The Truth About Cars » wagon http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Sat, 27 Jun 2015 14:00:01 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.2 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 » wagon http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Junkyard Find: 1983 Toyota Cressida Wagon, Salty Pacific Ocean Spray Edition http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/junkyard-find-1983-toyota-cressida-wagon-salty-pacific-ocean-spray-edition/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/junkyard-find-1983-toyota-cressida-wagon-salty-pacific-ocean-spray-edition/#comments Wed, 10 Jun 2015 11:00:56 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1079161 Since we had some rusty Junkyard Finds recently and I just spent a couple of days driving around San Francisco looking at ocean-salt horror-story cars, let’s continue with the Toyota Rust theme and check out this frighteningly oxidized San Francisco Cressida. Cars in the non-mountainous regions of California mostly don’t rust much, unless they’re air-cooled […]

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40 - 1983 Toyota Cressida Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

Since we had some rusty Junkyard Finds recently and I just spent a couple of days driving around San Francisco looking at ocean-salt horror-story cars, let’s continue with the Toyota Rust theme and check out this frighteningly oxidized San Francisco Cressida.
27 - 1983 Toyota Cressida Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

Cars in the non-mountainous regions of California mostly don’t rust much, unless they’re air-cooled Volkswagens. Sometimes you’ll see old Detroit cars in California with rusted-out trunk floors (from rainwater leaking in during the winter) or rust beneath vinyl tops, but that’s about as bad as it gets… unless you live within a few blocks of the ocean. In that situation, you get salt spray kicked up by big waves, plus the constant damp and fog that neighborhoods right on the ocean get. The damage tends to start on top and work its way down. Eventually, a good-running Toyota becomes more of a rusty cheese grater and must be scrapped.

15 - 1983 Toyota Cressida Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

This Cressida has San Francisco N Zone residential parking permits stretching from 1994 through a couple months ago. The Richmond District gets plenty of salt and chilly fog, being one of those SF neighborhoods with summer high temperatures in the 40s.

01 - 1983 Toyota Cressida Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

The owner of this car experimented with several types of rust-covering fillers. This appears to be Sculpey and Rustoleum.

29 - 1983 Toyota Cressida Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

I got so obsessed with documenting the rust “repairs” that I neglected to shoot the interior of this car. The icky Children’s Interactive Expo T-shirt as a seat cover is the only interior shot I took.

21 - 1983 Toyota Cressida Junkyard Find - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

The 5M engine might still be a runner. Only one way to find out!

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QOTD: What Wagon Version of a Non-Wagon Car Would You Actually Buy? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/qotd-what-wagon-version-of-a-non-wagon-car-would-you-actually-buy/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/qotd-what-wagon-version-of-a-non-wagon-car-would-you-actually-buy/#comments Wed, 27 May 2015 11:34:22 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1076658 This, my friends, is the Golf SportWagen TDI (Sportwagon in Canada) currently taking residence in my driveway this week. It’s a brilliant little car, even if it isn’t manual, brown, or all-wheel drive. Even though it’s wonderfully good – the DSG is sharp and smooth, the ride is firm yet svelte, and the torque, oh the […]

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Golf SportWagen

This, my friends, is the Golf SportWagen TDI (Sportwagon in Canada) currently taking residence in my driveway this week. It’s a brilliant little car, even if it isn’t manual, brown, or all-wheel drive.

Even though it’s wonderfully good – the DSG is sharp and smooth, the ride is firm yet svelte, and the torque, oh the torque! – I still wouldn’t buy one.

This past week, I’ve been inundated with different versions of a similar question: are there any modern vehicles I’d actually buy? This is opening up Pandora’s Box and finding a can of worms inside.

Proving the Pandora’s Box part of the above metaphor, automotive journalists are weird degenerates and we desire cars that are truly horrible. Case in point: the Crown Victoria. Sajeev’s unending love for one of Ford’s worst creations, powered by the modular 4.6L V8, is proof of his masochistic ways. Also, he lives in Houston, further cementing his devotion to being eternally uncomfortable, whether it be on sitting on a bench seat or sweating in 95 percent humidity. Or both, assuming the Vic’s air conditioning is on the fritz.

The can of worms part is simple. As an automotive journalist, saying you would buy a particular car, truck, or SUV is akin to endorsement. There are literally tons of vehicles I would buy for myself but would never suggest to others. Much like Sajeev’s “beaten spouse” acceptance of the Panther platform in its many guises, I love one of Ford’s other forgotten heroes: the Bronco. Oh, do I love the Bronco. Not even the cool old Broncos upon which ICON does its magic. I (again) want a plastic-adorned Bronco of the ’90s emblazoned with XLT or Eddie Bauer on the side.

However, I won’t tell anyone else to buy a Bronco. They’re thirsty, problem prone, and completely impractical. A two-door SUV with a removable roof (held down with tamper-proof Torx bolts, no less) powered by, not one, but two V8 engines spitting out very similar horsepower figures? Yup, that’s for me. Give me that, please.

That said, if there existed a long-roof version of some of today’s sedan or hatchback offerings, I’d probably switch my tune.

Impreza? They used to do a wagon. And I would buy it, too. With real money. The hatchback? Not a chance.

Focus? You can get it in Europe. Yet, bringing it to North America would put it in competition with the Escape.

Impala? Oh god. This used to exist in the ’60s and whenever I see one I get that feeling. The nostalgia might push me over the edge.

So, B&B, what wagon version of a normal car would you buy with real non-Internet-commenter money?

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QOTD: Are Car Enthusiasts Ahead of or Behind the Market? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/qotd-car-enthusiasts-behind-ahead-market/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/qotd-car-enthusiasts-behind-ahead-market/#comments Wed, 06 May 2015 11:00:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1062618 The latest sales numbers from April are a tale of two cars: one with a bodystyle we praise and another sporting a shape we denounce without impunity – the VW Golf SportWagen and Porsche Macan. The long-roof Golf took nine days on average to find a buyer. The Macan is at 11 days. Brown manual diesel all-wheel […]

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2015-Volkswagen-Golf-Sportwagen

The latest sales numbers from April are a tale of two cars: one with a bodystyle we praise and another sporting a shape we denounce without impunity – the VW Golf SportWagen and Porsche Macan.

The long-roof Golf took nine days on average to find a buyer. The Macan is at 11 days.

Brown manual diesel all-wheel drive wagon it is not, yet the SportWagen does check most of the boxes typically associated with the practical car enthusiast set. You get space without having to pay the drag penalty associated with SUVs and their large frontal area. Also, for those looking for some performance, nothing delivers torque like diesel (unless you go electric, which is a discussion for another day).

porsche-macan-2013-la-auto-show-11

Which brings us to the Macan. Granted, the smaller Porsche-UV is exceptionally good, even if you do lose out on a considerable amount of cargo space compared to its platform mate, the Audi Q5. But, the Macan is still the antithesis of typical car enthusiast thinking: a high-riding utility vehicle that can’t go off-road sporting a badge from a “sportscar” company when, in fact, it has virtually nothing in common with the rest of the range. It’s also expensive, equipped horribly on the lower end of the price scale, and about as ‘aspirational’ as one can get.

So, that begs the question: are car enthusiasts ahead of the curve or behind it? Is the Golf SportWagen a case of the rest of the market finally “getting it” or just an odd blip in a typically silver SUV-filled market?

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Review: 2015.5 Volvo V60 Cross Country (with video) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/review-2015-5-volvo-v60-cross-country-video/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/review-2015-5-volvo-v60-cross-country-video/#comments Fri, 03 Apr 2015 13:00:14 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1030617 Volvo may not have invented the wagon but no company has as much dedication to the practical cargo hauler as the Swedish brand. With the new V60 Cross Country they have expanded to six wagons world-wide (V40, V40 Cross Country, V60, V60 Cross Country, V70 and XC70). Wagon fans sad that Volvo isn’t bringing their […]

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2015.5 Volvo V60 Cross Country Exterior Side-004

Volvo may not have invented the wagon but no company has as much dedication to the practical cargo hauler as the Swedish brand. With the new V60 Cross Country they have expanded to six wagons world-wide (V40, V40 Cross Country, V60, V60 Cross Country, V70 and XC70). Wagon fans sad that Volvo isn’t bringing their smaller boxes to the USA may be relieved to know the V60 Cross Country is not replacing the V60. This means that for the first time in a long time, we have access to three Swedish wagons on our shores.

Exterior

Volvo is a company normally associated with safety and practicality. They are the comfy penny loafer of the luxury segment if you will. This Volvo is different. Rather than the boxy form-follows-function style we’re used to from Sweden, the V60 is more about style than practicality. The change is most noticeable in the rear where we get a hatch that is raked forward and a greenhouse that plunges and pinches toward the back. e still have a subtle hint of the Volvo “hips”, but the design has been smoothed and simplified since the 1999 S80 that started Volvo’s modern style.

For off-paved-road duty, Volvo jacked up V60’s ride height by 2.6 inches, added some silver trim here and there, swapped out the grille for a honeycomb-themed version and added some black wheel arches. Thus the oddly named V60 Cross Country was born. For reasons I don’t quite understand, the CC gets larger wheels (18-inch) narrower 50-series rubber. This should be your first hint that the CC is more soft-road than off-road focused. As you might expect from a car maker located in the north, the CC can be had with an electric heated windscreen ala Range Rover that speeds ice removal when the snowpocalypse returns. Perhaps it’s my preference towards wagons in general, but I think the the tweaks work on the CC, it retains the crisp style I appreciate on the V60 but adds just enough “rugged” style to differentiate it on the road.

2015.5 Volvo V60 Cross Country Interior.CR2

Interior

For those that haven’t shopped for a Volvo wagon in a while, the Swedes continue to shuffle model numbers around. Once upon a time the wagon variant of the S60 was the V70 and the off-road version was the XC70. Today however the V70 and XC70 are based on the S80 wagon. The V50 was once the wagon version of the smaller S40 leaving just V60 available. Sounds logical, right? So an off-road modified V60 would be a XC60. Oops, that already exists. So Volvo dusted off their older “Cross Country” nomenclature, the same trim that ostensibly got shortened to “XC” a while back. Confused yet?

The V60’s is on the small side for this segment and that’s most noticeable in the rear where we have less legroom than you’ll find in the A4 and BMW 3-Series wagons. This is the key reason that Volvo will be bringing their stretched S60 sedan to America next year, sadly there is no word of a matching V60L.  Front seat accommodations are spacious, but still offer a less room than the Germans. One thing Volvo has consistently excelled at however is seat comfort. Front and rear seats are well padded and extremely comfortable. All 2015.5 Volvo models finally ditch the lumbar support knob for a 2-way power variety which is welcome, but not as adjustable as the 4-way competition. In an interesting twist, all CC models get a variant of the S60 and V60’s sport seats which offer exaggerated bolstering on the back and bottom cushions. I like the feel, but if you’re a larger person you may find them a little narrow.

The cargo area is where we see the consequence of Volvo’s sexy side profile. Behind the curvaceous hatch sits half the cargo capacity of an XC60 at just 15.2 cubic feet. With the rear seats folded it expands to 43.5, about half of what you find in the XC70. The cargo space is small enough that even the questionably practical BMW X4 has a little more room in the back. Audi’s allroad slots between the XC70 and V60 Cross Country in overall dimensions and cargo capacity.

2015.5 Volvo Sensus Connect Infotainment Navigation-004

Infotainment

2015.5 doesn’t bring a larger screen or major UI changes to Volvo’s Sensus Connect but it does add a cell modem. The new “Connected” Sensus gives the driver access to online business searches, streaming media without a smartphone, OnStar-like telematics services (Volvo On Call) and access to Wikipedia. The service requires a data subscription to use the full range of services, but wisely Volvo decided to toss in a WiFi chipset so you can share your cell plan with passengers or use a paired smartphone for Sensus’ data connection if you’d rather not have another cell phone bill. Also along for the ride is a smartphone app to let you see if you locked your car, remote start the engine, or honk the horn and flash the lights if you’ve lost your car in the IKEA parking lot.

Volvo’s Sensus system continues to keep up with most of the entries in this segment by adding features to their snappy interface. The system is well laid out, intuitive, and oddly Volvo allows access to essentially everything while the vehicle is in motion. This allows passengers to enter information using the on-dash control-wheel without stopping the car. The driver can use the same knob, or a control wheel on the steering wheel to control system functions. The graphics, maps and voice commands aren’t quite as well done as iDrive and you can’t voice command your media library as you can in an Acura or Lincoln, but it is competitive with A3’s and allroad’s MMI and COMAND in the CLA and GLA.

2015.5 Volvo V60 Cross Country Engine 2.5L 5-Cylinder-002

Drivetrain

Volvo’s slick 300HP turbocharged/supercharged engine is sadly incompatible with the V60’s AWD system. (The output to the rear axle is located in a different spot and would require modifications to the chassis.)  As a result, all 2015.5 Volvos with AWD use the company’s trued and true 5 and 6-cylinder engines and older 6-speed automatic. For CC duty, Volvo limits your engine choice to just the 250 HP 2.5L 5-cylinder engine which can crank out up to 295 lb-ft in overboost for a limited time. If you’d like Volvo’s smooth inline-6 turbo, you’ll have to step over to the regular V60 or the XC70. Thankfully Volvo chose to leave the anaemic 3.2L engine out of the V60’s engine compartment.

2015.5 beings new shift logic to the transaxle that significantly reduces shift time (and sacrifices some shift quality) when in “sport” mode. Despite receiving some efficiency tweaks a few years ago, the 2.5L’s fuel economy still lags behind the 3-Series wagon at 23 MPG combined. Sending power to the rear is the latest Haldex AWD system which can send up to 50% of the power to the rear axles at any time, and if wheel slip up front occurs the power transfer can exceed 90%.

2015.5 Volvo V60 Cross Country Exterior 18-inch Wheel

Drive

The new programming of the AWD and transmission in sport mode was instantly obvious behind the wheel compared to 2014 S60 T5 AWD I benchmarked back-to-back. The new AWD software  sends noticeably more power to the rear when flogging the CC on winding roads and  transmission shifts are considerably faster and firmer. The change in programming isn’t just about feel, it also took a quarter second off the 0-60 time without an increase in power. The Aisin 6-speed transaxle in Volvo’s product-line has always felt soft compared to the ZF 6-speeds that BMW and Audi used, but this software narrows the gap. The improved bundle scoots to 60 in 6.41 seconds, just under 3/10ths slower than a X4 xDrive28i (that review is coming up soon.)

With the V70 to XC70 transition the engineers softened the suspension, but they took a different path with the CC making this one of the firmer almost-crossover vehicles around. The suspension is more forgiving than the V60 R-Design, but significantly stiffer than the larger XC70 or the Audi allroad. This leads to impressive handling when compared to the allroad, XC70 or even the distant Subaru competition. Something along the lines of a BMW X4 or BMW 328i GT will feel more nimble without a doubt, but they are also significantly more expensive.

2015.5 Volvo V60 Cross Country Exterior

On the surface of things it would seem that the $41,000 V60 Cross Country commands a $4,000 premium over the V60, XC60 or XC70. That sounded logical to me at first, since BMW charges roughly the same to make the X3 less practical create the X4 from the X3. However, when you adjust for the standard AWD, 18-inch wheels, navigation, sport seats, LDS gauges, etc the CC actually ends up being slightly less than a comparable V60 and $1,500 less than the XC70 3.2. (Speaking of the XC70 and the 3.2, Volvo’s big wagon has a confusing engine line-up. Opt for FWD and you get their sweet four-cylinder turbo and new 8-speed auto. Get the middle-trim and you’re saddled with a wheezy naturally aspirated 3.2L engine, but pony up a little extra and you can get the same BMW-fighting twin-scroll turbo 3.0L engine as the V60 R-Design.)

Audi’s allroad is several thousand dollars more than the CC when similarly equipped and is even a slight premium over the XC70 despite being smaller. The rugged Audi handles well, but the Volvo weighs several hundred pounds less and that more than compensates for the less advantageous weight balance in the corners. While the BMW X4 and 3-Series GT may deliver superior handling, they also come with a superior price tag. A comparable X4 xDrive28i will set you back at least $8,000 more.

2015.5 Volvo V60 Cross Country Exterior-001

The Audi allroad and the Volvo XC70 are made for rural living with a Euro twist. The soft suspensions soak up poor pavement in the boonies, the AWD systems are sure-footed on dirt roads and you won’t bruise your kidneys if you decide to drive off the beaten path to check on your trendy alpaca herd. The V60 Cross Country has a different mission in mind. Like the X4 and 3-Series GT, this Volvo was made for folks that live down a short gravel road but drive on high-speed winding mountain roads for most of their commute. In other words, my demographic exactly.

Trouble is, as much fun as the Cross Country was to drive, and how perfectly it seemed tailored to my demographic, the XC60 or the XC70 make considerably more sense. Part of that has to do with the V60’s position as a “styling exercise” than a practical cargo hauler. The XC60 gives up less handling ability than you’d think with twice the cargo capacity and the XC70 gives you more thrust, more luxury, and, again: twice the cargo capacity. The 2015.5 V60 Cross Country is one of the best wagons ever sold in America, but I’d buy a XC70 T6 instead.

 

  Volvo provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review

Specifications as tested:

0-30: 2.5 Seconds

0-60: 6.41 Seconds

1/4 Mile:15 Seconds @ 92 MPH

Average Fuel Economy: 22 MPG

 

2015.5 Volvo V60 Cross Country Interior-001.CR2 IMG_9582.CR2 2015.5 Volvo V60 Cross Country Interior-0021 IMG_9581.CR2 2015.5 Volvo V60 Cross Country Interior-011 2015.5 Volvo V60 Cross Country Interior-010 2015.5 Volvo V60 Cross Country Interior-009 2015.5 Volvo V60 Cross Country Interior-008 2015.5 Volvo V60 Cross Country Interior-007 2015.5 Volvo V60 Cross Country Interior-005 2015.5 Volvo V60 Cross Country Interior-006 2015.5 Volvo V60 Cross Country Interior-001 2015.5 Volvo V60 Cross Country Interior-002 2015.5 Volvo V60 Cross Country Interior-003.CR2 2015.5 Volvo V60 Cross Country Interior-003 2015.5 Volvo V60 Cross Country Interior-004 2015.5 Volvo V60 Cross Country Interior 2015.5 Volvo V60 Cross Country Interior.CR2 2015.5 Volvo V60 Cross Country Interior Wood Trim-001 2015.5 Volvo V60 Cross Country Interior Wood Trim 2015.5 Volvo V60 Cross Country Exterior-001 2015.5 Volvo V60 Cross Country Interior LCD Gauges.CR2 2015.5 Volvo V60 Cross Country Interior LCD Gauges-001.CR2 2015.5 Volvo V60 Cross Country Interior Seat Controls 2015.5 Volvo V60 Cross Country Interior Volvo On Cal 2015.5 Volvo V60 Cross Country Exterior 2015.5 Volvo V60 Cross Country Exterior Side-004 2015.5 Volvo V60 Cross Country Exterior Side-003 2015.5 Volvo V60 Cross Country Exterior Side-002 2015.5 Volvo V60 Cross Country Exterior Side-002.CR2 2015.5 Volvo V60 Cross Country Exterior Rear-005 2015.5 Volvo V60 Cross Country Exterior Side.CR2 2015.5 Volvo V60 Cross Country Exterior Side 2015.5 Volvo V60 Cross Country Exterior Side-001.CR2 2015.5 Volvo V60 Cross Country Exterior Side-001 2015.5 Volvo V60 Cross Country Exterior Rear-004 2015.5 Volvo V60 Cross Country Exterior Rear-003 2015.5 Volvo V60 Cross Country Exterior Rear-002 2015.5 Volvo V60 Cross Country Exterior Rear-001 2015.5 Volvo V60 Cross Country Exterior Rear 2015.5 Volvo Sensus Connect Infotainment Navigation 2015.5 Volvo Sensus Connect Infotainment Navigation-001 2015.5 Volvo Sensus Connect Infotainment Navigation-002 2015.5 Volvo Sensus Connect Infotainment Navigation-003 2015.5 Volvo Sensus Connect Infotainment Navigation-004 2015.5 Volvo Sensus Connect Infotainment Navigation-005 2015.5 Volvo Sensus Connect Infotainment Navigation-006 2015.5 Volvo V60 Cross Country Engine 2.5L 5-Cylinder 2015.5 Volvo V60 Cross Country Engine 2.5L 5-Cylinder-001 2015.5 Volvo V60 Cross Country Engine 2.5L 5-Cylinder-002 2015.5 Volvo V60 Cross Country Exterior 18-inch Wheel 2015.5 Volvo V60 Cross Country Exterior Front 2015.5 Volvo V60 Cross Country Exterior Front-001 2015.5 Volvo V60 Cross Country Exterior Front-002 2015.5 Volvo V60 Cross Country Exterior Front-003

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Junkyard Find: 1968 Saab 95 Station Wagon http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/junkyard-find-1968-saab-95-station-wagon/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/junkyard-find-1968-saab-95-station-wagon/#comments Wed, 01 Apr 2015 13:00:16 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1033705 The Saab 96 (and its station-wagon sibling, the 95) is one of those iconic cars that just about everybody claims to love, but few are willing to rescue. Most of the 96s in the country passed through the junkyard gates and into the recycled-metal continuum a couple of decades back, with only the nicest examples […]

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20 - 1968 Saab 96 Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Saab 96 (and its station-wagon sibling, the 95) is one of those iconic cars that just about everybody claims to love, but few are willing to rescue. Most of the 96s in the country passed through the junkyard gates and into the recycled-metal continuum a couple of decades back, with only the nicest examples deemed worthy of saving, but a few have hung on in side yards and cornfields long enough to show up in wrecking yards now. We saw this ’68 sedan in California last year, and now there’s this ’68 wagon in Denver.
19 - 1968 Saab 96 Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee MartinThis one has the Ford Taunus V4, rather than the three-cylinder Saab two-stroke so beloved by those who have never driven a car powered by one (to be fair, I know some two-stroke Saab owners who do love driving their cars).
12 - 1968 Saab 96 Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee MartinThe gauges have that cool Saab airplane logo.
14 - 1968 Saab 96 Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee MartinFour-on-the-tree diagram and cold-starting instructions are found on this dash sticker.
05 - 1968 Saab 96 Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee MartinNo obvious signs of rust-through, and the interior isn’t too horrifying. After several months in this yard, still not many pieces have been plucked from this old Swede.

01 - 1968 Saab 96 Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1968 Saab 96 Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1968 Saab 96 Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1968 Saab 96 Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1968 Saab 96 Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1968 Saab 96 Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1968 Saab 96 Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1968 Saab 96 Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1968 Saab 96 Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1968 Saab 96 Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1968 Saab 96 Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - 1968 Saab 96 Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 16 - 1968 Saab 96 Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 17 - 1968 Saab 96 Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 19 - 1968 Saab 96 Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 20 - 1968 Saab 96 Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 22 - 1968 Saab 96 Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 23 - 1968 Saab 96 Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 24 - 1968 Saab 96 Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin

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Junkyard Find: 1989 Buick LeSabre Estate Wagon http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/junkyard-find-1989-buick-lesabre-estate-wagon/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/junkyard-find-1989-buick-lesabre-estate-wagon/#comments Thu, 26 Mar 2015 13:00:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1029577 The traditional full-size Detroit station wagon was in trouble by the end of the 1980s, thanks to the rise of the minivan. Increasingly car-like SUVs would kick the other leg out from under big rear-drive wagon sales during the 1990s, and so this great big GM B-platform wagon is one of the last of its […]

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02 - 1989 Buick LeSabre Estate Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe traditional full-size Detroit station wagon was in trouble by the end of the 1980s, thanks to the rise of the minivan. Increasingly car-like SUVs would kick the other leg out from under big rear-drive wagon sales during the 1990s, and so this great big GM B-platform wagon is one of the last of its type. Look, it’s even a woodie!
04 - 1989 Buick LeSabre Estate Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Buick Estate name goes way back in GM history. The version we’re looking at in this Northern California wrecking yard is from the final generation of the Estate Wagon, built on the downsized B platform for the 1977 through 1990 model years (after that, you could get a Roadmaster Estate).
09 - 1989 Buick LeSabre Estate Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe “wood” on this car isn’t particularly convincing.
11 - 1989 Buick LeSabre Estate Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe cassette deck came with auto-reverse, still a futuristic technology in the eyes of Buick customers in 1989.
14 - 1989 Buick LeSabre Estate Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe non-wagon LeSabre had gone to the front-drive H-body platform by this time, which must have been a bit confusing for Buick shoppers.

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Question Of The Day: Should I Blow My Tax Refund On This http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/question-day-blow-tax-refund/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/question-day-blow-tax-refund/#comments Tue, 24 Mar 2015 13:30:15 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1027945 So, let me be clear: I have a very good, brand new car. I have no real need for a second car, no place to park a second car and no desire to take on a project. But god damn it, I want this. The car in question is a 2003 BMW 325xi Touring. It […]

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So, let me be clear: I have a very good, brand new car. I have no real need for a second car, no place to park a second car and no desire to take on a project. But god damn it, I want this.

The car in question is a 2003 BMW 325xi Touring. It has a clean CarProof (Canadian version of a CarFax) and it’s a manual. On the other hand, it has 328,000 km (203,000 miles), and since it’s an auction, you don’t exactly have time to contemplate whether this is a good idea or not.

But, I’ve always wanted a BMW manual wagon, and I have a decent tax return on the way. What do you say, B&B?

 

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Capsule Review: 2015 Volkswagen Golf Sportwagen http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/capsule-review-2015-volkswagen-golf-sportwagen/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/capsule-review-2015-volkswagen-golf-sportwagen/#comments Wed, 18 Mar 2015 12:45:34 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1020681 At the launch event for the Volkswagen Golf Sportwagen in Austin, Texas, a chat with one gentleman from Volkswagen AG turns to a discussion of old Saab rally cars and his affinity for Swedish cars. The future of Saab seems up in the air, but in his mind, Volvo’s is more clear-cut. “These next few […]

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At the launch event for the Volkswagen Golf Sportwagen in Austin, Texas, a chat with one gentleman from Volkswagen AG turns to a discussion of old Saab rally cars and his affinity for Swedish cars. The future of Saab seems up in the air, but in his mind, Volvo’s is more clear-cut. “These next few months will be crucial,” he says, as talk turns to the launch of the XC90, “this is their last chance to turn things around.”

By the end of the event, I’m convinced that VW has built a better Volvo than Volvo itself.

Last year, Volvo re-introduced the station wagon to American consumers on account of popular demand from the Volvo faithful. Apparently, the longer, larger and infinitely more practical XC70 isn’t a true station wagon thanks to a slightly higher ride height and a bit of cladding. Talk about the narcissism of small differences.

What we got was the V60, which is a fine car to drive, but a poor station wagon, when examined in the context of what a Volvo station wagon traditionally is; practical, with plenty of room for people and cargo, prioritizing utility over beauty. Again, the XC70 is a better wagon, but the Puritancial enthusiasts among us refuse to accept it as a wagon. The V60 is the inverse of that formula. As much as I liked driving it, it is simply too impractical and too expensive to recommend to most people.

The best solution now comes from Volkswagen, which offers something that fills the role of a traditional station wagon while costing literally half as much as a V60. The Golf Sportwagen takes the MQB platform of the Golf, GTI and Golf R and stretches it out a bit to create a proper wagon profile. The end result is a vehicle that keeps its car-like profile, while offering more cargo space than a Mazda CX-5 or Jeep Cherokee (30.6 cubic feet with the seats up, 66.5 with the seats down). Like every other MQB car I’ve sampled, there’s plenty of space in the back for passengers too. Certainly more than the V60, not to mention the Cherokee, which is unfortunately lacking in room for anyone over 6 feet tall.

On the road, the Golf Sportwagen has the minimum amount of engagement required to keep a keen driver engaged. As Jack said, the basic Golf is a remarkably composed car for something with a giant hole in the body structure. Extrapolate that to the wagon, which has a bigger hole in it, and you get an idea of what you’re dealing with here. There’s more body roll than one would like to experience in corners, and the steering is a bit light on both weight and feel, but having driven two examples with different wheel and tire packages, I suspect that good rubber would help remedy some of these issues. On the whole, it still sits on the right side of “fun to drive”.

The new 1.8T engine isn’t bad, but the diesel is a true gem. Like any diesel, it falls off towards the upper end of the rev range, but the low-end torque more than makes up for it. It’s also remarkably smooth for a compression-ignition engine, and only when you’re outside can you hear the signature “clackclackclack” that lets you know it’s an oil-burner. But that’s a small price to pay given the numbers: 150 horsepower, 236 lb-ft of torque and 31/43 mpg city highway (42 mpg if you opt for the DSG). For me, the diesel is the obvious choice. I like the low-end torque and the refined feel, but the TSI engine has a fair bit more oomph up to (170 horsepower and 184 lb-ft) and respectable fuel economy numbers(25/35 mpg with the automatic) and the TDI may not make economic sense for many drivers. Caveat emptor and all that.

The interior materials and quality appear to be head and shoulders above the competition. As my drive partner, Jalopnik’s Patrick George, said “getting into a Focus after a Golf is a lesson in abject disappointment.” I think it’s even better than the new A3, which really does look like a cut rate Audi. My main gripe is the antiquated looking infotainment system and the lack of a USB port. Both of those will be fixed for model year 2016, when Apple CarPlay and Android support will be added, as well as somewhere to plug your devices in. The overall styling of the car isn’t going to incite sexual arousal in any human being, but it looks elegant in a restrained sort of way, like a pretty girl does when wearing head to toe Ann Taylor. It will age well, if nothing else.

My ideal Sportwagen would have the 2.0T out of the GTI, but for now, I find myself desiring a TDI Sportwagen with a 6-speed. It is the ultimate in cerebral compromise. A base TSI wagon starts at $21,395, while a TDI wagon starts at around $26,000. Loaded examples of both gasoline and diesel Sportwagens just avoid the $30k mark. you’ll have to wait until 2016 to get an all-wheel drive Golf. Volvo will sell you an AWD wagon right now, and it will have a much more powerful engine. Even so, the Sportwagen’s sticker price is nearly half that of the V60, but it in no way is it half the car.

The Sportwagen could conceivably do everything you would ever want in a passenger car, and never find yourself wanting for more. Ok, maybe something with more sex appeal, but like I said, it is the ultimate car to appeal to your head. If it’s the heart you’re after, you may want to look at something entirely different than a station wagon. Then again, if VW wanted to put their 2.0L turbo engines under the hood, the case for buying a V60 would evaporate, since a T6 Volvo wouldn’t be any faster than a GTI powered Sportwagen.

When Patrick asked the same gentleman who he thought VW competed with in the United States, he suggested Subaru (pronounced Soo-BAH-roo) and Honda. Volvo was not mentioned. But if the upcoming Tiguan and Passat (which will both be built on MQB) are this good, Volvo may have some competition for the XC60 and S60 as well.

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European Review: Škoda Octavia G-TEC Natural Gas http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/european-review-skoda-octavia-g-tec-natural-gas/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/european-review-skoda-octavia-g-tec-natural-gas/#comments Thu, 05 Mar 2015 14:00:25 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1008938 I have talked about diesel, manual wagons in this space a few times already, so you probably know that I don’t like them. I don’t like their clatter and I don’t like their limited rev range and turbo surge. I don’t like the massive servicing costs of the common-rail ones, which is the price you […]

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I have talked about diesel, manual wagons in this space a few times already, so you probably know that I don’t like them. I don’t like their clatter and I don’t like their limited rev range and turbo surge. I don’t like the massive servicing costs of the common-rail ones, which is the price you pay for the reduction in clatter. And I hate the tons of soot they spit out.

There is one thing, though, at which they are hard to beat. It’s providing a combination of practicality and driving fun combined with fantastic fuel mileage. But hard to beat doesn’t mean impossible to beat. So, let me introduce a car that should, in theory, kick the diesel, manual wagon’s arse at its own game. The Škoda Octavia 1.4 TSI G-TEC.

What it is? In essence, it’s the only car anyone in the world needs. Which is what they say about the VW Golf, and they’re right. But this is also a Golf. Just a bit bigger, and a little bit cheaper. With lots more space inside. The rear seat legroom rivals that of the 5-series BMW, the trunk is huge, and everything is built just a little bit worse than a Golf, to fit in the Sloan’s Piech’s plan of the brand ladder.

Under its hood resides a downsized, turbocharged 1.4 TSI engine, offering a 138hp in its standard form. But this is not a standard car. This one has been factory fitted with a CNG fuel system. Under the trunk floor, there is a huge tank storing just 15 kilograms of compressed natural gas, while the original 50-litre (13.2 gallons) tank kept intact. Together, they offer a range of about 600 miles in normal driving (or 1,000 miles under “economy run” conditions), with 200 miles of those 600 in CNG-burning mode.

DSC_5060

The CNG brings great advantage in running costs – in the EU, it costs about half as much compared to gasoline, mile-for-mile. And at first, there are no significant differences between the ordinary gasoline-powered car and this one. There are sublte details, like the second fuel gauge instead of a water temp gauge in the tachometer, or the second fuel cap under the fuel door. There is also a slightly higher trunk floor, and the lack of a spare tire. Other than that, it’s just like ordinary car. The switching between fuels is automatic, and you won’t even notice it. The trip computer provides info about distance to empty on both fuels together, and each of them individually. Everything is nice and easy.

Under real life European conditions, this car gets about as cheap to run as it gets. With consumption of less than 4kg of CNG per 100km, it is possible achieve the cost of about $0.04 per kilometer ($0.06 per mile). At our electricity prices, about equals the cost of driving a Tesla in the same manner. As a matter of fact, I’m working on getting those two together to perform a real-life running cost comparison test. I have a strong feeling that Octavia may actually win.

At the same time, the CNG powered car still offers the smooth, quiet operation of gasoline engine, as well as its wide rev range. Couple that with an extremely nice interior, great build quality and top-notch suspension (the G-TEC, unlike other lower-powered Octavias, gets a multi-link axle in the rear), and you should have a clear winner on your hands. Even when I take into consideration that no real-life G-TEC will look like my press tester, which came as a top-trim Elegance model complete with navigation, automatic parking, lane assist, adaptive cruise control, heated leather seats front and rear, power everything including seats and tailgate etc., the car that is likely to get ordered by a typical customer (some mid-trim level with only a few options, costing maybe $25,000 with VAT and not $40k with VAT like the tested example) will look and function pretty well for what it is.

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The downside? Lack of power. Turns out there’s more to G-TEC’s modifications than just adding a second system, and it’s not just a different mapping, either. The company doesn’t talk about it much in its PR materials, but the G-TEC engine has a different camshaft and a different turbocharger from the gasoline version, thus slashing both power and torque curves. The result is a car that is, in real-life, slower than the lesser 1.2 TSI version, with power and torque seriously lacking in low rev-range.

Unlike a typical TSI engine, you have to rev it like an old N/A 1.6 four-cylinder. On Czech roads, with lots of corners and heavy traffic, this makes any kind of fast driving significantly uncomfortable – I once had to rush the G-TEC a bit, when I woke up just an hour and a half before I had to appear at lunch, in a town nearly 100 miles away. I made it, but overtaking on country roads was a pain and driving at 100+ mph on the highway required near-constant full throttle. This also meant that the fuel consumption skyrocketed from 4kg/100km to about twice that.

The other downside? The combination of small CNG tank with a sparse CNG station network in Europe. Two hundred miles on a tank is really not much, and with maybe one in 10 or 20 gas stations carrying CNG, you will probably end up running on an empty CNG tank quite often, burning more expensive gasoline instead. But even then, the 1.4 TSI is quite a frugal car, though nothing to write home about. Also, it is quite interesting that even when burning gasoline, the engine doesn’t get any of the lost horses back.

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In theory, the CNG cars combine a gasoline engine’s smooth, quiet power, with even better economy than diesel. And the G-TEC delivers at about 85% of this. As long as you’re leisurely, relaxed driver, you can achieve unparalleled fuel econmy, beating even some electric cars. But if you tend to rush, the car lacks in power significantly. The solution would probably be to offer the G-TEC version of the more powerful 1.8 TSI as well – and we can only hope we will get one, soon. With that, the obnoxious diesel, manual wagon can finally be taken out and shot, as it deserves.

@VojtaDobes is motoring journalist from Czech Republic, who previously worked for local editions of Autocar and TopGear magazines. Today, he runs his own website, www.Autickar.cz and serves as editor-in-chief at www.USmotors.cz. After a failed adventure with importing classic American cars to Europe, he is utterly broke, so he drives a ratty Chrysler LHS. His previous cars included a 1988 Caprice in NYC Taxi livery, a hot-rodded Opel Diplomat, two Dodge Coronets, a Simca, a Fiat 600 and Austin Maestro. He has never owned a diesel, manual wagon.

Photos: David Marek

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Junkyard Find: 1977 Ford LTD II Station Wagon http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/junkyard-find-1977-ford-ltd-ii-station-wagon/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/junkyard-find-1977-ford-ltd-ii-station-wagon/#comments Fri, 06 Feb 2015 14:00:20 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=992610 In one of those confusing branding moves that’s up there with the baffling Toyota Corolla Tercel, Ford decided to name a Torino-based midsize car the LTD II while keeping the regular full-sized LTD. This went on for the 1977 and 1978 model years, and then for 1979 the “big” LTD went to the Panther platform […]

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08 - 1977 Ford LTD wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinIn one of those confusing branding moves that’s up there with the baffling Toyota Corolla Tercel, Ford decided to name a Torino-based midsize car the LTD II while keeping the regular full-sized LTD. This went on for the 1977 and 1978 model years, and then for 1979 the “big” LTD went to the Panther platform and sold alongside LTD IIs for that year. Why? Well, that’s like asking why Henry Ford II refused Soichiro Honda’s offer of cheap CVCC engines for the Fiesta a few years before! Anyway, here’s an extremely green first-year LTD II wagon (not a Country Squire, which was based on the larger “regular” LTD) that I spotted in Northern California a couple weeks back.
03 - 1977 Ford LTD wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinDo you like green interiors, and by that I mean large expanses of petrochemical-residue-exhaling I Can Totally Believe It’s Not Leather™ vinyl that still looks good and vivid after nearly 40 years of California sun?
02 - 1977 Ford LTD wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis car has you covered! This car’s seats would make nice garage couches.
13 - 1977 Ford LTD wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinFord sent out 23 million of these recall-evading stickers, thanks to the generosity of Ronald Reagan, and thus didn’t go bankrupt in the early 1980s. Most owners didn’t apply them, but this car’s circa-1982 owner did.
04 - 1977 Ford LTD wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe engine compartment had a bit of a fire problem.
19 - 1977 Ford LTD wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinWe can assume this car was earning its keep until the day of the fire.

Ford didn’t hesitate to pitch the big LTD as more car for the money. Look, bigger than a Cadillac, yet cheaper!

As for the LTD II: if you’re a sporty guy with a sporty mustache, the “trimmer” LTD II is for you!

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Vellum Venom Vignette: The Brazil Vacation, Part II http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/vellum-venom-vignette-brazil-vacation-part-ii/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/vellum-venom-vignette-brazil-vacation-part-ii/#comments Fri, 23 Jan 2015 15:00:41 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=987546   Aside from the car-less world of cruise/train travel, my post-CCS Design vacations involve seeing an American on the road only to feel their styling and (more importantly) proportioning are sleeker and prettier. Douchey perhaps, but it’s my benign contribution to American Exceptionalism. Even if this “proper” Chevy is a German Opel (sold alongside many a Korean Daewoo) introduced in […]

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A Captiva audience?

Aside from the car-less world of cruise/train travel, my post-CCS Design vacations involve seeing an American on the road only to feel their styling and (more importantly) proportioning are sleeker and prettier. Douchey perhaps, but it’s my benign contribution to American Exceptionalism.

Even if this “proper” Chevy is a German Opel (sold alongside many a Korean Daewoo) introduced in Frankfurt as the Antara GTC.  Harley Earl may spin in his perfectly-proportioned grave…but I digress.

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Few Americans shall admit a speck of admiration for the Chevrolet Captiva SUV, but the similarly-Korean Cruze is a respectable machine to most.  Well, colossal DLO fail at both corners notwithstanding. No matter, its suitably upscale: Chevrolet Brasil offers it as their most premium sedan offering. (At R$75,020)

Strangely, the Cruze 5-door hatch is cheaper (R$71,860) than the sedan: usually it’s the other way in the US. Known as the Cross Sport 6, the Cruze Hatchback looks the business against the usual Brazilian subcompact. Here’s one driving past the scenic Vista Chinesa.

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While I have little complimentary to say of Chevrolet’s split plane grille, this Chevrolet Onix wears the face quite well.  Sure, the upper half needs to grow a good 1-2″ to meet the hood’s cut-line. Or better still, drop the cut-line instead. But the look is catchy, nicely proportioned on this small canvas.

Chevrolet Brasil made a fetching machine, but this white one in Leblon was kinda rare. And that’s the problem:

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(photo courtesy: www.simcauto.com.br)

Chevys, at least in Rio, are heavy in fleet distributions.  Rio is nearly as taxi-centric as Manhattan, but the market wasn’t dominated by something Crown Victoria-esque. There’s Renault, Fiat and Citroen hacks too, so perhaps the Bowtie-branded Daewoos sporting that unique yellow/blue stripe paint scheme are a red herring.

And perhaps there’s no such thing as American Exceptionalism in car design. Not anymore, at least.

Thank you for reading, I hope you have a lovely weekend.

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SEAT And The Killer MQBs http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/seat-killer-mqbs/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/seat-killer-mqbs/#comments Thu, 08 Jan 2015 21:39:59 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=974098 We know that the new MQB Golfs are bloody huge inside. If you need all of that, plus more space, more power and none of the added weight of the Golf R Sportwagen’s AWD system, SEAT has something for you non-American readers. The SEAT Leon ST Cupra will be cheaper than the equivalent Golf Wagon, but it won’t […]

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We know that the new MQB Golfs are bloody huge inside. If you need all of that, plus more space, more power and none of the added weight of the Golf R Sportwagen’s AWD system, SEAT has something for you non-American readers.

The SEAT Leon ST Cupra will be cheaper than the equivalent Golf Wagon, but it won’t have AWD, or the extra 16 horsepower. You can get a manual or a DSG, and 60 seconds come up in just 5.7 seconds. If you live in Mexico, Europe or elsewhere, game on.

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Junkyard Find: 1977 Dodge Aspen Station Wagon http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/junkyard-find-1977-dodge-aspen-station-wagon/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/junkyard-find-1977-dodge-aspen-station-wagon/#comments Tue, 30 Dec 2014 14:00:25 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=968594 Commonplace as the Dodge Aspen was during the Middle and Late Malaise Era— you saw them on American roads in 1980 or so about as often as you’d see, say, Hyundai Accents today. The Aspen (and its Plymouth sibling, the Volaré) didn’t hold their value so well, and nearly all of them were crushed by […]

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13 - 1977 Dodge Aspen Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinCommonplace as the Dodge Aspen was during the Middle and Late Malaise Era— you saw them on American roads in 1980 or so about as often as you’d see, say, Hyundai Accents today. The Aspen (and its Plymouth sibling, the Volaré) didn’t hold their value so well, and nearly all of them were crushed by the early 1990s. I photograph them whenever I see them, of course, but that isn’t often. In this series before today, we’ve seen this ’76 Aspen sedan, this ’76 Volaré sedan, this brown-on-beige ’77 Volaré coupe and this ’77 Volaré Premier wagon, and now we’ve got a mossy, lichen-covered Northern California Aspen wagon.
07 - 1977 Dodge Aspen Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe winters in the San Francisco Bay Area are cold and wet, and a car that spends a few years (or maybe a couple of decades) parked in shade will gather moss.
20 - 1977 Dodge Aspen Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinAnd, much like cars that spend years in the birch forests of northern Sweden, this car has provided a home for lichens.
10 - 1977 Dodge Aspen Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThink the 318 under the hood is still good? Probably so, but these engines get few takers these days.
06 - 1977 Dodge Aspen Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinSuch an expanse of brown vinyl!

Better than a Nova? That’s a tough call.

01 - 1977 Dodge Aspen Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1977 Dodge Aspen Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1977 Dodge Aspen Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1977 Dodge Aspen Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1977 Dodge Aspen Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1977 Dodge Aspen Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1977 Dodge Aspen Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1977 Dodge Aspen Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1977 Dodge Aspen Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1977 Dodge Aspen Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1977 Dodge Aspen Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1977 Dodge Aspen Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - 1977 Dodge Aspen Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 16 - 1977 Dodge Aspen Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 17 - 1977 Dodge Aspen Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 18 - 1977 Dodge Aspen Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 19 - 1977 Dodge Aspen Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 20 - 1977 Dodge Aspen Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 21 - 1977 Dodge Aspen Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 23 - 1977 Dodge Aspen Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

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Junkyard Find: 1985 Mercury Grand Marquis LS Colony Park Station Wagon http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/junkyard-find-1985-mercury-grand-marquis-ls-colony-park-woodie-station-wagon/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/junkyard-find-1985-mercury-grand-marquis-ls-colony-park-woodie-station-wagon/#comments Fri, 31 Oct 2014 13:00:21 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=938577 The popularity of the full-size station wagon went into steep decline during the course of the 1980s, thanks to competition from minivans and less truck-ish SUVs, and there wasn’t a particularly compelling reason to get a Mercury wagon instead of its near-identical, cheaper Ford sibling, so the 1979-1991 Mercury Grand Marquis Colony Park wagon was […]

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13 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin
The popularity of the full-size station wagon went into steep decline during the course of the 1980s, thanks to competition from minivans and less truck-ish SUVs, and there wasn’t a particularly compelling reason to get a Mercury wagon instead of its near-identical, cheaper Ford sibling, so the 1979-1991 Mercury Grand Marquis Colony Park wagon was uncommon then and near-extinct now. I do see some Ford LTD Country Squires in wrecking yards nowadays— this ’86 woodie and this ’87 woodie, for example— but this Colony Park is the first I’ve seen in at least a decade.
01 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis generation of Colony Park wasn’t quite as majestic as its 1950s and 1960s predecessors, but it also got about twice as many miles per gallon as those barges.
11 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe good old familiar 302-cubic-inch Windsor V8, still fitted with a carburetor in 1985, powered this wagon.
25 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinOpera lights!
17 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis fender trim has a very maze-like shape.
08 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinAre there little speakers in the steering wheel, or are those holes merely decorative?
10 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Colorado sun has not been kind to these leather seats.

The Grand Marquis kicked some Buick and Oldsmobile butt, to hear Mercury tell it.

01 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 16 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 17 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 18 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 19 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 20 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 21 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 22 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 23 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 24 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 25 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

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Is Scion’s Next New Car A Station Wagon? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/scions-next-new-car-station-wagon/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/scions-next-new-car-station-wagon/#comments Thu, 23 Oct 2014 14:53:31 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=935450 The death of the Toyota Matrix will leave a hatchback-sized hole in Toyota’s lineup. But the replacement won’t be a Toyota, if Scion’s newest concept is any indication. As we reported back in June, Scion is said to be readying a new hatchback based on the Toyota Auris. The Auris is a European version of […]

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The death of the Toyota Matrix will leave a hatchback-sized hole in Toyota’s lineup. But the replacement won’t be a Toyota, if Scion’s newest concept is any indication.

As we reported back in June, Scion is said to be readying a new hatchback based on the Toyota Auris. The Auris is a European version of the Corolla, which features an independent rear suspension, rather than the Corolla’s torsion beam setup. The new vehicle will apparently be dubbed the Scion iM, and will debut in lightly disguised “concept” form at next month’s Los Angeles Auto Show.

Some time ago, our own Ronnie Schreiber got a chance to drive both the Auris hatchback (akin to the Matrix) and the Auris Touring Sports, which is a true station wagon variant. Will Scion be bold enough to bring the wagon version here? We’ll find out next month.

scion-la-concept-1-1 scion-la-concept-2-1

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QOTD: Another Member Of The Brown Wagon Club? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/qotd-another-member-brown-wagon-club/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/qotd-another-member-brown-wagon-club/#comments Mon, 20 Oct 2014 13:32:46 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=933906 While helping my grandmother hunt for a new car, I tried to steer her towards a Mazda3 Sport. She didn’t take to the “game changer” (which is the tagline for the car’s marketing campaign, not an attempt to cash in on my catch phrase), but I did notice a similar example on the lot. This […]

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While helping my grandmother hunt for a new car, I tried to steer her towards a Mazda3 Sport. She didn’t take to the “game changer” (which is the tagline for the car’s marketing campaign, not an attempt to cash in on my catch phrase), but I did notice a similar example on the lot.

This color, called “Titanium Flash”, looks more like brown to me. As far as I’m concerned, the line between station wagon, hatchback and CUV has been sufficiently blurred that this can qualify as a member of the mythical brown wagon species – and you can get it in a manual as well. I’ll defer to the B&B on this one, but as far as I’m concerned, it’s time to count every possible example to help shore up ranks.

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Question Of The Day: The Narcissism Of Small Differences http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/question-day-narcissism-small-differences/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/question-day-narcissism-small-differences/#comments Wed, 08 Oct 2014 13:00:49 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=927562   “When you decide to be something, you can be it. That’s what they don’t tell you in the church. When I was your age they would say we can become cops, or criminals. Today, what I’m saying to you is this: when you’re facing a loaded gun, what’s the difference?” – Jack Nicholson, The Departed […]

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“When you decide to be something, you can be it. That’s what they don’t tell you in the church. When I was your age they would say we can become cops, or criminals. Today, what I’m saying to you is this: when you’re facing a loaded gun, what’s the difference?” – Jack Nicholson, The Departed

So why is the Mercedes-Benz GLA a crossover, and a Porsche Macan is a crossover, but something like a Mazda3 Sport is a hatchback?

Well, two reasons

  1. CAFE
  2. Calling something a crossover makes it sell. Calling it a wagon or a hatchback does the opposite.

This, of course, is the opposite of what happens in the strange, insular world of automotive enthusiasm. There is a reflexive hatred of anything CUV, even when the CUV in question, like the Mazda CX-5, drives better than some passenger cars. Or witness the gnashing of teeth that accompanied the Audi Allroad’s rise and the death of the Audi A4 Avant. Both vehicles drive like lifeless appliances for those who think a Toyota Venza is beneath their station in life. But the Allroad attracted the scorn of countless forum posters, even though the two cars are basically the same, minus some cladding and a raised ride height that has zero effect on handling dynamics.

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As tempting as it is to rail against the ill-informed knee-jerk disdain for crossovers, I’ll bring it back to the original question. What is the tangible difference between the GLA “crossover” and the Mazda3 Sport “hatchback”? Why does one raise the ire of enthusiasts merely by virtue of its classification (a discrete criticism on its own, rather than being lumped in with the idea of a front-drive, entry level Benz) while an identical car is lauded with Hossanas for carrying to hatchback/pseudo-wagon torch.

Over to you, B&B.

Photo Credit: Alex Nunez/Road & Track

*For the record, I think the base GLA is a cheap, nasty looking thing designed to fleece the terminally self-conscious out of their $299 each month. I’d take the Mazda3 all day, every day. But the 345 horsepower GLA45 AMG? Well, that’s another story.

**As far as the CUV hatred phenomenon goes:  You might think they are the worst attributes of an SUV and a car combined in one, but millions of Americans couldn’t care less, and have very rational reasons for buying them, nor are they in the grip of some false consciousness and in need of a vanguard to liberate their minds from the shackles of automotive marketing. Get over it, or start buying new station wagons in meaningful numbers again.

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Junkyard Find: 1984 Toyota Tercel SR5 4WD Wagon http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/junkyard-find-1984-toyota-tercel-sr5-4wd-wagon/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/junkyard-find-1984-toyota-tercel-sr5-4wd-wagon/#comments Fri, 19 Sep 2014 13:00:16 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=914002 I’ve owned quite a few Tercel wagons of this generation (though most of mine were the common-in-California front-wheel-drive type), and I respect these things for their simplicity, cargo capacity, and reliability. True, they were underpowered and not exactly inspiring to drive, but they could be very lovable. Living in Denver, I see these cars just […]

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20 - 1984 Toyota Tercel 4WD Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinI’ve owned quite a few Tercel wagons of this generation (though most of mine were the common-in-California front-wheel-drive type), and I respect these things for their simplicity, cargo capacity, and reliability. True, they were underpowered and not exactly inspiring to drive, but they could be very lovable. Living in Denver, I see these cars just about every time I hit the junkyard, but mostly they don’t seem special enough to merit photographing. Realizing that this one is 30 years old, however, inspired me to pull out the camera.
17 - 1984 Toyota Tercel 4WD Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinSold in New Mexico, died in Colorado. There’s some rust, but more of the paint-burned-off/snow-buildup variety than the cancerous Midwestern type,
18 - 1984 Toyota Tercel 4WD Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinYou are awesome!
19 - 1984 Toyota Tercel 4WD Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe notorious “ice maker” next to the license plate. I’ve never been fully clear on what you got with the SR5 package, which was available on just about everything Toyota sold in the 1980s.
06 - 1984 Toyota Tercel 4WD Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe 3A engine was harder to kill than rats and cockroaches combined.
04 - 1984 Toyota Tercel 4WD Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinBecause the driver had to select front- or four-wheel-drive manually, many owners of these no-center-differential-equipped cars tore up tires and/or wore out drivetrain components by driving 365 days a year on dry pavement in the 4WD setting. Probably most of those Tercel 4WD owners bought Subarus after this happened.
05 - 1984 Toyota Tercel 4WD Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinWith the air conditioning turned off, you were jamming econo.
09 - 1984 Toyota Tercel 4WD Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinI was able to skip chaining up when driving Donner pass in the winter in FWD Tercels, simply by picking up this emblem at the junkyard and adding it to my cars. Easiest 4WD conversion ever!

01 - 1984 Toyota Tercel 4WD Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1984 Toyota Tercel 4WD Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1984 Toyota Tercel 4WD Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1984 Toyota Tercel 4WD Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1984 Toyota Tercel 4WD Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1984 Toyota Tercel 4WD Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1984 Toyota Tercel 4WD Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1984 Toyota Tercel 4WD Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1984 Toyota Tercel 4WD Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1984 Toyota Tercel 4WD Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1984 Toyota Tercel 4WD Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1984 Toyota Tercel 4WD Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1984 Toyota Tercel 4WD Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1984 Toyota Tercel 4WD Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - 1984 Toyota Tercel 4WD Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 16 - 1984 Toyota Tercel 4WD Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 17 - 1984 Toyota Tercel 4WD Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 18 - 1984 Toyota Tercel 4WD Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 19 - 1984 Toyota Tercel 4WD Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 20 - 1984 Toyota Tercel 4WD Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 21 - 1984 Toyota Tercel 4WD Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 22 - 1984 Toyota Tercel 4WD Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

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Bark’s Bites: The Joys of Owning a Six Hundred Dollar Subaru http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/barks-bites-joys-owning-six-hundred-dollar-subaru/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/barks-bites-joys-owning-six-hundred-dollar-subaru/#comments Fri, 29 Aug 2014 13:52:44 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=903058 “I have a couple older Subaru wagons (96-97) for sale in Morehead. Message me if you are interested.” Interested? Was I ever! As I stated in one of my more recent contributions to TTAC, I have been driving my Boss 302 as my daily driver ever since I bought it (with a brief interruption from […]

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“I have a couple older Subaru wagons (96-97) for sale in Morehead. Message me if you are interested.”

Interested? Was I ever!

As I stated in one of my more recent contributions to TTAC, I have been driving my Boss 302 as my daily driver ever since I bought it (with a brief interruption from a 1995 Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight Regency Elite that had more electrical glitches than one might have thought possible). Well, with winter approaching yet again, and my right rear wheel still showing the ill effects of my last attempt to drive the Boss in about a quarter inch of snow, I thought it might make sense to investigate when a friend of mine made the post seen above on Facebook back on June 27th.

Fearing I might already be too late, I started the following message chain (the names have been redacted to protect the quilty):

27/06/2014 16:46

Bark M.

Interested in the subies! What are the details?

.

27/06/2014 16:58

G. T.

Okay one is an outback 1997 with 262366 miles and is in fair to good condition KBB is @$1800 The other is a legacy L with 163654 miles it has two set of wheels and tires. It does need a catalytic converter and some minor electrical. KBB on that one is fair condition is $684. I am open for offers especially for the pair. They are old gals but have been great cars.

.

27/06/2014 17:01

Bark M.

Does the legacy run?

.

27/06/2014 17:01

G. T.

Yes it is also a manual and is quite fun to drive.

.

27/06/2014 17:02

Bark M.

Any head gasket issues with either (and I promise that’s my last question)?

.

27/06/2014 17:03

G. T.

Yes the outback had that problem and it was replaced. That is an issue with these engines.

.

27/06/2014 17:03

Bark M.

That’s why I asked

.

27/06/2014 17:04

G. T.

There were no xmas presents for the kids that year

.

27/06/2014 17:05

Bark M.

Hahaha I bet not. Do you think the legacy could run from Winchester to the Lexington airport and back reliably (I lied apparently about the questions)

.

27/06/2014 17:05

G. T.

Yes it could

.

27/06/2014 17:06

Bark M.

I will take it for six hundred then if you’re cool with that price.
.

07/06/2014 17:06

G. T.

sold

And just like that, I owned a 1996 Subaru Legacy L Wagon, AND it was a manual! Imagine my surprise when he rolled into my driveway to make the exchange and I discovered that it was AWD! My good pal had done his KBB valuation based on the car being FWD, which meant that he had undervalued it by about $600. Well, perhaps he had been a tad generous in estimating the vehicle condition as “Fair,” too. The interior was covered in dog fur, especially the cargo area. The front passenger floorboard looked as though a soda had been spilled on it in 2003 or so and had never been cleaned up. The smell of dog was pervasive, too. Nevertheless, I was more than happy to press the cash into his hand before he changed his mind, although due to it being Sunday, we had to wait until the following day to actually change the title into my name.

The next day, I met him at the UPS Store where we had the title notarized. I swiftly took it to my local title agency, where it took a mere two trips and 45 minutes to get the title switched into my name (turned out that they needed the old plates). After paying a whopping $36 in property tax, I was officially the owner of My First Subaru.

Thrilled to death with my purchase, I drove it happily to the grocery store to make use of the spacious cargo area. After loading up the back with a week’s worth of groceries for the fam, I got behind the wheel, turned the crank…and nothing. Tried again. Nothing. The starter appeared to be working fine, and the battery wasn’t dead, but the damned thing just wouldn’t go. Oh, well. Good thing I had already added it to my insurance policy and had enthusiastically said “YES” when asked if I wanted Roadside Assistance. After a quick call home and a rescue trip by the rest of the family, I transferred the contents of the cargo area to my Flex and was ready to leave the Subaru to sit in the parking lot of the grocery store and be towed off to the local garage. I thought I might try it one more time, though, since it had been sitting for a while.

Boom, started right up, no problem, but there was a horrible whining noise that sounded like a belt problem of some type. Now what to do? The tow truck was already on the way. I decided to let them tow it to the garage anyway and allow the mechanics there to give it a once over (especially since I had bought it sight unseen and had no discernible mechanical ability).

They kept it for about a week. They couldn’t duplicate the issue. Every day I called and asked, and every day they told me the same thing. No problems with the car—it starts right up every time. No belt noise. Weird, right?

Well, I decided that I should go get it. Sure enough, it started right up. I drove over to the local library to take the kids to pick out some new books. Had a wonderful time at the library, picked out about 20 books each. Went to the Subie to drive home…no dice. ARRGH. Waited about 15 minutes. Tried again. Started right up. Oh, well. Home we go.

Ever since then, it has been dead reliable. I have driven it as far away as Charlotte (about seven hours) with no issues whatsoever. The radio works, the AC works, the power windows work (well, the switch did snap off in my hand, but it still works), the windshield wipers work, the CLA works…it’s been perfect. The shifter is exciting, because there’s no relationship between the actual gears that makes any sense at all. The shift lever will move several inches in any direction when in gear, and often just falls down and to the left, so there’s no real way to know what gear the car is actually in without doing some RPM and MPH calculations. Fifth gear is impossible to find—I have a 50/50 shot of putting it in third, instead.

I have tried vacuuming it with three different vacuums (Dyson, Shop-Vac, and Car Wash Hose), but the dog hair appears to be here to stay. However, the good news is that I have found nearly a dollar in change in the various crevices of the interior, so my net purchase price is getting closer to $599 every time I drive it. Also, it has a “LADY VIKINGS SOCCER” sticker on the rear driver’s side window that probably has a street value of about $5.

The best thing about the car, though, was pointed out to me by my good friend, Ryan, when he rode in it for the first time. “Man, I miss being in old cars,” he opined as I struggled to find third gear. “My car is a 2012, which is great, but it has no character, no personality. This thing has character.”

There’s no question about that. I fall in love with it a little more every time I pick it over the 444 HP beast nestled safely in the garage behind it. The little Subaru sits outside, parked in the grass next to my driveway, with nary a complaint. It goes when I call upon it. It sits inconspicously in the airport parking lot. It gladly takes my luggage in its vast interior and welcomes me home cheerfully with a slight whine of a yet-to-be-determined belt when I start it up. It’s like a previously neglected golden retriever—it just wants me to love it.

And I do.

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Junkyard Find: 1970 Ford Fairlane 500 Station Wagon http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/junkyard-find-1970-ford-fairlane-500-station-wagon/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/junkyard-find-1970-ford-fairlane-500-station-wagon/#comments Wed, 13 Aug 2014 13:00:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=888105 We haven’t seen a Ford Fairlane in this series since this ’65 sedan, way back in 2010. We see station wagons here all the time, of course, the last couple being this ’66 Toyota crown and this ’86 Nissan Maxima. Our most recent Detroit station wagon Junkyard Find was this ’72 Pinto (or this ’60 […]

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18 - 1970 Ford Fairlane Station Wagon- Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinWe haven’t seen a Ford Fairlane in this series since this ’65 sedan, way back in 2010. We see station wagons here all the time, of course, the last couple being this ’66 Toyota crown and this ’86 Nissan Maxima. Our most recent Detroit station wagon Junkyard Find was this ’72 Pinto (or this ’60 Valiant, if you don’t consider the Pinto to be a proper Detroit station wagon). This ’70 Fairlane is rare indeed; I can’t recall having seen any midsize Ford wagon of this vintage on the street or in the junkyard for many years.
17 - 1970 Ford Fairlane Station Wagon- Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThere’s a lot of nostalgia for the big American family wagons among some of us who grew up in the 1960s and 1970s, though most of those cars are the full-sized machines built on the Galaxie/Impala/Fury/Ambassador platforms, not the smaller midsize ones such as this Fairlane. My family never had a station wagon, preferring the Chevy Beauville passenger van as our family-outing-mobile.
10 - 1970 Ford Fairlane Station Wagon- Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinWindsor V8 with an enormous AC compressor, the same thing you saw under the hoods of millions of Fairlanes, Montegos, Torinos, Cyclones, and Rancheros of the era.
01 - 1970 Ford Fairlane Station Wagon- Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis one took kids to soccer practice 40 years ago.
05 - 1970 Ford Fairlane Station Wagon- Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinGuam pride!
06 - 1970 Ford Fairlane Station Wagon- Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinIt’s not rusty and wouldn’t be a huge challenge to restore, but the love of old wagons among Generation X types hasn’t translated into much real-world willingness to spend money and time fixing them up.

The ’68 was an earlier generation of this platform, but it had the same “action size” as the ’70.

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Junkyard Find: 1986 Nissan Maxima Station Wagon http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/junkyard-find-1986-nissan-maxima-station-wagon/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/junkyard-find-1986-nissan-maxima-station-wagon/#comments Fri, 01 Aug 2014 13:00:24 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=877490 One thing I love about early-to-mid-1980s Nissans is the combination of futuristic technology with endearing Japanese-to-English translations. We’ve seen a few Maximas in this series, including this rear-wheel-drive ’82 Datsun Maxima and this puzzling “Brake Fluid EVERYWHERE” ’86 Maxima. On a recent trip to California, I found this rare Maxima station wagon at an Oakland […]

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04 - 1986 Nissan Maxima Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinOne thing I love about early-to-mid-1980s Nissans is the combination of futuristic technology with endearing Japanese-to-English translations. We’ve seen a few Maximas in this series, including this rear-wheel-drive ’82 Datsun Maxima and this puzzling “Brake Fluid EVERYWHERE” ’86 Maxima. On a recent trip to California, I found this rare Maxima station wagon at an Oakland self-serve yard.
03 - 1986 Nissan Maxima Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis was just a few years before the Infiniti brand hit these shores, and the Maxima (like the Toyota Cressida) was seeming less luxurious compared to the competition as the decade of the 1980s wore on.
12 - 1986 Nissan Maxima Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinI found an excellent addition to my collection of heartfelt notes to tow-truck drivers in this car.
10 - 1986 Nissan Maxima Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe paint is faded, but the interior isn’t so bad.

A powerful rebuttal to the notion of compromise.

As always, the US got the most boring commercials for Japanese cars.

WHOOOOOOSH! Super Sonic Suspension!

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The Atlantic Pays Tribute To America’s Automobile: The Station Wagon http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/the-atlantic-pays-tribute-to-americas-automobile-the-station-wagon/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/the-atlantic-pays-tribute-to-americas-automobile-the-station-wagon/#comments Tue, 08 Jul 2014 16:42:35 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=861737 This summer marks two years since my impulse-buy manual Volvo wagon departed in favor of an impulse-buy Miata. I will hopefully make the same mistake again, assuming I can find a nicely maintained (for a change) manual wagon, and I don’t buy a Fiesta ST. Or perhaps, we’ll see the wagon come back into the […]

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1024px-Oldsmobile_Custom_Cruiser

This summer marks two years since my impulse-buy manual Volvo wagon departed in favor of an impulse-buy Miata. I will hopefully make the same mistake again, assuming I can find a nicely maintained (for a change) manual wagon, and I don’t buy a Fiesta ST. Or perhaps, we’ll see the wagon come back into the collective consciousness of American consumers?

Writing in The Atlantic, Charles Moss laments the demise of the American station wagon, taking us through the history of the wagon, its eventual usurping at the hands of the CUV and the lasting influence of its aesthetics on the automotive landscape. Rather than spoiling the article, I’ll direct your attention to the comments section, where numerous Millenial commenters (with families) display their displeasure with the minivan, a vehicle that Moss blames as one of the chief architects of the wagon’s demise. There’s also a smattering of wagon love sprinkled throughout, including the Jetta TDI contingent.

The only missing link in the article? The unintended consequences of CAFE, and how it pushed auto makers to kill off wagons in favor of everyone’s favorite anti-environmental object, the SUV.

Side note: I had no idea Oldsmobile sold a B-Body wagon. It turns out that the Custom Cruiser was never sold in Canada.

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Piston Slap: Brooklyn’s Dream Machine? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/piston-slap-brooklyns-dream-machine/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/piston-slap-brooklyns-dream-machine/#comments Wed, 11 Jun 2014 12:29:52 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=840273 Dave writes: Hi Sajeev – I live in Brooklyn and I have a 2011 Prius that I still owe about $10k on. Before mocking my choice of personal transportation, remember that driving dynamics mean next to nothing when you live in a place where it’s hard to go above 40 MPH at any given time […]

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Dave writes:
Hi Sajeev –

I live in Brooklyn and I have a 2011 Prius that I still owe about $10k on. Before mocking my choice of personal transportation, remember that driving dynamics mean next to nothing when you live in a place where it’s hard to go above 40 MPH at any given time and the roads resemble 1990’s Kosovo. That said, my best friend is the service manager at a Volvo dealership and she just received a 1993 Volvo 940 wagon on trade.

It has 124k miles on it, and it’s been garaged and meticulously maintained with new tires, new muffler, new brakes, etc. She’s having her shop give it a once-over and she can sell it to me for $3k and I’m impulsively forking over the money without giving it a second thought. I’ve always wanted to own a Volvo wagon; perhaps it’s because in 1993, our family owned a 1986 Nova and a 1991 Saturn and I was always painfully aware of the better options on the road. Psychoanalysis aside, I’ve been a ‘car guy’ my entire life but I don’t know the first thing about fixing a Volvo.

Here’s my plan: keep both the Volvo and the Prius for the summer and decide to sell one of them at the end of August. Forge a good relationship with a local, well-reviewed Volvo repair shop. Be honest with myself and realize that the Prius will likely get the boot come August.

Since I’m currently paying $300/month in car payments, I could save that much and presumably spend it on the Volvo (which I wouldn’t mind, knowing that I’d be driving my dream car). I don’t depend on my car to get to work and would put less than 10k/year on the Volvo were it to become my daily driver.

I can’t tell if this is the best or worst idea I’ve ever had and I’d love to get your thoughts.

Sajeev Answers:

Aside from parking availability, this is one of the smartest things I’ve seen in months. Here’s why.

One of my closest friends lives in Brooklyn, and I’ve spent a few days there with his family.  I kinda loved it, as so many things were within walking distance from their apartment. So I see where you’re coming from. And your assessment of the Volvo and your need to find a reputable mechanic implies you’re covering all the bases. Considering the roads and availability of public transportation in NYC, having an old Volvo as your only mode of transport isn’t a bad idea.

It’s kind of a great idea. Plus, if you fill the cargo area with crates of PBR, you’d be the coolest cat in your borough.  Sorry, I couldn’t resist making a hipster joke. 

Get the Volvo, find a good indie mechanic, register on the brickboard forums and be an active lurker, sell the Prius and live a happy life with your dream car.  Many of us will be jealous, but we’ll be happy that you are happy.

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice. 

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Junkyard Find: 1978 Toyota Corolla Wagon http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/junkyard-find-1978-toyota-corolla-wagon/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/junkyard-find-1978-toyota-corolla-wagon/#comments Mon, 26 May 2014 13:00:27 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=830033 The third-gen Corolla was the car that made Toyota in the Unites States; you saw the occasional Corona or Celica and maybe a rare Crown once in a while before the mid-70s, but the 1974-79 Corolla was the first Toyota that sold in sufficient quantity to make the marque an everyday sight on American streets. […]

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20 - 1978 Toyota Corolla Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe third-gen Corolla was the car that made Toyota in the Unites States; you saw the occasional Corona or Celica and maybe a rare Crown once in a while before the mid-70s, but the 1974-79 Corolla was the first Toyota that sold in sufficient quantity to make the marque an everyday sight on American streets. These cars rusted fast east of the Rockies and— once they got to be 15 or so years old— weren’t worth fixing when they got ugly in the non-rusty parts of the country. That makes them fairly rare in junkyards today; in this series so far, we’ve seen this ’76 Corolla liftback and this ’74 Corolla two-door, and that’s about it prior to today’s find.
11 - 1978 Toyota Corolla Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinMost cars don’t rust much in single-digit-humidity Colorado, but these cars were very eager oxidizers.
23 - 1978 Toyota Corolla Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe High Plains sun is hard on paint.
13 - 1978 Toyota Corolla Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe 75-horse 2T-C engine was a sturdy, if noisy, pushrod unit.
15 - 1978 Toyota Corolla Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinAir-conditioning was a rare option on these cars, because frugal buyers of gas-sippers didn’t mind a little sweat. I’ll bet it felt like someone pulling the parking brake when you activated the cold air in this car.
05 - 1978 Toyota Corolla Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis looks like an aftermarket setup.
03 - 1978 Toyota Corolla Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinRear defrost! Rear wiper! Even most Country Squire owners didn’t get that stuff!

This ad was hitting Chrysler below the belt.

Didn’t Lee Iacocca use the “if you can find a better car, buy it” line a few years later?

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Junkyard Find: 1972 Ford Pinto Wagon http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/junkyard-find-1972-ford-pinto-wagon/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/junkyard-find-1972-ford-pinto-wagon/#comments Wed, 21 May 2014 13:00:29 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=825650 There was a time, say from about 1973 through 1983— a timespan that corresponds exactly with the Malaise Era— when the Ford Pinto was one of the most numerous cars on America’s roads. You saw way more Pintos than Vegas, Chevettes, Corollas, Civics, Omnis, just about any small car you can name. When I was […]

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08 - 1972 Ford Pinto Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThere was a time, say from about 1973 through 1983— a timespan that corresponds exactly with the Malaise Era— when the Ford Pinto was one of the most numerous cars on America’s roads. You saw way more Pintos than Vegas, Chevettes, Corollas, Civics, Omnis, just about any small car you can name. When I was in high school, the Pinto was one of the cheapest first-car options available for wheels-hungry teenagers; you could get an ugly runner for a C-note, any day of the week. The Pinto wasn’t a good car, but it wasn’t intolerable by the (admittedly low) compact-car standards of its time. Then, rather suddenly, all the Pintos disappeared. The Crusher grew fat on Pinto flesh, then switched to Hyundai Excels. They’re rare finds in wrecking yards today, and we’ve seen just this ’74 hatchback in this series prior to today. During a recent trip to Northern California, I found this early Pinto wagon, short quite a few parts but still exuding its essential Pinto-ness.
11 - 1972 Ford Pinto Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinSome bottom-feeder East Bay car dealership hoped to sell this “perfect classic” for $1,499, but was not successful.
04 - 1972 Ford Pinto Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinMore than 20 years ago, I grabbed every early-70s Fasten Seat Belt light I could find, for an ambitious project that I’ll complete someday. I have many examples of this Ford version.
06 - 1972 Ford Pinto Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe hood once had some sort of JC Whitney hood scoop, which was made quasi-functional by the rectangular hole.
05 - 1972 Ford Pinto Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThere’s no telling what sort of connection went between the scoop and the carburetor, because everything above the engine block is long gone.

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The strength to climb the Rockies and the brakes to stop quickly on Los Angeles freeways.


From the Model T to the Pinto!


The little carefree car that could withstand a rank of giant fans placed at the roadside.


A few years later, Jackie Stewart boasted that the Pinto was faster than the Datsun B210, the Toyota Corolla, and the Honda Civic.

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