By on April 23, 2013

I used to work for Porsche. You already know this because I mention it in most of my stories, hopeful that you will go tell your friends “TTAC has a guy who used to work for Porsche!” to which they will reply: “Used to? Road & Track has fifty people who still do.”

Just kidding. The cars get good reviews because they’re damn good. I know this because when I worked at Porsche I had several 911 company cars, and the ones I didn’t crash drove tremendously. This sentiment was not echoed by my rear seat passengers, who often said things like: “This is really cramped!” or “You want to give this up to be a blogger?”

When I worked there, I had two main questions on my mind at all times. Traditionally popular in the morning, the first one was: “Can I get away with a two-hour lunch today?” But when I got back from lunch around 2:30, the rest of the day was spent pondering the second one: “What the hell competes with the 911?”

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By on April 22, 2013

I recently watched a rather disturbing YouTube video. In it, a Toyota Highlander is seen terrorizing a quiet suburb, not unlike a kid with a loud exhaust on his car, or worse: a neighbor who hasn’t mowed his lawn for a few weeks.

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By on April 18, 2013

My girlfriend and I recently vacationed in Zurich. Anyone who’s ever been to Switzerland will be surprised by this, since it’s possibly the least romantic place in human history. Seriously: instead of flowers, stuffed animals and chocolate, Swiss couples exchange presents like a well-built lamp, oddly-shaped stainless steel kitchen utensils, and … chocolate. And then they shake hands and sleep in two separate very sturdy beds.

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By on April 16, 2013

When I was a kid, I knew there to be two universal automotive truths. Number one was that the Lamborghini Countach was really cool. I, like all kids, had a Lamborghini Countach poster on my bedroom wall, which I’m convinced was part of a cunning decades-long Lamborghini marketing scheme: first, hook them when they’re seven. Then, thirty years later, come out with a model that’s actually drivable. And now that buyers are getting older, confuse them with special editions.

The other universal truth was that if you wanted a convertible, you were going to the Chrysler dealer to buy a LeBaron.

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By on April 15, 2013

I once owned a 2002 Mercedes G500. This was – obviously – a horrible idea that we’ll cover in detail in the ensuing review. But first, a little history about one of the most instantly recognizable vehicles on the road.

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By on April 12, 2013

There are a lot of unappealing cars that most of us would never buy, and wish that automakers had never built. If you’re like me, you’re probably thinking of the Pontiac G5 right now. Or the G3. Or really any Pontiac made since about 1976. Except, of course, for the G8, which is automotive perfection according to their owners, who show them off in large numbers at cars and coffee events and do burnouts as they leave.

But how about a variation on the theme? What about cars that you’d never buy, but you’re glad were built? This question was inspired by a post on my blog where someone described the Buick Reatta this way. I don’t agree. To me, the Reatta belongs in the former category, somewhere between the Pontiac G6 and that awful Daewoo-based LeMans hatchback.

Instead, here are a few of my picks.
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By on April 11, 2013

I recently yelled at another driver. I know, I know: this is bad behavior. It’s even worse because I have a Range Rover, which makes you look like a total prick when you’re yelling at someone else on the road. Or, you could remove “when you’re yelling at someone else on the road” and that sentence would still be true.

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By on April 10, 2013

Over the last two years, attacking Lincoln has become tremendously “in.” This is because doing so will cause everyone to agree with you, which is sort of like when people complain about drivers in their hometown. Seriously: no matter what major city you visit, the drivers there are “the worst,” according to local residents who have obviously never visited Italy.

The latest industry observer to attack Lincoln is David Kiley, who wrote an editorial yesterday for Autoblog entitled “Lincoln needs a farewell address, not a new marketing plan.” This received a generally warm welcome, which mirrors the one Kiley will get in tomorrow’s Detroit Free Press for writing an op-ed piece called “Detroit Drivers Are The Worst.” The latter story would probably win him a Pulitzer, except the committee is in New York and they are absolutely certain Manhattan drivers are the worst.

The only problem is that all of the Lincoln doubters are wrong.

Before you say it, I’m well aware of what you’re thinking: I must be crazy. Regular readers already know this to be true, since I owned a Range Rover Classic. But for those who need more proof, here it is: I have absolutely no idea how Lincoln will come back. I won’t lay out a marketing plan as Kiley did, despite announcing in his title that Lincoln doesn’t need one. I just know they will.

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By on April 9, 2013

When I was a child, I had some neighbors with a Cadillac. They were either very old or very confused, but probably both since they put their license plate renewal decals on the trunk.

This was the early 1990s, when nobody had a Cadillac. Seriously: the lineup consisted of the Seville, the DeVille, the Eldorado and the Fleetwood Brougham, which was larger than most New York City apartments. None of those sound appealing even by TTAC standards, which seem to consist of: once a car is cancelled, it automatically becomes good, especially if it was designed at a time when fuel was cheaper than postage.
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By on April 5, 2013

In 1995, Subaru rolled out the Outback, which was tremendously successful at fooling New Englanders into believing that they were driving an SUV. Seriously: Subaru took a Legacy wagon, raised it an inch, painted the bottom part gold, and – for the first time in its history – became incredibly popular, even among people who don’t consider “granola” acceptable for a restaurant menu. (Let the record reflect I have now completed an entire paragraph about Subaru without making a lesbian joke.)

In 1998, the Subaru Outback range added a sedan model, called the “SUS” for “Sport Utility Sedan.” Unfortunately, the presence of a trunk meant New Englanders were no longer fooled, though some people from Colorado apparently were. Nonetheless, sales were dismal no matter how many times Subaru tried to remind shoppers that driving on a dirt road doesn’t mean you need to carry a lot of stuff. Eventually, they gave up and cancelled the Outback sedan, then redesigned the wagon to compete with a milk truck. (Seriously, why is it so big?)

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By on April 4, 2013

I recently inherited a Nissan Cube from my brother. When I tell people this, they have two distinct reactions. For anyone who isn’t into cars, it’s: “Your brother died?” Car people, however, usually respond with: “You have a Nissan Cube?” This is the same reaction that non-car people tend to have when I explain my brother did not die, but rather moved to Los Angeles, where his soul will.

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By on April 2, 2013

Last week, I wrote an article entitled “Don’t Invest In These Investment Cars.” I expected the usual: at least one commenter would ask why I didn’t include a Panther derivative (which happened), my parents would ask when I was going to get a real job (which also happened), and life would otherwise continue along normally.

But that didn’t happen. Instead, I received a phone call from everyone I’ve ever met asking how I dared to include the Buick Grand National on such a list. (“They’re like $30k! And they used to be like nine! Are you an idiot?!”) So this week, I’m going to play it a little safer and instead write a piece on good investment cars. Feel free to provide your feedback, as long as it doesn’t include the words “Crown Victoria.”

DISCLAIMER: Do not actually attempt to use cars as an investment. You have a better chance of getting into the NBA as a white guy from French Lick, Indiana.

Without further ado, here are my nominations.

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By on April 1, 2013

You never really know what ideas will be successful in the auto industry. In the early 1990s, for example, a guy at Subaru actually said the following: “I know! Let’s raise the Legacy an inch, change its name, and paint the bottom part gold!” When you really think about it, this sounds no stupider than “Why isn’t there a version of the GMC Envoy for people who transport grandfather clocks?”

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By on March 29, 2013

The New York Auto Show is over, signaling the end of yet another highly successful auto show season, unless, of course, you’re Suzuki. For some, there’s still the Shanghai show, where we’ll get to see all the latest midsize luxury sedans with slightly longer wheelbases. I also highly recommend next month’s Africa Auto Show (officially called the “Automotives and Spare Parts Exhibition”) in Nairobi, where Toyota will show off a lightly-used 2001 Land Cruiser.

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By on March 22, 2013

Last spring, I sold my Porsche to buy a station wagon. Car guys understand this, because it’s outlined in our unspoken creed: eventually we all trade in our beloved sports cars for a practical family vehicle that can haul our kids and whatever expensive musical instruments they’ve decided to learn this week. But for me, the swap came early: at 23 years old, single and without children, I swapped my 911 Turbo for a mommy-mobile.

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