Road & Track December 2017/January 2018

Road & Track includes technical features on automotive subjects, wide-ranging feature stories, spectacular automotive art and standard-setting new-car photography, humor, fiction, travel stories, book reviews and the most comprehensive racing coverage offered by a monthly magazine.Bonus: iPad Interactive

United States

in this issue

2 min

NATURE’S SPEEDWAY At the end of summer, a thin layer of water covering an ancient lakebed near the Nevada-Utah border evaporates, exposing the Bonneville Salt Flats, a mecca for speed hunters from around the globe. Mighty machines streak across the white expanse, pushing the boundaries of human ingenuity and courage. Environmental changes threaten the flats, but Bonneville remains one of the best places on earth to speed. After World War II, hundreds of military aircraft sat in surplus yards. Resourceful hot-rodders, noting the aerodynamic potential of their nacelle fuel tanks, cut them in half and welded together two lower portions to create open-wheeled torpedoes like the one shown here. The P-38 Lightning’s was a favorite—perfectly sized for an engine and drivetrain. The so-called lakesters or belly tankers first ran on lakebeds in…

4 min

Dear R&T, As a “Ford guy” (my father is a retiree from its Lima, Ohio, engine plant), I rolled my eyes at the cover of the Japan Special Issue [September]. However, I had my share of entertainment, due to pictures in the Go section, and I was impressed with Jack Baruth’s brief history of Japanese automobile manufacturing and its ups and downs in the United States. I learned something, so nice work. TRAVIS UNTERBRINK, LIMA, OHIO NOT OUR TYPE The Honda Civic Type R [“Clash of Clans”] has many delightful aero bits, stylishly designed and pleasing to the eye when viewed separately. Unfortunately, when you combine them together, it is confusing. Much like Georges Braque’s cubism paintings, the Type R is a car, but it is also a geometry problem. BRIAN SEVERIN HOUSTON, TEXAS Your assessment…

2 min
editor’s letter

IT’S HARD TO BELIEVE IT’S ALREADY BEEN A YEAR, but here we are again at our annual Performance Car of the Year (PCOTY) issue. And once again, we’re treated to a stellar collection of machines that push the envelope of what’s possible from street-legal performance vehicles. This time around, we broadened our definition of what could compete, just a bit. Performance is still a prerequisite, of course—the average output of our contenders actually ticked up, to 545 hp. But the 2018 PCOTY roster includes two-, four-, and even five-door body styles; front-, rear-, and all-wheel drive; along with four-, five-, six-, eight-, 10-, and 12-cylinder engines. A little bit of everything, in other words. They were, quite simply, the cars that made the greatest impression over the past year—the ones we…

5 min

WE HAVE REACHED the end of 2017. Not, it must be said, without difficulty. Forest fires. Hurricanes. This country squabbling with itself almost nonstop. If you were conscious at any point during the past 12 months, you have probably come to the conclusion that this was a long, exhausting, and occasionally stupid year. Allow me to reflect on a moment having little to do with any of that. We were gifted a solar eclipse in August. The first total eclipse over continental America in 38 years, visible only in select bits of the country. At the ripe age of 36, I had never seen a total eclipse, so I hit the road to find it. Partly because celestial wonders are neat. Partly because it was an excuse to leave the house at…

4 min
field of dreams

IT’S BEST TO REMEMBER THAT YOU ARE only passing through, that you are a guest here: a 10-car conga line of lollipop-colored, wings-and-spoilers, hiss-crackle-and-pop dream machines, showing up unannounced at the gas stations and convenience stores of deeply rural Kentucky and Tennessee. You come to expect the instant appearance of smartphones in careworn cases, snapping for social media, even when upload speeds can seem slower than the sun’s unhurried march across the summer sky. These are places where a late-model pickup truck might be a statement of success, and you’re driving a six-figure supercar. There will be questions. So you happily answer them. You put the Little Leaguers behind the wheel of the Lambo and the McLaren and the Alfa one at a time. You listen to stories about Terminator Cobras.…

6 min
alfa romeo giulia quadrifoglio audi tt rs |honda civic type r

THIS IS AN ODD GROUP. A Japanese hatchback. A German coupe. An Italian sport sedan. The only common thread is the rarity of the badging, how special each car seems. Honda’s giant red R was last sold in America 16 years ago, on the hyperfocused Acura Integra Type R. This country hasn’t had a new Alfa Romeo sport sedan since the 1990s, much less one with the legendary Quadrifoglio clover. Audi’s RS logo has a long and storied history, and most of that lineage never legally crossed the Atlantic. It used to be that, while the rest of the world got Rs and RSs and four-door Alfas, we just got lust across oceans. Now we have a twin-turbocharged, rear-drive, 505-hp Alfa sedan with an exhaust that knocks birds out of trees.…