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Sunday, November 30, 2014

UK Sells Most Expensive License Plate Ever



Have you ever had to pay for a new license plate? It’s usually around a few hundred dollars depending on what state you live in. Even the personalized license plates are about a hundred dollars. That though is definitely not the case across the pond in merry old England where someone just spent $813,622 for a plate.

The plate in question, 25 0, is set to go onto the back of a 1964 Ferrari 250 SWB that was once owned by Eric Clapton. This isn’t the first time we’ve heard of the UK selling license plates for staggering amounts of money. It is, however, the most expensive set in history. Considering the owner also purchased “250 L” for another Ferrari they own, the total came to a staggering $1,018,315.

Ferrari 250

Both Ferraris are worth amazing amounts of money all by themselves. Now. however, if the next buyer is in the UK, the pair are worth a considerable amount of money more than they would have been.

It does get you thinking about the total purchase price though. For $1,018,315, you’d think they’d round up to an even hundred of something?

Awesome or Atrocious? 4 Bizarre Car Accessories that Used to Be Cool

Automakers have always strived to put the latest and greatest gadgets in the cars they make. If you’re old enough to remember a tape deck or an eight-track player in your car’s dash, you know that cutting-edge technology doesn’t always stand the test of time. These innovative features may have wowed the public when they were new, but just like the acid-washed jeans in the back of your closet, you see fewer of them on the street today.

Pop-up Headlights

The first car that could wink its lights at you was the Cord 810, which was introduced in 1936. Each of the Cord’s headlights had a hand crank on the dash, which had to be turned to pop the lights out of the front fenders.

In the 1960s, pop-up headlights became increasingly popular on sports cars because they provided unique styling cues, but they also allowed automakers to get around headlight height regulations. The last mass-produced cars with pop-up lights were the 2004 Chevrolet Corvette and 2004 Lotus Esprit, and while retractable headlights could come back into style, the introduction of LED headlamps, which are brighter and smaller in size, means that concealed headlights are no longer necessary to maintain a car’s exterior style.

Record Player

Most of us don’t spend much time listening to vinyl anymore, but just like that DJ spinning records in a trendy nightclub, there was a time when you could cue up some 45s in your Chrysler. In 1956, you could get an optional record player in Chrysler, DeSoto, Dodge and Plymouth vehicles.

The system featured a slide-out turntable under the dash, which could be turned on with the flip of a switch. However, as drivers hit potholes or cruised down an imperfect stretch of road, it was likely that the records would skip. In-car record players were a long way from the USB/iPod connections we see in cars today, but they did pave the way for new in-dash entertainment options.

Third Headlight

The 1948 Tucker Sedan pushed the boundaries of car tech in its day. And although only 51 cars were ever made, the Tucker’s third headlight pioneered some of the features found on today’s high-end cars. Known as the “Cyclops Eye,” the Tucker Sedan’s third, middle headlight would swivel with the steering wheel to improve visibility around corners.

While an extra light seems like it would improve safety, at the time it was introduced 17 states had laws against vehicles having more than two headlights. As a result, Tucker made a cover to conceal the center light to keep the sedan legal in those states.

Hidden Gas Caps

Years ago, automakers used to hide gas caps in stealthy locations. Cars like the ’56 Chevy Bel Air had the gas cap hidden behind a taillight, which would swivel out of the way, while numerous cars from the 60’s and 70’s had their fuel fillers located behind the license plate.
Hiding the gas cap in a trick location streamlined the exterior style of these cars, but eventually, it was decided that fuel fillers that pointed to the rear could be dangerous. The problem was that if you got rear-ended, just a small bump could create a gas leak by breaking the pipe or ramming it into the gas tank. As a result, today’s gas caps are generally located behind a fuel filler door on your car’s side.
Automakers have to think outside the box in order to develop new features. While the novelties on these cars may not have stood the test of time, the creative force behind them ultimately helped hone the cars that we park in our driveways today.
Whether your gas cap is hidden or obvious, you don’t want to pay more for gas than you have to.

A More Hardcore Mustang Shelby GT350 is Headed to Detroit




Shelby GT350

They finally took the wraps off of the 2016 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 at this year’s LA Auto Show, but that’s not the last of the news on the Mustang. Some of the news might not be what you want to hear if you’ve been waiting for a convertible version, but there is more to tell.

Ford usually unveils its GT500 convertibles at the Chicago Auto Show, but there are no plans to do the same for the GT350 because they aren’t making one. Ever. According to Road and Track, this was how Ford planned this car from the start.

Shelby Mustang GT350 convertible photo

Ford views this as a performance car that will be pushed to its limits. Cutting off the roof to turn it into a convertible wouldn’t work because it would reduce the stiffness of the GT350 to a point where it would kill the car’s performance. That kills the whole reason for buying a GT350 in the first place.

Now to to good news. Ford did say that a new GT350R is about to make its grand debut in just a few months at the Detroit Auto Show. They’re touting this one as a more track-focused Mustang set to have all sorts of aerodynamic styling modifications along with beefier brakes and more aggressive tires for better handling. Color us excited.

Shelby Mustang GT350 Rear photo

Look for it when the Detroit Auto Show opens up in January next year.

Video: One Week With A Hellcat – How Civil Can 707 Horsepower Be?


After a media event with Chrysler where we were able to spend a little time behind the wheel of the 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat, we walked away with a different impression than what we had hoped for. It was a great car, but we felt it was just a brute and not civilized enough for regular driving.

Our first test drive was short, but sweet.

With only about 20 minutes seat time, we pushed the car hard – with our foot to the floor most of the time. We wanted to hear that 707 horsepower make sweet music – accompanied by one of the coolest of wind instruments: the Hellcat Hemi supercharger.

The sound was amazing, and the power is right there where you want it; a heavy right foot puts you back in the seat with ease. But we didn’t really get to enjoy the car for what it is: a refined modern musclecar. We didn’t have time to adjust the suspension, change some settings, or to just cruise with the car and have some decent, G-rated fun.

We never turned on the 900-watt audio system (we actually turned it off), we skipped using cruise control, and the climate control system was left where we found it. Instead of enjoying all of the incredible electronic technology, we set out to prove what we already knew: that it was brutal and faster than any other musclecar ever produced.

This supercharger can suck all of the air out of a 10×13 room in a minute, says Chrysler.

With 11.6 pounds of boost and an engine built with 91 percent new components, the engine was designed to handle over 700 horsepower. The car didn’t disappoint us with regards to performance; it’s fast and very quick – everything prior reports had promised it would be.

 We loved driving it and wanted to make sure it met our expectations. In other words, we drove it like we stole it.
Just about every article or video is about how the car is capable of doing ridiculous burnouts; most people want to tear up the 1320 to see if it’s as quick as the NHRA-verified reports had stated.

Granted, most media loaners of this caliber aren’t going to be driven like a grandma car and used for grocery shopping, but how can you get a real impression of a car if all you do is push it as hard as you possibly can?

No, we didn’t get caught speeding – we stopped to assist at an accident scene and it made for a great photo opportunity. That’s our story – and we’re sticking to it.
First Impressions Aren’t Necessarily The Best
For most of us, driving a musclecar is something we enjoy and we drive them as often as possible. For those who have a high horsepower musclecar, there comes a time and place for showing off because frequent trips to the gas station aren’t worth that feigned sense of victory; those moments are not your wallet’s best friend.
Our 2015 Hellcat arrived on Tuesday afternoon, looking great as ever.

We wanted to know more about the car, so we reached out to Scott Brown with Chrysler Communications and asked to borrow a Hellcat Challenger for a week. We told him we were going to do something different, though – we were going to drive the car, put some miles on it, and not spend the entire week doing burnouts or drag racing. On October 28th, a Hellcat Challenger showed up at our offices and it was ours for the six days that followed.

There were some rules that we laid down with the car, though. We wanted to drive it the entire week as though we had no other vehicle to drive. We weren’t interested in quarter mile or 0-60 times; we wanted to respect the car and to provide an honest assessment afterwards. We wanted to get a second first impression.

Maybe it sounds boring from a performance perspective to take it easier on the car, but if you’re interested in purchasing a Hellcat you’re probably not interested in spending the rest of your kid’s inheritance at the gas station. In other words, you might want to know what it’s like when you’re not pushing it to the limit, and that’s what we set out to do.

There's really nothing flashy about the Hellcat Challenger: no fat stripes or conspicuous markings anywhere. The 'SUPERCHARGED' emblem is pre-production, replaced with a Hellcat logo on production models. It's almost incognito - until you mash the throttle, that is.

It's every bit the musclecar, but it looks so peaceful when it's sleeping.

Drive It Like You Own It

Our time with the Hellcat was planned out: we went shopping, went to dinner, visited friends, cruised on Friday night, visited a couple shops, and we planned a long drive to Palm Springs and back with a local Mopar enthusiast club.
Driving the Hellcat is like having an equity line of credit – if you use it all up at once you’ll end up paying for it later.
For one whole week the car belonged to us; we drove it like we owned it and Southern California was the stomping grounds for the Hellcat for a few days.
Though we wanted to enjoy the car from a driver’s perspective, that’s not to say we didn’t have a little fun with it. After all, that’s the whole reason you buy a car with 700 horsepower. But that doesn’t mean you have to drive it like you stole it.

We found that driving the Hellcat is like having an equity line of credit – if you use it all up at once you’ll end up paying for it later. But if you use it wisely and sensibly you can live quite comfortably with it and actually enjoy it a little more.

Day 1 – The Arrival

We began our week with the Hellcat by spending about a half-hour in rush-hour traffic on the way home. We found the car to be very civil in traffic, the power was always there under our right foot, but cruising at lower speeds and keeping it below 2,000 rpm made it feel like just about any other car. Even at low speeds, the car has a mean and nasty sound to it and we knew that 707 horsepower was at our beck and call.

When was the last time you took a 707 horsepower car to get groceries?

That evening, we went grocery shopping. Most people had no clue as to what was so special about the Billet Metallic Challenger sitting in the parking lot, and it was hard to pretend it wasn’t special. With the exception of the hood (and what’s underneath it) and a couple of other styling cues, it simply looks like a new Dodge Challenger – making the Hellcat a bit stealthy in a big parking lot. We loved it – and hated it all the same: it’s a Hellcat fer cryin’ out loud!

The car is much more than just a musclecar; the trunk is huge and has plenty of room for groceries, a cooler for the beach, or even camping gear if you so desire. The rear seat area is difficult to get in and out of for an adult, but this is not a car you buy for carpooling to work. There’s plenty of room for smaller children in the back seat, providing they don’t scare easily by the occasional howl coming from the supercharger.

The Challenger doesn't have a huge back seat, but fold the seats down and the trunk space is extended to carry larger items.

Since most reports are about the performance, not much has been said about the luxury side of the Hellcat. Most of us think owning a musclecar means big power, a loud exhaust, and to hell with luxury.
 But the Hellcat is very refined, and there are options and electronics that are typically found in some of the most expensive luxury cars. Dare we say that it’s actually a nice car?

The seats are Nappa leather with Alcantara inserts, or you can go full Laguna leather. The front seats are very comfortable with plenty of adjustments, and the climate control system will cool you down or warm you up through the ventilated seats – even the steering wheel is heated.

 The power windows and mirrors don’t take away from the sporty interior, they look right at home with the design. The door panels belong in the Challenger, and the high center console gives you a feeling that you’re in a cockpit, not a car with tons of luxuries.

If all you want to do is drag race, then you don't need all of these luxury features. If you really want to drive the car, they're great features to have and they remind you that with the Hellcat you can have your cake and eat it, too.

The audio system pumps out some heavy bass thanks to Harman Kardon, and the rest of the 18 speaker sound system keeps your ears filled with 900 watts of power from the trunk mounted amplifiers. Inside the center console, you’ll find ports for a USB drive, iPod, and media ports to add your own music. Bluetooth connectivity allows you to sync the car with your smartphone.

Our property value just increased by $59,995 when we parked for the night.

On the center display, Sirius radio is available and it allows you to select and save favorites and store them in the system. Even though we spent a whole week with the Hellcat Challenger, we still didn’t get to experience all of the features on this luxury musclecar.

The street manners are very civil, and the car was easy to get around in traffic. The twin disc clutch did take some getting used to, but after a short time we were comfortable with the Jekyll and Hyde personality the Hellcat possesses. After a day of getting a feel for the car, it was time to put the Hellcat to bed and park it in the garage.

The Challenger took the place of a 1965 Plymouth for a week in the garage; though it’s a little smaller than the old B-body it seemed to completely fill the void left by the Plymouth. Pulling into the garage was like teaching a pit bull to use a doggie door; the Challenger is bulky and thick, and it took some time to get used to its overall size from the driver’s seat.

Strapped down and ready to spin the rollers. We had a crowd at the door with this one.

Day 2 – Dyno Day And The Gratuitous Burnout

Our first full day with the Hellcat was spent shooting video; we strapped it down on the dyno, and took it out on the open road. We invited our friend Dan Woods, from Chop Cut Rebuild fame, to come down to our shop and give us his impression of the car. He jumped at the chance; we think he was willing to tell his dentist to reschedule if the times didn’t sync.

No, Dan, there’s nothing to Chop Cut Rebuild here. Don’t get any funny ideas!

We also borrowed a potent Viper from our friends next door at A & C Performance as a photo backdrop.

 We snapped a photo of the Hellcat on the dyno behind the Viper, and posted the duo to our Facebook page to see if anyone would notice the Hellcat in the background.

 A few people noticed it, but some thought it was just a regular SRT Challenger. That’s kind of the beauty of the Hellcat – it’s somewhat subtle, but it’s Hellacious at the same time.

After strapping down, we made a couple of runs on our Dynojet dynamometer, and the Hellcat returned 624.34 rwhp and 592.29 lb-ft of torque.

Calculating for parasitic loss, that works out to about a 10 percent loss through the manual drivetrain, making for a strong run. The dyno can break some hearts, but it can also make your day.

The word is that the Hellcat is capable of more power than what is advertised, and some reports have it in the 720-730 horsepower range after achieving their dyno numbers.

We’ve heard from reliable sources that the supercharged Hemi was putting out closer to 800 crank horsepower initially, but a little bit of de-tuning and adjustments netted 707 – the least amount of power they could get it to in street trim.

We did a couple of runs with the Challenger, and we were impressed with it. The peak power was turning the rollers at about 132 mph.
After a little banter with Mr. Woods, he was off to get some seat time and promised to “drive it like a grandpa would.” Our video crew came back in one piece, but we’ve been told that Woods will need his own waiver next time around.

Woods asked for the red key, and he didn’t come back for a while.
That afternoon, we hit the winding back roads of Temecula to get some video footage and to see how well the car handles in the tight turns during spirited driving.

 For anyone who has jumped on the bandwagon claiming that the Hellcat is too heavy, the weight issue was put into a more rational perspective by one of our friends:

“The Hellcat is two people heavier than the Camaro, and three people heavier than the Mustang.” It doesn’t really sound like much additional weight when it’s put like that.

But the Hellcat has sort of a put up or shut up attitude when it comes to weight. It puts down some good, solid numbers that the Mustang and Camaro can’t currently touch.

 There’s no denying that they’re great cars and they can hold their own, but the Hellcat was built with one intention, according to CEO Tim Kuniskis: to shut people up.

 It might have worked in the beginning, too, because the automotive world went silent for a brief moment when the figures were released. Then the weight issue was all we heard about after that, and nobody was going to shut up about the Hellcat.

Based on the published crank horsepower, the Hellcat Challenger put down 624.34 rwhp and 592.29 lb-ft of torque, showing about a 10% parasitic loss through the drivetrain.

The Hellcat was the king of the mountain this past summer, and it was inevitable that the automotive world wanted to knock it down. It eventually happened sooner than we thought:

 the Hellcat’s reign as the fastest and quickest musclecar was very short lived. There’s already a new musclecar that exceeds the performance figures of the Challenger.

We took the car to a local hand-wash and we finally met someone who asked if it was a Hellcat. Here he is cleaning the wheels.
But Dodge will still be able to stake their position at the top, because the car that toppled the Challenger is the Hellcat Charger. It comes in at 5 mph faster, .2 seconds quicker in the quarter mile, and it just nudges inside the 0-60 time of the Challenger – and it’s even another 100 pounds heavier! The Charger also added “worlds fastest sedan” to its repertoire.

Until we get to take either car out on the road course, we can only say that the car handles very well for a heavy car. It can get away from you if you’re not careful, but the road manners are quite acceptable on this car. If you hit the brakes in a fast turn, you can feel it begin to oversteer, but keeping a firm foot on the throttle kept it on the road and it pulled through like a champ. Playing around with the suspension settings can help out a little here, too.

After testing out the handling, we knew there was something we had to do with the car: burnouts. Call it peer pressure if you want, but how can you have a car like this in your fingertips, with all that power, and not do at least one burnout? It’s physically impossible to abstain, and we admittedly caved so easily. One simple request by our film crew and we were putty.

We had to do this, and you know it.