The Truth About Cars » Editorials http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Sun, 23 Nov 2014 13:41:26 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Editorials http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/category/editorials/ Junkyard Find: 1975 Dodge D100 Pickup http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/junkyard-find-1975-dodge-d100-pickup/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/junkyard-find-1975-dodge-d100-pickup/#comments Sat, 22 Nov 2014 14:00:59 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=949537 Since many Dodge D-series pickup parts fit my ’66 A100 van I’m always on the lookout for members of the species while visiting the junkyard. Today’s D100, which I found in a Denver self-service wrecking yard a couple of weeks back, is a little too new to offer many bits for my Dodge, but it’s […]

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13 - 1975 Dodge D100 Sweptline Pickup Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinSince many Dodge D-series pickup parts fit my ’66 A100 van I’m always on the lookout for members of the species while visiting the junkyard. Today’s D100, which I found in a Denver self-service wrecking yard a couple of weeks back, is a little too new to offer many bits for my Dodge, but it’s still interesting enough for this series.
17 - 1975 Dodge D100 Sweptline Pickup Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinGrowing up in a Navy town, ex-Navy D100s of this vintage were common sights on the street. Most of them were still in their government-issue gray paint with the Navy serial numbers still visible, but some got rattle-can paint jobs like this one.
07 - 1975 Dodge D100 Sweptline Pickup Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe sensible Slant-6-and-4-speed drivetrain was about right for a truck like this— you weren’t going to go fast, but you’d always get there.
19 - 1975 Dodge D100 Sweptline Pickup Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinI didn’t grab any parts, but I did get this magnet for my toolbox.

01 - 1975 Dodge D100 Sweptline Pickup Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1975 Dodge D100 Sweptline Pickup Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1975 Dodge D100 Sweptline Pickup Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1975 Dodge D100 Sweptline Pickup Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1975 Dodge D100 Sweptline Pickup Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1975 Dodge D100 Sweptline Pickup Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1975 Dodge D100 Sweptline Pickup Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1975 Dodge D100 Sweptline Pickup Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1975 Dodge D100 Sweptline Pickup Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1975 Dodge D100 Sweptline Pickup Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1975 Dodge D100 Sweptline Pickup Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1975 Dodge D100 Sweptline Pickup Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1975 Dodge D100 Sweptline Pickup Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1975 Dodge D100 Sweptline Pickup Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - 1975 Dodge D100 Sweptline Pickup Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 16 - 1975 Dodge D100 Sweptline Pickup Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 17 - 1975 Dodge D100 Sweptline Pickup Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 18 - 1975 Dodge D100 Sweptline Pickup Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 19 - 1975 Dodge D100 Sweptline Pickup Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

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Coast to Coast 2014: New Mexico http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/coast-coast-2014-new-mexico/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/coast-coast-2014-new-mexico/#comments Thu, 20 Nov 2014 14:40:44 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=948473 The Dodge Dart is the hero in town in Albuquerque NM * You can see all my USA Coast to Coast Reports here! * After detailing the history and highlights of the Old Route 66 from Oklahoma to New Mexico, we now pause in New Mexico to analyse the vehicle landscape in Albuquerque and Gallup. This, a special feature on ethnic […]

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1. Dodge Dart Albuquerque 2The Dodge Dart is the hero in town in Albuquerque NM

You can see all my USA Coast to Coast Reports here! *

After detailing the history and highlights of the Old Route 66 from Oklahoma to New Mexico, we now pause in New Mexico to analyse the vehicle landscape in Albuquerque and Gallup. This, a special feature on ethnic car buyers’ preferences and state-wide sales data below.

2. Ford F-250 GallupFord F-250 in Gallup NM

First a bit of trivia about New Mexico: this state is the 5th most extensive (121,589 sq mi or 315,194 km2), the 36th most populous (2.1 million inhabitants) and the 6th least densely populated of the 50 United States. Inhabited by indigenous peoples of the Americas for centuries before European exploration, New Mexico then belonged to the Imperial Spanish viceroyalty of New Spain, then part of Mexico, a U.S. territory before finally becoming the 47th state in 1912. During World War II, the first atomic bombs were designed and manufactured at Los Alamos NM.

3. Ford F-150 GallupFord F-150 in Gallup NM

New Mexico is often mistakenly believed to have borrowed its name from the nation of Mexico. This couldn’t be further from actual facts: New Mexico was originally given its name in 1563 by Spanish explorers who believed the area contained wealthy Indian cultures similar to those of the Mexica (Aztec) Empire. It was only centuries later in 1821 that Mexico, formerly known as New Spain, adopted its name after winning independence from Spain. Interestingly, the two developed as neighbouring Spanish speaking communities, with relatively independent histories.

4. Chevy GallupVintage Chevrolet in Gallup NM

Population-wise, among U.S. states New Mexico has the highest percentage of Hispanics (47%), including descendants of Spanish colonists and more recent Latin American immigrants. We will see a little further that this has an impact on new car sales in the state. It also has the second-highest percentage of Native Americans after Alaska, and the fourth-highest total number of Native Americans after California, Oklahoma, and Arizona – notably Navajo, Apache and Pueblo tribes.

7. New Mexico License plateNew Mexico licence plate

As a result, New Mexico’s culture is unique in the United States for its strong Hispanic and Native-American influences, both of which translated into the state flag: the red and gold colours are inspired from the flag of Spain, while the ancient sun symbol comes from the Zia, a Pueblo-related tribe. Last bit of trivia more closely related to my Coast to Coast Photo Report: we have now driven 4.000 miles since departure from New York City… That’s it for the trivia, now let’s get into the car landscape in the state, with a focus on its largest city Albuquerque as well as Gallup, further down the Old Route 66.

5. Albert AlbuquerqueMy Ram 1500 ecoDiesel Albert in Albuquerque NM

The best-selling models in New Mexico over the Full Year 2013 were as follows:

Pos Model 2013
1 Ford F-150 4,757
2 Chevrolet Silverado 3,601
3 Ram Pickup 3,368
4 GMC Sierra 2,214
5 Ford F-250 Super Duty 1,837

Source: JATO

8. Ram Pickup AlbuquerqueRam Pickup in Albuquerque NM

These figures make New Mexico the second state only so far along my Coast to Coast trip to crown 5 pickup trucks as its Top 5 most popular vehicles, after Oklahoma. Again this can be attributed to the relative rurality of the state but is still a remarkable achievement. At some stages during our crossing of New Mexico in remote areas towards the border with Arizona, up to 60% of all vehicles in circulation were pickup trucks. In Albuquerque, the Ford F-250 lifts its game to almost come as high in popularity as the F-150 as it has sometimes been the case in a few towns so far in this trip. In Gallup NM, the Chevy Silverado seems even stronger than usual and the Ram Pickup’s most popular variant is the Tradesman base model like the one I have been driving (Albert), and this for the first time in this Coast to Coast adventure.

5. Ford Econovan AlbuquerqueFord Econoline in Albuquerque NM

Onto real-life observations in the busy streets of Albuquerque and Gallup. The age of cars is stuck at a much older level than I have been used to during this crossing of the nation, only difference is in New Mexico a lot of these vintage items reach levels of cool unheard of before. Cue 1970s Ford Econovan, 1980s Ford F-150, and a plethora of souped up older generations Dodge Ram Pickups and Chevy Silverados. They say New Mexico is the Land of Enchantment, I say it’s the Land of Car Coolness.

6. Hyundai Elantra AlbuquerqueHyundai Elantra in front of the legendary Frontier Restaurant in Albuquerque NM

In a fascinating turn and in complete contrast to the Top 5 best-sellers state-wise, the most striking element of the car landscape in Albuquerque is the strength of smaller passenger cars, both in numbers and diversity, to a level that I had not seen since Washington DC. I will advance a very simple reason for this phenomenon:  the high ratio of students in town, which houses the University of New Mexico. I saw the first two Fiat 500L of this entire trip in this city, as well as very healthy numbers of Hyundai Elantra, Ford Focus, Nissan Sentra, Versa, Kia Soul, Toyota Corolla and VW Jetta.

8. Albert New MexicoAlbert on the New Mexico state line

But 3 passenger cars stand out even more, and on top of them a complete surprise: the Dodge Dart. A failure since its botched “manual only” launch 2.5 years ago, the Dart has struggled to break into the 50 most popular vehicles in the country. In Albuquerque however, it is as common as the Toyota Corolla or Honda Civic, up there among its competitors in its segment. This is also supported by a very strong heritage of Dodge Neon which was the predecessor to the Dart, discontinued in 2005. So we have an Albuquerque community clearly fond of compact Dodge sedans here, which is an extremely rare feat!

15. Dodge Dart AlbuquerqueMercury Sable and Dodge Dart in Albuquerque NM

Decades of precise vehicle landscape observation in hundreds of cities around the world have given me a solid experience at estimating the best-sellers based on their frequency in traffic, and I rarely get it very wrong. I would see the Dart snapping up a spot in the overall Top 10 Albuquerque best-sellers, at least for a few months since launch. I was not able to confirm nor infirm this observation with hard figures, and if in fact the Dart is at its best in the USA in Albuquerque, this is the most well-kept secret in US car sales statistics as both Melloy Dodge and Larry H. Miller, the two Dodge dealerships in town, repeatedly refused to comment on this (positive) anomaly. Bizarre. If one town has unlocked the Dart’s sales potential, I’d have assumed they’d show off about it. I’m still making the Dodge Dart the Hero in Town in Albuquerque.

9. Toyota Tacoma AlbuquerqueToyota Tacoma in Albuquerque NM

The second passenger car standing out in town is the Chevrolet Impala, and although it is notorious that a large part of Impala sales are to fleets and rentals, Albuquerque is among the towns I have visited so far where it is the most popular, and being neither the most touristic nor the more corporate town of them all, a boost from ‘real’ private sales has to be in order. The third one is a new entrant in my long list of successful cars in various states, regions and cities along this Coast to Coast trip: the Ford Fiesta sedan. Very discreet up until now, a whole herd of them is bustling through the streets of Albuquerque as I write these lines. Here again a perfect student car which could explain its popularity in town.

14. Fiat 500L New MexicoFiat 500L in Albuquerque NM

These last 3 models were the most striking standouts compared to their national ranking, but a large majority of passenger cars are Japanese, with Toyota, Nissan and Honda the most common. I have already covered the fact that as we get closer to the border with Mexico where it is #1 overall with a world-best 26% market share, Nissan’s popularity rockets up. This is also true in New Mexico and Albuquerque, and a recent study of new car sales to ethnic buyers by IHS Automotive confirms it all.

Most ethnic brands - USABrands with the highest rate of ethnic buyers (Source IHS via Autonews)

According to IHS, new vehicle consumption among ethnic consumers, defined as African-American, Asian and Hispanic buyers, is up 8% year-on-year over the first 6 months of 2014 vs. 4% for the overall industry, with Hispanic consumption up an even more impressive 10%, in effect lifting the overall US car market up. Ethnic population growing faster than the national average, this is a very important trend in the U.S. new vehicle market as the share of ethnic buyers in the overall market is bound to become more and more prominent. The side-effect of this is manufacturers doing well with ethnic buyers have great chances to see their national market share outperform the market in the next decade. There should be a red flag here for the Detroit Big 3 as ethnic buyer patterns show a strong preference for foreign brands – albeit most of the cars they purchase still being made in the U.S.

13. Nissan Versa AlbuquerqueNissan Versa in Albuquerque NM. Nissan buyers are 36% ethnic, the highest of any brand.

Unsurprisingly based on our observations during this Coast to Coast trip so far, Nissan is the brand with the highest share of ethnic buyers in America at 36%, followed by Mitsubishi (35%), Toyota (33%) and Honda (31%) while Dodge is the only American brand in the Top 13 brands with the highest rate of ethnic buyers in 5th place with 30%. Could this partly explain the tremendous success of the Dodge Dart in Albuquerque? Notice the exceptional strength of premium marques such as Lexus, BMW both at 29% of ethnic buyers, Mercedes at 28%, Acura at 28% and Maserati at 27%.

Top 10 brands to Ethnic buyersBrands with the highest volumes to ethnic buyers (Source IHS via Autonews)

In terms of market share, Toyota holds almost 18% of the 1.6 million new vehicles ethnic consumers have bought over the first 6 months of 2014 vs. 12.2% share of the overall national market, followed by Honda at 12.2% vs. 8.1% and Nissan at 11.1% vs. 7.9%, Chevrolet at a timid 4th place with 8.6% share vs. 12.6% nationally, while Ford is at an even more unimpressive 8.4% share, that’s almost half the market share it has with the entire American population at 15%.

This is it for New Mexico, next stop is Monument Valley at the border of Arizona and Utah, so stay tuned!

Many thanks to David Curry for the photos in this report.

Matt Gasnier is based in Sydney, Australia and runs a car sales statistics website and consultancy: BestSellingCars which just celebrated its 4th anniversary.

10. Chevrolet Silverado AlbuquerqueChevrolet Silverado in Albuquerque NM

11. Toyota Prius AlbuquerqueToyota Prius in front of the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque NM

12. Ford F-150 AlbuquerqueFord F-150 in Albuquerque NM

16. Ford F-250 AlbuquerqueFord F-250 in Albuquerque NM

17. Albert Nissan Versa Note GallupAlbert and Nissan Versa Note in Gallup NM

Chevrolet Silverado Albuquerque 2Chevrolet Silverado in Albuquerque NM

Toyota Corolla AlbuquerqueToyota Corolla in Albuquerque NM

Chevrolet Impala New MexicoChevrolet Impala in Albuquerque NM

Albuquerque street 3Street scene in Albuquerque NM

Hummer AlbuquerqueHummer in Albuquerque NM

Albuquerque street 1Street scene in Albuquerque NM

Nissan Sentra GallupNissan Sentra in Gallup NM

Albuquerque street 2Street scene in Albuquerque NM

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Junkyard Find: 1988 Pontiac LeMans http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/junkyard-find-1988-pontiac-lemans-2/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/junkyard-find-1988-pontiac-lemans-2/#comments Thu, 20 Nov 2014 14:00:51 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=946817 Back when I saw this red ’88 LeMans at a California wrecking yard last year, I figured that would be the last Pontiac-badged Daewoo LeMans I’d ever see in a self-service wrecking yard. After all, these things sold poorly, were built like crap, and mostly lasted about five years before being stuffed into the nearest […]

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09 - 1988 Pontiac LeMans Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinBack when I saw this red ’88 LeMans at a California wrecking yard last year, I figured that would be the last Pontiac-badged Daewoo LeMans I’d ever see in a self-service wrecking yard. After all, these things sold poorly, were built like crap, and mostly lasted about five years before being stuffed into the nearest car shredder. But no, here’s another example that I saw in Denver a couple of weeks ago.
17 - 1988 Pontiac LeMans Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis won-pinching Korean managed over 150,000 miles before expiring, which is pretty impressive.
06 - 1988 Pontiac LeMans Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinIt’s no ’64 Catalina, that’s for sure.
16 - 1988 Pontiac LeMans Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinStripes!
10 - 1988 Pontiac LeMans Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThere can’t be many of these hubcaps left in the universe.

01 - 1988 Pontiac LeMans Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1988 Pontiac LeMans Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1988 Pontiac LeMans Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1988 Pontiac LeMans Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1988 Pontiac LeMans Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1988 Pontiac LeMans Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1988 Pontiac LeMans Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1988 Pontiac LeMans Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1988 Pontiac LeMans Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1988 Pontiac LeMans Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1988 Pontiac LeMans Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1988 Pontiac LeMans Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1988 Pontiac LeMans Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1988 Pontiac LeMans Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - 1988 Pontiac LeMans Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 16 - 1988 Pontiac LeMans Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 17 - 1988 Pontiac LeMans Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 18 - 1988 Pontiac LeMans Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 19 - 1988 Pontiac LeMans Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

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The Gurney Bubble and Gurney’s Bubbly http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/gurney-bubble-gurneys-bubbly/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/gurney-bubble-gurneys-bubbly/#comments Sat, 15 Nov 2014 17:02:38 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=945265 A while back we ran a post on the Gulf Oil liveried 1968 & 1969 LeMans winning Ford GT40 that was temporarily on loan for display at the Racing in America exhibit of The Henry Ford Museum’s Driving America section. The reason for that loan was that the car that normally occupies that corner of […]

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Full gallery here

Full gallery here

A while back we ran a post on the Gulf Oil liveried 1968 & 1969 LeMans winning Ford GT40 that was temporarily on loan for display at the Racing in America exhibit of The Henry Ford Museum’s Driving America section. The reason for that loan was that the car that normally occupies that corner of the exhibit, the Ford Mk IV that won LeMans in 1967, was at Dan Gurney’s All American Racers shop in California getting a sensitive repair and conservation. That job has now been completed and the Mk IV is now back on display at the Dearborn, Michigan museum, just in time to be rejoined by Mr. Gurney.

Click here to view the embedded video.

It was appropriate that Gurney’s company was contracted to work on the car. It was Gurney who drove it to victory at LeMans with co-driver A.J. Foyt. It was also appropriate that the company is named “All American”. Henry Ford II was determined to, as Carroll Shelby put it, “kick Ferrari’s ass”. Enzo Ferrari had strung the Deuce along when the Dearborn automaker wanted to buy the Italian sports and car manufacturer in the early 1960s. When Henry Ford’s grandson realized that Enzo had no intention of selling, certainly not to an American, Ford II vowed to humiliate Ferrari on the race track. It took a while but eventually Ford won at LeMans four years running, eclipsing Ferrari’s star in that form of racing for a while.

Though Ford’s “total performance” marketing effort included a variety of racing formats, Ford didn’t make sports cars, or at least nothing that would do at LeMans, an important race to Ferrari, the man and the company.To kick start Ford’s LeMans effort, Ford contracted with Eric Broadley and his Lola company to start developing a midengine sports racer. While the GT40 as it turned out to be, was not, in fact, a rebadged Lola, the GT40 project was based in the UK and that’s where the cars were built.

Click here to view the embedded video.

After some embarrassing fits and starts, it all came together in 1966 for an iconic (and staged) 1,2, 3 finish for Ford at LeMans. Henry Ford II, though, was not satisfied. The winning car was piloted by Bruce McLaren and Chris Amon, Kiwis from New Zealand. Ford wanted an all-American effort. By then, the next generation racer, known internally as the “J Car” was being developed, in Dearborn. One of the first race cars in the 1960s to bear the fruits of wind tunnel testing, what became known as the Mk IV (contemporary records indicate that Ford avoided calling it the GT40 Mk IV, simply the Mk IV) would go on to compete in only two races as rules and corporate interests changed, but it had a perfect record, first winning the 12 hour race at Sebring, Florida and then the summer round the clock race in France. Though it’s shape was refined aerodynamically, it was built just before external wings and other aero devices became commonplace, so while there are NACA ducts, a spoiler and other devices to manage air flow, it’s still a very attractive racing car.

Gurney was having quite possibly the best week of his illustrious racing career. Before winning with Foyt in a Ford at LeMans, Gurney won the Formula 1 race at Spa in Belgium in one of his own Eagles. Not only was it the only time in history that an American won a F1 race in an American car, it is also still the only time in F1 history that a driver has won a race that he constructed. Then he won at LeMans, so he was understandably happy. On the podium, Gurney says that he was “so stoked” that he started to spray the Deuce and other dignitaries with the winners’ champagne, starting a racing tradition that continues, like Gurney’s record in F1, until today.

Spray-It-Again-Dan-Gurney-Poster

One note, though. I’ve sometimes seen it said that Gurney’s spraying of the bubbly started a tradition for sports championships in general. While Gurney introduced the practice to motorsports, he was likely familiar with it from how American baseball teams celebrated winning the pennant and the World Series. North American professional sports teams have been celebrating with champagne for a long time. I’m sure that Lord Stanley’s cup saw at least its share of champagne before the summer of 1967, and I don’t know how many Detroit Tigers were racing fans who saw Gurney’s celebration the year before, but their locker room celebration after winning the American League pennant in 1968 featured plenty of champagne being poured on team members and being sprayed around the room.

Full gallery here

You can see the Gurney bubble on the driver’s side of the roof. Full gallery here

Speaking of bubbles, the 1967 Mk IV is notable for the “Gurney bubble” in its roof. Unlike the “Gurney flap”, which dramatically increased speeds at Indianapolis, the Gurney bubble was not an aerodynamic aid, but rather an accommodation for Gurney’s tall, lanky frame. If you go to any top shelf racing events, you’ll notice that professional race car drivers tend to be a bit like thoroughbred horse jockeys, short and thin. Gurney was an exception (I once asked racing journalist Robin Miller if there were any other tall guys racing besides Michael Waltrip and he replied, “I thought we were talking about racers”).

Dan Gurney taking the checkered flag at LeMans, 1967.

Dan Gurney taking the checkered flag at LeMans, 1967.

When they were developing the prototype and Gurney tried the cockpit on for size, he had to tilt his head just to fit, so the fabricators at Kar Kraft, Ford’s protofab shop in Dearborn, gave that chassis’ roof a bump. The Gurney bubble (not to be confused with a Zagato bubble) is actually pretty complex, going together from contours on the roof panel, the door, and the engine cowl. You may notice that the steering wheel is on the right hand side of the car, which explains why the bubble is on that side of the roof. Though the Mk IV has right hand drive, it was indeed made in the USA.

The LeMans winning Mk IV was back on display at the Ford museum in time for a gala affair honoring Dan Gurney, now 83, on the occasion of being awarded the Edison-Ford medal for his status as a racing innovator.

Henry Ford and his friend, mentor and former employer, Thomas Alva Edison at Greenfield Village.

Henry Ford and his friend, mentor and former employer, Thomas Alva Edison, at Greenfield Village.

Now if you’re under the age of 30 and someone mentions the name Tom Edison, you may be partly excused for associating the inventor-industrialist with the word “douchebag” and the electrocution of elephants as a PR stunt to convince the public that Tesla’s alternating current was dangerous. Edison and his backers were heavily invested in supplying direct current electricity. Yes, Edison was a businessman who did what he could to make himself more powerful. Yes, Nikola Tesla was a brilliant man. Both of those things are true. It’s also true that Edison and his employees in many ways helped invent the modern world and that Mr. Tesla, brilliant though he was, was also bat-guano crazy.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Henry Ford didn’t think Thomas Edison was a douchebag. Henry virtually worshiped the inventor. Edison’s lab at Menlo Park was moved to what is now Greenfield Village. Before it was called The Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village, Henry Ford first named it The Edison Institute in honor of his friend, mentor and onetime employer at the Edison Illuminating Company of Detroit. Henry even spent about a million and a half 1914 era dollars on trying to perfect an electric car powered by Edison’s then new nickel-iron batteries.

Irving Bacon's rendition of the Light's Golden Jubilee banquet in 1929 honoring Thomas Edison. Image courtesy of The Henry Ford.

Irving Bacon’s rendition of the Light’s Golden Jubilee banquet in 1929 honoring Thomas Edison. Image courtesy of The Henry Ford.

A couple of years before Dan Gurney was born, in 1929, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Edison’s electric light bulb Henry Ford held a “Light’s Golden Jubilee” celebration at the opening of the Edison Institute, and invited just about every notable industrialist and scientist to the banquet at his museum honoring Edison. Nine years later, Ford commissioned painter Irving Bacon to memorialize the event with a large oil painting featuring all of the honored guests. It took Bacon seven years to complete the 17′ by 7′ painting that now hangs in the museum’s concourse. Say what you will about Henry Ford and Thomas Edison as human beings, it must have been a remarkable event, with so many of the actual innovators from the “age of invention” all in one place at one time.

Per LeMans rules, the car had to carry a spare tire. The tail lights are from a Chevy Corvair. The fabricators sent someone to the parts store with instructions to buy the lightest tail lights he could get. Full gallery here.

Per LeMans rules, the car had to carry a spare tire. The tail lights are from a Chevy Corvair. The fabricators sent someone to the parts store with instructions to buy the lightest tail lights he could get. Full gallery here.

The repair and conservation of the Mk IV were undertaken because the car had been damaged while in the UK for the Goodwood events. While I’m sure that everything is documented at the Benson Ford Research Center, The Henry Ford institutions’ archive, the museum has been a bit coy about what actually happened to the car. Apparently the car, either by itself or more likely while still in its shipping container, was dropped. It must have been quite a drop because it damaged a car that survived 36 hours of intense racing competition with the only visible damage being a windshield crack and stress cracks in the bodywork from when the celebrating team hopped on the car for a victory lap. Based on what the museum has said, the left side sill panel was crunched and engine mounts were broken. It’s possible that the then innovative aluminum honeycomb based chassis was also damaged.

Carroll Shelby managed Ford's LeMans effort. The lanky Texan probably needed the Gurney bubble too. Shelby said that he had the car repainted after the 1967 race and it's a good guess that he also took it for a post-race spin or two, so not all the grime on the car today is necessarily French.

Carroll Shelby managed Ford’s LeMans effort and was the titular car owner for the race. The lanky Texan probably also needed the Gurney bubble to fit in the cockpit. Shelby said that he had the car repainted after the 1967 race for the show circuit and it’s a good guess that he also took it for a post-race spin or two, so not all the grime on the car today is necessarily French.

The museum has stressed that it was a conservation to how the car was when it came off the la Sarthe circuit in 1967. According to what Carroll Shelby said a few decades ago though, that may not strictly be true. Now ‘Ol Shel was not adverse to stretching some truths so take it with a grain of salt, but the car was entered in the LeMans race by Shelby American, which managed Ford’s LeMans effort. Theoretically Shelby owned the car and when it got back to his shop in California, he said that he pulled the big block V8 engine out to dyno test it and discovered that it had actually gained 5 horsepower from before the race. Racing at full throttle for 24 hours had done a great job of breaking in the engine. Shelby also said that the car was resprayed for the show circuit, so some of the grime on the car today may not have actually come from France.

Shelby eventually returned the car to Ford Motor Company, which in turn donated it to the museum, where it sat largely untouched until it was damaged in England.

Dan Gurney and his LeMans winning Ford Mk IV at the Henry Ford Museum, 2014. Photo courtesy of The Henry Ford.

Dan Gurney and his LeMans winning Ford Mk IV at the Henry Ford Museum, 2014. Photo courtesy of The Henry Ford.

The car is still very original. During the conservation, retired Ford LeMans team engineer Mose Newland was brought in to consult and he identified a number of ancillaries on the engine being color coded indicating that they were original equipment. He also said that the unique way that safety wires were twisted said to him that the engine and car was original, as raced at LeMans.

Bent aluminum panels were left untouched in the conservation. Full gallery here.

Bent aluminum panels and stress cracks from the LeMans race were left untouched in the conservation. Full gallery here.

A couple of things that weren’t repaired were the panel cracks from the victory lap and the cracked windshield, along with some bent panels in the aero duct in the car’s hood. In 1967, the racing team had a problem with windshields repeatedly cracking and apparently they had to have some emergency air freighted to France from Dearborn, no small or inexpensive task in 1967. Though a replacement windshield was fabricated during the conservation, it was decided to leave the car’s racing scars intact. Like with the Liberty Bell, once a crack starts, it’s hard to stop it and should the Mk IV’s original windshield completely break, the museum has a replacement ready.

Click here to view the embedded video.


Click in the setting icon in the YouTube player menu bar to select 2D or 3D formats.

In an era when almost every car that is restored is rebuilt to a standard well beyond how it departed the factory, it’s nice to see folks treat a piece of history like a piece of history.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can get a parallax view at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

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New York Times: Police Use of Civil Forfeiture Targets Cars, Criminals Perhaps Less So http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/new-york-times-police-use-civil-forfeiture-targets-cars-criminals-perhaps-less/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/new-york-times-police-use-civil-forfeiture-targets-cars-criminals-perhaps-less/#comments Wed, 12 Nov 2014 16:39:14 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=944385 Perhaps if it was published somewhere else it might have been dismissed as a libertarian rant, but an article in the New York Times about police abuse of civil forfeiture laws, where innocent property owners face the task of proving that their property hasn’t been used illegally (something that seems at odds with the American […]

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Click here to view the embedded video.

Perhaps if it was published somewhere else it might have been dismissed as a libertarian rant, but an article in the New York Times about police abuse of civil forfeiture laws, where innocent property owners face the task of proving that their property hasn’t been used illegally (something that seems at odds with the American concept of innocent until proven guilty) is getting a lot of attention. Video of seminars teaching cops and prosecutors how to seize private property have surfaced and they make it seem like law enforcement is less concerned with, well, law enforcement than they are with taking your stuff. Instructions like, “If in doubt… take it!” don’t make it seem like justice is a concern. What was intended by legislators as a means to go after the tools of illegal trades has become a method of padding budgets, buying cop toys and, in what would surely be seen by prosecutors as at the very least a conflict of interest if it was in the private sector, paying the salaries of prosecutors who handle civil forfeiture cases. The Times story revels disturbing practices like wish lists of property to be seized. High on the lists are cars. Can you prove that your car wasn’t used for a crime? The government wins 96% of civil forfeiture cases.

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Comments made on at one of those seminars by Harry Connelly Jr., Las Cruces, New Mexico’s city attorney have prompted the description of “policing for profit”.

From the NYT:

The seminars offered police officers some useful tips on seizing property from suspected criminals. Don’t bother with jewelry (too hard to dispose of) and computers (“everybody’s got one already”), the experts counseled. Do go after flat screen TVs, cash and cars. Especially nice cars.

In one seminar, captured on video in September, Harry S. Connelly Jr., the city attorney of Las Cruces, N.M., called them “little goodies.” And then Mr. Connelly described how officers in his jurisdiction could not wait to seize one man’s “exotic vehicle” outside a local bar.

“A guy drives up in a 2008 Mercedes, brand new,” he explained. “Just so beautiful, I mean, the cops were undercover and they were just like ‘Ahhhh.’ And he gets out and he’s just reeking of alcohol. And it’s like, ‘Oh, my goodness, we can hardly wait.’ ”

Click here to view the embedded video.

If that attitude raises your blood pressure, don’t watch these other civil forfeiture seminar videos at Buzzfeed. Prosecutors can even get continuing legal education credit for attending what are advertised as “entertaining” classes on how lawmen and lawwomen can legally steal your property. At one of those CLE courses, Mercer County, New Jersey prosecutor Sean McMurtry teaches his colleagues how to overcome the fact that the owner of a car is innocent, that in fact criminals don’t own most of the cars they seize, and to use a policy of “If in doubt… take it!”

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Junkyard Find: 1979 Subaru BRAT http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/junkyard-find-1979-subaru-brat-2/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/junkyard-find-1979-subaru-brat-2/#comments Wed, 12 Nov 2014 14:00:26 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=943729 Where I live (Denver), wrecking yards overflow with old Subarus. I walk past junked early-80s Leones (or GLs or whatever Subaru’s confusing naming conventions of the era were) all the time, but I’ll always stop and photograph a BRAT. So far in this series, the BRAT roster includes this ’79, this ’84, this ’82, and […]

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19 - 1979 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinWhere I live (Denver), wrecking yards overflow with old Subarus. I walk past junked early-80s Leones (or GLs or whatever Subaru’s confusing naming conventions of the era were) all the time, but I’ll always stop and photograph a BRAT. So far in this series, the BRAT roster includes this ’79, this ’84, this ’82, and this Sawzall-converted ’86. Last week, I spotted another example, and it still had its Chicken Tax-dodgin’ jump seats.
02 - 1979 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinYes, the personal-injury lawyers loved these seats, but they let Subaru evade the 25% tariff on imported light trucks.
14 - 1979 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinRemember AOL CD spam? This car still has one!
10 - 1979 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinIt’s somewhat rusty (I know, Midwesterners, you don’t consider this to be true rust), but could have been kept on the road a while longer.
15 - 1979 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinCorn stopped by.
17 - 1979 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe condition of the seats and the AOL disc suggest lengthy outdoor storage of a nondriving vehicle.

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Junkyard Find: 1990 Geo Metro LSi Convertible http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/junkyard-find-1990-geo-metro-lsi-convertible/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/junkyard-find-1990-geo-metro-lsi-convertible/#comments Tue, 11 Nov 2014 14:00:44 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=943265 GM and Ford sold quite a few of their badge-engineered micro-import gas-sippers (the Kia Pride aka Ford Festiva/Aspire and Suzuki Cultus aka Chevy Sprint/Geo Metro) in the 1980s and 1990s, and that means that I see a lot of these cars in the junkyard these days. It takes a special Metro to warrant inclusion here— […]

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05 - 1990 Geo Metro LSi Convertible Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee MartinGM and Ford sold quite a few of their badge-engineered micro-import gas-sippers (the Kia Pride aka Ford Festiva/Aspire and Suzuki Cultus aka Chevy Sprint/Geo Metro) in the 1980s and 1990s, and that means that I see a lot of these cars in the junkyard these days. It takes a special Metro to warrant inclusion here— so far we’ve seen this ’90 Metro El Camino, this ’92 LSi convertible, this electric-powered ’95 Metro, and this ’91 Suzuki Swift so far, plus this bonus Honda CBR1000-powered LeMons race-winning Metro— and I think a happy yellow LSi convertible is more interesting than your ordinary Geozuki.
11 - 1990 Geo Metro LSi Convertible Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee MartinThe demographic group in California (where I photographed this car) most likely to drive a 24-year-old Geo also happens to overlap with groups most likely to buy Deadline fashions. Here in Colorado, you’d be more likely to see Grenade Gloves stickers on such a car.
06 - 1990 Geo Metro LSi Convertible Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee MartinThis style of automotive tape graphics peaked in the late 1980s and early 1990s, though Chrysler kept going with them well into the late 1990s.
08 - 1990 Geo Metro LSi Convertible Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee MartinYou’ll find one in every car, kid. You’ll see.

We’ve all seen the US-market Metro ads by now, so let’s go to the car’s homeland. Can any of you Japanese speakers tell us what’s happening here?

Such a happy little car!

There was a Cultus Esteem.

In Canada, it was the Pontiac Firefly.

In Australia, it was the Holden Barina.

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Editorial: A Tale Of Two Cities http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/editorial-tale-two-cities/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/editorial-tale-two-cities/#comments Mon, 10 Nov 2014 18:03:13 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=943617 Two weeks ago, residents of the Windsor, Ontario region learned that Ford would not be bringing a new engine program to the two Ford assembly plants in the area. Although the small engine program was a long-shot from the start (it had apparently been destined for Mexico, but union officials tried to “steal it away”), […]

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Two weeks ago, residents of the Windsor, Ontario region learned that Ford would not be bringing a new engine program to the two Ford assembly plants in the area. Although the small engine program was a long-shot from the start (it had apparently been destined for Mexico, but union officials tried to “steal it away”), news reports and enthusiastic publicity campaigns from union head Jerry Dias had given the impression that the new engine deal was all but sewn up. For residents of the auto-dependent city, with an unemployment rate of 8.9 percent (compared to 6.5 percent nationally), the decision was a blow to their collective morale.

A few hundred miles away, the stage was being set for an announcement by Honda Canada. A small car program would be coming to their plant in Alliston, north of Toronto, worth $857 million (CAD). The government would contribute about 10 percent of that. In return for the government grant,

“…Honda Canada will not only be the first plant in the world to launch the next generation Civic into mass production, but will be responsible for developing the manufacturing processes and tooling trials that will form the manufacturing base at all Honda plants globally that will build the next Civic model.”

 

 

While no new jobs will be created from this investment, it does safeguard the future of Alliston for a considerable amount of time. The Honda announcement also embodies two trends at play in Canada. The first is that big subsidies for auto manufacturing plants are on the decline for now. Ford’s small engine plant was apparently hobbled by a “big ask” from the Blue Oval. Honda’s grant, at around $85 million, is relatively small. Chrysler got nothing during their most recent attempt to get governments to chip in for a revamped Windsor minivan plant. In the end, they went ahead with Windsor anyways. Many in the pro-union camp argue that generous subsidies are the only way to attract auto investment and compete with the Southern United States and Mexico, who are keen to throw money at any auto assembly plant coming their way.

But the past year has seen Canada go from “the most expensive place to build a car” to a jurisdiction with a currency that now sits at roughly 10-15 percent lower than the U.S. dollar. This reduces labor costs while making exports more competitive for Canada, while reducing the outright need for generous government “investment” (though don’t think that will stop auto makers from trying). What was once considered a dying sector propped up by government cash now appears to have a future. Sort of.

GM is still almost certain to pull out of Oshawa in 2016, once their obligation to the Canadian government runs out. Ontario has also failed to attract a brand-new assembly plant since Toyota opened their Woodstock plant roughly a decade ago. But Ford has invested nearly $1 billion in the Oakville plant that produces the Edge, and Toyota is going to start producing the Lexus RX in Cambridge. Chrysler will not only build the next-generation minivan in Windsor, but its Brampton plant will likely crank out the 300, Charger and Challenger until the end of the decade.

For a stretch of time, Ontario looked to be the next Australia, with its auto manufacturing sector driven out by exorbitant costs (some of them related to a commodity-driven economy). But for now, things appear to be on the up.

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Junkyard Find: 1976 Plymouth Volaré Sedan http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/junkyard-find-1976-plymouth-volare-sedan/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/junkyard-find-1976-plymouth-volare-sedan/#comments Mon, 10 Nov 2014 14:00:12 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=942913 The Dodge Aspen/Plymouth Volaré won the Motor Trend Car of the Year award for 1976, and they spent a good decade among the most commonplace vehicles on American roads. Then just about all of them disappeared, no doubt as they depreciated well below scrap value in about ten years. However, the occasional odds-beating survivor shows […]

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14 - 1976 Plymouth Volare Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Dodge Aspen/Plymouth Volaré won the Motor Trend Car of the Year award for 1976, and they spent a good decade among the most commonplace vehicles on American roads. Then just about all of them disappeared, no doubt as they depreciated well below scrap value in about ten years. However, the occasional odds-beating survivor shows up in wrecking yards now and then; we’ve seen this ’76 Aspen sedan, this brown-on-beige ’77 Volaré coupe and this ’77 Volaré Premier wagon, and now today’s ’76 Volaré sedan. This one shows evidence of having sat for the last decade or so, but still managed to rack up many more miles than most of its Civic and Corolla contemporaries.
22 - 1976 Plymouth Volare Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinIt’s always interesting to find old newspapers in junkyard cars; they let you know about when the car last functioned as a semi-usable vehicle. This ’65 Chevy Bel Air had a bunch of 1982 Denver papers, this ’60 Plymouth Valiant wagon had a few 1970 issues of the San Francisco Chronicle, and today’s Junkyard Find came with a trunk full of 2004 issues from the now-long-defunct Rocky Mountain News.
24 - 1976 Plymouth Volare Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinCertain topics haven’t left the editorial pages for decades.
20 - 1976 Plymouth Volare Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis comic was important enough to the car’s previous owner to have warranted clipping and stashing in the glovebox.
04 - 1976 Plymouth Volare Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinChrysler used this style of AM radio for most of the 1970s; I had one in my ex-water-company ’73 Plymouth Fury.
06 - 1976 Plymouth Volare Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Aspen/Volaré was the successor to the incredibly successful Dart/Valiant series, but its quality problems and notorious recalls nearly destroyed Chrysler.
09 - 1976 Plymouth Volare Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinSlant-6 engine with great big two-cylinder air-conditioning compressor. A friend of mine used to make and sell cut-rate shop air-compressors using these things.
02 - 1976 Plymouth Volare Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe steering wheel was a lot snazzier than your typical Valiant’s.

Toyota used the Volaré as an example of what not to buy in their ’78 ads. This one must have made Lee Iacocca livid.

A “special” suspension!

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Priceless Mustang I Concept Almost Damaged in Car Show Incident http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/priceless-mustang-concept-almost-damaged-car-show-incident/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/priceless-mustang-concept-almost-damaged-car-show-incident/#comments Sat, 08 Nov 2014 15:41:19 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=942129 If you go to enough museums and car shows around Detroit, sooner or later you’ll get to see the Mustang I concept of 1962, normally on display at the Henry Ford Museum’s Driving America exhibit, and the Mustang II concept of 1963, which is owned by the Detroit Historical Museum. For example, the Mustang I […]

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Full gallery here

If you go to enough museums and car shows around Detroit, sooner or later you’ll get to see the Mustang I concept of 1962, normally on display at the Henry Ford Museum’s Driving America exhibit, and the Mustang II concept of 1963, which is owned by the Detroit Historical Museum. For example, the Mustang I was part of Ford’s display at the 2014 North American International Auto Show. Though the Historical Museum’s building doesn’t have much space for car displays, its own proto-Mustang is frequently loaned out and just a few weeks before these photos were taken, the car was on display in Flint at the Sloan Museum’s Auto Fair. Since I’ve shot the Mustang II concept a couple of times before, when I was at the Sloan show, I didn’t bother taking any photos of it that day. However, because the two cars are owned by different institutions, getting a chance to see and photograph both of the first two Mustang concept cars together is a rare thing. Getting to see both of those cars together, along with an early short wheelbase two seat Mustang show car that Ford adopted and renamed the Mustang III, may have been a unique experience.  The “shorty” Mustang III only started being shown again, after almost a half century, in 2013, so this may well have been the first time these three cars were displayed together.

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1962 Mustang I concept car. Full gallery here

All three Mustang concepts were on display at the Ford Product Development Center Employees’ Car Show held on the grounds of the PDC in Dearborn. Babysitting the Mustang I was Matt Anderson, who is the transportation curator at the Henry Ford Museum and a representative of the Detroit Historical Museum was there to keep an eye on the Mustang II. The Mustang III has been in private hands ever since the original owner bought if from Ford’s insurance company after the car had been stolen by its designer to save it from the crusher and was later recovered.

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Mustang III (AKA Shorty) concept car. Full gallery here

That’s a great story, but it will have to keep for another day because this post is about how my grandson almost damaged a priceless piece of automotive history.

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1963 Mustang II concept car. Full gallery here

Anderson wasn’t the only babysitter there that day. I typically watch my grandson Aryeh at least once a week. He’ll be three years old next spring and sometimes schedules conflict and I end up having to take him to some kind of car event like the battery and EV expo last year or the PDC car show, which is held on a weekday. It usually works out. I use his stroller as a camera cart and since he’s a fairly well mannered child, he usually doesn’t fuss much. Besides, he likes cars and trucks. As cute and charming as he is, owners of cars on display will often let him sit behind the steering wheel. As a result, I have a series of photos of Aryeh in the drivers’ seats of a variety of cars, some of them fairly exotic. When he’s old enough to drive, he can tell his friends that he was once behind the wheel of an Alfa Romeo Montreal.

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The Montreal was just one of the vehicles at the PDC that Aryeh got to sit in. There was a 1955 Ford four door that had had the roof removed in a conversion to a Coca Cola themed soda shop and a couple of vintage tractors. Aryeh even got to sit in the tub of a Formula SAE racer. Like I said, he’s a charming kid.

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“But how will you hydrate during the race with that thing in your mouth?”

He’s also a quick leaner, though in this case, he learned the wrong thing, that it’s okay to touch cars at a car show.

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Matt Anderson and I have a very cordial working relationship and I make it a point to greet him when I notice that he’s at an event that I’m attending. At the corral of historic Mustangs I started to talk with Anderson and then had a discussion with the historical museum’s representative about the status of the city of Detroit owned museum’s car collection vis a vis the city’s financial bankruptcy. One of the issues of that bankruptcy has been the status and disposition of the Detroit Institute of Arts billion dollar plus collection, also owned by the city. I’ve written about the possibility that the six dozen or so historically significant cars that the DHM owns, cars with unparalleled provenance, might have to be sold off to satisfy the city’s creditors and I wanted to know his opinion. While we were engaged in conversation, Aryeh  walked over towards the cars and it wasn’t until he got past the rope barrier and started to climb up onto the Mustang I that we noticed where he was headed.

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Very little of the Mustang I concept made it to the production car. The Mustang I was a mid-engine two-seat sports car with a V4 engine, not a “secretary’s car” as many of the first generation production Mustangs were, nor a V8 powered muscle car, into which the Mustang developed. However, one styling feature on the first Mustang concept made it to the production car and it continues to be found on the latest Mustangs, the coving on the car’s flanks. The Mustang I’s coves, though are much deeper than on the actual Mustangs, there’s about a 4 inch wide shelf in the fiberglass.

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Just as we spotted him, Aryeh put one foot on the cove shelf and, using the frameless window glass of the speedster styled roadster as a grab handle, he hoisted himself up onto the car. We could see the one-off window start to flex. Matt and I dashed towards the car and I gently lifted my grandson from it before he managed to damage anything. It’s a good thing that the Mustang I was a fully engineered, operational automobile, built to at least withstand the rigors of test track driving, because the door and window appear to be a bit more substantial than what you’d find on a “pushmobile” concept.

To be honest, I know that Anderson is a nice man but I was surprised at his equanimity. The car may not belong to him but he was responsible for it and I’m sure that if it got damaged while under his supervision there’d be consequences. He took his handkerchief out and wiped some smudges off of the window glass.

A couple of weeks later I ran into Matt while he was the reviewing stand’s master of ceremonies at Greenfield Village’s Old Car Festival. I thanked him for being so kind to my grandson, saying that I could see the owner of some mundane 1964 1/2 Mustang screaming at Aryeh and going off on me for a toddler just touching their car. The museum curator laughed and said that the only damage was some “tiny fingerprints”.

Thus my grandson avoided becoming a footnote in automotive history and I got a story to tell you.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can get a parallax view at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

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A Man Who Wears the Texaco Star and the Man Behind the Jingle http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/man-wears-texaco-star-man-behind-jingle/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/man-wears-texaco-star-man-behind-jingle/#comments Fri, 07 Nov 2014 14:45:19 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=936074 Brian Saylor has managed to combine two of his passions, old trucks and Texaco memorabilia. You can see him at Detroit area car shows with his Texaco trucks,  Texaco gasoline pump and assorted Texaco merchandise, with Saylor dressed in the uniform that Texaco service station employees would have worn a couple of generations ago. Yes, […]

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Full gallery here

Brian Saylor has managed to combine two of his passions, old trucks and Texaco memorabilia. You can see him at Detroit area car shows with his Texaco trucks,  Texaco gasoline pump and assorted Texaco merchandise, with Saylor dressed in the uniform that Texaco service station employees would have worn a couple of generations ago. Yes, Virginia, there was a time when gas station employees wore uniforms and they actually serviced your car.  They even sang songs about them. Okay, so they were advertising jingles, but I bet most Americans over the age of 50 recognize, “You can trust your car to the man who wears the star, the big bright Texaco star.”

Click here to view the embedded video.

About ten years ago Saylor  bought a 1937 Ford dump truck that had been sitting in a Nebraska field for more than a quarter century. It was pretty rough, the engine was seized, but the body was in decent shape and it still had the power-take-off unit that ran the hydraulics for the dump bed. He stripped it down to the frame, which he had sandblasted and powder coated. The truck is a bit of a resto-mod. He was planning on it being a driver, not a trailer queen so he replaced the mechanical brakes (Henry Ford wasn’t a fan of hydraulic brakes so Ford used mechanical linkages for their stoppers well into the 1930s) with a hydraulic system. What was supposed to be a freshly rebuilt flathead V8 turned out to indeed rebuilt but with the rear main bearing installed backwards resulting in another seized engine.

Once that engine was rebuilt again the project picked up steam. On a trip to the big vintage car meet in Hershey, Pennsylvania Saylor saw an old tank truck and got the idea to turn his ’37 Ford into a Texaco fuel oil delivery truck. After some initial testing yielded a top speed of just 40 mph due to the the truck’s 1:6.67 final drive ratio, Saylor retrofitted a full floating rear axle from a 1983 Ford F-350 Super Duty pickup with 3.54 gears.  “Now I can go faster without the engine turning 10,000 rpm,” Sayler quips, though I doubt a Flathead Ford V8 has ever turned 10,000 rpm.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Of course a proper service station back then would have actually done service and repairs and if they did repairs they needed a “parts truck”, something to run to the auto parts store. Towards that role playing end, Saylor’s also restored a 1967 Ford Econoline pickup.

In real life Saylor manages the engineering laboratory of Gabriel shock absorbers, is married to Angie and they have a teenaged son. The Saylors make car shows a family affair, setting up their traveling service station and talking to folks waxing nostalgic.

That hospitality reflects Brian’s roots as a self-professed “southern boy”. Saylor lived in South Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama and Florida before moving to Michigan in the late 1990s. He told the Ford & Mercury Restorers’ Club bulletin,  “I haven’t lost nor want to lose my southern ways,” though for someone who describes himself as “addicted” to restoring Ford trucks, the move has had its benefits.

A lot cuter than those creepy "Cry baby" dolls people lean on bumpers at car shows.

Whoever’s exceptionally cute and charming child this is*, he’s a lot cuter than those creepy “Cry baby” dolls people lean on bumpers at car shows. Full gallery here

As expected, when they see Saylor, his trucks and his display, a lot of folks mention that old advertising slogan. Many remember the jingle, but few know who created it. Roy Eaton, first at the Young & Rubicam ad agency and later at Benton & Bowles, helped shape mid-century American popular culture and he was responsible for the slogan and the melody of the jingle that accompanied it. The first black man to have a creative role at a major U.S. ad agency, Eaton was also one of the first in the ad business to use jazz music in commercials. In addition to his memorable and catchy jingle for Texaco, he also coined the phrase “Can’t get enough o’ that Sugar Crisp” and it was his idea to have the Sugar Bear character that promoted the cereal effect a Dean Martin persona.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Born in Harlem, Eaton’s father was a mechanic and his mother was a domestic worker who had immigrated from Jamaica. Though he lost part of a finger in an accident when he was three years old, he took up classical piano at the age of six. By his teens he had played Carnegie Hall. Graduating from New York City’s High School of Music and Art, he then completed, simultaneously, degrees from CCNY and the Manhattan School of Music. He won a scholarship to study in Switzerland and upon his return he won a Chopin Award and was awarded a musicology fellowship at Yale.

Click here to view the embedded video.

While in the Army during the Korean War, he wrote and produced programs for Armed Forces Radio. After his discharge, he hired in to Young and Rubicam as a copywriter and composer for jingles. He’s reported to have been responsible for 75% of the music produced at Y&R during the first two years he was at the agency. The companies whose accounts that he worked on are a veritable who’s who of the business world, including Jello, Cheer detergent, Johnson & Johnson, Post cereals, General Electric. Spic and Span and Beech Nut Gum. He didn’t just write the music, he wrote the taglines as well. The music he wrote was contemporary and innovative for the ad business, incorporating themes and sounds from what at the time was considered the modern jazz of Miles Davis, Charlie Parker and Thelonius Monk.

Click here to view the embedded video.

In the  late 1950s, after barely surviving an automobile accident killed his new bride and left him seriously injured, Eaton took the job of music director at the Benton & Bowles agency. It was there that he wrote the Sugar Crisp jingle, music for toys like GI Joe and Mr. Potato Head, Yuban coffee and, “Hardee’s, Best Eatin’ in Town”. After staying with that agency for more than three decades, in 1980 he opened his own music production company and returned to the concert stage. An enthsusiast of meditation, his 1986 solo concert, The Meditative Chopin, at Lincoln Center was praised by the New York Times, “The cumulative effect was deeply satisfying. One came much closer to the heart of Chopin—and by extension, to music itself”. He’s performed internationally and recorded albums of the compositions of Chopin, George Gershwin, Scott Joplin and others. His own compositions have been on the soundtracks of feature films. On the faculty of his alma mater, the Manhattan School of Music, in 2010 he’s was inducted into the Advertising Hall of Fame.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Eaton credits his success to a lesson taught by his mother. She told him that in order to succeed in the face of the racial prejudice that was unfortunately common in his youth, he ““needed to do 200% to get credit for 100%”. “So,” Roy says, “that became my lifetime mantra.”

Click here to view the embedded video.

Roy Eaton’s talent for crafting jingles continues to resonate today. A black man from Harlem and a southern boy share a common chord. If it hadn’t been for Eaton’s jingle more than 50 years ago I’m not sure that Brian Saylor would be dressing up as “the man who wears the star” today.

*Photo taken with parents’ permission given in exchange for providing Zayde services.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can get a parallax view at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

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Coast to Coast 2014: Driving Old Route 66 (Part 2) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/coast-coast-2014-driving-old-route-66-part-2/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/coast-coast-2014-driving-old-route-66-part-2/#comments Thu, 06 Nov 2014 16:11:14 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=942265 Honda-proud in Shamrock TX * You can see all my USA Coast to Coast Reports here! * Check out Part 1 of this Old Route 66 Report here Now that I have shared with you my impressions on the local vehicle landscape and bit of history about the Old Route 66, it’s time to get straight into it […]

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Biker Shamrock TXHonda-proud in Shamrock TX

You can see all my USA Coast to Coast Reports here! *

Check out Part 1 of this Old Route 66 Report here

Now that I have shared with you my impressions on the local vehicle landscape and bit of history about the Old Route 66, it’s time to get straight into it and explore a few roadside highlights. We will be covering the Oklahoma section of Route 66 including Texola, then Shamrock TX, Amarillo TX, Tucumcari NM, Albuquerque NM, ending at Gallup NM. The full details on these stops and 40 pictures are below.

17. Ram 1500 Albert Shamrock TXAlbert in Shamrock TX

2. Drivethru Laundry Elk City OKDrive-thru Laundry in Elk City OK

1. Oklahoma

This section of Route 66 from Oklahoma City to the Texan border is for the most part unmarked, partly because many of the brown-and-white Historic Route 66 signs have been stolen, but also because the road now goes by a variety of other names. Luckily, the friendly staff at the Clinton Oklahoma Route 66 Museum provided us with a very detailed booklet with which it was virtually impossible to miss out on any worthwhile roadside highlights. We are plunged into the legend of Route 66 at the modern Lucille’s Roadhouse, granted not a remnant from the times when the Route was fully exploited, but complete with a very useful panorama of the Route’s highlights by state all the way to Los Angeles, countless memorabilia and great dinner and breakfast.

3. Route 66 Museum Elk City OKRoute 66 Museum in Elk City OK

The Clinton Route 66 Museum gets us up to speed on all aspects of the history of Route 66 as well as its impact on the wider automotive world, a section I have covered in detail in Part 1 of this dedicated Route 66 Report. Thirty miles further down the Route, the National Route 66 Museum in Elk City is a lot more commercial and a lot less appealing.

4. Oil Change Sayre OKTruck & R.V. Oil Change in Sayre OK

Passing through sleepy Sayre and Erick is the opportunity to take in a different rhythm and true American countryside. For the first time in this Coast to Coast trip, I discover the existence of drive-thru laundry and drive-thru ATMs, establishments long gone in Australia where I live, let alone in France where I grew up. The existence of such commodities, though entertaining to me, is also a fascinating insight into communities truly centred around the use of the car as, by far, the main (only?) way to get by.

5. Texola OK2Texola OK

The last town on the Oklahoman part of Route 66 is Texola, less than a mile off the Texas state line, and a dust devil away from being a ghost town. Eerie abandoned or semi-abandoned buildings coexist with sleepy country houses while road trains break the deafening silence as they shift gears, preparing for the only stop sign in town.

10. Texas State LineTexas State Line after Texola OK

8. Texola OKTexola OK

9. Drivethru ATM Elk City OKDrive-thru ATM in Elk City OK

6. Route 66 mapTypical Route 66 map, courtesy of the Oklahoma Route 66 Association

7. Ram 1500 Albert Foss OKAlbert near Foss OK

11. U Drop inn Shamrock TXU-Drop Inn and Tower station in Shamrock TX

2. U-Drop Inn and Tower Station in Shamrock TX

The first striking roadside landmark in Texas is 16 miles into the state: the U-Drop Inn and Tower Station in Shamrock. When it opened on April 1, 1936, the U-Drop Inn was the only café within 100 miles of Shamrock, and the local newspaper considered it as “the swankiest of the swank eating places”. The building shape is inspired by the image of a nail stuck in soil and it features two flared towers with geometric detailing, curvilinear massing, glazed ceramic tile walls, and neon light accents. The U-Drop Inn inaugurates a very pleasing habit we will see all along Route 66: parking vintage cars or truck next to the roadside highlights add a certain flair to all these stops.

14. Chevy Truck Shamrock TX1937 Chevy Pickup Truck parked in front of the U-Drop Inn Café

The building has traditionally held two separate businesses: “Tower Station”, a gas station on the western side that used to sell Conoco-branded fuel (hence the “Conoco” signage on the highest tower), and the “U-Drop Inn”, a café on the eastern side. Despite the work of time and various owners, these two sides have consistently housed the same types of businesses they were originally designed for. That is while it was open for business up until the late 1990s. After being listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1997, the building was purchased by the First National Bank of Shamrock, which then gave it to the city, which in turn restored it thanks to a US$1.7 million federal grant. It now operates as a museum, visitors’ center, gift shop, and the city’s chamber of commerce. Unfortunately it was closed for the day by the time we hit it.

16. Biker Shamrock TXReady to roll – In Shamrock TX

A group of bikers were getting ready to get back on their Route 66 trip towards Oklahoma City as Albert parked near the U-Drop Inn and that made for a very friendly banter, exchanging notes, itineraries and highlights so far. A last bit of trivia on this building: the 2006 Pixar computer-animated film Cars, set in the cartoon village of Radiator Springs but inspired by real Route 66 landmarks, has its own version of Tower Station: U-Drop Inn’s unique design and architecture is portrayed as an automotive body shop owned by the character Ramone, a Chevrolet Impala lowrider.

13. Old and New Shamrock TXOld and New – in Shamrock TX

12. Western Motel Shamrock TXTypical traffic passing the Western Motel across the road from U-Drop Inn, Shamrock TX 

19. Magnolia Shamrock TXInside the Magnolia gas station in Shamrock TX

3. Magnolia gas station in Shamrock TX

The other landmark in Shamrock TX, set away from the actual Route 66, is the Magnolia gas station. This is a perfect example of a faithful restoration that isn’t overdone. If the U-Drop Inn, although splendid, can arguably appear ‘too new’ in its restoration, the Magnolia gas station in Shamrock is astounding in that it looks beautiful but rusty enough to appear like it is still open for business.

21. GMC Fire Truck Shamrock TXGMC Fire Truck in Shamrock TX

22. GMC Fire truck detail Shamrock TXGMC Fire Truck detail in Shamrock TX

18. Ram 1500 Shamrock TXAlbert posing in front of the Magnolia gas station in Shamrock TX

Our experience here was heightened by the fact that the building appeared to be left unattended as we were snapping hundreds of pics of Albert posing next to it. It literally was as if we could take over the business and get it all started again, ready for customers and vacationers eager for a fresh drink, an ice-cream or some gas. The interior of the building, a simple room complete with an epoch cash resister and a list of tire prices along with hundreds of details left untouched since the golden time of Route 66, is a little gem as well. Unmissable if you get to this part of the country.

23. Cadillac Ranch Amarillo TXCadillac Ranch in Amarillo TX

4. Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo TX

At the opposite end of the Magnolia gas station (taste-wise?), another interesting Route 66 landmark in Texas is Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo. I say ‘interesting’ because although a Top 5 landmark on all Route 66 guides, this is actually no more than an art installation located on private land a fair bit away from any road yet accessible to the public. As a result, it is virtually impossible to find once night falls as there are no signs pointing to it nor is it lit at night… Interesting, indeed.

40. Cadillac Ranch Amarillo TXCadillac Ranch, Amarillo TX

Never mind, a morning visit showed a very colourful, striking and oh so American-symbolic display of 10 Cadillacs half-buried nose-first in the ground, representing a number of evolutions of the car line from 1949 to 1963, most notably the birth and death of the defining feature of mid twentieth century Cadillacs: the tail fins. The angle at which they are buried supposedly is the same as the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt (what the…?). The main feature of this installation is the fact that writing graffiti on or spray painting the vehicles is encouraged, and boy is there some serious spray painting action going on, with various layers of paint on each cars sometimes as thick as 5 inches, and hundreds of spray paint can carelessly left behind on site.

41. Cadillac Ranch Amarillo TXNot (very) impressed… At Cadillac Ranch, Amarillo TX

Let’s finish on some trivia of course: the installation was quietly moved in 1997 by a local contractor to a location two miles to the west, to a cow pasture along Interstate 40, in order to place it farther from the limits of the growing city, both sites belonging to the local millionaire Stanley Marsh 3, the patron of the project. The cars are periodically repainted various colours: once white for the filming of a television commercial, another time pink in honor of Stanley’s wife Wendy’s birthday, another time all 10 cars were painted flat black to mark the passing of Ant Farm artist Doug Michels, in 2012 they were painted rainbow colors to commemorate gay pride day. New paint jobs traditionally last less than 24 hours without fresh graffiti…

35. New Mexico State LineNew Mexico State Line

25. Blue Swallow Motel Tucumcari NM

24. Blue Swallow Motel Tucumcari NMBlue Swallow Motel in Tucumcari NM

5. Blue Swallow Motel in Tucumcari NM

We now cross into New Mexico to reach Tucumcari. The most iconic roadside hotel in town (on Route 66?) is the Blue Swallow Motel. Built in 1939 and opened in 1941, it was originally called the Blue Swallow Court, but quickly renamed to Blue Swallow Motel when the property was updated with neon signage proclaiming “TV” and “100% Refrigerated Air”. In the Pixar animated film Cars, neon lighting at the Cozy Cone Motel displays Blue Swallow’s “100% Refrigerated Air” slogan. Named by Smithsonian Magazine as “the last, best and friendliest of the old-time motels”, the Blue Swallow Motel remains in profitable operation today, with each room including vintage lighting and period furniture and complete with a 1950s Pontiac Eight parked in front. Unfortunately I didn’t get to stay in as it only has 18 rooms which were fully booked.

27. Ram 1500 GMC Sierra Tucumcari NMAlbert + GMC Sierra in Tucumcari NM

29. Care for your car Tucumcari NMIn Tucumcari NM

30. Palomino Hotel Tucumcari NMPalomino Motel, Tucumcari NM

31. Ram 1500 Tucumcari NMDoesn’t get any more iconic than this…

32. Studebaker Champion Tucumcari NMStudebaker Champion in Tucumcari NM

33. Ram 1500 Tucumcari NMAlbert in Tucumcari NM

26. Ram 1500 Albert Tucumcari NMAlbert + Pontiac Bonneville in Tucumcari NM

34. Plymouth Special Deluxe Tucumcari NMPlymouth Special Deluxe in Tucumcari NM

6. Main street in Tucumcari NM

With Old Route 66 running through the heart of Tucumcari, the rest of town is the most picture perfect collection of epoch gas stations and motels I have found along the road, with many old-timers parked on the sidewalks for all to admire. Studebacker Champion, Plymouth Special Deluxe… you name it, it is probably on display here. Indeed, a large number of the vintage motels and restaurants built in the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s are still in business today despite intense competition from newer chain motels and restaurants in the vicinity of Interstate 40, which passes through the city’s outskirts on the south.The obligatory bit of trivia about Tucumcari has to mention the billboards reading “TUCUMCARI TONITE!” placed along I-40 for many miles to the east and west of the town, inviting motorists to stay the night in one of Tucumcari’s “2000” (later changed to “1200”) motel rooms.

36. Frontier Restaurant Albuquerque NMFrontier Restaurant in Albuquerque NM

7. Albuquerque NM

Following Route 66 naturally leads us through Albuquerque where Central Avenue, the main artery, is Route 66. It passes through Old Town, Downtown, the university and Nob Hill. Full description of the Albuquerque car landscape will be covered in my next Report, and for now we will stop right across the university for a well deserved lunch at the Frontier restaurant. Outstanding Mexican food, picturesque people-watching and dirt cheap prices. What more do we want? Nothing.

39. El Rancho Gallup NM“Charm of yesterday… Convenience of tomorrow”. Hotel El Rancho in Gallup NM

8. Gallup NM

Our last stop on Route 66 before we return to it in Los Angeles is Gallup New Mexico, a bustling little town where almost every second shop sells Native American jewellery. Logical: the town is located in the heart of Indian Country and the site of the world-famous Inter-Tribal Indian Ceremonial held each August for more than 90 years. It also serves as the Navajo and Zuni peoples’ major trading centre. No actual jewels for us, just the lodging jewel in town: the El Rancho Hotel. The “Charm of yesterday… Convenience of tomorrow” slogan displayed on the facade couldn’t be more appropriate.

37. El Rancho Gallup NMEl Rancho Hotel in Gallup NM

Awesome ambiance, a splendid Southwestern lobby, posh but relaxed-enough restaurant and bar and friendly staff allowing me to work on my laptop before, during and long after breakfast: no wonder all great Hollywood actors from the 1940s and the 1950s stayed here. Plus the period-looking dinner and breakfast menu is a souvenir take-away. Perfect.

38. El Rancho Gallup NMHotel El Rancho – Gallup NM 

In fact, the El Rancho Hotel was built by the brother of a movie magnate, D.W. Griffith, opened in December 1937 and was straight away a gathering place for the famous, the perfect stayover location due to its proximity to Monument Valley where an infinite amount of Hollywood movies were shot. Ronald Reagan, Spencer Tracy, Katherine Hepburn and Kirk Douglas were among the many stars listed in the guest register. Up to today: the movie “Bottom of the World” was being shot in town as we stayed in Gallup.

This concludes our coverage of Old Route 66, next we will look into the New Mexican car landscape and sales in detail, so stay tuned!

Many thanks to David Curry for the photos in this report.

Matt Gasnier is based in Sydney, Australia and runs a car sales statistics website and consultancy: BestSellingCars which just celebrated its 4th anniversary.

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Vellum Venom Vignette: In Praise of The Regular Cab http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/vellum-venom-vignette-praise-regular-cab/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/vellum-venom-vignette-praise-regular-cab/#comments Thu, 06 Nov 2014 14:00:48 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=941369   Cafe regulations be damned, the regular cab truck is a fantastic design. It deserves a better rep: working for people with multiple vehicles, value-conscious fleet buyers, and bottom-tier credit risks dying for a cheap new non-econobox. Or a new lease on life, after an unexpected trip to the hospital. I’ve never regretted regular cab ownership: it’s […]

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And sidewalls too, apparently.

Cafe regulations be damned, the regular cab truck is a fantastic design. It deserves a better rep: working for people with multiple vehicles, value-conscious fleet buyers, and bottom-tier credit risks dying for a cheap new non-econobox. Or a new lease on life, after an unexpected trip to the hospital.

(photo credit: www.foxeyephoto.com)

I’ve never regretted regular cab ownership: it’s right for my wallet and clutter-free lifestyle. But after a few laps at a local Rallycross (seen here at full ABS braking) the lighter, shorter regular cab became a Miata with a BedBut I digress…that Time In The Hospital Thing.

After getting progressively weaker/sicker for no reason, as I lay circling the drain for hours in a hospital bed, the diagnosis of Stevens Johnson Syndrome came for an allergic reaction to over-the-counter medicine. (NOTE: watch where you Google, S.J.S. isn’t a pretty sight.) YES I’m making a full, 100% back-to-normal recovery: the on-call allergist was Johnny-on-the-spot and my family supports me. While never missing a beat for TTAC, I couldn’t function elsewhere for a week.

Later I drove in a mere car with a large cabin and a huge cab-forward windscreen. Then the Houston heat/sun adversely mixed with my healing skin: to the point I was boiling in my own flesh. The pain from just being in the sun, from wearing non-cotton clothes, from lying on a warm bed, from trying to do anything…it was frustrating. Cue my friend, the Regular Cab’d Texas Ranger.

With a certain foreboding-yet-southern-fried Jan Hammer tune in my ears, I learned why I love this body style of pick ‘em up truck.

Click here to view the embedded video.

The Ranger’s HVAC normally freezes me, no matter the outside temperature. It was enjoyable for long days of outside labor, I reckon many truck owners understand that. But now it was to the point fingers must freeze to the shifter and glasses shall fog after leaving the regular cab…and re-fog after the first wipe.

Anywhere I went, I felt better than before I left.

There was no place more comfortable for my Stevens-Johnson Syndrome affected skin than my silly regular cab Ranger.

So what’s the point of this self-pity infused blathering?

  • Full Size or no, the regular cab pickup is one of the best designs on the planet.
  • Regular Cabs do not deserve their endangered species designation.
  • Feng Shui isn’t just for new age types, it’s for right sized truckers that need no CUV in their pickup.
  • Space Efficiency isn’t just for architects, car designers must know that “cab forward” windshields literally bake our interiors.
  • Trucks work extremely well in their “original”configuration forthepreviously stated reasons…BUT…
    • …let’s also add a little known allergic reaction to ordinary medication to the list.

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Junkyard Find: 1976 Ford Courier http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/junkyard-find-1976-ford-courier/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/junkyard-find-1976-ford-courier/#comments Thu, 06 Nov 2014 14:00:45 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=941073 After the ’79 Chevy LUV Junkyard Find we saw yesterday, it seems appropriate to follow up with another Malaise Era Japanese small pickup with Detroit badging. I found this Ford-badged Mazda B1800 just a couple of rows away from the LUV. It’s three years older and much rougher than the Chevy (Isuzu). Vehicles mostly don’t […]

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18 - 1976 Ford Courier Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinAfter the ’79 Chevy LUV Junkyard Find we saw yesterday, it seems appropriate to follow up with another Malaise Era Japanese small pickup with Detroit badging. I found this Ford-badged Mazda B1800 just a couple of rows away from the LUV. It’s three years older and much rougher than the Chevy (Isuzu).


17 - 1976 Ford Courier Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinVehicles mostly don’t rust much in the Denver area, thanks to the single-digit humidity, but this one appears to have spent some time in the Midwest.
01 - 1976 Ford Courier Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinAs is often the case with junked vehicles, all sorts of stuff belonging to the previous owner was still inside. Here’s a notebook with records of fuel and oil purchases stretching back to the mid-1980s. Check out the sub-dollar-per-gallon prices of February 1986; while this era’s crash in oil prices was a boon for me as I delivered pizzas in my 351W-powered Mercury Cyclone, it was also the primary cause of the collapse of the Soviet Union as well as the sales death of little trucks like this one.
03 - 1976 Ford Courier Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinReally cheap new-vehicle buyers in the 1970s didn’t want to spend several hundred bucks for a factory AM radio— yes, audio gear was expensive back then, even before the vehicle manufacturers’ markups— so they got the “radio delete” package and then added a relatively cheap aftermarket rig like this Philco.


Imagine Johnnie Taylor buzzing tinnily out of that dash-mounted whizzer cone!
06 - 1976 Ford Courier Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe driver’s door is hanging by a thread. This truck gave its all.
11 - 1976 Ford Courier Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe hubcaps stayed with it to the end, though.

01 - 1976 Ford Courier Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1976 Ford Courier Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1976 Ford Courier Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1976 Ford Courier Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1976 Ford Courier Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1976 Ford Courier Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1976 Ford Courier Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1976 Ford Courier Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1976 Ford Courier Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1976 Ford Courier Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1976 Ford Courier Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1976 Ford Courier Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1976 Ford Courier Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1976 Ford Courier Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - 1976 Ford Courier Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 16 - 1976 Ford Courier Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 17 - 1976 Ford Courier Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 18 - 1976 Ford Courier Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

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TTAC At The Movies: “Nightcrawler” http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/ttac-movies-nightcrawler/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/ttac-movies-nightcrawler/#comments Thu, 06 Nov 2014 14:00:43 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=941409 If you’ve seen the trailers or even the promotional poster for “Nightcrawler”, you know that Jake Gyllenhaal’s character, late-night independent crime videographer Lou Bloom, trades in his 1985 Tercel for a red Challenger SRT8 pretty early in the film. So that’s not a spoiler, is it? But everything below the jump will be, so click […]

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nightcrawler

If you’ve seen the trailers or even the promotional poster for “Nightcrawler”, you know that Jake Gyllenhaal’s character, late-night independent crime videographer Lou Bloom, trades in his 1985 Tercel for a red Challenger SRT8 pretty early in the film. So that’s not a spoiler, is it? But everything below the jump will be, so click carefully.

Very few recent films have received the kind of critical acclaim that has already been piled upon “Nightcrawler”, due in no small part to Gyllenhaal himself and the considerable physical transformation he underwent in order to become Lou Bloom. Running fifteen miles to the set every day and chewing “luxury gum” instead of eating allowed Gyllenhaal to drop to 150 pounds from an already-lean 180 and made him, by his own admission, more than a little crazy. His gaunt, exaggerated features are under-lit throughout this very dark (in the literal sense) movie by police spotlights, the still-shining headlights of crashed vans, the dim bulbs of cheap apartment bathrooms, the glare of video monitors, and, finally, the Los Angeles sun.

Insofar as Lou Bloom is fundamentally insane, however — and we’ll return to that in a bit — this is just more of the Oscar fodder that critics love. And since this is TTAC, we might as well get right to the real star of the movie — the pre-facelift Challenger SRT8 6.1L. A few establishing scenes using the Tercel early in the movie show that Lou likes to drive fast and is remarkably unsensitive to risk. The only problem is that the Tercel isn’t fast enough to get to late-night car crashes and home invasions before the other videographers, so as soon as his finances permit it, Lou swaps out for the Challenger and proceeds to put the hammer down.

Not that a Challenger SRT8 isn’t fast enough for any street in America — the 6.1 automatics are known for running 13.0 second quarter-miles in the hands of owners — but surely this was a gold-plated opportunity to put a Hellcat in front of the camera. Even a Scat Pack or SRT-8 facelift car would have been preferable. Hell, the 6.4L has been out for a few years now. Was the fact that Nightcrawler was an indie film enough to put off the Mopar PR crowd, or was the choice of a used car a deliberate one? The Challenger owners group forums note that different cars might have been used for interior and exterior shots. The dash shots clearly show the original modern Challenger’s Chrysler-300-derived dashboard.

Once the action ramps up, however, the precise provenance of the red Chally becomes mostly irrelevant and it’s time for a variety of “we’re going really FAST!” shots. A few of them are the usual movie stupidity. One sweeping helicopter shot over a mountain road shows the SRT-8 doing the same kind of pace you’d expect from a rental RV, but dubbed in with some HEMI noise to go along with the quick cutaways. Not convincing at all.

When it’s time for the movie’s climactic car chase, however, things get real very quickly. Nightcrawlers perfectly captures the absolutely claustrophobic feel of doing triple the speed limit on a close-coupled urban six-lane, well after dark. Parked cars flash by. Stoplights appear and disappear. A moment’s worth of indecision is enough to lose a few blocks in the wrong direction. The drivers are in a hurry and the vehicle dynamics reflect this: there’s no forced oversteer or needless spinning of tires. One of the most satisfying shots in the movie catches the Tercel making a fast left across traffic; the set of the nose as the outside tire grips to turn-in and the resulting minor yaw is absolutely authentic and reinforces the notion that the movie was shot at pace, not sped up in post-production.

Another refreshing difference: Nearly every movie in history suffers from what I think of as Super Cop Cars. No matter how fast of a car you have, when you’re running from the police you will be unable to put clear air between you and a Crown Vic. This ridiculous trope even appears in Basic Instinct: Nick’s cop car, a Gran Fury, is just as fast as Catherine’s Peter Stevens-era Lotus Esprit Turbo.

Not so here: not only does a six-liter Cadillac Escalade pull away from the Crown Vics, Lou Bloom’s Challenger is able to toy with them, repeatedly having to back off during the final chase so as not to run into them from behind. The SRT-8’s superior dynamic envelope allows him to play cat and mouse with both the cop cars and the Escalade. He also easily outbrakes them, as would be the case in real life. If there’s any unrealistic aspect to the scenes at all, it’s the slow-hands way Lou drives the car. For a guy with no prospects in life and no real education or background to speak of, he sure is a classically outstanding wheelman. Maybe he was just born to it.

Nightcrawler is alternately thrilling and cringe-inducing. It’s great to watch and time truly flies in the theater as you watch Lou Bloom progress from small-time crook to small businessman. There’s just one tiny problem with the movie, and this has nothing to do with the choice of a 425hp Chally instead of a 470hp or 707hp one. By making Lou such an odd bird to begin with, and by making it clear again and again that he started out as a man without a moral compass, the movie loses the chance to truly horrify the viewer. Replace Gyllenhaal’s gaunt-faced villain with a single mother trying to feed her children, and then you’d have a real and deeply affecting human change. As it is, this is just a guy acting crazy from the very first scene to the very last cut. So it’s perhaps not a truly great film. Yet when the SRT-8 catches a hard shift to third through a red-lit intersection, you won’t particularly care. This is a deeply voyeuristic film on the surface and underneath. Enjoy the ride.

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The Car Business Has Not Changed Much Since 1956 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/car-business-changed-much-since-1956/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/car-business-changed-much-since-1956/#comments Wed, 05 Nov 2014 15:31:09 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=940785 It appears that I am a few days behind Matt in cruising westbound down Route 66 in New Mexico. We checked into the legendary Blue Swallow Motel in Tucumcari last night and discovered that our room came equipped with the December 24, 1956 issue of Automotive News, unearthed from a long-closed dealership down the street. Some […]

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ford-dealership-newark-1950s Courtesy grayflannelsuit.net

It appears that I am a few days behind Matt in cruising westbound down Route 66 in New Mexico. We checked into the legendary Blue Swallow Motel in Tucumcari last night and discovered that our room came equipped with the December 24, 1956 issue of Automotive News, unearthed from a long-closed dealership down the street. Some of the articles in the trade rag proved that today’s car biz is indeed, in the words of Yankee great Yogi Berra, “deja vu all over again”…

I learned from the magazine that the industry was heading for 6 million new car sales in the United States in 1956, the third-best year in history. Ford and Chevrolet were in a virtual tie in registrations through October, each with 1.3 million units. Studebaker was hawking the Golden Hawk for $3,181.82. You could buy a Nash Ambassador, Hudson Hornet or DeSoto Fireflight. American Motors was in trouble, projecting losses of 19 million dollars for the year.

There were few stories about import brands, except one about a New York Volkswagen dealer who reported he has a eight-month backlog of orders for the Beetle and thus would be unable to supply one to the Buffalo Auto Fashion Show.

(By the way, did any auto journo have a longer career than John K. Teahan, Jr., who wrote for Automotive News up until a few months before his death in 2013? He was listed as an editorial assistant in this issue, having started there the prior year.)

So I am in retro motel, reading a retro issue of an auto magazine and wondering why some of the stories could be from 2014:

“Wisconsin Scrutinizes Dealers on Licenses.”

“..the question of renewing the license of Courtesy Motors, Inc (Lincoln-Mercury) was under advisement…among the practices were “would you take” or “bait” advertising; bushing; unrealistic over-allowances; taking car keys from prospective purchasers to detain them during sales negotiations; assigning salesmen to park near competitors to procure license numbers of prospective customers…used-cars or demonstrators had been sold as new; alterations of contracts and failure to give customers terms stated in advertising…”

“Dispute Over Deal Leads to Slaying of Car Salesman”

PITTSBURGH, – “Jack Allison, a salesman for Big Three Motors, Inc., died of a bullet wound inflicted by a customer in a dispute about payments on a car. Police held Raymond Lawson, 24, who has admitted to the shooting.

Lawson purchased a car from Big Three and said he was told his payments would be $46 a month. However, he said, his payment book called for $61 a month. He said he went to the company’s offices to insist on a correction…Allison was shot between the eyes as he walked across the office…”

“Fuel Economy Improvement Discussed by Engineers”

“Some say the five-year upward surge of horsepower ratings and vehicle performance is nearing a level where it must begin to taper off. They don’t expect the horsepower race to stop – just slacken a bit from its recent skyrocketing pace. If that true, we may see the industry soft-petal talk of higher horsepower and give more emphasis to fuel economy.

image-000 AN 1956

Some other headlines that sound familiar:

“Safety Probers to Request Stronger U.S. Policy”

(Chrysler Says Dealers’) “Future of Sales, Profits Tied to Personal Touch”

“Auto ‘White Collar’ Face Union Drive”

“Canada Sales Boom; Dealers Seeks Salesmen”

The publication also warned its readers about a subscription con (“…certain unscrupulous individuals have been fleecing our subscribers by collecting payments for new and renewal subscriptions.”) The scam is still alive and well in recent years, now targeting Autoweek, a sister Crain Communications publication to Automotive News.

One change from 58 years ago was the media’s apparent lack of celebrity worship. Can you image Oscar-winning actress Jennifer Lawrence wedding the owner of a car dealership today and it not being front page news? This tiny piece was buried on the bottom of page 7:

MIAMI, -“Richard Fincher, 28, a Miami Oldsmobile car dealer, and actress Gloria DeHaven, 30, will be married here Jan. 23. It will be Miss DeHaven’s third marriage, Fincher’s first”…

How does a dealer principal have the time to court and wed a Hollywood Walk Of Fame actress? It turns out Fincher was actually the offspring of the Olds dealer, or what is still known today by the derogatory OEM term, “Dealer’s Son;” in other words, dad put the sweat equity into the store and son played and drove the business into the ground. Some things never change…

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Junkyard Find: 1979 Chevrolet LUV Mikado http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/junkyard-find-1979-chevrolet-luv-mikado/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/junkyard-find-1979-chevrolet-luv-mikado/#comments Wed, 05 Nov 2014 14:00:52 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=940441 Once Toyota Stouts and Datsun 520s began selling in sufficient numbers (in spite of the Chicken Tax) to attract Detroit’s attention, the idea of selling small pickups— without actually tooling up to build them— seemed appealing to the Big Three. Chrysler had the Mitsubishi-built Plymouth Arrow pickup, Ford had the Mazda-built Courier, and GM had […]

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02 - 1979 Chevrolet LUV Mikado Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinOnce Toyota Stouts and Datsun 520s began selling in sufficient numbers (in spite of the Chicken Tax) to attract Detroit’s attention, the idea of selling small pickups— without actually tooling up to build them— seemed appealing to the Big Three. Chrysler had the Mitsubishi-built Plymouth Arrow pickup, Ford had the Mazda-built Courier, and GM had the Isuzu Faster-based Chevy LUV. Each type rusted with great eagerness and were near-disposable cheap, so they’re all very rare today. I see maybe one LUV per three years of junkyard visits, so this ’79 LUV Mikado grabbed my attention right away.
07 - 1979 Chevrolet LUV Mikado Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Mikado option package, if we are to believe online sources, gave the buyer striped seats and a three-spoke steering wheel (plus the cool-looking Japanophilic fender badges).
03 - 1979 Chevrolet LUV Mikado Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe three-spoke wheel is there, but I don’t see any seat stripes. Perhaps the owner of this truck swapped in a later Isuzu P’Up bench.
06 - 1979 Chevrolet LUV Mikado Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe G18 engine, making 80 horses. 21st-century Americans require at least that much power for their lawn tractors, not to mention a crew-cab in their “small” pickups. The G18 was also found in the “Buick Opel” (an Isuzu-ized Opel Kadett sold in North America during the darkest days of the Malaise Era).

Now there’s even more to LUV, for everybody!

Did anyone buy the 4WD LUV?

This Thai-market Isuzu Faster Spacecab ad is for a second-generation truck, but I had to include it due to the little spaceman.

01 - 1979 Chevrolet LUV Mikado Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1979 Chevrolet LUV Mikado Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1979 Chevrolet LUV Mikado Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1979 Chevrolet LUV Mikado Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1979 Chevrolet LUV Mikado Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1979 Chevrolet LUV Mikado Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1979 Chevrolet LUV Mikado Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1979 Chevrolet LUV Mikado Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1979 Chevrolet LUV Mikado Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1979 Chevrolet LUV Mikado Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1979 Chevrolet LUV Mikado Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1979 Chevrolet LUV Mikado Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1979 Chevrolet LUV Mikado Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1979 Chevrolet LUV Mikado Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

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Taking The Plunge, A Modest Lowering of and Expectations http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/taking-plunge-modest-lowering-expectations/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/taking-plunge-modest-lowering-expectations/#comments Sun, 02 Nov 2014 14:00:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=939065 Just about all of my daily drivers have been stock, more or less. I did some engine, transmission and overdrive swaps on Volvos back in the 1980s, but everything was factory, if not on that particular vehicle when it left Goteborg. Also, there was a 1972 VW bus for which I built a high-performance Beetle […]

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Just about all of my daily drivers have been stock, more or less. I did some engine, transmission and overdrive swaps on Volvos back in the 1980s, but everything was factory, if not on that particular vehicle when it left Goteborg. Also, there was a 1972 VW bus for which I built a high-performance Beetle *engine so it could cruise at fast enough speeds to be safe on the interstates. Other than those, I haven’t done any mechanical modifications to cars that I’ve driven regularly, at least not to the chassis, but now I’m taking the plunge.

My mom just turned 90, may she live to 120, and as is often the case with older folks, she stopped driving when she could no longer do so without endangering herself or others. The car she stopped driving is a 2002 Saturn SL, pretty much a base car with a 1.9 liter OHC engine and a three speed automatic transmission. Mom never drove it much, usually for short trips to go shopping or to her part-time job serving lunches to other seniors at the JCC. Over the years it transitioned from the car she drove, to the car she was driven in. Now it’s the car I take my grandson, Aryeh, to visit her at her new apartment.

Though GM is rightly slagged for not giving Saturn products the incremental improvements they deserved, with the same basic design of the S series coupes, sedans and wagons, staying in production for a long time. The Saturn project was a big deal for GM in the beginning. The company devoted a lot of resources to the Saturn project and the cars seem to be engineered well, even if interior QC and general refinement is lacking. They’re honest little cars.  With plastic body panels, rust, at least the visible kind, isn’t a problem, and they’re relatively durable. If you look around, there are plenty of ten to twenty year old Saturns providing fairly reliable daily transportation to folks.

Yeah, the engine is a bit agricultural in tone and weak in traffic (though the DOHC versions aren’t slow) and that archaic transmission is closer, in terms of available ratios, to a 1950s era Powerglide 2-speed, than to even the six speed automatics that enthusiasts today consider obsolete as manufacturers roll out DCTs and eight or nine speed automatics.

However, I’ve grown to regard what Aryeh calls “Zayde’s blue car” with affection. Other than a serpentine belt tensioner going bad while returning from the recent 24 Hours of Lemons race at Gingerman Raceway, it’s never let me down. Even that breakdown wasn’t really a breakdown, since the alternator light came on about three miles from a populated exit on the interstate. Though the car was overheating by the time I got to the hotel just off of the freeway, nothing was permanently damaged and I still had enough juice in the battery to be able to start it in the morning and drive to the Chevy dealer that I passed on my way to the Holiday Inn.

I should mention that the Saturn S series cars, while not highly regarded by enthusiasts at large, have their fans. They’re light, about 2,600 lbs, they have real independent rear suspension, not an inexpensive torsion beam setup, you can equip them with disc brakes at all four corners, and the twin cam engine can be tuned with good results. There were at least a couple of Saturns in the Lemons race.

tire    rack

With close to 100,000 miles on the odometer, the tensioner and belt repair was a reminder that there were lot of OEM parts that probably should be attended to. Over the past year or so I’ve noticed that the left front strut was beginning to creak while turning at low speeds and there’s also the telltale clattering when turning left that indicates a constant velocity joint on one of the axle shafts of the front wheel drive car. It doesn’t make sense to change just one strut and since much of the labor of replacing the axle is disassembling the front suspension I decided to replace both axles and both struts. With the rear shocks as old and worn out as the struts, they needed to be replaces as well.

I like cars that can handle and while the Saturn SL isn’t a bad handling car, and the steering is weighted pretty well, it’s not what I’d call sporting in character. Turn in could be quicker and there’s way more body roll than I’d like. I’ve had real good results from KYB shock absorbers going back to those Volvos. According to the Saturn enthusiast fora, KYB GR2 struts are about 30% stiffer than the OEM units for which they’re supposed to be direct replacements. To be honest, there aren’t many choices. Bilstein doesn’t make anything that fits the Saturn and I wasn’t going to spend the money to get Koni coilover inserts set in the OEM struts, so KYB it was. By the way, KYB is moving from the GR2 brand familiar to North American enthusiasts, to the Excel-G brand sold elsewhere. They’re the same shocks and struts, they’ll just be painted black instead of silver.

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To compliment the stiffer shocks, I’m also going to put some H&R Sport springs on the car to lower it. Now I’m not joining Stance Nation. This isn’t for looks, though the car will look less like a guy wearing his trouser cuffs above his ankles. There’s a modest 1.4″ drop in front, nothing you wouldn’t see that distinguishes an “S” model from a less sporting version of the same car. The back will go down a little bit less, 1.3″, so there will be a tiny bit more rake. The springs are also stiffer than stock, 205/195 front to rear vs 126/129. One nice thing about the KYB struts is that they have an oval hole that allows for stock alignment specs without having to use a special camber bolt.

Those springs may be a bit too stiff for the bad road surfaces here in Michigan, or at least that’s what Sajeev Mehta suggested when I circulated my plans with the TTAC staff. He thinks stiffer shocks on new OEM springs would freshen the suspension enough for my needs. He may be correct, but the springs were less than $200 and I’m already going to be paying for R&Ring the springs because I’m replacing the struts. What do you think? Will Michigan’s scarred roads, a lowered suspension and stiffer shocks and springs loosen the fillings in my few remaining teeth, or will I actually have a better ride compared to worn out OEM shocks and springs?

Since I’m concerned about getting too stiff (no cracks from the peanut gallery, please) I asked my colleagues about wheel sizes. Jack Baruth suggested that I’m still going to have to go to a bigger wheel if I want to get performance tires, that there just aren’t a lot of choices in 14″ sizes. For a performance tire he suggested Dunlop Direzzas or Yokohama Advan Rs. I don’t know what owners of old Brit roadsters are doing, but Jack is correct, checking the tire warehouses, there aren’t that many performance tires for 13s and 14s. I was able, however, to find some Direzza DZ102 tires, an update to the original DZ101, for $82 ea at Tire Rack. It’s a directional, summer tire.  The widest tire that will fit on the car is a 205, so I’m going with a 205 55 r15. That gives me about 0.8″ more tread width and it’s close enough to the original tire circumference to keep the speedometer within 1 mph accuracy in most driving conditions. Tire Size Conversion is a useful site, by the way, to check compatibility and things like speedo calibrations.

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Two of the car’s current 14″ OEM steel wheels had to be knocked back into shape by yours truly and a baby sledge after mom clipped some curbs. Detroit area potholes are deservedly notorious, so I’m not about to spend money on aluminum wheels. Steelies are cheaper and, as mentioned, you don’t need special tools to straighten them. Every set of used alloy rims that I saw advertised on Craigslist had some kind of cosmetic damage or worse. Discount Tire, a local chain, had some U.S. made 15×6″ steel wheels by Unique for $55 a piece. They’re pretty much OEM replacements, only bigger and wider. I think they’ll look just fine with chrome lug nuts. Discount Tire’s software simulation of what the car will look like with the steelies heads this post. Buying the wheels there gets me a discount on mounting and balancing.

I have to say that as a consumer I’ve been pleased so far. When I ordered the springs, I got a followup call from Tire Rack explaining that I should anticipate possible accelerated wear on the shock absorbers and other suspension components. When I called a local repair shop to get a price on labor, the guy asked me why I was lowering the car and said he’d had customers who regretted it. I explained that it wasn’t about looks, but rather handling and that I was going with a fairly modest drop so I didn’t expect to start scraping driveway aprons.

tirerack

The parts are in.

So the adventure has started. The parts are all in. I can’t get the car into the shop until next week, but in the meantime this weekend, if there’s no precipitation, I’m going to take the car over to a parking lot and get some baseline data. I’ll shoot video to record body lean and I downloaded a lateral acceleration app for my smartphone. After I get cornering data as is, I’ll do it again after replacing the suspension parts, and if the snow holds off longer, I’ll do it yet again with the new tires, reporting back after each step. If I’m happy with the results, I’ll upgrade the base rear drum brakes with discs I can pull off a higher spec Saturn at the junkyard. That’s a bolt on conversion. Long term, I’ll keep my eye out for a DOHC/5-speed drivetrain I can get cheap.

Per my colleagues’ suggestions, I’ll be keeping the alignment at the OEM settings. As Jack pointed out, I don’t need a darty car on icy Michigan roads.

Speaking of icy roads, I’ll be keeping the old rims and tires for winter use. The OEM wheels are mounted with some Cooper all-season tires with plenty of tread life remaining that should suffice in the cold. I know how Baruth feels about all-seasons in the winter and having test driven Bridgestone Blizzaks in a blizzard, I’m a fan of sticky winter tires, but I grew up learning to drive in big rear wheel drive American sedans with bias ply tires and since I haven’t managed to get stuck or plow into someone so far, the all-seasons will do for winter driving for now.

So what do the Best & Brightest have to say? Am I on a fool’s errand trying to make this rather unexciting car more sporting? Will the stiffer, lower springs and stiffer shocks ride worse than the OEM setup with 100K miles on the components? Either way I’ll keep you informed.

* For you air-cooled VeeDub enthusiasts, it was an AE crankcase with 1648cc barrels, dual port heads (slightly milled), a street cam, 009 mechanical distributor and a Holley/Weber two barrel carb, plus a high pressure Melling oil pump and an external oil filter and auxiliary oil cooler (and homebrew interior heater using that hot oil).

** It surprises me that the Saturn station wagons don’t get more love from enthusiasts. A small wagon that could be gotten with a DOHC engine, a 5 speed manual transmission and 4 wheel disc brakes checks a lot of boxes. I think they look pretty good too.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can get a parallax view at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

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Editorial: By Royal Decree http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/editorial-royal-decree/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/editorial-royal-decree/#comments Fri, 31 Oct 2014 17:26:21 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=938985 Buried in a Reuters article on Hyundai’s new Prius-fighter was talk of Hyundai’s new Aslan sedan. The Aslan is intended to take on the growing sales of imported sedans in South Korea, namely the VW Passat, BMW 3-Series and Audi A4. Based on a front-drive architecture, the Aslan seems to occupy a slot between the […]

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Buried in a Reuters article on Hyundai’s new Prius-fighter was talk of Hyundai’s new Aslan sedan. The Aslan is intended to take on the growing sales of imported sedans in South Korea, namely the VW Passat, BMW 3-Series and Audi A4. Based on a front-drive architecture, the Aslan seems to occupy a slot between the Sonata and the Grandeur (aka our Azera) – which made it all the more surprising when Reuters reported that “The automaker is also looking at introducing the Aslan in China, the United States and Middle Eastern countries.”

A sort of large, sort of premium sedan makes sense for China and the Middle East. These vehicles tend to thrive in markets where lots of passenger space, “premium styling” and a comfort-focused driving experience are prized by consumers.

But the United States? Sales of the new Sonata haven’t had the same impact as the previous generation. The mid-size sedan market is on a downward trend, and the outlook for large sedans is dismal. Between the Sonata and the Azera, Hyundai has the large sedan space sewn up, and Hyundai product planners would be the first to tell you that the Aslan would be a redundant offering. So why the talk of exports?

Simple. Sometimes, certain vehicles are sent to certain markets by “royal decree”. See also: Phaeton, Volkswagen. Products are cooked up at the “mothership” and sent to certain markets, even if they may not be wholly appropriate for sale there. The regional arm is tasked with the sales and marketing of said product, even if it doesn’t make sense (yet another large-ish sedan) or wholly inappropriate for the brand (think about the Kia K900).

 

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Coast to Coast 2014: Driving Old Route 66 (Part 1) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/coast-coast-2014-driving-old-route-66-part-1/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/coast-coast-2014-driving-old-route-66-part-1/#comments Fri, 31 Oct 2014 14:42:01 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=938873 Albert on the Route 66 in Tucumcari New Mexico.  Check out all my Coast to Coast Reports here This is it! After stopping in Oklahoma City, we are now on one of my most anticipated stretches of road in this entire trip: the Old Route 66, or the Mother Road as it is fondly called. Even […]

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1. Ram 1500 Albert Route 66Albert on the Route 66 in Tucumcari New Mexico. 

Check out all my Coast to Coast Reports here

This is it! After stopping in Oklahoma City, we are now on one of my most anticipated stretches of road in this entire trip: the Old Route 66, or the Mother Road as it is fondly called. Even though I didn’t have enough time to drive Route 66 in its entire length from Chicago to Los Angeles, I still managed to hop on it for a good 1/3 of its length, all the way from Oklahoma City OK to Gallup NM, driving alongside Interstate 40 which ended up replacing it and visiting places such as Clinton OK, Texola OK, Shamrock TX, Amarillo TX, Tucumcari NM and Albuquerque NM. We will hop back onto Route 66 later in this Coast to Coast trip in California. A thorough visit of this part of Route 66 full of photographs as well as my impressions on the vehicle landscape in this region of the United States are below…

Route 66 mapThe stretch of Route 66 we are following

This part of Route 66, arguably the most ‘historic’ as this is where it all started, sweeps through 3 states: Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico. Although New Mexico car sales data will be covered in more detail in my next Report, it is worth noting that looking at the Top 5 best-sellers in each of these states, a passenger car only appears once: the Toyota Camry at #4 in Texas. Indeed the entire Top 5 in both Oklahoma and New Mexico are monopolised by full-size pickup trucks, the first two states displaying this since the start of my Coast to Coast trip.

Ford F150 F250 Route 66Ford F150 and F250 Super Duty in Sayre OK

Best-selling light vehicles in Oklahoma – 2013:

Pos Model 2013
1 Chevrolet Silverado 13,994
2 Ford F-150 11,517
3 Ram Pickup 9,762
4 Ford F-250 Super Duty 4,932
5 GMC Sierra 4,712

Source: JATO

Ford F250 x 2 Route 662 x Ford F-250 Super Duty in Elk City OK

Chevrolet Silverado Route 66 1A Chevrolet Silverado in our mirror near Elk City OK

Best-selling light vehicles in Texas – 2013:

Pos Model 2013
1 Ford F-150 96,663
2 Chevrolet Silverado 78,047
3 Ram Pickup 67,378
4 Toyota Camry 36,953
5 Ford F-250 Super Duty 33,305

Source: JATO

Ram 2500 Route 66Ram 2500 in Elk City OK

Ford F250 Shamrock 2Ford F-250 Super Duty in Shamrock TX

Best-selling light vehicles in New Mexico – 2013:

Pos Model 2013
1 Ford F-150 4,757
2 Chevrolet Silverado 3,601
3 Ram Pickup 3,368
4 GMC Sierra 2,214
5 Ford F-250 Super Duty 1,837

Source: JATO

Matt Route 66You know you’re in full-size pickup heartland when the squeegees are also full-size.

If the Ford F-150 dominates in Texas and New Mexico, the Chevrolet Silverado, #2 in both states, takes the lead in Oklahoma, kicking the F-150 to #2 there. The Ram Pickup, my very own Albert, remains very stable in third position of all states explored here while the Ford F-250 Super Duty manages the very impressive feat of ranking inside the Top 5 in all of these states as well, peaking at #4 in Oklahoma. The GMC Sierra appears twice: at #4 in New Mexico (its best state ranking so far in this trip) and #5 in Oklahoma, and finally as I mentioned above the Toyota Camry makes a lonely appearance at #4 in Texas.

Dodge Pickup Route 66Vintage Dodge Pickup near Foss OK

That is for official stats, but what does real life observation tell us? Having the opportunity to slow down and take the secondary road that the remnants of Route 66 have become enables us to take in the sleepiness of most towns we crossed. This is the heartland of pickup country, 2 or 3 pickup trucks of various ages parked in front of each house and no sedan in sight isn’t rare. The 2-door white ‘tradesman’ Ford F150 rules here, the F250 Super Duty is even over performing on its Top 5 ranking in the parts of the states we crossed, I would put it on the podium and even potentially in first place in Elk City OK. Even though we were in Texas for part of the journey, the locally-produced Toyota Tundra is much less frequent on this stretch of land as is the Nissan Altima, reversing a trend we have seen since Tennessee and as we approached the Mexican border.

7. Chevrolet Impala Route 66Chevrolet Impala rental in Elk City OK

Being a particularly touristic part of Route 66, the ratio of rental cars is on a steep rising curve, with the favourites being the Chevrolet Suburban, Tahoe and Impala. This isn’t any different to what I have seen on American roads since my departure from New York City.

Now that we have cleared the vehicle landscape in this part of the country, let’s get straight into Route 66 highlights, starting with a bit of history on this legendary stretch of road, courtesy of the Oklahoma Route 66 Museum in Clinton OK, a very authentic, thorough and friendly-manned little museum way more interesting than its larger, commercial and fake-looking counterpart a few miles further down the Route in Elk City OK.

Route 66 ca. 1920Road conditions on Rock Island railroad crossing OK ca. 1920 (Picture courtesy ODOT)

The beginning

The numerical designation 66 wasn’t assigned to the Chicago-to-Los Angeles route before 1926, but the Oklahoma Route 66 Museum traces the history of the first paved road system in Oklahoma, the foundation of what would become U.S. Route 66. $1 million was allocated in 1917 for the construction of the Oklahoma state road system, with the first paving laid in 1918 on a stretch that would later be Route 66. From the outset, public road planners intended U.S. 66 to connect the main streets of rural and urban communities along its course for the most practical of reasons: most small towns had no prior access to a major national thoroughfare.

IMG_9968Paving an Oklahoma section of what would become Route 66, ca. 1920

Paving and traffic growth

U.S. 66 was first signed into law in 1927 as one of the original U.S. Highways. Much of the early highway was gravel or graded dirt. Due to the efforts of the U.S. Highway 66 Association established by Tulsa businessman Cyrus Avery, Route 66 became the first U.S. highway to be completely paved in 1938. Traffic grew because of the geography through which it passed: much of the highway was essentially flat and made it a popular truck route. In the aftermath of the Great Depression of 1929, a large part of unemployed workers found their salute in the construction and paving of Route 66, and the Dust Bowl of the 1930s saw many farming families, mainly from Oklahoma, Arkansas, Kansas, and Texas, heading west on the Route 66 course for agricultural jobs in California.

AAA service station Route 66 1930AAA Route 66 service station in St James MO ca. 1930

Being the first truly long distance highway in the U.S., Route 66 encouraged the development of more than a few iconic highway habits that are still at play today…

The filling station

One of them is the filling station: on a road that stretched for over 2000 miles, gas stations became a necessity. Before the establishment of dedicated gasoline stations, fuel was purchased at liveries, repair shops or general stores. The drivers poured gas into buckets and then funnelled it into their gas tanks. By the 1920s, with the growing popularity of the automobile, filling stations became the lifeline of Route 66. One could not travel along Route 66 without stopping at a filling station approximately every 70 miles because cars had smaller gas tanks then. Between 1920 and 1930 the number of gas stations in the U.S. increased from 15,000 to 124,000. They evolved from the simplest concept, a house or shack with one or two service pumps in front to a more elaborate model with service bays and tired outlets, selling a particular brand of gasoline.

First Parking meter Oklahoma City 1935The first parking meters in the world were installed in Oklahoma City on 16 July 1935 (above).

The parking meter

With the increase of traffic generated by Route 66, businesses began to develop along Main Street and the need for parking became an issue. In order to control parking and to encourage turnover of users, a method of device had to be created to curb the problem. Two professors of engineering from Oklahoma State University devised the parking meter as a viable solution to the increasing need for Main Street parking control. The first of their meters was installed in Oklahoma City on 16 July 1935 as part of a 175-meter experiment. They proved very successful and were soon implemented all over town. The rest is, well… history. Because it was relatively easy to abuse a parking meter system, many town established patrolling meter person which became a hot topic along Route 66.

Truck Route 66 1940Capital Steel & Foundation truck in a no passing zone of Route 66 east of Oklahoma City ca. 1940

Commerce

One of the earliest arguments for new and better roads such as Route 66 was commerce, and it did not take long for truckers to take advantage of new opportunities. With the inability of the railroad system to handle the growing volume of traffic during World War II, over-the-road trucking traffic increased. Paved roads opened small towns and rural consumers to efficient and low-cost truck delivery. Of the 25.000 trucks registered in Oklahoma in 1926, most used the paved highways and competed directly with the railroads. Responding to complaints from railroad companies the state legislature passed a regulatory law in 1929 that set truck rates and routes.

Oklahoma buses 1940

Bus travel

The bus industry, born in the early 1920s, boomed during the 1930s and 1940s. Bus lines had to get permits from the State Corporation to operate over fixed routes. Bus stops were located at gas stations, hotels, grocery stores and restaurants. The bus driver stopped if a flag was hanging outside, the flag later replaced by a light. Bus traffic increased dramatically during World War II and peaked after the war. In 1944, Oklahoma was served by 31 bus companies, with the heaviest traffic located along Route 66. Several towns on the Mother Road, such as Oklahoma City and Tulsa, had as many as eight different bus companies serving their area.

Burma-Shave advertising Route 66Iconic Burma-Shave advertising signs on Route 66

Snow Cap Drive-In Route 66Snow Cap Drive-In in Seligman AZ

Blue Swallow Motel 1939The Blue Swallow Motel in Tucumcari NM was created in 1939

Oklahoma Roadside Park Route 66Route 66 sign for Roadside park in Oklahoma

Motels

Route 66 was affected by the expanding economy and middle-class vacationers. This led to several changes – the most dramatic was the expansion of the variety of overnight accommodations. In the 1920s, local merchants had set aside campsites near downtown business districts to keep potential customers nearby. Entrepreneurs quickly developed additional camp areas with services, on the edges of towns. Campsite cabins were soon equipped with cots, chairs, and camp stoves, costing from 50c to 74c per night. By 1926, most cabins included a bed, table, benches and water pitcher. Check out my review of the best motel chains in the U.S. as part of this Coast to Coast series here.

Route 66 sign

The end

The beginning of the end for Route 66 came in 1956 with the signing of the Interstate Highway Act by President Dwight Eisenhower who was influenced by his appreciation of the German Autobahn network as a necessary component of a national defense system. Super highways, with divided lanes, limited access and no Stop signs were first built along Route 66 in California and Illinois. In 1976, when the states of California, Illinois and Missouri removed the old 66 shields from the road, the Mother Road ceased to exist as a continuous stretch of highway. In 1984, Arizona also saw its final stretch of highway decommissioned with the completion of Interstate 40 just north of Williams, Arizona. The U.S. Route 66 officially ceased to exist in 1985, with no single interstate route designated to replace it. Within many cities, the route became a “business loop” for the interstate. Some sections became state roads, local roads, private drives, or were abandoned completely.

Today, it requires careful planning to follow Route 66 on the part I travelled along, with many ‘jogs’ across Interstate 40 required, and a mile-by-mile map sometimes necessary. Next I will go into the detail of the most interesting stops along Route 66 from Oklahoma City OK to Gallup NM, including:

1. Texola OK

2. U-Drop Inn and Tower station in Shamrock TX

3. Magnolia gas station in Shamrock TX

4. Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo TX

5. Blue Swallow Motel in Tucumcari NM

6. Main street in Tucumcari NM

7. Albuquerque NM

8. Gallup NM

… so stay tuned for Part 2 of this Route 66 section of my US Coast to Coast 2014 Photo Report!

Matt Gasnier is based in Sydney, Australia and runs a car sales statistics website and consultancy: BestSellingCars which just celebrated its 4th anniversary.

The Full Photo Report continues below.

Cyrus AveryCyrus Avery, the Father of Route 66

Top of the World Route 66 HotelTop of the World Hotel in Continental Divide NM

WPA Route 66Work Projects Administration sign, ca.1935 

Parking meter Route 66bParking meters in Omaha NE, 1938 

Lee Way Motor FreightLee Way Motor Freight truck 

Ford F150 Route 66 2Ford F-150 in Sayre OK

Ram Pickup x 3 Route 663 x Ram Pickup in Elk City OK

Chevrolet Tahoe Route 66Chevrolet Tahoe rental in Elk City OK

Ford F250 Shamrock 1Ford F-250 Super Duty in Shamrock TX

Chevrolet Silverado Route 66 2 Chevrolet Silverado in Elk City OK

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Junkyard Find: 1985 Mercury Grand Marquis LS Colony Park Station Wagon http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/junkyard-find-1985-mercury-grand-marquis-ls-colony-park-woodie-station-wagon/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/junkyard-find-1985-mercury-grand-marquis-ls-colony-park-woodie-station-wagon/#comments Fri, 31 Oct 2014 13:00:21 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=938577 The popularity of the full-size station wagon went into steep decline during the course of the 1980s, thanks to competition from minivans and less truck-ish SUVs, and there wasn’t a particularly compelling reason to get a Mercury wagon instead of its near-identical, cheaper Ford sibling, so the 1979-1991 Mercury Grand Marquis Colony Park wagon was […]

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13 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin
The popularity of the full-size station wagon went into steep decline during the course of the 1980s, thanks to competition from minivans and less truck-ish SUVs, and there wasn’t a particularly compelling reason to get a Mercury wagon instead of its near-identical, cheaper Ford sibling, so the 1979-1991 Mercury Grand Marquis Colony Park wagon was uncommon then and near-extinct now. I do see some Ford LTD Country Squires in wrecking yards nowadays— this ’86 woodie and this ’87 woodie, for example— but this Colony Park is the first I’ve seen in at least a decade.
01 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis generation of Colony Park wasn’t quite as majestic as its 1950s and 1960s predecessors, but it also got about twice as many miles per gallon as those barges.
11 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe good old familiar 302-cubic-inch Windsor V8, still fitted with a carburetor in 1985, powered this wagon.
25 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinOpera lights!
17 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis fender trim has a very maze-like shape.
08 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinAre there little speakers in the steering wheel, or are those holes merely decorative?
10 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Colorado sun has not been kind to these leather seats.

The Grand Marquis kicked some Buick and Oldsmobile butt, to hear Mercury tell it.

01 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 16 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 17 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 18 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 19 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 20 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 21 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 22 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 23 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 24 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 25 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

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Dispatches Do Brasil: FCA Finds Its Feet http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/dispatches-brasil-fca-finds-feet/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/dispatches-brasil-fca-finds-feet/#comments Thu, 30 Oct 2014 16:39:27 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=938489 It’s pretty amazing how the world spins and moves forward yet people refuse to budge. Fiat consistently scores in or near the top of Euro reliability rankings, besting most if not all of the mainstream Euro makers as well as other competitors from other continents who, somehow, are given a pass in this area. It […]

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Fiat-500X-2-550x364

It’s pretty amazing how the world spins and moves forward yet people refuse to budge. Fiat consistently scores in or near the top of Euro reliability rankings, besting most if not all of the mainstream Euro makers as well as other competitors from other continents who, somehow, are given a pass in this area. It does likewise in South America. In terms of “fix-ability” it is among the most appreciated, being its corporate policy to share information with mechanics quite openly about its cars’ needs and selling every small bit as a separate part so that people need only change what needs changing, saving its customers money .

I go to the factory in Betim, Brazil, every so often and the place is always filled with Japanese consultants on the factory floor, not just in conference rooms and secluded offices, teaching and implementing more and more quality control techniques. Brazilian engineers I know personally go north and tell me of all the changes they are seeing at Chrysler Group, with leaner, more exact engineering being implemented, inefficiencies controlled, paint shops and water handling completely overhauled.

The place is a brute, the second largest in capacity in the world, being beaten only by a Russian AvtoVAZ unit. Receiving investments of almost 6 billion reais in improvements, it’s being expanded from a capacity of 800,000 cars a year to 950,000. While the expansion and renovation is happening, it will pump out over 700 thousand cars this year in a bewildering, complex environment. A total of 16 different models are produced there, from passenger cars to light commercial vehicles. The closest factory in terms of complexity in Brazil is a GM unit in São Caetano do Sul making a total of 5 models.

It is also a research and development facility, with the capacity to design cars from the ground up. When I go to that specific place, I see future Fiat products, engines and systems, Chryslers of all stripes and also competitors’ cars being stripped down and rebuilt.  The R&D facility received a portion of that investment money and is putting it to good use. Suppliers are often there, trying to fulfill Fiat’s ever-increasing demands on quality, all the while complaining that it’s impossible within the given budgets.

I also recognize the problems. Some of them are cultural others structural. I know the pressure is there to push the product out when sales are high, leading people to overlook some things they know should be addressed before sticking the quality control stickers on. It is not an easy place to work in if you are a supplier as Fiat is a notorious penny-pincher and will and does sit on suppliers demanding more from them at ever lower prices.

There also seems to be a problem with follow through and repetition. Italian and Brazilian culture mesh well in this regard. Improvisation does and can happen and I have seen condemned bits and pieces being stripped from cars while the same parts are taken from half-built cars. It is easy to see the havoc created upstream in the production, while at the same time the possibility for errors is ripe. Some of the initially condemned pieces are sometimes reworked, deemed good, and installed in other cars.

Brazilian workers and engineers are also notorious for not adhering strictly to a given procedure. While a Japanese worker has the reputation of repeating the same procedure for 40 years without question, workers and professionals in Brazil will often improvise, turning step 2 and 4 into just one, or doing what was supposed to be step 6 before step 5 and so on.

Meanwhile, in North America, perhaps surprisingly, Italian and American culture and business practices have also congealed nicely and even Wall Street likes what it sees. There are no rampant manifestations of dissatisfaction and major suits have had their fears of German-style merger of (un)equals allayed, being that American voices are heard and American butts are promoted and given positions of power. Further down in the corporate hierarchy, at the engineering levels, experiences and information are freely shared among engineers of all nationalities. The Italians hear the Americans and vice-versa and the result are cars improved by cross-pollination.

Southern Europe is slowly coming back, at a time Fiat’s plans are slowly bearing fruition. Key to its future, there are now Jeep products, like the Renegade and Cherokee, not to mention the 500X, confirming the event horizon of our own Derek Kreindler (henceforth nominated auto industry sage extraordinaire) and the “final” victory of the CUV over other car shapes as they seem to give people what they want. The Panda and 500 continue raising the flag in northern Europe for those who wish to go against the norm and don’t conform to the notion of German engineering superiority and overbearing market presence. In light of all of this, FCA head honcho Sergio Marchionne may be confirmed as the savviest auto exec in the business.

Alfa Romeo remains a work in progress, while Maserati sales show that FCA can still credibly build and sell a luxury car. With the upcoming Alfa and Maserati CUVs, Italian vehicles will grace in higher numbers exclusive country clubs the world over.

In the US, Fiat will remain a niche player with the 500 satisfying non-conformists, while the 500X could prove more adapted to local conditions. Fiats will also continue donning RAM horns and underlying and motivating Dodge and Chrysler cars and Jeep CUVs. FCA, in spite of the naysayers and doom-and-gloom merchants, keeps growing in the US. Chrysler Group has passed Toyota becoming the third largest OEM in that important and expanding market.

It is so easy to laugh and point at FCA products and buyers. It is also intellectually easy to step on them while they are down, ignoring all the evidence to the opposite. Taken in scope, the improvements and ongoing investments point only in one direction: Up.

Improving on already good reliability, working closely with the aftermarket to keep mechanics informed and up-to-date of the sometimes different engineering seen in their cars, keeping fingers crossed that nothing bombastic happens, FCA could be on its way to an event horizon of its own, selling cars on their merits and not just pricing, becoming a full-line maker capable of attracting and poaching customers from other makes, providing shareholders with nice returns, and creating wealth and employment the world over.

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The Streets Of R-Ado http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/streets-r-ado/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/streets-r-ado/#comments Wed, 29 Oct 2014 18:00:19 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=936762 I felt like a spy within my own company. It was a hot summer day in 2003 and I was at the DaimlerChrysler proving grounds in Laredo, Texas to attend a focus group on the upcoming 2006 Mercedes-Benz R-Class minivan/crossover/sport touring wagon. My dozen or so fellow attendees were all wealthy owners of high-end Mercedes-Benz cars. I was here because the […]

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2006 R500 Courtesy cimg.carsforsale.com

I felt like a spy within my own company. It was a hot summer day in 2003 and I was at the DaimlerChrysler proving grounds in Laredo, Texas to attend a focus group on the upcoming 2006 Mercedes-Benz R-Class minivan/crossover/sport touring wagon. My dozen or so fellow attendees were all wealthy owners of high-end Mercedes-Benz cars. I was here because the Mercedes-Benz USA focus group invite filter did not recognize my net worth nor the fact that I worked for Mercedes-Benz Financial Services. And I was not about to tell anyone that…

The Laredo facility included an assortment of handling, hill-climb and torture tracks, all on the infield of an imposing high-banked 5-mile circle track. The first impression of the scene was intoxicating to a car nut: Hey, there’s a Dodge Magnum, looks just like the spy photos! There goes the next generation S-Class! We were shown the upcoming GL-Class and the next-generation M-Class SUVs. Those vehicles, as well as the future S-class circling the track, were lightly masked but easily recognizable while the “sport touring wagon” was heavily, almost comically, disguised.  It looked like a giant black shoe box with a sloping hood.

My group of five folks and an engineer jumped into the future R-Class. The interior was well-crafted and amazingly roomy: I could stretch my legs out in the third row. Our moderator led us through the various obstacle courses around the grounds, switching drivers along the way. Finally we headed for the 5-mile circle. It was “Clockwise Day” which seemed strange to someone used to driving counterclockwise on oval tracks.  Our leader cranked it up to an indicated 150 mph and took one hand off the wheel to demonstrate the wagon’s stability. We were duly impressed.

We then each proceeded to take two laps each behind the wheel and several of us hit the magic 150 mph barrier. We were quietly cruising with six people aboard and blasting past Plymouth Neons on the inside lane doing endurance testing.  The original R500 with the 302 hp V-8 had a governed top speed of 135 mph. The Benz engineers would not answer questions about this drivetrain. In retrospect, I think it must have been the 503 hp V-8 from the planned R63 AMG under the hood.

We always said the R-Class would make a great hearse...

We always said that the R-Class would make a great hearse…

Years later I think: Were we really doing 150 mph with six passengers in a prototype with a drag coefficient of Melissa McCarthy?  Was the speedometer clocked? Or is driving on a banked, circular track as safe and easy as driving in a straight line? Regardless, I highly doubt there are many car companies who would allow a bunch of yahoos to drive their mock-up models at high speeds on their secret proving grounds. That day in Laredo was one of the highlights of my time in the car business.

Two years later when I first saw a production R-Class, I was shocked: it looked awful, a combo of awkward lines. I thought about Laredo. Were they hiding the R’s styling from us because previous groups had given it a thumbs down? Or was Germany so proud of the edgy styling that they did not want it leaked?  By disguising its looks, letting us behind the scenes to drive flat-out at their proving grounds, and not talking price or specs, were they guaranteeing that we each would  vote an enthusiastic “yes” when asked if we would consider buying one, which we did?

I was pleased to see one suggestion from our focus group about the poor location of the third-row shoulder belt hanger had been addressed.

 

It appears the Daimler is now selling their Laredo test track. Note the 2-mile oval track within the 5-mile highbank circle.

Daimler is now selling their Laredo test track. Note the 2-mile oval track inside the 5-mile circle track

The R-Class was released in the summer of 2005 to the sounds of crickets on the showroom floors. Press reactions were mixed, (“It’s big and it’s ugly, but inside it you can live like a king,” said the Sunday Times.) Within 30 days of the launch, Benz had to add dealer incentives to counter consumer resistance to the base MSRP of $48,000 for the R350 and $55,500 for the R500. A constellation of factors led to the R-class being a rare failure for Daimler: high pricing, murky marketing and product positioning, mediocre gas mileage, the recession and most of all due to its undeniable ugliness.

Sales of the R-Class in the US peaked at 18,168 units in 2006, far short of the corporate objective of 50,000 sales per year. Less than 3,000 were sold each year between 2009 and 2011 before the car was discontinued in North America in 2012. The R-Class continues to be assembled in Mercedes’ Alabama factory for sale in overseas markets. (US dealers toured the plant recently and upon seeing the R line, several joked, “Oh noooo, it’s back!”)

I had an R-Class company car in 2009 and it rode as well as I remembered, every bit an S-Class on the highway. Even better was the fact it was the CDI diesel variant with its gobs of torque and great gas mileage, a truly underappreciated engine.

I still think the R stands for Repulsive but if I could find one of those eighty 2007 R63 AMGs brought into this country…

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Coast to Coast 2014: Oklahoma – last stop before Route 66 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/coast-coast-2014-oklahoma-last-stop-route-66/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/coast-coast-2014-oklahoma-last-stop-route-66/#comments Wed, 29 Oct 2014 15:52:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=937738 In Oklahoma, the Chevrolet Silverado hits its highest state ranking so far in this trip… * You can check out all Coast to Coast 2014 reports here! * After driving from New Orleans, Louisiana through Texas via Houston, Austin, Dallas and Fort Worth, we now enter the Great Plains in the Oklahoma state to reach Oklahoma City. This is our […]

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Chevrolet Silverado Oklahoma September 2014In Oklahoma, the Chevrolet Silverado hits its highest state ranking so far in this trip…

You can check out all Coast to Coast 2014 reports here! *

After driving from New Orleans, Louisiana through Texas via Houston, Austin, Dallas and Fort Worth, we now enter the Great Plains in the Oklahoma state to reach Oklahoma City. This is our last stretch of the trip before we roll onto legendary Route 66… If Texas was the kingdom of pickup trucks, their proportion in the overall traffic is actually even higher in Oklahoma, with sales statistics to prove it – along with a surprise state sales leader… These, my Oklahoma impressions and a review of my Ram 1500 ecoDiesel (“Albert”) interior ergonomics below.

Ford F250 Oklahoma CityThe Ford F250 Super Duty ranks 4th in Oklahoma.

First let’s start with a bit of trivia about the Oklahoma state, one of the country’s fastest growing thanks to natural gas, oil and agriculture among other things. It gets its name from the Choctaw phrase “okla humma”, meaning “red people” and used to describe Native American people. 39 Native American tribes are located here and more than 25 Native American languages are spoken in Oklahoma, second only to California. Oklahoma was originally used to label a project to create an all-Indian state that failed, along with a later similar attempt named Sequoyah.

Ram 3500 LonghornRam 3500 Longhorn Pickup

Oklahoma has the second-highest number of Native Americans of any state (around 330.000), and at 8.6% of the population compared to just 2.4% in 1950, Oklahoma ranks third highest in the country below only New Mexico at 9.4% (6.2% in 1950) and South Dakota at 8.8% (3.6% in 1950). It is also one of only 7 states where the share of Native Americans in the population is above 1.5%, along with Montana (6.3%), North Dakota (5.4%), Arizona (4.6%) and Wyoming (2.4%). Oklahoma is nicknamed the Sooner State, in reference to the non-Native settlers (“sooners”) who staked their claims on the choicest pieces of land prior to the official opening date, and the Indian Appropriations Act of 1889, which opened the door for white settlement in America’s Indian Territory.

Albert Ram 1500 ecoDiesel Stockards CityAlbert in Stockyards City, Oklahoma

Oklahoma state map. Picture courtesy of Smart-Traveler.InfoOklahoma state. I drove North on the I35 to OKC then West on the I40 towards Amarillo.

Oklahoma is home to 3.8 million “Okies” including almost 600,000 in its capital Oklahoma City, and its second largest city, Tulsa, was considered the Oil Capital of the World for most of the 20th century. Last bits of trivia: 1. Cimarron County in Oklahoma’s panhandle is the only county in the United States that touches four other states: New Mexico, Texas, Colorado and Kansas. 2. An Oklahoman business man, Cyrus Avery, began the campaign to create U.S. Route 66 using the stretch of road from Amarillo, Texas to Tulsa, Oklahoma. But this is another story that I will cover in my next Report…

Dodge Challenger OklahomaDodge Challenger in front of the Oklahoma City Symbolic Memorial for the 1995 bombing.

As I mentioned at the start of this article, the proportion of pickup trucks in the overall traffic is even higher than in Texas, even though the latter is considered the kingdom of pickup trucks. This is due to the relative rurality of the state, with Oklahoma City and Tulsa being pretty much the only sizeable urban centres. This observation translates into official sales statistics in a very striking way: the Top 5 best-selling light vehicles in Oklahoma over the Full Year 2013 are all pickup trucks, making it the first state to achieve this feat so far in my trip. But wait there are more surprises…

Ford F250 Oklahoma City 3Old and new… in Oklahoma City

Best-selling new light vehicles in Oklahoma – Full Year 2013:

Pos Model 2013
1 Chevrolet Silverado 13,994
2 Ford F-150 11,517
3 Ram Pickup 9,762
4 Ford F-250 Super Duty 4,932
5 GMC Sierra 4,712

Source: JATO

Albert Stockyards CityAlbert in Stockyards City, Oklahoma

Also for the first time in this Coast to Coast trip so far, the Chevrolet Silverado outsells the Ford F-150 to claim the Oklahoma crown, and not by a tiny margin: almost 1,500 units separate it from Ford’s best-seller… The Ram Pickup rounds up the podium, and after making its first appearance of the trip in any Top 5 in Texas, the Ford F-250 Super Duty is up one notch to a fantastic 4th place in Oklahoma thanks to just under 5,000 sales in 2013. The GMC Sierra makes a comeback into the Top 5 (it ranked 4th in Louisiana) thanks to 4,700 sales.

Nissan Altima Honda Accord Toyota Camry OklahomaNissan Altima, Honda Accord and Toyota Camry: rare passenger cars in Oklahoma.

Note prior data from other sources (including MSN Autos) claim the Nissan Altima is the best-seller in Oklahoma. I will interpret this as being the best-selling passenger car, continuing a trend we have seen in Tennessee and Mississippi, because the clear dominance of pickup trucks excludes all possibility the Altima could threaten any of the pickups mentioned above in the overall Oklahoma sales charts.

Ford F150 Stockyards City3 x Ford F150 in Stockyards City

A must see in Oklahoma City is the National Memorial for the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P Murrah Federal Building, America’s worst incident of domestic terrorism. The Outdoor Symbolic Memorial rests between two twin Gates of Time, framing the moment of destruction (9:02 am on April 19, 1995). The East Gate has graved into it 9:01 and represents the innocence of the city before the attack. The West Gate has 9:03 in it, the moment Oklahoma City was changed forever. The Memorial has 168 empty chair sculptures for each of the people killed in the attack, including 19 small ones for the children. A beautiful, moving and humbling experience. There is a real feel in this place that the event will mark the city for the rest of its existence. This, combined with the fact that this National Memorial is widely considered as the single location in Oklahoma most worthy of a visit (and I agree), was a bit of a wake up call for me. After having visited the National September 11 Memorial in New York City and the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza in Dallas, this was the time I truly took stock of the horror that terrorism has inflicted on America.

Ram 1500 ecoDiesel Albert gearboxAlbert’s gearbox knob in all its glory

Now that we are well into this Coast to Coast trip at over 3000 miles since our starting point in New York City, it is time for me to update you on my ride Albert, my valiant Ram 1500 ecoDiesel, and today I’ll go into its day-to-day controls ergonomics. Hundreds of routine commands and adjustments all through the trip so far are a fast-track way of testing how natural and intuitive Albert is to drive. Firstly my overall impression, and if you have read my coverage of the last Beijingand Paris Auto Shows you will now I am very picky as far as interiors are concerned: Albert does not know the word flimsiness. All instruments inside are and feel sturdy and robust, day after day, thousand miles after thousand miles. Albert is tough and made for work.

I have said this before and I will say it again, I love the gearbox transformed into a simple dashboard knob, freeing leg space for a potential third person in the front row. Once you train your brain to not use that knob to adjust air con – located just next to it, all is good and well in the best of worlds.

Ram 1500 ecoDiesel dashboardAlbert’s centre dashboard console. Simple and functional (click on image to enlarge)

Overall, the dashboard of this Ram 1500 ecoDiesel Tradesman is simple but functional, with no superfluous buttons. Is a navigation system superfluous? When you use this truck to and from work yes, but on a Coast to Coast trip no. Oh well, my iPhone and the Google Maps app are now best mates, and the centre dashboard console screen is content just telling me what song I’m listening to. The three cup holders accommodate every size of Starbucks coffee or watered down McDonalds to-go Coke thanks to flexible rubber padding, and the USB port hidden inside the large container in-between the two front seats enables to both play all the music on my iPhone and keep the latter hidden from view.

Ram 1500 ecoDiesel control barAlbert’s left and sole steering wheel control bar

A few tidbits are a little less intuitive on this Ram 1500 ecoDiesel, starting from the controls on the steering wheel. Keep in mind this is the base model so all controls have been kept to their most pragmatic selves, however I would have liked to avoid fiddling with the radio commands right in the middle of the dashboard every time I wanted to adjust volume or skip to the next song, in the process looking away from the road for a little too long for my liking. There is no right control bar next to the steering wheel, only a left one that controls wipers, on-off headlights and (very feeble) high beams.

Ram 1500 ecoDiesel steering wheel RAlbert’s steering wheel commands (right)

Ram 1500 ecoDiesel steering wheel LAlbert’s steering wheel commands (left)

The steering wheel controls are for (right) cruise control and gears and (left) onboard computer navigation to access things like fuel economy or change the speed measures from mph to km/h. The navigation buttons pictured above somehow required me to always check I was using the correct arrow, forcing me to successively look at the road, the commands, the computer screen, the commands, the screen and back to the road. An arrangement in a cross would remove that need. Also, a simple right control bar just under my right hand on the wheel letting me adjust volume and ‘next’ or ‘prev’ song would be a welcome improvement.

Ram 1500 ecoDiesel coin dispenserAlbert’s oh so quaint coin dispenser

I’ll finish on a favourite of mine: the coin dispenser located inside the central container next to the USB port, keeping Albert in touch with its Tradesman label, roots and target market. I haven’t used it much while driving as all tolls can be paid with bills or card, more as a way to keep my change in eyesight, helping me making sure I spend it all before leaving the country!

The next Report will be dedicated to the Old Route 66, so stay tuned!

Matt Gasnier is based in Sydney, Australia and runs a car sales statistics website and consultancy: BestSellingCars

Thanks to David Curry for all the pictures in this report

Ram 1500 ecoDiesel lights commandAlbert’s headlights commands

Ram 1500 ecoDiesel L front doorAlbert’s electric windows and mirrors commands, located on the left front door.

Stockyards City sceneStockyards City street scene 

Ram 3500 Longhorn2Ram 3500 Longhorn Pickup

 

Cadillac 2 1997 Cadillac DeVille in Oklahoma City

Nissan Altima OklahomaNissan Altima, 1993 Ford F-Series and Lincoln Navigator in Oklahoma City

Ford F150 Oklahoma 2Ford F150 in Stockyards City, Oklahoma

Toyota FJ Cruiser Ford Fusion OklahomaToyota FJ Cruiser and Ford Fusion in Oklahoma City

Cadillac 11997 Cadillac DeVille

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Junkyard Find: 1994 Isuzu Amigo http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/junkyard-find-1994-isuzu-amigo/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/junkyard-find-1994-isuzu-amigo/#comments Wed, 29 Oct 2014 13:00:02 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=937594 Remember the Isuzu Amigo? A descendant of the platform that gave us the Chevy Luv pickup, the Amigo was the cuddly three-door version of the much more popular Isuzu Rodeo. Rodeos are still fairly easy to find here in Colorado, but the Amigo is another story. Here’s a last-year-of sales ’94 I found in a […]

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09 - 1994 Isuzu Amigo Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinRemember the Isuzu Amigo? A descendant of the platform that gave us the Chevy Luv pickup, the Amigo was the cuddly three-door version of the much more popular Isuzu Rodeo. Rodeos are still fairly easy to find here in Colorado, but the Amigo is another story. Here’s a last-year-of sales ’94 I found in a Denver self-service yard a few weeks ago.
03 - 1994 Isuzu Amigo Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis spare has been used up real good!
05 - 1994 Isuzu Amigo Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis vehicle shows all the signs of having been beaten to death by wastoid snowboarders, a common fate for small all-wheel-drive machinery in these parts.
06 - 1994 Isuzu Amigo Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin2.6 liters of screaming Isuzu power.
08 - 1994 Isuzu Amigo Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinNote the shiny paint and outside rear-view mirror held on by duct tape, indicators that this truck went downhill fast once it got into the hands of its final owners.


Like most members of the Isuzu/Vauxhall/Opel Co-Prosperity Sphere, the first-generation Opel MU was available with a bewildering variety of marques and badges. This truck could be purchased as a Chevrolet, a Holden, a Vauxhall, or a Honda, as well as numerous flavors of Isuzu. Here’s a German ad for the ’94 Opel Frontera.

01 - 1994 Isuzu Amigo Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1994 Isuzu Amigo Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1994 Isuzu Amigo Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1994 Isuzu Amigo Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1994 Isuzu Amigo Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1994 Isuzu Amigo Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1994 Isuzu Amigo Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1994 Isuzu Amigo Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1994 Isuzu Amigo Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1994 Isuzu Amigo Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

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