Category: Editorials

By on February 3, 2016

Keep both hands inside the car at all times.

One coupe flies, two coupes die.

By the time that Akio Toyoda was standing on that Detroit stage crowing about the triumph of the LC500, the nails were already being hammered into Scion’s coffin. The Scion tC, perhaps the best combination of practicality, style, and durability available for under twenty-five grand in the United States, will be taken out back and unceremoniously shot. The FR-S … your guess is as good as mine, but I’d be surprised if Toyota brought it over as the Celica, no matter how personally gratified I would be by such a move.

The story of Toyota’s American sub-marques could not be more different. Lexus has gone from strength to strength, effortlessly assuming a position as the thinking man’s luxury car with the LS460 while also flooding the market with Camry-platform high-profit product. Scion, on the other hand, has struggled from its first day with customer perception, dealer-satisfaction issues, and schizophrenic product planning.

Yet it’s easy to show that Lexus has been just as poorly managed as Scion; take a look at the Lexus lineup over the past 27 years and tell me that you can’t spot quite a few duffers and misfires. So why is the Official Toyota Brand of McMansion Owners soaring while the Official Toyota Brand of Dubstep Aficionados crashes? The answer, naturally, is: Barack Obama.

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By on February 3, 2016

scion_gravestone

Toyota officially announced Wednesday morning that Scion will “transition to Toyota,” effectively killing off the youth brand started in 2002. Its first vehicles went on sale in California in 2003, and included the xA hatchback and xB wagon.

According to a release from Toyota, Scion “is now transitioning back to the Toyota brand” and most Scion models well be rebranded as Toyotas starting August 2016 for the 2017 model year, including the forthcoming C-HR. The Scion tC will be discontinued as of August 2016.

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By on February 3, 2016

00 - 1970 Ford Econoline van in California junkyard - photo by Murilee Martin

The Ford Econoline went from having a forward-control/mid-engine layout to sporting a stubby hood with the engine moved a bit forward for the 1968 through 1974 model years. Every time I see one of these vans in a wrecking yard, it has been so thoroughly used up that I feel compelled to break out my camera; so far in this series we have seen this ’70 cargo van, this ’70 passenger van, this STD-laden ’71 custom, and this extraordinarily biohazardous-looking ’72 camper (plus there’s this grainy black-and-white Econoline photo I shot in 1991, this full-on Southern California custom found in northern Sweden, and this time-capsule Denver customized ’74).

Today, we have this beat-to-hell-and-beyond California passenger-van-turned-work-truck. Read More >

By on February 2, 2016

2016 Honda Civic Engine 2.0L-001

CivicX is reporting that Honda has ordered a stop sale on all 2-liter four-cylinder-equipped 2016 Honda Civics. To blame: piston pin snap rings, which may be incorrectly installed or not installed at all.

This is the first recall of Honda’s tenth-generation Civic and includes 33,735 units in the United States and an additional 8,000 units in Canada. The recall has not yet been disclosed by the National Traffic Highway Safety Administration or Transport Canada.

According to an official Honda communication to dealers, the missing or incorrectly installed piston pin snap rings “may cause engine stall or failure.”

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By on February 2, 2016

CTS-V front

Best & Brightest, you certainly didn’t disappoint in the last installment of Ask Bark. While some of you seem to be confused about the difference between asking for friendly advice and asking for a full evaluation of one’s values, I know that Greg appreciated your advice almost as much as he appreciated mine. Well done, B&B.

Now, let’s examine this week’s e-mail from a man whose remarks I resemble.

Jordan writes:

Hey Bark,

As a family man, you understand the balance between the needs of your children (chocolate milk, corn dogs, shelter, etc.) and the needs of an enthusiast trying to maintain sanity. I’ve owned a number of sporty cars over the years and typically move on to something different every 12-18 months (my kind of guy —Bark). My “dad shoes” have heel-toed in the likes of a Volkswagen GTI MkV, Honda S2000 AP2, Mini Cooper S and, more recently, a ’14 Ford Fiesta ST.

I am looking to get into something different; perhaps more mature. The proposed dad-mobile would need to serve as occasional kid hauler (two booster seats), summer commuter, and track day toy (three to five weekend events a year). With a budget up to $40,000 and an eye toward a more serious car, I would love to hear your insights on balancing the conflict between the inner boy racer and the outer family man.

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By on February 2, 2016

01 - 1989 Pontiac Grand Prix in Colorado junkyard - photo by Murilee Martin

While it was possible to buy a new W-body late-1980s/early-1990s Lumina, Cutlass Supreme, or Grand Prix with a five-speed manual transmission, almost nobody did so. These cars have become pretty rare by now, so the chances of finding a five-speed Grand Prix in the junkyard are about the same as finding a five-speed BMW 7-Series; it’s possible, but not likely.

Here’s an ’89 coupe I found in a Denver yard last week. Read More >

By on February 1, 2016

Roger and Me, Michael Moore

I’ve always been a fan of Michael Moore — the “Me” in “Roger and Me” and creator of many other documentaries over the years — for tackling controversial topics. However, many of his points have to be put in better context. To wit: his latest Top 10 article at EcoWatch regarding the water crisis in Flint, Michigan.

Let’s see what Mikey has to say.

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By on February 1, 2016

2016 Nissan Sentra-006

Traditional car shoppers are moving away from small sedans and toward compact crossovers. That’s the conventional wisdom used to explain the slowing sales we see in some models. But could there be another reason? Could it simply be a lack of focus and attention to the compact segment?

There is one model that’s seen a meteoric rise in sales since 2013: the Sentra. Nissan’s complete overhaul three years ago and aggressive pricing doubled Sentra sales since then, moving it from a “top 15″ player in sales to number five in 2015.

In an effort to maintain the trajectory, Nissan opted for a major refresh after just three years on sale. (Sounds like the Honda plan with the Civic, doesn’t it?) Perhaps the key to compact success is a combination of frequent updates and more gadgets for shoppers to choose from. That sums up the 2016 Sentra perfectly.

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By on January 29, 2016

07 - 1994 Audi 100 Wagon in Denver junkyard - photo by Murilee Martin

… well, nobody.

Allow me to explain.

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By on January 29, 2016

Ham_the_chimp_(cropped)

After 853 posts, No. 854 will be my last. Or, at least, my final scheduled story for now.

Over the past year, I’ve gotten to know TTAC, its readership, fellowship, authors, contributors, editors and the B&B.

Among the thousands of words that I’ve written that have reached your eyeballs, there are only three that come to mind when I think about my tenure as your Newsbot: Thank you, everyone.

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