The Truth About Cars » Suzuki http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Wed, 23 Apr 2014 14:09:20 +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 » Suzuki http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Hammer Time: Might As Well Go For A Soda http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/hammer-time-might-as-well-go-for-a-soda/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/hammer-time-might-as-well-go-for-a-soda/#comments Thu, 10 Apr 2014 14:56:11 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=793313 Click here to view the embedded video.

“Steve, what car should I buy?”

“Well, if I give you the real answer, you’ll roll your eyes and buy what you want anyway.”

“No really. I’m open to new ideas.”

“Okay then! Buy a 2012 Malibu. Buy a Buick Park Avenue. Buy a Dodge Raider or buy a Suzuki Equator.”

“Ummm… are you sure about that?”

“Hell no! Now go buy me a soda and buy yourself a Camry!”

A lot of enthusiasts give grief to the mainstream publications in this business. Sometimes I kinda don’t get why because to be brutally blunt, the “best car”  is usually firmly planted in the third row of most folk’s priorities when it comes to buying their next car.

For all the manufacturers desires to offer power, performance and utility together in one great vehicle, most of the general public just doesn’t care.

They usually want a brand first. Looks second. Then there’s fuel economy, safety, perceived quality… and a long, long list of excuses to get away from the less popular alternatives.

The best new car is rarely the best selling car in this business. There are Mazdas that I love which have a snowballs chance in hell of taking on the Toyotas and Chevys. Even if they do a far better job of checking off most consumer’s real world priorities, it’s a moot point and an inevitable outcome.

If Volvo came out with a breakthrough product, I seriously doubt that most shoppers of prestige brands would even remotely consider it. Never mind that there are plenty of reputable sources out there that can help dispel those myths as to which models now offer the best bang for the buck. Volvo no longer ranks in the pantheons of marketplace leaders. Case closed.

Even when mainstream publication have the gall to endorse an Oldsmobile or a Suzuki over a Camry or an Accord, the result of that neighborly advice is that people just won’t take it.

Why? People are brand loyal, and they are bias loyal.

Click here to view the embedded video.

That Ford station wagon that killed Aunt Edna’s dog 35 years ago?  Well, that just means Detroit cars are pure crap. Never mind that carsurvey, TrueDelta, and even the long-term reliability index I am co-developing have disproved a lot of those myths.

Cadillac can’t ever match a Mercedes. Mercedes isn’t as good as a Lexus. Lexus isn’t as good as a BMW. On and on through the merry go round of biases and BS until you can’t help but SAAB at the futility of recommending a great car at a steal of a price.

Kizashi! What? Exactly. It’s a great car if you play around with a stickshift version. You say you’re an enthusiast… but then when I recommend a stick version, you look at me like I’m from Mars.

The truth is that enthusiast cars don’t sell. The best cars for pure driving enjoyment, don’t sell. The Miata has been shucked in the low 10k range of annual sales for a long time now. Mustangs? An ungodly sales decline. There are some who blame these types of things on demographics or the police state. But I have a third theory.

American tastes increasingly resemble the American interstate. There is a sameness and sadness to the menu which is dictating that the best cars are psychologically unaccessible. Nobody wants to get off the straight and dull road that leads to the Camcrods, the Cor-antr-ics and the American badged truck.

Are all those models good? Well, yeah. But good seldom equals love. You want love? Go tear down a bias and rediscover why a great car is worthy buying.

Don’t forget the radar detector.

P.S. :  Feel free to share your thoughts below on great cars that have missed that elusive mark of mainstream acceptance over the years. I am going to be spending most of today getting a bonded title for a 21 year old Cadillac limousine. I will need intensive comic relief thanks to the interminable tortures that come with taking care of that type of title issue at the DMV. So please, feel free to share your stories and insights. I can always be reached directly at steve.lang@thetruthaboutcars.com .

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/hammer-time-might-as-well-go-for-a-soda/feed/ 132
Junkyard Find: 1988 Chevrolet Sprint Electric Sport http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/junkyard-find-1988-chevrolet-sprint-electric-sport/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/junkyard-find-1988-chevrolet-sprint-electric-sport/#comments Tue, 08 Apr 2014 13:00:03 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=788522 12 - Electric 1988 Chevrolet Sprint Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinNow that it’s possible to buy electric cars that actually do what cars are supposed to do, we mustn’t forget the very lengthy era— say 1970 to just a few years ago— during which all manner of optimistic-yet-doomed companies converted various econoboxes into lead-acid-battery-based EVs. Every once in a while, I’ll spot the remains of such an EV at a junkyard; we saw a junked EVolve Electrics 1995 Geo Metro EV conversion last year, and now a different Denver yard has given us this ’88 Sprint “Electric Sport.”
06 - Electric 1988 Chevrolet Sprint Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Sprint aka Cultus wasn’t a bad choice for an electric vehicle, being lightweight and cheap.
01 - Electric 1988 Chevrolet Sprint Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinElectric motors are worth money, either as working motors or as sources of valuable scrap copper, so the one in this car is long gone.
18 - Electric 1988 Chevrolet Sprint Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe remnants of the battery tray may be seen in the rear cargo area.
17 - Electric 1988 Chevrolet Sprint Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinSomeone grabbed the no-doubt-modified instrument cluster, too.
07 - Electric 1988 Chevrolet Sprint Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinBonus points to anyone who can track down the company that built the Electric Sport Sprint!

01 - Electric 1988 Chevrolet Sprint Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - Electric 1988 Chevrolet Sprint Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - Electric 1988 Chevrolet Sprint Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - Electric 1988 Chevrolet Sprint Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - Electric 1988 Chevrolet Sprint Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - Electric 1988 Chevrolet Sprint Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - Electric 1988 Chevrolet Sprint Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - Electric 1988 Chevrolet Sprint Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - Electric 1988 Chevrolet Sprint Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - Electric 1988 Chevrolet Sprint Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - Electric 1988 Chevrolet Sprint Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - Electric 1988 Chevrolet Sprint Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - Electric 1988 Chevrolet Sprint Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - Electric 1988 Chevrolet Sprint Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 16 - Electric 1988 Chevrolet Sprint Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 17 - Electric 1988 Chevrolet Sprint Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 18 - Electric 1988 Chevrolet Sprint Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 19 - Electric 1988 Chevrolet Sprint Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 20 - Electric 1988 Chevrolet Sprint Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 21 - Electric 1988 Chevrolet Sprint Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin ]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/junkyard-find-1988-chevrolet-sprint-electric-sport/feed/ 14
VW Budget Brand Hitting Budget Wall, Still Under Consideration http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/vw-budget-brand-hitting-budget-wall-still-under-consideration/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/vw-budget-brand-hitting-budget-wall-still-under-consideration/#comments Mon, 03 Mar 2014 14:47:21 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=760145 2013 Volkswagen Up

In 2012, Volkswagen began research into starting a budget brand in the vein of Datsun and intended rival Dacia, with the aim of having a full lineup ready for sale by 2015. Two years later, the budget brand has hit a budget wall, and that’s only the start.

Autoblog and Autocar report VW is having issues hitting safety and quality targets while maintaining the low-cost pricing — aimed between 6,000 and 8,000 euro; the Up above begins at nearly 10,000 euro — the automaker expects for the unnamed budget brand.

Though no business case has been found thus far, VW’s project is still under consideration as technicians pour over how similar rivals — including one-time partner Suzuki and considered partner Proton — are able to build low-cost vehicles without compromising on quality or price. Even though Renault-Nissan manages to be profitable with Dacia, VW is concerned that a low-cost car would erode their own margins.

Last year, Volkswagen announced they would work in a joint venture with Chinese automaker FAW to bring a budget vehicle to China by 2016; cost issues are affecting this effort, as well.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/vw-budget-brand-hitting-budget-wall-still-under-consideration/feed/ 15
TTAC Salutes The Maruti 800 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/ttac-salutes-the-maruti-800/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/ttac-salutes-the-maruti-800/#comments Tue, 11 Feb 2014 13:00:11 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=738721 Maruti800_manhan

 

 

Despite an ailing presence in North America, Suzuki has been a pioneer in the Indian marketplace, with its Maruti Suzuki subsidiary selling over 10 million vehicles since inception in 1981, with the Maruti 800 serving as its core product.

Based on the tiny, Japanese-market Suzuki Fronte, the 800 used the Fronte’s chassis, with the body of a second-generation Suzuki Alto and a diminutive 800cc engine. For a low cost car in a developing country, this was fairly advanced, given that the Fronte was powered by a two-stroke engine at one point in its life.

By Western standards, the 800 is laughably spartan, packing just 37 horsepower and devoid of air-conditioning, power features, an automatic transmission, side mirrors or any hope of surviving a traffic accident. But it was the 800, not the Hindustan Ambassador, that mobilized India’s middle class, with many 800s serving as driving school vehicles, family transportation and in many cases, a step up from motoring on two wheels. Before the Datsun Go and Dacia Logan, the Maruti 800 was the original low cost car.

Like many other antiquated designs, the Maruti 800 has fallen victim to stricter standards, specifically emissions regulations that would require expensive upgrades to its powertrain. Given the substantial amount of road deaths in India, the chance for a safer alternative to take its place isn’t such a bad thing either.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/ttac-salutes-the-maruti-800/feed/ 13
Caterham Using Three-Cylinder Suzuki Engine In Entry-Level Seven http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/08/caterham-using-three-cylinder-suzuki-engine-in-entry-level-seven/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/08/caterham-using-three-cylinder-suzuki-engine-in-entry-level-seven/#comments Wed, 07 Aug 2013 15:43:52 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=498523 caterham_seven

 

The newest entry-level variant of the Caterham Seven range will be getting a powertrain from an unlikely source; a 660cc three-cylinder Suzuki engine.

Power and efficiency figures haven’t been announced, but Caterham is claiming that this is the lightest, most compact and most efficient powertrain ever put in a Seven. It’s also supposed to be the cheapest, slotting in under the previous 1.6L 125 horsepower Ford-engined variants. Given the engine’s 660 cc displacement, it’s likely that this unit comes from a Japanese-market kei car, which would equate to an output of 63 horsepower – possibly more in Caterham spec.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/08/caterham-using-three-cylinder-suzuki-engine-in-entry-level-seven/feed/ 20
Suzuki Denies Renewed Talks With VW http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/08/suzuki-denies-renewed-talks-with-vw/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/08/suzuki-denies-renewed-talks-with-vw/#comments Fri, 02 Aug 2013 12:00:22 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=497806 suzuki-volkswagen-partnership

Not so fast…again

Though recent reports claim that VW Chairman Ferdinand Piech and Suzuki President Osamu Suzuki are involved in board level talks to resolve the differences in their on again off again relationship, at a news conference for quarterly earnings, Suzuki Executive Vice President Toshihiro Suzuki denied any such talks have taken place. According to Reuters, Suzuki claimed that “There have been various reports, but there absolutely are no such facts, so there is nothing I can talk about on this topic.”

In 2009 VW paid $2.3 billion for a 20% stake in Suzuki. VW wanted access to India, where Suzuki is the market leader and Suzuki wanted access to VW’s fuel saving tech. The VW said Suzuki broke the contract by trying to buy diesel engines from Fiat. In return, Suzuki said VW had withheld hybrid technology covered in the agreement. Suzuki then filed for international arbitration in 2011 after the German automaker refused to sell back its shares in Suzuki.

 

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/08/suzuki-denies-renewed-talks-with-vw/feed/ 6
Bi-Polar Suzuki Not Sure What To Do With VW http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/bi-polar-suzuki-not-sure-what-to-do-with-vw/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/bi-polar-suzuki-not-sure-what-to-do-with-vw/#comments Mon, 29 Jul 2013 15:20:23 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=497334 Suzuki SX4. Photo courtesy AutoExpress

Suzuki and VW don’t seem ready to officially call it quits just yet. The two companies are still talking, with both sides continuing to see positives in what was to be a partnership on small cars and Suzuki’s domination of emerging markets.

Senior management from both sides, including Osamu Suzuki, are currently in talks to revive the partnership as it could help Suzuki spread their R&D costs over multiple products and give them access to VW technology. Volkswagen wants a greater foothold in India and China, where Suzuki has been wildly successful, a stark contrast to their presence in North America. If talks fail, the courts have some decisions to make.

The situation came to a head two years after the partnership between the two companies was initially formed, with both parties calling the other out for breach of contract. Since then, the matter has been before the courts as Suzuki demanded back VW’s 19.9% share in the Japanese company. Volkswagen is currently Suzuki’s largest shareholder, though the company is controlled by the Suzuki family.

For what it’s worth, talks could go either way. As we reported last year, Osamu Suzuki is a bit of a wild card. When the partnership was active, engineers at the two companies worked quite well with each other. But, Osamu Suzuki and other members of senior management at both companies felt they were getting raw ends of the deal.

A slighted Suzuki went to the press, calling off the partnership before making a phone call to Germany to notify Ferdinand Piech of his decision. The relationship between VW and Suzuki has been rocky ever since.

 

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/bi-polar-suzuki-not-sure-what-to-do-with-vw/feed/ 16
Two Guys, One Cup: Behind The Wheel Of Suzuki’s Littlest Sportscar http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/two-guys-in-a-cup-behind-the-wheel-of-suzukis-littlest-sportscar/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/two-guys-in-a-cup-behind-the-wheel-of-suzukis-littlest-sportscar/#comments Mon, 15 Jul 2013 17:56:30 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=495270 Suzuki_Cappuccino_91-97_30

The little red car sat squat and low on the street looking for all the world like the product of an unlikely tryst between a Dodge Viper and a child’s pedal car. It was a classic two seat sports car, with short rear deck, small passenger compartment and “long” hood that stretched away from the driver just far enough to cover the engine beneath it. The proportions were right, but the actual numbers were ludicrous: 81 inch wheel base, 54 inches wide, a curb weight just a touch under 1600 pounds and 660 CC engine with a maximum horsepower rating of just 63 horsepower. This was going to be an experience, I knew, but first I had to figure out how I was going to fit behind the wheel.

Many of us in the Western Hemisphere live in awe of the Japanese Kei car. A special category of micro-car, the Kei is limited in overall size and engine displacement by law. People who buy Keis benefit from a reduced vehicle tax and are also exempt from appearing at the local police station to prove they have a place to park their car before they are allowed to register it with the DMV. Kei cars come in all sorts of configurations but are for the most part utilitarian cars that strive to be small on the outside but as large as possible on the inside. Like the vaunted Mitsubishi Zero fighters of the second world war, Kei cars trade weight for performance and many of them are quite spry on the road, but lack the solidity of other small cars.

Autozam_AZ-1_001

In the early 1990s three Japanese companies, Suzuki, Honda and Mazda under their Kei car specific Autozam brand, introduced competing sports cars. All three are worthy of mention in any article about small sports cars, with the Autozam AZ-1 and the Honda Beat being mid-engined rear wheel drive machines while the Cappuccino is a front/mid engined car also with rear wheel drive, and, since they all were built to meet the same legal standards all have virtually the same weight and horsepower numbers. Driving dynamics of the AZ-1 and the Beat, unfortunately remain a mystery to me because, unlike the Cappuccino I didn’t happen to have a student who owned one.

image48

Taka was a cool dude. Tall and thin, but not especially handsome, he had the demeanor of a Japanese rock star. At 23 years old, he melted all the high school girls’ hearts whenever he slipped into the school and poured his lanky frame into the seats of our waiting room. It would have been easy for him to effect a snide, superior attitude but since his day job was running a backhoe for the Japan Rail company he was surprisingly down to earth. The little red sports car he drove fit him perfectly in size and attitude, at once glamorous and attention getting while at the same time firmly grounded in the real world and with humble underpinnings.

800px-Suzuki_Cappuccino_front_20090514

The Cappuccino was a tinny little thing of Lilliputian proportions and I realized as I approached the driver’s side that I was going to have to seriously contort myself if I was going to get my modest 6’1” 240 pound all American beef fed frame behind the wheel. My first attempt at a normal entry failed miserably. Next I tried stepping into the car with both feet, something that was only possible because of the car’s open top, and sliding down the seat back; no dice. Finally I pivoted my hind-end out the open door, put my hands on the black top and crab walked my way into the saddle.

My unconventional entrance worked, but now I was stuck with the steering wheel inches in front of me and the foot well so filled with my legs that I could only find the pedals by sense of touch. They were there, impossibly tiny and just millimeters from one another. Taka guided me. “Off to the left of the clutch is a dead pedal to rest your foot on.” He told me. It made all the difference and although I still felt pinched, the unseen world beneath made at least some semblance of sense.

When the door closed I found myself fully entrapped in the little car. Its high door sills precluded resting my arm on the edge of the window and the tiny console on my left just large enough for my elbow. The shifter was there, striking me in the middle of my fore-arm rather than fitting my hand, but as Taka climbed in next to me I turned the key, found the gear and hit the gas.

We headed out down the narrow, one way thoroughfare in front of my school to the main road that ran alongside the Uji river. It was a terrible road to drive, a narrow strip of pavement that ran precariously atop a levy intended hold back the river should it approach flood stage. The few guard rails that the Japanese government had decided to place along it at odd intervals always struck me as being much too close and I had avoided this road for many months as my Supra felt far too wide for it. It was, however, one of the few roads in town that didn’t have a stoplight every fifty feet and so it was a good place to air out a car – if you had the guts.

Uji_里尻_Ujicity_Kyotopref_Kyotoprefecturtal_road_241_Mukaijima_Uji_line

The narrow road seemed surprisingly wide from the cockpit of the Cappuccino. The little car wound out in first gear, and hissed energetically through its pop-off valve as I pushed in the clutch for the shift to second. There was another rush of acceleration and another gratifying hiss and the car scooted under my butt as I wound up the revs high enough for the turbo to have a real effect. The wind blew across the hood, over the windscreen and tousled my hair and the little car came into its own as I slung it into the curves that followed the river’s every bend. Despite the cramped quarters, the little car felt natural under me, pulling me out of the tiny cockpit and my focusing my attention onto the road ahead. Like a motorcycle I had the sensation of flying and the little car responded to my every input with razor sharp handling. The road rushed forward to meet us and I entered the zone where my driving inputs were purely mechanical, each happening a moment after my mind had already swept past that place on the road.

Taka’s hand on my arm brought me back to the real world and I suddenly realized I was flogging his pride and joy a little harder than I probably should be. We hit the turnaround and I brought the car back a little less energetically than I had taken it out. Back at the school we grinned stupidly at one another and I began the task of extricating myself from the seat I had taken so much time to clamber into. What a ride.

With my feet once again on terra firma, the car resumed its comically small proportions and the normal world reasserted itself. My initial thoughts about the car were, I decided, right. The Cappuccino is one part supercar and one part toy and all kinds of fun. Safety issues aside, it is a shame we don’t get more little cars like this in the states. Everyone wants to be a hero, and this is a car that could make a hero out of everyman. That’s O-kei with me.

Suzuki_Cappuccino_rear_20090514

Thomas Kreutzer currently lives in Buffalo, New York with his wife and three children but has spent most of his adult life overseas. He has lived in Japan for 9 years, Jamaica for 2 and spent almost 5 years as a US Merchant Mariner serving primarily in the Pacific. A long time auto and motorcycle enthusiast he has pursued his hobbies whenever possible. He also enjoys writing and public speaking where, according to his wife, his favorite subject is himself.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/two-guys-in-a-cup-behind-the-wheel-of-suzukis-littlest-sportscar/feed/ 58
Junkyard Find: 1992 Geo Metro LSi Convertible http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/06/junkyard-find-1992-geo-metro-lsi-convertible/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/06/junkyard-find-1992-geo-metro-lsi-convertible/#comments Wed, 26 Jun 2013 13:00:37 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=493354 04 - 1992 Geo Metro LSi Convertible Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinAs a former Metro owner— about ten years ago, I found a low-mile ’96 Metro with four-cylinder and automatic for a scrap-value price and couldn’t say no to the deal— I’ve always sort of liked Suzuki’s little no-lux gas miserwagen. It takes a special Metro for me to include it in this series, however; we’ve seen this ’90 Metro El Camino, this electric-powered ’95 Metro, and this ’91 Suzuki Swift so far, plus this bonus Honda CBR1000-powered LeMons race-winning Metro, and now I’ve found one of the very rare Metro convertibles at a California self-service wrecking yard.
02 - 1992 Geo Metro LSi Convertible Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe early 1990s was a good period for cars, mostly; carburetors were finally gone forever, horsepower ratings were really starting to climb, the Japanese carmakers still hadn’t slid into their current take-no-chances boring design philosophy, and you could get cheap convertibles.
09 - 1992 Geo Metro LSi Convertible Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinA three-cylinder, 1.0 liter engine coupled to an automatic transmission made for leisurely acceleration. Actually, it made for dangerously slow acceleration.
06 - 1992 Geo Metro LSi Convertible Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinBut so what? It was a convertible for dirt cheap!

You got what you paid for with the Metro, which is more than you could say for a lot of its contemporaries.

02 - 1992 Geo Metro LSi Convertible Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1992 Geo Metro LSi Convertible Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1992 Geo Metro LSi Convertible Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1992 Geo Metro LSi Convertible Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1992 Geo Metro LSi Convertible Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1992 Geo Metro LSi Convertible Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1992 Geo Metro LSi Convertible Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1992 Geo Metro LSi Convertible Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1992 Geo Metro LSi Convertible Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1992 Geo Metro LSi Convertible Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1992 Geo Metro LSi Convertible Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1992 Geo Metro LSi Convertible Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1992 Geo Metro LSi Convertible Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin ]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/06/junkyard-find-1992-geo-metro-lsi-convertible/feed/ 40
Junkyard Find: 1986 Chevrolet Sprint http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/06/junkyard-find-1986-chevrolet-sprint-2/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/06/junkyard-find-1986-chevrolet-sprint-2/#comments Sat, 15 Jun 2013 13:00:30 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=491921 11 - 1986 Chevrolet Sprint Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinYesterday, we admired this El Camino-ized Geo Metro, which probably got all of you wondering about the badge-engineered Suzuki Cultus that The General sold before the Geo marque existed. Wonder no more— here’s a genuine Chevy Sprint awaiting consumption by The Crusher!
02 - 1986 Chevrolet Sprint Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThree cylinders, unapologetically cheap interior, sticker price even lower than that of the wretched Hyundai Excel.
03 - 1986 Chevrolet Sprint Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinIn accordance with General Motors tradition (which persisted well into the 1990s in some models), the odometer in this car shows only five digits. Is it possible that this car has just 32,561 miles on the clock? 132,561 is a lot more likely, but you never know.
10 - 1986 Chevrolet Sprint Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe “hood ornament” is actually a hood release button.
05 - 1986 Chevrolet Sprint Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinRemember Chevrolet’s short-lived infatuation with this blue color for emblems?
06 - 1986 Chevrolet Sprint Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinCarburetion and one liter of displacement. Not a lot of power, but not much to go wrong.


Gets better fuel economy than any other four-passenger car in America (the Honda CRX HF was a two-passenger car), and it loves to run!


Translation: if you’re ready to take a (short) step up from your moped, this is the car for you!


Of course, the Japanese-market ad for the same car is just… classier.

02 - 1986 Chevrolet Sprint Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1986 Chevrolet Sprint Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1986 Chevrolet Sprint Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1986 Chevrolet Sprint Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1986 Chevrolet Sprint Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1986 Chevrolet Sprint Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1986 Chevrolet Sprint Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1986 Chevrolet Sprint Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1986 Chevrolet Sprint Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1986 Chevrolet Sprint Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1986 Chevrolet Sprint Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1986 Chevrolet Sprint Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1986 Chevrolet Sprint Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - 1986 Chevrolet Sprint Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin ]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/06/junkyard-find-1986-chevrolet-sprint-2/feed/ 33
Suzuki Planning Product Onslaught http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/06/suzuki-planning-product-onslaught/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/06/suzuki-planning-product-onslaught/#comments Fri, 14 Jun 2013 16:28:03 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=492157 Suzuki_Swift_1.2_Comfort_(FZ_NZ)_–_Frontansicht,_26._März_2011,_Düsseldorf (1)

Just as Suzuki prepares to wrap things up in the North American market, their global product line is set to be revamped entirely, with a focus on vehicles like the Nissan Juke.

AutoExpress is reporting that no less than five new cars will debut in the Suzuki lineup, including

  • A new three-cylinder city car to replace the Splash
  • A four-wheel drive version of the highly acclaimed Swift
  • A new B-segment crossover
  • A production version of the Suzuki G70 concept car using Fiat’s TwinAir two-cylinder engine
  • An MPV-type vehicle slotting above the Swift

Right now, the last two are under consideration with the others being given a green light. Given that none of those products would really fly in North America, save for the Swift (and that’s a longshot at best) it’s easy to see why the decision to close up shop was made, rather than invest in North American-specific product.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/06/suzuki-planning-product-onslaught/feed/ 22
Junkyard Find: 1990 Geo Metro-amino Pickup http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/06/junkyard-find-1990-geo-metro-amino-pickup/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/06/junkyard-find-1990-geo-metro-amino-pickup/#comments Fri, 14 Jun 2013 13:00:19 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=491854 14 - 1990 Geo Metro Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinIt takes a really special Geo Metro to achieve Junkyard Find status; the last one that managed the feat was this bright green electric-powered ’95, which turned out to be a Ree-V conversion made in Colorado during the EV optimism of the late 2000s. During a trip to my old San Francisco Bay stomping grounds a few weeks ago, I spotted today’s Junkyard Find parked just a few yards away from this will-make-you-haz-a-sad 1960 Nash Metropolitan.
07 - 1990 Geo Metro Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThese conversions (if based on a GM car, the correct term is “El-Caminoization”; Fords are “Rancheroized” and Chryslers get “Rampagized”) usually result when a hooptie car owner who owns a Sawzall but no cash really wants a pickup truck, right now. This one looks like it was built pretty well, by the standards of the genre.
12 - 1990 Geo Metro Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinNo big-block Suzuki four-banger here; this is the genuine 50-plus-MPG three-cylinder engine.
06 - 1990 Geo Metro Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinCargo capacity is quite small, which is a good thing considering the front-drivedness and tiny size of this machine.
04 - 1990 Geo Metro Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Metro wasn’t quite as miserably slow as you’d expect, but that’s more due to low expectations than actual performance.
09 - 1990 Geo Metro Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Apple sticker is a weird touch; the kind of person who would build such a hacked-up piece of backyard engineering most likely doesn’t feel comfortable with the don’t-resist-the-Cupertino-way philosophy behind Apple products. I’d guess that the builder of this car runs non-Cupertino/non-Redmond operating systems on surplus hardware. Of course, it’s possible that the builder sold his or her Metroamino to someone who bought it for a single Burning Man trip and then scrapped it.
02 - 1990 Geo Metro Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinWhat’s next, a Geo Stormamino? A Cateramino? Achievamino?

01 - 1990 Geo Metro Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1990 Geo Metro Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1990 Geo Metro Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1990 Geo Metro Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1990 Geo Metro Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1990 Geo Metro Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1990 Geo Metro Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1990 Geo Metro Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1990 Geo Metro Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1990 Geo Metro Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1990 Geo Metro Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1990 Geo Metro Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1990 Geo Metro Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1990 Geo Metro Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - 1990 Geo Metro Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin ]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/06/junkyard-find-1990-geo-metro-amino-pickup/feed/ 22
America’s Top Suzuki Dealer Switches To Subaru http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/04/americas-top-suzuki-dealer-switches-to-subaru/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/04/americas-top-suzuki-dealer-switches-to-subaru/#comments Mon, 29 Apr 2013 11:00:51 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=486538

America’s top selling Suzuki dealer is switching it up with a much more popular brand. Wichita Suzuki has begun selling Subaru cars as it prepares for the end of the Suzuki era in America.

Faced with an end to Suzuki sales, proprietor Scott Pitman bought a stake in a Subaru store owned by a business partner and moved it to his former Suzuki store. At its former location, the Subaru store was selling less than 50 cars a month, and Pittman is hoping to double that figure within a year. Last year, Pitman sold about 1,300 new Suzukis and around 1,800 used cars. Unlike most stores, dealers at Pitman’s store are salaried, rather than paid commission. Automotive News explains Pitman’s rationale for the pay structure

That encourages salespeople to find the best fit for buyers rather than steer them toward the most profitable vehicles, he said. Subaru buyers generally also do lots of Internet research on their potential purchases, making the role of the salesperson more one of helping the shopper navigate the process rather than trying to push a vehicle on them, Pitman said.

And of course, Pitman’s store won’t be slacking on subprime sales either

Pitman said about half of his Suzuki vehicle buyers last year came to the dealership through credit leads. Those are generated on the dealership Web site or third-party shopping sites when a person fills out credit information to determine how expensive of a car he or she can afford. Pitman said he could put many of those buyers into a new low-priced Suzuki rather than a used car. He said his operation will continue to cater to buyers with poor credit at the Subaru and used-car stores.

 

 

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/04/americas-top-suzuki-dealer-switches-to-subaru/feed/ 17
The Encyclopedia of Obscure Concept and Show Cars: Part Five – Pontiac to Volvo http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/04/the-encyclopedia-of-obscure-concept-and-show-cars-part-five-pontiac-to-volvo/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/04/the-encyclopedia-of-obscure-concept-and-show-cars-part-five-pontiac-to-volvo/#comments Fri, 19 Apr 2013 12:00:35 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=484785 1998 Pontiac Rageous-sVl=mx=

1998 Pontiac Rageous

All good things, even obscure and maybe even not so good, must come to an end. You can see previous installments of the Encyclopedia of Obscure Concept and Show Cars hereherehere, and here.

Oldsmobile, Packard, Plymouth. Another dead brand with obscure concept cars in this part of the alphabet is Pontiac. This is their Rageous concept from 1997, another proto-CUV, and what some have called “the Aztek that should have been”. Imagine a four door Trans Am (the rear doors are suicide style like on the RX-8 Mazda) with  a hatchback and a flat load floor that will accommodate a 4X8 sheet of plywood. A ’90s vintage LT1 and a Corvette based rear suspension completed the package, which of course had Pontiac’s supernumerary nostrils from that era. Actually, the Rageous isn’t that obscure. Mattel’s Hot Wheels released their own version of it in 1999 and reissued it at least 8 times since then. Like the Jeep Jeepster concept, if you’re a Gen Y’er, or a baby boomer who collects Hot Wheels you may actually remember the Pontiac Rageous.

PontiacAztekConcept@1999Web22Speak of the devil. Not a bad idea, but much better in theory than in practice.

PontiacBanshee@1988Web22The name Banshee has graced a number of sporty Pontiac show cars starting in 1964.  You can see how GM designers were trying to come up with an integrated rear spoiler and this 1988 Banshee did have an influence on the Firebird and Camaro but I think the 4th generation Camaro, which came out in 1993, had an even better integrated spoiler.

autowp.ru_pontiac_tempest_monte_carlo_concept_car_1In the early 1960s, Pontiac made a couple of Tempest based concepts including the Monte Carlo in 1962, a two seat speedster with cut down glass and fairings on the back deck. I dig the period correct mag wheels secured with a single knock off hub nut.

PontiacFleurDeLis@63CAS_web1The following year the Pontiac Tempest went from sporty to elegant with the Fleur de Lis, though if you look at the badge in the grille, it’s got a 326 V8 under the hood. You could argue that the first muscle cars were small Pontiacs with V8 engines.

PontiacPiranhaConcept@2000Web22The Pontiac Piranha, introduced in 2000, had a logo that could be used to make an Angry Fish spinoff. It’s so obscure that it doesn’t even have its own Wikipedia page, though Mattel’s Matchbox brand has issued it four times since 2002 and it’s apparently still in production. Perhaps Mattel sold more Pontiacs in that brand’s last decade than General Motors did.

PontiacSalsa@1992Web22Like Ford’s Ghia Prima, Pontiac tried the Nissan Pulsar sedan/hatch/wagon idea with the Salsa show cars in 1992: “A highly versatile small sport utility vehicle with a unique expanding body configuration.” Note the surfboards, a recurring show car motif.

PontiacStingerConcept@1989Web22Did anyone put a poster of the Pontiac Stinger on their wall?

2004-Chevrolet-Nomad-Solstice-Curve-1920x1440In 2004, to demonstrate the flexibility of the then new but now abandoned Kappa platform, GM brought out three show cars, the production version of the upcoming 2006 Pontiac Solstice, the Saturn Curve concept and the Chevy Nomad concept. The Curve, a chunky, muscular design that I thought looked kinda funny, never made it to production but Saturn did get the Sky, it’s own version of the Solstice roadster. The Nomad, a modern take on GM’s legendary Corvette station wagon from the 1954 Motorama touring car show, was probably never even considered for production. Saturn and Pontiac are dead, as is the Kappa platform. As far as I can tell, since the Sky, Solstice and Sky-based Opel GT have gone out of production no current GM product is based on Kappa architecture. Of the three show cars in 2004, the Nomad was the most popular. My guess is that had Chevy made that version of the Kappa, the platform might still be alive. Somewhere a shuttered Pontiac-Saturn dealer is having Nate Altmanesque dreams of buying some tooling.

simcafulgurSome of the less obscure show cars of the late 1950s and early 1960s were ideas that seemed perfectly reasonable then but outlandish now, like the two wheeled gyroscope stabilized Ford Gyron. You may have heard of the Gyron, but have you ever seen the Simca Fulgur from Chrysler’s French subsidiary? Fulgar means “lightning” in Latin and I suppose the connection was electricity. The Fulgur was another supposedly gyrostabilized vehicle, with electric power (some references say atomic) and an “electronic brain”.

Subaru SRD1990_ _ExhibitWeb22The 1990 Subaru SRD-1 was the first concept car out of the Subaru Research and Design center in Cypress, California. Recognizing that they were selling the most popular import station wagons, Subaru went with their strengths and designed what they called ”an innovative “dream wagon” concept for the ’90s and beyond”. The “beyond” part was a reference to a “family wagon” with features designed “with characteristic attention to the future needs of the mature wagon users”. The typical Subaru owner then was often rather frugal and I guess for that crowd knowing that the car would still be running after the kids move out and you start buying Depends would be a selling point.

SuzukiSea@@2006Web221The Suzuki Sea from 2005 and 2006 was one of a number of forgettable Suzuki concepts that embraced surfer culture. You’ll excuse me if I’d prefer a real woody wagon (and definitely not the Dodge Kahuna) if I was going to go surfing.

toyota pod 2002For a conservative company decried by some as producing “beigemobiles”, Toyota has made some rather odd concepts, like the Pod from 2002.

1977_Toyota_CAL-1_Concept_02I’m guessing that like the Subaru SRD-1, Toyota’s CAL-1, from the 1977-78 show circuit, celebrated that Japanese company’s then new California design center, in this case CALTY. Though it was designed in the United States, it was revealed at the 1977 Tokyo show, which may explain the right hand drive. Based on an A40 Celica Supra, the CAL-1 was a ute, with wooden decking over the pickup bed. Also reminiscent of Subaru are the BRAT style seats in the bad.

VolkswagenAAC_Concept@2000Web22The Volkswagen AAC, shown here at Chicago in 2000, was another VW pickup truck that they didn’t sell in North America.

ARVW_Riga_Motor_Museum_2008Do you remember the Volkswagon ARVW (Aerodynamic Research Volkswagen) from 1980? For a while it was the fastest diesel powered car in the world: 362.07 km/h.

volvo you_rA show car doesn’t have to be old to be obscure. The Volvo Concept You was on the show circuit last year. It’s a gorgeous car and a look at what the next Volvo S80 flagship will be like, but I think even Volvo wants to keep it obscure. They kept it behind glass at the 2012 NAIAS.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can dig deeper at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks – RJS

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/04/the-encyclopedia-of-obscure-concept-and-show-cars-part-five-pontiac-to-volvo/feed/ 35
Junkyard Find: 2004 Suzuki Aerio http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/03/junkyard-find-2004-suzuki-aerio/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/03/junkyard-find-2004-suzuki-aerio/#comments Fri, 29 Mar 2013 13:00:32 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=482673 Not many cars appear and disappear while leaving as little trace as did the Suzuki Aerio, which was sold in the United States for the 2002-2007 model years. Normally, I ignore such new cars when I’m wandering around the wrecking yards of Denver, but I’ll break out the camera when I find something of historical significance— for example, an example of the final year of the GM J-body’s 24-year run— or when I see a car that doesn’t seem to exist on the street any more. This Aerio is such a car.
The car used for the first seven years of Top Gear UK’s “Star In a Reasonably Priced Car” series was a 2002 Suzuki Aerio (called the Liana, which was supposedly an acronym for “Life In A New Age,” in Europe). This is the only Aerio most of us have ever seen.
American car shoppers ran out of reasons to buy Suzuki cars, though Chinese buyers can still get a new Liana.
Will anyone pull any pieces off this car before it gets eaten by The Crusher? Probably not.

01-2004 Suzuki Aerio Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02-2004 Suzuki Aerio Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03-2004 Suzuki Aerio Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04-2004 Suzuki Aerio Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05-2004 Suzuki Aerio Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06-2004 Suzuki Aerio Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07-2004 Suzuki Aerio Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08-2004 Suzuki Aerio Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09-2004 Suzuki Aerio Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10-2004 Suzuki Aerio Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11-2004 Suzuki Aerio Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12-2004 Suzuki Aerio Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13-2004 Suzuki Aerio Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14-2004 Suzuki Aerio Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 15-2004 Suzuki Aerio Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 16-2004 Suzuki Aerio Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 17-2004 Suzuki Aerio Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 18-2004 Suzuki Aerio Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 19-2004 Suzuki Aerio Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail ]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/03/junkyard-find-2004-suzuki-aerio/feed/ 59
New Suzuki SX4 Goes Unnoticed In Geneva http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/03/new-suzuki-sx4-goes-unnoticed-in-geneva/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/03/new-suzuki-sx4-goes-unnoticed-in-geneva/#comments Tue, 05 Mar 2013 22:51:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=480279

Irony is a cruel mistress. Just as Suzuki’s American auto sales arm is winding down, the newest version of the SX4 was revealed at Geneva, and it doesn’t look bad at all – save for the awful snot green shade.

A switchable AWD system will allow drivers to choose between one of four modes. Two super low emissions powerplants, both 1.6L 4-cylinders (a gas and a diesel), will be offered. The diesel emits just 110 grams of CO2 per km, nearly in line with the benchmark 100 grams that the Prius emits. The diesel gets a 6 speed manual while the gas car loses a cog. A CVT is the only choice for those who don’t want to shift. The Hungarian-built SX4 will obviously not be coming to the States, but there’s a chance that Canadian-plated versions may end up on American roads sometime in the future.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/03/new-suzuki-sx4-goes-unnoticed-in-geneva/feed/ 22
Court OKs Suzuki Bankruptcy Plans http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/03/court-oks-suzuki-bankruptcy-plans/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/03/court-oks-suzuki-bankruptcy-plans/#comments Mon, 04 Mar 2013 11:00:28 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=479909

The 30 year run of Suzuki auto sales in the United States is one step closer to coming to an end, as a California bankruptcy court approved Suzuki’s restructuring plans.

Suzuki Motor of America will be the new entity responsible for selling motorcycles and powersports equipment once Suzuki sells off its remaining new car inventory. Meanwhile, Suzuki sales outlets will continue to honor warranties and provide parts and service for the company’s automobiles.

A report by Automotive News scribe and Suzuki expert Ryan Beene highlights a bleak picture for Suzuki; sales fell from over 100,000 units in 2007 to a paltry 25,357 units in 2012 – about as many Camrys as Toyota sells in a month. An unfavorable exchange rate and contraction in the sub-prime auto market ultimately spelled doom for the auto maker in America.

Fans of the brand hoping for a return look to be out of luck as well. Chairman Osamu Suzuki ruled out a future return to America, stating

“Taking into account the issue of the exchange rates and the fact that we have no future outlook for making large vehicles, I think re-entry would be extremely hopeless.”

As for the status of Suzuki’s inventory – if you want an SX4 or Kizashi, you better act fast. A Suzuky spokesman was unable to tell Beene how many cars were left in America, while cars.com listed just 1376 Suzuki cars nationwide.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/03/court-oks-suzuki-bankruptcy-plans/feed/ 1
Fast Times: How getting rid of an AMC Javelin led me to a better life http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/03/fast-times-how-getting-rid-of-an-amc-javelin-led-me-to-a-better-life/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/03/fast-times-how-getting-rid-of-an-amc-javelin-led-me-to-a-better-life/#comments Sat, 02 Mar 2013 14:00:33 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=479346

Not the real car Rick owned, but pretty much the same thing,

It was 1984. Van Halen, Iron Maiden, and the Scorpions were on the radio stations I listened to, while Prince, Wham, and some guy named Michael Jackson were on the stations I avoided. I was a young punk and I ran with a fast crowd. Whatever, I was into fast.

At just 17 years old, my best buddy Rick had already owned a string of jalopies. His first car had been a VW Beetle of dubious quality and it had made him famous around the school when its throttle stuck wide-open. Fortunately the gate to the high school football field happened to open and Rick was able to pilot the car out onto the perfectly maintained grass where he was forced to do donuts for his very life until the poor beast finally sunk up to its axles. After that had come a string of unremarkable cars, but then finally, he managed to score some real muscle, a 1974 AMC Javelin.

Rick’s Javelin was an amazing machine and I was instantly taken with its quirky style and it funky purple color. Equipped with a 304 small block and an automatic transmission, the car was not really as muscular as it probably seemed at the time but it did alright on the road. We spent a lot of Friday and Saturday nights cruising the around looking for pick-up races, some of which we won or standing around in parking lots trying our best to look tough and pick up girls, both of which we failed at.

By 1991 those days were long gone. I was a 24 year old merchant marine and I spent about 8 months a year at sea. It was a good living for a young man. I got to see a lot of the world and, thanks to a plentiful overtime, I always came home with my pockets stuffed with cash. I took care of business first, of course, and after a couple of trips had paid off my only bill, the note on my Turbo Shadow. Because I lived at home with my parents when I wasn’t aboard ship, my money was my own and, like most young men, I was determined to waste as much of it as possible. That’s how a dirty brown 1972 Javelin SST ended up in my father’s driveway.

Yours truly on the deck of a container ship in KaoSuing Taiwan circa 1990

My father had probably the finest yard in Snohomish county, WA and today, many years later, I can understand how he felt when I brought the car home. At the time, however, I thought a barely running 18 year old muscle car decomposing alongside my father’s carefully tended lawn was perfectly acceptable and didn’t understand what he was so angry about. I didn’t have long to hear him complain though, less than a week after I purchased the car I was back to sea and headed to the far side of the world.

The mind wanders when you are at sea. Your 12 hour work day is spent in the heat of the engine room or out in the in the constant wind on deck but the tasks you must perform are generally menial. You spend most of your time underway chipping rust, sweeping, painting, wiping up spills or checking gauges and doing preventative maintenance on ancillary systems. That isn’t to say that you aren’t needed, ships are expensive and if you didn’t keep up with things the situation could deteriorate pretty quickly, but for the most part you are not doing work that occupies your mind. Thus, without a girl to think about, my thoughts naturally turned to the car I had waiting for me at home.

When I got home six months later, what I found was not what I thought I had left. Over the months at sea I had pictured in my mind’s eye a near perfect project car that I could put into showroom condition with just a little TLC and few magic twists of a wrench. What I found, after months of Washington state winter, was what appeared to be a giant molding turd that, thanks to four deflated tires, looked like it was glued to the ground. It was a mess and I was lucky my father hadn’t had it it dragged off in my absence.

Perhaps if I had known about the missing weather stripping and the leaking windows I could have added to my father’s unhappiness by throwing a blue tarp over it before I left, but now it was too late. While I had been overseas, at least three inches of water pooled on the floor inside of the car, soaking the carpet and anything I had been foolish enough to leave there. The headliner and the seats were water logged as well and the only thing that had prevented a full-on mildew attack was the fact it was still too cold outside. To make matters worse the car had a constant misfire and despite changing all the usual parts I was unable to solve the problem.

I would have been happy if my own Javelin was half as nice as this one.

Now that I was looking at spending more hard earned cash I was looking with a more critical eye and it was obvious I had bought a whole load of trouble. That realization, in combination with the constant ass-chewing I was getting from my dad, made me want out of this mess in a hurry and I took quick action. First, I pumped up the four flats and then, using my dad’s shop vac, I pulled gallons of water out of the car’s interior. On sunny days I set up a window fan to blow air over the damp surfaces and gradually the car dried out. I worked on the engine and got it running passably if not exactly right and I spent some time working on the paint. The end result was nothing like the car I had imagined, but at the very least it was sellable.

The best way to sell anything is by word of mouth and I told my neighbor Kenny, who was better connected than I, to spread the word. In a small town news gets around fast and two days later a guy named Rusty was on my doorstep offering a deal. Would I take an old motorcycle in trade for the car?

My GS850G after it was completed 1991

It turned out that Rusty had bought the motorcycle, a big old GS-850 Suzuki, so he could go one rides with his father and brothers. But Rusty had never owned a bike and on one of his first outings he had laid the massive machine down. The damage, he told me, was not bad, a scuffed Vetter fairing, a smashed saddle bag and a ground-away crash bar. It was still usable he said, but the wreck had frightened him and he wanted no more of life out in the wind. Would I exchange my troubles for his?

Logic is a weird thing. Did I want a crappy old car that didn’t run right and came with its own marsh on the interior or some kind of big old wrecked motorcycle? It wasn’t a tough decision really, I already had a motorcycle and I liked riding so I really wasn’t afraid of getting the bike. To top it off, a car took up a lot of highly visible space in the driveway and I could keep the bike out of sight in the woodshed which my father wouldn’t yell about. Naturally, I took the deal.

Rusty got a good deal. He took the Javelin down to a local shop where they diagnosed its lingering engine troubles as a bad distributor and they made the repair for right around $100. He used the car for months afterwards, often roaring by my parent’s house in a gross display of power and arrogance, often honking at me when I was outside to make sure I knew it was he who had come out on top in our deal.

What Rusty didn’t know is that it was I who had got the better deal. Within a week of getting the old Suzuki home, I had stripped away the scuffed fairing and the other damaged parts to reveal a machine in surprisingly good condition. With some of my hard earned cash I bought a new exhaust header, got a racier set of handlebars and some sticky Metzler tires and turned the old bike into the hot rod I so earnestly desired. I ended up owning the GS Suzuki for the better part of a decade and the experience turned me from a casual motorcyclist into a real crotch-rocket jockey. The bike changed my life.

It was 1991 and who cares what was on the radio, I had the sound of wind in my ears. I was a young punk and I ran with a fast crowd. Whatever, I’m into fast.

Fast Company – Me aboard my GS850 circa 1995

Thomas Kreutzer currently lives in Buffalo, New York with his wife and three children but has spent most of his adult life overseas. He has lived in Japan for 9 years, Jamaica for 2 and spent almost 5 years as a US Merchant Mariner serving primarily in the Pacific. A long time auto and motorcycle enthusiast he has pursued his hobbies whenever possible. He also enjoys writing and public speaking where, according to his wife, his favorite subject is himself

Not the real car Rick owned, but pretty much the same thing, I would have been happy if my own Javelin was half as nice as this one. Me making a color change on my GS850 circa 1994 My GS850G after it was completed 1991 Yours truly on the deck of a container ship in KaoSuing Taiwan circa 1990 Fast Company - Me aboard my GS850 circa 1995 The Rising Sun paint job on my GS850G circa 1997 Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail ]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/03/fast-times-how-getting-rid-of-an-amc-javelin-led-me-to-a-better-life/feed/ 17
Monday Mileage Champion: Tom Tuttle’s Tacoma http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/02/monday-mileage-champion-tom-tuttles-tacoma/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/02/monday-mileage-champion-tom-tuttles-tacoma/#comments Mon, 25 Feb 2013 14:00:14 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=478870

My grandma was a bit of a card shark. You name the game, she played it.

You would think that she would show a teeny bit of mercy to a six year old kid like me back in the day. Nope. Not a chance. Whenever she was about to beat me… yet again… grandma would flash an ear to ear grin on her face and bellow out her trademarked version of checkmate.

“Stevie? Do you want the old news? Or the bad news?”

I would flash my own waning innocence in these matters and say, “What about no news?”

No news, indeed. If you are looking to find yet another new name to take on pole position in our weekly mileage race, think again.

This 1998 Toyota Tacoma may represent the ultimate nirvana of long-term durability.

Easy maintenance. A transmission that is less taxed over the log haul than Mitt Romney. An engine that originates from a million clones and ten million near replicas. Toss in OBD-II diagnostics and a good owner, and the Tacomas of this generation present better real-life results than an Al Gore environmental symposium.

409,440 miles. No announcements. Not even much in the way of physical wear.

Of course you get that little whiskey on the side which seems to be endemic with these models. Even my retired neighbor who lives diagonal from me is chugging along with a 275k truck that has been given the custom “fat check treatment” from two different wayward travelers. It seems that about a third of the older trucks in my neck of the woods have been permanently customized with a hard dent or a long scuff. 

No matter. This SR5 model should be able to go for as long as a frugal truck owner is willing to invest in this little beast. Other notable rides this time were…

A Southern Neon with over 308,000 miles… still running.

A double whammy 1999 Pontiac Grand Am SE that suffered from a prior rental history and the virulently hated 3.4 Liter V6. Still chugging along with 305,867 miles. No announcements.

Then we had the proverbial cockroach of the road. 2004 Chevy Cavalier. As base as you get with the 5-speed and power nothing. 272,494 miles. No announcements, and a lifetime in the rust ridden roads of northern Illinois. This one must have been garage kept.

The Accord and Camry combined are still offering more 200k cars than all of Europe by a greater than two to one ratio. Audi and Kia are still the two laggards of longevity along with the habitually broken VW’s and the locally defunct SAAB and Suzuki brands. As for the often unloved Pontiac Grand Prix… it still seems to be offering just as many 180k+ trade-in vehicles as the entire Volkswagen brand.

Two months of data so far now for the Trade In Quality Index (TIQI) with ten more to go. A forecasted 300,000 vehicles will go in this system and thanks to TTAC volunteer Nicholas Lariviere, we now have a database that will require no recounts.

 

 

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/02/monday-mileage-champion-tom-tuttles-tacoma/feed/ 35
Suzuki Does TTAC A Solid http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/02/suzuki-does-ttac-a-solid/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/02/suzuki-does-ttac-a-solid/#comments Mon, 18 Feb 2013 21:20:01 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=478064

Despite our relentless Death Watch against Suzuki, the company decided to throw TTAC a bone by displaying a brown Grand Vitara at the Canadian International Auto Show.

This is actually one of two shades of brown available on the GV. While you can no longer get a rear-drive or stick shift configuration on the GV like in days past, it’s nice to know that someone is listening to some, if not all of our prayers.

Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail photo (33) photo (35) photo (34) ]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/02/suzuki-does-ttac-a-solid/feed/ 16
Suzuki Death Watch 17: This Is The Suzuki That’ll Never Arrive In North America http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/02/suzuki-death-watch-17-this-is-the-suzuki-thatll-never-arrive-in-north-america/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/02/suzuki-death-watch-17-this-is-the-suzuki-thatll-never-arrive-in-north-america/#comments Wed, 06 Feb 2013 16:03:22 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=476524

It must be Suzuki Day. Fresh off pictures from our resident Chinese spy, Suzuki has released some pictures of the upcoming S-Cross C-segment all-wheel-driver.

The S-Cross, first previewed in Paris last September, looks to feature some LED eyeliner and a new corporate grille up front, similar to the refreshed Grand Vitara. It does stay fairly faithful to the concept, which itself looked almost production ready.

No other details have been provided at this point, but expect the new Suzuki to lull you into a false sense of security before pulling out of the marketplace when it’s released later this year.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/02/suzuki-death-watch-17-this-is-the-suzuki-thatll-never-arrive-in-north-america/feed/ 21
Suzuki Death Watch 16: SX4 Gets A New Face http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/02/suzuki-death-watch-16-sx4-gets-a-new-face/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/02/suzuki-death-watch-16-sx4-gets-a-new-face/#comments Wed, 06 Feb 2013 13:00:35 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=476434

While the US won’t get the Suzuki SX4 any more, the flow of cars isn’t being cut off from Canada. Might we see this facelifted version of the SX4 (meant for the Chinese market) appear in the Great White North? The Canadian International Auto Show is only a couple weeks away, but we’ve got no indication about Suzuki debuting anything new at the show. Only time will tell.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/02/suzuki-death-watch-16-sx4-gets-a-new-face/feed/ 7
Monday Mileage Champion: The Year In Review http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/12/monday-mileage-champion-the-year-in-review/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/12/monday-mileage-champion-the-year-in-review/#comments Mon, 31 Dec 2012 17:43:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=471956

It’s time to make a confession to the good folks at TTAC.

The mileage game is rigged.

How so? Well, approximately two-thirds of the vehicles that reach the 300k+ mark  at an auction I attend will usually belong in one of four categories.

Ford truck or SUV.  Chevy truck or SUV. Honda car. Toyota everything.

There you have it. Nearly two thirds of the vehicles that I see with serious high mileage credentials will belong in one of those four categories.

Yes I do see the occasional V8, rear-wheel-drive Ford car. Nissan seems to do well with their mostly -90′s Altimas, 10+ year old Maximas,  and their wonderful small trucks. A few Jeeps and Cummins diesel trucks also fly into the high mileage radar.

But everyone else? Just little glimpses every now and then.

The old school German machinery will sometimes score a 300k+ model with a level of maintenance receipts that could do damage to your next door neighbor’s window.

VW does well with the TDI, the too slow 2.0, and nothing else. Audi, Jaguar, Land Rover, SAAB, and Volvo have become a big fuhgeddaboudit for our weekly mileage contest. Volvo would probably field a few 300k vehicles if the odometers on all their 1990′s models didn’t break with a near 100% level of consistency.

In my experiences, Subarus can get close to 300k, But they will often  have massive oil leaks and repair records that will rival the Germans.

Mitsubishi makes some decent cars as does Mazda. But the former are almost always eventually skirted away to the abuse oriented rental fleets and buy-here pay-here lots. While Mazda suffers from a nasty long era where many of their automatic transmissions simply did not hold up.

Then we have Chrysler. The 2.7 Liter engines rarely makes it past 120k miles and are virtually non-existent at the auto recycling centers. Even though they made millions of them, you may as well be asking the guy at the junkyard counter for a 20 year old Peugeot with a dancing unicorn on top of it.

The 3.7 Liter and 4.7 Liter engines are also becoming increasingly expensive due to sludge issues and the fact that they’re difficult to rebuild. Chrysler transmissions for their minivans are also becoming a rarer sight. Although they are far easier to rebuild.

Finally, it seems that Chrysler could never design certain basic parts that were worth a flip throughout the last two decades.

For a while at the auctions, I began to think that Chrysler engineered a whining noise into all the power steering pumps in their minivans and differentials in their luxury Jeeps. Chrysler wouldn’t even arbitrate certain Jeeps for differential noise back in the mid-2000′s.

However, a Dodge truck with a Cummins diesel remains a recipe for success, and the Hemi engine seems to be long lasting along with the old 5.2 Liter 318 engine and the 4.0 Liter inline-six.

Finally we are back at GM and Ford, again. I will give special kudos to the GM 3.8 Liter V6 and the Ford Vulcan V6. The former was a marvel for the time. While the later represents the ultimate in amortization costs and continuous improvement. Everything else ranges from above average (GM 2.2 Liter engines and early non-plastic intake 3.1 Liter engines), to problematic (Ford 3.8 Liter engines, GM 3.4 Liter V6 models, Northstar V8′s.)

Sometimes these issues had to do with the overuse of cheap plastic in the engine bay and coolants that gel up. While other times it has more to do with basic bad design (Saturn and Freestar CVT transmissions) and planned obsolescence (Aveos, Neons, PT Cruisers, last-gen Festivas, last-gen Metros).

I expect that the Koreans will likely join the fray of 300k+ in the coming years. But a lot of just plain bad Hyundais and Kias were made until recent times. I can’t recall a single model from either brand with a notably high mileage at the auctions.

As for the Honda Accord with 403,817 miles? It was followed by a Toyota Tacoma, an Acura TL, and a Ford Explorer. All with over 390,000 miles. The durability quartet took 8 of the top 10 spots and 22 of the first 30.

Not bad… and not unusual at all.

 

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/12/monday-mileage-champion-the-year-in-review/feed/ 133
Suzuki Death Watch 15: Kizashi Bests Camry In A Bittersweet Final Victory http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/12/suzuki-death-watch-15-kizashi-bests-camry-in-a-bittersweet-final-victory/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/12/suzuki-death-watch-15-kizashi-bests-camry-in-a-bittersweet-final-victory/#comments Thu, 20 Dec 2012 13:00:27 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=470902

Kizashi Beats Camry! No, it’s not a reprise of Dewey Beats Truman, but the Suzuki Kizashi landed a parting shot against mid-size kingpin the Toyota Camry, soundly beating it in the latest round of IIHS crash testing.

The Kizashi, along with the Honda Accord, were the only two cars to receive a “Good” rating in the 40 mph front offset crash test. The Toyota Camry, along with the Prius V receieved a “Poor” rating, with Automotive News reporting

In both of Toyota’s vehicles, the crash caused significant intrusion into the occupant compartment — in the case of the Camry, the front wheel was forced sharply backward toward the driver’s feet. The driver-side airbags also failed to fully prevent a blow to the test dummy’s head in both crashes.

Too little, too late for Suzuki. But it must be nice to know that it beat the Camry at least once.

 

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/12/suzuki-death-watch-15-kizashi-bests-camry-in-a-bittersweet-final-victory/feed/ 14
Suzuki Death Watch 14: A Facelifted Brown Grand Vitara Surfaces For Promotional Purposes http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/12/suzuki-death-watch-14-a-facelifted-brown-grand-vitara-surfaces-for-promotional-purposes/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/12/suzuki-death-watch-14-a-facelifted-brown-grand-vitara-surfaces-for-promotional-purposes/#comments Mon, 10 Dec 2012 15:33:51 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=469683

Suzuki’s booth at the Toronto Motorcycle Show had a nice surprise amidst all the GSX-Rs and big cruisers. A 2013 Grand Vitara, sporting a new facelift and a brown paint scheme.

Although the Grand Vitara is a non-entity in the wider auto market, the new facelift didn’t look half bad. Still, the loaded example seen here starts at around $30,000 Canadian – that’s in well-equipped CR-V territory. Though it looks like the same 0 percent financing being offered in the US is also on offer here.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/12/suzuki-death-watch-14-a-facelifted-brown-grand-vitara-surfaces-for-promotional-purposes/feed/ 13