Category Archives: Sports Car

America’s Original Pony Car – Ford Mustang

Ford Mustang Bullitt MP002 Experience on the Queer4Cars YouTube Channel

We got to take a 2019 Ford Mustang Bullitt on the road for a week, here is our story:

Front of Ford Mustang Bullitt MP002 at the American Muscle Mustang Show 2019

The energy and momentum are strong for the American Original Pony Car, the Ford Mustang and nowhere more pronounced than at a gathering of Mustang enthusiasts like the American Muscle 2019 Mustang Gathering held at Maple Grove Dragway in Berks County Pennsylvania.

American Muscle Mustang Man 2019This annual event has been running for a dozen years, and while it is produced by an aftermarket product supplier, American Muscle, you would think it would be all about selling stuff. While there is plenty of commerce going on, it is more of a backdrop to the role that the enthusiasts play, and it is all done with the focus on the Make A Wish Foundation. With more than three thousand Mustangs on hand, mostly late-model, but a few of the 1980’s forward. And only a handful of earlier generation models in the display parking fields, you can feel the love that each owner has in their vehicle.

Ford Mustangs at American Muscle Mustang Show 2019

American Muscle is the perfect spot to learn more about the owner culture, and Ford put me in a 2019 Mustang Bullitt to attend the event, which resulted in Specialty Parking Pass, so we were right up front and center of this festival of pony cars. Here the Dark Highland Green V8 powered muscle machine was surrounded by thirty or so highly vetted Mustangs each selected because of their outstanding features, that only true aficionados recognized. We were parked in the middle of the carnival mid-way between the Dyno Runs, and the drag strip, and just down from the vendor booths and on the way to the food lane.

Something that was not surprising is that Mustang owners are very particular who works on their car. Ford Motor Company shared with us that it is very hard to get owners to even bring their Mustang in for the airbag recall as they are concerned about damage to their car.

Front of Ford Mustang Bullitt MP002 at the American Muscle Mustang Show 2019

I found that the owners of these vehicles are friendly and willing to share tips and show off their modifications, some vendor purchased, some like the GT350 next to me, whose bearded owner was so concerned that his air filter would get debris in the creases, he carefully planned and quite professionally fitted pantyhose around it. I kidded him throughout the day about his Pantyhose Performance Upgrade.  He admitted he was to shy to buy the nylons himself, so he sent his girlfriend to Walmart with very specific instructions on brand and color to buy.  After that, I saw other applications of air filter covers that were nowhere near as neat and clean. And it prompted me to look at the filter on MP002; it was a good thing I did not open the hood at the show, it would have been embarrassing as its filter was not debris free.

Justin Dugan from American Muscle with Mustang Owners

Who are the owners of Mustangs?

Well, they are as American as the original pony car itself.  Being summer, this event was not any different than being at the local sandlot baseball diamond or neighborhood park for basketball. Mustang Owners are as American as they come, Canadian too. They traveled from all over for this single model gathering, just to be with each other. While the auto enthusiast community tends toward the male, there was no shortage of women in attendance, and with their cars — all age groups, just about as much of the melting pot that is the USA.

Ford Mustangs of every color at American Muscle Mustang Show 2019

Mustangs of Every color, and trim level.

Special award opportunities with several judged classes, as well as the chance to put private vehicles on the Dyno to see if the work over the winter and those mods had increased horsepower.  The drag strip where both parade laps and hot laps were a part of the scene. Event non-Mustang, Jet Engine dragsters loudly blew down the strip at great speed.

American Muscle Mustang Show 2019 had an amazing amount of bargains

Shopping, Shopping, Shopping

Vendors of every kind that cater to enthusiasts of the Mustang, from wheels, and suspension to exhaust and other specialty parts. Tee-shirts to tires. American Muscle had a huge tent that featured its scratch and dent, or one of a kind items in classic flea market setting. Piled high on tables for people to paw through looking for that special bargain. A buddy of the owner of the GT500 parked next to me came back announcing a great deal on tires and wheels, and they debated if indeed he should spend for a set when he had the stock set in his garage.  I still have my eye on an American Muscle Stick Shift T-Shirt, that I should have bought while there, as the price was better than it is to be bought online and shipped.

 

 

 

Why Ford Mustang?

The Mustang was a major twentieth-century turning point from a post-war automotive world. That sent those who bought one headed into what would become the space age. Back then, the young demographic coming of age was looking for their car, not one with fins or holes in its side, like their parents. They were looking for a sportiness that provided them seating four with enough room to carry something in the trunk.  Ford had eked out an unattractive low-end uninspired compact car for the masses as the decade began, with a slightly more modern chassis and power plant. Simple and cheap to operate this became the base on which those first Mustangs were built on.

As the decade marched on, and the modern war in Viet Nam became its signature, the Mustang became an escape for many who wanted something with power and sport styling. By the end of the decade, Mustang muscles bulged in size and horsepower. With the early 70’s they were large and all-powerful competing with the Camaro, AMX Javelin, and numerous Dodge and Plymouth muscle cars. Peculiar foreign cars were now starting to take the eye to get a strong foothold on US shores. What grew more than anything else was the car culture, with cars, were becoming stars in their own right. And on the big screen, they played a role equal to that of the male star. Men found that being identified with certain cars defined who they were, with that product placement became a Madison Avenue man’s marketing dream.  Racing movies and stars like Paul Newman and others were billboard legends. From a little VW beetle to the roaring Ford Mustang in Bullitt. Woody wagon beach buggies and

Then in the 1970s, the US was hit hard with gas rationing and sky-rocking prices. Drivers saw dollar signs on a gallon of gas when just months before a dollar would increase by several gallons, looked too small econoboxes and Japanese cars ruled the roads. Ford quickly downsized the Mustang, and by the 1980s it had right-sized with the debut of the long-lived Fox-body Mustang. As the 1990s loomed, US automotive companies partnered with foreign ones. Ford and Mazda began the process of a joint build in the same American factory.  The mere idea of this travesty whipped Mustang owners and enthusiasts into a frenzy, sending hate mail to Dearborn.  Ford quickly realized that Mustang was not to be toyed with, and with Mustang owners revolting at the thought of a Mazda shared platform for their beloved car quickly brought forth a new model, the Ford Probe.

2019 Ford Mustang Bullitt MP002

Bullitt MP002

Our 2019 test vehicle was an early prototype dark highland green production number MP002 (Bullitt’s are numbered, and owners are very aware of that.) It only had two options a $2,100 Bullitt Electronics Package, and the $1,695 MagneRide dampening system, bringing the $46,595 price up to $51,485 with the $1095 destination and delivery fee. The other option would have been the RECARO® Leather-trimmed Front Sport Seats a $1595 option. Not a great option for a touring car, but if you spent a lot of time at the track with it, a great choice.

2019 Ford Mustang Bullitt MP002This is not a car that you just get in and drive. You are in the know of what is going on at all times, not just because the 5.0 L TI-VCT V8 engine and 6-Speed Manual transmission with the white cue ball shift knob, gave the car a lot of heft and power.  Which was apparent in low-speed situations, not an easy car to drive in the city as you never could unleash it, and this car wants to run. The shifting was surprisingly easy, even with the very strong clutch. The Bullitt was a blast on the highway, but where it was the most fun is the twisty back roads.

Outside the Bullitt is not blingy at all, if you did not know what it was, you might just think it was another Mustang. No question on the line, but no pony insignia (except on the projection puddle light at night that puts a Mustang on the ground by your door. Only the Bullitt button in the center of the rear, where at one time would have been a gas cap. The other add on was the hood Louvers, which looked good, but did nothing to enhance air into the engine.

No Way To Be  A Quiet PlayBoy

2019 Mustang Bullitt MP002 RearOf course, it’s classic fastback design is recognizably mustang.  Where the attention comes is when you fire it up, with the gurgle and growl of the engine, which brought out every male within range. Supposedly there is a quiet setting in the active valve exhaust, though I never found it. And I heard from my neighbors they or their dogs, knew when it was coming or going.  And the rumble of the five-liter engine is as much a part of the Mustang Lifestyle as anything. Not a loud, obnoxious blast, but a very seductive growl is pure Ford Mustang.

Ride and Drive Experience

2019 Ford Mustang Bullitt MP002 InteriorInside it seats four in comfortable dark highland green leather-trimmed with accent stitching, heated and cooled front bucket seats. A 6-way power driver’s seat with power lumbar control, and a 6-way power front-passenger seat and two tightly in the 50/50 split-bench folding rear seat. The ride was strong, smooth, and balanced with the available MagneRide® Damping System which responds one thousand times per second. MagneRide® is a trademarked technology of BWI Group. Between the seats and the BULLITT Electronics Package that includes: B&O Play™ Premium Audio System by HARMAN  which is a 12Speakers with a trunk-mounted subwoofer system that includes a CD Player, HD Radio™ and includes a five (5)-year prepaid subscription to SiriusXM, it was great for long drives.

I thought this was a sports car…. But I am becoming a fan of  Ambient Lighting Voice-Activated Touchscreen Navigation System with SiriusXM Traffic and Travel Link® not to mention the with the BLIS® (Blind Spot Information System) with Cross-Traffic Alert (CTA)

 

You Ain’t Going anywhere Quietly

2019 Ford Mustang Bullitt Center Console Switches

 

The class-exclusive* active valve performance exhaust lets you control the volume of the Mustang exhaust. I tried my best to set it for Quiet Start, needless to say, that was no fun, so setting it for normal, custom, Sport or the Track setting. Speaking of Trac, it even comes with Track Apps Even if you never take it to a racecourse.

 

 

 

Overall

Mustangs in lineup for American Muscle 2019 at Morgantown Holiday Inn HotelThis was one of my favorite press cars that I have had over the past six years getting them. It got more attention than any car except the Lexus LC500h, and that was just women. Everyone wanted to drive this pony.  Mustangs are an American institution, no matter what you get from the basic stripped-down model to the Shelby GT500 (and that is a dream come true) you will be celebrating modern American automobiles.  (as we work on this story, the Father of the Mustang Lee Ioccoca passed away. It was his vision of what consumers wanted in a fun and useable car that made this line of vehicles possible, Interesting that as Ford phases out passenger cars from the US Market, the Mustang is not going away anytime soon.

BULLITT© and all related characters and elements are done so under Copywrite © and trademark ™ Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. (s18)

Words and Images by William West Hopper

William West Hopper, VIP Tour Guide at the 2019 Washington DC Auto Show. Photo by Bonnie M. Moret
William West Hopper, VIP Tour Guide at the 2019 Washington DC Auto Show. Photo by Bonnie M. Moret

Mr. Hopper, is a life-long automobile enthusiast, growing up not far from the Maple Drove Dragway in Southeastern Pennsylvania.  This was a trip down memory lane in many ways for him. WWH is currently the President of the Washington Automotive Press Association, a 250 member strong group of automotive professionals.

AM2019 American Muscle Mustang Show Specialty Parking PassThe week-long use of the Mustang Bullitt was provided by Ford Motor Company and NAVS DC to attend the American Muscle Mustang show.  We covered our own costs for fuel, lodging (though Turn5 offered to cover that expense, it has not been reimbursed as of this writing.) Turn 5 did invite us to attend and provided us $11 in food vouchers and the Specialty Parking Pass for the Paddock area.  This report and accompanying video were not produced for payment, but for editorial purposes only.

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ich bitte um Aufmerksamkeit – The 2020 Toyota GR Supra

May I Have Your Attention Please

The 2020 Toyota GR Supra

It’s a Z4 No, It’s a Toyota, No, it’s a BMW,

No, it Really is a Toyota

Check out our YouTube Video on the new 2020 Toyota Supra

 

2020 Toyota GR Supra LineupWhen the word came out that the iconic sports car from Toyota was going to be made along with BMW as a partner, you would have thought the most horrible thing could have ever happened in the world of autos.

 

BMW Toyota LogosThe Elephant in the Garage is that YES. Indeed, The Japanese and the Germans teamed up to bring America a couple of sports cars. For me, after driving the new 2020 GR Supra, is really a great sports car, with great design, super handling and all at a reasonable price.  I have since driven the BMW Z4, and it too is a nice. As a droptop, BMW is very different from Toyota’s hardtop iteration.  It is not Toyota has never teamed up with other car companies in the past.  Corolla and Prism, joint venture, yep that one built in Freemont California, where electric cars are now, made. BRZ and FRS/86 with Subaru, as well as one coming up with Mazda. Supra, a small batch production, so making it with BMW, using the Magna Steyr plant in Austria, makes sense from a business point of view.   Personally, I think we are going to be better for collaboration between the two companies.

 

Toyota GR Supra and Toyota 86 parked outside Salamander Resort in Middleburg VALuckily,  I found myself on the international media launch in May after Toyota selected group of Washington DC area auto journalists for an up close, and a personal sneak peek of the 2020 Supra in March.  Though the GR Supra was on display at various auto shows, no one had the chance to get behind the wheel of it until the May media event.  My verdict is, no matter where it is made, or who collaborated with whom, drivers around the world will love this new 2020 Supra sports car from Toyota.

 

Do you want another four-door sedan? 

Toyota Supra RearToyota has a history of making cars for everyday people, the brand has not been thought of as a producer of exciting cars, let alone sports cars, though it does have a history of producing outstanding ones. The European inspired Toyota 2000 car in the 1960s, the 2-door Celica in the ’70s, a throwback to the first Ford Mustang. The upper tier Supra of the 1980s and last produced in 1993 that sold for a $50K price tag when new.

While Trucks, SUV’s, crossovers, minivans, and sedans are the mainstay of the Toyota brand. The word exciting is not often used in the same sentence as Toyota. Akio Toyoda has publicly stated “No more boring cars” at the launch of the recent generation Camry, the company is moving forward with that mantra, across their entire platform of products, which for drivers, is going to be worth something.

 

What’s the new Supra Got?

Toyota Supra in SuburbiaA winning combination of a well-engineered and expertly designed vehicle that drives and handles like a sports car.  One that will be as good as a weekend racer as it will be as a daily driver. And one that will not rattle your bones on those long-distance drives.  While getting in and out of it may take some yoga lessons, but this 60-plus found it easy, once inside the car feels right. Seats are extremely comfortable with 14-way adjustability.  GR Supra has all the technology and safety that you find in many Toyota products as well as more expensive cars on the road. And with the power and performance that will provide all the fun that only a GT car can.  This car took me back to a time when I did not need four seats or four doors.

 

Three Trim Levels

Dash of Toyota SupraThe 2020 Supra comes in three trim levels, the Base 3.0, the better equipped 3.0 Premium, and what Toyota kept calling the Track Edition, a limited run of 1500 units, the 3.0 Launch Edition.  There are only a few options available like $1,495 matte finish paint on the nitrous yellow and phantom, a silver. Driver Assist Package is a $1195 option including full-speed adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitor, rear cross traffic alert and parking sonar, $2460 upgraded JBL entertainment and navigation on the 3.0 grade: 8.8-inch wide-format touchscreen display with Navigation, Supra Connect telematics services, wireless Apple CarPlay, premium 12-speaker, 500 Watt JBL audio system.

Why those options? Toyota sees this as a weekend racer for many of its buyers, and items like upgraded nav | stereo, and driver assistance package may not be that useful on the track or autocross.

My take is most buyers will want to put all the tech and safety into the 3.0 premium package, especially since it adds a lot of value for the money.

Supra Pricing and trim levels

2020 Supra Pricing

Pricing is based on equipment, with the base 3.0 – 49,990 – 3.0 Premium – $53,990 – Launch Edition (track edition) $55,250 (only 1500 available) – Does not include a $920, DPH Fee (delivery, process, and handling) nor any dealer charges. Toyota sees the base model as a weekend track car, so it comes without much of what equipment that the Premium and Launch Editions have, as they are seen more as on road daily drivers.

With the initial fifteen hundred of the launch edition already spoken for, there will no doubt be a dealer upcharge to buy one initially. Dealer premiums on cars are something that I personally despise, and customers who want one of these cars will pay to just be able to have the vehicle.

 

Colors

2020 Toyota Supra ColorsEven the colors show that Toyota is backing the No More Boring Cars statement. Absolute Zero, Tungsten, Turbulence Gray, Nocturnal, Renaissance Red 2.0, Downshift Blue, For an additional charge  Nitro Yellow, and Phantom are available. Phantom is a flat finish option that really looks good on the Supra. Interiors have the choice of Interior Black Alcantara & Leather on 3.0 or all Black Leather on Premium and Launch edition (except on the Renaissance Red.

 

Powertrain and Running Gear

2020 Toyota Supra with hatch openAll trim levels of the 2020 GR Supra are powered by a twin-scroll turbocharged 3-liter (2998 cc) 24 valve Double Overhead Cam direct injection gasoline (93 octanes) engine with 8-speed automatic transmission. This performance engine has a chain drive, variable valve timing and lift, producing 335 horsepower and 365 lb of torque and is certified as a ULEV. Fuel mileage is what you would expect for a performance car in the size and a curb weight of  3397: 24 city, 31 highway 26 combined miles per gallon. 13.7-gallon fuel capacity.

2020 GR Supra Premium in RedSupra’s suspension is double joint type MacPherson strut in front and rear multi-link with five-arm construction with front and rear stabilizer bars.  Electric Power Steering and parking brake, which is the norm these days with all the driver assist functions. And Brembo Brakes front and rear are very apparent, with a 4-piston fixed front, single piston floating calipers rear.

 

Standard features

Toyota Supra App
Use the app to manage the 2020 Toyota GR Supra

Inside the Supra you will find the 8.8-inch color, LCD gauge cluster has a more analog look than a digital one, which is impressive. The 14- way power driver and passenger Sport bucket seats with driver side memory are incredibly comfortable for a sports car and come in Alcantara/Leather or All leather depending on the trim level. Dual automatic climate control, leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, cruise control, and paddle shifters. A very well-done carbon fiber interior trim finishes the interior.

2020 Toyota GR SupraOutside you will find the Supra running on the 9-inch-wide front, 10-inch-wide rear forged aluminum wheels (different finish on different trim levels, though the wheels, are essentially the same design.) running 19-inch Michelin Pilot Super Sport Tires 255/35R19 96W Front 275/35R19 100Y Rear.  No Spare you receive a puncture repair kit.  Active exhaust which means it has a lot of audible personality with burbles and pops exits through dual brushed stainless steel tips.  The exhaust burble will not get old on this car as it does on others. The GR Supra features LED lamps all the way around.

The multi-function smart key a bit light in heft and felt that for a specialty car like this, it could use a little more flash and substance.

All of this is within the Supra’s 172.5 inches in length / 73-inch width and the 50.9 inch height and 4.5 inch ground clearance means it is close to the ground, and with the 50/50 weight balance between the 62.8 inch front and 62.6 inch rear tread width it seats 2 with an interior volume of 50.9 cubic feet. And you don’t need rear seats; it’s a sports car.

Warranty

2020 Toyota GR Supra in flat finishToyota’s GR Supra comes with a standard 3-year/36K-mile comprehensive and a 5-year/6K-mile power train warranty. A 5-year unlimited mileage corrosion perforation warranty is also provided. ToyotaCare – Toyota’s complimentary maintenance plan that comes with every new Toyota provides for two-years or 25K miles, whichever comes first. Every new Toyota will be covered for all standard factory scheduled service as well as 24/7 roadside assistance.

BWM or Toyota

20190516_103635Since driving the GR Supra, an opportunity came up to drive the BMW twin the Z4 sDrive30i, which comes with a 2.0-liter twin turbo inline 4-cylinder, 16-valve engine. A soft top convertible priced at $63,845.

 

BMW Z4 Dash
BMW Z4 Dash is clearly different than the GR Supra

While the dash has a similar look, the exterior does not have the muscular lines the Supra has. More feminine in feel than the Supra, having the smaller engine, while capable did not have the spunk of the Supra’s nor did it sound as audacious as the Supra.  While they maybe fraternal twins, the two vehicles are indeed very different, as a hardtop and Cabrio can indeed be.

Thanks, Toyota

IMG_2733We thank Toyota for providing me an opportunity to get to know the new Supra over a day at Summit Point Motorsports Park in Summit Point WV, as well as hosting meals and lodging. Toyota did not provide any compensation for this review.

 

20190222_115044

 

Words and Images by William West Hopper

Officer Matt, Pulls Over To Test New Autos

5/16/2019 – 2019 Spring Brake  –  Bear Mountain State Park, Bear Mountain, New York.

Automotive Rally Tents

Upon arrival, approximately 50 different vehicles were grouped by manufacturer. Prior to arrival, I surveyed the list of cars and formulated a plan that would maximize my time to test drive as many vehicles as I could by 1530.

 

 

Officer Matt and the 2019 Acura NSXThe first vehicle driven was Acura’s NSX. Luckily, my teammate had secured a reservation to be the first test driver of this $190K Supercar. By far the most anticipated drive of the day and the NSX did not disappoint.  The sheer power of the car and its ability to stick to the road like glue was absolutely amazing, producing goosebumps on my arms and chills down my spine. The fit and finish were very luxurious. The seats and steering wheel felt as if they were designed specifically for me. The exterior was a statement of beauty with artfully designed curves and creases precisely where they needed to be placed as if Michelangelo himself designed the shell. Everywhere you drove, heads turned to look and listen.

 

2019 GMC Sierra Denali Pickup Truck climing a gravel hill
2019 GMC Sierra Denali Pickup Truck is almost too pretty to take offroad.

The rest of the day was spent testing vehicles ranging from compact sedans to full-size trucks. A notable appearance was the GMC Sierra Denali 1500. As luxurious and useful as a truck could be, it fell short when compared to similar trucks in its class due to the lack of adaptive cruise control and lane keeping assist. The “revolutionary” new tailgate was cumbersome to use after spending ten minutes trying to figure it out.

 

Red 2019 Acura TLX A-Spec
2019 Acura TLX A-Spec made on the same production line as the NSX.

Another vehicle that got my attention was the Acura TLX A-Spec with SH-AWD. This upscale sport sedan had never even registered on my radar as a vehicle that would impress me. Boy, was I ever wrong, as soon as I stepped into the vehicle, the interior design was subtle yet sporty and luxurious all at the same time. Every button and switch was placed exactly where it needed to be. The operating system was incredibly easy to figure out. The sound system was incredible when compared to other

2019 Acura TLX A-Spec Dash
Acura TLX Interior every button and switch was placed exactly where it needed to be.

higher-end luxury vehicles. The mix of leather and suede on the heated and cooled seats, perfectly proportioned. Outside, the pearl coat of burgundy paint complemented the aggressive exterior styling cues perfectly. To finish off, the exterior was a gorgeous set of black rims. I kept finding myself wandering back to the TLX throughout the day, admiring it. At a price of just around $44K for a fully optioned top of the line, model forced me to see how affordable and attainable the Acura really is. I found myself smiling not only while behind the wheel, and even now, each time I think of it.

 

Genesis G90 Parked in front of a rock face
Genesis G90 a worthy competitor to the Mercedes-Benz S class and BMW 7 series.

 

Genesis G90 rear seat controls provide access to the entire entertainment system, climate control, navigation, and audio system.
Genesis G90 rear seat controls provide access to the entire entertainment system, climate control, navigation, and audio system.

The final vehicle that commanded my attention was the Genesis G90. A worthy competitor to the Mercedes-Benz S class and BMW 7 series. Sliding into the rear seat is like entering a private jet. The G90 is a vehicle to be driven around in, not just drive.  Rear seat controls provide access to the entire entertainment system, climate control, navigation, and audio system.  With heated and cooled rear seats, the only thing missing was a massage function. The rear passenger seat had a single button that would turn the seat into a fully functioning lounger, sliding the front seat all the way forward and down towards the dash to allow the rear occupant to stretch out. Feeling as if you were enveloped in an incredibly soft sofa and could easily take a nap.

 

 

Genesis G90 Dash view from rear seat.
Genesis G90 provides a multitude of driving assistance options, and they are phenomenal.

The G90 driver experience was just as luxurious, minus the rear passenger lounge seat. With a quick and responsive engine propelling the car forward from a dead stop to 60mph with barely an effort, and with minimal noise. Genesis provides a multitude of driving assistance options, and they are phenomenal. The lane keep assist and nearly autonomous driving assistant made driving even on twisty mountain roads a breeze.

 

 

Rear of the Genesis G90
Classic Design makes the Genesis G90 a worthy competitor.

At the cost of almost $20,000 to $30,000 below what one would pay for a comparable S Class or 7 Series. The only reason I can think of why wouldn’t you want a G90 before one of its competitors would be the brand badge bragging rights. Perhaps it was wise of Genesis to distance their flagship vehicle from the Hyundai line, creating a new image to compete with Mercedes and BMW.

 

Reflecting on a day driving more than 25 vehicles, this was my first automotive journalist rally,  and for me, it was a resounding success.

Words by Corporal Matthew Rihl,
Photos by William West Hopper
Corporal Matthew Rihl is a Field Training Officer and member of the Honor Guard with a local Virginia police department in Virginia.
Corporal Matthew Rihl is a Field Training Officer and member of the Honor Guard with a local Virginia police department.
Corporal Matthew Rihl has served the public for 15-years with a local county police department in Virginia. In addition, he is also a Field Training Officer and a member of the Honor Guard. Officer Matt is a vital member of the LGBT Fallen Heroes Fund, which its sole purpose is to honor surviving partners and family members of LGBT police, fire, EMS and the military who have been killed in the line of duty during a special ceremony during National Police Memorial Week every year in Washington, DC.

 

Spring Brake is put on by the International Motor Press Association for professional automotive journalist members, offering them the chance to experience many different vehicles in one day. Membership and an entry fee are required to participate. Neither Matthew nor William were compensated for their time or reviews of any automobiles.

Ford Shelby Cobra GT500 All Muscles and Mustang for 2020

Watch our YouTube Video – 2020 Ford Mustang Shelby Cobra GT500 Walk around with Melvin Betancourt Chief Designer with Ford  https://youtu.be/THPLarS74QQ

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2020 Ford Mustang Shelby Cobra GT500 with Jim Owens from Ford Motor Company’s Performance Division.

 

 

 

Carroll Shelby is as iconic as the Ford Mustang itself, and his legend lives on with the ford mustang cobra front end2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500. For 2020 the engineers and performance fanatics at Ford Motor Company have put more power, performance, and agility into the factory-built Shelby GT500. Making it the most advanced high-performance Mustang GT500 ever in the history of this very limited production vehicle from Ford Motor Company.

ford mustang desgner betancourt and marketing manager owensWe got a very VIP preview of this supercharged 5.2-liter V8 producing more than 700 horsepower pony car from both Melvin Betancourt, the Cobra’s designer and Jim Owens, Marketing Manager for Ford Performance.  And learned that the Shelby Cobra GT500 is capable of a mid-three-second 0-60mpg and sub-11-second quarter mile scores. While the Ford team could not confirm things like horsepower, they were still improving on that, production numbers or selling price. They could share with us that this Mustang will have some amazing road track times because of improved handling and cornering, very quick stopping times, with the largest Brembo Brakes ever on a Mustang. Zero to 60 numbers that are less than 3 seconds a quarter mile in less than eleven seconds.

Yes, a Mustang Cobra that will be even faster off the line, on the drag strip, a twisty road course, or the interstate than ever before.  All this power is brought to you by the same team at Ford, that has brought us the Ford GT and Mustang GT4 racing programs.

 

Exterior Design

ford mustang cobra 67 and 20While you will know it is a Mustang from the classic body at first glance, when you get up close you will see that it has slight differences, more muscular in the haunches, brawnier custom Brembo Brakes, the largest ever grill and hood vent, special Michelin tires, and a choice of spoilers.  Betancourt told us how his team worked with the lines to increase the downforce and maximize thermal management, engine, exhaust, and brake cooling all the while working with a performance race-tuned active chassis. New colors for 2020 include Red Hot, Twister Orange, and Iconic Silver. The Shelby GT500 has an optional black painted roof and painted stripes are available.

melvin betancourt with ford mustang cobraMelvin Betancourt, Ford design manager, shared with us that the front grille opening and massive hood vent provide more cooling airflow “Every millimeter of Shelby GT500’s fastback design is aimed at improving performance,” “Like 007, he looks good in his tux, but he can kick your butt.”

 

5.2 Liter Supercharged Engine

engine_c3Ford has put the most powerful street-legal V8 engine to date into the GT500 with a hand-built supercharged 5.2-liter aluminum alloy engine. To keep the intake air cooler and deliver a lower center of gravity, the team inverted a 2.65-liter roots-type Eaton supercharger with air-to-liquid intercooler tucked neatly in the V8 engine valley. Weight-saving wire-arc cylinder liners and high-flow aluminum cylinder heads, plus larger forged connecting rods, improved lubrication, and cooling passages. Beneath that, a structural oil pan adds strength, reduces vibration, and features a patented active baffle system to keep oil where it’s needed. To channel power and torque to the transmission Ford uses a unique carbon fiber driveshaft.

 

Transmission – Dual Clutch Automatic

20190110_104626A Mustang without the option of a manual transmission may seem like sacrilege to some, Ford Performance leveraged learnings from the tuning of its Ford GT supercar’s dual-clutch transmission with this TREMEC® 7-speed capable of shifts in under 100 milliseconds – markedly faster than any manual gearbox. Designed for a number of drive modes, including normal, weather, sport, drag and track, and activates features like line-lock and launch control through selectable Track Apps.

 

 

Suspension, Wheels, Brakes, and Tires – all dialed in by Ford Performance

2020 Shelby GT500 Carbon Fiber Wheel Brembo Brake Michelin Tire
2020 Shelby GT500 Carbon Fiber Wheel Brembo Brake Michelin Tire

Shelby GT500 takes advantage of revised suspension geometry, a new electronic power steering unit and lighter-weight coil springs front and rear. Next-generation active MagneRideTM suspension along with the latest in advanced drive mode technologies from Ford Performance. provides the highest-ever lateral acceleration from a Mustang for greater track performance and driver control.

Getting power to the asphalt means that Ford has brought cutting-edge active chassis technology to the forefront with custom Ford Performance-spec Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires and more aggressive Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires feature unique compounds and tread. Brembo® brakes with six-piston calipers and massive custom 16-5-inch (420-millimeter) two-piece rotors – the largest of any domestic sports coupe provide track-ready stopping power. With more than 30 percent additional thermal mass in the front corners.

 

Handling Packages

Shelby GT500 offers an available handling package with adjustable strut top mounts and spoiler with Gurney flap. Racetrack rats will appreciate the available Carbon Fiber Track Package features exposed 20-inch carbon fiber wheels with 0.5-inch-wider rear wheels (11.5-inch), custom Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires, adjustable exposed carbon fiber GT4 track wing and splitter wickers with integrated dive plane.

 

Inside More craftsmanship, technology and driver comfort

steering wheel for the 2020 ford mustang cobraShelby GT500’s purpose-built cockpit boasts race-inspired premium materials and unique finishes. Premium touchpoints include an available exposed carbon fiber instrument panel appliqué and new door panel inserts in Dark Slate Miko® suede with accent stitching. Available Recaro racing seats with firm side bolstering and pass-throughs for safety harnesses offer the highest level of performance. For those looking for even greater comfort, power-adjustable seating with Miko suede inserts is offered. A rear seat is deleted to reduce weight for those who are truly looking at competition driving.

The all-new Shelby GT500 picks up a 12-inch full-color LCD instrument cluster, while a high-performance custom-tuned 12-speaker B&O® Play premium audio system is available. All of this is controlled via an 8-inch SYNC® 3 touch screen featuring SiriusXM and FordPass ConnectTM.

the 2020 Shelby GT500 has functional track-hero looks to match its performance. New colors for 2020 include Red Hot, Twister Orange, and Iconic Silver. Painted stripes are available for the all-new Shelby GT500 too.  A functional, menacing design tuned with Ford Performance know-how thanks to a cross-functional team of designers, Ford Performance engineers, and motorsports collaborators,

The Shelby GT500 will be in dealers late in the summer and a GT350 will be arriving Fall of 2019.

 

Words and Images by William West Hopper
Ford Motor Company kindly provided us with travel, meals, and lodging to Detroit to see both the new Shelby GT500 and the new 2020 Ford Explorer, we thank them for this courtesy.

Corvette, Customized, and Off the Assembly Line Too!

Calloway Cars gave us a chance to try out their latest Aero edition of the C7 IMG_1191Chevrolet Corvette Areowagen, which opened our eyes to this all-American automotive customizer.

It is interesting to hear the history as well as the intense involvement that Calloway has with this vehicle and other General Motors products like the Tahoe, Suburban, Escalade, and Yukon, not to mention the Camaro and Sierra/Silverado pickups. While the firm was founded on a simple modification for BMW race cars.

Callaway started customizing vehicles the way many do, with passion and need for faster cars. Reeves Callaway, who with a passion and talent for auto racing, being voted the best of the new crop of SCCA drivers in the early 1970’s, turned the garage of his Connecticut home into a shop constructing a turbocharger system for his own racecar. A Car and Driver article propelled him to be sought after by professional and amateur racers alike, from which a business was created that has grown and continues today.

IMG_1189Callaway’s products have since become a General Motors factory installed options, as well as a whole line of customized cars that are sold, and warranted by GM as original equipment. Being one of the only automotive aftermarket suppliers that provide products that can be ordered directly on the sales floor of a dealership that qualifies for both a factory and a Callaway warranty.

The Callaway Corvette

10-callaway-aerowagenTake a factory C7 (or many of the models prior to that) and make it faster, and more aerodynamic and you have the Aero C7, with the supercharger, intercooler engine management systems as well as other upgrades including intake and exhaust.

Our drive experience was tame, being on suburban roads. The Vette purred like a kitten and growled when asked. While the car could be mistaken for a standard off the dealer lot model. Driving it you knew the power and performance were but the touch of an accelerator pedal away.

IMG_1190Inside only some simple badging distinguished it as a Callaway product. Outside the rear hatch had been converted into almost a wagon or Sportback.

Words and Images by William West Hopper

National Mustang Day 4.17.18 – The Love Affair Continues Today As it Did 54 Years Ago.

Fifty-four years ago we were on the verge of a new revolution in automobiles. No longer was there going to be boring cars, no longer would you have to buy a sports car from a foreign car company, or be limited to one American brand. Ford Motor Company was about to change everything.  With the Ford Mustang, they did change everything and started a whole new “Pony Car” craze, which is as strong today as it was then.

1968-Ford-Mustang-Fastback_Bullitt_HVA_Casey-Maxon-600x281

That one car was the Mustang, the first of the pony cars was the first real modern car for America. Ushering in the sports car fad of the 1960’s.  And the car that took America by storm, and becomes the desired car to have, as well as a heartthrob in movies and on the street.

Global demand for the Ford Mustang has made it the best selling Sports Coupe for the third straight year running in the world. Mustang registrations worldwide in 2017 totaled 125,809 cars, according to Ford analysis of the most recent new light vehicle registration data from IHS Markit from data compiled capturing 95 percent of new vehicle volumes in more than 80 countries.

Need For Green Mustang
This time of year, green is on everyone’s mind. With spring just around the corner, St. Patrick’s Day celebrations and rivers of green – everyone feels the need for green. Now, there’s one more green cause to celebrate – the all-new Need for Green hue available on the 2019 Mustang.

“The world is falling in love with Mustang,” says Erich Merkle, Ford sales analyst. “Mustang represents the best of American design, performance, and freedom, with an unmistakable personality that’s appeals – regardless of your postcode.”

Of the nearly 126,000 vehicles registered worldwide, Ford reported 81,866 of those were sold in the United States, meaning just over one-third of all Mustang registrations are occurring in export markets. Demand remains particularly strong in China, where Mustang was the bestselling sports coupe last year based on 7,125 registrations.
The most popular configuration worldwide is the Mustang GT with the 5.0-liter V8.

While sports cars have traditionally skewed toward male buyers in the United States, Mustang is increasingly finding favor with women. In an environment of relatively flat sports car sales to women. Ford research shows a 10 percent gain in women buying Mustang in the last five years.

Since global exports began in 2015, through December 2017, Ford has sold 418,000 Mustangs around the world.

Original 1968 Bullitt Mustang

Content for this piece came from the National Mustang Day press release from Ford.

William West Hopper.

 

 

The Lexus LC500h is a Supercar that is Eco Friendly and available to the Masses*.

The Lexus LC500h
Lexus LC500 Coupe
*If the Masses have a hundred grand to spend.

Don’t tell anyone that the LC500h saves trees and drops panties at the same time!

 

 

 

Chef Matt in the Navigators Seat of the Lexus LC500h
Chef Matt in the Navigators Seat of the Lexus LC500h

Lexus provided us a pre-production 2018 LC500h for a weekend in early September to attend the Radnor Concours d’Elegance and drive in their fundraising road rally for Thorncroft Equestrian Center. A drive that took us on 90 miles of bucolic Chester County roads, not only a picturesque Pennsylvania countryside, it was an opportunity to test out this “High-Performance Lexus.” Myself and co-driver Chef Matt enjoyed every moment behind the wheel.

Lexus LC500H Hybrid badge.Surprises were many, mostly the attention this coupe got where ever we went, especially women. Women coohed over it, and when offered an opportunity to get the driver’s seat they practically leaped at the chance to get in and caress the soft interior surfaces. Never have I driven a car that so enthralled women of all ages. I kept kidding my co-driver, a single guy, that this was his big chance! We would catch glimpses of people photographing the car where ever we went. Yes, a Lexus can bring that much attention.

 

Stock photo of the Lexus LC500H from the Lexus media site.
Stock photo of the Lexus LC500H from the Lexus media site.

The attention started when my original co-driver found out a wedding conflicted with the rally and he could not join me. I posted a stock photo of the Lexus LC500h on my Facebook Page, asking if any of my friends were interested in spending the day driving around Philadelphia’s fox hunting country. One buddy responded, “If that is the car, count me in, I want to go.”  Though his idea of a Rally was speeding across back roads at breakneck speed, like, so many internet videos show.  I assured him it would be a relaxing and fun ride in the countryside, and We would get a meal out of the deal. “Any meal I don’t have to cook is one I will enjoy.” The classic line of anyone who spends their days in a kitchen for a living.

 

 

The two of us met up with about 125 other participants at the Radnor Hunt Club. A wide range of cars from classic Rolls, compete with the mustard to old farts in Aston Martins (who kept getting in our way but won the Rally.)  Even another Lexus, and a bright RED Infiniti G series, whose owners we became friends with during the weekend.

 

The Lexus LC500H an Aston Martin and Infiniti all lined up and ready for the Radnor Concours Road Rally.
The Lexus LC500H an Aston Martin and Infiniti all lined up and ready for the Radnor Concours Road Rally.

It did not take long before we quickly found that our car was both adored and somewhat sneered at. “That is some High-Performance Lexus,” said one upper-crust passer-by. A hybrid called High Performance, well shows what great styling can do! Chef Matt also quickly found out that the LC was a chick magnet. Watching an introvert struggling to talk to pretty girls was painful, and sometimes more so when you could see the ladies were more interested in the beautiful road machine he was driving, than the man with incredible culinary talents.

First of all  How it Looks.

Lexus 500H Rear view, lots of shapely lines.
Lexus 500H Rear view, lots of shapely lines.

This two-door coupe has muscular lines from the front fenders to the rear haunches. It seems like an oxymoron to hear the word muscle when the car has hybrid badging.

While guys, from tatted and bearded Harley riders to conservative mainline types gave it thumbs up, and as we found out, it really seduced the ladies. And once inside they really connected to the Alcantara suede door panels and heated and cooled leather seats. Lexus has always known that marketing to the fairer sex is a smart business decision, and this car will have a lot of women becoming owners of their vehicles.

Inside

The very clean dash on the Lexus LC500H
The very clean dash on the Lexus LC500H

OK, this is a two-seat coupe, and yes it has four seats. And in those seats, you felt in control of the vehicle as a driver and enveloped as a front seat passenger.  Do not expect people to sit in the rear seats, as no adult of any proportion is going to fit back there, or even contort themselves to get into and out of the rear seats. But that is entirely OK! The front seats contoured the body like an elegant glove, holding you in comfort as well as style.

 

The LC500's Trunk is not especially big in the first place, and the hybrids battery takes up additional room.
The LC500’s Trunk is not especially big in the first place, and the hybrid’s battery takes up additional room.

Luggage, who needs a lot of baggage? The boot is limited to a couple of overnighters and a suit bag. No golf club bags, and honestly I had to lay a half gallon of scotch down on its side because it was too tall.

Powertrain & Driveability

While you can get this model in a V8. The one we enjoyed was a 3.5-litre V6 with multistage hybrid technology attached. This power plant may not be what you think of when you think of when you think of the other products in Toyota’s family of hybrids. Lexus was one of the first to put the hybrid engine in a vehicle other than a four-door sedan, with the RX. Now it makes perfect sense to put it in this luxury sports coupe. We experienced plenty of power, and excellent fuel mileage to boot.

With this LC500H you have all the options to make whatever noise you want, or NOT! A hybrid powerplant makes that sound, which you sometimes hear in this vehicle in eco and comfort mode (I call it chewing up logs with a dull blade.) Put the LC500h in one of the two sports mode and step on it, and it takes off like a bat out of Gehenna. Or just put it in EV mode and quietly move it out of the driveway. As sometimes you want to make an elegant exit without anyone hearing the exhaust growl of a performance car.

Lexus LC500H Center Console includes an integrated assistance handle for the passenger.
Lexus LC500H Center Console includes an integrated assistance handle for the passenger.

Fuel Mileage, this is a Hybrid, set it in eco mode and get top fuel mileage, like in the mid-30’s. Set it in Sport Plus and it is all power, and still, you will not be draining the tank!  All the while looking amazing and returning fuel consumption numbers that were impressive.

The classic Hold on for your life handles in this car, aka the O’Crap Handles are there for the front seat passenger.who is hardly forgotten. And since Lexus takes performance and handling seriously, the driver has control of the comfortable steering wheel and the shift paddles and fed constant updates from a well-balanced display screen as well as aided by the touchpad controlled display topping the center stack.

 

Speaking of screens:

 

We could have watched the transition on the dash display time and time again, as the image moved aside bringing more information forward. While the center display controls everything from HVAC to Audio to monitoring the performance of the Hybrid system. And when you want it to display a more extensive map, or set up the seats for heating and cooling, it is a touch of the screen away. We experienced a few lapses in the GPS display on our suburban Philadelphia adventure, with sometimes not displaying the roads we were on, this we chalked up to the car being a pre-production model. While it could have been operator error, and probably was, it would be nice for it to pop back after some time and tell you, hey, I have stopped working at your request.

Chef Matt and the Lexus LC500H
Chef Matt and the Lexus LC500H

Think Sports Car for those who want a supercar, but may not want to spend the several hundred grand. While this puppy tops out at that $100K mark it is still well priced when you consider what you are buying. A lot of technology in a very, very attractive package. One of the most beautiful Lexus body styles we have ever seen. While you may look at competing brands, this one has a vast dealer network as well as a strong history of brand dependability that comes with it.

Author William West Hopper with the 2018 Lexus LC500H.
Author William West Hopper with the 2018 Lexus LC500H.

Words and photos by William West Hopper.

We were given the use of the Lexus LC500H for a week to use at the Radnor Concours. No other compensation was provided, and all event, travel, and other fees were paid out of our own pocket.
For more information or to test drive for yourself the Lexus LC500H or any of their other vehicles, please visit your local Lexus dealership.