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Auto blogWed, 27 Nov 2013 20:02:00 EST
Was there a better time for Japanese performance than the 1980s and 1990s? It seems like looking back, Japan was on a roll, producing cars that were affordable, economical, reliable, fast and lightweight. And while all the attention is - thanks to a certain film series - focused on cars like Toyota Supra and Mazda RX-7, there is a lesser-known model that's establishing its own enduring legacy without the help of Paul Walker and Vin Diesel.
The MR2, affectionately known as the "Mister Two" to fanboys, first arrived in 1984 as a lightweight, mid-engined sports car that proceeded to eat the lunch of the Pontiac Fiero in terms of performance. That car was replaced in 1989 with the more familiar, rounded-out MR2, which is the subject of this latest video from the team at Petrolicious.
The video takes a look at a group of MR2 drivers, and attempts to explain what it is about the car that is destined to make it a future classic. Scroll down to see Petrolicious examine the MR2 Connection.
We weren't quite sure it was possible, but NASCAR driver Parker Kligerman and the other folks behind this Toyota Dream Build Challenge vehicle (check out the other cars in the challenge) have made the Camry, a versatile but vanilla family sedan, into a performance car to be reckoned with. And by stripping it (literally) of its versatility and injecting some spice into it, this rally-spec Camry does indeed appeal to the enthusiast crowd.
The appeal starts with the CamRally's vintage Toyota racing colors of red, orange and yellow painted on a widened body. Those wide fender flares and rocker panels, paired with the revised front and rear fascias (and massive rear spoiler), lend the car an aggressive look without being tacky, and enhance the aerodynamics. But peel back the skin and you'll find plenty of performance upgrades to back up the looks.
While Toyota doesn't say how much horsepower it makes, the CamRally's V6 is turbocharged, and we assume the car's brake upgrade is indicative of the engine's increased output. The stripped interior only contains what's needed for rally racing, including bucket seats, a motorsport steering wheel covered in Alcantara, a carbon-fiber dashboard and a roll cage.
The ongoing investigation by the Department of Justice into price fixing in the automotive industry has nabbed one more company breaking the law. Japanese parts giant NGK Spark Plug Company agreed to plead guilty to a felony count of pricing fixing and bid rigging in the in the US District Court in Detroit. Its punishment is a $52.1 million criminal fine and to continue to cooperate with the DOJ's sleuthing into the problem.
According to the DOJ, NGK conspired to fix prices on spark plugs, standard oxygen sensors, and air fuel ratio sensors on vehicles from major automakers in the US, including the former DaimlerChrysler, Honda and Toyota, in a scheme that ran from at least January 2000 to July 2011. The charge claimed that the company and its co-conspirators held meetings where they agreed on bids and price quotes that were submitted to the automakers.
With the latest plea, the DOJ has caught 28 companies and 26 executives for price-fixing and bid rigging in the auto parts industry, and they have collected $2.4 billion in criminal fines. In 2013, the feds brought nine Japanese suppliers down at once, to collect $740 million. Scroll down to read the DOJ's complete announcement of the case.