The Japanese market is notorious for being closed to the outside world. It has forced successful U.S. companies to abandon the country, as Ford did recently, and propped-up sales of niche producer Porsche to outstrip sales of corporate giant General Motors. At first glance, it would seem Japanese buyers just don’t want cars built by companies outside the Land of the Rising Sun.
On this side of the Pacific, imports are so popular that domestic manufacturers attempted to make them their own multiple times. We’ve had Opels called Pontiacs and Buicks, Mitsubishis masquerading as Dodges, Toyotas and Suzukis selling as Geos, and Isuzus branded as Chevrolets.
But has it ever gone the other way? Have Japanese brands ever tried to appropriate the automotive culture of other countries to move the metal?
General Motors has issued an airbag recall for the long-gone Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky. The recall relates to the passenger presence sensor (PPS), which may become damaged and cause the passenger airbag to not deploy during a crash.
We initially covered this issue in 2015 after noticing that complaints were piling up with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and that the PPS design was similar to other models already recalled by GM. (Read More…)
The GM J Platform, best known for being the basis of the Chevrolet Cavalier, was built for a full quarter-century before being axed in 2005. The last J-Body Pontiac of them all was the Sunfire, a Cavalier sibling. Here’s an ’01 with a racy-looking hood scoop I recently spotted in a San Francisco Bay Area self-service yard. (Read More…)
Our annual feast of dead bird, fine pigskin, family arguments, cheap electronics, and roughly 200 (of 600) good episodes of The Simpsons is upon us. And once again, we take a glimpse into the wild world of classic car auctions, sure to be another magnificent family tradition.
Due to the holiday weekend here in the States, this week we look east to Milan for RM Sotheby’s Duemila Ruote 2016, an auction featuring over 400 collectibles — all at no reserve. I loved looking through this catalog. The exotics are awesome, of course, but the relatively pedestrian cars that we just don’t see here are what catch my eye.
Or, with one example, turn my stomach.
General Motors created quite a few NASCAR-themed special-edition W-bodies during the first decade of our current century, complete with plenty of plastic cladding and racy-looking decals. Ordinary W-bodies clog up every junkyard in the country, and so it takes something special for me to deploy my camera on a W.
This very-rare-but-not-so-valuable Grand Prix Daytona 500 Edition showed up in a Denver-area yard, and I photographed it last week. (Read More…)
I have photographed and wrote about interesting (to me) junkyard cars for nearly a decade, and so far I have not photographed a single one of the hundreds of discarded BMW E30s I have found in my travels. In fact, I just shot my first E30 the other day (a 325e with automatic, don’t get too excited), but first I must share a car I find far more interesting: an N-Body Grand Am with gray cloth interior and Oldsmobile Quad 4 engine. (Read More…)
The Pontiac Fiero was a frequent junkyard sighting up until about a decade ago, but now they’re quite rare. So far in this series, we have seen this excessively yellow ’86, this ’88 Formula, and now today’s Iron Duke-powered ’86. (Read More…)
The N Platform-based 1985-1991 Pontiac Grand Am was sibling to such rapidly depreciating semi-sporty-looking coupes as the Buick Somerset and Oldsmobile Cutlass Calais, and there was a time when they were common sights on American roads.
Now most of them are gone, but this Iron Duke-powered, 5-speed-equipped rusty survivor showed up recently at a Denver self-service yard. (Read More…)
Ungodly horsepower and unbridled car lust? Check.
Gaudy awesome lettering and badges? Check. (Optional) Disco era moustaches? Check.
If you’re triggered by anything that isn’t subdued, then the Trans Am SE Bandit Edition is definitely not a safe space.
Trans Am Depot, the Tallahassee-based creator of custom-built Trans Ams (using 5th-generation Chevrolet Camaros as a canvas), is out to satisfy 77 lucky buyers who yearn for the heady days of the late 1970s.
While I certainly love roadsters, there is something special about the coupes derived from those roadsters. The MGB GT was a stunning Pininfarina tiptop riff on the classic MGB Tourer, and the BMW M Coupe was a flared Z3 styled like a ‘roided Reebok Pump. Both of them were iconic in their own way.
Considering how few small convertibles are actually sold, it’s surprising that General Motors decided to enter the market a mere 15 years after the Miata, and ten after the BMW Z3.
Well, perhaps not that surprising, considering GM launched the Kappa platform on not one, but two dying brands.
General Motors brought Opel Kadetts into the United States via several routes over the years. They came from Germany and were badged as Opels at first, Isuzu built “Buick Opels” a bit later, then Isuzu dealers sold them as I-Marks (the Chevette was also a Kadett sibling, but at least it was American-built). By the late 1980s, the Kadett’s American cousin was the Daewoo LeMans, a crappily-built Korean front-wheel-drive miserybox based on the Kadett E. Few were sold, and nearly all of those were three-door hatchback versions.
Here’s an exceptionally rare LeMans sedan, from the next-to-last year of American-market sales, that I spotted last week in a Denver self-service wrecking yard. (Read More…)
While it was possible to buy a new W-body late-1980s/early-1990s Lumina, Cutlass Supreme, or Grand Prix with a five-speed manual transmission, almost nobody did so. These cars have become pretty rare by now, so the chances of finding a five-speed Grand Prix in the junkyard are about the same as finding a five-speed BMW 7-Series; it’s possible, but not likely.
Here’s an ’89 coupe I found in a Denver yard last week. (Read More…)
A federal judge Wednesday denied a request to make available communication between GM and its lawyers over certain cases involving defective ignition switches, Reuters reported. The documents will remain secret because of attorney-client privilege, the judge wrote.
Lawsuits against GM allege that the company tried to further cover up its defective ignition switches. Those lawsuits sought to uncover documents between the automaker and its lawyers in three separate cases.
“… the case evaluations have all the hallmarks of dispassionate, sober evaluations (perhaps, in hindsight, too dispassionate and sober for their own good) by counsel of the costs and benefits of litigating the cases to their conclusion — just what one would might expect in a defense file and in the absence of a crime or fraud,” Judge Jesse Furman wrote in his ruling. (Read More…)
As I continue my occasional look at cheap, mid-engine sports cars of the Eighties, one enormously popular car is clearly missing. The Fiero was GM’s attempt at producing an efficient, yet potentially fun car on the cheap.
Unfortunately, GM mostly succeeded at producing a platform for awful Lamborghini replicas.
Two sources have told Reuters that the government will levy a $900 million fine on General Motors for its failure to recall and subsequent attempts to cover-up of faulty ignition switches linked to at least 124 deaths.
Criminal charges will be filed against GM for its role in hiding the defect from regulators, but will defer prosecution while the automaker complies with its penalty. The agreement is expected to be announced Thursday.
The massive fine is smaller than the $1.2 billion Toyota paid in March 2014 for its role in concealing that its cars could accelerate suddenly. (Read More…)