Category: Features

By on April 15, 2014

BMW-X4-03

The 2014 edition of the New York Auto Show kicks off tomorrow, with press days continuing into Thursday. TTAC will have live coverage of the show, but here’s a little preview of what you can expect to see starting Wednesday.

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By on April 5, 2014

car-share-parking-photo111

20 lawnmowers.

20 internet connections

20 videos of The Lion King.

Oh, and 60+ vehicles on one street.

I recently delved deep into one of the more challenging ideas of the modern age: car sharing in suburbia. It’s an idea that many non-enthusiasts and city dwellers love. But is it a good idea for suburbanites and the rest of us?

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By on April 4, 2014

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Year-over-year comparisons are a completely valid comparison tool, indeed a vital one, when analyzing the sales volume reported by automobile manufacturers. The auto industry is seasonal; cyclical at the best of times. The number of vehicles sold in say, January, bears little resemblance to the number of vehicles sold in May.

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By on June 17, 2013

2012 Jeep Patriot Latitude, Exterior, trail rated badge, Photography by Alex L. Dykes

Four wheel drive, all wheel drive, 4WD, AWD, full-time, part-time, 4Hi, 4Lo, 4×4. There are many names and just as many ways of motivating every wheel a vehicle has on the ground. What’s the difference between four-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive? In one word: Marketing. Want to know more? Click past the jump as we dive in the most controversial topic since “Dodge vs Chevy.”

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By on December 20, 2012

I’ve loved high-turnover self-service wrecking yards since I used to hang out at U-Pull Auto Wrecking in Oakland as a teenager in the early 1980s, and so it makes sense that junkyard-related stuff became so central to the Murilee Martin Lifestyle Brand™. During the last year, as my Junkyard Find series has evolved into a near-daily thing, I became increasingly curious about the life-cycle of the vehicles in these yards. A new row of fresh cars appears one day, replacing one that was put out a few months before, and that’s all I knew. Then, earlier this year, I was able to convince the brass at U-Pull-&-Pay Self Serve Used Auto Parts to give me a behind-the-scenes look at their operation, and I chose to follow the trajectories of two cars I thought would be typical junkyard inmates: a 1991 Honda Civic Si and a 1994 Toyota Camry XLE. I visited the auction at which they were purchased, I documented the pre-yard preparations, and I visited both cars every week for their three-month stint as parts donors. After that, I watched them get fed into the cold steel jaws of The Crusher. Here’s how our Civic and Camry spent the final months of their lives. Read More >

By on August 17, 2012

[Ed: Part one of Steve Lang's updated used car buying guide is here, part two is here.]

You can rigorously apply the tests described by previous installments of this series without encountering a single setback. However when it comes to buying a used car, it pays to assume one simple salient fact: you don’t know the complete truth.

At least not yet.

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By on June 1, 2011


Of all the cars at the ‘Shine Country Classic, none inspired more speculation than the ’75 LTD of the Tunachuckers and ’79 W116 of NSF Racing. So many questions! Would either car be ready for the green flag on Saturday morning? Which one would be quicker around a road course? Could an ungodly complicated Teutonic flagship even make one lap on a race track after 32 years and a 99.97% value depreciation? Could Grandma’s long-abandoned big Ford roar into life and survive on the race track with little more than a cage installation and a hasty tune-up? Each team had joined the elite of LeMons veterans, with one Index of Effluency win apiece, so expectations of horrible failure were high. Read More >

By on March 26, 2011
Our whirlwind tour around the planet takes you to a new country every week. We have explored 75 destinations so far, and they are all listed below.
Each title is also the link to the full article.
If the nation you are looking for is not here, my blog covers 177 countries and territories so it should quench your thirst…
Datsun Go. Picture courtesy of What Car? India
The Indian new car market and its dynamics have very unique characteristics. Understanding India is essential in today’s worldwide automotive scene – a lot of the innovation taking place here will soon be applied to other developing markets (like Africa). Jump in to be an instant Indian car market expert.
1938 Delahaye 135
Now that Dongfeng and the French state have stakes in PSA Peugeot Citroen, does it make the French manufacturer better equipped than Renault mid-term profitability?
Zhiguli for TTAC
Trans-Siberian Series:
For the next few weeks I take you on a trip through the Russian, Mongolian and Chinese steppe… Follow the journey step by step below.
Russia
Mongolia
Shanghai traffic. Picture courtesy of Flickr
Check out what made car sales headlines around the world last year.
Carfree Paris. Picture courtesy of www.menly.fr
Ford and Renault don’t see a return to growth until the end of the decade. I ask: Will it ever?
Volvo V40. Picture courtesy of autowp.ru
I’ve been generous: no less than 6 models are under the worldwide spotlights this month…
Kia Rio. Picture courtesy of autowp.ru
The Jeep Wrangler is the best-selling US model in this Carribean Island…
Toyota-Prius-C-Picture-courtesy-of-www.motortrend.com_
8 of the 9 best-selling models in California are Japanese…
Renault Captur. Picture courtesy of Auto Bild
Two French models and two Czech shine this month…
JAC Tojoy. Picture courtesy of JAC
Somehow hitting a wall at home, Chinese manufacturers have had to develop strategies to win overseas. We explore how they do in 5 Parts.
Honda CR-V. Picture courtesy of netcarshow.com
Literally. Check out the ranking above.
2013 Honda Accord Sport Sedan
It depends on how you look at it…
Toyota RAV4. Picture courtesy of www.autowp.ru
Toyota waited 8 years to replace its RAV4, and now it’s making waves worldwide…
Audi A3. Picture courtesy of www.autowp.ru
A perfect example of the ‘low-cost or premium’ trend at play in European markets…
Wuling Hongguang. Picture courtesy of auto.ifeng.com.cn copy
A Chinese on the podium! Discover the 200 best-selling cars in the world by clicking on the link above.
Nissan Leaf. Picture courtesy of www.autowp.ru
If the Nissan Leaf has struggled to make itself noticed in most parts of the world, it’s a completely different story in Norway…
Nissan Qashqai.Picture courtesy of www.autowp.ru
Even though it is basically a facelifted version of a 6 year-old model, the Nissan Qashqai continues to turn all car marketing knowledge upside down, still breaking record after record…
It’s no secret that Chinese brands have been struggling in their home market. Is this about to change though? Yes sir…

World Full Year 2012: Discover the Top 1000 (yes. One Thousand.) best-selling models!
For the first time in the history of the internet and cars, you have access to the 1000 best-selling cars around the globe. So enjoy!

Mexico Full Year 2013: The only country where Nissan is #1
There is a new #1 in the models ranking in Mexico this year, and surprisingly it’s not a Nissan…

Germany Full Year 2012: Volkswagen sovereign
What model has been #1 in Germany for 37 of the last 38 years? Click on the title above to find out…

By on May 9, 2010

Many new Automotive Histories as well as updated and expanded versions of many of these articles below are at the author’s new Curbside Classic site here]

 

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By on April 29, 2010

“If you’re going to do something wrong, do it big” (Jayne Mansfield)

Can you blame me for thinking of a certain larger than life blond bombshell of the era while looking at this big topless Buick? But then I said to myself, no, it’s wrong; been there, done that. But googling  to find the vital statistics of this Buick turned up the fact that Jayne Mansfield was killed in an Electra in 1967. Holy coincidence! Or did I subconsciously remember that? Whatever. So despite the risks, I’m forging ahead, hopefully for the best, because frankly it might be a stretch to write much about this overstuffed Buick. Like Jayne, it was meant to be looked at, not analyzed. Read More >

By on April 22, 2010

You wake despite the hope that you would never awake, in fear that the wildest night of your life with Corvair was all just a dream…ooops; never mind. But if a car ever inspired one to emote and wax poetically, it was the Corvair, especially the 1965. So I’ll try hard to restrain myself: the 1965 Corvair was the best European car ever ever made in America. And if that alone doesn’t explain the Corvair’s inevitable failure, lets just say that in 1965 Americans were eating a lot more Wonder Bread than baguettes.

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By on April 18, 2010

Welcome to Havana, Oregon. Back in the eighties, living in tony Los Gatos, I used to gaze longingly at photos of old American cars and trucks still hard at work in Cuba. But within days of moving to Eugene in 1993, I came across this very truck, hauling its daily cargo of recycled cardboard. And it planted a seed in me, to document the old vehicles still earning their keep, which finally came to fruition with Curbside Classics. Although we’ve strayed from the strict interpretation of that mission a few times along the way, no other vehicle more perfectly embodies the original ethos than this 1956 F-350. Read More >

By on April 15, 2010

[Note: Three related Checker posts: 1967 Marathon Curbside Classic; Vintage Checker Ads; and Tomorrow's Checker? Also note that these pictures were found at a variety of sites, but it appears that the original source for most of them were posted on this Flickr account by Drivermatic. Thanks for the superb photographic resource!]

For sixty years, Checker Motors had a record unbroken run of profits building a few thousand cars per year in a small little factory in Kalamazoo, Michigan. In 1981, it posted its first loss, $488,326, and its owner made good on his threat to stop production of the iconic Marathon if his workers didn’t accept wage concessions. But Checker continued to stamp out body parts for GM into 2009, including for the Buick LaCrosse. The Carpacolypse of 2009 finally shuttered the ancient plant, but no need to shed a tear for the original owner’s son, David Markin: his wealth is estimated at over $100 million. And it was all due to a shrewd investment of $15,000 that his father made in 1920, which put him in the driver’s seat of Checker Motors. Let’s take a ride through Checker’s history. Taxi! Read More >

By on March 7, 2010

[Note: This piece first ran in May 2007. It seems particularly relevant again in light of the current Toyota unintended acceleration (UA) situation. But please note that the circumstance that caused the Audi UA may, or may not be very different, depending on the circumstances. In the early eighties, electronic gas pedals and complex engine controls and other interfaces such as with ABS/brakes were still on the horizon. Nevertheless, the rules of physics have not been repealed. And an unknown percentage of Toyota UA events undoubtedly are the result of pedal misapplication. Audi's near collapse in the American market after this incident remains a painful lesson in the power of the media, the slowness of the NHTSA, and the critical PR choices manufacturers make in the wake of a crisis like this. PN]

When I first heard about the Audi “sudden unintended acceleration” segment on CBS’s 60 Minutes in 1986, I knew instantly that they were blowing smoke. Literally. Read More >

By on March 3, 2010

Here’s TTAC’s and the web’s only complete guide to Toyota’s gas pedals (so far), with tear downs, pictures, analysis, explanation, the shim fix, and commentary, all consolidated into one portal:

Part 1: Exclusive: TTAC Takes Apart Both Toyota Gas Pedals: Tear down of both the recalled CTS pedal assembly and the non-recalled Denso pedal assembly. Note: Assumptions and conclusions in this initial tear down lack the more complete understanding of the importance of the friction arm aspect of the CTS unit.

Part 2: Toyota Gas Pedal Fix Explained – With Exclusive Photos: Describes Toyota’s proposed fix for the recalled CTS gas pedal assembly, with detailed photos and graphics. Explains the significance of the friction arm assembly and its limitations.

Part 3: Toyota Gas Pedal Fix Simulated – Friction Reduced, By Too Much?: TTAC simulates the fix prescribed by Toyota for the recalled CTS pedal assembly, and notes how the fix changes the degree of friction, and the possible unintended result. With detailed pictures

Part 4: Why Toyota Must Replace Flawed CTS Gas Pedal With Superior Denso Pedal: Detailed analysis with pictures of the two pedal assemblies, an explanation as to why the Denso design is superior, and a call for having all CTS pedals replaced with the Denso pedal.

Part 5: TTAC Does The Toyota Pedal Shim Fix:  Stop Gap Solution At Best: Toyota’s solution is carried out here with detailed pictures, the whole Toyota document detailing the fix, and our commentary.

Part 6: Toyota Floor Mat/Gas pedal Recall Includes Computer Reflash And Trimming Of Gas Pedals: Info on the details of the floor mat/gas pedal interference recall.

Part 7: Toyota Recall  Creates Unintended Accelerator Consequences: As predicted in Part 4 (above), the CTS shim fix reduces the carefully designed amount of friction required for comfortable and smooth pedal action to the point where pedal action may now be jerky and potentially unsafe.

(Thanks to you-know-who-you-are for access to these parts and info)

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