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. Sat, 28 Feb 2015 18:00:39 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 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/ Missouri Law Lets Thieves Scrap Your Classics http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/missouri-law-lets-thieves-scrap-classics/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/missouri-law-lets-thieves-scrap-classics/#comments Sat, 28 Feb 2015 17:17:41 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1009738 Kansas City’s KCTV reported this week on an attempt to repair a 2012 Missouri state law that has led to a dramatic increase in car thefts. The law, which allows people to sell vehicles 10 years or older without a title, was originally intended to help rural property owners dispose of derelict vehicles and outdated […]

The post Missouri Law Lets Thieves Scrap Your Classics appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
MN_Tow_Truck-550px

Kansas City’s KCTV reported this week on an attempt to repair a 2012 Missouri state law that has led to a dramatic increase in car thefts. The law, which allows people to sell vehicles 10 years or older without a title, was originally intended to help rural property owners dispose of derelict vehicles and outdated machinery that would otherwise be left to rot. Criminals, however, soon discovered that they could scoop up virtually any vehicle that met the standard and sell it to scrap yards for a tidy profit.

The primary culprits, the story asserts, are crooked tow truck drivers. Old cars behind tow trucks are such an ordinary sight that cars can be taken in broad daylight. At the scrapyard, the drivers fudge the VIN or make other paperwork “mistakes” and escape with their payout before anyone notices. In many cases the cars are shredded before the owners can even report their theft.

Despite the fact that, in the wake of the law’s enactment, many Missouri police agencies noted an almost immediate rise in the number old cars being stolen, “Show-me” State leaders have allowed the situation to persist. Local Leaders, however, did act. Kansas City, for example, enacted a local ordinance directing scrapyards to hold vehicles for three days prior to disposal, but many of these laws can be avoided simply by taking vehicles to recycling centers outside of those jurisdictions.

The story ends on a hopeful note with news that one Missouri State representative, State Senator Jason Holsman, is looking to correct what he calls these “unintended consequences of the law.” But my personal experience is that the wheels of government often grind slowly and, until the situation is finally corrected, owners of old cars in Missouri need to watch their backs.

The post Missouri Law Lets Thieves Scrap Your Classics appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/missouri-law-lets-thieves-scrap-classics/feed/ 62
Question Of The Day: What Brand Has The Most Cars You’d Never Buy? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/question-day-brand-cars-youd-never-buy/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/question-day-brand-cars-youd-never-buy/#comments Fri, 27 Feb 2015 14:46:15 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1009570 So I’m driving along the other day, and I get up behind a Saturn Relay. For those of you who aren’t familiar with this vehicle, imagine a minivan with 1992-era styling and a 1994-era interior and 1996-era switchgear, except it inexplicably came out in 2005. Seriously: it was the kind of thing where, when it […]

The post Question Of The Day: What Brand Has The Most Cars You’d Never Buy? appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
2009_Saturn_Sky_Redline_Ruby_Red_Limited_Edition

So I’m driving along the other day, and I get up behind a Saturn Relay. For those of you who aren’t familiar with this vehicle, imagine a minivan with 1992-era styling and a 1994-era interior and 1996-era switchgear, except it inexplicably came out in 2005. Seriously: it was the kind of thing where, when it debuted, you checked both sides of the van just to make sure General Motors knew everyone was doing dual sliding doors now.

So anyway, as I’m sitting behind the van, I realized something: there isn’t a single Saturn I would buy. Not the awful S-series models, which were great in the 1990s, but have about as much modern relevance as Palm Pilot. Not the L-Series, which came later, and looked worse, and transformed Saturn from a cute, cool, forward-thinking car company into the kind of thing your middle school gym teacher drove. Not the Astra, not the Vue, not the Relay. No Saturn at all.

And then I remembered the Sky. Do you remember the Sky? This was right near the end of Saturn, when General Motors realized that by God, if we’re going to stay out of bankruptcy, we’d better come up with some cars that people will actually buy. So they developed the SSR.

But they also developed the Sky and the Pontiac Solstice, which were these cool little roadsters that had two-seats, and rear-wheel drive, and eventually a 260-horsepower turbocharged engine which made them surprisingly enjoyable on the road. I loved these things, and I especially loved the Sky, which still looks like an exotic sports car when you see it all these years later.

So maybe there are some Saturns I would buy, but by God there aren’t any Mitsubishis. I mean seriously: you have that electric thing shaped like the egg, God only knows what it’s called, but there are a bunch of lowercase “i”s as if it’s an Apple product. You have a couple of SUVs, all of which are indistinguishable from one another. There’s the Mirage, which is generally agreed to be the worst car on sale; equivalent to a laundry basket on wheels, when it comes to driving dynamics. And maybe there’s a sedan or something, I don’t know.

So all this got me thinking: is Mitsubishi the car company whose products I would least like to own? I mean, does Mitsubishi really manufacture the fewest vehicles I would actually purchase for myself? And I thought, and I thought, and I thought, and I briefly considered Dodge until I remembered the Viper, and I thought some more, and I thought, and I thought, and then I remembered I am trying to hit a word count here so I thought thought thought thought some more, and then in the end, I reached the conclusion that by God, yes, Mitsubishi is the brand whose cars I’d least like to own, at least ever since Plymouth came to an end.

And so now I pose the question to you: whose cars would YOU least like to own?

And before you answer, I think a rule clarification is necessary. We aren’t talking about all-time automakers here. You can’t say Edsel, or AMC, or some obscure car brand that only existed in the 1920s and manufactured cars out of satin. I’m talking modern, current, presently existing automakers that make modern, current, presently existing vehicles that comply with at least some of the federal government’s safety regulations.

And so, ladies and gentlemen, the floor is yours: which automaker makes the most cars you’d never buy? Which brand has so few desirable products that you’d never consider one of their vehicles? Which car company is so mediocre that you’d never set foot in their showroom?

And why is it Mitsubishi?

The post Question Of The Day: What Brand Has The Most Cars You’d Never Buy? appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/question-day-brand-cars-youd-never-buy/feed/ 220
No Fixed Abode: Real stories of the lazy-ass highway patrol. http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/no-fixed-abode-real-stories-lazy-ass-highway-patrol/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/no-fixed-abode-real-stories-lazy-ass-highway-patrol/#comments Fri, 27 Feb 2015 14:00:06 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1002402 “When seconds count, the police are just minutes away.” How many times have you heard that phrase used by gun-rights advocates? It’s a catchy but glib way to characterize the role of police in American society. The courts have ruled time and time again that the police have no duty to protect an individual citizen, […]

The post No Fixed Abode: Real stories of the lazy-ass highway patrol. appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
Police Barracks Shooting

“When seconds count, the police are just minutes away.” How many times have you heard that phrase used by gun-rights advocates? It’s a catchy but glib way to characterize the role of police in American society. The courts have ruled time and time again that the police have no duty to protect an individual citizen, and you should have no expectation of that individual protection.

The problem with the deduction that comes naturally from the above statement — therefore, I had better protect myself — is that very few of us are prepared to exist in what the late Colonel Jeff Cooper called “Condition Yellow” all the time. “Yellow” means that you are mentally alert and prepared to use force in your own defense. “Condition White”, on the other hand, is what happens when you’re asleep, daydreaming, using both hands to repair an automobile or tie your mistress to the hotel bed, playing Lumineers tunes on an Adirondack-topped acoustic guitar, or making your way through the tenth “Challenging Stage” of Galaga. Chances are that you’re in “White” right now. To test for this, have someone in the same room with you, no matter how large that room is, point their finger at you and say “Bang” quietly. If you weren’t prone on the floor with your personal weapon out before they finished the word, you’re in White. Congratulations! You’re not paranoid.

The fact of the matter is that most of the safety that most of us enjoy comes from making intelligent decisions about where we live, work, and travel. In the small town I call home, I’ve often left my wallet on the drivers seat of my Boxster, with the top down on said Boxster, overnight. (Maybe I’ll stop doing it, now that I’ve told a half-million people.) Between the years 2009 and 2014, I never knowingly locked the front door to my house. In fact, I’d lost the key. Contrast that with a town like Baltimore or Chicago, which usually account for a few hundred murders each every year. Where do you think there are more police: Powell, Ohio or Baltimore, MD? Hey, maybe the existence of police causes crime, the same way the existence of Batman in Gotham seemed to increase the number of super-villains.

If you correctly identified that last statement as ridiculous, you’re a more useful and intelligent citizen than every single person who has ever posted an “Upworthy” link on Facebook.

Unfortunately for me, however, I can’t spend my whole life at home with my son building LEGO kits. I have to travel on the Interstate system. The safety of motorists on the Interstate system is the responsibility of the state highway patrols, and as I recently discovered, it’s not a responsibility that is taken very seriously.

It was a late night on Route 70, somewhere east of Laramie but definitely west of Washington, PA. I was driving a modern entry-luxury sedan with LED headlamps back from a racetrack on the East Coast. Next to me, reading her Kindle and definitely in the aforementioned Condition White, was a young (compared to me) woman in a North Face jacket. Behind her, in the right rear passenger seat, was her tween-aged daughter. We were doing about 70mph, not in any hurry, with the expectation that we’d be home by 1am or so.

I saw the dual-rear-wheel, current-model Silverado HD coming at me from maybe a thousand feet back, bullying traffic out of his way with his high beams and what looked to be about 90 miles per hour of three-and-a-half-ton momentum. The problem was that I was passing a line of semi-trailers who were doing, at best, fifty miles per hour up a hill. So unless I wanted to play Freightliner Sandwich I was still doing to be in his way when Mr. Silverado got to me. I flicked on my right turn signal and brought the pace up a bit so I’d at least be on my way to getting clear by the time he got to me.

At this point I should mention that the behavior described above is the product of middle-aged cowardice/caution. For most of my life I’d have dawdled in the lane and waited for the guy, then made it my mission to ruin his attempts to haul ass in his empty-bed cowboy Cadillac. Having been run off the road by a jacked-up truck at least twice in my life, however, I’m no longer inclined to make a personal statement about this sort of thing. So I was trying pretty hard to get out of Silverado’s way.

It didn’t matter. Though I had my right signal on, he closed at 90mph or more on me, with his high beams on, swerving back and forth. He was close enough to me that I could see each headlight in a separate side mirror. Fuck this. I dropped three gears and ran up to the next open spot in the right lane. A few moments later, he went by and swerved into my lane as he did so. I expected something like that — the tinky-winky antics of this kind of driver have passed into the realm of stereotype — but I was surprised at just how hard he went at it. Then he pulled back into his lane and slowed down to about seventy miles per hour, a few hundred feet ahead.

Had he seen a cop? What was going on? I knew one thing: I wasn’t going to get anywhere near him. So I stayed back, cursing the very distinctive headlamp arrangement on this particular automobile, even as he slowed to 65, then 60, then 55, then 50. A few times he would swing to the next lane and slow down farther; wary of being swerved at again, I stayed back.

Then it happened. Ahead of me in the right lane, he simply stood on the brakes in the middle of the freeway and brought his truck to a halt. There was actual smoke from the rear tires, something I thought modern ABS didn’t permit even in an unloaded dually. I flashed over to the shoulder of the left lane, knowing what would happen well before he swerved back over in an attempt to catch the nose of my car with his bumper.

I tossed my phone to my companion. “Call 911,” I said, and I took the sedan up to about 100mph, aware all the time that there was a child in the car and that I wasn’t even close to a major city or anything besides empty freeway. Tractor-trailers blocked both lanes ahead. Behind me, the Silverado was closing the gap.

911, what is your emergency?

“I am heading west on Route 70, at mile marker xxx, and there is a drunk or enraged driver in a large commercial pickup truck attempting to kill me, my passenger, and the child with us.” The Chevrolet loomed large in the mirrors. The truck ahead of me finally moved over and I floored it, but I wasn’t going to drop the truck with the 50+mph closing speed he had on me. This wasn’t an Aventador or a superbike. All I could do was to get past the nose of the truck that had just moved over and swing over just in time to miss the swerve from the Silverado, which then locked brakes again and tried to hit me a second time. The tractor-trailer hit his horn.

I had an idea; I dropped onto the right shoulder, tapped the brakes, fell three or four trucks back, then shoved my way into a gap where I had trucks on three sides. Yes, I got this idea from watching Burt Reynolds do it. But now the Silverado couldn’t find or get to me.

“Pennsylvania highway patrol,” my phone said. I recapped my story. “We’ll send a unit,” the dispatcher said.

“Okay, we are now at mile marker xxx. Maybe fifteen miles to the West Virginia border.” The Silverado had decided to sprint ahead but when I edged out to take a look I could see him shoving traffic out of the way a quarter-mile up the road.

“We need a license plate.”

“It’s the only Silverado dually with Texas tags in the area, I promise. I didn’t get the plate number because he was trying to kill me for unknown reasons.” Then I gave the dispatcher my full legal name, my phone number, and a description of my automobile.

Five minutes later, I saw a PA State Police trooper on the right side of the road, with his lights on. “Here we go,” I told my companion, but when the Silverado went by the trooper didn’t move. He was busy writing up an Avalon for a traffic violation. “Google the number for West Virginia highway patrol,” I instructed, then dialed that number. I gave them the full story, including the fact that I could see Mr. Silverado swerving at people from half-a-mile back. Then I gave them my full contact information.

Nothing happened, and we entered Ohio about three-quarters of a mile behind the Texas dually. I called Ohio with their 1-800-GRAB-DUI number. “This guy’s drunk, or high, or aggressive.”

“We’ll send a cruiser.” And sure enough, there were two cruisers in the median a few miles up. They did nothing. Then we passed an Ohio patrol Charger with its lights on… handing out a traffic violation. Then another one. I called the number back.

“Hey, I’ve seen four troopers and nobody’s done anything.” The dispatcher took that amiss.

“Sir, we’ll handle this situation appropriately.”

“Hey, you know that this guy’s speeding, right? You can get a ticket out of it.”

“Thank you,” she replied, saying it to mean Fuck you, “we’ll call you back.”

“The hell with this,” I said to my in-car audience, “nothing’s going to happen. Let’s get off at the next exit.” Which was ten miles up. And wouldn’t you know it, we pulled up at the same Pilot station as Mr. Silverado, who was exiting. Five foot nine, maybe, chunky, twentysomething, dopey-looking, wearing an actual mesh-backed baseball cap. Unless this guy was just coming home from a stint in Seal Team Six, there was no universe in which I was not going to end up kicking his manlet ass from here to Amarillo. No matter how middle-aged and arthritic I was. I was going to have a thorough conversation with this inbred Dust Bowl hick, preferably by bouncing his face off the fake-ass stupid plastic intakes that the heavy-duty Silverados have for no reason other than Ford envy. Then my phone rang.

“Mr. Baruth?”

“Yes.”

“This is the Ohio Highway Patrol. I assume you’ve lost contact with the drunk driver you reported?”

“No! Not at all! He’s walking into the Pilot station at Exit xxx. I’m going to sit right here and when your trooper gets here I’ll point him out.”

“We’ll send a car.” And I waited.

And waited.

And waited.

And watched Mr. Silverado get back in his truck and drive off.

And went in, used the restroom, bought myself a Coke Slurpee as a calming measure. Then came out and filled up the car with fuel. Then called 1-800-GRAB-DUI back. “Hey, I filed a report on someone and gave you his whereabouts twenty minutes ago. He’s back on the road,” and this last was perhaps unnecessarily spiteful, “probably ramming a fuckin’ schoolbus full of disabled kids.” Then I hung up and drove out of there.

Over the course of the next eighty miles, I saw five Ohio State Patrol vehicles doing traffic enforcement. None of them had managed to notice a dual-rear-wheel truck doing ninety miles per hour and swerving at people. They were pulling over regular people in sedans and SUVs. It’s a personal gripe of mine that the Ohio cops won’t pull over a pickup truck, ever. When I drove an F-150 XL as a company vehicle, I’d test that by blowing down I-70 at 85 in a 55 and get away with it every day. Do that in a Porsche and they’ll put you under the jail.

We were home by two AM. I never saw my friend in the Chevy truck again. If he managed to hurt anyone, it wasn’t between the border with Pennsylvania and Interstate 270. I’m still not sure what I did to upset him, other than sitting behind him on the freeway with my very bright LED bulbs (on, I must note, low beam). I’m not sure how I can avoid doing it in the future. Basically, because I was driving a vehicle that was sensibly sized for the task of transporting a family across the country, I was at the mercy of this piece of human garbage and his shiny-bed pickup with the un-scratched Class IV receiver.

Meanwhile, three states’ worth of highway patrol officers ignored the situation so they could make their ticket quotas and avoid the hassle of having to deal with an out-of-state criminal. You can’t fill your quota if you’re busy booking a guy for assault. You can’t make revenue waiting for a very big tow truck to impound a very big pickup. No wonder nothing happened. Nobody really cared.

Of course, if I’d been killed, if my passengers had been killed, then the highway patrol would have ostentatiously man-hunted for the person responsible, they’d have issued a statement, some progressive blog somewhere would have run the usual copy-and-paste bit about “rolling coal”, and I’d have been too dead to notice. In the end, what saved me was the fact that I’d watched Smokey And The Bandit a bunch of times as a kid. By doing nothing about that kind of on-road aggression — by choosing to focus on revenue activities — the police tacitly encourage bullying behavior from people who think their Silverado makes them judge, jury, and executioner. Don’t look for that to ever change. When seconds count, the highway patrol is busy counting dollars and cents.

The post No Fixed Abode: Real stories of the lazy-ass highway patrol. appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/no-fixed-abode-real-stories-lazy-ass-highway-patrol/feed/ 120
Junkyard Find: Manny, Moe, and Jack Edition 1991 Toyota Tercel Coupe http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/junkyard-find-manny-moe-jack-edition-1991-toyota-tercel-coupe/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/junkyard-find-manny-moe-jack-edition-1991-toyota-tercel-coupe/#comments Wed, 25 Feb 2015 14:00:16 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1005962 A couple of years have passed since the last Manny, Moe, and Jack Edition Junkyard Find, so we’re due for another car that was customized with every manner of stick-on hood scoop, property-value-lowering vinyl decal, and brightly-colored interior-trim piece that can be had at your local auto-parts chain store. Here’s a fourth-gen Toyota Tercel done […]

The post Junkyard Find: Manny, Moe, and Jack Edition 1991 Toyota Tercel Coupe appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
01 - 1991 Toyota Tercel Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinA couple of years have passed since the last Manny, Moe, and Jack Edition Junkyard Find, so we’re due for another car that was customized with every manner of stick-on hood scoop, property-value-lowering vinyl decal, and brightly-colored interior-trim piece that can be had at your local auto-parts chain store. Here’s a fourth-gen Toyota Tercel done up as a shoestring-budget Fast-n-Furious-type machine.
15 - 1991 Toyota Tercel Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinEven though this car has the 94-horsepower 3E-E engine and automatic transmission, its last owner wanted it to look a bit faster than stock.
08 - 1991 Toyota Tercel Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinI hate to criticize this sort of thing too hard, because a garishly modified Tercel is still better than the dreadful tedium of a stock Tercel.
21 - 1991 Toyota Tercel Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThat’s because the Tercel was the car for drivers who thought the Corolla was too much of a high-performance luxury car.
09 - 1991 Toyota Tercel Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinNot even 100,000 miles. I suspect a broken odometer here.
11 - 1991 Toyota Tercel Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinSome of the details make this car more of a 100-footer than a 50-footer.

01 - 1991 Toyota Tercel Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1991 Toyota Tercel Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1991 Toyota Tercel Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1991 Toyota Tercel Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1991 Toyota Tercel Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1991 Toyota Tercel Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1991 Toyota Tercel Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1991 Toyota Tercel Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1991 Toyota Tercel Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1991 Toyota Tercel Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1991 Toyota Tercel Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1991 Toyota Tercel Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1991 Toyota Tercel Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1991 Toyota Tercel Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - 1991 Toyota Tercel Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 16 - 1991 Toyota Tercel Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 17 - 1991 Toyota Tercel Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 18 - 1991 Toyota Tercel Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 19 - 1991 Toyota Tercel Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 20 - 1991 Toyota Tercel Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 21 - 1991 Toyota Tercel Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

The post Junkyard Find: Manny, Moe, and Jack Edition 1991 Toyota Tercel Coupe appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/junkyard-find-manny-moe-jack-edition-1991-toyota-tercel-coupe/feed/ 77
Bark’s Bites: Sure, I’m Happy to Have You Ignore My Recommendation http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/barks-bites-sure-im-happy-to-have-you-ignore-my-recommendation/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/barks-bites-sure-im-happy-to-have-you-ignore-my-recommendation/#comments Tue, 24 Feb 2015 16:24:31 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1006842 The above video is mildly NSFW “Hey, I want to replace my BMW 3 Series because it’s no good in the snow. I want something just like it but I want it to be cheaper, because I’m tired of making such a big payment. I want it to be sporty but I also want it […]

The post Bark’s Bites: Sure, I’m Happy to Have You Ignore My Recommendation appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
Click here to view the embedded video.

The above video is mildly NSFW

“Hey, I want to replace my BMW 3 Series because it’s no good in the snow. I want something just like it but I want it to be cheaper, because I’m tired of making such a big payment. I want it to be sporty but I also want it to be practical. I’m open to used but I’d prefer new. Thoughts?”

I received the text message above about a week or so ago from a friend of mine, but I’ve gotten essentially the same text over and over again for the last several years.

The question comes in many forms, from many different people, but it can essentially be interpreted as follows:

“Can you use your years of knowledge, experience, and expertise to give me an answer to a wildly uneducated, unrealistic, and ill-informed question that I will then entirely ignore and do what I wanted to do in the first place?”

Let me be clear—I’m no Sajeev (or even Sanjeev). I barely even consider myself a “car guy.” I don’t have much mechanical ability. I can change a tire, adjust shocks…and that’s about it.

But when it comes to buying cars, especially late-model or new, I know my stuff. I’ve bought a dozen new cars and never gotten anything less than a rip-roaring deal. I’m fortunate enough to have driven most of the non-exotics on the market. If you’re looking to buy a car that retails for less than $50,000, it’s almost a certainty that I’ve not only spent significant time behind the wheel of the car you’re considering, I’ve also spent significant time driving its competitors.

I’m also entirely willing to provide advice to people upon request. Thanks to my presence on these pages, I get dozens of requests for car buying advice per year. Of the dozens and dozens of people who’ve asked my advice, feel free to take a guess as to how many of my personal friends have actually taken it and bought what I recommended. Go ahead.

The answer is One. One person. That’s it (thank you, Steve C.! So glad to hear that you’re enjoying your 2014 Mazda CX-5!). From what I hear from my “car guy” friends, this is a pretty common theme.

So why the hell does everybody seek out our advice and that categorically deny ever having received it? I have thoughts.

1. They asked us a ridiculous question and hated our realistic and practical answer

No, I don’t know of any dealerships that are willing to sell you the latest and greatest new car for three thousand dollars under invoice. No, your four-cylinder Ford Probe isn’t worth $5500 ( I got that one not too long ago). And, no, there’s nothing exactly like your BMW 3 series that’s going to be cheaper, better in the snow, and be sporty yet practical (for what it’s worth, I recommended a Ford Fusion or a Honda Accord V6 Coupe).

People click “send” on that text to me and hope that I’m going to send them back some magical answer to an unsolvable situation. Yes, it’s true that there are about 150 different new car models available to be purchased in the year 2015, but none of them are going to be able to do 0-60 in three seconds, plow the snow off of your driveway, seat seven comfortably, and get 40 MPG. You’ve got to be willing to compromise.

2. They’ve already decided what they wanted to buy and they just wanted us to confirm how awesome their terrible decision is

Listen, I just can’t tell you that buying a Lincoln MKC is a good idea. I just can’t. I know you drove it and you loved it, but the Escape Titanium is a better choice for less money. When the Lincoln salesperson told you that the MKC’s 2.0 liter turbocharged engine is more reliable than the 2.0 liter turbocharged engine in the Ford, and I told you that they were EXACTLY THE SAME ENGINE, you ignored me.  So when you decide to buy the MKC anyway, please don’t ask me to tell you that you made a good decision. I can’t do it. Our friendship is now strained and it’s your fault. Good job.

There is a list of cars that I simply won’t recommend under any circumstance, regardless of how much a friend of mine may like it—not because they’re bad cars, necessarily, but because there’s a better choice in the category. So if you come to me wanting me to confirm that you should buy a 2015 Sonata, I just can’t. There are simply better options for you. Isn’t that why you should be asking for advice in the first place, to avoid these horrible decisions?

3. They know just enough about cars to be completely and utterly stupid

This actual exchange happened recently:

Friend: “Hey, Bark, what new car would you recommend for less than $20,000? I’d like a hatchback with Bluetooth and some other upscale options.”

Me: “A good friend of mine just bought a Sonic LTZ about a year ago and she loves it. I really liked driving it, too. I just bought a Fiesta—you should check those out, too.”

Friend: “Americans don’t know how to make small cars. I’m going to get a Fit.”

Well, thank you for referencing your decade-old knowledge about cars to make your decision. You should also make all your dietary decisions on the food pyramid. Make sure you stretch out thoroughly before you attempt a world-record in the long jump, too. Did you know that smoking reduces stress?

When I go to my doctor, I assume that he’s more up-to-date on medical information than I am, because it’s his job to be. It’s my job to be up-to-date on the latest information and trends in the car biz. Trust me.

4. Even though they asked for advice, they don’t really want to relinquish any of their decision-making power

This one is especially true of guys. Listen, dudes, I get it. You’re a “man.” You’re supposed to know about cars. It’s part of a man’s DNA to have all of the knowledge available to mankind about automobiles available for immediate recall.

But you knew enough to know that you didn’t have all the answers. You asked me for help, which was a good idea. However, when it came time to make the final decision, you didn’t like having another man’s fingerprints on your choice. So you made a poor decision rather than accept the good advice that I or others gave you. It’s the same reason that size 48L men will wonder aimlessly through the 38S section of the tailored clothing department of a Macy’s rather than ask for help. It’s embarrassing to admit that you don’t know “guy stuff.” But you don’t. So suck it up and take my advice, already.

I suppose that I should be thankful that people still ignore the advice of their “car guy” friends and go to third-party sites like this one for car-buying advice. So “Bark” is likely never going to get out of the Car Advice biz. But Mark? I might just retire. After all, there’s nothing more damaging to the human psyche than doing work without a purpose.

 

The post Bark’s Bites: Sure, I’m Happy to Have You Ignore My Recommendation appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/barks-bites-sure-im-happy-to-have-you-ignore-my-recommendation/feed/ 276
Junkyard Find: 1984 Mazda B2000 Sundowner Pickup http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/junkyard-find-1984-mazda-b2000-sundowner-pickup/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/junkyard-find-1984-mazda-b2000-sundowner-pickup/#comments Mon, 23 Feb 2015 14:00:23 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1005386 Plenty of Mazda B-Series pickups were sold in the United States, mostly badged as Ford Couriers, but starting in 1983 (when the Ranger appeared) your only choice for obtaining one of these cheap-and-simple little trucks was your Mazda dealer. I spotted this somewhat rusty ’84 in a Denver wrecking yard on Saturday, and it looked […]

The post Junkyard Find: 1984 Mazda B2000 Sundowner Pickup appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
33 - 1983 Mazda B2000 Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinPlenty of Mazda B-Series pickups were sold in the United States, mostly badged as Ford Couriers, but starting in 1983 (when the Ranger appeared) your only choice for obtaining one of these cheap-and-simple little trucks was your Mazda dealer. I spotted this somewhat rusty ’84 in a Denver wrecking yard on Saturday, and it looked like it still had some good miles left in it.
70 - 1983 Mazda B2000 Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinJust 147k miles in 31 years.
56 - 1983 Mazda B2000 Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe ignition key is there and the windshield sports auction-company “RUN AND DRIVE” stickers, which means we’re probably looking at a dealer trade-in that nobody wanted to buy.
06 - 1983 Mazda B2000 Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Sundowner was the long-wheelbase version of the B2000.
12 - 1983 Mazda B2000 Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis one is covered with clues that tell us a story about the final owner. “Hang Up and Drive” and Black Flag stickers plus a hand-painted mystical eyeball here.
46 - 1983 Mazda B2000 Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinIs there the requisite “KILL YOUR TELEVISION” sticker? Yes, here it is!
26 - 1983 Mazda B2000 Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinHere’s the 1,970cc F engine, which was good for 90 horses in 1984. Can you imagine Americans buying a pickup with just 90 horsepower today? That would be like asking us to turn down our thermostats in the winter!

This tough little truck is loaded for bear!

When you’ve got something this good, you take care of it.

Here’s the optioned-up SE-5. Sakes alive!

03 - 1983 Mazda B2000 Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1983 Mazda B2000 Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1983 Mazda B2000 Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1983 Mazda B2000 Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1983 Mazda B2000 Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1983 Mazda B2000 Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 16 - 1983 Mazda B2000 Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 19 - 1983 Mazda B2000 Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 21 - 1983 Mazda B2000 Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 23 - 1983 Mazda B2000 Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 24 - 1983 Mazda B2000 Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 26 - 1983 Mazda B2000 Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 28 - 1983 Mazda B2000 Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 29 - 1983 Mazda B2000 Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 31 - 1983 Mazda B2000 Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 33 - 1983 Mazda B2000 Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 36 - 1983 Mazda B2000 Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 38 - 1983 Mazda B2000 Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 40 - 1983 Mazda B2000 Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 42 - 1983 Mazda B2000 Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 44 - 1983 Mazda B2000 Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 45 - 1983 Mazda B2000 Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 46 - 1983 Mazda B2000 Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 49 - 1983 Mazda B2000 Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 52 - 1983 Mazda B2000 Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 53 - 1983 Mazda B2000 Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 55 - 1983 Mazda B2000 Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 56 - 1983 Mazda B2000 Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 59 - 1983 Mazda B2000 Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 63 - 1983 Mazda B2000 Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 64 - 1983 Mazda B2000 Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 66 - 1983 Mazda B2000 Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 68 - 1983 Mazda B2000 Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 70 - 1983 Mazda B2000 Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 71 - 1983 Mazda B2000 Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

The post Junkyard Find: 1984 Mazda B2000 Sundowner Pickup appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/junkyard-find-1984-mazda-b2000-sundowner-pickup/feed/ 38
Henry Blodget: Apple Won’t Be the Next Porsche http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/henry-blodget-apple-wont-next-porsche/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/henry-blodget-apple-wont-next-porsche/#comments Sun, 22 Feb 2015 20:28:51 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1005834 Henry Blodget publishes Business Insider. Blodget is a former managing director of Merrill Lynch who rose to fame in the late 1990s on his timely and correct prediction that Amazon stock would reach $400, then lost his $12 million/year job following the burst of the dot.com bubble, and then was permanently barred by the Securities […]

The post Henry Blodget: Apple Won’t Be the Next Porsche appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
nextporsche

Henry Blodget publishes Business Insider. Blodget is a former managing director of Merrill Lynch who rose to fame in the late 1990s on his timely and correct prediction that Amazon stock would reach $400, then lost his $12 million/year job following the burst of the dot.com bubble, and then was permanently barred by the Securities and Exchange Commission over fraud allegations*. Blodget still has outstanding sources and contacts within the tech sector. In a post at his website, Blodget discusses the current excitement about tech companies like Google and Apple exploring automotive ventures, which some say are aiming at becoming the next Dr. Ing. h.c. F. Porsche AG. Not only does he say that the tech sector is cyclical, that the current bubble will also eventually burst and that Apple’s outsized success with their smartphones has been anomalous even for that now routinely successful firm, he makes some sound arguments the next Porsche AG is not likely to come from the Silicon Valley.

Blodget’s post is based around a Twitter exchange he had with what he refers to as Silicon Valley Bigwigs, and he says that they’re illustrative of the irrational exuberance in the tech industry. Some choice excerpts from Blodget’s post follow, but I’m pushing the limit on fair use so, as the good professor says, please throw Business Insider a click and read the whole thing.

The other night, on Twitter, I waded into a debate about the rumored Apple car.

Specifically, I tweeted a skeptical remark about it.

And I immediately found myself on the receiving end of a tone and attitude I remember vividly from the end of the 1990s.

As I recall, the Twitter exchange went something like this:

ME: Making cars is a tough, low-margin business.

VALLEY BIGWIG: Porsche has a 50% profit margin.

Well, that shut me up.

Porsche has a 50% profit margin? Wow. No wonder everyone was so excited about the Apple car. Apparently there is indeed good money to be made in the high end of the car business.

While I nursed my Twitter smackdown, out of curiosity I checked out Porsche’s annual report. And I was startled to discover that the information I found there didn’t exactly jibe with the bigwig’s tweet.

Porsche, I discovered, does not have a “50% profit margin.”

Porsche has about a 15% profit margin….

So I did some more Googling and math. And I learned the following.

Porsche sold about 165,000 cars worldwide in 2013. This brought in $14.3 billion of revenue, and about $2 billion of profit.
Apple already generates ~$60 billion of annual profit, because unlike cars, Apple’s iPhone is the most spectacularly profitable product the world has ever seen.

If Apple grew a car business the size of Porsche’s overnight, Apple’s profit would grow by … a relatively puny 5%.
I tweeted some of these findings back at the bigwig. His response was instantaneous.

VALLEY BIGWIG: Apple targets markets of 20mm-100mm per year…

Apple, the bigwig was saying, was going to aim to sell 20 million to 100 million cars per year.

I again turned to Google and learned that the global car market — the number of cars sold per year worldwide — is currently 88 million. So Apple’s ambition, the bigwig was saying, was to capture somewhere between 25% and 110% of the entire global car market.

I suggested to the bigwig that this assumption might be a bit heroic. This time, the bigwig did not respond. I then asked the bigwig how much money he thought Apple would make in its car business.

VALLEY BIGWIG: $40 billion, initially.

$40 billion!

I pointed out that Porsche makes only $2 billion from its car business. The bigwig then qualified his prior statement:

VALLEY BIGWIG: $40 billion revenue, $20 billion profit

Well, $20 billion was less than $40 billion, but it was still 10 times as big as Porsche’s profit of $2 billion and twice as big as BMW’s profit of ~$10 billion. And we were back at that “50% profit margin” assumption again.

At this point, as I recall, another Valley bigwig chimed in on the Twitter stream. This whole conversation was sort of silly, the second Valley bigwig implied. Apple wasn’t going to build a normal car business, like that of Porsche, GM, Tesla, or even BMW. Apple would not bother to enter the car business if it were going to build just a normal car business. Apple was going to reinvent the car business.

Ah. Apple was going to reinvent the car business.

How, exactly, was Apple going to reinvent the car business?

Some remarks from several participants followed about design, software, autonomous-driving, platforms, and “the new big screen — the dashboard.” Someone explained that, when we’re all riding around in self-driving cars, we’ll have lots of time to listen to music, watch movies, play games, and work, and that Apple will coin money because it will own the whole platform.

In other words, I gathered, Apple will reinvent the car business by transforming cars into gigantic wireless iPhone docks, making them beautiful — Apple’s designers are apparently appalled by the ugly crap we ride around in these days — and selling 20 million to 100 million of them per year. Apple will also reinvent the car business by doubling the prices people will pay for cars or halving what it costs to make them (if it’s going to earn even a 30% profit margin on the cars, let alone a 50% margin, it will have to do one or the other).

I expressed some skepticism about this…

In fact, a clear-eyed observer of the iPhone phenomenon will quickly note that it is an anomaly even within its own company. Apple has been making computers for 30 years, for example, and it has not done anything in the computer business that is remotely like what it has done in the phone business. Apple did invent the tablet market, but that doesn’t look anything like the iPhone business either. Part of what makes the iPhone business so remarkable, after all, is something that does not exist in most other markets, including the car market: Subsidies that reduce the price of a $600 product to $200 or even free. It seems unlikely that wireless carriers are going to offer to pick up $40,000 of the price of a $60,000 Apple car. Or give the $40,000 model away for free (with a contract).

But that’s a different story.

The important story here is that some of the smartest minds in Silicon Valley appear to have stopped thinking critically.

*Blodget was never convicted of saying one thing to Merrill Lynch customers and assessing companies completely differently in private company emails. However, after those emails were published by now scandal tainted former NY governor and then New York state attorney general Eliot Spitzer, Blodget signed a consent agreement with the SEC that permanently barred him from the securities industry, fined him $2 million and made him pay another $2 million in restitution to Merrill Lynch customers.

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 Henry Blodget: Apple Won’t Be the Next Porsche appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/henry-blodget-apple-wont-next-porsche/feed/ 24
Skeptical Environmentalist Bjørn Lomborg Says Electric Cars Kill More Than ICEs http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/skeptical-environmentalist-bjorn-lomborg-says-electric-cars-kill-more-than-ices/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/skeptical-environmentalist-bjorn-lomborg-says-electric-cars-kill-more-than-ices/#comments Fri, 20 Feb 2015 16:25:25 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1004746 In an op-ed in USA Today, headlined “Electric car benefits? Just myths“, author of The Skeptical Environmentalist, Bjørn Lomborg, calls for people to “stop our green worship of the electric car,” arguing that EVs  end up costing society a lot of money while doing little to cut emissions of carbon dioxide. Even more provocatively, Lomborg claims that […]

The post Skeptical Environmentalist Bjørn Lomborg Says Electric Cars Kill More Than ICEs appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
cool_it_us_2010_poster_cover_200kb

In an op-ed in USA Today, headlined “Electric car benefits? Just myths“, author of The Skeptical Environmentalist, Bjørn Lomborg, calls for people to “stop our green worship of the electric car,” arguing that EVs  end up costing society a lot of money while doing little to cut emissions of carbon dioxide. Even more provocatively, Lomborg claims that because EVs are, for the most part, ultimately powered by coal fired electrical generating plants, the pollution associated with cars that run on electrons will end up killing almost twice as many people as that created by gasoline powered vehicles.

He says, for example, that the total life cycle CO2 emissions of the Tesla Model S will be about 44 tons, compared to an Audi A7 Quattro’s ~49 tons. At the current trading rate of $9/ton on Europe’s carbon emissions market, that works out to what Lomborg describes as just $45 in climate benefits for the $7,500 tax credit by which American taxpayers subsidize the purchase of EVs. “That’s a bad deal,” is how the Danish professor describes it.

Lomborg’s academic background is in the field of political science, but he’s taught statistics as a poli-sci and business professor for over  a decade. As a gay, vegetarian Scandinavian, he’s probably nobody’s stereotype of any kind of global warming skeptic. His 2001 book, The Skeptical Environmentalist, posits controversially that many commonly accepted environmental claims are wrong. As a result he’s been the target of accusations of scientific misconduct. Lomborg doesn’t dispute the existence of global warming and says that it’s a serious problem that needs to be addressed long-term but he asserts that our current reactions to it are not cost-effective.

From Lomborg’s editorial:

It is time to stop our green worship of the electric car. It costs us a fortune, cuts little CO2 and surprisingly kills almost twice the number of people compared with regular gasoline cars.

Electric cars’ global-warming benefits are small. It is advertised as a zero-emissions car, but in reality it only shifts emissions to electricity production, with most coming from fossil fuels.

Discuss among yourselves.

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 Skeptical Environmentalist Bjørn Lomborg Says Electric Cars Kill More Than ICEs appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/skeptical-environmentalist-bjorn-lomborg-says-electric-cars-kill-more-than-ices/feed/ 330
Junkyard Find: 1966 Rambler Classic 770 Coupe http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/junkyard-find-1966-rambler-classic-770-coupe/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/junkyard-find-1966-rambler-classic-770-coupe/#comments Fri, 20 Feb 2015 14:00:03 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1004114 I went back to Martin’s Salvage, located midway between Denver and Cheyenne, earlier this week. The last time I’d been there was in 2011, and the place is still full of so many staggeringly great 1930-1970 vehicles that I get overwhelmed and can’t shoot individual cars for this series. This trip, though, I held still […]

The post Junkyard Find: 1966 Rambler Classic 770 Coupe appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
06 - 1966 Rambler Classic 770 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinI went back to Martin’s Salvage, located midway between Denver and Cheyenne, earlier this week. The last time I’d been there was in 2011, and the place is still full of so many staggeringly great 1930-1970 vehicles that I get overwhelmed and can’t shoot individual cars for this series. This trip, though, I held still long enough to shoot this crazy-rare example from the final years of the Rambler marque.
05 - 1966 Rambler Classic 770 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis Classic has the optional V8, but I’m not enough of an AMC expert to tell a 287 from a 327 at a glance.
01 - 1966 Rambler Classic 770 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinI like the little orange ball used as the AM radio’s tuning indicator.
08 - 1966 Rambler Classic 770 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe interior has not benefited from years in the High Plains sun.
13 - 1966 Rambler Classic 770 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Weather Eye name goes all the way back to prewar Nashes.
09 - 1966 Rambler Classic 770 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinKeeping true to the penny-pinching nature of AMC buyers, this car’s last owner wasn’t the type to squander money on top-shelf hooch.


What better car is there for showing the benefits of “localized” fuel?

The 1966 Classic 770 hardtop coupe (yes, I know, this is an ad for the ’65) with 287-cubic-inch V8 engine and automatic transmission listed for $2,656. If you went across the street to your Chevy dealer, you could get a Malibu coupe with 283 V8 and Powerglide automatic for $2,668; the Ford salesman would put you in a Fairlane 500 coupe with 289 and Cruise-O-Matic automatic for an identical $2,668. With that kind of competition at roughly the same price, American Motors didn’t sell many Classic 770s.

01 - 1966 Rambler Classic 770 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1966 Rambler Classic 770 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1966 Rambler Classic 770 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1966 Rambler Classic 770 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1966 Rambler Classic 770 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1966 Rambler Classic 770 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1966 Rambler Classic 770 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1966 Rambler Classic 770 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1966 Rambler Classic 770 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1966 Rambler Classic 770 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1966 Rambler Classic 770 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1966 Rambler Classic 770 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1966 Rambler Classic 770 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1966 Rambler Classic 770 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - 1966 Rambler Classic 770 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

The post Junkyard Find: 1966 Rambler Classic 770 Coupe appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/junkyard-find-1966-rambler-classic-770-coupe/feed/ 55
Junkyard Find: 1980 Fiat 124 Sport Spider http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/junkyard-find-1980-fiat-124-sport-spider-3/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/junkyard-find-1980-fiat-124-sport-spider-3/#comments Wed, 18 Feb 2015 14:00:54 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1002290 Will the steady procession of Fiat 124 Spiders into America’s self-service wrecking yards never cease? So far in this series, we’ve seen this ’71, this ’73, this ’75, this ’76, this ’78, this ’80, this ’80, and now yet another sporty little Fiat from the Malaisiest year of them all. Here’s a beat-up but not […]

The post Junkyard Find: 1980 Fiat 124 Sport Spider appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
04 - 1980 Fiat 124 Sport Spider - Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinWill the steady procession of Fiat 124 Spiders into America’s self-service wrecking yards never cease? So far in this series, we’ve seen this ’71, this ’73, this ’75, this ’76, this ’78, this ’80, this ’80, and now yet another sporty little Fiat from the Malaisiest year of them all. Here’s a beat-up but not hopeless example I spotted in Northern California.
01 - 1980 Fiat 124 Sport Spider - Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinUnlike its MGB competitor (then on its last year of production), you could get the 1980 124 Sport Spider with factory fuel injection. 80 horsepower, which today’s American car buyers would consider unacceptable in a lawn tractor.
05 - 1980 Fiat 124 Sport Spider - Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe interior yielded some good stuff to a lucky Fiat owner, looks like.
08 - 1980 Fiat 124 Sport Spider - Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThese cars rusted even in California, but this one looks solid.

01 - 1980 Fiat 124 Sport Spider - Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1980 Fiat 124 Sport Spider - Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1980 Fiat 124 Sport Spider - Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1980 Fiat 124 Sport Spider - Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1980 Fiat 124 Sport Spider - Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1980 Fiat 124 Sport Spider - Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1980 Fiat 124 Sport Spider - Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1980 Fiat 124 Sport Spider - Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

The post Junkyard Find: 1980 Fiat 124 Sport Spider appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/junkyard-find-1980-fiat-124-sport-spider-3/feed/ 14
Editorial: Zoom, But Where’s The Boom? The Mazda Question http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/editorial-zoom-wheres-boom-mazda-question/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/editorial-zoom-wheres-boom-mazda-question/#comments Tue, 17 Feb 2015 14:00:58 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1001058 Last week, fellow contributor Doug DeMuro posed the question, “Has Mazda lost its zoom?” Some weeks before that, he asked readers, “When did BMW lose its edge?” To be brief, the answer to the first is a simple “No,” while the answer to the second is – well, let’s ask BMW. Hey! Bavarians! How do […]

The post Editorial: Zoom, But Where’s The Boom? The Mazda Question appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
miata-10
Last week, fellow contributor Doug DeMuro posed the question, “Has Mazda lost its zoom?” Some weeks before that, he asked readers, “When did BMW lose its edge?”

To be brief, the answer to the first is a simple “No,” while the answer to the second is – well, let’s ask BMW. Hey! Bavarians! How do you sleep at night, selling bizarre cross-coupes and sport activity whats-its and M-badged heffalumps like the 5-series Gran Turismo?

BMW, in a Rainier Wolfcastle accent: “On a huge pile of money, surrounded by many beautiful ladies.”

I see. So here’s my question – if Mazda is, as I posit, selling the strongest lineup of vehicles it’s had in decades, then why isn’t it knocking it out of the park?

First though, some brief defence of the Mazda range may be needed, as there are those who feel that it lacks cohesion. I believe the quote bandied about refers to our resident hot-shoe / well-heeled-Visigoth Jack Baruth declaring the Camry SE a bit sprightlier around a racetrack than a Mazda6. However, I remind you that the same gent said the following, “As it turns out, I did nearly sixty laps of Laguna Seca in the CX-5. The first three were for you, dear readers; the rest were for me.”

And that was back when you still couldn’t get anything other than a relatively overmatched 2.0L in that particular crossover. Now there’s a more-flexible 2.5L engine available that still returns excellent fuel economy but doesn’t feel overtaxed in passing maneuvers. You can get the same engine in the Mazda3, which I have just finished up a week in, now with either a six-speed manual (lovely) or conventional six-speed automatic (frankly, better), and that car is pretty enough that it could easily wear an Alfa-Romeo badge.

The Mazda2, which Doug dismissed for having just 100hp, is just debuting with 115hp now, and shares a design language with the rest of the range. The new CX-3, bound to launch somewhere mid-year, builds on the 2’s chassis with a little more ride-height (as well as a 2.0L, 155-horsepower engine), and having watched a camouflaged mule run along the Angeles Crest highway at speed, that thing’s going to be sharp too.

Much more importantly, they’re also very pretty cars these days. No more of the grinning why-so-serious nonsense that only really worked on the cutesy ‘2, Mazda’s new design language is good enough to have those who don’t care about corners looking twice. Should they glance at the fuel-economy figures, those too should impress. Moreover, most Mazda products I’ve driven actually hit their economy targets without trickery, unlike some turbocharged options I could name. And will: so-called Ecoboost offerings.

So what gives? Is it, as Doug suggests, a lack of power in the range? Toe-to-toe with four-banger Camrys and CR-Vs, Mazda’s products are actually a little ahead; it’s a fair point that handling and feel take a backseat to plain ol’ underhood gumption, and that there are probably a few people driving around in 2.0T Optimas who turned down the ‘6 on the basis of power, but where the bulk volume is, there too is most of the Mazda range.

The problem, I feel, is in not in the product, it’s in the perception. Easiest example of this? The new MX-5.

When the word went out that the new ND-chassis MX-5 would have just 155hp, out came the knives. It wasn’t enough. It certainly wasn’t daring enough. If anything, it was a step backwards. Just one issue: the Venn Diagram between those complaining and those who’d driven the car had zero overlap – and that was with the JDM 1.5L cars.

Moreover, get a few lines down in the comment thread of any first-drive, and you’d start hearing people talk about rust. Either they’d be dismissing all Mazdas as rust-buckets, based on apocryphal experience, or defending the brand, based on apocryphal experience. The consensus seems to be that the modern cars are much better (with the caveat that time has yet to take its full toll), but that the buying public hasn’t forgotten.

More to the point, the buying public doesn’t seem to have forgotten their last poor experience with a Mazda dealer, or perhaps the lack of choice when it comes to finding one. Not that they’re all the same, but if there are five Honda dealerships in your town, eight Toyota dealerships, and one place that sells Mazdas, guess which brand takes a kicking? Someone who had a bad experience at Toyota A but liked their car might try Toyota B before switching brands.

Meanwhile, over at Subaru, equally a niche player, things couldn’t be rosier. This despite a history of headgasket issues and fussy maintenance requirements. Subaru’s overall sales in the US were double Mazda’s results, with just under treble the growth.

It’s not a mystery, no more so than the prevalence of gluten-free food these days. Subaru’s all-wheel-drive is of no real benefit to many shoppers, but it has at least a placebo effect. In addition, overall fuel economy is improved enough now thanks to CVT and direct-injection to be acceptable, and the brand can tout its reputation for all-weather capability and safety loudly enough to drown out the critics.

For Mazda, a philosophy of “fun-to-drive spirit” baked into every car, no matter how true, just isn’t enough. In fact, if Mazda succeeds, it’ll be in spite of the fact that their cars drive well.

Enthusiasts buy into handling and feel, but they do so in small numbers, and they currently face a glut of options. No-one would tell you the Miata wasn’t zippy, but the actual sales figures for that car are almost hilariously modest, even by niche-market standards. Everybody else buys safe – not boring: safe. Something that’s a known quantity, recommended by friends and family, with a decent monthly payment and a nice-enough feel.

BMW certainly understands this, and has abandoned their Ultimate Driving Machine image for a scattershot approach that currently fills at least three niches which were probably better left empty. They still make the odd enthusiast-pleasing car, but the average 3-series leaving the lot is more akin to a Mercedes-Benz C-Class than its boxy ancestors. BMW knows that they need not worry about the weight-distribution of the ATS when the Audi Q3 is a far bigger sales volume threat.

Thus, the disheartening feeling that the gleaming alloy air cars are coming for that Soul-Red barchetta with the Mazda badge on the nose. But perhaps that’s not quite the case just yet.

CX-5 sales are steady, and the company’s growth, as-mentioned, is modest but present. The CX-3 will be an important launch, but its the CX-9 that faces down even tougher competition in the three-row segment. At least Mazda’s earlier to the game here than VW.

Personally, I’d like to see the next Mazdaspeed car, the next powerful Mazda, be a version of the CX-3; imagine a GLA AMG competitor for less than half the price. With the conventional hot-hatch segment relatively crowded, the next ‘Speed, and Mazda as a company, needs to hit them not where they are, but where they ain’t.

However, that’s beside the point. If Mazda’s to survive, it’s the twin attributes of consumer-reproducible overall fleet fuel economy and attractive styling that will keep the company afloat. Has Mazda lost its zoom? No, but that’s practically irrelevant. Survival here is not going to be about Jinba Ittai, but how pretty the pony is, and how much it costs to keep it fed.

The post Editorial: Zoom, But Where’s The Boom? The Mazda Question appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/editorial-zoom-wheres-boom-mazda-question/feed/ 108
The Comical World Of Dealer Internet Advertising http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/comical-world-dealer-internet-advertising/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/comical-world-dealer-internet-advertising/#comments Mon, 16 Feb 2015 22:05:38 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=972442 After I purchased my S2000 and was about to drive off the lot, my salesperson regaled me with stories about the Honda’s previous owners – an elderly couple who loved the sports car, called it their “baby,” but traded it for a Mercedes-Benz E350 Coupe because they wanted more room. None of this history was noted […]

The post The Comical World Of Dealer Internet Advertising appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
Focus Ad 3After I purchased my S2000 and was about to drive off the lot, my salesperson regaled me with stories about the Honda’s previous owners – an elderly couple who loved the sports car, called it their “baby,” but traded it for a Mercedes-Benz E350 Coupe because they wanted more room. None of this history was noted in their website or internet ads for the S2000, but why wasn’t it?

It turns out that most franchised dealer’s new and pre-owned vehicle ads on AutoTrader and cars.com as well as their own websites do not tell such stories because they are composed by automated services. The fun part is that dealers sometimes never proofread them, like in the example above showcasing the ultimate in Additional Dealer Markup.  Even better is when dealers try to write the ads themselves. Let’s take a look.

Assuming you do not pop for the $114,000 Focus, you might want to jump on the deal below from a Georgia dealer. Another fat finger typo or a low ball to get you in the store? Amazingly, both ads have been on AutoTrader for several days.
$6000 C7 Courtesy autotrader.com

One of the services supplying automated text to dealers for used car ads decided to quote an published road test on the 2011 BMW 528i. It sounds like a good idea but here is the excerpt currently being quoted by a dozen BMW dealers around the country:

“Dead center in the BMW sausage case is the 5 Series, always a strong choice for buyers who want vigorous acceleration and crisp handling, but not the limited interior space of the 3 Series, nor the girth, weight and fee-fye-foe-fum price of the 7 Series.”

Bash the other cars you sell in order to move the 5-Series? Manufacturers and consumers wish dealers would be this transparent, but in the words of Lewis Grizzard, “I don’t believe I’da told that one, brother.”

Here is the first line from an Audi dealer’s self-composed AutoTrader ad designed to educate high-end prospects about the $191,350 2015 R8 V10 Spyder:

“Biener Audi does not charge any Dealer Administrative fee. BUYER BEWARE! Many of our competitors charge exorbitant Dealer Administrative fees above the previously agreed selling price or tack on charges for unnecessary items like window etching which are not disclosed until delivery!”

Hey, why talk about the car when you can criticize other dealers instead?

It is safe to say that most pre-owned managers neither have the time or the talent to write compelling used car blurbs. Witness all this Houston dealer could think of to say about one vehicle:

This 2009 Aston Martin V8 Vantage 6-Speed Coupe has had it’s annual service and is Warranty ready. It is ready to get back on the road.

Does this mean the car is ready for more warranty work? Or that you need to buy an extended warranty?

Some dealers try to be too cute. In honor of Bark’s story, here is what a San Diego BMW dealer has to say about the yellow 2013 Boss 302 on their lot:

Luxuriate from Alpha to Bravo. Be a part of this innovation Nation. Don’t pay too much for the family car you want…Come on down and take a look at this superb 2013 Ford Mustang. Power is nothing without control, and the incredible brakes on this Mustang means that you are always just a quick pedel press away from bringing life to a halt.

To be fair, here is a dealership that does a nice job of telling the story of each vehicle, witness this text from Alderson Mercedes-Benz in Midland, Texas:

“..this beautiful Certified C-Class served as the faithful travel companion of an up and coming law student, taking her back and forth from her home in Dallas to the prestigious Rice University in Houston. Now a successful attorney in the Permian Basin, she entrusted Alderson to find her C300 a new owner…”   

A lot of other dealers might have written, ” ONE WOMAN OWNER! HIGHWAY MILES! E-Z FINANCING!” to sell this Benz.

Bleary-eyed from reading hundreds of car ads in an attempt to be half as funny as Doud DeMuro in this post, I also learned:

  • The first line in Jaguar Nashville’s dealer information webpage says, “Let’s break down just how much we have to offer here at Jaguar Nashville…” Hint: never use the phrase “break down” when advertising Jags.
  • Dealer mega-group AutoNation has either 9 million or 43 Million happy customers, depending upon whether it is AutoNation corporate or one of its retailers making the claim.

**All prices exclude $599.50 Pre-Delivery Service Fee (which represents profit to the dealer), any applicable taxes, estimated tag and title fees, any reconditioning expenses, $699 certification cost (if applicable), $350 auction purchase fee (if applicable), $300 transportation expense (if applicable).

So if the dealer bought the unit at the auction in Orlando, transported it to Clearwater and certified it, you would be asked to pay an additional $1948.50 plus reconditioning charges beyond the price of the car.  I bet the locals have nicknamed this retailer, “Dimwit Chevrolet.”

I suppose we next could do a story making fun of dealer’s newspaper ads, but that would be too easy…

 

Car Ad Courtesy automotiveaddesign.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The post The Comical World Of Dealer Internet Advertising appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/comical-world-dealer-internet-advertising/feed/ 98
Bark’s Bites: Welcome to Our 24-Month Long Fiesta http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/barks-bites-welcome-24-month-long-fiesta/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/barks-bites-welcome-24-month-long-fiesta/#comments Mon, 16 Feb 2015 17:00:53 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1001274 When we last saw our hero, he was debating between keeping his Boss 302 or selling it and downsizing to a little pocket-rocket Fiesta ST for a year or so until the Shelby GT350 hits the showrooms. Wait, let’s leave that writing-in-third-person nonsense to NFL wide receivers and people with delusions of grandeur. Reset. I spent much […]

The post Bark’s Bites: Welcome to Our 24-Month Long Fiesta appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
057

When we last saw our hero, he was debating between keeping his Boss 302 or selling it and downsizing to a little pocket-rocket Fiesta ST for a year or so until the Shelby GT350 hits the showrooms. Wait, let’s leave that writing-in-third-person nonsense to NFL wide receivers and people with delusions of grandeur. Reset.

I spent much of last week crunching numbers and trying to figure out what I wanted to do. Like our fearless leader (Obama, not Derek)—to those of you who voted in the comments section, I heard you. For those of you didn’t vote, I heard you, too. I read all of the reasoned opinions. I calculated. I planned. I schemed.

And then I said, Eff it. Let’s do both.

. 068

The more visually astute of you will notice that the above is a picture of my driveway/garage. You’ll also notice that this driveway/garage has both a Fiesta ST and a Boss 302 residing in it (the Flex steadfastly refused to vacate its well-earned spot on the other side of the garage, as did the mountain of children’s toys and Cozy Coupes). Dafuq happened? Sit back, relax, adjust the resolution on your monitor on this Monday morning, and let me spin a yarn of excess for you.

I had been in communication with the Internet Manager at Paul Miller Ford in Lexington, Kentucky all week, explaining to him that I would coming in that Friday to look at the Fiesta ST that they had on their lot, which was the only one in Kentucky dealer inventory at the time. The terms of the deal I laid out were easy—I wanted $37K for my car, and I would gladly pay X Plan minus rebates for theirs.

It wasn’t exactly the car I wanted—it was Performance Blue, and I wanted Molten Orange. It had full SYNC navigation/entertainment and a roof, neither of which I was particularly excited to pay for. My dream Fiesta would have had neither of those options, but would have had Recaro seats. One of the commenters in last week’s post said something about Baruth boys being, ahem, plus-sized. As Gershwin would have told you, it ain’t necessarily so. I’m scraping the botton of 5’9″ and I tip the scales just south of 160 pounds, so the Recaros are no problem for me.

However, I was prepared to drive the Fiesta they had and order the Fiesta that I wanted. When I arrived at the dealership on Friday, I was surprised to see it totally swamped by sub-prime customers wearing Kentucky blue. Turned out that Julius Randle, the former UK Wildcat and current resident of the Los Angeles Lakers’ injured reserve list, was in the house to sign autographs. Much to the chagrin of the sales manager on duty, Randle rolled up in an A8 to the dealership, not an Expedition. The circus-like atmosphere of the store made it a little difficult to conduct business, but that was fine with me. I just wanted to drive the little hatch and be on my way.

There was one small snag—I was coming directly from the airport, so I wasn’t driving my Boss. I rolled up in my Legacy Wagon, which impressed exactly nobody at the dealership.

“So, uh, what’s that car you’re driving? Is that a Subaru?” asked the new car manager upon greeting me, undoubtedly trying to see if his only sales prospect of the day was a 520 beacon score waiting to happen.

“That’s my airport car. No worries, dude. I work for (redacted).”

“Oh, okay.” He was visibly relieved. “Let’s go find that great little car!”

He introduced me to the Internet Manager, who introduced me to the salesman. As per usual, the salesman knew next to nothing about the car, but that was okay by me—I actually prefer it. I’d much rather spend my test drive focusing on the driving dynamics of the car, not hearing about crumple zones and airbags.

The test drive loop wasn’t exactly the Grand Prix Monaco course. I didn’t have too many opportunities to scare the salesman—he only asked me to slow down three times. But what a car. The statement I’m wanting to make may seem a tad ridiculous out of context, so I’m going to save it for a tad later in this post. Instead, I’m going to focus on some of the complaints that people have about the Fiesta, namely the interior.

First of all, if you’re complaining about the interior materials of this car, you’re an idiot. You’re completely missing the point of the Fiesta. The interior is more than adequate—in fact, it’s a major upgrade from a Boss 302. The SYNC MyFordTouch system is exactly the same one that you’d get in a Flex Titanium, complete with 2 USB ports, SD card reader, and audio input jack in the center console. It synced up easily with my iPhone 5s, no questions asked. The Sony eight-speaker sound system is quite acceptable. I wouldn’t call it “good,” but neither is it terrible. Again, I’m coming from a Boss 302 most days, so I’m easy to please. I much prefer the spooling turbo whine that is pumped into the cabin from the sound symposer, anyway.

The test drive was more than enough to convince me that I wanted the car. A few questions remained, however.

  • Should I do a 60 month buy at 0%, or a 24 month lease?
  • Should I order exactly the car I want and wait three months, or get it today?
  • What the hell am I going to do with my Boss?

Taking them one at a time:

  • The sales manager was likely staring at a terrible February. The weather in Kentucky, like everywhere, has been awful for car sales. On a 24 month lease, he was willing to do X Plan plus all rebates plus a little bit more, and then also give me 12K miles for the same price as 10,500. Done.
  • I suck at being patient. The discounts pretty much wiped out the additional cost of the navigation system, which meant that for the next two years I wouldn’t have to do the dreaded “I HAVE TO HANG UP ON YOU RIGHT NOW BECAUSE I HAVE NO IDEA WHERE I’M GOING AND I’M USING MY PHONE FOR GPS” that I often have to do in unfamiliar cities. And I had been driving a yellow car for 32 months—maybe a subtle color wouldn’t be so bad for once.
  • Fuck it. I ‘m keeping the Boss.

The last one was the tough one. In order to explain, let me introduce you to Kevy.

015

Kevy is the little boy on the left in this picture, standing proudly next to his little sister. He’s a smart, talented, warm-hearted kid. He’s a pretty good goalkeeper. Most importantly, he also happens to be my son.

Kevy loves the Boss 302. He asks to be picked up in it from school daily. He brags to his friends about it. He tells them that his daddy’s car is the fastest car in the parking lot, and that Daddy will beat any of their daddies in a race. The day I bought the Boss, on June 9th, 2012, Kevy asked to pose for pictures with it all day. As you can see in the picture, his favorite color is now Yellow, because Daddy’s Boss is yellow. He loves it. How could I disappoint him?

After I figured out that I could afford to have both cars in the driveway, it was a no-brainer. The Boss has entered a realm known as the “993 Zone,” where depreciation no longer has any real meaning. Case in point: The Boss stickered for $45,240 32 months ago. It now sells privately with 30,000 miles on it for at least $38k. That’s insane. My financing rate is good enough that I’m essentially paying 98% principal with every payment, so I will likely get back nearly every dollar I pay on it for at least the next twelve months. One could make the case that the Boss will be devalued by the launch of the GT350, certainly, but one could also make the case that the Boss could become more popular as people realize that the additional dealer markup on the Shelby isn’t going to go away any time soon. There’s also this: neither the Boss nor the Fiesta can do what the other can do. Neither is a replacement for the other. If you love one, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll love the other.

So I signed some papers, left the Subaru in the dealership parking lot overnight, and immediately went canyon carving.

There’s a stretch of road in Kentucky that’s a favorite among the buff books for road tests. Route 52 from Richmond to Morehead, as well as some of the lesser arteries that wind off of it, is one of the best driver’s roads in America. The Fiesta ST is perfectly suited for just such a jaunt,  stretching out its 202 lb-ft of torque and power-to-weight ratio of an E30 M3 along the banks of the Kentucky river, making elevation changes of a nearly a hundred feet around every corner.

It’s one thing to hoon around in a press car. It’s entirely another to do it in a car that you just signed paperwork for less than an hour ago. In some ways, it’s more confidence inspiring. In others, much less so. Nevertheless, on this Friday afternoon, the Fiesta and I became one as we traversed the hills of the Bluegrass.

Every turn was perfect. Each gearshift executed perfectly, the gearbox easily the best I’ve ever driven. The tires never slipped. The wickedly short wheelbase meant that the nose never plowed. I nearly forgot that I was driving a FWD car. The turbo never lagged. The torque-curve never flattened. I simply couldn’t push the car hard enough—each time I thought I had reached a limit, the Fiesta nudged me. Come on, Bark. We can go faster. We can turn harder. We can tempt fate on this next blind hill. It will all turn out okay. And you know what? It always did.

Journos throw around the term “usable speed” somewhat casually, normally in reference to some slow car that’s supposed to be fun to drive “at the limit.” Most journalists would piss themselves “at the limit.”  In my mildly capable hands, the Fiesta’s limits are almost unreachable on a public road. Every ounce of its speed is not only usable, it’s capable. As I closed the gap between myself and other cars on the road, occasionally a Fox Mustang or Miata out for a spirited drive would attempt to keep me from overtaking. It was an exercise in futility. The Fiesta artfully absorbed them, lifting a rear wheel almost as if to wave goodbye on the next corner entry. The fingers extended by my fellow road-goers wasn’t a middle finger—it was a hearty thumbs up.

Road tests seem to suggest that the Fiesta does zero-to-sixty in roughly seven seconds. I suggest it doesn’t fucking matter. No more fun can be had for this amount of money. No more fun can be had for twice as much money. So here’s the ridiculous statement that I wanted to make earlier:

The Fiesta is the best car I’ve ever driven.

Maybe not the best car for sitting in or for taking to a dragstrip or for showing off how much money you make, but for driving? No question. It manages to do the impossible—it inspires nearly endless confidence while keeping the nannies and electronics out of the way.  My only wish would be for a slightly higher rev limiter—it’s quite easy to find yourself bouncing off it.

As I flew along State Route 388 up towards Fort Boonesborough State Park, I finally came to a rest at the intersection of 388 and 627, where the hooning would be forced to subside as the road became a straight line all the way home to Winchester. I could smell a little tire and a little brake, but I mostly just sensed pure driving nirvana.

So stick with me for the next 24 months. We’ll see if the driving dynamics of the Fiesta manage to keep the snarling Boss in the garage, or if my lust for power eventually proves unquenchable. But for now, let’s do both.

 

056 057 058 059 060 061 062 063 070

 

The post Bark’s Bites: Welcome to Our 24-Month Long Fiesta appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/barks-bites-welcome-24-month-long-fiesta/feed/ 133
Junkyard Find: 1953 Plymouth Sedan http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/junkyard-find-1953-plymouth-sedan/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/junkyard-find-1953-plymouth-sedan/#comments Mon, 16 Feb 2015 14:00:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1001426 When I visited Southern California back in December, I hit the jackpot with interesting junkyard cars to photograph. In addition to stuff I haven’t shared yet, there was this fully-loaded ’82 Subaru BRAT, John DeLorean’s weird rope-drive Tempest with 540-lb four-banger, this rust-free ’84 Cressida, and this ’51 Plymouth Cranbrook. The self-service yard that had […]

The post Junkyard Find: 1953 Plymouth Sedan appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
07 - 1953 Plymouth Sedan Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinWhen I visited Southern California back in December, I hit the jackpot with interesting junkyard cars to photograph. In addition to stuff I haven’t shared yet, there was this fully-loaded ’82 Subaru BRAT, John DeLorean’s weird rope-drive Tempest with 540-lb four-banger, this rust-free ’84 Cressida, and this ’51 Plymouth Cranbrook. The self-service yard that had the ’51 Plymouth also had today’s Junkyard Find, which tells you a lot about how spoiled Los Angeles car freaks are.
06 - 1953 Plymouth Sedan Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinI can’t tell if this is a Cranbrook or Cambridge or whatever, because all the trim-level-specific emblems are long gone.
09 - 1953 Plymouth Sedan Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinStill, it’s not rusty and it’s pretty much complete. Much as we talk about wanting to save all the old cars, there’s just not much value in a battered-yet-restorable ordinary bread-and-butter four-door of this era.
04 - 1953 Plymouth Sedan Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinChrysler made their flathead six-cylinder engine for nearly a half-century (if you count engines made for military vehicles and stationary industrial applications), making it one of the all-time engine legends. If this is the engine that came with this car from the factory (unlikely, but possible), it’s the 217-cubic-inch version.
13 - 1953 Plymouth Sedan Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinAccording to the laws that established the CONELRAD system, all AM radios manufactured between 1953 and 1963 were supposed to have the “duck and cover” frequencies of 640 and 1240 kHz marked on their dials. Either Chrysler didn’t get the word, this radio was manufactured in 1952, or it was swapped in later.

Shopping for a used Plymouth in 1953? You know where to go!

02 - 1953 Plymouth Sedan Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1953 Plymouth Sedan Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1953 Plymouth Sedan Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1953 Plymouth Sedan Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1953 Plymouth Sedan Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1953 Plymouth Sedan Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1953 Plymouth Sedan Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1953 Plymouth Sedan Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1953 Plymouth Sedan Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1953 Plymouth Sedan Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 16 - 1953 Plymouth Sedan Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 17 - 1953 Plymouth Sedan Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 18 - 1953 Plymouth Sedan Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 19 - 1953 Plymouth Sedan Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 20 - 1953 Plymouth Sedan Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

The post Junkyard Find: 1953 Plymouth Sedan appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/junkyard-find-1953-plymouth-sedan/feed/ 29
Junkyard Find: 2000 Dodge Intrepid R/T http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/junkyard-find-2000-dodge-intrepid-rt/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/junkyard-find-2000-dodge-intrepid-rt/#comments Fri, 13 Feb 2015 14:00:47 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=998890 With the ’01 Saturn L200 yesterday and the ’01 Pontiac Aztek the day before that, we’re having a 21st Century Junkyard Find week. I’ll continue that with today’s find: Dodge’s high-performance version of the second-gen Dodge Intrepid: The Intrepid R/T. You got the 242-horsepower 3.5 liter V6 in this car, which was pretty decent for […]

The post Junkyard Find: 2000 Dodge Intrepid R/T appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
08 - 2000 Dodge Intrepid RT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinWith the ’01 Saturn L200 yesterday and the ’01 Pontiac Aztek the day before that, we’re having a 21st Century Junkyard Find week. I’ll continue that with today’s find: Dodge’s high-performance version of the second-gen Dodge Intrepid: The Intrepid R/T.
03 - 2000 Dodge Intrepid RT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinYou got the 242-horsepower 3.5 liter V6 in this car, which was pretty decent for a front-wheel-drive family sedan.11 - 2000 Dodge Intrepid RT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe LH platform had been around for quite a while at this point, so the novelty of the cool-looking-at-first “cab-forward” design had long since worn off by 2000.
14 - 2000 Dodge Intrepid RT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinI often suggest that 24 Hours of LeMons teams run a Chrysler LH, but so far only one has shown up (and it threw a rod 100 yards into the race).

Roomy. Well-equipped. Cheap.

01 - 2000 Dodge Intrepid RT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 2000 Dodge Intrepid RT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 2000 Dodge Intrepid RT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 2000 Dodge Intrepid RT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 2000 Dodge Intrepid RT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 2000 Dodge Intrepid RT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 2000 Dodge Intrepid RT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 2000 Dodge Intrepid RT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 2000 Dodge Intrepid RT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 2000 Dodge Intrepid RT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 2000 Dodge Intrepid RT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 2000 Dodge Intrepid RT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 2000 Dodge Intrepid RT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 2000 Dodge Intrepid RT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - 2000 Dodge Intrepid RT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 16 - 2000 Dodge Intrepid RT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

The post Junkyard Find: 2000 Dodge Intrepid R/T appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/junkyard-find-2000-dodge-intrepid-rt/feed/ 91
Vellum Venom Vignette: Peak Emblem http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/vellum-venom-vignette-peak-emblem/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/vellum-venom-vignette-peak-emblem/#comments Thu, 12 Feb 2015 16:40:51 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=997690   Most design students don’t consider Peak Oil in their studies, but The Reckoning was on my reading list back then. While Peak Oil is tangentially connected to car design, we clearly reached Peak Emblem. It cannot get any worse than what’s being introduced in Chicago this week. Emblem size, just like wheel size and body/firewall (versus glass) height has […]

The post Vellum Venom Vignette: Peak Emblem appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
 

This just happened. (photo courtesy: Ram)

Most design students don’t consider Peak Oil in their studies, but The Reckoning was on my reading list back then. While Peak Oil is tangentially connected to car design, we clearly reached Peak Emblem.

It cannot get any worse than what’s being introduced in Chicago this week.

Emblem size, just like wheel size and body/firewall (versus glass) height has been on the rise for over a decade.  Park a new Corolla next to a 1995-2000 model for proof.  The problem is empty real estate, sheets of painted metal with no landscaping. A big problem for a top-tier RAM, for the Laramie Limited trim. How do you visually separate a premium model when even the mid-level model has that in-yo-face look from a huge grille and acres of chrome?

Larger and larger emblems, apparently: on the grille and the tailgate.  Damn Son, dat tailgate!

As mentioned before, it’s all about proportioning: big butts need MOAR BLING. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, unless the proportions are so extreme that creativity is stifled and the sheet metal cannot to rest on its design laurels.  A shame, as the RAM (like many new Chrysler designs) are quite fetching by themselves.

Here’s my suggestion:

1985 Dodge Power Ram (photo courtesy: www.fortrucksonly.com/truckforum)

Stamp a (unique to trim levels like the Laramie Limited) tailgate with negative area, then add a metal insert with small(er that what you did) lettering. Of course Ye Old School Dodge has a much smaller tailgate, but applying the concept of negative area to the Laramie makes sense.  Well, perhaps not the financial sense of slapping the biggest emblems you can make on dat butt.

Peak Emblem is real, it happened.

Thanks for reading, I hope you have a lovely weekend.

The post Vellum Venom Vignette: Peak Emblem appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/vellum-venom-vignette-peak-emblem/feed/ 103
Junkyard Find: 2001 Saturn L200 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/junkyard-find-2001-saturn-l200/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/junkyard-find-2001-saturn-l200/#comments Thu, 12 Feb 2015 14:00:44 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=997530 Saturn needed some new models by the late 1990s, and so GM spent a billion or so bucks to make an Americanized, plastic-bodied Opel Vectra and called it the L-Series. The L, which went through a bewildering series of model-name changes during its 2000-2005 production run, never sold very well and more or less sank […]

The post Junkyard Find: 2001 Saturn L200 appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
02 - 2001 Saturn L-200 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinSaturn needed some new models by the late 1990s, and so GM spent a billion or so bucks to make an Americanized, plastic-bodied Opel Vectra and called it the L-Series. The L, which went through a bewildering series of model-name changes during its 2000-2005 production run, never sold very well and more or less sank without a trace. That makes it historically interesting, in sort of a run-up-to-the-bankruptcy way, much like the 2001 Pontiac Aztek Junkyard Find we saw yesterday. Yes, we’re having 21st Century Junkyard Find Week!
12 - 2001 Saturn L-200 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe General had ample experience with attempts to sell rebadged Opels in the United States, from the Buick Opel to the Cadillac Catera, and only the Opel-cousin Chevrolet Chevette had sold worth a damn. Still, the Saturn L would be different!
04 - 2001 Saturn L-200 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinA billion dollars, gone.
13 - 2001 Saturn L-200 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinSomebody dropped the subframe and grabbed the Ecotec 2.2 out of this car.
11 - 2001 Saturn L-200 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinWindow won’t roll up? That’s what a Salvation Army sign and packaging tape are for!

You can jump up and down on the door skins, plus there’s that German engineering to consider.

The midsize world may never be the same.

01 - 2001 Saturn L-200 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 2001 Saturn L-200 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 2001 Saturn L-200 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 2001 Saturn L-200 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 2001 Saturn L-200 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 2001 Saturn L-200 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 2001 Saturn L-200 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 2001 Saturn L-200 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 2001 Saturn L-200 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 2001 Saturn L-200 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 2001 Saturn L-200 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 2001 Saturn L-200 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 2001 Saturn L-200 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

The post Junkyard Find: 2001 Saturn L200 appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/junkyard-find-2001-saturn-l200/feed/ 112
Generation Why: I Want My S16 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/generation-want-s16/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/generation-want-s16/#comments Wed, 11 Feb 2015 16:25:08 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=996778 Driving a rear-drive, turbocharged car in the winter is usually an exercise in gentle throttle control coupled with self-restraint. And it’s tough when you lack both of those traits. Past experiences with this kind of car tend to follow a typical pattern. Enter a turn, lift the throttle to unsettle the rear of the car, […]

The post Generation Why: I Want My S16 appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
2015-ford-Mustang-coty-nominee

Driving a rear-drive, turbocharged car in the winter is usually an exercise in gentle throttle control coupled with self-restraint. And it’s tough when you lack both of those traits.

Past experiences with this kind of car tend to follow a typical pattern. Enter a turn, lift the throttle to unsettle the rear of the car, get back on the gas. Wait, wait, wait for the turbo to spool up (if you’re in something like a Volvo 700 or 900-Series wagon) and then *BAM*, get hit with a fist-full of boost. No wonder Gordon Murray always championed the naturally aspirated engine.

But it looks like things have changed.

This week, we’ve got a brand new 2015 Ford Mustang Ecoboost, in the exact same spec as the one pictured above. A spell of crappy weather and a lack of plowed side streets has let me explore the dynamics of a boosted RWD car without really trying. The 2.3L turbocharged four-cylinder is impossibly smooth. Too smooth in fact. There’s virtually zero perceptible turbo lag. Like most small-displacement four-cylinder turbo motors, it pulls strongly through the low end of the rev range, but runs out of breath towards the top. It feels quick, but not that quick, even though it would probably show its tail lights to a Mod Motor SN95. To me at least, it doesn’t really feel like a Mustang.

What it does feel like is the best Audi A5, BMW 228i, 428i, Hyundai Genesis Coupe, Nissan 370Z or 240SX you’ve ever driven. The seating position and sightlines no longer feel like the “large and in charge” Mustangs of yesterday, where you’re sitting bolt upright over a big, blocky hood, grasping a bent shifter and a yacht-like steering wheel.

The chassis is tighter than a yoga instructor’s glutes, the ride is *too* firm, the Brembo brakes are brilliant and the electric steering’s got plenty of feedback and feel even in “normal” mode. But when you mash the throttle, it sounds like a Focus SE. The automatic transmission in our car may be hampering some of the performance, but even sound clips where the car has an upgraded exhaust still sound…off. Like hearing Radu Marian sing an aria when you’re expecting a tenor. I’m sure that with the new Ford Racing ProCal and an uncorked exhaust system, this thing will be an absolute riot on the street at a significant discount to the five-point-oh.

But that’s not good enough for me. If I’m buying a pony car, I want the full pony car experience, and that means 8 cylinders of unholy torque and the soundtrack to match. As petty and vain as it may be, I would never be happy not having the “5.0” badge, the NASCAR soundtrack and not having to explain to everyone that “it’s a 4-cylinder, but it’s actually lighter and better balanced and Immakingexcusesfornotgettingthebigboymustang”.

Well, not quite. If I lived in Calgary or Denver or somewhere at altitude, I could see how a tuned-up Ecoboost would be a hell of a car on a brisk drive through the mountains. When the V8 would be huffing and puffing its way up the mountain, the 2.3L would be whistling a sweet turbo tune. A barely audible one at that.

The Speedhunters blog recently compared the Mustang EB to the never-produced S16 version of the Nissan Silvia, one of Japan’s most iconic cars. I’d have to agree. It’s got all the right elements to the successor to one of the best sport compacts of all time. The only problem is, it’s a pony car.

The post Generation Why: I Want My S16 appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/generation-want-s16/feed/ 135
Bark’s Bites: Viva La Fiesta! http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/barks-bites-viva-la-fiesta/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/barks-bites-viva-la-fiesta/#comments Wed, 11 Feb 2015 15:35:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=996706 I may have lost my damned mind, but here it goes: I think I want to trade my Boss 302 for a Fiesta ST. Not straight up, mind you. But the financials of the Boss 302 no longer make sense for a car that I’m not totally jacked to drive every day (this is the […]

The post Bark’s Bites: Viva La Fiesta! appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
fiestast
I may have lost my damned mind, but here it goes:

I think I want to trade my Boss 302 for a Fiesta ST.

Not straight up, mind you. But the financials of the Boss 302 no longer make sense for a car that I’m not totally jacked to drive every day (this is the part where you, the Internet Millionaire, can deride me for financing a new car). For two and a half years, I didn’t mind writing the massive check to Ford Credit for it every month.

And then, this month, I did.

I don’t think I love the 302 anymore. It’s not you, Boss. It’s me. I suppose that it makes sense for my emotional break-up to have happened in the winter months. I have barely let it out of the garage during this Kentucky winter, choosing to endure the snow and ice with my Subaru Legacy wagon. It probably needs new tires and brake pads, which is a relatively massive expense. I’m sure that the release of the GT350 has had something to do with my desire to wander a bit, too. I no longer have the baddest ‘Stang out there (yes, I’m aware of the GT500. I still like the Boss more).

However, I can’t have that Mustang yet. So, here’s the dilemma—do I continue to pay for a car I don’t really love anymore, or do I cut my payments by more than half and buy a Fiesta ST to bide my time until the GT350 is available at a reasonable, non-dealer-adjusted price? The ST is widely loved by everybody who’s driven it, including people like Alex Nunez, Matt Farah and our own Derek Kreindler. Plus, I’ve had a little lust in my heart for it ever since it came out—I’ve always wanted a hot hatch, even if my age makes me more of a Corvette candidate. Does this idea make ANY sense at all?

Well, I’m going to find out. Thanks to my decision to submit a lead through AutoTrader’s Trade-In Marketplace tool, I have been relentlessly pursued by my local Ford store, who can’t wait to try to steal my Boss from me. I have an appointment on Saturday to go drive a Fiesta ST in that gorgeous blue. Part of me is afraid that I won’t like it. Part of me is afraid that I’ll love it.

Have at it, B&B.

The post Bark’s Bites: Viva La Fiesta! appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/barks-bites-viva-la-fiesta/feed/ 92
Junkyard Find: 2001 Pontiac Aztek AWD http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/junkyard-find-2001-pontiac-aztek-awd/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/junkyard-find-2001-pontiac-aztek-awd/#comments Wed, 11 Feb 2015 14:00:01 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=996098 It takes a lot for a 21st-century vehicle to make it into this series, and the Pontiac Aztek has no problem qualifying. Here in Denver, you see Azteks all over the place, presumably because they make sense for the outdoorsy lifestyle that’s so big here (you also see a lot of Vanagon Syncros, presumably because […]

The post Junkyard Find: 2001 Pontiac Aztek AWD appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
23 - 2001 Pontiac Aztek Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinIt takes a lot for a 21st-century vehicle to make it into this series, and the Pontiac Aztek has no problem qualifying. Here in Denver, you see Azteks all over the place, presumably because they make sense for the outdoorsy lifestyle that’s so big here (you also see a lot of Vanagon Syncros, presumably because there are lots of masochists here). That means that they’re going to break something not worth fixing and show up at the local self-serve wrecking yard, and I will photograph them. Today’s Junkyard Find Aztek is in excellent condition and appears to have every single option available when new, from heads-up display to air-mattress-inflation compressor. Let’s check it out.
04 - 2001 Pontiac Aztek Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinIf you’re going to go into the mountains in the winter, you want your Aztek to have Versatrak AWD.
01 - 2001 Pontiac Aztek Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis must be the first letter of the Aztek Alphabet.
06 - 2001 Pontiac Aztek Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe owner’s manual is still here.
02 - 2001 Pontiac Aztek Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis is the sort of “we’re-gonna-tow-this-heap” form used by angry apartment-building managers.
12 - 2001 Pontiac Aztek Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinI’m tempted to pull a heads-up speedometer display out of a GM car of this era, just to tinker with it. The dash on the Aztek is so deep, however, that it seemed like too much hassle to break out the tools.
08 - 2001 Pontiac Aztek Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe interior is very nice for a 14-year-old car that was sufficiently unloved to get towed away and junked. I couldn’t check the odometer, because it’s digital.
17 - 2001 Pontiac Aztek Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinYes, the Aztek came with an air mattress. This one doesn’t have the tent, though perhaps I didn’t look hard enough.
22 - 2001 Pontiac Aztek Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinSeems like this thing really would be good for camping trips. Too bad about the ugly.

01 - 2001 Pontiac Aztek Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 2001 Pontiac Aztek Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 2001 Pontiac Aztek Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 2001 Pontiac Aztek Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 2001 Pontiac Aztek Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 2001 Pontiac Aztek Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 2001 Pontiac Aztek Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 2001 Pontiac Aztek Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 2001 Pontiac Aztek Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 2001 Pontiac Aztek Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 2001 Pontiac Aztek Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 2001 Pontiac Aztek Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 2001 Pontiac Aztek Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 2001 Pontiac Aztek Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - 2001 Pontiac Aztek Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 16 - 2001 Pontiac Aztek Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 17 - 2001 Pontiac Aztek Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 18 - 2001 Pontiac Aztek Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 19 - 2001 Pontiac Aztek Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 20 - 2001 Pontiac Aztek Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 21 - 2001 Pontiac Aztek Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 22 - 2001 Pontiac Aztek Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 23 - 2001 Pontiac Aztek Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 25 - 2001 Pontiac Aztek Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 26 - 2001 Pontiac Aztek Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 27 - 2001 Pontiac Aztek Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

The post Junkyard Find: 2001 Pontiac Aztek AWD appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/junkyard-find-2001-pontiac-aztek-awd/feed/ 129
Comparison: 2013 Tesla P85 vs. 2015 Tesla P85D http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/comparison-2013-tesla-p85-vs-2015-tesla-p85d/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/comparison-2013-tesla-p85-vs-2015-tesla-p85d/#comments Tue, 10 Feb 2015 17:32:02 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=995426 I’ve got a buddy who was once a titan of industry, a computer geek in the C-suite who never forgot his roots. Let’s call him Professor Zorkmid. He never needs to work another day in his life, but he enjoys hanging out with students, telling grand tales of his adventures in the Great Underground Empire, […]

The post Comparison: 2013 Tesla P85 vs. 2015 Tesla P85D appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
Tesla charging

I’ve got a buddy who was once a titan of industry, a computer geek in the C-suite who never forgot his roots. Let’s call him Professor Zorkmid. He never needs to work another day in his life, but he enjoys hanging out with students, telling grand tales of his adventures in the Great Underground Empire, swinging his sword at trolls and making his way through the maze of twisty corporate passages, all alike.

Two years ago, Zorkmid was planning to upgrade his C6 Corvette Convertible to a C7, but then he developed a fancy for the Tesla. Being a rational fellow, he developed spreadsheets with detailed cost models, agonizing over whether it was worth the extra bump for the P85+ (a tighter sport suspension on crappy Houston roads?), the larger 21″ wheels (more opportunity for curb rash?), or the panoramic glass roof (versus the pounding summer heat). The catalyst for him was the August 2013 refresh, when Tesla added parking sensors and made a handful of other small tweaks to the car. He took delivery later on in the year, and fell in love with the car.

Fast forward to the recent announcement of the P85D and Tesla’s various “AutoPilot” features. Zorkmid was sitting in my office, going back and forth about the relative costs and benefits of the new P85D. The extra performance? Certainly desirable. The extra features like the AutoPilot? Seriously beneficial for his commute to campus from his white house, out in a distant field. Sure, it’s got the latest Frobozz technologies, but are you willing to eat the first-year depreciation? He had to think about that. Because if you want to sell it, I might want to buy it. And that’s what leads us to this TTAC exclusive comparison of two Teslas.

Two Teslas (front)

First, since everybody else is writing articles about the 0-60 launch of the P85D, I thought it would be worth chiming in. Yes it’s fast. Yes it’s brutally fast. And if you’re faced with the choice between the 2015 S85(-D or not) and the 2015 P85D (they got rid of the P85 non-D), then that extra oomph is going to be a big selling point, assuming price is no object. If your budget however, like mine, is finite, I highly recommend you find yourself another Zorkmid willing to eat the first-year depreciation, because the regular P85 is still very, very fast, and one of them can be yours for 80% of the original sale price.

This is the place where the buff books would start waxing poetic about the “well-controlled oversteer driving at 9/10ths into an off-camber sweeper” and other such nonsense. I’m totally unqualified to write that sort of prose, but hopefully we’ll be able to get Jack Baruth down here at some point to do the honors. Instead, once I’ve had the car long enough, I hope to bring to TTAC discussions with data. Kilowatt-hours. Operating costs. Integration with SpaceX’s Merlin engines. That sort of thing.

Tesla AutoPilot cruise control

Tesla rolls out its new software to all of its cars, which is a great thing, but old cars don’t get new hardware features. Here’s a dashboard photo showing several new things that require the AutoPilot hardware. You can see that the Tesla’s forward-facing camera recognized a speed limit sign and displayed it front-and-center for a few seconds. That eventually goes away, but notice where the blue arc on the left turns grey? That indicates how much you’re going above the posted speed. Likewise, if you’ve got the adaptive cruise control on and something gets in your way, there’s a line left behind so you know where the car’s going to accelerate to if and when the slowpoke in front of you gets out of the way. Tesla has also implemented a lane departure warning feature (it makes an unhappy buzz at you if you drift toward the lane lines without signaling), but the real “auto pilot” goodness is still to come in some future update at an unspecified time.

Tesla 19" wheels

Aside from the rear badge, there isn’t much to help you tell these cars apart from the outside. Zorkmid’s new car (on the right) has the “turbine” wheels (which might improve mileage by a tiny percentage) and red brake calipers (whoopie!). Mine, on the left, has curb rash (my fault, not his). Okay, that’s fine and all, but what are all the other differences between these cars? Ever wonder how Tesla has improved all the little details in the past two years? Here we go. Cue the split-screen graphics. (Click for larger versions.)

Tesla turn signals

In 2013, Tesla had the cruise control stalk on top and the turn signal stalk below. This messed me up for a few weeks but I’m used to it now. They fixed this in their newer cars, which has of course caused Zorkmid no end of cognitive dissonance.

Tesla front seats

The new Tesla “sport” seats have noticeably larger side bolsters. They feel great. The old ones are fine as well, although other reviewers have complained about them. If you’re seriously planning to track your car, then yeah, you want the sport seats, but you can totally live your life without them.

Tesla rear seats

But the rear seats? Oy vey. Those overstuffed bolster bumps aren’t going to help in any meaningful way if you’re hauling ass, but they’re sure going to be annoying if you’re trying to get a slightly oversized kid booster seat to fit in the back. Still, can you live with it? Maybe, but here’s the bigger problem with the new rear seats:

Tesla rear visibility

Those new rear seats chew up a ton of the space in your rear view mirror, and the headrests don’t fold down. Apparently this is also true for the “version 2″ regular seats, whereas I apparently have the “version 1″ regular seats. I’m sure there’s a safety reason for the huge headrests, but unless Tesla implements the Volvo flip-down thing, there’s a safety cost now, with the rearview mirror giving you a lot less information. So maybe you think this is just micro nit-picking? Isn’t that what TTAC is all about? Anyway, here’s another interesting point of comparison.

Tesla interior roof

Zorkmid originally got the solid roof (paying extra for the Alcantara headliner) but he decided to spring for the glass roof on his new ride. This photo gives you an idea of just how much tinting is included with the roof, but the jury’s still out on how much extra heat the car will accumulate on hot summer days. While I’m here, I’ll also call your attention to the seat belts. Notice anything missing? Yup, you can’t adjust the shoulder height. I was really hoping they’d have fixed this in the 2015 so I could somehow retrofit it to my 2013. Alas, my seatbelt will continue to not fit quite right.

Tesla window controls

Diving deeper into the minutae, you might notice that the newer Teslas have a new mirror button. This lets you fold the mirrors in with the push of the button. They’ll even automatically fold when you turn the car off. There’s no such feature on my 2013 mirrors, which can at least be manually flipped in and out; a retrofit is apparently available if you really want it. (Another cool trick of the newest Tesla: the battery charging door will automatically close itself after you remove the charger cable.)

Tesla center console decking

Tesla apparently decided to make the formerly optional “yacht decking” between the front seats into a standard feature. Zorkmid prefers the carpeted deck in my car. I can see the style benefits of the new approach, but my real problem is that there’s precisely one enclosed storage location: the glove compartment. That’s it. The big center console doesn’t open. There are no map pockets (okay, a tiny pocket on the front-edge of the driver’s seat on my 2013, gone from the new 2015). My daughter even complained that there’s nowhere to in the back seat to store her stuff. I will note, for the sake of journalistic completion, that Tesla does offer an “executive rear seating” option. That replaces the three-across rear bench with two nice bucket seats and an arm-rest (with enclosed compartment!) between.

Tesla dash cover

This shot shows you the wood dash versus the carbon fiber dash. I think they’re both very attractive, but I’m not sure I would have been willing to pay extra for either of them. You’ll also notice that Tesla changed one of the leather dashboard panels to be fuzzy Alcantara instead. Either way, you don’t want to leave this car out in the heat on a daily basis. My old BMW Z3 had a leather-wrapped dashboard that had to be repaired three times in the seven years I owned it, since I had to park it in the hot sun every day and the leather eventually shrank and pulled up from the edges. (And yes, I used a sun shield on the front window and I garaged it at night.) I’m now paying extra to park my car in an underground lot, so I can avoid spending the money on replacing my Tesla’s dashboard later on. This works for me, but it’s not an option for everybody.

Tesla frunks

Moving on, here’s a view of the “frunk” of the two Teslas. You’ll notice that the front motor and its associated machinery render the frunk into more of a curiosity than a functional storage space. With RWD comes a much bigger frunk. That said, you’re not going to use the frunk on a daily basis on either car, largely because they really blew it on the way the frunk latches.

Tesla frunk latch

The old latch is exceptionally finicky. You have to mostly close the frunk, slowly and carefully, then place one palm on each side and apply a solid push. You get a really unpleasant sound and the frunk latches. (Apparently, many owners trying to slam it shut, like you’d do for every other car hood in the history of car hoods, would sometimes miss the latch point and deform the aluminum hood — an expensive mistake.) For the newer Tesla, they replaced the two hooks with one, which does yield a smoother latch action, but it’s still not something you’re going to want to slam shut. Hopefully they’ll eventually make it a push-button motorized thing, just like the tailgate.

Tesla sunshade vanity mirrors

Lastly, I want to point out some of the dumb things that make you think “surely there’s an automotive supplier who can do this properly for an entirely modest amount of money”. Our first example is the vanity mirror cover. On the right, you might notice the right hinge is busted. Zorkmid reports it’s already been replaced once. They’re broken like this on both sides despite very infrequent use. This repair will be on the list for my next scheduled maintenance. On the left, you can see a modest redesign of the hinge mechanism. Maybe it’s better now? I hope so. Also, there’s this:

Tesla key

The Tesla keyfob normally stays in your pocket, but you want to keep it on your keychain, right? On the right, you can see how I solved this problem: with a cheap plastic tie-wrap. You can’t otherwise thread a standard metal keyring through the hole in a Tesla keyfob. Newer Teslas include the leather keyfob pouch, on the left, and there are a variety of third-party pouches as well. But really, a keyfob you can’t put on a standard keyring?

Summarizing things: the 2015 Tesla P85D is a stupendously fast and fun car. If you’ve got the bucks and you’re ready to spend them, fire away! If you don’t have the bucks, there are a whole bunch of Tesla early adopters looking to upgrade. So long as you don’t feel you need the newest features, now’s the time to be gunning for a used P85.

I’ve been trying to understand why Tesla doesn’t offer the P85 (non-D) any more, since there’s a pretty big hole in their product line between the S85/S85D and the P85D. My theory: “soak the rich”. Tesla is steering buyers like Zorkmid toward their highest-dollar highest-spec car. Assuming they’re running the production line flat out, why not use it to make the variant that generates the most profit, never mind the most buzz in the news with its outrageous performance? If/when demand softens on the P85D, they can always reintroduce the P85 RWD version.

Side note: When you own a fast Tesla, all your friends want to experience the launch. My daughter and her friends (9-10 years old) all love it. My daughter even once asked me, “daddy, why don’t you do that more often?” Anybody who’s concerned that the children of the future won’t care about fast cars because they’ll instead be glued to their brain-implanted smartphones while droning around in 25mph self-driving Googlemobiles… Don’t worry. Teenagers will definitely continue to be attracted to fast cars. Which reminds me… Dear Mr. Musk: I’ll still have this Tesla when it’s time for my daughter to get her driver’s license. I’d like a software hack please to “detune” it so she doesn’t do anything too stupid. (Ditto for those evil joyriding car valets.)

The post Comparison: 2013 Tesla P85 vs. 2015 Tesla P85D appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/comparison-2013-tesla-p85-vs-2015-tesla-p85d/feed/ 98
The Five Different Kinds of Car Nuts at Retromobile http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/five-different-kinds-car-nuts-retromobile/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/five-different-kinds-car-nuts-retromobile/#comments Tue, 10 Feb 2015 13:39:16 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=995698 Last weekend, I checked out Retromobile in Paris, a huge car show bringing together new car manufacturers, classic car dealers and auction houses, mom-and-pop businesses, and car clubs. Even though I didn’t speak a word of French, sharing a convention floor with tens of thousands of Frenchmen over a span of two days got me […]

The post The Five Different Kinds of Car Nuts at Retromobile appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
IMG_7822

Last weekend, I checked out Retromobile in Paris, a huge car show bringing together new car manufacturers, classic car dealers and auction houses, mom-and-pop businesses, and car clubs. Even though I didn’t speak a word of French, sharing a convention floor with tens of thousands of Frenchmen over a span of two days got me to know them much better. Make the jump to see the five species of French car aficionados.

1. The Richie Rich. You recognize this guy from a kilometer away. He is casually, but impeccably, dressed. His blazer, belt, and shoes alone probably cost more than your freshman year tuition (plus room and board) at that state school you attended. He is here for the auctions, probably eyeing that 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spyder they found in that barn. Surprisingly, his wife is age-appropriate. Classy.

IMG_7844

2. The Nostalgic Duo. These two are best friends from high school or college. They have been going to car shows together for ages. In fact, with marriage, careers, and children, they make an effort to go to Retromobile together every year. They can be spotted because one guy will always be pointing at a familiar car to the other guy. The one guy always starts with: Remember when Thierry’s dad let him borrow his Triumph TR4, just like this one? Or: Remember when we fit six people in a Golf just like this one for that ski trip in ’83?

IMG_7890

3. The Responsible Father. This is the car enthusiast father who will make it his mission in life to instill and share his love for cars with his children, whether they are boys or girls. This is very sweet.

IMG_7808

4. The Gawking Geek. Usually travels alone. He is on the prowl. When he sees that gun metal gray Bugatti EB110, he reminds himself that when he goes home, he needs to log the sighting into his Supercar Sighting Excel Spreadsheet. He hunts for and buys that Porsche 928 S4 owner’s manual, in French, even though he will never own a real life Porsche. You can also find him drooling over 1/43 scale diecasts of stretched Volvo sedans and wagons. Because, why not!

IMG_7740

5. The Net-less Wonder. This takes dedication. These are the old timers with the French equivalent of Aol email accounts and businesses with websites hosted by the French equivalent of Angelfire. They have a 1956 Talbot that they are trying to restore but do not know how to go online to find parts. They look forward to an event like Retromobile because it is one of the rare opportunities to meet someone else face-to-face who can help them obtain the rare part they need.

IMG_7864

So, all in all, what did I learn? That car enthusiasts are the same everywhere. And though outwardly I had nothing in common with the other attendees, I felt we were all brothers.

Images source: Jim Yu

The post The Five Different Kinds of Car Nuts at Retromobile appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/five-different-kinds-car-nuts-retromobile/feed/ 13
Junkyard Find: 1977 Ford LTD II Station Wagon http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/junkyard-find-1977-ford-ltd-ii-station-wagon/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/junkyard-find-1977-ford-ltd-ii-station-wagon/#comments Fri, 06 Feb 2015 14:00:20 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=992610 In one of those confusing branding moves that’s up there with the baffling Toyota Corolla Tercel, Ford decided to name a Torino-based midsize car the LTD II while keeping the regular full-sized LTD. This went on for the 1977 and 1978 model years, and then for 1979 the “big” LTD went to the Panther platform […]

The post Junkyard Find: 1977 Ford LTD II Station Wagon appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
08 - 1977 Ford LTD wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinIn one of those confusing branding moves that’s up there with the baffling Toyota Corolla Tercel, Ford decided to name a Torino-based midsize car the LTD II while keeping the regular full-sized LTD. This went on for the 1977 and 1978 model years, and then for 1979 the “big” LTD went to the Panther platform and sold alongside LTD IIs for that year. Why? Well, that’s like asking why Henry Ford II refused Soichiro Honda’s offer of cheap CVCC engines for the Fiesta a few years before! Anyway, here’s an extremely green first-year LTD II wagon (not a Country Squire, which was based on the larger “regular” LTD) that I spotted in Northern California a couple weeks back.
03 - 1977 Ford LTD wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinDo you like green interiors, and by that I mean large expanses of petrochemical-residue-exhaling I Can Totally Believe It’s Not Leather™ vinyl that still looks good and vivid after nearly 40 years of California sun?
02 - 1977 Ford LTD wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis car has you covered! This car’s seats would make nice garage couches.
13 - 1977 Ford LTD wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinFord sent out 23 million of these recall-evading stickers, thanks to the generosity of Ronald Reagan, and thus didn’t go bankrupt in the early 1980s. Most owners didn’t apply them, but this car’s circa-1982 owner did.
04 - 1977 Ford LTD wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe engine compartment had a bit of a fire problem.
19 - 1977 Ford LTD wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinWe can assume this car was earning its keep until the day of the fire.

Ford didn’t hesitate to pitch the big LTD as more car for the money. Look, bigger than a Cadillac, yet cheaper!

As for the LTD II: if you’re a sporty guy with a sporty mustache, the “trimmer” LTD II is for you!

01 - 1977 Ford LTD wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1977 Ford LTD wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1977 Ford LTD wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1977 Ford LTD wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1977 Ford LTD wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1977 Ford LTD wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1977 Ford LTD wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1977 Ford LTD wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1977 Ford LTD wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1977 Ford LTD wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1977 Ford LTD wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1977 Ford LTD wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1977 Ford LTD wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - 1977 Ford LTD wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 16 - 1977 Ford LTD wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 18 - 1977 Ford LTD wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 19 - 1977 Ford LTD wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

The post Junkyard Find: 1977 Ford LTD II Station Wagon appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/junkyard-find-1977-ford-ltd-ii-station-wagon/feed/ 114
No Fixed Abode: You gotta be rich to own a cheap car. http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/no-fixed-abode-gotta-rich-cheap-car/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/no-fixed-abode-gotta-rich-cheap-car/#comments Wed, 04 Feb 2015 16:00:53 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=993330 If you’re a fan of automotive personality Matt Farah and/or his show, “The Smoking Tire”, you probably know that Matt recently bought a 1996 Lexus LS400 with 897,000 documented miles on the clock. That’s right. Do not adjust your television. That’s nearly a million. You might also know that “The Driver”, Alex Roy, and I […]

The post No Fixed Abode: You gotta be rich to own a cheap car. appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
20150201_124530

If you’re a fan of automotive personality Matt Farah and/or his show, “The Smoking Tire”, you probably know that Matt recently bought a 1996 Lexus LS400 with 897,000 documented miles on the clock. That’s right. Do not adjust your television. That’s nearly a million.

You might also know that “The Driver”, Alex Roy, and I took the Lexus from Long Beach to Texas and beyond, finally coming to a halt in my hometown of Powell, Ohio. If you’re really up to speed on the adventures of the Million Mile Lexus, you know that it’s currently in the hands of Jalopnik contributor “Tavarish”, who drove it from Upper Arlington, Ohio to New York.

Take a minute and read the above paragraph again. I drove it to Powell; Tavarish drove it from Upper Arlington. And thereby hangs a tale.


LATrip2015 035

My new friend “Tavarish” is well-known on Jalopnik for writing articles on used cars that manage to combine honest advice, shameless clickbaiting, and hurricane-force trollin’ in neatly-wrapped little packages. He’s a big fan of paying cash for old cars and being personally able to fix your own car no matter what, kind of like the TTAC reader whose response to Bark’s article on subprime buyers was to straight-facedly suggest that a working father swap his own minivan transmission in his apartment parking lot. If you check out Tavarish’s stuff, there’s a lot of “DID YOU KNOW THAT YOU CAN GET AN S65 AMG FOR THE PRICE OF A FORD FIESTA?” and whatnot.

Prior to meeting the guy I thought he was engaged in some elaborate Exit-Through-The-Gift-Shop hoax at the expense of the notoriously stupid Jalopnik commentariat. I mean, nobody really thinks it’s a good idea for someone with a $15,000 car budget to spend that money on a Maserati, right? Having worked on a few different sides of the car business for nearly a decade in my misspent youth, I believe that I have a thorough understanding of why people buy the cars they do — and I believe that the market is remarkably efficient when it comes to pricing used cars. Nearly-new Civics often sell for close to their original dealer invoice price because the risk of purchasing one is exceptionally low.

A Mercedes S65 AMG, on the other hand, can be had for one-tenth of the original MSRP because owning one past the warranty is an invitation to enter a Boschian nightmare — and I mean Robert Bosch, not Hieronymus Bosch. The number of ways in which you can spend fifteen or twenty grand in parts on one of those cars has to be experienced to be believed. Hell, even my R107 560SL, which should have been about as thoroughly debugged as a car design could possibly be, was chock-full of stuff that was NLA (no longer available) from dealers or the aftermarket but RFN (remarkably fucking necessary) to the vehicle’s satisfactory operation.

For that reason, I consider Tavarish’s “Hey College Students! You Should Consider A Six-Cylinder Jaguar XJR As A Right-Priced Alternative To A Honda Ruckus 50″ articles to be simply invitations to spend a pleasant evening strolling through eBay Motors. They’re fun to read, and they’re fun to write. They’re also a good way for him to demonstrate his talent to the audience. As many a would-be famous auto-blogger has found out, it’s tough to consistently churn out new content about cars if you don’t have much access to new cars. Most of the people who try to break into the business have enough personal experience for about five worthwhile articles. Maybe ten. After that you’re either making up stories about how you (insert ridiculous story here, leavened with enough self-deprecation to make it vaguely believable) or you’re second-guessing billion-dollar corporations on the strength of no education or business experience other than watching your helicopter dad bail out your West Coast lemonade stand. Compared to that stuff, telling people they can own a LaForza for the price of an ’06 CR-V is relatively harmless and entertaining.

Nonetheless, when I saw the steam exiting the LS400’s left headlamp on State Route 315 last Saturday morning, I permitted a slight smile of satisfaction to appear on my lips. This would be a chance for Tavarish to eat his own dog food, so to speak. I’d been on my way to Tim Horton’s when the Million Mile Lexus decided to experience a temporary interruption in Toyota reliability. This was doubly ironic because I’d just driven the thing across the country, right into the teeth of a major Southwestern winter storm, without any mechanical issues besides an increasing reluctance on the part of the transmission to shift properly and a slug trail of oil drips stretching some 2,190 miles. I considered the trip a bit of a vindication of the Tavarish philosophy, actually. The Lexus has been serviced correctly since new, and Matt spent about $1,500 on preventative maintenance prior to my departure. A V-8 Toyota with all the stamps in the service book and a solid check-out by a respected mechanic? Every know-it-all on the Internet will tell you that such a car is as good as — nay, better than — a leased 2015 Ford Focus.

And so it had proven to be, right up to that moment. I pulled off the freeway and fancy-parked in an apartment complex. My breath froze in the air as I indulged in the time-honored masculine ritual of popping the hood and taking a look. Oh. Upper radiator hose popped off. Not a problem. That’s twenty bucks and ten minutes. Wait… there’s something in the hose. Oh, that’s the plastic tube to which the hose attached, fragmented and roasted.

It might have been possible to emergency-fix it by Dremeling the remaining part of the tube on the radiator smooth then reattaching the hose, but I knew that Tavarish would be driving it to New York and I didn’t want him to do it on a jury-rigged radiator. So I called home to get a ride, and I called Advance Auto Parts. Upper hose, lower hose (for good measure) and a new radiator for a Lexus LS400, plus a gallon of full-strength coolant? Just $197.56, and it would be available within five hours.

20150201_125108

Come Sunday morning, I picked Tavarish and his friend Al up at the bus station. We grabbed my Craftsman tool set and went to work. The two of them had the radiator swapped in less than an hour. It was no trouble whatsoever, even in twenty-degree winter weather. Nine hours later, they were safe and sound in New York. Clearly, this was further proof of the Tavarish philosophy, right? You pay cash for a well-maintained used car, and when problems come up you fix them yourself, and situations like this are only a minor bump in the road of financially-savvy used-car ownership.

Except.

There’s such a thing as “privilege”. If you read the Gawker sites you’ll hear about it all the time. Privilege is what allows rich white cisgender straight men to do whatever they want in this world while everybody else takes it in the shorts. Metaphorically speaking, of course. Normally I consider the use of the word “privilege” in a conversation to be the brilliant peacock plumage that identifies a third-rate pseudo-intellectual from ten paces away, but in the Case Of The Million-Mile Lexus And Its Low-Stress Repair, there was a whole lotta privilege goin’ on. Let’s recap my experience and point it out:

  • I was on the way to see a friend when the radiator blew up. I wasn’t traveling to my second McJob where I’d be fired for being late. I don’t have jobs where you get fired for not punching a clock on time. Therefore, this didn’t affect my livelihood. Privilege!
  • My son wasn’t in the car with me, because I don’t have to take the risk of driving him around in a crappy old car. We use my Accord or my 993. The former is nearly new, the latter is in outstanding repair and has low mileage. However, were this not the case, I’d have been placed in a situation where my five-year-old boy would have been exposed to fifteen-degree temps, maybe by the side of a dark freeway somewhere. In reality, he was at home, playing Minecraft on his iPad. Privilege!
  • I was able to immediately call home and get a ride, because the other person living in my house doesn’t work weekends and has an expensive SUV that is available at a moment’s notice. Were I a single mother, I’d have been forced to call around until I found someone who had the time and ability to get me, while my children froze. Privilege!
  • Because I live in a decent neighborhood and drive in safe areas, I didn’t have to worry that my car would be towed or broken into while it was waiting for parts. Privilege!
  • I was able to put two hundred bucks on a credit card without planning in any way for this eventuality or taking the money out of my food budget. Had it been two thousand, I’d have been fine. Had it been twenty thousand… well, I’d have lit a match and burned Matt’s Lexus to the ground. But the important point was that I was financially capable of getting whatever parts the car needed. In the America of 2015, very few families can say the same. Privilege!
  • Tavarish and his friend are both skilled mechanics. They have an understanding of auto repair that cost them money and time and effort to acquire. Al, in fact, was a former Lamborghini tech. What’s that training worth? Do most poor people have it? Of course not, so they’d have had to pay to have the car towed ($100 at least) to a mechanic and have two billable hours put in (~$170 in Ohio, more elsewhere), raising the price of the repair to nearly five hundred bucks. Not us! We just fixed it, because we knew how. Also, I had a $400 toolbox available. Privilege!
  • The three of us had the time and the inclination to handle it. We weren’t responsible for children or parents or animals or anything, really. If it had taken all day… well, it would have taken all day, and nobody would have been any the worse off for it. Privilege!
  • Last but not least, I had the ability to just let the car sit. I didn’t need it for anything. It wasn’t the way I was going to make my rent money that month, it wasn’t the way I was going to get my child to the hospital. It was just a car that I was driving for fun. And that’s the biggest kind of Privilege! I can imagine.

On the Internet, everybody has a six-figure savings account and a seven-figure retirement account. Everybody pays cash for everything while simultaneously dumping massive amounts of money into investments. They’re all the Millionaires Next Door and they know more about money and investing and prudent decision-making than Warren Buffet and Sam Walton combined. In the real world, people are victimized by everything from economic downturns to poor decisions they made when they were too young to know any better. In the real world, most families are just getting by and the rainy-day money they’ve saved rarely measures up to the endless tide of rainy days.

For those families, a new-car payment is a burden — but it’s one they can predict and live with. It sucks to “throw away” $300 or $400 every month, but it’s never a surprise and in exchange they have freedom from surprises. They have freedom from the surprise of losing two days of work or being stuck with their children by the side of a fifteen-degree freeway all night or having to diagnose mechanical issues using a cellphone flash and whatever conventional wisdom their parents bothered to impart when they weren’t off doing their own thing. They know that every month they are exchanging a fixed sum of money for certainty and reliability.

Viewed from one perspective, this incident absolutely validated the cash-for-used-car-and-learn-to-fix-it mentality. Viewed from another perspective, it was a damning indictment of a philosophy that requires plenty of time and flexibility to make work. To own and run a million-mile Lexus, or any other car where the maintenance and repair is your sole responsibility, requires that you have time to deal with the breakdowns, resources to cover the gaps in your life when problems occur, and the ability to pay for and install anything from a radiator to a differential. Which means, when you think about it, that a million-mile Lexus is something that it perhaps wasn’t quite when it hit the showroom back in 1996.

It’s a luxury car.

The post No Fixed Abode: You gotta be rich to own a cheap car. appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/no-fixed-abode-gotta-rich-cheap-car/feed/ 429
Bark’s Bites: What You Want To Buy Isn’t What They Want To Sell You http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/barks-bites-want-buy-isnt-want-sell/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/barks-bites-want-buy-isnt-want-sell/#comments Wed, 04 Feb 2015 14:34:38 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=992810 Imagine that you were a buyer of fine art. Not THAT kind of fine art, mind you—I’m not talking Seurat or O’Keefe here. Just some private collection pieces for your home, maybe in the range of $1K-$10K. Something a little unique and different, maybe not something the masses would enjoy. It might take a little […]

The post Bark’s Bites: What You Want To Buy Isn’t What They Want To Sell You appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
kinkade

Imagine that you were a buyer of fine art. Not THAT kind of fine art, mind you—I’m not talking Seurat or O’Keefe here. Just some private collection pieces for your home, maybe in the range of $1K-$10K. Something a little unique and different, maybe not something the masses would enjoy. It might take a little bit of art education to truly appreciate it, but you are capable of appreciating it more than most.

Now, imagine that the only place you could buy them was in a Thomas Kinkade “Painter of Light” store, right next to prints of barns and horses and lighthouses. Now, imagine that the sales reps at that store don’t really want to sell you the higher end paintings, because buyers of that sort of thing are notoriously difficult to deal with, and they don’t really make any money on them, because the artists demand most of the profit. They’d rather just make their commission selling to the ignorant masses who want a touching portrait of Aladdin and Jasmine flying over Agrabah.

That’s what it’s like to be a guy who wants to buy something other than a CamCordima at any non-exotic franchise dealership in America—or maybe more importantly, what it’s like to be a guy trying to sell one.

Recently, I had the chance to rap with the manager of a Mazda dealership in a larger metropolitan area. I asked him, “So, excited about the new MX-5?”

He gave me a very corporate answer like “Yes, we are thrilled to experience the new SkyActiv technology in all of its radiant glory…” But then he said something very telling.

“Of course, it’s not a high volume model. And the margins aren’t going to be great. Even better, we get to deal with all of the ‘Miata’ crowd who want a discount for being in this club or that club or for having owned a Miata for 20 years.”

I had a similar experience again when speaking to the GM of a Ford store about the new GT350.

“Yeah, I think I’ve got a brochure around here somewhere if you’re interested. Excuse me, there’s a fleet customer here who I need to speak with.” I don’t blame him. If I had the chance to sell a few flatbed trucks or Transit vans to a corporation, I doubt I would spend any time talking to the guy who’s waxing poetic about the rumble of a flat-crank V8, either.

I spoke with another gentleman recently who was a partner in a independent used car lot. He told me about a beautiful 2013 E350 Sport 4Matic that he sold to a customer, and how finally getting rid of that car was going to enable him to go buy TWO used trucks at auction that week. “Those things we can really make some money on,” he excitedly shared with me. “People are still afraid of car payments in this economy. It’s much easier for me to move a few used trucks that I can get people into $210-220 payments on than these high-end cars. Those cars have two kinds of customers—over-educated pricks who come in here and tell me how much I paid for the car and how they don’t think I should be allowed to make any money on them, and then the people who don’t have any ability to actually pay for them.”

It’s a tough pill for automotive enthusiasts to swallow, but swallow it we must. Our business really doesn’t matter very much to car dealers. The cars we drool over are often headaches for them—they are often the most viewed car on a dealer’s website, which means that they have to field endless numbers of phone calls and emails about them from “buyers” whose credit isn’t good enough to rent a Popsicle stand, much less buy a performance-oriented car. As a result, a high-dollar, rare car will often take up a semi-permanent residence on a car lot, taking up precious floorplan dollars that could be used to acquire vehicles the dealer will move several times more often per year. And for most modern, sensible car dealers who have given up on the idea of the four-thousand-dollar front-end profit on cars, that’s what matters most to them—how quickly can I turn this car into money that I can go buy another car with?

That being said, the B&B of TTAC are a practical bunch. We often discuss how the most popular articles on this site are not about the launch of some exotic car, but of a new mid-sized CUV or family hauler. We have written more words about the previous-generation Toyota Camry than Melville wrote about whales. Even so, we can be a finicky bunch. We’re convinced that Car X would totally sell like hotcakes if only Manufacturer Y would be smart enough to bring it across the Atlantic for us. Then we go and mock anybody who is stupid enough to buy a new car and, God forbid, finance it.

Is it any wonder, then, that the dealers prefer the poor, ignorant masses, seeking their late-model mid-sized sedans?

The post Bark’s Bites: What You Want To Buy Isn’t What They Want To Sell You appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/barks-bites-want-buy-isnt-want-sell/feed/ 100