The Truth About Cars http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Sat, 30 May 2015 18:11:02 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.2 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Night That Danger Girl Stole A Black Challenger From The Airport http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/night-danger-girl-stole-black-challenger-airport/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/night-danger-girl-stole-black-challenger-airport/#comments Sat, 30 May 2015 17:00:14 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1077714 “Let me show you how this works,” Danger Girl laughed, as we descended the stairs in the airport parking garage. I call her Danger Girl because 0. I keep putting her in danger, sometimes mortal; 1. She soloed in a Cessna before she turned seventeen; 2. She has certain other dangerous habits that, this being […]

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chally1

“Let me show you how this works,” Danger Girl laughed, as we descended the stairs in the airport parking garage. I call her Danger Girl because

0. I keep putting her in danger, sometimes mortal;
1. She soloed in a Cessna before she turned seventeen;
2. She has certain other dangerous habits that, this being a different kind of publication than it was in days past, cannot be discussed in the full and frank fashion with which it was once my delight to oppress our more delicate readers.

She’d told me that we were renting a Camry. I was happy about this. I like renting Camrys. But as we walked towards a line of cars that clearly included Camrys, Danger Girl took a sharp right turn towards a black Challenger in what I was pretty sure was the rental return lane. “I can take any car I want,” she informed me, “so I’m going to take this one.” I loaded our luggage into the wide, flat, Seventies-style trunk as she fired up the Pentastar and adjusted the seat. “Off we go!” she laughed, and we drove up two levels of a circular ramp and out into the warm California night.

As we entered the freeway, something occurred to me.

“Hey… aren’t you supposed to, like, tell somebody you’re taking this car?”


Danger Girl’s response was measured. “I… suppose… that maybe we should have passed some kind of security gate. But I do this all the time. I just take whatever car I want and then my company pays for it.”

“Have you ever just driven a car out without talking to anyone?” There was a long pause.

“Maybe, possibly, not.”

“Should I call the rental agency?”

“If you want.” I called the rental agency. There were three options in the automated system. None of them corresponded to reporting a self-stolen car. So I pressed the third option.

“Blah-blah Car Rental, this is LaQueesha speaking.” I’m not making that up; it was her name.

“Yes, ah, I picked up a rental car from the airport and nobody asked me for any ID or had me sign anything.”

“Can I get the identifying number on the car?” I read it to her.

“Sir, I’m showing that car as being in our inventory.”

“Well, that’s because I drove it out and nobody stopped me.”

“Well, I am showing that we still have it.”

“Well, I,” I responded in somewhat irritated fashion, “am showing that it is driving down the 405.”

“What do you want me to do about that, sir?”

“Could you, I don’t know, maybe put it in your computer that it wasn’t stolen? That we’re bringing it back?”

“I’ll have to connect you to the rental office to do that.”

“Then connect me.” And the phone promptly bleeped to inform me that the other party had hung up.

“I wouldn’t worry about it,” Danger Girl said, “it’s a black Challenger, they won’t be looking for it.”

“Baby,” I whined in response, “cops like pulling over black Challengers so much they don’t even care which one it is!

“I don’t know what you’re moaning about. I’m the one driving, not you.”

“I’m an accomplice! Plus, this is California! They’ll arrest me for stare-raping you into doing it or something!”

“This thing’s pretty fast,” Danger Girl noted, as the speedometer swung past ’70’ on the four-lane surface street. “But I can’t see out of it at all.”

“Then why are you going so fast?”

“In case they’re looking for us.” I dialed the rental car company again. And got Omar. Who also hung up on me.

“Well, I want to have a drink,” Danger Girl exclaimed, “so I think we should give it to these valet people.”

* * *
In the morning, we fetched the Challenger back from the valet. There were no cops waiting to bust us. Having spent half of my life in imminent expectation that either the police or the film crew from “Cheaters” would appear around the next corner, I didn’t truly relax until we were away from the hotel and back on the freeway, where Danger Girl accelerated to a steady eighty-in-a-fifty-five.

“You cannot,” I explained, as if to a child, “operate a stolen car with this degree of recklessness.”

“Hey!” she exclaimed. “It’s another Challenger just like us!” And in truth I’d seen four black rental V6 Challys that day already.

chally2

This one was being driven by a Hispanic fellow with a face tattoo. I instructed DG to stick close to him as we traveled to the parking garage where my car was stored, figuring that the LAPD, given the choice between pulling over a blonde girl in a North Face jacket or a Mexican with a face tattoo, would choose the latter, even if the license plate on the APB matched the former.

We retrieved my car without difficulty and Danger Girl had an idea. “Hey. There’s an airport here, too,” she said, with the same kind of wonder a child might display while playing SimCity. “Let’s leave the car at the rental office.” We pulled up in convoy and she drove in without me. Two young black women awaited her.

“Girls,” DG chirped, “this car is from another airport. They just let me take it. I’m giving it back.”

You just took it!” responded the lot attendants, in tuneful unison. I could read their minds from a distance. This is what these blonde bitches get up to! They steal cars! And don’t nobody stop them!

“I just took it!” DG responded. “Would you like it back?”

“Well,” one of the attendants responded, scanning it half-heartedly, “It don’t be showing up in the system.”

“So,” DG prompted, “it’s like this never happened! Do I have to pay you anything?”

“I guess not,” the taller of the two replied.

“Well then. Goodbye!”

“Goodbye!” the lot girls said, again in tuneful unison. DG hopped into the passenger seat of my car. Behind her, I could hear one attendant say to the other,

“She just took the car.”

“Surely,” I opined, as the three-cylinder engine roared to life behind me and we pulled away, “there will be consequences for this.” And yet there were not.

THE END.

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Crapwagon Outtake: 2000 BMW M Coupe http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/crapwagon-outtake-2000-bmw-m-coupe/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/crapwagon-outtake-2000-bmw-m-coupe/#comments Sat, 30 May 2015 16:00:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1078050 As should be quite clear from my previous Crapwagon ramblings, I like weird cars. My current garage, however, is quite boring, with a domestic minvan and SUV, and a rusty/immobile Miata. For the last four years, my automotive wanderlust has been mostly sated by writing for Bring A Trailer. I’ve been able to stave my […]

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BMW M Coupe

As should be quite clear from my previous Crapwagon ramblings, I like weird cars. My current garage, however, is quite boring, with a domestic minvan and SUV, and a rusty/immobile Miata. For the last four years, my automotive wanderlust has been mostly sated by writing for Bring A Trailer. I’ve been able to stave my funky automotive cravings by writing about the cars rather than inviting a call from a divorce attorney.

There are a few cars that make me consider that tradeoff. Near the top of the list: an E36/8 Clownshoe, otherwise known as the M Coupe. Those massive flares, the short wheelbase, and the MGB GT-aping hatch make me feel all tingly. I followed a trailered, caged M Coupe last weekend for a while (I’m assuming it was headed to a trackday at Mid Ohio) and it gave me rather dirty thoughts.

This one is in Estoril Blue, my second favorite (behind Technoviolet) BMW hue of all. It has less than 60,000 miles on the odometer and is basically stock. The limited production numbers seem to be driving prices up, sadly out of reach of my meager wallet. I doubt these will reach 1M levels of insanity, but I can see $45,000 for a clean, low-mileage example like this one in about five years.

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New Models Are Major Contributors In America’s Growing Auto Industry http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/new-models-major-contributors-americaas-growing-auto-industry/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/new-models-major-contributors-americaas-growing-auto-industry/#comments Sat, 30 May 2015 14:58:44 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1077938 123,000 of the 5.4 million new vehicle sales generated in the United States over the last four months are new vehicle nameplates which weren’t on sale at this time a year ago. Between January and April, the Ford Transit, Acura TLX, Chevrolet Trax, Lexus NX, and 18 other new nameplates accounted for 2.3% of all new […]

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2015 Lexus NX200T

123,000 of the 5.4 million new vehicle sales generated in the United States over the last four months are new vehicle nameplates which weren’t on sale at this time a year ago.

Between January and April, the Ford Transit, Acura TLX, Chevrolet Trax, Lexus NX, and 18 other new nameplates accounted for 2.3% of all new vehicle sales volume in the United States, way up from the 1.7% achieved by a smaller fleet of all-new nameplates during the same period one year earlier.

(This year’s figure doesn’t take into account the Volkswagen Golf SportWagen, as that’s not so much a new nameplate as a direct successor to the Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen, which was basically a Golf wagon with another name.)

No new nameplate is selling as often as the Ford Transit, Ford’s E-Series replacement. The replacement period is certainly not over, however, as the Transit generated 33,794 sales through the first one-third of 2015 alongside 18,710 copies of the E-Series.

2015 ford transit

Acura tasked its new TLX with replacing two cars, the TL and TSX. 13,834 TLX sedans were sold during the first four months of 2015 (32,961 since its launch last summer), up 34% from the combined TL/TSX figure of 10,349 sales during the same period a year ago.

Chevrolet sold 13,137 copies of the Trax subcompact crossover between January and April of this year. At this time last year, Buick sold 15,040 Encores. The arrival of the Encore’s Trax twin hasn’t slowed the Encore.

Lexus’s NX launched as a quick hit. 12,532 copies of the NX200T and NX300h were sold in the first four months of 2015, making the NX more popular than the Mercedes-Benz GLK, BMW X3, and Lincoln MKC.

Chevrolet-Trax-has-different-various-options-for-fuel-

Another small premium crossover, the Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class, attracted 7,750 owners in the first-third of 2015. Mercedes-Benz adds those sales to the 10,896 copies of the CLA sedan sold already this year.

Indeed, small SUVs/CUVs are common on the list of new vehicles. The Lincoln MKC, Jeep Renegade, Audi Q3, Porsche Macan, BMW X4, and Land Rover Discovery Sport combined for 23,170 sales between January and April. Somewhere between those smaller utility vehicles and traditional wagons sits the Volvo V60 Cross Country, 636 of which have been sold so far this year.

Other products generating sales activity in the United States this year not around in any form at this time last year: the Mini Cooper 4-door, Lexus RC, BMW i3, Chevrolet City Express (a Nissan NV200 copy), Ram ProMaster City, Alfa Romeo 4C, Mercedes-Benz AMG GT, and Porsche 918 Spyder. Assuming their buyers wouldn’t have headed elsewhere – which some surely would have – the market would be up 3% year-to-date. Instead, with these vehicles contributing, U.S. auto sales are up 5.4% in early 2015.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures. Follow on Twitter @goodcarbadcar and on Facebook.

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General Motors Bolt Trademark Application Suspended Again http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/general-motors-bolt-trademark-application-suspended-again/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/general-motors-bolt-trademark-application-suspended-again/#comments Fri, 29 May 2015 19:00:06 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1078146 For the second time since applying for the name, General Motors has seen its trademark application suspended for the Chevrolet Bolt. The application for the Bolt nameplate was originally suspended by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office when it was learned Yamaha already held the trademark for its motorcycles and related parts, AutoGuide reports. GM […]

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2015 Chevrolet Bolt EV Concept all electric vehicle – rear ext

For the second time since applying for the name, General Motors has seen its trademark application suspended for the Chevrolet Bolt.

The application for the Bolt nameplate was originally suspended by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office when it was learned Yamaha already held the trademark for its motorcycles and related parts, AutoGuide reports. GM and Yamaha came to terms to allow the former to use the name for its EV, only for the second suspension to occur soon after.

The cause behind the recent snag comes from Bolt Custom Trucks in Fort Wayne, Ind. The custom sleeper cab builder applied to protect the name before GM, with owner Brian Callan not being aware his company’s application was now in the way of the automaker being able to call its EV “Bolt.”

Whatever name it does end up wearing, the low-cost EV is set to hit showrooms 16 months from now barring delays. Even with said potential delays, the Bolt is expected to leave the assembly line ahead of its competitor, the Tesla Model 3, entering showrooms with a $30,000 starting price and a 200-mile range.

[Source: Chevrolet]

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Elkann: Marchionne Emailed Barra, Others About Consolidation http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/elkann-marchionne-emailed-barra-others-about-consolidation/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/elkann-marchionne-emailed-barra-others-about-consolidation/#comments Fri, 29 May 2015 18:00:25 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1078122 FCA Chairman John Elkann confirmed CEO Sergio Marchionne did email General Motors CEO Mary Barra about consolidation, though GM wasn’t the only one. Elkann informed reporters the email wasn’t the only one sent by Marchionne, though the chairman didn’t specify who else Marchionne contacted about marriage, Reuters reports. He adds FCA could consider a hostile […]

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Fiat 500 Backside Badging

FCA Chairman John Elkann confirmed CEO Sergio Marchionne did email General Motors CEO Mary Barra about consolidation, though GM wasn’t the only one.

Elkann informed reporters the email wasn’t the only one sent by Marchionne, though the chairman didn’t specify who else Marchionne contacted about marriage, Reuters reports. He adds FCA could consider a hostile bid for GM or another automaker “if there are the prerequisites to do something that makes sense,” again opting to remain vague on details.

As far as marriage in general is concerned, Elkann supports Marchionne’s campaign for overall industry consolidation, hoping the action would spark debate. He also believes consolidation will happen, but declined to say who he thought would make the ideal partner to take FCA’s hand, adding his company had “very good prospects” for the future.

[Source: Fiat]

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FCA, Ford, Honda Expand Respective Takata Airbag Recalls http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/fca-ford-honda-expand-respective-takata-airbag-recalls/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/fca-ford-honda-expand-respective-takata-airbag-recalls/#comments Fri, 29 May 2015 17:00:27 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1078090 FCA, Ford and Honda are adding more models to their recalls involving Takata’s airbags, the first following the supplier’s admission on the issue last week. FCA is recalling 1.8 million units equipped with Takata’s airbags, while Ford and Honda are recalling 950,000 and 350,000 units, Automotive News reports. The new recalls follow the supplier’s statement […]

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2006 Ford GT Heritage Edition

FCA, Ford and Honda are adding more models to their recalls involving Takata’s airbags, the first following the supplier’s admission on the issue last week.

FCA is recalling 1.8 million units equipped with Takata’s airbags, while Ford and Honda are recalling 950,000 and 350,000 units, Automotive News reports. The new recalls follow the supplier’s statement last week, where it admitted as many as 34 million vehicles were equipped with defective airbags.

FCA’s recall adds 1.4 million units with driver-side airbags to the 2014 recall of 3.3 million vehicles covering 2004-2007 Dodge Ram pickups, Chrysler 300 and Dodge Dakota, among other models within the timeframe. An additional 437,947 Dodge Rams from the 2003 model year are being recalled for their passenger side airbags.

Over at Ford, 593,000 units will receive recall notices for both driver- and passenger-side airbags. The affected models are the 2005-2014 Mustang built at Flat Rock, the 2005-2006 GT assembled at Wixom, the 2004 Ranger put together at Edison, and the 2004-2006 Ranger brought to life at Twin Cities. The new figure brings the global total to 1.5 million models, of which 1.49 million are in North America, 1.3 million in the United States.

Finally, Honda will recall 350,000 2005 Civics and 2006-2007 Accords for their passenger-side units, and could recall more “if Takata or the NHTSA later determine that a defect exists in vehicles sold or registered beyond” the 13-state-and-territory region where the current passenger-side airbag recall campaign is being carried out, according to representative Chris Martin.

[Source: Mecum Auctions]

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Automakers Rage Against UK’s Possible ‘Brexit’ From EU http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/automakers-rage-against-uks-possible-brexit-from-eu/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/automakers-rage-against-uks-possible-brexit-from-eu/#comments Fri, 29 May 2015 16:00:02 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1078034 A handful of European automakers are lashing out against the prospect of the United Kingdom’s “Brexit” from the European Union via referendum in 2017. Ford Europe, Renault-Nissan and BMW have made it known there would be serious ramifications for the European auto industry and the U.K.’s role in it if the nation left the E.U. […]

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Jaguar F-Type S AWD

A handful of European automakers are lashing out against the prospect of the United Kingdom’s “Brexit” from the European Union via referendum in 2017.

Ford Europe, Renault-Nissan and BMW have made it known there would be serious ramifications for the European auto industry and the U.K.’s role in it if the nation left the E.U. following the results of a referendum vote in 2017, The Detroit News reports. Both Ford Europe CEO Jim Farley and BMW board member Ian Robertson have said the U.K. should remain in the union for the sake of the nation’s auto industry, while Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn said he would have to reconsider his company’s dealings across the Channel if the so-called Brexit became reality.

However, the trio of automakers, as well as the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA), may be doing more harm to themselves by joining in the political conflict than anything the Brexit could muster upon execution. Garel Rhys, emeritus professor of Motor Industry Economics and director for Automotive Industry Research at the Cardiff Business School, explains:

It’s possible I suppose that there could be a massive trade war, with protection and trade barriers but I think that’s very unlikely. Firstly the WTO (World Trade Organization) would have a view on that. But much more importantly, Britain has a huge balance of trade deficit with the rest of the E.U.. It’s a tremendous market for E.U. countries for a whole range of goods and especially for upmarket BMWs, Audis and Porsches.

Rhys adds a free trade agreement following the Brexit would be “very, very likely” and in the best interests of both parties, saying fear of change is the main driver for the automakers opposed to the U.K.’s departure. Cimigo analyst Michael Burrage agrees with the assessment, stating the opposition should have done more research into the Brexit and its effects before sounding the alarm:

Companies with serious interests at stake should conduct risk assessments and ask if these serious consequences are likely. I don’t believe they have taken serious studies. I believe exit would be far less disturbing than these large manufactures would wish us to believe, and they need to do studies. I would listen more seriously if they showed some research. This is just off the top of their heads. It is very superficial>

The Brexit referendum in 2017 comes amid increasing disapproval among Britons with how a trade agreement approved in a 1975 referendum became loaded with political ramifications over the decades to the point, according to the U.K. Independence Party, where 70 percent of all legislation in the U.K. comes from Brussels.

[Source: Jaguar]

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Last Rides Premium Selects: All XUsed Up http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/last-rides-premium-selects-xused/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/last-rides-premium-selects-xused/#comments Fri, 29 May 2015 15:00:14 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1060698 The Envoy XUV is one of those unicorns I seem to recognize on the street immediately. As the owner of a Taurus X, I sometimes wonder how my arduous life would change had Ford went ahead with it’s transformer counterpoint to this sub-niche of vehicle. Then I realize, “Probably, I would be scrounging for more […]

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04xuv1

The Envoy XUV is one of those unicorns I seem to recognize on the street immediately. As the owner of a Taurus X, I sometimes wonder how my arduous life would change had Ford went ahead with it’s transformer counterpoint to this sub-niche of vehicle. Then I realize, “Probably, I would be scrounging for more weird, rare electric roof trim garnish power regulators at the junkyard.” “Probably not much.”

I imagine the boys in Ford’s marketing department took one look at their competitor’s commercial, mouth agape, and finally decided they just couldn’t compete with such formidable before-it-was-cool ’80s promotional panache. One of them, no doubt, pointed out, “They’ve even got the sort-of a song that I kind of know!”

The thing that struck me about this example, found in a Joliet yard, was it’s fantastic condition (other than vultures lightly pecking at the fresh carcass). I mean, you just don’t see many ten year old models at all, unless they’re irreparably smashed, or irreparably a Sebring.

04xuv5

Quarter million miles be damned, times must not be too bad in America anymore.

04xuv11

The 5.3 under the hood is still in one piece, so chances are good the your camshaft is trashed, too sort of dialogue wasn’t a factor in it’s demise.

04xuv3

It’s unicorn horn removable mid-gate was still waiting for a patron to have the “This isn’t a tailgate. It’s a trim panel,” argument at the checkout counter.

04xuv6

Then, evidence of the previous owner’s medical afflictions helped fill in the blanks. Nothing will send a Mitsubishi to the junkyard faster than a piece of paper that looks like this, it seems. The name on this one, is “high profile” around these parts, and if you can somehow figure out what I have omitted, please don’t. This is a fictional piece, and I would like to keep it that way.

04xuv17

The McGill empire was going through a transitional period.

“I’m just saying…don’t be surprised when I graduate, that there’s nothing for me,” Reece told his father.

The old man broiled in the passenger seat. “Don’t give me that bullshit. Your ancestors, who lived out their lives in indentured servitude, would punch you right in the mouth if they heard you say that,” said an irate Patrick.

The young Reece withdrew to the driver’s door of the Envoy. He should have known. At any moment, the old man would additionally remind him about working for the family business, most likely reminding him about how he started it all with a single questionable 1970 Autocar. “…and you can always work for me,” added Patrick, pulling out his Medtronic Access Review DBS controller. Ever vigilant after going through some issues with his implant’s battery, he checked it’s condition. Holding the remote to his chest, it beeped, and verified a good state of charge. Such an action repeated itself several times throughout the day, mostly done out of habit, and boredom.

As the Envoy cruised high above the Des Plaines River with a smoothness rivaling a maglev train, Reece observed the filthy snow that was still piled up along the sides of the tollway well into March. The frigid sight induced an application of Carmex. A crosswind came out of the west, causing the wind whistle from the aft-most window to intensify. Reece compensated by turning up the volume on his My Gold Mask CD, which was hopelessly jammed in the radio. This track was one of his favorites. He hadn’t listened to it in over a year, since leaving for FAU. However, when Dad said, “Give it a rest,” and turned on XM MSNBC, he didn’t protest.

Reece slowed the XUV on the off ramp for Route 7 where the brakes cried out their hunger for more pads. Reece and McGill senior did what they normally did, which was simply glance in the general direction of the anomaly.

As they waited for the light the boy inquired, “So how is the new…calibration?” regarding his father’s follow up procedure.

“It’s a little better. There’s still some little tremors…but I don’t think anything will change that now,” said the man, lifting his hands to show a faint car-waxing motion with his right extremity.

Reece faced forward, realizing the light had turned green. The S…UV arched across the intersection, and then summoned their attention with a “Boong Boong Boong”. Reece looked down at the information center, and turned to his father almost with glee. “Reduced engine power!”

Reece buried his foot in the gas and turned his hazards on in preparation for what would assuredly be a lazy journey back to McGill Trucking. The men were experienced in these matters from when the throttle body failed five years prior.

“Goddamit,” said Patrick, “Try to turn it back off…or on…fuck.” He was referring to ‘the trick’ they had learned from Trailvoy.com. Sometimes that would make the problem go away for a short time. Reece tried this technique in a church parking lot, but the power remained elusive.

“Come on stupid!” Reece shouted at his rear view mirror. A Cavalier honked behind them, it’s driver dumbstruck by the meaning of a pair of flashing tail lamps and a pointby. The Cavalier finally made the pass, it’s exhaust sounding like compressed air being released while the man at the wheel delivered a Luigi death stare at the hapless GMC.

“I told you that you needed to get rid of this piece. What’s gonna happen when I’m not around to drive you? They’re gonna find you in a snowbank somewhere after you get stranded,” Reece told his father.

Patrick didn’t respond. He pulled the Blackberry from his pocket and dialed his wife. “We’re having some car trouble right now. Yeah. It’s just driving slow again. We’re gonna be late to the meeting. Just see if those guys can wait a bit longer.”

Reese felt a shock. Oh shit, he thought, how did he know about the meeting? He braced himself against the wheel in anticipation of the shitstorm.

“What do you mean it’s already over?!” Patrick yelled. “Look. I’m still a part of this damn company!” Reese could hear his mother on the other end trying to break things to his father gently. His grandiose plans of acquiring another dead trucking firm, when they were struggling to hire and pay more drivers, just wasn’t going to work. A rift was growing between the elder McGill, his wife, and his best friend.

Reece tuned out and listened to the click-clock of the hazards as his father yelled into the phone. I don’t want any of this crap, he thought to himself. Working with family is the worst. A career of surfing, golfing, and traveling Europe would suit him just fine. And when the facility to do that ran out? Whatever.

Finally, the screaming stopped.

“I’m just going to head home,” said Reece.

Patrick washed down a pill with some bottled water. The meds kicked in. His anger was gone. He now felt dejected, betrayed, robbed of the world he created.

“You should just take me to the casino,” Reece replied, laughing. “I’m not taking you to Joliet! Especially, not in this thing.” He hit the overhead Homelink button and the double wrought iron gates swung open.

The old man punctuated the end of their journey with a depressing statement of fact. “I told you this would be the last car I ever own.”

Reece could only respond with “Come on, Dad,” while his father waddled into the large manor house with an abbreviated gait.

Reece stayed out on the drive and began to vape. As French Vanilla filled his lungs, he observed the flurry-laden dark clouds rolling in to put an end to an already shortened day.

“This is bullshit,” he said. This meaning not-Florida during spring break. He puffed and looked at the Envoy, juxtaposed to the fancy stonework and brick paver driveway. Sure, back in the day, the $40,000 fully-loaded GMC was impressive. Reeve even showed off the clever engineering of the magic gate and retractable roof to his buddies. That was back before the “Clear Roof Obstruction” notices, failed glass regulators, smoked switches, a transmission, bad HVAC components, a weary fan clutch, some dead lifters, and lots of puzzled technician labor hours turned it into an Envoy of Theseus. For the amount spent, Reece estimated there could have been a ‘sweet-ass G Wagen’ sitting there.

“Hrmfff,”, he exhaled.

When Reece came into the house, his father greeted him with the signed pink slip to the Envoy.

“Here. It’s yours. Do whatever you want with it.” The last part of that statement was said in a way to allude “Get it fixed, and use it.” Reece clumsily replied, “What? I…come on…” The old man then disappeared into his study.

The Envoy’s shifter was put into neutral to coast down the hill at a higher rate of non-PCM-regulated speed as it entered “the prison city”. Reece silenced the hazard relay for the final time. He summoned the man from the office that he had spoken to on the phone earlier, who popped off his chair with an excited “Let’s take a look.”

“Hey, this doesn’t look too bad. I might just sell this.”, said the man.

“I would strongly recommend that you don’t,” said Reece.

04xuv11 04xuv13 04xuv12 04xuv17 04xuv15 04xuv14 04xuv7 04xuv10 04xuv9 04xuv8 04xuv5 04xuv3 04xuv2 04xuv6 04xuv1

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KOZMO – The Dream of a Polish Sports Car http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/kozmo-dream-polish-sports-car/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/kozmo-dream-polish-sports-car/#comments Fri, 29 May 2015 14:00:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1077314 People who don’t take no for an answer deserve more admiration. James Glickenhaus is one of those people. James and his Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus are building exotic road cars which can be raced and done so competitively. Almost nobody does that anymore; most manufacturers just build road cars and subcontract the manufacture of racecars resembling those road […]

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kozmo sports car

People who don’t take no for an answer deserve more admiration. James Glickenhaus is one of those people. James and his Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus are building exotic road cars which can be raced and done so competitively. Almost nobody does that anymore; most manufacturers just build road cars and subcontract the manufacture of racecars resembling those road cars to anonymous shops in North Carolina or southern England. But Mr. Glickenhaus has resources not available to us “normies” – funding, mainly. He has more than money, though. He has ambition, dedication, and he’s probably not the kind of person to take a no for an answer.

That’s great for him. What about you? What if you want to build your own car and you do not have millions of dollars at your disposal?

kozmo sports primed

Because I am Polish, I’ve been receiving dozens of emails about this kid in Poland who wants to build a small sports car. At worst it’s going to be a drawing and a dream. At best it’s going to be a bunch of steel tubes welded together with a junk yard engine in the back. Delete.

After receiving an email from the only Polish auto writer I both know and admire, I decided to look further into it.

The story is cute. A car-loving 10-year-old kid named Tomasz Ferdek is diagnosed with Leukemia. While in hospital receiving treatment, he dreams up and pens his lightweight sports car in detail. Some years later, after shaking off his illness, he starts building it in his one-car communist-era city garage. Thousands of work hours later, he has a running prototype. Not only that, on an autocross course it runs times similar to some of the fastest cars there.

There is more here, however. This guy did not start off with a Miata or an E30 chassis. Nor did he copy an existing vehicle in hopes of creating another Ariel Atom. He didn’t scour for random parts off other cars, such as the Rally Fighter. That would have been the easy way out. But this project isn’t about being easy. Rather, it’s about creating something original. Everything save the Polish-built Fiat 500 Turbo engine and transmission was designed and manufactured by him, from the chassis layout to the power window mechanism.

This kid actually built something that moves and isn’t completely awful. Not only that, his plans, which I must admit I think are very ambitious, are almost realistic. So far Tomasz has spent about $30,000 on this project, which is a lot in Poland. It’s so much in fact that he is basically broke. Like so many do these days, he is looking to crowd fund the rest of this project. The Indiegogo link has a lot more information on the car itself than I can fit here.

But it’s not the car or how he built it that impressed me the most. Nor is it the story of a sick kid with a dream. Rather, I am impressed with the person and his stubbornness, his ambition, his pride, and his passion. He has appeared on many Polish television programs promoting this car and his ideas and now he wants global interest. He has somehow found direct contact to me, a person who left his homeland almost thirty years ago, in order to expose his Polish-made car to the world, and stubbornly won’t stop contacting me until I do something about it.

Well, here you go, America, a new Polish sports car.

Lead image: Blogomotive.pl

kozmo concept

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Ford Transit Connect Still Owns Half Of U.S. Small Commercial Van Segment http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/ford-transit-connect-still-owns-half-u-s-small-commercial-van-segment/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/ford-transit-connect-still-owns-half-u-s-small-commercial-van-segment/#comments Fri, 29 May 2015 13:00:09 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1077362 Ford Motor Company’s Transit Connect has seen the number of its direct rivals rapidly expand over the last two years. Not only must the Transit Connect fend off challenges from the Nissan NV200, now Chevrolet sells a version of the Nissan Van and FCA has imported the Fiat Doblo as the Ram ProMaster City. Nevertheless, Ford […]

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2 USA commercial van sales chart April 2015 YTD

Ford Motor Company’s Transit Connect has seen the number of its direct rivals rapidly expand over the last two years. Not only must the Transit Connect fend off challenges from the Nissan NV200, now Chevrolet sells a version of the Nissan Van and FCA has imported the Fiat Doblo as the Ram ProMaster City.

Nevertheless, Ford still owns more than half the market for small commercial vans. Through the first four months of 2015, a period in which small commercial van volume in the United States has increased 58%, the Transit Connect’s market share stood at 55%. True, that’s down from 63% in the equivalent period one year ago. But a year ago, there was no such thing as a Chevrolet City Express or Ram ProMaster City. Moreover, Transit Connect volume has increased dramatically. Its 38% year-over-year improvement translates to 4,201 extra sales for Ford MoCo over just four months.

The Transit Connect was a productive product for Ford from the beginning. Ford sold 27,405 Transit Connects in the model’s first full year on sale in America, after which Transit Connect sales increased year after year after year. After year. Last year, as Ford launched a second iteration of the Transit Connect, U.S. sales of the van were 58% stronger than in 2010.

2014 Ford Transit Connect

This year’s pace through the first one-third suggests Ford will could sell more than 50,000 Transit Connects in the U.S. for the first time in 2015. Sales increased in each of 2015’s first four months, a streak which extended out from December 2014, the Transit Connect’s highest-volume month and first 5K+ month ever. Transit Connect volume has improved on a year-over-year basis in 11 of the last 13 months.

Meanwhile, the Transit Connect is America’s fourth-ranked commercial van overall this year, behind the third-ranked full-size Chevrolet Express and two other Fords. The E-Series replacing Transit and the second-ranked E-Series own 54% of the full-size commercial van market.

2015 ford transit

Back in the smaller category, the Transit Connect has outsold the Nissan NV200 (sales of which are up 59% this year) by nearly three-to-one. The Ram Cargo Van is quickly disappearing but generated 2,805 sales in the first four months of 2015, more than the competitors from Chevrolet and Ram. City Express sales form 31% of the Nissan/Chevy twin total. Ram’s ProMaster City has only been on sale for four months. February volume was 35% better than January; March sales quadrupled February’s total; April was 98% better than March.

But all of the Transit Connect’s rivals are fighting over less than half the pie. Few vehicles so clearly dominate their respective vehicle categories.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures. Follow on Twitter @goodcarbadcar and on Facebook.

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Junkyard Find: 1981 Chevrolet Citation, Rock Salt Sandblasting Edition http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/junkyard-find-1981-chevrolet-citation-rock-salt-sandblasting-edition/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/junkyard-find-1981-chevrolet-citation-rock-salt-sandblasting-edition/#comments Fri, 29 May 2015 12:00:41 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1074762 This is the third week in Themed Junkyard Find Week Madness. We started with 21st Century Junkyard Find Week, then had Volkswagen Junkyard Find Week, and now we’ve staggered right into Rusty Junkyard Find Week. Next week, I might return to ordinary jumbled-up Junkyard Finds, or I might subject you to an entire month of […]

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Incredibly Rusty Chevrolet Citation - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

This is the third week in Themed Junkyard Find Week Madness. We started with 21st Century Junkyard Find Week, then had Volkswagen Junkyard Find Week, and now we’ve staggered right into Rusty Junkyard Find Week. Next week, I might return to ordinary jumbled-up Junkyard Finds, or I might subject you to an entire month of Chrysler LH Junkyard Finds.

For now, though, let’s finish up our third Themed Junkyard Find Week with a case of genuinely puzzling rust.
Incredibly Rusty Chevrolet Citation Detail 1 - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

Unlike most of the interesting cars I shoot in junkyards, this ’81 Chevy Citation is represented here by just a single photograph. I was visiting the yard just before closing time, to grab a Dodge D100 pickup fuel gauge for my get-it-done-today A100 instrument-cluster rebuild project, walked past this Citation, and shot a single cellphone photo.

Incredibly Rusty Chevrolet Citation Detail 2 - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

So, we’ll look at details from that single photo, like conspiracy theorists studying a single frame of the Zapruder Film. This car had some rust all over, but the vertical surfaces of the right side of the body had terrifying and weirdly localized rust. How? Why? There’s no evidence of a fire burning off a patch of paint, so perhaps the car spent several years lying on its right side in the manure pond of a western Kansas pig farm?

Let’s time-travel back to 1979, when “the first Chevy of the 80s” hadn’t yet hit the streets in large numbers and existed mostly in the minds of Americans who were hoping that the gloom of the previous decade would be washed away by a car that showed that the days of bad Chevrolets were over.


Well, long-term-wise, that didn’t work out so well, with the Citation merely ushering in a decade of brand-damaging disasters and puzzling attempts to compete with German luxury marques. Today, we laugh at the Citation, though there was a time when they were as commonplace as are Malibus today.

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QOTD: Should We All Be Driving Around With Dash Cams? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/qotd-should-we-all-be-driving-around-with-dash-cams/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/qotd-should-we-all-be-driving-around-with-dash-cams/#comments Fri, 29 May 2015 10:49:27 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1077874 So I’m screwing around on the Internet the other day, minding my own business, and I come across this video of an accident with a red light runner. For those of you who can’t or don’t want to watch this video, allow me to explain what happens. In one second, some guy is driving along […]

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So I’m screwing around on the Internet the other day, minding my own business, and I come across this video of an accident with a red light runner.

For those of you who can’t or don’t want to watch this video, allow me to explain what happens. In one second, some guy is driving along in Anytown, USA, next to a mall, and a couple of shops, and some charming angled parking spots, and some nicely maintained grass. And in the next second, he goes through a green light and hits a person in a Mitsubishi Eclipse who has run the red light coming the other direction.

Now, any idiot can see what happened here. In one lane, you have the driver with the dash cam, who’s cruising along at a normal rate of speed like a normal person, abiding the law and doing everything by the book. And in the other lane, you have someone who chose to spend their hard-earned money on a Mitsubishi Eclipse.

So there’s a big crash, and the dash cam guy hits the Eclipse, and so does the car next to the dash cam guy, and then the Eclipse takes out a large number of power lines and other road peripherals before finally coming to a complete stop.

Now, here’s where it gets interesting: in the video description, the guy who uploaded it claims the Eclipse driver tried to say her light was green. Yes, that’s right: the woman enters an intersection at full tilt, takes out two cars coming perpendicular to her, and then she tries to say that she had the green light.

Obviously, her argument is idiotic – but one major reason why it’s easy to disprove her is because the guy with the dash cam had, well, a dash cam. So presumably when she was sitting there, staring over her damaged Eclipse, angry at the world for hurting such a precious ball of 4-cylinder joy, pissed off at the other drivers for running their red light, he says to her: “Bad news.” And then he plays back the tape of her blowing the red light as if she was Al Cowlings in the O.J. chase.

And this leads me to today’s question, which is: should we all just be driving with dash cams?

I say this because a) our society is rather litigious, and b) it can be tremendously hard to assign fault at the scene of an accident if you weren’t there to witness it. Say you’re a cop and you show up at an accident where one car has a damaged front end and another car has a damaged rear end. Rear end damage guy says he got hit from behind, while front end damage guy says the other person backed into him. Who do you believe?

It’s the same deal with traffic lights. Two cars enter an intersection, and they collide. Which one is at fault? Who ran the light? How do you assign fault? The answer is: it’s really hard. So you do the best you can, and maybe you make a mistake, and the driver who was ACTUALLY at fault gets off scot-free and sues the driver who WASN’T at fault for a sum of money roughly equal to the annual operating budget of Delaware.

If we were driving with dash cams, these problems would be a thing of the past. And indeed, that’s what they do in Russia. People are so worried about fraud, everyone has a dash cam. Now it’s installed in everything by default, so the fraud is over, and now there’s a record of virtually every accident in Russia, including the ones involving farm animals.

So I’ve started to wonder more and more if this sort of thing should maybe be applied to us here in good ol’ North America. No, we don’t have the same level of fraud as they do in Russia. But by God, we probably have about the same level of accidents. And wouldn’t it be nice, in an accident, to be able to look at the law enforcement officer on the scene and say, “Sorry, officer, I have it on tape”? Keep in mind that your other option is to be entirely at his mercy after he interviews everyone at the scene as if they were equals, even if they’re driving a Mitsubishi Eclipse.

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While You Were Sleeping: Takata Recall Drinking Game Edition http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/while-you-were-sleeping-takata-recall-drinking-game-edition/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/while-you-were-sleeping-takata-recall-drinking-game-edition/#comments Fri, 29 May 2015 10:26:00 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1077834 Yesterday evening, I appeared on the CTV News Channel in The Great White North to talk about Takata’s latest recalls. As a consequence, I’ve learned I look like Patrick from SpongeBob SquarePants when I frown. Here are the rules for our Takata Recall Drinking Game. One (1) nip every time I say “Ummm.” Two (2) sips […]

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Mark Stevenson on CTV News

Yesterday evening, I appeared on the CTV News Channel in The Great White North to talk about Takata’s latest recalls. As a consequence, I’ve learned I look like Patrick from SpongeBob SquarePants when I frown.

Here are the rules for our Takata Recall Drinking Game.

  • One (1) nip every time I say “Ummm.”
  • Two (2) sips for every time I say “explosion.”
  • Three (3) shots of sake for each time Dan or I mention Takata by name.
  • Four (4) shots if you can screenshot a worse image than the one at top and post a link to it in the comments.

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2016 Chevrolet Volt On Sale In California, Google, Apple Systems Coming This Summer http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/2016-chevrolet-volt-on-sale-in-california-google-apple-systems-coming-this-summer/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/2016-chevrolet-volt-on-sale-in-california-google-apple-systems-coming-this-summer/#comments Thu, 28 May 2015 20:00:21 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1077578 California consumers will be the first to buy the 2016 Chevrolet Volt, which will have Google’s and Apple’s infotainment systems beginning this summer. The second-gen PHEV is available for ordering in California starting Thursday, Inside EVs reports, with deliveries set for August. Oregon and the Northeast will join in late August with delivery in early […]

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2016 Chevrolet Volt

California consumers will be the first to buy the 2016 Chevrolet Volt, which will have Google’s and Apple’s infotainment systems beginning this summer.

The second-gen PHEV is available for ordering in California starting Thursday, Inside EVs reports, with deliveries set for August. Oregon and the Northeast will join in late August with delivery in early October, while the rest of the nation can put their orders in beginning October 1 for deliveries starting in November. Price of admission begins at $33,995 MSRP.

When those Volts are delivered, they will be among the first in Chevrolet’s lineup to have Google’s Android Auto and Apple’s CarPlay systems, Autoblog notes. Joining the Volt will this summer will be the 2016 Cruze, Camaro, Spark and Malibu equipped with MyLink and seven-inch touchscreen. Overall, 14 2016 models will have the systems across all trims.

The decision to offer both systems came down to providing consumers choice, GM’s connected-vehicle experience chief Alicia Boler-Davis said, adding “no two customers are alike, and we cannot expect a single solution that works for every driver in every situation.”

The announcement follows Hyundai’s move to introduce Android Auto to the 2015 Sonata Tuesday, with CarPlay to follow later.

[Source: Chevrolet]

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FCA US Reducing Powertrain Warranty To 60K Miles For 2016 Models http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/fca-us-reducing-powertrain-warranty-to-60k-miles-for-2016-models/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/fca-us-reducing-powertrain-warranty-to-60k-miles-for-2016-models/#comments Thu, 28 May 2015 19:00:32 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1077546 Those shopping for a new Charger, 300, Wrangler or 1500 because of the powertrain warranty may need to pull the trigger soon due to an upcoming mileage cut. According to the following statement, FCA US is cutting the warranty down from the current 5-year/100,000-mile guarantee to a new 5-year/60,000-mile term for the 2016 model year, […]

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21015 Dodge Charger RT Road and Track Exterior-007

Those shopping for a new Charger, 300, Wrangler or 1500 because of the powertrain warranty may need to pull the trigger soon due to an upcoming mileage cut.

According to the following statement, FCA US is cutting the warranty down from the current 5-year/100,000-mile guarantee to a new 5-year/60,000-mile term for the 2016 model year, Automotive News reports:

Following changes already made by competitors, FCA US is adjusting powertrain warranty coverage for 2016 model year vehicles to be more consistent with industry practices. For 2016MY, Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge and Ram Truck vehicles with gasoline engines will be covered by a 5-year/60,000 mile powertrain warranty.

An FCA representative says the company’s 3-year/36,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty will remain unchanged, while diesels, Alfas and Fiats are not affected by the policy change; Fiat has its own 4-year/50,000-mile powertrain warranty.

The move follows General Motors’ decision in March 2015 to cut-down its 5-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty for its Chevrolet and GMC products to a 5-year/60,000-mile policy.

[Source: Alex L. Dykes/The Truth About Cars]

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Jeep Grand Cherokee To Receive Hellcat Power As Trackhawk http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/jeep-grand-cherokee-to-receive-hellcat-power-as-trackhawk/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/jeep-grand-cherokee-to-receive-hellcat-power-as-trackhawk/#comments Thu, 28 May 2015 18:00:38 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1077482 Looking for a Jeep Grand Cherokee with more altitude than the Altitude? How does a Hellcat Cherokee sound? By the middle of next year, the Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk will hitting showrooms ready to do to Mid-Ohio and Pomona what the Trailhawk does to Moab, Car and Driver reports. Power for the high-performance SUV will […]

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2015 jeep grand cherokee altitude front

Looking for a Jeep Grand Cherokee with more altitude than the Altitude? How does a Hellcat Cherokee sound?

By the middle of next year, the Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk will hitting showrooms ready to do to Mid-Ohio and Pomona what the Trailhawk does to Moab, Car and Driver reports. Power for the high-performance SUV will come from either a naturally aspirated 6.4-liter Hemi V8 found in the current Grand Cherokee SRT — good for 475 horses — or an optional supercharged Hellcat V8, whose 707 horses and 650 lb-ft of tire-destroying torque could likely take the Trackhawk from nil to 60 in under four seconds.

The Trackhawk could also do away with four-wheel drive, as engineers are facing difficulties blast-proofing the Grand Cherokee’s driveline against the raw power the Hellcat V8 delivers; electronically limiting torque in lower gears is also under consideration.

Price of admission is expected to begin at $65,000, with competition to include the Range Rover Sport SVR, Mercedes ML63 AMG, BMW X5 M, and Porsche Cayenne Turbo S.

[Source: Kamil Kaluski/The Truth About Cars]

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Buick Introduces Regal, Verano 1SV Base Models For Entry-Level Luxury Market http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/buick-introduces-regal-verano-1sv-base-models-for-entry-level-luxury-market/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/buick-introduces-regal-verano-1sv-base-models-for-entry-level-luxury-market/#comments Thu, 28 May 2015 17:00:25 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1077338 In the market for a new Buick Regal or Verano? The brand introduced a new pair of base models aimed at the entry-level luxury market for consideration. The Buick Regal 1SV and Verano 1SV begin at $27,990 and $21,990 respectively, knocking off $2,295 and $2,315 from the prices of the next models in line (Regal […]

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2015 Buick Verano Turbo

In the market for a new Buick Regal or Verano? The brand introduced a new pair of base models aimed at the entry-level luxury market for consideration.

The Buick Regal 1SV and Verano 1SV begin at $27,990 and $21,990 respectively, knocking off $2,295 and $2,315 from the prices of the next models in line (Regal Turbo and Verano) in so doing, CarsDirect reports. The prices are meant to help the two sedans compete in the entry-level luxury market against the likes of the Mercedes CLA, Acura ILX, Audi A3 and BMW 320.

What does one get for saving a couple of thousand? For the Regal, a 2.4-liter Ecotec four-pot from the now-defunct fleet version of the sedan, which lacks stop-start and pumps out 182 horses to the front. Meanwhile, the Verano makes do with only an AM/FM radio instead of one with satellite radio included.

Whether or not the Regal and Verano 1SV models will help the brand fight alongside the Encore subcompact crossover against the downstream current of falling sales remains to be seen. Low-end models such as these usually are excluded from incentives General Motors offers for other models, a decision not likely to help the brand in the long run should this latest move fizzle.

Further, dealers may not be too thrilled to have more than a handful of Verano 1SVs on the lot at a time, while $28,000 may be too much to pay for a Regal with leather and 4G yet little power under the hood. Of course, one could wait a year until the first 1SVs hit the used lot for 32 percent off the original sticker, but only if power isn’t an issue on the used lot, as well.

[Source: Buick]

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Marchionne Hearing Wedding Bells By 2018, No Marriage With Opel http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/marchionne-hearing-wedding-bells-by-2018-no-marriage-with-opel/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/marchionne-hearing-wedding-bells-by-2018-no-marriage-with-opel/#comments Thu, 28 May 2015 16:00:31 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1077282 FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne believes consolidation will occur as early as 2018. Meanwhile, Opel won’t be taking FCA’s hand in marriage. Opel CEO Karl-Thomas Neumann stated a merger between his company and FCA was not going to happen, though he agreed with Marchionne in principle regarding such mergers, Reuters reports, especially in regards to volume, […]

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Fiat Cinquecento Ready For The Wedding Circa July 2011

FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne believes consolidation will occur as early as 2018. Meanwhile, Opel won’t be taking FCA’s hand in marriage.

Opel CEO Karl-Thomas Neumann stated a merger between his company and FCA was not going to happen, though he agreed with Marchionne in principle regarding such mergers, Reuters reports, especially in regards to volume, scale and utilisation.

Opel’s decision to remain within the General Motors family follows a similar rebuff by GM CEO Mary Barra, who received an email from Marchionne in March suggesting the two combine forces. When asked about the email on a recent visit to FCA’s factory in Melfi, Italy, Marchionne said he writes “lots of emails,” adding he doesn’t talk about such major decisions as consolidation via email.

Meanwhile, Marchionne is holding onto the idea of consolidation overall, believing the industry will see the first occurrence as early as 2018. He didn’t specify his company would be the one heading down the aisle in said consolidation, however.

[Source: neekoh.fl/Flickr/CC BY 2.0]

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Tesla Ownership Vignettes http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/tesla-ownership-vignettes/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/tesla-ownership-vignettes/#comments Thu, 28 May 2015 15:00:24 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1064642 We’ve owned our 2013 P85 Tesla Model S since December, putting maybe 3,000 miles on it, so I thought TTAC readers would appreciate a long-term update. Overall it’s still the grin-inducing ride that all owners like to be smug about. That said, there have been more than a few unusual experiences. To that end, I thought it […]

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Tesla Model S

We’ve owned our 2013 P85 Tesla Model S since December, putting maybe 3,000 miles on it, so I thought TTAC readers would appreciate a long-term update.

Overall it’s still the grin-inducing ride that all owners like to be smug about. That said, there have been more than a few unusual experiences. To that end, I thought it would be useful to present this update as a series of individual stories, or vignettes, of the Tesla ownership experience.

tesla-handles

The Fused Door Handle
My daughter is fascinated with the door handles pushing themselves in and out. She was standing there, leaning on it before I got to the car, and once the car detected my key fob, it tried really hard to push out the handle. The car handle won, but then it wouldn’t actually open the door nor would it retract again. Arrggh! A quick search via Google, the Interwebs told me to pull fuse #40. Sure enough, that reset everything back to normal again.

Pulling the fuses on a Tesla, on one of the very few days of the year I happened to be wearing a proper suit and tie, made me a bit nervous. The last thing I wanted was car grease on my nice pants. The only hard part of the operation was pulling the plastic cover (between the frunk and the windshield). After that, pull and push back the fuse and *poof*, problem solved. I did the work while sitting cross-legged in the nicely carpeted frunk. My nice wool dress pants were unscathed in the operation and now my daughter hopefully understands not to do that again.

tesla-fusebox

Anti-Gymkhana Mode
I hate valets. When I go to restaurants or whatever that have mandatory valet, I’ll typically have a conversation like:

“Can I please park my own car?”

“But we’re a valet lot, sir.”

“Can I please park my own car?”

“Umm, okay.”

I’ve complained early and often that one of the big missing features from the Tesla was any sort of Valet Mode to restrict what valet nutjobs can do with the car. Finally, with the 6.2 software update, Tesla has responded. You select “valet mode” from the same drop-down menu where you might otherwise pick a driver. It asks for a four-digit pin and it’s locked in*. In addition to setting a max speed of 70 mph and limiting the power output to disable serious hoonage, valet mode also disables the frunk and glove box from opening and hides personal information (home address, etc.) from the nav system. It even disables the HomeLink garage door opener. Not bad.

Feature request: Teenager mode. Doesn’t need the privacy features, but does need the anti-hoonage. My daughter’s probably going to drive my Tesla one day, without this mode, and I don’t want her wrapping it around a telephone pole.

* Of course, being the paranoid sort, I initially put in “1234” to make sure it worked properly. Later on, when I wanted to change it to something non-trivial, it turns out that it’s a pain to change. You have to do the “oops, I forgot my PIN” dialog, which has you enter your username/password from the Tesla web site. Not that you’d know that without hunting around, once again, on the nets.

Unintended Drive-bys
I was driving home, around the corner from my house, and I came up behind a neighbor walking her dog in the middle of the street. I was crawling forward, waiting for her to notice me and get out of the way, but she didn’t hear the car. Eventually, she turned around and did a double-take. In hindsight, I guess I could have hit the horn, or maybe opened the windows and pumped up the jams, but the Tesla is just too damn quiet for these low-speed scenarios where there’s neither tire noise nor anything else coming from the Tesla. Something like this seems to happen about once a month.

You’ve probably heard that having some amount of car noise is about pedestrian safety. Much has been written about how it’s necessary for electric cars to make suitable noise to notify pedestrians and blind people. After watching Lieberman’s Tesla vs. Hellcat video, I’m firmly convinced that low-speed Teslas should be quietly playing The Girl From Ipanema. That conveys the chill vibe that says “it’s cool, but you know, I’d like to drive through, but hey, whatever.”

Tesla sunshade vanity mirrors

The ‘S’ Stands For Service
Tesla service is its own weird world. I called the local Houston shop and they said I had to call the national number. Because Texas. Really? Fine. After ten minutes on hold, I finally got to list my “concerns” (not “repair requests”, not “work orders” – no, they’re concerns). In this case, it’s fixing the cracked vanity mirror covers, fixing an annoying windshield wiper clicking noise (a well-known defect, err, concern), and installing the rear carbon fiber spoiler (ordered way back when the car was new in 2013 and only now finally arriving for me, the new owner). Fine – after a day, I get a call back from the local shop. Three weeks hence, they were to pick it up from my office, at no extra charge. They claimed the repairs would be done in a single day, but were giving me a loaner Tesla, just in case.

And indeed, they met me in the parking lot of my office around 9:30 a.m. and gave me a S85 (not as fast as my P85, but with the latest AutoPilot features my Model S lacks). Sadly, I still have my day job thing, so I didn’t have the time to give it a spin. I told the Tesla dude I was in meetings until 3 p.m. No problem, sir. They called around then and said they were on the way back with the car. I met them in the parking lot at 3:30 p.m. Everything fixed. Car washed, vacuumed, and charged. And while they had it, they did a bunch of courtesy things (tire pressure, fresh wipers, etc.). All covered under warranty, no charge.
Tesla lacks so many things that are seemingly obvious, like door map pockets, decent interior lighting, rear seat power ports, etc., but you let it slide because hey, I’m driving something special. Here’s the exception.

We park our Tesla in the garage, as one might, to charge it at night. My wife, for the Nth time, went out to the car to grab something she forgot to bring in, but the car’s locked. Arrrgghhh! You see, for me, my car keys are always in my pocket. Always. For my wife, they’re in her purse, which tends to stay on a counter or other flat surface when she’s inside, so she can’t get into the damn car without it. Feature request: if you can do geo-fencing for the suspension settings, then you should also be able to come up with geofencing options for when you’re at home, charging, in a locked garage. Then it’s safe to leave it unlocked.

(Good security ninjas will suggest that advanced bad guys can spoof GPS signals with cheap equipment, and could thusly trick your car into unlocking itself. Other security ninjas would point out that radio-based car keys are generally not robust against attackers with radios either. Anyway, there are lots of ways the car can know it’s in my house, such as the fact that it’s paired with my WiFi. Also, even if you leave the doors unlocked, you still don’t need to let somebody turn the car on and drive away. Principle of least privilege vs. psychological acceptability, baby. Saltzer and Shroeder know what’s up.)

tesla-powerwall

(Free) Power To The People
Tesla recently announced their PowerWall home energy storage battery. I did a detailed writeup for a Houston-local buddy’s political blog, where I presented numbers from my rooftop solar system. Bottom line? If you want to go completely off-grid, you would need to radically super-size your solar system for cloudy/rainy/awful days, and you’d then be wasting all of that excess capacity on sunny days. On the other hand, if your electric utility would offer you variable-pricing, a storage battery would let you avoid paying the high dollars in hot afternoons, instead time-shifting your grid power draws to the evening when power is cheaper. Too bad, despite the 300+ different electrical plans available to me in Houston via Texas electricity deregulation, precisely none of them offer anything like this except for TXU’s “free nights” plan. I figure it’s a goner, since a battery storage system plus that plan equals totally free electricity. Yee haw, deregulation!

Speaking of electricity usage, I give you a preview of coming attractions. In my last Tesla piece, I mentioned how the previous owner of my car upgraded from a P85 to a P85D. After several months of driving it the same way he drove the P85, the net change in his mileage seems to be about 1%. Once he and I have had our respective cars for a year each, I’ll write up a longer discussion of electric car mileage. The long and the short of it, though, is that the mileage penalty for upping the RWD P85 to the AWD dual motor P85D is small enough to be negligible. No matter how you slice it, that’s an impressive feat.

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2016 Mazda2 European Review http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/2016-mazda2-european-review/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/2016-mazda2-european-review/#comments Thu, 28 May 2015 14:00:22 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1077026 The Mazda2 is another car whose absence in the US market will bring tears to the eyes of driving enthusiasts – and rightly so, because it’s a great little car. At the same time, it was probably the right call by Mazda not to import it to the States. This car can truly shine, but wide open […]

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2016 Mazda2 European Spec

The Mazda2 is another car whose absence in the US market will bring tears to the eyes of driving enthusiasts – and rightly so, because it’s a great little car. At the same time, it was probably the right call by Mazda not to import it to the States. This car can truly shine, but wide open American roads are not the right place for it, no matter how much canyon carving petrolheads would like them to be.

Ask a typical automotive enthusiast or petrolhead about modern cars and you’ll probably hear they are rubbish and the older cars are “just right”. You’ll hear modern cars are too full of electronics. They’re too bloated. The driver is isolated too much from the task of driving. With everything being focused on comfort, safety and economy, the joy of driving suffers.

Try to explain this to the typical car buyer and you get a blank stare in return, which is why the Mazda2 won’t be a sales hit in Europe, and would be a flop in America. It’s is a shame, really, because it’s a wonderful little car.

So, why won’t people buy one over, say, the Citroën C4 Cactus or Škoda Fabia? Or some tiny little crossover, which is actually less practical, but more expensive? Let’s explain it on the Fabia, which I tested recently, and which is a direct competitor to the 2 on European market.

2016 Mazda2 European Spec

As I mentioned several times in the review, sitting in the Fabia feels like you’re in a bigger car than its dimensions suggest. It uses the architecture and interior design language of bigger Volkswagen products and drives in a very “grown up” and confident manner. While a decade or two ago, a supermini was something you bought only to drive around town, the Fabia is a perfectly capable highway cruiser – or it would be, if it had more power.

The Mazda, on the other hand, feels and drives like a small car. Truth be told, the 2 I borrowed for this review was a poverty-spec example with the base 75 hp 1.5L four-cylinder engine while the Fabia esd equipped with its available top-of-the-line 110 hp 1.2 turbo plant, but that doesn’t change much about the way both cars feel.

The first difference is obvious: the Fabia is just larger inside. This is to be expected, as Fabia plays the “half a class above the competitors” game that’s typical for Škodas. However, the Mazda is a bit small even when compared to the average of its class, with cramped rear quarters and a relatively small boot. If you want to use your supermini as a family car, this will not work as well as the Fabia.

2016 Mazda2 European Spec

Then there’s the interior ambiance. The Mazda’s cabin is quite pretty to look at and everything feels slender, smooth and stylish. The Mazda’s “sports car feel” is in contrast to the Fabia and its direct competitors offering up their “big car” interior atmosphere. It’s in the details: a tiny rev counter in the corner of the dash instead of proper dial. Radio or infotainment system sticking out of the dash like a sore thumb. And, of course, the slightly tinny sound made by closing doors.

Don’t get me wrong – the Mazda’s interior doesn’t feel cheap or ugly. It’s just a tad too obvious  the main concern was saving weight and not creating a luxurious experience for those inside. Today’s customers want to be pampered.

What they do not appreciate are the finer things in automobile that we as enthusiasts hold supreme, like sublime suspension tuning or a lovely, naturally aspirated engine paired with a precise, delicate manual transmission. Which is sad, because those count among the main reasons for buying a Mazda2.

2016 Mazda2 European Spec

Let’s start with the engine first. As I already mentioned, my press loaner was powered with the least powerful, least sophisticated version of the 1.5 SKYACTIV four-cylinder. It lacks the trick 4-2-1 headers, crazy compression ratio and – on paper – it looks seriously underpowered. Compared to both superminis I drove before and after the Mazda2 (the aforementioned Fabia 1.2 TSI and Corsa 1.0 Turbo), its 75 hp seems almost like a joke.

Trust me, it isn’t. Having driven a few cars with N/A engines neutered by EU5 emission standards lately, I started to think that turbocharging is the only remaining way to go. Mazda proved me (and probably many others) wrong. There is nothing neutered about this engine. Thanks to its large displacement (for a base engine in an EU-market supermini), it’s not lacking torque in the low range, and it somehow keeps the rev-happy characteristics of a classic Japanese four-pot. I’ve never been a great fan of revvy four-cylinders and I actually like the diesel version of Mazda6 more than the gasoline one, but the four-banger in the Mazda2 is a delight. I found myself revving it right to the redline just for fun and, of course, sometimes out of necessity because 75 hp isn’t really much. That’s not to say the 2 is unbearably slow. On the contrary, it was much quicker than I expected and at normal pace it was perfectly fine. I was surprised by its ability to overtake at A-road speeds (around 60-65 mph in CZ), as well as its relative stability and bearability near the top speed of about 110 mph.

2016 Mazda2 European Spec

Which neatly brings us back to the suspension. The example I tested is probably the least sporty Mazda2 that can be ordered. Small, 15 inch steel wheels with plastic hubcaps and narrow, tall tires. Couple that with a relatively soft suspension and light, city-biased steering with almost no feel or weight whatsoever, it doesn’t sound like a “sporty” small hatchback. As you’ve probably guessed, though, the opposite is true. The 2 represents what I would call the “English school of suspension tuning”. It isn’t low and stiff like German sports cars, designed for impeccable Teutonic roadways. Instead, it uses its suppleness and light weight to be quick and nimble even on broken surfaces – and to be comfortable enough that you don’t get scared off a “spirited drive” by the jolts and jittering.

If I were to distill the previous paragraphs into one sentence, it would sound like this: Unlike the Fabia, which tries hard to feel like an Octavia or Passat (and succeeds to a remarkable degree), the Mazda2 tries really hard to feel as much like a Miata as possible (and succeeds as well). It’s a pretty, lightweight little hatchback with a lovely engine that’s a hoot to drive. The problem for you, our readers from US, is the typical American buyer has precious little appreciation for things like balanced handling or a sweet, revvy, naturally aspirated engine. It’s nice that it gets great fuel mileage (over 30 mpg even in a bit of a rush), but it probably won’t really shine when coupled with its available automatic transmission. Also, the great, nimble suspension will be of little use during typical American commute.

2016 Mazda2 European Spec

The good news? The CX-3 crossover shares a platform with this car. The first CX-3 reviews promise that it may provide much of the things that are great about the 2 while looking large and substantial enough to allure a typical American customer. Considering the base CX-3 with 120 hp 2.0L SKYACTIV engine costs about the same money on the Czech market as the Mazda2 with a 90 hp SKYACTIV 1.5 and only marginally better equipment is probably the real (and quite understandable) reason why Mazda is pulling the plug on the Mazda2’s U.S. sales. Both cars probably cost roughly the same money to build, with the CX-3 being much more interesting to a typical American and only marginally worse for a driving enthusiast.

@VojtaDobes is motoring journalist from Czech Republic who previously worked for local editions of Autocar and TopGear magazines. Today, he runs his own website, www.Autickar.cz. After a failed adventure with importing classic American cars to Europe, he is utterly broke, so he drives an Alfa 164 Diesel he got for free. His previous cars included a 1988 Caprice in NYC Taxi livery, a hot-rodded Opel Diplomat, two Dodge Coronets, a Simca, a Fiat 600 and Austin Maestro. He has never owned a diesel, manual wagon.

Photography: David Marek

2016 Mazda2 European Spec 2016 Mazda2 European Spec 2016 Mazda2 European Spec 2016 Mazda2 European Spec 2016 Mazda2 European Spec 2016 Mazda2 European Spec 2016 Mazda2 European Spec 2016 Mazda2 European Spec 2016 Mazda2 European Spec 2016 Mazda2 European Spec

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Junkyard Find: 1984 Toyota Corolla Hatchback, Spray-Foam Rust-Repair Edition http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/junkyard-find-1984-toyota-corolla-hatchback-spray-foam-rust-repair-edition/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/junkyard-find-1984-toyota-corolla-hatchback-spray-foam-rust-repair-edition/#comments Thu, 28 May 2015 13:00:50 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1074322 Let’s follow up 21st Century Junkyard Find Week and Volkswagen Junkyard Find Week with Rusty Junkyard Find week, shall we? On Tuesday, we saw this ’83 Toyota pickup with not-so-effective fiberglass-and-Bondo cover-up-the-rust-and-hope-it-goes-away repairs, and today we’ll be looking at a thoroughly used-up Corolla with similar squeeze-another-few-months-out-of-this-heap repairs done by someone who knew he or she […]

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14 - 1983 Toyota Pickup Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee MartinLet’s follow up 21st Century Junkyard Find Week and Volkswagen Junkyard Find Week with Rusty Junkyard Find week, shall we? On Tuesday, we saw this ’83 Toyota pickup with not-so-effective fiberglass-and-Bondo cover-up-the-rust-and-hope-it-goes-away repairs, and today we’ll be looking at a thoroughly used-up Corolla with similar squeeze-another-few-months-out-of-this-heap repairs done by someone who knew he or she would be the vehicle’s last owner.
43 - 1983 Toyota Pickup Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee MartinAmericans didn’t much like the look of the AE82 Corolla hatchback, although we bought a fair number of its NUMMI-built Chevy Nova siblings.
51 - 1983 Toyota Pickup Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee MartinDoes this rust mean that important structural components are likely to fail soon? You bet!
32 - 1983 Toyota Pickup Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee MartinSo close to that magical 300,000-mile mark, but another 38,868 miles in this hooptie would have been pretty miserable.
36 - 1983 Toyota Pickup Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee MartinEven if the structure held together, there is no quantity or type of air freshener that could cover the stench of the fast-food-detritus-and-bodily-fluids-caked interior of this car.
13 - 1983 Toyota Pickup Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee MartinPlus it’s a real hassle to have a hatchback with a nonfunctional hatch.
09 - 1983 Toyota Pickup Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee MartinCrab Spirits is sure to find inspiration about this Corolla’s previous owner via the large number of stickers on the back glass. For example, he or she was a fan of Propaganda E-Liquid.
10 - 1983 Toyota Pickup Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis retailer of smoking accessories also gets a shout-out on the Corolla’s rear glass.
47 - 1983 Toyota Pickup Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee MartinYou could get a diesel version of this car, but few did. Wikipedia editors believe that the 4A-LC engine was sold only in Australia, Switzerland, and Sweden, but you’ll see plenty of these two-digit-horsepower cockroaches in US-market Corollas.

US-market ads for Corollas and their kin seldom employed the word “sexy.”

San Franciscans— hundreds of them, lining the streets— doubted that the ’84 Corolla sedan could do anything.

John Davidson pitched a special New Zealand version of this car.

49 - 1983 Toyota Pickup Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 18 - 1983 Toyota Pickup Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1983 Toyota Pickup Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 01 - 1983 Toyota Pickup Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1983 Toyota Pickup Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1983 Toyota Pickup Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1983 Toyota Pickup Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1983 Toyota Pickup Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1983 Toyota Pickup Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1983 Toyota Pickup Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1983 Toyota Pickup Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1983 Toyota Pickup Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1983 Toyota Pickup Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1983 Toyota Pickup Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1983 Toyota Pickup Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1983 Toyota Pickup Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - 1983 Toyota Pickup Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 16 - 1983 Toyota Pickup Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 19 - 1983 Toyota Pickup Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 20 - 1983 Toyota Pickup Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 21 - 1983 Toyota Pickup Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 22 - 1983 Toyota Pickup Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 23 - 1983 Toyota Pickup Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 25 - 1983 Toyota Pickup Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 26 - 1983 Toyota Pickup Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 28 - 1983 Toyota Pickup Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 30 - 1983 Toyota Pickup Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 31 - 1983 Toyota Pickup Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 32 - 1983 Toyota Pickup Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 33 - 1983 Toyota Pickup Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 34 - 1983 Toyota Pickup Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 36 - 1983 Toyota Pickup Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 37 - 1983 Toyota Pickup Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 38 - 1983 Toyota Pickup Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 39 - 1983 Toyota Pickup Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 40 - 1983 Toyota Pickup Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 41 - 1983 Toyota Pickup Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 42 - 1983 Toyota Pickup Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 43 - 1983 Toyota Pickup Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 45 - 1983 Toyota Pickup Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 46 - 1983 Toyota Pickup Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 47 - 1983 Toyota Pickup Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 48 - 1983 Toyota Pickup Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 51 - 1983 Toyota Pickup Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

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U.S. Midsize Car Volume Is Down 4% In 2015 – Camry Growing Its Lead http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/u-s-midsize-car-volume-4-2015-camry-growing-lead/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/u-s-midsize-car-volume-4-2015-camry-growing-lead/#comments Thu, 28 May 2015 13:00:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1076602 U.S. sales of midsize cars tumbled 7% during the month of April and are down 4% through the first four months of 2015. On the whole, America’s appetite for passenger cars is in decline. Overall demand for cars is slightly south of flat in the early part of this year even as the auto industry […]

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2015 Toyota Camry XSE red

U.S. sales of midsize cars tumbled 7% during the month of April and are down 4% through the first four months of 2015.

On the whole, America’s appetite for passenger cars is in decline. Overall demand for cars is slightly south of flat in the early part of this year even as the auto industry posted 5% year-over-year expansion between January and April.

As more American car buyers become buyers of small and midsize utility vehicles, the vehicle groups most obviously paying the price are family sedans. The Toyota Corolla-led compact car category, for instance, is up 7% this year. But Chevrolet Impala-class cars have fallen 13% and the segment up for discussion has lost nearly 30,000 sales in the first third of the year.

Exceptions aren’t uncommon. In some cases, the exceptions are noteworthy. Sales of the best-selling car in America, Toyota’s Camry, fell 10% in April but are up 2% so far this year. As a result, the Camry’s share of the midsize category grew a full percentage point to 18%, year-over-year, through the January-April period.

The Chrysler 200’s 96% year-over-year improvement is somewhat less impressive when the Dodge Avenger’s demise is taken into account. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles went from selling two midsize nameplates to one. Jointly, their sales are up 8%. In terms of year-to-date volume, the 200 ranks fifth in the category, ahead of the Hyundai Sonata and Chevrolet Malibu, and three spots up from its position at this time a year ago.

USA best-selling midsize car sales chart

The Subaru Legacy’s 68% year-over-year improvement translates to an extra 7,977 sales for Subaru, but the Legacy is still a niche player in the U.S. market. Over the last four months, Subaru sold 2.4 Outbacks per Legacy.

The Mazda6’s recent improvements were covered in detail one month ago. 6 sales have now increased in twelve of the last thirteen months.

Hyundai’s Sonata posted a 3% uptick over the first four months of 2015. Like the Camry, that growth period was brought to a sharp halt in April, as Sonata sales fell by 2,581 units, a 13% loss, compared with April 2014.

Meanwhile, the remaining rivals posted declines ranging from the Kia Optima’s 4% drop to the Volkswagen Passat’s 20% slide. Upmarket segment outliers, the Buick Regal and Volkswagen CC, declined 26% and 50%, respectively.

The Optima, Altima, Fusion, Malibu, Accord, and Passat combined for a loss of 47,000 sales between January and April, a 10% decrease.

On the other hand, a class of smaller SUVs and crossovers led by the Honda CR-V, Ford Escape and Toyota RAV4 posted 12% gains in the same period and roundly outsold the midsize car category.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures. Follow on Twitter @goodcarbadcar and on Facebook.

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Vellum Venom Vignette: Styling the Shark Jump? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/vellum-venom-vignette-buffalo-butts-saggy-schnozzes/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/vellum-venom-vignette-buffalo-butts-saggy-schnozzes/#comments Thu, 28 May 2015 12:00:55 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1075194 Bob writes: Hi Sajeev. I’m annoyed by styling that makes the trim height look wrong. Most cars today look like the front is sagging or the rear is too high. The stylists even slant side creases and trim strips down toward the front (Man, I hate that. – SM) to create this look even though a close look […]

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Bob writes:

Hi Sajeev. I’m annoyed by styling that makes the trim height look wrong. Most cars today look like the front is sagging or the rear is too high. The stylists even slant side creases and trim strips down toward the front (Man, I hate that. – SM) to create this look even though a close look at the rocker panel shows that the car is level.

Why are they doing it? Does the public really like it?

Sajeev answers:

The delicate balance of physical + visual trim height adjustment is standard practice, proving itself over decades for both aerodynamic and stylistic enhancement. The problem? Jumping the shark.

Confused fender? (photo courtesy: speedhunters.com)

But uber radical trim height adjustment must be awesome, because people love the new super-slashy-buffalo-butted Corvette. Even if it gives me violent diarrhea faster than poorly cooked, low-grade beef.

FWIW, the Corvette’s hyper-slashed profile makes sense if the front wheels were 16″ tall. Because that slash, starting subtle and (too) low in the fender and going up to a critical element of the quarter panel, is a mouth writing checks that the body can’t cash.

IMG_4904

Here are two insurance vans inspecting my leaky roof, clearly showing the sadness of over-styled side profiles. (They weren’t parked close enough for a side shot with my phone, sorry.) It’s clear that Chevrolet Nissan over-styled their vanlet while the older Ford retains the logical, rational, and wholly boring contouring of another era.

So, remember: “side styling that looks faster” is a necessary ingredient to car styling. While my professors at CCS demanded rocker panels perfectly parallel to the ground, adding anything (short of a sine wave) along the side profile was fair game, because creativity shouldn’t be hindered by stamped sheets of metal (or plastic). As long as the rockers do not appear pre-bent (that’s less than reassuring to shoppers) from an accident, it’s all good.

Even if we hate the look, others will love it. Or they won’t care enough to stop a new vehicle purchase to replace their clunker!

And opinions are like assholes, hence why this asshole takes forever to justify/publish his Vellum Venom critiques: first complain, then show specific problems and offer “better” alternatives. Half-ass the assholery and prepare to face even more wrath than an end of semester critique at CCS. And I ain’t going through that again.

Thank you for reading.

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QOTD: What’s Wrong With Buick? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/qotd-whats-wrong-with-buick/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/qotd-whats-wrong-with-buick/#comments Thu, 28 May 2015 10:50:46 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1077178 As Tim Cain alluded to earlier this month while speaking of Encore sales, Buick is in a bit of a rut. In a market that’s growing with many brands seeing best-ever sales periods, Buick is being propped up by a single model, its cute-ute Encore. That’s not enough to stave off the downward sales trend of its […]

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2015 Buick Regal GS red

As Tim Cain alluded to earlier this month while speaking of Encore sales, Buick is in a bit of a rut. In a market that’s growing with many brands seeing best-ever sales periods, Buick is being propped up by a single model, its cute-ute Encore. That’s not enough to stave off the downward sales trend of its other offerings as the brand as a whole is down 5 percent year-to-date.

Armchair analysts and pool chair pundits – this is your time to shine. Let’s fix Buick in 24 hours.

While the Encore continues to garner the attention of the buying public, other models – Verano, Regal and LaCrosse – aren’t keeping up in this SUV and truck driven automotive market. Even the Enclave, once lauded as the savior of Buick when dealers couldn’t keep them on the lots, has taken a hit versus newer competition and other models sharing the same platform, the Traverse and Acadia.

What about the Buicks actually finding homes? Even those seem to be problematic. The Regal wears its orphan status badge back to the dealer more so than any other vehicle on sale within the first year of ownership. Buick is continuing on with their “That’s a Buick?” campaign, one they say is a success yet isn’t backed up by its sales figures. Also, the brand exists in a no-man’s land previously occupied by Oldsmobile, Mercury, Plymouth and Saab. All of those are gone now.

Is it the market? Does Buick cut too thin a niche between volume and luxury? Or is it the product, and not the marketing or positioning, responsible for the brand’s lack of sales?

Personally, I think they should just call it Opel and get it over with.

What do you think, Best & Brightest? How would you fix Buick?

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While You Were Sleeping: Cadillac Minuses V8 ATS-V+, Volkswagen Picks Boring Font and Ford Releases Patents into the Wild http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/while-you-were-sleeping-cadillac-minuses-v8-ats-v-volkswagen-picks-boring-font-and-ford-releases-patents-into-the-wild/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/while-you-were-sleeping-cadillac-minuses-v8-ats-v-volkswagen-picks-boring-font-and-ford-releases-patents-into-the-wild/#comments Thu, 28 May 2015 10:25:25 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1077130 The ATS-V+ rumored by Motor Trend is definitely not happening according to Cadillac spokesperson David Caldwell. The proposed new model would encroach too much into CTS-V territory for comfort. Here’s what happened overnight. No V-8-Powered ATS-V Plus In The Pipeline, Says Cadillac (Motor Authority) A big, emphatic “no” was uttered by Cadillac spokesperson David Caldwell […]

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Cadillac ATS-V

The ATS-V+ rumored by Motor Trend is definitely not happening according to Cadillac spokesperson David Caldwell. The proposed new model would encroach too much into CTS-V territory for comfort.

Here’s what happened overnight.

Cadillac ATS-VNo V-8-Powered ATS-V Plus In The Pipeline, Says Cadillac (Motor Authority)
A big, emphatic “no” was uttered by Cadillac spokesperson David Caldwell when speaking to Motor Authority about the possibility of a V8-powered ATS-V+.

Johnnie Walker sponsor wallTodt says F1 will not ban alcohol sponsorship (Motorsport.com)
Despite a report from the European Alcohol Policy Alliance suggesting F1 fans were exposed to alcohol brands to an excessive degree, FIA head honcho Jean Todt has said the sponsorships will continue unabated.

BSK Elise K20An Unquestionably-Japanese Lotus (Speedhunters)
Fluffy leopard upholstery, RAYS’ Volk Racing TE27 wheels, and a Honda K20 to give it motivation, this Elise is as Japanese as it gets.

145640_cars_KJH_10 dealership terms you may not know (Detroit News)
“Be back”, “mini deal”, “pack” and “skate”. These are 10 dealership terms all customers should know.

Ford Focus Electric. Photo courtesy Wikipedia.orgFord to make EV technology patents available to rivals (Automotive News)
Ford is following Tesla’s lead and opening up its portfolio of patents for competing products.

GM First Day as a Public Company CelebrationJudge puts GM suits on hold pending appeal (Detroit News)
The question of bankruptcy immunity will be the deciding factor in a number of ignition switch lawsuits filed against General Motors. A federal judge has put the suits on hold as they await a ruling from another court.

Volkswagen FontVW Changes Their Corporate Font To Something Less Interesting (Jalopnik)
Even Volkswagen’s marketing is becoming more beige as the German automaker adopts a new font for sales materials.

The post While You Were Sleeping: Cadillac Minuses V8 ATS-V+, Volkswagen Picks Boring Font and Ford Releases Patents into the Wild appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

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