Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Send in your Mercedes-Benz 126 chassis photos:

I'd like to ask anyone who has a 126 chassis Mercedes-Benz to send in your photos! This has always been one of my favorite cars and I know there is a ton of nice 126 cars around. Please email info/photos on your 500SEL/SEC 560 SEL/SEC 420SEL AMG Hammer car etc. etc. would love to feature them on Car Test Ride!!

Email to

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Top Ten Production Cars - 2007 Tokyo Motor Show - MSN Autos

Top Ten Production Cars - 2007 Tokyo Motor Show - MSN Autos

Here is a MSN autos link to some great upcoming production cars from the 2007 Tokyo Motor Show. Several I have already posted on including the Nissan GT-R, BMW M3 and Lancer Evo X. A few other intriguing cars featured are the Jaguar XF (hmmm.. those lines look very German influenced to me), Audi RS6 Avant (ahhh yes.. nothing more I love than German Wagon's stuffed with massive horsepower... an eye popping 571 to be exact!!!) and the monster Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG with a earth shattering 514 HP!!! (as per my earlier review of the 2008 C class.. the thought of that much power in that car is something I just can't comprehend). In summary, looks like the Germans are back at the saloon power arms race!

Monday, October 29, 2007

General Motors "Folks" November 1955 magazine:

Talk about a blast from the past!! A good friend of mine just happened to have an original copy of a 1955 General Motors "Folks" employee magazine. This particular issue showcased some of the upcoming 1956 models. From cover to cover this magazine is a time capsule piece of Americana! It's so great to see a historical piece like this during the golden age of the American auto industry......

Ahhh! Tail Fins Galore!

Well.. ok not exactly "crumple zones"

Baseball, Apple Pie and General Motors!

"Pontiac, it's the talk of the Test Drivers!" how bout the test riders?

One in FOUR! Radios!!

Hello Mr. Vice President

I'm sure there is a song somewhere about this car...

And we'll save the last.. to show you an automotive first!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

1986 Toyota Supra Turbo Digital Dash:

As a follow up to my earlier post on the digital dash of the 1980's.. A Special thanks to Andy from New Zealand for the great pics of his Japanese spec 1986 Toyota Supra Turbo with the digital dash all lit up like a Christmas tree! I still say bring back the digital dash!!!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

2008 Nissan GT-R - Photo Gallery - Motor Trend

2008 Nissan GT-R - Photo Gallery - Motor Trend

A nice photo gallery from Motor Trend of the new 2008 Nissan GT-R. I really like the steering wheel.. It looks very aggressive and in your face. The big red "R" beams out to remind the driver at all times exactly what he's driving.. I am still not sold on the exterior styling. I liked the old Skyline's understated appearance. Maybe this new GT-R will grow on me over time, I'm just excited to see this car finally hit the U.S. market after all these years! I'll be sure and post more on the 2008 Nissan GT-R.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Ford Mustang SVO autocross Video:

Here is a great autocross video from inside a Ford Mustang SVO. The Mustang SVO is probably my favorite Mustang of all time. The later SVO's had 205HP and 240 lbs. ft. torque out of it's small 2.3 liter turbo engine. Matched with a light weight body, special adjustable suspension and sport seats. The 1984-1986 Ford Mustang SVO was a very special pony! Many have said this was one of the best handling cars of the 1980's.. you can see why so many of the Mustang SVO's are seen on the autocross track. I would love to do a "Wall Poster Classics" segment on the Mustang SVO if the opportunity ever arises to drive and review one.

I really hope Ford takes a look back at great Mustangs like the SVO and does away with that ancient live rear axle they put on the new Mustang. Sometimes the best way to move forward is to look back!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

"Project Cars" 1994 Mercedes-Benz E320

Here is a beautiful 1994 Mercedes-Benz E320 a friend just picked up. It needs some minor TLC but overall it's in really good shape. I'll be sure and post details on all the repair work that is done and of course "after" pics when this Benz is all cleaned up and road ready.

If you have a project car you are currently fixing up or restoring.. drop me an email at .. send some pics and info and I'll be glad to post it in the next "Project Cars" segment....

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

2008 Cadillac CTS Review - MSN Autos

2008 Cadillac CTS Review - MSN Autos

As a follow up to my first thoughts on the 2008 Cadillac CTS I posted earlier.. Here is a link to a good first review from MSN Autos. It seems GM is finally catching on and developing suspensions from testing on the Nurburgring (first was the new Corvette Z-06). The base 3.6 liter V6 engine in the 2008 Cadillac CTS pumps out 263hp with a beefed up 304hp direct injection version available.

The more I read about this new Cadillac CTS.. the more excited I get! I'm really interested to see the CTS V version that is sure to follow. Cadillac seems to have really done their homework with the 2008 CTS, but how it will stack up against it's European rivals remains to be seen.

Supercar Poll:

I've just added a new poll to Car Test Ride! The infamous question... "What is the greatest Supercar" I'm excited to see some feedback from this.. If there is a car I missed you think is worthy of the Supercar poll... Be sure and Comment Below!! If I get enough response I'll add it to the poll!

"Reader's Rides" Send in your cool Car!!

Since I've had great feedback and support in such a short period of time. I am going to start doing a segment called "Reader's Rides." If you own a cool car and would like to share.. Please email a few good photos and some info and I'll be happy to post it. Again, thank you to all our readers and I look forward to seeing some really great cars!

Please email photo's/info to

Monday, October 22, 2007

Bugatti Veyron vs. Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren Video:

Just to put in perspective how fast the Bugatti Veyron really is, here is a great video of the Bugatti Veyron running a few sprints against the very fast Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren!! Watch how the 1001hp Bugatti Veyron pulls away from the McLaren Mercedes with ease. I can't even imagine what it is like driving that Bugatti at top speed... Amazing Car!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

"Wall Poster Classics" 1990 Nissan 300ZX

The early 1990's was an odd time for the Automotive industry. Technology was finally starting to catch up with restrictive U.S. emissions. New engine development had made it possible for cars to reach horsepower levels similar to the power crazed muscle car era without destroying a rain forest with every tank of gas.

It was time for a Car company to take a leap of faith to show the U.S. and the world what was possible in new car design. Just as they had done in 1970 with the original 240Z, Nissan kicked off another decade with the amazing 1990 Nissan 300ZX.

This particular 300ZX is a 1990 2+2 model with leather, Bose, automatic and pretty much all the options available when new. It belonged to my parents and unfortunately this old girl was sold a while back. Affectionately named "Ruby," I have many fond memories of this amazing car.

The naturally aspirated 300ZX's 3.0 liter V6 produced 222hp and 200 lbs. ft. torque. Which was quite a lot of power for it's day. When the 300ZX turbo was introduced it produced an astonishing 300hp and 283 lbs ft torque! 100HP per liter was an amazing accomplishment. At the time it was the most powerful Japanese production car ever to be introduced to the United States. The 300ZX Turbo ran the infamous Nurburgring in 8 minutes 40 seconds, 6 seconds faster than the legendary Porsche 928GT! Putting all this in perspective, its easy to see just how fast this car was at the time. The Nissan 300ZX was in a league all it's own.

Soon after the 1990 300ZX hit the U.S. market. Other car makers were scrambling to play catch up with Nissan. It Took Mazda and Toyota several years to compete with their redesigned versions of the RX-7 and Supra. It even took Chevrolet 2 years to bump the mighty Corvette up to the 300hp mark.

I have driven both the N/A and Turbo 300ZX. The 2+2 model featured in the pictures wasn't really a rocket ship off the line (weight had become an issue). On the highway was a different story. It's mid range power was fantastic and I remember leaving many cars in its dust. Driving one today is still a blast. It takes big swooping curves with ease. It makes even the most timid driver feel comfortable at high speeds. The 300ZX Turbo's performance is still impressive even by today's standards, but the 300ZX did have it's flaws. I remember the breaks feeling very weak and maintenance can be quite expensive.

Many complained that the 300ZX had become big and heavy. Some even argued it had gone so far from the original 240Z, it shouldn't even be called a sports car anymore. Well, I agree actually. It wasn't.. It was a new generation GT car and a technological showcase for the time. It was the beginning of great things to come.

Towards the end of its run, 300ZX sales had dropped drastically. Pricing was high with very little changes until it's demise in 1996. I think Nissan never made any drastic changes because they didn't have to. They took all the risk and did everything so well, it was everyone else that had to play catch up. I still love seeing these cars on the road and although many have been butchered with aftermarket tuning, there are still nice original 300ZX's around. No doubt in my mind this car will become a classic.. and it remains one of my all time favorites.

Friday, October 19, 2007

iPhone Road Shots: 2000 E39 BMW M5

I just happened to run into a friend today who has an absolutely beautiful 2000 E39 BMW M5!! Check out the rare color combo of ice blue over black with red inserts. This has to be one of my all time favorites. BMW, saloon, racing tuned suspension, Manual transmission and 394 hp... it just doesn't get much better than that! I think it is the best set of iPhone Road shots so far!

Check out how the badges have been removed.. can anyone say "Sleeper!"

Thursday, October 18, 2007

2009 Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione - First Drive - Motor Trend

2009 Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione - First Drive - Motor Trend

It has been a long time coming! Alfa Romeo finally returns to the United States with the 2009 8C Competizione! What a beautiful design. It embodies everything that is Alfa Romeo. This car looks as sleek as a custom tailored Italian suit. It is the kind of car you flash down the streets of Monte Carlo in on the way to a socialite ball. You can be sure the valet is going to park it in front of the Ferrari's and Porsche's as the showcase car for everyone to see.

Yes I'm sure it will be unreliable.. But who cares! If you are looking for the pinnacle of passion and soul in an automobile.... it doesn't get any better than the Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione.

Sorry though... unless you are already on the list.. the few cars slated for the U.S. are all spoken for.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Random Rants: Does anyone want to sell a car nowadays?

Many of my last posts have been about the hunt for my next car. I am probably going to end up leasing again because aside from the lower payments, I like the idea of a new car every couple years.

When I leased my last car (2004 Audi A4) I priced shopped around until I found the best quote. My local dealer did beat the lowest quote from other dealers and I felt very happy with my overall sales experience.

Car sales in my area (especially high end cars) are very slow right now. Our local economy is heavily driven by real estate and times are tough. Taking this into consideration along with the fact that 2008 models are starting to show up with 2007 models still on the lot, I figured this would be a good time to shop for a new car... Boy was I wrong!

Not ONE dealership I have dealt with thus far has given me a reasonable quote. In fact the Mazda Dealership gave me such a ridicules lease quote on a Mazdaspeed 3 (which I stated how much I loved from an earlier post) I basically walked out of the dealership. Not one follow up phone call, nothing. In fact the car is still sitting on the lot. And it wasn't just Mazda. Every dealership I've been to seems to be holding inventory close at hand. The kicker was when I called a BMW dealership on the East coast of Florida. I told the salesman exactly what I was looking for and that I would like a quote. I even told him if the numbers were right, I'd gladly make the 3 hour drive from where I am located. He told me he would run some numbers and call me back as soon as he could. Hours went by and no call. The next day I called the dealership again asking for the same salesman and was transferred to his voicemail. Left a message.. and guess what. No call back. Nothing! Nadda.. Zip!!!

I really am baffled why none of my local dealers want to sell a car right now? I know its not because they are busy. Sales are slower than molasses. Interest rates are down. So why on earth wouldn't they be trying to move inventory?

Although I really am itching to suck in that new car smell... I'll be patient and keep looking. There has to be a dealership somewhere that actually wants to sell a car!

iPhone Road Shots: BMW 3 Series E90

I know it isn't exactly a rare car to see on the road. But, I snapped some pics of this nice E90 3 Series sedan today as a follow up to my test ride review. I'm pretty sure this car is a 2006 330i (please correct me if I'm wrong). This car is a perfect example of how beautiful the new 3 series can look with the right color and options. Check out the slick alloy wheels.. and I love the dark metallic grey paint (very similar to my Audi actually). I know it is still a love or hate design.. With this set up though.. gleaming in the sun. I think this car looks fantastic..

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The search for my next car.. 2007 BMW 328i test ride review

Well by now some of you may be noticing a trend. Yes! I do like German cars. I promise though there are some good pictures and reviews on American Muscle coming up soon!

The BMW 3 series has set the benchmark for many years in terms or performance, style, quality and overall driving perfection. It was one of my top choices a few years back when searching for a new car. The E46 chassis 3 series was a high water mark for BMW. After years of perfecting, everything seemed in perfect harmony with the E46. So how does the E90 chassis fair?

Pretty much anyone who is into cars knows about the controversy surrounding the new BMW styling. At first I wasn't even considering checking out the 2007 3 series because I hated the new body design. Hated everything about it. It looked plastic and out of proportion to me. But, everywhere I turned there were adds beckoning me to come look at the new 3 Series. Thousands off this.. lease for nothing that... Finally enough was enough and I went down to my local BMW dealer to test drive an 2007 328i.

Immediately I notice a white over beige 328i sitting up front. Personally I hate this color combo and informed the salesman I had no interest in that car at all. He said he did have the same car in Black over tan (perfect!) and he'd run and get it so we could take it for a drive. While he was searching the lot, I stood in deep thought pondering the lines of the white Florida dream sitting in front of me. Actually it really does grow on you the more you look at it. All the body lines seem to swoop and curve and stop abruptly. I was really starting to warm up to the new body design until I saw... the wheels. Ok.. I know BMW has tons of expensive wheel options and sport packages . this car looks great with them. But, the stock 16 inch wheels look like GARBAGE... I'm sorry.. they look horrid in every way imaginable. BMW really needs to make 17 inch alloys standard on all 3 series cars. I can't imagine walking into a BMW dealership with a handful of cash and saying "Ah.. yes.. I'll take THAT one.. the one with the little wheels." I really think that is a main reason why people have said bad things about this new design.. they've glanced at a 3 series with 16 inch wheels and thought "Urgh.. its hideous!" Anyway enough of my rant.. back to the test ride.

The salesman then pulled up in a beautiful Black metallic over tan 328i. The car had the steptronic automatic transmission and was nicely optioned (minus idrive!! thank God!). Of course the one thing this car was missing was.. 17 inch wheels!!! And the same car with a sport package is about $1500 more. Not terribly expensive to rid this car of the 16 inch wheels.. and also adds multi power seats. That option is a must have in my book, but the main point of this was to actually drive the car... so I looked past the 16 inch wheels for now. Sitting in the car I immediately noticed BMW's interior materials aren't the same quality as they used to be. Don't get me wrong, the fit and finish was very good... Just not quite as good as Audi or Mercedes-Benz entry level sedans. In design the interior is very contemporary and understated. Driving position was very good, but after finding a comfortable position with the driver seat back, no way a passenger over 3 foot tall could sit behind me.

Pulling out of the dealership I noticed strait away how precise everything was on this car. Steering was as finely tuned as the London Symphony. The car was very delicate in a way. All the mechanical processes blend in such a perfect combination its hard to describe. The smooth hum of the quick 230hp 3.0 liter strait 6 engine, highly responsive breaks and of course the suspension. This car really does handle and drive like no other. During our test ride the salesman kept trying to show me how good the stereo was. I didn't care.. in fact.. I turned it off. All I wanted to do in this car was drive. Hands at ten and two.. Eyes forward... Just drive. I didn't care about the cup holders, or the dual climate control, or any of the bells and whistles for that matter. Just those two very functional German gauges directly in front of me ticking around like a Swiss watch.. the gas pedal, the break pedal, the steering wheel and the road in front of me.

If you start to peel away all the quirks of the new 3 Series. What you are left with is pure BMW. The 3 series is still alive and well under that skin. Yes the 16 inch wheels suck.. Yes the run flat tires suck. Ya the design is still hard to get used to. But, as a pure drivers car it just doesn't get any better. The MSRP on the car I drove was around $34,500... and lets just go ahead and add another $1500 or so for the sport package.. because I wouldn't own one without it. If I could find a nice Black over Tan or black 328i with a sport package.. This car sits firmly at number one on my list for a new car. The 335i (a little out of my price range unfortunately) must be just fantastic with its twin-turbo 300hp engine. When the 2008's start to arrive (no changes from what I've heard) I'll drive one home if the deal is right. The BMW 3 series may not be perfect on the outside... But, it is perfect on the inside... And like most things in life.. that is what really matters most!

Monday, October 15, 2007

2009 Audi A4 - First Drive - Motor Trend

2009 Audi A4 - First Drive - Motor Trend

Here is a link to Motor Trend for a first drive review on the all new 2009 Audi A4. I have seen some initial pictures of this new A4 before. Having a 2004 Audi A4 myself, I will say I wasn't the biggest fan of the grill redesign that came after my model. Also disappointing was how Audi took away some of the standard convenience features (like a trip computer that came with a basic options package.. now requires and additional $2000+ package... outrageous!). One of the main reasons I chose my A4 over a BMW 3 series was all the goodies that came standard with the car. I test drove the 2007 A4 and was very disappointed in the stripped down options on the lease special cars.

It looks like Audi is gunning to pull ahead of its German rivals BMW and Mercedes-Benz with this redesign. I personally think the 2009 A4 looks fantastic! Audi has definitely borrowed some design features from its big brother A6. The interior looks amazing as always. No doubt Audi is leaps and bounds above most automakers when it comes to interior design. More HP out of the A4's awesome 2.0 turbo direct injected engine, more interior room and LED headlights like on the Audi R8 (are they cool or what!) make the 2009 Audi A4 one of the most exciting new models I've seen in a long time! Let's hope Audi doesn't continue to strip standard features and make them only available with overpriced options packages on this model.

The 2009 Audi A4 is scheduled to be released in mid 2008. To bad my lease is up in January, this is a car I just might be willing to wait for!

Random Rants: The 80's Sheik Digital Dash

It really is a love or hate type thing. I can honestly say I have never met someone that was indifferent towards them. The digital dash craze from the 1980's is something that today I do miss. Maybe it is just a over hyped memory from my childhood. Seeing the 3 square pods on the dash of a first generation C4 Corvette light up was like magic to me! It was as close to Knight Rider as you could get and for a 7 year old boy that was a big deal! The digital dash in the first generation 300zx was pretty darn snappy as well. I loved the big swooping tachometer on the 300zx, it was like something right out of Star Wars. (Laser power at full!! Fire! Fire!)

Looking back now I know they may seem a bit dated. The digital dash has proven a bit problematic over the years as well. I say they should bring back the digital dash! (at least as an option) With today's technology I can only imagine the light show they could put together! Everything seems so cookie cutter and generic now days. There is so much parts bin sharing, cars have lost their uniqueness on the interior.

Hey, one can dream right! A new Knight Rider remake is in the works.. Maybe it will spawn inspiration once again to the new generation of auto designers.

(Hey if anyone has a really cool picture of their car with a digital dash all lit up.. Please feel free to drop me a message and I'll be glad to post them.. Thanks!!!)

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Sydney 2007: Aussie-only 281 HP Mazda3 MPS Extreme - Autoblog

Sydney 2007: Aussie-only 281 HP Mazda3 MPS Extreme - Autoblog

Some of you may have read my earlier review on the MAZDASPEED 3. I really loved that little rocket and it is still one of my top choices for my next car. Well check out this article on what is brewing down under at the Sydney Motor Show. The Mazda3 MPS Extreme.. Wow!! 281hp! 313 lbs ft. torque!!! Not only does it have engine tweaks, it also has some wild body enhancements as well. More power can only be better right!! Unfortunately, I don't think this car will be hitting U.S. shores anytime soon.. or ever for that matter.. Hey.. one can dream though!!!

2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X - Latest News, Reviews, and Photo Galleries - Automobile Magazine

2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X - Latest News, Reviews, and Photo Galleries - Automobile Magazine

Here's a good review from Automobile Magazine on the new 2008 Mitsubishi Lacer Evo X. I'm not totally sold on the styling yet. Although it did take years for the last generation Evo to grow on me. I loved how the old car looked like an econo box that had fallen in a vat of radioactive material and emerged with superhero powers. After reading several early reviews, I'm a bit disappointed in how it seems Mitsubishi has tamed this toxic beast. One of the things I did like about the old car was the turbo lag believe it or not. I loved that "hammer in the chest" acceleration. It is far to early to really form an opinion yet. So I'll follow up on the new Evo X once some more hard figures are released. Of course getting to drive one would be even better!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

The new V8 BMW M3 E92

Another great Fifth Gear video with Tiff driving the new E92 BMW M3. I have to admit I wasn't the biggest fan of the last model M3. Not that it wasn't a fantastic car.. Because it was! It just had lost the sleeper appeal it once had. The people who bought the last generation M3 seemed to buy the car for its flash and dance, rather than pure driving perfection.

The new E92 BMW M3 now has a V8. The first time BMW has strayed from the tried and true strait 6 in the M3. I haven't seen or driven this car yet so I shouldn't really form an opinion. But, from the looks of this video BMW have once again overloaded this car with computers and that stupid idrive. Maybe idrive is the future, but I think I'd rather be stuck in the past..

Friday, October 12, 2007

iPhone Road Shots: Lotus Esprit V8

Another Cool iPhone pic tailing a Lotus Esprit V8! Two British super cars in a row. This is a car I really miss. One of the best super car designs of all time! I remember reading road test after road test of the Esprit matched up against cars with a newer design and more power. The Lotus Esprit always was the sleeper car and in most cases out performed its newer rivals. I've heard Lotus has a new Esprit in the works! I sure hope they do... And man can you pick up a nice one of these cheap now!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

iPhone Road Shots: Aston Martin V8 Vantage Roadster

Well this is a new thing I'll be doing from time to time. Seeing as my buddy and I both have iPhone's and we are both car buffs. Why not snap some iPhone pics of cool cars on the road! And to start this off right.. I'm showing up with the big guns!!! Check out this sweeeeet Aston Martin V8 Vantage Roadster!! WOW is all I can say.. I refer to this as my Lotto car.. because if I won the Lottery, this is the first car I would get! (well.. maybe the coupe version..) What an amazing car!! Its like time stands still and you stare at this car in a Matrix style camera shot.... The best of the best!!

The search for my next car.. Volvo C30 test ride review

When most car buffs like me think of Volvo, the first thing that usually comes to mind is safety. Volvo has prided themselves for many years in having cars labeled "the safest on the road." Of course safety is a top priority, but Volvo has always been so obsessed with it, they definitely let things like design and performance take the back burner. Over the past few years, Volvo has taken steps to draw in a younger clientele. First there was the S 60 R which had all the makings of an amazing car. All wheel drive, aggressive 18-inch alloys, and a Turbocharged 5 cylinder engine pumping out 300hp and 295 lbs ft. torque. This should have been Volvo's torch carrier right? This should have slammed Volvo right in the midst of the Japanese Playstation generation cars and the German benchmarks? Wrong, it didn't work. It was one more car lost in a sea of well-established rivals, and really fell short of what Volvo had expected. It wasn't that it was a bad car... in fact it was a great car! It just didn't really fit in. It was like the smart kid showing up at school one day with a new hip outfit trying to hang with the popular kids. But, don't think that Volvo have given up, their latest addition to the line up shoots strait at the heart of the ultra-hip crowd. A drop of the gloves to VW's champion GTI hot hatch. Let's meet the challenger ladies and gentleman. The Volvo C30.

In my last few post about the quest for my next car, I usually have some elaborate story about how the car drew me in like a siren tempting Odysseus. Not this time though. In fact it’s really simple, a good friend starting working at my local Volvo dealership as salesperson. Knowing I am shopping for a new car, he gave me a ring and told me to check out the new Volvo C30. I had heard some buzz about the new C30 so I figured I should go check it out in person. Walking in the showroom I immediately noticed a "Swedish Flag Blue" C30 sitting right up front. I call this car "Swedish Flag Blue" because IT HAD THE SWEDISH FLAG ON THE ROOF!!! Ok, I know that is a common thing for Mini's to have the British flag on the roof and what not, but come on! No way on earth I would drive that car in public. My salesperson friend soon explained it’s just a decal, and they can remove it. A little more reassured I had a seat in the new C30. The only way I can describe the interior is "Swedish Furniture store." Everything is very different. The floating center console is wild! I loved it! Really cool design! All the buttons seemed quite functional in placement, but it did have somewhat of a Spartan appearance. The glass hatch door is a very different design. Some may not like it, but I actually found it quite cool. All the accents inside were color matched to the blue on the exterior. I have to admit I didn't mind that to much either. What I did mind was the graphic read out for the AC/Stereo controls. It seemed very low resolution, like a 1980's Casio calculator.

We proceeded outside to test drive the other C30 they had on the lot. Walking up to this car it was a totally different car compared to the Swedish flag dream in the showroom. It looked fantastic! A combination of colors I have never seen before on a car. Pearl white with cream olive and black accents matched with 17-inch alloys. According to Volvo's website, you can custom order the colors of your C30. Picture a color fondue for your car. Dip your C30 in a little bit of this, a little bit of that and top it off with chocolate sauce. This particular car had a manual transmission and as we pulled out of the lot I immediately noticed how soft the clutch was. A hard sneeze at it could depress this clutch. This car would be the perfect car to learn how to drive a stick. It was effortless to snap through the gears and within two minutes I had forgotten I was driving a stick.

The C30 has a turbocharged version of Volvo's T5 5 cylinder engine pumping out 227 hp and 236 lbs ft. torque. I would have thought this cars power to weight ratio would equal quite a little screamer. On paper the C30's stats are impressive, but I honestly have to say this car did not feel quick. In fact it felt sluggish. I won't say there was any turbo lag because it didn't even feel like it had a turbo. Everything about this car felt mediocre. Handling was ok, breaking was ok, interior room was ok, fit and finish was ok. It was all so middle of the road it’s hard to really write about this car. One thing I can write about was the air conditioning. Granted it was a blistering hot Florida day, but after 10 minutes of driving on full blast, the air conditioning was barely cool. Towards the end of my test ride I only had one thought in mind... "Get me out of this car!"

Maybe I am being a bit harsh because the heat was making my temper flair. This car just wasn't what I expected it to be. Volvo has made a great attempt with this car. It looks cool, it's a sleek and different design. But, once again I have to point out that although the base MSRP for the C30 is around $22,000, the car I test drove was over $30,000!!! As it stands Volvo has some catching up to do if they want to compete with VW. It’s a good start, but in my opinion, going toe to toe against the heavyweight champ GTI leaves the C30 with a black eye and a bloody nose.

For more info on the Volvo C30 click here "Volvo C30"

Check out Fifth Gear's review of the Volvo C30

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Search for my next car... 2008 Mercedes-Benz C300 test ride review

Let me start this post by saying, Mercedes-Benz has always been one of my favorite auto makers. Mercedes has been a leader in innovation during its entire long history. The 126 chassis 500 series cars are one of my favorites of all time. Mercedes-Benz should be at the top of my list for my next car right? Well.. no. Years ago the 190E Mercedes always had a solid place in the Mercedes line up. It never seemed like an entry level car to me. Seeing a 190E on the road always made me think "oh cool.. check out that 190" not .. that's the cheapest Mercedes you can buy. The old C class became such a lease special car.. I can't seem to drive all but 30 seconds without seeing one. The last generation C class really turned into "the cheapest Mercedes." And if you really optioned one out.. the price was touching the E class range.. so who in their right mind would not just get the benchmark E class? That said, I know 2 people who have the last generation C class. I have driven both cars.. (both are sport models, one has the Kompressor 4 cylinder). They have had no problems with these cars... And no complaints whatsoever. But, that's really not the point I'm trying to make here.

When I heard the totally redesigned Mercedes-Benz C Class was now in showrooms, I had never even really considered looking at this car for the reasons mentioned above. While out car shopping a few weekends ago, I just happened to drive by my local Mercedes-Benz dealership and out of the corner of my eye saw the new C-Class sitting in the showroom. I just couldn't help myself.. I had to see this car up close.

Pulling into the dealership.. you really feel like you are at some Corporate office headquarters in Germany more so than a car dealership. Everything is perfect. The cars are somehow spotless, even though they are sitting outside during the rainy Florida summer. The salesmen aren't hanging outside smoking waiting for their next prey. I swear there wasn't even a fingerprint on the huge contemporary glass doors leading into the showroom. My only thought was "wow.. I'm at a Mercedes dealership."

After speaking with the very professional receptionist, I was introduced to a "Mercedes Sales Specialist." I informed the gentleman I just wanted to take a look at the new C Class and maybe get a booklet. We immediately walked over to a new C300 Sport (Mercedes has two models for the new C class.. the "Sport" and the "Luxury" at the time no Luxury models were in stock) sitting to the right of us and he gracefully opened the driver door and insisted that I have a seat. Right off the bat I noticed how much bigger this car not only looks on the outside.. but feels on the inside. I had plenty of space with room to spare for a rear passenger. It almost felt like I was in a E class. The interior redesign didn't totally strike me as leaps and bounds.. but it is definitely an improvement over the last model. This may sound silly, but the thing I was most excited about was the weight of the doors. The door felt like the commanders hatch on a tank, like a big chunk of solid steel. It felt like what a Mercedes should feel like!

After a quick once over of the cars interior, the salesman insisted I take one for a test ride. Who am I to argue..! Outside the showroom was a beautiful C300 sport in what Mercedes calls "Barolo Red" over black interior. It had an amazing (and very expensive) set of 18 inch AMG staggered wheels. The AMG package really makes this car stand out. I couldn't see myself driving this car without it.

When we pulled out of the dealership, I immediately noticed how much this car feels like a Mercedes. What do I mean? Well, its very stiff (but not uncomfortable).. very point and shoot driving. You always feel like the car is actually being controlled by some engineer on a computer, locked away in a secret room in Stuttgart. This car really is smarter than you. It's like you are simply being allowed to have some control over driving, but it will take care of the really important stuff. The breaks are amazing.. this car can stop so hard you may just end up in a different dimension. Handling is typical Mercedes, its a nice driving experience without being to much on the edge (and of course if you wanted to go to the edge, my operator in Stuttgart would probably push a button that would slap my hands and tell me "Nein!!!"). The 3.0 liter V6 is quite responsive, and its 228 hp and 221 lbs ft torque move this car out quite nicely. I can imagine this car with the 3.5 liter engine would be a screamer.

In summary its hard to even compare this car to the last generation C class. According to Mercedes this car has been 7 years in the making. This is a completely different car. It is, dare I say it, over engineering at its finest. That is what I love about Mercedes! I want my Mercedes to be engineered like one of the seven wonders! The only similarity this new C class has with the old one is once you start to option this car out it can become quite expensive. The C300 sport I drove with the AMG package and a couple more goodies was over 40k!!!!

When its all said and done, if I'm going to spend over $40,000 for a car in this class... I think I'd still pick the BMW 335.. Maybe a drive in the C350 could change my mind... another car for another day!

For more info on the new Mercedes-Benz C Class visit

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

First Thoughts: 2008 Cadillac CTS

Finally seeing the all new 2008 Cadillac CTS in person today... I must say the body redesign is stunning! Another bold and jaw dropping design by Cadillac. It really looks like nothing else on the road. I swear it has so many chrome accents you will need sunglasses to look at it in daylight. If you are looking for a escape from the predictable German and Japanese rivals, I don't think there is a bolder exterior statement than this new Caddy.

According to Cadillac's website, the 2008 CTS has some pretty cool features like an ambient lighting package, a pause/rewind DVR type function for AM/FM/Satellite radio and a curvy sweeping like dash redesign. I will say the pictures I saw of the new interior are.. eh.. well ok I guess. I just hope the biggest focus they have put on this new CTS is quality of interior materials. Having drove the older CTS.. Everything about the interior felt parts bin cheap. As much as I wanted to love the old CTS, the interior was such a turn off, I could never look past it.

This is just a short first thought on the new 2008 Cadillac CTS. If this cars overall driving experience is anything close to the new exterior design, they may have a home run with this car!! I hope to actually get to drive one soon... so look for a full review later on! - UAW Sets Strike Deadline for Negotiations With Chrysler - Business And Money | Business News | Financial News - UAW Sets Strike Deadline for Negotiations With Chrysler - Business And Money Business News Financial News

... Another sad day in the American Auto industry. First there was the recent GM strike.. Now a looming strike of Chrysler auto workers. I had really hoped Mercedes would kick start the Chrysler brand.. Add quality.. and performance.. While there were instances of a Mercedes influence.. I don't think it ever really took full effect. How Mercedes managed to cut a multi-Billion dollar profit to improve build quality... And Chrysler is barely staying afloat baffles me. The American Auto makers really need a kick start and to re-think their entire business model... better materials.. higher quality standards.. and adapting to a worldwide auto market are the only things that will save our once great American auto makers.

Monday, October 8, 2007

"Wall Poster Classics" 1985 BMW 635csi

The year was 1985... Tubbs & Crockett were all the rage... My Bedroom was riddled with posters and die-cast models of prancing horses and cars with doors that seemed like something out of a sci-fi novel. We all had our favorites... mine was the Ferrari 288 GTO... it's a car I still dream about to this day. Amidst all the over the top Italian Madness, the Germans managed to pump out Autobahn super coupes that in many ways alluded my wall as a kid. The Porsche 928, the Mercedes-Benz 560sec, the Audi Quattro and the BMW 635csi.

They didn't have doors that spun upside down and inside out. They didn't have more gills than a school of fish. And for the most part, they didn't have their own poster section at you favorite mall hangout. What they did have was powerful engines that actually worked without a $5,000 service every 1000 miles. Subtle but powerful bodies of solid German steel (and aluminum in some cases) that were built to last like a 1000 year old castle on the Rhine, not like a fragile Baroque piece sitting behind climate controlled, bullet proof glass in the Louvre. Tasteful and functional interiors. And the forefront of innovations we are just now starting to see as standard features on modern cars.

Looking back now I find myself asking.. Why didn't I have my walls plastered with 1980's German innovation? Why didn't I focus my boyhood car dreams on realistic executive coupes that the upper middle class business man could obtain? I look back on the cars now and lust after a big German coupe just as much as I did over Italian madness as a kid. These cars have proven themselves timeless. And many are still in top running order today!

The car I am going to focus on today is the infamous "Moonlighting" car. My good friends (and hopefully soon to be guest author) Beautiful 1985 BMW 635csi...

Originally introduced in 1978, the BMW 635csi was a more delicate and precise option over the brute and stiff Mercedes Coupes (another favorite.. we'll talk about them some other day). The 635csi was equipped with BMW's legendary 3.4L strait Six with 182hp and 214 lbs ft. torque. When you first slide into the taught purpose built leather sport seats, the BMW's 22 year old interior is still a fantastic place to sit. I am just amazed at some of the features that were available on this car. Central Locking, a pretty darn sophisticated computer, power seats the go pretty much every way but sideways.

Setting aside and the bells and whistles, as you crank over the silky smooth strait 6, you'll find one of the most unique exhaust notes I've ever heard. I have jokingly told the cars owner that it reminds me of a perfectly timed symphony of pots & pans. It is just precision engineering at its best! Once I got this old girl out on the road, I was immediately surprised at how light it actually feels. Every aspect of the car is scalpel precise. The suspension is notoriously BMW. Everything about this cars handling feels showroom new. I was very impressed with the breaks. They are sharp and responsive. In fact, I have driven modern cars with breaks not as good as this car.

Back to that silky smooth engine! I can imagine back in the day this car was one of the more powerful cars out there. By modern standards it isn't a screamer off the line, but mid range power is still impressive. You can tell this big coupe was built for the Autobahn. There was also the infamous M6 (again, another car for another day) which had performance on par with the supercars of the day.

This car is becoming a classic. I have watched these cars jump in value even over the past 5 years or so. That said, you can still find one of these in great shape for under $10,000. The BMW 635csi has always had a cult like following, and now more and more interest is being drawn to these old girls with the introduction of the new BMW 635. Maybe I should have put a poster of the BMW 635csi right next to my Ferrari and Lamborghini posters. It sure would have deserved that spot! A great car indeed... I can only sum this car up in two words..

"Sehr Gut!!!"

Send me your Cars!

If any reader has a cool car of their own.. and would like to submit some of their own photos, stories, or a review. Just comment to this post and I'd be happy to consider posting it on Car Test Ride!!

A pretty Cool MAZDASPEED 3 video

As a follow up to my review of the 2007 Mazdaspeed 3. Here is a pretty cool youtube video of a slightly modified MAZDASPEED 3....

Sunday, October 7, 2007

The Search for my next car.. MAZDASPEED 3 test ride review

As my second post for Car Test Ride blog... I am going to talk a bit about the quest for my next car. The lease on my 2004 Audi A4 is up in January, so I started doing a bit of new car shopping a little early. Although I must say the build quality of a German car has spoiled me, and I swore I'd only own German cars from now on, there was one car I just had to check out in person... And that car was the 2007 MAZDASPEED 3 .. When I arrived at my local Mazda dealer.. as I pulled into the customer parking area.. of course sitting right up front was a beautiful Black over Black Speed3. A quick walk around of the car and immediately I was drawn and the subtle details that makes this car stand out from the Standard Mazda 3 sport.. I loved the stance of the 18 inch alloys.. bold but not ridicules.. I loved all the little curves and bulges that make this car look like a 800 lbs gorilla bulging out of a undersized crate with a small caution sticker "BEWARE... WILD BEAST INSIDE."

After a short chat with the salesman.. I sat in the car as he ran inside to get the keys. My first thought was, although it does have some very typical Japanese build touches (the econo box orange/red gauges)... The fit and finish was quite good. Driver room was above average (Being 6'3) I found the driving position very comfortable (even though the seat was pretty much all the way back). Trunk space was very good.. and gives an added practicality bonus when considering purchasing this car.

The Salesman soon returned and we began our test ride. First impression was the exhaust was throaty.. but not the annoying coffee can rattle of some Japanese aftermarket exhausts. I will say the clutch was a bit touchy at first... and may take a bit getting used to. As we pulled onto a main road.. I immediately pushed the car to around 70% throttle shifting at about 5500rpm. Power was almost instant from the 2.3L Direct injected I4 churning out 263hp and 280 lb ft of torque.. and I noticed very little turbo lag at all. The gearbox was short and notchy.. and seemed very easy to snap the right gear. Although Mazda has put a quite complex torque steer management system in this car, it definitely hasn't alleviated all of it. It wasn't unbearable, but made me a bit more cautious on hard acceleration. Soon after testing the cars impressive power, we then got to a more twisty area of road and I think this is where this little car really comes to life! The Handling was fantastic! It's as if this car had been set up for the track, but yet they found that perfect balance of handling without a total back breaking ride. The car pulls hard out of corners with what seems just endless amounts of grip.. and aside from the torque steer.. This car definitely can handle on par with cars 3 times its price!

And speaking of price.. The "Sport" model I tested has an MSRP of just over 22K!! A giant of a car for little costs! Some dealers do have a premium mark up on these cars.. but I'm hoping the 2008 models will be more available and help keep that price point down.

In summary.. this is a great car! I would buy one in a second! I do have some more research to do such as Car Insurance rates, and resale, but there is really nothing bad I can say about it.. Although I am a die hard German car guy.. This car is definitely on my top 5 list! (well.. of cars I can actually afford)

For more info check out

Car Test Ride FIRST POST!

Well everyone.. this is my first post on Car Test Ride! I am so excited to get this blog rolling! I'm going to be posting personal reviews on Cars new & old, some great photos of cars (including a weekly spotlight of a friends amazing classic car collection!), and much more! I'll also be posting about my quest to find my next car. I'll do some short reviews of new cars I have test drove so far.. Be sure and subscribe! As I'll be posting new stuff at least a couple times a week!