If you’re in search of an SUV or CUV, then a decision has to be made - Do you need two-wheel drive or all-wheel drive?
The short answer to this question is as simple as it gets - if you have the luxury to think about 2WD and AWD, realistically, you do not need an AWD system. At all. AWD is one of those things that when you need it, you just know you need it, and you know why you need it. You would not be thinking of 2WD in the first place. Nevertheless, manufacturers seem to throw a lot of money into promoting AWD systems for their SUVs. This has become a feature that translated from something one may consider a driving aid to a mere entry on an options list you could mark. I submit to you five things to think about before opting for AWD.
Labor Day Is Almost Here, Bring On The Deals
With the summer coming to a close and autumn closing in, Labor Day is just about here, giving us all an opportunity to kick back and relax, fire up the BBQ one last time, and bid farewell to the warm weather. Not only that, but Labor Day is also traditionally a great time to find a good deal on a new car. Deliveries of the new stock are just over the horizon, which means the older models must go, and dealers are ramping up the incentives to make room on the lot. Whether you’re looking for an SUV, sedan, or truck, this weekend looks like a great time to save some money. With that in mind, we’ve assembled some of the best deals out there right now to help you find what you need at a price you want.
If you’re looking for a little more information and a few tips when it comes to buying a new car, check out our quick Labor Day buying guide here, where we list some of the pros and cons of taking the plunge this time of the year. So then, without further ado, read on for the deals of 2017.
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Mercedes-Benz X-Class Vs. The Competition
Mercedes-Benz just made quite the splash when it dropped the new X-Class. Framed as the first truly “upscale” pickup truck, the X-Class intends on redefining the midsize segment with unprecedented levels of luxury and refinement. It might seem like a strange combination to mate luxury with pickups, but as Mercedes points out, “the number of pickups for private use is increasing. They are no longer viewed purely as workhorses.” As such, the X-Class aims to broaden the pickup’s buyer appeal, seeking out folks like “land owners and farmers in Argentina, business owners and building contractors in Australia, families with an affinity for premium products in Brazil, trend-conscious individualists in South Africa and Great Britain as well as sporty adventurers in New Zealand and Germany.” Sounds like quite the collection of buyers. But here’s the thing – is the X-Class really all that revolutionary?
To find out, we placed it alongside some of its biggest competition, including the Toyota Hilux, the Volkswagen Amarok, and the Ford Ranger. And, since its possible Merc might bring the X-Class stateside eventually, we threw in the GMC Canyon Denali as well. Read on for all the specs and info you need, and let us know in the comments how you think the X-Class stacks up.
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What Makes a Rubicon Hard Rock?
This week has a 2017 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon Hard Rock in my driveway. It’s a mouthful of a name, but its title is nothing compared to the laundry list of upgraded equipment bolted to this hard-core SUV. Things like rock rails, a heat-reduction hood, mud tires, and locking differentials just scratch the surface. As such, I wanted to take a deep dive into what constitutes a Rubicon trim – and the subsequent Hard Rock model – of the venerable Jeep Wrangler JK.
The current Jeep Wrangler, codenamed JK, has been around since 2007. The JK revolutionized the Wrangler with the addition of a four-door model called the Wrangler Unlimited. Since its introduction, the Wrangler JK has undergone minimal changes. An improved interior came for 2011 followed by the then-new 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 in 2012. Beyond that, only special edition models have kept the Wrangler fresh. Of course, Jeep is selling plenty of JKs, so there’s not much need to change. In fact, the Wrangler’s best year was 2015 when 202,702 Wranglers found homes in the U.S. alone. Jeep also sold 20,880 JKs in Canada that year, along with thousands more in markets around the world. But the JK’s days are numbered. Jeep is rolling out an all-new Wrangler for 2018, codenamed the JL. However, that doesn’t discount the awesomeness that is the current Wrangler Rubicon Hard Rock. Keep reading to find out why.
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TopSpeed’s Top 5 Physics-Defying Performance Crossovers And SUVs
Technology has a very strange habit of turning the impossible (or at the very least, the improbable) into reality. This is especially true in the automotive world, where seemingly contradictory attributes manage to find a happy middle ground with surprising regularity. Case in point – the performance crossover and SUV segment. Once a body style relegated to utility, the modern tall-bodied, cargo-tastic crossover or SUV can now be had with a heavy dose of speed as well, apparently defying the laws of physics with mammoth grip and absurd levels of power. These days, it doesn’t matter if a model is heavy and huge – add the right parts, and it’ll be quick as well.
It’s a combination that seems to be growing in popularity, with a nice assortment of options available across the market. As such, we’ve collected five of the best right here for your perusal. Each offers a decent amount of cargo space, high levels of luxury, and the option for performance as well, all for a price tag around $70,000 (give or take). Our picks look like this – BMW X3 M, Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk, Mercedes-AMG GLC63, Porsche Macan Turbo, and Land Rover Range Rover Sport. We’ve got the lowdown on each right here, so read on for more info. And don’t forget to post your favorite in the comments section below!
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Porsche 911 GT2 RS - From 444 to 700 Horsepower
Porsche has been offering high-performance versions of the 911 since the early 1970s, with the most iconic model being the Carrera 2.7 RS. But once the Germans adopted turbocharging, the traditional RS stepped down, making room for a new range-topping sports car, the 911 GT2. First introduced in 1993, the GT2 is now in its fourth generation, which is based on the 991.2 model. It’s faster, more powerful, and more aerodynamic than its predecessor, while also boasting more technology than ever. Thenew GT2 RS is a massive departure from the first GT2 from more than two decades ago under the skin, and we’re going to look at those changes in a drivetrain comparison for all four generations.
The GT2 was born out of the 993-generation 911 as a homologation vehicle for motorsport purpose. Built to meet GT2 class regulations, the road cars were named accordingly and the nameplate survived to this day. The first GT2 was discontinued in 1998, but Porsche revived the badge in 2002 for the 996 model. After three years, it was again discontinued, only to return as the 997 GT2 in 2008. The 997 was also the first GT2 to get an RS designation, which was offered in very limited numbers from 2010 to 2012. Come 2017 and the GT2 returns to the market as an RS model only. Since 1993, the drivetrain not only swapped air-cooled for water-cooled engines, but also gained more displacement a lot more power. Let’s find out more about that below.
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The 10 Most-American cars Built in 2017
Each year, the American University’s Kogod School of Business conducts a survey of the automotive industry. The D.C.-based school maps out the most American-made vehicles, regardless of their brand. Seven key criteria are used in determining the rankings, but it comes down to the percentage of American and Canadian parts used and location of the vehicles’ assembly, research and development, and corporate headquarters.
Though Kogod’s inclusive survey ranks every vehicle sold in the U.S., we’re focusing on the top 10. Much of the list hasn’t changed over 2016, but there are a few additions and missing models. An update in scoring for 2017 allows half-points for automakers (FCA, in particular) that have headquarters in multiple countries. As such, the Jeep Wrangler joins the list, despite the vehicle itself not changing. For a full explanation of the points system, check out Kogod’s website. To skip to the Top 10 most American vehicles, keep reading here on TopSpeed.com
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TopSpeed’s Top 10 Race Car Homologation Specials
Racing is just frickin’ awesome, amirite? Pushing the limits of what’s possible with four wheels and an engine, testing the skill and bravery and those who sit behind the wheel, proving who’s the best and who’s the rest… these are the things that make motorsport so incredible. But there’s another wrinkle to add to the mix – sometimes, when the stars align just so, the world of racing spits out a machine born on the track, but ready for the road. We call these beasts homologation specials, and they’re some of the most exciting, uncompromised, and downright drool-worthy automobiles on the planet. As such, we’ve compiled 10 of the best right here for your reading pleasure.
We’ve tried our best to include a broad variety of vehicles, including muscle cars, supercars, and rally cars, with a mixture of European, Japanese, and American manufacturers all present and accounted for. Each offers its own take on what it means to go fast, whether it’s big downforce, big power, or sideways hoonery. Maybe it’s all three. Of course, picking a favorite is tough in this crowd, but forced to choose, which of these homologation specials is right for you? Let us know in the comments so we can join in on the fantasy.
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TopSpeed’s Top 5 Convertibles That Won’t Break The Bank
Well, it’s officially summertime, and that means it’s the right season to get out and enjoy the warm weather. And, if you have the means, that should also include breaking free from the confines of a fixed hardtop roof and enjoying unlimited blue-sky headroom. Unfortunately, getting behind the wheel of a convertible isn’t always the cheapest proposition around, but fear not, because we’ve assembled five of our top picks for going topless without breaking the bank.
Of course, there are plenty of other options out there at this price range, but we decided to cut out the flab and only keep those droptops that you’ll actually want to drive. That means each offers something interesting under the hood, all while maintaining that fun in the sun factor. Of course, no roof means you’ll get a little extra slop in the corners, given the lack of chassis rigidity, but that’s okay – you’ll be enjoying your time in the elements all the same. Let us know which you’d have in the comments!
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TopSpeed’s Top 5 Street Cars With Ridiculous Spec Sheets
We’re not sure if you’ve noticed, but things have been getting a little out of hand lately. In the never-ending quest to one-up the competition, automakers have unleashed some truly astounding machines upon the world, each packed to the brim with jaw-dropping stats. The numbers these things bring to the table are simply ridiculous – outrageous power, mind-warping speed, and otherworldly performance potential. Any one of these rides will permanently alter your perception of what it means to go fast, even if all you do is digest the numbers. As such, we’ve listed here our top five favorite street cars with simply ridiculous spec sheets.
Obviously, super cars make up the majority of the entries, but we’ve also got the king of the muscle cars and even an all-electric icon on the list as well. Each entry is fully capable of melting face in its own special way, and each serves as a reminder that we are indeed living in a special time. Enthusiasts, say hello to the ultimate bench racers, the four-wheeled monsters bringing the hottest of the heat. Which would you have? Let us know in the comments section below, or post up your pick for the car with the most ridiculous spec sheet.
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TopSpeed’s Top 5 All-Electric Performance Cars
Last week, we took a look at our top picks for the best five hybrid sports, listing off some truly awe-inspiring gas/electric combos that proved hybridization wasn’t something to be feared by the common auto enthusiast. But while adding a big battery pack and a few electric motors might seem like a pretty sizable modification to the traditional sports car formula, there’s an even-greater change lurking just over the horizon – the pure-electric powertrain. That’s right, gasoline need not apply in this crowd, and yet, the speed potential is still enough to melt your face. This is our list of the top five all-electric performance cars.
There are plenty of benefits that electric power offers over internal combustion, especially when it comes to the business of going fast. For starters, the torque curve for an electric motor is totally flat, with maximum twist created the instant you touch the long pedal to the right. There’s also zero power loss at high altitude, a characteristic that’s particularly useful at hill climb events like Pikes Peak. What’s more, with enough motors and a little electronic wizardry, you can get away with some pretty kick ass torque vectoring dynamics. Of course, it’s not all roses – for example, the all-electric appliance noise will never beat the sound of exploding dino juice. Regardless, all-electric performance is still quite impressive. Here are five examples that prove it.
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What’s The Best Upscale Performance Sedan You Can Get For Less Than $50K?
The sport sedan – talk about a hotly contested segment. Almost every major automaker out there has one, but as you might expect, not all are created equal. And that’s where we come in, armed with a boatload of facts and figures to help rank the various entries from best to worst. Of course, more attentive TopSpeed readers out there are sure to point out that this is a topic we’ve covered before, most recently in a comparison piece looking at the Audi A4, BMW 3 Series, Chrysler 300, Infiniti Q50, Jaguar XE, and Mercedes-Benz C-Class. But unlike that last article, which focused on luxury cars with a sporty flavor, this piece will instead focus on cars that place a greater emphasis on performance, with luxury as a secondary priority. As such, we’re picking apart the Acura TLX, Alfa Romeo Giulia, Cadillac ATS, Subaru WRX STI, and Volvo S60. Sure, there’s overlap, but in this crowd, the effort is made more for grins behind the wheel than backside coddling.
That isn’t to say these cars aren’t comfortable – indeed, each offers a fair amount of upscale treatment, some more so than others. That said, we weighed performance much more heavily this time around, giving otherwise more spartan models a shot at the top of the list. So how do we place these five four-doors? Read on to find out.
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What’s The Best Sporty Luxury Sedan You Can Get For Less Than $50K?
At its most basic, a sport sedan should be a happy balance between two competing philosophies. The “sport” half of the equation should make it engaging, both in the way it drives, and the way it looks. A sport sedan should issue a dose of adrenaline when the hammer is down, and be a willing dance partner in the corners. It’s also gotta draw attention, turning heads as it goes, making its owner pause momentarily after exiting and locking the doors. Then there’s the “sedan” bit. A sport sedan isn’t supposed to be stripped down and basic – practicality and comfort are paramount. Often used as a daily driver, backside coddling should be there in abundance, complementing the car’s speed potential, rather than taking away from it. All told, it’s a big ask, but this segment has plenty of contenders vying for the title of best. In this comparison, we look at six of the top entries and sort them out, from first to last.
Listed in alphabetical order, this comparison will take a look at the Audi A4, BMW 3 Series, Chrysler 300, Infiniti Q50, Jaguar XE, and Mercedes-Benz C-Class. We’ve evaluated each in terms of exterior aesthetics, interior comfort and technology, powertrain and drivetrain specs, and chassis and handling. We’ve also included a glut of info in chart and graph form to help you make a quick comparison. So without further ado, let’s take a look at the best sporty luxury sedan you can get for less than $50,000.
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A quick look at today’s automotive offerings and you’ll notice that almost all passenger cars are front-engined, while most sports cars come with a mid-engined configuration. The Porsche 911 is the most known exception from this rule, having its engine mounted above the rear axle. The 911 isn’t the only rear-engined car on the market, the Smart ForTwo and ForFour, Renault Twingo, Tesla Model S, and Tata Nano have similar configurations, but all of them are part of the minority. However, it wasn’t always like this.
Decades ago, rear-engined vehicles were significantly more popular. The first notable rear-engined car dates back to 1886, when Karl Benz launched the Patent-Motorwagen. The concept gained more traction in the 1930 and remained somewhat popular until the 1980s. Mostly found in small, affordable cars, the layout allowed for the rest of the vehicle to be used for passengers and luggage. It was also preferred by many carmakers since the drivetrain can installed easily at the factory compared to front-wheel-drive layout where the driven wheels also steer the car.
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Ditch The SUV And Try One Of These Wagons Instead
In case you haven’t noticed, American consumers are still enamored with the idea of driving around in a tall-bodied, relatively off-road capable SUV with loads of space to haul around many people and lots of things. Sales of such vehicles continue to rise, and automakers are responding by churning out new models by the truckload. But is there a better means to achieve similar ends? What if, for example, you want something with the capability, cargo space, and attitude of an SUV, but the maneuverability, ease of use, and comfort of a regular passenger car? Luckily, such a combo does exist, and we’ve got five of the best examples on the market lined up right here in this in-depth comparison article.
The five vehicles in question are (in alphabetical order) the Audi A4 Allroad, the Mini Clubman All4, the Subaru Outback, the Volkswagen Golf Alltrack, and the Volvo V60 Cross Country. That’s right folks – wagons, representing a diverse price range and wide array of tastes. Once the torchbearer of utility and practicality, the wagon body style has declined in popularity with the rise of the SUV. But just because something is trendy doesn’t mean it’s good, right? Read on to find out what makes these five vehicles fantastic alternatives to the SUV status quo. You rebel, you.
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Attack of the Coupes: Subaru BRZ vs Mazda MX-5 Miata RF
The Subaru BRZ and Mazda Miata MX-5 RF are two interesting coupes that couldn’t be more different yet still belong to the same category. The seat count, roof style, and driving dynamics are the major differentiators, while cylinder count, drive wheels, and manual transmissions keep the two related. But which is better? To find out, I spend a week with each car, back-to-back, and flogged each at the Circuit of the Americas racetrack.
The chance to get production cars on the Circuit of the Americas racetrack doesn’t come around too often. The busy track holds events for Formula One, MotoGP, American Le Mans, and the Rolex Sport Car series, among others. However, I got the chance with the Texas Auto Writers Association and their Springtime Auto Roundup. Forty-plus vehicles from several automakers were on hand with an open track for testing. How’d the Mazda and Subaru stack up? Keep reading to find out.
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Buyer’s Guide: Mazda 3 vs Honda Civic Hatchback
SUVs have the world by storm, getting a second wind after the high-priced fuel crisis of years past, and ultimately forcing automakers to rethink their whole strategy. But, SUVS aren’t the only popular models on the market, as hatchbacks are still a big-ticket item as well. There are so many to choose from – models like the Volkswagen Golf, Ford Focus, and even the Mini Cooper have found their way into the hearts of many, but there are two other players in this game that are worth your consideration, and those are the Honda Civic Hatchback and the Mazda3. Both offer aggressive styling, decent power output, and the ability to haul a decent amount of cargo or a few friends with ease.
The Honda Civic has been around for a long time, being introduced back in 1972. It was originally offered in a number of configurations, including three- and five-door hatchback form. The Civic itself has survived well over the years with the tenth-gen model being introduced for 2016. The Mazda3, on the other hand, is relatively a baby in comparison, being introduced just back in 2003. It saw its third generational shift for the 2014 model year and went through a minor revision for the 2017 model year. With Mazda’s latest design language and range of SkyActiv engines, the Mazda 3 is always ready to do battle with the other great hatchbacks in the world, but today we’re going to compare it directly to the Civic Hatchback and help you decide which one you should buy when it comes time to pull the trigger on your next big purchase.
With that said, let’s dive on in and take a good look at each one. Both come to the party with a lot to offer, so we’ve got our work cut out for us. Join me down the page, and we’ll get started.
Seven Wallet-Friendly Cars Unveiled in Geneva
The 2017 Geneva Motor Show has come to an end and it’s pretty obvious that this year’s event has been a massive success. With more than 60 vehicles on display, Geneva once again proved why its among the most important auto shows of the year.
But, while we drooled upon supercars like the Ferrari 812 Superfast, Lamborghini Huracan Performante, and McLaren 720S, Geneva also brought us quite a few cars for the average Joe. They might not be as spectacular when it comes to performance and technology, but they’re equally important to the automotive industry and deserve all the attention they can get.
Geneva may seem like an event that’s about the glitz and glamour of luxury and performance cars more than anything else, but this is mostly because we all dream of owning cars that can go fast, and keep us comfortable and connected with the latest gadgets. But, once we stop dreaming, we realize that we can’t afford a Lamborghini Huracan and that our daily driver is no-nonsense compact. When that moment comes, have a look at the cool, yet affordable cars you might have missed while rushing to find out how fast the Huracan is around the Nurburgring.
You might need a new daily driver soon. Just saying...
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Hot Hatch Shakedown – Honda Civic Type R Vs. Ford Focus RS
For older stateside hot hatch fans out there, it’s probably crystal clear that we’re currently in a new golden age of performance, one that was once relegated to the realm of fantasy and bench racing. High-powered, tear-drop-shaped compacts with an odd number of doors, turbocharged power, and sports car-like handling are finally, finally finding their way to the U.S. market, and after decades of waiting and ogling from afar, U.S. buyers will soon have a chance to get behind the wheel of four-wheeled superstars previously considered forbidden fruit solely for Europe and Japan. Two of the biggest contenders in this space are the Honda Civic Type R and the Ford Focus RS, both incredible cars aimed squarely at the enthusiast buyer. But which is better?
You can’t help but put these two compact titans in a side-by-side comparison. Both are roughly the same in terms of cost, both come with turbocharged four-cylinder engines, both get manual transmissions, and both offer five-door practicality. Both also carry a long history of making speed lovers smile, and command a veritable army of zealous followers to champion their claim to hot hatch supremacy.
But there are some serious differences as well. While the Focus is an AWD hammer, boasting four corners of grip and some impressive firepower under the hood, the Civic is a FWD scalpel, packing less weight and a history of apex-hunting prowess.
Which will come out on top – the Blue Oval Drift Mode bomber, or the H Badge slice and dice katana? It’s America versus Japan in a hot hatch shakedown. Read on for our take.
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Compact Hatchback Battle Royal – Finding The Best In A Six-Model Slugfest
Here’s the scenario – you want a car, but it has to be the right car. It’s gotta be practical and comfortable, but it can’t be a complete snooze-fest behind the wheel either. You don’t want a crossover, and a sedan isn’t gonna cut it. What you want is a hatchback, something with a little zest and personality, but something that won’t break the bank. Thankfully, there are plenty of options out there, but which to choose? To help you decide, we’ve gathered six of the top contenders and put them head-to-head in the following comparison article. Let’s get ready to rumble.
To keep it all apples-to-apples, each of the entries in our comparison comes packaged in a five-door body style, gets standard FWD, and is instilled with at least a hint of sportiness. Each is also tagged with an MSRP around the $20,000 mark. With criteria like that, we decided to include the Ford Focus ST, Honda Civic Hatchback, Hyundai Elantra GT, Mazda 3 Hatchback, Mini Cooper Hardtop Four-Door, and Volkswagen Golf GTI.
While all six of these hatchbacks are solid choices in their own right, the question remains – which is the best? Read on for our take.
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Taking On Ze Germans… In A Camry?!
You know, you can buy a lot of car for not a whole lotta money these days. For example, if it’s straight-line muscle you’re looking for, the Dodge Charger Hellcat and Dodge Challenger Hellcat will put over 700 horsepower at your disposal for a mere $65,000. That’s pretty insane if you ask us, but what about something on the either side of the spectrum, where comfort and style rule supreme? Well, around these parts, you could opt for the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, the German’s mid-size luxury four-door that comes jam-packed with high-tech goodies, top-shelf opulence, and upper-crust flair. Or, as an alternative, consider the new eighth-generation Toyota Camry. No, seriously.
Suffice to say, we’re big fans of the new Camry. So much so, we feel comfortable comparing it to one of Merc’s best luxury barges. The updated Toyota just dropped cover at the 2017 Detroit Auto Show, and we’re convinced it’s got the goods to punch way above its weight.
But maybe we’re overstepping things a bit. Maybe we’re completely off in the deep end. Maybe. It’s certainly a possibility. But after the response we got when we compared the Camry and the BMW 5 Series, we shrugged our shoulders and went for it anyway.
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The Best Cars From 1996
Welp, it’s New Years Eve, and as you pour out the champagne and put on a pair of ridiculous glasses shaped like the number 2017, it’s important to take a moment to look back and reflect. In the search for the answers of where you’re headed, you can often find clues by sifting through the past, so that’s exactly what were gonna do right here. Incredibly, at least to folks as old as I am, we’re now more than 20 years beyond the year 1996, which prompted us to search the old TopSpeed archives and come up with an answer to the following question – what were the best cars you could buy two decades ago?
Included in this list is a motley crew of sedans and hatchbacks, sports cars and super cars, imports and domestics. We tried to cater to everyone’s tastes, picking out the very best production vehicles we could find, no matter the shape, size, or flavor.
So how’d we do? Which of these rides speak to you, dear reader? Did you own any of these cars in the past? Maybe you own one right now? Let us know in the comments!
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