Q. I’ve seen pictures of
the new Jaguar F-Type sports car, and it looks great. But will it cause
as much of a sensation as the 1960s Jaguar E-Type, introduced in 1961?
— P.B., Louisville, Kentucky
A. Nope. There’s too much competition from other slick sports cars these days. The E-Type—better known in America as the XK-E—was every schoolboy’s dream, with sensational styling and performance. And really no competition. Ferraris of comparable performance were rare and cost more than twice as much as that Jaguar. The highest-horsepower Chevrolet Corvette cost a bit less and had virtually the same performance, but the far more aerodynamic Jag had a higher top speed. The Corvette looked like a truck next to it. Even Enzo Ferrari reportedly said the E-Type was the best-looking sports car he’d ever seen. The 1964-67 E-Types looked like its predecessors, with plastic-covered headlights and three-carburetor engines, but had a superior manual transmission and a much-improved version of the car’s race-winning six-cylinder engine. The E-Type went downhill after 1967 because of new government safety and emissions regulations, and finally was discontinued in 1974.
Q. I’m thinking of finally getting rid of my 1996 GMC Jimmy truck. I have a small family and haul such things as my motorcycle. Should I buy a 2012 Ram at a discount or opt for a 2013 Ram with its new V-6 engine and eight-speed automatic transmission? — E.A., Lebanon, Pennsylvania
A. Definitely get the 2013 Ram (1500 model), even if you have to pay a little more. It’s ruggedly handsome with its major cosmetic update, and its 3.6-liter V-6 generates 305 horsepower. The eight-speed transmission is a plus, partly because it allows better fuel economy. The new Ram even has a grille with shutters that close to improve aerodynamics and open for cooling.
Q. I am looking for a chrome trim ring that goes at the bottom of the steering column of a 1953 Nash-Healey Le Mans. Can you be of any help? — P.P. Bridgeport, Connecticut
A. Wow. The part you’re looking for sounds rarer than that Le Mans coupe, which was a very limited-production early 1950s sports car. Try the monthly Hemmings Motor News, which contains advertisements for thousands of cars of all makes and parts for them. Or visit a giant auto parts swap meet such as the one at Hershey, Pennsylvania.
Q. If roughly half the passenger cars in Europe have diesel engines, largely because fuel prices are so high there and diesels provide better fuel economy, why aren’t more diesel cars sold in America? Instead, most automakers here sell electric and gasoline-electric hybrid cars, which I don’t want, besides regular gas-engine ones. — E.W., Peoria, Illinois
A. More automakers are offering diesels in America, but they’re foreign car producers. For example, diesel-engine cars are offered here by Volkswagen, Audi and even BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche. But diesel-engine cars cost more than gas-engine models. And diesel engines are heavier than gas engines when automakers are trying hard to reduce weight. Diesels also require special emissions-control equipment. Also, for now at least, diesel fuel is more expensive than gasoline. On the other hand, diesels provide tremendous cruising ranges and provide really strong torque. It wasn’t all that long ago when Volkswagen sold popular diesel-engine cars in America, as did Mercedes-Benz. At that time, though, I doubt many Mercedes owners cared what was under the hood—the fact that it was a Mercedes was enough for them.
Q. What do you think of the
considerably revamped Range Rover? — D.M., Los Angeles
A. It looks like a big improvement over past models.
Q. Why aren’t automakers building adventuresome show cars anymore, as they did in the 1950s. I recall seeing a radical Cadillac “dream car”—as concept cars were called then—at, if I recall correctly, the Chicago Auto Show. I’d love to see something like it again. — F.K., Chicago
A. You’re likely referring to the 1959 Cadillac Cyclone two-seat concept car. It had a motorized flip-up transparent “bubble” top, sliding doors and twin nose cones meant to house proximity-warning radar units. It eventually became too costly to build wild auto show concept cars such as the Cyclone, and many of today’s concept cars at shows thus are close to production models. They’re mainly built to judge show visitor reactions. In its era, the only thing the Cyclone inspired was a second pair of short-lived subtle fins put on production Cadillacs.