Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Top 5 Coolest Subcompact Vehicles You Can Now Import Into the U.S. (And One Larger One)

You may be well aware of the United States' "25 year import rule" for cars/trucks. A car that was not actually imported into the U.S. for sale has to be at least 25 years old before it can be legally imported. That means that we can now bring in cars made in 1990 and older. Here are five of the coolest non-U.S.-market vehicles you can buy now:

1990 Suzuki Alto Works
1990 Suzuki Alto Works
For $7,500, you can own this turbocharged kei car. It's got 54,000 miles on it, cold A/C, and an automatic transmission. Located in Iowa of all places.
Source: Omaha Craigslist

1989 Nissan S-Cargo
1989 Nissan S-Cargo
These little things have always piqued my interest. This kei-sized delivery van is located in Vancouver, Canada and has 84,000 kilometers on the clock. It's powered by a three-cylinder engine mated to an automatic transmission (unfortunately). This little delivery car can be had for $6,000 CAD.
Source: Vancouver Craigslist 

1989 Nissan Pao
1989 Nissn Pao
The retro Nissan Pao has a turbocharged 1.0-liter engine mated to, yes, an automatic trans. This one has 52,000 miles on it and is going for $11,900. Other goodies include retractable roof, aftermarket steering wheels (more than one?), and a front strut tower bar. This puppy is located in Japan.
Source: RightDriveUSA

1985 Honda City Turbo II
1985 Honda City Turbo II
The Honda City Turbo II was the company's hot-hatch version of its more pedestrian City. Affedctionaly nicknamed the "bull dog," some City models even came with a stowable moped. No lie. This one does not, but it only has 65,000 kilometers on it. It doesn't get much more classic 1980s Japanese kei car than this. This one is for sale for $9,500 and is located in Richmond, VA. 
Source: Japanese Classics

1967 Mazda R360

1967 Mazda R360
How cool is this little thing? Believe it or not, this was Mazda's first four-wheeled passenger vehicle. It's got a four-stroke V-engine, two-tone pain, and awesome vintage style. Price? This little guy is $20,917—big bucks for a small car. Plus, it's still in Japan.

Source: Trade Car View
BONUS: 1985 VAZ Lada 2105 (A Bit Bigger)
OK, this one isn't a subcompact, but it's crazy. Also known as the Lada Riva, the 2105 was built in places including Russia, Ukraine, Egypt,, West Germany, and Kazakhstan. This 1985 model is located in the Seattle area and allegedly has a 650 hp turbocharged V6. Yeah, you read that right. The seller is asking a cool $27,000 for this thing. I'd love to see more pictures of this. 
Source: Seattle Craigslist

Monday, July 20, 2015

Buick Introduces A More Powerful Encore For 2016

2016 Buick Encore Sport Touring - Front

Buick's subcompact Encore CUV has been a strong seller for the GM brand (30,549 units moved as of June 2015, up 29%). However, if there's been one sticking point, it's been the power. The current Encore makes just 138 hp and 148 lb/ft of torque from the 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder mill, yet has to haul around as much as 3,358 lbs.

GM announced today that there will be a new Encore Sport Touring model for 2016, which will make 153 hp and 177 lb/ft of torque from an all-new direct-injected 1.4-liter engine, which will also feature start/stop technology. And despite the fact the new engine's displacement is the same as the older one, nothing else is.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Is There a Small Car Downturn?

Fiat 500c
Small car sales, such as the Fiat 500, are down sharply compared to 2014.
 The U.S. economy is coming back. Gas prices are averaging $2.76 a gallon. We just signed a nuclear deal with Iran, and people are speculating gas prices could drop to $2.00 a gallon after Labor Day. I'm not going to be a Debbie Downer here—this is all good stuff. However, will it have an effect on small car sales in the U.S. and Canada? It may already be doing so.

We already know that with the recent lower fuel prices, people have been buying more large cars, trucks, and SUVs and foregoing the smaller more fuel-efficient vehicles. In fact, according to the June 2015 Subcompact Sales we recently reported, of the 26 small vehicles that have been on sale for more than a year on our chart, 17 of them are down in sales—that's 65% of the subcompact market.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

2015 Portland Vintage Racing Festival Mega Gallery

Red Mini Cooper race car at 2015 Portland Vintage Racing Festival
1960 Austin Mini Cooper
Words by Andy Lilienthal. Photos by Mercedes and Andy Lilienthal

One of my favorite events here in Portland is the Sportscar Vintage Racing Association (SVRAPortland Vintage Racing Festival. I love the variety of cars, the racing, and the memories associated with it. This was the first year in a while that I've been to the event since my father passed away; this was our annual event at Portland International Raceway. It was great to be there. This year I brought Mercedes and we had a blast checking out both old and new cars alike.

Friday, July 10, 2015

June 2015 Subcompact Car Sales

May 2015 Subcompact Car Sales
June's sales are history, and the biggest overall gain was had by the Toyota Yaris, which moved more than 112% more models than this time last year. The BMW i3 jumped towards the top after being on sale a full year, hence the crazy YTD percentage, and the MINI Paceman had an outlying miniature spike in sales that boosted it's percentage.

The biggest loser this month was the dowdy yet, extremely practical Fiat 500L, which was down 54% vs. this time last year. Ovreall sales of the "big" Fiat are down 11%. The biggest fall from glory is currently going to the still-funky Nissan Juke, which is down 43% in year-to-date sales at this point. In overall units sold, the also-still-funky Kia Soul continues to hold off not-funky Nissan's Versa for the title of most-popular small car on the list. Funky, eh?

Make/Model % Jun. '15 vs Jun. '14Units Jun. '15% YTD Jun. '15 vs Jun. '14Units YTD
Toyota Yaris112.6281048.712688
BMW i354.0551542.14456
MINI Paceman36.3248-9.6838
Buick Encore33.4552629.130549
Ford Fiesta23.679711.235489
Honda Fit21.2466963.335634
Mitsubishi Mirage15.0166963.313501
Hyundai Accent14.465415.035976
MINI Roadster14.3144-1.9414
Smart ForTwo13.897312.810453
Mazda MX-5 Miata6.8440-0.32654
MINI Cooper /S Convertible6.8393-1.71707
MINI Countryman4.32041-22.18278
Chevrolet Spark4.03857-13.019409
Nissan Juke0.32567-43.114647
Kia Soul-3.911844-9.467986
Nissan Versa-12.310190-1.466955
Chevrolet Sonic-18.87894-26.636976
Hyundai Veloster-19.12065-25.111201
Toyota Prius c-19.62756-6.718921
Kia Rio-25.72420-25.714835
Fiat 500-31.02283-15.015390
MINI Coupe-34.651-49.6258
Honda CR-Z-35.2204-35.41292
MINI Cooper /S Hardtop 2 Dr-38.2142532.510227
Fiat 500L-54.0530-11.06076
Chevrolet Trax-5971-24815
Jeep Renegade-4858-14431
MINI Cooper /S Hardtop 4 Dr-1886-8261
Fiat 500X-324-332

Monday, July 6, 2015

2015 Northwest Overland Rally

The Teal Terror at the 2015 NW Overland Rally

We look forward to the Northwest Overland Rally each and every year. It brings together overlanding and adventure enthusiasts from around the Northwest part of the U.S. as well as many Canadians and even people from other parts of the world (we met people from as far away as Australia and South Africa!).

The Teal Terror getting a ride to the NW Overland Rally

We always bring up the Teal Terror, but this year we brought our Dinoot Trailer along with us. However, we got a ride behind the Bushwacker 2015 Ford F-150 this year. Frankly, that was totally fine. First, it kept the mileage off the Sidekick. But more importantly, the F-150 has air conditioning and the Suzuki doesn't.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Review: 2015 Ram ProMaster City Cargo

2015 Ram ProMaster City

In the last few years, the commercial vehicle landscape has changed. The traditional “work van” has been replaced by Mercedes Sprinters, Ford Transits, Nissan NVs, and most recently, the Ram ProMaster. Alongside these workhorses have come smaller compact commercial variants. The 2010 Ford Transit Connect was the first to hit our shores, followed by the Nissan NV200/Chevrolet City Express Twins. Ram is now also offering a smaller commercial van in the form of the Ram ProMaster City.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

2015 Great Pacific Northwest Microcar & Minicar Extravaganza: June 26–28

2015 Great Pacific Northwest Microcar & Minicar Extravaganza
There's a lot going on this week in the Pacific Northwest. While we'll be at the NW Overland Rally, another great event is the Great Pacific Northwest Microcar & Minicar Extravaganza, which starts June 26. Held each year in Forest Grove, Oregon at the McMenamins Grand Lodge, this event brings out some of the smallest, rarest, weirdest, and most awesome little cars you could possibly think of, and some you can't believe until you see. This includes From Autobianchi to Vespa; BMW to NSU—if it's small, it'll be there.

We attended the 2011 show and it was a hoot! And there's a fun video from the 2012 show, too. Hopefully some of you will be able to attend the 2015 event. It's a really good time.

INFO: 2015 Great Pacific Northwest Microcar & Minicar Extravaganza

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Persistent Project Car Problems

The Teal Terror, aka, project Suzuki Sidekick, has been a bit of a pain in the ass lately. I think it might be angry. It seems as if there is something that's been going on with it. Bad juju, gemlins, crappy luck—I don't really know what it is—but it seems like there's been one thing after another. None of them has been terribly bad, just annoying. Why do I have a feeling this is going to end up costing a lot to fix at some point? Let's hope not.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Ford Focus RS Drift Mode

Ford Focus RS

By Scott Huntington

Chances are, if you're a gearhead, you were the type of kid who played video games like Burnout and Need for Speed. And obviously, the best part about those games was drifting your car around hairpin turns.

Now, with a dynamite car like the Ford Focus RS coming to America (sometime in spring 2016, that is), people like you should be excited. Why?

Well, besides the fact that it's just plain awesome—and we'll get to those details later—the RS will feature a "drift mode." So whether you're a seasoned track racer or a wannabe gymkhana expert, you'll feel like you're playing a real version of your video game.