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By on December 8, 2016

Car Not A Costume, Ford/Land Rover

True story: Many, many years ago I briefly dated a young woman who, at the age of 16, was the subject of a custody battle between her hard-luck mother and her suburban aunt. You’d expect this to go the way of the aunt, and you’d be right. But what you would not expect is that the aunt was married to a fellow who, some 15 years earlier, had been L. Ron Hubbard’s personal bodyguard. He was deeply involved in the “Sea Org” and a bunch of other Scientology-related stuff. He also claimed to have been a Green Beret and a decorated Vietnam veteran. (More information on the dude here, if you’re interested.)

Scientology in general, and my girlfriend’s foster dad in particular, was notorious for “fair-gaming” its lapsed members and anybody else who gets in the way of the organization. “Fair Game” is an L. Ron Hubbard phrase that means, basically, no action that can be taken by church members against the person in question is off-limits. It’s okay to attack them, kidnap them, have their home “SWATted”, destroy their careers or their credit rating. Being “fair gamed” by the Church of Scientology is very far from a picnic. The Church now disavows “fair gaming”. (More info here.)

The Ford Motor Company, on the other hand, doesn’t seem too reluctant to “fair game” a few of its lapsed members, as you’ll see.

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By on December 8, 2016

How To Build A Racing Car (Inverted)

High-tech computer-aided design has made relative child’s play out of laying out new ideas when building cars and eliminates tedious, expensive, and time-consuming trial-and-error. Some Australians have taken to YouTube to show off what they can do when they turn their multi-core processors toward the most basic form of motorsport: Formula Vee.

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By on December 8, 2016

1995 Lotec C1000, Image: eBay

Countless hours of development, design and and construction. Exacting details wrought in board rooms and wind tunnels. Exotic materials, experimental engine designs, hand crafted bodies. The goal?

Simple. Make the fastest car in the world.

But even if a designer or firm achieves that goal, they don’t necessarily have a winner on their hands. Even when the facts and figures support the superiority of one supercar design over another, intangibles often determine which one will be a success.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at some superlative automobiles over a few decades and see how fate played out.
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By on December 7, 2016

1990 Eagle Talon

Chances are, if you read TTAC as part of a balanced breakfast, you probably had more than a few toy cars scattered around the house like rice at a wedding when you were an OshKosh B’gosh-clad tike. These diminutive metal replicas lurked deep within the shag-pile carpeting, lying with their pointy sides up, waiting to rend bare feet asunder.

In later years, these toys were supplanted by trips to real dealerships, where I no doubt made a nuisance of myself as a prepubescent boy who was interested in examining the new metal for that model year. There are three models whose image remain firmly imprinted on my mind after seeing them for the first time through the lens of a youngster’s eye. Surely, you’ve got one too.

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By on December 7, 2016

Volvo Emblem logo badge

Volvo has named Henrik Green as its new head of researching and development, replacing Peter Mertens, who was usurped by Audi in November.

Green, 43, entered Volvo’s executive branch in October as the senior vice president of sales, production planning, and customer service. Volvo says the vacant position, which was created for Green specifically, will be filled eventually. With Mertens gone, Volvo is depending upon Green to implement plug-in hybrid drivetrains throughout the company’s fleet and develop an autonomous vehicle by 2021.   Read More >

By on December 7, 2016

Scott Pruitt (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

It looks like the Environmental Protection Agency’s rush to cement fuel economy targets before Inauguration Day wasn’t due to paranoia.

According to the New York Times, President-elect Donald Trump has tapped Oklahoma attorney general Scott Pruitt to head the EPA. Pruitt, 48, is a top opponent of the Obama administration’s environmental regulations and climate change policy, going so far as to organize legal action against the federal government.

Pruitt’s nod is bad news for environmentalists, and good news for industry. Automakers could soon find themselves less burdened by green tape. Read More >

By on December 7, 2016

Chevrolet Blazer 1994

General Motors has been repeatedly busted testing a vehicle that should be Chevrolet’s next midsize SUV. The automaker has been restructuring its model portfolio to fulfill the desires of today’s crossover-obsessed consumer and needs a model between the Traverse and soon to be downsized Equinox.

Recent spy shots of a moderately camouflaged test vehicle seem to allude to dimensions similar to GMC’s Acadia, refuting theories surrounding earlier photos that it might be the redesigned 2018 Traverse.  Read More >

By on December 7, 2016

2016 Nissan Titan XD PRO-4X Grille, Image: © 2015 Mark Stevenson/The Truth About Cars

Nissan and Renault consummated their marriage in 1999, but some family members still aren’t happy living under the same roof.

In an effort to put a lid on infighting, Renault-Nissan has asked its head of powertrain engineering to take a walk, replacing him with a company veteran who — the company hopes — can bring both sides together.

The alliance needs a hug-filled happy ending in a hurry, as regulators are gunning for the automaker’s not-so-clean engines. Read More >

By on December 7, 2016

dodge challenger GT 2017

All-wheel drive is coming to the Challenger.

In the pony car race Mopar has historically trailed behind General Motors and Ford. However, that underdog status also gives it some wiggle room to experiment. Factory all-wheel drive on a Mustang or Camaro is nearly unfathomable, but you almost expect something like this from Dodge.

The addition of a transfer case could help bolster sales of the Challenger in less temperate climes and close the gap between it and the Camaro. However, many would have preferred that FCA somehow made use of the AWD package on the Charger Pursuit V8 reserved for law enforcement. Perhaps it’s saving that as a future ace in the hole, as the LX platform has a long way to go before retirement. Read More >

By on December 7, 2016

2017 Honda Civic Hatchback - Image: © Timothy Cain/The Truth About Cars

As I exited the grocery store this past Sunday night thronged by late night shoppers, the expressions on the faces of those who walked past the 2017 Honda Civic Hatchback LX, parked right in front of the store, were not difficult to discern.

Then, as it became obvious I was the “owner” of said Civic, previously repulsed glances shifted toward me, now full of pity. Can’t say I was surprised. The exterior design Honda foisted upon an otherwise excellent car is downright horrifying.

I wanted to shout across the grocery store parking lot, “It’s not mine.”
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