What cocktails go best with all this car chatter? Automobilemag.com is here to help with weekly recipes. Remember, this is for talking about cars, not driving — always designate a driver. To celebrate the Fourth of July, we're drinking bourbon. You can't get much more of an all-American spirit than bourbon, given that to be labelled as such it must be made in America, is made from a grain mixture of at least 51 percent corn, and aged in charred oak barrels for at least two years. So pour yourself a few fingers of your favorite bourbon whiskey, get some rocks to keep it cool in the steamy July weather, and enjoy. Some of our staff favorites include Elmer T. Lee (associate web editor Donny Nordlicht), Blanton's (associate web editor Evan McCausland), and Maker's Mark (associate web editor Jake Holmes).
Distracting Equipment: Living in the desert means getting up early if you want to do anything outside, so I was out the door by 6:30 a.m. last Saturday to take some pictures of the 2013 Honda Accord Sport. I was already enjoying the Accord because of how well the body is controlled and the car's general responsiveness to all my inputs. Mine has the 2.4-liter four-cylinder and six-speed manual transmission. What fun this is! Additionally, the driving position is just about perfect and the layout of controls can't be beat. And it's rated at 26 mpg city and 35 mpg highway. Just about the last thing I looked at was the window sticker. The car's equipped with dual-zone climate system, backup camera, and hands-free calling. My jaw almost hit the blacktop when I saw the bottom line was just $24,980. After taking some pictures, I went up Route 62 through the gap to Morongo Valley and really wanted to continue across the Mojave beyond Twentynine Palms and Joshua Tree. But then it occurred to me: I'd left the house unlocked.
Ronald Ahrens, Contributor
Fair Play: Mini responded to spy photos of the next Cooper (which we published) not with anger or frustration, but with a delightfully silly press release. "Absolutely unaware and without make- up, the youngest member of our family was caught by sensationalist photographers in a highly private moment," it reads in part. "But like a good stiff-upper-lipped Brit, Mini shall not complain, although we would like to officially state that we are not flattered. The published pictures do not reflect our good looks any way. As every celebrity knows, those extra long telephoto lenses have the devastating ability to negatively distort all surfaces, lines and angles."
Jake Holmes, Associate Web Editor
Cool Fireworks: While watching the annual Fourth of July fireworks with friends of mine outside of Boston, I noticed a line of cars parked on the edge of the field. All of the cars were filled to capacity with passengers and had their air conditioning on full-blast, so that the passengers could watch the light show without dealing with the lovely -- albeit slightly humid -- weather. I grew up near an amusement park that does fireworks four times per week from Memorial Day to Labor Day and had never seen such a thing before. Also strange: all the vehicles being used as viewing booths were eighth-generation Honda Accords.
Donny Nordlicht, Associate Web Editor
An Unlikely Pairing: What do the Mercedes-Benz Zetros and Fiat Panda 4x4 have in common? Apart from the basic premise of all-wheel drive, not much -- but put the two together on an off-road course built to test the near-invincible Mercedes-Benz Unimog, and you have the makings for one of the zaniest (and entertaining) comparison tests ever. Watch for yourself.
Evan McCausland, Associate Web Editor
Island of Misfit Cars: This week was a big sales month for the auto industry, with almost every major automaker posting a gain this month. But there’s always another side of the spectrum, and I came across a depressing list of the Top 10 Worst-Selling Cars in America. The winner—or loser, depending on how you look at it—was the Audi A3, which sold only 13 copies in the U.S. in July. Although the rest of the list was mostly populated with low-volume, European supercars like the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG and the Audi R8, there were a few other models in double digits like the Mitsubishi i electric vehicle, the Mercedes-Benz CL-Class, and the SRT Viper. It’s a strange list, the automotive equivalent of the island of misfit toys.
Joey Capparella, Associate Web Editor
Tiresome: The Grand Prix Drivers Association, which represents all but three Formula 1 drivers in the world’s premier auto racing series, says it will boycott this Sunday’s German Grand Prix if Pirelli tire failures continue. The Pirellis, which all teams use, took their toll last Sunday at the British GP at Silverstone, with the left rear on several cars falling apart at full-chat, creating spectacular rubber explosions and full-course yellows. So far, Friday practice has gone off as planned, but Saturday’s qualifying could determine whether we have a real race, or a repeat, this time with half the cars of the six-car race, the last GP I attended live, at the US Grand Prix at Indianapolis in 2005. Only six cars competed, on Bridgestones, when there proved to be a problem with Michelin tires on the other teams. This time, Michelin may become the cure, instead of the problem, for next season – or even the last half of this season.
Todd Lassa, Executive Editor