Category: ‘Fun Cars’

Nissan Figaro: The Retro Open Top Classic Japanese Car

Posted by Stephen On Friday, May 6th, 2016

There’s a reason that retro cars are catch the eye of many car collectors – not only do they get more rare as time goes on, but they represent a bygone era while having underpinnings from a more modern age. This could explain why the Nissan Figaro, a retro car first introduced in Japan in 1989, was so popular during its limited production – and why it remains a collector’s item today.

The Nissan Figaro was originally only sold in Japan, but it eventually became very popular in the UK and Ireland after it was released officially in 1991. It was designed by Shoji Takahashi, who won a design competition for it, and has some resemblance to the 1960s Datsun Fairlady models. Unlike contemporary Mitsuokas, with their bolt-on retro-look parts, the Figaro represents a complete vision of what a modern car styled on 1960s principles would look like.

Nissan Figaro catalog

Only a limited number were produced, with the original 8,000 being supplemented by 12,000 more in order to meet demand. The car came in only four colors, which together represented the four seasons of the year: Topaz Mist, Emerald Green, Pale Aqua and Lapis Grey. Topaz Mist was the rarest, with only 2,000 models produced in this color.

Part of the inspiration for the car came from the theme of the 1989 Tokyo Motor Show, which was “Back to the Future”. Its name, “Figaro”, referred to the main character in Pierre Beaumarchais’ famous play, The Marriage of Figaro, based on the Mozart opera of the same name. A Nissan special projects group called Pike Factory, which specialized in producing niche automobiles such as the Be-1, Pao and S-Cargo, also worked on the Nissan Figaro.

Some features of the Figaro were leather seats, air conditioning, a CD player (which also had a retro radio look) and an open roof; furthermore, special limited edition cars included passenger side baskets and cup holders. The car was so rare that people who wanted to buy it had to enter a lottery, which increased its value even more and led to the modern-day perception of the Figaro as a rare car. Some parts can be hard to acquire, but many are available as they are also used in more common Nissan models of the time.

Nissan Figaro catalog

The fuel economy is an impressive 39 miles per gallon, but the a top speed of 106 miles per hour is somewhat lacking. Not surprising given the 60-horsepower engine. The Figaro’s genuine leather seats are a big draw for fans of this car. Not only do they look classy, but they add to a cabin environment that blends a distinctive complementary style. Adding to this is the low-mount headrest and synthetic leather piping that is used to prevent leather fatigue.

One of the Figaro’s most unique trademarks is its retractable top, which has an external design that is completely hidden in the trunk. The top is equipped with a double lock and warning buzzer as safety features, as well as a secondary hood latch that is designed to prevent the hood from opening while the car is being driven, or if it its activation switch is turned on by accident.

Features of the body include a flush mount apron and flush mount fender, as well as glassfibre resin material used with an outer gel coat for the car’s front fenders and front grill. The materials that are used result in body components that are durable and low-maintenance, which is especially helpful as it is difficult to find places to service and maintain the car. Fluoroplastic paint, which comes in the car’s signature four colors, is used on this vehicle.

Today, the best place to find Figaros for sale is the Japanese car auctions. With 7 to 8 million vehicles passing through each year, even rare vehicles like this one can be sourced with relative ease. Contact us to find out more.


Japan Car Auction Find: 1984 Toyota Mark II

Posted by Stephen On Friday, April 15th, 2016

Coming up at auction in Japan tomorrow…

1984 Toyota MARK II at auction - front 2

“Grade 3.5, interior B, exterior B, first registered October 1984, five-speed manual gearbox, AC, aftermarket muffler, Mark I alloy wheels, power steering, power windows, twin cam, aftermarket shift knob, interior grime and cigarette burns and scratches, seats have cigarette burns and are worn, rust and paint underneath vehicle, exterior paintwork uneven and modified, front grill missing, wheels scratched, door mirrors scratched, minor scratches and minor dents, marks as per map”

1984 Toyota MARK II at auction - inspection report

1984 Toyota MARK II at auction - interior 1

1984 Toyota MARK II at auction - interior 2

1984 Toyota MARK II at auction - rear

1984 Toyota MARK II at auction - front


Japanese Auto Art: Toyota’s Wooden Roadster

Posted by Stephen On Tuesday, April 12th, 2016

Of the world’s top 10 largest automobile manufacturing names, Japan currently has six on the list, but only one of those companies has built a fully functional wooden car. Yes, you read that correctly. In an age when chopping down innocent woodland has fallen somewhat out of favor, some bright spark has decided it would be a great time to make a car out of dead trees. Not exactly what springs to mind when you think of “green motoring”.

Toyota Setsuna wooden concept car

Anyway, this particular wooden roadster showcases the beauty of okuri ari — a Japanese housed dovetail technique that requires no nails or screws. Toyota is unveiling this stunning car at Milan Design Week in Italy (April 12 – April 17, 2016). Filled with events, presentations, and exhibitions, the prestigious extravaganza is renowned for revealing forthcoming trends in the world of design. Except, perhaps, the likelihood of wood being the next carbon fiber still seems rather low to this writer.

A modest two-seat roadster, the Setsuna is a concept car that Toyota is tagging as a ‘Time Machine,’ though not for its ability to leap backward or forwards across the space-time continuum. In fact, the underlying focus of the entire campaign Toyota is touting centers around moving away from technology and being more cognizant of how significant and fleeting time is in the real world. Toyota engineer Kenji Tsuji, together with Kota Nezu of znug design, wanted the primary structural element of their design to illustrate aging and the passing of time. Wood, while unconventional, was precisely the material needed to embody their message.

Presumably, the point being that wood ages and decays. Of course, the same sense of the passage of time can also be seen on Japanese family cars from the eighties, as they rust and corrode. But that was a design flaw. This, however, is art.

Setsuna: Time and Timeless

The name Setsuna means “moment” or “instance” in Japanese. With this design, Toyota is appealing to the kind of old-school attachment car owners had with their vehicles over half a century ago.

They are seeking the kind of bond fanatical auto enthusiasts, and club members have for their hot rods. The minds inside Toyota want to tap into that feeling of owning an heirloom, and passing it down through multiple generations. The following are a few examples of just how passionate everyone involved in the project is about how and why the Setsuna is destined to be timeless.

The 100-Year Meter and the Setsuna Emblem

Setting a tone that denotes the “accumulation of moments” in a gradual and consistent manner, these two elements are beautiful examples of form over function. Their purpose is served by the sense they strive to evoke — the feeling of family roots.

The vintage-style meter of brushed aluminum is set in the stunning wood grain dashboard just to the right of the wipe-lacquered wood steering wheel. Two red hands tick off the time of day and the passing of days while a counter at the bottom logs the years as they go by. Perfect for anyone stuck in a Tokyo traffic jam, then.

The car’s emblem, which at first glance looks like a rotary saw blade, is actually a combination of much milder metaphors. The circular pattern is modeled after the rings inside a tree, which represent strength; they also signify a moment unfolding like a flower.

Although, if your eyes are not, in fact, deceiving you and it really is supposed to look like a saw blade, well how appropriate for a car made of wood. The fleeting nature of life as embodied in a wooden car meets its inescapable rendezvous with the circular saw of time, perhaps?

Which wood to choose?

To ensure that the Setsuna lasts as long as its lavish meter, the type of wood used was carefully selected based on where it would be in the car.

Exterior panels: Japanese cedar, known for its flexibility and vivid color along with a wood grain of refined character was a natural choice. Straight-grain panels achieve a sharp and even pattern because the cut is made toward the log’s center. Cross-grain panels have a softer appearance with a more irregular pattern which Toyota lauds as fostering a “quaint and friendly impression.”

Car frame: Supporting the weight of the vehicle and its occupants required an extremely rigid and sturdy variety of wood. The perfect selection was Japanese birch, which is similar to paper birch trees with the signature chalky white bark.

Floorboard: A species of flowering plant commonly used in the art of bonsai or as an ornamental tree, the Japanese Zelkova was chosen for its strength and durability.

Seats: Part of the ginseng family, the Castor Aralia is valued for its timber quality. Growing to nearly 100 feet tall with a 40-inch trunk diameter, this particular species was picked for the smooth texture of the wood. Designers sought to offer a feeling akin to sitting on a wooden park bench — in this case, a leather-covered bench.

Of course, as any environmentalist knows, if you want a material that lasts for centuries without decaying, you need look no further than the almost immortal plastic used to make grocery bags.

Put Together Like a Puzzle

The body of the Setsuna is built using 86 wood panels that have been fitted together in a way that enables single panels to be removed and replaced as necessary. Traditional Japanese techniques that use the interlocking methods of housed dovetail joints add to the overall strength and durability of their auto’s wooden body.

With this being a one-off, I assume that crash safety was not uppermost in the designers’ minds. While Japanese wood-framed houses rarely have to endure impacts, it’s not clear what protection the Setsuna would afford its occupants. Having dropped a few jigsaw puzzles on the floor in my time, I suspect it would be very little. And at speeds above walking pace, getting a splinter would be the least of your problems.

Toyota is sure to receive myriad accolades in Milan because their concept car — conceived by clever minds daring to push the boundaries of design — makes a beautiful statement both visually and conceptually. With a single electric motor as its only power source, the prototype can achieve a top speed of 28 mph and travel approximately 16 miles before needing to recharge.

To state the obvious, Toyota has no production plans for the wooden Setsuna. But this is not a bad thing. It’s a hugely flawed design boondoggle that sneers in the face of environmentalism – cutting down trees instead of hugging them.


Japanese Car Auction Find: Toyota AE86 — The Drifter’s Dream

Posted by Stephen On Monday, April 11th, 2016

The Toyota Corolla today is one of the most popular cars in existence, due to its small but durable size and budget-friendly pricing. However, few people know much about its history or what kinds of models went into making the final product. One of these earlier types was the Toyota AE86, which was introduced by Toyota in 1983 as part of the fifth generation Toyota Corolla, with the final models rolling off the production lines in 1987. As such, it is just one generation of the Toyota Corolla Levin and Toyota Sprinter Trueno spanning the years from 1972 to 2004.

There were some differences between the Levin and the Trueno, but to the general observer they were almost indistinguishable. The word “Levin” means “lightning” in Old English and “Trueno” means “thunder” in Spanish, making the two models an interesting play on words. Other than the names, the main difference between them was the headlights: while the Levin had fixed, rectangular headlights, the Trueno offered pop-up headlights instead.

1984 Toyota Sprinter Trueno at auction in Japan -- front

One of the unique aspects of the AE86 was that it maintained a rear-wheel drive at a time when most other cars – particularly small hatchbacks – were switching over to front-wheel drive. As such, it is one of the last rear-wheel drive cars of its time. The AE86 body type was offered as either a 2-door coupe or 3-door liftback, which can also be called a hatchback. Other specifications included the 4-cylinder engine that was also used in other Toyota models of the time, as well as a 5-speed manual gearbox (although an automatic model was offered later as well).

Stopping and cornering on the AE86 was handled by ventilated disc brakes, as well as a MacPherson strut independent suspension at the front and a four-link live axle with coil springs bringing up the rear. Stabilizer bars were present at both ends of the car to make for a suspension system that was relatively sophisticated for what was a low-end model. All of this attention to detail lead to the fun handling that makes the car a stand-out model today in the minds of Japanese classic car enthusiasts.

During its production lifetime, the AE86 was well known for its achievements on the racetrack as well as the highway. The model was a popular choice for showroom stock, Group A, and Group N racing, and was found especially frequently in rallying and circuit races. Privateer teams continued to race the AE86 even after it was discontinued, and you can even find teams that race with this vehicle today. What makes it so appealing is its rear-drive configuration, which is not found in many other cars of the era and especially not in modern models of lightweight coupes.

The car was popular in races in Ireland and Finland, and also did well in international touring races where it competed mainly with Honda Civics and others lightweight vehicles of its type. In 1986, it was entered in the European Touring Car Championship and won the Manufacturers Championship, beating out larger cars including the BMW M6, BMW 325i (E30), Rover Vitesse, Volvo 240 Turbo, Merkur XR4Ti, Mazda 929, Holden Commodore (VK), Alfa Romeo 75 (turbo V6), and Mercedes 190E.

Japanese street racers, known as hashiriya, prized the AE86 as well for its light weight, relative strength and especially its rear-wheel driving configuration, which made it popular for races through mountain passes where downhill corners were particularly suited to the capabilities of this car. In particular, the AE86 was well adapted to drifting, or the process of controlled sliding through corners. Japanese drifters like Katsuhiro Ueo, Toshiki Yoshioka, Yoichi Imamura, Koichi Yamashita, Hiroshi Takahashi, Tetsuya Hibino, and Wataru Hayashi made the AE86 famous in the drift scene in the 1980s.

As a result of its popularity in Japan, the AE86 was found in many episodes of Japanese anime and manga; the model also made a brief appearance in Fast and Furious 4 and The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, indicating its popularity in American popular culture as well. It is also featured in a number of video game series, including Gran Turismo, Tokyo Xtreme Racer, Grand Theft Auto IV and Grand Theft Auto V. It also appears in several video games and movies in the Need for Speed franchise, including Need for Speed: Underground 2, Need for Speed: The Run (where it can be used in challenges and multiplayer events), Need for Speed: World, Need for Speed: Pro Street, and Need for Speed (2015 movie).

Here is a 1984 Sprinter Trueno GTV that is in the car auctions in Japan. The mileage is high, but that is typical for cars of this age. This car has a lot of aftermarket parts, and seems to be in relatively good condition considering its age:

“Grade 3.5, first registered March 1984, 204,874KM, GTV model, five-speed manual gearbox, AC, front adjustable suspension, rear lowered suspension, Watanabe magnesium 14 inch wheels, strut bar, earthing system, aftermarket shock absorbers, super muffler, aftermarket radiator, aftermarket upper hose and lower hose, Apex air cleaner, TRD plug courts, Tein front adjustable-type upper mount, AC does not work well and needs repair, interior grime, ???? (unreadable) hole in body work, seats sagging and cut, dashboard loose and cut, front cross member dented, rust underneath vehicle, corrosion and other marks as per map”

1984 Toyota Sprinter Trueno at auction in Japan -- inspection report

1984 Toyota Sprinter Trueno at auction in Japan-- rear

1984 Toyota Sprinter Trueno at auction in Japan -- interior


Japan Car Auction Finds: The Retro (Nissan) Pao

Posted by Stephen On Friday, March 25th, 2016

The Nissan Pao was originally announced in October of 1987 at the 26th Tokyo Motor Show before production began in 1988. Its retro looks gave it instant appeal, such that when it first came out, you had to make a reservation to purchase it as it was intended as a limited edition.
The name itself was supposedly from a Mongolian word meaning a meeting house. To heighten the impact of this one-syllable name Nissan also just marketed it as the “Pao” without the Nissan name in front of it.

Between January and April of 1989 reservations were made and the car sold out in three months. It was very popular at the time and still is a coveted and collectible car. Nissan stopped production in 1990, so the car at auction (below) is one of the last ones off the line. Such is its status as a design icon that one is displayed in the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
As a 3-door hatchback, it does not really fit into modern car buying habits, but the cohesive retro looks have aged well, so that it is hard to believe that the design is getting on for 30 years old.

One great thing about the Pao is that it is one of the spinoffs of the K10 Nissan March / Micra. (The other two being the Figaro and Be-1.) As a result, many of the mechanical parts are still relatively easy to come by, which would not be true if it was a genuine low-volume vehicle.

Designer Naoki Sakaki is credited with the designs for both the Nissan Pao and Nissan Be-1.

Specifications:

  • It was available in three body colors: terracotta, ivory, olive gray and aqua gray and two interior colors: ivory and black.
  • It came with either a three-speed automatic or five-speed manual transmission and had a 1.0 liter engine.
  • It was a great city car, only needing 14.4 feet to turn.
  • It’s fuel economy is still impressive by 2016 standard, getting up to 51 mpg in the city and 79 mpg at a constant 37 MPH.
  • It featured a distinctive clam shell hatch in back with the glass section swinging up and bottom opened into a tailgate.
  • Part of the retro look was external door hinges and flap-up windows.
  • Even the AM/FM radio tape deck was built to look as if it were from the 1950s.
  • Despite its small size, it can seat up to five passengers.
  • Popularity Today

    With its unique appearance, people either seem to love or hate it. Nissan was taking a risk at the time in designing something completely different. It almost looks like a modernized version of a car from the 1950’s. It is a testament to its design that there are groups of fanatical enthusiast owners both inside and outside Japan.

    Now, if you want one, you would think the limited edition status of this vehicle would make it hard to come by, but you can always find some good examples in the auctions in Japan. Let’s have a look at one of these below.

    Here is the translation of the auction inspector’s report:

    “Grade 4, interior B, exterior condition B, first registered February 1990, normal roof, 2WD, FAT, AC, original stereo, original side visor and mats, original steel wheels, power steering, 108,326KM, fornt and rear seats have been re-covered, some roadworthiness test history (2010, 2012, 2014), sticker shows the timing belt has been replaced, interior grime and scratches, oil leak, wheels scratched, door mirrors scratched, minor scratches and minor dents, marks as per map”

    Nissan Pao at Japanese car auction - inspection report

    The first thing to note is that this car has been graded 4, which is about the best you can expect from a 26-year-old car. This car also has a great-looking interior with the original retro stereo being retained, and all the seats having been re-done. For the avid collector, the downside would be that this is the fixed roof version, rather than the canvas top version. Of course, this means the option of open-top motoring is not available, but on the other hand the potential issues with the canvas top getting damaged or aging, resulting in rainwater leaks aren’t going to be a problem.

    Interested in buying cars like the Nissan Pao, or other Japanese collectibles? Get 14 days of guest access to Japan’s cars auctions and take a look for yourself.

    And don’t forget to check out these extra photos of this Pao at auction in Japan.

    Nissan Pao at Japanese car auction - front 2

    Nissan Pao at Japanese car auction -rear

    Nissan Pao at Japanese car auction -interior

    Nissan Pao at Japanese car auction - wheel

    Nissan Pao at Japanese car auction - retro stereo


    Insane 6-Wheel Kei Truck Acty Crawler At Auction In Japan

    Posted by Stephen On Tuesday, March 1st, 2016

    OK, so it may not have the street presence of an Mercedes-Benz G 63 AMG 6X6, but you have to admire the engineering that has gone into making this Acty Crawler.

    Despite what you may think, this is not some crazy custom job, but was engineered by Honda and introduced in 1994. They are also designed to have tracks on the rear wheels, hence the “crawler” part of the name.

    Honda Acty Crawler at auction in Japan (1)

    Honda Acty Crawler at auction in Japan (2)

    Honda Acty Crawler at auction in Japan (3)

    Original listing


    Honda Active Life Concept at UK Triathalon Show

    Posted by Stephen On Friday, January 22nd, 2016

    The UK Triathlon Auto Show will take place at ExCel in London this year. It is a three-day event that will be held Feb. 11 through Feb. 14. This is where Honda plans on using this event to debut their Active Life Concept.

    Honda Civic Active Life Tourer Concept Car

    What appears to be a hatchback Honda Civic Sport Type R plans on having enough room to accommodate two bicycles in its trunk. It had to sacrifice a second seat to do it, but it’s also intended for a targeted audience – which I’m guessing is not families – but is those “active life” triathletes.

    The really sweet thing about this car is that it has a retractable arm that will allow you to perform bike repair from the trunk. The toolbox, bottle holder, front wheel holder and the water take all integrated into the side lining.

    It comes with a box in the roof – aerodynamically designed and sized perfectly for helmets and shoes – vital accessories for the avid mountain biker.

    In photos, the concept car is blue and fades into a silver lining. Although suede and leather are found on the front seats, the Japanese automaker has continued the blue theme on the interior by adding blue stitching to the gearshift and the steering wheel – and then they touched it up with blue piping running through the center and upper outer areas of the two seats and directly into the suede door lining. The black roof interior is typical of a Honda Civic.

    They may not be debuting this concept at the auto show, but is not the first time that this design has been presented. It made its first appearance at the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show. The entire vehicle receives its inspiration from the Honda Civic Tourer estate – the same vehicle that is able to swallow up to 1668 liters of trunk space when the rear seats are folded down.

    And not one to miss a chance to push their brand on the younger audience, Honda plans on affording children ages 5 to 11 the opportunity to try their hand at a motorcycle for the first time. The bike will be a standard 50cc bike and will be supervised by experienced trainers. After all, even youngsters need to learn the basics in a controlled and safe environment.


    Subaru BRZ World’s Tightest 360º Spin

    Posted by Stephen On Thursday, January 21st, 2016

    Setting a world record is no easy task. In fact, it can be downright impossible. But don’t let that stop you.

    The Subaru BRZ just set a world record. For Subaru, that’s great, but it’s not the first time. It won’t be the last.

    The vehicle set the Guinness World Record for the world’s tightest 360º spin. The car, being driven by stunt driver Alastair Moffat, was driving the car on a closed course at about 48 k/h in a narrow lane of cars, clearing the spin with just 2.25 meters of clearance. When the feat was accomplished, he continued on to the end of the course.

    This broke the previous world record of 2.5 meters of clearance, which, by the way, was also set in a Subaru BRZ in 2014 at the Autosport International’s Live Action Arena.

    Subaru BRZ

    The requirements to qualify for the record-breaking stunt are stiff. The vehicle must not have been modified in any way. It must be using the same equipment that it came with when it rolled off the assembly line.

    What you can do is make adjustments to the current, standard controls of the car. For this feat, the traction control switch was powered OFF and the anti-lock braking system was disengaged.
    The previous record was also set by Alastair Moffat, who holds other records under his belt. He is credited with the “Tightest Reverse Parallel Park,” a record he set while behind the wheel of a Mini Cooper in November 2015. In that maneuver, he left a mere 35 centimeters of space between his Cooper and the two vehicles he squeezed in between.

    He is also the recipient of the “Tightest Parallel Park,” another 2015 record, while behind the wheel of a Fiat 500.

    For Subaru, this came together beautifully. Put the right driver behind the wheel of the right car and you’ve got a match made in heaven. Subaru can put this world record under its belt with all the other ones the Japanese carmaker has. A recent example of another world record happened just last year when Subaru Russia organized the largest parade of vehicles – 549, to be exact – at the Moscow Raceway, at the SubaFest held Aug. 15, 2015.

    Subaru set a world record in 2011 at the Isle of Man, one of the most perilous race tracks in existence. The Subaru was driven by British Rally Champion driver Mark Higgins, setting a new lap record for a 4-wheeled vehicle – something that many manufacturers have tried since to beat, but so far, have been unsuccessful.


    2016 Honda Civic Type-R Detailed, Hot Variant Possible

    Posted by Stephen On Friday, June 5th, 2015

    2016 Honda Civic Type R on the track

    The “most extreme and high-performing Type R ever built” is finally here. Or rather, it’s getting extremely close. The 2016 Honda Civic type R is set to make its worldwide debut in July 2015, less than one month away. Now that we are officially into June, Honda is really starting to heat up the hype.

    For example, this weekend we finally got an official, production-ready rundown of the new hot Hatch’s stats. Under the hood, you’ll find a 2.0L turbocharged VTEC engine that can rev up to 7,000 rpm and outputs a hefty 306 hp at 6500 rpm.

    2015 Honda Civic Type R

    The car has excellent mid-range torque of 295 lb-ft from 2,500 to 4,500 rpm, but the car was really made to excel at all ends of the rotational spectrum. The VTEC and VTC valve timing technologies work in tandem to optimize low-end torque response without taking away from up-to-the-redline acceleration, and the car is offered with a six-speed manual transmission.

    This mighty pound-for-pound powertrain was powerful enough to take a near-identical prototype of the civic type R around the Nürburgring in just 7 minutes and 50.63 seconds – a new lap record for commercial cars in this class. For those of you interested, the 2016 Civic Type R can blast from 0 to 62 mph (100 km/h) in 5.7 seconds and returns a surprisingly conservative 32.2 mpg.

    2016 Honda Civic Type R interior

    We’d already seen inside the cabin, but these pictures confirm that Honda has done a superb job with the hatchback’s interior. The cabin is exactly what we’d want from a track-ready hot hatch like the Type R. The red-and-black bucket seats and the sleek dashboard are our favorite parts.

    Perhaps most exciting of all, though… There is now a fairly credible rumor going around that Honda is planning to launch an extra-hot version of the Civic Type R sometime in the next couple years. According to an interview between Motor Trend and the Type R’s project leader, Hisayuki Yagi, “At the start of development we set the target to be the fastest front-drive hatchback around the Nurburgring Nordschleife. And we are. If someone takes our record, we will take it back.”

    In other words, there’s room to grow, and they are willing to modify the car to do it (provided there’s a record-related or marketing-related need for it, of course).

    What would a hot Civic Type R look like?

    2015 Honda Civic Type R

    Turns out, it’s not so much what it would look like, but what it would feel like. According to MT’s interview, the engine could be tuned up by about 20 horsepower and the car could shed something in the realm of 120 lbs.

    We’re happy to hear that Honda is throwing down the gauntlet with their new Civic Type R, and we hope someone takes them up on it. That way we can see the Honda Civic Type R’s true power! Bwahahaha!


    The 2016 Mazda Miata is Finally Here

    Posted by Stephen On Tuesday, June 2nd, 2015

    driving matters

    Today’s the day. The fourth-generation 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata is finally here. Across the web, a flood of “first drive reviews” have been published within the last 24 hours. And, Mazda’s given us an intriguing promotional video to kick off the roadster’s career…

    Lots of automakers claim that their sports car offers drivers a 50/50 weight distribution between the front and back, but few of them actually go to the trouble to prove it. How do you prove a 50/50 weight distribution, you ask? Easy – you put it on a perfectly balanced fulcrum scale to see if it stays level. And that’s exactly what Mazda did:

    Wow – not only is the new Miata perfectly balanced, it’s also the lightest-weight version of the car we’ve had since the original 1990 version with a curb weight of just 2,332 lbs.

    Okay, so the 2016 Mazda MX-5 is a piece of sheer engineering genius. Got that. The question is, does that mechanical prowess translate into on-road performance? Does the new generation of the most iconic sports car of the past quarter-century live up to the hype?

    Short answer, yes.

    Here are a few of the “first drive” reviews across the web:

    Jalopnik says that “even though it has 12 fewer horsepower than the last [Miata], it’s faster. And more nimble. And more comfortable. And better. Better in every conceivable way. This is easily the best performance car you can buy for less than $30,000.”

    High praises, but that’s just the beginning.

    2016 Mazda MX-5 manufactured

    For their part, Car and Driver were most impressed with the car’s similarity to the 1990 version of the Miata… Not just in size and weight, but in the euphoric driving experience the car offers. Throughout their review, they echo the sentiment of Jalopnik… Everything is better, from the cockpit to the engine to the design to the drive.

    Yahoo Autos was the first to identify a ‘con’ in the 2016 Miata. Yep, they rightly pointed out that the car makes “all the sacrifices necessary to make it a pure driver’s machine.” But then again, Yahoo’s biggest pro for the car is that it’s “a pure driver’s machine, at a blue-collar price,” so this ‘con’ is tongue-in-cheek at best. Our favorite part of Yahoo’s review is where they list the Scion FR-S, Subaru BRZ and “the death of fun” as the car’s biggest competitors.

    Are you starting to get the picture? According to all major sources, the 2016 Mazda Miata absolutely lives up to the hype… And then some.

    Japanese Car Auction Find – 2010 Fiat 500

    2010 Fiat 500

    Although the Fiat 500 isn’t technically a roadster in the same way that the Miata is, it’s still one of the sports car’s biggest competitors currently on the road.

    2010 Fiat 500 rear

    It isn’t so much that the cars are in the same segment, but that they attract the same niche of drivers… Drivers who want something fun and emotional to drive, unique to look at, and budget-friendly.

    2010 Fiat 500 interior

    This is a 2010 model year, which would make it the third model year after the car’s 2007 revival. It’s actually in superb condition for being five years-old with an auction rating of 4.5, a total of four minor blemishes on the exterior, and an A-grade interior to boot. You can get more details from the auction sheet translation below:

    2010 Fiat 500 auction sheet

    “Interior A, first registered February 2010, 1.4 16V Lounge model, AT, AAC, original AWs, power steering, power windows, leather, airbag, one owner, service book, HDD navigation system with digital TV and DVD playback, reversing camera, AM 16 inch AWs, half-leather seats, electrical opening, chrome mirror covers, 2 x keyless keys, spare key, first time in auction, some service history (5 pages), official dealer RHD import, interior trim has minor scratches, wheels scratched, marks as per map”