Posts By: BobAsh

By on May 26, 2015

 

Old one and new

Old and new.

If you’re into Volkswagens – especially of the modified variety – Wörthersee is to you what Sturgis is for Harley riders or Carlisle to Mopar fans. Thousands and thousands of VW fans take over several small, quiet towns around a beautiful mountain lake and turn them into a festival of belly-scraping Volkswagens, Audis, Seats and Škodas.

And there’s beer. Lots and lots of beer.

(Read More…)

By on May 17, 2015

Small cars used to be for the city. Now, they say a small car can work just like a big one. To find out what’s what, I borrowed a current Škoda Fabia, then took another new Fabia on a 400 mile trip. I’m writing this in a hotel room balcony with a beautiful view of the Alps […]

By on May 8, 2015

They say simple, affordable and fun cars are not made these days, but maybe we’ve been looked for them in the wrong places. Maybe affordable fun still exists, buried under a skin not cool enough to capture petrolheads’ interests… James Dean behind the wheel of his Porsche 356 Speedster, tearing up Mullholland Drive, a cigarette hanging coolly […]

By on May 1, 2015

The current Mazda6 is revered for its Skyactiv naturally aspirated gasoline engines and nimble, light-footed handling. Replacing one of the last great N/A engines in its class with a turbo-diesel seems a bit like heresy. Opting for an automatic transmission and four-wheel drive is mutiny. But, will those choices make a great driver’s car boring? Or […]

By on April 15, 2015

Replacing a Lincoln Town Car with Chrysler LHS may be a strange decision, and it’s definitely an interesting experience. But it’s also very educating one, for the differences between the two tell surprisingly much about the way people think about cars, the way people buy cars and the way cars are designed.

By on March 21, 2015

Thanks to endless regulations surrounding crash safety and emissions, the modern car is increasingly homogenous. Pedestrian safety regulations mean that a high hood and a flat front end are a must, while environmental requirements dictate a “reverse-teardrop” shape and a big, turbocharged engine to deal with the weight of the other passive safety features, not […]

By on March 10, 2015

meriva2

As we know, the once-glorious Buick has two objectives today: To sell GM products to Chinese people, and to sell Opels to North American people. Of the five Buick models in the US, three (Verano, Regal and Encore) are badge-engineered Opels or at least have their Opel twins. And fourth, the Cascade convertible, is coming soon.

It thus makes sense to look at Opels as potential Buicks. It even works the other way, as many Opels feel a bit like Buicks. With their visual bulk, hard-to-see extremities and hefty weight, they seem much bigger than they really are. In fact, they feel more American than Euro Fords.

So when I got my hands on an Opel Mariva for a week, I tried to see it as a Buick. When you look at it, with its minivan-like profile and weird shoulder line, it doesn’t look like one. But it turns out it would make for a terrific Buick.

Why? Because Buicks are cars for old people. And while the Meriva is supposed to be exact opposite, it actually does the job even better than any of the current Buicks.

(Read More…)

By on March 5, 2015

I have talked about diesel, manual wagons in this space a few times already, so you probably know that I don’t like them. I don’t like their clatter and I don’t like their limited rev range and turbo surge. I don’t like the massive servicing costs of the common-rail ones, which is the price you […]

By on August 22, 2014

The late model Panther cars offer a unique combination of fairly modern driving characteristics and the classic feel of RWD, body-on-frame vehicle. With their longevity and durability, cheap parts and surprisingly frugal 4.6 Modular engine, they are even quite cheap to run. Of course, that’s all true if you believe the hagiography of the Panther so […]

By on August 12, 2014

Most of my writing on this site is centered around the “clash of civilizations” – the eternal debate over whether American or European cars are superior in qualitative, if not quantitative matters. But among all those reviews of new European and American cars, or my sordid tales of living with old American iron in Europe, it’s easy […]

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