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Category: Luxury

Junkyard Gem: 1985 Jaguar XJ-S


An American car shopper looking for a new V12-engined coupe in 1985 had two choices: Spend the present-day equivalent of several hundred grand for a Ferrari or Lamborghini … or get a Jaguar XJ-S for about a third that price. Today’s Junkyard Gem is one of those cars, found in a Denver car graveyard recently.


Jaguar began bolting V12 engines into the E-Type beginning in 1971, then into the XJ12 sedan soon after that. By the time the E-Type was discontinued after 1974, Jaguar had spent the better part of a decade grappling with the near-impossible task of developing a successor that looked just as beautiful.


This ended up being the XJ-S, which was based on the chassis of the XJ sedan and debuted as a 1976 model in the United States. Production continued through 1996.


These cars were mean-looking, powerful and packed with English wood-and-leather luxury, but they were also temperamental and costly to repair. I’ve documented quite a few discarded XJ-Ss during my junkyard travels.


This is a DOHC 5.3-liter engine, known as the HE for its improved combustion chambers and rated at 262 horsepower and 290 pound-feet. This was serious power for a year in which a new Corvette’s engine made 230 horses and the Mercedes-Benz 500 SEC coupe chugged along with a 184hp V8.


A three-speed ZF automatic was the only transmission available in this car.


The MSRP was an even $36,000, which amounts to something like $107,170 in 2024 dollars. That compared favorably to other European luxury coupes; the 1985 BMW 635CSi was $41,315 ($122,993 after inflation), the Mercedes-Benz 500 SEC listed at $57,100 ($169,985 today) and the Porsche 928S cost $50,000 ($18,848 now). Detroit offered the Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz coupe for $24,850 ($73,977) and the Lincoln Mark VII Bill Blass Edition for $26,659 ($79,363).


The XJ-S was notorious for expensive-to-fix electrical and mechanical problems, so it’s a struggle for third or fourth owners to keep theirs in driving condition. Some give up on the V12 and swap in small-block Chevrolet V8s.


The gauge cluster in this one was purchased by a junkyard shopper before I arrived, so I couldn’t get a final odometer reading. It appears to have been reset in 1987, anyway.

Here is V12 power wrapped in soft leather, paneled in rare wood, equipped in complete luxury.

A blending of art and machine.

British Leyland was so proud of the XJ-S that it opened this iconic TV commercial with a mid-1970s Playboy Bunny climbing into one.



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HWA Evo is a modern take on the Mercedes-Benz 190 E 2.5-16 Evo II


In 1989, Mercedes-Benz built 502 units of a very racy sedan called the 190 E 2.5-16 Evo, its homologation car for the 190 E racer in the German Touring Car (DTM) series. This is the same series that convinced BMW to create the M3, which BMW drivers used to win the DTM Driver’s Championship in 1987 and 1989 (there was no manufacturer’s championship at the time), and the first Evo was the car Mercedes used to return to factory motor racing after quitting all such activities in the wake of the Le Mans crash in 1955. (M-B began supplying Peter Sauber with engines for Group C racing in the mid-1980s, though.) Mercedes drivers couldn’t lift the big trophy with the Evo, so in 1990 and 1991, Mercedes turned its first effort into the 190 E 2.5-16 Evo II. Thanks to DTM instituting a manufacturer’s championship by this time, Mercedes driver Klaus Ludwig drove the Evo II to both trophies in 1992, and the 502 roadgoing versions became collector rarities. Whereas Evo I values average somewhere in the low $100s, Evo II sales average around $300,000 according to Classic.com. 

This is one of the reasons a German outfit called HWA chose to create a modernized version of the Evo II on a standard Mercedes 190 E chassis, that of the plain beige four-door that filled taxi fleets in Germany at the time. The other reason is that HWA stands for Hans-Werner Aufrecht, the gentleman who provided the “A” in AMG. When AMG was a separate company, Aufrecht worked with Mercedes on the Evo I and Evo II, and his independent HWA outfit continued never stopped prepping Mercedes race cars even after Mercedes completed its acquisition of AMG.

Based on the sedan’s specs, it’s probably best not to think of the HWA Evo as a restomod, since nothing is restored and everything is a modification. The only pieces that remain from the 190 E shell are cant rails (the structural member running over the doors between the A- and C-pillars), and C-pillar. It’s best to consider this a current imagining of what an Evo III might look like, using modern components. Start with the engine. Instead of the Cosworth-tuned, high-revving 2.5-liter four-cylinder, the HWA Evo is powered by Mercedes’ M276 twin-turbo 3.0-liter V6 from cars like the AMG E 43 that Mercedes recently replaced with its twin-turbo 3.0-liter inline-six. HWA buys the M276 new, disassembles it to balance the rotating assembly, installs a dry sump so the engine can sit lower in the chassis, and plugs in an HWA-programmed ECU. Final output for the standard version is 444 horsepower and 406 pound-feet of torque, an Affalterbach Package raises that to 493 hp, to move a car targeted to weigh about 3,220 pounds. Shorter gearing in the six-speed manual transaxle transmission give the standard car better acceleration but a lower top speed of 168 miles per hour. The longer legs in the Affalterbach Package take top speed to 189 mph.  

Side note: When Motor Trend asked HWA why it went with a six-cylinder when the original made do with a four, we’re told that a V8 would have been too tough to fit into the bay, and HWA chief technical officer Gordian von Schöning said, “In the beginning we were really pushing for a four-cylinder engine because we thought this was something AMG is promoting, and we can probably push it to 500 horsepower. But customers said a four-cylinder engine was not special.”

The body shell is stripped and reinforced with aluminum and high-strength steel for stiffness and improved crash protection. The front axle’s moved forward two inches, the rear axle 1.2 inches, helping deliver a 50:50 weight balance. HWA sourced Evo II-spec glass, thinner and lighter than the regular sedan’s windows. The new carbon fiber body panels are bonded to the shell, and swell so much below the belt line that the HWA Evo is nine inches wider than an Evo II.

KW shocks connect a race-spec multi-link suspension at both ends, the base car offering manual shock adjustment, the Affalterbach Package giving drivers electronic suspension controls in the cockpit. Six-piston front brakes work 15-inch rotors behind 190-inch wheels, while in back, four-piston calipers clamp 14-inch rotors behind 20-inch wheels.

Inside, front passengers sit in Recaro seats looking at digital gauges that mimic the original displays.

HWA’s putting the one car it’s built so far through a year-long testing and development phase. Once completed, HWA will build one car per week, up to 100 units in total, 75 of which have already been sold at €714,000 ($765,000 U.S.) apiece. After that, we hear there are plans for HWA to come up with a modern interpretation of the AMG Hammer.



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Junkyard Gem: 1991 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz


GM’s Cadillac Division introduced the ultra-swanky Eldorado as a 1953 model, and the Biarritz name was first used on the Eldorado convertible three years later. After that, Eldorado Biarritzes in various forms were built intermittently through the following decades. The end finally came for the Biarritz in 1991, when the last eleventh-generation Eldorados rolled off the Hamtramck line. Today’s Junkyard Gem is one of those cars, found at a self-service yard near Denver, Colorado.


Biarritz is a resort city on the Atlantic coast in France’s Basque Country, just the sort of place where a high-living oil heiress might have flaunted her new Eldo during the late 1950s. The Biarritz title was used to designate Eldorado convertibles through 1964, then got dropped until its revival as the name of a gloriously rococo trim level for 1976.

For me, the definitive Eldorado Biarritz is the 1979-1985 version, with its stainless-steel roof panel inspired by the one on the 1957 Eldorado Brougham. When Robert De Niro as pink-suited Ace Rothstein falls victim to a bomb in his car in the 1995 film “Casino,” that car is a 1983 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz.


The Eldorado got a radical downsizing for the 1986 model year and its next-to-last generation, losing 16 inches of overall length and a corresponding portion of general bulk. The Biarritz version stuck around, but with no stainless-steel roof. 


The 1991 Biarritz package did get you two-tone paint, “Tampico” carpeting, birdseye maple wood on the dash and console plus 10-way power front bucket seats.


Also included were “wire wheel discs” aka faux-wire-wheel hubcaps.


The padded landau roof with slick-looking integrated opera lamps also went onto the 1991 Eldorado Biarritz.


All 1986-1991 Eldorados got a full digital instrument cluster.


This generation of Eldorado never got the DOHC Northstar engine. Instead, all were powered by a member of the Cadillac High Technology pushrod V8. The Northstar went into final-generation Eldorados from 1993 through the end in 2002.


This is the 4.9-liter HT engine, rated at 200 horsepower and 275 pound-feet. If you want to enrage engine-name purists you should call it the “HT4900” within their hearing range. Earlier versions displaced 4.1 and 4.5 liters, with 1991 being the first year for the 4.9.


When this car was new, no manual transmission had been available in a new Cadillac since the last three-pedal Cimarrons were built as 1988 models. The gearbox in this car is a four-speed automatic.


The final year for the Cadillac Eldorado was 2002, after which it was replaced by the CTS coupe. The 1986-1991 eleventh-gen Eldos ended up being the smallest of all the generations.


This one had an MSRP of $34,425, or about $80,326 in 2024 dollars. That was a bit cheaper than the cost of the similarly sized 1991 BMW 525i, which listed at $34,900 ($81,434 after inflation). Meanwhile, the costliest Cadillac of 1991, the Allanté hardtop convertible, cost $61,450 ($143,384 today).

Winner of the 1990 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award!



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Junkyard Gem: 1965 Rambler Ambassador 990 Convertible


By the middle 1960s, George Romney had left the helm of American Motors to become governor of Michigan and company president Roy Abernethy had decided that AMC needed to compete more directly against GM, Ford and Chrysler. In order for the Kenosha manufacturer formed from the 1954 merger of Nash and Hudson to do that, a genuine full-size car had to be created to steal sales from the Impala, Galaxie and Monaco. With a wheelbase stretch and a restyling by Dick Teague, the Rambler Ambassador became that car for the 1965 model year. Here’s a once-snazzy soft-top Ambassador from that year, found at a family-owned yard just south of the Denver city limits.

I’ve documented quite a few vintage machines at Colorado Auto & Parts in this series over the past year, including a 1954 Plymouth Belvedere, a 1969 Walker Power Truck, a 1974 Ford F-250, a 1960 Triumph TR3A, a 1947 Dodge Custom Club Coupe, a 1969 AMC Rambler 440, a 1951 Studebaker Champion, a 1959 Princess DM4 limousine and a couple of dozen first-generation Mustangs and Cougars. This Ambassador is now parked between a Chevelle and a Mustang.

The Ambassador 990 convertible wasn’t the most expensive new ’65 Rambler you could buy, because the Ambassador wagon and the sporty new Marlin cost a bit more. Still, its $2,955 price tag ($29,907 in 2024 dollars) was on the steep side for Rambler shoppers accustomed to penny-pinching Classics and Americans.

This car would have cost much more than the base MSRP, though, because it was built with AMC’s biggest car engine at the time: a 327-cubic-inch V8 rated at 250 horsepower. No, it’s not related to the Chevrolet 327 small-block; parts-counter staffers spent many decades dealing with that confusing name mixup (to be fair to AMC, their 327 was first).

Kaiser-Jeep, not yet purchased by AMC, bought AMC 327s for use in its trucks during the mid-to-late 1960s and called them 327 Vigilantes.

The base engine in the 1965 Ambassador was the 232-cubic-inch “Torque-Command” straight-six, the 4.0-liter descendants of which were still being bolted into new Jeep Wranglers in 2006.

The base transmission in the 1965 Ambassador was a three-speed column-shift manual, but this car has the optional three-speed automatic with “Flash-O-Matic” shifter on the center console. If you wanted a factory radio in your new ’65 Ambassador, you could add “Duo-Coustic” or “Vibra-Tone” rear speakers.

AMC sold just under 65,000 Ambassadors for the 1965 model year, including wagons. Meanwhile, Chevrolet sold better than a million of its full-size Biscaynes, Bel Airs and Impalas that year (and GM’s Pontiac, Oldsmobile and Buick sold plenty of their own versions of those cars as well). As for Ford and Chrysler, there’s no need to rub it in by listing their vast sales numbers for big cars that year. The Ambassador wasn’t much bigger than the competition’s midsize cars at the time, which was a factor in its slow sales.

American Motors had its ups and downs after 1965, but the general story arc was that the Detroit Big Three used their greater resources to continue grinding down their Wisconsin competitor until Chrysler finally bought what was left in 1987.

The last model year for the Rambler marque was 1968, after which all of AMC’s U.S.-market cars got American Motors Corporation badging. The Rambler name lived on for one more year, as the model name on the former Rambler American for 1969: the AMC Rambler.

This car would be worth decent money if restored, but the body is on the rusty side and the interior has been exposed to the elements for many years, making such a restoration a very costly proposition.

The “Sensible Spectaculars” advertising campaign was on the puzzling side.



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Check out the classics that the Bugatti Tourbillon traces its roots to


MOLSHEIM, France — Bugatti unveiled the new, 1,800-horsepower Tourbillon at its historic headquarters in Molsheim, France. While the Chiron’s successor was the uncontested star of the show, the brand displayed an impressive selection of classics to give attendees a glimpse into every facet of its past. The roster included grand prix-winning race cars, ultra-luxurious sedans, elegant coupes, and even a small, city-friendly electric car.

Enthusiasts tend to associate the Bugatti name with hypercars, but there’s more to the brand than four-digit horsepower figures and speed records. In the late 1920s and early 1930s, the company made one of the most luxurious cars in the world: the Type 41, which is also known as the Royale. It stretched 252 inches from bumper to bumper in its longest configuration (several body styles were available) and its wheelbase measured nearly 170 inches; I’ve owned cars that were shorter than that. Power came from a 12.8-liter straight-eight engine.

Pictured in our gallery above, the example Bugatti displayed at the Tourbillon unveiling features 24-inch wheels, the famous “Dancing Elephant” hood ornament, and a closed rear cabin with windows made of reinforced glass. The front compartment is always open, and the rear passengers could talk to the driver using an intercom system called a Motor Dictograph. The behemoth of an engine made about 300 horsepower at 1,800 rpm, which was enough to unlock a top speed of about 124 mph — that was a supercar-worthy figure a century ago.

Bugatti has explored the more family-friendly side of its heritage on several occasions over the past few decades, though none of its projects have reached production. In the 1990s, when the brand was owned by Romano Artioli and based in Italy, it experimented with a Giorgetto Giugiaro-designed super-sedan called EB112 and powered by a 6.0-liter V12. In 1999, after joining the Volkswagen Group, Bugatti showed a four-door, W18-powered concept called EB218. Ten years later, the 16C Galibier made its debut as a potential follow-up to the Veyron.

Racing has been part of Bugatti’s DNA for over 100 years; it has won major events like the Targa Florio and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Four vintage race cars illustrated this part of its heritage at the unveiling, including a surprisingly futuristic model from 1923 called Type 23 and nicknamed Tank. Take a look at its bodywork and you’ll immediately understand why. In an era when open-wheel cars dominated the racing scene, the Tank featured a streamlined body that consisted mostly of flat metal panels held together with rivets. It could reach over 110 mph thanks to a 90-horsepower 1.8-liter straight-eight. It wasn’t as successful as Bugatti hoped, but it illustrated an approach to design that was innovative, daring, and unusual. Its successor, the Type 35, became the company’s most successful race car by a significant margin.

Bugatti also displayed more modern cars including the EB110, the Centodieci, the Mistral, and the one-of-a-kind Chiron Profilée that sold for over $10 million at an auction in February 2023. But while most of Bugatti’s past and present models put a big focus on performance, there’s one exception to the rule: the Type 56 that I drove in 2018. It’s electric, it has a tiller instead of a steering wheel, and it maxes out at 20 mph.



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Junkyard Gem: 1998 Cadillac DeVille Tuxedo Collection


Cadillac began using the de Ville name (which means about the same thing as “town car” but is more French and thus classier) in the late 1940s, becoming a model name in its own right for the 1959 model year. The seventh generation of the Cadillac de Ville was sold for the 1994 through 1999 model years, and many of these cars received dealer-installed aftermarket packages to increase their general opulence. Here’s one of those cars, with the E&G Classics “Tuxedo Collection” treatment applied, found in a South Carolina car graveyard a few rows away from a Toyota Avalon with nearly a million miles on its odometer.

Cadillac went through many variations of this model name over the decades, including de Ville, De Ville, DeVille and Deville. For most of the 1959-1993 period, the two-doors were named some version of “Coupe de Ville” while the “Sedan de Ville” name went on four-doors. The two-door was dropped after 1993 and eventually the model ended up being simply the DeVille. After the DeVille name itself got the axe in 2005, production of what amounted to the same car continued with DTS badging through 2011.

The 1994-1999 DeVille lived on the same platform as the front-wheel-drive Seville, after a decade of being a cousin to the Buick Park Avenue and Oldsmobile 98. It weighed just a hair over two tons.

For 1994 and 1995, the DeVille was powered by the 4.9-liter version of the pushrod Cadillac High Technology V8 engine, then received the DOHC Northstar V8 until the final DTSs were sold as 2011 models. This one is a 4.6-liter rated at 275 horsepower and 300 pound-feet.

Padded roofs, landau or otherwise, had fallen out of mainstream car-shopper favor by the late 1990s, and even the Brougham name had been dumped by Cadillac by that time (as far as I can tell, the final Brougham-badged car available in the world was the early-2000s Nissan Cedric VIP Brougham). That’s where Cadillac dealers stepped in, and Washington D.C.-area-based E&G Classics provided a Tuxedo Collection by E&G kit for those dealers to install.

E&G wasn’t the only outfit providing such services for dealers selling seventh-generation Cadillac DeVilles; I found a 1995 Sedan DeVille St. Tropez Edition, featuring non-padded landau roof and special badging, a few months ago in Denver.

Both today’s Junkyard Gem and the St. Tropez DeVille were sold out of Don Massey’s mighty Cadillac empire.

The E&G Tuxedo Collection DeVille got this body-color grille.

The heyday of the full padded vinyl roof for Detroit was the 1970s, and owners of the E&G Tuxedo Collection DeVille were able to flaunt their style in true 1979 fashion.

You’ll find one in every car. You’ll see.

The average age of Cadillac buyers plummeted the following model year, when the Yukon Denali-derived Escalade hit showrooms.



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Junkyard Gem: 1968 Oldsmobile Delta 88 Custom Holiday Sedan


The 1965-1970 version of GM’s full-size B Platform was one of The General’s greatest successes, underpinning nearly 13 million cars. Each of the U.S.-market GM car divisions (except Cadillac) had their own B-Bodies during those model years, from the proletarian Chevrolet Biscayne on up to the opulent Buick Wildcat. Doing business just one small rung below Buick on the GM “Ladder of Success” in 1968 was the Oldsmobile Division, and the king of Olds B-Bodies that year was the Delta 88 Custom Holiday Sedan four-door hardtop. Today’s Junkyard Gem is one of those cars, found in a Denver self-service yard last winter.

The prestige lines between the GM divisions were starting to get a bit blurry by the late 1960s, when car shoppers could get a Chevy Caprice with a list price higher than that of an Olds Delmont 88 and then option it up to cost more than a Buick LeSabre. At the end of the day, though, your neighbors in 1968 would still have known that an Oldsmobile carried more swank than its Chevy or Pontiac siblings, and that the owner of a Buick could look down his nose at an Olds driver.

However, most GM cars in 1968 were still powered by engines made by their own divisions, in those pleasant days before the “Chevymobile” lawsuits (if they had V8s, at least). That meant that when you bought an Olds 88 that year, it came with a genuine Rocket V8 engine under its hood. In this case, the engine is a monstrous Quadrajet-fed 455-cubic-inch (7.5-liter) Rocket rated at 365 horsepower and an awe-inspiring 510 pound-feet. The ’68 Olds Toronado came with an even hairier 455 that made 400 horses, by the way.

Yes, those are gross power numbers and not the more realistic net numbers we’ve been using since the early 1970s, but this was one respectably quick 4,155-pound car for its era. A buyer of a 1968 full-size Chevrolet could get a wild 427-cube big-block V8 with 425 horses as a (very expensive) option, but even Buick’s 430 couldn’t beat the Delta 88’s torque (that changed two years later with the introduction of the 510-pound-foot Buick 455).

Naturally, this car required premium gasoline and probably never saw double-digit fuel economy at any time, but few Oldsmobile shoppers cared about that until certain geopolitical events took place in 1973. If you bought the 1968 Delta 88 with the base three-on-the-tree manual transmission — that’s right, you had to pay extra for an automatic even on a snazzy machine like this — you could get a 310hp 455 that would run on regular gas.

Speaking of options, this car has a bunch that would have pushed its out-the-door cost well above its MSRP of $3,721 (about $34,214 in 2024 dollars). The four-barrel 455 cost $57 ($524 today), the three-speed automatic transmission cost $158 ($1,453), the power steering was $98 ($901), the air conditioning was a heroic $411 ($3,779) and … you get the idea.

The original buyer of this car wanted it loaded, so it even has the optional power windows.

Oldsmobile became very enthusiastic about borrowing names from American fighter jets during the 1950s and 1960s, and the Delta series was inspired by the moniker of the F-102 Delta Dagger. The Cutlass borrowed its name from the F7U Cutlass naval fighter as well, with the Starfire paying homage to the F-94 Starfire. Apparently, Convair, Vought and Lockheed chose not to make a legal stink about their product names being appropriated by a car company for its products, perhaps because that car company was one of the most powerful corporations in the country at that time. In any case, the F-102 suffered from huge cost overruns during its development, the F-94 was obsolete soon after entering service and the F7U was a dangerous, overcomplicated lemon known as “the Gutless Cutlass.” There’s a lot of history in the junkyard, if you know where to look!

Speaking of aviation history, the build tag tells us that this car was built at GM’s original Fairfax Assembly in Kansas City. That’s where North American Aviation built B-25 Mitchell bombers during World War II, selling it to The General in 1945. F-84F Thunderstreaks were assembled alongside cars there by GM during the early 1950s.

Worth restoring? It’s not rusty, but the interior is bad and even hardtop four-doors of this era don’t get the enthusiast love given to two-doors and convertibles.

Oldsmobile for 1968 has something for old and young! 38 years later, the Oldsmobile Division got the axe.



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What is the most expensive car in the world?


Highlighting one single vehicle as the most expensive car in the world isn’t as straightforward as you might think. To get a solid answer, we’re going to have to break the question into a couple of parts. First, we’ll discuss the most expensive new car in the world, and second, the most expensive collector car in the world. And by the end of the article, you’ll be armed with the information you’re looking for: What is the most expensive car in the world?

Before we get into the stratospheric numbers, let’s take a step back and put things in perspective. For the last year or so, the average transaction price for a new car has hovered right around $48,000. That’s almost 10 grand more than new cars cost in 2019, before the pandemic. What will that buy you today? Well, you can get a midrange Ford F-150, a Kia Telluride, or a Ford Mustang GT with a few options. Not bad when you consider that these choices are among the best in their respective classes.

At the very bottom of the spectrum is the Nissan Versa, which is available brand new for well under $20,000. Sure, there are a few anomalies such as the Changli Nemica (it’s kinda a car, though not exactly street legal here in America) that can be ordered from Alibaba for about $1,000 to start, but there are a bunch of hidden costs, including shipping.

Most expensive car in 2024: Rolls-Royce Droptail

Price: $30 million

Outside of the classic car market, the most expensive new vehicle in the world is the Rolls-Royce Droptail. So far, three Droptail models have been built, one called the Arcadia Droptail, one in ruby tones called La Rose Noire Droptail and one called the Amethyst Droptail. The latest example, the Arcadia, is painted in a white shade that is infused with aluminum and glass particles for a pearl-like effect that adds depth. Past that, the overall design of all three Droptails remains largely unchanged with an upright grille, thin rear lights, and a rounded back end.

Like other extremely luxurious and expensive nautical-themed cars from Rolls-Royce — see the 2017 Sweptail and the 2021 Boat Tail — the Droptail is a very rare machine. There’s a solid chance the lone remaining version will cost even more than the $30 million-plus cost of the La Rose Noire.

For those keeping track, the Rolls-Royce Boat Tail, which was previously the most expensive car in the world at $28 million, was the first model to emerge from the company’s Coachbuild department that caters to the profanely wealthy. Case in point, the first Boat Tail commission is for a pearl magnate. To put the price in perspective, The Boat Tail’s asking price was equivalent to 1,797 Nissan Sentras.

Other notable cars that cost more than a million dollars in 2024:

  1. McLaren Elva: $1.7 million
  2. Hennessey Venom GT: $1.8 million
  3. Bentley Bacalar: $1.9 million
  4. SSC Tuatara: $2.0 million
  5. Pininfarina Battista: $2.2 Million
  6. Lotus Evija: $2.3 million
  7. Rimac Nevera: $2.4 Million
  8. Lamborghini Sian: $3.7 million
  9. Bugatti Bolide: $4.3 million
  10. Pagani Codalunga: $7.4 million

The most expensive car sold at auction: 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300

Price: $142 million

Let’s start at the top, with the most expensive car ever sold at auction. The 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupe Prototype sold for $142 million in 2022. RM Sotheby’s sold it on behalf of Mercedes-Benz at a private auction held at the carmaker’s museum in Stuttgart, Germany. It’s one of two prototypes made, with the other remaining in Mercedes’ keeping. The new owner remains unnamed for the moment, but we do know what Mercedes did with some of the money. Some funds went to establish a scholarship for students in the environmental science and decarbonization fields.

Related video:



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Junkyard Gem: 1997 Cadillac Catera


GM’s Cadillac Division was having a tough time in the early 1990s, with an onslaught of Lexuses and Infinitis pouring across the Pacific to steal their younger customers while high-end German manufacturers picked off their older customers. Flying an S-Class-priced model between assembly lines in Turin and Hamtramck hadn’t worked out, so why not look to the European outposts of the far-flung GM Empire for the next Cadillac? That’s how the Catera was born, and I have found a rare first-year example in a North Carolina car graveyard.

Across the Atlantic, GM’s Opel and Vauxhall were doing good business with prosperous European car buyers by selling them the sleek rear-wheel-drive Omega B (whose platform also lived beneath the Holden VT Commodore in Australia). Here was a genuine German design that competed with success against BMW and Audi on their home turf!

So, the Omega B was Americanized and renamed the Catera. Opel wasn’t a completely unknown brand to Americans at the time, since its cars were sold here with their own badging through Buick dealerships from the middle 1950s through the late 1970s (for a much shorter period, American Pontiac dealers attempted to sell Vauxhalls). Even after that, plenty of Opel DNA showed up in the products of U.S.-market GM divisions.

The Catera was by far the most affordable Cadillac for 1997, with an MSRP starting at $29,995 (about $59,113 in 2024 dollars). Being a genuine German car, it looked much more convincingly European than the DeVille ($36,995), Eldorado ($37,995) and Seville ($39,995).

Inspired by the ducks on the Cadillac emblem (they were really supposed to be martlets, mythical birds with no feet and occasionally lacking beaks), Cadillac’s marketers went after youthful car shoppers with a whimsical animated duck named Ziggy. For the 21st century, the birds were removed from the Cadillac emblem in order to attract California buyers under 45 years of age.

As we all know, the Catera flopped hard in the marketplace. What sold well in Europe turned out not to translate so well in in North America, especially when bearing the badges of such a historically prestigious brand.

The Catera’s engine was a 54-degree 3.0-liter V6 rated at 200 horsepower and 192 pound-feet.

Just as had been the case with its predecessor, the Allanté, no manual transmission was available.

Americans tend to not maintain their cars as meticulously as their European counterparts, and they drive much longer distances in harsher weather conditions on worse roads, so the Catera proved much less reliable than its Omega counterparts across the ocean.

A Holden-ized version of the Catera’s chassis returned to our shores in 2004, underpinning the Pontiac GTO. This means that LS swaps into Cateras shouldn’t be too difficult…

After 2001, the Catera was gone. However, the suits at Cadillac had learned by then that pasting their badges on the GMC Yukon Denali was like having a license to print money. Rappers were rhyming about the new Cadillac truck, and the under-80 crowd flocked to Cadillac showrooms. During the 2000s, new Cadillac car models (some using members of the Catera’s 54° V6 engine family) continued the Cadillac revival, and the shameful memories of Ziggy faded.

But the junkyard never forgets, so let’s watch some more Catera commercials.

Hey, Cindy Crawford listened to Ziggy the Duck!

Ziggy also worked as a personal trainer.

Isn’t it time you took a test drive?

Wait, Opel says it should survive 10,000 miles of abuse in Arizona.

Those Omega owners sure have fun.

The Vauxhall version had 69 billion possibilities in its security codes, and it was pronounced “OH-muh-guh.”

Just the thing to drive around a surreal desert.



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What is the fastest car in the world in 2024?


It wasn’t that long ago that the notion of reaching 200 miles per hour in a car, on a road, seemed basically impossible. As you likely know by now, that time has passed. And once that threshold was crossed, the automotive world immediately began eying the next triple-digit benchmark: 300 miles per hour. It may have taken a little while, but the 300-mph line has been crossed, and some cars have moved well past that seemingly insane speed number. While some of these speeds have been achieved in simulations (including the fastest car listed below), there’s little doubt that a driver with nerves of steel and a heavy right foot could indeed push several automobiles up to 300 miles per hour and beyond.

Interestingly, it’s not just one car or automaker in the 300-mph club, as a handful of models have earned a place (sometimes claimed but not yet demonstrated) on the leaderboard.

The fastest car in the world is: Koenigsegg Jesko Absolut (330 MPH)

Fastest car in the world 2023

That title goes to the Koenigsegg Jesko Absolut, which recorded a staggering 330 mph top speed earlier in 2023. The car’s twin-turbocharged 5.0-liter V8 lays down 1,600 horsepower and 1,106 pound-feet of torque, which plays a significant role in delivering that speed, but Koenigsegg’s engineers have given the car a lot more than mind-blowing power.

The Jesko Absolut has a super-slippery 0.278 drag coefficient and a nine-speed transmission that shifts so quickly it’s almost imperceptible. Koenigsegg calls it a Light Speed Transmission (LST), saying its shifts happen at almost light speed. While that might be a slight exaggeration, the gearbox is impressive, bringing several wet multi-disc clutches and a super lightweight construction.

As Koenigsegg says, “the Jesko Absolut is destined to achieve higher, more extraordinary speeds than any Koenigsegg or any other fully homologated car before it.”

How expensive is the Koenigsegg Jesko Absolut?

If you were reading that and wondering how much the fastest car in the world costs, the price tag is just another dizzying number on the Jesko Absolut’s spec sheet. All 125 Absolut cars offered sold out at a price of almost $3 million. Of course, being able to afford the Koenigsegg is just the first step in realizing its full potential. There are very few places on the map that can support a 300-plus-mph speed run, and the locations that do are not conveniently located. That said, it’s likely that many people who shelled out the cash for a Jesko Absolut will be happy with the bragging rights instead of using the speed.

So, the Jesko Absolut holds the speed crown and does so with more than a few miles per hour to spare, but the other cars in the 300-mph club are nearly as impressive.

Other cars that drive faster than 300 mph

BUGATTI Bolide 300 mph

The Bugatti Bolide sees 1,847 horsepower and 1,365 pound-feet of torque from a quad-turbo 8.0-liter W16. Its top speed lands at 311 mph, and its styling is just as wild and exaggerated.

However, unlike the Koenigsegg, the Bugatti is a track-only affair. Though it shares an engine and some of its underlying structure with the road-legal Chiron, Bugatti opted to keep the Bolide limited to track duty. While that’s a bummer, especially at the roughly $4.4 million price tag, not having to build a car to meet road car regulations gave Bugatti the freedom to create a brutal car with speed that defies logic. The Bolide is also far more exclusive than the Koenigsegg, as Bugatti produced just 40 of the extreme cars.

The car’s suspension is far stiffer than the Chiron’s, and the car rides on Michelin slicks. It utilizes a revised carbon monocoque and is built using an array of 3D-printed parts. Without the need to worry about curbs, speed bumps, and pedestrians, Bugatti could go wild with aerodynamics and bodywork, resulting in a car that looks like it could cut you.

What goes into creating a car that can go faster than 300 mph?

The Jesko Absolut and Bolide make reaching 300-plus mph sound easy, which you’d expect for their multiple-seven-digit price tags, but there’s a lot that goes into hitting their mind-blowing top speeds. Beyond the fact that it takes miles of glassy-smooth tarmac, the cars have to be exceptionally aerodynamic and be able to consume gobs of air, and fuel consumption at those speeds is immense. Engineers have to shape a car that easily slices through the air while also creating tremendous downforce to keep it on the ground.

Adding thousands of pounds of downforce stresses almost every part of the car, especially the suspension and tires. The dampers have to be able to support the temporarily heavier car while also keeping the tires in contact with the tarmac. At 300 mph, even subtle imperfections in the road surface come faster and much harder, so the car has to be able to cope.

Tires take a particularly brutal beating during the top-speed runs, as their sidewalls get compressed with all the downforce. They’re also subjected to extreme temperatures due to the friction that comes from rubber clawing against the pavement at 300 mph. At that speed, the tires rotate thousands of times per minute, so they must also be sturdy enough to hold their shape through the harsh rotational forces. Finally, high speeds do funny things with the weights of vehicle components, such as the tire pressure monitoring sensors, which can weigh several times their normal amount when rotating at 300 mph and cause wheel imbalances and other issues.

What about the previously fastest cars from Ferrari and Porsche?

1969 Dodge Charger Daytona

While we’re now talking about cars reaching speeds in excess of 300 mph, the first car to cross 200 mph did so more than 50 years ago. The 1969 Dodge Charger Daytona hit 200 mph in March 1970 at Talladega in Alabama. That’s right, the first car to 200 wasn’t wearing an Italian name on its nose, though many of the most well-known cars in the 200 club do. That said, the Charger Daytona, like the Bugatti Bolide today, was not street-legal, and the first road-going car to hit the benchmark was a Ferrari.

Several years after the Dodge’s record-setting run, the Ferrari F40 (below left) reached 200 mph as the first production car with the record. Its twin-turbocharged 2.9-liter V8 cranked out 471 horsepower when new, giving it a 0-60 mph time of 3.8 seconds and a top speed of 201 mph. Interestingly, the most impressive Porsche at the time, the 959 (below right), fell just short of the F40’s speed, reaching “just” 197 mph.

Electric power could change everything

As the automotive world moves toward full electrification, there are questions about EVs’ top speed and battery power, but there are at least five models on sale today with a 200-plus mph top speed. The slick Lucid Air Sapphire offers a 200-mph top speed and a 0-60 time of under 2 seconds. It tied the Tesla Model S Plaid’s top speed but did 0-60 quicker, as the Tesla takes 2.1 seconds to do the deed. The Lotus Evija also promises a 200-mph top speed, but the top two cars are helping move the EV performance needle close to the extreme numbers seen from today’s fastest gas cars. The Pininfarina Battista offers a 217-mph top speed and a crazy 1.8-second 0-60 time, and at the tippy-top of the performance hill is the Rimac Nevera, which offers a 258-mph top speed and a 1.9-second 0-60 mph time.

The 5 fastest cars in the world in 2024

  • Koenigsegg Jesko Absolut: 330 MPH (Claimed)
  • Bugatti Bolide: 311 MPH (Claimed)
  • Bugatti Chiron Super Sport: 305 MPH
  • Hennessey Venom F5: 300 MPH (Claimed)
  • SSC Tuatara: 283 MPH



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