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The Road Back to Barrett-Jackson

01/20/2016

Editor's Note: Contributor Ken Visser is an Automotive Photographer and Concours Judge, as well as a Computer Tech at Discovery Communications. He's an enthusiast of generally anything that moves and is excited to share his work with Velocity fans. Reach out to him about his incredible photographs at karmakvisser@yahoo.com. 

I was so lucky back in January to be asked to cover our Velocity Channel's Barrett Jackson 2015 Scottsdale auction.  I spent 5 days/15 hours a day taking photos, doing web based interviews and blogging.  I was in heaven.  As a car guy, it was the greatest show I've ever been to.  Any car nut must make this a bucket list event.  You don't have to bid on anything, just check out the mile long tent filled will cars and vendors and all sorts of great food.  Then you have another 6 huge tents outside, housing hundreds of vehicles.  

I'm highlighting just a few of my favorites below.

35 Duesenberg SJ Dual Cowl Phaeton 028 sm

The 1935 Duesenberg SJ Dual Cowl Phaeton is a mouthful of title but such a special car and a splendid example of American craftsmanship and engineering.  This special motor car had a 420 cubic inch motor which was upgraded to the SuperCharged specification netting 320 horsepower.  The Duezy was part of the Salon collection of special high end automobiles curated by Ed Fallon and and Don Williams of the Blackhawk Collection.

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The Other RWD Japanese Cars Sold in the USA

01/15/2016

Editor's Note: When Velocity's own Sam Wackerle isn't here at work, you can catch him chasing another record, building another project or crawling through the junkyard. Certifiably a car nut, Sam wanted to share his unique vehicular view with a weekly list, The Velocity Stack. 

We all are familiar with the Toyota Supra, Mazda Miata and Datsun 240z to 370z just to name a few, but Japan has more RWD surprises up its sleeve.  Here’s a stack of lesser-known RWD drive Japanese cars that were offered in the US market.

Toyota Cressida

One sick Toyota Cressida

Introduced to the USA in 1977, the RWD Toyota was available until 1992.  It may be a land yacht compared the other cars on the list, but its platform can be easily modified and a 2JZ can be stuffed under the hood without major surgery.  It’s a family sized drift beast in the making.  Put the kids in the back, groceries in the trunk and proceed to do your chores sideways in the cloud of tire smoke.

Subaru 360

1966 Subaru 360 Model K111, History Garage, Tokyo

OK there’s nothing “sporty” about it, but it is rear wheel drive!  This was Subaru’s first venture into the US market.  10,000 360s were imported to the States in 1968.  After some safety concerns were raised about the 1,000-pound car being in a field of luxury American V8s, many were left unsold on the dealer lot.  The Subaru 360 did however sell more than 390,000 units outside of the US and introduced a brand that would become synonymous with awd.

Mitsubishi Starion

Chrysler Conquest 2.6 TSi 1988

The Mitsubishi Starion, or Dodge, Plymouth and Chrysler Conquest, was a RWD car offered in the middle of the Japanese FWD economy car invasion.  In true small Japanese car fashion, it had a 2.6L 4 banger but it was turbo charged and starting in 1986 it was offered with an intercooler and a wide body version from the factory.  The widened wheel wells gave it the classic hard lines now nostalgic with the 1980s Japanese import scene. 

Datsun 210 1973-1982

Datsun Sunny B-210 brochure cover

In 1983 the Datsun 210 was swapped over to front wheel drive and eventually became the Nissan Sentra.  Until then though, the Datsun 210 did one thing and did it very well, it was a car.  It didn’t change the way we view the Japanese car market, nor did it wow people with speed or horsepower.  It did however get you from A to B without a hiccup.  Today however, the Datsun 210 has seen a resurgence of popularity.  The RWD platform makes it a prime candidate for engine swaps; more often than not that engine will be a rotary engine from an RX7 pushing 700hp.

Toyota Celica First Gen

Toyota Celica ST Fastback 1977

The Toyota Celica Supra of the 1980s was the stepping-stone for the Supra nomenclature to branch off and become its own legend, but the Celica name had been in the US market for many years before that.  First Gen Celicas borrowed the coke bottle styling of the faded muscle car market and it made them damn good-looking coupes.  It’s like a 1970 Torino and a 1968 Barracuda had a baby. They’re aggressively styled and are now classic cars that will soon be rising in fame and price.

 

Four Underrated Non-V8 Chevy Engines

01/02/2016

Editor's Note: When Velocity's own Sam Wackerle isn't here at work, you can catch him chasing another record, building another project or crawling through the junkyard. Certifiably a car nut, Sam wanted to share his unique vehicular view with a weekly list, The Velocity Stack. 

We all know that the Chevy Small Block V8 has permanently etched its name into the history of hot rodding since it’s introduction in 1955.  The equally revered Big Block and LS series V8s followed in its footsteps, but believe it or not, Chevy made, and continues to make, engines in configurations other than a V8 that are pretty good.  The Gen IV and Gen V LS engines are leading the pack for restomodding and all around engine swapping, but let’s take a moment to see the other options Chevrolet can provide.

Vortec 4200 Straight Six

2006 LL8 (Vortec 4200) engine in 2006 Chevrolet Trailblazer

The 4.2-liter, straight six pushes out between 270 and 291 horsepower depending on the year and starts making very usable torque all the way down at 1600 RPM.  For what it’s worth, it was in Ward’s Ten Best Engines from 2002 to 2005.  Right off the bat Chevrolet’s modern straight six sounds pretty good to me, but there’s a secret hiding in these motors.  With the majority of the engine being aluminum, with dual overhead cams and 7 main bearings, there’s horsepower waiting to be tapped from these motors.  There hasn’t been an influx of support from the aftermarket for these engines, but there are a few pioneers pushing them to their limits.  Wouldn’t it be perfect to replace your Stovebolt?

4.3L V6

1988chevtruck

The 4.3 Chevy is a potent power plant and revered in the rock crawling world.  It has simple to understand fuel injection, it’s reliable and it can be squeezed into the smallest of engine compartments.  Don’t be surprised to find them in Datsuns, Miatas, MGs and other compact 2 seaters.  Plus there’s a ton of them available in junkyards and old trucks.  The 1992 to 1995 CPI (Central Port Injection) years are the most desirable for their simplicity and power.  Most of those years are pushing out just under 200 ponies and 260 lb feet of torque.  That may not sound like much in a hot rod, but in a geared down Jeep CJ, or a tiny two-seat convertible, it’s a tough and tight package.  Best place to find them is in 4th generation c/k1500 trucks like the one pictured.

Ecotec 4 Cylinder

2006 Saturn Ion Red Line engine

With a little research and some massive boost, the Ecotec 4 banger can produce ridiculous amounts of power and live to tell the tale.  We’re talking 1400+ horsepower from a tiny 2.0L engine.  You’d expect such a small engine to only be embraced by the JDM fans who are used to pushing small displacement engines to their limits, but the Chevy Ecotec has been setting records by the most scrappy American iron enthusiast at the Salt Flats and other racing events since it’s potential was first realized.  The next time a person pulls up next to you at a red light with a Saturn Ion or Chevy Cobalt, don’t be so sure that your tried and true V8 will smoke them.  It’s a new, exciting and boosted world out there.

292 and 250 Straight Six

Straight Six Camaro

This is a bit out of left field, but that’s the appeal.  An LS can be a good looking engine if you hide a few wires and paint a few bits here and there, but the 292 is a unique piece right out of the box.  There are a lot of myths out there about getting horsepower from the straight six stump-puller.  They can make power, but it requires forethought.  You can’t buy a bunch of go fast pieces from the local auto parts store.  A Chevy 292 needs to be caressed.  Maybe you take it out to dinner first and get to know it.  Put in the time and you’ll have a unique and surprisingly fast piece.  Not to mention, it’s hard for haters to hate when they have a mouth full of your dust.

Six Reasons to Stop Hating JDM Cars

12/28/2015

Editor's Note: When Velocity's own Sam Wackerle isn't here at work, you can catch him chasing another record, building another project or crawling through the junkyard. Certifiably a car nut, Sam wanted to share his unique vehicular view with a weekly list, The Velocity Stack. 

Nissan GTR

Nissan GTR Nismo 01

The Nissan GTR has earned it's nick name of "Godzilla" right from launch.  By launch I mean the factory 0-60mph of 2.7 secs time for the 2015 NISMO version. The GTR is taking down super cars for a fraction of the price, comparatively that is. Is the factory all wheel drive horsepower not enough?  Just add one of the many aftermarket turbo kits and push the beast to over 2000hp and dominate the Texas Mile. 

Mazda Miata

Laguna Seca - Corkscrew - Miata Spec Race

There's an entire racing series dedicated to these convertible two seaters.  They're affordable, handle well and are just plain fun.  If you want to get into the amateur racing scene there is nothing easier to start with.  There's tons of them around still and the huge Miata community is incredibly helpful and friendly.  It's as close as you'll get to turn key racing without breaking the bank.

MKIV Supra

Kamil's Supra

2JZ-GTE, it may sound like a 2 with a mess of letters after it, but it's the "T" that's important.  The "T" stands for turbo, two to be precise.  The legendary 3L twin turbo MKIV Supra has a racing pedigree that isn't limited to Fast and Furious movies.  This car has proven itself over and over again on the street and on the track, laughing in the face of much bigger V8s.  Plus, JDM or American car lover, you can't argue that the MKIV Supra has curves in all the right places.

Datsun 510

Datsun 510 at Barber 2010 01

It's rugged, simple and Paul Newman raced one.  If you don't immediately have respect for this car that launched the career of many a racer then obviously, "What we've got here is, failure to communicate."

Subaru WRX STI

Subaru WRX STI rally car

From the 22B coupe to the current 4th gen with 310hp and Subaru's ridiculously well sorted AWD from the factory, any generation of this rally legend will suffice. My personal favorite is the "bug eye" years.  Let's forget about its history of domination off the road for a bit.  A rally spec  STI will still get to 60mph in a tick over 2 secs flat on asphalt.  While a rally spec version of the STI may not be a streetable or realistic goal for most, there are hard core STI fans that daily drive 800hp monsters, still using the factory AWD system.

Acura NSX

Honda NSX Type R

Ayrton Senna personally assisted in the development of the most well rounded sports car of the early nineties.  It was something completely different from the long established reputation Honda had for mundane passenger vehicles.  The NSX was introduced with a 270hp aluminum V6 and was touted as perfectly balanced for performance and reliability, the latter Honda had in spades.  The prices of these JDM gems have dramatically increased in the last few years as they are finally getting the recognition they deserve.

 

Officer Launches Himself into Semi to Save Driver

12/19/2015

Figuring out how to stop an out-of-control 18-wheeler is no easy feat. However, that is exactly what had to be done in Nebraska as shown by incredible dash-cam footage of one officer risking his life to bring the semi to a stop. 

On December 2, 911 Dispatchers in Madison County, Nebraska answered a call regarding a big rig driving unsafely on Highway 81. As police approached the vehicle, sirens blaring and lights flashing, the semi neglected to pull over to the side of the road. According to local news sources, one of the dispatched officers pulled alongside the truck and realized the driver was not evading police intentionally. He was unresponsive behind the wheel. 

"Deputy Kruid said he got up beside, just to look at the driver, and see if he could get his attention better, and said he [the truck driver] just had the blank stare on his face. Something wasn't right," Deputy Todd Volk stated in an interview with a KTIV reporter.

Taking into account that the big rig was quickly approaching a more populated section of the highway, Volk took it upon himself to bring the rig to a stop before one of the area's most trafficked intersections.
    
"At that point in time, the truck was traveling about 20 mph, I jumped back in my patrol vehicle, punched it and got up in front and jumped out and jumped up and grabbed the hand railing and the mirror on the side of the truck and hit the brakes," Volk told reporters.

Check out the raw dash cam footage below: 

The police later found out that the driver, who was unaware of his health condition, was having a diabetic episode. 

Please consider taking the Velocity Drive Smart pledge to make roads safer for everyone.


Visit daily for posts about the shows and spirit of Velocity, an upscale male lifestyle network, featuring the best of the automotive, sports, adventure and travel genres.

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