The same friend who first introduced me into the thrills of high-school hoonage—in a late 1970s Chevy Monza—recently bought this 1996 Volkswagen Golf Harlequin, and I was lucky enough to get some time behind the wheel. For those who haven’t read the head Savant’s own piece on the car, from 2009, the Golf Harlequin actually came that way right from the factory.
It would be easy to be jealous of Ken Lingenfelter if you didn’t know the back-story. After all, here’s a guy who had the wherewithal to get into collecting about a decade ago and has since built up a stunning selection of more than 150 of the coolest cars in the world. Of course, not satisfied with just collecting them, he also purchased one of the globe’s top tuning operations, itself boasting more than 30 very successful years in the business and a very familiar name—Lingenfelter Performance Engineering, originally founded by Ken’s cousin, the veteran NHRA champion and engineer John Lingenfelter.
Among the automotive elite, Detroit’s Cobo Hall is well-known as the home of the North American International Auto Show, one of the premier events on the annual auto show circuit. Yet perhaps only the true Auto Savant realizes that, each year, a little more than a month after NAIAS, Cobo is the site of a similarly world-class automotive exhibition that holds the same position in its part of the universe that the other Detroit auto show maintains for the new-vehicle industry. I’m writing, of course, about Autorama, the long-running hot-rod fest that’s now in its 60th year and wrapped up this past weekend.
By Charles Krome
I was reviewing some of last year’s pictures recently, and came across this Thing, which I had shot over the summer during a road trip to the wild and wacky Dixieland Flea Market in Waterford Hills, Mich. It wasn’t for sale, but it did bring back some fond memories from my childhood days, when seeing life-sized toys like this helped bridge the gap between Hot Wheels and my first real set of wheels.
By Charles Krome
To say the all-new 2012 VW Passat is having a successful launch could be the understatement of the year: Volkswagen’s all-American mid-size sedan reaped a tidy 986.2 percent increase in sales last month, and although that’s partially because VW only sold 464 of them in October 2010, the bottom line here—5,040 deliveries—is a fairly strong achievement. To put that into context, that total is higher than the October sales for cars like the Ford Mustang, Hyundai Accent or Nissan Maxima. Then, just a few days ago, the new Passat added to the sales excitement by being named Motor Trend 2012 Car of the Year.