Posts By: BarkM

By on January 13, 2017

Ford-GT-1

I remember it as though it were yesterday. Well, actually, my short-term memory isn’t that good anymore, thanks to the little transient ischemic attack I had about two years ago. So, let’s say I remember it like it was the day my son was born: the announcement of the Ford GT at the North American International Auto Show in 2015.

Painted in an unobtainium shade of blue, the GT rolled out onto the stage in Joe Louis Arena to much thunder and applause — and then a similarly painted Shelby GT350R came out and starting doing smoky donuts all around it.

Then, out of nowhere, a bald eagle flew in and landed on the hood of a Raptor F-150, carrying the severed head of Mary Barra in its beak. After that, a reanimated Norman Schwarzkopf rolled an Abrams tank in and blew a hole in the roof on the arena, causing $100 bills to rain down on everybody while girls in stars-and-stripes bikinis lovingly brushed Mark Fields’ mullet.

That second part may not have happened exactly like that. But compared to what Ford and other manufacturers did during their reveals this week, it may as well have. Because this week’s show was a fucking bore, and it was all because of that most millennial of vices — virtue signaling.

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By on January 11, 2017

2016 Chevrolet SS blue

Mattias writes:

I’m doing my responsible midlife crisis thing, and I’m wanting a V8 sedan. My budget is around $40,000, and I’m looking at used examples of the Lexus IS-F, Cadillac CTS-V, and Chevy SS.

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By on January 6, 2017

PH-818009996 Cadillac Escala GM

Oh, Cadillac. Sometimes I feel bad for you, what with your rebadged Impalas, your ATS wasting away on dealer lots for $15,000 under sticker, your XT5 badges that look exactly like XTS badges — it’s enough to make a man pity you.

But then you go and do stupid shit like starting a “Luxury Subscription Service,” and I lose any sympathy I have managed to scrape together. Yes, Cadillac thinks that renting you a car (that nobody wants to buy) for $1,500 a month is a great idea, and it has all the early signs of being something that Cadillac has excelled at recently — being a complete and total failure.

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By on January 4, 2017

2016 Lexus IS 300 AWD F SPORT, Image: Lexus

Dave writes:

Should we get a better deal on a special order car vs taking one off the lot? The dealer wants MSRP and won’t budge giving us some story about special orders affecting his allocation. We can’t go to another dealer because the other Lexus dealer in town has the same owner.

We’re looking at an IS 300. The reason for special order is my wife wants an exterior/interior color combo (from the standard colors) that the dealer can’t find in any U.S. or inbound inventory searches.

She’s flexible on other options, just has to have her color combo and is willing to wait for approx 90 days to get it.

Thanks,

Dave

Dave, you seem like a sensible guy, and not a dope fiend at all. So let me drop some knowledge on you about how dealer allocation and special ordering works.

(Read More…)

By on December 21, 2016

2011_ford_mustang_eng_10-de-as_4_717

Charles writes:

Dear Bark,

The 1986 silver, manual Accord Yokohama company car I was lucky enough to cut my teeth on in rural Ohio still comes to me in my dreams as I’m nigh on middle age. Here I am back in Ohio, and I’m sitting on the theoretical cash for my ’15 Golf TDI. My neurotic self vacillates far and wide: country boy F-150, Tacoma, Fusion Sport, Mustang GT, Civic Type R, Accord V6 Touring? My wife will have the family hauler, but I need something fast and mature that will occasionally accommodate my milk-chugging sons.

My wife says I’m too old for a civic, and she thinks a truck is “trying too hard.” The joy of the car fantasy ceases as soon as you drive one home. This is my struggle: once I choose the car I lose the potentiality. What’s my problem? What’s my car?

Oh, boy. Here comes some tough love. Buckle up.

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By on December 18, 2016

bluegrassaerial3a

This Sunday Story is a sequel to The Controller

“You’re a dead man, Marquez.”

“Ha, we’ll see about that.”

I had been pursuing Marquez for almost half an hour, but he was a slippery little bastard. Each time I had him in my sights, he slithered away at the last moment, and every time my attempt was unsuccessful it put me a little further behind him. But the last time, that time I was patient.

“Now or never,” I muttered to myself, and I fully committed myself to my move. There was no chance that he hadn’t seen me. I was completely exposed, and if I didn’t get him this time, it was over.

“Three, two, one…one half…one quarter…brake!”

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By on December 16, 2016

2016 Ford Focus RS Long-Term Test, Image: © 2016 Bark M./The Truth About Cars

In my nearly 25 years of car buying, I’ve walked into a dealership and walked out with a brand new car more times than most people would in several lifetimes. 14 times, to be exact. I’ve bought Volkswagens, Infinitis, Pontiacs, Mazdas, Fords, Chevrolets, Hyundais, and Toyotas, representing nearly every mainstream brand. And yet, only two of those 14 instances was anything resembling positive.

When I leased a Mazda CX-7 in 2008, I drove to the store in my 2005 Scion tC with two numbers in my head: $279 a month with zero down (the advertised CX-7 lease price) and $9,000 (the amount of money I believed my tC to be worth). The lease was already a strong offer, so I didn’t feel the need to negotiate further, and my trade valuation was based on one thing only — as with most shoppers, it was exactly the amount of money I needed to pay off my loan. The dealer quickly agreed to my terms, as he knew he would be able to sell the tC for $10,500 within 30 days.

The second time? We’ll get to that. But the other 12 times? As Dr. Dre once said, it was like muthaf–kin’ Vietnam. And in all honesty, I have nobody to blame for that but myself.

(Read More…)

By on December 14, 2016

audi-1214054_960_720

Nick writes:

Hi Bark,

I’m a #savethemanuals sucker. My daily driver and only car is a damn Miata Club six-speed, but I’m getting married in a couple of months and my fiancée is not so stubborn. I’ve taught her how to drive stick, and she’s pretty good at it, but it’s not her thing. Driving really isn’t her thing, in fact. She doesn’t now have a car. When she used to live in a part of the country where you need a car, she had some plain Kia or whatever. Her only strong preference is for smaller cars over larger ones, as we live in a dense urban area.

Let’s say for argument’s sake I knock her up in the next 12-18 months. We’ll be in the market for another car. I wouldn’t be the primary driver, but I’d drive it often enough. She wouldn’t mind if it’s “fun and nice.”

I would keep buying stick shifts until they stop selling them, and I’d resent any car if I could have in a stick yet passed on the option in favor of a CVT. Still, I understand that’s not how the world works. I think the best compromise, then, is to get a car that isn’t available with a manual transmission.

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By on December 12, 2016

More Transparency

“I’ll tell you something,” the grizzled used car veteran said to me menacingly from across his massive, oaken desk. “The internet has ruined this business.”

Tell me something I don’t know, old man.

It’s a variation of the same thing I’ve heard for five years. The car business used to be a place where men of little to no education or intelligence could make veritable fortunes, simply by preying upon the ignorance of their customers. Pre-internet, it was completely realistic to make $4,000 of front-end gross profit on the sale of a used car — and sometimes even more! Pull up a chair across from the more tenured sales guy at any Cadillac store, and he’ll gladly spin you a yarn about that one time he made $10,000 in gross on a little old lady who was on a fixed income, and he’ll laugh as he’s telling it.

Of course, he’ll have plenty of time to tell you this tale because he’s the guy who doesn’t take ups and instead lives on his book of referrals — and those are dying faster than the baby boomers who made them an integral part of the car business in the first place.

But now? Why, that rotten internet and all of its information has made it impossible for dealers to screw customers. Or has it?

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By on December 11, 2016

keeneland_race_course

She looked like she had stepped right out of a Southern Living Style Guide, her chocolate hair ever-so-slightly colored with a glint of the Kentucky sky on a perfect August morning. Amidst the vapors of dust, smoke, and rubber that clouded the air of the racetrack, somehow, she effortlessly managed to be pristine in a white, off-the-shoulder blouse. Neither the smells nor the sounds of the mechanical chariots exploding all around her on the course rattled her one bit—she was a lady, and a lady is comfortable everywhere.

And as she strolled in her tall shoes down pit lane like it was the runway of a country club’s spring fashion show, one foot neatly tucked in front of the other, her thighs never leaving the frame of her pencil skirt, surely she could feel the eyes of every crew member and driver upon her. Women like her didn’t often make find their way to NCM Motorsports Park on race days. Yet her face remained kind. Friendly. Open.

It was only by seeing her eyes, hidden behind the darkness of her Tiffany sunglasses, that anybody would have known how frightened Michelle was that afternoon as she walked toward pit stall number 21.

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By on December 7, 2016

2018 Euro VW GTI Golf

Alexis writes:

I give advice to everyone about what to get and not get, and yet I’m finding it impossible to decide for myself.

I’m a moderately successful realtor living in Toronto, and my 2005 Saturn Ion is about to give up the ghost. Yes, I know, an enthusiast driving an Ion doesn’t really make sense, and I admit it’s a car for people who just gave up — that’s why I bought it four years ago.

Alas, it’s time for something else.

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By on December 2, 2016

1992 Nissan Altima (public domain)

I had somewhat of a unique high school experience, in the sense that it was the most after-school special, stereotypical experience possible. I went to a suburban school with just the right amount of ethnic diversity — which is to say that even the black and Hispanic and Asian kids listened to Pearl Jam and wore Ralph Lauren.

When it came to our first cars, we didn’t just go down to the local dirt lot and buy something with our savings from fast food jobs. No, we were spoiled brats who were given sensible compact to mid-sized sedans by our parents. We didn’t lust after MK II GTIs or Geo Storms — no, we sat around the lunch table in 1994 and debated the merits of the fifth-gen Honda Accord, the basic but steady Ford Taurus, and the GOAT XV10 Toyota Camry, especially the blingy “American Edition.”

As for me, I had my heart set on the recently introduced Nissan Stanza Altima.

(Read More…)

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