Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Random Car Wednesday: 1949 Buick Super

Today we're highlighting another vehicle seen in the parking lot at LSRU. It's a big slab of classic American luxury, and it's today's RCW. It's the 1949 Buick Super. In the late 1940's, the most prestigious American makes were arguably Cadillac and Lincoln. Buick, however, was not far behind, offering very attractive automobiles that incorporated solid performance with passenger comfort. The Buick Super was the most popular model available, and was essentially a Roadmaster with more bodystyles and less pricy accoutrements. Featuring Buick's straight-eight powerplant, the Super was an excellent car, and could be had as a sedan, a coupe, a convertible, or a station wagon. This particular example looks solid as far as bodywork goes, but the paint job is far from perfect. It appears to have originally been a darker shade of green, but that was long ago. However, the chromework is shiny and neat, and it appears to be a car that gets driven on a semi-regular basis. It's a very stylish machine, complete with the iconic Buick "VentiPort" portholes. This is a an all-around solid machine that can still feasibly serve as daily transportation, and I admire that. This car has so much design and character, something modern sedans seem to be lacking. Thankfully, the new Dodge Charger and Ford Fusion show that design might be making a comeback. I certainly hope so.

1949 Buick Super Sedan

Sunday, April 27, 2014

2nd Annual Fly-In/Drive-In Show Roundup

This weekend, the Central Texas Wing of the Commemorative Air Force hosted their second annual Fly-In/Drive-In Show. It features plenty of cool cars, as well as some very interesting classic aircraft. It's a neat show, and this year was just as great a turnout as last year. The proceeds go towards keeping the CAF's incredible aircraft in the air, and they spent the afternoon giving rides in their B-25 bomber. This show is quickly becoming a yearly highlight, as it just keeps getting better and better.

 The 1957 Bel Air is a car show standard, and this one was very nice. Those Cragars work better than expected, and the dark red paint is a tasteful choice.

 Slightly less common is this 1962 Studebaker pickup. It's had a lot of work done, including new paint and pinstriping. Also, the stepside bed is borrowed from a Ford Ranger. Pretty neat.

 "The Sarge" is a 1932 Ford dump truck, decked out with flags and an army theme. Usually a car show will have at least a few '32 Fords, but they usually aren't like this. Very cool.

 This 1965 Malibu SS was in great condition. This was Chevy's middle-weight muscle car in '65, offering more performance than the Nova, but not quite as much as the Impala SS.

 This gorgeous 1964 Corvette was an undeniable eye-catcher. It's in great shape, looking like it just rolled off the showroom floor. I adore the original wheels, and the color choice. It comes across as a very European sports car, which is essentially what Chevrolet intended.

 This 1967 Plymouth Barracuda was superb. It's a Formula S model, and it's rocking a fantastic orange and black paint job that really brings out the '60s muscle car vibe. This was the Barracuda's first year for this bodystyle, and it would last until 1970, when the E-Body platform was used.

 Here's something you don't see everyday. This is a 1994 Oldsmobile Aurora in full race trim. This is an all-out track machine built solely for competition. Definitely not what you expect to see when somebody says 1994 Oldsmobile. This was one of the most interesting cars at the show.

 Kaisers seem to have all but disappeared, so this 1954 Kaiser Manhattan was an unexpected surprise. This car is utterly flawless, and the design is still attractive today. I love color combination on this car, as well as the tasteful use of chrome. It's good to know these cars still exist.

 The quintessential Chevrolet C-10 pickup. This one is a very pretty 1966 model. Apart from some minor modifications, this truck is mostly original, and makes for a good weekend cruiser.

 There were a couple of Chevelles on hand, but this 1966 Chevelle SS 396 really caught my attention. This car is simply wonderful. This was the first year for the SS 396 package, and it was one of Chevy's first real muscle cars. This one is absolutely stellar, and the bright red paint really seals the deal.

 As far as desirable muscle cars go, this 1970 Oldsmobile is tough to beat. It's a 442 with the very desirable W-30 option. On top of that, it's in concours condition, and I personally love the color. It seems like most of these cars were ordered in red, so blue is a refreshing change.

 The CAF is performing an ongoing restoration on this 1943 Willys MB. Last year it was nothing but a rolling chassis, but its come a long way since then. The spartan design and rugged simplicity of this vehicle is really cool to behold in person.

 This '32 Ford coupe has been to some local car show lately, but the owner has recently added these racing decals, which are a nice touch. The combination of grey, white, and black parts still puzzles me, but this is a very neat car and I'm curious to see what the owner will do next.

 This is what happens when you let Carroll Shelby and Bob Lutz go wild. This is a 1994 Dodge Viper RT/10. It's an icon of the '90s, and it put Chrysler back on track. This was basically a concept car that was sold to the public, and it's an amazing car to look at up close.

 This 1972 Barracuda is one of Mopar's last muscle cars of the '70s. A vinyl top with sunroof and the "Sport Appearance Package" make this particular car unique.

 One of two matching 1970 Plymouth Roadrunners at the show. Both cars had 383 badging and the same rims. I think I slightly prefer this one out of the two. Bright green only works on a handful of cars, but I think this is certainly one of them.

 As I said, there were planes on hand as well. This SNJ-T6 is owned by the CAF, and is nicknamed "Neon" on behalf of it's bright orange paint. This was one of the aircraft used in the flyover, and it still sees regular flight duty.

 Among my favorites of the show was this 1971 Dodge Challenger R/T. That's Plum Crazy Purple, and under the hood is a 440 Six-Pack motor, one of the best engines Mopar offered in the muscle car era. This car is mostly stock apart from the new Torq-Thrust II rims.

 This 1965 Ford F-100 looks like it could still do service as a daily driver. The modern wheels and tires suggest an emphasis on function over form, which is fitting for a pickup truck.

 This 1966 Cadillac Coupe de Ville sat low on airbags, and looked to be in pretty solid shape. It's a massive vehicle, but it probably makes for a very good cruising machine.

 This 1961 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia was a very cool little car. It's not entirely done yet, with a handful of paint imperfections and an interior that still needs work, but it's a very solid little car. It's hard not to like these cars, the design was so well-proportioned and simple.

 Representing rat rod culture was this mean machine. The owner claimed it was a 1927 Ford Model T once, but it's come a long way since then. I really like the chop top with no roof, and the red wheels add just enough contrast. This is a rat rod done right.

 Without a doubt the star of the show. This is Aluminum Overcast, a B-17 Flying Fortress operated by the EAA. One of only 11 B-17s still capable of flight, this was incredible to see in person. Watching it take flight is an experience that defies description, and it almost feels like you've stepped back in time to 1945. This was undeniably the highlight of the day.

 Moving back to the automotive side of the show, we find this lovely 1969 Dodge Super Bee. It's got a 440 under the hood and some shiny new rims, but I'm not sure about the blue interior. Nevertheless, this is a very nice car, and a welcome sight at the show.

 The other 1970 Roadrunner. Both cars are almost identical, although the green one has white-letter tires, while this one does not. Also, this car has the factory spoiler, unlike the green car. Whatever your preference is, these are two perfect Plymouths.

Lastly is this 1963 Impala convertible. Harder to find than the hardtop versions, this convertible was a very clean car that looked like it could be driven on a regular basis. I really like those Keystone Mags, they work very well on this car.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Random Car Wednesday: 1995 Mazda Miata M Edition

Many people consider the Mazda Miata to be one of the best gearhead cars of all time. I'm not quite so enthusiastic, but I must admit it has plenty of admirable qualities. Thus, it's about time we have a Miata for RCW, and here it is. This is a 1995 Mazda Miata M Edition. Now, the Miata is essentially an homage to the classic sports cars of the 1960's. Cars like the Lotus Elan, Triumph TR6, and Austin-Healey Sprite. The formula is pretty simple, following Colin Chapman's "Simplify, then add lightness" mantra very strictly. As a '95 model, this Miata features a 1.8-liter engine that produces 131 horsepower. This is a far cry from last week's V12 Vantage, but the Miata didn't need a boatload of horsepower because it only weighed 2,180 pounds. The end result was a very nimble, sporty little two-seater that offered a wonderful combination of basic practicality and driving bliss. These credentials were enough to win the hearts of driving enthusiasts everywhere, and as a result these cars are coveted by their owners. This particular car is the M Edition, a low production special edition. M Editions could be had in 1994, 1995, and 1996, and each year featured a different look. For 1995, the M Edition was offered in Merlot Mica with unique BBS rims. These unique machines got all of the options Mazda could install, and production was limited to 3,500 cars. This one is in stellar condition, and looks like it would be a blast to drive through the Hill Country on a nice day like today. Is it the best car in the world? No, I don't think so. But you should try to drive one at least once, just to make sure.

1995 Mazda Miata M Edition

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Easter Cruise-In

Happy Easter! Yesterday was this month's cruise-in at the local car museum, and it was a lovely little turnout. An eclectic mix of machinery, to be sure. Enjoy these photos, and have a happy holiday.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Random Car Wednesday: 2014 Aston Martin V12 Vantage S

The current Aston Martin Vantage has been in production since 2005. Visually, there have been no major refreshes in that time period, but the engineers at Aston Martin keep finding ways to make the car better. Meet the 2014 Aston Martin V12 Vantage S, the latest and greatest of the Vantage series. There are two main versions of the Vantage to choose from: the 4.7-liter V8 model, or a 5.9-liter V12 version. Both cars can be had as a coupe or convertible and utilize a conventional FR layout. In hopes of adding some spice to the V8, a sportier version was created and called the V8 Vantage S. The changes focus around squeezing more performance from the engine and radically improving the handling. Minor aerodynamic tweaks also distinguish the Vantage S from the base model. Now, Aston Martin is offering an S version of the V12 Vantage. This is a very good thing. The V12 Vantage S, using the all-new AM28 6.0-liter V12, produces 565 horsepower, 457 pound-feet of torque, and will do 0 to 60 in 3.7 seconds. Those are some serious numbers, and they're topped off with one more: a top speed of 205 mph. This is 15 mph more than the standard V12, and Aston Martin claims this is their fastest production car ever. Quite a machine, then. Furthermore, it's still a wonderfully beautiful car, which is impressive when you think about how long it's been in production. This particular car really gets me. That shade of blue is out of this world, and the aggressive body modifications and black trim on the Vantage S seal the deal. It's an incredible automobile.

2014 Aston Martin V12 Vantage S

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Random Car Wednesday: 2014 Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG S Wagon

I have a soft spot for German performance divisions. Audi's RS lineup, BMW's M Division, and especially Mercedes-Benz's AMG. I also like station wagons. Thus, today's RCW is the best of both worlds. Seen in the parking lot just outside the Roundup, this handsome machine is the 2014 Mercedes Benz E63 AMG S Wagon. That's a lot of nomenclature, so let's condense it to this: A very fast luxury wagon. Fast isn't a relative term, either. This car packs 577 horsepower, and 590 pound-feet of torque. This means you can do 0 to 60 in 3.4 seconds. In a wagon, no less. A five-passenger vehicle with a huge trunk space for groceries or sporting equipment or perhaps extra gasoline. All that performance comes from a twin-turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 32-valve V8 with an aluminum block and heads, plus direct fuel injection. AMG really gave this one a once-over. The transmission is a seven-speed automatic, but there's an option to shift manually built in. Find yourself a particularly straight stretch of tarmac and you'll find the E63 AMG has a electronically-limited top speed of 174 mph. That's impressive when you consider this thing weighs close to 5,000 pounds. Naturally, a car like this has some setbacks. Fuel economy is pitiful at best, and the price is staggering. The base price is about $103,000, but options drive the price up higher still. Not for the common man, is it? Nevertheless, it's a devilishly attractive machine with an incredible performance profile. This particular car is a rather nice gunmetal blue that I find quite enticing. Not many people can buy a car like this, but everybody should admire it. It's simply wonderful.

2014 Mercedes Benz E63 AMG S Wagon

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Lonestar Roundup Coverage

Wow. What a turnout. This year's Roundup is one for the ages, with an immense variety and number of cars arriving from all over the country. There were rat rods, hot rods, cruisers, beaters, station wagons, pickups, dragsters and lowriders, plus much more. The music was great, especially the performance put on by the one and only Jimmie Vaughan. It was such a good show, and it seems to get bigger and better with every year. I took a couple hundred photos throughout the day, but here are a selection of some of the most interesting and noteworthy automobiles I saw.

Like I said, a great turnout. Can't wait until next year!