By on June 21, 2017

18 -1992 Oldsmobile Toronado Trofeo Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

Lately, I’ve taken you back in time when it’s my turn to offer up a Question of the Day. Today is no exception, as we’re going to discuss the past and the future at the same time. Now, while your head is spinning and you reach for a VHS copy of Back to the Future, allow me to explain.

We’re going to discuss the car brand you’d like to resurrect, and the models it would offer today. Sound like fun? (Read More…)

By on June 20, 2017

Mercedes C230 Kompressor Sportcoupe, Image: M 93/wIKIMEDIA cOMMONS (CC BY-SA 3.0)]

Yesterday brought exciting news for future car shoppers, especially those whose pants aren’t exactly sagging under the weight of an overstuffed wallet.

You see, there’s a new Mercedes-Benz on the way. A small four-door one, though likely not much smaller than the existing CLA sedan coupe. Yes, it will be front-wheel drive — sacrilege, we know — and will boast any number of four-cylinder engines. It’s the A-Class and, according to dealers, it’s also Mercedes-Benz’s future entry-level model.

Bottom rung. A starting point for the brand. And it might just carry a starting price of less than $30,000. Holy cats, you say, that’s less than a V6 Honda Accord! Just think of what this could do for my status in the community!

Yeah, about that… (Read More…)

By on June 19, 2017

Mazda In Abandoned Dealership in Switzerland

Imagine for a second you’re living in Canada in the mid-‘80s. The Edmonton Oilers have brought the Stanley Cup back to Canada for the first time since 1979, and it’ll stay in the Great White North until the next decade. A broad-chinned lawyer was just given a landslide victory to lead the country and the Tunagate scandal meant one could no longer enjoy tasty canned fish for supper.

That Detroit barge in the driveway is looking a bit haggard now, especially with the copious amounts of salt being dumped on the road every winter. Sure, we’re in the go-go ‘80s, but who wants to blow all that dough they’re charging for Hondas and Toyotas? A couple of new dealerships have set up shop in town, filled with cheap Eastern Bloc and Korean cars. But which one will you choose?

(Read More…)

By on June 14, 2017

1991-ford-taurus-sho-beige-front-quarter

It’s been a couple of weeks since we took a stroll down memory lane together. I asked you in May about the worst car you could recall in your high school parking lot. The incoming responses made it seem like our enthusiast B&B members were often aware they were the winner of the bad car blue ribbon in school. That speaks to our level of enlightenment and self-awareness. Think of how many people go through life not ever realizing how bad their cars are.

For today though, we run away from the rust buckets and 75-horsepower Malaise Wonders. I want to hear about the most awesome car in your high school lot.

(Read More…)

By on June 13, 2017

1994 Toyota Camry coupe, Image: public domain

We’re all abuzz about Camrys here at TTAC, or so it would seem. Our website, our tweets, even our Slack conversations always manage to conjure up the specter of the Great One. No, not Gretzky – another consistent scorer.

The Camry.

Nine years on, and I’m still wracked with guilt over letting the best car I’ve ever owned — the most reliable and trustworthy car to ever find its way into my life — fade away into the automotive afterlife. It certainly didn’t deserve to be traded in at a used car lot for peanuts, and I can barely entertain the thought of what came next. No, it was wrong to let it go, but financial circumstances at the time necessitated a vehicle with no deferred backlog of minor repairs. Certainly, my job at the time didn’t jibe with an odometer reading approaching the half-million kilometer mark.

I’m of course talking about a rare beast born from a litter of lookalikes. A 1994 Toyota Camry. But not just any run-of-the-mill, plain-Jane Camry. Yes, it was beige — it was hard to find one that wasn’t — but my Camry stood out. It excelled. It impressed. It had two doors. Two doors … and a stick shift.

Truly the Greatest Generation, the North American market Camrys of model years 1992 to 1996 were big, roomy, comfortable, efficient, and — above all else — reliable. It was a better Buick, and in (admittedly conservative) coupe form, something special. (Read More…)

By on June 12, 2017

Route 330, Newfoundland

Growing up a million years ago in Canada’s most eastern province, everyone – young, old, tall, short – had a primo spot for their favored recreational activity. Fishing? We all did that … and you’d better believe there was a location or two better than all the others. The old folks used to go berry-picking and everyone knew not to muscle in on Uncle Eli’s favorite blueberry patch.

Me? Then, as ever, I enjoyed driving cars … and I had a favorite spot for that, too.

(Read More…)

By on June 6, 2017

2017 Mazda 3 5-door – Image: Mazda

About three weeks ago, my Question Of The Day focused on public statements about Mazda’s future plans. The statements came from the CEO of Mazda North America, as reported in an article by Tim Cain. Many of you responded and agreed with the assertions and opinions I put forth, while some were brave enough to disagree. By and large, it was a fairly productive conversation, with over 150 replies in the comments.

Now that some time has passed and the comments have largely ceased, I can fulfill a request made by commenter slow_poke: a summation of your top recommendations, in our first Mazda QOTD FU (follow-up). Let’s see what you had to say.

(Read More…)

By on June 6, 2017

(Public domain)

We’re deep into a nebulous time of the year called “driving season.” This, of course, is the part of the calendar when it suddenly becomes possible for vehicle owners to leave their homes and drive away. So, driving season it is.

If you’re a Northerner, the season holds far more emotional and spiritual importance than for those in sunnier climes. The open road simply doesn’t beckon if the landscape mimics a scene from Fargo, unless it’s to escape south. But come summer, every road’s a destination. Every street, highway, and back laneway is another opportunity to enjoy the miracle of the Earth’s tilting axis, the glorious wobble that lurches our side of the planet towards the sun for half a year, melting the snow that covers our cigarette butts, coffee cups and corpses.

The road beckons, yet many of us fail to properly heed its call.

Be it time, money, family obligations, or maybe just a general lack of adventure (perhaps you’re already dead inside?), countless roads remain untouched by our Goodyears or Bridgestones. (Read More…)

By on June 5, 2017

FH3 Press Photo

Most gearheads of a certain age got their first tastes of behind-the-wheel speed not through their right foot but through their right thumb. Atari, Nintendo, PC … or – for the youngsters among us – PlayStation and Xbox.

Me? Well, here’s the one that hooked me into the world of pixelated dashboards and synthesized exhausts.

(Read More…)

By on May 31, 2017

Image: Capture from YouTube

In a classic case of fight-or-flight response, a Milwaukee woman named Melissa Smith has just filled up her Subaru Outback and realizes there’s a man on the driver’s side about to steal her off-roading vehicle. Rather than let the thief drive off with her ride, she takes action. Immediately jumping up onto the hood, Melissa stares the criminal right in the eyes. According to an interview the victim provided to various news outlets, the thief laughed in her face and turned the wipers on, in an attempt to brush her off like mere precipitation. That didn’t work. She grabs onto the wipers for dear life. Then in two successive attempts, the would-be thief accelerates quickly and brakes, trying to shake Ms. Smith from the hood.

(Read More…)

By on May 30, 2017

Image: Daihatsu Charade, via Craigslist

I really enjoy encountering the cheap and cheerful compacts of the past. Their lack of technological complexity, superb integrity in exterior design, and complete absence of flim-flam is refreshing.

Our Rare Ride today is such a compact, from a company many in North America don’t know. It’s the Daihatsu Charade.

(Read More…)

By on May 24, 2017

[timbphotography/Bigstock.com]

Daring. Thinking outside the box, as it were (a three box, naturally). Putting forth a car which is a bit risky and against the grain of the accepted beige sedan CUV. Increasingly, automakers are unwilling or unable to play in this space. Regulations, fuel economy and stiff competition force each manufacturer in line with the others. A midsize vehicle that’s almost identical to the offering at the dealer across the street is not out of the question.

But there has to be an answer to my Question of the Day, which is thus: Which modern auto manufacturer is the most daring?

(Read More…)

By on May 23, 2017

ford logo

It’s the dawn of a new era at Ford. With luck, nothing will change with the upcoming Bronco except, hopefully, an earlier launch date.

By axing retiring CEO Mark Fields and elevating Jim Hackett to the biggest office in Dearborn, Ford hopes to chart a course towards larger profits and happy, smiling shareholders. After Fields took the helm, the company’s share prices made like the Andria Doria. Can’t have that.

Flanking Hackett are two men with really long job descriptions. Joe Hinrichs, executive vice president and president of Global Operations, will tackle product development and purchasing (among other things). Jim Farley, hater of General Motors, is literally overseer of everything. Everything. All the regions, all the sales, all the mobility. Oh, and Lincoln — Farley will keep watch over Lincoln.

But imagine, for a moment, these three head honchos didn’t just advance their careers. No, you’re in the driver’s seat now. (Read More…)

By on May 22, 2017

BORGHI,RN, ITALY - AUGUST 12: power music audio system with amplifiers bass and treble speakers in the car trunk, exhibited during the rally "Fashion tuning club" on August 12 2012 in Borghi RN Italy, Image: ermess/Bigstock

Youthful exuberance. We’ve all fallen victim to it. From “hold my beer” moments to an ill-advised rendezvous with you best friend’s girl, one’s youth is often rife with boneheaded choices.

Thing is, as gearheads, we have yet another outlet on which to waste money and make poor decisions: our cars. And, like you, I’ve definitely a few doozies in my closet.

(Read More…)

By on May 19, 2017

1991 Pontiac Trans Sport, Images: RM Auctions, Inc.

Those of you who follow my Questions of the Day (so, 100 percent of the B&B) may notice I’ve been on a bit of a nostalgia kick lately. Asking you about your formative driving experiences or your first-ever car ride has generated some great stories. We all have old memories locked away in the memory vault, so we may as well drag them out and dust off a few.

My question today is about your teen years. More specifically, the high school ones. Such a variegated parking lot of treasures, rust, and Best Buy sound systems. Which ride sank to the bottom of the barrel as the worst in your high school parking lot?

(Read More…)

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