Posts Tagged ‘Impala’


The 2012 Los Angeles Auto Show opened today with a slew of introductions. I’ll try and go through as many as I can with some color commentary:

Art Center College of Design always has some excellent concepts that the automotive design students present.  This Hybrid Sports Bicycle (HSB) caught my eye. The concept design and body fabrication was done by Tomas Bubilek and the chassis design and fabrication was done by Michael R. Bowser.

Concept Hybrid Sports Bicycle presented by Art Center College of Design students.

I also liked this Mazda concept 3-D mock up:

Mazda Design Concept

Acura: Honda’s luxury brand has a lot of work to do to regain sales that its lost over the past decade by not focusing on a brand image and just phoning in the cars and going a little off the range with the famous Acura Beak aluminum grille.  Acura introduced a new flagship, the 2014 RLX. No, it’s not rear drive, and in some ways it seems like a face lifted all-wheel drive RL, but it does look better. I’m simply not impressed. Maybe it drives well.

2014 Acura RLX – Front. I do like the all-LED headlights.

Rear taillight detail for the 2014 Acura RLX. I like the light show in the rear too, if not the overall look of the tail.

The interior of the 2014 Acura RLX, the brand’s flagship.

Audi: Audi really had nothing new to show the world at the LA show, so instead we were graced with the announcement that Audi would sell the A6, A7, A8 and Q5 with a 3.0L V6 TDI engine. The clean diesel power plant will likely sell well given the significant increase in fuel economy over the gasoline analogs.  This lovely A8L TDI should get 24 mpg city and 36 highway — stunning numbers given the heft of Audi’s flagship.  The diesel engine is rated at 240 hp and 406 lb-ft of torque and powers all four wheels through an 8-speed ZF automatic.  Audi says it will do 0-60 in 6.4 seconds.

The 2014 Audi A8L TDI

This A8 had the rear seat package that makes for a very comfortable passenger. Check out the controls for the passenger!

The driver of this 2014 Audi A8L TDI is in the lap of luxury. Audi still sets the bar high for luxury interiors.

Bentley: If you want something a bit more rarefied than an Audi, the Volkswagen Group owns Bentley too. Not much new for LA, but we got another iteration of the company’s Continental GT. This is the “Speed” version with Bentley’s 6.0L twin turbo W12 engine making 616 ponies with 590 lb-ft of gut-wrenching torque to go from zero to 60 in 4 seconds flat and top out at 212 mpg. It’s at least $225,000.

2013 Bentley Continental GT Speed.

If you have a bit more money to burn, Bentley also showed the 2013 Mulsanne. It’s sort of the old school Bentley using a thoroughly updated 6.7L V8 making a healthy 505 hp and a stunning 752 lb-ft of torque. It is all channeled thorough the ZF 8-speed automatic used in several other VW Group products.  You get the feeling of a locomotive when you’re behind the wheel because the Mulsanne weights in at 5,700 lbs. Yikes! But if you can afford the $296,000 (before options), who cares?

2013 Bentley Mulsanne. Check out those Gatling Gun headlights!

You may not mind being stuck in LA traffic if you are sitting behind this wheel. Beautiful real wood and top quality switchgear.

BMW: Our friends from Munich showed off the latest iteration of their upcoming i3 electric car. The i3 Concept Coupe is really just the standard i3 less two doors and some length. Still, it looks nice. I’d love to know what the final production version will look like when it shows up sometime in 2014.

BMW i3 Concept Coupe, front.

BMW i3 Concept Coupe side, from the rear.

If you’re not as interested in the i3, BMW dragged out the i8 Concept that was last seen a year ago in Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol. So just to tease you again, here are some pictures. It won’t look quite this amazing and flamboyant when it finally shows up for sale, sometime after the i3 goes on sale.

BMW i8 Concept Hybrid.

The i8 Concept Hybrid certainly has the futuristic interior to match the great exterior.

How about a BMW you can actually buy? This 2013 Gran Coupe is certainly a looker, particular in this expensive matte finish:

This lovely 2013 BMW 650i Gran Coupe starts at $87,395. The Frozen Bronze Metallic paint is a $3,500 option.

The Gran Coupe has one of BMW’s most sumptuous and well-crafted interiors. You won’t (and shouldn’t) find any cheap plastics inside here.

BMW likes to show off expensive cars, and this auto show is no different. How about the M6 and M5 in the background? If six digit prices offend you, avert your eyes.

The price of the 2013 BMW M6 starts with a six digit number.

Buick: It was kind of lonely at the Buick booth. I mean, LA is not very friendly to Buick. There aren’t many Buick dealers and the brand hasn’t sold well here in decades.  GM’s wants its near-luxury marque to appeal to a budget-minded Lexus customer.  That’s a tough hill to climb, given the years of neglect and the 25 years Lexus has been honing its luxury credentials.

However, to entice younger buyers, Buick is introducing a small crossover called the Encore.  Opel sells a version of it called the Mokka in Europe and, like the Mokka,  the Encore is imported from GM’s South Korean subsidiary.

2013 Buick Encore

2013 Buick Encore – from the rear.

The interior of the Encore is nice, but built to a price. I mean, this is a car in the $20,000 range, so you can’t expect top quality plastics. GM did go to great lengths to make the colors pleasing and the dash is distinct, if not a stand-out.

Space isn’t bad for a little CUV. I’m not sure if a young family with no kids and a dog will want this of if empty-nest retired baby boomers will go for it. Time will tell.

Cadillac: Another GM division that’s got fresh product is Cadillac.  The all-important, all-new rear-drive ATS was introduced earlier this year to much fanfare and pretty good reviews. The ATS’ stated target is the BMW 328i and it’s the first time Cadillac has real skin in this game.  While the press is slobbering all over the ATS, I’m not impressed by the interior. The plastics feel cheap, the wood looks fake (even if it is real) and the shiny digital center console with the “Cadillac User Experience” (CUE) featured prominently only looks good when it’s turned on and the sun isn’t shining on it.  The hepatic touch-control feedback is overrated and feels clumsy. Certainly not something I’d like to futz with while driving. Maybe I’ll enjoy the driving experience.

2013 Cadillac ATS

The cockpit of the 2013 Cadillac ATS with CUE. This one looks better without the wood inserts.

The rear seat of the ATS isn’t any worse than the BMW 328i or the Mercedes-Benz C-Class.

Chevrolet: Not to be left out, GM’s mainstream division, Chevrolet, has new product too. First, the “big deal” is the 2014 Impala. It’s basically the Chevy version of the Buick LaCrosse and Cadillac XTS. It’s big and it looks it. No more rental fleet for this Impala, right? Time will tell.

The 2014 Chevy Impala. Big. New. But I just don’t care, sorry, guys.

Chevy picked LA to show off its new 2014 Spark EV.  The Spark is the smallest car Chevy’s ever sold. It’s a product of GM South Korea (a.k.a. Daewoo). It’s better than the Aveo, but still a bit too rental for me. The EV is a big deal because California requires all the major manufacturers to sell zero emissions vehicles by a certain date. I think the first two markets for the Spark EV will be California and Florida. What it has going for it is price. It’s cheap, as far as EVs go – below $25,000 after a federal tax credit.  The electric motor is good for 120 hp and a whopping 400 lb-ft of torque. The Spark EV is quick too – GM says zero to 60 is 8 seconds.  But the big news is the fast charging system. The Combo DC Fast-Charge system promises to deliver an 80% charge in just 20 minutes.  We haven’t seen range figures yet, but the magic target is usually 100 miles per charge.

2014 Chevrolet Spark EV

The 20 kWh lithium-ion battery pack adds a whopping 560 lbs to the Spark. But that weight on the floor should make for a great low center of gravity and add to stability.

The 2014 Spark EV is a bit spartan, but interior parts painted in the exterior color ads some visual interest. It’s not bad for the price point, but there are lots of hard plastics.

This 2013 Corvette ZR-1 is always a crowd-pleaser with its striking good looks, carbon fiber bits and a 6.2L LS9 V8 supercharged engine producing 638 hp and 604 lb-ft of torque. It can go from zero to 60 in 3.4 seconds and its top speed is 205 mph. Take that, Viper! A bargain at a base MSRP of $112,600.

2013 Corvette (C6) ZR-1 from its sexy rear.

The front end of the 2013 Corvette ZR-1. Next year, the all-new C7 (7th Gen) Corvette will be introduced to the world.

Prepare to yawn.  Here is the 2013 Malibu. It should be a contender in the large mid-size family sedan segment, doing battle with the likes of the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, Nissan Altima, Ford Fusion and Hyundai Sonata; however, I think the Malibu will continue to find its place in the rental fleets.

Here it is: The all-new 2013 Chevy Malibu.

The best viewing angle for the 2013 ‘Bu is definitely from its rear.

It’s the best interior of any Malibu in the past 40 years, but that might be damning with faint praise.

Chevy recycled some concept cars too. Both the Code 130R and Tru 140S appeared nearly a year ago at the 2012 North American International Auto Show in Detroit last January. Nice to see them in the flesh, but they are old news. What remains to be seen is if GM will do anything with these concepts. Of particular interst is the small rear-drive platform for the Code 130R.

Chevy Code 130R Concept. Love the paint.

Chevy Tru 140S Concept

More to follow…..


The Palm Spring car club, Great Autos of Yesteryear, held its fourth annual Casual Concours this past Saturday October 20, 2012.  Past events were held at the Indian Canyons Golf Club in south Palm Springs; however, this year, it moved to the aptly-named Desert Princess Country Club in Cathedral City.

The sun was shining and a nice breeze cooled down the 90 degree weather.  While light wasn’t optimal for pictures, everyone was snapping away at the gorgeous, graceful dinosaurs, most from the glory days of the Big 3 Detroit automakers. The paint was flawless and the chrome was polished like within an inch of its last layer.

The lovely new Palm Springs Animal Shelter. Like any municipal animal shelter, it needs volunteers and donations (both cash and in-kind) to fulfill its mission.

Proceeds from the show ($10 general admission) went to benefit the Friends of the Palm Springs Animal Shelter, which supports the shelter, and are dedicated to building a community for responsible pet stewardship and the humane treatment of animals. The City of Palm Springs built a beautiful new animal shelter and now the City doesn’t have the money to run it properly.  Big surprise, huh? It’s nice to be able to help our furry friends in need.

Below are pictures I took at the event. I arranged them by year, just for simplicity. Enjoy!

1941 Lincoln Continental Convertible. If you look at he grille of this Lincoln, it is the inspiration for the all-new grille and face of Lincoln on the 2013 Lincoln MKZ.

1941 Studebaker Starlite.

1953 Bentley R-Type

This lovely 1955 Buick Roadmaster certainly has presence.

The portholes on each side of this Buick Roadmaster tells us there is a V8 under the hood – four portholes on each side for the eight cylinders. In 1955 this detail really stood out. Today, Buick still uses portholes, but they look fairly lame in plastic chrome and are non-functional.

The rear of the 1955 Buick Roadmaster.

A lemon yellow 1956 Lincoln Premier

I love the interior dash of the 1955 Lincoln Premiere. It was common to match the exterior color inside.

Fins were a distinctive styling cue in the 1950s and early 1960s. 1956 Lincoln Premier.

I think this was the only wagon at the show. This 1957 Ford Del Rio Ranch Wagon was lovingly restored and just fabulous.

As with other cars of the era, the exterior color carried into the interior. 1957 Ford Del Rio Ranch Wagon.

I’m old enough to remember family trips in our station wagon with a cooler and Thermos. The owners of this 1957 Ford Del Rio went all out with the accessories.

This is the first generation of the Chevrolet Impala. This turquoise 1958 Impala Convertible sure makes a statement.

Interior of the 1958 Chevy Impala Convertible. Turquoise everywhere – get out the sunglasses.

This is a model you don’t see often. It’s a 1959 DeSoto Adventura. At this time, DeSoto was part of Chrysler and shared many parts, drivetrains and styling similarities with stablemates Dodge and Plymouth.

Interior of the 1959 DeSoto Adventura.

1959 Plymouth Fury. Christine, anyone?

Interior of the 1959 Plymouth Fury. Love the push button transmission.

Ford didn’t make the Skyliner for very long. This lovely 1959 Ford Skyliner shows how its hard top retracts into the trunk. Fast forward five decades and the retractable hardtop is back again on cars like the BMW 3-Series convertible and the Volkswagen Eos.

This is a 1961 Buick Electra 225. It was really two hundred and twenty five inches long. Try fitting this into a modern garage!

The owner of this 1961 Buick LeSabre Convertible was very proud of his engine bay.

A 1961 Chrysler Imperial LeBaron. It looks very upright and proper, doesn’t it?

This was my favorite car of the show and it didn’t photograph well because of the shadows. It’s a 1961 Chrysler Newport with a cream body and deep burgundy top.

Here’s a side view of the 1961 Chrysler Newport.

The rear of the 1961 Chrysler Newport sports fins AND a spare tire relief. 

Check out this detailed chrome and paint Chrysler badge.

My favorite interior color is red and this 1961 Chrysler Newport interior was very red – everywhere – and the detail of the instruments as well as the other driver controls was just exquisite.

1963 Studebaker Avanti. It was designed in Palm Springs by Raymond Lowe. It still looks futuristic today. Fantastic design.

The interior of the 1963 Studebaker Avanti is light, airy and sporty. High quality materials were used. It was meant to be a halo car for the dying Studebaker brand.

I love this sticker that still exists on the rear window of this Avanti. In those days, air conditioning was a luxury feature. Today, it’s standard.

The rear of the Studebaker Avanti.

This 1965 Buick Wildcat Convertible was just majestic and wide. Great proportions.

The interior of the 1965 Buick Wildcat was very sporty for the day. Great steering wheel.

I particularly liked this 1965 Chevrolet Malibu SS. It’s small by 1965 standards and you rarely see it in black with the white interior. It still wears its original California black plates — always a plus for collectors.

Chevrolet was the entry level brand for GM, and this 1965 Malibu SS is spartan by Buick, Oldsmobile or Cadillac standard, but I think it really works in this car.

There was only one Mustang at the show, but this1965 Ford Mustang GT Fastback in bright orange was nice to see. I’ve always like the fastbacks best, possibly because of their rarity.

I think this is a 1965 Buick Riviera. The first generation (1963-1965) has always been my favorite.

What a fantastic interior on this 1965 Buick Riviera. That wood in the center console was real wood and it was very expensive to build. It still looks sharp.

This 1965 Cadillac Coupe de Ville Convertible has presence. Cadillac was the king of the road in the 1960s.

This 1966 Chrysler New Yorker still wears its original paint and interior.

Interior of the 1966 Chrysler New Yorker.

This 1966 Oldsmobile Toronado has great fastback, futuristic styling. This car was meant for a wealthy executive.

Interior of the 1966 Olds Toronado. Check out that scrolling speedometer and flat floor. The Toronado, like the Cadillac Eldorado of the same era, was a front drive car. Front drive was very rare in the 1960s.

A “humble” 1968 Chevrolet Camaro Convertible. There weren’t a lot of pony or muscle cars at the event.

This 1969 Chevrolet Camaro SS Convertible outshines the red 1968 Camaro above. The SS Convertible is among the most collectible of the muscle cars of the 1960s.

1969 Pontiac Grand Prix Model J. It has a 400 cubic inch engine with 350 horsepower. You don’t see many cars this color any longer.

This 1970 Mercury Cyclone Spoiler is fairly rare. Yellow must have been a popular color in those years, as yellow cars seemed to be in abundance at the show. This muscle car looks menacing with the gigantic hood scoop.

The interior of this 1970 Mercury Cyclone looks a bit drab, but the Hurst 4-on-the-floor shifter is a signal that it’s ready for a race – but only in a straight line.

The rear of the 1970 Mercury Cyclone Spoiler.

This is a clean example of the landmark BMW 2002 sedan. It became the benchmark for all sports sedans and it is the forerunner of the modern BMW 3-series. This 1972 2002 looked a bit lonely as it was the only BMW and one of only a few imported cars at the show.

I don’t think the later half of the 1970s were great years for GM. But you have to love this very green 1976 Chevrolet Monte Carlo with that lovely white vinyl opera roof.

And if the green exterior of the 1976 Chevy Monte Carlo wasn’t enough, you got to look at a sea of pea green inside too. Wow. Also note the really cheap-looking fake plastic wood inserts. GM wouldn’t have done that even a decade earlier.

I couldn’t resist including a picture of this 1979 Pontiac Trans Am. That’s a decal on the hood, not paint, so most didn’t last well after years of washing, sun, rain and snow.
Smokey and the Bandit anyone?

What may be a future classic is this 1990 Buick Reatta. It was meant to be a personal luxury roadster for an executive. It’s not bad – but check out the picture below of its original sticker.

This is the original window sticker for this 1990 Buick Reatta Convertible. No wonder so few were sold. $36,641 – wow. Over its 4 model year run (1988-1991) only 21,751 units were sold. GM had hoped for 20,000 PER YEAR. The convertible was only sold in 1990 and 1991 and was done by an outside firm (ACS) so the price got jacked up beyond what most people would pay for a Buick.