Back in April, Sajeev and Steve found some time to reply to my letter where I posed the impossible question. As gearheads, we all want something fun, fast, efficient, and cheap (well, most of us want cheap). Much like a traction circle, all these needs are in competition and in order to make good on one you need to sacrifice another. The ultimate gearhead car, unfortunately, does not exist and it never will.
That doesn’t mean there aren’t good, affordable vehicles out there which are fun to drive while ticking most of the boxes. And, this time, I actually followed the advice of someone else and couldn’t be happier.
Have a couple of questions: I have a 72 Dodge Dart that I am performing a 318 to 340 swap. It’s taken longer than I planned (lack of time), I backed the car in the garage 2 years ago and now I am planning on firing it up in this April. The question is the gas: I had about a half tank when I backed it in, and I put some Stabil in the tank, but I took the cap off to try a new cap and the tank smelled really awful. I replaced the fuel filter, but should I drain the tank and refill with fresh gas, put some fresh gas in the tank to mix up what is in there, or pull the tank have it boiled out and refill. I was driving the car up until March 2009, and I put that last half tank in there in March 2009. I am in Long Island, NY so we have that crap gas till April.
I don’t know if this adds up to material for one of your columns but here you go if you want it. I am shopping for a new WRX wagon. These are pretty rare around here, hunted to extinction. I’ve been checking around and the number in inventory at the typical dealership is between zero and two. The local dealership wants to charge me MSRP, as well they might, but they have a new narrative to go with this: the factory was shut down in Fuji and there’s going to be a gap in deliveries. Is this hooey?
This faithful TTAC writer enjoys his break from reality to be a judge at the 24 Hours of LeMons. That said, a perk to having the great Murilee Martin on board is that my LeMons coverage now embellishes his: take a look at the ’58 Edsel Ranger pace car we “procured” from a race team.
One thing about the “rat rod” school of design is how great it makes an otherwise junky heap look in the hearts and minds of most bystanders. An ugly flat black paint job on one of the ugliest cars known to man is a Reeses peanut butter cup of automotive design! That said, the 1970s forged (yes really) Lincoln mag wheels and 390 V8 from a ’67 Ford Galaxie make the theme cooler than cool. And the white shag carpet seemingly taken from Dirk Digler’s rumpus room? Why not, it’s Rat Rod!
Also note the wicked body roll in turn one here at MSR Houston. And yes, that’s during pace car laps! Which begs the question, maybe we need more Rat Rod themed rides in Lemons?
This Autoweek article gave me a college flashback: when UT Austin’s Petroleum Engineers offered me a scholarship, but the Mechanical Engineers said no dice. Mostly because high tech, high mileage oil talk is rather boring. Much like discussing a cutting edge, long-life coolant before the Dex-Cool fiasco. So let’s open a can of worms for the Best and Brightest, and hit the high points of General Motor’s Dexos1, a somewhat revolutionary engine oil with a distinct lack of testing from the American Petroleum Institute. As per Autoweek, matters stand like this: (Read More…)
Is going Between the Lines this time ‘round more like shooting fish in a barrel? Let’s find out with the latest ad campaign from Lincoln, as covered by the Detroit Free Press:
Ford said today it is rolling out a new ad campaign for its Lincoln brand with the tagline “Smarter than Luxury,” and starring John Slattery, who portrays Roger Sterling in the TV series “Mad Men.”
There’s an ironic element there, considering the behind-the-scenes marketing dialogue seen on the TV show. If the boffins at Lincoln chose “Smarter than Luxury” over everything else, I gotta know what they passed on. Perhaps “Lincoln: Our Stuff Looks Like Poop Dung” was already under consideration for the Lincoln Log people. (Read More…)
While TTAC gets scorn for lofty criticisms of mainstream vehicles, should we demand perfection in a $405,000 (as-tested) vehicle? Because the Phantom is inches away from yesteryear’s glory: the highest regarded, finest engineered luxury vehicle before anyone cared about luxury vehicle upstarts like Mercedes-Benz or Lexus.
That’s not to say the Phantom isn’t drop dead gorgeous. The suicide doors are dumbfoundingly awesome. That Hooper Coachwork inspired design is impossible to miss: clock the long hood and short deck. And an elegant swageline, strong and stoic at the front, gently falling earthward before the taillights. Which are suitably small, drawing your eyes to the beauty of finished metal instead of the overwrought lighting details of lesser vehicles. (Read More…)
I lease a 2008 Mazda3 2.3L with an automatic transmission and 30K miles. I have had the car for two years and have been very satisfied. I am strongly considering buying the car at lease end. Here is the problem. After one year of ownership, I got stuck in some snow and needed to aggressively rock the car free. It took so long to free the car that the transmission temporarily failed.
I put it in reverse and just revs – no power to the wheels. Then I put it in drive – same result. I assumed that I overheated the transmission fluid and let it rest for two hours. I went back to the vehicle after it cooled down and it worked perfectly. It has worked perfectly since, with no noticeable damage. I recently brought the car to the dealer for an unrelated warranty repair and the service advisor recommended a transmission fluid change. He said the fluid looked dark and needed to be changed. He knew nothing of my snow escapade. My question is – Has the transmission been damaged badly enough that purchasing this car would be a mistake? Would a transmission fluid change be enough to mitigate the damage I caused? Do I buy the car at lease end or turn it in and run away?
Germany 1958: Women are allowed to take a job without asking their husband for permission. Europe makes its first baby steps to an EU. Elvis Presley arrives as a GI in an army barracks in Friedberg. Mercedes is in its fourth year of the gullwinged 300SL, one of the finest automobiles of all times.
The last perhaps was car journo hyperbole, expected from someone who was just handed the keys to a sports car fully restored by the Mercedes Classic Center in Stuttgart. Juan Perón had one, Porfirio Rubirosa had one, Sophia Loren, Gina Lollobrigida and Zsa Zsa Gabor had one. Now Sajeev Mehta has one, if only for a day, and if only for the benefit of the readers of Thetruthaboutcars. (Read More…)
One has to be slightly off their rocker to make a LeMons racecar. But then again, you also have to possess self-awareness not seen in most other forms of motorsport. Simply put, this race series totally rocks. And without any further ado, here are the final five vehicles in TTAC’s Ten Coolest Engineering Feats of The 24 Hours of LeMons Dallas. (Read More…)
The weekend of October 24-25 was the third running of the 24 Hours of LeMons at Motorsport Ranch in Houston, TX. TTAC was there for the insanity. And it was the fourth time our LeMons race car, a 1972 Datsun 240Z hit the track. I was an honorary “penalty” judge this time ’round (props to Autoblog’s Jonny Lieberman and LeMon’s Founder Jay Lamm for that), so I did the best I could for my teammates when they got black flagged. But I’m no crooked judge, Jonny said I was too nice to other teams, too. No matter, it wasn’t enough for us to come close to victory. Then again, the Datsun Z is the butt of many a LeMon’s joke. What’s up with that?
Hi, Sajeev. I want to know why it’s so fashionable for automakers to provide obnoxiously labyrinthine automatic shifter gates. It seems to have started with Jaguar’s innocuous J-shaped gates of the ’80s, but these days it seems to have become passé to provide a simple, easy-to-use linear gate — push button or hold lever to one side to move in a straight line out of park and through the gears, or back the other direction. Now every shift, whether from 1 to 2 or N to R or whatever, requires inconsistent and annoying fore-aft and transverse movements. The gates on Subarus I’ve driven lately are ridiculous, as is the one in the Yaris I rented last week. And there are many more. Thanks for whatever enlightenment you can provide.
Sajeev, what ever happened to 14-inch wheels? I mean, seriously, does the Caliber really need to be shod with 17-inchers? Why does my dad’s new half-ton pickup have 17-inch wheels? His old one had what used to be the industry standard 235-75R15. He about had a coronary when he found out new tires would be over $100 each. Perhaps if I put on my tinfoil hat, I’d say the tire companies are behind this. So really, does the average family sedan or minivan really need anything bigger that a 15-inch wheel/tire?