Jan 242013
 

Most of you don’t know this, but I had to say goodbye to my beloved 2003 Acura CL Type S in mid-October. It was a period of mixed feelings, parting with a dependable friend, but starting a new chapter in my life.

ScionTC1To begin said chapter, I picked up a 2013 Scion tC 6-speed. It has been a quick 3 months and 9,ooo miles with the 4-cylinder hatchback — I know I have put on some serious miles in a short stretch of time. In addition to trips to Atlantic City and Washington DC, we can thank Hurricane Sandy for some of those extra miles — I was making 100 mile round trips to Pennsylvania just to get gas for a good two weeks after that damn storm. I feel I am ready, then, to share some of my impressions with you. Continue reading »

Aug 312012
 

Every so often a car comes around that totally changes the direction of the future landscape in car styling. We recently saw this with the introduction of the 2011 Hyundai Sonata. It totally changed how we look at the $20k sedan and put the other car makers on alert that edgy styling and family sedans can be synonymous. This week’s Car of the Week is also one of these cars. For this week’s choice, I decided to take a look back at the sport touring coupes available in the 2003 model year. 2003 first sticks out for me because of my 2003 Acura CL Type-S, but if  you look at a slide show of all the coupes available in that model year, you notice that one coupe in particular stands out. This week’s Car of the Week is:

2003 Infiniti G35 Coupe

Why?

Image courtesy of CarandDriver.com

The introduction of the Infiniti G35 Coupe meant the introduction of a sport touring coupe that departed from the “long” coupe styling that we had long been accustomed to (Oops, did I do that?!) You know the styling I’m talking about, long wheelbase, long doors and a long trunk. Then came the G35. Once you took a look at it, you thought you were looking at a straight up sports car (or was that only me?) The move to the shorter body length, which Nissan calls its “Front Midship” platform, changed how the engine and other components would be located within the car. With all of this done it still has usable rear seats and some trunk room. The trunk is compromised a bit when compared with a “long” coupe at 7.8 cu. ft. vs. the Acura CL’s 13.6 cu. ft., but I’ll make that sacrifice any day for the sleek styling of the G35.

About the Car

The 2003 Infiniti G35 Coupe was available with only engine, the legendary, music-to-our-ears Nissan VQ35. There are different versions of the VQ35 offered among the various Nissan/Infiniti models, but the one used in the G35 generates 280 hp and 270 lb-ft of torque. The G35 Coupe was available in either automatic or manual transmission and only in a rear wheel drive configuration. The “Front Midship” platform provided for improved handling through better front to back weight distribution.

The 2003 Infiniti G35 Coupe clearly changed how coupes were going to be styled going forward. Cars like the Audi A5 and Honda Accord Coupe have clearly followed suit. It took years for these and other car makers to catch up. Unfortunately, still others got left in the dust (like the Acura CL and Toyota Solara.)

Other Resources

Edmunds.com Features and Specifications page
Wikipedia – Infiniti G-series (to be taken with a grain of salt, of course)
G35club.org owners club
Road & Track road test of the G35 coupe 

Chuck can be followed on Twitter @ChuckWhatTheF where he tweets about cars and other things “dudebros” are talking about.

Some photos in this article are freely sourced from Google. If you take issue with the usage of any image, please contact us and we will remove it.

Aug 172012
 

Some cars are lauded for their ability to produce raw power, while others are lauded for exceptional fuel economy or styling. I am taking a slightly different approach for praising this week’s Car of the Week by taking a look at specific output, which is a calculation of an engine’s power generation efficiency. I, along with others, calculate and compare this by looking at the horsepower to displacement ratio (in terms of HP/L). This week’s Car of the Week is not the absolute best in specific output, but it is best I found in the “under $100,000″ category. With this being said, we give you this week’s Car of the Week:

2000 Honda S2000

Why?

Well I guess I already started this discussion, so let’s jump into some details. The first generation Honda S2000 sported a “small” 2.0-liter engine —  so small you would think it is out of a Honda Civic. However, this engine surprised us with plenty of horsepower and a redline around 9000 rpm. If you have the room to rev, this engine delivers: its power peaked at 240 hp, giving it a specific output of 120 HP/L.

Now, we have to look at some other power packed cars to get a flavor for just how efficient this engine really is. I looked at every manufacturer selling cars in the USA, from A to V. What I found surprised me a bit. Some of the fastest, most powerful cars were also the most inefficient. Take a look at this list. I only found one car that beats the Honda S2000 in terms of specific output. (All specific output calculations given as HP/L)

  • 2010 Dodge Viper SRT-10 — 71
  • 2011 Cadillac CTS-V Coupe — 90
  • 2005 Acura NSX 6-speed — 91
  • 2011 Ferrari 612 Scaglietti — 93
  • 2010 Bentley Continental GT Speed — 100
  • 2011 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 — 103
  • 2012 Mazda Mazdaspeed 3 — 114
  • 2011 Porsche 911 GT3 — 114
  • 2000 Honda S2000 — 120
  • 2011 Porsche 911 GT2 RS — 172

Let’s talk about this list for a minute. I’ve put some pretty super cars on this list just to show how exceptional the Honda S2000 is, not only in its time but also when compared against today’s models. The S2000 was way ahead of its time in terms of specific output. Only the Porsche 911 GT2 model line (introduced in 2002) does better. Most surprising to me is just how inefficient the Dodge Viper is in generating its power. Now, of course if you’re simply looking for raw power and the ability to burn up some tires, the Viper does the job just fine.

The S2000, though, is in a class by itself.

About the Car

The 2000 Honda S2000 was offered in only one trim level with the one engine and transmission choice. The car was equipped with a 2.0 L I4 generating 240 hp @ 8300 rpm, which was mated to a 6-speed manual in a rear wheel drive configuration. That’s right, Honda actually made a second production RWD vehicle. All of it put together made for perfect 50/50 weight distribution.

The S2000 was Honda’s successful launch into the two seater roadster market, going against the likes of the BMW Z3 (69 HP/L), Mazda MX-5 Miata (78 HP/L), Porsche Boxster S (78 HP/L) and Mercedes-Benz SLK 280 (80 HP/L) being offered same year. With the S2000 falling right in the middle of the price range, it gave buyers a lot to think about in terms of what they were getting for their money. If only it was marketed using this argument…

I found only one model line that beats the S2000 in the specific output category. It took a turbocharger to achieve that feat. Now I challenge you…can you find another model line that matches up to the efficiency of the S2000?

Other Resources

Wikipedia: Honda S2000 (To be taken with a grain of salt, of course)
S2000 Owners Club of America
S2KI Owners Community
Edmunds.com road test of the 2000 Honda S2000 

Chuck can be followed on Twitter @ChuckWhatTheF where he tweets about cars and other things “dudebros” are talking about.

Some photos in this article are freely sourced from Google. If you take issue with the usage of any image, please contact us and we will remove it.

 

Jun 222012
 

To know me is to know that I am an Acura enthusiast. How could I not be? I am the happy and extremely proud owner of the 2003 Acura CL Type-S covered in a recent Car of the Week article (in case you missed it, read about it here). That CL is now sporting 257,000 miles and continues to be a strong cruiser and daily driver.

When I look at how I got to acquiring the CL in the first place, I find that I justified it both by staying true to my price range and by trying to satisfy my lasting desire to own one of its predecessors (part of me still wants a late model Legend in a slick 6-speed). With all of this being said, this week’s Car of the Week pays tribute to the car that started it all for the CL, and more importantly for Acura:

1986 Acura Legend

Why?

The 1986 Acura Legend was the flagship model for the newly debuted Acura brand. This Legend gave birth to the Japanese luxury car industry and started pushing the luxury car envelope about four years before Toyota and Nissan introduced their answers with Lexus and Infiniti respectively. Their response was so slow it appeared that they didn’t hit the drawing board until this Legend was released.

The ’86 Legend declared a war against German and American luxury automakers that were producing less inspired, lower quality cars (of course this war continues today). It satisfied emerging consumer requirements for reliability, styling and quality that couldn’t be met by German or American offerings.

The ’86 Legend gave car buyers and enthusiasts a taste of what Honda had been cooking up in the kitchen. We saw many Honda firsts with this car, most notably the introduction of a V6 and four wheel double-wishbone suspension. This made for a ride that was quick (at the time) and handling that was tight and predictable. Coupled with Honda’s well known track record, this was a competent, long lasting daily driver and family hauler for a new breed of buyers.  Many first generation Legends are still driving around to this day.

About the Car

The 1986 Acura Legend was offered with one engine, a 2.5 L V6, good for 151 hp. In ’86 that was more powerful than the BMW 528 and the Audi 5000 non-turbo, and comparable to the Audi 5000 turbo. The ’86 Legend was available with only one option choice: manual or automatic transmission. Limited options was, and continues to be, the way Acura builds and sells their vehicles, which likely helps them keep costs under better control compared to the competition.

The 1986 Acura Legend set a new standard for what we could expect from a luxury car. It is truly Legend-ary.

Other Resources

Wikipedia: Acura Legend (to be taken with a grain of salt, of course)
Acura-Legend forum
Hemmings Blog “Class of ’86″ feature on the Integra and Legend

Chuck can be followed on Twitter @ChuckWhatTheF where he tweets about cars and other things important to the average “dudebro.”

Some photos in this article were freely sourced from Google. If you take issue with usage of any image, please contact us and we will remove it.

May 042012
 

You know how some cars are an indelible part of your childhood? Maybe not for everyone, but for most gearheads there are a few key cars (and sometimes only one) that stand out as the ones that kept them hooked in the formative years of automotive addiction. For me there were a few, but this week I wanted to look at the one that was always at the top of the list:

1993 Acura NSX

Why?

When I first started getting in to cars, I devoured every Motor Trend, Car & Driver, Automobile and Road & Track I could find. From the years of 1995 through 1998 I read nearly every issue in my quest to learn as much as possible about my new interest. In particular I loved the comparison pieces, where the writers would take a group of similar cars and rank them.

Simple car reviews were well and good, but for a 14 year old kid who had little interest in reading about whether Honda had added leather seats as an option for the new Accord, these comparo pieces were where the real meat was. And when, inevitably, one of the magazines did a supercar comparo, it was akin to Christmas for about 20 minutes while I read it, poured over the stats, then read it again. A perennial favorite of the editors, and of mine, was Acura’s NSX.

Though it was always out-powered and frequently out-egoed by European stalwarts like  Ferrari and Lamborghini (and often the Dodge Viper and Corvette as well), the NSX could still be found near or at the top of the rankings virtually every time. What made this car so great to the testers was that, despite is high performance potential, it still drove like a Honda. It was great fun, easy to drive and reliable – all things that the Italians and Americans of the time hadn’t really figured out how to do at once.

It was, then, a dream come true when a member of my extended family bought one (a ’93 model) back in ’98 and I actually got to drool on it in person. He still has that car and I have been privileged enough to do a few tune-ups and some light work on it. So it was formative in my imagination and again even more so as I got more experience in getting my hands dirty.

Yeah, I guess now that I think about it, there really was only one.

About the Car

Acura introduced the NSX in 1991 in the U.S. market to great fanfare. Its all-aluminum body and engine were, for the time, an engineering masterwork. It was designed and tuned with input from the likes of Ayrton Senna and Alex Zanardi and featured a mid-engine, rear wheel drive layout and near-perfect weight distribution. It was recognized at the time (and still is) as one of the most forgiving mid-engine cars ever built. The 3.0-liter V6 made 270 horsepower and was available in either a 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic.

In 1995 Honda added a targa top to the NSX and in 1997 it was given a more powerful 3.2-liter V6 and a 6-speed manual gearbox. The automatic trans cars kept the old 3.0-liter.

Other than the t-tops, the body went unchanged until 2002 when Honda updated it to include fixed projector headlamps and HID lights. Even that, though, did not significantly change the character of the car. It was made in this form until it ceased production in 2005.

Honda has toyed with a replacement a number of times and all have come to naught. Until the last one, that is, which will apparently see production in 2015. I will believe it when I see it. If the images we are seeing now are to be believed, it will be markedly different than the car I grew up loving. It will, however, be pretty cool.

Other Resources

Acura NSX Registry (online registry for current owners)
NSX Club of America
NSXprime.com
(online community for NSX enthusiasts)
Wikipedia: Acura NSX (to be taken with a grain of salt, of course)
Car & Driver review of the 2002 model

Some photos in this article were freely sourced from Google. If you take issue with usage of any image, please contact me and I will remove it.

Apr 132012
 

I had two friends throughout high school who played a large role in my development as a gearhead. One I have already covered in previous discussion on the ill-fated Probe. The other, I will cover this week. This story, I am pleased to say, has a much happier ending.

2003 Acura CL Type-S Continue reading »

Mar 052012
 

Every year around this time we find out what the best selling cars of the past year were and every year, we see the same thing. Americans, it seems, love two kinds of cars: big honking pickup trucks and bland, reliable sedans. America’s strange obsession with the pickup is fodder for another day, I think; it’s the cars that concern me right now. For the better part of 30 years, the Accord and Civic from Honda and the Camry and Corolla from Toyota have dominated the car segment of the top 1o. One would think that to achieve this, Honda and Toyota would have had to keep making these mainstays more intriguing to maintain public interest. Instead, they have steadily become more archetypal, more alike, more boring.

Nonetheless, Americans line up at dealers to spend anywhere from $15,000 to over $30,000 on these glorified appliances every year. I have to wonder, doesn’t anyone want to enjoy driving anymore? Surely there must be any number of cars out there that, for the same money would provide more fun, more class and more personality. I decided to look around and see what I could find. Continue reading »

Mar 052012
 

I have been pondering this piece for quite a while now. As the cost of travel — well, the cost of everything, really — has gone up, more and more people I know have turned to the road trip for their journeys. This got me to thinking. Harry Truman believed his 1953 Chrysler New Yorker to be an ideal car for his post-presidential road trip. Thelma and Louise favored a ’66 T-Bird. Ferris Bueller jacked the Ferrari 250 belonging to his best friend’s father.

But what do normal, modern people take on road trips? When I asked on Facebook, I got a variety of answers from my friends. Some suggested sporty cars, while others seemed more interested in utility. What follows is a list of cars that includes many of their suggestions, along with my own carefully considered choices. I have decided to divide it up by category. Enjoy. Continue reading »

Mar 052012
 

It’s a copycat world, I guess.  Every self-respecting car magazine, it seems, has to periodically do a top-whatever (-5, -10, -50, -100, etc.) list of the best cars in whatever arbitrary category they have decided on for that month’s issue. That being the case, my own humble publication is clearly lagging behind. So what to do about that?

Back in 2008, on the 10th anniversary of the “immaculate reception” (otherwise known as the day I got my driver’s license), I wrote a large, all-encompassing piece on the top ten cars I had driven in those ten years.  Some day, perhaps, that will find its way up here as a really long feature, or in parts. In the mean time, though, I need something a little smaller—not to mention easier to read.

I first tried to think about what my readers would like to read about. Then I remembered that I don’t really have any. And even if I did, what do I care what they want to read about? This is my blog, right? I don’t know who I’m expecting to agree or disagree there, since I literally just got done pointing out my lack of readership, so I’m going to go ahead and agree with myself. Right.

With that out of the way, I decided to simply contemplate what are the 5 best inexpensive used cars for car enthusiasts like me.

Here, loyal reader, is what I came up with: Continue reading »

Mar 052012
 

Note: This review was originally published on February 24, 2011 on my original WordPress blog.

I spent nearly 4 years working for Volvo in the latter part of this past decade, including a stint in Parts and Logistics at the corporate headquarters in Rockleigh, NJ. One of the biggest perks of being there, especially for a guy like me, was Volvo would bring in preproduction models of cars yet to be introduced and give us a chance to drive them before anyone else. In 2007, for instance, Volvo was preparing to introduce two new models for 2008: a completely redesigned XC70 all-wheel drive crossover wagon, and the all-new C30 hatchback. Both were made available to us.

I was doubly interested in driving the C30 because, not only was it a genuinely intriguing car, but at the time I was looking to replace my aging ‘97 Lexus ES300. The C30 seemed like it would be a great car for me. When the sign-up sheet came around I eagerly signed my name and requested one with a manual transmission, then set about waiting impatiently for that day to arrive.

I don’t remember all of my first impressions of the car. I do remember that, by and large, I was very impressed. It was quick, great on the highway, fun to drive, and had an undeniably slick feel. I concluded that I was driving something of an oxymoron: a sporty Volvo. Continue reading »