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Ram Pickup, Not a Dodge, But Does It Matter?

Trucks August 26, 2017

While most of us grew up calling this vehicle the “Dodge Ram”, the truck hasn’t been associated with Dodge since 2011, when Ram left the Dodge line of light trucks. Despite the name change, it remains one of the best trucks on the market, as evidenced by its five-time win as “Truck of the Year” (1994, 2003, 2010, 2013, 2014).

The front-engine, rear-wheel/four-wheel drive full-size pickup truck went into its fourth generation in 2009, with a new design by Ryan Nagode and Scott Krugger that was showcased in the 2008 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan. Updates included a new suspension system, a hemi-engine option, a new storage system, and a four-door cab style option. It is also marketed with a “class-exclusive” manual transmission. It has a 6.7 L Cummins Turbo Diesel l6 engine, measures between 234.1 inches and 287 inches depending on the cab options.

The Ram Pickup is assembled in both the U.S. and Mexico with plants in Michigan (the Warren Truck Assembly) and Saltillo (the Saltillo Truck Assembly), and is available as a two-door regular cab, a 4-door quad, crew, or mega cab, or a Dually. The Gross Combined Weight Rating says it is capable of hauling between 11,000 – 15,500 pounds (The Ram 1500 and the 2WD Ram 1500 long bed with Hemi engine are specified).

In spite of its more blue collar background, the Ram Pickup is not just a heavy lifter. It’s also involved in the world of motorsports, and has won two championships (the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Manufacturers’ Championship in 2003 and 2004 and the San Felipe 250 in 2008 and 2009).

The Ram also comes in many different forms, with several special editions over the years, including the Power Wagon (the off-road version), the Rumble Bee (a limited sport-truck version), the Spirit of ’76 (celebrating America’s Bicentennial), and the Nightrunner (2000 were made in 2006 and were painted in Brilliant Black, had chrome rims and grill, a 5.7 L Hemi engine, dark shaded headlamps, and Nightrunner trim, logos, and embroidery).

The truck does well domestically and abroad, selling in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico as well as in Latin America (Brazil, Colombia, Argentia, Chile, Paraguay), Europe, and the Middle East.

2083 total views, 1 today

Harley Davidson Limo Hybrid

Motorcycles August 26, 2017

If there were two more disaparate vehicles, we haven’t seen them. The limousine, used for fancy occasions and even fancier lifeystles, with plenty of luxuries for the uber-wealthy, and the crazy motorcycle known the world over for being the transportation chosen by certain motorcycle clubs – and … it must have been a one night stand type of deal.

Whatever happened, and whoever decided to create a mash-up of these two vehicles, it turned out to be a terrific idea. The 2012 Essen Motor Show was blown out of the water by the pearl white limo hybrid, which took the Harley-Davidson bike’s frame and fitted it with luxuries fit for a king – including a bar, a sound system to complement the flat-screen television, vertical doors, and even an open-air seating arrangement for two. It would remind one more of a parade float or a safari expedition vehicle than either a bike or a limo, but the combination of the two does have something unique that sets it apart from other touring vehicles.

The Harley-Davidson Limo is comprised of 1.75 tons of steel, and at twenty feet long, it takes a big engine to power the vehicle – a 5.7 liter, 350 horsepower V8 Chevy engine, to be exact.

While there aren’t too many of these beauties cruising the streets, they are available to rent from Wildfire Tours in Queensland, Australia, which had the bike custom-made to appeal to traverles with an unlimited budget. If you ever get the chance, you’ll at least want to sneak a peek at this hog.

If you’re interested in the bike and limo combination, there are a few other mash-ups around the world, including a few in the U.S., such as the Anaconda Limo Trike, which foregoes the roof, wet bar, and entertainment system so that each and every rider gets the full bike-riding experience.

“This Harley-Davidson Hybrid Motorcyle is Also a Limousine – Wait, What?” “Which Harley Limo Would You Take?”

3814 total views, 8 today

379: The Truck that Peter Built

Trucks August 23, 2017

Despite the end of its run in 2007, the Peterbilt 379 (soon replaced by the Peterbilt 389 which had upgrades to both its hood and headlights), a Class 8 truck from PACCAR, is still recognized as a star among the rest of its fleet mates, due in part perhaps to its appearance in film as the character Optimus Prime in Michael Bay’s Transformers film.

In production from 1987-2007, the Peterbilt 379 was the largest highway truck available from the company at the beginning of its run, with both a standard and extended hood available (the standard was 119 inches while the extended hood was 127 inches). It differed from the Peterbilt 359 (which it replaced) in that the windshield wipers were horizontally mounted, and it had a windshield a bit larger than the Peterbilt 359.

The Peterbilt 379 was a powerful truck, utilizing a wide array of turbodiesel engines to maintain its edge on other highway trucks. The list of engines used include the Caterpillar (C-11, C-12, C13, C15, C-16 and the 3406 B,C, E, P, and EWS), the Cummins (NTC, N-14, ISM, ISX, ISMe5, ISXe5, the Signature 600) and the Detroit Diesel (60 and 90 series).

It was available with a variety of upgrades ranging from interior color (from 2000-2007, you could choose between black, tan and gray), exterior color (a range of choices including Arctic Gray, Sahara Tan, Burgundy Wine, and Maritime Blue), cab mounted mirrors, rear corner windows, the elimination of the vent window post (this was a change that gave the truck a vintage feel), and a special edition called the “Legacy Class” (the last thousand units before it was replaced).

Peterbilt (a subsidiary of PACCAR – which also owns Kenworth) began in the late 1930’s in Denton, Texas, although they have had factories in both the USA (California, Texas, Tennessee) and Canada (Quebec). It originally began as a logging truck company, using surplus army vehicles as the base, which then evolved into the trucks used until 2007.

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A Real Movie Star: The Porsche 911

Trucks August 23, 2017

Over fifty years old with an impressive resume of movie appearances, awards, and recognitions for achievements spanning a decades-long career – no, it isn’t one of the Bond men, nor Harrison Ford, nor any of the classically handsome, talented actors who grace the big screen. It’s Porsche’s 911 model, which has been in production since 1963 (there are over a million Porsche 911’s in the world as of 2017), making it one of the oldest sports cars still in production.

The classic two door sports car from Germany has a rear-engine, rear-wheel/four-wheel drive, and until 1998, relied on an air-cooled engine like the Volkswagon Beetle  (it now has a water-cooled engine). It has gone through several overhauls and upgrades over the years, and the current models (the 991 Series, which is the third platform since the original – called the Carrera and the Carrera S) include a 3.4 or 3.8 litre engine, producing 350 and 400 hp respectively.

They’re over two inches longer than their predecessors, and the wheelbase is almost four inches bigger. It’s almost all aluminum, which makes it over one hundred pounds lighter than previous Porsches. This makes for a more powerful, speedier ride, with the ability to go from 0-60 in less than five seconds.

With improved fuel economy (due in part to the electromechanical power steering, an engine stop/start system, and a coasting system that gives the Porsche the ability to idle on highways and while traveling downhill) by 16%, updated technology (which includes a torque vectoring system, hydraulic engine mounts, active suspension management, and the Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control which allegedly helps corner flat and improves the high-speed directional stability as well as lateral body control), and the 2015 Best Premium Sports Car On The Market award from Car and Driver, the 911 is maintaining and even surpassing its previous popularity.

Part of its popularity comes from appearances on the racetrack, including races and rallies, such as the Targa Florio, the 24 Hours of Daytona, 24 Hours of Le Mans, and World Championship for Makes. It has also made many cameos in the film industry, including scenes from Gone in Sixty Seconds, Annie Hall, Cars, and Wolf of Wall Street.

It doesn’t look like the Porsche is going anywhere soon, and if the 50th anniversary special limited-edition is any indication (it was produced with retro touches as well as bumped up horsepower), we’ll be getting another cool classic to celebrate its 75th anniversary.

1143 total views, 0 today

Where would you take your Econoline Van?

RVs August 23, 2017

If you grew up in a big family in the 1960’s, 1970’s, or 1980’s, or had a friend in a big family, chances are you spent a lot of time in a Ford E-Series van – also called the Ford Econoline, Ford Club Wagon, Ford Falcon Club Wagon, and the Mercury Econoline in Canada. Hailing from Ohio, USA and Ontario, Canada, the Econoline has been in production for almost sixty years, though in the last few it has been trimmed down to a limited run. Ford used it to replace the F-Series panel van (it is second only to the F-Series as the longest-produced vehicle by Ford) as a cargo and passenger van, used often in rental fleets.

Before 2015, It was the best selling full-size van in the US since the 1980’s. The most recent iteration of the Econoline boasts three or four doors and an FR layout. It has an automatic transmission, V8 engine (6.2L Boss V8), and a rear-view backup camera, which is a first for the full-size van.

The first Econoline model was smaller than the ones we are used to seeing today, having been based on smaller vehicles such as the Ford Falcon (which also has the distinction of serving as the basis for a popular sports car – the Mustang). It only measured 173 inches. The second model had more in common with the Ford trucks than anything else, and introduced the V8 engine to the vehicle. Most of us, however, are probably more familiar with the third model, which was produced between 1975 and 1991. The third generation had even more commonalities with Ford’s truck divison, particularly the F-series truck, which upped its selling points and made it useful for families, fleets, and hospitals.

The fourth generation of the Econoline was named the 1992 Truck of the Year by Motor Trend because of its reinvention – with the inclusion of sheetmetal, a 138-inch wheelbase, and extended length options that allowed up to fifteen people inside. There was also a 50th anniversary edition available for sale in 2011.

While it may not be a glamorous sports car or a heavy-duty workhorse, the Econoline filled its place between the two with a steady, reliable drive that created a powerful loyalty in its customers. Though it will gradually be replaced by the Ford Transit, the Econoline is still in production and so far, there’s no end in sight.  

2365 total views, 3 today

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.

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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.

2210 total views, 1 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.

3950 total views, 2 today

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  • The 1938 Phantom Corsair

    Only One of Its Kind, the Phantom Corsair

    by on August 3, 2017 - 0 Comments

    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 […]

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    by on August 26, 2017 - 0 Comments

    If there were two more disaparate vehicles, we haven’t seen them. The limousine, used for fancy occasions and even fancier lifeystles, with plenty of luxuries for the uber-wealthy, and the crazy motorcycle known the world over for being the transportation chosen by certain motorcycle clubs – and … it must have been a one night […]