Classy 2021 CADILLAC XT5 Final Ponderings… from TOPANGA!

Took this baby up into Topanga for some errands and the resulting shenanigans ensued… LET’S TAKE THE PICREVIEW TOUR!


It always strikes me as strange how people make choices. And since choices are spawned by how we think, they can be made from a variety of perspectives. People will look at an ugly car and because it’s “red,” will instantly drop $40K on it. Or they don’t want to stand out, so they’ll just buy anything because they need a car.

Some car companies build cars that really aren’t all that attractive, but it’s simply my opinion. And although I’ve been a car designer for many years, my opinion is still just… my opinion.

Now, my brother was looking for a car and I recommended this GMC Acadia. “In my opinion,” this was better looking than the Chevy version. But he bought the Chevy because it was slightly wider in the rear. He liked the design, but didn’t really care too much about which one was better looking, simply that he wanted to haul kids around and that that the Chevy had a little more room. That’s it.

Then he found a Black one with red stripes and he was all “The Bees Knees.”

But still, GMC vehicles are really good looking cars. And since I know where the designers come from, it’s always been a high priority for GM to wrangle in some of the best designer that they can. Seems like a clear and simple idea to hire good people, but since other car companies are still “design challenged,” maybe it’s not so simple?

When you’re gonna plunk down $52K for a car like the Acadia, it seems that what the car looks like in comparison to others is key. But people will still buy Ford or Dodge just because their Dad did and are swayed pretty easily. My folks always bought Chrysler… but I don’t really like the designs all that much anymore. They need to up their game in a world of high design.

The 2020 GMC Acadia is a slick beast. Great quality for sure, super easy interface, beautiful exterior and easy to drive. All the things you’d want in an SUV. Plus, some slight mods and you’d have a badass ride. Or… you can wait for the 2021 Ford Bronco Sport and get something that looks like it came out in 1992? Up to you.

The Acadia is a great choice if you like Car Design. It’s an even better choice if you want to enjoy a well rounded car that pretty much has everything. Then, Get ‘ta Drivin!

A week in the 2018 HYUNDAI SANTA FE SPORT SUV…

Although I didn’t get to spend enough time in this newly evolved SUV, I did get a chance to experience Hyundai’s consistent commitment to quality with fit and finish. A solid SUV across all tables. although the 2019 will be a complete redesign.

Not every Hyundai has a strong design execution, but the Santa Fe exterior is really slick. Clean and elegant, you can’t lose with how this car looks.

Interior is still challenged a bit, especially tactically with the steering wheel as it feels a bit less inviting, but the car makes up for it in all other ergonomics.

At $38K and 23mpg, it’s a great family car that would become badass with just a few adjustments. Get one in black, black-out the wheels and windows and stick a chrome skull badge on the back. Instant SEMA Cruiser. Nice.


RIDE OF THE WEEK: Ken Vela’s 1956 Porsche Speedster


I get to drive a lot of cars. I mean, a lot. And although driving a new Ferrari or some sort of exotic can be exhilarating, it’s when I get contacted by personal builders that I get really excited.

Last week, I did a Malibu Vlog episode on Ken Vela and his 1956 Porsche Speedster. A one-off hand-built replica that screams Hot Rod Outlaw Custom. If the OK Corral existed today, this car would have shut them down hard.

Ken’s company, WIKD KUSTOMS, focuses on unique builds for unique clients and when I say “unique,” I mean WIKD. As a Car Builder, Ken’s outlook on the extreme kustom world is peppered with historic data with influences from Ed “Big Daddy” Roth, Gene Winfield, George Barris and others. This Speedster is a true character car.

But how about some specs from Ken?


(Read on…)

Fireball drives the 2015 KIA SOUL EV for a week… Wait, did you hear that?


I doubt it… This is an electric car and one helluva fun ride…

A week in this Caribbean Blue 2015 KIA SOUL EV went by way too fast. I’m not sure what it is, but when you drive an EV, you just want to go everywhere quick. Maybe it’s because you can’t actually believe that you’re in an electric car or you’re convinced that if you hammer it home, you’ll actually hear something other than wind noise. But… you don’t. And it’s just plain fun… again.


I like the design of the car. It’s simple, boxy, funky and young looking. I got about a 92mile charge and for Malibu, that’s pretty much driving all day and coming back with about 40 miles left. But again, it’s fun and you want everyone to know that you’re driving it. “Hey, did you know this is an EV? Check it out!”

The car is about $36K, so it’s not for the empty pocket crowd and students, unless Dad’s gonna pony up the dough, but it is for the 20somethings that are doing their thing and greenen the planet while they do. Tons of room if you want to camp… close by. Tons of seats for your friends to go with you to Concerts… close by, and enough doodads and doohickies inside to keep you totally distracted. But don’t be, otherwise you’ll end up in the pokie and not be driving your EV. Up to you, though.

Ooo, it’ so cute you’re gonna wanna let it sleep in your bed with you.



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What’s coming to the Fireball Pad this week? The 2015 HYUNDAI SANTA FE…


So smooth… my butt will be floatin’ like Uranus. (Wait, did I just write that out loud?) STAY TUNED!!

2016 CHRYSLER 300 arrives @ The Fireball Malibu Pad for FURIOUS7 Pre-Screening…

So, tonight (thanks to Dodge, Motor Trend & TEN Garage), I’m headed to a Pre-Screening of FURIOUS7. I have no doubt that the film will rock my socks, but they are already with having taken delivery of this 2016 CHRYSLER 300 S. An amazingly beautiful design upgrade that will make my trip to the Motor Trend offices smooooth.

Stay tuned for a quick review of the film tomorrow, or watch for updates on Twitter tonight, LIVE from the event! I’ll also be driving this beast all week, so be on the lookout in SoCal!

I whisk a 2015 MAZDA MIATA MX-5 for a week…

It’s easy to forget how much fun a convertible can be. And how much like a Go-kart a Miata can be…

I first drove the Miata back in the early 90’s when my brother and I took a rental car into a parking lot and practiced fishtailing. It was so much like a Go-kart that we could get inches from a fence and not think twice. Now, I didn’t do that in this 2015 MAZDA MIATA MX-5 and I wouldn’t admit it if I did. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t have fun.

There are a lot of things about this car that I really don’t gel with, but seeing as how the 2016 model is coming out shortly and is slightly more pissed off, it doesn’t do much good to elaborate on the bad. I’d just say, wait for the ’16. Why? Simple. What doesn’t work is the Guppy Face, bad ergonomics inside and lack of serious fun horsepower. The Guppy I can deal with as it’s not looking at me in the mirror and the hp is adequate to hit the canyons for some fun. Good fun. (We always want more.) But the ergonomics are pretty horrible in that if you put a bottle of water into the cup holder, you can’t shift the car. That is 1 out of about 10. BUT…

All that gets made up for in sheer convertible fun as a California car. The Miata is small and benefits by being small. Easy to drive, park, see out of and zoom. The top goes down fast, the grip is tight and the response is heavenly. All worth the price of admission. Stats? It’s get 24mpg, about $27K for this Grand Touring version and 167hp which would better if it were 230. Just sayin.’

As a toy, which this car is, you have way more fun than you should be allowed to have and it’s all GO from there. (Wait, did I just say that?) Ok, put it this way… This is a very happy guppy. And as a result, you’re gonna feel the same way.

But still wait for the ’16.


(Read on…)

A week in the 2015 HYUNDAI SONATA LIMITED…

Cruzin’ around Malibu in a sedan isn’t all that exciting, but it certainly helps to be comfortable and safe as you take in the gorgeous sites. I find that when Hyundai sends me a car, I can rest assured that if it’s a sedan, I’ll have a hard time trying to find anything wrong with it. And… enjoy everything around me fully without having to fiddle with buttons.

Hyundai seems to know cars and have a gambit to choose from. Although I’d love to see more of their concept car design language incorporated into their production models, the cars are clean and fluid design-wise. But character language is a key element to sales along with color choices and people don’t just buy cars ’cause their comfortable.

The 2015 Sonata is a straight shooter at about $33K for the Limited SE, but you can get the base Sonata for only $21K. That’s a deal. If you aren’t looking for flamboyancy, attitude or a drift sedan, then this is your best bet fo sure. It gets the job done at 31mpg/245hp and in a clean and precise way. The interior is fully executed and gives off a relaxed vibe. Everything is pretty easy to understand and exactly where it need to be. Some may say that that’s expected, but there are people out there in the world who don’t want to have to spend time figuring things out. Just keep it simple… and go.

Not all car companies understand that. The world needs a car for the everyman and this Sonata is it. Now go out and enjoy the sites…


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CHRYSLER Design Event reveals the new and improved badass 300…

Spent a few hours with the Chrysler Team the other day in Culver City to see what they’re up to with refreshed 300. If you’re familiar with the 2014 model which I had on the show some time back with Actress Denise Crosby, you’ll see that this new 2015 model is sporting some great design improvements. Primarily front, rear and interior, I especially liked this de-chromed Redline Red version. The dark wheels look great as well. But the black trim tied everything together nicely.

I’ve always been a Chrysler fan, especially the Imperials and 70’s Station Wagons that I grew up with. I was probably the only kid in school that didn’t mind getting picked up in one. Probably because I dreamt of doing something like the below rendering. Uh, hem.

The above shot is with President of Chrysler Al Gardner. His passion for the car was extremely apparent as well as Chief Designer Brandon Faurote’s who took us through different treatment upgrades. Both gents love this car and had no problem conveying it. But the biggest thing about Chrysler as a brand is that no matter how many of these things that I get invited to, these boys are always fun to be around. They know they’re history and even appointed Brandon as Chief Designer when he was only 38. And as you look at some of the details on the car, you’ll see why. He knows what he’s doing. (Check out the subtle red hood sculpture)

Big thanks to Chrysler for having me out for the day. Although I didn’t do the drive… this REDLINE may be arriving at The Pad soon. 😉 And then… Redline it is.

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