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By on March 31, 2012


Recently, while praising the growly note produced by the VW GLI, I made an off-handed remark concerning the multitude of axle-backs I’ve bolted onto my WRX over the years. Unlike most of the hyperbole that is my métier, such statement was actually based in reality.

I really did swap out back-boxes like Jack cycles through guitars, desiring both an uncorking of the rumble produced by a flat-four with unequal-length headers, yet without the yobbish blatting of some angled oil-barrel. A straight STi swap? Nope, all the metallic unpleasantness of chomping tinfoil. The Borla Hush? Stealthy in looks only, but drones like Ben Stein playing the didgeridoo.

If you’re interested, I ended up with a 2.5” single-tip Maddad Whisper, a fine, US-made piece of engineering which I paid through the nose for. Worth every penny though: just enough bass at idle to flip my on-switch, crest 4K in the rev department and suddenly Nicky Grist is calling out the pace notes.

And here’s the thing, of all the facets of the motorcar that are constantly being refined and improved and modernized, it’s the sound I’ll miss the most.
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By on March 31, 2012

 

TTAC Commentator bigev007 writes:

Sajeev and Steve,

Been going back and forth on my buying decision for about 8 months now and I’m hoping to glean from the wisdom of yourself and the collective.

My situation:

New job last December, 100km from home. Mostly highway (very hilly) only one stop light where I have to wait (but it is about 2 minutes at the bottom of a long hill so it is great on my rotors.) Currently driving a 2000 Impala, averaging 26-28mpg so I am spending about $520 a month on fuel. (Read More…)

By on March 31, 2012


“This would be the most expensive plant closure of all times,” warned Rainer Einenkel, chief of Opel’s works council and Vice Chairman of its supervisory board.  ”This would cost GM billions,” Einenkel said today at a news conference following a staff meeting in Bochum. “Opel would not survive this.” (Read More…)

By on March 31, 2012

It’s “another broadside for the EV industry,” says Automotive News [sub]. The alleged artillery barrage was sent by the Center for Automotive Research. It cancelled its 2012 Business of Plugging In conference. The reason? Lack of interest. (Read More…)

By on March 31, 2012

Be careful if you take I84, one of Connecticut’s main drags. You could turn into collateral damage of a war between feuding State Police troops. There might be a pizza prize on your head. (Read More…)

By on March 31, 2012

Pocket rocket lovers who happen to live in Belgium, France, Spain, or Switzerland,rejoice! According to Brazilian enthusiast site webmotors.com.br, Renault is using to good effect its Formula 1 presence and is launching the Renault Clio R.S. Red Bull Racing RB7 in  the aforementioned markets. Wow! What a mouthful for a compact car! And yes, you read right, Clio and Red Bull in the same name! (Read More…)

By on March 31, 2012

For decades, I’ve been seeing Ford-family vehicles with ugly, pointless warning labels stuck to their instrument panels: Unexpected and possibly sudden vehicle movement may occur if these precautions are not taken. I’d always assumed that these were ex-rental cars, but after I mentioned the warning stickers in this week’s ’75 Ford Maverick Junkyard Find post, several readers pointed out that the stickers were the result of Malaise Era litigation. Of course! (Read More…)

By on March 31, 2012

Just a few years after Toyota confused American car shoppers by badging the early Tercel as the “Corolla Tercel,” they offered two very different vehicles as the 1987 “Corolla GT-S.” One was the AE86 coupe, based on the older rear-drive Corolla platform and much beloved by present-day drifters, and the other was the front-drive FX16 hatchback, built in California and equipped with the same 16-valve 4AGE engine as the AE86. The FX16 was sort of goofy-looking, with sharp angles and cheezy-looking plastic panels, but it was a screamin’ fast competitor to the VW GTI and held together much, much longer than its Wolfsburg rival. (Read More…)

By on March 31, 2012

Among journalists, the New York Auto Show is consistently a favorite on “the circuit”. Is it the interesting product size of the Javits Center? Of course not. It’s the chance to have an OEM fly you out to New York, put you up at a luxury hotel, wine you, and dine you. Unless you’re TTAC, in which case your base of operations is the Super 8 Motel in Bergen County, New Jersey.

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By on March 31, 2012

While attending a preview drive in Charleston, SC, I spied a most unique vehicle parked near a major thoroughfare: a pickup based on a W124 Mercedes-Benz wagon.

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By on March 31, 2012

Most car guys are well aware of the extraordinary sales pitch required to sell a spouse on a car project.

The term “eternal enemies” has been used many times to define the battle between wives with no sense of humor on one side and guys with old cars on the other side.

This incredibly rare 1939 Rolls Royce Wraith was one of those sporadic cases where the bride actually ordered her husband to build a car. (Read More…)

By on March 31, 2012

…when experience is not retained, as among savages, infancy is perpetual. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. — G. Santayana

Wide-light Rabbits. As a child, I firmly believed that there were two kinds of VW Rabbits. There were awesome Rabbits, with round headlights and narrow taillights, and they had all been assembled in the Fatherland by white-lab-coated Germans who, prior to taking jobs on the hospital-clean Rabbit production line, had all been Messerschmitt 262 pilots or actual rocket scientists. Then there were awful Rabbits, with dopey-looking amber turn signals and thyroid-condition, reflector-pregnant asses, which were created by drunken Pennsylvanians who used eight-pound sledgehammers to install body-side molding and who aligned the doors by hanging on the hinges until even the most sausage-like of fingers could pass comfortably through the gap between crooked window frame and mis-welded unibody.

Keep in mind that I couldn’t drive, and that nobody I knew even owned a Rabbit. I received all this wisdom osmotically, hyperbole passing from the diarrheic prose of the Tony Swans and David E. Davises of the day directly from the page to my mind. German Rabbits good. American Rabbits bad. And when VW finally gave up and closed Westmoreland, didn’t that validate what the scribes had scribbled?

Time passes, and we are told that the new, “Americanized” Mark VI Jetta is a disgrace, a stain, a repudiation of all for which the fabulous Emm Kay Five stood. My drive of the current Jetta didn’t quite square with the conventional wisdom. Still, I’ve been fascinated by the idea that Volkswagen deliberately chose to repeat its history, that it made a conscious effort to once again dive whole-heartedly into the American market with products that are locally assembled and directly targeted at us. So far, it’s been a success, but the Bowdlerized History Of Cars fed to us by the color rags cheerfully omits the fact that the original American Rabbits were popular, too. The death of American Volkswagen production had a lot more to do with dismal dealers and champagne-priced, poverty-specced product than it did with Pennsylvania production.

Time to cleanse my palate a bit. Hertz still rents Mark Five Volkswagens, so I requested one and drove it 931 miles over the course of approximately forty hours. A final chance to figure out the truth, before the conventional wisdom becomes fact, before what everyone knows becomes the only thing anybody knows, before history repeats itself.

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By on March 30, 2012

Volkswagen will apparently debut a “concept” version of the Passat Alltrack, a European model that shares little with our Americanized Passat sedan.

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By on March 30, 2012

Selling overpriced “Original” parts can be like printing money. I know carmakers that generate 30 percent of their profits out of parts sales. How do you drive parts sales? By forcing customers to stay as long as possible with your dealer, a money pit the customer tries to flee as early and as quickly as possible. The golden fleece in the business are repairs only an authorized dealer can perform, using overpriced parts only the authorized dealer has. Countless attempts have been made to break this monopoly. Another attempt is on the way. (Read More…)

By on March 30, 2012

Subaru will revise their 2013 Legacy with an all-new 2.5L FB boxer engine. The 2.5GT model, with its turbocharged 2.5L engine, will die a quiet death as Subaru axes their antiquated SOHC flat-four range.

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