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Car Culture Ground Zero

Category: Auto Shows

Like Gas Is Free

It looked like the 1960s (or early 1970s) exploded all over one end of the Dodge display area at the LA Auto Show, with Challengers and Chargers on show three…

It looked like the 1960s (or early 1970s) exploded all over one end of the Dodge display area at the LA Auto Show, with Challengers and Chargers on show three deep and three or four wide. They ranged from one that was decked out as Santa’s sleigh (which finally explains how he hits all thosehouses in one night) to a bunch that are actually streetable and will, no doubt about it, make you the pariah of your neighborhood, which, in my opinion, is just what the suburbs need.

Best…sleigh…EVER!

 

Editor’s Note: I know what I want for Christmas

They also featured several models that are drag-able. That’s right—these guys not only sell a 797hp muscle monster (the Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye) but also a new street-to-strip model called the Challenger SRT Scat Pack 1320. For under $45 grand, you get a 392 Hemi engine and street legal drag racing tires. One of those on display even had the remains of the rubber left on the fenders behind the rear wheels from a dragstrip pass. The time was noted on the window as well: 11.72. That’s in seconds, to 1320 feet, or one quarter of a mile.

50 Years and Zero Chance of Growing Up: Dodge Introduces Limited-production Challenger 50th Anniversary Edition at 2019 AutoMobility LA

This is not to forget the 2020 Challenger R/T Scat Pack Widebody, a limited production car that celebrates the Challenger’s 50thanniversary. Only 490 of these will be sold, 70 per color. If I were you, I’d get it in Sinamen Stick, just because of the name.

Ranging further into the Fiat-Chrysler section and leaving the muscle behind, you can see the emphasis is on big, just like in every other display save a few at this year’s show. Trucks—Rams, called things like 1500 and 2500 and even 3500—threatened to run over anything that got in their way.

There was also a bit of a throwback element, with one truck called the Rebel, which some will remember reaches back to the brand’s Rambler (later American Motors) days. It’s now just a sticker and wheels package for the 1500 pickup.

The Ram trucks did feature one cool new gizmo—a 60/40 split tailgate available on all the so-called “light duty” (1500) trucks. This is an interesting way to spend to spend $800, and it comes with a side step to make getting stuff in and out of the bed easier.

The Dodge people also feature some new-style (European travelers will recognize these) commercial vehicles including the Promaster City and Promaster, the former a small cargo van and the latter a larger version. Both are Italian in derivation.

The Jeep display featured Renegade, Cherokee, and Wrangler and various versions of those, including the Jeep Gladiator, a vehicle they were calling “100% truck 100% Jeep.”

The Fiat section had one new thing—the 500X Sport, a new trim level with AWD, body color fender flares, and a new-style grill for under $27,000, according to the spokesperson on the stand. The car features a 1.3-liter engine.

So it’s a combination of tiny and huge at Dodge-Fiat-Chrysler nowadays, with the emphasis leaning toward the latter. Doesn’t seem to matter how much or how little or how fast you need to go. This company is ready to help you burn some massive quantities of fossil fuel.

 

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Still Loveable – MINI John Cooper Works GP

MINI had two quite different cars featured on their display at this year’s LA Auto Show alongside their full line of previously introduced cars. The John Cooper Works GP car…

MINI had two quite different cars featured on their display at this year’s LA Auto Show alongside their full line of previously introduced cars. The John Cooper Works GP car celebrated the brand’s racing heritage, with video displaying the Le Mans entries of the 1960s and the words, “The faith of a few can change the minds of many.”

You might change yours about electric cars when you see the new MINI E, which comes out in March. Looking in all respects like a gasoline MINI, the car is fully electric, gets a decent but yet undetermined range, and drives like, well, just like a MINI, according to company spokespeople.

MINI sells about 37,000 cars a year in the US, and they hope that 1,500 of those will be electrics in the 2020 model year. The car is below $30K to start, much cheaper when state and federal rebates are factored in. For that, customers get a well-equipped model. The cars are configured in three marketing trim levels, but they all have full navigation, Apple Car Play and the Android equivalent, safety features, and so on. You can go up from one level to another simply by adding a package—there’s no tricky “Oh, I lose this if I go to that trim level” stuff with this car.

Battery range, the ever-present question, isn’t officially determined yet, as was said. The EPA certification process must happen first, but the indication is that it will be about 110 miles. (Interesting side note—the Porsche Taycan is also waiting EPA approval and similarly can’t release the numbers.) That’s far less than a Tesla Model 3 and less even than the 150-range Nissan Leaf (an extended version has even more miles in a charge). But neither of those cars is a MINI, and thus they don’t have the driving dynamics the little Bimmer does.

The way this one drives comes as a result of battery design and placement, according to MINI sources I spoke with. The battery is T-shaped, hugging the center tunnel and occupying the space where the gas tank would be. The car uses the existing body structure and engine mounting points, as well, and so it was easy to design, relatively speaking, and will be easy to build. The MINI E can travel down the same Abingdon assembly line as the gas models. According to the MINI expert, the car was benchmarked against the Cooper S for driving dynamics and will satisfy the mainstream customer just as well as the E-car enthusiast.

The car retains its low center of gravity (in fact lowers it over the gas cars because of where and how the battery sits) despite being slightly raised to accommodate its technology (you won’t see this looking at it), and it has the familiar performance and fun-to-drive focus as all other MINI models. In other words, It’s a go-cart, a roller skate, or whatever metaphor you want.

Speaking of changed minds, you might also change your mind about getting a JCW GP when you see how ugly it is, with an ungainly rear spoiler mounted roof-high and the oddest fender flares ever which stick out from the body but leave a lip for dirt and debris to catch in. They’re hoping to sell 3,000 of these, at mid-40s pricing. I’d doubt that number, but let’s not be negative—the MINI is still an iconic brand, with the fun quotient and what the company calls “Customer-centricity” the core of their brand.

I’ve owned a 2006 MINI since 2012 and never regretted it a day. And that electric is awfully tempting at less than $20,000 net. Better get one before the federal tax credits go down, as they are, reportedly, doing.

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Keeping Company with Sedans

Nissan has figured out what they’re going to be, at least for now: they’re the sedan company. This comes on the heels of last summer’s introduction of the new Altima and…

Nissan has figured out what they’re going to be, at least for now: they’re the sedan company. This comes on the heels of last summer’s introduction of the new Altima and the Los Angeles showing of the all-new Versa and Stanza models as well as the Maxima.

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You Can See the End of the World from Here

At the LA Auto Show, the world started to make its last dip to destruction, made obvious by the display of something called the “Mustang” Mach-E. Scare quotes? Well deserved!

At the LA Auto Show, the world started to make its last dip to destruction, made obvious by the display of something called the “Mustang” Mach-E. Scare quotes? Well deserved!

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The Expected and the Unexpected at the LA Auto Show

While the crowds flock to see the Mustang Mach E and everyone has their cell phones watching clips of Tesla’s new electric truck unveiling, take the road less traveled to…

While the crowds flock to see the Mustang Mach E and everyone has their cell phones watching clips of Tesla’s new electric truck unveiling, take the road less traveled to see the other new kids on the automotive block.

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Hyundai Veloster “Grappler” Concept Debuts at SEMA 2019

Hyundai will unveil the Veloster “Grappler” concept at the 2019 SEMA show. The Grappler concept boasts increased ground clearance, combining superb approach and departure angles for confident off-roading capability, while…

Hyundai will unveil the Veloster “Grappler” concept at the 2019 SEMA show. The Grappler concept boasts increased ground clearance, combining superb approach and departure angles for confident off-roading capability, while custom front and rear brush guards were developed to ensure the Veloster Grappler is protected whenever the terrain turns unpredictable. Oversized all-terrain tires and rally-themed Method Racing® wheels yield a menacing demeanor and functional capability, while Borla® cat-back exhaust components add a visceral audible resonance.

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2021 RAV4 Plug-In Powers Up LA Auto Show

Toyota teased today what will become the most powerful RAV4 yet – the 2021 RAV4 plug-in. Bringing with it a new color, Supersonic Red, the teaser image of the RAV4…

Toyota teased today what will become the most powerful RAV4 yet – the 2021 RAV4 plug-in. Bringing with it a new color, Supersonic Red, the teaser image of the RAV4 plug-in highlights the new PHV’s surprising performance capabilities.

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Karma Automotive Reveals Three New Models In Shanghai

Karma Automotive is looking to gain a foothold in China and they are starting by revealing three new models in Shanghai.

Karma Automotive is looking to gain a foothold in China and they are starting by revealing three new models in Shanghai.

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Lingering Autoshow Impressions

Autoshow Impressions Brian Kennedy   You’ve probably forgotten all about the LA Auto Show by now. Well, it’s such a key moment in the LA and automotive world’s landscape that…

Autoshow Impressions

Brian Kennedy

 

You’ve probably forgotten all about the LA Auto Show by now. Well, it’s such a key moment in the LA and automotive world’s landscape that I thought it was worth revisiting. Here are some memories I had, just as a reminder of what you might have seen, or perhaps as a help if you missed it altogether.

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