2018 New England International Auto Show: Key takeaways

JOTD visited the New England International Auto show about a week ago and we wanted to share some of our impressions, takeaways, and general thoughts on the show itself and some of it’s more notable attendees.

The good:

Photo credit: MotorTrend

The Audi RS3 looks even better in person than it does in publications (certain wheels aside).  It has a presence beyond it’s size and it’s up there in the “wolf in sheep’s clothing” category with the older M5.  Bonus points to Audi for making in tall-person friendly!

 

The Genesis lineup had a strong presence there and the cars did not fail to deliver.  Interior fit and finish is very tight and overall material quality is excellent.  I’m not saying they are on-par with the S-Class (yet), but at a fraction of the price, they are most definitely worth a serious look.  We loved the look of the G80 Sport with the copper accents and aggressive wheels (pictured here), well done Hyun…errr…Genesis!

The new favorite of many automotive publications everywhere, the Kia Stinger, was there as well.  Once again, pictures simply don’t do it justice.  It looked great up on stage and not overly bedazzled as it might appear in pictures.  The lines are aggressive but not overly so and we think it will age well, but the verdict on that will, obviously, have to wait.

The Lexus LC500’s taillights are an incredible detail on an already drop-dead gorgeous car, see for yourself.

The bad:

While the new Ford Expedition does look the part of the big family-hauling, highway consuming behemoth with a handsome, masculine exterior, the interior was far from impressive.  For a $70k truck, we’d expect more than a sea of hard black plastic for a dashboard (with a comparatively miniscule infotainment screen) and a few more luxuries to accompany it.

Where were Mercedes Benz and BMW in all this?  Did they both decide to call in sick?

Thanks for reading!

 

Re-imagining classics, who is doing it well?

Nowadays, you have plenty of people out there breathing new life into old cars.  The process of starting from scratch with a decrepit old shell of a car and bringing it back to former glory is a long road filled with media blasting and more cursing than you thought possible.  What we’re seeing more of these days is shops and companies making a name for themselves producing NEW vehicles that are nearly identical to the vehicles of old that they are replicating.  Some start with an old shell, others manufacture new bodies, but these companies are putting together some very high-quality vehicles that are commanding some very high prices to match.  Here are some current leaders in this small world of factory “resto-mods” that we think you should pay attention to.

Singer:  What do you do if you want the modern conveniences of a new Porsche, but lust after the mechanical, analog feel of an older 911.  You get Singer, a California based shop that has completely changed the way people look at modifying classic cars.  Put simply, this is the old 911 re-imagined for the 21st century.  Every car is completely redone from frunk to whale-tail and the attention to detail is astounding.  Expect to pay a pretty penny for a car that fits you like a glove and will put a smile on your face like nothing else can.  It’s not chump change, but some would argue this is about as close to perfection as you can get.

Icon:  The Toyota FJ40 has long been an icon (icon…get it?) in the off-roading community.  The time-tested capability and reliability are second to none, and Icon has made a market for themselves building these older cruisers from scratch with modern amenities.  You can even outfit your 2 door Icon with a 4 on the floor and a Chevy 350 if you so please.  The craftsmanship that goes into turning one of the most rattle-filled (albeit rock-solid) trucks on the planet into something that you can tolerate driving on a daily basis is nothing short of incredible, and their pricing does reflect that.  They not only work on the tried-and-true Toyota, but also turn out some show-stopping Broncos.  But rest assured, if we had the budget, an Icon would be at the top of our list.

Eagle:  If classic British motoring is a passion of yours and you’ve got some money burning a hole in the pocket of your Barbour jacket, look no further than the Eagle E-Type.  Many argue that the Jaguar E-Type is the most beautiful car ever made (Enzo himself said that), and Eagle is hand building them as we speak (albeit in lower numbers than the original).  However, each E-Type produced by Eagle is 100% handmade in their factory to very exacting standards.  You can even custom build your own bespoke E-Type to your liking, does it get any better?  Hard to believe that the most beautiful car on the road could be reimagined at all, but the folks at Eagle have definitely pulled it off.

Factory Five/Superformance:  These two get lumped together often as producing some of the best replicas of the older American performance cars (Shelby Cobra, Daytona coupe etc.)  Factory Five has a strong support base and allows you to build the car EXACTLY how you want it.  If you are a backyard mechanic, however, your Cobra replica from Factory Five might not operate like a swiss watch.  If you opt for the spend-ier Superformance, you get a car that was 100% put together in a factory with high quality parts that were made to go together, but as a result, you are paying up for that privilege. Whichever of these two you select for you gas-guzzling fix, you are sure to get a car more than capable of leaving some rubber on the pavement.

If you are in a position, and looking, to purchase something that’s unique, classic and modern all rolled up into one beautiful piece of sheet metal, look no further than these artists keeping classic cars alive.

Salt life: what is undercoating and why does it matter?

For those of us lucky enough to live in some saltier climes, rust is a fact of life.  Our cars and trucks succumb to this parasitic oxidation more often than not and there are only a few things we can do to slow the process down.  Chief among those is what is universally called undercoating, and we’re going to lay out some of the details here.

While the exact chemical make up of different undercoatings will vary, most are an oily substance designed to stick to the bare metal of your car or truck’s undercarriage and protect it from the elements.  Doing so will keep your vehicle from rusting and meeting an early demise due to the “car cancer”

Some swear that products are very easy to apply with some free time and a few spray bottles.  Others recommend a professional shop that specializes in undercoating.  Whichever route you choose, be sure to remove as much of the existing rust as possible, and apply a rust “reformer” spray to the stuff you can’t remove.  This will convert rust back into a strong/safe material and will allow you to coat or paint it without being concerned about it returning.

Professional shops will often charge upwards of $100 dollars for their service, but what they can do (that you might not be comfortable doing) is drill small holes in doors and other panels to apply the coating to the inside of those panels.  This means you are less likely to see bubbles coming through your paint and rotting your car from the inside out.

Suffice it to say, if you plan on keeping your vehicle for a long time, an undercoating is a safe way to protect your car for years to come.  A simple DIY job or a relatively inexpensive professional package will guarantee that your car doesn’t fall pray to rust and leave you wondering why you ever moved to New England.

Some Italian flare for the civilized Bugatti?

Stephan Winklemann now finds himself at the reigns of one of the biggest (and fastest) names in the business, Bugatti.  The former raging bull CEO (2005 to 2016) is a German born, Italian raised and is reported to have been eyed for the position since earlier this summer.

This move brings to light a number of other changes within the big brass at the VW group, with other notable long-time Audi RS man Stephan Reil moving to somewhere to be determined and several moves being made within Porsche to accommodate the retirement of Wolfgang Durheimer.

Winklemann successfully brought Lamborghini into the 21st century while still staying true to the N/A roots of the brand so it’ll be exciting to see what he does with the storied Bugatti brand.

Here we go again…

Kobe Steel has become wrapped up in a scandal involving many major automobile manufacturers (and some aerospace) and the steel they use to build their vehicles.

Kobe Steel is alleged to have falsified numbers in order to meet quality standards required by their automaker and aerospace customers.  In short, they lied about the quality of the steel being sold to Toyota, Mazda, GM, Mitsubishi and Boeing, among others.  It is believed that there are as many as 500 companies that have received sub-par quality steel.

Manufacturers are taking every precaution and checking the quality of the materials they have received from Kobe Steel and are assessing the possible ramifications as a result.

The Kobe Steel Company has already taken a 40% hit to their stock price and their future looks grim.  Their CEO has said they will take full responsibility and has already launched an internal investigation into how this happened in the first place.

 

Performance bargain spotlight: Audi RS4

What do you get when you take an average AWD family sedan and inject it with 8 cylinders that scream to a glorious redline of 8250 rpm?  The answer, folks, is the Audi RS4.  Long coveted by enthusiasts looking for subtle speed, the RS4 was the fastest variant of the B7 A4 platform and is no longer available in the states.  We had the opportunity to glimpse one for sale out towards western Massachusetts, and it did not disappoint. 

With an original MSRP of over $80,000, this particular example from 2008 is finished in the ever-popular Daytona Gray with just a hair over 75k miles.  From the outset, it is clear this was a well-maintained car.  Service receipts are plentiful, and creaks and rattles are basically non-existent.  There are a few very minor blemishes on the car, but only ones you’ll spot if you’re really looking for them.  But then again, vehicles like this were never meant to be center stage at a concours d’elegance, these cars were meant to be driven. 

The interior shows some wear consistent with a nearly 10-year-old car, but there’s nothing that a little bit of TLC couldn’t fix.  The white interior sets off the gray exterior nicely and could look almost brand new with a good leather treatment.  

The car is located at Right Way Auto Sales in Southborough, MA and is listed at a very fair $29,995.  Considering the level of refinement, gobs of power, and overall desirability of the RS4, the price is quite appealing.  Here’s to hoping it finds a new home where the new owner will appreciate it for the wolf in sheep’s clothing that it is.    

A Brief Thought on Electric Vehicles

Auto enthusiasts and non-gearheads alike are wondering when the electric vehicle will become more mainstream.  Tesla’s successful shattering of the “uncool” stigma that plagued EVs and hybrids of the past has many new startups trying to follow suit (yes, we’re talking about you, Faraday), and this has people wondering; what is standing in the way of electric cars taking over?

Well for one, there’s the lack of proper infrastructure.  Many people are still married to the idea that they can simply jump into the car and drive wherever they like, limited only by the size of their bladders and frequency of gas stations along the way.  The often innate desire to be able to drive across the country at the drop of a hat can be found deep in the recesses of their repressed wanderlust, and that very notion being limited is what hurts electric vehicles sales no matter how little it actually matters to the workaday commuter.  The idea that once the needle hits “E”, there is no way to power back up in 5 minutes (unless you have carefully crafted your route around available charging stations) is a tough pill to swallow.

Batteries come to mind as another limitation.  Their size, weight, and general lack of performance hinder what are otherwise very technologically advanced vehicles.  Advances in battery technology to the point where they can last longer, weigh less, and offer up more overall performance will be needed to move more EVs from dealership lots and get the general population on board with accepting these vehicles as a viable alternative to traditional fossil fuel vehicles.

Until charging stations or battery swap locations are more actively subsidized and built at a more rapid pace to match the ambitions of major manufacturers, the majority of consumers will still pick the regular, fossil fuel burning auto over the futuristic EV as their primary mode of transport.

What are your thoughts on electric vehicles?

Fiat Caught in UAW Labor Scandal

The former Fiat VP of Employee Relations, Al Iacobelli, has been indicted for donating upwards of 1 million USD to UAW (United Auto Workers) officials to be put towards mortgages, jewelry and even a $315,000 Ferrari.  All of the above puts Fiat in a tough spot as the donation is in direct violation of the Labor Management Relations Act.

This is coming on the heels of Fiat’s own version of #dieselgate (admittedly on a much smaller scale) and undoubtedly has the manufacturer’s reputation taking a bit of a hit.

Image result for Fiat 500 Abarth
Photo Credit: Edmunds.com

 

Want to own a BMW M5 of internet fame? Look no further…

YouTube star Parker Nirenstein of Vehicle Virgins has decided to sell his e39 BMW M5 and is listing it for sale on the beloved www.bringatrailer.com auction site.

Notwithstanding its video documented car, e39 M5s are quickly climbing in value and this one is no exception.  If you weren’t already pining for a reasonable fun car with no electronic nannies, we bet you are now!
http://bringatrailer.com/listing/2001-bmw-m5-16/

Subaru brings in the big guns

If you’ve been paying any attention lately, you’ve likely heard the buzz surrounding new versions of the Subaru BRZ and STI that are coming out.   Well Subaru has finally released images of the STI Type RA (Record Attempt) and BRZ tS (tuned by STI) and, simply put, they look menacing.

Thanks to new pistons, cold air intake, exhaust and a retuned ECU, the RA will get a slight bump to 310 hp (up from the standard 305).  A different 3rd gear ratio and removal of the spare tire make the car feel lighter and nimbler than previous years.  19″ BBS wheels wearing some sticky 245 section Yokohama tires round out the exterior package alongside some carbon fiber aero and subtle visual clues to let onlookers know this is not a standard STI.

The BRZ tS gets a host of suspension work and chassis stiffening.  Sachs dampers and coil springs on all 4 corners coupled with V-bracing up front will undoubtedly make this an apex-slayer to the utmost degree.  Add some lightweight 18″ wheels and some sticky 215 section tires in place of the old Prius-sized pizza cutters and you have a recipe for a knife-edge vehicle that will probably be quite happy at the road course.

Visual updates will be limited to some carbon fiber aero bits and some well-bolstered seats inside the cabin, but then again, it’s all about the go and not the show here.

We look forward to the release of pricing and detailed specs of these two new track-focused, pavement-hungry animals from the mad scientists inside Subaru’s STI division.  They are expected to go on sale in early 2018 and well frankly, that can’t come soon enough!

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