As 2012 winds to a close, we at Automobile Magazine were asked to look back on the last 365 days and pick a few superlatives we’d encountered in 2012. Easier said than done, given my memory fades more quickly than…well, I forget.
FAVORITE ROAD: Schoekl in Graz, Austria
Well, it’s barely a road. 35 miles outside of Graz lies a mountain colloquially known as the Schoekl. Although a paved route gradually winds its way up the 1400-meter mountain, there’s another way to get to the top. A rocky two-lane trail, used as a test track by Steyr-Daimler-Puch since the 1950s, bisects the paved sections, but it’s quite brutal and bouncy.
FAVORITE CONCEPT CAR: Peugeot Onyx
Between the Mobius strip cabin arrangement, oddball interior and exterior materials, and Le Mans racer-like underpinnings, there’s no chance in hell the Onyx will ever reach production – but that’s why I love it. I grew up idolizing the 1984 Peugeot Quasar, a wild, high-performance supercar that had no chance of reaching production. In some ways, the Onyx marks Peugeot’s return to form.
FAVORITE DESIGN: 2013 SRT Viper
I thought Chrysler’s new serpent looked good in press photos, but I didn’t realize how good it looked until last month, when I caught a new 2013 Viper GTS on the road. More than any other Viper, this iteration grabs your attention from afar, lures you in for a closer look, and entices you with taut, sensuous curves and intricate detail. I’m not the only one impressed – my wife, who loathes every previous Viper model, is now scheming of ways we could add a 2013 Viper to our personal stable.
FAVORITE PHOTOSHOOT: 1954 Porsche-Diesel P111 Tractor
For some reason, I have a soft spot for vintage farm equipment, so I relished the chance to pair a new 2013 Porsche Cayenne Diesel with its oil-burning ancestor. Myron Vernis’ green Junior is immaculate and runs like a top, but a bad clutch – which gave out while towing show cars at the Glenwood Gathering concours d’elegance – kept me from driving around his yard or tilling any soil.
WORST BRAKES: 1963 Studebaker Wagonaire
It’s always eye-opening seeing just how far automobiles have developed in forty years time. I had the opportunity to drive a beautiful ’63 Wagonaire this past year, equipped with the 290-hp, supercharged V-8 from an Avanti. Despite the fact Studebaker offered Bendix front disc brakes as an option for the first time in 1963, this car kept its stock four-wheel-drum brake system. The increased stopping distance and lifeless pedal is scary enough on any car with four drums, but on one with this sort of get-up and go? You need to plan your stops weeks in advance.