Category: Editorials

By on October 5, 2015

Barrow is located on the Arctic Ocean

Last year, I crossed the United States from Coast to Coast — New York to LA — in a Ram 1500 Tradesman. You can follow last year’s coverage here. This year we embark on another crossing, this time from North to South, albeit starting a little further North than you might expect.

I’ll hop in a Ram 2500 Tradesman 4×4 in Seattle eventually, but for now, as the area I’ll travel through before Seattle has only an intermittent road network, it will be a mix of planes, rental cars and ferries. Read More >

By on October 5, 2015

09 - 1991 Ford Escort Pony in Colorado wrecking yard - photo by Murilee Martin

Back in the early 1990s, the elite members of the Detroit Big Three were trying hard to compete on price with dirt-cheap imported Misery Boxes such as the Subaru Justy, Hyundai Excel, and Toyota Tercel EZ. They came up with stripper versions of their low-end subcompacts (e.g., the Plymouth Sundance America), which few bought. Why buy an Escort Pony for $7,976 when you could have a zero-option ’91 Civic for $7,095, and still be driving the Civic (very slowly, and maybe on its third head gasket) today? This makes the Escort Pony a very rare Junkyard Find today, so I grabbed my camera when I saw this one at a Denver yard. Read More >

By on October 4, 2015


A researcher from Leeds University says that at least four other automakers’ cars are polluting above the legal limits for Europe, including Ford, BMW, Mazda and Mercedes-Benz, the Daily Mail reported.

James Tate, a researcher and lecturer at the university measured over 300 new cars to comply with new Euro 6 diesel emissions standards. According to Tate, Mazda’s diesel engines, on average, emitted more than six times the European limit for nitrogen oxide emissions in new cars. Ford’s cars may have polluted more, but Tate said the automaker’s sample size was too small to tell.

According to the report, Tate used a roadside sniffer for testing in the UK, similar to ones used in the United States.

“This research shows that building cars so they perform well in laboratory emissions tests but emit high amounts of NOx in real urban driving is an endemic practice across the industry,” Tate said, according to the Daily Mail. “There is very little known about how the manufacturers conduct their tests because they take place behind closed doors.”

Read More >

By on October 3, 2015

Volkswagen is working on a fix to bring their “defeat device” equipped cars back into EPA compliance. The SCR upgrade option is very costly and another possibility is a software fix. The latter option would likely come in the form of an ECM calibration that would work similar to “test mode” at all times, possibly robbing power and fuel economy.

The crew over at TFLCar attempted to emulate this test mode on a dyno but fell short of collecting reliable results.

While I applaud the idea of finding an affected car and trying to generate real-world test results, the tests and analysis in the video do not correlate to an actual EPA test.

Read More >

By on October 2, 2015


Dongfeng Pickup at Kashgar livestock market

Dongfeng Pickup at Kashgar livestock market

After Ürümqi, we are now headed 670 miles (1,080 km) south-west to the hinterland of the hinterland: Kashgar. It’s China’s westernmost city and predominantly populated by Muslim Uyghurs.

To give you a rough idea of what Kashgar looks like, the city stood in for Kabul in Afghanistan in the movie “The Kite Runner”. In fact, Kashgar is 2,100 miles (3,400 km) away from Beijing by air, but only 500 miles (816 km) separate it from Kabul, 390 miles (722 km) from Peshawar, Pakistan, 1,200 miles (2,200 km) from Tehran, Iran, and 1,600 miles (2,900 km) from Baghdad, Iraq.
Read More >

By on October 2, 2015


In 1996, Ford sold about 28,000 Broncos. This was the same year the Explorer finally cracked 400,000 units, the vast majority of them XLT trim or above, and each one carrying a healthy markup over the Rangers from which they were unashamedly derived.

The Ford dealership where Rodney and I worked sixty-five hours a week to earn thirty grand a year stocked at least four Medium Willow Green Explorers with the XLT 945A Popular Equipment Package (PEP 945A) at all times and sometimes even a Medium Willow Green Explorer XLT with the lowbrow, cloth-seat PEP 941A, but we did not, I repeat, we did not stock the Bronco. In fact, during my year at the dealership, I only saw two brand-new Broncos come on the lot.

There was a reason for that.

Read More >

By on October 2, 2015


While working on a story about some very old cars, I stumbled upon something relevant to the latest big story in the automotive world.

I ran into a Model T collector who’s also a powertrain engineer for Ford. Seizing the opportunity, I asked him if he could tell me what he was working on (sometimes they say no). He said that he was responsible for developing computerized engine controls. Because of that expertise, I started to ask him some questions about the software program that Volkswagen apparently used to cheat on the EPA’s diesel emissions testing.

What he was willing to say and what he wouldn’t say intrigued me. Read More >

By on October 1, 2015

Cameron WA Permit And ID

Kept you waiting, huh?

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By on October 1, 2015

Jim Ellis VW

Twenty-two vehicles on the front line and not a single one of them a Volkswagen.

This wouldn’t be surprising if this were a used car lot or a new car store that sold a different brand, but this is Jim Ellis VW — the most successful Volkswagen dealership in the entire metro-Atlanta area.

How successful? They have two locations and sold Volkswagens every day for well over 44 years. This dealership was founded on day one with Volkswagens exclusively in their blood. No competitor in the southeast can come close to that level of enduring success.

So what does it mean when one of your most loyal dealers in the entire nation won’t even put your vehicles on their front line?

Read More >

By on October 1, 2015


How do you feel about Hitler’s cars? No, I’m not talking about the KdF Wagen, aka VW Beetle, or its wartime variants like the Kübelwagen and Schwimmwagen. I’m talking about the cars more personally associated with the dictator and mass murderer, like his parade and armored cars that find their way into collections and museums.

I’ll get to der Fuhrer’s automobiles in a paragraph or two, but on the way there, I’m first going to discuss someone very stupid. Read More >

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  • Contributing Writers

  • Jack Baruth, United States
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