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 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! Read More >
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.
I think I want to trade my Boss 302 for a Fiesta ST.
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 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. Read More >
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.
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.
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 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. Read More >
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.
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.
I’ve noticed that you don’t see many Grateful Dead stickers on stereotypical hippie-type vehicles in junkyards. No, you see such stickers all over stuff like big ol’ GMC pickups (though I did find this thoroughly Steal Your Face-ized Vanagon a couple years back). Last week, while looking for a suitable speedometer for the Kustom Korona, I spotted this Deadheaded-up Ford Probe, complete with this intensely Coloradic dab-themed SYF image that you wouldn’t want to take across the state line into Nebraska or Kansas. Read More >