GM is recalling 778,000 units of the 2005 through 2007 Chevrolet Cobalt and Pontiac G5 over an issue where the ignition cylinder inadvertently turns out of the “Run” position, there by turning the car’s main electrical systems “off”. These systems include the engine, anti-lock brakes, and airbag systems. According to USA Today, GM knew of six deaths, and twenty-two other wrecks related to the ignition failure, and was aware of the defect since 2004.
The photo illustrating Zombie McQuestionbot’s query about what would it take to get you to buy a hybrid was of a Chevy Silverado hybrid pickup truck. I bet some of you seeing that picture didn’t know that Chevy even sold fullsize hybrid pickups and those of you who are familiar with them, may have dismissed the concept. It was called the 2-Mode hybrid system, introduced with great promise and fanfare but in the end it became the Rodney Dangerfield of hybrid drives. That’s too bad. Had the 2-Mode system been embraced by consumers on a wide scale, it might have saved more gasoline than all the Chevy Volts and Toyota Priuses put together. Read More >
A niche vehicle is one that serves a very specific set of buyers with a vehicle that’s defined by a specialized and uncommon or unique role; and is often knowingly sold in low numbers to satisfy that dedicated group. Sometimes it’s to test a market: The Miata created its own niche in the 1990′s, and became a role model for modern product, like the S2000 and BRZ/FRS. Other are more esoteric niches, like the Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet. Sometimes, niche cars bring buyers to a brand that they would not have thought about before.
Currently, one of our most popular niches is the hybrid segment, dominated by the Toyota Prius. Chevrolet threw their hat into the ring, inadvertently, with the Volt. Though primarily an electric car, it does run the gas engine as a series hybrid with engine lockup if needed for maximum efficiency. The sales have been mediocre, pushing just over 23,000 units in 2013. The Prius? It sold over 145,000 units in the same time period..
Is it any wonder, then, why 43% of Cadillac’s dealers aren’t willing to take the up-market, $75,000 (before $7,500 Federal tax credit) Cadillac ELR? It’s a niche of a niche. And it’s an expensive one for dealers to take a risk on. Read More >
FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne took to The Globe and Mail‘s editorial pages to make his case for government investment in Chrysler’s assembly plants in Canada. Marchionne is seeking government funds to upgrade the Brampton plant (which builds Chrysler’s rear-drive cars) and the Windsor plant (which builds minivans, and would be upgraded as a flexible plant) as part of a $3.6 billion investment.
One of the things I miss most about living in the San Francisco Bay Area— OK, maybe the thing I miss the most— is the proper Mission-style burrito. Here in Denver, the Midwestern-influenced salty/bland flavors, brown rice, and incorrect shape of the Chipotle-style burrito dominates, and so whenever I head back to Northern California to shoot some junkyard cars, I try to hit the taqueria that got me hooked on Mission-style Burritos in the first place: Ramiro & Sons Taqueria in my hometown of Alameda, California. Inside this place (whose burritos, good as they are, don’t quite measure up to what you’ll get in the actual Mission District about five miles due east and on the other side of the Bay; this place is my personal favorite), you’ll find a painting on the wall that’s been hanging there since 1984, and that painting depicts a yellow two-door hardtop of some sort parked in front. For 30 years now, I’ve puzzled over that painting, trying to figure out what kind of car I’m seeing. Read More >
TTAC welcomes “Anonymous”, a former temp who worked in a Japanese transplant factory, as he presents his opinion on the effect of the UAW on the American auto industry and the significance of the Chattanooga vote.
Sit down with me, children, and let me tell you about some of the great things labor unions have done for this country. The forty-hour week, safer working conditions, the defeat of the Pinkerton “bulls”, and, well, that’s probably about it. Many of the advances credited to labor unions by people who never bothered to read a history book are actually due to legislation. That’s okay. History, as the man who once doubled the wages he paid his employees without the pressure of a union to make him do it said, is bunk.
Now let’s talk about what the UAW has done for American workers. It created the “job banks”, where people were paid to do nothing. It created the seniority system that paid people $100,000 a year to sweep floors while young people were mercilessly shuffled off into a low-wage “tier”. It ensured that every automobile built by its employees during a time when American automakers were in the fight of their lives came out of the factory at the highest possible labor cost while simultaneously offering the lowest possible quality, often because the cars were sabotaged by overpaid workers who were encouraged to despise their employer, their product, and their customer.
Not satisfied yet? Don’t forget the best part of all.
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You have to hand it to Lego: years after the patents on their plastic interlocking bricks expired, the company has become expert in parting kids of all ages from their cash. The Lego Movie, a concept that would have boggled the mind of any child of the ’80s, is a certified blockbuster. The Lego Harry Potter and Lego Star Wars video games – that’s a game of a toy of a movie, if you’re counting – are best-sellers across multiple platforms.
Now there’s this, an assemblage of beige-overalled 1980s misfits rendered in blocky, multi-part format, ready to do battle with spectres while making off-the-cuff quips. Talk about shut up and take my money: the Lego Ghostbusters set is relatively affordable, at just under fifty bucks, and is everything you were hoping for. By June, thousands of them should be parked proudly on the desks of all kinds of dudes who are far too old for this sort of thing. I’ve already cleared a space on mine.
The centrepiece of the set, aside from minifig versions of Venkman, Stantz, Zeddemore, and Spengler, is the gloriously recreated Ectomobile – Ecto 1. Thirty years ago this year, the white and red original burst on-screen, sirens blaring.
As a fit for the role, the Cadillac might have been an even better casting choice than Bill Murray as Venkman. When there’s something strange in your neighbourhood, you know who you’re gonna call. Read More >
As most of you know, I have some history with the 1965 full-sized Chevrolet. Back in 1990, when I bought mine, these cars were still very common in high-turnover wrecking yards; this was the result of high production (in fact, more 1965 full-sized Chevrolets were built than any other single year/model of American car in history) and low scrap value. Today, however, shredders that turn scrap cars into quick cash (I recommend this book to anyone curious about the recent technological advances in the scrap-metal field) mean that beat-up old Detroit heaps that aren’t worth restoring get funneled right into The Crusher‘s voracious maw. I find the occasional 60s full-size Chevy in wrecking yards these days, but 25 years ago they were as common as are Chrysler LHs today. That makes today’s find, a rust-and-Bondo-nightmare ’65 Bel Air coupe, even more special. Read More >
The first- and second-generation Toyota Celica was to my generation of freshly-minted California drivers (I got my license in 1982) what the early Ford Mustang was to those born a decade earlier: fairly inexpensive and sensible, but still sporty enough to make you feel cool. I drove a ’69 Corona four-door, possibly the uncoolest car a teenager could own at the time, which was to the Celica in 1982 as the six-cylinder Fairlane sedan was to the Mustang in 1972. These days, of course, all the rear-wheel-drive Celicas are considered worth having… unless they’re in rough condition, in which case they are worth little more than scrap value. Here’s an unrusty-but-still-battered ’78, done up in painfully-late-70s Crisis of Confidence Mustard Yellow, sitting in a Denver self-serve yard. Read More >
Ridesharing services such as Uber, Lyft and Sidecar have gained traction among those who prefer using their smartphones to hail a ride to the airport over traditional black car or taxi service. However, in locales such as Detroit, Atlanta and Seattle, such services are rolling up upon a regulatory traffic jam over how best to handle the disruption in the livery industry.
Toyota had an odd pair of recalls this week, highlighting both the increasing importance of software within the automobile and further reinforcing a pet theory held by your humble author.
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Half a year ago, we introduced the concept of the TTAC Staff byline. I had some high hopes for the idea, primarily because we had some people who wanted to write for us but who would face some potential backlash for having their names appear on these august pages. This has made a lot of people unhappy and has been widely regarded as a bad move.*
It’s also history, as of today.
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You know how there was no 1983 Corvette, and then the C4 finally came out in 1984, and it had this terrible twin-throttle-body fuel-injection system? Of course you do. Anyway, C4 Corvettes are worth enough these days that they’re not common sights in self-service wrecking yards, and those that I do find have been picked pretty clean.. Shops that specialize in Corvettes intercept most basket-case examples before they get to these yards, but I found four C4s all together at a Southern California yard last month. Let’s check out a well-stripped example of the first of the good-handling Corvettes. Read More >
The 2014 Chicago Auto Show marks the 25th anniversary of the introduction of the Mazda MX-5. In that time, the Miata has cemented itself as the preeminent sports car for a generation of driving enthusiasts. Roughly a million of them have been produced. Having already written an encomium to my first car – a 1997 Miata - I am reluctant to go down that road again, not least because I have a habit of tearing up when I read it or see pictures of my old car. But I’m going to anyways.