If you're like us you've been playing a lot of Forza Horizon in those hours when you're not sleeping or pretending to work, but perhaps you've felt something was missing from the experience. Specifically, you've felt like you've been deprived of the retro Japanese, vintage Italian and classic American wagon-y goodness that makes life worth living.
What's better than dusting a guy in a tuned Camaro? Dusting him in a woodie.
It's for that reason we've partnered with Forza's creators to bring you yet another DLC full of the of cars you've been waiting to hoon virtually around the fictional open expanses of Horizon, Colorado. Six new cars (and a bonus) that will delight all manner of gearheads. Here are all the cars and why you absolutely must drive them.
(Full Disclosure: Jalopnik and Gawker Media receive no money for sales of this car pack, nor was there any kind of quid-pro-quo for advertising. This is an editorial tie-up alone. That said, we thought it best to be upfront and transparent about that - just like we are with everything.)
Rather than merely show you the cars we've got in the pack we've reached out to people who have actually driven and owned them to give you a little history, insight and background into the vehicles. We're also partnering with Forza for two challenges with prizes for the winners (more on that soon).
The latest Jalopnik pack will be available for purchase and download on Xbox LIVE on Tuesday, February 5th and will cost 400 MS Points (that's $5 bucks in real dollars). But for those who have already purchased the Forza Horizon Season Pass the pack will be free and come with a bonus car.
You've heard of the Subaru BRZ, yes? It's the car that cures cancer. Car-enthusiast cancer. With its sister Scion FR-S, the Toyobaru has not only returned rear-wheel drive to the 20-large price range — ticking boxes marked "light weight" and "rigid chassis" along the way — but it's also making people who don't normally talk about cars in excited tones say things like, "Do want," and "Where do I sign?" Whether those people actually buy them in any kind of mass number is a discussion for another model year.
Notwithstanding all the page-inch hype surrounding the BRZ/FR-S's arrival, the BRZ is a car you must drive, at all costs. Especially if you've driven nothing but new cars for the past decade, you'll tell right away the BRZ is special. Its chassis and tire grip matches note for note with the engine's throughput, meaning you can toss it around like it's a $500 LeMons-prepped E30 BMW. Power mongers will likely hang their bobbled heads at the thought of such low engine-output numbers, looking toward whatever juiced version is on the horizon. But for a platform available new at a dealership in 2013 (and one that's not a Lotus), it's a winner.
To solidify its position in the Jalopnik Forza pack with outside opinion, we turned to rally driver Mark Higgins, who last year took one around the Isle of Man TT course. Higgins, if you're unaware, is a three-time British National Rally Champion and Isle of Man TT course record holder, as well as a professional stunt driver who's worked on the James Bond films Quantum of Solace and Skyfall.
Last year was my first chance to drive the BRZ and to have the Isle of Man TT course closed off made it a fantastic experience. The car is nimble and very reactive to every small inputs, and becomes part of you when you drive. On the track the car drifts if you ask it, or holds the road and apex tight. Plenty of power to control the attitude of the car to set up corners and just plain fun to drive.
We would be the worst people if we didn't at least give you a virtual crack at something like that, no?
Quick! Name a car that's run all the famous 24-hour races — Le Mans, Nürburgring, Daytona, Spa — as well as the Bathurst 1000, Fuji 1000k and countless rallies and SCCA, IMSA RS and Japanese touring car meets. By the way, that car also happens to be the one that took the Japanese Grand Prix in 1972, touring car class, stopping the Nissan GT-R's winning streak at a mere 49 consecutive races.
Why yes, it was the Mazda RX-3, the company's third rotary experiment, known in Japan as the Savanna. The rotary engine? Isn't that the engine Ward's Automotive once said "would power 85 percent of the world's cars by 1980"? (To be fair, they were only off by 84.9 percent.) Still, to rotary fans — especially the motorsports-inclined ones — there's no replacement for that trackside sound: thousands of angry, Africanized bees plugged into a Marshall stack turned up to 11.
As was the custom with other Japanese makes of the time, America-bound RX-3s got the more powerful, freeway-friendly engine. In this case, it was the longer, two-rotor, three-lobe 12A rotary out of the sporty RX-2. It produced something like 124 hp, and only had to pull 2,150 lbs, giving the RX-3 a startling performance profile for its economy-minded category. The redline was 7,000, though buyers new to the rotary experience often lifted the throttle far earlier, thinking the universe was about to implode.
But the oil crisis was looming, as were 1975 emissions standards, and when the embargo hit, pushing the price of a gallon up to tens of cents, the thirsty rotary took a hit, and sales dropped precipitously. By '74, Mazda's "Rotary Engine Anti Pollution System" (REAPS) had robbed torque. These days, a real, early RX-3 experience is harder to find than tacos in Stuttgart. Good thing we've got the digital world, or the early-70s sport-rotary experience might one day have been lost forever.
As much as it shouldn't be, there's something primally sexy about the Datsun 510. In fact, it couldn't be more elementary. It's as if Merriam-Webster needed a dictionary drawing to publish next to the word "sedan," and some bored soul in the illustration pool just freehanded it on the way to lunch.
Who knew, in 1968, when such a rudimentary three-box design arrived on U.S. shores that it would become the standard for affordable performance cars. You can thank then-Nissan USA president Yutaka Katayama, aka Mr. K, for making sure the Datsun 510 was not only adequately powered for U.S. roads, but also raced its little, square ass off.
No doubt, the best-known Datsun 510s are the ones raced in the early 1970s by BRE — Brock Racing Enterprises. (Our own Alex Lloyd even drove one.) Peter Brock, along with driver John Morton and a cadre of tireless California gearhead-nerds, made the 510 a track icon, beating Alfa Romeo in one of the tightest SCCA Under 2.5-liter TransAm seasons ever. That 1971 victory launched Japanese-make racing into the public motorsports consciousness. Brock also developed a line of aftermarket add-ons that predated the import tuner scene by two decades.
The BRE 510s have become such icons of that 2.5 Trans Am era that hardly a month goes by without something about them appearing somewhere. I'm just amazed that kids today still like that car...some weren't even born when the team was racing! Yet they keep finding and replicating them today.
I think the thing that appealed most about the 510 was its availability to the average guy. At $3500 you could buy a brand-new 510, go to BRE and spend another $3500 on wheels/tires, some engine goodies and suspension components, plus a BRE front spoiler (called a "Spook") and you had a really fast street machine that was almost track worthy. Even today we're still replicating those parts and graphics so BRE fans can build their own replicas. We have some fine examples in Australia, Japan, Sweden, and the UK. Some are even running in vintage events and winning. So many of today's top drivers got into racing simply because the 510 provided a really competitive entry level racer.
It was fast, safe and easy to prepare and drive. Far different from the situation today....in fact that's one of the problems with racing today...there's no low cost entry level.
They say the 1980s didn't really end until late 1991, when Nirvana obliterated Warrant, those poor, hair-spray-addled bastards, from the Billboard charts. But the 1980s did prevail at Ferrari, with the 512 TR, an updated version of the car every car guy loved, until he didn't: the Testarossa. Still, it had that sublime 180-degree Colombo flat-12 that revved to a number only Gottfried Leibniz could calculate, got from 0-60 in under five seconds, and topped out at 195 mph.
Thanks to a global economic downturn of the early '90s that punctured many of the '80s go-go earners, the TR was largely an incrementally-improved Testarossa, whose somewhat awkward shadow would cast through 1994. But it still was a hoot to drive, and for a while was a pretty decent 12-cylinder supercar bargain in the used market.
Here's an excerpt from Chris Harris's notebook, indicating why you must drive the Ferrari 512 TR.
Driving position shaped with Clyde [the orangutan] from Any Which Way But Loose in mind, rather than a human. Properly fast and challenging with dog-leg gearbox for that authentic Fandango feel and a flat 12 that actually loves to rev. Better handling than a Testarossa, but still harboring galactic quantities of lift-off oversteer should you piss it off.
Hey, just be careful out there.
Just as they do in today's SUVs and minivans, previous generations' messy kid stains — in our case, via the nuclear-crimson contents of rusty, face-scarring tin cans, not juice boxes — marred the interiors of massive family yachts like the Ford Country Squire station wagon. Soccer moms? Please. Our moms were chain-smoking pill poppers who couldn't have cared less about what perils lurked in the steel-strewn, concrete-floored junk yards where they'd aimlessly drop us off to play. But at least on the way there we faced oncoming traffic, in pop-up child benches whose lack of safety was so acute, by modern standards, they would send today's parents spiraling into a fugue state.
But it's not just nostalgia that fuels our love of the 'Squire. It's the outright lost beauty of the thing. The low-slung roofline, the preposterous stacked headlights, the real wood trim. And then there was the possibility of "towing" capacity in the form of an optional 428ci V8, producing a highly under-rated 345 hp. Dad could smoke those punks in that Chevelle without spilling a drop of Schlitz on his starched white T-shirt.
Longtime Jalopnik homie-turned-DIY-guru Mr. Jalopy is our go-to source for all things Country Squire. The founder of the erstwhile Hooptyrides and coin-op laundry mogul owns one, which he bought — if memory serves — at a swap meet of some kind. He has since preserved it for future generations to gawk at from the backs of whatever bubble-shaped safety pods their next-gen helicopter moms will deign to drop fifty large on — that is, if they even bother to look up from their Disney-preloaded holographic immersion units.
The Country Squire is a true artifact of another time. When materials were cheap and the best engineers were working, not in Detroit, but on the space program. Problems were solved with more steel. Ride quality suffers? Add 500 pounds and it will ride like a limo. Durability suspect? Rather than better, make it heavier!
Aesthetically, I have always loved formidable headlight bezels. That aggressive eyebrow bezel is the design theme of the whole car. It defines a horizontal high water line that runs from front to back. The taillight and headlight bezel become end points for an I-beam that runs through the car. From the front three quarter view, it looks like a wood header beam running the length. Of course, it is not a I-beam or a wood header as that would be lighter. The fender sheet metal is a full 1/2" thick. If you add the weight of the two front fenders and the glove box door, combined they equal an even metric fuck ton.
All this said, when new, I am sure it drove like a nimble freight train. Of course, even the nicest, craigslist restored Squire is totally blown out. Sagging springs, fully compressed shocks and not a piece of rubber remaining in the front end. Every tie rod end is metal to metal. The idler arm is like a hook and eye on granny's screen door. Mirror finish shiny metal that can only be accomplished from a decade of completely unpredictable steering and freeway lane drifting. People talk about exciting pursuits - downhill mountain biking or big wave surfing. Try the 110 Freeway North transition to the 5 North at 45 mph in a Country Squire.
What came out of the new-retro car design movement that was worth a damn? Mustang? Camaro? PT Cruiser? Perhaps. But, back in those heady concept-car days of the late 1990s and early 2000s — the one that got us the tipsiest was the Toyota FJ cruiser. "They'll never build it," we said. "It looks like an octagon vomited a parallelogram!"
Dubbed the "Rhom-bus" by one of our geometrically-inclined friends, the FJ Cruiser wasn't just a surprising addition to the increasingly risk-averse Toyota lineup, but it also added the craggy muscularity of a rock-face canyon to an abhorrently bean-like automotive landscape.
It incorporated underpinnings of the proven 4Runner and Hilux, a truck platform that's flaunted its capability on rutted paths and in violent uprisings around the world. The FJ can do all of those things and more; the only reason you don't see more of them in armed global conflicts is because Toyota made so few of them by comparison. Great for resale value, bad for rebel activity.
Yes, mastering the FJ Cruiser in Forza won't win you a place in a Grand-Am feeder series, or score you a date with, well, anyone with a pulse, but it will teach you a thing or two about going out on a limb, and hopping on one foot while shouting, "Suck it, Chevy SSR!"
If you've got the Forza Horizon season pass then congratulations, you're getting a Devon. What the hell is a Devon, you might ask? It's one of those many brainchildren of American designers and entrepreneurs who thought they'd make a go at building their own supercar.
Based on the Dodge Viper platform and sharing its same 650 horsepower 8.4-liter V10, the Devon GTX was more than just vaporware as the company built real versions of the slippery coupe. With a lighter weight body constructed out of airplane quality carbon fiber, it managed a then record lap around Laguna Seca of just 1:35.075.
Sadly, the Carpocalypse conspired with the downturn in the economy to limit the number of people who can enjoy the vehicle. Until now.