Bondurant Teaches High-performance Driving

“Hang onto your breakfast,” Les Betchner, the driver/instructor, shouts as the 13-passenger Chevrolet Club approaches the first big turn on the 1.6-mile Bondurant Road Course in Phoenix, forcing a dozen formerly vertical passengers to lean right simultaneously. Equilibriums askew, our senses are immediately overwhelmed by a series of gut-wrenching sideways corners, continually screeching tires, and […]

Autos: Dirty Dozen

Under normal circumstances, driving a Lamborghini Murciélago at top speed provides enough excitement for one day. Twelve cylinders wailing away behind your head as you floor the accelerator is enough to get anyone’s adrenaline pumping. However, the circumstances under which I drove this latest, lightest Murciélago were not exactly normal. The sun had just set […]

Robb Design Portfolio: French Revolution

At a time when most automobile engines were simple 1- or 2-cylinder affairs, French manufacturer de Dion-Bouton debuted a 4-cylinder motor for factory racing—as well as the world’s first independent rear suspension. With a top speed near 40 mph, the racer sporting this engine “was like a Ferrari—much faster than the roads would allow,” says […]

Mercedes-Benz GL320 BlueTEC

Rudolf Diesel designed his namesake engine in 1897 to operate on peanut oil, a clean, renewable power source. But makers of petroleum-derived diesel fuel cornered the market early—Mercedes first put a diesel engine in the 1936 240D—and consequently diesel engines became synonymous with noisy and malodorous machinery. However, the $59,000 Mercedes-Benz GL320 BlueTEC ( could […]

Lexus RX 450h

As the price of a barrel of oil fell from last year’s high of $150 to about $40 earlier this year, the demand for hybrids dropped. But the supply of hybrid vehicles is stronger than ever, and one of the finest examples is the family-friendly Lexus RX 450h ( The RX 450h combines a 3.5-liter […]

Robb Design Portfolio: Jet Set

1953 Fiat 8V Ghia Supersonic Fiat named its first (and last) eight-cylinder automobile the 8V because the Italian car manufacturer incorrectly assumed that Ford had trademarked “V8” as a model designation. The Otto Vu raced successfully against its 2-liter contemporaries, but Fiat built just 114 of the engine/chassis combos between 1952 and 1954 before discontinuing […]

Robb Design Portfolio: ’Ring Master

1937 BMW 328 Roadster The Nürburgring racetrack in the leafy woodlands of western Germany’s Eifel Mountains is where all serious high-performance sports cars go to prove their mettle. A good lap time around the ’Ring’s notorious Nordschleife loop confers instant credibility on modern models and manufacturers alike. In 1936, German driver Ernst Henne won his […]

Car of the Year 2009: No. 3: BMW M3

Shifting Gearboxes The BMW M3 is the dark horse that almost took this year’s title. None of our judges expected the top-level 3 Series to blow them away with its perfectly balanced combination of engine performance, handling prowess, and what can only be described as the best automated shifter on the planet. BMW’s long-reviled sequential […]

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