Twenty-fifteen was a tough year for Redflex, the well-known and thoroughly-loathed Australian purveyor of corruption, bribery, and traffic-ticket cameras.
Although the firm’s US arm obtained a small victory in the $300 million lawsuit filed against it by the city of Chicago, getting the case transferred to federal court, Chicago is expanding the scope of its lawsuit in response. Meanwhile, smaller municipalities are abandoning Redflex in droves — and the numbers make it easy to see why.
It’s that time of year again! As I did in 2014, 2013, and 2012, I’m channeling my inner Joni Mitchell by linking back to some of my most popular articles of the year and also reanimating some of the things that I loved but you hated.
So let’s set the wayback machine to “not terribly far” and let’s go living, we’ll keep living, in the past!
Imagine the following scenario: You’re a Buick salesman. An elderly woman comes into your showroom to inquire about a replacement for her Regal. You decide that she’s a great candidate for an Encore, and since you have some previous-year Encore stock you decide that she’s a great candidate for a 2015 Encore instead of the new model. There’s a $149/month lease deal available from GM Financial. What kind of deal do you make for this woman?
If your answer is, “I’d charge her over sticker for the vehicle, switch the lease company to make some back-end money, and add nearly a thousand dollars of profit in fees above that,” then you might just be the salesman that Buick GMC of Beachwood, OH needs.
Four and a half years. That’s how long it’s been since I served as a cross-country delivery driver for TTAC reader doctorv8‘s 1976 Cadillac Fleetwood Talisman.
As the more eagle-eyed of the Best & Brightest noticed earlier this week, that same Fleetwood is now for sale after a $10,000 freshening. So let’s catch up on what’s happened with the car, and the characters, from that once-in-a-lifetime trip.
Now it can be told: Perhaps the most cringe-worthy moment of my life was my own “Affluenza” episode, otherwise known as “The Time I Wrote A Poem About Not Getting A BMW 2002 For Christmas.”
I was eighteen years old and busy failing to fulfill my potential at university. I was already on my second car, the infamous Red Marquis, having unceremoniously crashed my 200SX on my first unsupervised day as a temporary-license holder. During one of our brief telephone conversations that fall, my father asked me some questions about “old BMWs,” with particular focus on the 2002. My fevered imagination had grasped that straw and run with it until I was honestly surprised to get two sweaters and a couple of shirts on the blessed morning of the 25th.
I went back to school early so I could mope in private and write a poem about it, the worst couplets of which I’ve retrieved from memory for your amusement:
Three years ago, around this time, I begged the nice people at Ford to build a proper Lincoln. This was shortly after I begged Cadillac to put a V-8 in the ATS. If you put the two articles together, you might get the sense that I have the completely antediluvian mindset that an American luxury car needs a V-8 and rear-wheel drive and main-battle-tank proportions to be completely legitimate. And you would be correct, because that is how I feel and, last time I checked, the nice people at Lexus and BMW and Mercedes-Benz felt the same way because most of the cars that they put on the cover of the Robb Report and the like seem to at least meet those basic criteria.
Well, the spy photos of the new Lincoln Continental are making the rounds. I can see that they have deliberately failed to honor my requests, the same way Cadillac stuck two fingers in my eye by afflicting the ATS-V with the asthmatic blown six when the same-platform Camaro SS has the mighty LT1 from the sublime Stingray. This is a retro Continental alright, but the retro-rockets are only firing back to 1988 instead of 1963.
Jeff “Speedycop” Bloch is arguably the most famous competitor in the history of the 24 Hours of LeMons. Not because he wins the race (although he does have one overall win to my knowledge) and not because he’s been my teammate on a few occasions, but rather because of the unique “Class C” cars that he builds. From an “upside-down” Camaro to the infamous Spirit Of LeMons, Speedycop is always looking for a way to race something that’s never been raced before.
His latest announcement won’t disappoint his fans in the slightest.
When Ethan Couch killed four people in an alcohol-related crash, his attorney argued that he suffered from “affluenza” — an inability to understand consequences brought on by a life of pampering and kid-glove treatment from his wealthy parents. To nearly everyone’s surprise, it worked, and Couch received nothing more than probation for his actions.
Earlier this month, a video of Couch attending a beer-pong party and sitting at a chair with a can of beer went viral, leading members of the community to demand that the court take action. But now Couch, and his mother, have gone missing, and local authorities think it might be an attempt to flee the country.
Long-time TTAC readers may be familiar with my old friend Rodney, the Billy Dee Williams lookalike with whom I sold cars, raced bicycles, rode motorcycles, and generally raised some sort of mild hell from 1995 until the present day. (If you’re not, here’s a field guide to his eccentric accomplishments.)
Over the course of the past week, Rodney’s had two life-changing things happen. The first was that he got his driver’s license back from the rural Ohio court which has held it hostage against a fairly large sum of fines and penalties since 2010. The story of how he lost his license involves everything from a Nissan Stanza jumping train tracks at 60 mph to the “black bull and white cuck” scene, and it’s a story I’ll tell once all the statutes of limitations expire.
The second is that Rodney’s mother, who is in her late sixties, was just conned into leasing a Buick Encore.
Arunabh Madhur gave up a 15-year career in brand, media and digital content marketing to set up M-Taxi, the second company that has launched bike taxis in Gurgaon. “You’re our first lady customer and I will take you for this ride myself,” says Madhur, a biker himself and an enthusiastic member of a Gurgaon super bike club.
What’s faster, cheaper, and more panic-attack-inducing than a taxi, an Uber ride, or even a rickshaw? The answer is clearly a motorcycle taxi. It’s now a thing. And there are now multiple startups competing for your motorcycle-taxi business in a place where, more now than ever, the future is being built.