Sports Cars: Getting Started on Your Need for Speed

Out & about
Source: Flickr


If high acceleration, top speed, and appearance are what you want in a vehicle, then a sports car is probably what you’re looking for.

Sports cars are a $4.5 billion industry with about 55,000 units sold annually.

Sports cars are built as performance vehicles – meaning they are to be pushed in ways regular cars can’t. For example, acceleration is often no more than 5 seconds to go from 0 to 100 mph.

As it is more difficult to maneuver a speeding object, sports cars are specially designed to be handled at top speeds.

The term “sporty” was coined to refer to a sleek but robust design that exudes a powerful persona for the person behind the wheel.

What follows is a basic run-through of sports cars out in the marketplace – their general designs and layout, as well as a listing of the more popular models and makers.

– FF – front engine, front wheel drive.
The FF layout has a moderate capacity for high speed handling and is seen in select models such as the Fiat Coupé, and the Lotus Elan M100.

– FR – front engine, rear wheel drive
Considered the “classic” sports car layout, the engine drives the rear wheels but keeps the weight off the back. The FR is good at drifting corners while still maintaining control. Mercedes-Benz is recognized for using this layout for its models.

– RR – rear engine, rear wheel drive
With the engine at the back driving the rear wheels, weight placement on a RR layout provides excellent traction for a car. However, without auxiliary driving aids like stability control, handling becomes difficult. As of today, the only maker who keeps the RR layout for its cars is Porche.

AWD – all wheel drive
An AWD layout provides the easiest handling, making it ideal for those who are just starting out with sports cars. Audi started the widespread use of this technique with the Quattro. Japanese manufacturers like Mitsubishi used this layout to increase handling making it an excellent rally car.

Because of higher restrictions in the states, sports car manufacturers are more prevalent in Europe than in America. Nevertheless, American brands are in equal competition with its European and Asian counterparts. Some recognized makers and models are:

Alfa Romeo
Alpine
Aston Martin
Austin-Healey
BMW
Bugatti
Caterham
Davrian
De Lorean
Ferrari
Fisker
Jaguar
Koenigsegg
Lamborghini
Lotus
McLaren
Maserati
MG
Morgan
Panoz
Porsche
Triumph
TVR
Vector

Now that you’ve gotten started, take your next step by discovering the excitement a sports car can bring you today, just like it has for generations.

Acura: 20 Years of Honda Luxury

Shop 'n Roll
Source: Flickr


In March 2006, the Honda Motor Company celebrated an important milestone: the 20th anniversary of their luxury brand, Acura.
Created to give Honda aficionados an opulent make that they could be proud of, Acura has successfully expanded the company’s reach far beyond more prosaic models such as the Civic and the Accord. Today, Acura is a very different brand than the company that was birthed in 1986. Let’s take a glimpse at Acura’s past, their present line up, and what the next 20 years may bring for this esteemed Japanese automaker.

Back in 1981, Honda saw an opportunity opening up for itself that no one in Honda’s headquarters wanted to miss out on: building and selling luxury cars to American consumers. Mercedes and BMW were both gaining traction in the U.S. as American luxury brands Cadillac and Lincoln sputtered and lost market share. Honda was already receiving widespread consumer acceptance and critical acclaim for the three models it was then selling in the U.S., so the decision to market more expensive and upscale cars was viewed as a strong possibility.

When Honda management decided to go with the upscale brand, they did this knowing that the cars would eventually have to stand apart from Honda in order to command the higher prices. Simply selling up market Hondas as Acuras would not work. Instead, each car was outfitted and retuned to compete directly against the leading luxury cars of that time.

The first two models to be sold as Acuras were the Legend, a V6 powered sedan and coupe, and the Integra, which was essentially a three door coupe based on a Honda Civic platform. Later, the NSX two seat roadster was brought out to battle Porsche and the Vigor sedan was introduced to fill the gap between the Integra and the Legend.

Over time, the various model names were dropped and replaced by vehicles with 2 or 3 letter designations. The Vigor became the TL, the Legend became the RL, and the Integra the RSX. Today, the MDX SUV, RSX sport compact, and TSX sedan, join the three other models to comprise the current Acura line up. A slightly smaller SUV, the RDX, will be joining Acura’s line up later in 2006.

The future of Acura looks bright despite strong worldwide competition. Although Honda jumped into the market a few years before Nissan rolled out it Infiniti division and Toyota its Lexus line, Acura has trailed its Japanese competitors for over a decade now. Some critics have contended that this misstep has hurt Acura, while others see it as a typical conservative Honda decision to expand the Honda brand instead.

Future changes for Acura are sketchy, but model changes will likely include the introduction of diesel powered vehicles and more hybrid offerings. Some auto critics have suggested that Honda has the capacity of outflanking BMW and Mercedes by producing super luxury sedans and sports cars. Renowned Honda quality combined with European styling, luxury, and engineering have fueled Acura’s success so far. An expansion of this theme to even larger and/or sportier models could vault Acura forward.

Truly, Acura has helped reshape the original perception that many motorists had about the Japanese brands, by delivering vehicles that are high in luxury, tops in engineering, and strong in refinement. If the last 20 years have proved anything it is that enthusiasts can expect much more from Acura over the next two decades. Kudos to the Honda Motor Company for developing a brand that has been so well received.

Antique Classics – Cars That Last

1979 Pontiac Firebird 10th Anniversary Trans Am
Source: Flickr


The term Antique Classics is used in reference to old cars.
According to Antique Automobile Club of America, an antique car is generally defined as a car over 25 years of age. However, the exact legal definition for the purpose of antique vehicle registration varies widely from State to State.

With about 12 years being the normal design life of modern cars, 25 years is about double and therefore a car that’s reached 25 is a rare survivor, and probably not economic to maintain as regular transportation.

The term Classic Car is often used synonymously with the term Antique car, but the formal definition of that term is restricted to specific high-quality vehicles from the pre-World War II era which began with the Great Depression in 1930 and ended with the recovery after World War II in 1948. The Classic Car Club of America (CCCA) defines the term Classic as a “fine” or “distinctive” automobile, either American or foreign built, produced between 1925 and 1948. A Classic was high-priced when it was introduced and was built in very limited quantities. Although, by 1930’s most of the manufacturing technologies had already been invented, certain factors like including engine displacement, custom coachwork and luxury accessories, such as power brakes, power clutch, and automatic lubrication systems, help determine whether a car can be considered a Classic.

Some exemplary pre-war Antique Classics are:

1. 1934–1940 Bugatti Type 57. The Type 57SC has become the singular classic car.

2. 1934 Citroën Traction Avant. Has the distinction of being the first mass-produced front-wheel drive car,

3. 1936 MG T series, a sports car meant especially for American soldiers fighting in the war.

4. 1938 Volkswagen Beetle, the most-famous automobile of all times. It was a pre-war design that continues to exist even in the present times.

The CCCA Club keeps a thorough list of the vehicles they consider Classics, and while any member may petition for a vehicle to join the list, such applications are carefully scrutinized and very rarely is a new vehicle type admitted. They also acknowledge the fact that their rather exclusive definition of a classic car is by no means universally followed and hence they generally use terms such as “CCCA Classic” or the trademarked “Full Classic” to avoid confusion.

After 1930 the number of auto manufacturers came down sharply, as the industry consolidated, and developed after the war more advances in engine design were made, like the compression V8 engines and modern bodies from General Motors, Oldsmobile and Cadillac brands.

National Car Rental, Quality Through the Years


The National Car Rental is one of the oldest and the pioneer in the car rental business.
In 56 years of business, the National Car Rental has pioneered amongst its most famous, the one way rental feature, for those people who’d want to rent a car in one town and leave it in another, which makes it more convenient for the renter.

National Car rental was also the first car rental company to computerize its reservation operations. With the introduction of “Telemax” computers to their system, reservation process ahs improved moving to a faster and more hassle free renting.

And since the airline industry deregulation in 1976, causing increase in airline travel costs, national car rental gave flat rates for car renters, who chose renting cars rather than flying.

National car rentals is also one of the earliest companies to start corporate account business back in the 70’s. Through this program, National has focused on the corporate traveler more so than any other company. It was also the first in the rental industry to start a frequent renter program. It was also the first to use paperless car rentals and use computers to make dealings faster; they called this the “Emerald Club” and the “Paperless Express Rental Agreement”. The “Emerald Aisle” program enables customers to select the cars that they want, with paperless ease, bypassing the rental counter, and getting them on their way faster and more efficiently. The “Choice Rental Process” in addition enabled customers to choose the exact car that they want, and “QuickRent” that gives non Emerald Club members to skip the rental counter when they complete the deal online.

National car rental is now affiliated with many different companies, all to improve the customers renting experience. These companies include, Air Canada, Air Miles, Air France, Alaska Airlines, Alitalia, America West airlines, American Airlines, ATA airlines, Delta Airlines, Continental Airlines, Frontier Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, Iberia airlines, Midwest airlines, Lanchile, United Airlines and Northwest airlines all having frequent flyer and miles/kilometer programs that can be applied to car rentals as well, some of these airlines even consider national car rental miles, for air miles.

Other affiliates include Coast Hotels and Resorts, which give lower rates for national customers that stay in their Hotels, Hilton Family of Hotels, which let you ear 250 HHonors form their Hilton Honors Points and miles, for every rent from national car rental, as well as American Express who lets you earn points when you’ve enrolled for their program for national car rental.

Aside from all the discounts a features that you will acquire through their affiliates, National Car rentals offer a wide range of vehicles for you to choose from, the classes of cars that you could possibly rent form national cars are endless, the types of vehicles that you’ll be able to rent are classified as subcompact, compact, intermediate, full-size, premium, luxury, sports utility, Mini van and convertible.

National Car rentals also have special offers for their customers, one of which is the “Last minute specials to go” which offers different specials every week at different locations. The other special, the “Great internet rates – Book ahead special’ gives discounts fro those that reserve their cars early in the internet. The weekend value Rates – Book ahead special offers lower weekend rates. National car also offers internet only discounts also a book ahead special, which applies to mini vans and SUVs.

Collector Cars Are Fun To Own, Drive, And Invest In

American_Graffiti_Cruise_20140517-246
Source: Flickr

Collector cars are passenger vehicles that are twenty-five years old or older. They are good cruising cars and are particularly well-suited for a summer jaunts. Collector cars are simply those cars deemed by their owners as classic, as having sentimental value, or are worth a lot more money than the average late-model car. Collector cars are stolen from time to time, but they tend to be harder to resell and the parts are often more difficult to market; because of this, theft insurance is lower than for regular cars. Because collector cars are driven less often and their owners take great care when driving and storing them, the classic car insurance rates are less than a standard auto policy. These cars are typically maintained for use in car club activities, exhibitions, parades, or private collections, and are driven with less frequency than everyday vehicles. Most collector cars are one-of-a-kind – they have their own personalities, their own degrees of restoration. Most buyers of collector cars are investors in other fields, and collector cars offer many benefits not found in other investments. Many people feel collector cars are great investments even though they are consistently fluctuating in value; they are always being bought and sold just like stocks by investors, so they are easy to make liquid. They are not a safe investment but, like most collectibles, can be lucrative at times.

Collector Cars to Get

Cars of the fifties, particularly sports racing cars that can be used for transportation, may well represent the best period to collect. The ’50s and ’60s were a time when we all went to sock hops and cruised in fabulous hot rods and classic cars. Cars that have spent their lives in dry climates such as the American Southwest are often found as original examples with little rust. These cars are relatively liquid in that there is a strong international sales market, and if the market is better in another country or on another continent, the car can be moved, unlike real estate for example. Classic cars that have been restored in most details or are well maintained and preserved appeal to any observer, not just the enthusiast. These older cars pollute much more than newer cars, but most owners do not worry about that. People have a reason to buy cars, whether it is for the enjoyment of participating in the many events, such as rallies, races, shows or club get-togethers, or just for the pride of owning a beautiful piece of automotive history.

Value of Collector Cars

Collector cars have value, but how is that value determined in a changing market? There are some accepted standard methods of arriving at the value of any car, collectible or otherwise. There are many resource guides and pricing books available that can provide value guidelines based upon the overall condition of the vehicle. Some people just get value owning the car and enjoying it. To these people, if the car goes up in value, fine; if not, fine. Many collector car owners get a special kind of theft insurance called Agreed Value insurance. With an Agreed Value collector car policy, you are assured of receiving the full face value of the policy if you suffer a total loss. This pays the full-insured amount in the event of a total loss and reflects the insured value of the car.

Fast Cars, Super Cars – Paying For Horse Power

For the rich and famous it seems to be a statement of success when they own the very expensive fast and super cars. These fast, super cars will usually be found in areas such as Hollywood, Las Vegas, or New York since these are the places where the rich and famous usually work and live. In other countries you might find royalty and upper members of government sporting these cars but few members of the working class will ever have the money to buy one.

Fast Cars, Super Cars – Looking At The Models

The exotic Ferrari Modena is a popular Ferrari model which offers a six speed transmission, a V8 engine, and will get about 11 to 16 mpg. With a price tag of $152,000, this car is capable of doing 189 mph and reaching 60 mph in 4.2 seconds.

One of the top of the line super cars, which is also a fast car, is the Lamborghini. The current Sypder is considered to be one of the most popular super cars available. Voted as the most beautiful car in the world, the Spyder sports a V10 which reaches a speed of 195 mph with the roof up and 191 mph with the roof down. It comes with a price tag of $195,000. Its lightweight aluminum frame allows the car to reach faster speeds and it can do a quarter mile in 12.2 seconds, reaching a speed of 122 mph.

If you want to come down a little closer to earth you might want to take a look at the Dodge Viper. It also offers a V10 which can reach speeds of 190 mph, will do 0-60 in 3.8 seconds, and a quarter mile in 11.9 seconds. The Viper is rated for 10 to 20 mpg and comes with a price tag of $80,000. This makes the Viper a super car which is a fast car with a more affordable price tag.

A never-ending classic super car is the Corvette which is put out by none other than Chevrolet. This American icon has been around for several years and continues to improve with age. Available in a coupe or convertible, you can choose from several color combinations. You also have the choice of a 6 or 7 liter engine, and the starting price is about $66,000. These cars have withstood the test of time and continue to be one of the most popular sport cars on the market today.

Mcdonald’s To Offer Lasik In Drive Through

American_Graffiti_Cruise_20140517-221
Source: Flickr


$299.00, Financing available, Limited time offer etc etc.
LASIK eye surgery is rapidly becoming just another commodity like shoes or cars. Every where we look there are LASIK ads with discounts, specials and financing offered by “doctors” that are vying for a percentage of the 3 million Americans rushing to have LASIK every year. Don’t be surprised if one day you can visit your local Wal-Mart and leave an hour later having had LASIK by a “professional who has done millions” We may even start seeing signs akin to McDonald’s 3,456,000 served!! There doesn’t seem much difference between the ads and techniques used to sell LASIK and those used to sell used cars.

What has happened to the great American medical standards and ethics touted for years? It is amazing to read that eye surgeons in the United States are still offering regular LASIK and for only $1,000 more “you too can have wavefront Technology.” For those who aren’t LASIK savvy, wavefront is a better diagnostic tool that maps your cornea. In South America, where eye surgery technology has always been at the forefront, surgeons will only use wavefront. There is no option because it is just better for the patient period!! American eye surgeons are also still performing PRK on those patients who don’t qualify for LASIK rather than using multifocal Intraocular Lens which was only approved 1 year ago in the States but has been used for over ten years by South American surgeons.

So if you are considering having LASIK remember this is a surgery on the cornea of your eye so be sure to educate yourself about all the possible risks and complications. Find the best possible doctor you can, not just the least expensive and make sure you are really a good candidate for the surgery and not just another number on the billboard and finally if cost is an issue you may need to resolve yourself to wearing glasses or do what thousands of people do and go to South America and have it done by some of the best eye surgeons in the world, spend half and have a vacation.

The Chevrolet Corvette : A True American Classic Sportscar

The Chevrolet Corvette, a Sportscar legend and a Auto Classic for ever, has somehow survived inflated insurance rates; all types of inane and meaningless safety legislation and engine pollution add ons. The Chevrolet Corvette has been universally accepted as the measure of a high performance sports car. Cars come and go, new model of cars emerge and disappear and yet the Corvette lives on. No car has been able to cover as many aspects of the high performance sport as the Corvette. The versatility of this fantastic automobile has appealed to all age groups and has kept the ownership of a Corvette, a most prestigious thing.

The Corvette has gone through many changes in its lifetime, including every custom and hot rod trend going. It has a miracle that the Corvette has remained a true high performance sports car and did not mature into a two plus two sedan as did Ford’s Thunderbird. The Corvette was in the on the beginnings of the fast car era. In the mid 50’s people wanted fast cars, and by 1957 the Corvette was leading the pack. Hot rodding owes a big debt to the Corvette; it was responsible for almost all of the higher performance parts ever to come from Chevrolet. Four speed transmissions, dual quad intake manifolds and hot solid lifter camshafts.

One of the big contributions to the Corvette’s success story was the variety of options that were offered. Ever since 1956, there had been the choice of a standard of high performance automatic transmission. Each car could be tailored into a semi competitive race car of a good day to day commuter by just selecting the right options. The Corvette could play either role very well.

Performance was the trend in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s. One of the biggest controversies of the day was which was faster – a Corvette with dual four barrel carbs or one with fuel injection.

Corvette owners were buying the high performance versions and putting them to good use at weekend drags and the novice road events. There were metallic brake and sway bar options for the sporty set. And although the suspensions system was a conglomeration of early passenger car parts, the low center of gravity and near equal weight distribution made these cars handle well. The 50/50 weight distribution did not hurt the drag racers one bit either, and they won more than their share.

When 1963 happened, it brought with it a real change in the Corvette. The new body style called the “Sting Ray” was unavailable in a fastback version commonly referred to as a “coupe” and in the traditional roadster version with a removable hardtop. The Sting Ray had much cleaner lines than its predecessors and even featured retractable headlights. With the change in body style, the suspension was vastly improved with a new independent rear suspension assembly and updated steering gear. It still had the performance of the older cars, including the Rochester fuel injected 327 cubic inch engine, rated at 360 horsepower.

The Chevrolet Corvette is certainly an American Sportscar Classic.

Fast Cars – The American Muscle

DSC_3643
Source: Flickr

In the 1960s there was a class of cars introduced to the world known as muscle cars. These cars were sleek and sporty and contained a powerful engine. Most of these cars boasted a V8 engine which was geared for speed. As these cars were produced the manufacturers were in stiff competition with each other. As each manufacturer tried to out do the other, we were led into an era of some of the fastest cars of our time. With no thought to gas and fuel efficiency, Americans seemed to be having the time of their lives. Their cars were fast and eye-catching, both on the road and on the race track. Racing stripes and flashy decals made a statement about both the car and the driver. It seemed the flashier the car the more desirable.

At a time when the luxury automobile was the king of the road for the married set, the younger crowd wanted something smaller, faster, and sportier. The Shelby Mustang and the 440 Roadrunner are two of the fast cars which were built to satisfy the desire for high performance and speed. There were many more fast cars to come. Camaros, Chargers, GTOs, and Firebirds all tried to pack as much punch under the hood as was possible. Corvettes offered speed and sleek style, but they also had a high price tag. Most of the other high performance cars offered a price that was affordable to the average working class people.

The Fuel Effect

During the 1960s and 70s auto manufacturers were riding high on a wave of speed and performance. Then we entered an era where we were told gas was in short supply and we were destroying the ozone with our extravagant auto emissions. We reluctantly let go of our fast and sporty cars and took to the streets with a V6 and even a V4. Gas mileage and cheaper insurance costs forced the fast cars onto the race track and off the roadways.

The desire for speed will be with us always. We will probably never again see a time when speed and high performance engines are sold for the every day street car but we can get a glimpse of these cars at the raceway or at vintage car shows. The baby boomers were around to see these cars at their inception and they still carry a torch for them today. Many will spend a small fortune to restore one of these original fast cars back to their former splendor.

The Car Market Is Evolving

1963 Chevrolet Impala 327
Source: Flickr


Which country makes up the largest segment of car buyers in the world?

You probably guessed it. The United States. With 299,398,484 citizens (according to the U.S. Census Bureau), coupled with a better-than-decent economy, it’s not surprising. But analysts predict that while demand for cars and trucks in the U.S. is unlikely to decrease, by 2025, the United States will no longer be the largest car market in the world.

Demand for automobiles has increased dramatically in countries like China as well as many other developing countries and by 2009, the Asia Pacific region is likely to become the largest car market in the world. Currently, Europe is the world’s largest continental market.

Indicators predict, however, that before the end of the decade, the Asia Pacific region’s demand for light vehicles will hit the 23 million mark – higher than ever before. With steadily rising incomes in Asia as well as India, a whole new group of first-time vehicle owners is emerging. Americans and Canadians have already topped out in this regard, leaving these developing countries to be the forces that drive the future global market, according to spokespeople at JD Powers.

How will this affect top sellers in the U.S. market? Chances are, it won’t. Americans will still drive their Isuzu Ascenders and their Ford Focuses. A thriving U.S. economy, as well as affordable lease options and payment structures, will keep Americans buying and buying often. With a median household income of over $46,000, Americans can afford to purchase or lease a new vehicle on average, approximately every four years (some of this is obviously driven by the popular 36-month lease option available with most new cars).

BusinessWeek Magazine reported that by 2010, the demand for cars will continue to dominate in the U.S., but the country’s car market growth will plateau at under 17 million. In essence, it already has. In 2000, the number of light vehicles registered in the country was 17.48 million. It dropped to 17.39 in 2001 and hasn’t been able to hit the 17 million mark since.

On many levels, U.S. regulations and the expectations of American consumers dictate the products offered by car manufacturers. For example, Isuzu’s upgrades and superior safety features in their popular i-370 pickup truck reflect the desires of Americans to drive high-quality, safe vehicles. While some of these enhanced safety features aren’t required by law, manufacturers add them to make their products more competitive in the U.S. Will consumers in Asia demand the same? It’s unlikely it will matter whether they will or not. The global car market will never be able to ignore the demands of the American consumer who will continue to wield the greatest spending power.

Foreign car manufacturers rely on a segment of the U.S. car market.

While that need may decrease over time, no company with a foothold in the U.S. is will be eager to give that up. Nearly every automotive trend to date has roots tightly gripped in American soil. From the surge in popularity of the SUV, to the desire for “green” cars and hybrids, to the pickup truck iconic of Middle America, the U.S. will be a major player in foreign and domestic car sales for a long time to come.