United States Car Maker

American Beauty Perhaps General Motors could have avoided its current financial predicament if all of its products had been as stellar as the Chevrolet Corvette ZR1. This car can lay rubber in third...
Stuck in the Lotus Position The Tesla Roadster has amped up everyone’s faith in the future of battery-powered vehicles. The car is already a phenomenon for its triple-digit top speed, its Ferrari-...
Broken Dreams In this era of cookie-cutter prefabrication, designer-dreamer Claudio Ballard deserves plaudits for creating a car that is hand- and purpose-built right down to its gauge needles and...
The 2009 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 ( www.chevrolet.com ) is the fastest, most powerful Corvette ever made for public consumption. The ZR1’s 6.2-liter, supercharged V-8 engine, dubbed the LS9, produces...
With its radical custom appearance and retro styling, Harley-Davidson’s new Softail Cross Bones might be the perfect motorcycle for indulging the conflicted psyches of maturing baby boomers. Harley-...
The American automotive landscape is littered with the broken dreams of aspiring carmakers. As the joke goes, the best way to make a small fortune in the car industry is to start with a large one...
1964 Shelby Cobra 289 The Shelby Cobra is one of the most copied cars of all time; each year, enthusiasts produce Cobra knockoffs in quantities greater than the 998 original autos that American racer...
Forty years ago, former racecar driver Carroll Shelby caught wind that General Motors was just weeks away from unveiling a King of the Road edition of the Chevrolet Corvette. "The brochures were...
When Gone in Sixty Seconds —a splashy remake of a low-budget 1974 gear-grinder flick of the same name—premiered in 2000, the film reanimated one of Hollywood’s great movie cars: an overachieving Ford...
Among business-class conveyances, the old-fashioned van is hardly the stuff of CEO daydreams. It is more likely to evoke queasy experiences in airport parking shuttles and sightseeing tour buses...
There is a constant battle of sensibilities when creating a custom motorcycle. Appearance considerations are pitted against practical riding concerns, and each builder makes his own determinations...
The bicycle jockey was working so hard at being good. Perspiring profusely, he downshifted and then stood up to grind his pedals as he approached the Broadway Bridge in Portland, Ore. I waved and...
If all goes as planned, the Fisker Karma ( www.fiskerautomotive.com ) will cover 100 miles on a gallon of gas or diesel fuel and 620 miles on a single tank, partly by traveling the first 50 miles on...
Mustang with the Most Horses. Although I cannot quite put my finger on it, something about the shape of the S302 Extreme seems familiar. Seriously, though, Saleen’s extreme modifications have...
Speed Demon. Among its fellow contestants, the Dodge Viper is probably the fastest around a racetrack, if racing victories at Le Mans—in pretty much stock form—are any yardstick. But the difference...
Victory Motorcycles has introduced an impressive array of big American cruisers over the past decade; the Hammer, Vegas, and Kingpin bikes each displayed a fresh design and distinctive flair. Now, on...
"This is not just a show car," proclaims Alfred DiMora, founder and CEO of DiMora Motorcar, a boutique automaker in Palm Springs, Calif. "In essence, we are bringing Silicon Valley to Detroit by...
The 16,000-square-foot workshop that houses Matt Hotch Designs is an oasis of calm in the rough section of Fullerton, Calif., a working-class city located about 20 miles south of Los Angeles. There...
Steve Saleen is obsessed with speed."Roll into the throttle," the former Bob Bondurant racing school instructor commands me as I navigate a makeshift test track, which consists of the public roads...
Harley-Davidson’s Screamin’ Eagle Road King embodies a paradoxical combination of rough-hewn attitude and couturelike individualism. Built by hand in limited numbers by the Custom Vehicle Operations...
The first BMW X5 ( www.bmwusa.com ) introduced drivers to the concept of an SUV that behaved like a sports sedan. (BMW calls the X5 an SAV—for Sport Activity Vehicle.) Redesigned for 2007, the X5...
Big Dog, another company in America’s heartland—Wichita, Kan., in this case—also straddles the fence between pure custom and mass production. Within its dramatic, 9-foot-long profile, the Big Dog K-9...
The noise will not surprise the folks toiling in a strip of auto repair shops here in the San Francisco suburb of Burlingame, Calif. But as Ian Wright eases his vehicle out of his garage and into...
Anglo-American litterateur T.S. Eliot—no doubt inspired by the incessant reinvention of Britain’s Austin Seven and the many mutants thereby produced—once argued that tradition is worthless if it...
For the owner of this Marine Turbine Technologies Y2K Turbine Superbike ( www.marineturbine.com ), it was not enough that his gas turbine–powered motorcycle would roar like a fighter jet; he...
Many U.S. Vehicles are masterpieces of compromise and elasticity—virtuous qualities in the realm of realpolitik but fatal flaws in that of automobile design. These mediocrities often come to us...
In the early 1950s, General Motors designer Harley Earl, fresh from watching world speed records being set at Utah’s Bonneville Salt Flats, conceived the Pontiac Bonneville Special. His vision of jet...
When the Tesla Roadster goes into production less than a year from now, it will come with a Lotus chassis, a $100,000 price tag, and a zero-to-60-mph time of four seconds. And unlike any other car...
Three-quarters of a century after Ford installed a V-8 engine in its 1932 Roadster, a car that the So-Cal Speed Shop has re-created, the quest to coax higher performance out of mass-produced vehicles...
The 2007 Cadillac Escalade dem­onstrates that General Motors remains capable of producing a world-class vehicle. This completely redesigned full-size luxury sport utility has a number of impressive...

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