Quick Spin: 2017 Toyota Prius Prime

Most enthusiasts have a hard time appreciating the Toyota Prius mostly because it is a vehicle which has become sort of the symbol of the anti-gasoline world. While it was not first, the Prius has defined what a hybrid vehicle is and has influenced the world with its technology. We now have hybrid luxury sedans, hybrid SUVs, and some of the fastest exotics in production are hybrids, too, and are loved by enthusiasts all over. 

But the Prius remains what it has always been – a more fuel efficient alternative to an econobox. I must admit that while I always appreciated the technology and the fact that Toyota has made this vehicle available to the masses, I never loved it. It handled and drove poorly, the internal combustion engine kept switching on and off while driving, and the design, both inside and out, just seemed weird to me.

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RedBull Global Rallycross – Excellent racing watched by few

Red Bull Global Rallycross makes its debut in Indianapolis this weekend, July 8-9, at Lucas Oil Raceway. What is it? It’s probably some of the best racing one can watch live. 

It’s basically rally racing on a small circuit, between half a mile and a mile in length, with a handful of cars at the same time. The races, like the rally races they’re based on, are over tarmac and dirt with a few jumps thrown in. The small venue allows spectators to be able to watch just about the whole race from one strategic point at the track. The races aren’t too long, either, so those with OCD or requiring frequent bathroom or vaping breaks won’t miss a minute of it.

The teams and the drivers are pretty approachable, too, with all the work done between each race heat under a canopy near the team’s truck. The teams are manufacturer based and sponsored, so fans of Fords, Subarus, VWs, and Hondas can cheer for this own and each automaker has a stand with their factory cars and parts. All of that makes Red Bull Global Rallycross one of the most interesting race series to spectate. 

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Traxxas Land Rover Defender is better than the real thing

While I never played with radio controlled cars I always wanted my kids to be at the least exposed to them. The reason is that there is a lot to learn from RC cars: suspension geometry, gearing, simple electronics and mechanics, maintenance, troubleshooting, and repairs. Doing all of those, and driving the little cars, improves hand-eye coordination, too. It’s a great toy for kids of varying ages and it’s something that parents can do along with them.

After spending hours walking around the four-level garage of the Barrett-Jackson auction, I came upon a Traxxas display near the customer tents. Other than someone once recommending this brand to me, I knew nothing of them. I talked with the company representative and he recommended one of their entry-level sub-$200 models to me over cheapo cars. His reasons were simple: they’re better made, easier to control, faster, and can be repaired. That $20 CVS RC car likely won’t last longer than a set of batteries. He had some valid points. 

Being a fan of realistic toys, Matchbox over Hot Wheels thank you very much, possibly slightly obsessed with Defenders, I was immediately drawn to a great looking Land Rover Defender 110 RC truck. The Traxxas rep told me that this was a crawler rather than a typical all-terrain RC truck. To me that meant ground clearance and gearing. When I got home I went right to the Traxxas website for some research.


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V.I.S.I.T.: Mitsubishi Delica in Boston

If there a vehicle that both obscure and renown, the Mitsubishi Delcia just might be it. Favorite among the explorers and the overlanders of the world, the Delica packs reliability, ability, space, and affordability into one efficient package. The Delcia was never sold in the United States by Mitsubishi but its more basic cousin van was, albeit in relatively low numbers. 

The third generation of the Delica is the one that most people prefer. Made in what many consider to be Mitsubishi’s heydays, it is modern enough to be reliable and comfortable but old enough to be cool. Since it has been more than twenty-five years since its introduction, the Delica is now legal for importation into the U.S. Judging by the sticker on the back of this little van, there is a shop in Philadelphia that specializes in these vehicles. 

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2017 Barrett-Jackson Northeast – Awesome Cars and Insane Prices

Kamil Kaluski June 26, 2017 For Sale

In its four days, the Barrett-Jackson Northeast sold 630 vehicles worth approximately $23.5 million. In addition to cars, the 72,000 people who attended the auction also bought 685 pieces of automotive memorabilia totaling $819,000. That’s a pretty good weekend.

The auction occurred at the Mohegan Sun casino which is located in eastern Connecticut, about half way between Boston and New York City. That is a rather perfect location as it brought in people from all of New England, New York City metropolitan area, and probably as far as Philadelphia. All of those are areas with people who have money to spend, which begs the question as to why this is only the second such auction in this area. 

Barrett-Jackson people confirmed what I noticed last week – the majority of the vehicles were American muscle cars but that majority has significantly shrunk. There were plenty of European cars as well as many 4x4s of all ages. There were surprisingly many Japanese cars, too, such as the two Nissan GTRs and numerous vintage Land Cruisers. The most shocking amount, both in terms of number of cars as well as their selling prices, were from the so-called Malaise Era. Along with those cars, Barrett-Jackson confirmed that they noticed a trend with many younger buyers and sellers. 

Below some cars that I found interesting cars and their prices. For full results go here

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2017 Barrett-Jackson Northeast – More than just muscle cars

Kamil Kaluski June 23, 2017 For Sale

I have spent more time than I want to admit watching various automotive auctions on the TV. It’s good background noise and occasionally something very interesting comes through in between what seems to be a sea of classic American muscle cars in various tastes of modifications. Prices vary from “OMG, that’s a steal, I wish I bought that!” (usually something foreign) to “who the eff would pay that much for this thing?!” (usually something relatively new and modified). 

In all, for most of us it’s entertainment. But part of me wants to see what exactly happens at these auctions, off the screen. This is why I will be attending the 2017 Barrett-Jackson Northeast Auction at Mohegan Sun.

The auction has been going on since Thursday. If you’re not in front of your TV or if you have cut the cable, the auction is being streamed here. I will only be there on Saturday, the last day. For a preview of what’s there I started browsing the lots. 

To my surprise, there is a lot more than just muscle cars. Below are a few cars that stuck out to me. The whole list is here. What’s most interesting to you?

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Quick Spin: 2017 Dodge Charger SXT AWD

Please give all the credit and respect to Dodge, all of FCA actually, for creating some of the most interesting vehicles on the market today. And then for having the guts to splash them in some equally ridiculous colors. Take this Yellow Jacket Dodge Charger, for instance. What other brand would offer a relatively pedestrian sedan in this color? BMW’s Individual Program comes to mind, but even that’s all custom order.

But there’s a little bit of an issue here. When I drove this car around, everyone had an opinion of the color. Unfortunately, aside from children and a friend of mine who owns Jeeps in orange and yellow, no one really liked it. So I ask, what is the problem here – the color or the fact that most people over forty have become boring geezers?

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Review: 2017 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring AWD

Two years ago my sister-in-law decided that it was time to replace her 4-cylinder 5-speed Honda Accord coupe with something new. Like everyone else in the world these days, she wanted a small cross-over. She wanted one for the same reasons that everyone else wants one for – higher ride, bigger trunk, ease of egress and ingress, and the availability of AWD. But she wanted something else – she wanted a car with some kind of a soul, not just an appliance. 

I advised her that soul is something that develops over time and promptly suggested a Jeepster Commando. When that was vetoed, I told her to test drive the RAV4 and the CR-V first. Then I sent her to MINI and Mazda dealerships. Like most would, she wrote the Toyota and Honda off right away despite the amazing deal she was offered on the RAV4. The MINI she wanted priced itself out rather quickly. The CX-5 emerged as a clear winner in terms of price, functionality, driving, and personality.

For 2017 Mazda has revealed the new CX-5. It is emphasizing the previous model’s zoom-zoominess and borrowing heavily from the handsome looks of its bigger sibling, the CX-9. Where other makers offer functional appliances, could Mazda win over more buyers like my sister-in-law who want a good-looking, fun to drive vehicle?

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24 Hours of LeMons: The Real Hoopties of New Jersey 2017 Wrapup

Every time I look our hard earned Judge’s Choice trophy, I shed a tear. It’s because I really wanted to win our class and I got that instead. It’s quite depressing that after almost four years of Lemons racing that’s the piece of crap trophy we have to show for it. But we will keep racing because it’s fun and we’re dumb enough to really want another crappy trophy. 

Anyway, the idiots that organize these dumb races put out the wrapup video of that race. We’re in it, of course. 

24 Hours of Lemons: Boston Globe reports on our NJMP race

Our rookie teammate for last month’s 24 Hours of LeMons at New Jersey Motorsport Park was my friend George Kennedy. Despite the fact that he is a full-time automotive journalist, we reluctantly allowed George onto the team. Before the race he has proven himself to be handy and during the race he has proven himself to good-ish driver, which was more than we could ask for. 

Being a professional that he is, George wrote an article for the Boston Globe about his race weekend. It went to print on Memorial Day but just recently it showed up online. Click here to read his version of race events. And here, again, is mine