Wednesday
Jul302014

Mazda MX-5 Miata: Quarter Century of Pure Fun

By Ted Orme

It was just after school let out in 1989. My then 13-year-old son scored two tickets from a scalper to the sold-out Who concert at RFK Stadium. It was a much appreciated birthday present for his old rocker dad. The concert was terrific – even after passing on the reefers freely passed around. But the real sensation that day was the crowd reaction to our mode of transport, the just introduced 1990 Mazda MX-5 Miata roadster.

In the grand tradition of classic British roadsters, the MX-5 was the model of simplicity. It was small (155.4 inches long, 65.9 inches wide, 48.2 inches high, with an 89.2 inch wheelbase), lightweight (2,116 lbs.), rear-wheel drive, and affordable (with a starting price of $13,800).

It took nearly 9 seconds to hit 60 mph with the original 97.5 cubic inch, 116 horsepower four cylinder DOHC 16 valve engine. But that was plenty good enough when teamed with a quick shifting 5 speed manual transmission, 50/50 weight ratio, rigid chassis, taut independent double wishbone suspension, no fail four-wheel disc brakes, and an easily flipped down manual top that offered pure, wind-in-the-face driving fun.

 

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Friday
Jul182014

1988 Jaguar XJS V-12

By Vern Parker

Every successful automobile salesman is aware of the buying habits of his customers as well as their idiosyncrasies.

One such salesman at a northern Virginia Jaguar dealership was aware that every three years one of his discerning customers would trade in her extremely low mileage convertible Jaguar sports car for a new model.

He also kept the names of a few likely prospects who had shown interest in acquiring a low mileage used Jaguar.

Just like clockwork the regular customer came to buy a new 1991 Jaguar and trade in her three-year-old 1988 Jaguar XJS V-12 convertible.

 

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Monday
Jul142014

1959 Austin-Healey Bugeye Sprite

By Vern Parker

In May of 1996, while attending an imported car show in Pennsylvania, Don Smith spotted an Austin-Healey Bugeye Sprite for sale that was about his own age.

The original 43-horsepower engine had been replaced by a more powerful unit. The 11.5-foot-long sports car appeared to be complete but Smith wanted to give additional thought to the possibility of purchasing the car.

A few days later he contacted the owner of the car who had returned with the car to his home in New York. Smith purchased the car and the seller agreed to deliver it to Smith's home in Fredericksburg, Virginia.

 

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Wednesday
Jul092014

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland EcoDiesel 4X4: A Grand Compromise.

By Ted Orme

Confession: I love Jeeps. Not only did they help win the Big War, I learned to drive on a surplus WWII Willys model at my uncle’s farm in Mississippi in the mid-50’s. To me, and millions of Americans, Jeeps will always be the epitome of freedom.

The star of the current fleet is the all-new mid-size Cherokee. But given my druthers (and a lottery win) my Jeep of choice would be the full-size Grand Cherokee, preferably the insanely overpowered 470 horsepower, 6.4-liter V-8 SRT model or, at the least, the Grand C with the 360 horsepower Hemi V-8.

I know, I know, those models are the new Hummers in terms of political correctness on a dying planet. But there’s no rule that says you can’t love a fat women, and I love these gas hogs in spite of the hateful anti-green denunciations they collect.

But wait. There is a Grand compromise: the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel. Supplied by Fiat subsidiary VM Motori, this 3.0-liter turbocharged diesel V-6 offers up 240 horsepower @ 3,600 rpm, and a whopping 420 lb-ft of torque @ 2,000 rpm, which outmuscles the Hemi's 390 lb-ft of torque and makes it a terrific tow vehicle capable of hauling up to 7,200 pounds.

 

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Monday
Jul072014

1964 Corvair Monza Spyder Convertible

By Vern Parker

Fifty years ago a Tuxedo Black 1964 Corvair Monza Spyder convertible with a white top and a red interior was purchased by a man in Minnesota.

The base price of the 2,580-pound air-cooled, six-cylinder, rear engine car was $2,811. Only 4,761 such models were manufactured..

About the same time a virtual twin to that car came into the hands of teenager Garland Gentry in Charlottesville, Virginia. A garage doing some mechanical work on Gentry's MGA managed to wreck the MGA during a test drive.

 

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