The Virtual Driver

BMW Motorrad, R 90 S celebrating anniversaries

By Christopher A. Sawyer
The Virtual Driver

(June 4, 2013) Both BMW Motorrad and the R 90 S are celebrating anniversaries this year. The motorcycle arm of Bavarian Motor Works in 90 years old, and the iconic R 90 S celebrates 40 years since its introduction. In partnership with former motorcycle racer turned custom bike designer Roland Sands, BMW created the Concept Ninety for the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este 2013.<--break->

Über Tech: 2014 Porsche 918 Spyder

By Christopher A. Sawyer
The Virtual Driver

(June 1, 2013) Porsche’s engineering brief for the 918 Spyder was direct, but hardly simple: combine top-level motor racing technology with excellent everyday utility, and maximum performance with minimum consumption. This task required a clean sheet of paper, and has resulted, says Porsche, in a car that will “act as the gene pool for the Porsche sports cars of the future.”

A vehicle for rural Africa

By Christopher A. Sawyer
The Virtual Driver

Though few people remember Tony Howarth and the Africar, a structural plywood off-roader designed to be built and sold in Africa, that program continues to inspire. The Global Vehicle Trust (GVT) has picked up the idea, and sponsored the creation of a cost-effective light truck made up of mostly interchangeable panels.

Lexus improves its IS sports sedan, but is it enough?

By Christopher A. Sawyer
The Virtual Driver

(May 18, 2013) When Lexus first burst upon the scene in late 1989, it was a revelation if not a revolution. Toyota, which had no upscale brand to which it could send customers once they outgrew its mainstream offerings, was taking on the overpriced Germans, BMW and Mercedes. Audi, at the time, was in the midst of the 60 Minutes-hyped unintended acceleration nonsense, and was not a player.

Front end of refreshed Toyota RAV4 a Mitsubishi Raider look-alike?

By Christopher A. Sawyer
The Virtual Driver

(May 8, 2013) As one of the few body-on-frame mid-size SUVs remaining in the world (just about everything else in this space has gone monocoque), Toyota’s 4Runner is a bit of an anomaly. Four years into what is expected to be a seven-year lifecycle, the fifth-generation 4Runner has been given a mid-cycle exterior and interior upgrade designed to make it look more rugged and feel more refined.

Race cars by the numbers

By Christopher A. Sawyer
The Virtual Driver

(April 23, 2013) Prodrive is developing a new approach to the design of race vehicles that, it claims, can slash the cost of developing a competitive vehicles by up to 50 percent. That has the potential to save a lot of money. The British engineering concern claims the approach focuses engineering resources for maximum return on investment, can be applied across any formula, and will “almost guarantee” a competitive vehicle.

Nineteen Seventy-Six: A time for heroes

By Christopher A. Sawyer
The Virtual Driver

(April 14, 2013) In the summer of 1976, I was fresh out of high school, and an avid fan of Formula One. My brother Bill had stoked the interest in racing, but we all grew up interested in cars as a result of dad being an engineer at Ford. With five older brothers (including Bill) and two favorite colors (black and blue, you can guess why), I grew up in a house where Road & Track, Car and Driver and AutoWeek were voraciously read (again, thanks to Bill) and both Dan
Gurney and Jim Clark were heroes.

Analog trumps digital in the reality stakes

By Christopher A. Sawyer
The Virtual Driver

(April 7, 2013) This is the first of a couple of Nissan videos I stumbled across, and know you’ll enjoy. It shows Hiroshi Kato and Naoki Maekawa sculpting the new Nissan Note clay model. Note the Sumo sculpture in the foreground made of modeling clay in the picture below.

The Virtual Driver pits '13 Ford Fusion SE against '13 Toyota Camry XLE

By Christopher A. Sawyer
The Virtual Driver

(April 3, 2013) I’ll state it up front: This isn’t an apples-to-apples comparison. The Toyota Camry is a top of the line XLE, while the Fusion is the mid-grade SE model. Had they both been top of the line models comparably equipped, the Toyota would have carried a significant price advantage; an advantage that would be considerably smaller if the comparison was SE to SE.

Invisible trailers, automated vehicles and more

THE VIRTUAL DRIVER
By Christopher A. Sawyer

(March 24, 2013) BRIMLEY, Mich. — Brimley is a small town about half an hour outside of Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan on the upper edge of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The Soo, the phonetic spelling of Sault, is home to shipping, fishing, and is a small town with a few tourist trap overtones. Busiest in the spring, summer and fall when the Soo Locks between Lake Superior and the lower Great Lakes are operating, it’s a cold and desolate place in the dead of winter; the combination of flat land, deep snow and plentiful pine trees making it an interesting cross between Bavaria and… Kansas.