By on September 12, 2017

1958 Chevrolet continental kit, Image: hstowe/Bigstock

So, yesterday afternoon TTAC author and moderator Corey Lewis decided to scorch our retinas by posting a photo of a very unique Mazda Miata on Slack. A very bad Miata, too.

The image originated from quaint Saint-Jérôme, Quebec, a northern bedroom community of Montreal. In it (photo rights require us to paint you a grim picture), the red NA Miata sported a laundry list of aftermarket add-ons — accessories the owner no doubt felt made his or her Miata the gosh darn hottest Miata around. Like New York’s hottest club, this thing had it all. Fender skirts. Chrome luggage rack. Chrome wheel arch trim. Oh, and a completely nonfunctional continental kit, as all continental kits are these days.

It was a crime against Miatas.

Which leads to the question: what non-factory add-on isn’t a crime? (Read More…)

By on September 11, 2017

zip ties, Image: NorGal/Bigstock

Most of us reading — and writing for — this site have found themselves in possession of a complete and utter beater car at some point in their lives. Whether through necessity (young kid with no money) or choice (strange attractions to unreliable British machinery), roadside repairs often figure into our past in some form or another.

The most versatile of all roadside repair items? Zip ties, of course.

(Read More…)

By on September 6, 2017

Back in August, Tim Cain reported on some rather strong statements made by McLaren. The company’s chief engineer proclaimed that McLaren stood alone among true sports car offerings — quite a stance to take, indeed. Don’t worry, the statement was not without very specific qualifiers.

Today we ask you to set your own qualifiers (or definition) around that term tossed around more than a football: sports car. What defines the breed for you?

(Read More…)

By on September 5, 2017

2017 Chevrolet Bolt, Image: General Motors

The full-scale rollout of Chevrolet’s Bolt to all U.S. markets saw its sales reach new heights in August 2017. Not dizzying heights, mind you — with 2,107 vehicles sold last month, the all-electric Bolt’s popularity is about 34,000 units shy of the Honda Civic’s.

Still, many mainstream, gas-powered models would kill for 2,000-plus buyers per month. The Jaguar XE, XF, and XJ, for example. The Toyota 86. Oh, and the Cadillac ATS, CTS, and CT6, along with gobs of other models from various brands. It’s a grim time for cars, but certain electric vehicles find buyers solely because there isn’t much choice when it comes to ditching your fuel tank for good.

The emergence of lower-priced EVs with ranges capable of reaching another city has made the electric car, once an oddity, into something approaching mainstream status. But are you tempted by their gas-free siren song? (Read More…)

By on August 30, 2017

Image: Bentley Arnage Final Series

 

Time to suspend disbelief, much like you do with your favorite television show featuring dragons and incestual relations (between people, not dragons). A new government regime has outlawed production of the private automobile. All new car sales will end in 48 hours. Much like Jack Bauer, you’ve got to make an important decision in that timespan: Purchasing your last car of choice.

Which automobile will you pick, knowing it’s the last one you’ll ever have?

(Read More…)

By on August 29, 2017

2017 Toyota 86 sunset - Image: Toyota

On Sunday, Matt brought you the story of Toyota’s latest plan to ditch its longstanding reputation for building boring yet reliable cars — a problem some quality deficient automakers would kill for.

The brand has recently bolstered its efforts to draw its design direction away from the realm of “safe” and into the neighborhood of edgy, funky, and just maybe, controversial. (How about that new Camry’s face, eh? Hmmm…) Still, design doesn’t equal driving thrills. Visual excitement doesn’t quicken the pulse after you’ve slipped behind the wheel.

To this end, Toyota appears ready to launch a performance line similar to Lexus’ F sub-brand. The automaker known for (very successfully) playing it safe may let its hair down. And not a moment too soon, some might say. While the upcoming 2018 Camry gains significant standard power from Toyota’s four-cylinder engineering prowess, vehicles like the C-HR crossover, Corolla, Corolla iM, and other models aren’t exactly causing heart palpitations on test drives (or any other drives, for that matter).

Let’s pick up that syringe filled with muscle enhancer, shall we? (Read More…)

By on August 23, 2017

defender_g_wagen_2

Let’s say you had around $50,000 to spend on a vehicle purely as an indulgence. In this indulgence, you desire a somewhat rare SUV that’s basic, yet carries substantial prestige. In the same way, your SUV of choice would be very capable off-road, but you’d never take it there (as it’s simply too valuable). This vehicle would be for around-town jaunts on sunny days only.

A tough and specific decision for you, as imaginary well-heeled buyer of this used SUV. But never fear, as we’ve narrowed the choices down to two for today’s QOTD.

So, between the Land Rover Defender and Mercedes-Benz G-Wagon, which do you choose to lighten your wallet?

(Read More…)

By on August 22, 2017

2015 Mitsubishi Mirage ES, Image: Mitsubishi

A reader from the UK sent me a nice email not too long ago, asking whether I’d consider forming a Question of the Day around a totally unfamiliar term: “Dork Age.” I’d never heard of such a thing before (providing more evidence that Steph ain’t with it), but a helpful link told me everything I needed to know.

Most commonly applied to a brief — and awkward — period in the life of a long-running TV series or musical group, Dork Age is a close cousin to the more popular term “Jumping the Shark.” The latter term, as we all know, refers to that painful moment when a popular series or band (or whatever) signals its unstoppable downhill slide with a moment of cringe-inducing awfulness. The audience throws rotten fruit at the screen (or stage).

Dork Age is a little different. It doesn’t signal the same final descent into crapdom as Jumping the Shark. Rather, it’s a strange little interlude in the broader story arc of a TV show, movie series, or band that most fans would prefer to forget. A period where the creative minds decided that adding something uber trendy would jazz up an operation in danger of growing stale. Of course, the impact of this decision only serves to turn off longstanding fans.

Car companies can do it, too. (Read More…)

By on August 21, 2017

used car sales, Image: alptraum/Bigstock

The average transaction price of a new car in America has long since blown past $30,000 and currently sits at $31,400 – after incentives, naturally – in the first quarter of 2017.

But who wants to buy just one car? Everyone here has a short list of what they’d buy given an unlimited budget. For today’s QOTD, let’s imagine – just like that Community Chest card in Monopoly – you’ve received a bank error in your favor. The amount? You guessed it: $31,400.

(Read More…)

By on August 18, 2017

2017 Dodge Viper Snakeskin Edition GTC was inspired by the origi

They closed the Viper line at Conner, they’re selling to Chinese
What was once the “engineering company”, now trembles on its knees
The money went to swift sedans, that need cash on the hood
There ain’t nobody left who thinks the Journey’s any good
And the Roadkill squad they’re restless, they need somewhere to go
As Sergio and I look out tonight from Desolation Row

We’ve said goodbye to the finest, fastest American track car ever produced and, although I don’t know exactly why it failed, I have my theories. The only question left is: Could it come back? Is there room for any sporting car from FCA besides the 500 Abarth and the super-sedans from both sides of the Atlantic?

(Read More…)

By on August 16, 2017

1966 Chevrolet Impala in Colorado wrecking yard, air conditioning decal - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

Yesterday, Tim Cain reported on the new Chevrolet Tahoe Custom trim, which lowers the point of entry on the Tahoe by $3,750 for 2018. If you’re a nerd and enjoy trim-level discussions like I do, this is an important moment. For the first time since the Tahoe grew to four doors in 1995, you’ll be able to buy a trim lower than the LS.

This new (relatively) low-cost trim is seen by many Internet Car Enthusiasts here at TTAC as the way forward: dispensing with unnecessary options like infotainment, large wheels, and a third row seat that rarely sees use. Seems like a decent enough idea, so let’s take it across the board today.

Which vehicles deserve a cost-cutting trim level?

(Read More…)

By on August 15, 2017

FCA China flag

As you’re probably aware, this week began with rumblings that several Chinese automakers, some of them state-owned, are taking an interest in Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. Not entirely surprising, as we all know FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne’s spent the past year or so positioning his company for a potential takeover. Slashing debt, consolidating its operations, all to look pretty for that potential mate.

Sure, General Motors and Volkswagen rebuffed the company’s awkward advances, but there’s plenty of fish in the sea for a company with an urge to merge. However, with cash-flush Chinese manufacturers, buyouts are more likely than partnerships.

If it comes to pass, it might not be a bad thing for the volatile American automaker. China’s Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co., owner of Volvo Cars, did great things for the Swedish brand, overcoming its financial issues while affording the automaker a hands-off approach. Is Volvo making great cars again? Is it on solid footing?

All signs point to “yes.” (Read More…)

By on August 14, 2017

broken old chair chairs, Image: juriskraulis/Bigstock

Most readers know of our weekly Ace of Base series, which turns a jaundiced eye to the instant-ramen end of the price scale for a particular model. Thanks for all the comments on those, by the way.

Sometimes, though, there is no cut-rate model. No trim on which to hang the placard of “Value Leader.” Let’s fix that, shall we?

(Read More…)

By on August 9, 2017

2015 Nissan Juke, Image: Nissan

Today’s Question of the Day is the inverse of one I posited back in March of this year. At that time, we took your suggestions for current vehicle designs which you thought would stand the test of time.

It’s now time to cover the other side of the ugly coin; the vehicles on sale today which will become dated-looking quicker than all others.

(Read More…)

By on August 8, 2017

car crash (Daniel X. O'Neil/Flickr)

The Civic Holiday I mentioned yesterday didn’t prove very civil for yours truly and his red Chevrolet Cruze Eco. Sadly, a second-generation Volkswagen Passat made mostly of rust, primer, and pure, simmering evil decided to make a play at the poor Cruze in the midst of a nightmarish traffic jam. I don’t want to get too specific about the locale for fear of tarring a whole community of drivers with the same brush. (It was Montreal.)

While the Cruze escaped intact, it didn’t leave the scrap unmolested. Looks like I’ll be heading out in search of paint and rubbing compound tonight (Note: first-gen Cruze bumpers seem to hold up under pressure; I can’t speak for the second-generation models).

The incident nonetheless reminded me of past run-ins, be it with large animals or large vehicles. My 1993 Corsica of years gone by didn’t weather a front-quarter hit from a circa 2000 Impala all that well. Curtain call. Six feet under. Pushing up daisies. Contrast the Corsica’s  “folded like Superman on laundry day” performance to my beloved ’94 Camry, which soaked up two whitetail deer and politely asked for more. Zero dollars spent on repairs with that one. Just a minute or two spent evening out the hood with my rear end and some wooden shims inserted for headlight alignment. Duct tape wasn’t required.

What a tank that car was. Bland? Absolutely. Beige? What else? But beastly when push comes to shove. (Read More…)

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