Monday, January 23, 2012

Chevrolet Corvette C3, 1968

Chevrolet Corvette C3, 1968

The Chevrolet Corvette C3 is a sports car patterned after Chevrolet's "Mako Shark" (designed by Larry Shinoda), produced between 1968 and 1982. It is the third generation of Chevrolet Corvettes built and marketed by Chevrolet.

The generation has the distinction of being introduced to the motoring public in an unorthodox — and unintended — fashion. 1968 marked the introduction of Mattel's now-famous Hot Wheels line of 1/64-scale die cast toy cars. General Motors had tried their best to keep the appearance of the upcoming car a secret, but the release of the Hot Wheels line several weeks before the Corvette's unveiling had a certain version of particular interest to Corvette fans: the "Custom Corvette", a GM-authorized model of the 1968 Corvette.

In 1969, GM enlarged their small-block again to 350 in³ (5.7 L), and in 1970 the 427 big-block was enlarged to 454 in³ (7.4 L). Power peaked in the 1970 and 1971 models, with the 1970 LT-1 small-block putting out 370 hp (276 kW) and the 1971 454 big-block having its last year of big power with 425 hp (317 kW). In 1972, GM moved to the SAE Net measurement for power (away from the previous SAE Gross standard), which resulted in lower values expressed in hp. Along with the move to unleaded fuel, emission controls, and catalytic converters, power continued to decline and bottomed out in 1975 — the base ZQ3 engine put out 165 hp (123 kW), and the optional L82 engine put out 205 hp (153 kW). Power remained fairly steady for the rest of the C3 generation, ending in 1982 with the 200 hp (149 kW) L83 engine.

Styling changed subtly over the generation. In 1973, the Corvette dropped the front chrome bumpers for a urethane-compound "5 mph" bumper but kept the rear chrome bumpers. In 1974, The rear chrome bumpers became urethane, too, making 1973 the last Corvette model year with any chrome bumpers. 1975 was the last year for the convertible, and 1978 saw the introduction of a glass bubble rear window. In 1980, the Corvette got an integrated aerodynamic redesign that resulted in a significant reduction in drag.

Chevrolet Camaro, 1967

 Chevrolet Camaro, 1967

The Chevrolet Camaro was introduced in North America by the Chevrolet Motor Division of General Motors at the start of the 1967 model year as competition for the Ford Mustang. Camaro advertising would first be found on AM top-40 stations of the day - stations which appealed to young adults. Although it was technically a compact car (by the standards of the time), the Camaro, like the entire class of Mustang competitors, was soon known as a pony car. It may also be classified as an intermediate touring car, a sports car, or a muscle car. The car shared the same platform and major components with the Pontiac Firebird, also introduced in 1967. Production of both cars ceased in 2002 with only the Camaro going back into production in 2009.

The Camaro was the flagship for Chevrolet, and was for many years one of its most popular models. If its frequent inclusion in automotive enthusiast magazines is any indication, the Chevy Camaro is one of the most popular cars for modification in automotive history.

Sharing some mechanicals with the upcoming 1968 Chevrolet Nova, the Camaro featured a unibody structure, combined with a sub-frame supporting the front end. Chevrolet offered the car in only two body styles, a coupe and convertible. Almost 80 factory and 40 dealer options including three main packages were available.
Chevrolet Camaro

The RS included many cosmetic changes such as RS badging, hidden headlights, revised taillights, and exterior rocker trim.

The SS included a modified 5.7L (350) V8 engine (first engine of that size by Chevrolet), and the L35 396(6.5L) big-block V8 was also available. The SS featured non-functional air inlets on the hood, special striping and SS badging on the grille, gas cap, and horn button. It was possible to order both the SS and RS to receive a Camaro SS/RS. In 1967, a Camaro SS/RSS convertible with a 396(6.5L) engine paced the Indianapolis 500 race.

The 'Z/28' option code was introduced in December 1966 for the 1967 model year. This option package wasn't mentioned in any sales literature, so it was unknown to most buyers. The only way to order the Z/28 was to order a base Camaro with the Z28 option, front disc brakes, power steering and a Muncie 4-speed manual transmission. The Z/28 featured a unique 302(4.9L) small-block engine, designed specifically to race in the Trans Am racing series (which required engines smaller than 305(5.0L) and public availability of the car. Advertised power of this engine was listed at 290hp (216kW) while actual dynometer readings rated it at 360 to 400hp (269 to 298kW). The Z/28 also came with upgraded suspension and racing stripes on the hood. It was possible to combine the Z/28 package with the RS package. Only 602 Z/28s were sold in 1967. Contrary to popular belief, 1967 Z/28s did not have raised cowl induction hoods like 1969 Z/28s did. In 1967, the 1967 Z28 received air from a cowl plenum duct attached to the side of the air cleaner that ran to the firewall and got air from the cowl vents. The hood was a standard flat hood. 1967 Z/28s had 15 in. Rally wheels, while all other 1967 Camaros had 14 in. wheels. The Z/28 could be combined with the RS appearance package.

The Camaro's standard drivetrain was a 3.8L (230kW) Straight-6 engine rated at 140hp (104kW) and backed by a Saginaw three-speed manual transmission. A Muncie four-speed manual was also available. The two-speed "Powerglide" automatic transmission was a popular option in 1967 and 1968 until the three-speed "Turbo Hydra-Matic 350" replaced it starting in 1969. The TH350 was also an option on SS396 cars from late 1967 onwards.

The 290hp (216kW), 5.7L (350) V8 first saw duty in the 1967 Camaro and virtually every engine in the Chevrolet lineup was offered as an option.

Production numbers:
  •  RS: 64,842
  •  SS: 34,411
  •  Z28: 602
  •  Total: 220,906

Chevrolet Impala Super Sport, 1966

Chevrolet Impala Super Sport, 1966

The Impala was introduced in 1958 as a new up-level, sporty trim package created for Bel Air coupes and convertibles. Unique to the model were its six taillights, which set it apart from lower trim levels with only two lights on a side. This classic styling cue would become its trademark. It was named for a southern African antelope. The Impala became a separate model in 1959 in both two and four-door versions and became the best selling car in the Chevy product line.
For 1960, it became the best-selling automobile in the United States and held that position for the next decade. From 1958 until 1996, Impala sales were in excess of 13 million units, more than any other full-size car in the history of the automobile. In 1965, the Impala set an all-time industry annual sales record of more than 1 million units, which has never been bettered.

In 1965, Chevrolet introduced the Impala Caprice. Beginning with the four-door hardtop sedan body, Impala Caprices received unique upholstery, wood grained accents on the dash board and specialty pulls on the insides of the doors. A one year model, the Impala Caprice was reintroduced as the Chevrolet Caprice in 1966, taking the top position in the Chevrolet lineup. The Impala however, remained Chevrolet's top-selling model until late 1970s. During the 1969 model year, for example, Impala production topped Caprice production by 611,000 units.

The 1971 redesign introduced the largest Impala. The Impala's chassis would not be this extensively changed again until the introduction of the 2000 Impala. The Impala would remain Chevrolet's best-selling model until 1977.

The Impala is often credited with starting the muscle car era, although the credit for that really goes to Pontiac when it released the GTO. In the 1960s, gasoline was cheap and consumer demand for power exceeded the need for efficiency. Buyers were clamoring for as much room, performance, amenities and quality as they could get for their dollars. Afraid it would lose out to an in house competition, Chevy released its muscle car, the SS, soon after. In 1961, the Impala SS (Super Sport) was introduced to the market. The SS badge was to become Chevrolet's signature of performance on many models, though it has often been an appearance package only. The Impala's SS package in 1961 was truly a performance package, beginning with the high-performance 348 in³ (5.7 L) engines (available with 305, 340, and 350 hp (230, 255 and 260 kW)) or the new 409 in³ (6.7 L), which was available with up to 425 hp. The package also inclued upgraded tires on station wagon wheels, springs, shocks and special sintered metallic brake linings. Starting in 1962, the Impala SS could be had with any engine available in the Impala, right down to the 235 in³ 135 hp inline-6. With one exception, from this point until 1969, the SS was an appearance package only, though the heavy-duty parts and big engines could still be ordered.

The exception was the Z24 option package available in combination with the standard Z03 Super Sport package. Starting in 1967, through 1969, buyers of Z24s Impalas got cars badged as "SS427" models. The SS427 included heavy duty suspension and other performance goodies, as well as a Turbo-Jet 427 in either L36 or L72 variations. Special SS427 badging inside and out were the rule, but few were sold, since "muscle car" enthusiasts were looking toward big-block intermediates like the Chevelle SS396 and Plymouth Hemi Roadrunners, which were lighter and subsequently faster off the line. Interestingly, Z24 cars could be ordered without the Z03 SS package, which meant SS427 equipment but no bucket seats or center console.

The Impala SS could be identified by SS emblems on the rear fenders and trunk lid. The Impala SS became its own series (separate model rather than an option package) for 1964. In 1968, the Impala SS once more became an option package rather than having its own model. In 1969, the Impala SS was only available as the Z24 (SS427), coming only with a 427 in³V8 of 390 or 425 hp. This was the final year for the Impala SS until 1994.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Ford Deluxe Coupe, 1947

Ford Deluxe Coupe, 1947 

Mazda RX7, 1999

Mazda RX7, 1999
  •  Series 6 (1992–1995) was exported throughout the world and had the highest sales. In Japan, Mazda sold the RX-7 through its Efini brand as the Efini RX-7. Only the 1993–1995 model years were sold in the U.S. and Canada.
  •  Series 7 (1996–1998) included minor changes to the car. Updates included a simplified vacuum routing manifold and a 16-bit ECU allowing for increased boost which netted an extra 10 hp. In Japan, the Series 7 RX-7 was marketed under the Mazda brand name. The Series 7 was also sold in Australia, New Zealand and the U.K. Series 7 RX-7s were produced only in right-hand-drive configuration.
  •  Series 8 (January 1999–August 2002) was the final series, and was initially only available in the Australian and European markets. More efficient turbochargers were installed, while improved intercooling and radiator cooling was made possible by a revised frontal area. The seats, steering wheel, and front and rear lights were all changed. The rear wing was modified and gained adjustability. The top-of-the-line "Type RS" came equipped with a Bilstein suspension and 17" wheels as standard equipment. Power was officially claimed as 280 ps (276 hp, 208 kW) (with 330 N·m (243 ft·lbf) of torque) as per the maximum Japanese limit, though realistic power was more likely 220–230 kW (290–308 hp). The Type RZ version included all the features of the Type RS, but at a lighter weight. It also featured custom BBS wheels and a custom red racing themed interior. Further upgrades included a new 16-bit ECU and ABS system upgrades. The improved ABS system worked by braking differently on each wheel, allowing the car better turning during braking. The effective result made for safer driving for the average buyer. Easily the most collectible of all the RX-7s was the last 1,500 run-out specials. Dubbed the "Spirit R", they combined all the "extra" features Mazda had used on previous limited-run specials and all sold within days of being announced. 
          o There are three kinds of "Spirit R"s: the "Spirit A", "Spirit B", and "Spirit C". The "Spirit A", which accounts for 1,000 of the 1,500 "Spirit" models produced, has a 5-speed manual transmission, and is said to have the best performance of the three models. The "Spirit B" is a four-seater, and sports a 5-speed manual transmission. "The Spirit C" is also a four-seater, but has a 4-speed automatic transmission.

The third and final generation of the RX-7, FD (with FD3S for the JDM and JM1FD for the USA VIN), was an outright, no-compromise sports car by Japanese standards. It featured an aerodynamic, futuristic-looking body design (a testament to its near 11-year lifespan). The 13B-REW was the first-ever mass-produced sequential twin-turbocharger system to export from Japan, boosting power to 255 hp (190 kW) in 1993 and finally 280 ps (276 hp, 208 kW, the Japanese manufacturers' gentlemen's agreement on engine power) by the time production ended in Japan in 2002.

The FD RX-7 was Motor Trend's Import\Domestic Car of the Year and Playboy's Car of the Year for 1993. It also made Car and Driver magazine's Ten Best list for 1993 through 1995.

The sequential twin turbocharged system was a very complex piece of engineering, developed with the aid of Hitachi and previously used on the domestic Cosmo series (JC Cosmo=90–95). The system was comprised of two small turbochargers, one to provide torque at low RPM. The 2nd unit was on standby until the upper half of the rpm range during full throttle acceleration. The first turbocharger provided 10 psi of boost from 1800 rpm, and the 2nd turbocharger was activated at 4000 rpm and also provided 10 psi (70 kPa). The changeover process was incredibly smooth, and provided linear acceleration and a very wide torque curve throughout the entire rev range.

Handling in the FD was regarded as world-class, and it is still regarded as being one of the finest handling and best balanced cars of all time. The continued use of the front-midship engine and drivetrain layout, combined with an equal front-rear weight distribution and low center of gravity made the FD a very competent car at the limits.

In North America, three models were offered; the "base", the touring, and the R models. The touring FD had a sunroof, leather seats, and a complex Bose Acoustic Wave system. The R (R1 in 1993 and R2 in 1994–95) models featured stiffer suspensions, an aerodynamics package, suede seats, and Z-rated tires.

Australia had a special high performance version of the RX-7 in 1995, dubbed the RX-7 SP. This model was developed as a homologated road-going version of the race car used in the 12hr endurance race held at Bathurst, New South Wales, beginning in 1991. An initial run of 25 were made, and later an extra 10 were built by Mazda due to demand. The RX-7 SP produced 204 kW (274 hp) and 357 N·m (263 ft·lbf) of torque, compared to 176 kW (236 hp) and 294 N·m (217 ft·lbf) on the standard version. Other changes included a race-inspired nose cone, race-proven rear wing, a 120 L fuel tank (as opposed to the 76 L tank in the standard car), a 4.3:1-ratio rear differential, 17 in diameter wheels, larger brake rotors and calipers. An improved intercooler, exhaust, and modified ECU were also included. Weight was reduced significantly with the aid of carbon fibre; a lightweight bonnet and seats were used to reduce weight to just 1218 kg (from 1310 kg). It was a serious road going race car that matched their rival Porsche 968CSRS for the final year Mazda officially entered. The formula paid off when the RX-7SP won the title, giving Mazda the winning trophy for a fourth straight year. A later special version, the Bathurst R, was released in 2001.

Mazda MX-5, 1998

Mazda MX-5, 1998

The Compact Size and Light Weight
Compact size and light weight are the most important elements in the creation of a car recognized for its superb performance, dynamics, efficiency and driving enjoyment. Therefore, rigid discipline was applied to the car's configuration, outer dimensions and mass.

The new MX-5 is outwardly little changed from the original car, measuring 3,975 mm long, 1,680 mm wide and 1,225 mm high on the same 2,265-mm wheelbase.

The interior most aptly deserves the description "cockpit," as it has just the right amount of snugness to impart a feeling of "Oneness."
The MX-5 adheres to a front-engine, rear-wheel-drive configuration with the engine mounted "front-midships" for an ideal weight distribution of 50/50, a low centre of gravity, and greatly reduced yaw moment.

A double wishbone suspension - the ideal design for a sports car - and the "Power Plant Frame" that unites the power unit with the final drive unit are inherited from the predecessor.

The Design
The exterior continues the unique design instantly recognisable as the Mazda MX-5. This visual feast attracts attention to the styling from every angle, offering views that are pleasant and lasting. While fixed headlights are newly incorporated, the car's overall styling emphasises the flowing quality of the design, including such elements as subtle blisters on the fenders. The interior provides just the right amount of the snugness to create a pleasing level of comfort; it also offers a sensual appeal, striking a chord with one's senses of vision, hearing, and touch. A T-shaped instrument panel is adopted for its excellent functionality.

The Improved Comfort and Convenience
A "Wind-blocker" (standard on the 1.8-litre model) reduces cockpit turbulence when driving with the top down.
Both the luggage and glove compartments have been increased in size, and new storage features such as instrument panel pockets have been added.

The 1.8-litre DOHC and the 1.6-litre DOHC 4-cylinder engines are available in the new Mazda MX-5. Output and torque for both engines have been improved through enhancements to the intake and exhaust systems, resulting in smooth engine rewing from low to high speeds and responsive acceleration. Features such as a straight intake port, a variable-inertia exhaust system (1.8-litre) and a dual exhaust manifold are incorporated. The engine has been "tuned" for more pleasing sounds and a Torsen-type limited-slip differential is standard on the 1 .8litre model.

The front and rear double wishbone suspension system has been further refined, enhancing the car's stability while providing a fundamental advance in driving pleasure. In particular, it has been tuned for better handling precision as well as enhanced stability and confidence when driving at high speeds. The resulting linear response and road-hugging performance provide a significant improvement in cornering capabilities. These improvements are realised with modified front suspension geometry, longer wheel travel at the rear, modified mounting configuration for the coil springs and dampers and numerous other design changes. For quicker more responsive handling, steering lock-to-Iock is just 2.6 turns.

Mazda's Advanced Impact Distribution and Absorption System provides the MX-5 with enhanced rigidity and safety. By making the body structure more rigid, torsion and vibration caused by external forces are reduced for better handling stability. As a result of a variety of modifications, such as additional reinforcements at precisely the locations where they are most effective, body rigidity has been increased with only a minimal increase in weight. As before, an aluminium bonnet reduces mass up front, further enhancing the MX-5's retuned suspension and steering.

Active Safety Features
Superb handling performance, which makes the driver feel at one with the car, is the basis for the MX-5's active safety features. The excellent field of vision and the easier-to-operate arrangement of switches on the dash also help to enhance driving pleasure.

Passive Safety Features
The new MX-5 also incorporate safety features such as a highly rigid body structure, safety belts with a direct-clamp mechanism and pretensioners and dual SRS airbags.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Lotus Elise Type 49, 1996

Lotus Elise Type 49, 1996

The design philosophy of Lotus is "Performance through light weight", a philosophy first adopted by the founder of Lotus, Colin Chapman. The motto drives Lotus to obtain very high performance with lightweight cars in spite of their relatively modest power outputs, with a strong emphasis on driving purity and dynamics.

The result is a sports car that in production form in 1996 weighed in at just 720 kg (1,587 lb). Compare this to a Porsche Boxster which is also considered to be an extremely lightweight sports car but weighs nearly twice as much: 1,250 kg (2,756 lb).

As a result, the Lotus Elise's acceleration (0-60mph in 5.8 seconds), braking, cornering, and fuel consumption (all of which are improved by reductions in a car's weight) were astonishing for an engine put out a relatively modest 120 bhp (89 kW), compared to the 201 bhp (149 kW) produced by the 1997 Porsche Boxster.

Though high-tech, it represented affordable cost of ownership for sports car lovers on a budget who still wanted performance and looks.

The "standard" higher-performance variants listed below, Lotus also released some limited edition models such as Sport 135 (1998/9) with approx 145 bhp (108 kW), Sport 160 (2000) with 150-160 bhp (112-119 kW) and Sport 190 (190 bhp / 142 kW). These were more competent on track with sports suspension, wheels and tyres, seats according to model. There were other special editions which were basically cosmetic treatments such as the 50th Anniversary Edition (green/gold) celebrating 50 years of Lotus cars, the Type 49 ("Gold Leaf" red and white two-tone), and Type 72 ("JPS" black/gold) to recall their successful Grand Prix car type numbers.
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