The world is moving in the direction of the electric car, there’s just no way around that. General Motors (GM) has begun to embrace the eventual shift, and has announced that they will be stopping production on six of its worst-selling models – resulting in the closure of five factories.

These closures will result in as many as 14,000 lost jobs on top of the cancelled GM models.

The Detroit-Hamtramck factory – which is iconic but has been at the center of intense controversy – is scheduled to close, along with five others. Assembly plants in Warren, Ohio and Oshawa, Ontario will be closed, a plant in Baltimore that produces transmissions will get the axe, and the Transmission Operations site in Michigan will be closing as well.

Though much of the workforce at these sites will likely be facing unemployment, negotiations are underway to find relocation options for as many people as possible.

A statement from GM reads:

“The company is transforming its global workforce to ensure it has the right skill sets for today and the future, while driving efficiencies through the utilization of best-in-class tools.

“Actions are being taken to reduce salaried and salaried contract staff by 15 percent, which includes 25 percent fewer executives to streamline decision making.”

Here are the six vehicles being dropped from GMs range due to poor and worsening sales:

  • Chevrolet Impala
  • Cadillac XTS
  • Buick LaCrosse
  • Chevrolet Volt
  • Cadillac CT6
  • Chevrolet Cruze

Notice that all of the above models are traditionally-configured sedans or hatchbacks – highlighting a shift in consumer interest.

The shift towards electric cars is certainly an indicator of a bright future for the auto industry and the world in general, but it will not be without its growing pains and casualties along the way.

Whether your car is still under warranty or you’ve got a weekend track car to keep in working order, it’s easier than you might think to start doing your own maintenance and repairs. Not only does working on your car save time and money, it’s highly educational and gives you the confidence to tackle a problem when it pops up.

Along with the will to learn, you need to be equipped with the right tools for the job. Your household DIY toolkit won’t cut it for most automotive applications, so here are some of the basics to get you started.

  1. A Quality Socket Set – This is arguably the most important aspect of a well-rounded automotive toolbox, as pretty much any job will require using a socket and ratchet of some sort. A good mechanic-oriented set will include both metric and standard (SAE) sockets, as well as ¼-inch, 3/8-inch, and ½-inch ratchets to drive those sockets. Extensions, wobble-joints, and thin-walled sockets are useful additions, but are not typically included in a starter kit.
  2. Pliers and Wiring Tools – There are nearly as many electrical projects you can take on with a car as there are mechanical jobs, and having the proper tools can make what would otherwise be a nightmare or downright impossible, into a fun process. You’ll want pliers of various sizes and shapes, as well as wire cutters and wire strippers. Quality tool manufacturers like Craftsman, Milwaukee, Matco, or Snap-on offer full ranges of hand tools for any job.
  3. Torque Wrench – Both beginners and seasoned enthusiasts alike often overlook the importance of tightening nuts and bolts to the correct torque specification. Over-torqueing a bolt can cause it to break – often causing quite a headache for whoever has to extract it, and under-torqueing a fastener can cause critical components to come loose during driving. There are tons of options, but beginners should use a basic click-type torque wrench.
  4. Wrench Set – A good set of standard wrenches is right up there in importance with a socket set. A complete set should include both metric and SAE sizes. Many manufacturers are now making wrenches with ratcheting box-ends so there’s no need to remove the wrench to reset it after every turn.
  5. Screwdrivers – You likely have screwdrivers in your household tool setup, but you will probably need to expand that when you begin working on automotive projects. A range of flathead drivers are useful for fasteners as well as acting as small prying tools, and drivers with interchangeable heads are useful for specialty fasteners found on cars.

This is by no means meant to be a comprehensive list of tools to take on any car-related project, but it is a solid foundation on which you can continue to expand your tool collection to handle whatever comes your way.

Purists, get ready to rejoice. Many enthusiasts know that Mazda announced they would be starting a factory restoration program for its iconic MX-5 back in 2017. Many will also recall that the program currently caters only to cars in Japan. Despite that, Mazda received over 600 applications by the beginning of 2018 – and the first completed example just rolled off the line.

Are you ready to step into the past?

Mazda’s first restoration is a 1992-year model MX-5 V-Special edition (marketed as a Eunos Roadster in Japan) in a classic British Racing Green over tan leather interior. The car is owned by retired farmer Keiji Nishimoto who purchased the car brand new and has been driving it all around Japan for the last 26 years with his wife. He had been planning on bringing the car back to its former glory anyways, and when he heard of Mazda’s program, he was quick to apply.

The 1992-model MX-5 originally came equipped with the smaller 1.6-liter inline-four engine, and the V-special trim was outfitted with a classic Nardi steering wheel to compliment the tan leather – all of which have been faithfully restored to like-new by Mazda. In fact, the entire car has been restored to look like it just rolled off the assembly line in 1992 – factory color-matched hardtop and all.

We’re not sure if every MX-5 owner is in for the same treatment, but the Mazda restoration team gave Nishimoto a tour of their factory and facilities before delivering his car.

When asked what he plans on doing with the car, Nishimoto replied: “I plan to drive it for another 25 years.”

Currently, the MX-5 restoration program is only for cars in Japan, but with the huge number of NA Miatas around the world, we doubt we’re the only ones hoping they will expand the program worldwide – or at least to North America.

Mid-engine cars are often thought about only in their most exotic forms: new Ferraris, Lamborghinis, McLarens, and other supercars. While it is true that some of the highest performance cars on the market today have their engines behind the cockpit, you don’t necessarily have to spend six-figures to get that exotic look and feel in a sports car.

Here are some of the best mid-engine sports cars you can buy for a (relatively) low cost.

Honda Beat

What was once a small city car – called a Kei car – meant for the streets of Japan, the convertible Honda Beat is now old enough for import into the US, and is quickly becoming popular among enthusiasts. Affordable price, convertible top, mid-engine configuration, and a 9000-rpm redline from the tiny three-cylinder engine make this a recipe for a fun time. You can find them for under $6000 right now.

Autozam AZ-1

Much like the Honda Beat, the Autozam AZ-1 recently became legal for importation under the 25-year law, and is quickly becoming desirable among collectors and enthusiasts. The car features gull-wing style doors like the Mercedes SLS and other exotic supercars and a mid-engine layout that make it a blast to drive. Prices are higher than the Honda Beat, and those numbers are expected to climb significantly over time. If you want in, now is the time.

Toyota MR2

The MR2 has to be on this list. You can find any one of the three generations of this car for sale in your local classifieds for next to nothing. Combine that with legendary Toyota reliability and you have a recipe for a fun, worry-free little sports car. Clean examples can be found for under $6000.

Porsche Boxster – 986

Many people never quite warmed up to the late ‘90s and early ‘00s Porsche Boxster because of its unique styling and ‘fried-egg’ headlights. Beyond that though, the 986-generation Boxster is a fantastic handling mid-engine car with a ton of potential. For under $10,000 you can get yourself a convertible Porsche that is track-ready right away.

Porsche Cayman – 987

For those who want the value Porsche experience but would rather not have a convertible, the first-generation Cayman is beginning to fall under the $20,000 mark for higher-mileage examples. For that money though, you get a driving experience worth three-times the price.

Autocross is one of the most popular ways for the everyday enthusiast to get into motorsport. Autocross is low-risk, low-speed, and high-fun, but choosing the right car for the job can be overwhelming. Here are some great places to start your search for the perfect autocross machine.

Volkswagen GTI

Many people choose to have one car serve both daily-driver and autocross duties. If that applies to you, there are few options better than the Volkswagen GTI. It has enough space to haul everything you need on a daily basis, they are incredibly reliable, and their handling is superb. Even brand new GTIs can be had for a reasonable price, with used and older-generation models available for a steal.

Subaru WRX

The WRX has long offered great performance value for the money. With all-wheel-drive, a turbocharged boxer-engine, and enough space to fit the kids in the back – what more could you ask for? Clean examples can be had for well under $20,000.

Mazda Miata

No list of autocross cars would be complete without the icon that is the Mazda Miata. This car single-handedly saved the roadster from extinction, and features one of the most competent chassis of any production car. Couple that with timeless styling, fierce reliability, and a low price tag, and it comes as no surprise that these are found at nearly every autocross event across the country. They even have their own racing series.

Honda S2000

Much of what makes the Mazda Miata a performance icon is shared with the Honda S2000. A finely-tuned chassis, roadster configuration, and some actual power under the hood make this car a serious contender at nearly every autocross event. They’ve held their value well, but clean examples can be had for just a shade over $10,000.

C5 Corvette

Whether you buy the base model with the “lowly” 350-horsepower LS1 engine, or the Zo6 with a healthy 405-horsepower, the fact remains that the C5-generation Corvette represents one of the most popular high-horsepower autocross cars in existence. Simple yet highly effective suspension, a low curb weight, and plenty of muscle make these Corvettes capable of some serious lap times. Examples are dropping below the $10,000 mark at this point.

Having choices when picking out a new car is great. You get to add some of your own personality to the car and make it one of a kind, just for you. Enthusiasts especially aren’t afraid to shell out a little extra for the sake of making something their own – and that includes what color the car is.

Manufacturers tend to offer a limited range of colors, with choices being things that appeal to the masses – but not Volkswagen. How does 40 color options sound? Well if you’re in the market for a 2019 Golf R, that’s how many options await you.

In theory, this sounds like a fantastic idea on Volkswagen’s part. They are bringing back some well-loved color options from Audi and VW’s past, including Nogaro Blue Pearl, Viper Green, and Ginster Yellow to name a few.

Volkswagen states that “these options make the Golf R stand out, from the highway to the driveway, while also highlighting the owners’ personality. VWoA’s Product Marketing team worked in tandem with Volkswagen Canada to select a diverse range of colors for the 2019 model year Golf R that will appeal to owners, while still paying homage to the rich heritage of the Volkswagen color spectrum.”

All of this freedom comes with a cost, naturally. For an extra $2,500, you can have access to any of the 40 colors on Volkswagen’s list, but that likely won’t be an issue for most enthusiasts. Classic VW colors resonate deeply with lovers of the brand, and the opportunity to have that on a brand new Golf R is not something to be passed up.

Don’t worry about making the wrong choice, though. Volkswagen is adding an interactive tool to their website that allows you to apply each color hue on-screen before your car is built. Not a fan of computers? High-quality paint color cars are being shipped to VW dealers across the country.

Having a dedicated track car is great and all, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have something fun to drive to work and the grocery store. These sports cars make great daily drivers during the week, and even better track cars on the weekend.

BMW M2

Arguably the best M car currently in production, the M2 is the smallest and therefore the lightest of the lineup. It can also be had in a manual, which is a must for many of us enthusiasts and driving purists. Additionally, the M2 can be had in standard or Competition trim, both of which are equally luxurious, with the latter being powered by the same engine from the M3 and M4. It’s a win-win.

Jaguar F-Type

Perhaps most well-known for its crackle-filled soundtrack on deceleration, the F-Type is stunning to look at, fantastic to drive, and incredibly luxurious inside – a recipe for a top-tier daily driver.

Porsche Cayman

If you don’t want to pony up the cash for a 911, the Cayman offers the perfect mix of affordability and performance. It is just as luxurious and comfortable inside as its big brother, and whether you opt for the newer turbocharged 718 model or an older flat-six car, you’re going to have a good time.

Ford Mustang GT

The newest Mustang is a fantastic all-around sports car. It is packed with modern technologies and comfort features to make the commute enjoyable, and when optioned out with Performance Pack 1, has good potential on the track without being as hardcore as a Performance Pack 2 car.

Honda S2000

A roadster might not be everybody’s first idea of a great daily driver, but Honda’s S2000 is an exception. Legendary reliability, great visibility, and great driving characteristics make for a care-free yet fun drive to the office, and the satisfaction of driving one of the greatest Hondas ever made.

Subaru BRZ/Scion FR-S

A popular choice for the enthusiast looking for a fun car that can be used every day, the Toyota/Subaru joint venture is an all-around winner. Four seats, a usable trunk, and great fuel economy combined with fun driving dynamics make this a great option for an affordable daily car.

No longer do you have to choose between having a car you can drive every day and having a performance-oriented sports car. These are just a few of the options out there in 2018, but you truly can have it all in one car these days.

This is the 20th anniversary year for Kids Racing for Life.  PBOC Motorsports Club Inc. is proud to sponsor this event on September 8-9, 2018 at Sebring International Raceway.

Your last chance to register is Tuesday Sept 4.  

Watch is great video to see what all the Fun and Hope is about.  Our thanks to Tom Burt for the video.  https://vimeo.com/241247616

Just last year, Singer and Williams began developing a highly modified Porsche 911 under their Dynamics and Lightweighting Study. Well, it is finally here, and Singer unveiled the first two restorations from this venture at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in mid-July. The two cars are a 1990 911 in white, and a 1989 911 in red, both of which are incredible to behold.

Both cars are powered by 4.0-liter, air-cooled flat-sixes in true vintage Porsche fashion, churning out an impressive 500 horsepower without the help of forced induction. Unlike most production air-cooled Porsche engines, these feature dual overhead cams with four valves per cylinder, which are of course made from titanium, and works alongside magnesium throughout the engine to keep things light.

The car is aerodynamically optimized, with small air channels at the rear window designed to direct air to the ducktail spoiler and diffuser, creating usable downforce. The engine takes in air through two ram-air intakes that are integrated into the quarter windows, and a vent in the spoiler helps expel excess air.

Everything on the cars are designed with lightness in mind. The seats, steering wheel, and much of the interior trim is made from carbon fiber. Brakes are carbon-ceramic Brembo units with monoblock calipers, and the wheels are custom-made BBS center-locks designed to look like period-correct Fuchs alloys.

The suspension was designed by Williams, and features remotely adjustable dampers. The tires are Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2s in a special size to fit the BBS wheels. Something that many will be happy to see is the six-speed manual designed by Hewland. No automatic or dual-clutch nonsense here.

75 clients will be able to purchase these special vehicles, and we can only speculate on how astronomical the price of something so special will be.

Most enthusiasts would love to have a sleek, two-door, two-seat supercar to fling around a racetrack, but that just isn’t the reality of life for many. Fortunately, four-door vehicles of all shapes and sizes are beginning to put down some seriously fast lap times around the Nurburgring, which tells us that in 2018, you really can have speed and practicality all in one package.

Here are some of the fastest.

2018 Audi RS4 Avant

Surely few thought a wagon would make it onto the list, but the newest RS4 Avant was able to lay down a 7:58 thanks to the car’s massive amount of grip from its Quattro system and low-RPM torque.

2011 Subaru WRX STI

The Subaru STI has always been focused on handling over raw power, and as a result, they tend to be nimble through the corners. Rally legend Tommi Makinen was able to get a 7:55 out of the 2011 STI.

2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio

Alfa Romeo promised that the Stelvio would be the fastest SUV around the Nurburgring, and they kept that promise. With an impressive 7:51.7, it beat out the Range Rover Sport SVR and took the crown for the fastest SUV.

2017 Honda Civic Type R

The new Civic Type R is the first Type R to come to US shores, and Honda knocked it out of the park. Not only is the 7:43 lap time quick in general, it is the fastest FWD car to ever lap the Nurburgring.

2018 BMW M5

The newest M5 is a monster, nearly besting the Porsche Panamera Turbo in the hands of a factory driver with a time of 7:38.92.

2017 Porsche Panamera Turbo

Porsche made an extra effort to improve the Panamera’s looks for the second generation of the car, and they also made it much quicker around the track. It managed a 7:38 around the ‘Ring, making it the third-fastest sedan ever around the track.

2018 Jaguar XE SV Project 8

Jaguar pulled out all the stops on this custom version of the XE sedan. The car is outfitted with bespoke carbon fiber body panels, aggressive aero, and a 592-horsepower supercharged V8. All of these changes resulted in an astonishing 7:21 lap time, making the Project 8 the fastest sedan around the Nurburgring by far.