Welcome to Must Read, where we single out the best stories from around the automotive universe and beyond. Today we've got reports from Hemmings, Petrolicious, Car, and Speed Hunters.
Lost Cars of the 1980s: Merkur XR4Ti — Hemmings
This one is in honor of our own Editor in Chief and resident Merkur owner, who is currently driving something called an "Audi R8" across America. The Merkur isn't a lost classic, at least not to him.
In the early 1980s, looking to spice up its product offerings in the United States (and to counter the growing success of the BMW 3 Series), the Ford Motor Company again turned to a product from its European catalog for help. Not satisfied with simply selling a new model through Lincoln Mercury dealers, Ford even went to the trouble of launching a new brand, Merkur, to market its premium European wares. When the first Merkur XR4Ti models hit U.S. showrooms in 1985, one thing was absolutely certain: No Lincoln-Mercury dealer had ever seen anything like it.
Scottish author Iain Banks died yesterday after a brief battle with gallbladder cancer. We'll all miss him, but remember that time he drove an F1 car?
Clutch out. Vibration previously merely intense leaps to merge with the psychotic engine scream. Exit pits, wheel twitching. Clutch in, second gear, aim for a cone gate on far side of track. Gear change. Turn. Stamp on brake. Aim to just miss two cones. Turn it. Hands twisted round now, right one just above knees, left glove just poking out of cockpit into airstream. Apex. Hands gradually back to lateral. Feed in power progressif, progressif, aiming towards the corner exit cone. More power, pressed back in seat – engine making my teeth buzz – glance at revs, a single red LED numeral underneath the slither of windscreen. Change up, thrown back in seat, engine screams, rev glance, change up, engine howling higher still, change again into fifth, engine howling higher still, change again into fifth, acceleration still fierce, helmet starting to buffet from the slipstream like some maniac on speed’s sitting in the air intake behind me playing pat-a-cake with my head.
The E30 M3 Carried The Torch Of 1980s Driving Bliss — Petrolicious
I recently went on /DRIVE and waxed all poetically about the beauty of the E30 M3, one of the purest cars out there today. But then you read this from Petrolicious, and you realize just how amazing a car it is.
What does driving perfection mean to you? Is it a sophisticated balance of ride quality, traction, body control, adjustability and lightning-quick transitional responses? Steering overflowing with textural, gritty, feedback and scalpel-sharp accuracy? How about a responsive, flexible, enthusiastic, high-revving motor, or lightweight yet day-to-day practical bodywork developed under the immense heat and pressure of high-level international motorsport? Of course it’d be rear wheel drive, with a mechanical limited slip and none of this electronic differential nonsense. And oh yeah, great brakes, a slick-shifting gearbox, and a decent turn of speed, too.
What I’ve just described is an E30 M3.
Carbon Fiber Magic: A Look At Dome — Speed Hunters
We all have a bit of a soft spot for Dome around these parts. Sure, they don't win at Le Mans, but just look at the cars. What they make is magic.
Japan’s car culture is extremely rich and diverse and while we do spend a great deal of time covering the more grassroots side of things, there are a lot of other angles to Japan’s car scene that we have yet to discover. I want to take some time to concentrate on the very polar opposite of say a back street tuning shop, a place that since the mid-seventies has been synonymous with Japan’s rich racing history. Welcome to Dome.