Today’s Rare Ride is brought to you by a Tweet that featured today’s subject and was the exact moment your author became aware of its existence. Released in the Nineties prior to the American retro styling craze, the Classic was a limited edition sedan sold only to Japanese customers. Curious yet?
With the Chevrolet Bolt gradually losing its competitive edge as more all-electric vehicles take the field, and the car on the hook for a high-profile recall relating to battery fires, General Motors opted to reduce its price by six grand this year in a bid to make the 2023 model year more appetizing to consumers. Prior to the Biden administration pushing to renew EV tax credits as part of the "Inflation Reduction Act of 2022" (basically a tweaked version of Build Back Better), GM had little hope of its vehicles benefiting from continued government incentives that it had already exceeded its sales quota for and needed a remedy. However the sudden price cut didn't sit well with customers who had just purchased a Bolt EV (or EUV) at the earlier price point, so the automaker attempted to cut them a semi-Faustian bargain.
We return to our historical Stutz coverage once more today and continue reveling in the four-door sides the neoclassical entity offered alongside the Blackhawk, its sole entree. In our past two installments, we covered the first two sedans offered by Stutz, the Duplex and the IV-Porte.
While the Duplex was a one-off and based on either a Cadillac Fleetwood or a Pontiac Grand Prix (it’s unclear), the IV-Porte traced its lineage very clearly to the B-body Pontiac Bonneville. Offered from 1979 to 1981, the IV-Porte found around 50 customers for its GM-adjacent and gold-plated styling. At the time of the Bonneville’s demise, Stutz was happy with the decent sales clip of the IV-Porte and was not about to go without a sedan offering. Enter Victoria.
Chasing the active lifestyle crowd, or perhaps cluing in that the CX-5 is an excellent machine but there’s room on the lot for a variant with a smidgen of off-road cred, Mazda introduced the CX-50 earlier this year. Think of it as a CX-5 in hiking boots and an L.L. Bean coat.
Now, the brand is taking it a step further with the CX-50 Meridian, a trim that brings all-terrain tires and a smattering of exterior accents to imply it’s ready for the trail – or at least that gravel patch at the mall.
It’s not unusual for an automaker to begin mining a successful sub-brand for every shred of credibility it has managed to accrue. Witness the rapid expansion of the Denali line at GMC, for example. Across town, Ford has seen the Tremor trim on its pickup trucks secure a decent take rate in this wonky market, so they’ve decided to hurl it at the little Maverick as well.
When I walk the rows of a big Ewe Pullet-style self-service car graveyard, I always take a look inside every 2000s Toyota Camry I see. I do this because I wish to document one of the most elusive of all junkyard inmates: One of the final Camrys sold in the United States with a factory-installed manual transmission. Prior to today's Junkyard Find, the newest discarded three-pedal Camry I'd found was a 2001 model in California. We're pushing the record another five years forward today because I've found this five-on-the-floor-equipped 2006 Camry in the very same yard.
Senate Democrats have settled on how to funnel more money into the automotive sector using all-electric vehicles and environmentalism. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and West Virginia's Joe Manchin have reportedly agreed on a proposal that would expand the $7,500 tax credit for EVs while also introducing a new $4,000 subsidy for used models.
But that's just to kick things off. The legislative package is likewise said to include $369 billion that's been earmarked for climate and energy spending. For automakers, that means massive financial help from the government whenever they want to convert their existing factories into the kind that build all-electric vehicles. Though it may not be limited to EVs, as the updated language now makes fuel cell vehicles similarly eligible for the proposed industry subsidization.
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- DenverMike When was it ever a mystery? The Fairmont maybe, but only the 4-door "Futura" trim, that was distinctively upscale. The Citation and Volare didn't have competing trims, nor was there a base stripper Maxima at the time, if ever, crank windows, vinyl seats, 2-doors, etc. So it wasn't a "massacre", not even in spirit, just different market segments. It could be that the Maxima was intended to compete with those, but everything coming from Japan at the time had to take it up a notch, if not two.Thanks to the Japanese "voluntary" trade restriction, everything had extra options, if not hard loaded. The restriction limited how many vehicles were shipped, not what they retailed at. So Japanese automakers naturally raised the "price" (or stakes) without raising MSRP. What the dealers charged (gouged) was a different story.Realistically, the Maxima was going up against entry luxury sedans (except Cimarron lol), especially Euro/German, same as the Cressida. It definitely worked in Japanese automaker's favor, not to mention inspiring Lexus, Acura and Infiniti.
- Ronnie Schreiber Hydrocarbon based fuels have become unreliable? More expensive at the moment but I haven't seen any lines gathering around gas stations lately, have you? I'm old enough to remember actual gasoline shortages in 1973 and 1979 (of course, since then there have been many recoverable oil deposits discovered around the world plus the introduction of fracking). Consumers Power is still supplying me with natural gas. I recently went camping and had no problem buying propane.Texas had grid problems last winter because they replaced fossil fueled power plants with wind and solar, which didn't work in the cold weather. That's the definition of unreliable.I'm an "all of the above" guy when it comes to energy: fossil fuels, hydro, wind (where it makes sense), nuclear (including funding for fusion research), and possibly solar.Environmental activists, it seems to me, have no interest in energy diversity. Based on what's happened in Sri Lanka and the push against agriculture in Europe and Canada, I think it's safe to say that some folks want most of us to live like medieval peasants to save the planet for their own private jets.
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- MaintenanceCosts There's no mystery anymore about how the Japanese took over the prestige spot in the US mass market (especially on the west coast) when you realize that this thing was up against the likes of the Fairmont, Citation, and Volaré. A massacre.