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Delightfully Impractical Cars That You Must Have

To some of us, certain cars are better than women. They can be depended upon. It is easy to know what is wrong if they are acting up and they never put you through any kind of mind game. Straightforward and sexy as hell. If women didn't have uses that a car can not fulfill, men would do without them all together. Yes, that is offensively sexist, so no need to mention it in the comments section. By the by, this writer's opinions do not necessarily reflect those of the owner of this blog. Whew, now that the legals are covered, let's have a look at a few cars that are so outlandishly expensive and/or impractical that you may almost feel as if they are must haves in your life.

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Lotus Seven

We went back in time a bit for the Lotus Seven for a few reasons. First, the car is a damn solid bit of history that only a limited number of auto enthusiasts know about. Secondly, it fits nicely on our list. The Lotus Seven was produced between 1957 and 1972 and enjoyed immense success for a car produced by a boutique automaker. More than 2,500 units were sold, with many being tuned to race on the clubman circuit. Once Lotus turned away from producing the Seven, Caterham purchased the rights to all aspects of the car and continues to produce body kits and entire cars. Amazingly, that segues nicely into the next car!

Caterham Seven

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The Caterham Seven instantly transports you back to the earlier days of the Lotus Seven. The basic design of the car has remained nearly unchanged since 1957. The main changes have been in production methods and materials used. The Seven can be bought in three types and multiple trim levels, but we think the most exciting is the CSR260 Superlight. This unit is powered by a 260 bhp Ford Cosworth Duratec, yet only weighs 550 kg. The Superlight offers a 0-100 km/h time of just 3.1 seconds and has a top speed of 249 km/h. The car also incorporates an interesting Multimatic ''Dynamic Suspensions'' system to improve handling and cornering. In other words, the thing corners like it is on rails!

BAC Mono

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The Briggs Automotive Company produces the BAC Mono. The Mono is billed as a single-seat road legal sports car. Given that the car is all carbon fibre stretched over a steel chassis and is based on the construction techniques used in DTM racing, that is a very accurate billing. The Mono is powered by a Ford Cosworth that has been heavily tuned to produce 285 bhp and 279 N-m of torque. The engine is paired to an F3-compliant six-speed sequential gearbox from Hewland. The result is a 0-100 km/h time of 2.8 seconds and a top speed of 274 km/h. It came down to a coin toss as to whether to include the BAC Mono or the Ariel Atom. The coin kept landing on its edge, so...clever segue to the Atom.

Ariel Atom

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The Ariel Atom is a very distinctive car. It is in its seventh generation and has several variants. Perhaps the most interesting variant is the Ariel Atom 500 V8 Limited Edition. This variant is powered by a 500 bhp engine developed by John Hartley. The body is, of course, carbon fibre. The Atom uses aerofoils, chromoly aerofoil wishbones, an integrated function steering wheel, and Alcon four-piston brake calipers to help control the raw power. The powerplant is mated to an SADEV 6-speed sequential gearbox. Claimed 0-100 km/h time is ''less than 2.3 seconds.'' Unfortunate for the common man, only 100 atoms are made per year. Yeah, limited production is why we don't all have one.

Alfa Romeo 4C

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The Alfa Romeo 4C creeps a bit closer to practicality, but not for us mere mortals. This is a car for the gods...well maybe for someone with a bigger bank account than most of us. The 4C is powered by an aluminium 1,742cc turbocharged I4 that pushes 240 bhp to a six-speed TCT Dual Dry Clutch Transmission. The engine has been designed for minimal weight and maximum speed. The 4C has a 0-100 km/h time of 4.5 seconds and a top speed of 258 km/h. If those numbers are not impressive enough, Alfa has confirmed that a larger engine is on the immediate horizon for the 4C. The new engine will offer closer to 280 bhp.

Bentley Flying Spur

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It is impossible to build a list of impractical cars without including a Bentley! What better car to include than the 5,998 cc W12 TSI twin-turbocharged Flying Spur. The engine thrusts 616 bhp through an eight-speed ZF transmission. The total effects is a 4.6 second 0-100 km/h time and a top speed in the neighborhood of 300 km/h. Those numbers would not be very impressive if they were not attached to a very heavy luxury saloon.

Dodge Viper ACR

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Might as well let the Americans have a mention. The Dodge Viper American Club Racing (ACR) Edition is a road legal sports car by the barest of technicalities. On the pavement, it is as impractical as you can get. It is nearly impossible to imagine handling 600 bhp and 760 N·m on the streets on a regular basis. Designed to take to the track like a duck takes to water, the ACR offers 4.45 Kn of downforce. The power output and downforce must work, because the ACR has set records on thirteen different tracks in the States. According to Tim Kuniskis, FCA's North American Head of Passenger Car Brands, ''The SCCA has certified that the new 2016 Dodge Viper ACR holds more track records than any other production car in the world. We expected our new Viper ACR to be the fastest street-legal Viper track car ever. Now we know without a doubt that it is.'' Yep, as impractical as hell and any driving enthusiast would be happy to sit behind the wheel all day. 

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Cars That Changed Automotive Design Forever

If we were to be honest, we would all have to admit that the vast majority of the cars we pass each day look so similar that it is difficult to distinguish one automaker from another without careful study. Cookie-cutter design has become so prevalent that buyers often forget that there was a time when automotive design was a major aspect of each new model launch, with every manufacturer looking to stand out visually. Modern supercars have even begun to resemble each other. It is enough to drive an automobile enthusiast to drink...pass us a pint, will you love?

Most radically innovative designs are relegated to the rank of non-production concept vehicles. On occasion, an interesting design element makes it to the masses. It is those few that we will be concerning ourselves with today. Without further ado, here are several cars that changed automotive design forever...or at least started a design trend during their time period.

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1948 Cadillac

  

Every manufacturer in the world was heavily influenced by aircraft and rocketry during the late 1940s through the early 1960s. There were many concepts created during this period that were near twins of aircraft at the time. If you look at some of them, you expect them to launch at any moment. Perhaps the main design element of the period that influenced production models was the tailfin. Iconic American automotive designer Harley Earl was the first to put larger-than-life tailfins on a car, kicking off a craze that lasted for nearly twenty years.

1974 Lamborghini Countach

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The wedge is one of the most iconic design innovations known the to automotive world. Writers and enthusiasts debate the origins of the design, but one of the earliest is the 1968 Alfa Romeo Carabo designed by Marcello Gandini of Bertone. The concept version of the Lamborghini Countach that arrived in 1971 drew heavily from the Carabo in its wedge form, wheel house openings, and its notorious scissor-doors, which leads us to the 1974 Countach.

The name Countach is taken from the Piedmontese dialect and means astonishment and amazement. That is exactly what the first production Countach did to the world. Everything about the car heavily influences supercars today. It is nearly impossible to find a mid-engine hypercar that does not feature the cabin-forward design as well as the iconic scissor-door system. Granted, modern cars are as aerodynamic as the '74 looks and feature much improved dampening systems, but each draws heavily from the innovations of Gandini.

1970 Land Rover Range Rover

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To many the Ford Explorer is the progenitor of the modern SUV craze, just as the early VW is credited with spearheading the minivan insanity. We beg to differ. Ford may have created an SUV for the masses, but Land Rover created the foremost. Even a layperson can see the heavy influence that 1970 Range Rover had on the design of the early Ford Explorer. So, why didn't the Range Rover become the sparkling success that the Explorer did? Money. The average consumer could easily afford an Explorer, the Range Rover was, and still is, a premium offering.

2005 Mercedes-Benz CLS

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The 2005 Mercedes-Benz CLS was the first production saloon to feature a coupe-like design. The more sporty profile caught on, influencing other premium brands to follow suit. BMW climbed on board with the 6-series Gran Sport and Audi followed with the A7. Making inroads in the premium segment would not necessarily make the design influential, but when its elements started to appear in economy saloons like the Hyundai Sonata, it became an official mover and shaker. If you look further, you can see a semblance of the design element in SUVs like the Acura ZDX and the BMW X6.

2004 Toyota Prius

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The Toyota Prius can not claim to be the first hybrid ever produced, but it can claim to be the best selling and most fuel efficient available to the general public. The 2004 Toyota Prius can also claim to have set a design profile that has become the standard for what an economy hybrid is supposed to look like. The Prius's exterior has become so ingrained in our minds that we can close our eyes and still see the damn thing. If you doubt how influential the Prius's design is, just look at a Honda Insight or a Chevrolet Volt. Now, if Toyota would be so kind as to make the Prius more fun to drive there would be more of them on the roads.

2006 Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano

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Before the 599 GTB Fiorano, downforce was provided through wings and spoilers. Both are effective, but do not add anything to a car's design...despite what shade-tree tuners may think. The 2006 599 GTB Fiorano introduced the high-performance world to flying buttresses over the rear quarter panels. The design allows for excellent downforce without overly affecting a car's drag coefficient. While you will not see them on your daily driver for a while, they are prominently featured on just about every dream car. Take a look at the new Porsche 918 Spyder, any McLaren, or the BMW i8.

There are other cars that could have made this list. Some would say the Audi R8 should be here because it was the first to have LED headlamps, then there is the Ford Explorer for starting the cookie-cutter SUV trend. One could even argue for the second-generation Dodge Ram for making truck design more aggressive and less utilitarian. In our defense, the R8 simply used a new material for headlamps and someone was bound to create a bland SUV at some point.

We would love to hear about other influential design elements form our readers. Feel free to dress us down in the comments section.

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Cars From Geneva That We May Never See

If you attend an international auto show, you will see the latest offerings from automakers big and small. They make for great news fodder in every market. Those offerings are the main reason that trade magazines attend these shows; but, if you ask the onsite reporters, many will tell you they enjoy the bizarre, overpowered, and interesting interpretations from tuners, boutique makers, and aftermarket specialists. These companies offer heavily nuanced versions of standard fare sporting interesting fiberglass body kits or build their own cars. Most have one thing in common, they will never make it to mass production. This year's Geneva show offered many such ''interesting characters'', so we thought our readers would enjoy seeing a few of them.

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2017 Subaru Impreza: First Ride On A New Platform   

image-4The Impreza has long been Subaru's best selling model. Nearly every shade-tree tuner has turned their attention to an Impreza WRX at some time or another. With the Impreza's global attraction, it only make sense that the 2017 Subaru Impreza will be the first model to ride on the automaker's new global platform. We thought our readers would like to have a close-up look at the new platform and the next-gen Impreza; thus, the impetus for this post. Continue reading “2017 Subaru Impreza: First Ride On A New Platform   ” »

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Cars That Changed Automotive Design Forever

If we were to be honest, we would all have to admit that the vast majority of the cars we pass each day look so similar that it is difficult to distinguish one automaker from another without careful study. Cookie-cutter design has become so prevalent that buyers often forget that there was a time when automotive design was a major aspect of each new model launch, with every manufacturer looking to stand out visually. Modern supercars have even begun to resemble each other. It is enough to drive an automobile enthusiast to drink...pass us a pint, will you love?

Most radically innovative designs are relegated to the rank of non-production concept vehicles. On occasion, an interesting design element makes it to the masses. It is those few that we will be concerning ourselves with today. Without further ado, here are several cars that changed automotive design forever...or at least started a design trend during their time period.image Continue reading “Cars That Changed Automotive Design Forever” »

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Shaping The World: The Top Used Machinery Brands   

image-5Since the dawn of humanity, man has been trying to shape the world around him to meet his needs. It most likely began with removing foliage from the mouth of a cave, then moved to leveling the interior of said cave. Soon, he was looking to clear cut areas around his domicile in order to more clearly see threats before they arrived. Soon, man as digging killing pits to drive his supper toward. Continue reading “Shaping The World: The Top Used Machinery Brands   ” »

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The 2017 Q2: Audi's CUV Assault

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Over the past decade, the crossover SUV market has become inundated with models from every possible automaker. Iconic luxury brands like Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Lexus have more models than a person can count on a single hand; yet, Audi has stoically trodged on, offering just three entries into the market. The legendary four-ring moniker has only graced the Q3, Q5, and Q7 units for the majority of recent memory. All three have been vastly successful, but Audi lacks an entry in the smallest size segment. Given that the smallest CUVs offer automakers the largest profit margins, it is no surprise that Audi has decided to enter the market with the Q2. A tad belated, but a boon to buyers nonetheless. Continue reading “The 2017 Q2: Audi's CUV Assault” »

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Feeding The World: The Top Five Used Tractor Brands   

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The plough has been in use for centuries. During that time, it went nearly unchanged. The plough used by early Roman farmers was nearly the same as those used by farmers through the 18th century. The main evolutions of the plough saw it morph from a rough hewn piece of wood with a point to a finely molded piece of wood with an iron point. It wasn't until 1797 that a gentleman farmer patented the first cast iron plow with a sculpted moldboard for deep and even furrows. Continue reading “Feeding The World: The Top Five Used Tractor Brands   ” »

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Ranking The Top 10 Compact Crossover SUVs

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The compact crossover SUV is designed to seamlessly blend a traditional saloon with an SUV. The melding creates a mixture of daily utility and mild off-road capabilities, yet leaves drivers with the more refined driving experience of a car. As an added bonus, they offer owners better fuel economy than the colossal truck-based SUVs that predate them. Automakers, ever responsive to buyer's whims, have flooded the market with offerings; confusing potential buyers. To clear up some of the confusion, we have built this list of the top 10 compact crossover SUVs. Continue reading “Ranking The Top 10 Compact Crossover SUVs” »

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We Like Our Cars A Little Heavy On The Torque Side

Have you ever had that mate who seems to get all of the attention to matter where you go? You know, the bloke that seems to have at least one really hot bird hanging on at all times, yet there is no discernible reason for it. Well, that is how torque must feel about horsepower. Torque is the number that truly measures a vehicle's power. After all, you can have a million ponies under the bonnet, but if your gearbox only pushes 100 N-m to the wheels, you are just wasting your time. To that end, we tracked down nine cars that offer more torque than horsepower. Ah, torque, sweet, sweet torque. By, the by, if you do not laugh about number five, you should nip down to see a doctor.

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