The 2018 Lexus LS 500 Is An Ugly Terrible Mess And Nothing Can Help It

After staring at it for longer than anyone ever should I’ve come to the conclusion that its god awful gaped whale face is actually doing it a favor. After tweaking it a bit you can clearly see that giant grill is the perfect distraction from realizing that it’s a pinched face Maxima/new Jaguar/Panamera looking hybrid.  Let’s pray someone at Lexus gets a clue and completely remodels this car from the A-pillars forward.  At least there is a nice hood to cover the super premium V6 hiding under there. Continue reading

1975 Lamborghini Urraco – One Odd Bull

Readers who remember the 70s will recall the gas crisis of 1973 and the long-lasting effects it had on the global market for high performance cars. In response to the uncertain economic times and skyrocketing fuel costs, supercar manufacturers began to produce “budget supercars” like the V6-powered Ferrari Dino and Maserati Merak. Lamborghini was still producing the Miura, but they also rolled out a budget supercar of their own: the Urraco.

The Urraco is an extraordinarily rare car, with total production of just 791 vehicles between 1973 to 1979. Of those, just 21 were manufactured for export to the United States market. This car is one of them. I had a chance to get up close and personal with this 1975 Urraco P111 at the 2018 Russo and Steele Collector Car Auction in Scottsdale, Arizona.

The basis of Lamborghini’s cars has long been the V12 powerplant, but not with the Urraco. Because it was intended to be a more affordable supercar, it conceals a V8 engine under the rear hatch making 217 horsepower – significantly more than the Dino 206 and 246 GT and the early Merak (non-SS models).

This car was advertised as being in excellent mechanical condition, with an engine rebuild and major service completed in 2016 at a cost of $36,000. Other perks include the original owner’s manual and spare assembly, service history with records and receipts, and a 40-hour detailing job.
While a modern Lamborghini interior looks like the cockpit of a fighter jet, the cars of the 1970s were much more spartan. This Urraco sports a full suite of gauges, a stereo, and even factory air conditioning! I’m not sure if this was standard on US market cars or an option, but it would certainly be essential for an Arizona car.

I have to say that this 1975 Urraco was one of the more interesting cars at the Russo and Steele Scottsdale 2018 auction, and I am very glad I went. It’s definitely the odd bull of the herd as it doesn’t have the famous Lamborghini V12 or the amazing looks of the Miura, but it’s a part of the company’s history nonetheless. Collector car auctions offer a chance to see those rare and unique vehicles that you just don’t see every day, and Russo and Steele did not disappoint in that regard. I am very glad I went and would recommend that you do the same, if you are in the market for a unique collector vehicle.

Cadillac LSA-Swapped 1968 Buick Riviera

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of resto-mods, as I cover plenty of them every year at the SEMA Show. The combination of timeless styling and modern turn-key reliability is a formula that many people find appealing. But as is so often the case, people tend to overdo it.

I understand that if you’re going to upgrade the engine and build a car, you’re also going to do better brakes, suspension, and fix up the rest of the car. As a matter of personal opinion, I am conflicted when I see an old car with 20-inch billet wheels, fender flares, and massive disc brakes. Are you trying to build a muscle car or a modern race car? It looks a bit odd to me to see carbon fiber air dams and projector headlights on a 1960s car.

With this 1968 Buick Riviera, they really got it right.

I spotted this car at the monthly Cars and Coffee gathering in Scottsdale, Arizona. The original engine has been swapped with a supercharged 6.2L LSA V8 from the Cadillac CTS-V. With 556 horsepower, it certainly packs more power than the original engine.

And again, there is that turn-key reliability. Modern engines can run on ethanol-blended fuels with no problem (ethanol blended fuels are sold in Maricopa County). Modern engines don’t need to have the valves adjusted every 30,000 miles. You don’t need to let it warm up on a cold morning. You don’t need to worry about vapor lock on hot summer days. You just get in, turn the key, and cruise.

This car appears to be set up as something of a sleeper/cruiser. It doesn’t have a wild paint job, crazy wheels, or anything to indicate that it’s packing a serious wallop under the hood. From the outside, it just looks like a clean, restored classic car. Even the exhaust tips with stock-looking turndowns are present.

I’ve got to hand it to the owner on this Rivera for doing it right by not over-doing it. Well done.

Not Sold Here: Audi S1 Hatchback

If you want to see people go nuts at a car show, simply bring an Audi R8 supercar and watch as the crowd flocks around it like moths to the proverbial flame. Don’t get me wrong – I like the R8 – but I’ve been to plenty of car shows and seen plenty of them. At the Concours in the Hills car show, I saw an Audi that I had never seen before.

The Audi S1 is a hot hatchback based on the Audi A1 platform. It’s not sold in the United States, but it is sold in Mexico. You can think of it like Audi’s answer to the Ford Focus ST, the Fiat 500 Abarth, or the Mini Cooper John Cooper Works (JCW) edition. Hot Hatchbacks have long been popular in Europe, and are only recently starting to make inroads in the US market, where trucks and SUVs reign supreme.

Under the S1’s hood is a turbocharged 2.0L engine making 228 horsepower. Audi says it will accelerate from 0-60mph in 5.8 seconds and has a top speed of 155 mph – quite impressive for such a small car! It also has Audi’s permanent Quattro all-wheel drive system.

This car is incredibly rare to see in the US compared to the R8, but hardly anyone paid it any interest at the car show. Just goes to show what you might see when you keep your eyes open!

Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale 2018 Auction By the Numbers

Every year, I cover the Barrett-Jackson collector car auction in Scottsdale. This usually means checking out the auction catalog and writing about some of the more exciting or interesting cars for sale. The 2018 auction featured plenty of interesting vehicles, but I wanted to do something a bit different this time around.

This post is about looking at the Scottsdale auction from a data-driven perspective. If you want to see a bunch of photos of the cool cars at the auction, check our Instagram or follow our blog for more in the future.

Now in its 47th year, Barrett-Jackson’s Scottsdale 2018 auction had a total of 1,752 vehicles consigned to sell, which was a new record for the company. The oldest car was a 1914 Rolls Royce, and the newest was a 2019 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1.

Here is a chart showing the distribution of vehicles in the 2018 catalog by year of manufacture. You can see that 1,095 out of 1,752 vehicles (62.5%) were manufactured between 1950 and 1979. The mean (average) year is 1970, while the median (middle) age of all cars for sale is 1968.

This chart shows the vehicles for sale by Make or Manufacturer. It should come as no surprise that American cars are the most popular, with 1,258 out of 1,752 vehicles (71.8%) for sale produced by Ford, GM, and Chrysler. Chevrolet was the top marque with 588 vehicles, followed by Ford with 314. While you can buy a Porsche or Ferrari at a Barrett-Jackson auction, it’s pretty clear that the bulk of the catalog is centered around American cars from the 1950s through 1970s.

Here we have a similar chart showing the most popular models of vehicle by name. The Corvette was the most popular model of car at the auction with 158 of them for sale (9% of the entire catalog!). The Mustang and Camaro tied for second place, with exactly 103 of them for sale for each car. The Chevrolet Chevelle came in third, with 49 examples for sale at this year’s event. The Ford Thunderbird came in fourth, with 39 cars for sale.

Here is the same chart but without the “Other” vehicles shown. I think it gives a pretty clear picture of what cars people are most interested in buying and selling.

According to the listing titles, just 405 out of 1,752 (23%) of vehicles at the auction were convertibles.

Pickup trucks were even less popular, comprising just 241 out of 1,752 (14%) of vehicles for sale.

Many sellers try to distinguish their vehicle from the others for sale by doing customizations. Analyzing the titles of auction listings, 458 vehicles or 26% of the entire catalog contained the word “custom.”

So what have we learned? Barrett-Jackson will sell whatever someone consigns to them, but we can see that the majority of sellers and buyers are interested in American cars from 1950 to 1979 and more specifically, Corvettes. If you’re in the market for one of these vehicles, Barrett-Jackson is where you need to be!

I hope you enjoyed this look at the numbers behind the auction. Stay tuned for more coverage of Arizona Car Week 2018!

Have You Driven A Mazda Lately? (Craigslist)

Sometime in the mid 80’s Ford chose to improvise rather than adapt or overcome. Instead of predicting the market shift or adapting while it was Ford sat around and watched the Japanese gobble up their cash. They decided that to beat the Japanese at their own game they would be the Japanese at their own game. Continue reading

1986 Mustang SVO | Barrett-Jackson 2018

Time will always fondly remember the brash 5.0l H.O. Mustang GT. It’s fraternal twin: The refined SVO happens to be a more interesting vehicle.

Not just for its unique front fascia, or it’s pedals designed specifically for heel-toe shifts. Not even for its 3.73:1 axle ratio, it’s KONI suspension or it’s Lincoln Mark VII-sourced, five-lug four-wheel disc brakes.

The most important aspect of this vehicle is the turbocharged 200hp 2.3L overhead cam I-4. Coincidentally, the horsepower on the SVO never exceeded the GT year-for-year even though it was the faster of the two cars.

Due to its better weight balance, an overall lighter curb weight and a higher revving engine, this car was more of a match around a track with the BMW M3, the Porsche 944 and the Mazda RX-7 than it was deserving of slugging it out at the stoplights with a lowly tuned port Camaro.

Despite that, the SVO still wouldn’t struggle to show any f-body in 1986 it’s ass as it sped away to the tune of turbo whoosh over its glorified pinto engine howling.

Although most casual Mustang fans have forgotten this car along with some of the other odd things Ford was throwing at the fox body, that didn’t stop this beautiful SVO from reaching $33,000 at auction.