Category: Editorials

By on July 17, 2015

IMG_0069

It’s funny how it sometimes takes a while to recognize something familiar. In the mid-1980s, when my daily driver was a slightly hi-po’d 1972 VW Type 2, I was driving a work vehicle from the Detroit area to Toledo to pick up a part. As I drove down I-75 and got closer to Ohio, I noticed one Volkswagen Bus traveling north in the opposite direction — and then another. “That’s unusual,” I thought. By then air-cooled Vee Dubs weren’t terribly common, and *Transporters were less common than Beetles. Then a Vanagon passed by, but, as I said, this was the 1980s and Vanagons were still being sold new and didn’t think much about it until I saw a few more Type 2s, including some older split-windows. Was there a VW club convention going on? I once drove to Cincinnati and I passed a large group of MG enthusiasts on their way to a meet. Read More >

By on July 17, 2015

9-4x

Every automotive enthusiast has an opinion when it comes to car buying and many are quick to point to an orphan car for a good deal. While some orphan cars are a bargain for their genre, maintaining some of them can be an exercise in futility. Internet commenters and forum aficionados are quick to defend their recommendations and point to some parts law that supposedly forces manufacturers to provide parts for 10 or 20 years after they kill a model, but no such law exists. While there are laws like the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act that provide some protection in certain situations, it’s nowhere near the 10-year mark.

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By on July 17, 2015

 

84. Leopaard logo

It’s Leopaard, with two A’s.

Last time we had a look at the 10th to 6th most-impressive Chinese carmakers at Auto Shanghai 2015, it’s now time for ranks No. 5 to No. 2. By now, either the carmakers in question have made tremendous progress compared to last year in Beijing, or they are approaching world class. And we’ll start with the “Most Improved” award.

Drumroll, please:

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By on July 16, 2015

2015 Ford Mustang EcoBoost Convertible (1 of 11)

I pull up next to a previous-generation Mustang — its 5-liter V8 rumbling as it sits at a stop light — and look over to the driver. There is no acknowledgement from him that I exist. Not a nod, glance, nor a typical, Mustang-owner two-finger wave.

That’s not surprising though — he probably couldn’t hear me.

The 2.3-liter EcoBoost inline four is but a whimper next to the eight cylinders of Detroit aluminum. I give the boosted four banger a slight tip of accelerator. Still nothing from the owner of the “five-point-oh.”

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By on July 15, 2015

GT3 Damage

Much has changed since I last had the opportunity to humblebrag on TTAC. My good friend Derek has monetized the skills he developed and honed here into an actual, real-life job in the automotive industry, and I’ve gone from owning two Porsche 911s to owning zero cars — at least temporarily.

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By on July 15, 2015

14 - 1984 Nissan Maxima Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

Maximas of the ’80s, like their Toyota Cressida counterparts, were pretty reliable and held their heads above the scrap-value waterline for decades after all the early Sentras got crushed. We’ve seen this ’85 sedan with 5-speed, this gig-rig ’86 wagon with pleading note to the tow-truck driver and this super-weird ’86 sedan with brake fluid used as coolant and washer fluid in this series so far, and today we’re heading to the San Francisco Bay Area to see this last-year-of-rear-wheel-drive example. Read More >

By on July 14, 2015

Polestar STCC

The fraternity of automotive journalism was atwitter when blue Polestar Volvos arrived at the Chicago auto show last year. While the cars delivered increased performance and looks to match, Polestar also gave the high-performance Swedish offerings credibility with racing programs in Scandinavia (STCC) and Australia (V8 Supercars).

It’s no secret, though, that Volvo’s marketing head, Alain Visser, sees no future for the brand in motorsport. Purchasing Polestar might be the Swedish manufacturer’s way of ending at least one of its racing contracts while still holding on to the blue-hot Polestar brand.

Speaking with Swedish media late last year, Visser plainly stated, “Motorsport does not conform with our brand, where we stand for smaller engines and safety. We are therefore pulling out of STCC, for example, as soon as the contracts permits.”

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By on July 14, 2015

NB_23Tesla2.jpg

All power is not created equal.

That’s one of many takeaways from a comprehensive study by the National Bureau of Economic Research, one of the nation’s prominent think tanks.

The paper focused on the relative impact of green-energy cars, concluding that an electric car in New Jersey doesn’t have the same environmental impact as an electric car in California.

The initial reaction has been largely surface-deep: electric cars on the East Coast and in the South are powered by “dirty energy” and aren’t as clean as their gas-powered counterparts. That much is a quasi-fair assessment — the source for the electric cars’ power should be considered when it comes to ultimately determining their environmental impacts.

The study, however, is a larger look at the federal subsidies offered on electric cars.

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By on July 14, 2015

original_bmw_battery

Last month, I shared the story of an unexpected double front airbag deployment in a BMW X5. In the twenty days since then, that car’s owner has been working with BMW NA, which conducted an independent examination of the car while it was in dealership custody. Yesterday he heard from a BMW consumer service representative, who told him that BMW has determined the reason for the deployment.

If this was Upworthy, or if we used the Upworthy Generator to create headlines, we’d have to title the article “What This BMW Representative Told A Father About His Airbag Deployment Will Break Your Heart. The Worst Part Is At 4:23 In The Call Record.”

But seriously, if you have a BMW you might want to click the jump, because there’s a good chance that BMW’s reason for the deployment applies to you as well.

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By on July 13, 2015

2015 Volkswagen Beetle Exterior-003

Once upon a time, Volkswagen’s iconic Beetle sold primarily on its low sticker price, durability reputation and ease of maintenance. VW’s new Bug, however, sells on retro style and a healthy dollop of nostalgia.

The Bug before us today is the second generation “New Beetle” first resurrected in Europe as a 1998 model based on VW’s Golf and A3 platform. It was then redesigned for 2012, sharing its bones with the MK5 Golf and Jetta.

Redesigning retro is always tricky. This explains why the original Bug barely changed over the years and why the other retro-flashbacks like the PT Cruiser and Chevy HHR turned into one-hit wonders. If you don’t change enough, shoppers won’t see a reason to trade Herbie in for a new time capsule. Change it too much and you’re left with a caricature. Either way you slice it, retro comes at a cost.
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