It is been a rough week at Frank Ancona Honda of Olathe, Kansas.
The loved ones-owned dealership, in operation just southwest of Kansas City considering that 1961, has successfully weathered all of the storms that periodically pummel dealers of all stripes.
Then, final weekend, a body discovered on the banks of Missouri’s Large River — about a 5-hour drive to the east — gave the dealership the type of consideration that no business wants. The corpse, which had a bullet hole in its head, also had a name: Frank Ancona.
No, the founder of Frank Ancona Honda is nevertheless alive and effectively at 85. But a lot to his dismay, the Frank Ancona found by the Massive River was none other than the 51-year-old imperial wizard of the Traditionalist American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.
There have been phone calls to the dealership. Numerous of them, in truth.
When Automotive News first broke the story, the dealership had currently posted a disclaimer on its internet site. “Frank Ancona Honda is not in any relation to the KKK leader that was not too long ago found dead,” read any car shopper browsing for deals on a Odyssey or Accord.
A excellent point to know. However, not everybody does the groundwork to steer clear of leaping to conclusions.
Ancona told AN not extended after news of the killing spread that his dealership received numerous calls from men and women “ranting and raving,” obtaining mistaken him for the KKK leader.
“I believed, ‘Here we go once more,’” Leon Wharton, the dealer’s basic manager, told the Kansas City Star. The dealer very first discovered there was a hateful duplicate name out there in 2014, when the same Frank Ancona was interviewed following the shooting deaths of three Jewish individuals in Overland Park, Kansas.
Wharton stated the news media has done a good job dispelling any connection between the dealer and the KKK leader, but social media is yet another story. Speculation has run rampant on the internet, and that has led to a lot more telephone calls. Most have come from those looking to uncover out the identity of the Honda-loving Frank Ancona, even though 1 offered sympathies for the dealer’s plight.
Other people, placed by people who think themselves mighty clever, have proved much more of an annoyance.
“We got a telephone get in touch with from a consumer yesterday who pretended to be a member of the KKK in Mississippi,” Wharton stated. “He stated he wanted to provide his condolences at the death of our leader. Our receptionist said, ‘After I explained that our “leader” is alive and effectively and not a KKK member, he fessed up and said, “I was just kidding.”‘”
In spite of the undesirable consideration, Wharton claims he isn’t too concerned about the name hurting the organization.
“February is normally 1 of the worst months in the automobile business as it is,” he explained. “It just by no means does do really properly in comparison to the other months. So could it have some impact? Yes. But can I pinpoint that it is negatively affected company? No, not actually.”
As for the dead man, Ancona’s wife and stepson have been charged in his killing.
There’s some weird stuff out there today, but let’s get to the pop culture stuff first.
One particular of the world’s ugliest and most unappealing cars is going on the auction block by way of Barrett-Jackson subsequent week — and it could fetch a ridiculous price tag.
Yes, it’s the Wayne’s World vehicle.
The original vehicle used in the 1992 flick, a 1976 AMC Pacer, has been restored as close as attainable to “movie situation,” meaning no heater or AC, AutoGuide reports. Why no creature comforts? The camera crew required a spot to mount the cameras, but bidders do get speaker boxes in the rear wheel wells and a hole in the roof to mount a licorice dispenser.
All other bits — physique, bumper, wheels, seats, dash and headliner — have been refurbished. Wayne and Garth never ever had it so good. Like yacht rock and disco, the Pacer is a tacky relic of a tacky time, but it is element of the American Encounter.
In other news, Jaguar Land Rover has selected Noodle, “member” of the virtual band Gorillaz, as its worldwide ambassador.
Gorillaz, a quite decent band that peaked in the early-to-mid 2000s (at least in North America), features animated, vaguely simian Brits with awful teeth as its members. Noodle is the girl member, so there’s a fair bit of demographic calculation going on right here on JLR’s portion.
The automaker hopes to use the appointment of a individual who isn’t real to draw interest to the UK’s manufacturing abilities gap.
Little ones these days — they’re just not interested in British factories anymore.
JLR’s Formula E team, Panasonic Jaguar Racing, plans to do the exact same. Maybe British Battery will replace British Steel — who knows?
Back in Detroit, Ford is allowing guests to venture deeper into its historic Piquette Plant than ever just before — but there’s a catch. You have to hunt ghosts. Visitors with weak bladders, please, for the sake of fellow guests, head to the huge museum in Dearborn rather.
The Detroit Totally free Press reports that ghost tours will take place on October 23 and 30 in the birthplace of the Model T. Opened in 1904, the plant remains open to the public, but obtaining your name on a single of these tours enables you access to some off-limits locations.
It could be a good chance to poke about in a respectful manner, and you will get cider and donuts as added perks. With any luck, a nightmarish vision will materialize — the front of a ’58 Edsel, for example?
[Images: imcdb.org Ronnie Schreiber/The Truth About Cars]
If you weren’t in on the secret, a lot of this morning’s presentation at the Park Hyatt Aviara would have made no sense. A series of 4 FCA personnel stood up to talk about the new 124 Spider, which was behind them to stage correct. On stage left was a pristine Euro-bumpered 124 Sport Spider from the late ’60. Every of them talked about “what’s changed on the vehicle.”
“It’s 5 inches longer, with all-new exterior sheetmetal,” 1 presenter mentioned. “It’s got an aluminum panel in the folding roof, and thicker rear glass,” yet another noted. “The suspension tuning is fully various,” stated yet an additional. I could see the confusion on the faces of some of the older auto journos from the newspapers. It is five inches longer than the original 124? It’s got thicker rear glass? The suspension is diverse? Properly, duh, appropriate? For a lot more than an hour, Fiat’s marketing and advertising, styling and engineering personnel talked about “what’s changed on the vehicle.”
There was the word that never ever escaped anybody’s lips, not a single time. Even when I raised my hand to ask “how the weight compares,” I couldn’t quite bring myself to say the word. But we can say it here on TTAC: Miata. The new Fiat 124 Spider is based on the ND-generation Mazda Miata, the auto that your humble author drove in Spain a year and a half ago and which has been fairly justifiably hailed as the finest modest roadster of this century. The 124 Spider is assembled proper next to the Miata in Japan, with a “J” VIN. The principal distinction: where the Miata has a 2.-liter Skyactiv typically-aspirated 4-cylinder, the 124 has the turbo 1.four-liter MultiAir four-banger from the Fiat 500 Abarth, constructed in Italy and shipped to Mazda’s assembly line.
Fiat would favor that we didn’t mention the Miata. But, as we’ll see, the 124 Spider need not worry any comparisons with its retailer-branded sibling. Fairly the contrary, in fact.
As fate would have it, two weeks ago I had the likelihood to put about 400 miles on a fully-loaded Miata as part of a piece I’m doing for R&T subsequent month. It was my very first likelihood to drive a 2.-liter, U.S.-spec ND Miata and I have to say that I was utterly stunned by just how close the tiny Mazda comes to perfection. Every thing about that Miata is in best balance. The chassis, the engine, and the handle weighting — all but not possible to improve upon.
What a relief, consequently, to see that Fiat didn’t even try to increase on it. Alternatively, they took that central, perfected character of the Miata and shattered it, producing three wonderful automobiles from one best one particular. I’ll clarify. You see, all Miatas are generally the identical. Certain, you can get a handful of distinct trim levels, but that’s all they are — diverse selection packages that sit quite lightly on a single vital character. If you don’t like the MX-5 Club, you will not like the Grand Touring, and vice versa.
With the 124, on the other hand, the three accessible trim levels every represent a fundamental change in the car’s mission. Commence with Classica, the $ 25,990 base model. I started my morning by driving a grey six-speed manual Classica via about 40 miles of San Diego canyon roads. It is significantly quieter than the Miata, even best down, and it rides quite softly. The interior, even so, is primarily identical to what you get in a base Miata, proper down to the three metal-finish knobs that manage the climate manage. Grip from the 16-inch tire package is modest, and the suspension floats a bit when you encounter sharp dips or rises in the road.
I’m a veteran of a lot of miles and years in the original Fiat Spiders. This Classica is the truest to those comparatively modest roadsters, built as cheaply as possible by sullen union labor with cheap steel and massively aromatic vinyl. There was nothing luxurious or even exotic about the first 124 Spider. It’s greatest to think of it as an Italian take on the Karmann Ghia, throwing a spectacular physique on prosaic underpinnings and a twin-cam head on the very same engine that took much of Italy to operate each day.
The stellar unity of the Miata is missing from the Classica. It doesn’t deal with very as nicely as I’d like and the MultiAir, like most modern day turbo motors, would rather you skip the final thousand revs in favor of a quick-shift method that rides the meat of the torque curve. The net impact is to undermine that jinba ittai just a bit. It doesn’t feel as special as the auto from which it’s derived. As an actual, practical day-to-day driver, nevertheless, it is miles ahead. The NVH improvements reduce driver fatigue, and the turbo engine tends to make maintaining up with traffic effortless. I would recommend the Classica more than the Miata for anybody who does not have an active racing license.
That goes double, even triple, for the Lusso, which adds leather upholstery and the capability to add a wide variety of optional extras for just beneath twenty-nine grand. The Lusso that I drove had an automatic transmission. LJK Setright famously mentioned that the turbo engine and the torque-converter automatic transmission have been perfect partners, due to the fact “one will be at operate when the other is not.” I suspect that the vast majority of Spiders in this nation will be automatic Lussos — and you know what? It is an absolutely brilliant car. I was prepared to despise it, but 30 miles behind the wheel was enough to make me a believer. The Aisin-sourced automatic is direct and beautifully programmed, keeping the turbo on the boil and catapulting the Lusso forward with actual authority. With the prime up, I located myself going really rapidly without having really planning to.
I’ve by no means had any affection at all for auto-transmission Miatas, but the 124 Lusso is basically a wonderful car. It’s quiet, it’s comfortable, and it is definitely no hassle to drive. The nearest competitor with the very same virtues would have to be the Mercedes SLK250, which expenses practically twice as a lot. It is not the 124 that I’d choose for myself, but there’s extremely little to criticize about it. Incidentally, the 1st one particular hundred and twenty-four Spiders to be delivered to this nation will be particular electric-blue Lussos with a Prima Edizione equipment package. They’ll be $ 35,995 and I’d imagine that they are all spoken for currently.
As good as the Classica and Lusso are, I’d still personally take a Miata Club or Grand Touring for my personal garage. The 124 Abarth, on the other hand … oh man. Just appear at it. That flat-black hood and trunk, the Brembo calipers, the scorpion badging. It’s aggressive in a way that no factory Miata has ever been. Fiat set up an autocross course at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego especially to show the Abarth off. They stated that we could have “unlimited runs.” Following my ninth run, it was recommended to me that I take a break. Like, a long break.
Without having that suggestion, I’d have driven that course for yet another hour. Possibly two. The Abarth is just brilliant. The MultiAir is uncorked a bit by a quad-pipe exhaust that supposedly raises horsepower to 164. There’s an Abarth-branded aftermarket exhaust accessible as well that makes the Fiat sound like a miniature Ferrari 488. I suggest it. Attempt to forgive me for saying “1.6 liter” during the cooldown lap in the video, by the way!
The six-speed manual transmission, sourced from the NC-generation Miata, has shorter, sharper throws than the new-gen box in the ND. It’s completely self-confidence inspiring. The chassis, as properly, is beyond reproach, allowing the tail to be thrown and caught in third gear with reckless abandon. The front end has all the grip that’s missing in the Classica and the stiffer suspension removes each the float and the mild fore-and-aft pitch that affects the Classica, the Lusso, and the Miata itself.
The Classica departs from the Miata formula to add every day usability the Lusso leaves it to give grand-touring comfort. The Abarth is like a tuner Miata low, angry, fast to respond. Speaking of tuning: there are shops that are acquiring 230 horsepower out of the 500 Abarth for a couple grand. The Abarth starts at $ 30,540. Anticipate to see them in Friday-evening street-race lots across the nation next year, snorting and popping and hissing below exaggerated boost pressure. There’s anything amusing about the reality that the Miata is ultimately offered in a variant that will command the respect of young males all they had to do was place a snail on the thing and roll hardware-shop paint on the hood. I totally adore it.
The best way to recognize the 124 Spider is this: it’s a 4-wheeled Bimota. Some of you will recognize Bimota as the Italian motorcycle manufacturer that wraps Italian chassis and styling about verified Japanese engines. In the ’80s, when Suzuki and Yamaha have been putting killer powerhouse inline-fours in rather dodgy perimeter frames, the Bimotas were unstoppable. The issue with them was that all of the Italian stuff, especially the wiring, was topic to variable high quality control.
This Fiat should provide the identical bulletproof engineering and assembly top quality that makes Miatas such fantastic extended-term ownership propositions, but it also has Italian styling and a powertrain that just speaks with far more authority than the relatively anodyne Skyactiv 2.-liter in the Mazda-branded car. There’s no value penalty, and the weight penalty of about 100 pounds is nicely worth it for anyone who values peace and quiet on the freeway. I will not say that it’s a greater vehicle than the Miata I do not feel it is. But it hits some really distinct marks in a way that its sibling can not.
Casual roadster fans will love the automatic Lusso. The Classica is arguably better value than the base MX-5. And that Abarth? It is enough to make you neglect that word that we weren’t supposed to say in today’s media briefing.