Ford Mustang [Part 3]

In 1993, Ford debuted a rounded jellybean-style sports concept called the Mustang Mach III. This concept, based on Patrick Schiavone’s 1990 sketch, previewed the radical restyling of future Mustangs. This fourth-generation Mustang, which had the Fox-platform (SN-95) all to itself, launched for the public in December 1993 for the 1994 model year. This generation of Mustang increased in size. Wheelbase was extended from 100 inches in 1993 to 101.3 inches; exterior length was increased by 2 inches to 181 inches; and exterior width was increased to 71 inches.

Upon release, the 1994 Mustang gained two performance variants: the GT and SVT Cobra. The former carried over the ’93 GT’s 4.9L V8, producing 215 horsepower 285 ft/lbs of torque. Other features included a 3.08:1 ratio rear axle, 16-inch upgraded wheels, and a firmer suspension package for refined handling. The SVT Cobra got the 5.0L Windsor V8 producing 240 horsepower and 285 ft/lbs. For 1995, SVT debuted the Cobra R, employing a more vigorous 5.8L V8. This model turned out 300 horsepower (60 more than the standard Cobra). Both the GT and Cobra got the Tremec T-5 5-speed manual transmission.

1996 saw the revision of the Mustang’s dated drivetrain. Gone was the Windsor V8, replaced by the 4.6L Modular engine. In the GT, this engine produced 215 horsepower – considerably less than the ’94-’95 GTs. Torque stayed the same at 285 ft/lbs. As for the SVT Cobra, power got an upgrade: 305 horsepower and 300 ft/lbs. The transmissions in both the GT and Cobra remained 5-speeds. While the GT kept the Tremec T-5 unit, the Cobra transitioned to the T-45. Model year 1997 was relatively quiet: the GT retained its 1996 specifications, as did the Cobra. For 1998, the GT got an upgraded powertain control module (PCM). This allowed the engine to produce more power; specifically, a power-bump up to 225 horsepower and 290 ft/lbs of torque. Between 1994 and 1998, 644,250 Mustangs were sold.

While the Ford Mustang enjoyed a relative sales success, its jellybean styling wouldn’t be enough to seriously sustain its reputation as an all-American muscle car. Former Vice President of Design for Ford, Jack Telnack, as well as then-chief designer Claude Lobo, implemented a new design language for European-market Fords, called “New Edge“. This design language used more modern crisp body lines and edges. For 1999, the SN-95 Fox-body Mustang gained this New Edge design. Also changed was the 4.6L Modular V8 engine. With a revised head, the GT could turn 260 horsepower and 302 ft/lbs. A special model package, the 35th Anniversary Limited Edition, gave the Mustang GT some blacked-out body panels (such as in front of the hood scoop and side mirrors), special 5-spoke aluminum wheels, and vinyl interior. The “New Edge” SVT Cobra was also revised: it produced 320 horsepower and 317 ft/lbs of torque. For 1999, Mustang sales rose to 167,000 units, with 215,500 more for model year 2000. After the 2001 model year, production of the SVT Cobra went on a brief hiatus.

2003 Ford Mustang

After the successful 2000 model year, Mustang sales started their slow decline. 2001 saw over 169,000 Mustangs produced, with 2002 output at 138,500 units. From here onward, Mustang sales would hover around the 130- to 140-thousand average. In 2003, the base, GT, and Cobra were joined by another special edition not seen since the last Mustang II of the 1970s: Mach 1. The Mach 1 was a modest mid-field entry in the Mustang lineup. Still employing the 4.6L Modular V8, it developed 305 horsepower and 320 ft/lbs of torque. Paired up to it was the Tremec TR-3650 5-speed manual transmission shared with the contemporary GT and the 2001 Cobra. It also featured a solid rear axle whereas other models employed independent rear suspensions. Exterior styling of the Mach 1 was somewhat conservative, but recalling of the Mach 1’s of the past.

SVT amped up the power of the top-line Cobra via the means of supercharging. Compared to the prior Cobra, it gained a 70 horsepower bump, good for 390 horsepower; and torque was also raised to 390 ft/lbs. The 5-speed TR-3650 transmission was dropped and replaced by the 6-speed T-56 unit. This transmission was installed in other Australian Fords like the Falcon XR6 and Ford Performance Vehicles’ F6 Typhoon super sedan. This generation of Cobra would be nicknamed “Terminator”. The Cobra’s exterior was given a significant “beefed” look: a front integrated spoiler and large air dams completed the aggressive “Cobra” styling. Also added were the special 17-inch machined aluminum/chrome wheels and imposing dual exhausts at the end. The rear fascia consisted also of the debossed “COBRA” script stamped on the bumper just below the license plate bezel. Mustang production for 2004 notched in at 130,000 sales.

Model year 2005 saw the release of the much-anticipated retro-styled fifth generation Mustang (codenamed S197). Its wheelbase increased by 8 inches to 107 inches; and exterior length was increased by 4 inches to 187 inches. Exterior width remained relatively the same at 73 inches. Production of the Mustang moved from the Ford River Rouge Complex in Dearborn, Michigan, to the former Mazda Motor Manufacturing plant in Flat Rock (which eventually was renamed Flat Rock Assembly Plant). Initial offerings consisted of the V6 and the V8-engined GT. The V6 Mustang was fitted with a 210-horsepower 4.0L Cologne V6, paired either to a Tremec T-5 5-speed manual or Ford’s own 5-speed automatic. The GT pushed the performance bar by utilizing the 4.6L Modular V8. Power sat at a respectable 300 horsepower and 320 ft/lbs. Transferring this power to the wheels was the higher-up 5-speed manual, the Tremec TR-3650. In a straight line, the V8 Mustang GT could accelerate to 60 mph (100 km/h) in 5.6 seconds, doing the quarter-mile in 13.8 seconds at 99 mph (158 km/h).

2007 Shelby GT500

In 2006, the Shelby made its triumphant return to the Mustang lineup. The first Shelby Mustangs to be produced were the GT-H models, for use at Hertz car-rental locations. These models got a slightly tuned 4.6L Modular V8 (same as in the GT), paired to a 5-speed automatic. 500 such models were ever produced.

Shelby amped up its performance with the GT500, which launched for 2007. In performance goodies, it gained a much more potent supercharged 5.4L V8 throwing 500 horsepower and 480 ft/lbs of torque, and a 6-speed Tremec TR-6060 transmission. In front, an independent MacPherson strut suspension was installed, and the rear consisted of a solid axle setup. The Shelby GT500 also got front and rear vented disc brakes (14-inch front/11.8 rear) and 18-inch tires. Cosmetically, the Shelby GT500 benefited from hood scoops, different front fascia, and Cobra identifying badges on the front fenders and front grille. 2008 saw the release of the more powerful GT500KR. Power was sourced from the same supercharged Modular V8, although pushing 540 horsepower (40 more than the GT500) and 510 ft/lbs of torque (30 more).

The facelifted 2010 Mustang, devised by design director Doug Gaffka, launched for the Los Angeles International Auto Show in November 2008; and went on sale in spring of 2009. Although the exterior fascia were refreshed, the hardware was quite outdated: the V6 Mustang retained the 4.0L 210 horsepower Cologne V6, and the GT still got the same power as before from the Modular V8. For 2011, however, these outdated drivetrains were replaced by their respective counterparts: the V6 got the new 3.7L Duratec (Cyclone) V6 also used in the Mazda CX-9 and Ford F-150. In the Mustang, this engine produced a more healthier 305 horsepower and 280 ft/lbs of torque. The GT benefited from a more potent 412 horsepower and 390 ft/lbs from the updated Modular engine. Into its second model year, the facelift S197 Mustang was off to a good start.

For 2012 only, Shelby produced 100 examples of its 50th Anniversary Edition Shelby GTS. These models commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Shelby brand, and included features such as a fibreglass hood, 14-inch front brakes, unique VIN plates, gold exterior stripes, and two exterior color options: white and black. The Shelby GTS 50th Anniversary package was available as an extra-cost option on both the V6 and GT Mustangs.

2014 Mustang

For 2013, all Mustangs were given a mid-cycle cosmetic refresh. The look of the headlamps was rearranged, as well as the tail-lamp bezels. This was the S197’s final facelift. The GT models gained 8 more horsepower for a total of 420 horsepower, thanks to extensive use of aluminum construction in the Modular V8. Torque stayed the same at 390 ft/lbs. These same specifications were carried over into the 2014 model year.

2016 Shelby GT350

Model year 2015 marked the 50th anniversary of the Mustang lineup, as well as the debut of the 6th-generation “S550” chassis. The exterior design of the S550 was directed by German designer Kemal Curić. Curić had been working at Ford since 2004. Upon launch, the 2015 Mustang was available in three variants: V6, EcoBoost, and GT. The EcoBoost was a new 4-cylinder addition to the Mustang lineup: it developed 310 horsepower and 320 ft/lbs of torque. The GT gained 15 horsepower and 10 ft/lbs for a total of 435 horsepower and 400 ft/lbs. Also new for 2015 was the track-focused Shelby GT350, which featured extra flared-out styling and ultra-wide Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires. It was the first production Ford to feature the MagneRide suspension. The Shelby featured a specialized version of the Modular V8 all to itself: a 5.2L unit nicknamed “Voodoo“. Thanks to a flat-plane crankshaft and a very high compression ratio of 12:1, the Voodoo V8 developed 526 horsepower and 429 ft/lbs of torque.

Model year 2018 saw a refresh to the entire lineup. The Mustang benefited from a “shaved” look which helped define its characteristics. Gone was the V6 engine, leaving the 2.3-liter EcoBoost, GT, and the Shelby GT350/GT350R. Power for the GT was raised to a healthy (and stealthy) 460 horsepower. Torque was also raised to 420 ft/lbs. For 2019, Ford debuted the specialty Bullitt model, which came equipped with custom interior stitching, instrumentation, and Recaro seats.

Of course, being a Bullitt Mustang, it was offered with a Dark Highland Green exterior color option. The Bullitt shared some hardware with the Shelby GT350; for instance, the throttle body and air intake were integrated onto a specially modified 5.0L Coyote V8. This raised power to 475 horsepower, which was 15 more horsepower than the Mustang GT. Meanwhile, Shelby devised a more ultra-powerful Mustang for the 2020 model year: the GT500. With a supercharged version of the GT350’s 5.2L V8, it is proclaimed to be the most powerful production Ford produced. Power is speculated to be at 760 horsepower. Another option to be expected of the GT500 will be the MagneRide suspension system.

Ford Mustang [Part 2]

In its initial 9 years, the Mustang amassed significant popularity in the automotive scene. It brought forth a new innovation and niche: the American muscle car. In all those years, Ford managed to scrape almost 3 million Mustang sales. Truly it was an extraordinary status-symbol vehicle.

But most of that changed in the early 1970’s, when the Oil Crisis dealt a severe blow to the automotive industry, and, ultimately, Big Oil. Ford Motor Company, in an effort to conserve fuel consumption and meet strict government-mandated emissions standards, transitioned Mustang production to be based on the downsized Ford Pinto platform. It was model year 1974 when the “Mustang II” debuted for the public. It was Ford’s belief that customers were seeking rather smaller cars in this era, instead of the “intermediate-size” vehicles of which many were wary of. A television commercial for the then-new 1974 Mustang stated that they “made luxury standard in a small personal car. Maybe that’s why [it was] already outselling [the] Camaro, Firebird, Barracuda, Challenger, and Javelin combined.” The commercial continued: “Mustang II gives you a gas-saving four-cylinder engine and gas-saving steel-belted radial-ply tires standard. The Camaro doesn’t even offer a four-cylinder engine, and you have to pay extra for their radials.” In other words, Ford put the emphasis on “gas-saving”, not only for the Pinto, but the Mustang as well.

Ford decreased the wheelbase from the past Falcon-based 108 inches to the Pinto-spec 96 inches. Exterior length measured 175 inches. As said television commercial stated, the Mustang II got power from a 4-cylinder engine; the same 140 cubic-inch (2.3L) unit found in the Pinto. This engine was unofficially nicknamed the “Ford Pinto engine“, and it produced 85 horsepower. Ford subsequently introduced larger V6 and V8 engines for the Mustang.

1978 King Cobra

One year earlier, Ford ditched the convertible body-style, leaving a 2-door hardtop coupe and hatchback. This re-designated “economy car” competed against the likes of import economy sports cars like the Toyota Celica, Datsun 240Z, and Mazda RX-3. Ford introduced four trim levels for the Mustang: the standard hardtop, 2-plus-2 hatchback, a vinyl roof “Ghia”, and Mach 1. There were no V8 offerings for 1974. Only the standard 4-cylinder and the 171 CID (2.8L) V6 were offered. That year, Mustang sales amassed 386,000 units. The following year, in 1975, Ford eased up to the idea of reintroducing a V8 engine into the Mustang lineup. Thus, the top-of-the-line V8 was a 302 CID (4.9L) Windsor unit, which was also colloquially referred to as a “5.0L” engine. Although it produced only 140 horsepower, it firmly bolstered the Mustang’s performance image once again. 1976 through 1978 saw the release of some Ford in-house performance variants. Ford put the small-block Windsor V8 to good use: for 1978, they produced the King Cobra, in which sat the V8. Other features included an air-intake dam, body-side stripes, and a large snake decal on the hood.

1982 Mustang

Ford’s economy conscious continued for model year 1979. At this point, they based it on the compact Fox-platform, which was in development since late 1973 under the supervision of Lee Iacocca. The first vehicles to use the Ford Fox-platform were the Ford Fairmont and Mercury Zephyr, which both debuted a year earlier, in 1978. In an attempt to maintain itself as a worldwide economy-car, the Mustang’s exterior dimensions followed suit with those of the Fairmont and Zephyr: a wheelbase of 100 inches (2553 mm) and an exterior length of 179.6 inches (4562 mm). Besides the base 140 CID (2.3L) inline-4 shared with the Fairmont, the Mustang also came available with the top-of-the-line Cobra variant, which came optional with a 122-horsepower 4.2L V8 in addition to the standard 2.3L unit. 1982 saw the introduction of the GT lineup, which replaced the Cobra. The main feature of the 1982 Mustang GT was the 157 horsepower 4.9L V8 with a two-barrel carburetor. For more fuel-efficiency, it came with a larger-diameter exhaust system. Cosmetic goodies included a revised body-color front fascia and a front air dam from the 1979-1981 Cobras. America’s law-enforcement ordered some Mustang SSP (Special Service Package) models for highway patrol use.

The Mustang was re-engineered in late 1982. Notable cosmetic changes included a slightly more rounded profile, front grille redesign, and placement of Ford’s blue oval badge in front and behind the vehicle. The convertible made a comeback to the lineup. Power for the GT changed over to the 2.3L engine, making 175 horsepower and 210 ft/lbs of torque. Ford introduced a turbocharged variant of the same model, called Turbo GT, with 145 horsepower at its disposal. 1984 saw the release of the limited-edition Mustang SVO (Ford’s Special Vehicle Operations Department). This special model was supposed to fill the gap left by the then-discontinued Shelby variants, and it featured an upped 2.3L turbo engine. It produced roughly the same 175 horsepower as a lesser GT, but kicked that power up to 205 horsepower in mid-1985.

The 1985 Mustang GT was slightly facelifted along with the rest of the Mustang lineup that year. Power came from the 4-barrel carbureted 4.9L V8, which produced 210 horsepower and 270 ft/lbs of torque. This was the Mustang’s last-ever carbureted engine. For 1986, this engine would be replaced by an electronically fuel-injected (EFI) 4.9L V8, producing 200 horsepower and 240 ft/lbs of torque. The SVO was discontinued.

Model year 1987 saw the second refresh of the Ford Mustang. Front and rear fascia were rounded out to resemble the aerodynamic styling of the discontinued SVO model and came available as either the LX or GT. The 4.9L V8 was refreshed with a revised header and forged aluminum pistons, good for developing 225 horsepower and 300 ft/lbs of torque. Very little of this final iteration of the Fox-body Mustang was changed over the next few years, save for some cosmetic tweaks. 1989 saw the addition of a mass airflow system (MAF) for optimized engine efficiency. In 1990, the Mustang gained a steering-column-mounted airbag and interior door pockets standard. 1987 sales topped 170,000 units, with 1988 sales beating that with over 211,000 units. In 1989, Ford managed to sell 210,000 Mustangs, with 1990 sales sharply falling to 128,000 units. With the fourth-generation Mustang on the horizon, the ageing Fox-body Mustang seemed no longer a priority in terms of sales figures; which it didn’t: sales of the Mustang kept falling until 1993.

1991 Mustang 5.0

The ageing Fox-body Mustang would be holding onto its last ropes throughout its production run in the early 1990s. In 1991, the 2.3L engine gained dual ignition, upping its power from 85 to 105 horsepower. For the Mustang’s footwear, 16-inch five-spoke wheels were thrown into the mix, and P255/55ZR16 all-season tires were made standard on the LX 5.0 models. For 1993, the LX 5.0 and GT models were given a different power rating: 205 horsepower and 275 ft/lbs of torque. Ford’s recently started performance arm, Special Vehicle Team (SVT), produced limited copies of the top-of-the-line Cobra and Cobra R variants, which utilized the same 5.0L V8 to SVT’s advantage. Power sat at 230 horsepower and 285 ft/lbs of torque, pushing out 25 more horsepower and 10 more ft/lbs of torque than the LX and GT. Upgrades to the Cobra included upgraded cast-iron engine heads, tuned exhaust system and a Cobra-specific modified Borg-Warner T-5 transmission. The Cobra R was closely related to the ordinary Cobra, except for the deletion of a radio, A/C, fog-lamps, and rear seats. Mustang production between 1991 and 1992 fell from 99,000 to 79,250, but rose to 114,250 units for 1993. These sales figures – and the introduction of the Cobra – reflected the hype for the upcoming all-new fourth-gen Mustang for 1994.

Ford Mustang [Part 1]

In 1962, dedicated engineers John Najjar and Philip T. Clark, both working for Ford Motor Company, set out to develop a low-cost sports car prototype. This vehicle, the “Mustang I” concept was mid-engined and retained compact proportions. If Ford’s sports car was to beat the Chevrolet Corvette in the sales race, it would need an exciting name. Of course, focus groups agreed on that the name “Mustang” chosen out of other proposed names such as “Cougar” or “Torino” suited the concept car the most. Upon its debut at Watkins Glen, New York on October 7th, 1962, the Mustang I concept was met with high public acclaim. Then vice-president of Ford, Lee Iacocca, was keen on starting production of a Mustang-named sports car.

The first generation Ford Mustang rolled off the production line at Ford Motor Company’s headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan and its San Jose Assembly Plant in Milpitas, California in spring of 1964. Although it had larger exterior dimensions than the 1962 Mustang I concept, it was still compact. The mid-engine configuration was dropped in favor of a more conventional front-engine design. Ford used the compact Falcon model as the base for the Mustang, making the Mustang measure relatively the same: a wheelbase of 108 inches and an exterior length of 181.6 inches. Ford optioned base Mustangs with either a Falcon-derived 170 CID (2.8L) inline 6 or a 200 CID (3.3L) inline 6. The 170 engine developed 101 horsepower, and the 200 got 120 horses. Although the Mustang was initially produced as a “1964 1/2”, the vehicle was officially a 1965 model.

Although in 1965 Ford offered a sportier fastback Mustang and an available GT option package, which added a 4-barrel 289 V8 with up to 271 horsepower, it seemed to Carroll Shelby of Shelby American that the performance potential of the Mustang could be vastly tweaked for more panache and fun. Familiar with building sports-car racing winning Cobras, he invented the iconic Shelby GT350 and GT350R, race-ready Mustangs that looked and felt the part of an SCCA champion. These Mustangs employed a high-power variant of the 289 cubic inch Windsor (“K-code“) V8, which in the most basic GT350, developed 306 horsepower and 330 ft/lbs of torque. All this was mated to a 4-speed Borg-Warner transmission, which sent that power to the rear wheels. The “Blue Dot” Goodyear tires were up to the task of hauling the Shelby Mustang to a top speed north of 130 miles per hour (210 km/h). The Shelby did away with the rear seats found in conventional Mustangs, and relegated that rear cabin room to a spare-tire space.

Little was changed for the 1966 Mustang, save for a grille design revision. Whereas past Mustangs had honeycomb grilles, the ’66s gained a slotted grille. The “rally-light” configuration on the grille remained on the GT model. American rental-car company Hertz bought 1000 Shelby Mustangs, rebranding them as Shelby GT350-H. Mostly these rental variant Mustangs wore a black and gold-stripe livery, and proved to be popular rental race cars for the track. The “Hertz Sports Car Club” entered a few “rent-a-racer” vehicles in some SCCA events. The initial few Hertz Shelby Mustangs were manual transmission, but later production shifted to producing automatics only. Sales for 1964 1/2 through 1966 were tremendous: 126,500 Mustangs were sold in 1964, followed by another 559,500 Mustangs in 1965. 1966 saw the highest Mustang sales numbers for this generation: 607,500 overall.

Ford beefed up its Mustang in 1967, lengthening it by 2 inches to 183.6 inches. However, it still retained its Falcon-based 108-inch wheelbase. To further enhance its stance, the ’67 Mustang’s width was increased to 70.9 inches (1800 mm). A new addition to the Mustang’s engine lineup was the 4-barrel carb 390 CID (6.4L) V8, which threw 320 horsepower and 427 ft/lbs of torque. 1968 saw a facelift to the Mustang lineup. The chrome accents on the front grille were toned down, giving the impression of a larger air intake. The GT model still retained its grille-mounted lights. An iconic green Mustang GT fastback was made for Steve McQueen’s action movie Bullitt.

1968 Shelby GT500 KR

Shelby also followed suit with their 1967 model year refresh. Included in the refresh were the addition of the more powerful “Cobra” variants and the “K-code” 289 (4.7L) small-block engine. A new model, the GT500, featured a potent 7.0L 428 Cobra Jet V8 engine. Paxton Automotive supplied Shelby with a few superchargers for some ’67 to ’68 GT350s, upping their power to 390 horsepower. The GT500’s power output for 1967 was 355 horsepower, and increased to 360 horsepower for 1968. Another version of the GT500, named GT500KR, started production in spring of 1968. Although it retained the same 428 Cobra Jet engine as its counterparts, power output was considerably lower, sitting at 335 horsepower and 440 ft/lbs of torque. After 1966, Mustang sales began their steady decline. 1967 saw 472,000 Mustangs sold, and 317,500 Mustangs for 1968.

1969 Mustang Mach 1

The Mustang was again beefed up for 1969. Exterior length was increased to 187.5 inches (4762 mm). A new high-performance variant called Mach 1 came available only as a “sportsroof” (fastback). Engine options for the Mach 1 included the 351 (5.8L) Windsor V8 (250 to 290 hp), 390 (6.4L) FE (320 hp; 1969 only), and the 428 Cobra Jet V8. The 428 engine came in a few different variants, which were the non-Ram Air Cobra Jet, Ram Air Cobra Jet, and Super Cobra Jet. However, they all produced the same 335 horsepower and 440 ft/lbs of torque. The Mach 1’s grip on the road was provided with Goodyear Polyglas tires and exterior treatment came in the form of optional (but very popular) thin side-stripe livery and front and rear spoilers. The Mustang was facelifted for 1970, and the 6.4-liter FE was dropped from the engine lineup. The 5.8-liter lineup saw the Windsor V8s being replaced by the Cleveland V8s. The 4-barrel M-code was slightly more powerful than 1969’s 4-barrel Windsor: the Cleveland engine made 300 horsepower and 385 ft/lbs of torque, thanks to its 11:1 compression.

Mustang sales continued to decline in the next few years, especially with the upcoming Energy Crisis. 1969 saw 300,000 Mustangs sold, with 1970 sales barely scraping past 190,000 units.

1972 Mustang hardtop

Former General Motors executive Semon “Bunkie” Knudsen, now president of Ford Motor Company, oversaw production of the Mustang from model years 1971 through 1973. He was credited for making the Mustang a much larger vehicle. The wheelbase was increased to 109 inches and the exterior length to 189.5 inches. Three body styles were made available: base/Grande hardtop, base/Mach 1 sportsroof, and convertible. While the base and Grande Mustangs produced between 1971 and 1972 had chrome bumper covers, the Mach 1 gained body-color urethane bumpers. 1973 saw the transition to urethane bumper covers for all Mustang variants. A special Mustang variant called Boss 351 came equipped with the last true V8: the 351 CID (5.8L) Cleveland “R-code” for 1971 and the Cleveland HO (high-output) for 1972. 1971’s Cleveland R-code made 330 horsepower and the “high-output” R-code for 1972 made 275 horsepower. The 4-barrel Cleveland V8 was dropped in 1973.

Alfa Romeo 4C

Sports car production from the Italian luxury brand had been stagnant since the discontinuation of the 8C Competizione in 2010. But nonetheless they tried their hand at a smaller sports concept at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show. After its Geneva debut, the 2011 4C Concept made its appearance at the Mille Miglia, Goodwood Festival of Speed, and the Frankfurt Motor Show. It made one more appearance at the 2012 Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este in Cernobbio, Italy. Although only a concept, the 4C won several awards, such as “Most Beautiful Concept Car of the Year” by Auto Bild in 2011, and “Design Award for Concept Cars & Prototypes” at the 2012 Villa d’Este.

The winning credentials of the 2011 concept ensured a future for the production variant. The Launch Edition was unveiled at the 2013 Geneva Motor Show. This vehicle majorly retained the dimensions and characteristics of its prototype counterpart. It was very lightweight, with its unibody being made entirely in a singular carbon-fiber tub. Sheet moulding compound (SMC) is used for the outer body panels, keeping the vehicle weight under 900 kg. The wheelbase sits at 2380 mm (93.7 in), and length by width by height measures 4000 mm (157 in) by 1864 mm (73.4 in) by 1183 mm (46.6 in). The vehicle was ready to enter production out of Maserati’s plant in Modena, Italy. The orders were pouring in, with a speculated 1000 units shipped within Europe.

2015 Alfa Romeo 4C Coupe

More orders would come pouring in, however, when the Alfa Romeo brand relaunched in North America in 2014. At first, a speculated 100 units were planned, and by 2015, approximately 850 had been shipped over to North America, with 663 units actually being sold. Meanwhile in Europe, sales topped 1,047 units, with 1,179 more sales the year after that.

2017 Alfa Romeo 4C Coupe

The variant launched in North America was much the same all throughout, save that some structural modifications be made to meet crash test safety standards. These modifications made the US version heavier than the European counterpart – weighing in at over 1100 kg. The engine is kept the same: Alfa Romeo has supplied their “1750” engine, a turbocharged 1742cc (1.7L) inline-4, which produces 237 horsepower @ 6000 rpm, and 258 ft/lbs of torque at 2100 rpm. This powerplant is paired to a 6-speed TCT dual-clutch transmission, and comes with the Alfa “DNA” dynamic control selector. This control selector allows the driver to switch between the car’s default powertrain and suspension settings to an even more assertive “Race” mode.

2019 Alfa Romeo 4C Spider

Another variant of the 4C to debut was the Spider. Aside from the removable hardtop, the Spider features slightly different exterior panels. This puts it at a weight difference when compared to the coupe. In Europe, the 4C Spider weighs in at 940 kg, while the weight difference between American market 4C coupes and spiders is not very significant. In 2018, Alfa Romeo discontinued production of the 4C Coupe, leaving only the spider. Yet, despite the coupe’s departure from the lineup, the 4C is known as “excellence made in Italy”.

Honda Accord [Part 2]

Recap: In May of 1976, Honda started offering the Accord is a mid-size model in its lineup; with production taking place in Sayama, Japan. Like the first generation Civic, it employed CVCC technology in its engines.

The second generation, which debuted in 1982, saw a slight downsizing in terms of exterior dimensions. Also, the CVCC technology was abandoned in favor of more efficient electronic fuel injection (EFI).

The third generation Accord debuted in 1986. This generation saw the debut of the USDM 2-door coupe, which was reverse-imported from Japan.

1993 Honda Accord

The chassis code for the Accord changed from “CA” to “CB” when its fourth iteration debuted in Japan in 1989, and North America in model year 1990. For North America, the sedan, coupe and wagon were available. The fourth-gen Accord kept a relatively same fascia all throughout the generation, save for a 1992 facelift.

The fifth generation “CD” series Accord debuted for model year 1994. As before, three body styles were made available: sedan, coupe, and wagon. The LX-V6 and EX-V6 models got power from the same motor as the Acura Legend. While the CD-generation Accord kept a relatively same fascia throughout the entire generation, it received a slight facelift for 1996.

Model year 1998 saw the debut of the sixth generation “CG” series Accord, which was the USDM version built in Marysville, Ohio. Honda of Japan built their own series in Sayama, Japan. The wagon was discontinued, leaving only the sedan and coupe for the USDM.

The seventh generation Accord debuted in model year 2003. Initial engine options were a 2.4-liter and 3.0-liter, but in 2005 Honda debuted the Hybrid model. This got a different 3.0L V6 paired to an electric motor.

2016 Honda Accord

The eighth generation Accord ditched the hybrid variant and got the 2.4L and 3.5L gas engines. However, for its ninth-generation 2014 debut, the Accord came available with a plug-in hybrid variant, which got a combined 46 MPG.

2019 Honda Accord

The tenth generation Accord entered production in September 2017 for the 2018 model year in North America. The only available body style is the 4-door sedan. Compared to the previous generation’s sedan, it has a wheelbase 54 mm longer, at 2830 (111 in); and exterior length increased by 20 mm (to 4882 mm). The width was kept the same. Engine choices consist of two turbocharged inline-4s: the 192 horsepower L15B7 and the 252 horsepower K20C4. Although the K20 engine in the Accord is the same as with the Civic Type R’s K20 engine, having the same 9.8:1 compression ratio, power output is lower due to the Accord’s smaller turbocharger. This also puts torque (273 ft/lbs) and redline (6800 rpm) at lower levels than the Civic Type R. Honda Sensing is standard across the lineup as a driver assistance and safety system.

Toyota MR2

The Toyota MR2 was a mid-engine sports car in production from 1984 to 2007. The name “MR2” can stand for “mid-ship, run-about, 2-seater” or “mid-engine, rear-wheel-drive, 2-seater”.

1985 MR2

The origin of the MR2 dates back to the release of the economy-conscious 1981 SA-X prototype. Later, this idea was expanded further to result in the SV-3 concept, which made critical acclaim at the 1983 Tokyo Motor Show. It was this vehicle on which the first generation production MR2 would be heavily based. The first generation W10 Toyota MR2 rolled off the production line in Sagamihara, Japan in June of 1984. The MR2 found its way into the North American market for model year 1985 – one year after the debut of another compact, mid-engine sports car, the Pontiac Fiero.

Keeping to Japanese dimension regulations for compact vehicles, the MR2 measured 3950 mm in length and kept its width below the 1700 mm limit. It had a wheelbase of 2320 mm (91.4 in). The engine lineup was also kept compact: the choices for Japan were either a 1.5-liter 3A or 1.6-liter 4A-GE. As for North America, the only engine option was the 4A-GE. The AW11 MR2 was fitted with the first-generation “Blue Top” engine producing 128 horsepower and 109 ft/lbs of torque. American power sat at a lower 112 horses and 97 ft/lbs.

1986 MR2

1986 saw the release of the supercharged model in Japan. This new supercharged model was not yet available for North America, so the MR2 lineup had remained unchanged since its 1985 model year debut. The 4A-GZE engine was a supercharged variant of the 4A-GE, and could produce 143 horsepower and 140 ft/lbs of torque.

Model year 1987 saw the upgrade of the 4A-GE engine in American-market MR2s. The unit pumped 115 horsepower, versus the prior 112 horses. Also new were the revised front and rear suspensions and larger brake rotors. North American 1988 models finally gained the supercharged variant. For 1989, all models got color-coded door handles and side mirrors. The supercharged model gained a rear anti-roll bar. Up to this point since its 1985 debut, the North American MR2’s production run amassed 89,246 units.

1992 MR2

October 1989 saw the launch of the second generation W20 model in Japan. Despite remaining within compact specifications regarding its increased wheelbase (2400 mm) and exterior length (4170 mm), it appeared large and Ferrari-like. This generation of MR2 has been nicknamed the “baby Ferrari” or “poor man’s Ferrari”. The W20 generation can be split up into production cycles called Revisions. Revision 1 was the 1989 debut model. American production of the second-gen W20 commenced for model year 1991. The USDM base models got power from the 2.2L 5S-FE, an engine shared with the Celica GT and Camry.

1993 MR2

The Revision 2 model of 1993 gained a viscous limited-slip differential (LSD) for the Turbo models. The Turbo was essentially the American version of Japan’s GT-S model, which got power from the 2.0L 3S-GTE. Japanese units turned out 218 horsepower while American Turbos got 200 horsepower. These turbocharged models have the VIN code SW20.

Model year 1994 saw the release of Revision 3. Updates included a one-piece rear spoiler, color-coded trim, and an acceleration sensor fitted to the revised anti-lock brake (ABS) system. The Japanese-market GT-S amped up its power to 242 horsepower, while the USDM Turbo retained the prior turbo’d engine still producing 200 horsepower. With sales declining year after year, the USDM ceased importing the MR2 after the 1995 model year – that year, only 382 were sold. Production in Japan soldiered on…

1996 saw the release of “Revision 4” in Japan and Europe. Modifications to the MR2 included improvements to the anti-lock braking, traction control, addition of passenger-side airbags, and turn signals on the fenders. November 1997 saw a slight revision to the final series of this generation, such as clear turn signals, adjustable rear spoiler, and red interior stitching. The base model got an improvement in its new “BEAMS” 3S-GE engine, which utilized aluminum alloy pistons and compression rings made of steel and cast iron. With exhaust-gas efficiency increased, this engine now made 200 horsepower. This generation of MR2 would remain in production until 1999.

October 1999 saw the debut of the third generation W30 in Japan, and spring of 2000 in North America. Although the car stayed true to its mid-engine configuration, it was altogether very different from previous generations. For one thing, the exterior dimensions were altered drastically to provide a different stance and driving dynamics. The wheelbase was extended by 50 mm (to 2450 mm versus the W20’s 2400) and the length and width were reduced to 3886 and 1695 mm, respectively. For another, this generation was marketed differently worldwide; in Japan, it was the MR-S, and in North America, it was named MR2 Spyder. It ditched the coupe body style of MR2s past and produced as a convertible.

Power for the Spyder came from the 1.8L 1ZZ-FED shared with the Celica, pushing 138 horsepower and 125 ft/lbs of torque. For shifting gears, only a 5-speed manual was available until the addition of a sequential manual transmission in 2002. Japanese motorsports firm Autobacs Racing Team Aguri (ARTA) entered an MR-S in the GT300 category of the All Japanese Grand Touring Championship (JGTC), which they won 1st place that year. This racing victory briefly proved the ZZW30’s worth amid declining sales figures in the US. The MR2 discontinued American production after the 2005 model year, still being produced as the MR-S and MR2 Roadster in Japan and Europe, respectively. Production halted worldwide altogether in 2007. For what it was, the MR2 was an intriguing car to ever derive from the economy-conscious 80’s into the Japanese sports-car enthusiast community.

Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution

The Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, or “Evo“, was a turbocharged sport-compact produced from 1992 to 2016. This model was hailed as a success in Mitsubishi’s sports lineup for as long as they had been producing sports cars. The popularity of the sport compact has been rivalled and expanded in other automakers’ lineups, such as rival Subaru’s Impreza WRX/STi models.

The first generation Lancer Evolution, which sat on the CD9A/CE9A platform, debuted Japan-only in September of 1992. Production of the Evo took place at Mitsubishi’s Nagoya Plant in Okazaki, Japan. This generation (Evos 1 through 3) was relatively subcompact in stature: the car had a wheelbase of 2500 – 2510 mm (98.5 – 98.8 in) and an exterior length of 4310 mm (170 inches). The “gentlemen’s agreement” limited the number and extent of the Lancer Evo’s features. Thus, Mitsubishi stuck to installing a turbocharged 2.0L 4G63 inline-4 from the “turbo-era” Galant VR-4. This engine turned out 244 horsepower and 228 ft/lbs, and was paired up to a 5-speed manual that translated that power output into four-wheel-drive. The Lancer Evolution came in two trims: RS and GSR. The GSR was available with climate control, but the RS was stripped further of interior comforts. With considerably fewer options, the RS was 70 kg lighter than the GSR. Mitsubishi produced 5000 Evos through 1993.

January 1994 saw the release of the Evolution II. It was relatively unchanged from the first Evo, save for handling improvements from refined swaybars, struts, rear spoiler, and tires. The Evo II gained more power (256 hp), and both the RS and GSR models got the same rear mechanical plate limited-slip differential. A much improved model, the third-generation “Evolution III” debuted in February of 1995. Although structurally and mechanically, it remained the same, this model gained an aggressive body kit with larger intakes. This assisted in directing air more efficiently to the radiator, intercooler, and brakes. The 4G63 engine was updated again to provide 270 horsepower. The increase in power meant a higher compression ratio. Another issue Mitsubishi tackled was turbo lag. To counter this, a secondary air supply was installed. This type of secondary air supply system is common on rally cars participating in the WRC. The Evo 3 proved popular, with this generation selling in higher numbers than the two prior Evos. The GSR outsold the RS nearly 9000 to 1100 units, respectively.

August 1996 saw the debut of the CN9A generation, or “Evo 4“. Enhancements included an engine mounting position turned 180 degrees to counter torque steer and a moderately aggressive exterior redesign to complete the performance package. Like the previous generation, the Lancer Evo was available in two trims: RS and GSR. The GSR gained Mitsubishi’s Active Yaw Control (AYC) system, which electronically directed the necessary amounts of torque to all four wheels based on various acceleration, steering, and g-force conditions. This torque vectoring system has been installed in many later Mitsubishi models. Thanks to a new twin-scroll turbocharger setup, power output was raised to 280 horsepower @ 6500 rpm, and 243 ft/lbs @ 4000 rpm. All these options made this generation GSR heavier than previous models, weighing in at 1350 kg. The considerably stripped-down RS model weighed 1260 kg.

January 1998 saw the release of the facelifted Evo 5. Although the 5 shared many aspects with the 4, such as similar wheelbase, exterior length and large rally fog-lights, it was 80 mm wider. This made the car 1770 mm (69.7 in) wide, exceeding Japan’s dimension regulations for compact vehicles’ maximum acceptable width of 1700 mm (67 in). As a result, the Evo 5 was slapped with a larger annual tax. Official power ratings for the Evo 5 remained the same at the maximum acceptable 280 horsepower, but the torque was raised to 275 ft/lbs. Both the RS and GSR were similarly optioned as before, with the GSR available with Active Yaw Control, Recaro seats, Brembo brakes, and air conditioning.

January 1999 saw the release of the Evo 6. Mitsubishi didn’t have any intention of bringing the vehicle down to “compact” scale, as this was the final generation of Lancer/Evolution to be based on the Mirage. Thus, dimensionally, it remained the same. Besides being just a slight cosmetic redesign, the Evo 6 gained improvements in engine durability, performance, and cooling. The offset license plate mounting location allowed for a larger air intake in front, improving the performance of mechanical bits inside the car. In 2000, Mitsubishi built the Tommi Makinen Edition, or “Evo 6.5”. The Tommi Makinen Edition (TME), named after Finnish rally driver Tommi Makinen, featured a different front-end design, unique red/black Recaro seats, 17-inch Enkei wheels, and leather Momo steering wheel. Other enhancements included a quicker titanium turbine, lower ride height, and quicker steering ratio. Although some limited-edition UK-market RS models built by Ralliart got 330 horsepower, the JDM models were stuck at the legal maximum of 280 horsepower.

February 2001 brought about the debut of the larger CT9A generation, or “Evo 7“, which was subject to FIA-mandated World Rally (WRC) regulations. With the significant increase of exterior dimensions came increased weight: an active center differential was installed in addition to the improved limited-slip differential. At the time of the Evo 7’s debut, the lineup had two trims as before: the RS and GSR. In 2002, Mitsubishi debuted a third model called the GT-A. The GT-A was different from the other two Evos in that it featured a slightly different cosmetic design (for example, a smaller rear spoiler), and a 5-speed automatic transmission. This electronically controlled automatic transmission, INVECS, utilized “fuzzy logic” to adjust gear-shift timing according to the driver’s input. Although the GT-A got power from the same turbocharged 4G63, horsepower was slightly lower than for the RS and GSR models: it got 272 horsepower at 6500 rpm.

January 2003 saw the release of the Evo 8 not only in Japan, but first-time premieres in export markets, especially North America. The Evo 8 sat on the same platform as the prior Evo 7, but featured a more flared-out exterior body kit. Power for the JDM model was at 280 horsepower and handling was provided by Brembo brakes and Bilstein shocks. 2004 saw the debut of the MR, or “Evo 8.5”. The MR, much like the Evo 6 Tommi Makinen Edition, was a more track-oriented model and recalled its “Mitsubishi Racing” heritage of the 1970’s Galant GTO. Besides Bilstein shocks for handling capability, Mitsubishi built the roof from aluminum, reducing weight and lowering the center of gravity. Both the standard and MR lineups each got two RS models, 5-speed and 6-speed, and one GSR model. Not featured in US-market Evos, Mitsubishi integrated Super Active Yaw Control (SAYC) in it Japanese-market variants.

The last generation based on the CT9A/CT9W platform, the Evo 9, made its debut in March 2005. Although for the most part it maintained a similar appearance to the Evo 8, it gained slight differences on its grille, front bumper intake, and more notable rear diffuser. Also new for this generation was Mitsubishi Innovative Valve timing Electronic Control System, or MIVEC for short. This was a variable valve timing technology designed to increase engine performance, and in Mitsubishi’s other economy vehicles, improve fuel economy and reduce emissions. Other performance enhancements included a redesign of the turbocharger, which amped power up to 287 horsepower and 289 ft/lbs of torque. The different trim levels sold worldwide were RS (Rally Sport), GT, GT-A, GSR (Japan), MR (North America), MR GSR, MR RS, and MR Tuned by Ralliart. The GT, slotted between the RS and GSR, featured a 5-speed manual transmission, limited-slip differential (LSD), and Recaro seats. The GT-A had the 6-speed automatic transmission. Similar to the Evo 7 GT-A, power was reduced to 272 horsepower. The North American MR model gained Bilstein shocks, forged BBS wheels, aluminum roof, HID headlights and fog lights, and front brake cooling ducts.

The tenth and final generation, the Evo X, released in October 2007. This version differed from all past Evos in its design, build style, and ride characteristics. This CZ4A generation was based on Mitsubishi’s global “GS” platform shared with Chrysler, Fiat, Citroen, and Peugeot. Also “global” was its engine: Mitsubishi’s 4B11T (based on the 4B1) was a project under the Global Engine Manufacturing Alliance (GEMA), also initiated by Chrysler. Upon the Evo X’s release in Japan, this engine threw 276 horsepower and 311 ft/lbs of torque. North American Evos got 287 horsepower and 300 ft/lbs. In Japan, the Evo X was available in two trims: RS and GSR. The RS was the base model with the 5-speed manual transmission, and the GSR came standard with the aluminum-intensive rear spoiler, a new 6-speed twin-clutch SST transmission, alloy wheels from Enkei and BBS, ventilated disc brakes, Super All Wheel Control (S-AWC), and Mitsubishi Motors Communication System (MMCS). The GSR could also be heavily optioned in other options packages with other features such as Bilstein shocks, stiffer tires with better grip, chrome mouldings, fog lights, carbon fiber, and improved air intakes.

North American Evo Xs got these trim levels: GSR, MR, MR Premium, MR Touring, and SE. The GSR was more or less identical to its Japanese GSR counterpart; the MR had the 6-speed SST, suspension setup by Eibach and Bilstein, xenon HID headlights, suede interior, and keyless entry. The MR Premium got the Rockford Fosgate infotainment system. October 2008 saw the release of the GSR Premium, also with MMCS and Rockford Fosgate audio. Power was raised from 280 to 300 horsepower.

As a bid to farewell, Mitsubishi released the Final Edition for North America in 2015 and Japan in 2016. Based on the GSR, this final model featured a black aluminum roof, red interior stitching, 18-inch wheels (Enkeis for North America and BBS wheels for Japan), and “Final Edition” commemorative badging. North America got a power boost to 303 horsepower and 305 ft/lbs. 1600 examples were produced for its final year in the US, 350 for Canada, and in 2016, only 1000 Final Editions for Japan. In its final year, the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution made quite an eloquent performance impression.

Honda Integra

The Honda Integra, marketed in North America as the Acura Integra and RSX, was a compact model in production from 1985 to 2006. Typical of the compact segment, this model was front-wheel drive. The first generation released in Japan in February 1985 as an offshoot of the Honda Quint lineup based on the Civic. The Integra was available as a 3-door hatchback and 4-door sedan. Spring 1986 saw the launch of Honda’s luxury brand, Acura, in North America. Included in the 1986 model year lineup was the Integra model. Engine options for Japan included a 1.5L EW5 and a 1.6L DOHC ZC (“D” series). The latter, found the the DA1 series Integra, produced anywhere between 110 and 130 horsepower. The USDM Integras got power from the D16 series of engines, shared with other Honda models such as the Ballade, Civic, CR-X, and Domani. The 1.6L D16A1 “browntop” developed 113 horsepower @ 6250 rpm and 99 ft/lbs @ 5500 rpm. In 1988, the Integra received a cosmetic refresh. The USDM model gained a more powerful “blacktop” engine distributing 118 horsepower @ 6500 rpm. Torque rose to 103 ft/lbs. That year, Integra sales in the US reached 57,468 units, with an additional 77,423 examples for ’89. Truly DOHC was an instant hit in the technology world at the time.

April 1989 saw the debut of the second generation in Japan. The top model, XSi, was available with A/C, sunroof, and anti-lock brakes. Honda utilized their first VTEC engine, the B16A, rated at 170 horsepower @ 7600 rpm. VTEC kicked in at 5500 rpm. In North America, the 1990 Acura Integra came in three trim levels: RS, LS, and GS. The Integra lineup received a refresh in late 1991. In Japan, the ESi model was introduced. This model had a 1.8L B18A1 engine developing 140 horsepower.

Model year 1992 saw the release of the rare GS-R model in North America. The GS-R was available only in 2-door hatchback form and got power from a 1.7L B17A1 (VTEC), throwing 160 hp @ 7600 rpm. The 5-speed manual was the only available transmission. Cosmetic specialties for the GS-R included a flared-out appearance with a small, sporty rear spoiler. For the US, more than 3100 GS-R’s were produced; but that number fell to 850 examples for model year 1993. Canadian production was even more rare: 602 units for 1992, and 255 for 1993.

The third generation Integra was introduced in Japan in 1993. This new model boasted radical changes from its previous counterpart by means of slightly elongated wheelbase, dealer-installed sunroof, alloy wheels, cassette/CD player, and leather interior. The 3-door liftback body style was transformed into a formalized 2-door coupe look. Upon the North American 1994 model year debut of the Integra, three trim levels were available: RS, LS, and GS-R. The RS, which was the “regular” model, got power from a 1.8L B18B throwing 140 horsepower and featured a cassette player, rear defroster, and tilt steering wheel as standard equipment. A step up from the RS model, the LS (“Luxury Sport”) got A/C, power windows, power door locks and cruise control as standard equipment. Since the 1.7L B17A1 engine was discontinued, the GS-R got power from the 1.8L B18C1. With VTEC, this engine could pump out 170 horses. Besides alloy wheels, power windows and doors, the GS-R added a rear wing.

October 1995 saw the launch of the Integra Type R. Power for the Type R was sourced from an upgraded version of the B18C VTEC, producing 200 horsepower. Power ratings for North America and Europe were lower, at 195 and 190 horsepower, respectively. This engine was paired up with a 5-speed manual transmission. Although it was very much comparable to its GS-R counterpart, the Type R gained performance by means of polished and ported engine components, lighter windshield, reduced sound insulation, and wide 195-mm tires. Recaro racing seats and Momo steering wheel were standard equipment. These weren’t factory-installed, but rather, production of the Type R’s interior components (such as the aforementioned seat and steering wheel) were outsourced to aftermarket manufacturers. These cars were costly to build. 1998 saw a refresh to the Type R. The “98 Spec” added larger wheels and brakes, revised rear bumper, and recalibrated transmission. Tire width was increased to 215 mm. The third and final revision, the 00 Spec, was introduced in late 1999. Also known as “Type Rx“, it came with factory-standard equipment such as power-folding door mirrors, dashboard clock, carbon-paneled interior, and audio.

DC5 Generation

For the Integra’s fourth generation, Honda decided to keep the vehicle coupe-only, as well as ship it over to North America as the Acura RSX. Production of the DC5 commenced in 2001 in Japan, and model year 2002 for North America. Each model had two trim levels: for Japan, they were the Integra iS (later known as Type S) and the Type R. The North American models had the “Base” and Type-S. Canada got an extra “Premium” model slotted between the base and Type-S. The North American Type-S is unrelated to the JDM Type-S. Engine size for the entire lineup stayed at 2.0 liters. Power for the Integra iS (and the base Acura RSX) came from the K20A3, which produced 160 horsepower. The USDM Type-S got power from the 200 hp K20A2, and the top-of-the-line Integra Type R for Japan got the 217 hp K20A. Other performance additions included a stiffer suspension setup, 4-piston Brembo brakes up front, suede seats, and leather-wrapped steering wheel. All Type Rs had black interiors, and most of them came with red or black Recaro seats. Only the models with a blue exterior (Eternal Blue Pearl for 2002 – 2004) got matching blue seats as an option. An identical exterior/interior color combo, Eternal Blue Pearl/Ebony was an option for the base USDM Acura RSX.

In 2004, the JDM Integra was given a redesign. Among the many changes brought was the “teardrop” headlight design. The iS model was renamed Type-S. This redesign made its way over to the North American Acura RSX in model year 2005. That year, the JDM Type R and USDM Type S gained similar fasciae and body kits, including a large rear spoiler. While the US-market base model got alloy wheels, the Canadian base got steel wheels. The Canada-only Premium model got 16-inch alloys. Vivid Blue Pearl replaced Eternal Blue Pearl as the blue exterior color option. When the RSX discontinued production in 2006, Acura’s compact lineup was left with the CSX, TSX, and TL.

Subaru WRX STI: Boxer on all Fours

The Subaru Impreza WRX and WRX STI (more recently called Subaru WRX and Subaru WRX STI without the Impreza name) are high-performance sport compacts based on the Subaru Impreza lineup.  The WRX name can either stand for “World Rally Cross” (WRC) or “World Rally Experimental”.  In any case, this name is an indicator to Subaru’s position in the world rally-racing stage.

The WRX debuted in Japan in November 1992, hot off the heels of the then-all-new Impreza (the successor to the Leone in the compact segment).  While the Impreza was designed for a front-drive setup, all-wheel-drive (AWD) was utilized in some other models, such as the Outback wagon and WRX.  Engine options for the Impreza varied in size, ranging from 1.5 to 2.5 liters.  Since the WRX was exclusive to Japan, North American Imprezas didn’t get a WRX variant.  Thus, these models were stuck with the 1.8L EJ18 (officially EJ181) developing 110 horsepower.  The Japanese-market GC8 WRX was initially installed with the 2.0-liter “EJ20T“.  In actuality, this engine was designated EJ20G, and was a turbocharged 240 horsepower boxer-4 (H4) unit.  This engine was equipped with hydraulic lifters as opposed to the Legacy’s same engine which had rocker arms.  Power was delivered via a viscous center differential and viscous rear limited-slip differential.  After the debut of a slightly-stripped variant called WRX RA, Subaru Tecnica International (STi) developed an even more potent WRX.  February 1994 saw the debut of the WRX STI, which now threw 250 horsepower.  The STi was a complete Impreza/WRX that came fresh off the assembly line, and then stripped down and modified with STi components.  This was the GC8C, or “Version I“.  November 1994 saw a power increase to 260 horsepower for the WRX.  A limited hatchback Impreza with the WRX engine, called “Gravel Express“, was produced.  The STI got a power boost to 275 horsepower and gained gold wheels akin to its rally-racing counterpart.  October 1995 saw the debut of “Version II” in the STI lineup.  New that year were the WRX V-Limited and WRX Type RA STi.  These models commemorated Subaru’s success in world rally racing, and deleted some curb weight.  Some V-Limited models got radio and AC as standard equipment.  Subaru produced 555 examples of the WRX Type RA STI Version 2.

September 1996 saw a redesign to the Impreza WRX STI.  New to the lineup was a 2-door coupe called WRX Type R STi.  The 2.0-liter boxer four was an updated version called EJ20K, which could produce a maximum of 280 horsepower.  Compared to the sedan, the Type R coupe was lighter, stiffer, and had a close-ratio transmission with a harder shell.  The Type R was a limited-time offer rather than a mainstay, and only 10,000 are estimated to have been produced exclusively for Japan.  March 1998 saw the release of the even-rarer 22B coupe, which was made to commemorate Subaru’s continuous victories in the World Rally Championship.  The 22B STi was a lower-slung widebody coupe, which utilized a unique 2.2L EJ22G, which featured forged pistons and a cylinder head similar to that on the EJ20K.  Other modifications included 17-inch wheels, Bilstein shocks, red brake calipers, and a twin clutch system.  These models sold like hotcakes until the end of the 22B’s production in August that year.

1999 Impreza WRX STi coupe

The GC8F series was introduced in September 1998.  The WRX/STi were facelifted in conjunction with the rest of the Impreza lineup.  There was also a slight mechanical change: the EJ20K (eventually to be the EJ207) was an upgraded “Phase 2” engine.  This generation saw the release of the limited-run WRX Type RA STi Version 5.  September 1999 saw the release of the final GC8G series; which, mechanically, was not too different from the GC8F.  However, the car was flared out for a slightly more aggressive appearance.  In 2000, Subaru exported 1000 WRX’s to the UK to be customized by their British motorsports division, Prodrive.  These models were the WRX P1, which were based on the JDM Type R coupe.  Performance enhancements included four-piston front brake calipers, electric Recaro seats, 18-inch wheels, and a suspension system optimized for British roads.  Meanwhile in Japan, another limited lineup, the S201, was released.  This model utilized every part of the STi parts catalog, ranging from its large front splitter to its massive rear wing.  This contributed to a truly racecar-esque appearance.  One mechanical tweak to the S201 was the 300 horsepower output from its engine – 20 more horsepower than was necessary for most typical JDM sports cars.  Only 300 such models were produced.

August 2000 saw the debut of the second generation GD.  The first performance variant of this generation was the WRX sedan, followed by the WRX STi, Type RA STi, and WRX STi wagon.  The standard WRX was powered by an IHI-turbo’d EJ205, good for 250 horsepower and 246 ft/lbs.  Late 2001 saw the release of the lightweight WRX STi Spec C, which had lighter body panels, lighter glass, increased wheel caster and wheelbase.  This drastically helped aid in handling and performance.  Another benefit to the Spec C was its transmission, which had its own oil cooler.  This first pre-facelift Impreza would retain its “bugeye” appearance until late 2002.  In 2004, Subaru introduced the WRX WR-Limited, which sported STi bodywork.  It featured an STi-inspired front bumper, rear spoiler, and gold Rays wheels.  This was similar to the US-market STi which debuted that year, right after the North American debut of the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution.

The entire Impreza lineup received a “hawkeye” cosmetic refresh in 2005.  The WRX got the same rear-spoiler treatment as its big-brother STI, as well as viscous rear LSD; the STI and Spec C both got the same increased wheelbase and wider 8 inch (203 mm) wheel rims.  For increased stability, the Spec C was outfitted with Arai dampers, 21 mm anti-roll bars, and reinforced strut towers.  To reduce engine noise in the passenger compartment, Subaru decided to swap the metal engine mounts with those made from liquid-filled plastic.  November 2006 saw the release of the final special edition Impreza for this generation.  The Spec C Type RA-R put an emphasis on track use, and had specially designed 235/40 R18 tires as its footwear.

Own work.

April 2007 saw the world premiere of the third generation WRX alongside its base counterparts at the New York International Auto Show.  The STI variant debut in October of that year.  This generation rode on an increased wheelbase (2620 mm) and the sedan was longer in exterior dimensions (4580 mm versus the hatchback’s 4415 mm).  Power for the WRX and STI came from different sources: The WRX was equipped with the turbocharged 2.5L EJ255 throwing 225 horsepower, and the Japanese-market STI was powered by a turbo 2.0L EJ207 developing 308 horsepower.  The rest of the world got a 300 horsepower 2.5L EJ257 in their STI’s.  In 2008, Subaru produced a limited-edition 20th Anniversary Edition WRX STI based on the hatchback.  Exclusive to the Japanese market, this model featured specially-tuned shocks and springs, anti-roll bars, 18-inch aluminum wheels, Recaro seats with red stitching, and commemorative plating on the center console.  Only 300 such models were produced.  In 2009, the Impreza gained a cosmetic update for the 2010 model year.  Also new were the STI Spec C and A-Line.  Initially available only in Japan and Singapore, the A-Line was an automatic-transmission version of the WRX STI, which featured a steering-wheel mounted semi-automatic paddle shifter.  Model year 2010 saw the North American release of the WRX STI Special Edition, which resembled the JDM Spec C.  For better handling, the Special Edition was fitted with thicker stabilizer bars and 18-inch alloy wheels.  Creature comforts were limited: The interior featured only manual A/C and a four-speaker audio system.

A 2014 WRX STI at a local car show.  Own work.

2011 saw the release of the limited-edition WRX STI S206 and S206 NBR CHALLENGE PACKAGE.  Both received many STI-derived parts, but also gained Recaro bucket seats, a unique carbon-fiber roof, and carbon rear spoiler.  Just like the 2008 20th Anniversary Edition hatchback, only 300 examples of this model were produced.  In 2012, Subaru made a few more improvements on the WRX STI, Spec C, and A-Line Type S.  The STI gained some A-Line equipment, such as a premium tan interior and forged alloy BBS wheels.  The Spec C was now available as a 4-door sedan, but got a rear spoiler delete.  These models had 17-inch wheels and optional A/C.  In 2013, Subaru released their final special editions for this generation, the WRX STI tS Type RA and WRX STI tS Type RA NBR CHALLENGE PACKAGE.  Sales ended in August 2014.

A 2015 WRX at the 2015 VIAS.  Own work.

For the fourth generation, Subaru took a different turn in producing the high-end WRX and WRX STI lines. These models, with the chassis code VA, gained their own slot in the Subaru lineup. Although much of the bodywork was shared with the base Impreza, the WRX boasted other features and a more aggressive fascia unique to itself. Thus, the WRX remains separate from the Impreza lineup. The base 4th-gen Impreza (GJ/GP) began production in 2011, whereas the WRX and WRX STI debuted for 2015.

Powering the WRX is the 2.0L twin-turbo FA20F, which produces 268 horsepower and 258 ft/lbs of torque. This is the same engine used in the Forester XT (250 hp USDM) and is a variant of the naturally-aspirated FA20D used in the Subaru BRZ/Toyota 86. Performance aids include the twin-turbo units mounted lower in the engine bay to help reduce the car’s center of gravity, as well as a higher compression ratio of 10.6:1. Although both the previous EJ-series engine and the FA20 have a redline of 6700 rpm, the latter has the advantage over the former in that the higher compression ratio provides a wider torque peak. Although a 6-speed manual could be paired up, Subaru introduced a new CVT with paddle shifters.

Own work.

As to be expected, the WRX STI is a much more potent version of the WRX. Besides the cosmetic upgrades such as a large rear spoiler, the STI is powered by either a 2.0L EJ207 or a 2.5L EJ257. While Japan got the smaller EJ20 unit, the North American STI has the 2.5-liter, which throws 305 horsepower; up 5 horses from the previous generation. Model year 2018 saw the release of the limited-run WRX STI Type RA. Improvements in performance include increased power (310 horsepower), recalibrated transmission, 6-piston Brembo brakes, carbon rear spoiler, and weight reduction. The driver could be seated in a Recaro seat with STI stitching embedded into it. Only 500 examples of the Type RA were sold.

Chevrolet Corvette Part Three: Corvette for the 21st Century

In this third part of the Corvette story, we will be looking at the C6 and C7 generations.  The C6 was produced from 2005 to 2013, and the C7 from 2014.

After the C5 Corvette discontinued after 2004, the C6 debuted for the 2005 model year.  The new C6 Corvette deviated from the aging hidden-headlight design, although the quad-taillight layout was reserved.  Compared to the C5, the C6 boasted a longer wheelbase (105.7 in) and increased height (49 in).  Since the Corvette now shared the second-generation “Y-body” chassis with the Cadillac XLR, GM decided to throw in a few luxury amenities for the interior.  Reworking of the interior included soft-touch materials for the seats and steering wheel, metallic accents, and cupholders.  Power for this luxury sportster came from a revised LS2 engine, which replaced the outgoing LS1.  This new engine was bored out to 6.0 liters and could throw 400 horsepower.  In its first year of production, the C6 sold 37,372 examples.

Late 2005 saw the introduction of the 6L80 6-speed paddle-shift automatic transmission.  Also new was the Z06 coupe, which utilized an all-aluminum architecture, stiffer suspension setup, stiffer anti-sway bars, and wider and grippier tires.  Power came from a larger version of the Generation IV small-block, the LS7.  This engine displaced 7.0 liters (1.0 liter larger than the LS2) and threw out 505 horsepower.  This “427” engine recalled the 427 CID (7.0L) big-blocks utilized in 60’s Corvettes.  Model year 2006 sales slid to 34,021 units.  In 2008, the LS3 replaced the LS2 as the base engine.  This new engine was bored out to 6.2 liters and developed 430 horsepower.  In addition, the new manual transmission was the Tremec TR6060, which was claimed to give faster shifting times.  2009 saw the debut of the ZR1, the monstrous supercar Corvette of this generation.  It featured a supercharged 6.2L LS9 with 638 horses and a wealth of carbon fiber all around its body.  In 2010, the Grand Sport debuted in both coupe and convertible body styles.  This model replaced the Z51 performance package, and housed the LS3 as its power source.  However, the LS3 in automatic models had a wet sump, and manual models had a dry sump.  The 2010 GS also boasted larger sway bars, revised shocks and springs, functional brake ducts, cross-drilled Z06 brakes, and wider tires.  In 2011, Chevy debuted a limited-edition Z06 with loads of carbon.  The Carbon Edition borrowed the active suspension system and many carbon fiber components from the ZR1.  Only 500 Carbon Edition Corvettes were produced.  Also that year, some Z06 models gained the Z07 performance package.  2012 production fell to 11,647; the lowest in the C6 generation.  The end of the C6 generation’s run coincided with the Corvette’s 60th birthday year in 2013.  As part of its 60th Anniversary package, the 427 Convertible Collector Edition was released.  Power came from the 7.0L LS7 which threw out 505 horsepower.  In total, 13,466 Corvettes were produced for 2013, and 215,123 in the C6 generation overall.

Although the C7 was in development since 2007, the release date was delayed from its originally planned 2011 model year debut by 3 years.  Nevertheless, it released for the public in September 2013 as a 2014 model.  With the Cadillac XLR long out of production, the Corvette was now the sole inhabitant of the Y-body platform.  Also notable was the “Stingray” moniker for base Corvettes.  This was the first Stingray since its discontinuation in 1976.  The Stingray was back – as both a coupe and convertible, although the convertible debuted a little later in late 2013.  Power came from a new 6.2-liter LT1 throwing 450 horsepower.  With an optional Performance Exhaust, the Stingray could develop 460 horses.  Eventually, the sixth-generation Camaro would also have this same engine.  The C7’s manual transmission option was an all-new 7-speed TR6070 unit.  The C7 Corvette features a carbon fiber hood, removable roof panel, fiberglass composite fenders and doors, carbon-nano composite underbody, and hydro-formed aluminum chassis.  The Corvette won Automobile Magazine’s “Automobile of the Year” award in 2014.  It was also a Finalist for Motor Trend’s Car of the Year award.

In 2015, Chevy debuted the Corvette Z06.  Also new that year was the revised 8-speed automatic transmission, which replaced the outgoing 6-speed unit.  The C7-era Z06 featured a unique double-wishbone suspension and MagneRide dampers, electronic limited-slip differential, extended fenders and larger splitters.  This aggressive body kit was backed by an equally aggressive LT4 engine.  The LT4 came equipped with a supercharger and could throw 650 horsepower and 650 ft/lbs of torque.  These engine specifications are the same in the 2017-up Camaro ZL1.

For 2016, Daytona Sunrise Orange Metallic, Night Race Blue, Shark Gray, and Laguna Blue exterior colors were discontinued.  The base Stingray coupes accounted for more than half of the Corvette’s total production and sales, with the exception of some other special editions.  Mainly as an appearance package, the Z06 C7.R Edition featured a suede interior, competition racing seats, and yellow contrast stitching.  Only 650 such examples were produced.  Total Corvette production for 2016 was 40,689 units.

The 2017 Grand Sport debuted at the 2016 Geneva Auto Show.  The Grand Sport featured a dry-sump 460 horsepower LT1 engine.  It also came equipped with carbon ceramic brakes, Michelin Pilot Sport 2 / Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires, 14-inch Brembo brakes, magnetic ride control, stabilizer bars, and electronic LSD.  For 2017, a total of 11,958 Grand Sport models (coupes and convertibles both accounted for) were produced, with a total of 32,782 Corvettes overall.  The 2018 model year was notably short; Corvette production began in November 2017 and ended in January 2018.  Quite possibly a C7-generation low, only 9,686 Corvettes were produced.

The 2019 Corvette ZR1 debuted at the 2017 Dubai Motor Show.  The early-risen ZR1 features a new supercharged LT5 engine, capable of outputting 755 horsepower.  Inside, the ZR1 features Nappa leather, heated seats, and carbon fiber steering wheel.