Tag Archives: Road Track

It's been fun, Autoblog…

By Zach Bowman

Kawasaki GPz 750

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Carter Edman recently wrote something for the ever-excellent Ride Apart that neatly sums up the allure of the motorcycle. The piece was an open letter to those fine people who love nothing more than to regale riders with every horror story they’ve ever heard about a bike, and while the text is littered with plenty of “hell yes!” moments for those of us with a pair of riding gloves to our name, one paragraph in particular struck me dead on.

You want to know what’s truly dangerous? Not taking any risks. Hanging out with like-minded middle-of-the-roaders. Absorbing the same brain-ossifying shit from media factories every day. Jogging. Putting helmets, flotation devices, and auto-deploy epi-pens on your kids every time they leave the house. Passivity. Not paying attention to where your car, or your life, or you country is going.

How true. How many of us wake up, fall into our routine, fall back asleep and repeat the process the next day? For me, the best part of riding a motorcycle, aside from the excellent hair that accompanies a three-hour ride, is the challenge. It’s more than a risk. Every time I jump on the bike, it teaches me something about control, patience, grip and momentum. I’ve been riding for over three years now, and grabbing the handlebars requires no less focus now than it did on day one. Every ride has the potential to suss up a situation that puts me out of my comfort zone, and for that, I love it.

Edman’s words are heavy on my mind, as this marks my final post on Autoblog.

After three years of driving some of the most interesting cars on the planet, meeting and working with a slew of talented people and writing day in and day out, I’m leaving to join the madness at Road & Track. Autoblog has been the best working experience of my life, and the chance to interact with this site’s army of dedicated readers has been a legitimate honor. But it’s time to take the next risk. It’s been fun.

It’s been fun, Autoblog… originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 12 Jul 2013 18:10:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Happy 40th Anniversary to the Malaise Era

By Hagerty

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2013 marks the 50th anniversary of icons like the Corvette Sting Ray and the Porsche 911. If Corvettes and Porsches aren’t your thing, it’s also the 50th of the Aston Martin DB5 and the 60th of the last great Packard, the Caribbean. Lost in the hoopla, however has been any mention of the fact that it’s also the 40th anniversary of the Ford Mustang II, the de facto standard bearer for the automotive dark age that came to be known as “The Malaise Era.”

Pollution regulations, safety standards and a fuel crisis that saw pump prices skyrocket created the perfect mediocrity storm that forced Americans – and most of the rest of the world – into cars that were as bland and gutless as the Carter administration. The start of the malaise era is roughly marked by the Arab oil embargo of 1973 and the resulting great muscle car extinction, and it lasted until the introduction of the 200 hp + Buick Regal Grand National and the Ford Mustang GT 5.0 in 1985. Here are some of the malaziest from the era.

1974 Ford Mustang II (above)

The Pinto-based Mustang II nearly killed the Mustang franchise. Its sole claim to fame being a bit of product placement on the original Charlie’s Angels series. Plain chick Sabrina drove the notchback Ghia model, smoking hot Kelly (played by Farrah Fawcett) naturally got the Cobra. But the joke was on her – its smogged-choked V8 put out about 140 horsepower. In a rare moment of understatement, Road & Track simply called it “neither fast, nor particularly good-handling.”


Rob Sass is the Publisher of Hagerty Classic Cars magazine. He is a regular contributor to the automotive section of the New York Times and is the author of “Ran When Parked, Advice and Adventures from the Affordable Underbelly of Car Collecting.”


Continue reading Happy 40th Anniversary to the Malaise Era

Happy 40th Anniversary to the Malaise Era originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 17 Apr 2013 18:29:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Report: Lamborghini Gallardo may end run with stripped-down, manual version

By Jeffrey N. Ross

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The Lamborghini Gallardo is no stranger to special edition models, but with the car soon headed to that great racetrack in the sky, it sounds like a fitting send off is in the works. Road & Track had the chance to sit down with Lamborghini America COO Michael Lock who says that a “back-to-basics” Gallardo is being planned with a stripped interior, rear-wheel drive and a manual transmission.

Aside from marking the end of the Gallardo, this model will also mark the end for Lamborghini’s manual transmission. That might sound like a devastating one-two punch for fans of the Italian automaker, but the report goes on to say that the paddle-shifted models outsell the three-pedal models to a tune of nine to one. No official word has been given as to when we’ll see this new Gallardo model or its successor, but it sounds like at least one could be here by the end of the year.

Lamborghini Gallardo may end run with stripped-down, manual version originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 17 Apr 2013 15:44:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Opinion: Spyker: It's not just about numbers

By Matt DeLorenzo

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A Compelling Story Counts As Much As Performance

Muller believes there’s room for small, boutique exotics like Spyker.

Following his ill-fated efforts to save Saab, Victor Muller is again back at Spyker Cars as CEO working hard on a comeback for the Dutch-based maker of exotic cars.

You could say he’s a dreamer, like his fellow countryman Henrik Fisker. But having established Spyker as a credible player in the ultra-exclusive exotic car niche and tempered by his experience at Saab, Muller is also a realist about both the capital requirements and the complexities in building automobiles. As volumes grow, the chance increases that even the littlest mistake can derail the whole enterprise.

Muller believes there’s room for small, boutique exotics like Spyker, Pagani and Koenigsegg in a market saturated by supercars from players like Ferrari, Lamborghini, McLaren, VW Group’s Bugatti and even Lexus with its LF-A.


Matt DeLorenzo is the former editor-in-chief of Road & Track and has covered the auto industry for 35 years, including stints at Automotive News and AutoWeek. He has authored books including VW’s New Beetle, Chrysler’s Modern Concept Cars, and Corvette Dynasty.


Continue reading Spyker: It’s not just about numbers

Spyker: It’s not just about numbers originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 12 Apr 2013 17:44:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Opinion: Fisker's Farewell

By Matt DeLorenzo

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Not The First, Nor The Last Dreamer To Fail

Like DeLorean and Preston Tucker before him, Fisker underestimated the amount of capital it takes.

The departure of Henrik Fisker from his self-named car company adds yet another name to the list of dreamers who thought they could be successful automakers.

Whether or not he goes down in history a Gaston Chevrolet or John DeLorean depends on the current managers at Fisker, with whom Henrik cited as having irreconcilable differences over the future of the hybrid luxury car company.

This is not to say that Fisker’s dream is doomed, but the company he founded faces a number of severe challenges to its survival as an independent make.

Like DeLorean and Preston Tucker before him, Fisker underestimated the amount of capital it takes to be in the business. While the business model of having a supplier, in this case, Finland-based Valmet, building a high-priced limited-edition car had merit, in execution Fisker fell short of the mark of meeting expectations. It took far longer than anticipated to bring the Karma to market. Quality problems, issues with battery supplier A123 and the port disaster during Hurricane Sandy that destroyed 300 cars dogged the company.


Matt DeLorenzo is the former editor-in-chief of Road & Track and has covered the auto industry for 35 years, including stints at Automotive News and AutoWeek. He has authored books including VW’s New Beetle, Chrysler’s Modern Concept Cars, and Corvette Dynasty.


Continue reading Fisker’s Farewell

Fisker’s Farewell originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 15 Mar 2013 20:04:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Followup: Americans will get a four-cylinder Ford Mustang after all? [w/poll]

By Jeremy Korzeniewski

Ford Mustang emblem

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Ask and you shall receive. Remember that previous report suggesting that the 2015 Ford Mustang getting a four-cylinder EcoBoost engine, and that it would be sold in Europe only and not the United States? Well, according to Road & Track, the rumor is only partially true – The Mustang will get the engine, but it is indeed coming to America.

Additionally, according to RT, the 3.7-liter V6 will continue to serve as the base engine, and since it offers up a stout 305 horsepower in its current form, it’s likely that the 2.3-liter four-cylinder EcoBoost will produce a bit more than that. At the top of the range, the Mustang GT will continue to soldier on with a V8 engine, which should continue to send over 400 horsepower to the rear wheels.

Finally, while we agree 100 percent with RT‘s heartfelt request for a paddle-shift automatic, we certainly expect that the EcoBoost ‘Stang will be offered with a manual transmission as standard equipment. This is a Mustang, after all…

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Americans will get a four-cylinder Ford Mustang after all? [w/poll] originally appeared on Autoblog on Sat, 09 Mar 2013 19:08:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Report: Spyker C8 Aileron to come back with supercharged power?

By Jeremy Korzeniewski

Spyker C8 Aileron

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The new B6 Venator wasn’t the only vehicle on display at the Spyker booth at the 2013 Geneva Motor Show. The company still has its C8 Aileron on offer, and Road & Track has word of a potential powerplant upgrade for the long-running machine.

Since its introduction in the year 2000, the C8 has used a 4.2-liter V8 engine sourced from Audi, which, in base form, offers up 400 horsepower. Though it’s a great powerpant, that’s simply not enough power in this day and age – after all, if a car is going to be called super, it needs to offer more ponies than something as mundane as the Ford Mustang GT.

According to R&T, John Walton, Chief Commercial Officer at Spyker, indicated that a new engine supplier may be in the works. “[The Audi-sourced V8] really hasn’t got enough bang for the buck. To be honest, every supercar needs to have something that begins with a ‘5’ today. That’s why we’re supercharging the car in the future, which will take it to over 500-hp,” said Walton.

Assuming Spyker doesn’t decide to supercharge Audi’s V8 itself, where will that supercharged engine come from? We have no idea, though with legal wrangling still in process it seems a bit unlikely to come from General Motors, although its supercharged 6.2-liter V8 would seemingly make an excellent choice.

On the other hand, if GM‘s engine is the best option available, Spyker could potentially buy complete supercharged crate engines directly from GM Performance Parts in either 556- (LSA) or 638-horsepower (LS9) iterations, and it probably doesn’t need explicit approval to do so. In any case, we’re just postulating. Only time will tell what, if any, new engine Spyker will bestow upon its C8 Aileron.

Spyker C8 Aileron to come back with supercharged power? originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 08 Mar 2013 09:15:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Opinion: Going high-tech, the 4×4 way

By Matt DeLorenzo

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee

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Is It An Off-Road Adventure Or Just A Walk In The Park?

I remember having to get out and lock hubs and shift into neutral to engage low range.

Coming off press previews of the 2013 Land Rover Range Rover and the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee that involved some heavy-duty off-road rock climbing, I’m simply amazed at the capabilities that these vehicles possess. But even more impressive (or troubling depending on your perspective) is the relative ease with which you can operate these vehicles in seemingly impossible terrain.

Not that I’m a hardcore off-roader, but I’ve been in my share of 4×4’s over the years and remember having to get out and lock hubs, shift into neutral to engage low range and learning that the accelerator and brake pedals can be your best friends or worst enemies in either moving along or getting hopelessly stuck.

Thanks to the wonders of electronics, advanced transfer cases and electric limited slip differentials, instead of manipulating levers or locking hubs, one merely has to punch a button or turn a knob to engage the right strategy to deal with whatever conditions encountered on the trail.


Matt DeLorenzo is the former editor-in-chief of Road & Track and has covered the auto industry for 35 years, including stints at Automotive News and AutoWeek. He has authored books including VW’s New Beetle, Chrysler’s Modern Concept Cars, and Corvette Dynasty.


Continue reading Going high-tech, the 4×4 way

Going high-tech, the 4×4 way originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 26 Feb 2013 16:58:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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<i>CNN</i> recreates infamous Tesla Model S drive with miles to spare, others to try this weekend [w/video]

By Sebastian Blanco

white tesla model s

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You knew this was coming, didn’t you? Even more prisms through which to look at the failed (or is that “failed”?) Tesla Model S drive up the East Coast that The New York Times reported on last weekend. We’re going to assume you know what’s been happening with this, but if not, then you can get caught up by reading this, this and this. All set? Good.

Today, CNN reporter Peter Valdes-Dapena easily completed all of the miles in a Tesla Model S that the Times’ John Broder reported he could not do. The takeaway line: “In the end, I made it – and it wasn’t that hard.” That Valdes-Dapena managed the trip is perhaps not that big of a surprise, but a small group of Model S owners will try to prove again that 200 miles is no problem, even in the winter cold, for an electric car that’s officially rated at 265 miles. The owner convoy is going to set out from the Tesla Service Center in Rockville, Maryland tomorrow morning and then spend the night in Groton, Connecticut, just like Broder did, before turning south again. If you want to follow along tomorrow, stay tuned to TeslaRoadTrip on Twitter. Think it’ll start trending?

Also today, Road & Track chimed in to suggest the whole affair is about way more than range, it’s about trust: “If you can’t fully trust Tesla, then you’ll continue to be a customer for the Times. Think for a moment about Broder’s article in that context: it’s an advertisement for his product at the expense of Tesla’s.” We’re not 100-percent on board with that line of thinking, but it does suggest that there is a lot of meat on the test-drive bones of the original article. Check out the CNN video of its bon voyage below for more.

Continue reading CNN recreates infamous Tesla Model S drive with miles to spare, others to try this weekend [w/video]

CNN recreates infamous Tesla Model S drive with miles to spare, others to try this weekend [w/video] originally appeared on Autoblog Green on Fri, 15 Feb 2013 19:15:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Opinion: Can inductive charging save the EV?

By Matt DeLorenzo

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Let’s Face It, We’re Just Plain Lazy

Recent news about the price cuts on the Ford Focus EV and Nissan Leaf are proof positive that despite all their eco-goodness, pure electrics as well as plug-in hybrids remain a tough sell to the American mass market.

There’s no doubt automakers are committed to electrifying an increasing portion of their product offerings. The problem is that no one needs to buy an EV or plug-in hybrid. But with CAFE standards doubling to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025 and California’s mandate that major manufacturers sell zero-emission vehicles as a percentage of their overall fleets (a measure also adopted by 13 other states), carmakers have to sell EVs and plug-in hybrids to avoid costly penalties or face caps on the number of vehicles they are allowed to sell.


Matt DeLorenzo is the former editor-in-chief of Road & Track and has covered the auto industry for 35 years, including stints at Automotive News and AutoWeek. He has authored books including VW’s New Beetle, Chrysler’s Modern Concept Cars, and Corvette Dynasty.


Continue reading Can inductive charging save the EV?

Can inductive charging save the EV? originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 06 Feb 2013 15:59:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Chris Harris Drives The Ferrari 458 Italia Spider: Video

By Kurt Ernst

458 Italia Spider

Fans of British auto journalist and racer Chris Harris know he has a love / hate relationship with Ferrari. He admires the Maranello automaker’s ware so much that he recently bought a Ferrari 599 on the used market. On the other hand, he doesn’t necessarily respect Ferrari, since it tends to supply (its hand-chosen) automotive journalists with, um, “improved” products.

In other words, the 458 Italia tested by Road & Track is likely to be a bit faster than the one you can buy from your local Ferrari dealer. When Harris made the mistake of revealing this inconvenient truth, he was hastily removed from the list of Ferrari-approved journalists. Harris bought a 599, then, as it was the only way for him to drive a prancing horse on a regular basis.

When recently “sublet” a Ferrari-owned 458 Italia Spider, Harris knew that a conventional review wouldn’t do the job. After all, the car has been on the market for a year or so, and everything that could be said about the strength of it’s 570 horsepower V-8 engine and impressively stiff chassis has already been penned. There are plenty of Ferrari-approved beauty shots and inspirational videos, but Ferrari 458 Italia Spider hoonage videos are in short supply, something Harris decided to address.

If you’re looking for a video review of the car, this clip isn’t going to do it for you. If, on the other hand, you want to see a 458 Italia Spider driven at its limits of adhesion, tail thrown sideways in glorious displays of oversteer, this is the video to watch.

If Harris was blacklisted by Ferrari before filming this spot, we’re pretty sure he’s earned a lifetime ban with this particular video.

Source: FULL ARTICLE at Automotive Addicts

Video: Mazda6 GX Grand-Am racer goes where no diesel sedan has gone before

By Jonathon Ramsey

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There has never been a four-door diesel sedan in the Grand-Am series, until now: The blunt, bewinged grille of the Mazda6 GX has blown right through that wall. It’s said that racing improves the breed, but usually the breed has gone on sale when the racing begins. One of the unusual aspects of the Mazda6 GX, on the other hand, is that while the diesel won’t go on sale to the public until later this year, it will already have tasted racing blood by the end of the day. That kind of reversal is more likely found with super coupes like the Lexus LFA and Honda NSX.

Mazda has taken class wins at Daytona’s 24-hour race a whopping 23 times since 1975, most recently in 2010 with the RX-8 in the GT class. This year the Hiroshima company decided to show off its SkyActiv technology, then turned things up to eleven by opting for its SkyActiv-D instead of the more conventional SkyActiv-G gas engine to run in the new GX class. It will be joined by competitors like the Lotus Evora and Porsche Cayman in the class, nevertheless, at 2.4 liters, it’s the smallest engine on the grid.

Time has not been a friend, either – Mazda said that the first five SkyActiv-D engines off the production line went to Speed Source in Coral Gables, Florida, the company that preps Mazda’s race vehicles. Still, race driver Jonathan Baumarito on the #70 car said that although the engine’s been on the dyno since February of last year, it’s only been in the car for about a month and there have been only a couple of test days.

Speed Source owner, team driver and multiple 24-hour winner Sylvain Tremblay – he drove in the teams that won in 2008 and 2010 in the RX-8 – said the big challenge right now is getting the gearing right. Both Tremblay and Baumarito said that the diesel’s torque is a plus through the Bus Stop section at the back of the course, entered after coming off the high-speed banked turn. But Tremblay said that the first infield section of horseshoes is more trying because the SkyActiv-D needs to be on boost to get its power on, and that doesn’t happen until after 3,500; maintaining that through slow-speed turns and having enough to get the job done through the high-speed ovals is the test.

There are three Mazda6 GXs competing, Everyone is cautiously optimistic about how things might go during the race, but in fairness this has to be looked at as a 24-hour testing session. Road & Track rode shotgun for a lap in the #00 Visit Florida Racing car, you can check out the sounds of diesel at Daytona in the video below.

Continue reading Mazda6 GX Grand-Am racer goes where no diesel sedan has gone before

Mazda6 GX Grand-Am racer goes where no diesel sedan has gone before originally appeared on Autoblog on Sat, 26 Jan 2013 19:03:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Followup: 2014 Corvette face leaks on <i>Road &amp; Track</i> cover

By Jeremy Korzeniewski

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2014 Chevrolet Corvette

This is the face of the new Corvette. As was the case with the next ‘Vette’s hind quarters, the fascia has leaked on the cover of a magazine, in this case, Road & Track.

As you can see, a more angular look graces the face of the 2014 Corvette, with a large oblong-hexagon-shaped intake for sucking in as much of the atmosphere as possible, along with sharply defined bulges in the hood and what appear to be LED-ridden headlights. Front and center sits the latest variation of the classic Corvette emblem, just below a slot-shaped hood scoop.

We can’t help but draw comparisons to current supercars like the 2013 SRT Viper and Ferrari 599. In any case, we’re literally hours away from the car’s full reveal, so you won’t have to wait much longer for a whole slathering of Corvette-flavored morsels. Until then, cast your gaze upon the face of America’s next world-beater.

2014 Corvette face leaks on Road & Track cover originally appeared on Autoblog on Sun, 13 Jan 2013 08:55:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Video: Watch an Aventador, Viper and LFA play the songs of their people

By Zach Bowman

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Lamborghini Aventador vs SRT Viper vs Lexus LFA

Our friends at Road & Track recently stopped by Cars and Coffee in Irvine, California, with the 2013 SRT Viper and found themselves a place to park between a Lamborghini Aventador and a Lexus LFA. Those machines might as well be the three musketeers of ludicrous exhaust notes, and rather than keep those 24 raging cylinders muffled, R&T set about conducting an orchestra of internal combustion. On seeing these three lined up, we were more than prepared to call the Viper victorious when it came to tickling our ear drums, but the latest domestic V10 sounds down right civilized in this company.

If we’re picking favorites, we have to say the LFA takes the cake. There’s something about the noise of a street-legal V10 that can wrap it’s tachometer all the way to 9,000 rpm that turns our knees to quivering dollops of jelly. Check out the clip below for a listen. We shouldn’t need to tell you to get frisky with the volume.

Continue reading Watch an Aventador, Viper and LFA play the songs of their people

Watch an Aventador, Viper and LFA play the songs of their people originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 11 Jan 2013 14:59:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Opinion: Retro Design: A distant memory [w/poll]

By Matt DeLorenzo

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Just Fade Away
VW Beetle old and new

Designers prefer the loftier sounding “heritage design.”

A cursory look at the latest offerings from auto manufacturers in both production and showcar guise reveals that retro design themes may be on their way out. It’s ironic that the hottest design trend opening the 21st century was less about heralding some space-age future than celebrating the middle part of the century that just closed.

This pop culture phenomenon arguably started with the launch of the Volkswagen New Beetle in 1997 and saw its influence in a wide range of vehicles, from the entry-level Chrysler PT Cruiser up through high-dollar roadsters like the BMW Z8, a car that paid homage to the BMW 507.

Design practitioners, who also eschew the word “styling,” are loathe to call these throwbacks “retro,” preferring the loftier sounding “heritage design.” Retro, however, is convenient shorthand to describe cars that recall an earlier time. The strong tug of nostalgia is further proof that there is more to a car’s appeal than its ability to transport someone to and fro – it can be, in some ways, a time machine.


Matt DeLorenzo is the former editor-in-chief of Road & Track and has covered the auto industry for 35 years, including stints at Automotive News and AutoWeek. He has authored books including VW’s New Beetle, Chrysler’s Modern Concept Cars, and Corvette Dynasty.


Continue reading Retro Design: A distant memory [w/poll]

Retro Design: A distant memory [w/poll] originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 08 Jan 2013 19:31:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Source: FULL ARTICLE at Autoblog