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America's Pony Car Turns 50

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Women who love wheels...

MINI in New York

The British premium brand MINI clearly signals the continuation of its success story at the New York International Auto Show in 2014. The main focus here is the world premiere of the new MINI Countryman. The latest version of the first MINI with four doors, a large tailgate, five seats and optional all-wheel drive system ALL4 will ensure that hallmark brand driving fun and distinctive style become even more sought-after in the premium compact segment. Fresh accentuations in design, refined premium characteristics in the interior and innovative equipment features hone the profile of the new MINI Countryman as an all-round talent for versatile mobility and an active lifestyle.

With over 66, 500 units sold, the USA was the important single market for automobiles of the MINI brand in 2013. And the new edition of the largest MINI model now sees its world premiere in that country's largest city. The new MINI Countryman has everything it takes to continue to attract additional target groups to the distinctive style of the British brand in future. What is more, all indicators are pointing to growth in the small car segment. And the new MINI - also on show in New York - offers the ideal basis for this. The new generation of the original - still the most popular member of the MINI family - provides significant and impressive advancements in the areas of driving fun, efficiency, space, comfort, safety and innovation. With the new editions of the two top-selling models leading the way, the British manufacturer presents the most attractive product program in its history at the New York International Auto Show from April 18th to 27th 2014.

The world premiere of the new MINI Countryman gives an additional boost to the brand's advancement into the premium compact segment. Distinctive proportions and dimensions, increased ground clearance and an interior which is both spacious and variable - these are the defining characteristics of the first MINI, whose exterior length now exceeds 13 feet. The new edition of the MINI Countryman underscores both the hallmark brand properties of the model as well as its specific, distinctive features. Modifications in the area of exterior design include a new structure of the hexagonal radiator grill, striking underride guard elements for the MINI Cooper S Countryman ALL4, additional exterior paint finishes and the optional Exterior Piano Black. And there are also enhancements in acoustic comfort, athletic flair and premium interior characteristics. Additional accents are provided by weight-optimised light alloy wheels and LED fog lights including parking and daytime driving lights in LED technology.

On the US automotive market the MINI Countryman will be available in two engine variants in future, too, in addition to the highly sports-oriented top model MINI John Cooper Works Countryman. The all-wheel drive system ALL4 specially developed for MINI is optionally available for the MINI Cooper S Countryman. It comes as standard with the MINI John Cooper Works Countryman.

The new MINI once again stands as the pioneer of individual style, premium quality and high-end technology in the small car segment. The latest generation of the original combines evolutionary design advancements with enlarged space and refinements to materials and finish details in the interior. On all four seats there is a tangible increase in freedom of movement, while the luggage compartment has been expanded by around 30 percent. Entirely newly developed engines increase both the driving fun and the efficiency of the new MINI. The car's characteristic go-kart feeling is now enhanced with optimised ride comfort, with adjustable dampers being offered as an optional extra for the first time.

A new display and operating concept, innovative driver assistance systems and the latest MINI Connected features also allow even more intensive interaction between driver and MINI. And the new MINI is the first automobile in its class to be fitted with LED headlamps and a Head-Up Display. There will be a choice of the models MINI Cooper and MINI Cooper S at the market launch in the USA. Both can be fitted with either the standard 6-speed manual transmission or the optional 6-speed automatic transmission, according to preference.

The new MINI Countryman and the new MINI are crucial in setting the British premium brand's course for further growth on the global automotive markets. In addition to this, the constantly increasing popularity of MINI in the USA derives from the ongoing expansion of the model program. The current range comprises seven models in total. In the premium small car segment it runs from the latest generation of the MINI to the MINI Clubman with enlarge space for rear passengers and luggage as well as the puristically and athletically designed two-seater MINI Coupé and including the models MINI Convertible and MINI Roadster - which provide open-top driving fun on either four or two seats. What is more, the brand has become well established in the premium compact segment, not just with the MINI Countryman but also with the Sports Activity Coupé MINI Paceman.

The aspirations of especially performance-oriented MINI fans are addressed by the extremely sporty John Cooper Works models. The range of top sports cars now also extends to the small car and compact segments. Here, motor racing technology in the area of engine and suspension, aerodynamically optimised exterior components and a specific cockpit design pave the way for exceptionally intense driving fun in everyday traffic.

Source: MINI USA

Gear: GoPro Blackout Housing

by Mike Satterfield

Sometimes capturing the best images means getting a candid shot, how many cool shots have been ruined by a crowd of passers by making gestures or acting up for the camera. While the GoPro is small it is also silver which tends to stick out like a sore thumb. Well the folks over at GoPro have just released the Blackout Housing that allows more stealthy filming. At $49.95 it is a little steep but if you are looking for a OEM housing that will keep your camera under wraps this is it.

You can get it by clicking HERE

Check out the official Specs below from GoPro:

The Blackout Housing keeps a low profile thanks to its matte black finish. It’s perfect for special ops filming with your GoPro, and capturing footage without drawing attention to the camera. The included LCD concealment stickers help eliminate light reflection from the housing’s LCD window. Waterproof to 131’/40m. Includes Standard and Skeleton Backdoors.
  • Non-reflective, matte black finish ensures low visibility
  • Perfect for special ops filming or capturing footage without drawing attention to the camera
  • Includes LCD concealment stickers to eliminate light reflection from the LCD window
  • Waterproof to 131’/40m

The New Porsche Boxster & Cayman GTS

by Mike Satterfield

The new Boxster and Cayman get upgraded engines which means the new 3.4-litre boxer engine is delivering 330 hp (Boxster GTS) and 340 hp (Cayman GTS). The GTS models also get revised suspension, wheels, brakes, and unique styling cues. If it was up to me I would take the new Cayman GTS, which in my opinion is the best looking Porsche since the first generation of 911.

Source: Porsche

Gear: Apple iWatch to Arrive in Summer 2014

The long standing rumors about Apple’s forthcoming iWatch have been swirling for years. The latest rumors have lead some to believe that a iWatch might be a reality early summer 2014. So why is this on a car blog? With the increase in technology in todays cars the iWatch would allow drivers the ability to check directions while keeping both hands on the wheel, just a quick glance at your wrist and you'll know if you are on track.

Other advantages include emergency situations where when in a accident your phone could be lost the iWatch would allow for drivers to call for help. Link the iWatch to a radar detector and get a warning via a vibration on your wrist, the possibilities are really endless.

But we will have to see what comes out of the Apple laboratories.

The Mustang: True American Muscle

Photos and Words by Rachel File

In some, the Mustang evokes passion; in others, fear. Desire, lust, love.… envy. All of these things can be said to possess the heart of those who encounter her. An animal of undomesticated beauty, her beckoning purr is intoxicating and possessive, attracting her prey before she unleashes her unmistakable roar as she leaves you in the dust. Some have tried conquering her, others have joined her, but there is one thing everyone who comes across her path has quickly learned: she cannot be tamed. There are few experiences that can top the feeling of becoming one with a powerful car; the stick shift in your hand, knuckles white, right foot to the floor, left foot at the ready. You literally become a part of the car. Without you, it can do nothing. But together? You become an unstoppable force of pure adrenaline. The Boss is no exception. You begin to feel the rumble of her idle through your bones up into your heart. You feel her anticipation as you both wait for that green light. Driving her is like that of a choreographed ballet. Graceful, yet demanding. Powerful. Emotional. Flowing. Working together to create a masterpiece. That is what the Mustang is about. Connection.

April 17th, 2014 will be the official 50 year mark for the Ford Mustang. Plenty of people have their pony car of choice, whether it be Camaro or Challenger or Mustang. But there is one undeniable fact that anyone with any taste of car can understand: the story of the Mustang and its inception is an inspiring story that touches your heart and brings back the love for the automobile that posses all of us, something that seems to be so easily lost in this day and age. It’s a story of connection and passion. The Mustang brought about a whole new perspective for the car world and influenced its direction towards where we are now. In a society torn by war and prejudice, the Mustang brought a sort of community to the vastly divided nation and to this day continues to unite men and women alike, of all ages and ethnicities.

Lee Iacocca is a name who, for Mustang enthusiasts, is a true pioneer of the pony car genre and the inspirator for the most well-known and loved car of the past 50 years. He came to the Ford board members with the idea of a compact car that would be both practical for the everyday, yet fun to drive when the desire so arose. He wanted it to appeal to baby-boomers, be cost-effective and customizable to fit anyone’s lifestyle. Based off the Ford Falcon platform, the Mustang became just that. With a base price of $2368, and a myriad of standard features and options, it was an instant hit and on the first day alone, dealers had orders of around 22,000 cars. In Garland, Texas, there was an instance where 15 customers came to bid on one car. After the initial win, the customer even slept in the car overnight to ensure that it was not sold out from under him before his check cleared. While Ford had expected an annual sales figure of around 100,000 vehicles, the final figure reached over 417,000, well exceeding the sales records of any one model since the automobile’s birth. After a full two years, sales were in the one millions.

Brain Candy: The Mustangs produced for the first 6 months were referred to as 1964 ½ due to an unusual launch date during the year. You can tell a ‘64 ½ Mustang from a ‘65 by the front edge of the hood. The 1965’s edge was rolled under; the 64 ½s were not.


Much controversy has arisen over the new design of the 2015 Mustang on the S550 chassis. Smaller, more narrow, lighter, independent rear suspension,  etc… Sounds more like a European sportscar rather than an American muscle car. But, if you get into specifics, this new Mustang is more “retro” than the 2005 body style. When the car was first under conception, the whole idea was to have a “European sportscar” by design. Ford has gone back to the roots of the Mustang with this new bodystyle. Much more lean than the S197, more predictable driving, and faster.

“But the whole point of a Mustang is the raw, rugged, unpredictability of it, by nature.”

Very much so. But this new car is just a part of automotive evolution. Give it a chance. Besides- there’s nothing Mustang owners love to hear more than the whining of a Camaro owner (besides seeing it in the rearview mirror). You can bet there will be plenty of that on the track after this baby hits the streets. With tuners like SVT, Saleen and Roush, to name a few, there won’t be much in the way of disappointment for performance. Plus, a plethora of new engine options makes for a fun time under the hood. You still have the 3.7L V6, but with a new Ecoboost 4 putting out 300+ horses and even more power in the already potent Coyote motor, there won’t be much to complain about.

One model we won’t be seeing, however, is the Boss 302. Sticking to its heritage, Ford only produced the Boss in 2012 and 13 year models. The Boss 302 is the quintessential track car. Designed with as little “fluff” as possible, the Boss boasts 444 horsepower, 380 ft/lbs of torque and 9.5 inches of rubber in the rear to annihilate the asphalt. For ‘13, they wanted to celebrate the Boss’s history by paying homage to the 1970 Boss. Hockey stick stripes and single center hood stripe, as well as the addition of School Bus Yellow (remember Parnelli Jones’ 1970 Trans-Am championship car?) bring back memories of the good ole days. So until Ford generously rewards us with a Mach 1 for 2015 (fingers crossed!) we can only scour the interweb for those who were not man enough to handle their Boss-clad Coyotes and anxiously await the day we are blessed with another track-worthy pony car from the Blue Oval. Here’s to 50 years of kicking bowtie butt, eating catfish for dinner and the hope of 50 more to come!

About Rachel & Rush Hour Photography

"I've loved cars as long as I can remember. I also had a keen interest in photography for just as long. Then one day, those two passions merged to become Rush Hour Photography. Originally starting out to shoot automotive photography only, I quickly branched out realizing I had much more to offer. I love working with people and learning about them. I love it even more when I get to show their story through photography. I hope to one day make this my full-time career, but in the meantime, I work for a Mercedes-Benz dealership which continues to grow my love for cars and the stories and people behind them."

50th Anniversary Mustang

The prized ponies will be released next year to celebrate 50 years of the iconic muscle car and will be outfitted with chrome highlights around the windows, tail lights and grille, and a faux gas cap badge in the back

Car enthusiasts take note. Ford will be releasing 1,964 limited edition Mustangs next year to celebrate 50 years of the iconic muscle car.
The limited edition ponies will be outfitted with chrome highlights around the windows, tail lights and grille, also featuring a faux gas cap badge on the rear, much like the original Mustang.
The edition will only come in two colors, white or blue, and is available in both automatic or manual transmission. The cars will be among the first off the assembly line when Ford begins manufacturing 2015 models later this year.
[AP Photos Via Ford]

Spotted on the Street: Ferrari 360

by Mike Satterfield

Parking lots don't get much better than the ones you find in Southern California in Spring. While attending a Shelby show this 360 Spider just happened to be in the parking lot so I thought I would snap a few pics.

50 Years of Mustang Women

As customers, designers, race car drivers, engineers, marketers and journalists, women have been an integral part of the Ford Mustang story for 50 years. The spirit of freedom and independence Mustang inspires has been embraced globally among women and men, the young and not so young, for half a century.

Mustang has built a dedicated audience thanks to its authenticity. From the first retail customer to a successful race car driver to a journalist with a lifelong love for the pony car, these aficionada are but a tiny sample of the millions of women around the world whose stories have contributed to the iconic status of Ford Mustang.

Gail Wise, first-ever Mustang owner
In 1964, Gail Brown was a freshly graduated Chicago schoolteacher who made history when she became the first Mustang owner in America. She still owns the car today. What makes this example unique is that Wise bought her Mustang on April 15, two days before the car was set to go on sale. A mix-up at the dealer resulted in her making the very first retail purchase of a Mustang.

Today Wise recalls with a great deal of fondness those early days of Mustang ownership when she was a young teacher. “There was a middle school attached to our elementary, and the boys fawned over the Mustang,” she remembers.

Mary Jean Wesche, editor, Mustang Times for Mustang Club of America
Mustang had its public debut at the World’s Fair in New York in 1964. A class field trip to that event was life changing for another woman who has played a key role in the Mustang story. Mary Jean Wesche, editor of the Mustang Times for Mustang Club of America, was a visitor to the World’s Fair and still remembers seeing the Mustang debut display for the first time.

“I absolutely fell in love with the car, right then and there,” recalls Wesche, who had recently begun working on cars with her father. She continues to work on cars today in her spare time at home in Florida.

Wesche also served as managing editor of Mustang Monthly and then 5.0, before spending the last decade of her career as the editor for Mustang Times. She is constantly on the road, visiting shows and meeting with Mustang enthusiasts.

“Everyone has a Mustang story, and they are all really neat,” says Wesche. “Mustang has been an integral part of my life. I met my husband because of the Mustang. I enjoy writing about them, I enjoy driving them, and I’ve always had a passion for the car.”

“It is a big deal if you are at a car show and Mary Jean Wesche stops by to take a look at your Mustang,” said John Clor, Ford Racing marketing manager. “It means your vehicle is something special.”

Lyn St. James, professional race driver

Mustang’s competition history is ingrained in its performance DNA as the car achieved a class victory in the 1964 Tour de France Automobile soon after its debut. While racing continues to be male-dominated today, Lyn St. James is one of several prominent women competitors over the last 50 years who have been an important part of the Mustang story.

After coming up through the Sports Car Club of America amateur ranks in the 1970s, St. James captured attention wielding Mustangs in the Trans Am and IMSA GT classes, posting numerous victories and top-10 finishes. In the 1985 race at Watkins Glen, St. James became the first woman to win an IMSA GT race driving solo, a mark that still stands. She later went on to race in the Indianapolis 500 seven times, winning rookie of the year in 1992 and setting a closed-course world record of 225.722 mph in 1995.

Since retiring from the top ranks of American racing, St. James has been an advocate, mentor and coach for women in all sports, particularly racing, and still competes in vintage racing today.

“I’m a product of the muscle car era, and when I think about the muscle cars of the 1960s, like the Cutlass and the GTO, they aren’t around anymore,” said St. James. “Mustang has survived, flourishing with the same culture and heritage in the sense that it’s still a muscle car, but upgraded to today’s technology, and it’s still hot.”

For 50 years, women have helped to establish the iconic status of Ford Mustang, and they will continue to be a part of the story for future generations, including with the all-new 2015 Mustang that goes on sale later this year.

6 Great Cars for around $35,000

by Mike Satterfield

There is a lot to choose from around the $35,000 price point, but we choose a few must haves for a daily driver. As much as I love our Mini Cooper and Big Block Fairlane, the fact of the matter is I live in the Los Angeles area and that means it takes me hours to go anywhere, mostly at 10mph so an automatic is a must. Being that I travel a lot and have family and friends all over the world, that means I am at LAX pretty often picking up or dropping off someone, so a 4 door with room for a few adults and luggage was a must have. Since it is not a track day car, and its not a sports car it needs to have the modern comforts we have all come to expect in a nice car. 

Now I am not buying any of these cars, I have a nice crossover that accomplishes those tasks for now, but the question came up when a friend and I were discussing the options for $35,000 it seems that in her mind that the only cars worth having were all $50K plus and thus out of reach. So having driven all of the cars and quite a few that did not make the list, all are a great choice, all offer nice leather interiors, great options and pretty amazing fuel economy. Here are the top 6 contenders I like for around $35,000 in no particular order, if I was going to plunk down my hard earned dollars I think I would be torn between the Lexus CT F-Sport or the Mercedes CLA250 Sport Package. 

2014 Kia Optima Limited 
Base MSRP: $35,300
The 2.0 Liter, Turbocharged  4 cylinder engine puts out an impressive 274 hp and still gives you 20 city / 31 hwy MPG. Featuring more premium content than any other car in its price range as standard including a panoramic roof, premium sound system, nappa leather seat trim, and HID self leveling headlamps. The car is fun to drive but I would not call it sporty it is 

The other big advantage that Kia has is their warranty which is one of the best in the business:

10-year/100,000-mile limited powertrain warranty
5-year/60,000-mile limited basic warranty
5-year/100,000-mile limited anti-perforation warranty
5-year/60,000-mile roadside assistance plan

2014 Fusion Energy SE
Base MSRP: $34,700
The Fusion Energy is one of the best "Plug-In" hybrids on the market while it has a 2.0 liter 4 cylinder engine, it's plug in electric motor allows an EPA estimated 108 MPG city and 92 MPG highway. Unlike other electric cars the Fusion Energy includes a 120V electric charging cable, so you don't have to install a costly charging system in your garage. The other exciting feature is the 7 hour recharge time, so if you plug in at night you are recharged the next morning. The car also comes standard with a number of great premium features like standard leather trimmed heated seats, premium sound system with SYNC, while other items like voice activated navigation are still optional. The MPG and cool features like Ford's mytouch app that let your monitor the cars charging system on your smartphone don't really add to the driving experience. 

Bumper to Bumper: 3 years / 36,000 miles
Powertrain: 5 years / 60,000 miles
Corrosion (Perforation only): 5 years / Unlimited miles
Roadside Assistance Program: 5 years / 60,000 miles

2014 Lexus CT F-Sport Hybrid
Base MSRP: $33,230
The CT is a bit smaller than the Mid-Sized Sedans above, but it is a great car to get you into the premium market, provide you with great MPG and its actually fun to drive. We road tested a CT with the F-Sport package with Nuluxe interior. It bumps the price up to $34,690 but you get a number of upgrades, inlcuding the Leather Wrapped F-Sport Steering Wheel, Shift Knob, Aluminum Sports Pedals, 17 Inch Wheels, Sports Suspension, and the F-Sport style package that includes a rear spoiler, different grills, and F-Sport badges. The 43 City/ 40 Highway is not as high as the Fusion Energy which is almost the same price as the CT with the F-Sport Package but it is much more fun to drive. 

The Basic Warranty of 48 months or 50,000 miles, is more than offered by Ford and less than offered by Kia, but still better than most in the industry. As an added bonus your first year of  Wheel alignment and balancing are included at the dealer. Plus you are getting a car backed by the legendary reliability of Toyota. As a Lexus owner I can tell you they have a first class service department (at least at our local dealer) with loaner cars available for long term service issues and a friendly and professional staff.  

2014 Audi A4 all-wheel drive
Base MSRP: $35,900
The Audi is the best value in the German Mid-Size Marketplace a comparably equipped BMW 3 Series with xDrive will set you back just over $43,000, mainly because each minor change (like the color of the body or interior) is an upcharge. While on the Audi you can get the S-Line Package for just $1,600 more, that gets you the 18" wheels, LED running lights, and a host of other upgrades. The A4 Premium package already includes leather interior, Tiptronic® transmission Audi quattro® all-wheel drive, and all the comforts you would come to expect in a luxury Sedan. The 10 Speaker sound system is amazing considering it is not an upgrade and the car feels solid and sporty to drive. The 24 city 32 highway is surprisingly better than the Kia Optima but the Kia does have more party tricks like the Glass Roof. 

Warranty is on par with Lexus with the 48 Months or 50,000 miles Audi includes your first maintenance.

 2014 Cadillac ATS 2.5L 
Base MSRP: $33,990
It is no secret that I have not been a big fan of Cadillac, but the new ATS caught my attention since it was rear wheel drive, and that is a rarity today. The only rear wheel drive car that made the list. The thing I don't like is the added options are all pricy, want a "premium color" thats $995, polished wheels (still 17") thats $800, Premium sound... that'll be $1,350. In fact to get the Cadillac on par with the Lexus CT (its smaller I know) or the Audi A4 you need to spend a whopping $38,925. Thats to get such radical luxuries like sports pedals, heated seats, a sunroof, in fact bumping up to the more gas friendly 2.0 Turbo engine bumps your base price by nearly over $2,000 alone.  MPG with the base 2.5 engine comes in at  22 city 33 highway, still not as bad as the Kia, but again it does not offer as much equipment or warranty coverage as the Kia. 

2014 Mercedes Benz CLA 250 Sport
Base MSRP $35,325
The new baby Mercedes has been getting a lot of attention since it is the same price point as cars from Ford, Kia, and Hyundai. I have never been overly impressed with Mercedes as far as dollar to value ratio goes, here in the USA the Mercedes badge makes everyone giddy, but from my travels I seen too many Mercedes Taxis, Buses, and Tractor-Trailers to consider them just another automaker. They do build amazing supercars but their daily selection has just never really struck me as a good value. The CLA has shifted my opinion slightly because here in the US market the car has a great perceived value and was a smart move for Mercedes to attract more young first time buyers. The car great looking and barrows from its older/more expensive brothers for it's styling. I test drove one with the optional $2,200 sport package (included in the base MSRP above) it get you 18" AMG wheels, painted brake calipers with cross drilled rotors, chrome grill, and a sports body package. It's turbocharged 2.0 liter engine with start/stop technology gets an impressive 26 MPG City and 38 on the highway. 

As with the other luxury brands the car offers a 4 year/ 50,000 mile warranty. 

50th Anniversary Cobra


2012 was the 50th anniversary of Shelby American, to celebrate that Shelby released a limited edition 289 Cobra, all were black with ox-blood red interiors and special anniversary badging.  Loved seeing one up close and personal at the Shelby Bash Kick Off.