Video: 1999 Mazda Miata “NB” – (Angeles Crest) One Take

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If the Miata is the roadster that started it all, the “NB,” or second-generation Miata is the one that kept it going. It’s much more of a modern-looking car than the original roadster, and with more power and a significantly improved interior, feels it too. This is a low-mileage, mostly stock example that has been well cared for its entire life, so it’s worth experiencing what a new-ish 15-year old Miata feels like. This week, we’ve chosen Angeles Crest Highway, which is more open, and allows the driver to carry both more speed and more momentum through corners. But does the Miata have enough power? Let’s find out. 

Video: Project Fiesta ST Gets 100 Octane Pro Tune, Review + Dyno

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We’ve decided that it’s a good idea to see what’s possible to get out of a Fiesta ST with a stock engine. So far, all we’ve done is a basic Stage 1 Tune, then the Stage 2 Intake, Intercooler + Tune, then the Stage 3, Exhaust Motor Mount, and Tune. Pipes and computers; that’s it. And all the parts from Cobb Tuning have worked gloriously at turning the Fiesta ST into something fun but slow-ish, into a legitimate pocket rocket you can drive every day. But what happens when you fill the tank with 100 Octane Racing Fuel and put it back on the dyno for Cobb’s Pro-Tune? Let’s find out.

Ridealong Review: The Ringbrothers’ 1,000 HP “RECOIL”

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By Jonathon Klein

God’s 1,000 Horsepower Hammer

All I kept muttering to myself as we backed out of the garage was, “this car has a 1,000 horsepower. My car barely has a fifth of that. Although I did drive the Hellcat? But that’s not a 1,000 horsepower!” I was partly terrified and partly high due to the adrenaline coursing through my veins as Jim Ring put the car into first and started onto the highway. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

A few weeks ago, I was invited to check out the Ring Brothers shop in Spring Green, Wisconsin. I had been a fan of their work for quite some time, and I finally had the opportunity to go and bug them for a few hours.

Let me start out with saying that the Rings are beyond kind, and even took me to lunch where we talked for about an hour. We talked classic cars sales. How they too hated chrome and trailer queens. They call those cars “car washers,” as in you go wash your car and then just sit out in front of it. And of course my lovely editors here who were able to drive the Pantera last year. Let me tell you, these two guys are truly spectacular.

Back at the shop, I spoke with their dad about how Jim and Mike got started. He said they would rip apart lawn mowers faster than he could buy new ones, and that it just lead them to where they are today.

They are men after my own heart, true hot-rodder’s, and are responsible for some of the most impressive cars on the planet. However, this is their most beastly creation. Recoil.

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Recoil started its life as a 1966 Chevrolet Chevelle. It had a pokey motor. It weighed a few metric tons, and had about as much ground clearance as most modern SUV’s. That essentially gave it absolutely piss poor handling. What the Ring Brother did was replace almost every single part on the car. And those parts they didn’t replace, they modified in some way by hand to make the car better. That also goes for the motor as well.

Gone is the original 350, and in its place a LS7 with a massive Whipple supercharger that turns gasoline into 980 horsepower and more noise than god. That almighty power is sent through a 6-speed Tremec T56 transmission that feels like a slotting back the bolt of a rifle, and when you’re putting down 1,000 horsepower, you want something accurate.

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What they did was create a fire breathing, rib bruising, monster that has a taste for Michelin tires.

However, when the brothers fire it up, it doesn’t sound like the gates of hell are opening with Iron Maiden rocking out on buzz saws that use human blood as a lubricant. It actually sounds rather tame. Almost like you could daily it without suffering considerable hearing loss.

That all changes when Jim stomps on the gas and all hell breaks loose.

He shifts from 1st through 4th without the back tires ever hooking up. That quite docile motor becomes enormously loud, and I can’t even hear myself laughing. The tires are straining and trying to grasp any bit of traction available. It’s immensely impressive how this car puts its power down. Even though we never got full traction, we were immediately going at implausible speeds very quickly. “Allegedly.”

1,000 horsepower, even with minimal traction feels like you’re getting hit in the chest by an elephant every time he shifted the transmission. It’s awe-inspiring. I’ve never felt such power, and since I had to sit on bare metal and not the cushion to properly fit in the car, I felt every bit of it through my ass.

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We went for a 15-minute ride through the back roads of Spring Green and in that time we, startled a herd of cows, shook the ground strictly from the exhaust, and almost ran over an idiotic squirrel looking for his nuts! It was amazing.

However, even more than the Earth shattering power this car delivers is the attention to detail these brothers had with this car. You could stare at it for hours and not notice every piece touched by their hands. It’s a stunning amount of labor and sweating out all the details with a car like Recoil.

Take for instance the pedal box and wiring harness. These are features that no one will ever see. It’s all behind the dash, but both were painstakingly modified to be just as pleasing to the eye as the bare carbon pieces all around the car. The wiring loom alone looks as if it was woven by artisans from the 15th century Italy. Or take how the gas struts on the trunk won’t allow you to slam it and wreck the paint. Each and every square inch has been somehow touched by the brothers hands, however, my favorite detail is Recoil’s steering wheel.

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It’s not that same billet piece every other custom muscle car runs. Likewise, it’s not just another Sparco some of the racier customs use, but rather it’s a one-off piece of machined aluminum that takes this car to a whole other level. It’s a very similar design to the custom HRE wheels the car has as well.

In the end though, this car is meant to be driven, and drive it we did. Although I’m not sure how I’m going to top a 1,000 horsepower Chevelle?

Review: Chrysler 300 V6

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by Jonathon Klein

Enter a man strumming a guitar out of focus, peaking through the window overlooking the ruins of Detroit. A gravelly voice comes out with, “Is there anything more American than America?” With iconic “American” scenes playing across the screen he continues with, “Making the best, making the finest takes conviction.” All of this leading up to him telling the world that while we should let the rest of the world make our beer, build our phones and watches, we should “let America build your car.”

The ad went viral after it aired during the Superbowl due to people bitching about how Bob Dylan seemingly sold out and did the commercial for a paycheck. Outside the internet community, the ad was so successful that it became Chrysler’s platform for “America’s Import” ads. They spoke to an American public that was just coming out of the painful throws of another depression, and showed off that we could potentially be great once more.

Following these ads up are now a new collection of ads that have both a Japanese and German person speaking in their native tongues about how refined, how awesome “this” car is. Then seeing the Chrysler badge and flipping out because they “thought” they were talking about a car from their own respective countries aiming to illustrate that truly Chrysler has come a long way.

But all the ads, all the misdirection and slightly odd innuendos. Everything Chrysler did would be for naught if the cars were still shitboxes like they were from the 1980’s to the early 2000’s. And the Chrysler 300 is at the forefront of this charge. Having one for a week, I wanted to see if Chrysler made good on their promise of being America’s Import or if they were still crap?

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With the new 300, Chrysler clearly designed the car to hark back to the days of big American cars. It’s meant to make a bold statement, and the design is definitively better than the previous generation. This new body is one that exudes luxury, but does so with a quiet grace that’s usually reserved for something German. Although, the car is roughly the size of a Nimitz Class aircraft carrier and handles about as well as one to boot.

Given the size, I never felt the car was overly big. I never felt claustraphobic or that the ends would scrape the sides of parallel parked cars. It’s big, but it’s a subdued presence, and one that is perfectly tailored to this car. And because of that size, you get miles and miles of leg room both in the front and in the back.

I had just got back from a road trip from Chicago to Austin. We took my FR-S. While it wasn’t unbearably tight, it absolutely ruined my back. The 300 on the other hand provided comfort both with the ample space and wonderfully plush heated leather seats, which helped get feeling back in my neck. Additionally, what also helped was that the ride couldn’t be smoother.

I don’t know if they went to Rolls Royce, or Mercedes, but I could have done the memory foam wine glass test in the car and it would’ve passed. The only way you knew that you had gone over some broken part of the road was just a quiet noise while passing over it. There was no jarring lurch, no bounce like a disco era Cadillac, the car just cruised over the bumps and made the experience that much more comfortable.

My biggest takeaway with this car was that it never felt like it was going to fall apart. You’d get into an old Chrysler and feel your teeth loosening with each bump. This felt solid. Each part felt heavy, very similar to German or Swedish luxury cars. The heavy you get from dropping a lot of money for a reclaimed steel kart from the 20’s that’s been marked up by Restoration Hardware a 1000%. A far cry from the Chrysler of old. Even the gauges were wonderful to look at.

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However, seeping through are some of Chrysler’s old cost cutting techniques.

First off, Chrysler’s engineers apparently couldn’t be bothered on the day it came down to the design of the steering wheel and just reused the same one from the last generation. It’s so bland, so boring, and it feels really cheap. It almost takes you out of the luxury car experience, and Chrysler can’t afford for that to happen.

But at least it’s not dangerous, as I found out with the headlights. They are flat-out terrible, and offer no more than 80ft of illumination. I don’t know if they were calibrated incorrectly or that they were just that bad, but they need to be changed. Ultimately, these small problems can be quickly fixed to make this car really quite good. However, what can’t is the lack of soul that comes from the engine.

I won’t say that the Pentastar V6 is a bad engine, it just lacks any character. It sounds a lot like every other V6 on the market. That said, it does pull the heavy car quite welll. Add to that, the 8-speed transmission makes for very smooth shifts. It just didn’t wow me. The engine feels disposable, as if Chrysler were told to just build some engine.

BMW, Audi, and Mercedes, whom Chrysler are going after with this car, all have cars centered around their own respective engines. That focus on the engine first, gives more character to the rest of the car, something that the 300 just doesn’t have. I’m sure that a V8 would make for a completely different experience, but the V6 just doesn’t add anything to the car.

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When Chrysler set out to rejuvenate the brand after coming out of bankruptcy, I was skeptical. How could a company that’s been so lost for so long come back? I figured that after a few months, they’d be gone with the likes of Pontiac and Saab. Somehow though, they came back, and with one of the best lineup’s of cars in the world.

The 300 really showcases Chrysler’s commitment to pushing past their old image of absolutely terrible cars and into one that truly embodies those corny commercials they’ve been producing. Between the Guts and the Glory, the Imported from Detroit, and America’s Import, Chrysler is definitely on it’s way back to the world stage.