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By on December 8, 2016

1968 plymouth valiant the truth about cars

We called our 1968 Plymouth Valiant 100 “Slithis” after a cheesy horror movie about snakes. I’m not sure why, in retrospect; most likely because it was a green. It wasn’t that metallic gold green popular in the early 1970s, sometimes called “baby shit green” (parents will understand). Just eight years after production, Slithis’ verdant topcoat was starting to lose its lustre. It had 98,000 miles on the odometer and we paid $50 for it — a genuine “$50 special.”

Today, something comparable would have twice as many miles, cost 10 to 20 times as many dollars, and likely be in far better shape. Read More >

By on December 8, 2016

2017-ford-fusion-rotary-gear-shift-dial

Allow me to paint you an all-too-common picture. You’ve pulled your vehicle into a parking space at the mall and need to get inside so that you can spend several hundred dollars at the Disney Store as quickly as possible. In your excitement you begin struggling frantically against the seatbelt. There is a moment of terror before you manage to unclip yourself, open the door, and begin shuffling your woeful husk toward the building’s entrance. Suddenly, you hear a loud crash behind you. With your mouth partially agape, you turn your vacant eyes back toward your vehicle and realize that you have, once again, neglected to place it in park and turn off the ignition.

Don’t be embarrassed, this happens to everyone.

A lot of motorists simply forget what to do after they’ve stopped their vehicle and are ready to exit. While the proper procedure actually involves taking the vehicle’s transmission out of drive and putting it into park, a common mistake is to leave it in drive or neutral with the keys locked in the ignition or motor still running and just walk away. Thankfully, Ford has announced that the 2017 Fusion will benefit from an innovative new “Return to Park” technology that places the car safely into park for you! Read More >

By on December 8, 2016

porsche 550 rear emblem

European Union officials are threatening to sue four countries, including Germany and Britain, for permitting Volkswagen AG to sell vehicles that were designed to cheat on emissions tests. The union has faced growing criticism for taking a more laissez-faire approach to handling the issue while the United States forced the company to settle $15 billion in legal claims.

Meanwhile, German regulators are looking into whether Porsche intentionally manipulated fuel economy data on its vehicles — creating a potential subplot in Volkswagen’s never-ending emissions-cheating scandal.
Read More >

By on December 8, 2016

1978-jeep-wagoneer

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has high hopes for the upcoming Jeep Grand Wagoneer and its ability to challenge Range Rover and Mercedes-Benz for premium SUV buyers. The proposed model’s $140,000 price ceiling keeps FCA execs up at night in giddy anticipation.

However, there’s a problem: Before FCA hoists that sparkling and lucrative cherry atop its Jeep sundae, it first needs to build the damn thing, and that’s easier said than done.

Which is why the Grand Wagoneer — the three-row ultra-lux SUV that Lee Iacocca could only dream of — is on hold. Read More >

By on December 8, 2016

hyundai santa fe iihs crash test 2017

Things became grim the moment the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety added headlight performance to its testing regimen. An initial report on midsize cars came back with only a single vehicle receiving a good score, and IIHS wasn’t any kinder toward SUVs or pickup trucks. The general consensus seemed to be that most headlights are absolutely terrible at providing adequate visibility but great at blinding oncoming traffic.

Adding headlight effectiveness to the ratings criteria for the IIHS’s Top Safety Pick+ designation ended up cutting the previous year’s list practically in half. Down from 79, only 38 models received the safety plus appointment under the new measurements.  Read More >

By on December 8, 2016

2017 Lincoln Continental - Image: Ford

There remains a select group of American car buyers who are actually buyers of cars. In fact, there are still American car buyers who want American cars. Indeed, there are still a number of American car buyers who want American luxury cars.

As an example, consider the all-new Lincoln Continental.

It’s not a hot seller — at least not in the conventional sense of the word. The new Lincoln Continental isn’t topping the sales charts. Indeed, given the fact, in November, the Continental was America’s 17th-best-selling premium brand car, it may not even be a warm seller.

But there are a couple of indicators that suggest the 2017 Lincoln Continental is over-performing; that it’s exceeding Ford Motor Company’s expectations. That’s not bad news for America’s remaining handful of American luxury car aficionados, especially with the measure of success being enjoyed by a cross-town Continental rival. Read More >

By on December 8, 2016

car theft

Over the past two years, we’ve brought you in-depth coverage of a crop of shadowy gadgets designed to give thieves access to parked vehicles.

Like most tools of the trade, the gadgets are very similar, using the same principle to achieve the same result — unlocking a parked vehicle by sending signals to the car’s own keyless-entry system. For vehicles with a push-button ignition, the same gadgets can sometimes start the vehicle, giving that thief an instant lifestyle upgrade.

Now, a “mystery device” purchased by the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) has revealed just how vulnerable an average vehicle is to these high-tech slim jims. Read More >

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.

Read More >

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.

Read More >

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.
Read More >

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