MINI owners invade Niagara

David Duncan, VP of MINI of the Americas and Adam Shaver, Director of MINI Canada post at the Falls with a pair of patriotic MINIs.

David Duncan, VP of MINI of the Americas and Adam Shaver, Director of MINI Canada post at the Falls with a pair of patriotic MINIs.

From the feel good files comes the 2014 edition of MINI Invasion in the Niagara Region, where American MINI owners who were taking part in MINI Takes the States, ventured north for a fantastic day of activities at historic Fort George.

Completed in 1802, the fort was absolutely the best spot on the continent to host a meeting of American and Canadian fans of a British icon. The British army built the place, which was attacked and taken by American forces in 1813. After the Brits beat back the Americans later in the year at other locations, the Americans pretty much abandoned what is now the Canadian part of Niagara region, allowing the British to reclaim their fort.

The battlefield outside of the fort came to life yesterday with the sounds of first wave style Brit rock, from the Beatles to Sex Pistols and the Rolling Stones to The Stranglers. My kind of tunes!

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Ride along with James Hinchcliffe during crazy Mid-Ohio start

ufd start

I hate to admit it, but I rarely get the chance to sit down and watch a race on television, even though motorsports is my lifelong passion. The reality is that I spend so much of my week immersed in auto racing news and happenings, that when I am not actually at the track, I’m not likely to sit down to watch. I don’t even PVR most races now, because I just won’t watch them. It would really suck for me when cool stuff happens, but there is the internet and I don’t miss any of the cool stuff my friends do.

Long time friend of The Garage Blog, James Hinchcliffe, is one of the coolest guys on the IndyCar circuit, but he also has the worst racer’s luck of just about anyone. I have my fingers crossed that this epic march through traffic at this weekend’s race at Mid-Ohio is the beginning of some great luck.

The Mayor of Hinchtown stayed calm and had some wicked good luck on his side during this one.

Is this the rumoured Porsche Cayman 4-banger we’ve heard about?


Just the other day, as my mind rambled across random automotive topics as it is wont to do, I wondered if Porsche would ever be silly enough to re-invent the 912. Despite the sad reality that Porsche’s unpopular previous attempt at a four cylinder 911 is rising in value in today’s collectors market, the idea of a four pot 911 was poorly received the first time around.

As auto manufacturers work to improve overall fuel economy for their fleets, many are looking to smaller displacement engines, boosted by light pressure turbo chargers, to provide performance alongside economy. Porsche is not immune to this phenomenon it seems.

As recently as April, Road & Track reported that Porsche has been experimenting with flat four engines that had been installed in 991 and 981/Boxster/Cayman mules, but that the engines would not end up in a production version of the 911.
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Driven: 2014 Mercedes-Benz B-Class


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!


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!

gg_swamp rat

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


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


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

hot kitty

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

no style

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!