Car Lists, News

8 Ways the Honda Civic Type R TCR Race Car is Better than the Road Car

DAYTONA, Florida–Honda invited us to this year’s BMW Endurance Challenge at Daytona, which was the first race for the Civic Type R TCR. For some drivers, this series could be the first rung in the ladder to climb up to higher tiers of racing.

Although the three teams running Honda’s car couldn’t quite surpass all of the mighty Hyundai Veloster N and Audi RS3 TCR cars, the top Civic Type R teams finished comfortably mid pack. Rather than providing extensive factory backing for its teams like Hyundai does, Honda merely affiliates itself with the customers who purchase its cars—it doesn’t sink its own funds into the teams.

As you may recall, we at Automobile kept a Honda Civic Type R in our stable of long-term cars for an entire year, giving us plenty of time to get really familiar with its capabilities while zipping around town or taking longer road trips. While our long-termer was a total sweetheart, and repeatedly confirmed its All-Star status during its tenure, Honda’s race car version of the mega hot hatch is a beast on another, much less street-legal level.

Here are eight ways the Honda Civic Type R TCR is more savage than its road-going sibling.

More power

Ever read an article about a racing version of a street car but then got to the part where it talks about the drivetrain? If you’re like us, it’s a bit saddening when we learn a racecar doesn’t get a bump in power. Fortunately, that’s not the case with the Civic Type R TCR. A slew of engine upgrades ratchets the output up to 340 hp (compared to the standard 306 hp) thanks to improvements that include an HPD/Borla downpipe and turbo-back exhaust. The race car Type R also receives an HPD/CSF radiator, auxiliary oil coolers, and HPD cooling ducts. In total, the Civic Type R TCR has just 8.1 pounds to haul around with each horsepower, an improvement of about 2 lbs per horsepower (nearly 20 percent) over the road-going Civic Type R.

Upgraded suspension

Any racecar worth its salt needs beefier suspension than its road-going sibling, and the Civic Type R TCR is no exception. While we here at Automobile love the street car’s three-mode suspension settings, Honda took things a couple steps farther with HPD/Bilstein inverted double adjustable dampers, Eibach race springs, and HPD front camber and caster plates. To further enhance the car’s cornering capabilities, Honda offers its TCR car with a HPD/RV6 rear adjustable stabilizer bar and rear lower arms designed to take race spring rates.

Bigger brakes

To accompany all of the equipment that helps the Civic Type R TCR get going, Honda provides its race car with some serious stopping power. The front brakes have six-piston calipers, an improvement over the 2019 racecar. Brake rotors remain the same size but instead of being the OEM disc, HPD adds its Girodisc two-piece units. The brake lines and ABS actuator get an upgrade too, and Honda offers the car with varying brake compounds for endurance and sprint racing.

Even more aero

Detractors of the road car will say that it has too many aerodynamic elements and that they wouldn’t want to be seen in this hot hatch on the street. Honda’s taken this aspect of the Type R another step beyond with a massive adjustable wing. It also gets a big front splitter. Unlike the haters, this is a car in which we’d definitely want to be seen.

Lightweighting measures

As a privateer or race team owner, one of the advantages of purchasing a Civic Type R TCR is that J.A.S. Motorsport in Italy builds the car from a body-in-white, which includes the doors and hood. The bodywork is largely made from composite materials, which is also installed ahead of delivery. Naturally, the interior is devoid of sound deadening and normal creature comforts.

Huge transmission upgrades

The transmission is an area where this racecar diverges from its more pedestrian counterpart. We love the slick, short throws from the road car’s manual transmission, but the racecar ditches its six-on-the-floor in favor of a sequential gearbox. The six-speed paddle-shifted transmission still has three-pedals (the clutch helps get the car in gear), but once it’s on the track the driver just needs the throttle and brake pedals.

A big fuel tank

One of our staff’s few gripes with the Civic Type R is that the gas tank isn’t quite where it needs to be for the long haul of a road trip. Whereas the model for the non-racing public can store 12.39 gallons of gas in its tank, the fuel cell in the TCR car is a massive 26.4 gallons, which lasts for about an hour and a half during a race.

Race Ready

Like we said earlier, the car comes prepared and ready to race (pending setup) from J.A.S. Motorsport. Before options, the official sticker price is $172,238—and that figure also excludes any export, import, or tariff charges that may apply. Honda offers a bunch of other helpful gear and support for people new to the platform or new to racing, including setup tools, spare parts, an upgraded ABS system, data logging gear, and homologation documents as well.  Overall, it’s about as out-of-the-box as racecars get, and we’d bet it’d be challenging to build out one’s own car for a comparable price.

The post 8 Ways the Honda Civic Type R TCR Race Car is Better than the Road Car appeared first on Automobile Magazine.

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Toyota Commits to Both TRD and GR Performance Brands in America

Toyota Racing Development, or TRD, has been Toyota’s dominant performance brand in the States for over 40 years. It started out as an engine builder for Toyota’s racing efforts, and today it is probably best known for the TRD-branded Tacoma, 4Runner, and Tacoma off-road variants—and, more recently, the sportier TRD versions of the Camry and Avalon. So, if TRD is Toyota’s performance sub-brand of note, what does that make Gazoo Racing (GR), which attaches its name to the 2020 GR Supra sports car

As it turns out, GR also is Toyota’s performance brand. Huh? According to Ed Laukes, Toyota’s group vice president of marketing, Toyota thinks there is plenty of room for both performance brands in the United States. He said, “In the end, TRD and GR can coexist. TRD has a long lineage with the trucks that we sell . . . and the American consumer likes the TRD brand and it has some strong heritage in North America.” Laukes added that the TRD versions of the Camry and Avalon further prove that Toyota Corporate and Toyota North America believe the TRD brand is here to stay. But, keeping TRD while adding GR to the mix means that Toyota will be the only major brand with two distinct performance divisions in the U.S.

Toyota will have to work to separate the two brands if they want this strategy to work, however. If TRD develops and refines vehicles that are already in Toyota’s lineup, GR vehicles will have to remain bespoke. Cars like the GR Supra and the recently announced—though as of yet unavailable in the U.S.—GR Yaris are two examples of the GR brand building a presence without stepping on TRD’s toes. 

When asked about bringing the badass 268-hp rally-inspired GR Yaris to the states Laukes simply said it’s “under study” and that Toyota’s product planners are already thinking about if it would make good business sense to sell it here. That means the possibility of bringing the homologation special to the states isn’t totally out of the question. There’s hope, everyone! Whether this balancing act works out from sales and brand perspectives is yet to be seen, but Toyota is giving it a go. The GR and TRD brands, therefore, coexist—for now.

The post Toyota Commits to Both TRD and GR Performance Brands in America appeared first on Automobile Magazine.

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Car Lists, News

2020 Chicago Auto Show Hits, Misses, And Revelations

Chicago now is the first major auto show of the calendar year, unless you count CES (and we don’t), and so with the Detroit show moved to June this year, there seemed to be some hope the Windy City would take its place with several important new car introductions and maybe a concept or two. Our colleagues at Motor Trend for example, brought in a team big enough to cover, say, the recently deceased IAA in Frankfurt.

The Chicago Auto Show is a big consumer event, with large numbers of the public showing up after the press days. As in previous years, the new stuff consisted mostly of mid-cycle facelifts and special edition trims, but at least Chicago isn’t in decline the way the bigger, more important shows are.

Appropriately, two of us attended Chicago for Automobile magazine, and while that means you’ll only see two bylines in the comments and criticisms below, it should be obvious that we’re not short on such comments and criticisms.

HIT: Ford GT Liquid Carbon Edition

We’ve seen the whole-car-in-carbon-fiber thing before, but… ooh, does it work for the Ford GT. Ford is building each one from a single batch of carbon fiber, to help ensure the weave is perfect and can be properly integrated into the car’s design. In person, the effect is breathtaking. Hopefully Ford has built a drainage system around the display to handle all the drool this thing is bound to generate. And $750,000? I’ll take two, please. Put them on my corporate card.

–Aaron Gold

REVELATION: Ford GT is the new Bugatti

More horsepower in a car like this is always welcome, but a 50-percent premium for perfectly matched carbon fiber? Ford says it will limit this car’s production to 12 per year, all made available to customers on the sold-out list, so as not to flood the market with these cars and diminish their value. That’s a total of 36 of these through the production run ending in 2022, or $9 million more than the customers on the allocation list had expected to pay. I predict we’ll see Ford rolling out variants of the GT for years after they’ve finished building them, milking it the same way Volkswagen Group milks Bugatti’s hypercars.

–Todd Lassa

HIT: GMC Yukon

Finally, only 23 years after Ford started installing an independent rear suspension in its Expedition, General Motors is following suit. Both Chevrolet (Tahoe, Suburban) and GMC (Yukon, XL) benefit from the upgrade, along with a much-improved third-row seat, but of the two GM trucks, the Yukon is the big winner—it’s definitely better looking than the Chevys. Also notable is that the Denali gets a unique dashboard, while the lower-line Yukons share their dash with the Tahoe and Suburban—an acknowledgement that they didn’t do enough to differentiate the Sierra Denali from lesser pickups. The new dash may not be any better, but at least it’s different. Bottom line is that GM’s new royalty-size SUVs are impressive, and for the first time in years, Ford has something to worry about besides GM buyer loyalty.



I didn’t realize how big the new SUV’s snout is until I walked past a couple of them on the stand, including one with the Denali grille and another with the XT4 grille. Who’d have thought the Cadillac Escalade (not present at this show) would have the understated design?


HIT: Mercedes-Benz Metris Weekender

We’ve heard lots of vans pitched as potential replacements for the Volkswagen campers, but this is as close as I’ve ever seen, and it’s going into production. Super-cool, super-social, and it pops its top. Still needs a sink and a stove, though. After all, we are not barbarians.



MISS: Genesis GV80

I like the look of Genesis’ first SUV from the outside; there are a lot of genuine concept-car cues, like the LED light pipes around the headlights and taillights, that look great in person. But the miles-off-the-ground stance is a bit awkward, and the interior strikes me as a little… well… clumsy. The basic layout is nice enough, and I like the quilted leather used throughout, but some of the controls, particularly the dials for the shifter and climate control, feel too plasticky. This is the age of genuine materials, and bits that look like metal should be made of metal. It’s rare to see the South Koreans put a foot wrong, but this feels to me like the bean counters saw the bill for what the designers really wanted and had a panic attack.


HIT: Jeep Gladiator Mojave

The black and orange Mojave lettering looks right on the show model’s Granite Crystal paint (other colors are available), and the optional Steel Gray leather interior is designed to resist scorching from the sun’s rays. It doesn’t have the hotrod engine or (fortunately) the widened body of the Ford F-150 Raptor, but it does come with a slick suspension featuring Fox shocks. For those who like total control, it’s available with a six-speed manual gearbox as well as the eight-speed automatic.



MISS: Jeep Wrangler and Gladiator High Altitude

The black 20-inch wheels look like they come from a local aftermarket shop. As authentic as the Gladiator Mojave looks, the High Altitudes scream “poseur.”


MISS: Million-mile Nissan Frontier

A million miles is worthy of recognition (Lexus missed an opportunity with Matt Farah’s million-mile LS430), but when a thirteen-year-old, million-mile Frontier looks almost exactly like the brand-new re-engined Frontier you’re introducing at the show… well, that’s really not a good look.


MISS: 2020 Nissan Frontier

If Brian Murphy had managed to hold off on flipping the odometer on his 2007 Frontier until next year’s Chicago Auto Show, maybe he’d have scored the all-new next-generation midsize truck from Nissan instead.



HIT: The Ford Stand

Ford’s stand is arguably the best of the show. With the Liquid Carbon GT out front, Mustangs galore, the new Mach-E, a full-motion driving simulator and the whimsical STEAM Machine (a Transit XL decked out with kid-friendly science exhibits), it’s bound to be mobbed. The CAS crew was right to give it pride of place at the front of the South Hall.


MISS: The Audi Stand

Audi usually brings a beautifully designed display stand wherever it goes, but at Chicago its display is buried at the back of the South Hall, seemingly little more than a bunch of cars on carpet. It looks like one of those low-budget off-limits “Exotic Car Gallery” displays typically found in an auto show basement. Audi’s almost-all-AWD lineup makes it perfect for Chicagoans, so why is Audi giving show-goers the second-city treatment? Car shows are about attracting buyers, Audi. You can and should do better.


HIT: 2021 Jaguar F-Type

Facelifts often turn out to have ill-conceived blemishes on the original model designer’s vision. Think Series III Jaguar E-Type of the early ‘70s. These days, the facelifts are limited to front and rear styling, the grille, maybe the hood, and the front fenders. But the redesigned grille, the new side vents, and the Leaper badge applied to the sides (for the first time ever on a Jaguar) works pretty well. This mid-cycle update ought to extend the life of Jaguar’s sports car for several years.


HIT: Chevrolet TrailBlazer

I somehow managed to miss (heh) this at the Los Angeles Auto Show, but what a stunner the little TrailBlazer is—an obvious rip-off of the Nissan Kicks and Hyundai’s little Venue, I suppose, but I prefer to think of it as an accurate homage (and with a much better name—“Nissan Kicks” still makes me cringe). Chevrolet has become a bit staid in its styling and this shows a real effort to do things differently and (cue gravelly cigar-chomping New Yorker voice) give the kids what they want. Viewed in the context of the broader spectrum of General Motors—Suburbans with independent rear ends, a commitment to skip hybrids and go straight to EVs, and a mid-mounted engine for the 2020 Corvette?—it shows a willingness to march boldly into the future.


HIT: Ultimate Track Contest

Jaguar and Hot Wheels brand ambassador Mike Zarnock scored a Guinness World Record for Most Loop-the-Loops by running a Hot Wheels car, sans power booster, through seven loops, two more than the previous record. Then Jaguar announced the Ultimate Track Contest, challenging college engineering teams to beat this record. They’ll get more than 100 feet of Hot Wheels track, and must setup their track designs and run them through a local Jaguar Land Rover dealership’s showroom, offices, or service garage, by April 30. They’ll be timed for running a Jaguar Hot Wheels car through the eight loops in the shortest possible time, without the car falling off the track, and they’ll also be judged for the track’s complexity. The winning engineering team’s school gets a $50,000 scholarship.


HIT, MISS, AND REVELATION: Chrysler Pacifica AWD press conference

It had been a while since I’d seen a truly bizarre press conference, but Chrysler just reset my counter. After announcing the new all-wheel-drive Pacifica, what looked like a giant condom descended from the ceiling. We then stood and watched for a couple of long minutes while this thing inflated into what I believe was supposed to be a giant snow globe. I kept waiting for snow to start blowing inside, but that didn’t happen—instead, they projected pictures of snowflakes on the outside. A bunch of children ran onto the stage, the projected snowflakes began to spin, and the children began to wave their arms as if they were worshiping the giant-condom-slash-snowless-snow-globe. A Pacifica drove up, the children were shooed back off the stage, the van spun around a bit, then the condom deflated and was hoisted into the ceiling and that was that. You can see the whole strange spectacle here—skip to 6:00. Was this a hit, a miss or a revelation? Hell, it was all three.


HIT: Dogs for adoption at the Subaru stand

Subaru has long used the Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles shows to set up a pen and let local pet adoption organizations bring in puppies for showgoers to take home. I usually miss the dogs, because they’re often saved for the public show days, but Subaru did not have a press conference or anything new to unveil here, so it had a puppy festival going on during both media days. Thanks to the comfortable time cushions between the press conferences, I hightailed from the Chrysler Pacifica presser in the South Hall of McCormick Place to the North Hall to spend some attitude adjustment time with the adoption puppies. On Thursday, they were cute little Catahoula leopard dogs, all from the same litter, a few dozen feet from the next presser at Hyundai. I took the time to watch them play and put out of my mind how these auto shows, relics of the 20th Century, have been devolving toward irrelevance the last few years.


MISS: The entire automotive history (or show management?)

Detroit has moved its auto show from January (perfect time to launch the following year’s models) to June (zzzzz…), and that leaves Chicago as the perfect heir apparent. Chicago is well timed, centrally located, and well-attended, and media folks like me love it. So where are the massively big debuts? Ford’s Liquid Carbon GT seems like it would definitely be a Detroit reveal, and the GV80 is arguably the most important Genesis product to date, but it’s clear the automakers still see Chicago as an also-ran truck show. Either the manufacturers need to take a second look at the Second City, or the Chicago Auto Show staffers need to sell harder.


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2021 Ford Bronco Two-Door Spied for First Time – Automobile

The 2021 Ford Bronco in any form is likely going to be an exciting thing to drive on muddy or rocky trails, but no question the smaller two-door model will be the best billy goat of the bunch. At long last, we’ve managed to snag photos of the new two-door Bronco testing, covered in camouflage; until now, we’ve only seen four-doors in the wild.

This latest batch of spy shots has us all the more impatient to drive the stubbier Bronco. Just look at it playing in the snow, frolicking about like it doesn’t have a care (or a sure-to-be-brutal rivalry with the Jeep Wrangler) in the world. Whoever is doing the driving appears to be having quite a time.

The 2021 Ford Bronco two-door is likely to be the most responsive and off-road-capable variant of the lineup, owing to its shorter wheelbase and resultant improved breakover angle and turning radius. The model seen here is wearing heavy camouflage on the rear roof, likely hiding a funky removable hardtop or a folding soft top similar to the Jeep Wrangler’s setup. The prototype also clearly features A-pillar-mounted sideview mirrors, meaning removable doors are a distinct possibility.

It is also wearing tires with an aggressive tread pattern—unironically Wrangler-branded Goodyear tires. It’s not certain whether these will be factory-spec tires on all Broncos or only for certain trims like a top-of-the-line Raptor model (or for that matter, if this is a one-off tire fitment for maximum snow traction). A closeup underbody shot also betrays a comprehensive set of skid plates, and the wheels look to be beadlock-capable. A tow loop up front protects the license plate.

We can also make out a few key features, including an array of sensors and cameras in the windshield that enable automated emergency braking (and likely adaptive cruise control). That’s unsurprising given Ford’s aspiration to include active safety on all of its cars, trucks, and SUVs going forward.

The 2021 Ford Bronco two-door and four-door lineup is close to making its full debut. Our best guess is that it will be unveiled at either the 2020 New York International Auto Show in April or the Detroit show in June, which lines up with our latest timing expectation for the truck’s reveal. New York would be an unusual venue for a world-conquering sport-ute if the Bronco weren’t so hotly anticipated. Hey, we’ll take our Bronco reveal where we can get it—just show us the truck already, Ford!

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Partnership says ‘leave the speeding to the professionals’ | Journal

safe driving

“Leave the speeding to the professionals” is part of the message of a new safe-driving campaign organized by the Front Row Motorsports team with partners and the National Road Safety Foundation.

“We want to be able to utilize our team assets, and all the reach and influence we can make, to give back to the communities we race and live,” Front Row Motorsports owner Bob Jenkins said. “By rolling out specific cause marketing campaigns throughout the season, we are attempting to do our part in raising awareness both for our partners and tangible ways to affect change.”

To kick off the year, Front Row Motorsports, and the National Road Safety Foundation are launching the “We Care: Safe Driving” campaign. Running through the spring NASCAR race weekend at Texas Motor Speedway, Front Row Motorsports and drivers Michael McDowell, John Hunter Nemechek and Todd Gilliland will focus on the message “to leave the speeding to the professionals in 2020.”

Statistics show that speed is a factor in 26 percent of all fatal traffic crashes and thus claims more than 9,000 lives each year.

“This is a unique partnership that allows to help make a difference with Front Row Motorsports, the National Road and Safety Foundation and our customers,” said Mike Langthorne, vice president of the website. “Every day, we connect drivers with their passion for cars. The last thing anyone wants to see is an accident due to speeding with their classic car.  This is a program we’re proud to support.”

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The Volkswagen T6 Van Gets Turned Into a Chevy Astro Clone

Owners of Volkswagen T6 vans can now turn theirs into a sportier and more modern clone of a Chevy Astro. Okay, maybe that’s not totally fair, but it was the first thing that came to mind when we saw the two-tone paint on VW tuner Abt’s showcase for its new T6 power upgrades and aesthetic add-ons. The items include a sweet set of 20-inch wheels available in gloss or matte black, although if those are too much, Abt says that gloss-black 19s are also available.

The real highlight is in the engine room, though, where the T6’s 2.0-liter diesel four-cylinder benefits from Abt’s new engine-control unit. Output is increased from 150 horsepower and 250 lb-ft of torque to 180 horses and 295 lb-ft, and in March, Abt will offer a version of the tune that takes the 199-hp, 332-lb-ft version of the engine to 226 horses and 361 lb-ft. Abt also suggests you might want to take advantage of its adjustable Bilstein suspension upgrade, which, sure, why not? It allows the van to be lowered anywhere between 1.6 to 2.8 inches.

Based on the latest and recently refreshed version of the VW, which has slimmer headlights and a slightly wider grille than before, the Abt conversion sadly doesn’t include a Super Nintendo, 13-inch CRT TV, or velour curtains, as a 1980s Astro might have had. But we’d say grab a T6 California—that’s the camper conversion of the T6—add the Abt goodies, and swap in the modern equivalents of that stuff. Then hit the road for a good, old-fashioned road trip.

Read More
These Retro Campers Are the Freaking Cutest
Touring the Best of SoCal in a Volkswagen T6 California Camper
A Very Rad BMW/North Face Camper Trailer

The post The Volkswagen T6 Van Gets Turned Into a Chevy Astro Clone appeared first on Automobile Magazine.

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New Car Reviews, News, Road Tests

2020 Toyota Avalon and Camry Get a Dash of TRD Hot Sauce

EAST LOS ANGELES, California—If you park a Toyota Avalon and Camry side by side, it’s hard to tell them apart except for maybe their badges and funky grilles. Both have four doors, can seat up to five passengers, share the same V-6 engine, and are available in a variety of trims. The full-size Avalon offers slightly more room and a heftier price tag than the mid-size Camry. But add a dash of hot sauce by the Toyota Racing Development (TRD) team—a splash of Supersonic Red paint, a more dialed-in suspension, some underbody braces—and voila! You have the 2020 Avalon/Camry TRD edition.

These spicier sedans are certainly no replacements for proper sports cars like the new Supra or even the Toyota 86. Think of these TRD-enhanced sedans more as comfortable and enjoyable rides with an edgier look. I seriously doubt any owner will actually take either one to the track—and lets be clear, these cars aren’t meant for that kind of use—but they certainly look the part if that’s what matters to you.

The duo are both sportier-looking, in a mid-‘90s Chevy Monte Carlo Z34 sort of way, except with four doors instead of two, more horsepower (301 hp vs 210 hp), and a bit more visual flair than the Monte. Looks-wise the Camry TRD is the way to go; the two-tone Midnight Black metallic roof looks pretty rad on it, although the black XSE trim grille makes the Avalon look somewhat more sinister.

The TRD package comes with the same V-6 as other Camry variants, rated at 301 horsepower and 267 lb-ft of torque. The trusty six is mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. Basically, TRD started with the XSE-spec Avalon and SE-spec Camry, beefed up their front and rear suspensions with thicker underbody braces for rigidity, and dropped a half inch in ride height; you’ll notice the lower-slung attitude every time you navigate steep driveways and road bumps, which require more care than usual. Under all of this is a set of 19-inch black TRD rims covering 12.9-inch front brake rotors, with dual piston calipers in red.

I thought I might nick the Camry TRD’s rims parking too close to the curb, but ended up scratching the side and rear aero kit, with its red pinstriping that extends like catfish whiskers, instead. It kissed a steep Pasadena curb outside of a friend’s house—sorry Toyota! The body kit includes black badging, dark mirror caps, and a rear spoiler to complete the sportier package; it looks sportier on the Camry, since there’s just a sliver of a spoiler on the Avalon. Both TRD specials also come with large-ish sunroofs and twin tail pipes around back.

There are three drive modes to choose from—normal, eco, and sport—which translate to slow, slower, and a little better when you mash down on the right-most pedal. The sport-tuned exhaust with engine sound enhancement and an intake generator sounds decent on the Camry, if you’re into that sort of thing. It’s more reserved on the Avalon.

Inside both TRD models feature red seatbelts and red contrast stitching, plus TRD badges on the headrests and floor mats. There is even one on the carpet in the trunk where you’ll find a donut underneath it for a spare. The Avalon came with a cargo next which makes hauling groceries in the trunk a bit more civilized. Both share a Toyota TRD steering wheel that is wrapped in leather, a TRD leather shifter, and the pedals get chromed too. There’s a handy wireless phone charger and a small light in the center console storage area so you can find the USB and power ports at night.

The Camry TRD starts at $32,920, which sure makes it seem like a better deal than the Avalon TRD that adds another ten grand to the tab. Is it worth it? Sure, unless you’d rather drive a car that is beige.

Read more
2020 Toyota Avalon TRD: Sure, Why Not?
2020 Toyota Camry TRD Drives Better Than We Expected
Toyota’s Avalon TRD Pro Track-Car Concept Is … Awesome?


2020 Toyota Camry TRD Specifications
PRICE $32,920
ENGINE 3.5L DOHC 24-valve V-6/301 hp @ 6,600 rpm, 267 lb-ft @ 4,700 rpm
TRANSMISSION 8-speed automatic
LAYOUT 4-door, 5-passenger, front-engine, FWD sedan
EPA MILEAGE 22/31 mpg (city/hwy)
L x W x H 194.6 x 73.1 x 56.3 in
WHEELBASE 111.2 in
WEIGHT 3,556 lb
0-60 MPH 5.8 seconds
TOP SPEED 130 mph (est)


2020 Toyota Avalon TRD Specifications
PRICE $43,255/$46,287 (base/as-tested)
ENGINE 3.5L DOHC 24-valve V-6/301 hp @ 6,600 rpm, 267 lb-ft @ 4,700 rpm
TRANSMISSION 8-speed automatic
LAYOUT 4-door, 5-passenger, front-engine, FWD sedan
EPA MILEAGE 22/31 mpg (city/hwy)
L x W x H 195.9 x 72.8 x 55.9 in
WHEELBASE 113.0 in
WEIGHT 3,638 lb
0-60 MPH 6.0 seconds
TOP SPEED 130 mph (est)

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Rolls-Royce going nuclear: Plans call for series of mini atomic power stations | Journal

Illustration shows an example of the enclosed mini nuclear power station Rolls-Royce and members of its consortium plan to produce | Rolls-Royce photo

Maybe the Ford Nucleon wasn’t so far-fetched after all?

OK, the 1958 Ford concept car powered by a small nuclear reactor mounted behind the passenger compartment was never going to be practical. But it was one designer’s and one automaker’s vision for a way to power cars in the Nuclear Age.

What rekindles thoughts of the Nucleon are media reports from the BBC and that Rolls-Royce plans to build as many as 15 mini nuclear reactors in England. 

In November 2019, the energy-supplying arm of Rolls-Royce announced that UK Research and Innovation was providing match funding to a consortium of companies developing “a new type of nuclear power station in the UK.”

Rolls-Royce is the leader of that consortium and said as many as 16 such power stations could be going online by 2050, with the first late in operation during this decade.

“The power station is a compact design, the components for which are manufactured in sections in regional UK factories, before being transported to existing nuclear sites for rapid assembly inside a weatherproof canopy,” Rolls-Royce said in a news release. “This cuts costs by avoiding weather disruptions and secures gradual efficiency savings by using streamlined and standardized manufacturing processes for its components.”

The project would create as many as 40,000 jobs. Each station would operate for 60 years and would provide enough energy to power a city of half-a-million residents. In addition to England, the mini-reactor stations could be exported, perhaps producing as much as a $250 billion benefit for England.

“Tackling climate change requires collaboration across industries and governments to find effective, affordable and sustainable ways of achieving net zero by 2050,” PaulStein, Rolls-Royce chief technology officer, was quoted.

“The consortium’s work with the Government shows that action is being taken to decarbonize our economy and meet our society’s vital and growing power needs. This is a very positive step forward to this next phase of the program.” reported that 448 civilian nuclear reactors are in operation around the world and another 53 are under construction, primarily in Asia and Eastern Europe.

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Barrett-Jackson switches networks, leaving Discovery and signs with A+E

Heated bidding for a 1967 Ford Mustang Eleanor Tribute Edition at the recent Scottsdale auction | Barrett-jackson photo

Barrett-Jackson, which revolutionized collector car auctioneering with live TV coverage of its bidding, announced Thursday that it has left the Discovery cable network and will debut on A+E Networks’ FYI and History channels, starting with its Palm Beach, Florida, auction in April.

The agreement with A+E will provide live coverage of
Barrett-Jackson’s four annual auctions, as well as
producing features and specials focusing on the Scottsdale, Arizona-based
auction company, the thousands of collector vehicles that it sells on the block
every year, and the many enthusiasts who motivate the hobby. 

Part of the channels’ Drive block of automotive shows, the programming will be named Barrett-Jackson Live.

“The programming will air across weekend dayparts on History and primetime on FYI, as well as non-linear platforms,” Barrett-Jackson said in a new release about the change. “The content on FYI and History will be unique compared to other programming for each channel. Barrett-Jackson Live will be distributed globally by A+E International.

Besides the Palm Beach auction, which will mark
18 years during its April 16-18 sale, Barrett-Jackson holds its signature
Scottsdale auction in January, next year celebrating its 50th anniversary; its newest sale at Mohegan Sun,
Connecticut, in June; and its Las Vegas auction in September.

Barrett-Jackson was first televised in 1996 on Speedvision, helping to anchor the fledgling automotive channel. The auction programming was a huge success, attracting thousands of viewers and bringing many new enthusiasts into the collector car hobby.

The station was sold in 2001 to Fox Networks, which shortened its name to SPEED and continuing growing the audience.  But in 2013, Fox pulled SPEED from U.S. cable outlets and opted to turn the station into Fox Sports 1 and to limit its automotive content, resulting in spotty coverage of the auctions. 

In 2014, Barrett-Jackson pulled the plug on Fox and switched to
the Discovery network and its Velocity automotive channel, which recently
changed to Motor Trend TV.

Barrett-Jackson chief executive Craig Jackson spoke enthusiastically about the new relationship.

“I’ve always been passionate about sharing the
excitement of our auctions with enthusiasts,” Jackson said in a news release. “In
1996, we revolutionized our hobby as the first company to broadcast collector
car auctions into living rooms across the country.

“Our new agreement with A+E Networks is a wonderful next step in the evolution of our vision to give enthusiasts a front-row seat to our four exciting auctions throughout the year.”

A spokesman for the auction company said that
further information about the changeover will be available in the coming

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Sequential series: Pete Vicari putting his trio of pre-production ’63 Corvettes up for sale | Journal

Pete Vicari grew up in a family owned construction and real-estate development business in Harvey, Louisiana, just south of New Orleans. But he also grew up with a love of Detroit muscle cars and especially Chevrolet Corvettes. 

His passion for such muscular machines led to the founding 25 years ago of the Vicari Auction Company, which regularly conducts collector car sales in Mississippi, Texas and Georgia. Vicari’s next sale is scheduled for April 17-18 at Biloxi, and will be followed just a couple of weeks later by an annual auction in Nocona, Texas.

While such auctions are very public events, a week ago Vicari shared some previously very privately held news: Not only had he collected three pre-production 1963 Chevrolet Corvette prototypes — and with sequential serial numbers — but he has decided it is time to sell them. 

However, there is a catch:He wants the cars to stay together as a set.

Pete Vicari has found, restored and now considers selling a trio of 1963 Chevrolet Corvette ‘pilot’ cars | Vicari Auction video screenshots
The cars are in numerical sequence

“I would really hate to see these cars broke up,” Vicari says in a YouTube video Vicari Auction distributed to share his decision. “I mean, the last time they were together, it was in September 1962 in St. Louis (where they were built in the former Corvette assembly plant). 

“You know, to sell ‘em to three individual people would just be devastating to me because I’ve worked so hard to put ‘em together.”

The video was distributed to share news of the cars and Vicari’s decision to sell them. He has not said whether he will sell them privately or as a single lot at auction. Nonetheless, the existence of the cars is fascinating.

Pete Vicari and one of the pre-production ’63 Corvette convertibles

In the video, we learn that as Chevrolet prepared to launch the second-generation Corvette, it built nearly 2 dozen pre-production or pilot cars. Perhaps 7 or 8 of them still exist, including one split-window coupe.

The pilot cars were hand-built. Fiberglass body panels were formed over mahogany wood “bucks” and metallic parts were sand cast and thus do not have the same finish as those that would come off the assembly line during the production of cars for customers. 

Vicari points out such things as the use of the hand brake from a 1962 Chevy Nova in the pilot Corvettes, along with different consoles, glove-box doors, wheel knock-off spinners, carpeting and other differences.

Vintage photo shows one of the pilot cars being painted on the same line as a 1962 Corvette (visible through the left side of the windshield) awaits its turn in the spray booth

“What might have been seen at the time as imperfections or other differences, either in the exterior appearance or the interior of the car, now lend credence to the uniqueness of each car being a rare pre-production vehicle,” the video’s narrator notes. 

The video includes evidence of the car’s histories.

The video narrator says that after chasing, acquiring, restoring and enjoying “the pride of ownership,” Vicari is ready to sell. The video ends with a panel sharing Vicari’s contact information for those with serious interests in the cars.

Few even knew Vicari had the cars until he took them out for a recent video shoot

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