Today is a very special day, one when you should spend time with the one you truly love. I did exactly that by going over to my friend’s shop and spending some quality time with his ’98 Acura Integra Type R. While the picture above is not of his car, his looks exactly like it, down to the proper JDM front-end. Even the industrial setting looks very much like it.
Spending some time with the car you love will allow you to focus on the bigger things in life, things that really matter, such as the use of synthetic versus conventional engine oil. Pause, reminisce, discuss your future together, plan on spending more tome together, perhaps travel more. Just you and your beloved car.
Nissan’s new Titan comes in two sizes: half-ton and almost three-quarter ton, call it five-eighths ton. I reviewed the half-ton Titan last summer and while I liked it I did not think there was anything revolutionary about it – it was just another pickup.
The Titan XD changes that with its unique size and the availability of a V8 Cummins diesel engine. This combination really makes for an interesting package. We hauled our Lada 24 Hours of Lemons racer across the state of Massachusetts to its new home and to see how the Titan XD performs with light towing duties.
Say what you want about Chrysler-Fiat but they really the one company that has the balls to produce the kind of vehicles enthusiasts say they want. There’s the tiny Fiat 500 Abarth with a loud bark. RAM Rebels and Power Wagons come winches and other off-road gear previously available only in the world of after-market. Versions of the Grand Cherokee can go right into Moad or kill an unsuspected muscle car at the drag strip. The Wrangler still has a folding windshield! There is the Challenger with a hood that shakes and the Hellcat twins with more power than ability. There is the whole Alfa Romeo brand which is its own kind of special. They are nuts!
The craziest thing is still to come in form of the Challenger SRT Demon. But before that, FCA has decided to show us something more civilized. Something more functional. Something more subtle. That something is a Dodge Durango SRT, a 392-cubic-inch HEMI powered, 475 horsepower, three-row SUV that runs 12s in the quarter mile. And it can tow an 8600 pound trailer, too. Fuck yeah!
Eastern Bloc cars seem to grow more popular by the day. I have been writing them about them for many years now and I even come to own a Lada. My Lada has been converted into a Lemons car some time ago and it even won the overall grandest prize, the IOE. But I want to bring it to a higher level – I want to make it better, faster, safer, greater. Given its condition it’s a rather easy task as making it worse would be quite challenging.
In my research of Lada racing, parts, history, and everything, many times I have come upon Lada VFTS cars. VFTS, Вильнюсская фабрика транспортных средств, was a small repair shop in Lithuania (part of the Soviet Union back then) that transformed factory Ladas into proper rally cars. A total of about 30 cars were made and they competed in the ever awesome Class B in the 1980s. But they resurfaced in the 1990s in Hungarian rallies. Many of those were replicas of those VFTS cars, as is the one for sale here.
It has been a long time since we updated you on the Park Bench Racing Lada 24 Hours of Lemons racer. Life, jobs, family, all that stuff has been getting in the way… until now.
Recently the Lada made a trip from Ciro’s Auto Body to the same shithole shed where our amazing Buick has been built, and to the same master craftsman that built it. It runs, the chassis is straight, and its body is free of political stickers. We also picked up a used fire suppression system, because safety third. We have a tentative plan for the cooling system, lexan windshield, and brakes. The cage needs an update and it could use some new wheels and tires.
Big update on the whole thing is coming soon. In the mean time, if anyone has a set of 15″ Fiat 500 wheels for sale, please contact us – tipsAThooniverseDOTcom. We’re looking for sponsors, too. The damn project is already costing me more than I want to admit to.
When I first heard the idea of an all-wheel-drive Challenger I paused a little bit. I paused because the Challenger, like its competitors from Ford and Chevy, are the iconic muscle cars – V8, long hoods, long doors, rear wheel drive, burnouts, hell yea, and all that jazz. But the whole world has been fooled into thinking that all-wheel-drive is the best things since the internet. Some automotive companies remained in existence only because their whole line-up is AWD. Some iconic vehicles such as Mercedes’ AMG and BMW’s M are going with AWD, too.
Dodge says that offering the Challenger with all-wheel-drive is drummed up from data culled through sales and marketing research. They say that the most cross-shopped vehicle with the Challenger is the Charger, which has been available with AWD for some time, and that the sales of the AWD Chargers have been constantly increasing. The same goes for the V6 engine – it appeals to the largest group of buyers. So Dodge did the only thing that made sense – they made a V6 AWD Challenger.
The 1970s and 1980s era was a difficult one for the countries on the other side of the Iron Curtain. Most people were not able to get basic necessities, never mind luxury items such as one’s own home or a car. Travel to the western world equally challenging. The few who had a car, probably purchased by winning a lottery which allocated a car for one to buy, were limited to a certain models of rather crappy cars, and the whole family likely pitched in the money. Well connected people were bartering imported goods and those on high ranking state positions were living the life.
Through all of this many people persevered. They were able to take vacations, engage in hobbies, get a good education, and generally work the system. Many left their home countries in pursuit of better opportunities. Years later, the ones that remained overthrew the communist government and replaced it with democracy.
Aside from the obvious story of a girl, two guys, and race cars, the above video shows shockingly well how the streets of big cities looked like in those times. The example here is Budapest, capital of Hungary. The Ikarus buses, icons of those times, the occasional black Volga driving by, a Fiat with the equally iconic N126 camper, all of those are amazingly accurate. There is even a construction crew where one guy is working and another guy is watching him work. Stores full of merchandise that no one wanted or could afford. New gray apartment buildings and ornate prewar ones, decades old (at the time) trolleys, all perfectly represented. This could have been a scene from Warsaw, Prague, Moscow, or Belgrade, and it wouldn’t have looked much different.
Ignore the shared political stories for a bit. Actually, ignore them for the whole week if you can. If you read anything, read Josh Welton’s story about two Dodge Challengers – a story about Detroit and its revolution.
“Michael plans to use the Safari as his inclement-weather wheels while his fair-weather ride, a lightly modified 1991 911 Carrera 4, awaits in a climate-controlled garage. Michael favors the analogy of a road bicycle to a mountain bike, but you get the idea.”
I don’t think track days are going away anytime soon, but track driving can experienced in your basement now better than ever before. Check out the above video of Porsche 911 Carrera S being driven around the Autodromo Vallelunga near Rome. On left, the real thing. On right, the Assetto Corsa racing simulator.