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America's fifty-year, two-door love affair

The Evolution of the Ford Mustang, America’s Pony Car

No car is more widely considered an American standard than the Ford Mustang. Sure, there’s the Corvette, Camaro, Thunderbird, and GTO, but when you think of the Fourth of July Parade, which car comes to mind? That’s what we thought.

From the original car all the way to the fifth-generation version that pays direct homage to its forefathers, the Mustang simply can’t be confused for any other automobile. On the cusp of welcoming an all-new sixth-generation car created for a world market, we take a look at the life of America’s pony car.

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One badass granddaddy

Icon: 1965 Shelby Mustang GT350

The look is timeless: A muscular body with single round headlights; vents on the hood and rear quarter panels adding a touch of sinister; two bold Guardsman Blue stripes running from tip to tail over a pristine Wimbledon White paint job. It’s the positively beautiful, 100 percent American 1965 Shelby Mustang GT350. No other Mustang in history will ever look this good again.

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The Brawler Gets Dressed Up

Is the 2015 Mustang the Right Stablemate?

What has Ford wrought with the 2015 Mustang? It’s rumored to be better than the previous car in virtually every way, but dare we say, it’s also less American and less ‘Stang, at least on its face. In Ford’s quest to make the new Mustang a “world car”, they seem to have lost some of the car’s red, white and blue attitude.

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A Starion is born

Bring It Back: The Mitsubishi Starion

The Mitsubishi Starion was one of the automotive standouts of the 1980s, not that it took much. It was angular everywhere but the wheels, but it did it right, and it was properly fast, too. Despite the greatness of the Lancer Evo, Mitsubishi has lost its way in the rest of its modern lineup — and a new, 21st-century version of the Starion could be just the adrenaline injection the brand needs right now.

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Don't store it in the garage when the temps drop

Lion in Winter: Quick Spin with the Porsche Panamera 4S

In the snowy streets of Chicago, the Porsche Panamera 4S — 420 horsepower V6, all-wheel-drive, stability and traction control, front-to-weight distribution and all — proves a surprisingly spectacular winter car.

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The Asian Phaeton?

Behind The Wheel: 2015 Kia K900

Kia has far surpassed expectations in a relatively short time frame, shifting from a producer of poorly designed, poorly built econo-boxes to well-made, adventurously styled cars that square off with practical Asian stalwarts like Honda and Toyota. Recently they set their sights on the European luxury market with their 2015 Kia K900 ($59,500 base). We grabbed some seat time in a powerful, VIP-trimmed $65,000 Kia to decide for ourselves if it was worth the price tag — and to decide if the Germans should feel threatened by this Asian invasion.

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MI-6 may come knocking

Breakdown: David Brown Automotive Speedback

If you lament the death of old-school design — the kind that makes timeless cars like the Ferrari 265 GTB/4, the Jaguar E-Type and the Aston Martin DB5 so iconic — then you’ll rejoice over the new David Brown Automotive Speedback. Recently unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show, the Speedback is a throwback to simpler times with the benefit of modern underpinnings and technology. The niche British carmaker (so niche that it has one model and no factory yet) has made its debut baby an absolute stunner.

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Achtung, Baby

Behind the Wheel: Audi Quattro Concept Mini

Concept cars, by definition, push the limits of automotive invention. But even in a field of enigmas and paradigm shifters there can be standouts, vehicles that make competitors look like toys. This is the realm of the new Audi Quattro Concept Mini, which calls to mind an R8 V10 Spyder designed by a Lilliputian Frank Lloyd Wright. It’s whole-heartedly future-thinking in its indoctrination of a new and entirely untapped target market. Watch the video for our review.

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An Irreverent Guide

Which Brash Car Are You?

Though most of us may drive sensible cars, deep inside we crave more. More power, more bravado, more speed in the form of a truly brash automobile. Check out our scientific diagram and follow the path to the wheeled monster that best expresses who you are in that pulsing animal heart of yours.

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No value package option here

The Argument for Brash Cars

If those with little personality and no detectable level of driving skill get their way, the Google Autonomous Car will be the most welcomed news of their humdrum adult lives. Sure, it has a place in the automotive landscape, mitigating traffic and hopefully decreasing the number of accidents, but it also excites us as much as a bowl of Grape Nuts and skim milk. On the other hand, it’s the cars that don’t make complete sense whose windows we’re fogging with our hot, lusty breaths. We’re after chutzpah, brazen performance, design, technology or all of the above. Here’s why.

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A tap-dancing gorilla in rich mahogany

Behind the Wheel: 2014 Bentley Continental GTC V8 S

The Continental name has been a part of the Bentley family since the early 1950s. Though the 2014 Bentley New Continental GTC V8 S ($216,000) remains relatively unchanged in its iconic style and interior club room feel (which rivals a rich mahogany office), what’s under the skin of this Monaco Yellow grand touring torpedo sets it apart from previous generations.

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Captain Planet approved. Sort of.

Sentient Speed: The Dawning of Supercars With a Conscience

The Porsche 918, the McLaren P1 and the Ferrari LaFerrari are still all about superlatives — fastest, best handling, most exotic. But they also repurpose the latest technology to maximize the “dear lord” factor. They’re redefining excess, not stamping it out.

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Head of the C-Class

Quick Spin: The Arrival of a First Class C-Class

In its past several generations, Mercedes-Benz’s C-Class has promised drivers excellent entry-level luxury — a promise on which the car has never quite delivered. GP editor Eric Yang travels to the South of France to find the soul of the new C-Class using his right foot.

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A beast in plainer clothes

Behind the Wheel: 2015 Subaru WRX

The Subaru Impreza WRX (nicknamed “Rex” by loyalists) has a cult following to almost rival the Beatles (smaller and younger, but just as fanatic). New iterations or improvements often make fan clubs and enthusiasts both skeptical and nervous; you can’t mess with perfection, and the Subaru Impreza WRX is pretty close. In November of last year Subaru debuted the fifth generation 2015 WRX ($26,295) at the LA auto show, and we were quick to and hop in line to see if they’d truly made it better or simply messed up a great thing.

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This Indo-Brit could pull it off

Feline Force: Can the Jaguar XE Overcome the Past?

For decades, the BMW 3-Series has been the sports sedan benchmark by which all others are measured, but all that is changing in this steel cage death match that includes German, Japanese and American contenders. BMW, naturally, has its hat in the ring. Then there’s the Audi A4, Mercedes-Benz C Class, Lexus IS, Infiniti Q50, Cadillac ATS, and soon a new Jaguar known as the XE, which was recently announced but not fully revealed at the Geneva Motor Show.

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10 Concepts We're Praying Find their Way to Production

Geneva 2014 Concept Cars: Beautiful, Daring and Downright Awesome

Watching concept cars bow at international auto shows is like watching the festivities at Paris Fashion Week: displays are daring, beautiful and sometimes just downright petrifying. The world gets to see bold, shocking statements or captivating ones that might just make it to market. The best examples are fuel for dreams of what may come. This year, the Geneva Motor Show proved to be fertile ground. From a student-submitted sports car to a practical van, here are our 10 favorite concept cars from the show.

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A Triumphant Return to the (kind of) British two-seater

Behind the Wheel: Jaguar F-Type V8 S

When Jaguar introduced their iconic E-Type in the early 1960s it turned heads and changed lives; new for 2014, the Jaguar F-Type ($69,000) looks to do exactly the same thing. First coming to life as the C-X16 concept, the production version debuted at the historic Goodwood Festival of Speed in 2012 and, thanks to thrilling driving dynamics and a competitive price point, could be the most exciting offering from the Brits (under Indian ownership) since the tea trade routes.

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Back on the Wagon Train

Quick Spin: 2015 Volvo V60 Sportswagon

The Volvo station wagon has returned, and it’s called the 2015 Volvo V60 Sportswagon ($35,300). Ours was a bodacious blue; they’re all turbo, five doors deep, and, as Volvo puts it, about both work and play.

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Five-Star Five-Doors

Our Favorite Wagons from the Silver Screen

America, as a whole, hates station wagons. But instead of despising the wood paneling, the center-of-gravity elevating roof loads and the smell of cheap vinyl seats, we should be clinging to every bit of wagon-dom that we can — who knows how much longer they’ll be around? Fortunately for history’s sake, they’ve made their mark in a handful of great movies and TV shows, not just as family haulers but as quick and capable chase vehicles and hero (and antihero) steeds of choice.

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More beautiful than a Swedish bikini model

Breakdown: Volvo Concept Estate

As great as Volvo’s first two concept cars (the Concept Coupe and the Concept XC Coupe) were, it’s the Volvo Concept Estate that’s got us giddy with “build it” fever. About to unveil at the Geneva Motor Show, the Concept Estate is essentially the shooting brake (two-door wagon) version of the Concept Coupe, bettered by the addition of a big rear door. Plus, it appears to be as beautiful under the skin as it is on the outside.

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The Wagon of My Dreams

All Hail the Volvo 240 GLT Turbo Wagon, the Coolest Wagon Ever Made

As much as I’d love to press my garage door opener and find a wickedly fast Audi A6 Avant 3.0 TDI bi-turbo or Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG S 4Matic Wagon waiting within, the real wagon of my dreams might actually be even more difficult to come by and definitely moves at geologic speed compared to the aforementioned family rocket sleds. It’s a true driver’s car that just happens to be an iconic station wagon, too: the Volvo 240 GLT Turbo Wagon.

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Another automotive kidney punch to us Yanks

Power Wagon Reborn: Jaguar XFR-S Sportbrake

Packed with the same kind of rip-roaring five-door flavor as the Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG S 4Matic Wagon and the Audi RS6 Avant, Jaguar’s XFR-S Sportbrake does up the wicked and track-ready XFR-S sedan with more cargo space and a nice big rear door for all those Home Depot runs.

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Takes on the flat and the bumpy

Quick Spin: 2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA Class

No longer just a lame substitute for a real SUV, crossovers have grown in terms of quality, capability and available amenities such that there seems virtually no end in sight. Mercedes-Benz has been busier than just about anyone lately when it comes to redesigning their lineup and introducing new models, and the GLA Class is the latest to come down the Teutonic pike to fill this new crossover mold. We made our way to Málaga, Spain to take two iterations out for a spin: the GLA250 4Matic and the zippier GLA45 AMG.

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Get it dirty, just not inside, please

Behind The Wheel: 2014 Land Rover Range Rover Sport HSE

With a long history of producing rugged SUVs before that term even existed, Land Rover could sell incredibly well based on just their name. Still, they decided the all-new aluminum-bodied flagship Range Rover wasn’t enough. They’ve spiffed up their biggest seller, the Range Rover Sport, and we had the chance to drive it through one of Chicago’s snowiest winters see how it performed off the clean tarmac.

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Big guns for those haulin' runs

Pack ‘Em In: 5 Great 7-Passenger SUVs

It’s no longer enough for a big SUV to transport seven; it has to look good and feel good (for both driver and passengers) while doing it. Our intrepid Octane crew drove five of the best seven-passenger SUVs out there and found a flavor for just about anyone. While none of these five SUVs are perfect, each is grand in its own right by virtue of style, quality and utility.

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Rock Your World, Apocalypse or No

Want This, Get This: Mercedes-Benz Unimog U 5023 or Bremach T-Rex

For the fortunate few who need to do serious work in a serious world (or for those with big amounts of extra coin laying around), there are two serious players at opposite ends of the cost spectrum: the Mercedes-Benz Unimog U5000 and the Bremach T-Rex. Whether it’s off-road adventure, payload hauling or search and rescue, both mean business.

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Old-School Looks, Meet Modern Power

5 Great Vintage-Style Motorcycles

Some modern motorcycle manufacturers — some of the best, in fact — have designed and built bikes that harken back to timeless style. Though we don’t recommend that you get out there with a flimsy leather helmet and goggles, we do strongly urge you to invest in the right gear and then hit the road on any of these five fantastic vintage-style motorcycles, looking damn good while you do it.

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Check One Off Your Bucket List

Head of the Game: The Best Motorcycle Helmets for Any Rider

The right helmet makes a world of difference in both comfort and protection. Upgrading your headwear at least every five years ensures you’re equipped with the latest in technology and safety innovations; it also instills instant rider confidence. Here are the best motorcycle helmets on the market today.

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Italian for batshit crazy

Behind the Wheel: Ducati Panigale 1199 R

Limited in production but not in power, the Ducati Panigale 1199 R ($31,000) is a cross between a Navy Seal and Usain Bolt. It’s got carbon fiber and titanium for bones, a computer for a brain and a 195-horsepower engine revving to 12,000 rpm for a heart. We took it out for a few days — after we updated our will.

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Rubbin' is racing

Hot Laps: Becoming a Nascar Driver in 72 Hours

The best way to appreciate NASCAR is not by cracking a Bud and plopping on the couch but by getting in the driver’s seat. Unfortunately that’s a pipe dream for most — but when PEAK Motor Oil invited me to their Stock Car Dream Challenge as they searched for a future driver for the Michael Waltrip Race team, I grabbed my helmet and Nomex onesie and streamed Garth Brooks/Chris Gaines all the way to Charlotte Motor Speedway.