By on May 6, 2011

Beware of the pin-prick mentality. It blinds even the best of us in the automotive world.

A lot of great cars over the decades have been deflated by the nascent fashions of the moment. The Chrysler minivan was a slow seller when it was first released. “Too big. Too bulky. Not a wagon!” cried the conventional soothsayers of the status quo.

Then it sold like hotcakes. 10+ million vehicles in 20 years. Beetles. Corollas. The 1st gen Taurus. Just a few ‘weird cars’ have invoked more enduring design ideas for auto design folk than hundreds of conventional hum-drum models of modern time. Which now brings me to New York City’s next taxi. Will it shine like a beacon in the coming era? Or is the design more out of wack than John Rocker’s first visit to the Big Apple?

If you ask most cars designers what shape offers the most space for the dollar, chances are a stubby long rectangle would be it. Delivery vehicles. Volvo 240’s. Minivans and Xb’s. The breadbox can be shaped in varying heights and widths to accommodate whatever mode du jour you need. Even coffins were created with that in mind.

The evolution of a vehicle’s storage utility has been very slow in coming until recent years. Hiding seats for the station wagon and minivan. Shelves and storage for the cargo van. Even the versatility of storage acomodations in a Honda Fit can be partially attributed to Honda needing a way to make my 1st generation Insight feel spacious while packing a rear battery and electrical maze behind me that is far bigger than the engine. It works.

Other manufacturers have come up with less trying solutions for those needing space. Stow n’ Go. Utitlity trailers. Hitches and Campers. 14 cupholders and coolers. What was this about again? Oh, the Nissan NV200.

Look at these two pictures for a quick second.

You see a family resemblance already? Well the upright design of a compact combined with a quick sloping form from the A pillar forward has already been done many times. It failed miserably. The 80’s materials that designers used for the Axxess couldn’t help but make it a sad little gorky thing.

Most of these stubby compact vehicles rarely saw a second generation.

The Mitsubishi LRV and Plymouth Colt Vista straddled the two failure fault lines of ‘innocuous’ and ‘Iacocca’ that eventually killed both their brands. These cars (with van like pretensions) never saw even a sliver of hope once the Gulf War ended and cheap gas met America’s re-emerging big ride fetish. Practical, plain and small didn’t sell in a showroom laden with power and portlitude. .

But this time it is different. Really. Think about this. The Panther is leaving the building with the new Ranger locked out of the American landscape. So yes there is a market opening in North America for a well-designed body on frame vehicle . But it’s far more than that.

Cars suck in 2011. No, they really do. If you ask most young people AND their parents to choose between a nice computer and a walkable town, or a great car with a commute in tow, which one would win out?

I bet you all the tea in Chinatown that the glorified New Yorker lifestyle would win out. Yes, it’s true that some folks do want that house in the suburbs and the opportunity to transport themselves at will. They just don’t want to drive if they can help it.

The overwhelming majority of driving we do these days is mind crushing tedium. Which brings us finally to the virtues of the NV200. It looks… blah… Not ugly. Not prettty. Just Camry. Plain as day with some mild shades of deformity at certain angles.

It is the exact silhouette of a transportation appliance with an engineer’s passing thought in mind. Keep it body on frame, four-cylinder frugal, and cheap to operate according to the buggy little gnomes of the Bloomberg administration. Then let the marketing and PR machine put all these decision makers on a spin cycle. Rinse, repeat, and after only two years of drawing down ridiculous consulting fees, these Bloombergian car haters will choose us.”

It worked. But there is an interesting catch.

“After ten years of selling vehicles into the market, the successful respondent must continue to provide agreed upon warranty, service, and parts support for vehicles previously sold. A 150,000 mile powertrain warranty must be provided as a minimum requirement. Service and parts support must continue to be provided for five years after the conclusion of the ten year selling period.”

Meaning NYC has just given Nissan the opportunity to parts bin the NV200 like a Crown Vic globally. I think this will have a very different outcome for Nissan vs. Ford when it comes to the prolific variants that will gradually emerge out of the platform.

You can make this taxi design into a Japanese minitruck. Perfect for dozens of markets far from our shores.

Elongate it to a six or seven seater. A minivan for those in places where $7 gas, government regs and private ownership of any car comes with a stiff premium.

Even puff up the roof and suspension for a taller profile for deliveries. Mail. Packages. People. A mini mobile coffee shop. Yes. Laugh at it’s ancestors. But there is a bright future for this model.

The NV200 will indeed have a gateway to markets far larger than any of us imagined. Some of us may even have a chance to live in one. I think this guy has the right idea of how many New Yorkers will be using these vehicles in the distant future.

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58 Comments on “Hammer Time: Of Pins And Pricks...”


  • avatar
    Philosophil

    Good points, Steve. I just hope they bring some of that 150,000 mile quality to some of the other vehicles that might be spawned from this. Good article.

  • avatar
    Sinistermisterman

    I think you’re right on all of the above Steve. It is a design of function over form, and that’s exactly what is needed in a Taxi.
    IMHO If the NV200 is as rugged and reliable as Nissan say it is, then a majority of the naysayers will eventually all relent, as that is what a majority of their complaints have been about.

  • avatar

    Could’ve just bought a bunch of Oldsmobile Silhouettes/Pontiac Trans Sports instead

  • avatar
    galloping_gael

    Steve,

    It’s not the cars. It’s the traffic and the roads. Congestion and poor conditions are rendering a lot of routes undriveable.

    BTW, thanks for your used-car buying series of a few years back. Invaluable advice as I look for a car for my daughter?

    Any thoughts on an 03 Legacy GT wagon with auto and 96K on the clock?

    • 0 avatar
      TEXN3

      Only concern will be headgaskets, almost inevitable at some point. Otherwise a good vehicle.

      • 0 avatar
        Sam P

        Headgaskets were an issue in the 1996-1999 2.5 liter DOHC and 1999-2002 2.5 liter SOHC engines. By ’03, Subaru had finally fixed the issue with the 2.5 liter SOHC engine (the DOHC was last used in the ’99 Legacy/Outback). Headgasket failures in Subarus after ’02 are rare.

  • avatar
    geeber

    Interesting article, but it’s not true that a majority of people would choose a New York City lifestyle over one in the suburbs. Studies continue to show that a majority of Americans prefer to live in a single-family, detached home in the suburbs. About 10 percent prefer to live in the city. Granted, 10 percent of about 300 million is a lot of people, but it’s nowhere near the majority.

    • 0 avatar

      Steve’s talking about the majority of “young people”. Most of them just want to text all day with short breaks for casual sex. They really don’t care for cars. Or at least that is the ideal young cog in the machine that colledges are trying to produce.

      Everyone else wants suburbs, but that’s not the problem here.

      • 0 avatar
        MikeInCanada

        Ummm, I’m not so young anymore and I’d sure like to take ‘short breaks for casual sex…’

        The way you say it, you make it sound like a bad thing.

      • 0 avatar
        Acubra

        LOL!! Well said, Pete!

      • 0 avatar
        mnm4ever

        hahaha yes thats true. Of course, one of the reasons I got into cars in the first place was to get girls… cool cars got you laid! Nowadays, they have the internet, MySpace, texting, etc. I think if we had all that back then I might not care about cars either… LOL

      • 0 avatar
        Marko

        I must be an exception – I’m in my early 20s and honestly find texting a big (though inevitable) annoyance and really not much fun.

        I love cars, but where I live right now, parking simply sucks.

        Steve Lang mentions commuting – isn’t commuting with a lot of traffic something not even car enthusiasts enjoy doing?

        Nevertheless, it’s true about the “short breaks for casual sex”. I think all “young people” share the same opinion…

      • 0 avatar
        jmo

        they have the internet, MySpace, texting, etc.

        MySpace? Hehe….dude, try and keep up.

      • 0 avatar
        mnm4ever

        @jmo – I dont care about keeping up, I have an actual life and a gorgeous wife.

        But you go dude, school us all on cyberspace!!

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      Studies continue to show that a majority of Americans prefer to live in a single-family, detached home in the suburbs.

      More people would be amenable to the urban option if it wasn’t crushingly unaffordable in places like New York or San Francisco, or problematically unsafe like Detroit or DC.

      Fact is, property values almost always go up the more urban you get, unless the city in question has serious core rot. If more people want to live suburban lifestyles that wouldn’t be the case.

      • 0 avatar
        geeber

        People specifically want detached, single-family houses with a yard. That is being driven by a desire for certain amenities and lifestyle, not affordability issues. You simply cannot get that in Manhattan or even Brooklyn. (Also note that virtually all city residents who can afford it have a house or cottage in the country.)

        And property values do not always go up in urban areas – compare a house in the Harrisburg or Philadelphia suburbs to a comparable house in the city. Both of those cities have decent downtowns and gentrifying neighborhoods. The suburban house tends to be more expensive. I know because, right now, we are looking for a new house.

    • 0 avatar

      If you say, would you rather have a walkable neighborhood or an unwalkable neighborhood, of course people will say they’d rather have a walkeable neighborhood.

      Then you hit them with the only way this is feasible – extremely high housing density. Houses that are five inches away from each other, or apartments

      Then I think most people would wind up preferring the commute.

      Except that big apartments might be good ways to meet casual sex partners … although I lived in a big apartment building for five years and never met a soul.

      Now I (still single) live in a great single family house in a wonderful suburban area and my only complaint is that all my neighbors are married …

      I do think most people have unrealistic expectations of the New Urbanism – anyone who looks at it closely is going to see cracks in the foundation and a lifestyle that’s not all that appealing. It invariably brings unaffordable housing prices and postage stamp sized lots, and for that reason it’s a hard sell for many.

      D

    • 0 avatar
      Sam P

      The best option is living in a suburb and riding mass transit to work in a city. Glad my employer provides a subsidized transit pass so I can do this and not have to deal with traffic, and use my car purely for recreation and actual fun driving, of which we have lots of in the Pacific Northwest.

  • avatar
    dror

    I live in NYC for the last 22 years and I have 2 questions:
    Why so ugly?
    Why not choosing an American built vehicle?
    I understand the CV must go, I also understand the Escape hybrid is not comfortable, what about a Camry hybrid, also made in America or some variation of the Vensa or whatever car that can be made here?

    • 0 avatar
      TEXN3

      Any car could be made in the US if desired, even this Nissan. The Vicky was produced in Canada.

      Many FWD unibody cars will have trouble holding up to the brutality of constant taxi use that have made some of the previous taxi offerings prefereable. Of course, I’ve wondered how some of the Escapes have held up with abuse, or is their use more limited than a CV or Sienna?

      • 0 avatar
        Sinistermisterman

        I’m not sure all this worry about the durability of FWD vehicles is all its cracked up to be. We’ve had several cab companies in Vancouver BC change wholesale to the Prius several years ago, and although Vancouver’s roads are probably better than New York’s, they’re still not great. Yet these Prius’ are already clocking 200k miles and still going strong.
        http://cdn.wn.com/ph/img/a0/85/47b330950f3e2d944f76e3b6fa41-grande.jpg
        I don’t know what their maintenance costs are, but I’ll have a wild inspired guess and say that the fuel cost difference with a Crown Vic is probably huge.

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      Well, its ugly because thats the trend for most Japanese vehicles these days… LOL

      Seriously, there is probably a JDM trucklet with that odd front end design and since looks arent really a priority in this project, they just carried it over. But it is distinctive.

      However, I wondered the same thing… why not a Ford Transit? How does the NV200 compare to that?

  • avatar
    philadlj

    I don’t know why, but I never thought of the NV200 as the spiritual successor to the Prairie/Axxess/Stanza. But it is. The Mazda5 and Ford C-Max will keep the mini-minivan fires burning for now, along with the new NV200 cab. I wish Nissan would offer a version to civilians.

    https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2009/04/curbside-class-nissan-stanza-wagon/

    • 0 avatar
      Sinistermisterman

      Nissan already offer civvy versions of the NV200 (van & people carrier) in Japan and Europe. It won’t be a big step to offer them over here.

  • avatar
    jerseydevil

    I think these cars will be vers successful as taxis. They are more like the taxis in London, which are very easy to get into and out of. The Crown Vics are clumsy to get in and out of, i dont like them. This a great step up for those of us that use taxis in NYC. Now if they would come to philadelphia, which I beleive gets the used up NYC taxis.

  • avatar

    I must disagree on one thing: it’s ugly. But it will also be easy to spot, even without the yellow paint.

    One interesting bit from the press release: a Turkish company was a finalist, along with the Crown Vic.

    Must wonder why Ford didn’t submit the Transit Connect instead of the Crown Vic, given the now clear preferences of those making the decision.

  • avatar

    I think I’m with Ray Wert on this one.

    Why does it have to be a mini-van? Why were ALL the options mini-vans?

    Because that’s what Bloomberg’s rules dictated. Lots of space (even for the single person with a briefcase riding Downtown) and lots of safety (has there been a rash of taxi cab crashes claiming dozens of lives?)

    Let the cabbies use what they want to use. As gas prices keep going higher, the smart ones will use hybrids of EV’s. The rest will either price themselves out of existence or drown in debt trying to keep gas guzzlers fueled. Why, all the sudden, do cabbies HAVE to use this fugly Nissan?

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      Why does it have to be a mini-van? Why were ALL the options mini-vans?

      Because that’s what Bloomberg’s rules dictated. Lots of space (even for the single person with a briefcase riding Downtown) and lots of safety (has there been a rash of taxi cab crashes claiming dozens of lives?)

      You answer your own question: taxies should be safe and comfortable, and the problems of fleet administration on a New York scale dictate a little progressive planning.

      My grandmother-in-law runs the taxi service for her hamlet in rural Newfoundland. She drives an early-nineties Taurus that’s nearly rusted through. Considering that the population of the area is something like twenty to thirty people in the busy season, that’s ok.

      In New York you couldn’t do that. Or rather, you could, but it just would not scale and would probably cost more in net terms.

      This is why people complaining about progressivism in New York or London just do not get it: you cannot not manage a city of 9-18 million people and not expect it to go like the scary parts of Leviathan. What works for Podunk does not work in Manhattan.

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      I guess you missed the part where the van was designed to be able to convert to electric… when/if that powertrain becomes viable for large scale fleet use on vehicles that can be running for 12-20 hrs a day.

      Why all the hate for the minivan? The article began by pointing out how this is the most space efficient design. I personally dont want to own one, but I love to rent them, or ride in them when I go places. I think this idea would carry over nicely to other industries as well. Imagine if a rental fleet consisted of just these and the Prius. Choose space or economy… or pay a premium if you just HAVE to have a luxury car or convertible or something. Economy of scale on parts and repairs would be awesome.

  • avatar
    highdesertcat

    I hope they offer this vehicle in a version for sale to the general public. It is well thought out, not fancy, and would meet the needs of many families who need a people-hauler. My wife is a realtor/broker and would love to have one of these for the business. It would reduce the wear and tear on her Highlander.

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      A 21st century version of the civilian Checkers…

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      She can buy a Ford Transit Connect right now. Or a base model Grand Caravan. Or even a Mazda5.

      They sell non-fancy cars, even people haulers. Just that most people still want the luxury trappings. My wife, also a realtor, drives an MR2 Spyder and lets her clients follow or meet her at homes… :)

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        After my wife’s prolonged experience with her 1992 Towncar, which she used for the business, she told me ‘no more Fords’ (that is if I wanted to stay a happily married man). So she went shopping and on her own decided that a 2008 Highlander would cut it for her. Just three years later, she now already has over 50K miles on it. Replacing it with a Highlander made in the USA would only result in recalls and factory fixes that were not needed with the Jap-built version. Makes me wonder, what the hell is the difference if not the parts suppliers and assemblers?

        Checkers – now there is a name from the past!

      • 0 avatar
        mnm4ever

        Gotta keep the wife happy, thats for sure… we previously dumped a Caravan and an Explorer before getting the MR2, she hated looking like a soccer mom!

        Honestly, a Highlander is already a good vehicle for the purpose your using it. Extremely reliable, confortable, good economy. If you buy a 4-cyl base model it pretty much meets the same criteria as the NV200 or the ones I mentioned… 2 of which were not Fords BTW. If she picked the loaded up V6, well that goes right back to my comment about most people preferring the luxury. :)

      • 0 avatar

        Why does it need to be replaced if it only has 50k on it?

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        We got such a great deal on the last Jap-built Highlander at that dealership that we couldn’t refuse. It was because of the transition from Jap-builts to US-builts, and the US-builts were more expensive. I know it doesn’t make sense but that was the situation. Since we bought it she has put on more miles than she originally intended. Interesting to note that within months both her sisters who also work there and their secretary had all traded their rides for a Highlander V6. Really can’t use a 4-cyl at 9303ft altitude and expect it to have any power. As it is the V6 is pretty anemic at that altitude. What we need is a Ford Explorer Ecoboost V6, eh? NOT!

      • 0 avatar
        mnm4ever

        Altitude isnt something I have ever had to worry about here in FL, but it raises a good point: If the Highlander 4-cyl wouldnt work, then neither would the NV200.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        Yeah, the 4-banger could be a problem going up those long climbs up the mountains with a boat-load of people. But we really liked what we saw on the video on the Wall Street Journal. Seems like an ideal vehicle not only as a taxi but also as an every-day utility vehicle for businesses. I’m sure that thought has crossed many a mind.

    • 0 avatar
      Flipper

      I bet they will, otherwise why did they put the blank spots in the front bumper for a set of fog lights?

  • avatar
    salomervich

    Allow me to explain a bit the reasoning behind Nissan trying desperately to sell 12,000 cabs to NYC. It’s called the Nissan Urvan ( http://images.demotores.com.mx/post/480×360/155/16/1/1551611.jpg ) it’s made in Japan, sold in Mexico and will cease production in this year.

    The Urvan is a common sight in Mexico, by far the best selling van in the country, their most common application is a public buses in all of Mexico. Nissan sells about 12,000 each year in Mexico, and basically owns the market with Toyota’s Hiace barely chipping away from its dominant share.

    These “buses” are owned by individuals, not by firms or the government, who have come to trust only Nissan for their faithful businesses, as Nissan is also the dominant supplier of Taxi cabs through their 3 gen old Sentra, called the “Tsuru” ( http://www.tablondeanuncios.com.mx/imagenesdin/foto439759.jpg ).

    Repairs for NV200 cabs in NY will be dirt cheap, because that is what the Mexican buyers will require from Nissan, and I’m sure Nissan will provide them with it.

    Nissan needs this model in Mexico, and because a plant can’t only build 12,000 units per year, it will try to shove them down every other market it can.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    This van curiously reminds me of the extended-wheelbase Ford Aerostar! What goes around comes around I guess. How big is this thing? It looks huge, which may not be economical for a taxi, not that the C.V. was. Although from the size of the tires, maybe not so large. Oh well, if the domestic OEM’s can’t or don’t want to make anything better, more power to Nissan. Just don’t put rock-hard seats in it like my rental Altima.

  • avatar
    brandloyalty

    North America stands out from the rest of the world in having bloated personal vehicles designed more to appease personality issues than for function. Competition for resources will force North Americans to buy more effective designs.

    For instance, the pickup truck is goofy, clumsy and inefficient for most of the things it’s used for. The rest of the world has gotten along just fine with almost no vehicles like them. But, the public will have to be weaned off all the pervasive marketing that makes people think they need pickups.

    The NV200 replacing the Panther taxis is a step in that direction. Vancouver teems with Prius’ being used as taxis.

    I wonder why no one has mentioned the hybrid Escape NY taxis in connection with the NV200.

    • 0 avatar
      Sam P

      “North America stands out from the rest of the world in having bloated personal vehicles designed more to appease personality issues than for function. Competition for resources will force North Americans to buy more effective designs.”

      In Canada, the best selling vehicle is the Honda Civic, IIRC. In the US, it’s the F-series pickup. Given the similarities between the two countries and increasingly high fuel prices, I can’t imagine that the F-150 will maintain its sales lead in the US vehicle market for much longer.

  • avatar
    MrUnexpected

    uh, the NV200 isn’t body-on-frame the regular NV is…

  • avatar
    KitaIkki

    “It is the exact silhouette of a transportation appliance with an engineer’s passing thought in mind. Keep it body on frame, four-cylinder frugal,”

    Is it really body-on-frame, not unitized?

  • avatar
    Scoutdude

    It will be interesting to see who tries to beg out of this contract first. The taxi commission when the complaints from the operators skyrocket of Nissan when they find out that the warranty cost is eating up more than the profit they make per unit.

    It is important to point out that the Panther was supposed to die as of the 2010 model year but the NYC taxi and black car industries along with police depts across the country convinced them to keep it in production for another year.

  • avatar
    mazder3

    Just to clear up some confusion:
    The NV200 is a front engine front wheel drive unitized minivan. It is 173.2″ long, 73″ tall and 66.7″ wide. The reason the exterior is so odd looking is because it is a styling riff off the Opel Vivaro, which was also sold as the Nissan Primastar. This will not be replacing the Urvan, the American-built NV1500 will.

  • avatar
    Acd

    So how is it that NYC can allow Nissan to import them a taxi cab that hasn’t passed U.S. safety and emissions tests? Does this mean that Nissan is willing to spend the money to certify a car to sell only in NYC?

    If I tried to import an Alfa Romeo Brera or 159 right now neither could leave the dock–go figure.

    As far as the original Chrysler minivans being a slow seller, when Chrysler first started building them in the fall of 1983 they were only produced in the Windsor, Ontario plant and were contrained by capacity, selling with few incentives. A few years later Chrysler began building the longer vans with V6 engines–Grand Voyager and Grand Caravan–in St. Louis and that’s when sales really took off.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    I don’t live in the city, but that 150k warranty might only be good for 2-3 years of taxi duty, and they must leave service before 5 years of age. Interesting taxi study: http://www.schallerconsult.com/taxi/taxifb.pdf

    As a side note, those oil ads years ago showed the product being used successfully in NYC taxis. The problem with such a test is that city taxis hardly ever cool down, so the oil-related failures usually associated with cold startup can’t happen.

    So, except for the transmission, a 150k warranty might not be all that hard to offer for city taxi service.

  • avatar
    cpmanx

    I did a double take at this line: “The Chrysler minivan was a slow seller when it was first released.” My clear memory was that the minivans helped save Chrysler from oblivion. A quick fact check verifies that: First-year sales were an enormous 209,000, despite a truncated model year and constrained production. So a key part of the premise of this story is simply wrong.

    The NV200 is not body on frame, another rather glaring error.

    In fact, the NV200 is almost exactly a modern version of the 1984 Dodge Caravan. The dimensions are very similar. The Dodge had a 2.2 liter 4 cylinder engine. Nissan is actually following a very successful formula.

    And as a New Yorker, I’m perfectly comfortable with this choice. The Crown Vic feels very old, the Escape is cramped and too high-riding, and the Prius is not well packaged for a taxi. I haven’t tried out an NV200 yet, but what I’ve seen looks promising. I’m just bummed that Ford’s entry was a lightly modified version of the aging Transit Connect, not a rethought version of the new Grand C-Max. That would seem like a much stronger contender–but probably couldn’t provide the long production life that NYC was seeking.

    • 0 avatar
      Steven Lang

      Dead right on the BOF vs. Unibody. The NV model was/is body on frame. The NV200 is unibody. I’ll make sure to change that.

      The Chrysler minivans did get off to a slow start compared with the sales projections Chrysler had for this vehicle. I believe you are referring to the allpar.com’s article on the history of the minivan which can be found here.

      http://www.allpar.com/model/m/history.html

      Allpar tends to have a highly optimistic view of all things Chrysler (except for the Daimler acquisition). It’s the only site I’ve seen which states that the 1st gen Neon was a better vehicle than the Honda Civic.

      http://www.allpar.com/neon/neon.html

      Chrysler had planned on using two plants to fill the sales projections of their minivan. The sales were above the break-even point of 155k for the entire first generation. But the capacity of the plants weren’t filled until the 2nd generation was released in 1991.

  • avatar
    jbltg

    I’m sure it’s very practical. Is it a hybrid at least? Not good looking. The Prius seemed to hold up very well as a NYC taxi and is roomy, has a great trunk, and is a hybrid. And only needs a coat of ugly yellow paint to do duty as a taxi.
    Was this not the obvious solution? Bloomburg had to spend years and many dollars on the mental masturbation required to arrive at this conclusion? Oy vay!
    I am all for intermittent casual sex, but not texting.

  • avatar

    Doesn’t Tom Magliozzi (Click Tappet Brother from CarTalk) own on of those Plymouth Vista Wagons? I seem to remember he always mentions it as being one of the greatest cars he ever owned.

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