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. Thu, 27 Nov 2014 15:51:57 +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/ Coast to Coast 2014: Among Coffins, Furnaces And Devils In Death Valley http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/coast-coast-2014-among-coffins-furnaces-devils-death-valley/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/coast-coast-2014-among-coffins-furnaces-devils-death-valley/#comments Thu, 27 Nov 2014 14:36:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=952105 Albert’s first incursion below sea level at Badwater, Death Valley CA * You can see all the USA Coast to Coast Reports here! * We now leave Las Vegas to enter the final state of this Coast to Coast trip: California. Crossing the state line, we enter Death Valley National Park and this is the perfect location for […]

The post Coast to Coast 2014: Among Coffins, Furnaces And Devils In Death Valley appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
Albert Badwater with sea levelAlbert’s first incursion below sea level at Badwater, Death Valley CA

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

We now leave Las Vegas to enter the final state of this Coast to Coast trip: California. Crossing the state line, we enter Death Valley National Park and this is the perfect location for an extended photo session with Albert. I give you the Photo Report, California sales data, Death Valley trivia and a review of how Albert coped with Death Valley heat below.

Ford F-150 AmargosaFord F-150 at Amargosa Hotel, Death Valley Junction CA

Just past Nevada is Death Valley Junction, home of the sleepy Amargosa Hotel and… Opera House. Yep. In the middle of the desert. We almost missed this gem and are so glad we persevered despite windows decidedly harbouring a ‘closed until further notice’ look. The Amargosa Opera House, aka Martha Becket’s Opera House (more detail on www.amargosaoperahouse.com), has a fantastic story worth relating here.

In March 1967 while finishing her One Woman Show tour of America, actress, dancer, choreographer and painter Marta Beckett came to Death Valley Junction to repair a flat tire at the former service station. While exploring the abandoned buildings, Marta found the old social hall in pretty bad disrepair. She rented the building, moved and has lived here ever since! Marta began performing to empty seats as she was not known yet, so she decided to paint an audience as murals inside the Opera House. She began performing to a live audience in February 1968 and did so for over 40 years. Now aged 90, Marta still lives in a room in the adjacent Amargosa Hotel, but was resting when we visited. We would definitely have said hi otherwise!

Amargosa (2000), Todd Robinson’s documentary about Marta Becket, won a 2003 Emmy Award for cinematographer Curt Apduhan.

3. Albert Death Valley 1There’s no denying it now Albert…

Less than 20 miles further West from Death Valley Junction is the actual entrance of Death Valley National Park and time for Albert to prove he’s been here with a pose next to the road sign above. It was late September when we visited so still in the midst of summer. As its name indicates, Death Valley is a pretty extreme place to be finding ourselves in. The free Visitor Guide and Map available at information points peppered through the park airs stark warnings for all visitors. Among them:

  • Clothing keeps you cooler. If you are not wearing a shirt, sunglasses and a broad-brimmed hat you are not prepared to walk anywhere in Death Valley! 
  • The most common cause of death in the park is not heat but single car accidents. A moment of inattention can send you, your car and your loved ones flipping into the rocky desert! 

Death valley deaths

But this remains my favourite warning:

  • Do not rely on technology! Your cell phone will not work in most of the park. GPS devices frequently tell Death Valley visitors to turn off well-travelled roads, and take “shortcuts” over the desert and into canyons. Common sense and good judgement are far more reliable

Sadly, Death Valley keeps justifying its name year after year and this Summer there has been 2 heat-related deaths in the valley.

4. Death ValleyThe view upon Death Valley from Coffin Peak

But how hot is it really in Death Valley? Based on temperatures recorded at the official weather station at Furnace Creek down at what felt like the hottest point in the entire National Park, the average maximum temperature is at its coldest in December at 65°F (18°C) but reaches 110°F in June (43°C), 116°F in July (47°C), 115°F in August (46°C) and 106°F in September (41°C). True to form, Albert’s exterior temperature gauge was stuck at a balmy 105°F (40°C) the entire time we were down the Valley. Not that impressive? Wait there’s more…

5. Chevrolet Impala Coffin PeakChevrolet Impala in Coffin Peak, Death Valley CA

The highest temperature ever recorded on earth was at Furnace Creek on 10 July 1913 at 134°F (57°C). A high temperature of 129°F (54°C) is the closest we have come to tying this record and was recorded on 17 July 1998, 6 July 2007 and 30 June 2013. The heat is coming back strong as you can see… Another interesting record is the driest stretch of weather: only 0.64 inches of rain over 40 months between 1931 and 1934.

6. Albert mpg Coffin PeakAlbert’s mpg average right after the Coffin Peak climb – still a very good 24.2 mpg.

One way to escape the heat is to climb the steep paved road to Coffin Peak and Dante’s View, easily the most breathtaking viewpoint in the park, more than 5000ft (1524m) above the floor of Death Valley. From here you can simultaneously spot the highest and lowest points in the contiguous USA: Mount Whitney at 14,505ft and Badwater at 282ft below see level. The climb is harsh but Albert hardly noticed, with no overheating, no engine ventilation on for decades after we parked (contrary to all other vehicles parked here) and a fuel economy average down, granted, but to a still very impressive 24.2 mpg – that’s higher than the EPA average for the all-new 2015 Ford F-150. This would end up being the lowest mpg Albert would display in the entire trip.

7. Chevrolet Spark Coffin PeakChevy Spark and a slew of rentals at Coffin Peak, Death Valley CA

Expectedly, being almost a tourist-only region, 95% of vehicles in circulation in Death Valley are rentals, but interestingly people haven’t seemed to shy away from the smallest, arguably more ‘tender’ options in these harsh conditions like the bright red Chevy Spark pictured above or the Nissan Versa. The traditional rental staples as described in my Monument Valley report are back with a vengeance: Chevy Impala, Tahoe and Suburban as well as GMC Yukon and Yukon XL, along with the Chevrolet Traverse and Buick Enclave as pictured above in Coffin Peak.

8. Albert Coffin Peak 3Albert in Coffin Peak, Death Valley CA

All in all though, the most frequent car in Death Valley is a rental Ford Mustang, seemingly the preferred way to complete a one-day tour from Vegas. I remember last time I was in Vegas there were special offers for 1-day Mustang convertible rentals that made them cheaper than the smallest car available – difficult not to be tempted, and apparently these ‘special’ offers are still on to this date. Talking about the devil/Mustang, I saw a camouflaged 2015 model zip past Albert as well as a hardly-camouflaged Jaguar XE. Death Valley is a notorious extreme weather testing ground and each summer day a couple of manufacturers are torturing prototypes on the valley’s roads. Last time I was here in 1995, I saw a string of Smart Fortwos a full 3 years prior to their European launch, and at the time they weren’t even scheduled for a North American career which made their presence here all the more interesting…

9. Chevron Furnace Creek 1Lucky we didn’t have to refuel here… (in Furnace Creek, Death Valley CA – 22 Sept 2014)

9b. Chevron Shoshone…nor here! (in Shoshone, Death Valley CA – 22 Sept 2014)

Remoteness and being in one of the worst places in the world for a car breakdown have encouraged service stations in the Valley to practice simply outrageous gas prices, a full 2 dollars per gallon above the prices that were the norm in Las Vegas at the time of our visit (see pictures above). These have receded by now but remain way above the national average. According to Gasbuddy.com, as at 27 November the Furnace Creek Chevron station (first picture) was selling Regular Gasoline at $4.22 per gallon and Diesel at $4.51. Shoshone Chevron prices were unavailable, but should still be at a shamefully extravagant $4.50 Gas and $5 Diesel even if they decreased at roughly the same rate as in Furnace Creek. That’s close to double the national average! Funny thing is Shoshone is much closer to ‘civilisation’ than Furnace Creek yet gas prices are even higher.

10. Ford E-350 Furnace CreekFord E-350 in Furnace Creek, Death Valley CA

Furnace Creek perfectly earned its name by displaying a hair dryer-like heated wind that grips you to never leave you alone as soon as you leave the car, making your eyes water. Even though the visitor centre encourages to turn off air con in the car to lessen strain on the cars and minimise the risk of breakdown, I knew Albert wouldn’t let us down, and he didn’t. In fact, our Ram 1500 ecodiesel was at its best in the heat and a mix of gravel roads and seemingly infinite stretches of bitumen. This workhorse is made for galloping.

11. Albert Devils Golf Course 3Albert at Devil’s Golf Course, Death Valley CA

Another attraction right in the bed of Death Valley is Devil’s Golf Course, an immense area of crystallised salt deposited by ancient salt lakes and eroded by wind and rain into jagged spires. So incredibly serrated that “only the devil could play golf on such rough links.”  On a windy day (not when we were there), you can apparently hear a metallic cracking sound as the salt pinnacles expand and contract.

12. Devils Golf Course 2Devil’s Golf Course, Death Valley CA

13. Devils Golf Course 3Devil’s Golf Course, Death Valley CA

14. BadwaterBadwater, Death Valley CA

Finally our last stop in Death Valley was Badwater, the lowest point in the Western Hemisphere (read the Americas) at 282ft or 85.5m below see level. Death Valley belongs to a worldwide geographic rogues. Finding oneself below sea level is an extremely rare occurrence, a map displayed at Badwaters actually shows only 16 other ‘minus’ locations worldwide, including the Dead Sea in Jordan/Israel at -1360ft / -414m, Lake Assal in Djibouti at – 508ft / – 155m and Lake Eyre in Australia at -49ft / -15m. Like most of these locations, Death Valley was not created by a river’s erosion. Movements in the earth’s crust have dropped it to such great depths.

14. Matt BadwaterIt’s bloody hot out here! In Badwater, Death Valley CA

We’ll finish on the official best-sellers in California, although as we have seen earlier, these do not translate into the car landscape of Death Valley, but are rather a reflection of the Los Angeles and San Francisco markets.

Best-sellers in California – Full Year 2013:

Pos Model 2013
1 Toyota Prius (all models) 69,728
2 Honda Civic 66,982
3 Honda Accord 63,194
4 Toyota Camry 56,788
5 Toyota Corolla 52,167
6 Ford F-Series 41,671
7 Honda CR-V 31,850
8 Nissan Altima 31,029
9 Toyota Tacoma 28,182
10 BMW 3 Series 27,026

California is the second state and in this trip after New York to not feature any pickup truck in its official Top 5 best-sellers, with the Ford F-Series ranking at a paltry 6th place, and the Toyota Tacoma at #9. One can argue the Honda Civic is the real Californian best-seller, as the entire Prius family (including the c small car and the v MPV) is accounted for in its sales figure. Honda also brilliantly places the Accord at #3 and the CR-V at #7 while Toyota positions the Camry at #4 and Corolla at #5. Very impressive performance of the BMW 3 Series in 10th place with over 27,000 sales.

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

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

15. Toyota Corolla BadwaterToyota Corolla in Badwater, Death Valley CA

Albert Devils Golf Course 1Albert at Devil’s Golf Course, Death Valley CA

AmargosaDeath Valley Junction CA

Amargosa HotelAmargosa Hotel, Death Valley Junction CA

Albert NevadaAlbert in Nevada just before the California state line 

Land Rover Freelander AmargosaLand Rover Freelander at Death Valley Junction, CA

Dodge Ram 3500 AmargosaDodge Ram 3500 at Death Valley Junction CA

Albert AmargosaAlbert at Amargosa Hotel, Death Valley Junction CA

Nissan Sentra Coffin PeakNissan Sentra in Coffin Peak, Death Valley CA

Albert Coffin Peak 1Albert Coffin Peak 2Albert in Coffin Peak, Death Valley CA

Chevron Furnace Creek 2Chevron Furnace Creek, Death Valley CA

Furnace Creek RanchFurnace Creek Ranch, Death Valley CA

Devils Golf Course 1Devil’s Golf Course, Death Valley CA

Albert Devils Golf Course 2Albert at Devil’s Golf Course, Death Valley CA

Chevrolet Tahoe BadwaterChevrolet Tahoe in Badwater, Death Valley CA

Albert BadwaterAlbert in Badwater, Death Valley CA

The post Coast to Coast 2014: Among Coffins, Furnaces And Devils In Death Valley appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/coast-coast-2014-among-coffins-furnaces-devils-death-valley/feed/ 3
GM Recalls 988 Dealerships http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/gm-recall-988-dealerships/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/gm-recall-988-dealerships/#comments Wed, 26 Nov 2014 16:44:37 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=947185 In an unprecedented move that has sent chills down the white-belted spines of American car dealers, General Motors has declared nearly 1,000 of its 4,355 US retailers as “unfit and downright dangerous” to its customers and will be recalled immediately. GM Vice-President of Franchise Dealer Relations Bentley Reuss said in a news conference in Detroit […]

The post GM Recalls 988 Dealerships appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
Closed Chevy Store Courtesy rekarchitects.con

In an unprecedented move that has sent chills down the white-belted spines of American car dealers, General Motors has declared nearly 1,000 of its 4,355 US retailers as “unfit and downright dangerous” to its customers and will be recalled immediately.

GM Vice-President of Franchise Dealer Relations Bentley Reuss said in a news conference in Detroit today that the manufacturer was, “equally concerned about our customers’ emotional and mental well-being as we were with their physical health when we did the ignition recall. When GM dealers berate car buyers, throw the keys to the their trades on the roof and fail to disclose products like Lifetime Tire Nitrogen on their contracts, it hurts our mutual clients.”

Reuss noted that an independent survey of recent buyers of GM products identified 988 dealers who handled the sales process poorly. Reuss was quick to point out this was not a termination of the affected retailers’ dealer agreements as that would be prohibited by state auto dealers franchise laws. “We had a ton of our recall lawyers about to bolt to Takata,” said Reuss. “We put them to work reviewing the state laws and they found there was nothing prohibiting a manufacturer from recalling a dealer when customer’s mental health was put in danger by a dealer.”

When asked about why this groundbreaking action was taken, in spite of the company’s excellent showing in the recent J. D. Power Sales Satisfaction survey, Reuss laughed and said, “You mean J.D. Monopoly? We and our dealers control that survey 100%. Let’s just say that it is amazing what free oil changes can do. We did our own independent survey which yielded accurate results.”

Reuss admitted that the dealer abuse of car buyers had been going on “for some time” but that GM senior management was never told about it until earlier this year and that the person in charge of customer satisfaction initiatives has been fired.

Empty-Car-Lot-Courtesy aldersonarts.com

Reaction from the recalled dealers was predictable. Said David White, owner of Brandywine Chevrolet in suburban Philadelphia, “Its ironic that when business is bad, GM wants you to move the iron at any cost, customer satisfaction be damned.  We’ve sold a ton of cars for Chevy and this is the thanks we get. The funny thing is that our local GM factory guy was in my office when the announcement came out and he was not told about it. It didn’t stop him from trying to sell us some of those crappy Volts, though.”

Recalled dealers’ inventory will be shipped to the nearest same-franchise dealership, with the exception of the Corvette which will be redistributed at “the local Zone Manager’s discretion,” said Reuss.

Reuss noted that their review also uncovered 28 Pontiac, Oldsmobile and Saab stores still in operation despite the elimination of those franchises in the late 2000’s. Those retailers will be terminated rather than recalled. “Those dealerships were actually showing great customer satisfaction numbers so we are sad to see them go. Again,” said Reuss.

Tesla stock rose on the GM recall news, though founder Elon Musk said, “There goes our plans to partner with Cadillac next year to sell our cars.”

If you couldn’t already tell, this is a satirical article. -Ed.

The post GM Recalls 988 Dealerships appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/gm-recall-988-dealerships/feed/ 66
Editorial: The Last Of The Manual Acuras http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/editorial-last-manual-acuras/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/editorial-last-manual-acuras/#comments Wed, 26 Nov 2014 15:49:53 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=951625 As part of Acura’s plans to “rationalize” (as the b-school buzzword goes) the ILX’s powertrains, the 6-speed stick shift is dead, replaced by an all-new 8-speed dual clutch gearbox. It also marks the end of an era for the brand. Acura has slowly killed off the manual in successive product lines. The now-dead TL and […]

The post Editorial: The Last Of The Manual Acuras appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
2016 Acura ILX

As part of Acura’s plans to “rationalize” (as the b-school buzzword goes) the ILX’s powertrains, the 6-speed stick shift is dead, replaced by an all-new 8-speed dual clutch gearbox. It also marks the end of an era for the brand.

Acura has slowly killed off the manual in successive product lines. The now-dead TL and TSX were notable for offering manual gearboxes that represented the best of what Honda had to offer: crisp-shifting stick shifts that were the benchmark for modern day manuals. They were easily as good as any Miata gearbox, and it’s still hard to believe that such amazing manual transmissions were created for a front-drive transverse application. In my mind, they’ve never been equaled.

I wish I could say it was a surprising development, but this is how things are shaking out. Lexus is devoid of manuals, and the only Infiniti with three-pedals is the Q60 Coupe – a model set to be replaced next year. There’s a very good chance it will return sans a stick shift. If you want one of Honda’s world famous manuals, you still have some options: the Fit, Civic and Accord can be had that way. There will even be an HR-V that lets you row your own. But we’re all acutely aware that it’s not the same thing.

The post Editorial: The Last Of The Manual Acuras appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/editorial-last-manual-acuras/feed/ 92
Dispatches do Brasil: Shattered Glass And Small Pickups http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/dispatches-brasil-shattered-glass-small-pickups/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/dispatches-brasil-shattered-glass-small-pickups/#comments Wed, 26 Nov 2014 15:31:11 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=951553 Youthful exuberance or nihilism? Urban despair or boredom? Lack of repression and punishment or the inevitable result of the marked differences in income and social-economic status in Brazil? All these questions sprang into my mind as I walked back to the car and saw it there, its back hatch window violated by a brick. A […]

The post Dispatches do Brasil: Shattered Glass And Small Pickups appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
20141125_124218

Youthful exuberance or nihilism? Urban despair or boredom? Lack of repression and punishment or the inevitable result of the marked differences in income and social-economic status in Brazil? All these questions sprang into my mind as I walked back to the car and saw it there, its back hatch window violated by a brick.

A quick stop at the supermarket became a full-blown shopping excursion, so instead of the 10 minute affair, it takes longer, much longer. As luck would have it, the parking lot was full, so I parked on a side street off to the side of the place. A mere hour later I return and the Sandero is there, looking forlorn, the back window smashed. Looking around I see everyone going about their business and avoiding eye contact, so no witness I guess. I quickly survey the damage, put the purchases on top of the many millions of glass shreds on the back seat, open the hatch and all the books, sweater and umbrella I had there are still there. I take off my shirt to brush aside as best I can the glass on the driver’s seat and, as there is nothing I can do, I get in and decide to head back home. Before going off in that direction, I feel the need to drive around the block once to see if I could make out anything or anyone suspicious. Glad I did because as now I think I can understand what happened.

Back a ways from where I had parked the car, there is a house undergoing some construction. The work nearly done, the workers put excess bricks out on the sidewalk and somebody would surely come collect them up later. Some simpleton must have walked by, seen the bricks, picked one up on a whim and decided to smash my car window in, for “fun” I guess. Being that the incident happened in the middle of the morning with plenty of people around, it seems to me the most plausible explanation. I decide to put it down to youthful exuberance or nihilism…

Living in Brazil, being 43 years of age, and driving (officially) since the age of 20, besides owning a car since 18, I am not unduly bothered by this. Sure it sucks, but I had never before been the victim of any sort of violence. I have never been mugged, my car has never been broken into, nor any of the houses I’ve lived in. To be honest, not many of my friends have suffered this kind of thing either. It could be that Belo Horizonte is still a nicer, calmer sort of place than Rio or São Paulo. Or it could just be that there is a huge personal security business feeding and feeding off of a sort of generalized fear, creating something bigger out of something that exists, but that they only stand to benefit from, blowing it out of proportion.

What I am bothered by though is my insurance company’s handling of the matter. Smashed windows are covered, but it will take a week for it to be fixed. It takes them that much time for them to set me up on a date with a company specialized in changing car windows, or one day more for a technician to pay me a house call and change the window on my premises. What is a day more, I think, so I set the house visit. In traditional Brazilian business practice, the visit would happen at any time during commercial hours (from 8am to 6pm), so I guess I’m stuck home for the day.

The technician arrives around 10 and I immediately notice his car. A mini-truck, it is the famous Chevrolet Montana, exported to Mexico and similar to the often discussed on TTAC Fiat Strada and Volkswagen Saveiro. Due to clever packaging and some well-designed accessories, the Montana is very well equipped for this business. As examples, the man’s tools are all contained in a tray he can easily pull from under the window’s support mechanism, which in its turn can carry around 10 window panes I believe. Capable of hauling around 600 or so kilos and served with a 106hp, 1.4 engine, the trucklet is capable of serving this and other business applications more than adequately.

As the man worked, I took pictures of his car. Surprisingly to me, this one was equipped with air conditioning. I am very happy to see this as I realize Brazilian businesses are finally giving their employees a degree of necessary respect. As a car guy, I naturally ask him how old the car is and he tells me it is two years old.  He has driven almost 150,000 kilometers in it over the period serving Belo Horizonte and other cities in a 250 kilometer radius. To my eyes the interior looks sharp after all this while, with the same gimmicky flat-bottomed steering wheel sold to private buyers. The fabrics have held up well too, though I do notice the driver’s seat is covered. Simple stuff, but made to last.

The worker tells me the car has not skipped a beat in this time and mileage. The company is fastidious about maintenance and believes the preventive sort is the way to go. As such, it has gone in for a dealer pit-stop every 10 thousand kilometers as GM recommends. Using Brazilian ethanol-laced gasoline (to the tune of 30% sugarcane content), the car returns a steady 8 to 10 km/l in the city and about 15 on the road (the car has a system to monitor the driver, so that figure seems good to me). This small GM power unit is quite square, meaning it doesn’t like to rev, but has ample low end torque and will provide adequate economy if driven conservatively.

I ask him how long they keep the cars and he tells me the Montana will be gone by year-end. The company will then buy a new batch and it could be any of the small trucks available in the Brazilian market, Strada, Saveiro or a Chevy again. I ask him his preference, he smiles coyly and says he’d pick the Saveiro. I inquire as to why and he says that truck is a much better looker and that guys and gals talk to him about it though for different reasons…

After about half an hour his work is done and he goes off to change another couple of windows. As I see the little Montana speeding away, I can’t help but ponder on my friends at TTAC, most especially my American ones. How would their experience compare? I decide that if such a service exists there, the technician would have showed up in some sort of V8 Ecoline van, or F250. That thought conjures up right away the word “why”. The Montana availed itself of the job at hand nicely, doing it so economically, capably and reliability.

I can’t help but to think on the American lifestyle and its consequences. Everything seems so big and can be done and had so cheaply. However, it does seem that my amigos americanos are enamored of bringing a machine gun to what essentially amounts to a knife fight (most small business applications like home repairs and maintenance and such). Or, alternatively, it could just be that the rest of the world is just too poor and unable to enjoy the finer things in life.

Unlike my smashed window and the brick laying the car, I have no answer for that question, nothing to plausibly base an opinion on. As such we use the instruments at hand, and here in Brazil and elsewhere, U.S. included, I foresee a long future for the car-based mini-truck. Somehow I suspect though the future for full size pickups, even if all-aluminum, especially for use in mundane tasks, may probably not be so bright.

 

 

20141125_124155 20141125_124205 20141125_124218 20141125_124220 20141125_125642 20141125_125650 20141125_125702

The post Dispatches do Brasil: Shattered Glass And Small Pickups appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/dispatches-brasil-shattered-glass-small-pickups/feed/ 72
Coast to Coast 2014: Las Vegas, Nevada http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/coast-coast-2014-las-vegas-nevada/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/coast-coast-2014-las-vegas-nevada/#comments Wed, 26 Nov 2014 15:18:35 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=951513 Tonka-tuned Ford F-150. How perfectly Vegas. * You can see all the USA Coast to Coast Reports here! * We are now leaving in our path beautiful Monument Valley to drive through Arizona and arrive in Las Vegas, Nevada. A very different official Top 5 best-selling models than the entirety of the dozen states we have just crossed, some […]

The post Coast to Coast 2014: Las Vegas, Nevada appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
Ford F-150 Tonka Las VegasTonka-tuned Ford F-150. How perfectly Vegas.

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

We are now leaving in our path beautiful Monument Valley to drive through Arizona and arrive in Las Vegas, Nevada. A very different official Top 5 best-selling models than the entirety of the dozen states we have just crossed, some crazy Vegas vehicles, the traditional car landscape analysis and all the things you didn’t think you needed to know about the state of Nevada are below.

Nissan Versa Albert Las VegasNissan Versa with Albert and um.. Las Vegas in the background 

Although Nevada is mostly desert and happens to be the driest state in the entire United States, its name comes from the Spanish nevada, meaning “snow-covered”, after the Sierra Nevada, a mountain range now almost completely located in California. Confused? I was too. Daytime summer temperatures rise as high as 125 °F (52 °C) compared to nighttime winters getting as cold as −50 °F (−46 °C). Surely one of the widest temperature differences in the whole country. The land corresponding to present day Nevada used to be part of the Viceroyalty of New Spain, becoming Mexico in 1821, then gained by the United States in 1848 after the Mexican-American War. Nevada became the 36th state in 1864, as the second of two states added to the Union during the Civil War- the first being West Virginia).

Chevrolet C3500 Las VegasChevrolet C3500 in Las Vegas NV

Population-wise, talking about Nevada roughly equates talking about Las Vegas, as over two thirds of the 2.8m strong population of the state lives in the Clark County – Las Vegas metropolitan area. This also means around 75% of all cars roaming the state do so in or around Las Vegas, having a big impact on which nameplates are the most popular here as we’ll see shortly.  With a population of just 40,000 in 1900, Nevada was then and by far the least populated state in the country, however establishment of legalised gambling and lenient marriage and divorce laws transformed the state into a major tourist destination, with the myriad of jobs associated with it. Also, Nevada is the only state where prostitution is legal, though it is illegal in Clark County and Washoe County which contain Las Vegas and Reno, respectively.

Albert Nissan Versa Note Las VegasAlbert smartly posing next to an Albertsons sign and Nissan Versa Note near Henderson NV (one of the fastest growing cities in the USA)

From the end of World War II onwards all the way up to 2003, Nevada’s population was the fastest-growing in the US percentage-wise. For example, between 1990 and 2000, Nevada’s population increased 66%, while the USA’s population as a whole increased by just 13%. This population increase owes a lot to immigration rather than natural growth, and today, the majority of the population in Las Vegas and Reno (the two main metropolitan areas in the state) was born in another state or country. Also worthy of note is the fact that in 2010, illegal immigrants constituted an estimated 8.8% of the population, the highest percentage of any state in the country.

Nowadays the fastest-growing areas have ‘migrated’ (no pun intended) to the outskirts of Las Vegas, with northern suburbs Henderson and North Las Vegas among the USA’s top 20 fastest-growing cities of over 100,000. Final piece of trivia: the capital importance of tourism in Nevada translates into a record: the most hotel rooms per capita in the United States. Nevada has one hotel room for every 14 residents, compared to a national average of one hotel room per 67 residents.

5. Nissan Altima Las VegasThe Nissan Altima, not the Ford F-150, is the best-selling vehicle in Nevada. 

Best-selling light vehicles in Nevada – Full Year 2013:

Pos Model 2013
1 Nissan Altima 4,590
2 Toyota Corolla 3,923
3 Hyundai Elantra 3,280
4 Toyota Camry 3,243
5 Ford F-150 2,781

Source: JATO Dynamics

Instead of speculating any further, now that you know everything worth knowing about Nevada, let’s get straight into official sales figures, courtesy of JATO Dynamics. And what a different sales charts this is. Due to the almost total urbanisation of the population, pickup sales are very, very much lower than almost every other state in the country. The best-selling pickup is, expectedly, the Ford F-150 but it only ranks 5th here with just 60% of the leader’s sales. If you have been following this series for a while now the best-seller in Nevada won’t really be a surprise…

6. Toyota Corolla Las VegasThe Toyota Corolla is #2 in Nevada. Here in Las Vegas about to get a hair cut AND a tattoo.

We have seen that as we get closer to Mexico, Nissan gets stronger and stronger in the sales charts. This reflects the growing share of Hispanics in the states’ population and their preference for Japanese and Korean brands, notably Nissan which is by far the most popular manufacturer in Mexico with 1 in every 4 sales. The Nissan Altima then very logically takes the lead of the Nevada sales charts in 2013, with 17% more sales than the Toyota Corolla, making its first appearance in the official Top 5 of any state we have crossed so far at #2. The Hyundai Elantra and Toyota Camry make up the rest of a Top 4 100% non-American. For more detail on the car buying preferences of America’s ethnic population check out the New Mexico article here.

7. Toyota Tundra Las VegasWalmart and Toyota Tundra: two staples of the Las Vegas landscape.

Outside the official Top 5 best-sellers, the following nameplates struck me as particularly successful in Las Vegas. The Nissan Versa is the (rental) Hero in Town, with the Sentra also very frequent. We’ve seen that pickup trucks are markedly less popular here than almost all states we have visited so far bar perhaps New York and Washington DC, and this is verified in Vegas streets. The Toyota Tundra could come as ‘high’ as #2 pickup truck in Vegas after the F-150 based on its frequency in the areas of town I have visited – though that doesn’t mean it would rank inside the overall Top 10 or even Top 20. I also spotted a few new generation Chrysler 200 (almost certainly rentals) and an unusually high amount of Toyota Avalon.

Ford F-150 Las Vegas 2Ford F-150 in Las Vegas NV

Not unlike in Albuquerque, driving away from the overly touristic Vegas Strip is the perfect way to get lost in deserted streets and come face-to-face with a flurry of cool, vintage pickups, some of them almost in mint condition. Ford F-150 and Chevy Silverado of all ages still grace the back streets of Las Vegas today.

Las Vegas street sceneLas Vegas street scene

The taxis in circulation in the city are also a unique mix of previous gens Chevy Impala and Malibu, previous gen Ford Escape hybrid, Dodge Grand Caravan, Scion xB (the first time I see such an important a fleet of Scion taxis during this trip) and Toyota Prius. Trying to be eco-friendly here, the taxis of Las Vegas, as if to try and be forgiven for all the sinning (?) happening on a daily basis in town.

Las Vegas street scene 2Las Vegas street scene

I know what you’re thinking: here I am writing a report about Las Vegas and there hasn’t been any exclamation mark in sight yet. The casinos! The Strip! The gambling! The lights! The Wynn Hotel! The wedding chapels inside the casinos! The Cirque du Soleil shows! Alcohol! Drugs! Food buffets! Cigars! Vice! I guess I must be getting old, or I have been here too many times already. This is the third time in fact, and although the first two left me mesmerised by so much excess, so much money flowing into oblivion and so much air conditioning in the middle of the desert, this time I found Vegas tired.

Dodge Ram Las VegasDodge Ram at Casino Royale, Las Vegas NV

Perhaps it was just me that was starting to get tired, with now almost 5000 miles since my New York departure. I found the Beatles Cirque du Soleil show very professional, enthusiastic but copy-pasted, the Strip actually rather depressing under the rain, and the Top of the World panoramic restaurant’s waitresses’ smile just that tad bit too forced to make us feel really welcome. But I’m sure Vegas will be reborn shortly, as it has done so many times in the past.

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

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

Nissan Sentra Las VegasNissan Sentra in Las Vegas NV

Ford F-150 Las VegasFord F-150 in Las Vegas NV

Albert Toyota 4Runner Las VegasAlbert and Toyota 4Runner in Las Vegas NV

Chevrolet Impala detail Las VegasChevrolet Impala detail in Las Vegas NV

Hummer Las VegasHummer and Encore/Wynn twin hotels in Las Vegas NV

The post Coast to Coast 2014: Las Vegas, Nevada appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/coast-coast-2014-las-vegas-nevada/feed/ 15
Junkyard Find: 1973 Volkswagen LT 28 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/junkyard-find-1973-volkswagen-lt-28/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/junkyard-find-1973-volkswagen-lt-28/#comments Wed, 26 Nov 2014 14:00:46 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=950569 As far as I know, the Volkswagen LT van was never sold new in the United States, and this is the first one I’ve ever seen in an American wrecking yard. At first glance, I assumed it was some sort of Grumman or specialty body on a Big Three chassis. But as soon as I […]

The post Junkyard Find: 1973 Volkswagen LT 28 appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
18 - 1973 Volkswagen LT28 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinAs far as I know, the Volkswagen LT van was never sold new in the United States, and this is the first one I’ve ever seen in an American wrecking yard. At first glance, I assumed it was some sort of Grumman or specialty body on a Big Three chassis.
09 - 1973 Volkswagen LT28 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinBut as soon as I saw this VW/Audi four-cylinder in the front, I knew I was looking at something German (and incredibly, dangerously slow).
06 - 1973 Volkswagen LT28 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinIt makes sense that someone in the San Francisco Bay Area would want to drive a European-market box truck, and it has the stickers to suit that image.
10 - 1973 Volkswagen LT28 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinLooks like a very useful vehicle for urban deliveries, though extended highway drives must have been pretty miserable with double-digit horsepower moving this big box.
15 - 1973 Volkswagen LT28 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinPlenty of cargo space.

01 - 1973 Volkswagen LT28 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1973 Volkswagen LT28 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1973 Volkswagen LT28 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1973 Volkswagen LT28 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1973 Volkswagen LT28 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1973 Volkswagen LT28 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1973 Volkswagen LT28 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1973 Volkswagen LT28 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1973 Volkswagen LT28 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1973 Volkswagen LT28 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1973 Volkswagen LT28 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1973 Volkswagen LT28 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1973 Volkswagen LT28 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1973 Volkswagen LT28 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - 1973 Volkswagen LT28 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 16 - 1973 Volkswagen LT28 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 17 - 1973 Volkswagen LT28 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 18 - 1973 Volkswagen LT28 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 19 - 1973 Volkswagen LT28 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 20 - 1973 Volkswagen LT28 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

The post Junkyard Find: 1973 Volkswagen LT 28 appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/junkyard-find-1973-volkswagen-lt-28/feed/ 72
Junkyard Find: 1977 Chevrolet Nova Coupe http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/junkyard-find-1977-chevrolet-nova-coupe/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/junkyard-find-1977-chevrolet-nova-coupe/#comments Tue, 25 Nov 2014 17:30:35 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=950249 The fourth-generation Chevrolet Nova sold in huge numbers, wasn’t a bad car by the standards of its time, and stayed on the street in significant quantities well into the 1990s. However, the Malaise Era Nova just never gathered much of an enthusiast following compared to its predecessors— if you want to restore a Nova these […]

The post Junkyard Find: 1977 Chevrolet Nova Coupe appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
12 - 1977 Chevrolet Nova Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe fourth-generation Chevrolet Nova sold in huge numbers, wasn’t a bad car by the standards of its time, and stayed on the street in significant quantities well into the 1990s. However, the Malaise Era Nova just never gathered much of an enthusiast following compared to its predecessors— if you want to restore a Nova these days, you’ll get a ’64 or ’70, not a ’78— so the few remaining survivors go right to the scrapper when they die. Here’s a very worn-out example that I saw in California last week.

I’m quite familiar with this generation of Nova, having owned a $50 beater as an extra car in the early 1990s.
07 - 1977 Chevrolet Nova Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinMine had the 250-cubic-inch L6, just like this one. It was slow and plasticky and the ride was nowhere near luxurious, but it worked every time I wanted it to.
19 - 1977 Chevrolet Nova Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis one had factory air conditioning. Turning on the AC on the highway probably felt similar to hitting the parking brake.
03 - 1977 Chevrolet Nova Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinSomeone grabbed the interior, perhaps for a Seville.

03 - 1977 Chevrolet Nova Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1977 Chevrolet Nova Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1977 Chevrolet Nova Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1977 Chevrolet Nova Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1977 Chevrolet Nova Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1977 Chevrolet Nova Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1977 Chevrolet Nova Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1977 Chevrolet Nova Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1977 Chevrolet Nova Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 16 - 1977 Chevrolet Nova Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 17 - 1977 Chevrolet Nova Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 19 - 1977 Chevrolet Nova Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

The post Junkyard Find: 1977 Chevrolet Nova Coupe appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/junkyard-find-1977-chevrolet-nova-coupe/feed/ 90
Editorial: Look To The Future For Further Ford Fuel Savings http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/editorial-look-future-ford-fuel-savings/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/editorial-look-future-ford-fuel-savings/#comments Mon, 24 Nov 2014 17:00:37 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=950129 With its unprecedented shift to an aluminum body for the next Ford F-150, the Blue Oval appeared to be pivoting towards a serious improvement in fuel economy. But with the release of the official EPA figures, the newest truck appears to offer only modest improvements. Ford’s own release stresses a comparison between the new truck […]

The post Editorial: Look To The Future For Further Ford Fuel Savings appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
30-mpg-600x421

With its unprecedented shift to an aluminum body for the next Ford F-150, the Blue Oval appeared to be pivoting towards a serious improvement in fuel economy. But with the release of the official EPA figures, the newest truck appears to offer only modest improvements.

Ford’s own release stresses a comparison between the new truck and the 2008 model equipped with the now obsolete 4.6L V8 engine. One could make the argument that Ford is attempting to show how a returning customer might see significant gains from his old, V8 truck versus a brand new Ecoboost V6 rig. But Ford also didn’t compare the figures to the outgoing 2014 model, which is the typical convention.

That may be because the gains, on paper, are modest at best. Of the two carry-over engines, the 3.5L Ecoboost now returns 17/24/20 mpg (city/highway/combined), versus 16/22/18 mpg for the 2014 model. The 5.0L now gets 15/22/18 mpg versus 15/21/17 mpg. And the Ecoboost engines are notorious for doing well on standard EPA tests, while delivering lower results in real world driving.

If Ford’s past product rollouts are any indication, we will see incremental improvements over the next few years. A 10-speed automatic, due within the next 1-2 years, is sure to add further improvements in fuel economy. A new V6 diesel engine, set to compete with the Ram 1500 and its 28 mpg highway rating, is also said to be in the works.

 

The post Editorial: Look To The Future For Further Ford Fuel Savings appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/editorial-look-future-ford-fuel-savings/feed/ 117
Coast to Coast 2014: Monument Valley, Arizona-Utah http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/coast-coast-2014-monument-valley-arizona-utah/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/coast-coast-2014-monument-valley-arizona-utah/#comments Mon, 24 Nov 2014 16:23:21 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=950065 Albert all set for his first Hollywood movie. * You can see all my USA Coast to Coast Reports here! * I think most of you will agree that a Coast to Coast trip wouldn’t be complete without the obligatory stop at the very photogenic Monument Valley. So after pausing in New Mexico at Albuquerque and Gallup, we […]

The post Coast to Coast 2014: Monument Valley, Arizona-Utah appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
Albert Monument Valley 1Albert all set for his first Hollywood movie.

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

I think most of you will agree that a Coast to Coast trip wouldn’t be complete without the obligatory stop at the very photogenic Monument Valley. So after pausing in New Mexico at Albuquerque and Gallup, we now drive north on US 163 to reach the legendary set of so many Hollywood Western movies, located across the Arizona/Utah state line. The vehicle landscape analysis, official sales data, a special feature on the most popular rental cars in the country, an update on how my valiant Ram 1500 EcoDiesel (Albert) is behaving and a healthy amount of spectacular and oh-so American pictures are below.

Gallup Las VegasToday’s New Mexico-Arizona-Utah-Nevada stretch, courtesy of Google Maps.

Ford F-150 ArizonaFord F-150 in Arizona

Crossing Arizona on the way to Monument Valley, the ratio of pickup trucks in the traffic goes up to 70% compared to around 60% in New Mexico before crossing the Arizona state line, logically as this is one of the most remote and rural parts of Arizona. The new generation GMC Sierra is stronger than usual, Ram pickups are now almost exclusively the Tradesman base model identical to the one I am driving (Albert) and there is a strong heritage of previous generation Chrysler 200 but no new gen yet. The Ford F-150 2-door base model like the one pictured above rules Arizona roads as it does in numerous U.S. states.

Nissan Altima Monument ValleyNissan Altima in Monument Valley AZ

The most recent Arizona sales data I managed to get my hands on dates back from the first half of 2012, courtesy of MSN Autos. At the time, the Ford F-150 logically topped the sales charts with 5,839 units, but the two other nameplates on the podium are a bit of a surprise: the Ford E-250 at #2 makes its first appearance that high in a sales ranking so far in this Coast to Coast trip, simply because rental company U-Haul registers most of its E-Series models in this state, and the Nissan Altima ranks third, confirming the trend that dictates U.S. states close to the Mexican border to particularly favour Nissans.

UPDATE: JATO Dynamics has now made Full Year 2013 data available to me for Arizona and the results are very different.

Best-selling light vehicle in Arizona – 2013:

Pos Model 2013
1 Chevrolet Silverado 8,022
2 Ford F-150 7,362
3 GMC Sierra 6,893
4 Ram Pickup 5,959
5 Toyota Camry 3,953

Source: JATO Dynamics

The Chevrolet Silverado spectacularly takes the lead thanks to the new model, it is the second state the Silverado wins so far in this Coast to Coast trip after Oklahoma. The F-150 comes at a close second followed by the GMC Sierra hitting its best state ranking so far (my observations are finding their confirmation here) and passing the Ram Pick-up. The Toyota Camry is the only passenger car in the Top 5.

Dodge Ram Monument ValleyDodge Ram 1500 in Monument Valley AZ

Even though we only dipped into Utah to enter the Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, with the valley drive located entirely in Arizona, I thought it’d still be worthwhile sharing some official Utah models sales data, as this is what I do after all!

UPDATE Best-selling light vehicles in Utah – Full Year 2013:

Pos Model 2013
1 Ram Pickup 5,211
2 Ford F-150 4,164
3 Chevrolet Silverado 3,212
4 Hyundai Elantra 2,425
5 Chevrolet Cruze 2,122

Source: JATO Dynamics

Surprise on top: the Ram pickup is the most popular vehicle in Utah, topping a state’s sales charts for the first time so far in this Coast to Coast trip thanks to 5,211 units sold state-wide, a comfortable 25% margin over the Ford F-150 in 2nd position. The Chevrolet Silverado logically rounds up the podium but the remaining two nameplates in the Top 5 appear at this level for the first time: the Hyundai Elantra brilliantly takes the lead of passenger cars at #4 ahead of the Chevrolet Cruze.

Monument Valley 1Monument Valley AZ

From halfway between Gallup and Monument Valley onwards, the majority of the traffic is composed of rental vehicles as this qualifies as one of the most touristic areas in the country. Most popular are the Chevrolet Captiva, Equinox and the ever-present Impala, Nissan Versa, Sentra and Kia Sorento. The Ford Explorer seems to be the only ‘legit’ Arizona success on our journey – read not rental-based. Not long ago, The Truth About Cars published info about America’s top rental cars and this confirms my observations in and around Monument Valley.

America Top rentals. Picture courtesy of Polk Automotive

In 2013, almost all Chevy Captivas (now discontinued) went to rental fleets and nearly 75% of GMC Yukon XL did. This is indeed a model I have encountered at a very high rate since the start of this Coast to Coast trip, along with the GMC Yukon coming at #7 and a bit above 40% and the Chevrolet Suburban at #8 and a round 40%. Unsurprisingly, the Chevrolet Impala is 4th in the list of cars with the highest sales ratio to rental fleets at just under 60% and the Chrysler 200 ranks 6th, while 3 Dodge close the Top 16: the Avenger, Caravan/Grand Caravan and Charger.

Monument Valley 2Monument Valley AZ

Now that we have cleared the sales aspects of both Arizona and Utah, let’s get into some Monument Valley trivia. This is the second time I visit this breathtakingly beautiful region, the first time was exactly 20 years ago. I will never forget how shocked I was that the area was actually so small, with in fact only a handful of these striking-looking buttes. These have featured in so many movies, ads and TV shows that if you have never visited the area it is easy to imagine that the entire West of the country looks like this. In the words of movie critic Keith Phipps: “Its five square miles have defined what decades of moviegoers think of when they imagine the American West.”

Stagecoach. Picture courtesy nytimes.comA scene of Hollywood movie Stagecoach set in Monument Valley.

Monument Valley has been featured in at least 50 Hollywood movies. The first one, John Ford’s 1939 film Stagecoach, starring John Wayne, has had an enduring influence in making the Valley famous. John Ford shot a whopping nine additional Westerns in the Valley, including My Darling Clementine (1946), Fort Apache (1948), She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949), Wagon Master (1950), Rio Grande (1950), The Searchers (1956) and How The West Was Won (1962).

Albert Monument Valley 3Albert in Monument Valley AZ

Other notable Hollywood movies featuring Monument Valley include Billy the Kid (1941), Angel and the Badman (1947), Sergio Leone‘s Once Upon a Time in the West (1968), Easy Rider (1968), 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), Thelma & Louise (1991)Forrest Gump (1994) and Mission: Impossible II (2000). Most recently, in 2014’s most popular movie at the worldwide box-office Transformers: Age of Extinctionthe scene in which the surviving Autobots reunite was shot in Monument Valley.

Monument Valley 3Monument Valley AZ

Monument Valley pickup trucksMonument Valley pickup trucks

The implied association with John Wayne’s tough, macho character also made the Monument Valley buttes a natural choice as the background for the Marlboro Man from the 1950s onwards. Finally, the rugged desert scenery for the Coyote and Road Runner cartoons takes much of its inspiration from Monument Valley.

Albert ArizonaAlbert getting some Love’s after being pushed hard.

This is the part of the trip where we pushed Albert a little more than before: the Monument Valley drive is 100% unsealed and at time rather abrupt climbs or drops. For the first time in this trip I was glad to be driving a pickup truck with a 4WD option rather than a standard sedan rattling its bumpers on scorched rocks. Don’t get me wrong this was no harsh terrain, but having to slow to an almost stop in order to negotiate ruts wasn’t uncommon. Also, the way to and from Monument Valley had very little traffic so we encouraged Albert all the way to 100mph and he seemed to enjoy this newfound freedom to its fullest. The result upon arrival in Las Vegas NV: a fuel economy shooting back up to 28.8mpg average! Well done Albert.

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

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

Albert mpg Vegas NVAlbert’s fuel economy after a day at high(er) speeds – and a morning parked under the sun, hence the extravagant outside temperature…

Toyota Camry Ford Escape Monument ValleyFord Escape, Toyota Camry and Albert at John Ford’s Point in Monument Valley AZ

Arizona RoadArizona road

Arizona skyArizona sky

Albert Monument Valley 2Albert in Monument Valley AZ

Albert Monument Valley 4Albert in Monument Valley AZ

Albert Monument Valley 5Albert in Monument Valley AZ

Monument Valley 4 Totem Pole in Monument Valley AZ

Monument Valley 5Monument Valley AZ

Arizona Road 2Arizona road

Arizona Road 3Arizona Road

Chrysler 200 x 2 ArizonaChrysler 200 x 2 in Arizona

Dodge Van Monument ValleyDodge Van in Monument Valley

Road to Monument ValleyThe road to Monument Valley

The post Coast to Coast 2014: Monument Valley, Arizona-Utah appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/coast-coast-2014-monument-valley-arizona-utah/feed/ 42
Rental Review: Doing Some Soul Searching http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/rental-review-soul-searching/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/rental-review-soul-searching/#comments Mon, 24 Nov 2014 13:30:15 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=945969 About five years ago, I made a career decision that I wish I had made much earlier: I decided to get into the Learning and Development field. Unfortunately for about twenty or so people, I had spent the previous fifteen years managing sales people, and I fired a lot of them. As a result, I […]

The post Rental Review: Doing Some Soul Searching appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
303

About five years ago, I made a career decision that I wish I had made much earlier: I decided to get into the Learning and Development field. Unfortunately for about twenty or so people, I had spent the previous fifteen years managing sales people, and I fired a lot of them.

As a result, I also spent a great deal of time interviewing people. One of the things that every HR person will tell you about interviewing is that you’re supposed to look for what they call “contrary evidence.” As an interviewer, you’re going to form an opinion about a candidate pretty quickly—it’s human nature. So you’re supposed to ask questions that could lead to evidence that is contrary to your original impression. If you naturally like a candidate, you should ask questions that could reveal negative things about him, and vice versa.

Thus, when I selected a 2015 Solar Yellow Kia Soul Plus for my one-day trip to the ATL last week, I looked for things to dislike about it.

Spoiler alert: I didn’t find any.

I’ve always been a fan of the Soul. Why? Simple. It’s the closest thing to a compact wagon currently for sale in the United States. It’s a quirky-looking car, with love-it or leave-it looks. The hamster campaign from years ago was easily the best and most memorable ad run by an automaker in recent history. I’ve owned three Hyundais, and all were excellent cars, so I have no K-car bias. In fact, if I were in my mid-twenties, I’d be in the market to buy one.

Yet, as I bypassed some of my favorite rental selections to pick the Soul, including a V6 Impala, I realized that I had formed all of my opinions just like the best Facebook and YouTube commenters do—that is to say, I had never driven one. I figured it was time to fix that.

My first impression of the Soul? It’s much, much bigger inside than I expected. I hopped in the back seat just to verify, and my 5’9″, 165 lb frame would have been entirely comfortable on a journey of any length. But while the Soul excels at people carrying, the storage with the back seats up isn’t sufficient for a 27″ suitcase, or for carry-on luggage for more than two. Not a huge deal unless you’re planning to make it your primary vehicle for a family of four.

The interior is cleanly designed, with simple, intuitive controls. My rental only had about 2K miles on it, so I don’t know how it will hold up over time, but all the interior materials appeared to be of acceptable quality. Unlike my previous week’s rental, a 2015 Ford Escape SE, everything inside the Soul makes sense. My iPhone was easy to pair, and the stereo system lived up to its rapping rodent credentials. While the clarity wasn’t the best, it thumps out the bass with effortless joy. I didn’t get the upgraded UVO infotaintment in my rental, but I don’t know if I’d want it—this one seemed to work just fine.

The seating position is one of the best I’ve seen in any car—it’s upright but still very comfortable. The visibility is quite good through the windshield as well as through the mirrors.

However, the joy of driving the Soul was about to be severely tested by a commute from the airport to the Perimeter North part of town. In ideal traffic conditions, it should take about twenty-five minutes. In this particular morning’s rush hour, it took nearly ninety.

294

No matter. The XM Radio gave me plenty of choices for music and/or talk radio, and the Soul handled the start-stop nature of the traffic without much consternation. The 2.0 liter, 164 HP, direct fuel injection motor is neatly paired with a six-speed automatic that never seems to search for the right gear. My rental didn’t have the Idle Stop and Go option, but still managed 24 MPG along the way, which is one of the best ATL traffic numbers I’ve seen.

Even so, the motor gives more than enough power when called upon, and definitely more than I expected from the little four-banger. Max torque can be found at around 4000 RPM, which helps in dealing with the seventh circle of traffic Hell known as “Atlanta.” I was able to dart and dodge through I-75 and I-85 traffic quite fluidly, as the size of the Soul made it easy to fit into the tightest of spots.

I swear I tried to find things not to like about this car. It just does everything well, and it does many things very well. The only thing I can really think of is the price. A Soul Plus optioned out exactly as my rental was stickers at $19,400, which just seems like a bit too much for this car. I’d probably look for a base Soul with the 1.6 liter four cylinder and manual transmission for my own car—but I would just be looking for an airport commuter and fuel saver. For those looking for a true daily driver, the Plus would be the way to go. Also, the Solar Yellow isn’t available on the base car…damn. Okay, I’d get the Plus, too.

Having previously driven the Cube and the xB, this car is, by far, the best choice in this category. The interior is light years ahead of the Toyota and Nissan offerings, and the motor is the equal of the ubiquitous Toyota 2.4 2AZ-FE in the xB (and so much better than the Cube that it’s not even funny). Although it’s purely subjective, I think you’d have a hard time finding anybody who didn’t think the Soul was the best looking of the trio, too.

301

In fact, the highest compliment I can pay the Soul is that, for the only the second time ever after driving a rental car (which I do over 25 times per year), I went to the OEM site to configure and price one. The first time I did that, I ended up buying a Ford Flex. I’m not saying I’ll end up buying a Soul, but only because I don’t have a need for one right now.

So, yes, if I were interviewing the Soul, I’d hire it immediately. And if you’re currently interviewing compact cars, make sure that you bring the Soul in for a look. You’ll be glad you did.

The post Rental Review: Doing Some Soul Searching appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/rental-review-soul-searching/feed/ 92
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 […]

The post Junkyard Find: 1975 Dodge D100 Pickup appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
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

The post Junkyard Find: 1975 Dodge D100 Pickup appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/junkyard-find-1975-dodge-d100-pickup/feed/ 32
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 […]

The post Coast to Coast 2014: New Mexico appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
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

The post Coast to Coast 2014: New Mexico appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/coast-coast-2014-new-mexico/feed/ 53
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 […]

The post Junkyard Find: 1988 Pontiac LeMans appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
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

The post Junkyard Find: 1988 Pontiac LeMans appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/junkyard-find-1988-pontiac-lemans-2/feed/ 159
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 […]

The post The Gurney Bubble and Gurney’s Bubbly appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
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

The post The Gurney Bubble and Gurney’s Bubbly appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/gurney-bubble-gurneys-bubbly/feed/ 10
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 […]

The post New York Times: Police Use of Civil Forfeiture Targets Cars, Criminals Perhaps Less So appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>

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.

civilforfeiture

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!”

The post New York Times: Police Use of Civil Forfeiture Targets Cars, Criminals Perhaps Less So appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/new-york-times-police-use-civil-forfeiture-targets-cars-criminals-perhaps-less/feed/ 86
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 […]

The post Junkyard Find: 1979 Subaru BRAT appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
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.

01 - 1979 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1979 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1979 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1979 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1979 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1979 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1979 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1979 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1979 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1979 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1979 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1979 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1979 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1979 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - 1979 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 16 - 1979 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 17 - 1979 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 18 - 1979 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 19 - 1979 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 20 - 1979 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 21 - 1979 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 22 - 1979 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 23 - 1979 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 24 - 1979 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

The post Junkyard Find: 1979 Subaru BRAT appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/junkyard-find-1979-subaru-brat-2/feed/ 50
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— […]

The post Junkyard Find: 1990 Geo Metro LSi Convertible appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
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.

01 - 1990 Geo Metro LSi Convertible Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee Martin 02 - 1990 Geo Metro LSi Convertible Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee Martin 03 - 1990 Geo Metro LSi Convertible Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee Martin 04 - 1990 Geo Metro LSi Convertible Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee Martin 05 - 1990 Geo Metro LSi Convertible Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee Martin 06 - 1990 Geo Metro LSi Convertible Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee Martin 07 - 1990 Geo Metro LSi Convertible Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee Martin 08 - 1990 Geo Metro LSi Convertible Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee Martin 09 - 1990 Geo Metro LSi Convertible Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee Martin 10 - 1990 Geo Metro LSi Convertible Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee Martin 11 - 1990 Geo Metro LSi Convertible Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee Martin 12 - 1990 Geo Metro LSi Convertible Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee Martin 13 - 1990 Geo Metro LSi Convertible Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee Martin

The post Junkyard Find: 1990 Geo Metro LSi Convertible appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/junkyard-find-1990-geo-metro-lsi-convertible/feed/ 46
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”), […]

The post Editorial: A Tale Of Two Cities appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
6862231

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.

The post Editorial: A Tale Of Two Cities appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/editorial-tale-two-cities/feed/ 40
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 […]

The post Junkyard Find: 1976 Plymouth Volaré Sedan appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
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!

01 - 1976 Plymouth Volare Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1976 Plymouth Volare Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1976 Plymouth Volare Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1976 Plymouth Volare Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1976 Plymouth Volare Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1976 Plymouth Volare Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1976 Plymouth Volare Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1976 Plymouth Volare Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1976 Plymouth Volare Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1976 Plymouth Volare Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1976 Plymouth Volare Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1976 Plymouth Volare Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1976 Plymouth Volare Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - 1976 Plymouth Volare Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 16 - 1976 Plymouth Volare Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 18 - 1976 Plymouth Volare Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 20 - 1976 Plymouth Volare Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 21 - 1976 Plymouth Volare Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 22 - 1976 Plymouth Volare Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 23 - 1976 Plymouth Volare Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 24 - 1976 Plymouth Volare Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

The post Junkyard Find: 1976 Plymouth Volaré Sedan appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/junkyard-find-1976-plymouth-volare-sedan/feed/ 75
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 […]

The post Priceless Mustang I Concept Almost Damaged in Car Show Incident appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
IMG_0504

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.

IMG_0500

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.

IMG_0500_r

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.

IMG_0506

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.

2IMG_0459_r

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.

5IMG_0493_r

“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.

1aryahpdc_r

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.

3IMG_0481_r

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.

4IMG_0483_r

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

The post Priceless Mustang I Concept Almost Damaged in Car Show Incident appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/priceless-mustang-concept-almost-damaged-car-show-incident/feed/ 11
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, […]

The post A Man Who Wears the Texaco Star and the Man Behind the Jingle appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
IMG_0305

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

The post A Man Who Wears the Texaco Star and the Man Behind the Jingle appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/man-wears-texaco-star-man-behind-jingle/feed/ 21
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 […]

The post Coast to Coast 2014: Driving Old Route 66 (Part 2) appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
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.

The post Coast to Coast 2014: Driving Old Route 66 (Part 2) appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/coast-coast-2014-driving-old-route-66-part-2/feed/ 13
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 […]

The post Vellum Venom Vignette: In Praise of The Regular Cab appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
 

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.

The post Vellum Venom Vignette: In Praise of The Regular Cab appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/vellum-venom-vignette-praise-regular-cab/feed/ 144
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 […]

The post Junkyard Find: 1976 Ford Courier appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
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

The post Junkyard Find: 1976 Ford Courier appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/junkyard-find-1976-ford-courier/feed/ 31
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 […]

The post TTAC At The Movies: “Nightcrawler” appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
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.

The post TTAC At The Movies: “Nightcrawler” appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/ttac-movies-nightcrawler/feed/ 17