If you happen to be fan of long road trips, used cars and unpredictability, and you also have copious amounts of unused vacation time, the Shipwreck Rally is calling your name (and possibly that of your healthcare insurer). Starting November 1st in NYC and finishing in Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego Province, Argentina, the rally is a truly unique roadgoing experience where no support teams and no crazy vehicular mods can give any one team an unfair advantage over the everyman.
No loafers allowed
Let’s say you regularly pine for some rock climbin’, mud-slingin’, feel-good four-wheelin’ — you just love off-the-beaten-path driving and no-holds-barred adventure where others fear to tread. There are several options to choose from, but our favorites are the custom-built and bad to the bone ICON 4×4 CJ3B or the special edition Jeep Wrangler Moab, both of which will conquer rocks, mud, stream and snow with aplomb. One will make you look like a rich adventurer; the other will just make you look cool. You decide. Errr… perhaps your wallet will.
50 ways to ride like the wind
They are equal parts simple and complex, a mechanical interpretation of form meeting function with attitude to spare. Whether it’s chrome glimmering in the sun, the artful engineering behind a single-sided swingarm or their ability to outrun just about anything, motorcycles are more than just simple transportation. They strangle attention. Ride one down the street and watch as babies point and smile mid-whimper, dogs chase joyfully, angsty teens fight the curling in the corners of their mouths, old biker types in leather nod with supreme comprehension. There are countless combinations of weapons-grade speed, sex, beauty, design and freedom found between two tires, sure — but these fifty, specifically, are the icons hand-picked by Gear Patrol as our favorites of all time.
Grand Touring Family Style
It’s a well-known fact that the mellifluous sound of a Ferrari V12 is ultimate bellow of the vehicular gods. The now-famous Ferrari V12 first showed up in the 1947 125 S, the Italian automaker’s first roadgoing car. Since then, some form of 12-cylinder Ferrari engine (V12 or Flat-12) has showed up in no fewer than forty cars over the past seventy years. One of Ferrari’s most recent offerings, the Ferrari FF, makes use of the V12 staple, albeit in its most powerful form ever in a roadgoing car — but the FF also makes a noticeable departure from Ferrari Grand Tourers of the past through polarizing style, all-wheel-drive, practical (yes, practical) seating for four and enough cargo room to hit the road for more than a day. We got the behind the wheel with family in tow.
Respect Your Elders
The BMW M3 easily shows up in the top 10 performance cars on just about every critic’s list. With the new M3 just on the horizon, it’s time to pay homage to the original: the BMW E30 M3. It’s a classic that still looks good, like Sean Connery in the Hunt for Red October — handsome, tough and no-nonsense. All the first M3 did was cement the German sports coupe/sedan category in the annals of automotive history.
Are two really better than one?
Since General Motors introduced the first Hydra-Matic automatic some 70 years ago, the world has been divided between two types of drivers: those who push a clutch pedal and shift, and those who do not. But in a world where fuel economy takes up the majority of the automotive attention span, a third possibility looms: the dual-clutch transmission, or DCT. Learn to love it. Unless you’re just a passenger holding the steering wheel and pointing your two tons of SUV at Point B, DCTs represent the best hope for engaged, entertaining driving and reasonable fuel economy.
Vee Dub-steppin' it up
Wikipedia astutely defines a dark horse as, “a little-known person or thing that emerges to prominence, especially in a competition of some sort”. There’s a dark horse in every race: Abraham Lincoln in politics, Mark Cuban in everything, and that one Nickelback album in music. The VW CC ($31,795+), we believe, fits that bill in the upscale midsize automobile realm. We got behind the wheel for a week-long driving review.
It’s hard to keep a longstanding car model fresh and consistent over the course of decades. Cars such as the Chevrolet Corvette, the Honda Accord and the BMW 3-Series are a few models that have stood the test of time. Then there are those models that keep on keepin’ on as the rest of us wonder why. The Nissan Maxima is quite possibly the poster child of this category. I heave a sigh of disappointment every time I see a current model on the road.
Two wheels to greatness
Though the riders participating in MotoGP races are the best in the world, it’s taken a while for this style of racing to gain traction in the United States. After having the chance to see the MotoGP World Championship at The Circuit of the Americas thanks to Ducati, we easily count ourselves among its growing fan base. Read on to see our photo essay of the insane speed on two wheels.
Looking like the combination of a duck’s bill and a chisel, the Lancia Stratos was developed as an homologation car (production numbers to justify its rally racing intentions) a year after the revolutionary Lancia Stratos HF Zero car debuted. It was a car with virtually limitless rallying potential based on its design and performance. The Stratos did want it was meant to do — devour dirty, twisty, bumpy closed roads with an insatiable appetite.
The Poster Child For Invincibility
Mercedes-Benz’s longest-running production model, the Gelandewagen (G-Wagen), is a testament to versatility and timeless style. For $135,000 one can not only look ultra tough in this military-inspired ride but drive like it as well. Plus, the humble 382 horsepower, 5.5 liter V8 from the “regular” G-Wagen goes bi-turbo in the AMG and jumps to 536 wild horses. We got behind the wheel deep in the Catskill mountains to give AMG’s beast a good thrashing and see how much it would bite back.
In the current automotive landscape, true environmental halo cars don’t exist. Volkswagen, however, has produced their own version of a hippie halo car. It’s no V12 powerhouse, nor does it even come close to resembling anything supercar-ish in appearance. But what the VW XL1 definitely does is make a bold statement about what an ultra-efficient, super-small displacement hybrid can be. Our recent trip to VW HQ in Wolfsburg, Germany gave us a prime opportunity to evaluate the XL1 from all angles, including the view from behind the wheel.
Motorcycle boots make up a small portion of most riders’ PPE (personal protective equipment), and compared to the sexy jackets, gloves and helmets that are worn proudly while carving canyons and combating congestion, footwear often ends up forgotten. To keep you safe on two wheels and still looking good on both legs, we’ve torture-tested five of the best motorcycle boots. Regardless of whether you drag a knee or seek forward control, there’s an option for you — and you’ll no longer relegate your feet to the status of “least important body part” when you ride.
It's all in the hands
Though the supremely capable Nissan GT-R is a feat of automotive technology, the craftsmanship behind the monstrous VR38 twin-turbo V8 engines by the “Takumi” is nothing short of impressive. Only four men can boast this level of skill for Nissan and each one prides himself on handbuilding each heavy-breathing beast beneath the hood of the current Japanese supercar. There’s no shortage of skill or humility in these four “samurai of the streets”, and our latest Viewfinder shows you their handcraft in an age of burgeoning technology.
5-Doors to your heart
The venerable station is no longer what it was: a dowdy people hauler that oftentimes “sported” less than favorable designs (faux wood paneling, anyone?). And though the American populace now prefers cross-overs, station wagons still survive in the domestic automotive landscape. With lower centers of gravity, sleeker profiles and (typically) better driving dynamics than their SUV counterparts, there’s plenty of reasons to love them. We certainly do.
It’s for all of the aforementioned reasons that wagons sell in much bigger numbers in Europe. With the hope of bringing the States around to how truly great they are, we give you five of the best wagons (and, sadly, some of the only ones left for sale here). Let’s just hope they never completely disappear.
God bless you, Enzo
It’s easy to marvel at modern supercars — the Bugatti Veyron, Ferrari 458 Italia and Lamborghini Aventador. They’re remarkable automobiles that almost defy logic, packed with technology that can turn just about anybody into a semi-competent driver. But there are some cars that usurp respect and admiration from even these titans of technology. They’re so iconic, so wickedly ravishing to behold, and so pure in their purpose and performance that to own one is to reach automotive nirvana. To see one in the flesh is enough to take your breath away. The Ferrari F40 is just such a car.
A weekend track-attack in orange
BMW has a history of using racetrack names for their paint colors: Marrakesh Brown, Laguna Seca Blue and Dakar Yellow. But the 2013 BMW M3 Lime Rock Park Edition ($80,000, as tested) is the first time they’ve used one on a car itself and the first time the iconic track has lent its name to…
The Birth of a legend
When the Porsche 917 debuted at the 1970 Le Mans, it quite literally blew away the competition. Housed in an ultra-lightweight (93-pound) chassis, its 12-cylinder engine and state-of-the-art materials made it both the most formidable and most dangerous car on the road. It would supply Porsche with its first victory at Le Mans and help grow the brand into an icon of automotive excellence. This short documentary pays tribute to the car and its makers.
Germany's first supercar
The prospect of a German supercar in the 1970s had the tenor of something that simply shouldn’t be done, like the Italians producing a mass-market station wagon for the states. But BMW went out on an automotive limb and put just such a car in the works — the glorious and rare BMW M1. While BMW faithful await its second coming with bated breath, we delve into the story of the original icon.
Conquering the beast
We spent a full day at the Ford Racing F-150 SVT Raptor Assault School at Miller Motorsports Park in Toole, Utah, learning the finer points of hill climbing, mixed terrain blasts and bona-fide offroading, all the while tossing the F-150 Raptor so hard that its dusty rooster tails could be seen from space. Read on to watch the GP Short and to find out more about our upcoming feature.
It’s nearly impossible to miss the iconic Fiat silhouette made more aggressive and distinctive in the 2013 Abarth 500 Cabrio ($26,000). Fiat’s answer to the 500′s supposed lack of soul carries the fervor — in its looks, its performance, and its aural delight — of an operatic crescendo. The sound of the engine and smooth long revs mean you can exploit every tick on the tach and push this thing hard — which, of course, we recommend, having tried it ourselves.
Not made as much as folded
Lamborghini never does things quietly — and that’s a very good thing, especially when the goal is to draw the rapt attention of the automotive world. But one model in particular marked the inception of Lambo’s radical styling flavor that would span decades, even into the present: the Countach. Angled to the nines, as angry as a giant bull whacked in the butt with a hot poker and as practical as a Kevlar dinner jacket, the Countach embodied the exotic supercar like no other automobile before it.
To see one is to lust
Ali Sadrieh is a man who lives in the present. From his cutting edge podiatry practice in Los Angeles, to his love of all things tech, he believes there has never been a better time to be alive. It is this very love of all things digital that inspired him to own an “analog car”: the iconic and rare 1968 Jaguar E-Type Series 1.5. Through a chance crossing of paths, we were able to meet Ali and take his gorgeous Jag for a ride. Read on to see the video.
Tanks for the memories
The mud pit looked impossibly deep, twin ruts at least two feet high and half full of a murky stew from the rainy spring. “Does this thing ever get stuck?” I asked.
My driving instructor, Brendan, an Airborne infantryman a few weeks shy of entering Green Beret selection, smiled and said, “Nope, just keep her straight so we can keep some trees upright.”
Just another day, taking the Abbot FV433 Self-Propelled Gun out for a spin.
A storied history and a thriving present
As fascinating as the present potency of automotive engineering, “The past is never dead”, as William Faulkner put it, and that’s absolutely true when it comes to cars. Not only are vintage wheels as coveted as ever, the motoring past lives on today in races like the Mille Miglia Storica, where leather helmets and goggles, exhaust-filled open air motoring and cars that echo glorious racing histories remind us that, although we can’t time travel, we can marvel at what once was the pinnacle of automotive racing.
Automotive time travel
The Mille Miglia, or “thousand miles” race, in Brescia, Italy is an automotive mecca of sorts. A direct descendant of the legendary race that occurred from 1927 to 1957, the event now showcases some of the legends of automotive racing. No longer carrying the stigma of a race that killed 56 people over its 30-year span, the current iteration brings the likes of vintage Ferraris, Alfas, BMWs and Aston Martins to the world stage for a few days of glory. We were there to capture it all in an inspiring photo essay.
The weapons of a track day toreador
Einstein once said that doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results was the very definition of insanity; obviously he never studied lap times. In fact, we’ll take the track over studying the theory of relativity any day. But we need the right steed. Whether your wallet can handle them or you’re just dreaming, here are our picks for the five best track cars around.
So good, it was banned
Welcome to Octane Icons, a new series born from our newly minted Octane channel. In the coming weeks, we’ll bring an enthusiast’s mindset to a vehicle that has made its mark on the automotive world, whether by design, engineering, performance, historical significance, influence or all of the above. This week we examine the Porsche 917, a car with a difficult and storied journey — created with the singular purpose of winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Toss out the petrified bearclaw, will ya?
Like a shoebox filled with letters from your old girlfriend (you don’t still have that, do you?), no one wants to open your car’s glove compartment. What on earth could be in there — a non-functioning drugstore flashlight, insurance cards from 2009, a Spandau Ballet CD, perhaps some ketchup packets? Good god. We don’t even know you. Clean out your filthy glovebox, ditch the garbage and start stocking it with these ten essentials.
A performance SUV is something tantamount to a chainsaw with jet propulsion. There’s really no need for it, but to dismiss it is to deny man’s inherent quest for power, in whatever form it may come. Gear Patrol’s wheeled staff had a chance to cruise around in some of the best four-wheeled tarmac eaters that just happen to ride on stilts in celebration of Octane‘s launch. Here’s what they thought.