“With the expansion this year’s show underwent, the Vancouver show is moving into the big leagues.”
“It is understood that a Z06 Corvette should be fast but this new model is also very precise and rewards even the average driver with a level of confidence and ability to go fast, that defies belief.”
Nevada is nice this time of year, especially when it includes thundering around Spring Mountain Motorsports Ranch in the all-new 650hp Corvette Z06.
For those that are not aware, the Z06 factory order code was a secret code available, on a word of mouth basis, back in 1963 for pure driving enthusiasts to get a faster and more capable race-ready car. The Z06 factory spec was resurrected in 2001 and has evolved ever since to now represent a separate line in the Corvette Stingray family. In fact the Z06 has separate badging and an entirely different look. To confuse things, there is even a more aggressive model or sub-model called the Z07 but it is sold as a Z06. Confusing I know.
As great as it is getting to drive a potent, rear wheel drive rocket on the track, the chance to rub shoulders with the people who make the car is just as exciting. Tadge Juechter is the Chief Engineer of the new Corvette Stingray and he told me that the already capable, 450hp base Stingray was intentionally designed to handle the more powerful Z06 package but the look of the Z06 is different and functional. As Juechter explains, “you get the wider body work, you get the custom quarter air inlet duck with fifty percent more air flow.” He went on to say “that’s the main secret with this car, you’ve got a lot of energy going in, how do you get that thermal energy out? So you’ve got bigger coolers everywhere, more flow, the aerodynamics are much more intense”. So all the parts that make the Z06 and Z07 more menacing, from the wider body to the additional spoilers and air intakes are functional.
Along with getting to drive as fast as my skills would allow, there were also a few hours on the street getting to test the livability of the Z06. This was a big part of the design challenge. Juechter states “You can use them as daily drivers, you can use them as a long distance tourer, the seat comfort is good over long periods of time and you can also hammer it on the racetrack everyday.”
The new Z06 really is a car without compromising comfort. The manual transmission is easy to shift, the clutch is light and the car is very easy to use, even in stop-and-go traffic. The secret is the magnetic ride control that makes adjustments to the shocks to smooth out larger bumps. The seats are supportive and the dash is futuristic. The previous buyers of the Z06 told Chevrolet that, yes they wanted a fast car but also the modern comforts, and this car has everything from navigation to a standard removable Targa top, even an available automatic transmission.
It is understood that a Z06 Corvette should be fast but this new model is also very precise and rewards even the average driver with a level of confidence and ability to go fast, that defies belief. Juechter explains how this was achieved. “We use the technology, either in the tire construction, or the electronic differential, magnetic selective ride, it all comes together in the performance envelope but make it very accessible to normal driver’s, so people of average talent can go very fast”. And fast I went. Driving both the Z06 with a manual or the new 8-speed automatic is a jolt of adrenaline that should be bottled and sold. The howl from the 650hp 6.2L supercharged V8 is a sweet sound from inside the car and even more threatening outside the car. The traction is uncanny and the cornering grip unshaken due to massive Michelin tires and race ready Michelin Cup tires on the Z07 trim. The brakes are very surefooted even lap after lap. What is fun is using the manual transmission with re-matching, letting the car automatically blip the throttle of downshifts.
The top dog is the Z07 package that includes ceramic brakes, the competition tires, more aerodynamic effects and a forty percent stiffer ride. This is the car to get if you are a track rat or take part in weekend club events.
But with roughly eighty five percent of Corvette buyers driving exclusively on the road, the Z06 offers the perfect balance of on-road livability with the extra punch for a little fun, the styling is also a major plus. The automatic is very quick on the track and opens up the Z06 to a new set of buyers but the 7-speed manual is so easy to live with, I’d stick with the stick.
The price isn’t cheap but it is a bargain in the supercar world. Starting at $85,095 and topping out at $96,915 for the Z06, or an additional $8795 for the Z07 package.
Power: 650hp from a supercharged 6.2L V8
Fill-up: 15.7L/10.6L/100km (city/highway)
Sticker price: $85,095
“Perhaps the most destructive force has four teeth and a naked tail – rats and mice, the same rodents that wiped out half the population of Europe by carrying Bubonic plague, can really mess with your classic car.”
Contrary to general perception, most classic cars aren’t fragile flowers.
In fact, many are anvil-tough, particularly American cars of the 1950s and 1960s, built with real Pennsylvania steel and very little plastic. But even these rolling bank vaults can be seriously screwed up by these five things: (more…)
In this age of ultra-short product lifecycles where a three-model-year run unchanged is an eternity, it’s tough to imagine the same basic design being produced for three separate decades or more.
Here are six cars that all had tortoise-like life spans:
The MG was the sports car North Americans loved first, with U.S. servicemen bringing back rakish MG TCs from the UK. The MGB was the first “modern” sports car from MG that included features like actual roll-up windows and (from 1967 on) a fully synchronized manual transmission. When it was introduced in 1962, few thought that it would be the last MG sold in the U.S. Sadly, that’s how it turned out. After a titanic 18-year run, the B exited the world little changed from the way it entered. The engine and body shell were the same basic units that were being built during the Kennedy administration.
1954-83 Jeep CJ-5
The CJ-5 was actually a variant of the Korean War-era military Jeep. Far more suited to civilian use than the WWII-era Jeep, the CJ-5 was a hot seller for American Motors, which took over Jeep’s parentage from the old Kaiser automotive group. The CJ-5’s short wheelbase gave it a terribly choppy ride and made it rollover-prone in emergencies. Nevertheless, it remained in production for an astonishing 30 years, and there is a fair amount of CJ DNA in today’s Wrangler.
1949-80 Volkswagen Beetle
For a car that was a virtual orphan cast-off at the end of WWII, the Beetle wound up doing OK. The Allied occupying powers didn’t quite know what they should do with the car, which was commissioned by the Nazis to give loyal subjects mobility on the new Autobahn superhighways. They elected to let the post-war Germans keep the funny little car, and the rest is history. Although the last Super Beetle Cabriolets were sold in the U.S. from 1980-81, production of the basic Beetle sedan continued in Mexico until 2006.
The 911 celebrated its 50th anniversary recently, but to be fair, we cut this off in 1989, the last year for the original torsion-bar suspension, air-cooled 911. It’s simply amazing how little of the basic car changed over the course of 25 years, from the primitive heating system, to most of the glass, roof and doors, as well as the basic engine design. 911 fans seemed just fine with that as the car outlived its intended successor – the 928.
1968-82 C3 Corvette
Corvettes through their history had been on a somewhat fast and furious development pace ever since Zora Arkus-Duntov decided to show Chevy how to make it into a real V-8-powered sports car in 1955. The second generation, or C2, Corvette (which many argue was the best of the classic Corvettes) was only around from 1963-67. The car that replaced that version, however, hung around for 14 long years. To be fair, these were tough years for GM, which was hammered by imports and two fuel crises. There were several mid-engine design studies that came perilously close to replacing the C3, but it never happened, and the same basic design lasted from LBJ to Reagan.
1960-82 Checker Marathon
One of the few purpose-built taxi cabs ever sold in the U.S., they were infinitely nicer to ride in than the clapped-out Ford Crown Vics that seem to serve as cabs everywhere in the U.S. Similar in roominess to the classic London taxis still in service, with their handy fold-down jump seats, the Marathon also added a useful trunk to the mix. Although the vast majority were used as cabs, ultra-practical eccentrics did from time to time buy Marathons as civilian transportation. Twenty-two years wasn’t long enough.
Rob Sass is the vice-president of content for Hagerty Insurance. Hagerty is the world’s leading specialist provider of classic car and boat insurance. Learn more at hagerty.ca and you can email rsass [at] hagerty [dot] com
In British Columbia alone, new car dealers account for more than $10 billion annually in economic activity…
by Blair Qualey
President of the New Car Dealers Association of BC
It’s that time of year again, when car shoppers can check out the hottest trends, latest innovations and some old classics at the 94th annual Vancouver International Auto Show.
This year’s show, which runs from March 25 to 30 at the Vancouver Convention Centre West, promises to be a great family-friendly event with some exciting new features, following a record-breaking year for auto sales in Canada in 2013.
The show is owned and operated by the New Car Dealers Association of BC, serving as a new model showcase for the Canadian automotive industry and representing more than 30 distinct brands from the world’s leading manufacturers.
Canadians purchased a record-setting 1.74 million cars last year: a four per cent increase over 2012 and just the second time in history that the market has ever surpassed 1.7 million units.
In British Columbia alone, new car dealers account for more than $10 billion annually in economic activity. This makes it an important industry for entire province where our dealer members employ, directly and indirectly, more than 34,000 high paying, full-time people in the more than 50 communities they serve.
The show may be at the coast and therefore a little too long a drive for many readers but I would encourage you to cast your eye over show media coverage and use that material for information and ideas. Then go to visit some of our members’ dealerships where they operate an ‘auto show’ for 52 weeks a year!
For those of you who can attend be sure to participate in the Green Ride and Drive, which puts you at wheel of the latest eco-friendly vehicles. Another feature is the Exotics, which is a selection of truly exhilarating automobiles – you can dream!
Visitors at this year’s show will also get to experience a bit of automotive history at Hagerty Classic Alley, featuring beautiful cars from the 1950s and 1960s, including a special salute to the Ford Mustang and its 50th anniversary celebration.
Two classic cars will also be auctioned off, with 100 per cent of the funds going towards two very deserving causes. The first is a 1966 Plymouth Satellite, funds from which will go towards the MS Society of Canada. The second is a 1966 Ford Mustang Coupe, profits from which will be donated to the New Car Dealers Foundation of BC.
For more information on the show visit: vancouverinternationalautoshow.com
*Blair Qualey is President and CEO of the New Car Dealers Association of BC. Email him at bqualey [at] newcardealers [dot] ca.
The 1976 Porsche 911 Turbo Carrera is probably the one most capable of preventing the fulfillment of one’s automotive bucket list…
With baby boomers seemingly more aware of their own mortality these days, “bucket lists” of things to do before one’s demise have become increasingly popular.
Here are five of the cars everybody should drive before kicking the bucket, taking the big dirt nap, biting the dust or, well, you get the idea:
1. 1967 Corvette L88
The L88 was the Corvette that ordinary civilians weren’t supposed to be able to buy. Rather, it was built to be taken racing by “privateers” (GM was still observing a ban on manufacturer supported racing). Although a regular production option, the L88 was expensive and came with almost no creature comforts. The horsepower was deliberately underrated on the option sheet to come in below the regular 427-cubic-inch 435-hp engine to further discourage Average Joe buyers. In reality, the L88 could make over 500 hp on racing fuel. Acceleration was shattering. It’s the ultimate classic Corvette Sting Ray.
2. 1967 Shelby Cobra 427
Carroll Shelby found that there was almost no spindly little British sports car that couldn’t be improved with the insertion of an American V-8. Under Shelby’s direction, the Sunbeam Alpine became the Sunbeam Tiger, and the AC Ace became the vaunted Shelby Cobra. The baddest version of the Cobra sported a 427-cubic-inch engine that was similar to the one developed for NASCAR. Cobras are hot, noisy and cramped, but they’re really the greatest expression of the muscle car ethos—cram the largest possible engine into the smallest package.
3. 1992-98 McLaren F1
The F1 was everything a supercar should be but so seldom is. Many modern supercars are as much a fashion accessory as a car. Nobody ever bought an F1 as a bauble. Because of the car’s somewhat minimalist nature, and the fact that it was offered only with a conventional three-pedal manual transmission, posers didn’t apply. It’s a reasonable certainty that Kanye West doesn’t own an F1. With three seats and a center driving position, plus reams of Formula One technology and incredible performance (0-60 in 3.2 seconds, ¼ mile in 11.6 and a top speed of 241 mph), the F1 is the one supercar that should be on any automotive bucket list.
4. 1976 Porsche 930
Of all the cars on this list, the earliest version of the Porsche 911 Turbo Carrera (otherwise known as the 930) is probably the one most capable of preventing the fulfillment of one’s automotive bucket list. Early 930s were somewhat diabolical cars with tires that were a bit too small and a turbocharger that lit up suddenly and with a vengeance. The turbo’s abrupt nature could make for scary driving at inopportune times (like the apex of a corner). But it’s the car’s ability to bite back that can make it so much fun and a genuine accomplishment to master.
5. 1970 Plymouth Road Runner Hemi Superbird
The Superbird appeals to anyone with a “stick it to the man” sensibility. It’s whole reason for being was to introduce the streamlined nose cone and giant wing into Chrysler’s NASCAR efforts back when NASCAR still had homologation requirements for race cars. Although available with Mopar’s excellent 440-cubic-inch V-8, it’s the 426 Hemi that belongs on anyone’s automotive bucket list. Between the view over the long hood and nose cone and the view out the back with the five-story-tall wing, the Superbird driving experience is like nothing else.
The Corvette won the North American Car of the Year award, exactly a year after it debuted…
The motor city was abuzz at this year’s Detroit Auto Show. The car industry is roaring back in the US and we have record sales in Canada, so there are many new products for all segments of the market.
The performance Corvette Z06 got its name back in the 1960s when customers could order a high performance “Z06” package that delivered a track-ready Corvette.
Today, Chevrolet is still delivering track-ready Corvettes, now they come with the Z06 name. The all-new 7th generation Corvette Stingray was unveiled last year in Detroit and it won the North American Car of the Year award, exactly a year after it debuted. This year it was all about Z06, featuring a 625hp all-new supercharged engine with an all-new eight speed automatic transmission and for the first time the roof panel is removable for open air driving. Using the same all-aluminum platform as the regular Stingray, this new car is lower, with bigger tires and brakes, more cooling inlets and in initial testing, is the fastest Corvette Chevrolet ever made.
The Z06 will be available in the early part of 2015.
Any new F-150 is a huge deal for Ford, as it is the number one selling truck in Canada for the past 48 years and the best selling vehicle overall.
The big news is that the all-new F-150 is now constructed using lighter high-tensile steel in the chassis, and high strength aluminum alloys in the body, mostly the trucks box. This combination contributes to a 318-kilogram reduction in weight, helping to make the truck stronger and much more fuel-efficient. There will be four engines available from a base 3.5L V6 to a 5.0L V8 and two Ecoboost engines, a 2.7L and 3.5L V6. Ford did not have specific fuel economy numbers but there will be a significant improvement over the existing truck. Other improvements include an improved tailgate stepladder that folds away easier and power locking and folding tailgate.
The New 2015 F-150 will be available later this year.
Some might remember the Chrysler Sebring sedan. That nameplate was retired and rebadged as the Chrysler 200.
This all-new Chrysler 200 is light years away from that old platform. In fact, it uses the same Alfa Romeo platform found under the Dodge Dart and impressive Jeep Cherokee. The strong points of this platform are excellent on-road manners with a quiet interior and superb handling. There will be a 2.4L 4-cylinder engine with 184hp or the optional 290hp 3.6L engine found in many other Chrysler products. The Chrysler 200 will have front wheel drive or optional all wheel drive, derived from the same system used in the Jeep Cherokee. This will provide Chrysler with a unique offering as most other manufacturers stick with two-wheel drive. The interior features the Uconnect computer interface system and is covered in soft-touch materials and supportive seats.
Look for the all-new Chrysler 200 to arrive in late spring and starts at $22,495.
Porsche 911 Targa
One car that pulled big crowds was the new Porsche 911 Targa. We all know what a Porsche 911 looks like; they have been modifying the same basic shape for over 50 years.
What this new Targa has is a retractable roof system that will stop traffic. At the push of a button the whole rear of the car releases and the centre convertible roof is stored underneath, then the rear section is again attached. The back panel incorporates a wrap around rear window, making a distinctive statement while keeping the overall design of the car intact. Previous Targa models had either a removable centre panel of a glorified, oversized sunroof, this new model is the best of both.
Starting at $115,900, all Targa models will come with AWD and will arrive this spring.
Mercedes Benz C-Class
The C-Class is so important to Mercedes brand in North America that they held the world debut of the C-Class here, plus it is their number one selling car. Arriving later this spring and summer, this new compact sedan is a longer and wider and uses a combination of high-tensile steel and aluminum components to shed 100kg for a 20 percent reduction in fuel economy. An all-new turbocharged 2.0L 4-cylinder is the base engine with 235hp. The optional 328hp 3.0L V6 is the other power plant initially. The highlight is the more dynamic looking exterior and superb interior. The dash is stunning, featuring a touch screen iPod type screen mounted on the back.
*The best and brightest from the 2014 Detroit Auto Show, from American muscled classic like the Corvette and the Mustang to the newest from Toyota, Fiat, KIA, and Mini’s John Cooper Works…
Most of the focus on the collector car world comes from televised auctions where six-figure cars are the norm, so it’s easy to conclude that the average person is priced out of the collector car world.
But the fact of the matter is there are still plenty of interesting collectible cars out there for under 10 grand. Granted, they tend to be from the 1970s and 1980s rather than the 1950s or 1960s, but they’re all fun to drive and relatively easy to live with. Here are five of our favorites: (more…)