Rod & custom archivist/historian, Pat Ganahl blogs about Charlie Smith’s ROD & CUSTOM: ART & THE AUTOMOBILE that turns as many heads as do iconic show-stoppers.

ROD & CUSTOM: ART & THE AUTOMOBILEI was going to title this column “The Unknown Artist,” but that’s not true at all. I’ve known Charlie Smith of Kansas City at least since the mid-1980s. I’ve published his work in Hot Rod and Rod & Custom, and you’ve seen it elsewhere. You’ve also seen cars he’s designed, though you might not know it. Just one example is Pete Chapouris’ Limefire ’32 roadster, loosely inspired by Tom Pollard’s green-and-flamed ’29.

ROD & CUSTOM: ART & THE AUTOMOBILEThis is another piece he did for Chapouris’ So-Cal Speed Shop (on spec) when they restored the belly tank and built similar vehicles for Chevrolet. But look at the detail and realism in this. That’s why I call it Unreal Art–because it’s so super-realistic.

Charlie says he’s not doing this to impress viewers, he’s doing it to show whoever is going to build the car exactly how he wants it to look.  But just look at the texture of the Bonneville salt, the mountains in the background, and the detail in the gold-tinted and red-striped mag wheels in this rendition of a ’53 Studebaker pickup/push truck (note rubber strip on front bumper). And this was just a suggestion. It didn’t get built.

Charlie first displayed his version of the classic chopped ’40 Merc at a Design Center at the 1990 SEMA show. Then it was blue. He recently recolored it in this burgundy red. The front “wheel covers” are hub-attached to stay stationary as the wheel turns.

Want more realism? This one has a bit of Euro-flavor to it, as well, which is faintly reflected in the village/mountain background. Calling this his vision of a ’49 Eldorado, below, the obvious change is a slightly chopped and hard-topped roofline. Other changes include the obvious extended stainless rear skirts. Less obvious are ’55 Chevy-type hooded headlights and slightly enlarged taillights.

Continue reading ROD & CUSTOM: ART & THE AUTOMOBILE, (Unreal Auto Art) @

Hyundai Ioniq 5 Review

Hyundai, along with its subsidiary brand, Kia, has already made a name for itself in the electric vehicle market, and the Ioniq 5 represents a clear intention to take things up a notch in their efforts to take on some of their more premium rivals. Competitively priced, with bundles of great onboard tech and a very practical full-charge range, the Ioniq 5 is a family hatchback with a lot of style that will appeal to a wide range of buyers.

Hyundai IONIQ 5
The Hyundai IONIQ 5


The Ioniq 5 represents a bit of a departure for Hyundai, breaking away from a lot of the design language and architecture they have been using across their hybrid and electric ranges. For one thing, it is the first of Hyundai’s offerings to make use of their new Electric Global Modular Platform, or E-GMP, which is set to be the building blocks for the next era of Hyundai electric vehicles.


When it comes to power, the Ioniq 5 comes in two flavours—a 168bhp motor powered by a 58kWh battery, or a 214bhp with a 73kWh battery. Both of these options are rear-mounted, but if you really want to push the boat out, you can opt for the top-spec model which comes with the 73kWh battery and two motors—front and rear—for a total of 301bhp. This translates to a 0-62mph time of 8.5 seconds and a range of 238 miles for the entry level spec, while the next step up will get you 280 miles on a full charge, with a 0-62mph time of 7.4 seconds. If you opt for the top spec, you will lose a little range—roughly 267 miles—but you will significantly reduce that 0-62mph time to 5.2 seconds.

Of course, no car is perfect for all situations, and the Ioniq 5 is no different. If you want to get around in style and comfort, the Ioniq 5 won’t let you down. However, if your typical drive involves a lot of winding country roads, you might find the entry-level offering a little lacking.


The Ioniq 5 is very recognisable as a Hyundai, albeit with a lot of futuristic twists and turns. Supposedly inspired by the Hyundai Pony—a popular model from the 1970s—the exterior of the vehicle boasts plenty of unique detail that makes it stand out from the crowd, including a glowing front panel and an interesting use of lines that make the car look much smaller on the outside than it is.

Inside, the Ioniq 5 looks anything but small. The spacious interior is packed with luxury and high-tech gadgetry. Despite everything that is packed into the car, the interior design still feels clean, largely helped by the large screens in place of a traditional instrument cluster, which allow Hyundai to get most of the typical dashboard clutter out of the way. One area that’s less than impressive is the boot, which is a very modest 527 litres in capacity. Still, it is far from tiny, and boot space in electric vehicles is not an issue that is unique to the Ioniq 5.


One of the standout features of the Ioniq 5 is its charging ability. The new E-GMP technology can support both 400V and 800V charging, and all of this without the need to purchase adaptors. Hyundai is the first to boast such a technology, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that they’ve patented it.

The Ioniq 5 can be charged from 10% to 80% in a little under 20 minutes (18, according to Hyundai) when hooked up to a 350kW charger. If you can’t wait that long, you can hook up for just five minutes and get 100km of juice!

Another remarkable feature is the V2L—vehicle to load—feature, which gives you the ability to use your car as a giant mobile battery, one which you can plug in any household appliance!


The Ioniq 5 is a remarkable mix of style, performance, and groundbreaking new technology, and at a price that should have some of Hyundai’s more premium competitors worried, because there really isn’t much of a reason to pay more for an Audi Q4 e-tron right now!

Peugeot 208 GT review

Peugeot 208 GT review

Is this sporty small car just a piece of eye candy?

The latest Peugeot 208 is one of the best superminis on the market and has won various awards, including the coveted 2020 European Car of the Year title.

Offered with both conventional petrol and diesel engines and as a 100% electric vehicle, it’s a fine blend of style, technology, economy and build quality.

Peugeot 208 GT review

We tested the 208 in GT spec, which is very well equipped, coming in just below the range-topping GT Premium.

As standard, it’s equipped with 17-inch alloy wheels, black wheel arch extensions and window surrounds, a blacked-out front grille and full LED headlights with Smartbeam.

Peugeot 208 GT review

Other features include a large 10-inch infotainment touchscreen with connected sat nav and TomTom Live traffic updates, a height-adjustable passenger seat, interior ambient lighting, blind-spot monitoring and a 180-degree reversing camera,

Priced from £24,810 and powered by the most powerful version of Peugeot’s eager 1.2-litre turbo petrol engine (129bhp), our car came in eye-catching Faro Yellow.

Peugeot 208 GT review

Driven through the front wheels via an eight-speed automatic gearbox, it can complete the 0-62mph dash in 8.7 seconds and tops out at 129mph. Fuel economy is up to 51.9mpg and CO2 emissions are 122g/km.

Needless to say, the 208 GT cuts a dash, while the distinctive lion light signature it shares with its siblings never ceases to impress (tooth design at the front and claw effect at the rear).  

Peugeot 208 GT review

Inside, there’s a premium feel with the digital delight that is the 3D i-Cockpit taking centre stage. However, if you’re new to Peugeot’s range, it’s the small steering wheel/high-mounted dials combo that will catch your eye. You will get used to it. Promise.

The 208 GT is fun to drive, though more of a warm than hot hatch. Its thrummy three-cylinder is punchy, even more so if you switch from Eco or Normal mode to Sport, which sharpens up performance.

Peugeot 208 GT review

It’s light and nimble, and though it’s not blessed with class-leading handling, it copes well on more challenging country roads and body roll is kept in check. The ride is comfortable and the sports seats are supportive, while the cabin is generally refined.

The steering is accurate, there’s plenty of grip and it feels planted on the motorway, while the eight-speed auto box is slick – perfect for stop-start traffic in town.

Peugeot 208 GT review

However, the 208 only scores average points for practicality. It’s fine up front, but space for rear passengers is more limited and luggage capacity is 311 litres (expanding to 1,106 litres when the backs sets are flipped).

Verdict: Handsome, well equipped and fun to drive, the Peugeot 208 GT is a sporty supermini with a touch of class. Just don’t expect a GTI.

How to prepare for the perfect family camping expedition

Gareth Herincx

2 days ago
Auto Blog

TV Adventurer and Toyota Highlander Hybrid driver Steve Backshall's camping tips

It’s a staycation summer, so TV adventurer Steve Backshall has teamed up with Toyota to provide some essential camping tips.

The author and wildlife expert uses his passion for nature to add a sense of adventure to holidays with his family – wife Helen, their three-year-old son, Logan, and 15-month-old twins, Kit and Willow.

““It’s all about Ps – prior planning and preparation prevents poor parenting performance,” reckons Steve.

However, he admits his first attempt at camping with three small children was a disorganised disaster: “It was all over the shop with kit, nappies and general carnage, but the sensation of waking up with my young son snoring next to me, the twins clambering all over my wife and the sound of breaking waves in our ears was unforgettable.

“The most important things you can pack are a sense of humour and a sense of perspective. The certainty is that discomfort is short-lived, but memories last forever.”

TV Adventurer and Toyota Highlander Hybrid driver Steve Backshall's camping tips

Steve’s trusted four-wheeled camping companion is the new seven-seat Highlander, the largest hybrid electric SUV model in the Toyota range.

After two years with a Toyota RAV4 Hybrid, the new vehicle is ideal for his growing family with its space for extra seats, luggage and kit.

Steve Backshall’s top tips for what to take on your family camping adventure

  • The tent: as soon as you start camping with babies, the amount of kit you have expands exponentially. It is essential to have a tent that packs small and light, goes up quickly, and has plenty of space. Critically, you want the tent to be big enough for the whole family to sleep together, while being sufficiently wind and weatherproof to avoid any nasty surprises in the middle of the night.
  • Nest is best: travel cots are bulky and heavy, and rarely that comfortable. Alternatives like a travel pod or nest, that can be folded down into a tiny backpack can create a handy crib. Stick it inside your tent or even alongside you at the beach for an instant infant safe sleep zone.
  • Comfortable camping seats: it says something about their relationship that this is the present Steve asked Helen to give him for Christmas – a comfortable and light camping seat that is packable. Steve claims he would sit in it at home in front of the telly if he could.
  • Licence to grill: Steve says before finding the perfect portable grille, cooking over an open fire was a lottery. Attempts using logs or bricks as supports would inevitably end up with burnt food spilling into the ashes. The one he uses is ready in seconds and turns the campfire into a stove. Always observe safety and etiquette when using an open fire in any outdoor setting.
  • “Off-road” buggy: a baby buggy can be the most expensive item you’ll need for a great family camping trip. It’s important to choose one that is good on rough terrain, that you can run with, and which gives the little ones a really good view. An unexpected advantage has been the seat on the back of the buggy, which Steve’s son loves riding on when he’s feeling lazy.
  • Carry packs: while the buggy is great, sometimes you want to cover some serious terrain on foot, and nothing on wheels will cut it. These packs are so well engineered that babies feel weightless. Steve has tested their quality on rocky paths and mountain routes.
  • Sun suits: Steve has three very fair children, so sun protection is vital. That means making sure sun hats are firmly in place and regularly applying high factor sun screen. Using sun suits means you can always spot where the kids are and they’re convenient because they dry out quickly
  • The car: Camping is not just about the end location, but the journey along the way, and keeping spirits high before reaching the campsite relies on a good choice of vehicle. Steve had a Toyota RAV4 Hybrid for two years and loved it because it was economical, quiet and spacious – everything you need for a stress-free drive to the campsite. It served faithfully as his adventure wagon, kids’ climbing frame and mobile base-camp, and it never let him down. His new Toyota Highlander has an extra row of rear seats, which means Steve can comfortably load up all the children, Helen and even her mum.
  • Buoyancy aid jackets: these are a must if the children are on or near water. They fit snugly and Steve makes sure all his youngsters wear them whenever they are close to water.

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