Latest auto news, reviews, editorials, and podcasts

By on June 30, 2011

The controversy over red light cameras, once relegated to websites like TTAC,, and, is hitting the mainstream media thanks to a new study by the IIHS [PDF here]. The study used the following methodology:

Telephone surveys were conducted with 3,111 drivers in 14 large cities (population greater than 200,000) with long-standing red light camera programs and 300 drivers in Houston, using random samples of landline and cellphone numbers. For analyses combining responses from the 14 cities, cases were weighted to reflect each city’s share of the total population for the 14 cities.

And what did they find?

Among drivers in the 14 cities with red light camera programs, two-thirds favor the use of cameras for red light enforcement, and 42 percent strongly favor it. The chief reasons for opposing cameras were the perceptions that cameras make mistakes and that the motivation for installing them is revenue, not safety. Forty-one percent of drivers favor using cameras to enforce right-turn-on-red violations. Nearly 9 in 10 drivers were aware of the camera enforcement programs in their cities, and 59 percent of these drivers believe the cameras have made intersections safer. Almost half know someone who received a red light camera citation and 17 percent had received at least one ticket themselves. When compared with drivers in the 14 cities with camera programs, the percentage of drivers in Houston who strongly favored enforcement was about the same (45 percent), but strong opposition was higher in Houston than in the other cities (28 percent versus 18 percent).

Sounds like those red light cameras are pretty great after all, doesn’t it? That’s certainly the IIHS’s takeaway…
Read More >

By on June 30, 2011

Photos courtesy of Cars In Depth. TTAC thanks Mr. Barry Wolk for graciously making his car available for this photo shoot.

You can divide collectors into two main groups, generalists and specialists. In my taxonomy Barney Pollard and the Sultan of Brunei would be generalists and Joe Bortz would be a specialist. Some people collect Chevys. Others collect just “tri-five” mid 1950s Chevrolets. Of course for every specialty there’s a subspecialty, so some people collect only ’57 two-door Chevy pillarless hardtops with fuel injection and factory two tone paint.

Barry Wolk is a specialist. He collects Continentals. There’s his big black 1977 Lincoln Continental Town Car along with his 1956 Chris Craft Continental wood boat. He’s even got a Porsche Continental. In the mid 1950s, importer Max Hoffman convinced the headquarters in Stuttgart that Americans bought cars with names, not numbers, and the 356A with the 1500cc engine was briefly marketed in the US in 1955 and 1956 as the Continental. Ford, having established prior use for that model name in the late 1930s, complained and Porsche changed the badging from “Continental” to “European” before reverting to alphanumerics. One reason why Ford was concerned is that in 1955 they were about to relaunch the Continental brand with the Continental Mark II. Barry has one of those Continentals too, but as you might expect from a specialist collector, Wolk has a very unique Mark II, a Mark II convertible. Even more unique than that, it’s one of only two Mark IIs made into convertibles by Ford Motor Company.

Read More >

By on June 30, 2011

Daily driver?


TTAC commentator siggy writes:

Hello Sajeev and Steve,

I’m a big fan of TTAC’s Piston Slap column and I hope you can help me with a good recommendation. Currently, I have one car, a 1984 Mustang SVO.  It has about 75k miles, and I’ve given it numerous upgrades.  I love it, but it doesn’t have a heater or A/C, and the mileage is crap.  On long freeway drives, I can get up to 25mpg, but the reality is my commute to work is 10 miles, and it’s all stop and go, sometimes bumper-to-bumper traffic.  So I end up with about 15mpg.  But, like I said, I love the car, so I will not be getting rid of it in the foreseeable future.

With gas at almost $4, and the way the SVO chugs the premium juice, I think it’s time to get a proper commuter.  Not having A/C in the summer is a serious problem here in Orange County, so with spring and summer around the corner, I need to act on this now.  Time for a beater!

Read More >

By on June 30, 2011

The thing about my ’66 Dodge A100 van project that makes it a challenge is that I’m going for an early 1970s customization job, not the far easier late 1970s routine. My van won’t have Aztecs On Mars airbrush murals or a wood-burning stove (not that there’s anything wrong with those things), but it does have a telephone-handset-style 23-channel CB radio, (faux) Cragar S/S wheels, and now it has a Watergate-burglary-era cheap aftermarket tachometer. Read More >

By on June 30, 2011

Did you know that Colorado has more hearse enthusiasts than any other region in America? Neither did I, until I checked out HearseCon 2011, which took place a few miles from Chez Murilee last weekend. Hearses, ambulances, and flower cars! Coffins, goths, rodders, and— of course— Hearse Girls! Read More >

By on June 30, 2011

The US market’s Seasonally Adjusted Annual Selling Rate (SAAR) hurdled the 12m mark towards the end of last year, and was cruising above the 13m mark for much of the first half of 2011, but after a rough May, June seems set to become the market’s second month back under the 12m mark.

Read More >

By on June 30, 2011

„When will it discharge?“ asked a reporter on Monday at Nissan. I ducked under my desk. “In one or two years,” answered Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn. I broke cover when I realized that they were talking about the Leaf powering the house. Read More >

By on June 30, 2011

No one likes to be jerked around. Unfortunately in the car business you can meet an awful lot of jerks. The jerk arbitrating vehicles at the auto auction who says, ‘How do you know it’s True Miles Unknown?” when the Carfax history shows the odometer hasn’t moved since the Clinton administration. The jerk who tries to charge you $800 for ‘computer reprogramming’ when the repair is already subject to the open recall by the NHTSA. Then there are the really bad ones…

Read More >

By on June 30, 2011

Hyundai and Kia are capitalizing on their strong sales momentum in the US market, as Reuters reports

South Korea’s Hyundai Motor Group said on Thursday it was aiming to raise its U.S. auto sales by 18.2 percent this year to 1.06 million vehicles, up from its previous target of 1.01 million.

The announcement was made during a visit to the United States by Chung Mong-koo, chairman of the world’s fifth-biggest automotive group which includes Hyundai Motor and Kia Motors .

Hyundai and Kia’s combined US market share hit 10.1 percent as of May this year, up from 7.7 percent last year and 3.3 percent in 2001. And with the group’s sales seemingly limited only by its ability to produce cars fast enough, Reuters notes that the Korean media is rife with speculation that Hyundai could open another US factory. The company denies any such plans exist, but if its sales keep growing, more US-market production is only a matter of time.

By on June 30, 2011

Leaf or Volt? Ask the average person on the street that question, and you might get a response acknowledging that you’re talking about plug-in electric vehicles. Ask for more detail, and you may well be disappointed. Despite the many differences between the two vehicles, some simple and obvious, others subtle and complex, it’s unlikely that the average consumer is going to be able to tell you much about them. Why? Because chances are, your randomly-selected consumer doesn’t even know who makes which car. Automotive News [sub] reports that a Compete, Inc study shows

a little more than 17 percent of consumers polled knew that Nissan sells the Leaf. Another 13 percent incorrectly believed the car is offered by other brands, including Chevrolet and Toyota.

The Volt fared better. The study found that 45 percent of shoppers identified it as a Chevrolet.

Yowza. Considering that Nissan is betting bigger on EVs than any other manufacturer in the business, selling the only pure EV on the market and ramping up to 500k annual units of global battery production capacity, it needs to get on top of this branding awareness issue yesterday. Because as things stand, Nissan is making a gigantic global gamble only to find Chevrolet and Toyota stealing nearly as much credit for the Leaf as consumers give Nissan itself (13% versus 17%… what’s wrong with that picture?). Ads like this one are a good start, but Nissan needs to do more to ignore the Volt and make itself synonymous with pure-electric cars the way Toyota made itself synonymous with hybrids.

Recent Comments

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote


  • Contributing Writers

  • Jack Baruth, United States
  • Brendan McAleer, Canada
  • Marcelo De Vasconcellos, Brazil
  • Vojta Dobes, Czech Republic
  • Matthias Gasnier, Australia
  • W. Christian 'Mental' Ward, Abu Dhabi
  • Cameron Aubernon, United States
  • J Emerson, United States