All posts by Larry Edsall

A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the Web and becoming the author of more than 15 books. In addition to being Editorial Director at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times, writes a weekly automotive feature for The Detroit News and is an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State Univeristy.

My car dream would be finding my father’s pre-war Packard

My Dad (far right) and his friends on the way to Niagara Falls | Edsall family photo
My Dad (far right) and his friends at the finish of their Niagara Falls trip | Edsall family photo

Here at ClassicCars.com and Classic Car News, our business cards include the usual information: corporate logo, individual’s name and job title, business address, telephone numbers, email address. But there’s one more line on our cards. It reads: “My dream car is a …”

I’d imagine that Bob Golfen’s dream car is some sort of Porsche, that Andy Reid’s is a car driven by “Bond, James Bond,” that the object of Nicole James’ desire is a Nissan Skyline originally available only in the Japanese Domestic Market, and that Dawn Antestenis, our own import from Scotland, wants some obscure but oh-so-practical vehicle, perhaps a Morris Minor, produced on the British Isles. Continue reading

Driven: 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata Grand Touring

2016 Mazda MX-5 (Miata) is 150 pounds lighter than the previous generation car | Larry Edsall photos
2016 Mazda MX-5 (Miata) is 150 pounds lighter than the previous generation car | Larry Edsall photos

There’s a secret that some automakers — and a lot of buff-book automotive writers — don’t want you to know: Horsepower is overrated.

Oh, it’s not that the automakers are cheating when they report on the output of their engines, it’s just that you don’t need 500 horsepower, or even 400 or even 300, for your car to be fun to drive. In fact, a mere 155 horsepower is plenty sufficient if your car is small and light and nimble. For example, if your car is the new 2016 Mazda MX-5 (aka Miata). Continue reading

Pick of the Day: 1949 Plymouth Suburban

1949 Plymouth Suburban
1949 Plymouth Suburban

You read that headline correctly. Our Pick of the Day is a 1949 Plymouth Suburban. Not a Chevy Suburban. Not a GMC Suburban. Not a Studebaker Suburban. Not a Nash Suburban. Not even a DeSoto Suburban. But a Plymouth Suburban.

The Suburban is best-known as Chevrolet’s full-size sport utility vehicle. However, the Suburban nomenclature has been used by various automakers on haulers based on car or truck underpinnings. In Plymouth’s case, as early as the 1936 model year there was a Suburban verison in the company’s “commercial sedan” lineup. Continue reading

RM Sotheby’s shows its confidence in Arizona as auction venue

Will this 19xx Mercedes-Benz 540 K Special Roadster become Arizona's first 8-figure auction sale? | RM Sotheby's photos by Darin Schnabel
Will this 19xx Mercedes-Benz 540 K Special Roadster become Arizona’s first 8-figure auction sale? | RM Sotheby’s photos by Darin Schnabel

We didn’t really make a big deal about it last year when the record for the most-expensive vehicle ever sold at an Arizona classic car auction was broken. Even though, actually, it was broken twice within a few hours. Continue reading

Buick celebrates performance heritage with new Avista concept

2016 Buick Avista concept car | Buick photos
2016 Buick Avista concept car | Buick photos

Buick is causing some commotion this week at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit with the unveiling of its Avista concept car, a 2+2 sports coupe with a twin-turbocharged V6 engine that, the automaker reports, pumps out in excess of 400 horsepower. Continue reading

Pick of the Day: 1969 Chevrolet Corvette Sportwagon

1969 Chevrolet Corvette Sportwagon
1969 Chevrolet Corvette Sportwagon

After unveiling the Chevrolet Corvette roadster at its GM Motorama shows in 1953, a year later the automaker displayed variations on the theme that included a Buick (Wildcat II), Pontiac (Bonneville Special), Oldsmobile (F-88), fastback (Chevrolet Corvair) and even a station wagon (Chevrolet Nomad).

Those vehicles were concept cars that didn’t go into production, though Chevrolet did apply the Corvair name to another vehicle and used Nomad as the badge for a full-sized, two-door station wagon. Continue reading

Driven: 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander SEL

2016 Mitsubishi Outlander SEL | Larry Edsall photos
2016 Mitsubishi Outlander SEL | Larry Edsall photos

Spending a week in the 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander SEL not only has changed my mind about the vehicle, but about the entire car company.

With the demise of the Montero, a genuine body-on-frame sport utility, and the Evo, a genuine street-legal rally car, I would have argued that Mitsubishi itself could become the next importer to withdraw from the U.S. automotive market, and that few people even would notice.

I was overwhelmingly unimpressed by the company’s initial i-MiEV electric car (hopefully, the new-for-2016 version is much improved) and the non-Evo version of the Lancer was, well, unexciting. There was/is no 2016-model-year Mirage compact, though the 2017 version was unveiled at the recent Los Angeles auto show.

Which leaves Mitsubishi with the Lancer, new i-MiEV and two versions of the 2016 Outlander, a crossover utility vehicle; there’s the plain Outlander, which has three rows of seats, and the Outlander Sport, with two rows.IMG_5046

I used the word “plain” in describing the Outlander, but after driving the car for a week I want to change that adjective. This isn’t just another ordinary crossover that puts three rows of seats above a rather compact footprint. This is a surprisingly capable and almost luxurious vehicle that drove off with a best value award at the annual Active Lifestyle Vehicle competition.

Base price on the 2016 Outlander is $22,995 (or add 2 grand if you want all-wheel rather than front-wheel drive). That’s the basic ES version. There’s also an SE that starts at $23,995 and the upscale SEL, which is what we’ve been in, at $24,995.

For that price, you not only get seating for seven but leather-covered seating, with heated front seats; a power-adjustable driver’s seat; dual-zone front climate controls; gloss-black interior accents; 6.1-inch touch-screen display with HD radio; Bluetooth; rear camera; power locks, etc.; cupholders front, middle and rear; rear underfloor storage; hill-start assist; auto-off headlamps; fog lamps; heated exterior mirrors; 18-inch wheels; a full array of airbags, and more.

Power comes from a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine, good for 166 horsepower and 162 pound-feet of torque, which goes to the front wheels through a continuously variable transmission.IMG_5048

While the engine doesn’t present very impressive power numbers, we did a drive from the floor of the Valley of the Sun in Phoenix up to Payson and the Mogollon Rim in the Outlander and (a) the CVT was never hunting to find the right gear, (b) this little powertrain has plenty of spunk, climbing from around 1,100 to a mile high posed no serious challenge, and (c) the CVT provides a Sport mode that holds its gearing so you don’t have to ride your brakes as you descend back down into the Valley.

Not only the powertrain but the car’s steering and suspension proved agile and responsive as we hustled up the fast but winding road through the mountains between Phoenix and Payson. The Outlander proved itself more than capable, and even sort of fun to drive.

And while the performance might belie the power numbers, there’s the bonus of the Outlander being rated at 25 miles per gallon in town and at 31 on the open highway.

Rear seats upright and there’s room behind them for groceries or a couple of overnight bags. Fold them down (which requires removing the very tall headrests; tall, we figure, to provide more protection) and there’s lots of room, and fold down the second row as well and you can go big-box shopping.

Our press-fleet Outlander came equipped with one option, the SEL Touring Package. For $5,250 you get navigation, forward collision mitigation, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, auto headlight control, rain-sensing wipers, power remote liftgate, power folding exterior mirrors , windshield-wiper de-icer, power sunroof and 710-watt Rockford Fosgate premium audio with satellite radio.

Add in destination fees and the as-tested price was $31,095.

Also available are a $1,900 SEL Premium Package that includes the sunroof, 710-watt audio, power liftgate, power folding mirrors and windshield washer de-icer and a $1,550 SEL Advanced Safety Package with the forward collision, adaptive cruise, lane departure, auto headlamp, rain-sensing wipers, power mirrors and de-icer. There are also all sorts of accessories, from remote starting to rear-seat DVD player.

Not only is the Outlander well-equipped, it’s nicely designed as well and features Mitsubishi’s “Dynamic Shield” styling theme.

Outfit an Outlander to meet your personal needs and you’ll likely understand why the active lifestyle voters — media and athletes — gave it an award.IMG_5058

Although there’s no trophy to go with it, here’s more praise: I’ll recommend the Outlander to my youngest daughter when she’s ready to replace the compact crossover in which she’s been hauling around three of my grandchildren. That’s about the highest endorsement for a vehicle a grandfather could offer.

2016 Mitsubishi Outlander SEL
Vehicle type: 7-passenger crossover utility vehicle, front-wheel drive
Base price: $24,995 Price as tested: $31,095
Engine: 2.4-liter four-cylinder, 166 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm, 162 pound-feet of torque @ 4,200 rpm Transmission: continuously variable
Wheelbase: 105.1 inches Overall length/width: 184.8 inches / 7.13 inches
Curb weight: 3,340pounds
EPA mileage estimates: 25 city / 31 highway / 27 combined
Assembled in: Okazaki, Japan

Hudson collector, museum founder Hostetler dies at 93

Eldon Hosteler had the world's largest collection of Hudson vehicles | Gilmore Car Museum photo
Eldon Hosteler had the world’s largest collection of Hudson vehicles | Gilmore Car Museum photo

Eldon Hostetler, who assembled the world’s largest collection of Hudson vehicles, died January 8 at the age of 93, the Gilmore Car Museum confirmed. Hostetler had so many Hudsons that they overflowed his own museum in Shipshewana, Indiana, and were displayed at the Gilmore in neighboring Michigan. Continue reading