017

The 1938 Phantom Corsair

The 1938 prototype Phantom Corsair is the only one of its kind. Though some may dismiss it as a failure (production was never begun due to its benefactor’s death in a car accident a year after the prototype was made), it is also regarded as a vehicle ahead of its time, due to its design and styling.

Rust Heinz and Maurice Schwartz were the two people responsible for bringing this beauty to life, adding futuristic details such as push-buttons instead of door handles, beverage cabinets, and a low body.

The Phantom Corsair weighs in at 4,600 lbs, but because of its low, aerodynamic build and a modified engine (from Lycoming), it could still reach speeds of up to 115mph. Another modification made was a conversion of the Cord 810 chassis to support a longer steel and aluminum body, which measures 237 inches long and almost 77 inches wide.

The result is a wide, long, low, powerful car able to seat six people (four in the front and two in the back with the beverage cabinets) comfortably in a vehicle that was sure to turn heads. Though the original prototype cost around $24,000 to make, it would have gone into limited production with a price tag of $12,500 per vehicle.

Sadly, we may never see another like the Phantom Corsair except in media, like the video games L.A. Noire and Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven (it’s a rare vehicle that you can unlock and drive in both games), the film series Popular Science, and the movie “The Young in Heart” (featured as the “Flying Wombat”).

If you ever find yourself near Reno, Nevada, however, you might get the chance to take a peek at the Phantom at the National Automobile Museum, also known as the Harrah Collection. It’s well worth the trip to see this tantalizing taste of the past’s perception of our future.

1641 total views, 4 today

The DeLorean: Commercial Failure, but Never Out of Style

Cars August 3, 2017

The DeLorean DMC-12 managed to rise above the rubble and remains to this day as one of the most iconic vehicles of all time, despite its troubled past and low production numbers. While only 9,200 DeLoreans were made in its original run between 1981-1983, the surviving models have been displayed around the world in museums, theme parks, and in films, most notably the Back To The Future trilogy.

The issues surrounding the birth of the DeLorean were many – ranging from untested manufacturing technology to schedule pressures to bankruptcy as the owner of the DeLorean Motor Company was arrested and charged with drug trafficking (while he was found not guilty, the damage had already been done and the company went bankrupt). After production halted, it would take several years for someone to once again take a chance on the brushed steel beauty (Stephen Wynne began assembling the vehicles with remaining parts inventory in 1995, though the replica production has been slowed by legalities).

A unique vehicle due in part to its gull-wing doors (which use cryogenically preset torsion bars and gas-charged struts) and external brushed stainless steel body panels, it should also be noted that it is unique for its rear-mounted engine. These and other changes, such as a right-hand drive option, a “dead” pedal, and hood style re-working were made to the car’s design throughout production.

There are also a few extra-special DeLoreans, such as the three gold-plated vehicles completed as part of a promotion with American Express and Consolidated International (more commonly known as Big Lots).

While you may not be able to see a DeLorean in action, there are a few places where you can marvel at the majesty of these rare vehicles, such as the National Automobile Museum in Reno, Nevada, and several museums in California. There are also DeLoreans on display in Japan, Canada, Ireland, and New Zealand.

790 total views, 3 today

Isuzu Trooper,

SUVs August 3, 2017

Otherwise known as the Isuzu Bighorn, Acura SLX, Honda Horizon, and HSV Jackaroo, the Isuzu Trooper was produced in Japan, the Phillippines, and Malaysia from 1981-2002 (two generations) as a mid-size SUV with 3-door and 5-door vehicles available along with 4-speed manual and automatic and 5-speed manual options.

Though at the beginning the Trooper was somewhat underpowered for an off road vehicle (with only a four-cylinder motor option and part-time four-wheel drive), it gradually evolved into a more powerful, luxurious vehicle, with a V6 engine, optional two-wheel drive, and power windows.
In certain parts of the world such as Central America, the Isuzu Trooper could be bought as a hard top or with a removable roof. There was also an option for higher wheel clearance and a diesel engine.

The inconsistency in the name was due to marketing the vehicle around the world, where it was known by its various monikers such as the Korando Family (South Korea, Scandanavia, Southeast Asia and South America); the Holden Jackaroo (Australia and New Zealand); and the Opal/Vauxhall Monterey (Europe).

It was entered in motorsports in the early 90’s and won first place in both the 1992 and 1993 Australian Safari, the 1994 Paris-Dakar Rally, and the 1994 Pharaoh’s Rally.

Despite enjoying popularity worldwide, there were some hiccups in the Trooper’s history, such as the rollover controversy instigated by Consumer Reports between the years 1995-1997. Alleging that the Trooper had a tendency to roll, though this was later found to be false by the National Highway Traffic Administration. This caused a drop in sales, and ended with a lawsuit.

The Trooper would be made for a few more years, but its glory days were over. It was later replaced by the Isuzu Ascender and Axiom as well as the Chevrolet Captiva.

46 total views, 2 today

Kenworth Cabovers

Trucks August 1, 2017

Kenworth Cabovers

Founded in Portland, Oregon in 1912, the Kenworth corporation produces both medium and heavy-duty class 8 trucks (which includes tractor trailers, dump trucks and semis), along with medium and heavy-duty cabovers which have become popular collector’s items and projects for restoration. The cabover consists of a tractor unit attached by a fifth wheel hitch to one or more semi-trailers to carry freight, with the majority of the weight being borne by the tractor, hence the between a simple truck-and-trailer arrangement.

Truck enthusiasts around the country have taken it upon themselves to restore these beautiful old rigs and share their results in shows and on the road. The beauty is that these vehicles are not reserved for the rich and powerful. These trucks can be useful and beautiful, used and enjoyed by truckers, enthusiasts, and collectors alike.

The most popular cabover models are the K100, K123, and the K200, but despite their popularity, they are a rare sighting on the streets and if you ever get the chance to see one up close, you should take the chance and savor this beautiful old rig.

With Facebook groups, YouTube channels, forums, and entire websites dedicated to the Kenworth cabovers, it seems these rigs aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. There are even websites such as the Gillig Transit Coach / Pacific School Coach Online Museum and the American Truck Historical Society who are working to preserve several Kenworth public transit vehicles – and there are plenty of fans willing to dedicate the time and resources to preserve Kenworth’s other notable vehicles, such as the cabovers, both for historical value and for the acknowledgement of how Kenworth has shaped the industry for over 90 years.

The Kenworth brand has remained a name that connotes steady, high-quality products, as evidenced by their complete sweep of the 2007 J.D. Powers Award, specifically for Heavy Duty Truck Product Satisfaction.

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Chevrolet Camaro

Cars August 1, 2017

Classified as both a “pony” car and a “muscle” car, the Chevy Camaro’s flexibility has been explored over six generations, despite a few gaps (most notably from 2002-2009) in the production.

Its entrance into the industry in the late 1960’s was shrouded in mystery, including a code name (“panther”), intriguing, enigmatic telegrams, and a press conference that connected fourteen cities in real time via telephone, a feat which had never been done before.

The Camaro’s origin stemmed from the French language, the word “camarade” turning into “camaro”, as the designers wanted something that would call to mind the image of a partnership between driver and vehicle, while still keeping their tie to Chevrolet’s vehicle line which always started with the letter “C” – such as the Corvair (the Camaro’s predecessor), the Chevelle, and the Corvette.

While the Chevy Camaro is primarily known as a “pony” or “muscle” car, this hasn’t prevented it from being a popular choice in the racing world, especially in drag racing and road racing. There’s even a specific Camaro Cup (since the mid 1970’s) in Sweden, and in the U.S., all the Chevrolet NASCAR teams on the Xfinity Series circuit use the Camaro. The Camaro as driven by Bob Jane placed first in both the 1971 and 1972 Australia Touring Car Championship, and was used as a pace car for NASCAR in Indianapolis, Daytona, Watkins Glen, Mosport (Canada), and the Charlotte Motor Speedway.

While the Camaro may not be as flashy or iconic as some other vehicles, it has been part of product placement deals on several media platforms, along with its two most famous appearances, as the car “Bumblebee” in the Transformers film franchise from Michael Bay (both as a 1970’s model and a fifth generation), and on the popular TV show Hawaii 5-0, which is provided with most of their vehicles by Chevrolet.

2381 total views, 4 today

Ford Mustang

Cars August 1, 2017

What do the Chevrolet Camaro, Pontiac Firebird, AMC Javelin, Chrysler’s Plymouth Barracuda and the Dodge Challenger (specifically the second generation iteration) have in common? Besides all being sports-style coupes with long hoods and short rear decks, and belonging to the “pony” class of American-style cars, they were all inspired (along with the Toyota Celica and the Ford Capri, both imports) by the design of the Ford Mustang, the creator of the “pony”  class of American vehicles.

In just six generations, the Ford Mustang has experienced plenty of ups and downs (the most obvious downturn happened after a reimagining of the Mustang as a larger, heavier version of itself during the early 1970’s), but has managed to remain one of the most iconic vehicles in history, as evidenced by its winning the Tiffany Gold Medal for Design in 1965 (making it the first vehicle to do so). The Mustang has also won the Motor Trend Car of the Year award twice, first in 1974 and again in 1994.

Unsurprisingly, the Mustang has been entered in and placed in several races, including the Tour de France (coming in both first and second in 1964), as well as different types of races, including drag racing (John Force became a 14-time champion driving a Mustang), sports car racing (Brandon Davis won the 2009 SCCA Challenge with a Mustang), stock car racing (Carl Edwards won in 2011 on the Texas Motor Speedway), and drifting.

In pop culture, the Mustang’s iconic look has long been a staple of the cool crowd such as James Bond in “Diamonds Are Forever” and Steve McQueen in “Bullitt” and the film “Need for Speed”. Outside of film, the vehicle has been featured in music (Wilson Pickett’s “Mustang Sally”), television (the original “Batman” series), and a documentary (“A Faster Horse”).

If you want to learn more about Mustangs, you can watch “A Faster Horse” (the documentary details the building of the 2015 Mustang) or visit the National Mustang Museum, which was opened in Concord, North Carolina in the summer of 2017. You can also check out a list of the ten most expensive Mustangs sold at auction at Mustang 360.

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    Classified as both a “pony” car and a “muscle” car, the Chevy Camaro’s flexibility has been explored over six generations, despite a few gaps (most notably from 2002-2009) in the production. Its entrance into the industry in the late 1960’s was shrouded in mystery, including a code name (“panther”), intriguing, enigmatic telegrams, and a press […]