Kudos to the marketing and PR folks at Toyota USA for creating this cool ad series for their TRD models. The most recent episode sees Canadian veteran off-road racer Andy Bell take his two famous motorcycling friends Jamie Bestwick and Roland Sands across Vietnam behind the wheels of three beautiful Toyota Tacoma, Toyota Tundra and Toyota 4Runner models. Having traveled to Vietnam myself, I can attest that it truly is one of the most beautiful and rugged countries in the world. Vietnam’s back-country really is the perfect test ground for Toyota’s incredible off-road TRD models.
I first learned about America’s fascination with the automobile from the pages of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. Set in the Roaring 20’s, the great American novel explores the decadence, idealism and social upheaval of the decade and has been described as the cautionary tale of the American Dream. Cars play a key role in the novel’s plot and are intrinsic as symbols of the wealthy elite of the day. You only have to watch this clip from the 2013 film to get an idea of what types of cars the stars of the day drove.
After a recent encounter with a deer in West Virginia left our beloved Ford Escape a write-off, it was time to go SUV shopping.
My wife and I looked at different models including the Honda Pilot, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Ford Explorer and Nissan Pathfinder and decided on a low mileage 2014 Pathfinder SL model. It had all the features we wanted, the price was right and a good friend of mine also had one that he was very happy with. Now of course in parallel, I had spent countless hours researching the Pathfinder (anyone that knows me understands this is not a chore for me) and was aware of a class action lawsuit in the US focused on the CVT transmission. However, that did not dissuade me – I thought it was still small numbers that were affected, we liked the way the car drove, the price was right and Nissan has always made great products.
Well, everything was great for the first seven weeks of owning the Pathfinder until this happened…
That’s right…our new ride was being towed away by Nissan Roadside Assistance only seven weeks after we bought it.
We had it taken to Maple Nissan where we purchased the car. The team there was great and stepped up to fix the issue right away. One week later we were back on our way with a new transmission installed.
The CVT (continuously variable transmission) has been a bit of a negative word over the years with the world of mechanics, but the technology has seen significant improvements recently. Today, many manufacturers are using this type of technology in a broad range of vehicle models.
Designed primarily to enhance fuel efficiency, the CVT is an automatic transmission that can seamlessly change through a continuous range of gears. As a car guy, I had always been slightly weary of them because there has been negative press citing an increase in cabin noise, unnatural driving feel and originally they were not designed for towing.
Our whole experience does make you a bit nervous about the long-term ownership costs, especially after reading numerous horror stories about multiple CVT failure. Nevertheless, I’m continuing to stay positive. I suppose it is not a bad thing to get a new transmission at 53,000 KMs if you plan to keep your vehicle for the long-haul.
Over the years, we have written many times about the infamous Gymkhana series, so it should come as no surprise we are writing about the latest installment. All of the earlier videos have become viral sensations, because the King of “Hoon”, Ken Block continues to push the boundaries behind the wheel. The new and ninth version likely will too, as it captures the epic “Hooning” tradition of the rally star and his drifting genius.
While it was originally scheduled to be filmed in Sydney to tie in with the Australian Forza Horizon 3 video game, authorities said Block was too much of a “Hoon” for the Land Down Under and would only allow him to make the video on private property. Instead, Block chose to film in an abandoned industrial area in New York state. Yeah Buffalo!
With so many global corporations shying away from the single big endorsement deal as a result of today’s fragmented online world we do appreciate Ford’s decision to buck the trend. The combination of a significant amount of both resources and dollars enables the team to create a world-class product in the Gymkhana video series.
As part of Block’s deal with Ford Performance that sees him compete in the FIA World Rallycross championship, these videos feature him driving the custom-built 600 horsepower Ford Focus RS rally machine. I’m sure the real ROI isn’t great, but it does make you want to take a Ford Focus for a test drive.
For anyone that has had the opportunity to experience Laguna Seca in person knows how challenging of a track it is to drive so it is no wonder this video is getting lots of traction online. Posted recently, by our friends over at Jalopnik, the video is from this past weekend’s BMW CCA Club Racing Oktoberfest event at the Northern California track. It was shot from behind the wheel of an E46 M3 race car driven by the talented driver and coach Anthony Magagnoli of DriveFasterNow.com.
Turn up the volume and watch in awe as Anthony drives his M3 from last to first in just three laps, despite a failing ABS system and a very loud sound that later turned out to be the exhaust mid-pipe falling off the header. Bravo Anthony! Bravo!
On May 7th, 2016, Joshua D. Brown was killed when his Tesla Model S crashed into the side of a tractor-trailer, leading to an NHTSA investigation of Tesla’s Autopilot feature.
According to the statement released on Thursday by Tesla detailing the accident, both the car’s Autopilot system and the driver failed to apply the brake pedal leading up to the collision with the tractor-trailer.
Joshua Brown was an active fan of his Tesla Model S and its Autopilot feature, posting a video to his YouTube channel of the technology in action. In Tesla’s official statement Brown is referred to as a friend of the EV community. Brown was a Navy Seal who later started his own tech company, Nexu Innovations Inc. You can read his obituary here.
At the time of the accident, there had been witness reports that a Harry Potter movie could be heard playing in the car after the crash. However, this has now been verified in a new police report coming out today. Sergeant Kim Montes of the Florida Highway Patrol said a DVD player was found inside the wrecked Model S after the crash, according to a phone interview with the Associated Press.
Spring is finally here in Toronto and the last two weekends were our first taste of the good weather after another brutal winter. Hopefully you have been able to get the summer rides out of storage and were out cruising at some point.
With the great weather comes the opportunity to show your ride off while also checking out other enthusiast events. To help mark your calendars this year we have put together a short list (apologies if we have missed things) of some of the key auto events happening in Toronto and surrounding area:
Classic car events:
- Spring Classic Car Auction – April 29 – May 1
- Vintage car racing event (VAREC)– Father’s Day weekend
European car club/cruise events:
Japanese car/Tuner events:
- Nissan themed – http://ontariozcar.com/ – 2016 ZCON show
- Annual Subaru HyperMeet
Cruise nights/Weekly Meets:
- La Paloma in Woodbridge
- Cars and Coffee Toronto
Charity car events:
- Yorkville Exotic car show – Father’s Day
- RallyfortheCure – We have participated in this event and it is very good
- Tim and Brenda’s Place event – Taking a year off on this one
Please contact us if you want your event included – firstname.lastname@example.org
Petrolicious has published a cool story about Nissan’s creative advertising style in the early days around its flagship sport coupe the Nissan Skyline. It all began in the 1970s with a young and “in love” caucasian couple exploring Japan in their new coupe. Honestly, you watch this ad now and it’s hard to believe this was ever popular anywhere but having lived in Japan at one time I understand their affinity to anything Western.
Nissan built on this 70s love theme and in the 80s embraced Paul Newman as he became the new face of the Skyline brand as a result of his racing exploits with Nissan US.
I had no idea Paul Newman hustled Skylines and I bet not many people in North America know either. I always thought Paul Walker was the first Hollywood actor to love the Skyline. Well, you really do learn something new everyday.
Although it has been a much tamer winter here in Toronto compared to last year, Spring can’t come soon enough. Here’s a little cacophony of sounds to get you all over this final hump. Make sure to crank up the volume on this insane video from the folks at VisoRacer.
Nothing beats the sound of a powerful V8 engine…..Nothing!
What’s your favourite engine?
With Valentine’s Day just behind us, we thought it was time to share some real man toys that would make any enthusiast grin from ear to ear. Check out this unbelievable Russian made skid steer on steroids called the Sherp ATV. For slightly under $50,000, buyers can configure this unstoppable machine to their personal preference while literally being able to drive through anything, anywhere. The Sherp ATV weighs 2,866 pounds and comes with a 44 horsepower 1.5 liter Kubota four-cylinder diesel engine linked to a five-speed manual transmission. Specs are as follows – 28 mph on land, or 3.7 mph in water, depending on the wind and it will crawl at up to 9.3 mph in first gear.
Watch it in action here: