Showrooms of Scottsdale, AZ – September 2019

Some years ago, I fell for the charms of Arizona, in the south west of America. Whilst the State’s best known tourist attractions are in the far north – the Grand Canyon – and the south – the Saguaro National Parks – there’s lots to see all over the State. Phoenix is by far the largest city in the State and makes a great base for a stay here. For a start, there is a far more relaxed pace of life here than neighbouring California and it is pretty much guaranteed to be significantly warmer. In the middle of the year the temperatures regularly go well past 100 degrees F, but from September onwards they are just pleasant, with low levels of humidity. And so I have been averaging a couple of trips there for the last several years now, and from my Phoenix base one of the places I like to visit whilst there are the collection of car showrooms that surround the Penske Racing Museum, located just off the Scottsdale Road and only a few blocks from the 101 freeway. It was a visit to that museum which first alerted me to the fact that a whole collection of high end and exotic cars were on show here and the staff in each showroom are very happy to welcome the enthusiast through their doors as well as those who are looking to buy. With the American market expectation of being able to drive home the car of your dreams in the spec you want on the same day, then dealers generally carry massive inventories, so there is always lots to see. With an arc of showrooms that are mostly connected together, and displays of cars in front and out the back, you could easily spend a half day here looking at everything on site, especially if you get into conversation with one or more of the showroom staff, as you almost inevitably will. Over the years, I’ve seen a steady stream of new models arrive on US soil and appear here and also the evolution of the site as showrooms get refurbished or in some cases when they outgrow themselves, new display has been built, so looking at the reports over the years shows quite the progression. I did not miss the opportunity to continue the story by spending a while on site during the September 2019 trip, although I did not head into all the showrooms this time, meaning there are more outdoor shots than indoor ones. Even so there was plenty of interest as this report evidences.ABARTH

I was pleasantly surprised to find this parked up outside. Technically, of course, as this is America, this is a Fiat 500 Abarth, as there is no separate brand offered to US customers. The car is built in Mexico with the regular Fiat 500 models and has a number of difference from the European models. The front end is slightly different to meet local crash protection requirements and of course these cars have the 1.4 litre MultiAir engine and not the T-Jet we see in Europe. Abarth-badged models all have 160 mph and the option of an automatic gearbox and a limited choice of colours, but not including some of the more popular or recent European ones. The Series 4 changes have never been offered to Americans either. Around the time of this visit, it was announced that Fiat are pulling the car from sale in America, as sales have dwindled from decent numbers in the early years to very low totals now, the car generally being seen as simply too small for Americans.

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Acura was not one of the showrooms that I did go into it. It rarely is, as of all the cars on site, these are in many ways the least appealing, though they are not as unpleasant to look at as they were a few years ago when the styling reached its nadir. That said. it is quite a challenge to walk past if you pause for even a couple of minutes not to find a sales associate come out of the shadows and try to engage in sales qualification. For other marques that would not be an undue problem, but here it always feels awkward. And so there are only a few pictures of Acura models here. The range comprises a trio of saloons, none of which sell in particularly large quantities. Smallest of these is the ILX, which is loosely based on the Civic and which has had a mild refresh to bring the looks more into line with the rest of the range. Up a size and you get to the TLX, which is an Accord relative and by all accounts not a bad car, though far from the class leader that it was a few generations back.

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These days Acura sell far more of their Crossovers than sedans, with the RDX and slightly larger MDX having been the two models they have offered for more than a decade now. There were examples of both here and the pair shown in these photos are actually from previous generations of each.

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There is quite a large showroom for Aston Martin, which is deep from front to back and wide enough to accommodate a couple of cars from end to end. That means there were examples of almost all of the current range in here, including the latest Vantage, the DB11 and the Top Dog DBS Superleggera.

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Wandering in the area behind the showrooms, I came across this rather striking looking N430 version of the now obsolete Vantage in a colour scheme I don’t recall seeing before. The N430 version was announced just a few weeks ahead of the 2014 Geneva Motor Show, following on from the previous and desirable N400 and N420 editions. This new model was mechanically based on the standard V8 Vantage but with the addition of the ‘S’ 430 bhp V8 engine, ‘S’ suspension and some unique styling features, together with either the regular 6-speed manual or the Prodrive developed 7-speed Sportshift II transmission with paddle shift.

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There were also examples of the DB11 in Coupe and open-topped Volante as well as another of the new Vantages parked at the front of the showroom complex. Usually there are more Aston than this on the site.

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A new showroom was constructed at the southern end of the site a couple of years ago to give Audi a lot more display space inside as well as providing a sizeable area around the perimeter for the inventory of brand new and some pre-owned cars. The Audi US range is not as extensive as that in Europe, with the smaller models – the A1, Q2, and some versions of the A3 and A4 not offered in this market, and there are far fewer engine options, but even so, there are lots of different Audi cars and despite wandering around the whole showroom (I did not go in, as there was nothing notable that I had not seen outside) I did not see examples of everything.

Newest model in the range is the eTron, and there were lots of these on site. This is Audi’s all-electric alternative to the I-Pace and Mercedes EQ C, and possibly those who would consider the Tesla Model X, though that is a somewhat bigger vehicle. I would not be surprised to see this car, the first of what will quickly become a complete family of electric-only models find considerable success here.

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Audi’s current best-seller in the US is the Q5 and there were examples of the second generation model here, along with the larger Q7 and Q8.

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The majority of sales of Audi’s smallest car in the US, the A3, are of the Saloon and there were lines and lines of these parked up waiting for new owners.

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There was also an RS3 Saloon along with the second generation Q3 here, parked in the shadow of the showroom building.

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The second generation A5 has been on offer in Coupe. Cabriolet and. unlike with the first generation car, the Sportback but it was a first generation A5 Coupe which caught my camera lens.

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It was also the first generation of S7 and RS7 which I saw. These sold in greater numbers here than they did in Europe where the fiscal regime and fuel prices make these extremely desirable cars an expensive indulgence. They were joined by the latest A8 which finally arrived on US soil some considerable time after its European launch.

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Final Audi I spotted was the stylish TT Coupe.

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The Bentley showroom is large and has a feeling space even allowing for the fact that there are several cars on show, none of which are what you would call small. There were coupe and convertible versions of the new Continental here as well as a Mulsanne Speed and the model which now sells the best in this market, the Bentayga.

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Outside there were further examples of the Continental GT Coupe, both the current generation and its predecessor, as well as the soon to be replaced Flying Spur.

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Behind the BMW showroom there are lines and lines of new cars. There was nothing particularly unusual here this time, so the photographer simply took pictures of the latest G20 generation 3 Series which went on sale earlier in the year and the gargantuan X7 which does not look quite so out of place here as it does in Europe.

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Presented on one of the display plinths was this Charger Hellcat. This is the fire-breathing 707 bhp version of Dodge’s large family saloon.

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There is a shared showroom for Ferrari and Maserati, as you might expect given the joint ownership of the two brands, and needless to say. this was one of the few that I did go into, and I am glad I did, as there were plenty of interesting and rare cars in here, not all of which were actually a Ferrari or a Maserati.

Perhaps the most unusual model type, in terms of the car you are least like to see at events and certainly out on the road, was this 550 Barchetta, which had actually been on show at the time of my last visit. Ferrari introduced their roadster version of the 550 at the Paris Motor Show in 2000 to commemorate the 70th anniversary of Pininfarina. The 550 Barchetta Pininfarina was a true barchetta with no real convertible top provided. The factory did provide a cloth soft top, but it was intended only for temporary use to protect the interior from rain as using the top above 70 mph (113 km/h) was not deemed safe. Aesthetically, the Barchetta featured a more deeply raked windshield than the coupé for improved aero dynamics, roll-over hoops behind the seats for the driver’s safety and a longer rear section than the coupé to complete the smooth overall design resulting in more cargo space than the coupé, even when it was less practical. Other changes included new 19-inch alloy wheels specially made for the barchetta. A total of 448 cars were produced, four more than initially planned 444 cars due to concerns of superstition in the Japanese market about the number 4. The 448 cars were preceded by 12 prototypes numbered P01–P12 on their interior plaques. To an observer the prototypes and production cars are indistinguishable. The mechanical underpinnings of the car remained the same as its coupé counterpart but the engine was given the F133C code mainly for differentiation. Performance figures differed significantly as compared to the 550 Maranello due to the loss of a roof, with 0–62 mph (0–100 km/h) acceleration time increasing to 4.4 seconds and top speed reduced to 186 mph (300 km/h). All the 448 cars had a numbered plaque (i.e. x of 448) on the dashboard with Sergio Pininfarina’s signature.

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Displayed alongside it was a F12 Tdf in a livery that is more commonly seen on the 458 Speciale. The F12 TdF was unveiled in October 2015, as a faster, lighter and more powerful special edition of the regular F12 Berlinetta. The accompanying press releases informed us that the the car was created in homage to the legendary Tour de France road races, which it dominated in the 1950s and 1960s with the likes of the 1956 250 GT Berlinetta. However, the full Tour de France name cannot be used, as this is registered to the famous annual cycle race held in France, and even the might of Ferrari’s often belligerent and bullying legal department clearly had not managed to get past that obstacle. The F12 TdF, described by its maker as “the ultimate expression of the concept of an extreme road car that is equally at home on the track”, keeps the same 6.3-litre naturally aspirated V12 engine as the regular F12 Berlinetta, but power has been boosted from 730bhp to 770bhp at 8500rpm, while torque has increased from 509lb ft to 520lb ft at 6750rpm. Ferrari says 80% of the car’s torque is available from 2500rpm. By comparison, McLaren’s 675LT features a 3.8-litre twin-turbocharged V8 engine and produces 660bhp and 516lb ft – enough to give it a 0-62mph sprint time of 2.9 seconds. The older Ferrari 458 Speciale, meanwhile, made 597bhp from its 4.5-litre naturally aspirated V8. The car is capable of reaching 62mph in 2.9sec and has a top speed of more than 211mph. Official fuel consumption is rated at 18.3mpg, with CO2 emissions of 360g/km. Ferrari says it has has used various modifications derived from its F1 cars to boost the engine’s efficiency. The F12 TdF uses a new version of the firm’s dual-clutch automatic transmission, which features shorter gear ratios. New one-piece brake calipers – the same as those used on the LaFerrari supercar – are said to provide “outstanding” stopping distances, allowing the F12 TdF to brake from 62-0mph in 30.5 metres. Ferrari says the car’s performance is “second to none”, but that it has also been conceived to be “an extremely agile and powerful car which could also be driven by less expert drivers”. The F12 TdF has lapped Ferrari’s Fiorano test track in 1min 21sec. The regular F12 Berlinetta completed the lap in 1min 23sec – the same as the new 488. The LaFerrari currently holds the fastest time on the course, with a time of 1min 19.70sec. Among the other changes made to the F12 TdF are larger front tyres, allowing greater lateral acceleration through corners. Ferrari says the car’s “natural tendency” to oversteer has been compensated for by the use of a new rear-wheel steering system. Dubbed Virtual Short Wheelbase, the system – which automatically adjusts the rear wheels for the optimum steering angle – is said to increase stability at high speeds while guaranteeing “the steering wheel response times and turn-in of a competition car”. The F12 TdF’s aggressive bodywork includes a longer and higher rear spoiler, larger air vents to channel air flow along the sides of the car, a redesigned rear diffuser and new wheel arch louvres. It sits on 20in alloy wheels. Overall, the changes combine to give the F12 TdF 30% more downforce compared to the F12. Ferrari says the redesigned bodywork has almost doubled the aerodynamic efficiency of the car compared to the standard F12, while the use of lightweight carbonfibre inside and out has reduced the F12 TdFf’s kerb weight by 110kg over the standard car, which weighs 1630kg. The cabin is deliberately stripped out. The door panels feature carbonfibre trim, while knee padding replaces the traditional glovebox. The majority of the cabin is trimmed with Alcantara instead of real leather. Aluminium plates feature on the floor instead of mats, again hinting at the car’s track-focused nature.

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Another very special and limited production car was this 458 Speciale Aperta. Just 458 of the open topped version, the 458 Speciale A (for Aperta), launched at the 2014 Paris Show, were built,, and they seem to be far rarer than the closed 458 Speciale on which they were based. The mechanical changes to this car are the same as with the Coupe model, and that goes for the styling alterations as well, with the major difference being that, as this is an open car, with a removable roof, you no longer get the glass engine cover. Weighing 50 kg more than the closed car, the quoted performance figures for the two models were the same. Inside. the Speciale A gets blue carbonfibre – exclusive to this model – on the dash, moulded door panels and central tunnel, as well as the newly designed seats in Alcantara with contrasting stitching and 3D technical fabric. A special plaque in the cockpit commemorates the three international ‘best performance engine’ awards the V8 has won. The closed 458 Speciale had followed a long line of specially engineered cars added to complement the “regular” V8 models that started with the 100 units of the 348 Speciale produced in 1992, and followed up by the 360 Challenge Stradale, the 430 Scuderia and the 16M. In essence they are all about adding power and shedding weight. In simplistic terms, the road to the Speciale can be summed up in four words: more power, less weight. There are other, more detailed changes, too, obviously, but those are the cornerstones around which everything else is shaped. The normally aspirated, flat-plane crank V8 retains its 4497cc swept capacity but receives new cam geometry with higher valve lift, shorter inlet manifolds and different pistons providing a higher compression ratio. Internal friction is reduced, through the use of uprated materials and the upshot is 597bhp (up from 562bhp) generated at the engine’s 9000rpm limit. Torque is the same, at 398lb ft, still delivered at 6000rpm. The engine is mated to a seven-speed, dual-clutch gearbox whose upshifts, we were told at the launch of such gearboxes, are all but instant. That’s still true, but Ferrari has improved the response time to a pull on the lever and made the engine rev-match more quickly on downshifts to reduce the time that those take. The engine’s changes shave 8kg from the car’s overall weight – the exhaust is all aluminium and the intake is carbonfibre. Those 8kg form part of a claimed 90kg total saving at 1395kg now, versus 1485kg for a 458 Italia. Of this 90kg, 12kg is contributed by lighter, forged wheels, 13kg comes from bodywork and window changes (lighter glass all round and Lexan for the engine cover), and 20kg comes from the cabin. There are two flaps on the Speciale’s front valance, one either side of the prancing horse badge in its centre. Below 106mph these flaps remain closed, which diverts air towards the radiators. Above that speed, the radiators get quite enough cool air, thanks very much, so the flaps open, which reduces drag. Then, above 137mph, they move again, lowering to shift downforce to the rear of the car, in turn adjusting the balance 20 per cent rearward in order to promote high-speed cornering stability. At the rear, meanwhile, there is a new diffuser (the exhausts have been rerouted to make the most of its central section). Movable flaps in the diffuser adjust, but this time they are dependent not only on speed but also on steering angle and throttle or brake position. When lowered, the flaps stall the path of air into the diffuser and improve the Cd by 0.03. When raised, the diffuser adds downforce as it should. Bodywork changes, though, also bring some aerodynamic improvements, you’ll not be surprised to hear, with lessons applied from the LaFerrari and FXX programmes. In the front valance and under the rear diffuser, there are flaps that open at speed to reduce drag and improve downforce. Finally, there are new Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres in a unique compound – rather a sticky one, we suspect – plus new calibration for the adaptive dampers. The carbon-ceramic brake discs also use a new compound.

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To mark the 70th anniversary in 2017, Ferrari produced a number of special liveries that were available across the range, most of the paying homage to a famous racing car from the company’s history. This F12 Berlinetta, which had been in the showroom at the time of my last visit is one of them.

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Completing the showroom display were a number of the current 488 model in both GTB and Spider form as well as another F12 Berlinetta.

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There were plenty more Ferrari models to be seen outside. A number of cars are parked right outside the showroom and more can be seen around the outside perimeter of the parking area. From the current range there were a number of 488 and GTC4 Lusso cars.

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There were a couple of older models here, too. It was with the 360 Modena that sales of Ferrari models really took off, with unprecedented volumes of the car being sold. The 360 Modena was launched in 1999, named after the town of Modena, the birthplace of Enzo Ferrari. A major innovation in this all new model came from Ferrari’s partnership with Alcoa which resulted in an entirely new all-aluminium space-frame chassis that was 40% stiffer than the F355 which had utilised steel. The design was 28% lighter despite a 10% increase in overall dimensions. Along with a lightweight frame the new Pininfarina body styling deviated from traditions of the previous decade’s sharp angles and flip-up headlights. The new V8 engine, common to all versions, was of 3.6 litre capacity with a flat plane crankshaft, titanium connecting rods and generates 400 bhp Despite what looks like on paper modest gains in reality the power to weight ratio was significantly improved on over the F355, this was due to the combination of both a lighter car and more power. The 0 to 100 km/h acceleration performance improved from 4.6 to 4.3 seconds. The first model to be rolled out was the 360 Modena, available as a manual, or an F1 electrohydraulic manual. Next up was an open car. The 360 was designed with a Spider variant in mind; since removing the roof of a coupe reduces the torsional rigidity, the 360 was built for strength in other areas. Ferrari designers strengthened the sills, stiffened the front of the floorpan and redesigned the windscreen frame. The rear bulkhead had to be stiffened to cut out engine noise from the cabin. The convertible’s necessary dynamic rigidity is provided by additional side reinforcements and a cross brace in front of the engine. Passenger safety is ensured by a strengthened windscreen frame and roll bars. The 360 Spider displays a curvilinear waistline. The fairings imply the start of a roof, and stable roll bars are embedded in these elevations. Due to use of light aluminium construction throughout, the Spider weighs in only 60 kg heavier than the coupé. As with the Modena version, its 3.6 litre V8 with 400 bhp is on display under a glass cover. The engine — confined in space by the convertible’s top’s storage area — acquires additional air supply through especially large side grills. The intake manifolds were moved toward the centre of the engine between the air supply conduits in the Spider engine compartment, as opposed to lying apart as with the Modena. In terms of performance, the 0-60 mph time was slightly slower at 4.4 seconds due to the slight weight increase, and the top speed was reduced from 189 to 180 mph. Despite the car’s mid-mounted V8 engine, the electrically operated top is able to stow into the compartment when not in use. The convertible top was available in black, blue, grey and beige. The transformation from a closed top to an open-air convertible is a two-stage folding-action that has been dubbed “a stunning 20 second mechanical symphony”. The interior of the Spider is identical to that of the coupé. There was just a 360 Spider here.

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After a gap of some years, Ferrari added a 4 seater V8 model to the range at the 2008 Paris Motor Show, with the California. According to industry rumours, the California originally started as a concept for a new Maserati, but the resulting expense to produce the car led the Fiat Group to badge it as a Ferrari in order to justify the high cost of purchase; the company denies this, however. The California heralded a number of firsts for Ferrari: the first front engined Ferrari with a V8; te first to feature a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission; the first with a folding metal roof; the first with multi-link rear suspension; and the first with direct petrol injection. Bosch produced the direct injection system. The engine displaces 4,297 cc, and used direct injection. It delivered 453 bhp at 7,750 rpm; its maximum torque produced was 358 lbf·ft at 5,000 rpm. The resulting 106 bhp per litre of engine displacement is one of the highest for a naturally aspirated engine, as other manufacturers have used supercharging or turbocharging to reach similar power levels. Ferrari spent over 1,000 hours in the wind tunnel with a one-third-scale model of the California perfecting its aerodynamics. With the top up, the California has a drag coefficient of Cd=0.32, making it the most aerodynamic Ferrari ever made until the introduction of the Ferrari F12 Berlinetta. Throughout the California’s production, only 3 cars were built with manual transmission, including one order from the UK. On 15 February 2012, Ferrari announced an upgrade, which was lighter and more powerful. Changes include reducing body weight by 30 kg (66 lb), increased power by output of 30 PS and 11 lbf·ft, acceleration from 0–100 km/h (62 mph) time reduced to 3.8 seconds, introduction of Handling Speciale package and elimination of the manual transmission option. The car was released at the 2012 Geneva Motor Show as a 2012 model in Europe. To give the clients a more dynamic driving experience, an optional HS (Handling Speciale) package was developed as part of the update. It can be recognised by a silver coloured grille and ventilation blisters behind the front wheel wells. The HS package includes Delphi MagneRide magnetorheological dampers controlled by an ECU with 50% faster response time running patented Ferrari software, stiffer springs for more precise body control and a steering rack with a 9 per cent quicker steering ratio (2.3 turns lock to lock as opposed to the standard rack’s 2.5). A more substantive update came in 2014, with the launch of the California T, which remains in production. It featured new sheetmetal, a new interior, a revised chassis and a new turbocharged powertrain.

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Although it has been out of production for a few years now, there were a lot of 458 Italia and Spider models made and so the car is still a common sighting at the dealers and that was the case here with several examples on display and parked up. An all new design, the 458 Italia was first officially unveiled at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show. Once more, Ferrari advised that the model incorporated technologies developed from the company’s experience in Formula 1. The body computer system was developed by Magneti Marelli Automotive Lighting. The 458 came with a 4,499 cc V8 engine of the “Ferrari/Maserati” F136 engine family, producing 570 PS ( 562 hp) at 9,000 rpm and 540 N·m (398 lb/ft) at 6,000 rpm with 80% torque available at 3,250 rpm. The engine featured direct fuel injection, a first for Ferrari mid-engine setups in its road cars. The only transmission available was a dual-clutch 7-speed Getrag gearbox, in a different state of tune shared with the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG. There was no traditional manual option, making this the fourth road-car after the Enzo, Challenge Stradale and 430 Scuderia not to be offered with Ferrari’s classic gated manual. The car’s suspension featured double wishbones at the front and a multi-link setup at the rear, coupled with E-Diff and F1-Trac traction control systems, designed to improve the car’s cornering and longitudinal acceleration by 32% when compared with its predecessors.The brakes included a prefill function whereby the pistons in the calipers move the pads into contact with the discs on lift off to minimise delay in the brakes being applied. This combined with the ABS and standard Carbon Ceramic brakes caused a reduction in stopping distance from 100–0 km/h (62-0 mph) to 32.5 metres. Ferrari’s official 0–100 km/h (62 mph) acceleration time was quoted as 2.9–3.0 seconds with a top speed of 340 km/h (210 mph). In keeping with Ferrari tradition the body was designed by Pininfarina under the leadership of Donato Coco, the Ferrari design director. The interior design of Ferrari 458 Italia was designed by Bertrand Rapatel, a French automobile designer. The car’s exterior styling and features were designed for aerodynamic efficiency, producing a downforce of 140 kg (309 lb) at 200 km/h. In particular, the front grille features deformable winglets that lower at high speeds, in order to offer reduced drag. The car’s interior was designed using input from former Ferrari Formula 1 driver Michael Schumacher; in a layout common to racing cars, the new steering wheel incorporates many controls normally located on the dashboard or on stalks, such as turning signals or high beams. At launch the car was widely praised as being pretty much near perfect in every regard. It did lack a fresh air version, though, but that was addressed with the launch of the 458 Spider at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show. This convertible variant of the 458 Italia featured an aluminium retractable hardtop which, according to Ferrari, weighs 25 kilograms (55 lb) less than a soft roof such as the one found on the Ferrari F430 Spider, and can be opened in 14 seconds The engine cover was redesigned to accommodate the retractable roof system. It had the same 0–100 km/h time as the hard-top but a lower top speed of 199 mph. It quickly became the better seller of the two versions.

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Still more Ferrari cars were to be found around the back of the showroom. These tend to be cars that are in for service or repair work. There were two examples of the 308 GTS here, a red one and a car in eth far less commonly seen colour of yellow. The 308 GTB was launched at the Paris Motor Show in 1975 as a direct replacement for the Dino 246. Designed by Pininfarina with sweeping curves and aggressive lines, the 308 has gone on to become one of the most recognised Ferraris of all time. Fitted with a 2.9 litre DOHC V8 engine fed by four Webber 40DCNF Carburettors, the power output of 255bhp was sufficient to propel the 308 from 0 to 60 mph in 6.5 seconds and on to a top speed of 159 mph. Tougher emissions standards in the 1980s challenged Ferrari more than many other marques. In 1980, fuel injection was adopted for the first time on the 308 GTB and GTS models, and power dropped quite noticeably fro 240 bhp to 214bhp. Two years later, at the 1982 Paris Motor Show, Ferrari launched the 308 quattrovalvole, in GTB and GTS form. The main change from the 308 GTBi/GTSi it succeeded were the 4-valves per cylinder—hence its name, which pushed output back up to 240 hp restoring some of the performance lost to the emission control equipment. The new model could be recognised by the addition of a slim louvred panel in the front lid to aid radiator exhaust air exit, power operated mirrors carrying a small enamel Ferrari badge, a redesigned radiator grille with rectangular driving lights on each side, and rectangular (in place of round) side repeaters. The interior also received some minor updates, such as a satin black three spoke steering wheel with triangular centre; cloth seat centres became available as an option to the standard full leather. Available included metallic paint, a deep front spoiler, air conditioning, wider wheels, 16-inch Speedline wheels with Pirelli P7 tyres, and a satin black roof aerofoil (standard on Japanese market models). Apart from the 32-valve cylinder heads, the V8 engine was essentially of the same design as that used in the 308 GTSi model. The gear and final drive ratios were altered to suit the revised characteristics of the four valves per cylinder engine. One other significant benefit of the QV four valve heads was the replacement of the non-QV models sodium valves which have been known to fail at the joint between the head and the stem. Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injection and Marelli Digiplex electronic ignition were carried over from the GTBi/GTSi. The car was produced in this form until the launch of the 328 models in the autumn of 1985 which had larger 3.2 litre engines and a number of styling changes. 308 GTB models are becoming increasingly sought after, with prices rising steadily and quite steeply.

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There was also an example of the F430 here. Effectively a mid-life update to the 360 Modena, the F430 debuted at the 2004 Paris Motor Show. Designed by Pininfarina, under the guidance of Frank Stephenson, the body styling of the F430 was revised from the 360 Modena, to improve its aerodynamic efficiency. Although the drag coefficient remained the same, downforce was greatly enhanced. Despite sharing the same basic Alcoa Aluminium chassis, roof line, doors and glass, the car looked significantly different from the 360. A great deal of Ferrari heritage was included in the exterior design. At the rear, the Enzo’s tail lights and interior vents were added. The car’s name was etched into the Testarossa-styled driver’s side mirror. The large oval openings in the front bumper are reminiscent of Ferrari racing models from the 60s, specifically the 156 “sharknose” Formula One car and 250 TR61 Le Mans cars of Phil Hill. Designed with soft-top-convertible. The F430 featured a 4.3 litre V8 petrol engine of the “Ferrari-Maserati” F136 family. This new power plant was a significant departure for Ferrari, as all previous Ferrari V8’s were descendants of the Dino racing program of the 1950s. This fifty-year development cycle came to an end with the entirely new unit. The engine’s output was 490 hp at 8500 rpm and 343 lb/ft of torque at 5250 rpm, 80% of which was available below 3500rpm. Despite a 20% increase in displacement, engine weight grew by only 4 kg and engine dimensions were decreased, for easier packaging. The connecting rods, pistons and crankshaft were all entirely new, while the four-valve cylinder head, valves and intake trumpets were copied directly from Formula 1 engines, for ideal volumetric efficiency. The F430 has a top speed in excess of 196 mph and could accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h in 3.9 seconds, 0.6 seconds quicker than the old model. The brakes on the F430 were designed in close cooperation with Brembo (who did the calipers and discs) and Bosch (who did the electronics package),resulting in a new cast-iron alloy for the discs. The new alloy includes molybdenum which has better heat dissipation performance. The F430 was also available with the optional Carbon fibre-reinforced Silicon Carbide (C/SiC) ceramic composite brake package. Ferrari claims the carbon ceramic brakes will not fade even after 300-360 laps at their test track. The F430 featured the E-Diff, a computer-controlled limited slip active differential which can vary the distribution of torque based on inputs such as steering angle and lateral acceleration. Other notable features include the first application of Ferrari’s manettino steering wheel-mounted control knob. Drivers can select from five different settings which modify the vehicle’s ESC system, “Skyhook” electronic suspension, transmission behaviour, throttle response, and E-Diff. The feature is similar to Land Rover’s “Terrain Response” system. The Ferrari F430 was also released with exclusive Goodyear Eagle F1 GSD3 EMT tyres, which have a V-shaped tread design, run-flat capability, and OneTRED technology. The F430 Spider, Ferrari’s 21st road going convertible, made its world premiere at the 2005 Geneva Motor Show. The car was designed by Pininfarina with aerodynamic simulation programs also used for Formula 1 cars. The roof panel automatically folds away inside a space above the engine bay. The conversion from a closed top to an open-air convertible is a two-stage folding-action. The interior of the Spider is identical to that of the coupé. Serving as the successor to the Challenge Stradale, the 430 Scuderia was unveiled by Michael Schumacher at the 2007 Frankfurt Auto Show. Aimed to compete with cars like the Porsche RS-models and the Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera it was lighter by 100 kg/220 lb and more powerful (510 PS) than the standard F430. Increased power came from a revised intake, exhaust, and an ion-sensing knock-detection system that allows for a higher compression ratio. Thus the weight-to-power ratio was reduced from 2.96 kg/hp to 2.5 kg/hp. In addition to the weight saving measures, the Scuderia semi-automatic transmission gained improved “Superfast”, known as “Superfast2”, software for faster 60 millisecond shift-times. A new traction control system combined the F1-Trac traction and stability control with the E-Diff electronic differential. The Ferrari 430 Scuderia accelerates from 0-100 km/h in 3.6 seconds, with a top speed of 202 miles per hour. Ferrari claimed that around their test track, Fiorano Circuit, it matched the Ferrari Enzo, and the Ferrari F430’s successor, the Ferrari 458. To commemorate Ferrari’s 16th victory in the Formula 1 Constructor’s World Championship in 2008, Ferrari unveiled the Scuderia Spider 16M at World Finals in Mugello. It is effectively a convertible version of the 430 Scuderia. The engine produces 510 PS at 8500 rpm. The car has a dry weight of 1,340 kg, making it 80 kg lighter than the F430 Spider, at a curb weight of 1,440 kg (3,175 lb). The chassis was stiffened to cope with the extra performance available and the car featured many carbon fibre parts as standard. Specially lightened front and rear bumpers (compared to the 430 Scuderia) were a further sign of the efforts Ferrari was putting into this convertible track car for the road. Unique 5-spoke forged wheels were produced for the 16M’s launch and helped to considerably reduce unsprung weight with larger front brakes and callipers added for extra stopping power (also featured on 430 Scuderia). It accelerates from 0-100 km/h in 3.7 seconds, with a top speed of 315 km/h (196 mph). 499 vehicles were released beginning early 2009 and all were pre-sold to select clients.

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I was quite surprised to find this F40 just parked up among all the other cars which were awaiting attention in the service bays. The F40 of 1987 was the successor to the 288 GTO. It was designed to celebrate Ferrari’s 40th anniversary and was the last Ferrari automobile personally approved by Enzo Ferrari. At the time it was Ferrari’s fastest, most powerful, and most expensive car for sale. As soon as the 288 GTO was launched, Ferrari started the development of an evolution model, intended to compete against the Porsche 959 in FIA Group B. However, when the FIA brought an end to the Group B category for the 1986 season, Enzo Ferrari was left with five 288 GTO Evoluzione development cars, and no series in which to campaign them. Enzo’s desire to leave a legacy in his final supercar allowed the Evoluzione program to be further developed to produce a car exclusively for road use. In response to the quite simple, but very expensive car with relatively little out of the ordinary being called a “cynical money-making exercise” aimed at speculators, a figure from the Ferrari marketing department was quoted as saying “We wanted it to be very fast, sporting in the extreme and Spartan,” “Customers had been saying our cars were becoming too plush and comfortable.” “The F40 is for the most enthusiastic of our owners who want nothing but sheer performance. It isn’t a laboratory for the future, as the 959 is. It is not Star Wars. And it wasn’t created because Porsche built the 959. It would have happened anyway.” Power came from an enlarged, 2936 cc version of the GTO’s twin IHI turbocharged V8 developing 478 bhp. The F40 did without a catalytic converter until 1990 when US regulations made them a requirement for emissions control reasons. The flanking exhaust pipes guide exhaust gases from each bank of cylinders while the central pipe guides gases released from the wastegate of the turbochargers. Engines with catalytic converters bear F120D code. The suspension was similar to the GTO’s double wishbone setup, though many parts were upgraded and settings were changed; the unusually low ground clearance prompted Ferrari to include the ability to raise the vehicle’s ground clearance when necessary. The body was an entirely new design by Pininfarina featuring panels made of Kevlar, carbon fibre, and aluminium for strength and low weight, and intense aerodynamic testing was employed. Weight was further minimised through the use of a plastic windscreen and windows. The cars did have air conditioning, but had no sound system, door handles, glove box, leather trim, carpets, or door panels. The first 50 cars produced had sliding Lexan windows, while later cars were fitted with wind down windows. The F40 was designed with aerodynamics in mind. For speed the car relied more on its shape than its power. Frontal area was reduced, and airflow greatly smoothed, but stability rather than terminal velocity was a primary concern. So too was cooling as the forced induction engine generated a great deal of heat. In consequence, the car was somewhat like an open-wheel racing car with a body. It had a partial undertray to smooth airflow beneath the radiator, front section, and the cabin, and a second one with diffusers behind the motor, but the engine bay was not sealed. Nonetheless, the F40 had an impressively low Cd of 0.34 with lift controlled by its spoilers and wing. The factory never intended to race the F40, but the car saw competition as early as 1989 when it debuted in the Laguna Seca Raceway round of the IMSA, appearing in the GTO category, with a LM evolution model driven by Jean Alesi, finishing third to the two faster space-framed four wheel drive Audi 90 and beating a host of other factory backed spaceframe specials that dominated the races. Despite lack of factory backing, the car would soon have another successful season there under a host of guest drivers such as Jean-Pierre Jabouille, Jacques Laffite and Hurley Haywood taking a total of three second places and one third. It would later be a popular choice by privateers to compete in numerous domestic GT series. Although the original plan was to build just 400 cars, such was the demand that in the end, 1311 were built over a 4 year period.

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As it had been when I visited earlier in the year, this Ford GT was actually parked in the front of the Maserati area of the Ferrari & Maserati showroom. The Ford GT began life as a concept car designed in anticipation of the automaker’s centennial year and as part of its drive to showcase and revive its “heritage” names such as Mustang and Thunderbird. At the 2002 North American International Auto Show, Ford unveiled a new GT40 Concept car. Camilo Pardo, the then head of Ford’s “Living Legends” studio, is credited as the chief designer of the GT and worked under the guidance of J Mays. Carroll Shelby, the original designer of the Shelby GT 500, was brought in by Ford to help develop the GT; which included performance testing of the prototype car. While under development, the project was called Petunia. The GT is similar in outward appearance to the original GT40, but is bigger, wider, and most importantly 4 in (100 mm) taller than the original’s 40 in overall height; as a result, a potential name for the car was the GT44. Although the cars are visually related, structurally, there is no similarity between the modern GT and the 1960s GT40 that inspired it. Three pre-production cars were shown to the public in 2003 as part of Ford’s centenary celebrations, and delivery of the production version called simply the Ford GT began in the fall of 2004. As the Ford GT was built as part of the company’s 100th anniversary celebration, the left headlight cluster was designed to read “100”. A British company, Safir Engineering, who built continuation GT40 cars in the 1980s, owned the “GT40” trademark at that time. When production of the continuation cars ended, they sold the excess parts, tooling, design, and trademark to a small Ohio based company called Safir GT40 Spares. This company licensed the use of the “GT40” trademark to Ford for the initial 2002 show car. When Ford decided to put the GT40 concept to production stage, negotiations between the two firms failed, thus the production cars are simply called the GT. The GT was produced for the 2005 and 2006 model years. The car began assembly at Mayflower Vehicle Systems in Norwalk, Ohio and was painted and continued assembly at Saleen Special Vehicles facility in Troy, Michigan, through contract by Ford. The GT is powered by an engine built at Ford’s Romeo Engine Plant in Romeo, Michigan. Installation of the engine and transmission along with seats and interior finishing was handled in the SVT building at Ford’s Wixom, Michigan plant. Of the 4,500 cars originally planned, approximately 100 were to be exported to Europe, starting in late 2005. An additional 200 cars were destined for sale in Canada. Production ended in September 2006 without reaching the planned production target. Approximately 550 cars were built in 2004, nearly 1,900 in 2005, and just over 1,600 in 2006, for a grand total of 4,038 cars. The final 11 car bodies manufactured by Mayflower Vehicle Systems were disassembled, and the frames and body panels were sold as service parts. The Wixom Assembly Plant has stopped production of all models as of May 31, 2007. Sales of the GT continued into 2007, from cars held in storage and in dealer inventories.

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Actually more potent than the GT is this, a GT350, which has a 526 bhp 5.2 litre engine under the bonnet. It is the latest in a long line of performance models that sit at the top of the regular Mustang range, having been first seen in 2015 and which has undergone a number of updates since then, as well as being given a more track-focused GT350R stable mate as well as the GT500 cars. The GT350 is more track focused than the GT500, and was benchmarked against the Chevrolet Corvette C7, Porsche 911 S and BMW M4. It has a track-focused chassis tuning, wider front fenders housing 295-width Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires, significant aerodynamic changes to include lowering the hood around the engine, active-exhaust, six-piston Brembo brakes with semi-floating rotors, MagneRide damping option (the first MagneRide-equipped Ford), light weight Tremec six speed manual transmission, Recaro seats and various weight reduction efforts. Specifically, it has a carbon fiber reinforced polymer radiator support that directs cooling channels for various components.

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There were also a couple of examples from Ford’s truck range. These sell in huge quantities in America – the F150 is the nation’s best seller. The vast majority are working vehicles but there is a market for upgraded ones with more performance, with the Raptor being the name adopted for these. There was also an F250 here.

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There were examples of Jaguar’s current range parked in front of, and behind the showroom, and these included the facelifted XE, and the established XF and XJ saloons, as well as the F-Pace and I-Pace crossovers.

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The Lamborghini showroom is one of the smaller ones, with space only for a couple of cars to be displayed inside, though there is a nice shady area outside which often features further cars as well as a line which tend to be parked up across the edge of the parking lot. Star billing on this visit was the Aventador SV-J. This, the most extreme version yet, was officially presented at the 2018 Pebble Beach event, and was acclaimed as the fastest Lamborghini you can buy new. With 759bhp and 531lb ft on tap, the SV-J (Superveloce Jota) matches the power output of the ultra-low-volume Centenario and is 29bhp more powerful than the Aventador S. This power figure is produced by a tuned version of Lamborghini’s naturally aspirated 6.5-litre V12 and is transmitted to the road through all four wheels. Four-wheel steering is also fitted, as per the Aventador S, but the SVJ builds upon the standard car’s agility with a second generation of its active aerodynamics system (ALA 2.0), with improvements over the first system including redesigned air inlets and aero channel designs. The system aided the SVJ in lapping the Nürburgring circuit in 6min 44.97sec – a new record for a production car. Lamborghini claims the SVJ’s downforce is 40% greater than that of the Aventador SV – its former performance flagship. Larger side air intakes, a huge rear wing, tweaked underbody with vortex generators and prominent rear diffuser and aerodynamic bodywork at the front help to achieve the improved aero figure. The chassis is tweaked for additional stiffness – a 50% stiffer anti-roll bar compared with the Aventador SV has been fitted, while the suspension’s damping force range is increased by 15% over the SV. Other tweaks to the suspension are claimed to improve the car’s on-track stability. A re-engineered exhaust system reduces back pressure and has been fettled to produce a “more emotive’ sound, as well as being lighter than the standard set-up, with higher exit points. Also among the mechanical upgrades is a tweaked seven-speed automated manual gearbox, while the four-wheel drive system now sends 3% more torque rearwards. The stability control and ABS systems are tweaked to accommodate the greater grip provided by the active aerodynamics. The car’s exclusive aluminium Nireo wheels are shod in specially made Pirelli P Zero Corsa tyres and are stiffer, with a bespoke tread design for the Aventador SVJ. Lamborghini plans to build 900 SVJs, with UK prices starting at around £356,000. An additional 63 units will be produced in 63 Edition guise, of which the Pebble Beach reveal car is one, celebrating the brand’s 1963 inception. These feature a bespoke colour and trim and will carry a higher price tag than the regular SV-J.

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Outside, there was a line of Huracan models parked along the edge of the parking area. The first LP610-4 model of 2014 has been joined over the years by a number of variants, some with the same fixed roof and others with the removable top, with a slightly less potent LP580-2 being rear wheel drive only, which some said made it a better car. More power came from the LP 640-4 Performante model of 2017 and then a heavily revised (under the skin) Evo model was announced earlier this year. The visual distinctions between the models are subtle and take an expert eye to spot. The Huracan has been a huge success for the marque.

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Also here were a number of the Urus which arrived on American shores during the summer. I can imagine that this will sell strongly in places like Scottsdale.

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As well as a showroom shared with sister brand Jaguar, Land-Rover display some of their cars on a special off-road creation out at the back, which allows for a car – a fifth generation Discovery (the name returned to the US with this generation after having been abandoned in favour of LR3 and LR4 for its predecessors) to sit in a prominent position atop the construction.

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Also on site were numerous examples of the rest of the range, with the more costly models being the ones presented here, including the Velar and Range Rover in full guise as well as the Sport. There was an SVR version here.

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Among the pre-owned cars were previous generations of the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport.

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There are always long lines of Maserati models outside the showroom, with almost every available colour to be seen here and that was the case this time, too. Well, it was for the Ghibli and the Levante. The Quattroporte was, just as had been the case in March, barely in evidence. There were further examples of the Ghibli and Levante in the showroom.

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There were also a couple of examples of the GranTurismo to be seen.

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Penske moved their McLaren showroom to another site elsewhere in Scottsdale some time ago, but sometimes one of these Woking-built cars can be seen here, and that was the case here with a 600LT in the Ferrari/Maserati showroom. This was unveiled in June 2018 online, as the top-of-the-line sports series variant. The 600LT is based on the 570S and is the third McLaren production car to receive the longtail treatment. Inspired by the 675LT and the F1 GTR Longtail, the body of the car has been extended by 73.7 mm (2.9 in). The car also features enhanced aerodynamic elements such as an extended front splitter and rear diffuser, new side sills, and an aero-enhancing fixed rear wing for increased downforce. McLaren claims that 23% parts on the 600LT are new as compared to the 570S. The carbon fibre monocoque utilised in the 600LT is modified and this combined with the extensive use of carbon fibre in the roof along with the cantrails and front fenders, results in a weight saving of 96 kg (212 lb) over the 570S, with the total weight amounting to 1,247 kg (2,749 lb). Another distinguishing feature of the 600LT is the lightweight titanium exhaust system which is mounted on top of the rear of the car which harks back to its original application in the Senna. The interior features sports bucket seats from the P1 and Alcantara trim but can be optioned with the much lighter bucket seats found in the Senna. The 3.8-litre twin-turbocharged V8 engine utilised in the 600LT is tuned to produce a maximum power output of 600 PS (592 bhp) (hence the 600 in the name) and 620 N⋅m (457 lb⋅ft) of torque, achieving a power-to-weight ratio of 479 PS per tonne. Performance figures and production numbers of the car remain unknown. Production of the 600LT started in October 2018. In January 2019, McLaren unveiled the convertible variant of the 600LT at the Detroit Auto Show. Due to the use of the same carbon monocoque as the other models in the 570S lineage the 600LT Spider required did not need any extra modifications to incorporate a folding hardtop roof. As a result, the Spider weighs 50 kg (110 lb) more than the coupé while maintaining the same performance statistics. The Spider has the same engine and aerodynamic components as the coupé and share the roof folding mechanism with the standard 570S Spider which can be operated at speeds up to 40 km/h (25 mph). The car can accelerate to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 2.9 seconds, to 200 km/h (124 mph) in 8.4 seconds (0.2 seconds more than the coupé) and can attain a top speed of 315 km/h (196 mph) with the roof retracted and 323 km/h (201 mph) with the roof closed. The car can achieve a dry weight of 1,297 kg (2,859 lb) when equipped with the MSO ClubSport package which includes the removal of air-conditioning and radio, titanium wheel nuts and the replacement of the standard seats with the carbon fibre seats from the Senna. The car is the fifth McLaren model to have the Long Tail name.

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Penske also have a Mercedes showroom elsewhere in Scottsdale, but at this site, they face a competitor, which is literally across the street, much to their chagrin, I gather. I did not have the time to go and investigate Schumacher Mercedes on this occasion, so there is just one model here with the three-pointed star on it, and that was this G Wagen, in top spec AMG guise. These are one of my guilty pleasures, and I enjoyed a couple of days driving a G550 around a California a few years ago which did nothing to dissuade me of the desirability of this rather pricey machine.

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The MINI showroom is a very colourful one relative to the others on the site, but it is also quite small, with cars displayed around the perimeter and the rest of the space used for, well, I am not quite sure what, but it is not accessible to visitors. But fear not, if you want to see MINI models, then there are dozens and dozens of them, parked up in rows by model type, around the back of the facility, as well as a number close to the showroom which are the used cars and the courtesy cars offered out to customers when their cars are in for service. The three door model is sold as the “Coupe” in America, and there were plenty of those as well as the slightly longer five door hatch, the Cabrio and the second generation Clubman and Countryman. Here’s the chance to contrast many of the different colours and options such as contrasting roofs, stickers and the like.

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Among the pre-owned cars, I did spot a couple of the low-selling models, the rather odd-looking array Coupe as well as the Paceman.

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This is always a good place to see a lot of Porsche, with a vast array of new and pre-owned cars on show outside and beyond the showroom. Selected cars are put on the display plinths, almost as bait to entice people to come on site and have a look. On this occasion on of the most striking such cars was a 991 generation 911 GT3 RS.

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Lines of Cayenne and Macan crossovers were here, with the former represented in both the latest and previous generation cars. The facelifted Macan does not seem to have reached America yet so the cars here were still 2019 model year cars.

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America had quite a long wait for the second generation Panamera, but it is here now and was much in evidence.

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The 718 Boxster and Cayman models were also well represented here.

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Among the numerous older 911 models, a couple stood out for me. Newer of these was a 911 Carrera T. This joined the range in Octobe 2017, offering the base Carrera drivetrain but with shorter rear axle ratio, mechanical differential lock, PASM Sport lowered suspension, Sport Chrono package and sports exhaust as standard. Additional features include a reduced sound insulation, light-weight glass side/rear windows, Sport-Tex seats, a shortened shift lever, deletion of the rear seats and communication system (with their re-addition available as a no-cost option), Carrera S wheels, as well as optional rear-wheel steering, PDK transmission and bucket seats.

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Also here was this 996 Turbo Cabrio. The 996 Turbo debuted at the Frankfurt Auto show in September 1999 and went on sale in the US in summer of 2000 as a 2001 model. The Turbo is powered by a water-cooled twin-turbocharged and intercooled 3.6-litre flat-6 engine derived from the 1998 Le Mans winning 911 GT1 race car. The engine is rated at 414 bhp at 6,000 rpm and 415 lb/ft (563 Nm) of torque. It features an all-wheel drive system and was available with either a 6-speed manual or a 5-speed Tiptronic transmission. It has revised styling and a wider stance than the naturally aspirated 996 Carrera models, along with new bi-xenon headlamps and a fixed rear wing. The Turbo also came with VarioCam Plus and stability management, and on the US models, an electronically adjustable rear spoiler was included which would rise at a speed of 76 mph and lower at 36 mph. The bodywork was also revised to allow airflow to 3 radiators up front and to accommodate 18-inch wheels and tyres. In 2002, the X50 package was offered as an option on the Turbo that included larger K24 turbochargers and intercoolers, a revised ECU and quad-pipe exhaust which raised power output to 444 bhp. Other features introduced in 2002 were a glove box, centre mounted cup-holders, an optional Bose stereo and rain-sensing wipers. In 2003, Porsche North America restated their horsepower numbers due to SAE changes. The turbo was still listed at 415 hp however the X50 option was now listed at 444 hp.The Turbo cabriolet was introduced for the 2004 model year which was the first mass-produced Turbo Cabriolet model since the 1989 964 Turbo Cabriolet. In 2005, Porsche introduced the Turbo S model available as either a coupé or cabriolet. The Turbo S was essentially a 996 turbo with the X50 option but also included PCCB, 6-disc CD changer and aluminium-faced instruments. Production ceased in 2006 in advance of the introduction of the 997-based Turbo cars.

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There were plenty more 911 models, with several of the GT3 models in evidence.

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Inside the Rolls Royce showroom were a trio of models, the latest Phantom as well as the more established Wraith and Dawn.

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And outside there were further examples of all three of these.

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The VW Showroom is at one of the connected buildings, and tends to be the one which I get to last of all. that was the case this time. Parked up outside was the Arteon which has only just reached American shores. It was whilst I was looking at this that a salesman came outside to talk me (there is no escape, sometimes!). He suggested I come in to receive a welcome bottle of chilled water, which I did.

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The inside of the VW showroom has for years contained a number of classic models as well as the brand new cars. There used to be rather more of them than there were on this occasion, perhaps because they genuinely have been sold, as all do bear a (rather ambitious) price tag. Left on display were a classic Beetle 1200 and a Type 2 pickup.

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Among the new cars was a Beetle now in the limited production Final Edition which marks the last year of production. It was premiered at the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show and is available in hardtop and Cabriolet guises, and is being sold exclusively in the United States. It features a number of styling tweaks to distinguish them from less models. Inspiration for the Final Edition has been taken from the 2003 Beetle Última Edición (Last Edition) which was introduced as a send-off the Beetle of the time. Customers of the 2019 Beetle Final Edition will be able to opt between two unique colours of Safari Uni and Stonewashed Blue for the exterior paint, both of which pay tribute to the Beetle Última Edición. For those that don’t want to make such a statement, the car is also available in Pure White, Deep Black Pearl, and Platinum Grey. Exterior modifications are rounded off with body-colour mirrors, 17-inch wheels, and a sunroof for the coupe. Swing open one of the two doors and you’ll find cloth and leatherette seats as well as a leather-wrapped steering wheel. Volkswagen has also fitted stainless steel pedals, ambient lighting, and an automatic climate control system. There’s also a 6.3-inch Composition Media infotainment system, gloss black trim, and keyless entry to enjoy. Those wanting a little more can step up into the Beetle Final Edition SEL. This trim level adds Bi-Xenon headlights, LED daytime running lights, and LED taillights. It also has 18-inch wheels, diamond-stitched leather seats, and a Discover Media infotainment system with GPS. All Final Edition models have a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder with 174 hp and 184 lb-ft (249 Nm) of torque mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. Prices for the 2019 Volkswagen Beetle Final Edition SE coupe start at $23,045 while the Cabriolet starts from $27,295. Base prices increase to $25,995 and $29,995 respectively for the Final Edition SEL coupe and Cabriolet.

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Outside I could also see a number of VW models which are not offered in Europe. These include the range’s best seller, the latest Jetta as well as the Atlas crossover which Americans get as an alternative to our Touareg, the US-built Passat as well as cars which are more familiar including further examples of the Beetle in standard and Final Edition guise, a Golf GTi and R and the previous generation Jetta Wagon.

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Also from the same couple of weeks spent in Arizona and California, there are a few photos that don’t really amount to sufficient for their own individual report, but which are worth presenting, so here are the two bonus items.


I spent the first and last few days of the trip in California, based out of Los Angeles, and every day I was out and about somewhere in the rental car of the day. Among the vast numbers of contemporary machines you do see quite an array of older cars and classics, but when driving they are gone long before you can stop and grab a photo, but I did come across both of these when I was parked up, and was able to get a closer look.

This 1966 Pontiac GTO was parked up on the street in Calabasas, just up from the large parking area for the array of shops that includes a Barnes & Noble bookstore which is where I had been. The GTO has a legendary status in America, with the early models particularly highly prized as these were seen as the start of the whole muscle car era. First seen in 1964, the GTO was initially a trim level on the mid-sized Le Mans, offered with a choice of coupe, convertible or hardtop body styles. It featured a 325 bhp 6.4 litre engine under the bonnet and took its name, so we are told as homage to the Ferrari 250 GTO. For 1966 the GTO became a separate Pontiac model (model number 242). The entire GM “A” body intermediate line was restyled that year, gaining more curvaceous styling with kicked-up rear fender lines for a “Coke-bottle” look, and a slightly “tunneled” backlight. The tail light featured a louvered cover, only seen on the GTO. Overall length grew only fractionally, to 206.4 in (5,243 mm), still on a 115 in (2,921 mm) wheelbase, while width expanded to 74.4 in (1,890 mm). Rear track increased one inch (2.5 cm). Overall weight remained about the same. The GTO was available as a pillared coupe, a hardtop (without B-pillars), and a convertible. Also an automotive industry first, plastic front grilles replaced the pot metal and aluminum versions seen on earlier years. New Strato bucket seats were introduced with higher and thinner seat backs and contoured cushions for added comfort and adjustable headrests were introduced as a new option. The instrument panel was redesigned and more integrated than in previous years with the ignition switch moved from the far left of the dash to the right of the steering wheel. Four pod instruments continued, and the GTO’s dash was highlighted by walnut veneer trim. Engine and carburettor choices remained the same as the previous year, except the Tri-Power option was discontinued mid-model year. A new engine was offered that saw few takers: the XS option consisted of a factory Ram Air set up with a new 744 high lift cam. Approximately 35 factory-installed Ram Air packages are believed to have been built, though 300 dealership installed Ram Air packages are estimated to have been ordered. On paper, the package was said to produce the same 360 bhp as the non-Ram Air, Tri-Power car. Sales increased to 96,946, the highest production figure for all GTO years. Although Pontiac had strenuously promoted the GTO in advertising as the “GTO Tiger,” it had become known in the youth market as the “goat.”

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And this Ford “Woodie”, more properly, a 1950 Ford Country Squire, I first saw on the road, as it drove past me when I was taking photos of my rental, and then later I spotted it parked up in the parking area at the highest point on the Angeles Forest Highway between the turning off from the Angeles Crest Highway and Palmdale, so I was able to stop and get these photos. I assume that the owner had gone for a walk, so was not to be seen around for me to ask any more about the car. It was in fine condition and was rather more interesting than the Subaru Impreza that I had for the day. This particular car dates from 1951 and is from the family of Ford models that were first seen in 1949. This was the first all-new automobile design introduced by the Big Three after World War II, civilian production having been suspended during the war, and the 1946-1948 models from Ford, GM, and Chrysler being updates of their pre-war models. Popularly called the “Shoebox Ford” for its slab-sided, “ponton” design, the 1949 Ford is credited both with saving Ford and ushering in modern streamlined car design with changes such as integrated fenders and more. This design would continue through the 1951 model year, with an updated design offered in 1952. The crest was designed by Frank L. Engle. After sticking with its well-received previous model through model year 1948, Ford completely redesigned its namesake car for the year 1949. Save for its drive-train, this was an all-new car in every way, with a modern ladder frame now supporting a coil spring independent suspension in front and longitudinal semi-elliptical springs in back. The engine was moved forward to make more room in the passenger compartment and the antiquated “torque tube” was replaced by a modern drive shaft. Ford’s popular 226 CID (3.7 L) L-head straight-6 and 239 CID (3.9 L) Flathead V8 remained, now rated at 90 bhp and 100 bhp, respectively. The 1949 models debuted at a gala at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City in June 1948, with a carousel of the new Fords complemented by a revolving demonstration of the new chassis. The new integrated steel structure was advertised as a “lifeguard body”, and even the woody wagon was steel at heart. The convertible frame had an “X member” for structural rigidity. From a customer’s perspective, the old Custom, De Luxe, and Super De Luxe lines were replaced by new Standard and Custom trims and the cars gained a modern look with completely integrated rear fenders and just a hint of a fender in front. The new styling approach was also evident in the 1949 Mercury Eight and the all-new Lincoln Cosmopolitan. The styling was influential on many European manufacturers, such as Mercedes Benz, Borgward, Austin, Volvo and many others. The all new 1949 Ford was said at the time to be the car that saved the Ford Corporation. Competition from GMH was surpassing the Old Ford designs. In some ways the vehicle was rushed into production, particularly the door mechanism design. It was said that the doors could fling open on corners. In the 1950 model there were some 10 changes in the door latching mechanism alone. 1950 saw a new Crestliner “sports sedan”—a 2-door sedan with 2-tone paint intended to battle Chevrolet’s popular hardtop coupe of 1950. Another new name was Country Squire, which referred to the 2-door wood-sided station wagon. All wagons received flat-folding middle seats at mid-year, an innovation that would reappear in the minivans of the 1990s. The 1949 and 1950 styling was similar, with a single central “bullet” in the frowning chrome grille. In the centre there was a red space that had either a 6 or 8 depending if the car had the six-cylinder engine or the V8. The trim lines were renamed as well, with “Standard” becoming “Deluxe” and “Custom” renamed “Custom Deluxe”. The new Fords got the now-famous “Ford Crest” which appeared on the division’s vehicles for many decades in one form or another. A Deluxe Business Coupe was also marketed. The 1951 Fords featured an optional Ford-O-Matic automatic transmission for the first time. Ford finally answered the Chevrolet Bel Air and Plymouth Belvedere charge with the Victoria hardtop in 1951, borrowing the term from the victoria carriage. The car was an instant hit, outselling the Chevrolet by nearly 10%. The Crestliner continued for one more year, however. All 1951 Fords sported a new “dual-bullet” grille and heavy chrome bumpers. This year Ford also added a new “turn-key” ignition. Front suspension is independent coil springs. Head room was 36.1 inches.

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On my last trip, back in March, I discovered the weekly meet at Scottsdale Pavillions, which takes place from mid Saturday afternoon until well after dusk. It was a well organised meet, with long lines of the parking area marked out by category of car, ranging from single models such as Corvettes and Mustangs to groups and themes. There was massive variety and with cars coming and going all the time I was there, plenty to see, so I decided that I should make another visit during this trip. I decided to get there around 4pm and stay for a couple of hours, but although it had been a glorious sunny day whilst I had been out and about testing the latest rental car, I was a little troubled by the weather forecasts that I had been hearing during the day suggesting that a storm was brewing. For sure, as I parked up, it was extremely windy. The gusts were so strong that some of the parking signs had blown over and even the wheelie bins that they were attached to were also failing to stay upright. There were only a few cars parked up, far fewer than when I had visited back in March, suggesting that others had heard the forecast, too. And then the sky changed colour and I realised that I could no longer see the hills north of the city, where I had been a bit earlier on. This was not a rain storm, but a dust storm, something which apparently happens quite frequently in the area, although I’d never been around when there had been one before. It was quite clear that things were only going to get worse and as no further cars seemed to be arriving, I cut my losses and left having only seen a handful of interesting cars. Such a shame, but here are the few that I did manage to photograph.

In 1998, the newly introduced convertible version of the Corvette C5 was chosen as the Pace Car for the Indianapolis 500 race, and a Pace Car Replica (RPO Z4Z) was offered to the public. Aside from lacking the equipment necessary for actual pace car duties (light bar, special racing harnesses, etc.), there was little difference between the Pace Car Replica C5 and the vehicle that actually saw duty during the race. The Pace Car Replica package consisted of a special paint colour (“Radar Blue”), unique interior colours (black and yellow), painted yellow wheels, and special pace car decals. The Pace Car Replica package also included other optional equipment: the newly introduced Active Handling System (RPO JL4); an electronically tuned AM/FM radio with CD player and a Bose speaker system; an electronic dual-zone heating & air conditioning system; and leather adjustable sport bucket seats. While regarded by many as the most garish Corvette appearance package offered to date, the 1998 Pace Car Replicas nevertheless enjoy a strong and loyal following of owners and collectors.

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This custom car is based on the mid 1930s Ford V8. These were produced in large numbers and a surprising number of them have survived, some in original form but many have been modified into all manner of one-off creations.

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This vast wagon is an Oldsmobile Custom Cruiser, a model that manufactured in three generations from 1971 to 1992. The first full-size station wagon produced by Oldsmobile since the 1964 Oldsmobile 88 Fiesta, the Custom Cruiser was produced exclusively on the General Motors B platform as a five-door station wagon. The nameplate was first used by Oldsmobile from 1940 to 1947, denoting the top trim level of its C-body model line (later the Oldsmobile 98). 451,819 Custom Cruisers were sold over the years. Through its entire production run, the Oldsmobile Custom Cruiser was the counterpart to various Buick, Pontiac, and Chevrolet station wagons. Within Oldsmobile, the Custom Cruiser shared its trim with either (or both) the Oldsmobile Delta 88 or Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight; following the further downsizing of Oldsmobile sedans in 1986, the Custom Cruiser effectively became a stand-alone model line. With the discontinuation of the Cutlass Supreme Classic in 1988, the Custom Cruiser became the sole Oldsmobile sold with rear-wheel drive. For the 1977 model year, as part of a downsizing of the entire GM full-size range, the Oldsmobile Custom Cruiser was redesigned, becoming a direct counterpart of the Delta 88 sedan. While interior space was reduced only marginally, its exterior footprint saw extensive change, with the full-size Custom Cruiser and the intermediate Vista Cruiser/Cutlass Supreme wagon briefly switching places as the longest Oldsmobile station wagon (for 1977 only, as GM intermediates underwent a similar downsizing for 1978). As with the previous generation, the Custom Cruiser shared its body with the Buick Estate, Chevrolet Impala wagon/Caprice Estate, and Pontiac Safari. Following the exit of Chrysler from the segment after the 1977 model year, the Custom Cruiser primarily competed against the Ford LTD Country Squire and Mercury Colony Park, which remained in production through 1991. Following the 1985 model year, GM shifted Buick, Oldsmobile, and Pontiac versions of the B-body sedans to the front-wheel drive H-platform with a further round of downsizing, with station wagons becoming distinct model lines on the B platform (only the Chevrolet Caprice remained as both a sedan and station wagon). In contrast to the 1971-1976 Custom Cruiser, Oldsmobile styled the 1977 Custom Cruiser as a station wagon version of the Delta 88, adopting its front fascia entirely. To distinguish itself from its nearly identical Buick, Chevrolet, and Pontiac counterparts, the Custom Cruiser was given its simulated wood design, with wood following the curve of the wheel wells. In a major departure from the 2-piece “clamshell” tailgate of its predecessor, the Custom Cruiser was fitted with a two-way tailgate; similar to configurations offered by Ford and Chrysler, the two-way tailgate opened to the side as a door or hinged down as a tailgate (with the rear window glass retracted). The third-row seat made its return, allowing for 8-passenger seating; to allow for production commonality on a single wheelbase, the Custom Cruiser was produced with a rear-facing third row seat (as were all full-size GM station wagons). The Custom Cruiser continued with minor annual changes until 1990.

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First of three Pontiac models here was this LeMans convertible. LeMans was a model name that was applied to subcompact- and intermediate-sized automobiles marketed by Pontiac from 1962 to 1981. Originally a trim upgrade based on the Tempest, it spawned the industry changing signature muscle car, the GTO, in 1964. Manufactured in five generations in the 1960s and ’70s, it was replaced by the downsized Pontiac Bonneville for the 1982 model year. From 1988 to 1993 the name was resurrected for a badge-engineered version of the Daewoo LeMans manufactured by Daewoo in South Korea. The Tempest line was changed to an intermediate-sized car on the new GM A platform in 1964. The LeMans returned to its role of Tempest trim upgrade, which included carpeted lower door panels, deluxe steering wheels, courtesy lighting, and full wheel covers. For 1964, a two-door hardtop was added. A new 215 cu in (3.5 L) I6 was introduced, as well as a redesigned 326 cu in (5.3 L) V8 that now actually displaced 326 CID. The LeMans line was expanded to include a four-door sedan for the 1965 model year. The pillared 4-door sedan was replaced by a four-door hardtop body style for the 1966 model year. For 1966, all Pontiac intermediates got new styling featuring tunnelback rooflines on two-door hardtop and pillared coupes. While the GTO continued as a big-engined muscle car, the Tempest and LeMans models got a new SOHC 230 cu in (3.8 L) I6 as the base engine. This engine, as well as the early Tempest with the transaxle in the rear, were ideas of Pontiac’s Chief Engineer John DeLorean (who became Pontiac’s general manager at the end of the 1965 model year). This engine was available in an economical one-barrel carburettor, 165 hp version as standard equipment on all Pontiac intermediates except GTOs. Optional on all Tempest and LeMans models except station wagons was a Sprint package that included a four-barrel version of the I6 that also included higher compression ratio and hotter cam, resulting in 207 horsepower, along with an “all-syncro” floor-mounted three-speed transmission with Hurst shifter, suspension kit, and body striping. Optional were a two-barrel 326 CID V8 rated at 250 hp or a 285 hp four-barrel 326 HO V8 with higher compression ratio and dual exhausts. The Sprint-optioned Tempest and LeMans models were not popular during the mid-to-late 1960s, being outsold by the bigger-engined GTO. The Sprint option and SOHC six-cylinder engine were discontinued after 1969, and replaced with a Chevrolet-built 250 CID OHV six-cylinder engine, becoming the base engine from 1970 to 1976 in most Pontiac intermediates. The GTO became a separate model of its own for 1966, though retaining the same basic body as the Tempest and LeMans models. For 1966, all Pontiac intermediates got new styling featuring tunnelback rooflines on two-door hardtop and pillared coupes. While the GTO continued as a big-engined muscle car, the Tempest and LeMans models got a new SOHC 230 cu in (3.8 L) I6 as the base engine. This engine, as well as the early Tempest with the transaxle in the rear, were ideas of Pontiac’s Chief Engineer John DeLorean (who became Pontiac’s general manager at the end of the 1965 model year). This engine was available in an economical one-barrel carbureted, 165 hp version as standard equipment on all Pontiac intermediates except GTOs. Optional on all Tempest and LeMans models except station wagons was a Sprint package that included a four-barrel version of the I6 that also included higher compression ratio and hotter cam, resulting in 207 horsepower, along with an “all-syncro” floor-mounted three-speed transmission with Hurst shifter, suspension kit, and body striping. Optional were a two-barrel 326 CID V8 rated at 250 hp or a 285 hp four-barrel 326 HO V8 with higher compression ratio and dual exhausts. The Sprint-optioned Tempest and LeMans models were not popular during the mid-to-late 1960s, being outsold by the bigger-engined GTO. The Sprint option and SOHC six-cylinder engine were discontinued after 1969, and replaced with a Chevrolet-built 250 CID OHV six-cylinder engine, becoming the base engine from 1970 to 1976 in most Pontiac intermediates. A redesigned model was launched for 1968.

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There was a Pontiac GTO here, but a later model than the one I had seen in California. This is from the second generation which ran from 1968 to 1972, the peak of the muscle car era. General Motors redesigned its A-body line for 1968, with more curvaceous, semi-fastback styling. The wheelbase was shortened to 112.0 in (2,845 mm) on all two-door models. Overall length was reduced 5.9 inches (150 mm) and height dropped half an inch (12 mm), but overall weight was up about 75 lb (34 kg). Pontiac abandoned the familiar vertically stacked headlights in favour of a horizontal layout, but made hidden headlights available at extra cost. The concealed headlights were a popular option. The signature hood scoop was replaced by dual scoops on either side of a prominent hood bulge extending rearward from the protruding nose. A unique feature was the body-color Endura front bumper. It was designed to absorb impact without permanent deformation at low speeds. Pontiac touted this feature heavily in advertising, showing hammering at the bumper to no discernible effect. A GTO could be ordered with “Endura delete”, in which case the Endura bumper would be replaced by a chrome front bumper and grille from the Pontiac LeMans. Powertrain options remained substantially the same as in 1967, but the standard GTO engine’s power rating rose to 350 bhp at 5,000 rpm. At mid-year, a new Ram Air package, known as Ram Air II, became available. It included freer-breathing cylinder heads, round port exhaust, and the 041 cam. The ‘official’ power rating was not changed. Another carry-over from 1967 was the four-piston caliper disc brake option. However, most 1968 models had drum brakes all around as this seldom ordered option provided greater stopping power. There were a raft of changes made every year thereafter, as was common practice in America at the time, so the knowledgeable can date a car without needing the age-related number plates that we have in the UK. 1970 was the peak for power in the whole muscle car scene, with reductions coming in for 1971 not least because everyone was preparing for lead-free fuel and so lowered the compression ratios. The top power output in 1971 was 335 bhp. Sales of the GTO fell dramatically, with just 10,500 finding homes, a huge drop from the peak of over 100,000. For 1972 the GTO returned to being a trim level on the mid-sized Ventura.

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Final Pontiac here was a Firebird. This is a second generation car from the early 70s. Once again a close relative of the Chevrolet Camaro, the second generation models were planned for the 1970 model year but were delayed not being launched until the end of February 1970, so they are often referred to as 1970 1/2 model year cars. There was only a coupe version offered. There were annual changes both to the body and to the mechanicals, with impact absorbing bumpers coming in from 1972 by which time the power was going down on more or less an annual basis as anti-smog requirements strangle the power of just about everything. This generation proved very long lived, though, surviving until 1981.

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And rounding things off were a pair of Subaru Impreza STi models. These will be the most familiar of all the cars presented here to those from the UK, as these were sold in Europe and when new and for a good few years thereafter, the cars were popular, though with the second generation models now between 13 and 19 years old, they have become a much rarer sighting than they used to be. The second of the pair here is a current model.

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As ever, I enjoyed my trip to this part of America very much, with all the things I was hoping for present and correct (well, apart from that dust storm and a far more alarming rain storm a couple of days later!) and as well as sampling a wide variety of different rental cars, test reports for each of which will appear in due course, and was pleased to be able to add some additional motoring interest US-Style as evidenced here. I very much look forward to my next trip to the area in 2020.

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