Driven: 2014 Mercedes-Benz B-Class

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While taking part in a recent Mercedes-Benz Canada Mastering Performance school at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park recently, I had an interesting experience with of all things, a B-Class. The event, hosted by Mercedes-Benz Durham, saw students rotate through three groups of vehicles through the afternoon. Each group had a selection of three different models, with the leading instructor in a fourth. One grouping, which may seem unlikely to the non-enthusiast public, included a B-Class along with an ML and a GL, both of which were powered by MB’s super torque-y diesel engines.

As we rotated through the three vehicles, my two driving “partners” were comparing notes and both complained that the B-Class did not belong on a race track, as it couldn’t get out of its own way. Alrighty then. Bearing in mind that both of these gents were dealership customers, taking part in their first performance driving school, I took their comments with a grain of salt as I slid behind the wheel of the family hauler.

As the lead student in this session, I used the semi standard signal of pushing the instructor to make her aware that I wanted to go faster. As the speeds picked up, I found that the B-Class was actually surprisingly adept at handling the legendary Mosport Grand Prix circuit’s elevation changes and high speed curves. It is very much a momentum machine, as one really needs to limit their use of the brakes and keep the engine spinning to exit lower speed corners with any sort of oomph.
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For Sale: 500,000th Civic ever made, a 1985 with ZERO MILES!

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I’m not sure what the back story is on this car and how it got out of Honda’s possession and into the hands of a dealer, but this is said to be the 500,000th Honda Civic ever produced. The seller has listed the silver hatch on Kijiji, which is a Canadian classifieds site that is part of the ebay empire, but without the auction action.

The fact that the car is listed for just $7,900 CDN (that is $7243.92 USD at today’s rates) makes me wonder if this is a legit sale. Surely a significant, un-driven model of Civic like this would command more on ebay for some Honda fanatic. I know a bunch of Eighties car crazy guys who would kill to own this car.

Ed Note: Brennan Baart, from the dealer who is selling the car just sent me the following details about the car.

We are an independent dealer and we have ties to the Honda store we purchased it from. They are doing a remodel and have no space for it any longer. It is a brand new 1985 honda civic. It is a benchmark car as this vehicle was the 500,000th car that honda made as per the vin number. So they pulled it off the assembly line, parked it in the showroom, painted 500,00th car on both sides as vinyl wasnt available at that time, painted on the hood 1985 and it has been in the showroom since. The car looks, drives and shows as a brand new car, its quite the conversation piece here on the lot. Let me know if we can be of further service.

Thanks for the tip Lesley!

Source: Kijiji

Watch Don Garlits break the 200 MPH barrier 50 years ago today!

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Fifty years ago today, a guy they used to call The Floridian, set off down the 1/4 mile strip at Island Dragway in Great Meadows, New Jersey. When he tripped the finish lights, Don Garlits became the first man to hit 200 MPH in the quarter. Fifty years ago! 201.34 MPH in Swamp Rat VI.

That record was not without controversy however, as Chris “The Greek” Karamesines, reportedly topped out at 204.54 in Illinois on April 4, 1960.

Garlits was and remains no stranger to breaking records, having been the first to break 170, 180, 200, 240, 250, and 270. Now, at 84 years young, Garlits is working to be the first to break 200 in an electric dragster.
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Learn your way around Daytona with Jochen Mass and Jim Pace

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The HSR folks posted this on YouTube about a month ago, and I somehow missed it. 24 Hours of Daytona winner Jim Pace narrates as Jochen Mass hauls butt around Daytona in the rain, aboard a classic Porsche 911 from the IROC series. You couldn’t have a pair of better instructors than these two.

2016 Ford Mustang SVT / GT350 caught testing at the Nürburgring

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There are some Mustang faithful that have worried that the globalization of Ford’s next generation pony car will be diluted from their vision of what a Mustang should be. Independent suspension has some concerned (while others applaud) as does talk of turbo charged four cylinder engines. We all know by now that the new GT will be properly powered by a V8 and most people seem pretty excited about the new look, but what else is coming down the pipe?

Well, for starters, it sounds like the GT350 moniker is going to make a return, with performance bumped by a dose of SVT goodies. The folks at TouriClips have caught a pair of what appear to the the 2016 Shelby GT350R model on track at the Nurburgring.

If you had any worries that the next generation might not be quite enough, this video should quell them. The flat plane crank Coyote V8, said to produce somewhere north of 500 horsepower sounds delicious.

Watch a Jaguar XJ220 burst into flames while doing a burnout

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There are those who are fortunate to be able to afford super expensive, ultra exotic, sports cars, who believe that they should be displayed and not driven. Some of these folks will bring their babies out to car shows or the occasional cruise through the ritzy part of their city before having their detailer clean them up and return them to their cocoon. Then, there are those that use them as their makers intended.

Or sometimes, not exactly how their maker intended, in the case of Tax The Rich 100. These characters have access to a wide variety of exotic cars and gleefully beat the living snot out of them while creating glorious videos of the action.

Their latest is just 57 seconds long, but in that time they manage to bring a Jaguar XJ220 to life in all its flaming glory. I’ll bet you can’t just watch it once!

Ride the “No Style” 1975 Corolla with Matt Farah

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When I was in high school, maybe about 1983-ish, I very nearly owned an absolutely perfect 1975 Toyota Corolla. It had two doors, four forward gears and a fresh coat of dark blue paint. The guy wanted $1,100 for the car, so I gave him a couple of hundred bucks deposit, the rest payable the next day when he handed me the ownership and keys. That same evening, he was rear ended by a bus. Fortunately, dude was ok, but the ‘Rolla was toast. The next morning, he gave me my cash back. That is the closest I have ever come to owning something like Mark Stil’s ride.

Of course, Stil’s machine as you can see above is absolutely nothing like the car I almost owned, with the exception of the name and outer body shell. Stil used his skills as a Hollywood movie set fabricator to jamb the dirty bits of a Lexus SC400 underneath a ’75 ‘Rolla. Oh, and a supercharger.

Then, he let my old buddy Matt Farah, from The Smoking Tire loose in the thing on a canyon road. Lucky bastard.

I do have to say that if there is anyone who looks almost as ridiculous as me behind the wheel of a tiny car, it is Farah!

BMW M3 driver attacks Lebanese hill climb

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There are those who think they can drive, those who can drive and then there are those who are fast. You could say that Garo Haroutiounian falls into the latter category.

Watch in awe as this dude tears up the Falougha hill climb in Lebanon.

Source: YouTube via Jalopnik

Red Bull Global Rallycross Hits Home

… The home of the Islanders, that is. Red Bull Global Rallycross set up camp at Long Island’s Nassau Coliseum on the weekend of July 19-20. Just outside of New York City outerborough borders, the overcast Sunday finals saw some exciting racing as well as some shocking disappointments for quite a few drivers. The New York course was very similar to last year’s Championship in Las Vegas with the Joker Lap on the turn just after the table jump, but a bit tricky for the drivers that had driven the Vegas course as it was a bit wider.

Red Bull Global Rallycross in New York

Aussie Sarah Burgess debuted over the weekend in a Chevy Sonic, but some mechanical issues ultimately kept her from racing on Sunday. Hyundai’s Emma Gilmour didn’t make the finals via the Last Chance Qualifier, though team mate Rhys Millen raced in the final. After the United States National Anthem was sung by Ken Block’s trainer Kit Cope, the Supercars were ready to go.

Red Bull Global Rallycross in New York

Before the first lap was even half finished, a group of cars got banged around before the table jump and Olsbergs MSE’s Patrik Sandell in a Ford Fiesta got the worst of it. The red flag came out, and all drivers went back to the pits. Sandell had too much damage to continue. [Read more...]

Still hope for the Nissan IDX concept

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Call me jaded, but it has been a very long time since I have seen a concept car that had me literally begging the manufacturer to build it. At last Fall’s Tokyo Auto Show, I actually begged Nissan’s global VP of design to build the car. I put my Platinum Visa on the table and told him to take a deposit. I want Nissan to build the iDX NISMO that badly.

The fact that they brought BRE Datsun leader, designer and photographer extraordinaire to the party just sweetened the pot.

The problem is that we haven’t heard much about the iDX since those buggers at R&T actually drove one of the concepts earlier this year.

Peter Brock and iDX designer Peter Beasley

Peter Brock and iDX designer Peter Beasley

There was a story floating around a couple of weeks ago that the project has been shelved, but Matt Campbell at Car Advice spent some time with Nissan VP of product development, Keno Kato, who shot that story down. Sort of.

“That’s a funny story around iDX. Andy [Palmer] said it’s under way, and Pierre Liong, head of product planning in Nissan North America said it’s not so feasible. But Pierre Liong is under me, and Andy is my boss.” Kato told Campbell.

In fact, Kato’s message echos what I was told when he said: “It is under preparation and development. [The project is] 50/50 until some milestone to decide ‘go!’”, however he suggested that by ‘go’ he meant that the car would be further assessed in terms of the profits required, the investment needed and securing the manufacturing sight.”

So, it sounds like there is still hope. If Kato’s thoughts on pricing become reality, then I will happily plunk down my Visa again!