The Neon sold in respectable numbers during its 1995-2005 production run, most Detroit cars in high-turnover self-serve wrecking yards are 12-15 years old, and so you’ll see many, many Neons in such yards these days. Most of the time, Neons are just junkyard background noise to me as I look for interesting cars to photograph for this series; I’ll shoot a rare Neon R/T, but that’s about it. Still, something about the dot-com-boom optimism of the Expresso trim level catches my attention, so I paused to document this ’96 in its final parking spot. (Read More…)
There’s just something about a diesel pickup truck that makes grown men regress into Tonka-loving children. Even my Prius-driving environmentalist friends in Berkeley admit they secretly want a diesel pickup. The problem of course is that diesel pickups are expensive (the cheapest diesel Ram 2500 is $36,975 and it doesn’t have an automatic transmission, the cheapest oil-burning F-250 is $38,250) and, for the majority of us, the high payload and towing capacities are overkill. While economical in a specific sense, the large diesel trucks aren’t “fuel-efficient” either. Until now. Mark your calendars folks, The 2014 Ram 1500 Eco Diesel is the half-ton truck in America sporting a small diesel engine.
Buying a new car is exciting and if you are like me, you spend weeks comparing the possible candidates. You start out by looking at photos and reading road tests. You gather sales brochures, pour over the spec sheets and examine the option packages. You compare prices, build fleets of similarly optioned virtual vehicles at the manufacturers’ websites and eventually head to the dealership. You kick the tires, poke, prod and handle the merchandise. You find things you don’t like and things you do. You take a test drive, go home to think and come back to drive again. Eventually you buy.
Signing the papers on a new car is pure euphoria. It’s an orgasm of consumerism. Your signature spills out the end of the pen and onto the paper in the ultimate release after weeks of delicate maneuvering and pent-up anticipation. It is the point where years of scrimping and saving intersect with the idea that the future is a real place and that you are committed to going there. When the act is completed, you are exhausted but happy. You’ve made your choice, are locked into the relationship and have no choice but to be happy with what you’ve done. You have invested too much to admit to making a mistake. (Read More…)
The National Insurance Crime Bureau says the theft of pickup truck tailgates is soaring in the U.S, aided by the ease of removal and a ready market on the internet. Most of those thefts go unreported because the replacement cost is often less than truck owners’ insurance deductibles. Still, the number of thefts reported to insurance companies have gone from just 3 in 2008 to more than 500 last year. An experienced thief can remove an unlocked tailgate in as little as 10 seconds.
“Those are just insurance claims. We know that number is woefully under-representative. The problem is much, much larger,” said Frank Scafidi, NICB public affairs director. “There’s a huge market, and that feeds the monster.” (Read More…)
Though Chrysler-Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne had previously said that an initial public offering of Chrysler stock could take place by the end of 2013, the Italian automaker announced that stock sale will not take place before the new year. ”The Board of Directors of Chrysler Group … has determined that it will not be practicable for Chrysler Group to launch and complete an initial public offering prior to the end of 2013,” Fiat said in a statement.
There’s nothing the internet loves more than some good clickbait, and the hype surrounding Dodge’s ads featuring Ron Burgundy, star of the Anchorman movies, and the Durango CUV, are perfect fodder for this type of content. Web publications like Mashable, along with numerous auto blogs, have run articles cliaming that the Anchorman-themed ads have caused Durango sales to “skyrocket”. But as Tim Cain shows us, correlation does not necessarily equal causation. Durango sales have been on the rise for some time now. But never let the facts get in the way of a good story.
If you haven’t heard by now, there’s a new project car in TTAC’s “garage,” a 2000 Grand Cherokee Limited. I of course use the term garage simply because “gravel driveway” fails to have the same ring. Why a car guy doesn’t have a garage is a story for a different time. All I will say on the matter is that I was promised a garage with a 2-post lift and I am still waiting… Back to the car. Before we chop the lid off the WJ Grand Cherokee to convert it into a two door, two seat Grand Comanche we needed to tackle a few projects. We need a lift kit, off-road rubber, then we need to ditch the interior and take care of some general housekeeping items.
Today, my wacky morning DJ, right after he said democracy was a joke and called me “dude,” hit us with this fun fact: 39% of young people choose the same brand of car their parents drove. I’m not sure if that is impressive as the previous day’s fact, that 20 million pounds of candy corn are sold annually in the United States, but it made me think about my father’s preference in vehicles and whether or not I had followed suit. Despite the fact that my old man had pretty good taste in cars, the answer, oddly enough, is “no.” (Read More…)
TTAC has a new project car and it’s a beauty. Thanks to my dad who volunteered to drive from Austin to San Jose, I’m now the proud second owner of a 2000 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited with 151,500 miles on the clock. If you’ve been following us on Facebook, then you might have guessed this project would involve a Jeep, but up till now I have kept the depth of the planned Jeep perversion secret. What I’ll be attempting over the next few months might be the dumbest thing I’ve ever done: converting a perfectly good unibody SUV into a “pickup.” Say what?
The government shutdown pushed the SAAR to 15.2 million units. GM, Ford and Chrysler were all up this month. Year to date, the Ram brand is up 23 percent and Cadillac is up 26 percent. Jaguar and Maserati also showed gains of 36 percent and 29 percent respectively. Volkswagen was the big loser this month, down 18 percent year over year. Full table after the jump.
Another day, another turnaround strategy from Sergio Marchionne. The plan, which won’t be revealed until April, reportedly includes a rear-wheel drive architecture as a key element, with enough flexibility to be used in everything from Alfa to Dodge vehicles.
Acknowledging that a number of mistakes were made in the development and launch of the 2014 Jeep Cherokee, Chrysler Group CEO Sergio Marchionne vowed to learn from those mistakes and never repeat them.
“What we’ve learned is that we’ll never repeat it. We’re never going to take a plant down and be out of the market for over a year,” Marchionne told analysts in a conference call on Wednesday. In August of 2012, Chrysler shut down the body shop section of their Toledo assembly facility and spent a half billion dollars to prepare for Cherokee production. “We were just naked in 2013,” in the mid-sized SUV segment after production of the Jeep Liberty ended in 2012. The Liberty had been the Jeep brand’s third best seller at 75,483 units, about 5% of Chrysler’s total sales volume in 2012. (Read More…)
Remember the Fiat Viaggio, the Dodge Dart clone that was supposed to be the brand’s breakthrough product in China? The compact sedan has missed its sales targets by as much as 60 percent, and now Fiat is hoping that local production of the Jeep Cherokee can help fill some of their plant’s capacity and capitalize on China’s insatiable demand for crossovers.
The UAW has enlisted the help of the German IG Metall labor union in its effort to organize Volkswagen’s U.S. operations. Now Fiat has apparently gotten the union that represents its Italian workers, Fim Cisl, to reach out to UAW officials in an effort to resolve the issue of just how much Fiat is going to pay the UAW’s retiree health benefits trust for the 41.5% of Chrysler the VEBA owns. Fiat and Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne wants to merge the two companies and that can’t be done without buying that stock. Fiat and the VEBA sides are more than a billion dollars apart. (Read More…)