By on August 28, 2017

1977 Toyota Corolla in California wrecking yard, RH front view - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars
The third-generation Toyota Corolla, still on a rear-wheel-drive chassis, was a tremendous sales success in California. The cheapest model was the two-door post sedan, and these reliable commuters were seen everywhere in the Golden State well into the 1990s.

Nearly all are gone, but this ’77 stayed on its own four tires until age 40, finally wrapping up its long career in this San Francisco Bay Area self-service wrecking yard. (Read More…)

By on June 27, 2017

Fourth-generation Volkswagen Golf, Image: Volkswagen

It’s called “optimism bias”, and for a while it fell into the realm of what people like to call “settled science.” Supposedly, humans are “hard-wired” to be more optimistic in any given situation than a realistic appraisal of the circumstances would justify.

This is why people buy lottery tickets, which are statistically equivalent to toilet paper. It’s why I continue to ride a BMX bike at skateparks even though I’m far more likely to endure yet another painful injury than I am to perform anything like a respectable stunt. It’s why people respond to “casual encounters — w4m” ads on Craiglist even though forty-nine out of fifty ads are utterly fraudulent attempts to steal anything from your wallet to your personal data to your kidneys.

But wait, there’s more. A new study suggests that optimism bias is more an artifact of bad experiment design than a reflection of actual human predisposition. Who’s right and who is wrong? I’m optimistic that we will eventually know the truth. In the meantime, let’s consider a question that verges on the outrageously hopeful…

(Read More…)

By on August 24, 2016

2017 Honda Fit LX

Sometimes a manufacturer churns out a base trim that is — all things considered — the primo choice for that particular model. Here’s an example.

The Honda Fit usually ends up on the short list of shoppers who seek shiny new wheels on a Mr. Noodles budget. In fact, one of TTAC’s own had a Fit in his fleet until June of this year. Nearly a decade ago, Honda saw fit to bring the diminutive hatchback to North American shores, and journalists and consumers alike have foisted accolades upon it ever since.

(Read More…)

By on July 15, 2016

Ford Festiva

It’s like Woodstock, but for fans of 1990s econoboxes that make double-digit horsepower.

This weekend, the eighth annual “Westiva” gathering will take place in the rugged foothills of Kananaskis Country, Alberta, drawing proud Ford Festiva enthusiasts from far and wide. Heads up, Montana — if you’re a resident with a passion for slow acceleration and spartan interiors, there’s a group of friends waiting north of the border. (Read More…)

By on May 30, 2014

metro1

There it stood, right next to the Michael Jordan Wheaties display.

A brand-new 1992 yellow Geo Metro convertible.

Price Chopper, a local New York supermarket chain (think Pathmark or Albertson’s on crack) was opening up a brand new location in Saratoga Springs.

The Metro would be the perfect vehicle for upstate New York’s salty roads and wickedly cold weather for one irrefutable reason. It was free… after tax, tag and title.  The only thing I had to do was figure out how to win it.

So I got busy. 150 entries a day for 3 full months. 13,000 in all. The day came for the drawing, and I won!

(Read More…)

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