TB

TB’s journey into automotive journalism has been a long road. The road is paved with piles of car mags under the bed, Porsche posters in glass frames, and pushing the limits of whatever car he is driving.

His car passion started out like many other kids, with an obsession for mechanical toys from day one. Born in Charlotte, North Carolina in 1982, Tom’s family moved to Chicago in 1985.

There, he discovered an *amazing* new candy called Skittles, which was brand new at the time and not available anywhere in the South yet. He sent bags to his old pals in Charlotte.

Growing up in the Chicago suburbs was filled with Construx, big-wheels, two-wheeler bikes, R/C cars, Ariens lawn-mowers and neighborhood sports year-round.

Auto shows were a feast of gathering bags and bags of the newest brochures. Cut out and made into collages, the auto show was heaven. Weeks of bulletin boards and Blu-tac bedroom wall art would follow.

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The question of where to take Lincoln ’s styling was top-of-mind for Ford during the mid 1950s, and the net it cast was to both the internal styling teams and one special dream car creator of Italy.

Turbulent times for all the Blue Oval brands followed the market flop of their Edsel series, and Chevrolet was lighting up newsprint and auto shows with their swanky Motorama events and the original Corvette concept of 1953.

The desire for miraculous styling direction and stunning concept cars led to all the non-GM American car brands to pair off with Italian styling houses. During this flurry of deals, Ghia signed up with Chrysler , Bertone for Packard and Carrozerria Touring with Hudson.

Lincoln went with a less-renowned name of Felice Paolo to dress a rolling chassis with bespoke coupe bodywork ahead of the Turin motor show. The orange lacquer paint was barely dry on the 1955 Lincoln Indianapolis Exclusive Study by Carrozzeria Boano Torino when it was rolled onto the rotating platform of the Turin auto show.

This stunning concept car is headed for the glitz and flash bulbs again this November with RM Auctions, where the car’s previous million-dollar pricing is expected to climb in value yet again.

Click past the jump for all the unusual and one-off style of the 1955 Lincoln Indianapolis Concept.

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Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupe Concept

Frankfurt ’s legendary auto show is winding down this week, with fewer than expected debuts and almost none of the surprise guests that many were hoping to see from Porsche , Audi, Bentley, Volvo , BMW and Ford .

There are at least a half-dozen Volkswagen Group projects that the auto world is eagerly anticipating, but it seems the continuing grey clouds in the forecast is delaying projects left and right. Not only is there not as much cash to invest in so many simultaneous projects, the market climate is all wrong to launch most of these models in the usual ’as soon as possible’ fashion.

The Lamborghini Cabrera was a no-show, as was the Bentley Falcon, Porsche Macan, Audi Q7 and many others. The new XC90 was nowhere to be found on the Volvo stand, while the promised flood of VW crossovers seems to have slowed to a drip.

Even so, there were still plenty of spotlights and smoke machines for the cars that did make their grand entrance.

The BMW i3 and i8, the Renault Initiale Paris, the Audi Nanuk and Sport Quattro , the Jaguar Crossover Concept and the S-Class Coupe all brought some serious glamor to the stage. Fiat’s 500L Living was also hiding awkwardly in the corner, while the Volvo Concept Coupe finally brings some new blood to the snooze-fest Swedish lineup.

The best and worst are all in this list, but you will have to click past the jump to see which were the heroes, and which were the zeroes.

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The Toyota Tundra really needs an all-star halo truck to liven up its competent but forgettable range of full-size trucks, which are redesigned for 2014. This exclusive speculative preview of the 2015 Tundra Baja 1000 imagines how a Ford Raptor rival from Toyota would compare with the hot-selling off-roader from the segment-leading F-150 .

The Tundra reached its U.S. sales peak in 2007, when the big rig was all-new and came from its billion-dollar assembly plant right in the heart of Texas. Since then, the Tundra has struggled to even crack 100,000 units, which is a major sore spot when even the dullest Toyota sedans like the Corolla are able to rack up more than triple the total volume of the Tundra.

So what is missing from the Tundra ’s three cab styles, short and long bed options, and three engines that top out with a potent 5.7-liter V-8 making 383 horsepower? The Tundra is missing more than a few million loyal customers, first and foremost, versus the long-trenched buyers of Ram , Ford , Chevy or GMC trucks.

Even the also-ran Nissan Titan PRO-4X is trying on some new off-road hero truck ideas for next year’s all-new model. For slow-moving
Toyota ? So far, the world’s most admired car maker has only dipped its toes into the pool.

The new 1794 Edition of the Tundra packs more fake silver trims than a Nokia factory, and the Toyota Racing Development 4x4 stickers its dealers like to apply do not seem to have the same effect as the Raptor ’s unique grille, huge fender flares, Fox racing suspension and sand-basted attitude.

TRD is just about the worst acronym imaginable, so this TopSpeed preview of a Tundra off-roader is dubbed the Baja 1000.

Click past the jump to get a closer look of the 2015 Toyota Tundra Baja 1000.

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The legendary Mercedes-Benz Unimog all-terrain trucks are refreshed for 2013 with a comprehensive makeover inside the cabin, underneath that boxed ladder chassis and outside with a menacing new grille and LED lighting.

The top of the new Unimog lineup in terms of off-road ability is the new U5023 model, which replaces the previous U5000 nameplates. Sharing the nose layout with its shorter sibling, the U4023, these models are the freshest outside with a dramatic new single-wing grille to house the dinner-plate-sized Mercedes star emblem.

This is a unique touch for the U5023, as this design is usually reserved for the sportiest models in the lineup, like the SLS AMG . Regardless, the new design is functional more than stylish, with a new cab and engine mounting position that is farther back in the chassis and other significant changes to go along with this new grille design.

The chassis itself of these off-road models is quite something. With a flexible central spine, the Unimog U5023 is able to articulate its wheels farther than any other production vehicle, and now can even flex the chassis to ensure at least one wheel has traction on the ground.

The other big news for the Unimog line is a vastly improved cabin with better visibility, easier off-road traction settings, a vastly improved driving position with a tilt/telescoping wheel, and a new Euro6-complaint BlueEfficiency turbo diesel engine.

Despite a (limited) top speed of 56 mph in Europe, the Unimog U5023 has some of the most clever and innovative off-road tech designed right into its chassis.

How far ahead of a Jeep is the Unimog? Well it has 664 pound-feet of torque and an eight-speed automatic for forward movement. A six-speed automatic handles reverse, where the Unimog can also hit its 56 mph top speed going backwards. Not something many would attempt in a Jeep .

While the Mercedes G63 AMG 6x6 is a big draw for flashy people, the Unimog will always be the real king of mud, sand, rocks and water.

Click past the jump for the full review of the new 2014 Mercedes-Benz Unimog U5023.

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Tucked inside the wealthy enclave of Santa Barbara, California is one of the most awe-inspiring collections of pre-war French automobiles ever assembled anywhere on earth — even inside France.

Just a few hours south of Monterey and Pebble Beach , the Mullins Automotive Museum is almost as exclusive as the cars inside. And for good reason: dozens of the cars in the collection are priceless and completely unique.

The Mullins museum has dozens of Bugatti ’s, including the all-time most-valuable car ever: the Type 57 Atlantique . This is too easy and common, so we will focus on some of the more obscure pieces in its priceless collection.

There are highlights are every turn, but we’ve assembled some of the most influential and visually breathtaking cars here in a list of Top Ten Coach-Built French Imports - between 1930 and 1950.

This list could also have been called the "unpronounceables" because their names are quite complicated to say out loud. Doing so is a real treat, however, especially in the case of the all-star Hispano-Suiza H6C Xenia. This gorgeous coupe has some of the most otherworldly styling ever seen then or since.

Winner of Best in Show at Goodwood 2009, this Hispano-Suiza features sliding side doors, a rounded fuselage design, and bespoke luggage that looks like a million bucks.

Click past the jump for all ten of these stunners: including a number of Bugatti ’s, Avoins Voisin and the first hard-top cabrio: the 1938 Peugeot 402L Cabriolet Metallique Decouvrable.

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The Ferrari F50 is by far the least popular of the firm’s first four generations of modern hypercars. All the world’s respect and awe for the F40 met the F50 at its debut, but the tide quickly turned for this $480,000 machine after reviewers and Ferrari customers alike revealed the F40 replacement’s familiar styling hid dynamics and a driver experience nowhere near the ferocity of the legendary original.

Instead of a peaky and violent Group B reject like the F40 , the F50 was a heavy, high-speed missile with limited tractability at low speeds from the V-12 versus the explosive F40’s twin turbochargers and short gearing.

Make no mistake, there is nothing wrong with the performance of the F50, which easily spanked [the hottest thing available from Lamborghini at the time, the Diablo VT in sprint pace, as well as maximum velocity. The construction is carbon-fiber with the rigidity of a fortified bunker, the rear wing is eye-catching, and the 1990s makeover of the F40 ’s simple nose was beautiful, at first.

The F50 largely included the F40 ’s exaggerated and exotic proportions and clamshell hoods front and back. Headlamps above the bumper and hood’s leading edge were possible via shrouded enclosures for the first time in three decades, and the unadorned intake wears only a simple and modest prancing horse.

The F50 is an enjoyable case study for armchair experts and everyone else forced to endure Ferrari ’s frequent grandstanding. It also shows a few nice things for all supercar fans, especially those who are, unfortunately, not debating which Ferrari to purchase (at least not any time soon)!

Click past the jump for the full debrief of the Ferrari F50: the Ferrari’s hypercar sophomore album that is now a study in what *not* to do when replacing a legend.

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The Ford Fusion is becoming one of the biggest hits for any American automaker who dares tussle with the best-selling Accord and Camry. A grunty and quick EcoBoost triple-cylinder 1.5-liter joins the engine and drive layout choices for 2014, which now reaches seven variations — an unprecedented total for any American car starting at just $22,000.

So this handsome Ford runs a three-banger in 1.5-liter EcoBoost specification? Will it have the speed of a lawnmower and the engine note of a go-kart? Nope and nope. This is a potent engine, with much more power at all revs than the base 2.5-liter, four-cylinder. It’s also quite affordable to produce, so will hopefully take a larger percentage of Fusions than the pricier EcoBoost engine options.

Lastly, AWD is on the table with the top-spec 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine. Larger wheels look terrific, like they were milled from a solid block of aluminum, some swanky comfort and active safety tech, and a few new colors round out the Fusion’s updates for the new model year.

All this sounds good, but buying a Camry can be done blindfolded over the phone: are all these choices a recipe for confusion on American dealer lots?

Since becoming fans of the Fusion this summer with our Fusion Hybrid and Energi tester models, we’re happy to keep the Fusion rocking the sales charts.

Even so, the gasoline choices are fantastic for keen drivers: the manual box 1.6 EcoBoost or the 2.0-liter AWD are arguably even better vehicles for their lack of electrified tech.

Click past the jump to read all the latest updates for the 2014 Ford Fusion, one of the most confident and stylish midsize cars available.

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The 2014 Ford Taurus SHO only brings minor updates to the speedy sedan’s active safety technology, and a new setup for the wheel-mounted paddle shifters. The SHO still wears its standard 19-inch wheels and exclusive exterior styling with pride: happy to explode from any stoplight with the full force of its twin-turbocharged EcoBoost engine.

A near-equal 55:45 front-to-rear default split for the SHO’s standard all-wheel-drive traction really performs miracles on this large and tall sedan’s handling attitude and eagerness. The SHO looks like, feels like, and drives like the best Taurus out there for a reason: it is.

The SHO still brings hundreds of unique touches to its performance credentials, interior luxury and tech sophistication versus the base models.

No one likes a stripped-out car. Years of driving is no fun when forced to stare at all the blanked-off switch holes, and driving a modern Ford without the Touch controls and other tweaks can lessen satisfaction over time. If missing a decent radio, what other extra tech or performance was left on the table?

Luckily, the SHO acronym might as well mean "everything," because that is what this roomy and wide hot rod brings as standard. No more regrets, other than the updated Performance Pack or the adaptive cruise control that are on the options list.

A two-fer of new arrivals from Chevy is set to bring some pressure to the SHO nearing the end of this model cycle: the new front-drive 2014 Chevrolet Impala and the rear-drive 2014 Chevy SS sedan .

With pricing that is a bit steep for the handling or sprint pace, is the 2014 Taurus SHO still the hero car that Ford needs at the top of its sedan range?

Click past the jump to find out.

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The super-luxury coupe market is heating up rapidly this year with the production debut of the Rolls-Royce Wraith fastback and the brand-new Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupe concept .

Both are aiming for the meat of the market occupied by the Bentley Continental GT : a car so successful and profitable that it almost single-handedly relaunched the $100,000 to $150,000 market for two-door, four-seat dream coupes.

While the Conti GT V-8 S is now far more nimble but just as rapid as before, the styling of the Bentley is looking quite tired and unappealing for the sharpest and most fashion-forward shoppers.

In the ultra-chic world of luxury cars, yachts and homes on three continents - old styling and previous ownership of the Bentley means these buyers are ready to move forward.

New styles are poised to capture these Bentley refugees with the Wraith and S-Class Coupe , which is quite near production specification despite being officially tagged a concept.

These two swish shapes are both absolutely fresh designs that introduce advanced styling concepts for both the RR and Merc brands. If well received, the cues seen here will have a strong influence on the next-generation vehicle designs from these storied luxury marques.

As sedan-based two-door coupes, they both essentially start at the same place as the Bentley did when remodeling the VW Phaeton.

But which car is more beautiful, technically interesting, and the winner of this TopSpeed Design Showdown between the 2014 Rolls-Royce Wraith and the 2013 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupe concept ?

Updated 10/24/2013: This article now features the latest photography from Rolls-Royce and Mercedes-Benz

Click past the jump for a side-by-side battle of these two exotics from all angles.

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Comfort, safety, durability and power are the key reasons for upgrading to these heavier pickups from the lighter-duty Silverado that is all new for 2014 . Even while the new model has projector beam headlights and some extra cabin tech, the 2500HD and 3500HD Silverado’s continue with only detail tweaks for 2014.

These updates include a new standard final drive ratio that boosts tow ratings by 4,500 pounds across the board, and a bi-fuel option that can run on normal gasoline or clean and affordable natural gas at the flip of a switch.

Chevy packs quite a bit more strength into these $30,000 to $50,000 2500 HD and 2500 HD trucks than their fierce cross-town rivals from Ford’s F-Series Super Duty and the Ram Heavy Duty choices.

These trucks have the rock-solid capabilities that would have required heavy and specialized machinery even a few decades ago.

Two quite unique buyer groups exist for these Texas-sized pickup trucks: people using the HD trucks to earn a living, and people who are so rich that they need to be able to transport all their toys to the cabin - at the same time. 10,000-plus tow maximum’s and fifth-wheel trailer hitches available, the Chevrolet Silverado HD trucks are only of the only ways to move a family of five, a large boat, jet ski’s and ATVs all in one trip.

These days, the Silverado HD series will happily get filthy doing the dirty work from dawn to dusk, but it must also deliver far more friendly service during the off hours. This is the real challenge for all pickup trucks, and the Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD and 3500HD models are the last bastion of (at times) crude manners and a DuraMax exhaust drum wider than a telephone pole.

All this while hauling its drivers and their families in comfort and safety that still seems unimaginable at times for these big work trucks. Is the aging 2014 Silverado HD still up to the task in the face of a revised 2014 Ram Heavy Duty with an air suspension in back? How about versus the ever-popular Ford F-Series Super Duty and its huge cabin space?


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