Over the years, manufacturers always field some concept cars at the Detroit Auto Show and others around the world. Sometimes they’re showcasing some great ideas, other times…not so much. Here are some standouts we noticed for 2014:
- Audi Allroad Shooting Brake – A “shooting brake” is a really archaic term for a small station wagon design, and the Audi Allroad is a sort of tiny crossover SUV…with a 408 horsepower hybrid drivetrain. This tidy little crossover looks like something that could actually make it to production and to car dealerships someday.
- Mini Cooper John Cooper Works Concept – This one also has a pretty good chance at production, with an unpainted sheet metal body and an assortment of stripes, flares and scoops to go along ...[more]
In 1970, the Barracuda had been redesigned from the ground up with a new body style and a shorter, wider version of Chrysler’s B-body, now called the E-body. The radical-looking new ‘Cuda (whose styling is revisited in the modern Dodge Challenger) was available with two versions of the venerable Slant 6 6-cylinder, as well as the 318 V8, 383 two-barrel, 383 four-barrel/dual exhaust, or 440 Super Commando, or the 440 six-barrel Super Commando Six Pak.
The top of the performance heap, however, was the 426 Hemi V8. The 440 Six Pak dialed in at around 390 horsepower, but the dual-four-barrel equipped 426 delivered 425 horsepower, propelling it to 60 mph in 5.8 seconds (in stock form). The Hemi Cuda could make the quarter-mile run in 14 seconds flat, topping 100 mph easily.
As if the outrageous engine ...[more]Read More
Rubber is a porous substance, and tires will inevitably lose some air over time due to seepage. Tire pressure is something that’s neglected by many drivers, as an “out of sight – out of mind” sort of condition. Low tire pressure, however, costs money in terms of increased rolling resistance and poorer gas mileage. Tires that are habitually run low on air also wear out prematurely, due to heat buildup and an uneven wear pattern.
The good news is that it’s an easy problem to fix.
For 100 years, tires have used the same valve design (known as a Schrade valve), identical to the valves on bicycle tires. They’re still the same design because the Schrade valve does its job well and there has never been a need to improve on it.
- Don’t rely on the ...[more]
The Boss 429 is sort of a holy-grail of Sixties muscle cars, with only 859 produced in its two-year run. Its origins came from Ford’s efforts to develop a hemi-head engine to go up against Chrysler’s 426 Hemi on NASCAR tracks. NASCAR rules of the day mandated that at least 500 cars with any specific competition engine had to be marketed to the public, and it was decided that the Mustang would be the car for the 429.
Ford hired the Dearborn shop of Kar Kraft to take on the project, modifying 428 Cobra Jet and Mach 1 mustangs to accept the monster engine. Kar Kraft widened the shock towers, modified the front fender wells, altered the front suspension mounts, reposition ed the battery to the trunk, added a manually-opened hood scoop and made other fairly radical changes to the Mustang engine well. The final ...[more]Read More
You’ll notice that the stamp on your tire’s sidewall specifies inflation for HOT tires. Why is that?
Pretty simple physics, really. Gases expand with heat, meaning both the temperature of a friction-heated tire and ambient temperature of outside air. A rule of thumb is that for about for about every ten degrees Fahrenheit change in air temperature, your tire’s inflation will fluctuate by about one PSI. In most parts of the United States, the difference between winter and summer temperatures can be as much as a 50-degree spread, meaning a potential fluctuation of five PSI. That’s not even thinking about the 20-degree spread between hot afternoon temperatures and cooler nighttime or early morning temperatures in summer.
Tires that are low by 5 psi will hurt traction, steering re ...[more]Read More
You may not have even heard of the Hudson Hornet – the make hasn’t even been around since the early 50s, and was crowded out of the market by the Big Three from Detroit. The Hornet, however, left a pretty significant mark on automotive design and performance in its day.
Starting with the ’48 models, the Hornet incorporated a “step-down” design, with a dropped floor pan and chassis that lowered the car’s center of gravity and enhanced handling dramatically (it was also the industry’s first true unibody design). The edge in handling made the Hornet a natural for racing, and by ’51 the Hornet was available with the “7X” engine, a 308-cubic-inch flathead straight-six. The engine featured modifications like twin side-draft one-barrel carburetors, a split exha ...[more]Read More
In the 70s and 80s, many a hot-rodder’s first muscle car was a ragged-out old Chevelle SS396. It’s not surprising, when you consider that Chevy built over 70,000 copies of the SS396…of course now, they’re pretty scarce and super desirable, but that’s a different story.
Chevrolet introduced the 396 big-block V8 in ’65, as a replacement for the heavy, boat-anchor 409 V8. The 396 had big valves and a lumpy cam, with an odd valve configuration that provided better gas flow and more efficient exhaust scavenging. It paid off, with the base L35 engine producing 325 horsepower – the L34 built 360 horsepower, with the iron-head L78 building 375 horsepower.
Perhaps the most desirable of the Chevelle SS models for ’66 is the Z16, which featured the L78 engine and upgraded ...[more]Read More
If you live in an area that gets cold enough and sees enough winter precipitation to warrant buying winter tires, there’s no substitute for the traction they can provide. Winter tires have come a long way since the heavy-tread, noisy “snow tires” or “mud grips” that were on your dad’s station wagon a generation ago. Modern winter tires offer better ride, road manners and handling than they did in previous years. That doesn’t, however, mean that they are good year-round.
Winter tires are designed with a tread formulation that stays flexible at lower temperatures, which is their chief advantage over all-season tires. All-season tires tend to harden and stiffen at sub-freezing temps, compromising traction and control. The flip side ...[more]Read More
The Charger is one of the most recognizable silhouettes of all the muscle cars of the 60s (its roles in the movie “Bullitt” and the TV series “The Dukes of Hazzard” didn’t hurt), and it was also one of the biggest –selling muscle cars of the ’68 model year. Of the 100k or so Chargers sold for ’68, well over 17,000 of them were R/T models. So what makes a Charger an R/T?
- Front anti-roll bar
- Heavy-duty front torsion bars
- Heavy-duty shocks and rear leaf springs
But most importantly…the 440 V8.
The Charger was entirely restyled for ’68, with a slick coke-bottle profile and concealed headlights, and the 375-horsepower 440 Magnum V8 was also pretty f ...[more]Read More
Surely you’ve noticed the wide range of tread patterns and styles available between different tire brands and models. Here’s a brief technical breakdown of how they all work:
- Tread patterns: Tires are commonly designed with symmetrical, asymmetrical and directional tread patterns. Symmetrical treads are the most common, with ribs or tread blocks where the inboard and outboard sections of the tire come together and match. Asymmetrical tread patterns vary the groove pattern of the tire to help deflect water and snow in all-season conditions, making them a good pick for year-round use. The grooves on directional tires form a V shape at the tire’s center, helping to displace water and avoid hydroplaning. The geometry of the tread blocks and tread pattern is designed to fulfill very dedicated, s ...[more]