By Design: 1964 1/2 Ford Mustang

By Design: 1964 1/2 Ford Mustang
1964 1/2 Ford Mustang - By Design - Automobile Magazine
The original pony car was the right car for the right time.

“Let’s revert to the slab stern and high luggage compartment, the nearly vertical rear window, the leather strap and ‘chunk of road machinery’ feeling.” That’s from a multipage document describing the need for an American four-passenger sports car, a text leading to one of the most successful product launches Detroit ever enjoyed, Ford’s April 1964 Mustang. Written in 1956, it was presented to — and furiously rejected by — Harley J. Earl, General Motors’ styling chief. Its author, Barney Clark, wrote Corvette advertising copy at the time. A few years later, working for J. Walter Thompson on the Ford account, he talked with product planner Don Frey about it. Lee Iacocca may be the “father of the Mustang,” but he got the notion via Frey and Clark, and thus indirectly from GM. Even the final 108-inch wheelbase was first determined by GM’s Anatole Lapine, who subsequently became Porsche’s design leader. Nothing’s simple in the car-design business.

Photo Gallery: 1964 1/2 Ford Mustang – By Design – Automobile Magazine

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First Look: 2015 Lotus Eterne

First Look: 2015 Lotus Eterne
2015 Lotus Eterne - First Look - Automobile Magazine
A four-door, all-wheel-drive Lotus.

The final slot in the revised Lotus portfolio is reserved for a four-door sports car named Eterne. There is a tenuous historical precedent for a four-door Lotus. During General Motors’ ownership of Lotus, a Vauxhall Carlton sedan was sent to Lotus for a fairly intense transformation that transformed it from a stale sedan into a veritable four-door sports car. Lotus badging and wider wheel arches hinted at the Cartlton’s incredible 176-mph top speed, which was made possible by a twin-turbo I-6 engine and six-speed ZF manual transmission borrowed from the (Lotus-engineered) Chevrolet Corvette ZR-1.

Photo Gallery: 2015 Lotus Eterne – First Look – Automobile Magazine

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Collectible Classic: 1979 – 1985 Mazda RX-7

Collectible Classic: 1979 – 1985 Mazda RX-7
Collectible Classic: 1979 - 1985 Mazda RX-7 - Automobile Magazine
The rotary rocket that revived the affordable sports car category.

Mazda’s timing was perfect. In the late 1970s, British and Italian sports car makers were hanging by their fingernails, C3 Corvettes were aging ungracefully, Datsun’s lovable Z-Car was evolving into the foppish 280ZX, and Porsche’s 924 suffered from a hodgepodge of Volkswagen and Audi components. So the Mazda RX-7 that arrived in the spring of 1978 (as an early ’79 model) was the answer to unspoken sports car dreams: it was attractive, fun to drive, and — with a sticker as low as $6395 — bargain priced. As a bonus, the RX-7 was powered by a rotary engine, which at the time was only one step down from a turbine as a source of wonder and amazement.

Photo Gallery: Collectible Classic: 1979 – 1985 Mazda RX-7 – Automobile Magazine

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First Test: Ferrari 458 Italia

First Test: Ferrari 458 Italia
Ferrari 458 Italia - First Test - Automobile Magazine
Spurring the latest Italian stallion to 180mph.

With the lowly Corvette ZR1 and a fresh Porsche 911 Turbo yapping at its hooves, the prancing horse rises to the asphalt-kicking cause. Ferrari’s 458 Italia not only eclipses the performance of every challenger save the Bugatti Veyron, it lifts the normally-aspirated bar to heights that will probably never be topped.

Photo Gallery: Ferrari 458 Italia – First Test – Automobile Magazine

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