By on June 29, 2015

QOTD-Uncoolest_Teenage_Car

I just took my chopped, Carson-top-equipped, heavily-customized 1969 Toyota Corona coupe to a local car show and won a trophy without even washing the thing. All but the most tradition-bound angry old coots think the Kustom Korona is pretty cool, but that got me thinking about the reason I’d spent so many years wanting a cool Corona: my very first car was a 1969 Toyota Corona sedan. A beige Corona sedan, which cost 50 bucks at the corner gas station and had a clattery pushrod four-banger at a time when my peers and I lusted after Detroit muscle cars with tunnel-rammed V8s with Centerline wheels. This was pretty much the uncoolest car possible for a 16-year-old to drive in the East Bay in 1982.

So what’s the 2015 equivalent to that hooptiefied, unidentifiable, squat little Japanese sedan? Read More >

By on June 26, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-06-26 at 7.27.54 AM

I always get a little dismayed whenever I hear a car company talking about sales volume targets.

Yes, sure, reasonable sales targets are OK. Acceptable sales targets. If Toyota wants to say they’re going to sell one billion Camry units this year because they sold 997 million last year, that’s fine with me. If Honda wants to say they’re going to sell 950 million Accords this year because they’re contractually obligated by a higher power to slightly undersell the Camry, that’s fine too. And if Dodge wants to say they’ll sell 100,000 Grand Caravans this year, of which 99,000 are going to Enterprise, and the remaining 1,000 are going to people who don’t know any better, I guess I can accept that.

But I’ve never really understood why automakers set insane volume targets that keep them desperately reaching for sales for the next few decades.

Read More >

By on June 22, 2015

QOTD-RalphNader

It’s Monday, so let’s start it off by ignoring the demands of your cruel overseers in The Man’s salt mines and turning to a subject that’s sure to get all automotive enthusiasts riled up: Ralph Nader! Read More >

By on June 19, 2015

Range Rover in Albania. Picture courtesy of autowp.ru

As many of you know, I drive a Range Rover, which is a giant, gas-slurping SUV that simultaneously kills babies and harms small animals. This is a horrible vehicle, according to the majority of people I meet, and because of it, I’m always being judged for having more car than I “need.” It is, after all, overkill.

Right?

Read More >

By on June 17, 2015

Crossing Over with John Edward

“Crossing Over with John Edward” was probably one of the looniest shows to ever see a five-year primetime run on network television.

If you’ve never seen it (and, if you haven’t, please don’t go searching for it), this was the premise: John Edward, proudly wearing a “professional psychic medium” title that’s just as illustrious as “social media expert” or “NAMBLA community outreach liaison”, would do his little psychic dog and pony show for members of the studio audience.

For example, he might tell audience member Lucy about her best-friend’s sister, Tammy, who took herself out with a lethal amount of Drano. Dead Tammy didn’t have much of a connection with studio Lucy. The semi-related deceased person would typically be someone just far enough to the edge of Lucy’s social circle for her to not to question the smaller details, while still being far enough inside said social circle for Lucy to believe the “bigger” message. John would then deliver that bigger message from Drano-drunkard Tammy – that this person has made peace with the universe, for Lucy not to worry, etc.

At least that’s what we saw on TV. In reality, Edward’s hackneyed attempts to cold read studio audience members were left on the editing suite floor and only the juiciest of bits made it to air. Read More >

By on June 15, 2015

20150309_144512

I’ve lived in urban areas for most of my life. When you do that, your street-parked vehicles will get hit. You walk up to the car and the fender is mashed in or the bumper is bent… and there’s no note left by the perpetrator. In my experience — and I’d say that in my 34 years of driving, I’ve had parked cars hit and damaged enough to notice (some of my cars hid damage very well) at least 25 times. Not once has anyone ever left a note taking responsibility for the damage. I hear that this note-leaving phenomenon has been known to happen, but such a thing falls into the urban-legend category for me. How about you? Read More >

By on June 12, 2015

2001 Toyota Voltz - Tokyo Motor Show 2011

Today, we are going to talk about an automobile called the Chevrolet Voltz. Never heard of it? Few have. That’s because it was one of the most bizarre and unusual rebadges of our entire automotive lives.

Read More >

By on June 11, 2015

2015 Mitsubishi Mirage ES

I’m all for cheap cars. What I’m not for is unnecessarily cheap cars. And if I was given a new, fresh-out-of-the-Thai-takeout-box Mirage, I’d probably give it right back.

Read More >

By on June 10, 2015

06 - 2013 Scion FR-S - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden

Regulation. It dictates the majority of modern car design. Whether it be for pedestrian safety, crash worthiness, economies of scale, or fuel efficiency, the basic building blocks of modern cars are decided well before pencil is met with freshly-bleached paper (or, these days, before stylus meets tablet).

That last item – fuel efficiency – is as much a matter of aerodynamics as it is what’s under the hood, and aerodynamic efficiency isn’t just about fenders and trunk lids.

Which brings me to wheels – specifically, OEM wheels – and how absolutely ugly they’ve gotten the last few years.

Read More >

By on June 9, 2015

i254809

Burt Reynolds and his 1977 Pontiac Trans Am in “Smokey and the Bandit”, complete with gold on black screaming chicken and honeycomb wheels, are solidly part of the zeitgeist of the late ’70s.

But what if they weren’t?

Read More >

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