Karl on Cars

Let's Talk Cars, Motorcycles and Other Life-Changing Events

Month: June 2019 Page 1 of 2

Flash Back Friday: 1991 Dodge Stealth R/T Twin Turbo

1991 Dodge Stealth RT Twin Turbo

My 1991 Dodge Stealth R/T Twin Turbo made the perfect project vehicle while working at Super Street magazine

From 1992 to 1996 I drove two turbocharged Dodge’s as my primary transportation. They were both front-wheel-drive models with four-cylinder engines, and in the fall of 1996 I graduated to a new turbo Dodge with a tad more performance — a 1991 Dodge Stealth R/T Twin Turbo. I had loved the Dodge Stealth since it first debuted. The performance specs were impressive in the early 1990s: twin turbos, 300 horsepower, all-wheel drive and an adjustable suspension. Of course the Stealth was really just a re-bodied Mitsubishi 3000GT, and I liked both cars’ performance specs and loved their proportions. Even 27 years later I still think they look great.

1991 Dodge Stealth RT Twin Turob Rear

The 1991 Stealth R/T Twin Turbo made 300 horsepower and featured all-wheel drive

I bought my 1991 Dodge Stealth R/T Twin Turbo from a used car dealer in Santa Monica. It had 58,000 miles and I paid $12,000. For a 5-year-old performance car with the Stealth’s technical specs I thought it was a pretty good deal. What I didn’t know at the time was that Stealth R/T Twin Turbo maintenance calls for a timing belt change around 55,000 miles. Mine hadn’t been done, and less than a week after buying it the belt let go and the pistons crashed into the valves, destroying the top of the engine.

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Ford GT in Liquid Red: A Study in Dramatic Color

New Ford GT Liquid Red VMAX Mode

The glowing shimmer of Liquid Red on a Ford GT is not a Photo Shop filter

As I’ve stated many times, the Ford GT’s design is dramatic, making it capable of looking great in just about any color. With that said, I’ve decided Liquid Red is the Ford GT’s most dramatic color. If you go on the Ford GT Configurator you can see the car in all eight factory-offered colors. And not surprisingly, the Ford GT looks dramatic in every one of those colors — on the configurator.

New Ford GT Liquid Red Rear End

The Ford GT’s dramatic styling perfectly syncs with the the drama of Liquid Red

But I’ve seen multiple Ford GT’s in every factory color, and several non-factory colors, in person over the past 3 years. I can now say with full confidence that Liquid Red translates from the configurator to real life better than any other standard color. There’s a “shimmer” in the paint that almost doesn’t seem real.

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The Mustang Shelby GT350R: Best Track Car Ever?

2017-Ford-Mustang-Shelby-GT350R-Profile

The 2017 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350R looks great in Lightning Blue

It’s not an overstatement to describe the Ford Mustang Shelby GT350R as the most fun I’ve ever had at a race track. The Ford Performance engineers were targeting a car with not only power and poise but also uncompromised at-the-limit communication and confidence. And they nailed it.

2017 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350R Engine

The flat-plane V8 engine makes a glorious exhaust note as it revs past 8,000 rpm

Much ado has been made about the GT350R’s flat-plane V8, and deservedly so. The engine revs past 8,000 rpm, creating a glorious exhaust note while offering one of the broadest torque bands you’ll find in a modern, or vintage, automobile. The engine makes 526 horsepower and 429 pound-feet of torque. It’s mated to a slick-shifting Tremec 6-speed that sends power to a mechanical limited-slip differential.

2017 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350R Front

The GT350R can be ordered with optional stripes in various colors

The Shelby GT350R’s drivetrain is undeniably impressive, but it’s this Mustang’s handling capabilities that made me fall in love during the Ford GT Owners Rally in Utah. Hammering this car around Utah Motorsports Campus quickly illustrated both its ultimate grip and its confidence-inspiring behavior at the limit of traction.

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Two-Wheel Tuesday: 1991 Ducati 851 Superbike

1991 Ducati 851 Superbike

The Ducati 851 Superbike was among the most advanced bikes sold in the U.S. in 1991

On July 15th, 1992 I bought a 1991 Ducati 851 Superbike. This was my second Ducati, after selling my 1987 Ducati Paso a few days earlier. I had graduated from CU Boulder a couple months earlier and couldn’t normally afford a near-new Italian motorcycle, but I sold the Paso for $4,600 (a nice profit after buying it for $3,200) and the same dealer in Fort Collins, Colorado, offered me this bike for $8,700. A 1991 Ducati 851 Superbike cost over $12,000 new, and only a couple hundred were imported to the U.S. Getting a year-old 851, with 1,800 miles on the odometer, for $8,700 seemed like a deal I couldn’t pass up.

1991 Ducati 851 Superbike Gauges

The 851’s gauge cluster, controls and riding position were designed for aggressive performance

These Ducatis had an impressive spec sheet for the era. In 1991 there were only about four bikes offering fuel injection, two were Ducatis and two were BMWs. The 851 Superbike’s 90-degree V-twin also featured four valves per cylinder and water cooling. Horsepower was rated at 93 and weight was about 460 pounds. The Ducati 851 Superbike’s technology and performance was a big step up from my 1975 Triumph Trident and 1987 Ducati Paso. It’s capabilities on Colorado’s twisting mountain roads were, quite honestly, above my skill level at the time, though I slowly expanded my riding prowess. It’s red paint and Italian styling were also quite exotic in 1990s Colorado.

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Ford GT Owners Rally 12: Old and New Ford GTs, Plus a Mustang Shelby GT350R

Ford GT Owners Rally 12

A collection of over 80 Ford GTs attended Owners Rally 12

In August of 2017 another gathering of Ford GTs and Ford GT owners came together in Park City, Utah. While this was the 12th Ford GT Owners Rally, it was the first to feature new Ford GTs alongside 2005 and 2006 models. I had every intention of driving my 2005 Ford GT to this rally. After all, it was the same road trip I’d made in my GT just 4 months earlier to attend the new Ford GT press launch.

2017 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350R Grille

A Mustang Shelby GT350R is the perfect alternative to a Ford GT at this rally

Sadly, after planning to drive the GT my schedule shifted and I couldn’t afford the 2 extra days to make the trip up and back. I quickly purchased airplane tickets and wondered what kind of rental car I’d be stuck in while following GTs through the mountains of Utah. Then I had an idea. What if I contacted Ford and asked for one of the new Shelby GT350Rs? I hadn’t driven one yet, and I’d be showcasing the Shelby to a highly-targeted demographic of likely customers.

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Flash Back Friday: 1973 Dodge Challenger Rallye

1873 Dodge Challenger Rallye Front Karl

I purchased my first Dodge Challenger in 1991 while I was still attending college

I grew up a car guy for several reasons, not the least of which were two older car-guy brothers. Their influence had me reading about muscle cars, with a particular focus on Mopars, before I was 15. I was well schooled in all the various Mopar muscle cars before I got my driver’s permit, and while I gravitated toward the Plymouth Superbird and GTX I also had the same fondness for E-bodies that every Mopar fan has. The Dodge Challenger and Plymouth Barracuda are two of the most iconic muscle cars ever created.

1973 Dodge Challenger Rallye Interior

My Dodge Challenger Rallye’s interior was in relatively good shape

I’ve never owned a Plymouth Barracuda, but I’ve had two original Dodge Challengers. The first one, a 1973 Dodge Challenger Rallye, was purchased in 1991, during my last year in college. It was equipped about as well as that year’s Challenger could be, with a 340 V8, pistol-grip 4-speed transmission and factory air conditioning. It was also an original B5 Blue car with a black vinyl top, though when I got it the top was stripped off and the roof was painted black.

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New Ford GT Spec Sheet: The Specifications Behind Ford’s Supercar

New Ford GT Job 1

(NOTE: This caption was embedded in this photo’s digital signature, and while I can change it I’m leaving it here because, unlike too many captions attached to manufacturer photos, this caption is effective and informative) MARKHAM, Ontario, Canada, Dec. 16, 2016–The all-new Ford GT is entering the final phase of development and production has begun. One of the first Ford GTs is being driven off the line at the Multimatic assembly location with the first behind the scenes look at the assembly line for all-new Ford GT. The Ford GT is the culmination of years of Ford innovation in aerodynamics, lightweight carbon fiber construction and ultra-efficient EcoBoost engines. Pictured: Anthony Benincasa (left) and Adam Thorndyke.

The new Ford GT’s specs were as guarded as the Coke formula or Kentucky Fried Chicken’s secret recipe when the car was under development. The specs were finally, fully released during the car’s press launch in May of 2017. At that point most enthusiasts had a general idea of the primary specifications, but the below sheets offer it all up in stark black-and-white (with some gray and yellow thrown in) pixels.

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2017 Fabulous Fords Forever Features the IMSA Ford GT

2017 Fabulous Fords Forever Ford GT IMSA Race Car

The number 66 Ford GT IMSA race car graced the 2017 Fabulous Fords Forever event

Shortly after the press launch of the new Ford GT, in late April 2017, the annual Fabulous Fords Forever event happened at its traditional location, Knottsberry Farm. This event always features a massive collection of Ford vehicles, old and new. The range of models includes Thunderbirds, Broncos, Fairlanes, Torinos and as many Mustangs as I’ve ever seen.

2017 Fabulous Fords Forever Sebastian Bourdais

Factory Ford racer Sebastian Bourdais was on hand to sign autographs

The 2017 Fabulous Fords Forever event also had a display dedicated to the new Ford GT in racing form, including an IMSA race car and factory Ford driver Sebastian Bourdais signing autographs nearby. Sebastian is from Le Mans, France, which means he grew up watching that race in his hometown. I briefly spoke to him during the Fabulous Fords Forever event and congratulated him on winning the 2016 GTE Pro category and 2017 Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona.

2017-Fabulous Fords Forever Camilo Pardo

A collection of famous Ford personalities included Steve Saleen, John Clinard, Linda Vaughn and Camilo Pardo

Another traditional aspect of Fabulous Fords Forever includes an appearance by famous Ford personalities, including 1960s and 1970s motorsports spokesmodel Linda Vaughn, Cleo Shelby (Carroll Shelby’s wife) and Ford GT designer Camilo Pardo. John Clinard, longstanding Ford PR executive, hosts the personalities at a lunch that includes the famous Knottsberry Farm pie desert (yum!).

Two-Wheel Tuesday: 1975 Triumph T160 Trident

1975 Triumph Trident T160 Front

The 1975 Triumph T160 Trident was the last stand for vintage British triples

The first bike I’ll be featuring on Two-Wheel Tuesday is a 1975 Triumph T160 Trident. This was the last year of the vintage Triumph three-cylinder motorcycles that started production in 1968. I’ve actually owned two of these motorcycles, one when I was still in Colorado and one after I moved to California. They were identical, right down to color (both had the purple-and-white gas tank). The Triumph T160 Trident was a fabulous ending to a tragic story.

1975 Triumph T160 Trident

This final Trident featured disc brakes, a 5-speed transmission and electric start

In its final year the Triumph T160 Trident finally offered a 5-speed transmission, front and rear disc brakes and an electric starter. It was fully competitive with the Honda CB750, the Japanese motorcycle that essentially killed the British bike industry. Unfortunately, the Honda offered all those features years before the Trident, and by the time the T160 arrived its parent company was already in dire financial straits. The Triumph Trident T160 is the epitome of too little, too late. A few hundred stragglers were produced in 1976, dubbed Triumph Cardinals and sold to Saudi Arabia to serve as police bikes, before Triumph halted all production of its three-cylinder motorcycles.

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Ford Race Driver Billy Johnson Drives My 2005 Ford GT

2005 Ford GT Billy Johnson Karl

Ford race driver Billy Johnson drove my 2005 Ford GT during the new Ford GT press launch

One unexpected occurrence during the new Ford GT press launch was having Ford factory race driver, and lead Ford GT development driver, Billy Johnson drive my 2005 Ford GT. Billy had never driven a 2005 or 2006 Ford GT before the event, and when I heard that I was anxious to have him drive mine. The second-generation Ford GT remains one of the best-driving cars of all time, and I wanted Billy Johnson to experience it.

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