2018 Dodge Durango SRT – 475 Horsepower and Three Rows

Kamil Kaluski February 7, 2017 The News!

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!

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Craigslist: Lada 2105 VFTS Rally Race Car

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.

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Quick Pic: Lada on the Move

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. 

First Drive: 2017 Dodge Challenger GT – The AWD Muscle Car

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. 

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1980’s Eastern Europe via 1:43 Cars and Stop-Motion Video

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. 

Enjoy this great little video and read more about Eastern European cars here

Quick pic: Detroit Versus Detroit

Kamil Kaluski January 30, 2017 Quick Pics

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. 

Quick Pic: Porsche 911 Safari – The Winter Beater

Kamil Kaluski January 26, 2017 Quick Pics


“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.”

Read the full story at Motor1.com. I wonder if there is any connection between this car and the 1986 Porsche 959 Paris-Dakar Rally Recreation we spotted at a Lemons some time ago.

Video: Simulator vs. Real Life Porsche 911 Carrera

Kamil Kaluski January 26, 2017 All Things Hoon

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.



Truck Thursday: Expedition Ready Cummins-Powered Land Cruiser


I’m in the process of writing up the review of a Nissan Titan XD with the new Cummins diesel engine. You may have seen the picture on our Facebook page of the Titan towing our Lada Lemons racer. To summarize, my gawd, that engine is just fantastic. Having been a diesel fan before, I am now a super-fan! Therefore expect me to be writing a lot more about diesel this and diesel that.

Starting this off is this expedition ready Toyota Land Cruiser. Sure, it has all the things commonly seen on expedition vehicles: lift kit, tires (not too big), rack, big bumper, winch, sleeping platform, and all that stuff. But the owner ditched Toyota’s excellent 4.5-liter in-line six and replaced it with a Cummins 4BT. Sure, it may not be even as powerful as the already under-powered factory engine but it has a few things going for it. First, torque at low engine speeds, which is nice to have when going up hills with a loaded truck. Second is increased gas mileage, which helps for many reasons. And finally, diesel fuel is available all over the world.

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Quick Pic: Tough Audi Choice

Kamil Kaluski January 25, 2017 Quick Pics

audi choice

The Audi RS 7 is one hell of a car. You may remember when our own Jason Connor took on Shift Sector in one. But then so is the Audi RS 2 Avant. While not as powerful at the RS 7, it is no slouch, and it is a wagon. It is also limited production modern classic, which in itself makes it special, whereas anyone with money can just go buy a new RS 7.

So, given the choice, which one would you pick?

Photo: Brendan McAleer