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Road Test: 2017 Infiniti Q60/Q50
Clean Cities: Sacramento County Hydrogen
Goss' Garage: Handy Helpers
FYI: DIY Car Club
Long Term Update: Subaru Crosstrek | Mazda CX-9
Quick Spin: 2019 Porsche Cayenne
Road Test: 2017 Toyota Highlander
Engine: 3.0 liter V6
Torque: 350 lb-ft.
0-60 mph: 4.6 seconds
1/4 mile: 13.0 seconds @ 110 mph
EPA: 20 mpg city / 26 mpg highway
Energy Impact: 15.0 barrels of oil/yr
CO2 Emissions: 6.7 tons/yr
Infiniti has certainly made splashes in racing waters, even as high as Formula 1. But when it comes to street performance, it’s their Q50 platform that boasts the most. But whether you stick with the Q50 sedan, or opt for the Q60 coupe, for the ultimate in their performance, you’ll need to see red!
The Infiniti Q60 arrived for 2014, replacing the well-loved G37 Coupe. And, whether it was the new design or just confusion over the new name, Q sales have fallen well-short of the original G. But cars like this 2017 Q60 Red Sport 400 and it’s 4-door kin, the 2018 Q50 Red Sport 400 should get things back on the fast track.
Though mostly all-new for ’17, the Q60 coupe rides on an update of the original FM architecture from Nissan’s Z car.
Yes, that means the ride is still a little on the rough side; though a new Dynamic Digital Suspension attempts to alleviate that.
Suspension changes with the Drive Mode Selector, going from firm to less firm, taking just a bit of the roughness out.
But, find a smooth curvy road, and the Q60 behaves gloriously, slicing through corners with graceful ease. It can feel heavy when pushed hard, but still very capable.
Bodywork is updated too, and there’s more of it, as overall length grows 1.5-inches on the same wheelbase. It’s a gorgeous piece of road-going machinery; one of the best looking coupes we’ve ever seen at this price point.
Things inside are now even more driver-focused, with Infiniti’s twin-touchscreen center stack eliminating a number of buttons and knobs.
Seats have been redesigned for both more support and comfort; while all around the cabin, things look and feel even more luxurious than before. Though the seating position remains very low; like you’ve borrowed your chair from the kid’s table; as you peer over the dash.
Of course power here in the Red Sport 400 comes from a twin-turbo 3.0-liter V6, whipping up the named 400-horsepower with 350 lb-ft. of torque. Base Q’s come equipped with a 200–horsepower 2.0-liter I4 turbo; all-wheel-drive is available with either engine.
Seeing red at the track, our all-wheel-driver shot to 60 in just 4.6-seconds. There is some turbo lag, but that just makes the eventual onslaught of power, that much more impressive; forcefully throwing you back into the well-bolstered seat.
You can hear shifts from the 7-speed automatic happening, but you sure don’t feel them very much; barely causing a blip on the radar, as we completed the ¼-mile in 13.0-seconds at 110 miles-per-hour.
Shifting things over to the 4-door side of Q, the Q50 takes on an increasingly aggressive tone for ’18. Though the bigger story, is each trim level now gets unique style.
For the Red Sport 400, that means a new rear diffuser with twin-tone finish and dual exhaust outlets, a more angular front bumper with larger air inlets, and 19-inch aluminum alloys with thinner spokes to better present the upgraded brakes with red calipers.
Same twin-turbo 6 as the coupe, but we’d swear it delivers power more like a V8 here; smooth and unyielding, with fewer perceptible peaks and valleys.
Infiniti’s Direct Adaptive Steering gets updated in an attempt to deliver a more traditional feel. We still think it feels very artificial and too light, yet it remains very precise.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings for the all-wheel-drive coupe are 19-City, 26-Highway, and 21-Combined. We overachieved, with a 24.4 miles-per-gallon average on Premium.
Our rear-drive sedan rates slightly better at 20-City, 26-Highway, and 22-Combined; though we underachieved here, netting 21.4 Premium MPGs. The sedan’s Energy Impact Score is slightly below par at 15.0-barrels of oil used per year with 6.7-tons of CO2 emissions.
While Q60 pricing starts at $39,855, you’ll need to pony up at least $52,205 for a Red Sport 400. Sedan prices start at just $35,195; with the Red Sport 400 going for $51,995.
This pair of Infiniti Q Red Sport 400s pack plenty of performance, yet seem to adhere even closer to the Infiniti ultra-luxury position. That’s a good thing if you’re looking for pampered performance. But that also might actually be what’s keeping the Q from becoming a huge hit in the segment. As many of the performance faithful, still feel that they have to suffer for their performance art. We feel, and many brands have already proven, that’s no longer the case. You can have your performance and relaxingly eat up the miles too.
Engine: 3.5 liter
Torque: 263 lb-ft.
0-60 mph: 7.7 seconds
1/4 mile: 16.0 seconds @ 92 mph
EPA: 20 mpg city / 26 mpg highway
Few brands have the SUV landscape covered as totally as Toyota. Even when it comes to large family duty, they have a trio to choose from. But it’s the Highlander crossover that picks up the bulk of that business, and its been updated for 2017 to give those families more of what they really want.
Now midway through its 3rd generation, the Toyota Highlander adds a multitude of updates for 2017. But don’t think they’re the hastily assembled kind of revisions in response to some sales slump, rather just the normal progression of keeping current with the segment. As despite a rash of recently re-engineered competition, the Highlander remains a top seller in the family 3-row utility world.
You don’t have to like the big mouth look, in fact most of our staff don’t; but you certainly won’t be able to ignore it, as it seems to be swallowing up as much road as possible while heading in your direction.
The big news for ’17 is new SE trim. It tames that front end somewhat with dark pieces replacing the usual chrome. 19-inch wheels are added as well, to support a sportier image.
Fortunately, it doesn’t stop with looks. SEs also get a retuned suspension for a little more agility. Still, this is perhaps where Highlander shows its age the most, having a heavier feel compared to much of the competition who have moved on to lighter weight materials. But that also gives it a totally solid, safe, and secure feeling compared to many rivals.
From the high seating position, drivers will be enjoying that enhanced nimbleness from new black leather seats with silver stitching. Of course its accompanied by dark dash and door trim.
Controls and layout are all very familiar, with no major changes here; including the very helpful storage in the dash. Good news for those with electronics to keep charged, all Highlanders now come with 5 USB ports!
Both 7 and 8-passenger versions are available, with the 2nd row seats remaining very comfortable and spacious. And while many competitors have stepped their game up in the 3rd row department, access here is still very good, though very low seat bottoms make for an awkward seating position.
Cargo space continues to be good here; 13.8 cubic-ft. behind the 3rd row, 42.3 behind the 2nd, and a max of 83.7 cubic-ft. Boosting practicality further, the Highlander is one of the few SUVs that still has a flip up glass for the rear hatch; though only in upper trim levels.
Even better news, is the arrival of a higher power. An enhanced version of the 3.5-liter V6 that gets a 25-horsepower boost to 295. Torque rises 15 lb-ft. to 263.
All this while actually improving fuel economy, thanks to a new 8-speed automatic transmission.
Government Ratings are now 20-City, 26-Highway, and 22-Combined with all-wheel-drive. Our average was 21.0 miles-per-gallon of Regular.
At the track, thanks to the upgraded V6, Highlander certainly feels less sluggish off the line. There’s a strong low end pull to get you going, while it eagerly delivers power on the high end as well. We hit 60 in 7.7-seconds; with a ¼-mile time of 16.0-seconds flat at 92 miles-per-hour.
Base LE trim still comes with a 185-horsepower 2.7-liter I4, though in front wheel-drive only; and of course the Highlander Hybrid remains available as well.
As for how the upgraded SE suspension handled our cones; well, there is still some mild understeer as you might expect, but the tauter suspension is very noticeable.
In fact, after a few runs, we were really hauling the goods, shaving ever closer to the cones and keeping speeds higher than we would have expected going in. Even body roll is well subdued; it was tire sidewall flexing that seemed to hold us back the most.
Of course it’s all about family safety these days; and for 2017, all Highlanders get Toyota Safety Sense P with automatic emergency braking as standard equipment.
Highlander pricing starts at just $31,625. New SE trim goes for $40,685, with all-wheel-drive adding another $1,460.
Even with the rapid pace of change these days, the Toyota Highlander has had no problem staying near the top the sales charts in the highly competitive 3-row crossover utility segment. Toyota fans will find more of what they love here in this upgraded 2017 version. And that should ensure current Highlander sales remain high, until an all-new one hits the streets.
It’s been said clothes make the man, but I think when it comes to fixing cars tools make the man. Well here’s one that really works. You know the tie wraps you use to bundle wires and all sorts of things under the car? Well they’re always tough to get tight, so this tool from SnapOn, what this does is this tie wrap goes into the tool and it pulls the wrap up tight to make a good solid connection. It works really really well.
Now, lots of time you’re going to be involved in wiring, well one of the things you’re going to want it a pair of wire strippers this is an elite type right here. What you do is put the wire through here and then you squeeze this. These jaws can squeeze down on the coating, then it pulls off. Works well. These are the ones I use on a regular basis. They have the different wire sizes and so on here in the handle. You simply put it in there and then pull it apart and you have your stripped wire. Now in most cases you’re going to strip the wire because you’re going to put a wire connector on to it. We’ll have this connector and one of the things you want to make sure you do in this wire connector there is a side of it that has a split in it and what you’re going to do is you’re going to take this and take the little tab that sticks down and you’re going to squeeze that right down into that split which is going to make a dimple which is going to push the metal right down into the wire and you’ll have almost a factory connection.
Here we have a strap wrench we use these for all kinds of odd ball sizes and shapes. It gives us a lot of leverage as you put it around something like we have on this oil filter and then put force on it tightens itself grabs really well. Gives you a lot of leverage. Here we have a close fit ratchet. These things are design to fit up inside the ratchet so you don’t have the socket sticking way down. Things like engine mounts and so on where you have no space at all this will let you get in there and ratchet rather than work with an open end or box wrench a little bit at a time. Invaluable tool.
Here’s something else you’ll find a thousand and one uses for this is a flange tool and it can be used to straighten or align various metal parts on the car. Simply go along like that. Has different angles that you can use. The metal goes in between here. It really really comes in handy for lots of things.
So tools, very important. And if you have a question, or a comment, drop me a line. Right here, at MotorWeek.
Working on your own car can be rewarding, especially when you take your finished efforts out for a spin. But, finding the space for do-it-yourself car care can be a rare commodity, especially in crowded urban areas, gated communities, or where garage space is otherwise occupied. Well, our Lauren Morrison found a car club in Sacramento, California that’s designed just for DIY’ers.
LAUREN MORRISION: “Whether it be a homeowner’s association that frowns on you fixing up your car in the front yard, or a garage that’s just too small, finding the space to work on your car is a pain, but not if you’re a member of the DIY Car Club here in Sacramento, California.
ROBERT MITCHELL: “It’s always been a hobby and a passion. I built my first car when I was 9 years old in my dad’s tool and die shop. That’s just me.”
LAUREN MORRISION: A passion, and nowhere to practice it, is how Robert Mitchell came up with the do it yourself car club concept.
ROBERT MITCHELL: “It started out with 3 of us working out of a little 600 square foot garage that was part of an old auto shop and…..we found more people that wanted to get involved.”
LAUREN MORRISION: With about 40 active members today, the club has moved to a larger space, where members can rent a spot by the hour, day, week, or month to do anything from a tune-up…to a full on frame off restoration….like Kate Dargan and her 1951 Chevy pickup truck, “Irene.”
KATE DARGAN: “It’s her time now. She gets a whole new look for her next 50 years.”
LAUREN MORRISION: While this is Kate’s first restoration, that’s part of the beauty of the club…there’s always another gearhead, like Cliff Miller, hanging around to bounce ideas off of.
KATE DARGAN: “I mean, he can look at the parts and say, oh that goes there. So it’s kind of like having a friend, or your uncle hanging out with you working.”
LAUREN MORRISION: While you’ve got first timers, you’ve also got old pros, like Miguel Willet, who estimates he’s had around 500 cars in his lifetime….but the 1967 Firebird Convertible he’s working on now is something special.
MIGUEL WILLET: “One day, I came home and it was gone. My dad had sold it. So I think I’ve been looking for one the rest of my life.”
LAUREN MORRISION: While Miguel actually uses several different shops he says this car club keeps him coming back.
MIGUEL WILLET: “I find that I’m here more than those places, mainly because the access to other people, the camaraderie, you know, somebody brings food and you know you need to eat and you’re not stopping and they show up. All that stuff means a lot to me.”
LAUREN MORRISION: Young or old, expert or novice, there’s really only one rule to join…you’ve got to have some kind of vintage vehicle. Beyond that, the club has you covered.
ROBERT MITCHELL: “Jack stands, floor jacks, tune-up equipment, most of the general basic tools they would need if they don't have them themselves to completely restore a car.”
LAUREN MORRISION: With members who come from far and wide…
ROBERT MITCHELL: “We have people in the Bay area that drive all the way up here and bring their vehicles to work on them because there’s nothing like this around.”
LAUREN MORRISION: This gearhead gathering place is a do it yourselfer’s paradise!
ROBERT MITCHELL: “Everyone here loves old vehicles, one way or the other. It doesn’t make any difference whether it’s a Chevy, a Ford, a Dodge, a Pontiac, an AMG, an Alfa Romeo. It doesn’t really make a difference. They all love old, classic cars.”
Our success story this week takes us to Sacramento County, California, where they’ve struck gold by going green!
With one of the nation’s leading green public fleets, over 60% percent of the county owned vehicles run on alternative fuel or advanced technology. Now, the county is one of the first to incorporate hydrogen into their fleet by buying 4 Toyota Mirai fuel cell sedans.
With an over 300-mile range, and zero emissions, these Mirais pack a powerful environmental punch. And with help from Sacramento Clean Cities, rebates and incentives cut their bottom line too.
KEITH LEECH: “No government agency would typically buy a $57,000 vehicle for a motor pool, but because of the incentives available from Toyota, the price of that vehicle actually got down to be competitive with the vehicles that we replaced, a conventional hybrid vehicle.”
JOHN DAVIS: With over 30 public hydrogen fueling stations across California, and 100 planned, infrastructure is growing, paving the way for a California future powered by fuel cells.
In MotorWeek Podcast 169, Greg Carloss discusses his drive of the all-new Ford Expedition and refreshed Mustang. Then the gang gives their impressions of the massive Mercedes-Benz G550. Next, the panel debates the Texas DMV's ban on dune buggies, and they help a viewer figure out what SUV to tow his boat with.
Comparison Test: Three-Row SUVs
Goss' Garage: Diamond in the Rough
Over the Edge: Hippie Bus
Long Term Update: BMW X1
Quick Spin: 2018 Buick Enclave
Quick Spin: 2018 Mercedes-Benz S-Class
Road Test: 2018 Porsche Panamera
2017 Honda Pilot
2018 Volkswagen Atlas
2018 Chevrolet Traverse
2017 Toyota Highlander
One of the hardest parts about buying a new vehicle is narrowing it down to just the right make and model. Most buyers don’t have the chance to do a side-by-side driving comparison, but we do. This week we do that with family-size 3-row utilities. And, once again team up with our friends at cars.com, to see which one stands above the pack.
Three row crossover-style SUVs are firmly entrenched in the American culture, being more or less the replacement for the full-size station wagon of generations past. Families depend on them to haul their brood and possessions, and manufacturers rely on them for the bottom line. With so much at stake, the competition is fierce.
We joined our colleagues at cars.com near Chicago where 4 of these hefty haulers were ready for our challenge. We also had the help of a local buyer, who’s looking for the best option for his family.
As in our previous challenges, there was a price cap; $46,000. All are V6 powered with automatic transmissions; all but one includes all-wheel drive, and have a Combined Fuel Economy rating of 19 or better. While there are quite a few choices in this class most have remained much the same since the last test, so this challenge targeted four with recent redesigns and updates.
Last year’s winner… the Honda Pilot.
An all-new entrant… the Volkswagen Atlas.
The fully redesigned Chevrolet Traverse.
And the updated… Toyota Highlander.
Each one went through careful scrutiny, and at the end this is how they ranked.
The fourth spot went to the Toyota Highlander. This all-wheel driver was equipped with a new 3.5-liter V-6 engine and an 8-speed automatic. The $44,514 sticker put it at the top of pricing. But it had the shortest wheel base and overall length, so it lost points for space in the second and third rows.
FRED MEIER: ”The highlander was the smallest SUV here, but it had some of the most comfortable front seats. They were plenty wide, not too narrow, nicely bolstered.”
GARICK ZIKAN: “One of the things you notice about the Toyota Highlander on the road is how polished it feels. It really is a quiet and smooth ride, and that shelf along the dash really is a nice feature”
JOHN DAVIS: While the 2017 Honda Pilot came out on top last time around, it garnered a 3rd place finish here. The Pilot is well designed, and as solid as they come. Its price is just under the Highlander at $44,370. It also shares the Highlander’s Combined MPG rating of 22 from its 3.5-liter V6 and 9-speed automatic.
BRIAN WONG: “The Pilot’s 9-speed transmission which is one of its two transmissions has always kind of baffled me. There’s a noticeable delay in acceleration. So you hit the gas and you have to wait for a second for the engine to catch up”
MIKE HANLEY: “Honda’s touch screen multimedia system was the hardest to use in our test because it lacks familiar controls like volume and tuning knobs and its menu structure is the least organized.”
JOHN DAVIS: Second place goes to the 2018 Chevrolet Traverse, the only front-wheel drive ute in this test. But it has the most horsepower at 310 from a 3.6-liter V6 mated with a smooth 9-speed automatic. The Traverse is rated at 21-miles per gallon. At $44,185 it comes in a few hundred dollars less than the Pilot… while providing the longest wheelbase and overall length among this group.
BRIAN WONG: “It uses that space very well. It has the most cargo room and the most spacious second and third rows.”
GARICK ZIKAN: “The Chevrolet Traverse can certainly haul people and their possessions in a comfortable cabin, but it really brings more to the driving experience than just that. On the road it’s easy to maneuver and really has a sense of confidence”
JAMES GORMAN: “I was impressed by the overall design of the interior, the spaciousness of it. Again, not what I would consider luxurious, but a decent vehicle and something I could certainly see myself driving from day to day.”
JOHN DAVIS: That leaves first place to the new kid on the block, the 2018 Volkswagen Atlas with 4MOTION. The 3.6-liter V6 and 8-speed automatic produced the least horsepower and lowest combined MPG among these competitors. But, with a sticker at $43,615, it boasts the best price. And with measurements that are close to the Traverse… The Atlas earns points for rear room for people and cargo, as well as technology.
MIKE HANLEY: “The Atlas’s multimedia screen looks great. It’s got vibrant colors and a very high resolution, but it’s easy to bump into controls on the touch sensitive panel.”
JAMES GORMAN: “The multimedia was phenomenal in this vehicle. The other really noteworthy aspect of this car was the spaciousness. I was able to sit in the second row and get it in a comfortable seating position and then immediately climb into the third row and also sit comfortably.”
JOHN DAVIS: All of the big utilities can get the job done. But it’s no longer just about roominess and practicality. Technology and refinement raise the bar, and for now the Volkswagen Atlas can shoulder the demands to meet that challenge.
Engine: 4.0 liter V8
Torque: 626 lb-ft.
0-60 mph: 3.2 seconds
1/4 mile: 11.8 seconds @ 120 mph (Panamera Turbo Executive)
We’re pretty sure the pioneering hybrid engineers for the Toyota Prius and Honda insight never imagine something like the Porsche Panamera E-hybrid! But now that hybrid technology has moved from magic to mainstream, Porsche is taking their latest hybrid to a new performance level. And that’s only a slice of Panamera news. So let’s get to it.
The 2018 Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybird is not the first Panamera hybrid of course, but it’s certainly the best yet.
And if you’re still an enthusiast who cringes when you hear “hybrid”, you should know that the 918 Spyder…plug-in hybrid…is the only Porsche more powerful than this one.
Total output for the Panamera’s four driven wheels is 680-horsepower and 626 lb-ft. of torque. All from a twin-turbo 4.0-liter V8, with the help of a 100Kw electric motor.
The usual drive modes allow you to take control of where you want the power coming from. E-Power allows you to go for a max of 31-miles of battery alone, thanks to 14.1-kWhs of storage; more than enough to run silently past your Tesla-owning neighbor’s house. Switch to Sport Plus once you get out of the neighborhood, crack open the throttle, and get max performance from all power sources. Plus, an 8-speed PDK is still there for gearing.
Putting aside the EV techno-babble, this Panamera feels like the most luxurious sport sedan on the road. A new air suspension is standard equipment for a downright luxurious ride, yet Porsche insists that it must still handle darn close to a 911 when the time comes.
That time for us, came at the Vancouver Island Motorsport Circuit, where it didn’t take long to come to grips with the immense amount of grip this Panamera has for cornering. And the rush of power coming out of corners is truly epic! All of this despite over 5,000–lbs. of weight and more than 16-feet of length.
Away from the track, it feels so normal, it’s easy to forget you’re even in a PHEV, until the gas engine kicks in rather curtly, bringing you back to performance car reality. It’s a delightful machine that feels as great highway hypermiling as it does corner carving.
Visually, the Panamera got a makeover just last year, though it still tends to simply look like a stretched 911. The Turbo S E-Hybrid gets 21-inch wheels and Porsche Ceramic Composite Brakes, on which they insist on adding “acid green” calipers.
Likewise, inside, the familiar up-sweeping console was redesigned last year, with touch panel controls replacing many of the previous gens switches and knobs. It may look less like an airplane cockpit now, but we find touch panels still frustrating at times.
Admittedly, the Turbo S E-hybrid resides at the top of the Panamera food chain, but there’s still a “surprising for Porsche” level of standard equipment.
Now, if it’s a new look you’re looking for, feast your eyes on the Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo. It’s not quite a wagon; and since the base Panamera is already a hatchback, we’ll agree that it’s different, what the Brit’s might call a “Shooting Brake”
The ST’s elongated roofline meets some hefty D-pillars, and there’s a redesigned hatch to access the small addition to storage space; 18.3 cubic-ft. over the base Panamera’s 17.6. Folding seatbacks expands it to 49.0 cubic-ft. The Sport Turismo also gained an additional seatbelt in rear for taking along an additional passenger.
Now, in order to get the complete Panamera picture, when it came time to get one for our home test track, we opted for the lengthy, high-powered opulence of the Panamera Turbo Executive.
5.9-inches may be added to the wheelbase for more rear seat leg room, but the 550-horsepower 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 under the hood is more than enough to get it down the track in a hurry.
We hit 60 in just 3.5-seconds, clearing the ¼-mile in 11.8 at 120 miles-per-hour. PDK launch control is as brutal and flawless as always. We never get tired of experiencing it.
And just in case you’re wondering, the Turbo S E-Hybrid, with its electric assist, can do the 0-60 deed in just 3.2-seconds.
To sum it all up with pricing, expect to pay at least $185,450 for the Turbo S E-Hybrid. So, you’re not just paying for the experience, but for the tech. behind it. The Sport Turismo starts a much more reasonable $97,250, around 10-grand over a base Panamera. The Turbo Executive resides in between at $161,050.
Porsche’s no compromise approach for the 2018 Panamera Turbo S E-hybrid, combined with the truly different Sport Turismo, shows that Porsche is just getting started with its biggest car ever. And while many questioned building a 5-door sedan in the first place, after just 7-years, it’s hard to imagine the brand without it.
So you’ve decided you want to buy a collectable or classic car and you want to check it out yourself. Number one, I would recommend against that. I’d recommend you have a professional do it, but if you insist here are some things you should look for.
First you want to look at the general condition of the outside of the car and the interior, and that’s just self-explanatory. But you want to go under the hood of a car and the things you are looking is to see what’s original and what’s been replaced. You want to make sure you have as many original parts as possible. And you want to make sure whenever possible that it has the original engine because that will have the biggest impact on the value of the vehicle. You want to make sure the transmission is appropriate for the vehicle and so on. All of these things have a big effect on the value of the car.
But here is the thing a lot of you miss, and that is you don’t put the car up in the air. Now you’re certainly going to look for things like we have here. We have a giant puddle of transmission fluid. Well you need to look at that to see if it’s something major. Well in this case, it happens to be a bad transmission fluid pan gasket. So it’s about an hour’s repair, not a big deal. You want to look at the frame and all of the components like that to see if there’s any structural rust. Surface rust is not a problem, but structural rust, that can cost a fortune to fix.
The other thing you’re going to do when you have the car up in the air. You’re going to take some kind of a light and you’re going to illuminate the side of the vehicle. We’re going to go along like this. And what you’re doing is you’re going to sight the side of the car you’re going to look down it as you bring the light towards you and you’re looking for signs of body work. And the other reasons you want the car up in the air is that body work and painting is done on the ground with the perspective is looking down at it. Now you change the perspective and you look up at it and you can see most of the mistakes. You want to look at the rocker panels. You can also usually tell down here if there’s been body work because the finish down here is not as good. Look at the bottoms of doors that will tell you about body work on the doors, and always look for rust in all of these areas. Do it right spend some time doing it and maybe you’ll wind up with a great car. And if you have a question, or a comment, drop me a line. Right here, at MotorWeek.
Recently our Zack Maskell literally stumbled across a family traveling the country in a very artistic “mobile home”. Call it a tiny house, an RV, or a bus… that’s on top of a bus, it truly is a horse…or a house…of a different color. So let’s go over the edge with Zach… and enjoy the simple life… living as a highway nomad.
ZACH MASKELL: If a Chevrolet and a Volkswagen had a baby… would it grow up to look like this? It’s a 1953 Chevy school bus… with a 1969 VW Bus on top of it… which allows for more head room… and a bed.
“’Creative talent is only achieved when passion is coupled with hard work’ That’s one of my favorite artists once told me, I happen to be wearing his shirt right now… Keegan Sweeny. I think he would definitely agree that this family is living up to that motto.”
JEANNETTE APPLAUSO: “The kids go ‘Mommy, Mommy, look, look. Look at this big bus… let’s go talk to these people.”
LEROY HERR: “It’s here for you to just smile at and enjoy. It’s actually here for you”
ZACH MASKELL: Dubbed the “Dragonfly Bus” by a trucker in Nebraska. He says it drags up hills, but flies down them. Artist, Heather Platon and husband, LeRoy Herr, who’s a mechanic by trade travel with their two kids and dog, Moonshine. They use it to spread respect, freedom, and of course…love.
HEATHER PLATEN: “We live full time in the bus. It’s a tiny home and mobile pop up art gallery. We invite people inside to check out the bus we want to talk about sustainable living what it’s like to be on the road, how it is to live in a tiny house. We try to bring people together… lighten the mood and the country make people smile.”
ZACH MASKELL: Staying off the grid for six years, building and living in this bus the last two, they stay at national parks sometimes two weeks at a time.
LEROY HERR/ HEATHER PLATEN: “40 hours a week making somebody else’s money doesn’t really make a lot of sense to me.”
ZACH MASKELL: The couple stresses to students in art classes across the U.S. that a 30-year home mortgage isn’t for everyone. For them, spending more time with their kids and being forced to go outside is far more rewarding.
LEROY HERR: $100 to me, in the position that I’ve put myself in, is a lot.
ZACH MASKELL: They don’t just buy something new when it breaks. If it can be fixed, they fix it.
LEROY HERR: “So this is a 40-gallon water cistern. And then I use this pump here to pump the tank, to pump pressure up in the tank to get me water.”
ZACH MASKELL: Using solar panels to power the refrigerator and lights, along with resources from the woods… they remain mostly self-sufficient.
LEROY HERR: “This is where I put my wood in here. The wood fire cook stove.. is awesome.”
ZACH MASKELL: So it was only natural that a vehicle this unique ventured to our local cars and coffee in Maryland…to see and feel the vibes this bus spreads at Hunt Valley Horsepower.
ERIC LEE: “I think it’s cool. It reminds me of Woodstock.”
TARA WHITLOW: “Just you looking at this and you asking yourself what’s in there, you being curious yourself, you’re kind of opening your mindset towards art.”
ZACH MASKELL: Activating the higher consciousness. Your imagination and emotions… everything is tied together. So, art could be the accelerant. To get the wheels turning upstairs… they allow anyone… to draw anything… anywhere on the bus. Why? because you can’t confine creativity.
HEATHER PLATEN: Janis Joplin, somebody in Alexandria, he looked at me and said, please put Janis Joplin on your bus. So I started on her right away. And then Bruce Lee, another suggestion. I could not go to one town without people demanding, angrily, that I put Jerry on the bus.”
HEATHER PLATEN: This is the first piece that ever went on the bus. This was done by somebody else in Austin, Texas.
ZACH MASKELL: Should you meet the Dragonfly bus, get more artistic than me, and who knows… how many states or people it will spread to… and positively impact.
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