Category: Editorials

By on March 18, 2015

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Those of you who regularly read Bark’s Bites (Hi, Mom!) may remember my tale of acquiring a friend’s 1996 Subaru Legacy Wagon. I posted that article on August 29th, 2014.

On March 9th, 2015, the SuBaruth, as it came to be known, died.

Here is her story.

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By on March 18, 2015

14 - 1972 Plymouth Duster Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinCompared to the stodgy-and-sensible Valiant on which it was based, the Plymouth Duster was pretty sporty and sold well to coupe shoppers who wanted a cheap car that could handle indifferent maintenance and bad road conditions (the Zaporozhets not being available in the United States). These things were amazingly reliable for the era, when not so many cars made it to 100,000 miles, but most were discarded like empty pull-tab Burgie cans during the 1980s. The Duster survivors today tend to be lovingly restored trailer queens. That makes the 1970-76 Duster a rare Junkyard Find, so I broke out the camera immediately when I saw this ’72 in a Northern California wrecking yard. Read More >

By on March 18, 2015

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At the launch event for the Volkswagen Golf Sportwagen in Austin, Texas, a chat with one gentleman from Volkswagen AG turns to a discussion of old Saab rally cars and his affinity for Swedish cars. The future of Saab seems up in the air, but in his mind, Volvo’s is more clear-cut. “These next few months will be crucial,” he says, as talk turns to the launch of the XC90, “this is their last chance to turn things around.”

By the end of the event, I’m convinced that VW has built a better Volvo than Volvo itself.

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By on March 17, 2015

04 - 1989 Nissan Pulsar Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee MartinThe Nissan Pulsar NX was a weird little two-seater sold in the US market for the 1983 through 1990 model years. Now, the coolest thing about the Pulsar NX was the Sportbak wagon-conversion option, available on the second-gen version, but I have yet to see a Sportbak in a junkyard. So far in this series, I’ve photographed this ’83, this ’87, and now today’s ’89. Read More >

By on March 16, 2015

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Disclosure: I love Formula One. At least a dozen times every year, I inadvertently wake up my wife and dog at 4:30 in the morning (Pacific time) as I yelp wildly in the living room and watch the live race feed.

As a left-of-center F1 fan, three issues gnaw at me. One, the sport is perceived as elitist. One Percenters(tm) own the teams, pack the hospitality suites at races, and park their mega-yachts next to race tracks. Two, a lot of fuel is used to fly the cars, the equipment, and crews all over the world, from Singapore to Austin. Read More >

By on March 15, 2015
Gallery links below

Gallery links below

An old friend ran the Aragon Ballroom back in the days when it was Chicago’s version of Bill Graham’s Fillmores. He told me that contemporary rock bands that didn’t know any better would insist on being higher on the bill than Sha-Na-Na. After all, Sha-Na-Na was an oldies act, with gold lame suits and greaser shtick. Sha-Na-Na, however, were great entertainers and they would kill the audience. Bowser would come to the edge of the stage, spit something out about “f’in hippies” and by the end of the set the hippies would be dancing in the aisles. The musicians who insisted on higher billing would afterwards insist on never following Sha-Na-Na again. Sometimes, though, following a great act can inspire greatness too, as when Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones reluctantly followed James Brown on the TAMI Show. Performing music or introducing new cars, you don’t want to be upstaged and if you do happen to follow your inspirations, you had better be inspired. Read More >

By on March 13, 2015

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One of the essential questions that many automotive writers fail to examine is “what is the nature of an automaker”? All too often, they lose sight of the fact that OEMs are in the business of selling cars, not manufacturing widgets for people who like cars.

This kind of mindset is what leads to the exchange outlined in Automobile Magazine, where one writer discusses the lack of a manual transmission in the 2016 Audi R8.

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By on March 12, 2015

16 - 1989 Chevrolet Celebrity Eurosport Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinSince we had a 1989 General Motors Junkyard Find yesterday, let’s look at another 1989 GM car today. The Chevrolet Celebrity, sold for the 1982 through 1990 model years, was one of those cars that disappeared from our memories without much of a trace. The Celebrity wasn’t as spectacularly bad as the Chevy Citation and its corporate siblings, but nobody loved it (except for these guys) and most examples were fed into the cold steel jaws of The Crusher before the 1990s were over. Here’s an example from the sedan’s final year of production. Read More >

By on March 11, 2015

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It seems like yesterday
But it was long ago
RS America in the dealership’s lights
Covered with dust and it had nowhere to go
And it sat there for a year
Till they sold it at a loss
Slow like a Boxster headlights just like a frog
And all the service had been skipped and no one gave a toss

And I remember how cheap they used to be
And I thought that it never would end
I remember how they bought and sold for pennies
Wish I’d had a crystal ball and bought one then

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By on March 11, 2015

14 - 1989 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Eldorado got downsized for the 1986 model year, as part of GM’s doomed 1980s efforts to beat Mercedes-Benz and BMW (which included such interesting-but-deeply-flawed money-losers-with-vaguely-European-sounding-names as the Cadillac Allanté, Buick Reatta, and Olds Troféo), and of course you could get this car with the tufted-button upholstery and padded roof that made it a Biarritz. Not many of these cars were sold in 1989, so today’s Junkyard Find is another one of those rare-but-not-so-valuable ones. Read More >

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