Thanks to the team over at Motor Authority, we’ve got our first look at Maserati’s new Levante model due to hit production next year and appear in showrooms by 2016. The name Levante comes from Via Emilia Levante in Bologna, Italy, where the Maserati brothers more than a hundred years ago built that company that stills in operation today.
Sources confirm that the vehicle will be sticking to it’s own platform instead of the Jeep Grand Cherokee running gear that was previously reported. The new platform will be a modified version of the real-wheel-underpinning that are present in the Quattroporte and Ghibli. Of course, the vehicle will include the Maserati Q4 all-wheel-drive system as well. The Levante will be similar in length to the midsize Ghibli but with a wider track and will also sit higher due to the fact that it is an SUV.
Maserati looks to target the high-end luxury market like the Porsche Cayenne instead of the typical off-road market dominated by Jeep and Land Rover. Strongest models will be able to hit 60 mph from rest in a little over 5.0 seconds. The engines will be the same turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6 and 3.8-liter V-8 gasoline;s found in the Ghibli and Quattroporte models.
Production of the Levante will take place at the Mirafiori plant located in Turin, Italy, which is owned by Maserati’s parent company Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) and has the capacity to build up to 300,000 vehicles per year.
Source & Pictures: http://www.motorauthority.com/news/1073662_2016-maserati-levante-spy-shots?fbfanpage
Over the weekend the team here at Morrie’s got the chance to participate in Make A Wish Minnesota’s annual Walk for Wishes event. Powered by wish families, volunteers, donors, and friends, Walk For Wishes® is a spirited 2-mile walk and 5K race. This Make-A-Wish® fundraising event celebrates the thousands of wishes that have already been granted, while raising funds for future wishes. By participating in Walk For Wishes, you can help bring the life-changing impact of a wish to children battling life-threatening medical conditions in our community.
Thanks to the generous donations from our team members, Morrie’s was able to come out on top as the highest fundraising team pulling in just over $4,000 for Make A Wish. Thanks to individual team member Mandy Ewing for raising the most money at over $2,000. The team here at Morrie’s value’s our Buy Happy Giving promise and understand the impact our donation and participation will have on many Make a Wish Families here in the Twin Cities area.
Make a Wish MN grants the wishes of children with life threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength, and joy. Make-A-Wish Minnesota founded in 1982 has granted more than 4,000 wishes to children in Minnesota. In fiscal year 2013, we granted close to 300 wishes, and we expect to grant that number this year.
For more information on Make a Wish MN, please visit their website at http://mn.wish.org/
Here in the Conservation Department at the Minnesota Zoo, we love a road trip – especially when it involves field work for our prairie butterfly and moose conservation projects! We were excited to receive a new field research vehicle from Morrie’s Mazda on July 1st to support our work. And we’ve sure put it to good use so far, racking up 3,000 miles in 30 days!
Our inaugural expedition was to northeastern South Dakota in search of the one of the world’s rarest butterflies, the Endangered Dakota skipper. Formerly widespread across the diverse (and now largely gone) tallgrass prairies of Minnesota and the Upper Midwest, this orange butterfly disappeared from at least half of its last known populations in the last few decades for unknown reasons. These South Dakota populations are one of the last known, and may be the largest remaining globally. Dakota skippers are home-bodies. Some butterflies such as Monarchs can fly hundreds of miles, but a Dakota skipper will likely not stray more than a few hundred feet. Once Dakota skippers vanish from a site, they are likely gone from there forever.
Happily, Dr. Erik Runquist, coordinator of the Zoo’s Prairie Butterfly Conservation Program, and our partners found robust Dakota skipper populations and many other prairie butterflies like the majestic but imperiled Regal fritillary. Erik also collected eggs with our partners from a limited number of wild Dakota skipper females to help establish the world’s first and only conservation breeding population of Dakota skippers. These eggs were brought back to the Minnesota Zoo where they hatched into tiny green caterpillars. We will be rearing throughout the year and then breeding them next summer.
Next we headed to protected prairies in west-central Minnesota, north of Moorhead. Like the work in South Dakota, Butterfly Conservation Specialist, Cale Nordmeyer, was on a mission to find Dakota skippers here in Minnesota. Previous surveys suggest that a small prairie complex dominated by black-eyed susans, purple coneflowers, and large glacier-deposited boulders may hold our state’s last population of Dakota skippers. We were thrilled to find numerous Dakota skippers, and managed to bring some additional eggs from a handful of females to the Zoo to strengthen the conservation breeding population for this endangered species.
Finally, the field vehicle headed up north along Lake Superior and then west to the picturesque conifer-hardwood forests of Lake County. Dr. Tara Harris, the Zoo’s Vice President for Conservation, went to check in on the Zoo’s wolf-moose project. In collaboration with scientists at the University of Minnesota Duluth, we’re working to understand how wolves and moose move across the landscape and interact with one another. Understanding these types of predator-prey interactions is important for wildlife and forest management. Dr. Brian Kot, a research scientist at the Minnesota Zoo, places GPS tracking collars on wolves and compares their movements with those of collared moose. On this trip, we saw lots of wolf prints and scat, as well as signs of deer and moose. We also saw (and felt) our fair share of mosquitos, black flies, and deer flies, but it was worth it to be out in the beautiful North Woods, studying wildlife.
Keep your eyes out for the field vehicle as we take it across Minnesota on more wildlife adventures!
We had a great day at MNC&C at the AutoMotorPlex in Chanhassen! Check out some of the Cadillac’s that were on display at Saturday’s event. Make sure to make it out to the next MNC&C on September 6th to see a bunch of amazing cars and get some delicious Dogwood Coffee. Here is the photo gallery from the event on Saturday:
The team here at Morrie’s is very excited to announce our upcoming partnership with The Salvation Army and the KS95 radio team – the Buy Happy Backpack Round-Up! Beginning Monday, July 28th drop off a new backpack at any Morrie’s location across the Twin Cities area and we’ll donate $10 in school supplies to The Salvation Army. It’s that simple!
The Salvation Army Northern Division has nearly 800 employees and 81,000 volunteers serving thousands of people in need in every county of Minnesota and North Dakota. With nine Twin Cities store locations, 14 housing locations and 234,00 people served The Salvation Army Twin Cities has been a priceless resource for community members everywhere.
The Buy Happy Backpack Round-Up runs through September 2nd so stop by your local Morrie’s location and do your part to help students start the school year off right!
We made the trip over to Elkhart Lake, WI for a yearly vintage car race. The HAWK with Brian Redman features all different types of vintage race cars (plus current race cars) and events taking place this weekend. There were a few requests for cool and unique race and street cars so we wandered around and took all sorts of pictures. Check back tomorrow for more photos from the event and hopefully some in car GoPro footage to follow!
Here is the link to the schedule and event if you are in the area and want to stop on through:
Whether you see yourself as the kind of person that goes ambling down a rocky, muddy, tree lined road to seek out the perfect camping spot or traverses a sandy beach with a cooler and beach towels in the trunk, this 1987 Land Cruiser is the probably the perfect machine for you. With a beefy 4WD system perfectly set up to handle whatever you can throw at it, and a cavernous cabin that gives you enough room to lie down in the back, the Land Cruiser can get your, your friends, and all your stuff wherever you want to go. Best yet, this thing is built like a tank! It gives you that confidence to take on just about anything.
While the big, 4.2-liter inline-6 engine is merely adequate for getting this behemoth around, it has plenty of torque to spare, whenever you need it to get you into – or out of – trouble. Mated up with a 4-speed manual transmission, there’s a unique sense of masculinity being able to row your own gears in something this big. The extra control will definitely come in handy as you climb up a steep, slippery grade or maneuver over slippery rocks. You’ll barely feel a thing as the big Land Cruiser navigates its way through the urban jungle full of potholes, speed bumps, and angry meter maids.
One big reason the ‘Cruiser is so easy to drive nearly anywhere is because of the huge greenhouse. The cabin is incredibly spacious and airy with lots of window. Despite looking like a juggernaut on the road, the Land Cruiser doesn’t feel like one when you’re driving. The thin pillars and big windows provide excellent sight lines all the way around, something that can’t be said for most modern SUVs. There’s no need to rely on parking sensors and backup cameras with this. With a careful look in the mirrors, parking the big Toyota in nearly any spot is a breeze.
And if you need to park it in the lumber yard at Home Depot or cozy up to one of the loading spots at Ikea, the rear seats fold down completely flat to provide a sizable space to pack in just about anything. Although you can just about fit a couch in the back, you wouldn’t really need it since you can pull down the split tail gate and use it as a perfect picnic bench at the end of a long day. The only thing missing pack there are cup holders!
Despite its age, the FJ60 Land Cruiser provides a surprisingly modern driving experience. The ride is supple, the seats are plush, and there steering and brakes give good, if somewhat isolated feedback. This is truly a vehicle that can meet all the needs of today. It may not have the latest technology like satellite radio or GPS navigation but I can’t think of a better vehicle to get lost far away from civilization in. Find out yourself by borrowing it from Morrie’s Heritage Rental Program.
Late last month our own Michael Ashby took to the track in a Mazda2 TCB race car fro the Cadillac Grand Prix and Road America. We added some photos and videos when he was at the race and you can find a comprehensive race recap below.
RACE 1 – Michael Ashby \ Mazda2 TCB
Michael Ashby returned to Road America in the Miracles of Mitch/Morrie’s Mazda2 TCB racecar for the Cadillac Grand Prix at Road America. Scheduled for two races and one qualifying session, Ashby was ready to take to the track for the first time this year. With the first race results acting as the qualifying event for the 2nd race, Ashby knew he needed to perform exceptionally throughout the weekend to do well and help raise awareness for the Miracles of Mitch foundation.
The qualifying session was held Friday in the early morning which was plagued with two red flags as the track became a mess with two weather-related accidents. Only a handful of cars were able to record valid lap times, this caused Ashby to start at the 14th position.
With Race 1 and 2 on Friday, the heavy fog and rain in the morning was sure to make for an interesting day. Due to the wet track, race officials deemed a rolling start preferential instead of a typical standing start for Race 1.
As the green flag flew, Ashby sped off with hopes of a podium finish. Passing car after car it seemed like Ashby was on pace to take the lead by lap 3. Because the slick roads reduced overall speed the emphasis sided more heavily with taking the proper line allowing for better car control and more exciting racing
Midway through Race 1 Ashby’s cause was helped when two Mini Cooper’s in front of him made contact taking each other out of contention. “Sometimes the easiest passes are made due to other’s mistakes.” said Ashby. “Clearly it isn’t an ideal way to race, expecting others to crash, but motorsports racing can often be measured in inches, and if you are off by a fraction it can lead to some serious issues.”
As the race wore on, Ashby continued his charge to the front. Although the top 3 cars had distanced themselves greatly, Ashby was able to track down Austin Snader in his Fiat 500, ultimately allowing Ashby to overtake and gain the 4th position. Attempting a daring pass on the final lap as the white flag flew, Austin Snader ended up off- line where there was standing water causing him to spin multiple times. With the failed overtake attempt by Snader, Johan Schwartz, in a Honda Fit, moved up to 5th position closing in fast on Ashby. Entering Canada corner Schwartz briefly took a look to the inside, but showed good judgement by backing off rather than risk potential contact with an overzealous move. This left Ashby enough of a gap to fend off a drafting attempt up the main straight on to secure a 4th place finish.
With 10 positions gained throughout Race 1, Sunoco awarded Ashby with the Hard Charger award and was invited to the victory circle. By finishing with the 3rd fastest lap time for Race 1, Ashby earned the 3rd position for the start of Race 2.
RACE 2 – Michael Ashby / Mazda2 TCB
With the sun shining in the late afternoon and the track completely dried out, the Miracles of Mitch/Morrie’s Mazda2 was fitted with Pirelli racing slicks at the 3rd starting position. With a dry track, race officials determined a standing start was in order. After the Cadillac Pace Car led the parade lap, Ashby and his competition were staged on the flat part of the main straight. Michael was positioned next to TCB Race 1 winner, Paul Holton in his Honda Fit. As the yellow lights came on and the revs began to rise, all it took was the final red light to extinguish and they were off.
Ashby made a decent run maintaining his third position into turn 1 but was shuffled back through the long straight down to turn 5. When entering the middle of turn 5, one the the TC class Nissan Altimas was in the midst of a spin followed by a Mini Cooper. Precisely reacting and performing evasive action to avoid contact with the Mini Cooper at the driver’s door, Ashby made a clean pass leading up to the Corvette bridge. Still mired down by 6th place, Ashby went full throttle heating up the Pirelli race tires to work his way back into contention.
Ultimately, he ended up having a race long battle between Nate Stacy in the Ford Fiesta and Austin Snader in the Fiat 500. All three of them swapping positions multiple times, even during the course of a single lap. On the final lap, Nate Stacy, attempting an outbraking maneuver into turn 5 ended up sliding wide allowing Ashby to overtake him with Austin Snader following close behind. The race wasn’t quite as successful as Round 1 with Ashby finishing a hard fought 5th place.
Overall, it was a great weekend and many people enjoyed seeing a driver who was dedicated to proper race driving and raising awareness for such a worthy foundation. For more info on Miracles of Mitch, please visit
What do you drive if you have always wanted an original Shelby Cobra but don’t have a spare $1,000,000 lying around? How about something even more unique that has a connection to super spies such and James Bond and Maxwell Smart? This 1967 Sunbeam Tiger may be the car for you!
Based on the nimble but woefully underpowered Sunbeam Alpine, the Rootes Group copied Carroll Shelby’s formula for the AC Cobra and shoved a 260 cubic inch Ford V8 into the engine bay and named it the “Tiger” after the roar that now emanated from the twin exhaust pipes. While the small V8 added some extra weight, the additional mass was more than offset by nearly doubling the horsepower from 93 hp up to 164 hp. Now instead of a 99 MPH top speed for the Alpine, the Tiger was capable of speeds over 120 MPH. This was a properly fast sports car for the 1960’s!
Even by modern standards, the Sunbeam Tiger holds up as a reasonably fast sports car. The small V8 loves to rev and provides plenty of torque, propelling the car from 0-60 in about 8 seconds, about as fast as a modern Miata. The difference, however, is that the Tiger feels infinitely more engaging to drive. The 4-speed manual transmission takes firm, deliberate shifts. The small, wooden gear shift lever fits perfectly in the palm of your hand, making each shift a pleasurable experience. The clutch pedal gives your left leg quite the workout as well. This isn’t a car you want to be stuck in traffic in. Instead, the Tiger begs you to aim it down the twistiest road you can find and stomp on the go pedal.
The brakes and steering are both unassisted as well. They require quite a bit of effort to work, but once up and moving, the feedback they provide is incredibly rewarding. The thin gauge wood-rimmed wheel is quintessentially British, and large enough to make low-speed maneuvers with the manual steering rack somewhat bearable. As the speeds increase, the wheel comes alive in your hands and despite some slack in the suspension, the small amount of body roll just serves to better explain the weight transfer going on underneath you. The harder you press the Tiger, the more natural it feels.
It’s a sensation you won’t soon forget. The wind in your hair, the small V8’s engine note blaring out of the exhaust pipes behind you. It’s a car that loves to be thrown around a little bit but must be treated with respect. The Tiger is a playful cat but one that will bite you if you don’t respect it. If you want to take your special someone out for a weekend trip, there’s even plenty of room for luggage in both the trunk as the shelf behind the seats.
You can experience the ’67 Sunbeam Tiger for yourself soon as part of Morrie’s heritage rental program rolling out later this summer!
Guest blog post written by: Alex Bellus – a well-known automotive photographer in the Twin Cities area and a frequent attendee of MN C&C at the Automotorplex. He is an Automotive Analyst for IHS Automotive and has a wide range of automotive knowledge. Keep your eye out for his next Blog Post where he will highlight another popular Morrie’s vehicle!
Mazda has announced that the all new 2016 Mazda Miata will be revealed on September 3rd and that instead of an “evolution” the car will be a “revolution.” An article at YahooAutos suggests that the new car may indeed be turbocharged. They suggest that a turbo whoosh can be heard in the video and that test mule citings confirmed turbo noise. We of course cannot confirm the turbo engine, but regardless we can’t wait for the reveal in just a couple month’s time.
You can view the official Mazda teaser video below.