The Truth About Cars » Roger Smith http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Wed, 16 Apr 2014 05:18:32 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Roger Smith http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Hammer Time: Rediscovering My Inner Jersey http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/hammer-time-rediscovering-my-inner-jersey/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/hammer-time-rediscovering-my-inner-jersey/#comments Mon, 10 Mar 2014 11:00:34 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=764689 sev1

114 car dealers. Every single last one of them looking for an impossibly good deal among the 150 vehicles at the auction on a near-Arctic Monday morning.

Even if it’s a seemingly bad deal. It doesn’t matter during this time of year.

This is officially tax season… which means that cars that couldn’t even get a $500 down payment during the post-Christmas drought will soon be picked up in earnest by the sub-prime, debt happy public. A $1200 down payment as their first financial tombstone of 2014 will be followed by a long line of bogus fees, and a note that will hopefully be flipped into funny money (now known as sub-prime asset backed securities) before the drowning debtor becomes financial roadkill.

Everything is high. But surprisingly not as high as in years past. Orphaned brands are mostly cheap. Minivans are cheap, and everything from older luxury coupes to younger hatchbacks can be had for decent money if they’re not sporty or popular.

Speaking of popular. Let me show you a little somethin’.

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This 1980 Cadillac Seville is the King of Swing and the purveyor of all things cool.

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I’m not even sure if I can give this vehicle justice by these pics. Like a lot of older cars that are unfashionable but well cared for, this Seville has “it”.

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The paint is a perfect compliment to the design. Unlike the wretched vinyl tops, two tone medicine blues, and malaise era engines that made this car into a rolling joke, this Seville seems to be one of the few exceptions to the rule that was GM mediocrity.

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For starters, it’s an 80′ model with no smoke. Which means it ended up with a decent engine. The 6.0 Liter Cadillac V8 which produces… well… let’s just say it’s the best of the worst.

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The black interior and low seating position is designed for the future low riders of these models. You know. The ones who were busy listening to UTFO and the Breakin’ soundtrack instead of Snoopy and that Two-pack dude.

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That’s all original. I’m still not sure if it’s real wood or fake wood. Let’s just call it Cadillac wood and move on.

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Everything still works on this vehicle. The auto temp control. The radio. The instant mpg calculator which rarely goes above 25 mpg. It’s all there. Actually I was hitting around 28 mpg on that thing. But I’m not sure if that was due to the equipment getting some Imperial calculations between 1980 and today.

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93,000 miles. Original. Well, it is a repaint and I have  to work on a few wires (cough! cough!). When I saw it, I knew I would never see anything quite like it ever again. Time marches on and the unpopular rides of yesteryear get dumped into the hardcore and borderline psychopathic of car owners. I know enough of my fellow compatriots to realize that come hell or high bidding, I was going to have to buy this thing.

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So I did my usual trick. I hid in the back with my leather jacket and jeans against the cold cement wall. I saw my friend, the auctioneer, who knew me back when I was an auctioneer. He started at 3k. I made eye contact. Shucked two fingers onto my U2 leahter jacket. And quickly put them back in my pocket as my friend wailed, “Habadagive two grand! 21! I got money! 21! Habadagive 21!”

Except no one believed him. I had put in the bid within three seconds of his downward cadence from three grand, to two grand, to what was usually a grand opening bid. Most starting bids go down about $2000 to $3000 at the auctions before they head back up to where the sellable range is.

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This particular time, there would be no uptick.  After about five seconds of low ball signs of one finger (for $1000) and the words $1500 mouthed out to the auctioneer… the hammer fell. I had bought one of the last of the pseudo-luxurious mohicans for $2000 plus a $155 auction fee.

Was it a steal? Hell no! I bought it because I want to enjoy the experience of owning it, and then later, sell it to someone who will love it a bit more than yours truly. One of the first rules of the car business is, “Never fall in love.” So I’m going to play around with it for a few weeks, and then let it go to an enthusiast who will make this baby Caddy endure.

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Oh, one other thing. Cadillac may have screwed up their brand big-time throughout the 1980′s. From this Seville to the Allante, Cadillac was completely castrated during this time and I have no fondness for the bean counters and the Howdy Dowdy CEO who guided them during the Reagan Era.

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However this Fisher Body Seville, with an engine solely (and soul-ly) given to the Cadillac division represents a high mark within the low mark.

This downsized Seville rides just like one of those older, floaty Cadillacs from the 1970′s. It’s an amazing ride. Easy to steer, and a beauty to behold in the flesh.

I plan on selling it for $2500.

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Monday Mileage Midget: 8,193 Miles On A 1997 Chevy Camaro Z28 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/12/monday-mileage-midget-8193-miles-on-a-1997-chevy-camaro-z28/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/12/monday-mileage-midget-8193-miles-on-a-1997-chevy-camaro-z28/#comments Mon, 17 Dec 2012 17:27:41 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=470471

Let’s say you had to move out of the country. Forever.

There are only so many things you can take with you. A few pieces of furniture. Family albums. Your antique collection of 1970′s beer bottles.

The play car you rarely drive… has to be ditched. So you unload it at a nearby dealership and hope for the best.

It’s hard to believe. But what you see here is the real McCoy. A soon to be 16 year old Camaro Z28 with all of 8,193 miles.

By 1997 these Camaros had nearly caught up with the Mustangs in terms of sales volume. 100k for a Mustang. 95k for the Camaro. Throw in a healthy five-figure sales volume for the Firebird, and it seemed like the F-bodies would indeed endure for the long run.

Then something happened… and that something was nothing. GM more or less let both models shrivel on the vines of cost containment and amortization until May 2001 when, after only about 29k sales, GM finally pulled the plug on the last great cheap Chevy musclecar. Sales were so bad at this point that many of these models had to be badged as 2002 models to remain marketable.

 

Just look at that interior.A cheap, drab, plastic fantastic. I can tell you from personal experience that the dashboard alone shatters with frightening normalcy while nearly everything else just falls apart over the course of time.

Cheap seats. Cheap doors. Cheap dash. It was as if all the old accountants from the Roger Smith era had a party and all the retirees from the finance division were invited as well.  I’m sure you could find some 1980′s parts bin surplus if you looked hard enough.

Which is a shame. Because these vehicles are an absolute blast to drive. I recently got a 1997 Firebird model and to be frank, it offers one of the best powertrain combinations from that era. In a pure bang for the buck calculation, these F-bodies are tough to beat.

Should this one go to a museum? Ebay? A collectors garage? Beats me. However it did sell for quite a price. Feel free to make a guess and share with the Best& Brightest your F-body story du jour. Extra credit if you can associate with my home state of New Jersey.

 

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Change, Credibility, and The Business Cycle http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2009/12/change-credibility-and-the-business-cycle/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2009/12/change-credibility-and-the-business-cycle/#comments Wed, 09 Dec 2009 17:01:21 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=338683

Why does TTAC roll its eyes at every proclamation of change, rebirth and renewal from automakers, particularly of the Detroit-based variety? To put it in a single French phrase, dèjá vu. In an industry as cyclical as the automaking game, the latest downturn always takes place within recent memory of the last downturn. As a result, the promises of reinvention and renewed focus are still ringing in our ears by the time each new PR offensive rolls out. One can only hear so many pleas and promises before they all start running together, creating the permanent, inescapable sense that we’ve been here before and it didn’t work out. No better evidence for this phenomenon exists than this series of videos from the 1988 edition of GM’s perennial campaign of renewal (especially in part two). The music may have changed, but the beat goes on.

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