convertible

convertible

  A convertible is a car body style with a folding or retracting roof. The collapsible roof section is typically made from flexible canvas or vinyl, although plastic, aluminium and steel have occasionally been used in elaborate folding designs.

In general I like the cars that Mini makes, but I despise the iterative nature of its designs and its constant collection of “different” models and trim levels. Taking one basic car and turning it into one-hundred and eleventy different models is silly and annoying. That said, Mini’s latest concept creation, the Superleggera Vision Concept , is every bit as interesting as it is stunning to look at. It feels like the first true new Mini design since the brand returned in 2003. With a collection of retro cues and futuristic design touches, the car is a truly inspirational design.

I am not the only person who feels that this should be the new future direction of Mini design, and now rumor has it that Mini could actually build it.

The story comes from Automotive News, which cites information provided by Mini boss Peter Schwarzenbauer at the car’s unveiling. Schwarzenbauer said the car was created to see how well the Mini fans would respond to something that looked like a radical departure from the brand’s traditional design. His words were, “It has received overwhelming appreciation.” He also said he could see a production version of this roadster if the BMW board approves the project.

Here is to hoping.

Click past the jump to read more about the Mini Superleggera Vision Concept.

When it comes to cars that deliver pure driving pleasure, the Caterham Seven is tough to beat. Maybe this is why the roadster has used the same recipe for more than 50 years. Caterham has been working to improve it since 1973, but we mustn’t forget that Colin Chapman, who built the first Lotus 7 in 1957, penned the Seven. It’s true that the technology behind it has changed over the decades, but Chapman’s iconic "simplify, then add lightness" philosophy remained printed in the Seven’s DNA. Caterham sells a host of iterations nowadays, ranging from the bone-stock 165 model to the lightning-fast 620 R, but, from time to time, it also releases special-edition models that become prized collectibles.

For instance, the Brits created quite a stir with the Seven JPE, a Vauxhall -powered Seven developed with input from F1 driver Jonathan Palmer and launched in 1993. More than 20 years have passed since then, and Caterham turned to another Formula One driver to create a new limited edition track rocket. This time it was Kamui Kobayashi’s turn, a Caterham F1 Team ace that has five Grand Prix seasons to his name.

As with most Caterham special editions, the Kobayashi Seven is gifted with a unique appearance and the latest tricks in carbon-fiber embellishment. It packs the same no-nonsense attitude present in all Caterham Caterham -badged vehicles and it has everything it needs to make a petrol-head grovel at its wheels. There is a catch though; the possibility that we may never see one blow past us on the highway is very low. But you’ll have to join us in our in-depth trip to find out why.

Click past the jump to read more about the 2014 Caterham Seven Kamui Kobayashi Special Edition.

Note: Porsche 550 rendered here.

The rumors about Porsche’s baby-Boxster roadster are swirling up again with new reports coming out of Germany. This time, the news suggests the new car will surface for the 2016 model year and sport two versions of a flat-four engine. Dubbed the 718, this rumored roadster will slot under the Boxster in terms of price, horsepower, and weight, while still offering plenty of go-fast performance for buyers looking to spend less than the Boxster’s $63,000 asking price.

The report from Focus pins the 718’s two four-cylinders as displacing 2.0- and 2.5-liters with horsepower outputs of 282 and 355, respectively. Porsche will combine these engines with a DSG gearbox and manual transmissions that will drive the rear wheels. The combination of a lighter, mid-mounted, four-cylinder engine and a lighter chassis means the 718 will surely be a hot performer.

Rumors also claim that Porsche engineers are using a modified Boxster platform with a reduction in mass coming from extensive uses of aluminum. It wouldn’t be surprising to see the new Roadster also use lots of carbon fiber, as the cost of CF production keeps falling and becomes more pervasive in the industry.

Though the official word isn’t out yet, experts say the car will cost roughly $53,000 — a solid $10K less than the base Boxster. That said, the 718’s upper trim level, which includes the 355-horsepower, 2.5-liter four-cylinder, will probably only undercut the Boxster by a few thousand. Either way, we appear to be getting a more pure drop-top from Stuttgart by 2016.

Click past the jump to read more about the Porsche 718.

Source: Focus

The Skoda Citigo , essentially a rebadged Volkswagen Up! , is basically unknown in the United States, a land where very few city cars have dared come and managed to survive. However, the Citigo is a bit more popular in Europe, where it’s being retailed in both three-door and five-door body styles.

The tiny, front-wheel-drive car never made it past beyond its box-shaped configuration on an official basis, but a new concept unveiled ahead of the annual Worthersee tuning festival in Austria suggests the Citigo could make a great two-seater convertible.

Designed and built by 16 Skoda apprentices over the last six months, the CitiJet Concept is actually a Citigo that had most of its roof chopped off, while part of the C-pillar remained intact. Also setting it apart from a production car is its unique paintjob, a blue and white metallic coating that shares each side of the vehicle.

The left blue side features a contrasting white stripe beneath the windows and white rims, with the right side being painted the other way around, with the wheels finished in a blue/white combo.

Click past the jump to read more about the Skoda CitiJet Design Concept.

Mini has always been one to adhere to the saying "thinking outside the box" and that was no more evident than its a recent collaboration with Italian design house Touring Superleggera to create an open-top, two-seater concept called the Superleggera Vision.

The concept made its debut at the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este 2014 over the weekend, catching more than just the interest of those who attended the event.

It’s hard not to get caught up in the design of the Superleggera Vision because it’s been a while since Mini has a vehicle that looks as sporty and as athletic as this one. (Apologies to the current Mini Roadster , but you’re still a roofless Cooper at best).

But the Superleggera Vision is far from a disguised Cooper. Other than those headlights and the new grill on the new Cooper, this concept has its own retro-styled look and is as dynamic a Mini as there’s been in recent years.

Hopefully, this isn’t the last we see of the Mini Superleggera Vision. If we had our way, this would be in line for production in the next few years. But even if we don’t get to make that kind of decision, we’re confident that Mini will hear the public calls and consider it anyway.

Click past the jump to read more about the Mini Superleggera Vision.

Spanish automaker Seat isn’t particularly known for developing eye-catching concepts , so please excuse us for doing a double-take on the Cupster Concept it unveiled at the 2014 Worthersee event. The concept, developed to celebrate the Ibiza’s 30th anniversary, is pretty innovative in its own right, which is a testament to what Seat is capable of if it puts its all into building cars that are out of its wheelhouse. The Cupster Concept is based on the Ibiza Cupra , which really doesn’t say much because most of the details in the concept roadster are things we’ve never seen Seat do in the past. The lowered stance gives it racing appeal and the absence of a traditional front windscreen puts the car in a concept level all its own.

In place of the typical windscreen, Seat opted to use a wraparound window that extends horizontally from one rear section all the way to other, wrapping the Cupster in somewhat of a glass encasing that looks pretty cool if you’re into a design quirk like this.

Seat has made no indication on whether it plans to sell the Cupster Concept as a production model. For what it’s worth, we’d take a long look at it before putting down the money to buy one. That wraparound window design is a definite eye-catcher, even though that feature would never find its way into showrooms.

Good work on this concept, though, Seat. Rare is the time when you get attention for a concept car, but this one really did the job.

Click past the jump to read more about the Seat Ibiza Cupster Concept.

Gran Turismo’s Vision Gran Turismo series of concepts is slowly taking shape and another automaker has come out and released its creative work.

Joining in on the fun is Volkswagen with its Vision Gran Turismo Concept . And if we’re into picking among the best of what we’ve seen, it’s hard to go against what looks like a pretty sick roadster that actually bears resemblance to one of Volkswagen’s production models, specifically the Scirocco .

This is what the creative forces at Volkswagen thought of when they were asked to build a concept for the video game franchise. It’s not that the car looks good; it’s that it looks exceptionally good, one we hope Volkswagen decides to build as an actual production car in the future.

It retains most of the essential characteristics of the brand’s sports hatch and wraps it up in a sportier package, one that features a dramatically low windshield, a swooping front end, new headlights, and lest we forget, the sickest set of wheels we’ve seen among all the Vision Gran Turismo Concept cars that have come out.

Updated 05/23/2014: Volkswagen revealed the first details and specs on the Vision Gran Turismo Concept, just a few days before the car’s official debut on May 28th at the Worthersee Festival in Austria.

Updated 05/28/2014: Volkswagen unveiled a new video (above) revealing the new Vision Gran Turismo Concept in action and it surely looks fast! A new set of images were also dropped by the developers of the Gran Turismo game. Enjoy!

Updated 05/29/2014: Volkswagen unveiled the new Vision Gran Turismo Concept - or GTI Roadster - at the Worthersee Festival. Click past the jump to find out the new details.

Click past the jump to read more about the Volkswagen Vision Gran Turismo Concept

In all the years that Porsche has been around, it has created a handful of iconic models that, to this day, enthusiasts still revere suiting their legendary status. On the flip side, there are also some Porsche models that don’t get the same amount of love and admiration that they deserve. One model that belongs in the latter category is the 1970 Porsche 914-6 , a mid-engine, two-seat roadster that Volkswagen and Porsche collaboratively designed and built from 1969 to 1976 .

In its latest episode, Petrolicious ran a profile on the "forgotten" Porsche and Jack Griffin, one of the few men who own the 914-6.

It’s easy to overlook the 914-6 given the other models Porsche has developed that have gained more esteem. But there still lies an appeal for a sports car that not only performs like a Porsche, but looks unique enough for Porsche faithful to consider it an outcast model to all other Porsches built before and after its arrival.

For his part, Griffin has developed a certain affinity and attachment to his 914-6, largely because of the way others have ignored the model throughout the years. It’s still a Porsche, after all, and as far as this particular 914-6 is concerned, a powerful one at that.

The 914-6 was one of the fastest Porsches of its time, having later evolved into a race car when the 914-6 GT arrived in 1969.

Most people will name the 911 as the most iconic Porsche model of all time, and there’s no use arguing against that notion. But don’t forget models like the 914-6, which carved out a following of its own that, as Griffin proves, persists to this day.

Well that didn’t take long, did it? It’s already universally recognized that the Mazda MX-5 Miata is one of the most popular models in the history of the industry. So it didn’t come as a surprise that when Mazda released the MX-5 Miata 25th Anniversary Edition , all 100 models of the car were accounted for in just 10 minutes.

Reservations for the sports roadster were set for 10:25 AM Pacific Daylight Time yesterday and as soon as the time read "10:35, all 100 models were reserved via 250 individual registrations, rendering Mazda’s allocated time for pre-orders that was set until May 31, 2014 essentially useless. Who didn’t see that one coming?

Those who successfully registered their reservations will now get contacted by Mazda North America and given the chance to pre-order the model. The first 100 who verify their intent to purchase and provide transmission selection will get first dibs, meaning that not all 250 will end up with the special-edition model.

And as an added bonus, the 100 who secure the special model will each be given a Swiss-made, custom-crafted Tourneau watch with an Italian-made genuine leather black strap, contrasting Soul Red stitching, and a deployant buckle.

The Mazda MX-5 Miata 25th Anniversary Edition will sell for $32,205 with a six-speed manual transmission and $32,655 for those equipped with an automatic.

Click past the jump to read more about the Mazda MX-5 Miata 25th Anniversary Edition.

My eyes were tired, and the sun was unnaturally bright for 7 a.m. on Tuesday, but the warm Texas weather gave me satisfaction as I opened the balcony door. In just a few short hours I would be throwing cars around a racetrack as I began my one-day crash course on tire testing and comparisons.

I’ve been on worse assignments.

The event was put together and hosted by Cooper Tire. The American tire company, one of the last still operating in the US, has just released the new CS5 line of premium touring tires. With more than 2-million testing miles, and built as a replacement for the company’s best-selling tire ever, the CS5 is quite an ambitious project. Oh, Cooper is also celebrating its 100th anniversary as well. Somehow, I have been invited along with a selection of my colleagues to put this new tire through its paces.

The day would consist of laps around both dry and wet circuits to test the tires abilities, and Cooper had brought along some competition for us to compare against as well. Our weapons of choice included the new BMW 328i and some V6-powered Ford Mustangs .

I would learn a lot about tires, myself, and the breaking point of a C7 Corvette’s rear differential.

Read on to learn more about my day as a tire tester and find out how I did


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