Monday, September 16, 2013

R Type Continental

In 1952, Bentley, then owned by Rolls-Royce, needed to replace its Mark VI model. The R Type was the car to do it. That gave birth to the R Type Continental, pictured here, which had a top speed of nearly 120 mph, making it the fastest four-seater in the world.

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The R Type

The R Type is the second series of post-war Bentley automobiles, replacing the Mark VI. Essentially a larger-boot version of the Mk VI, the R type is regarded by some as a stop-gap before the introduction of the S series cars in 1955. As with its predecessor, a standard body was available as well as coachbuilt versions by firms including H. J. Mulliner & Co., Park Ward, Harold Radford, Freestone and Webb and others.

Other than the radiator grilles and the carburation there was little difference between the standard Bentley R Type and the Rolls-Royce Silver Dawn. The R Type was the more popular marque, with some 2,500 units manufactured during its run to the Silver Dawn's 760.

R-Type Continental

Despite its name, the two-door Continental was produced principally for the domestic home market, the majority of cars produced (207, plus BC26A, AKA Olga, the prototype) being right-hand drive, with a 43 left-hand drive examples produced for use abroad. The chassis was produced at the Rolls Royce Crewe factory and shared many components with the standard R type. 

Other than the R-Type standard steel saloon, R-Type Continentals were delivered as rolling chassis to the coachbuilder of choice. Coachwork for most of these cars was completed by H. J. Mulliner & Co. who mainly built them in fastback coupe form. Other coachwork came from Park Ward (London) who built six, later including a drophead coupe version. Franay (Paris) built five, Graber (Wichtrach, Switzerland) built three, one of them later altered by Köng (Basle, Switzerland), and Pininfarina made one. James Young (London) built in 1954 a Sports Saloon for the owner of the company, James Barclay.

The early R Type Continental has essentially the same engine as the standard R Type, but with modified carburation, induction and exhaust manifolds along with higher gear ratios.[3] After July 1954 the car was fitted with an engine, having now a larger bore of 94.62 mm (3.7 in) with a total displacement of 4.9 L (4887 cc/298 in³). The compression ratio was raised to 7.25:1.

1986-1992 Mazda RX-7

In between Mazda's unexpected and brilliant first-generation "FB" RX-7 (1978–1985) and its legendary and brilliant third-generation "FD" RX-7 (1993–1995) there was the nice, capable but not brilliant "FC" RX-7 (1986–1992). But not being brilliant shouldn't keep a car from being appreciated as, in the context of its time, being one of the best.

The second RX-7 brought with it several significant developments, including an independent rear suspension, rack and pinion steering and a new turbocharged model. Even a convertible was offered starting with the 1988 models. Normally aspirated models started the model run with 146-hp available from the company's "13B" rotary engines, which grew to 160 hp in 1989 models. The Turbo models started with 182 hp and grew to 200 with the introduction of the Turbo II model for 1989.

Unlike the first-generation RX-7, which could seem primitive and raw, the second one was always smooth, composed and thoroughly modern. It was also better built than the first RX-7 and far more practical in daily use than the more narrowly focused third-generation car. But it seems sweet-naturedness can take a car only so far.

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The Mazda RX-7 is a sports car produced by the Japanese automaker Mazda from 1978 to 2002. The original RX-7 featured a 1146 cc twin-rotor Wankel rotary engine and a front-midship, rear-wheel drive layout. 

The RX-7 replaced the RX-3 (both were sold in Japan as the Savanna) and later replaced all other Mazda rotary-engine cars except the Cosmo. The original RX-7 was a sports car with pop-up headlamps. The compact and lightweight Wankel engine (rotary engine) is situated slightly behind the front axle, a configuration marketed by Mazda as "front mid-engine". 

It was offered as a two-seat coupé, with optional "occasional" rear seats in Japan, Australia, the United States, and other parts of the world. These rear seats were initially marketed as a dealer-installed option for the North American markets. The RX-7 made Car and Driver magazine's Ten Best list five times. 811,634 RX-7s were produced

Saturday, September 14, 2013

1963 Ford Thunderbird Convertible

There’s no denying, the Ford Thunderbird is an iconic part of 50s and 60s Americana. The softer, more artfully crafted lines of the time made the Thunderbird comparable to cars like the Corvette and Bel Air.

One of our readers, Tom, wanted us to feature his stunning 1963 Thunderbird Sports Roadster with the special M Code option. And she’s a beaut– here’s the full story:

Thunderbird ("T-Bird"), is an automobile manufactured by the Ford Motor Company in the United States over eleven model generations from 1955 through 2005. When introduced, it created the market niche eventually known ...

1. How did you acquire your ride?

I acquired my ride by scouring the internet, month after month. Finally, I found the “holy grail” of all 1963 T-birds, the “M” Code Sports Roadster, located in Southern California, and made an appointment to view it. The “M” Code model came with 3 deuces and an aluminum intake manifold; an extra forty horsepower; a chrome engine “dress-up kit;” and a grab bar for the passenger.

When I arrived and saw it sitting, magnificently, in the seller’s driveway, I could barley believe my eyes. The seller had mentioned that a gentleman was flying in from Oklahoma, as we spoke, to take a look as well. It could have been an amazing sales tactic, but I believed the seller was telling the truth, and I couldn’t get my check book out fast enough.

2. What drew you in when you bought it?

My father had passed away late in 1962, and his dream car was the “Bullet Bird” Thunderbird from 1961 and 1963, however, he didn’t have the funds to purchase one due to his illness and raising his family. My father’s quote back then, which still rings in my ears when he looked at a picture of the Bullet Bird was, “I want one of these so badly, that I can taste it!” Somehow, I inherited his appreciation of the incredible lines and style of this amazing automobile and vicariously, I believe, he’s enjoying it now through me.

There were only 37 “M” Code Sports Roadsters made in 1963, and a mere 10 of those came equipped with A/C, with which, luckily, mine came equipped. My car was treated to a complete mechanical restoration, from radiator to tailpipes, over-seen by Ron Bates, the President of the “Thunderbird Sports Roadster Society,” whereby he contracted the late great master FE rebuilder, Gaines Markley, owner of the Bonneville Salt Flats, Class “C” gasoline powered engine record to rebuild my car’s engine.

3. Does it have a name?

My personal name for the car is “Ruby,” with an acknowledgment to the famous vintage song lyrics, “Ruby, you’re like a dream.”

4. What do you feel like when you drive it?

Driving it makes me, literally, feel like some type of celebrity. Although I realize that all the “thumb’s-up,” and the photo requests are for the car, I get the attention by osmosis. It’s a true “rock star,” anywhere I take it.

5. What would you change about your car, if anything?

There, literally, is nothing that I would change about “Ruby.”

6. What have you done to make it a bolder ride?

The only thing that I’ve done to make it a “bolder ride,” is that I’ve added a, rare, vintage Rotunda Tachometer, which were available as an option from the Ford Dealers at the time.

7. Dream accessory for it and why?

My dream accessory for Ruby would be power door locks, which were available only in 1963 for this model.

Monday, September 9, 2013

2012 Chrysler 300 SRT8

To the average driver, the term "horsepower" has, for all intents and purposes, no meaning whatsoever. Not surprising, really, as there isn't any single established explanation, at least not a good one, as to how today's piston-powered engines became so intertwined with the output of a horse. Think, for a moment: Can you really quantify how much power 200 horses produce? Regardless, and though not all engines have been measured with the same methods of certification, enthusiasts of the four-wheeled kind have well over a century of automobiles and their attendant horsepower ratings with which to occupy themselves.

The Ford Model T, way back in 1908, offered up 20 horsepower. The original air-cooled Volkswagen Beetle was rated at 50 horses or less, depending on the year and displacement. Fast-forward to 1955, when Chevrolet's newly introduced small-block V8 made an impressive 162 hp, and then to the release in 1964 of the Pontiac GTO and its 348-horsepower Tri-Power engine. We'll shimmy right past the lamentable 1970s and '80s (in 1975, it was possible to buy a Chevrolet Corvette with as few as 165 horses) because, more recently, there's been a very welcome power resurgence.

Our Editor-in-Chief's beloved 1991 Ford Taurus SHO is fitted with a Yamaha 3.0-liter V6 that was factory rated at 220 horsepower, and a few short years later, the 1994 Chevrolet Impala SS offered up a 260-horsepower V8. We bring up the SHO and Impala because they are four-door sedans, meaning horsepower need not be dismissed by the average man who must pile in his spouse and 2.5 children.

And now we have the 2012 Chrysler 300 SRT8. Lurking behind its blacked-out grille is a 6.4-liter Hemi V8 engine that ripples the pavement with 470 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque. To put that figure into perspective, its more ponies than such high-horse heavy hitters as the latest Chevrolet Camaro SS and Ford Mustang GT. In fact, it's 40 horsepower more than the 2012 Corvette. Giddyup.

Certainly, there's more to the 2012 Chrysler 300 SRT8 than its honker of a V8. But let's not kid ourselves – if the SRT8 is on your shopping list, it's 6.4-liter V8 is what put it there.

We're fans of Chrysler's redone LX sedans, which marry bold styling cues with large interior spaces, a refined chassis with a refined ride and satisfying rear-wheel-drive dynamics. As you're likely aware, Chrysler, now under the control of Italian parent company Fiat, has upped its game tremendously when it comes to interior quality and fit and finish. The latest 300 is a sterling example of the success of the model-line overhaul, as it is a vast improvement over its predecessor. The 300 SRT8 takes those good bones and raises the ante with a comprehensive list of updates to the engine, chassis, interior and exterior.

It wouldn't be a proper hi-po sedan without a more aggressive aesthetic, and we're pleased to report that the body kit fitted to the 300 SRT8 is quite handsome and understated. There are lowered sills, a small lip spoiler at the rear and a suitably aggressive fascia with a blacked-out grille. Inside, passengers are comforted with well-bolstered and grippy leather and Alcantara seats, while a slightly flat-bottomed steering wheel features sturdy metal paddle shifters. Metal pedals with rubber inserts look trick and match the steering wheel's paddles and spokes. Genuine carbon fiber trim and soft-touch plastics dress up the dash, which is punctuated in the center by a large 8.4-inch LCD touchscreen.

Chrysler's latest Uconnect touchscreen interface is easy to use and logically laid out. As we've come to expect these days, it offers up a plethora of audio options – AM/FM, Sirius, CD/DVD and inputs for auxiliary devices plus a USB and SD card slot – as well as Garmin-sourced navigation. Voice control is available, as is Bluetooth connectivity. The best part? All of it just works as you expect it to, without any of the frustration of competing systems.

We'd be remiss if we didn't also mention the display screen that details a digital readout of your best performance stats: 0-60, quarter-mile elapsed time and speed, braking distances and lateral Gs. It's great fun to play with... just be sure to keep your eyes on the road ahead and not the screen.

Chassis updates are abundant. The suspension is lowered half an inch and the wheel wells are filled out nicely with 20-inch forged alloy wheels and the buyer's choice of all-season Goodyear Eagle RS-A or three-season Goodyear F1 Supercar tires.

At 4,365 pounds, the 300 SRT8 is no lightweight, meaning the new Adaptive Damping Suspension system has its work cut out for it. Thankfully, ADS' ability to quickly adjust the suspenders to work with both the driver's inputs and the way the car reacts to the road surface is impressive. The big sedan doesn't often feel out of sorts, even when pressed with aggressive throttle and steering inputs. There is a driver-selectable Sport mode along with the standard Auto setting. We mostly left ADS in Auto for around-town driving, but we called up Sport enough times to recognize a slightly firmer invisible hand at play in that mode.

more on:

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2012 chrysler 300 srt8 review

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2012 chrysler 300 srt8 supercharged

Monday, September 2, 2013

Mercedes A170

The Mercedes-Benz A-Class is a small family car, produced by the German automobile manufacturer Mercedes-Benz. Many people say the A class is a supermini but it is small family car due to the fourfor is the supermini. The first generation (W168) was introduced in 1997, the second generation model (W169) appeared in late 2004, and the all-new generation model W176 launched in late 2012. Originally launched only as a five-door hatchback in 1997, the second generation W169 introduced a three-door hatchback to sit six inches below the five-door. In the markets that the A-Class is or has been sold in, it has represented the entry level model of Mercedes-Benz. Having grown by 68 cm since the original model, the 2012 A-class is now longer than the first-generation B-class.

First generation (W168: 1997–2004)

Launched at the Frankfurt Motor Show in the autumn of 1997, the W168 A-Class was quite unusual for Mercedes-Benz featuring a front wheel drive layout and unusual tall yet short body. One innovation of the W168 was a frontal-impact absorption system called the "Sandwich" (see patents DE4326 9 and DE4400132 in the name of Mercedes-Benz). In the event of a violent frontal impact, the engine and transmission would slide underneath the floor below the pedals rather than entering the passenger compartment. The W168 became infamous in 1997 after flipping over during the traditional "elk test" performed by the Swedish automobile publication Teknikens Värld.

According to the report, the W168 overturned when manoeuvring to avoid the "elk". Mercedes initially denied the problem, but then took the surprising step of recalling all units sold to date (2,600) and suspending sales for three months until the problem was solved by adding electronic stability control and modifying the suspension. The company spent DM 2.5 billion in developing the car, with a further DM 300 million to fix it.

Between 1997 and 2004, 1.1 million first generation A-Class models had been sold.[4] The A-Class was facelifted in 2001, with minor alterations to the front and rear bumper design and the addition of a new 170 mm (6.7 in) longer wheelbase version. It was launched at the Geneva Motor Show.

ModelYearMotorRated PowerSpeed
A160 CDI1998–20001.7L diesel (1689cc)44 kW (60 PS; 59 hp)158 km/h (98 mph)
A160 CDI2000–20041.7L diesel (1689cc)55 kW (75 PS; 74 hp)163 km/h (101 mph)
A170 CDI1998–20001.7L diesel (1689cc)66 kW (90 PS; 89 hp)175 km/h (109 mph)
A170 CDI2000–20041.7L diesel (1689cc)70 kW (95 PS; 94 hp)182 km/h (113 mph)
A1401998–20041.4L petrol (1397cc)60 kW (82 PS; 80 hp)170 km/h (106 mph)
A140 Auto2000–20041.6L petrol60 kW (82 PS; 80 hp)166 km/h (103 mph)
A1601998–20041.6L petrol (1598cc)75 kW (102 PS; 101 hp)182 km/h (113 mph)
A1901999–20041.9L petrol (1898cc)92 kW (125 PS; 123 hp)198 km/h (123 mph)
A210 Evolution2002–20042.1L petrol (2084cc)103 kW (140 PS; 138 hp)203 km/h (126 mph)

Second generation (W169: 2004–2012)

The W169 is constructed with high-strength steel alloys with bonded joints. It has a large number of airbags including optional rear side airbags (for side-impacts in the backseats), optional side-curtain airbags, and standard head and thorax-protection side airbags. The front airbags are adaptive with two-stage gas generators operating according to the severity of accident. The force exerted by the seat belt system during a collision adapts dynamically depending upon the collision characteristics. The 'active' head restraints (standard for driver and front passenger) give enhanced protection from neck injury, especially during rear collisions.

The angle of the A-pillar is flatter than the windshield angle. The cargo capacity of the W169 was increased by 15 percent compared with the W168. Seven types of motors are available, and all are four-cylinders: four petrol (gasoline) (A 150, A 170, A 200, A 200 Turbo) and three diesel (A 160 CDI, A 180 CDI, A 200 CDI) partnered with either five- or six-speed manual gearbox. A continuously variable transmission system called "Autotronic Constantly Variable Transmission" (CVT) is an optional feature.

The petrol A 200 Turbo provides 193 hp (144 kW) and 280 N·m (207 lb·ft) of torque (rotational force); the diesel A200 CDI has 140 hp (104 kW) and 300 N·m (221 lb·ft). The most powerful model can take the car from a standstill to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 8.0 seconds, and has a top speed of 218 km/h (135 mph). The newly developed direct-injection CDI diesel units use a common-rail direct injection system that improves fuel consumption and reduces exhaust emissions and noise levels.
All the engines meet the tight EU4 emissions limits. A particulate filter system is available as an option for the diesel units which reduces the particulate emissions by about 99% without the need for additives. The A-Class is a front wheel drive car and features traction control (ASR) as standard, as well as electronic stability control and anti-lock brakes (ABS).

Handling is improved by precision tracking and anti-roll support, and by a Parabolic Rear Axle. A "Selective Damping System", in which the shock absorber forces respond differently according to conditions, is standard. For example, under normal conditions it operates at soft absorption; while cornering at speed it changes to full damping force.

The W169 optionally comes with light-alloy wheels, with a run-flat feature, Tirefit tire sealant and a tire-pressure-loss warning device.

A four-day, seven-country tour which officially introduced the car culminated in an event in Milan, in the Castello Sforzesco, where all the touring units were received by a myriad of European personalities from music, fashion, sport and movies. Armani presented a fashion show and Christina Aguilera did a live performance of her song "Hello", composed exclusively for the occasion. The W169 advertising campaign included television spots with Christina Aguilera, Giorgio Armani and Boris Becker.

Sales of the W169 were targeted at 50,000 units in 2004. Dr. Joachim Schmidt, Executive Vice President Sales and Marketing, Mercedes Car Group, said that target had been reached even before vehicles arrived in dealer showrooms.Template:Ref required Japan models went on sale in 2005-02-04. Early models include 5-door right right drive versions of A 170, A 170 Elegance, A 200 Elegance.[9] 5-door right right drive version of A 200 TURBO Elegance was added in 2005-11-10

 Mercedes A170

There has always been a great deal of potential in the A-Class. It’s flexible, spacious and very well built – and it looks different to mainstream family models, too. The highlight of this latest round of changes to the range is the stop-start system, which brings about some useful fuel savings. But performance isn’t particularly impressive and the baby Mercedes is still wooden to drive, with an uncomfortable ride and only average handling. Plus, even in basic Classic trim, it’s quite an expensive choice, at nearly £16,000.

Don’t worry, your eyes aren’t deceiving you. This really is Mercedes’ new A-Class. With subtly tweaked headlamps, bumpers and a restyled front grille, it doesn’t look a lot different to the model it replaces – but there are revisions underneath the skin that are much more significant.

These include the new fuel-saving stop-start system, called Blue Effici­ency, which is available on the petrol A170 we drive. There’s also a fresh cabin and more safety kit. Do the changes finally put the A-Class on terms with the BMW 1-Series?

Well, the stop-start kit alone allows Mercedes to match its rival. Fitted to the four-cylinder petrol 1.7-litre, it operates smoothly, switching off the en-gine when you shift into neutral below 5mph while braking. As soon as the clutch is pressed or the middle pedal released, the engine frees up again.

This helps reduce fuel consumption from 42.8mpg to 46.3mpg, although CO2 output is unchanged at 157g/km. An ‘eco’ light on the dash tells you the system is active – it’s possible to turn off the stop-start function – plus there is a shift alert signalling the optimum point at which to change gear.

The engine is mated to a five-speed manual transmission, and offers reasonable performance in town. But on motorways, it becomes a little noisy.

As for the rest of the car, it’s business as usual. The suspension remains unchanged, the ride rather stiff, the steering is still imprecise and the seating position awkward, with not enough thigh support.

All-round visibility is great, though, and access to the high-mounted seats is easy. The dashboard is clean and functional, too. Other than revised fabrics, the interior is carried over, and it remains a quality affair.

Top-spec cars now have the option of a new ‘infotainment’ system, with hard disc sat-nav, Bluetooth and iPod connectivity.

Safety equipment is improved, too. The brake lights flash if you have to do an emergency stop to warn following vehicles, while a new hill-hold system prevents the car rolling back when pulling away on slopes. What’s more, thanks to its twin-height boot, simple folding rear seats and big load area, the A-Class is as practical as ever.

Do these changes go far enough? Well, the 1-Series is still a better car, but the entry Mercedes is now more frugal – and thus more appealing.

* Price: £15,680
* Engine: 1.7-litre 4cyl petrol
* Power: 116bhp
* Transmission: Five-speed manual, front-wheel drive
* 0-62mph: 10.9 seconds
* Top speed: 117mph
* Economy: 46.3mpg
* CO2: 157g/km
* Standard equipment: Electric windows, hill-hold assist, stop-start system, twin-height boot

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