Several storied automobiles crossed the auction block at RM-Sotheby's New York "Driven by Disruption" sale on December 10, the last big sale of the year before the Scottsdale round of auctions in January begin 2016. The star of the show was Fangio's 1956 Ferrari 290 MM which fetched US$28 million and became the third most expensive car ever sold. Janis Joplin's psychedelic 1964 Porsche 356C SC Cabriolet was expected to sell for between $400,000 and $600,000, but fetched $1.7 million to set a record for the Porsche 356. Finally, Roy Rogers' 1963 Pontiac Bonneville Nudiemobile fetched $308,000, which is a record for a Bonneville, but still less than his saddle ($386,500) or his Martin guitar ($554,500).
We've seen some truly wild and awesome motor-powered off-road vehicles this year, everything from electric mountain bikes to monstrous expedition vehicles, from luxury-branded 4x4s rolling into dealerships to experimental show trucks. It wasn't easy trimming the list, but we've compiled our 10 favorites from 2015. Collectively, these cars can roll and ramble over virtually every inch of solid ground Earth has in its possession.
After starting up in 2012, Zelectric Motors has quickly made a business out of retrofitting electric powertrains to classic Volkswagen Beetles. The San Diego-based shop also performs its electric magic on other classic cars, including Porsches and Manxes, and recently completed what we'd call its coolest conversion yet: a 1964 Volkswagen Type 2, complete with signature first-generation split windshield, sunroof and sliding door. It's a beautiful example of iconic 20th century automotive design updated with 21st century drive technology, or as Zelectric likes to say, "retro future."
Automotive supplier Continental has developed a new technology that can tint car windows at the push of a button. Intelligent Glass Control uses the application of, or lack of, an electric current to specially made glass, offering privacy, comfort, safety and emissions benefits.
Back in 2011, we wrote about a fascinating new way to heat-treat regular, cheap steel to endow it with an almost miraculous blend of characteristics. Radically cheaper, quicker and less energy-intensive to produce, Flash Bainite is stronger than titanium by weight, and ductile enough to be pressed into shape while cold without thinning or cracking. It's now being tested by three of the world's five largest car manufacturers, who are finding they can produce thinner structural car components that are between 30-50 percent lighter and cheaper than the steel they've been using, while maintaining the same performance is crash tests. Those are revolutionary numbers in the auto space.
Having followed Google's lead into smartglasses development, Baidu is now doing so with autonomous cars. The Chinese search firm says it has successfully tested a fully autonomous car under mixed road conditions, claiming it's the first in China to have done so.
The 500X is Fiat's latest entry into the market, slotting just ahead of the 500L and the tiny little 500. A truly global vehicle, the 500X holds a lot of Italian sexiness and retains the singular style that has come to define Fiat's 500 line. This also becomes the company's first foray into the crossover market with a more utility-oriented offering.
Last month, Hyundai revealed it was going upmarket with its new Genesis sub-brand and provided a teaser of the flagship G90 model. Now the automaker has taken the wraps off the car, revealing a new semi-autonomous driving system, as well as over-the-top comfort features like super-ergonomic seats that have been given the tick of approval by a German association devoted to preventing backache.
There's not another automaker out there that has the cojones to bring quirky concept cars to life like Citroën does. In the French automaker's own words, it aspires to bring to market "cheery, optimistic vehicles that are different from the rest." The all-new E-Mehari fits that description to a T, as an all-electric crossover cabriolet based on the recent Cactus M concept and inspired by the classic Méhari.
Wood was once a commonly used material in cars, but these days you're more likely to find a wood car in a toy box than a garage. Not so the "Splinter," a high-performance sports car that a team led by Joe Harmon has spent five years creating. The exotic machine is powered by a Chevrolet LS7 engine and other than that and the drive train, gauges, fasteners, tires and rims, the car is made almost entirely of wood composites.