I am the unfrozen cave man of car buyers. Every decade or so, a machine shaman whispers the magic words in my ear — You’re gonna need a new engine — and I leave my cave, shaking my fist at the great ball of fire in the sky, and go looking for one, always packaged in a new steed.
This habit has several interesting side effects. There are crazed leaps in technology when you only go car shopping once a decade or so. In 2001, I turned down a $1,500 option to add a hard wired Motorola Razr to my BMW X5; in 2016, Bluetooth, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay were standard on my base 2016 Chevrolet Camaro Convertible.
Another is that I’ve just purchased my fourth car, despite being well into my fifth decade driving.
Editor’s Note: Please welcome Matt Pericles, a.k.a. FormerFF, as the first reader featured during TTAC’s Reader Submission week. We’ll post more submissions throughout the week. Stay tuned!
Does it deserve such scorn?
by Richard A. Ratay
The first noteworthy attempt to drive across America began as many ill-advised feats do — on a bet. While visiting California in 1903, a 31-year old doctor named Horatio Jackson accepted a friend’s invitation to join him for a drink at San Francisco’s University Club.
It’s there, over a cocktail — or likely several — that Jackson found himself in debate with another gentleman on the topic of whether automobiles, then just beginning to appear on city streets, were merely a passing fad. An enthusiastic admirer of the new contraptions, Jackson passionately argued that cars were nothing less than the future of transportation.
In fact, Jackson boldly asserted, automobiles were already so rugged and reliable he could drive a car clear across the country back to his home in Vermont.
(Welcome Daniel Ho — a.k.a. “Waftable Torque” — who’s here to school you proles on the true appeal of the crossover/cute-ute/abominable mom-van. — JB)
There has seldom been a topic that riles automotive journalists and commentators up as much as crossovers. They inhabit categories that are successfully profitable and growing. Non-existent 20 years ago, they have become increasingly aspirational to a large segment of today’s drivers. There have been many theories as to why they’re successful. Some blame CAFE, others the baby boomers, and others still blame American exceptionalism. They may all be right.
The Truth About Cars has always pointed out things others don’t see. Sometimes it’s the authors who provide the evidence, but sometimes it’s the commentators who supply the observation. I’d like to show you something that, once you see it, you can never un-see.
The crossover is merely the tip of the iceberg.
(From “HW” comes a tale of a Corvette, a hot-blooded Alfa Veloce, and a young Italian wife with romance on her mind.)
Sam, a good friend of mine, had lusted after a particular 1965 Corvette Stingray, and had somehow finally acquired the object of his desires. However, the cost of putting on 23 coats of a gorgeous, dark, lipstick red paint and clear coat, of making mechanical improvements, and paying for necessary auto insurance (Sam was under 25 and single) kept him totally broke for a period of time.
We had a lot of fun running around Louisiana in the ‘Vette, but his automotive mistress was keeping him in the poorhouse. Sam wasn’t some rich kid, so he reluctantly decided to sell his mistress. But he had a plan. He would get another car before he sold the ‘Vette. That way he could hold out for the best money on his beauty.
Aaron Cole’s articles about the ridiculous incentives available for purchasing a Leaf in Colorado piqued my interest, mostly because: I live in Colorado; and, I like the idea of paying way less than half of MSRP for a new car.
We moved to an inner-ring suburb of Denver about a year ago with a family of six and the requisite three-row crossover: a leased Mazda CX-9. Yet, ever since I bought my Volvo V70R with the way-back seat, we use the Volvo almost exclusively for hauling the family around town. We also bought an RV for long road trips. For the last year or so, the CX-9 has just been a really thirsty, oversized runabout.
In my youth I was a vital, virile, male Manly Man. So manly that when I got a new ’86 GTI as my first “nice” car, I left off not only the automatic transmission but also the power steering. Mind you, it drove great — when it drove at all.
One night my parents tossed me the keys to drive them home from the restaurant. Mom’s whip was a mid-trim, 4-pot ’88 Camry. Yes, its limits were low, it was gutless, and it was tailored to bourgeois tastes with pastel upholstery here and fake stitching there. However, it was up front about its limitations, pridefully built, civilized in all its moves, and driving it was just so…easy. I one-fingered steered all the way home and made an earnest mental note.
Fifty VW defects later, I went Japanese and never looked back.
I bet you didn’t know the longest continually running vintage car race and show in the nation is held in Yinzerville. That’s right. Every summer since 1983, Pittsburgh’s Schenley Park becomes the scene of the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix. The course consists of a 2.33 mile stretch of road inside the park that challenges drivers with its twenty three turns, walls, telephone poles and other common features of an ordinary road.
This event routinely draws drivers, spectators and car buffs from all over North America and Europe, with this year’s attendance being 200,000 over the week of events. The Vintage Grand Prix raises money for the Autism Society of Pittsburgh and the Allegheny Valley School and, since its inception, has raised $3.9 million dollars for these charities. Your humble correspondent just happened to be in the area a few Sundays ago and made an unplanned stop at the event.
My company, Force Dynamics, builds full-motion driving simulators. They work by tilting you as the simulated vehicle corners or accelerates, so your brain is tricked into feeling lateral or longitudinal accelerations.
Sometimes people who watch our machines in action say, “This is moving way too much!” So when we started racing a Mazda Miata in the ChumpCar World Series, I decided to conduct an experiment.
(If you have some time this weekend, this contribution, from our reader Robert, will be worth that time — JB)
“I will NEVER drive a minivan.” Thus ended the first [s]hostile negotiation[/s] serious discussion with my wife about our next vehicle purchase.
The story so far: It was the summer of 2005. Our family truckster (a 1995 Toyota 4Runner SR5) was doing a fine job hauling mom and the first born around town during the week, plus me, the dog, and the cubic yard of gear required to travel with a one year old child on our frequent weekend trips to the Texas hill country. Anything I wanted to bring had to survive on the roof.
The 4Runner had been a masterpiece of engineering, form, and function to us. But even with Toyota’s legendary reliability, after 10 years and 135k on the clock, her many trouble-free miles were running out. A starter here, a radiator there, and stranding my wife and infant son on the side of the road with electrical gremlins made its replacement eminent. Contemplating the addition of another child with our already tight space requirements made it a matter of practicality. Her preference for large SUVs and my deep seated frugality made it, um, interesting.
“A Sequoia or Armada will work.”
(This week, major management and perhaps ownership changes were announced for Nelson Ledges Road Course. These changes might eventually include the closure and/or sale of the track. We asked noted NLRC racer and LeMons stalwart Daniel Sycks to write a piece in reflection — JB)
Change is never easy. It doesn’t matter if its a relationship, your drive to work, the packaging of your favorite breakfast cereal, we humans are creatures of habit and we like continuity and familiarity. Its part of what keeps our simple little brains happy. Sadly, change is part of life.
Evolution happens and things progress if we like it or not. Changes happened recently at Nelson Ledges Road Course in Garrettsville, Ohio; now I feel like I have lost a dear friend.
(Cory Crelan returns, with more SE-R mayhem — JB)
The plan was a simple one- sell Sentra SE-R #1 and keep the SCC project Sentra SE-R. A bout of bad indigestion was a good comparison to what happened next… just when you thought it was over there was another cramp, pain in the gut, or worse.
TTAC commenter Buickman, better known as Jim Dollinger to friends, colleagues and loved ones, was on Autoline Detroit last week to present his plan to save General Motors. Rather than present it in the form of an article, we’re posting Jim’s Autoline segment for your perusal The video should start right at Jim’s segment, but if it doesn’t fast forward to the 42 minute mark. Let us know what you think of the plan.
TTAC reader Evan Reisner thinks that a small pickup is just the ticket for GM. But it’s not the one you may expect.
The prevailing wisdom on TTAC is that many Americans are interested in a compact pickup truck – but the same wisdom also suggests that such a truck would be bad for GM’s CAFE ratings. Market demand aside, CAFE is one of the reasons that Chrysler and Ford got out of the small truck game.
Yet few people know that The General has a product that can combine the best of both worlds. But they’ve chosen not to offer it in the USA.
TTAC reader and former auto journalist Michael Banovsky writes about the inexorable move towards autonomous cars
Autonomous cars are already here.
It doesn’t matter if you’re testing an actual Google Car or cruising the Keys in a Pagoda-roof 230 SL, CUVing the kids to Hot Yoga or signing “11” on a deserted road. Autonomous cars are here, the debate is done, so enjoy driving while you still can.
Let’s start with a story.
Abraham Drimmer writes about moving from South Florida to Michigan in his Miata
“You need to sell your car”, my father told me, when I informed him of my imminent departure. I got the call in mid-October, I’d be leaving Miami for Ann Arbor on short notice. “That thing is going to be absolutely worthless in the snow”.
Reader Daniel Latini is a car guy and has a baby on the way. He’s looking for your advice on a new ride that can carry around his family.
My wife is one of those generally temperate souls who has a few firecrackers strewn about her personality. New challenges can spark a little friction in any couple, and something popped when we saw the ultrasound pictures of our still-developing first child.
Her current steed, a middle-aged Korean compact hatch, lost a lot of luster that day. I’m sure the B&B will pelt me with shop manuals for trading a car with less than 100,000 miles, but I think there are some sound reasons to consider an upgrade.
We’re young, clueless and enthusiastic – click the jump and join us as we begin the misadventure of finding our first family hauler!
A TTAC reader is an engineer with a major powertrain company, and offered his extremely detailed analysis of the ZF 9-speed. Consider this an AP level course in powertrain engineering.
Before we dive right in to the 9-speed gearbox, let’s take a quick refresher on the basics of gears. The simplest gear set consists of 2 parallel gears mounted on 2 parallel shafts. Shown in Fig. is a gear set with a 20 tooth drive gear on the right and a 30 tooth driven gear on the left. For this gear set the speed of the driven gear is 1.5 times lower than the drive gear, and assuming no frictional losses anywhere, the torque on the driven gear is 1.5 times higher. This gear set has a ratio of 1.5:1. This type of a gear set is usually not favorable for packaging since it requires 2 parallel shafts, and there are largest separating forces that push the 2 gears apart which means that the bearings supporting the shafts have significant radial loads on them, in addition to an axial load if the gears are helical.
TTAC reader Dean Trombetta is back, giving an insider’s look at a widely reported but mis-understood story involving automotive plastics.
Last week, Aston Martin announced the recall of more than 17,000 vehicles for defective throttle pedals. The term “counterfeit plastic”, was frequently mentioned in the story, and for those not in the plastics business, the term may seem confusing. We usually associate the term “counterfeit” with consumer goods, specifically luxury items like watches, handbags and women’s accessories. Despite being in the plastics industry, I wasn’t sure what initial reports were referencing. But further research has shed some more light on the matter, and there seem to be two possible scenarios at play here.
In early 2011, a class action lawsuit was filed against Porsche alleging that the company knowingly installed defective coolant pipes made of nylon into engines of Cayenne model SUV’s. Apparently, the pipes are very likely to fail prematurely resulting in serious engine damage. If the vehicle is out of warranty, customers end up spending big bucks to repair their engines and replace the coolant pipes. The replacement coolant pipes are made of aluminum.
This review comes from reader Nicholas Naylor, who rented a Seat Altea XL for a recent trip to Spain.
My wife and I attended a wedding in southern Spain recently, along with another couple who are close friends of ours. We’re all taller than average, and being that we’re attending a wedding, the luggage load was heavy. So my idea of renting something small and Euro chic was out of the question; it had to be a wagon. Enter the Seat Altea XL.
Today’s edition of Ur-Turn comes from Brian Driggs, a long-time TTAC reader, Mitsubishi fan and published of Gearbox Magazine, a digital enthusiast publication that we highly recommend.
As a North American Mitsubishi enthusiast, I often find the dismissive comments about the brand disappointing. While the US might be the second largest market on the planet (second to China, I suspect), it’s far from being the only market. I believe Mitsubishi is diversified enough they can afford to be more proactive with regard to automotive trends. News of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi partnership only supports that belief.
Luke, also known as “pharmer” here at TTAC, has a story to tell about his ’94 Camaro. Give him a warm welcome! — JB
Let’s get something straight before we even get into this little story: I don’t live in a trailer, rock a mullet, work the swing shift at Burger King, or street race on the weekends. These are the ugly stereotypes applied to owners of Camaros and Firebirds, and they are not fair, true, or particularly funny. Nevertheless, I have heard these stereotypes thrown out as jokes from a lot of different people, and I am none of them.
I am, however, in a long term relationship with a 1994 Camaro Z28.
After noted Carrera Cup racer Sean Edwards was killed while instructing from the right seat, I wrote a piece on the incident for Road&Track. I also asked my friend Valerie Roedenbeck Maloof to contribute her thoughts here. Mrs. Maloof, whose work has also appeared in Porsche Panorama, is both a driver and the wife of a racer, so she has a unique and pertinent perspective on the risks of driving and instructing — JB
The sad news came on the morning after my husband and I had returned from a very enjoyable weekend at MidOhio, where we had spent three days driving with the Ohio Valley Region Porsche Club. Sean Edwards, 26, had died in a crash at Queensland Raceway in Australia. Edwards, a race car driver who was leading the Porsche Supercup and who was recognized as an all-around GT talent, perished while driver-coaching a 20-year-old aspiring race car driver.
His death stopped me in my tracks. We had just seen Sean at the Circuit of the Americas a few weeks prior, wished him good luck, and watched him drive the hell out of the MOMO Porsche, overcoming a variety of on-track challenges. He was by no means a close friend, but we respected him and admired his talent and racecraft. His friendly smile and admission that he was new to Instagram, but was enjoying it, haunted me.
Everybody please welcome Cory Crelan to these pages. He’s a TTAC reader who had the rather indefensible idea to buy a pair of Nissan Sentras… of course, they’re both SE-Rs. Check out his story and offer your feedback as to his future plans! — JB
About three years after I sold my 1991 Nissan Sentra SE-R, I got a Facebook message from my friend Jim. He told me to call him right away. Jim is very active in the B13 (1991-94) Sentra SE-R community and works at a very busy repair shop outside of Hartford, CT. He currently owns four variations of the B13 cars between the SE-R and NX2000. When I called him, he had an interesting story to tell: A mutual friend of ours, Steve, got a job offer on the west coast and had ten days to uproot his family from Connecticut to Oregon. Steve happened to own four Nissans.
One of them was possibly the most well-known and documented SE-R in the country.
Please welcome Jeff Stork, who comes to us from The Brougham Society with this story of an auto show and a young GM district manager, along with some great pictures. Check out his blog and Facebook page! — JB
In January of 1988, I was in my first year as the Buick Milwaukee District Sales Manager, aka “Factory Rep,” a job that entailed many tasks. Although it was primarily about obtaining enough orders to keep the factory churning- which could be a real task in a Wisconsin winter- there were numerous special assignments, one being the Milwaukee Auto Show.
Back in 2009 I wrote a blog about buying a Z4M on a whim. Four years later, I’ve made another impulse buy. Prior to moving to Seattle last summer my wife and I downsized our car stable and I purchased an $8k E39 530 as my daily driver. Given how expensive Seattle can be I didn’t want a big car payment until we got our new housing budget in check. Finding a new place took less time than expected, and soon enough, I started the research process to lease a new vehicle for my 50 minute commute.
From our very own “Crabspirits” comes this mid-week breaking of the fiction rules. As Anita Baker once sang, “Rules were made to be broken,” but I think of Crabspirits’ work as something beyond fiction. Myth, perhaps — JB
Marty’s world was in the process of deflagration.
The bowsprit of the ’41 Plymouth knifed through the hot summer air as it cruised down Highway 275. “It’s a real scorcher today, huh?”, asked Marty nervously as he popped open the cowl vent. The gals in the back seat remained silent, knowing they were to blame. The little scoop in front of the windshield provided little ventilation of the cabin in the face of such oppressive solar radiation. A woman’s hairstyle must be preserved at all costs. The cabin portholes shall be configured in such a manner as to not direct airflow upon the hair. Gus slyly slouched in the front seat, and contorted his body so he could deftly reach for the window crank. Marty saw it out of the corner of his eye and cracked a wry smile. Gus had his window ever so slowly rolled down to the mostly open mark when his action was noticed. “Stoppppp!”, yelled Beth, hitting him from behind with her purse.
The news that Ohio has joined a majority of other states in silently using facial recognition to make drivers “suspects” without their knowledge has been in the news for the past day or so. My first impulse was to write an incendiary tract where I compared my current home state to Soviet Russia in a manner that would be favorable to Soviet Russia. In the interest of balance, however, I reached out to someone with a deeper personal knowledge on the issue to provide a more dispassionate viewpoint. We’ve honored the writer’s request, and made this an anonymous contribution —- JB
The dreaded/joyful day has arrived when your teenaged son or daughter has passed the requisite tests, and it is time to smile for the camera and proudly receive that plastic card that legally empowers him or her to drive the mean streets of your neighborhood. You’ve already warned the neighbors, and they have dutifully moved everything mobile away from the curb. The mailboxes may suffer, but what can be done? Your excited child lines up exactly where he is told (you’re shocked to see that yes, he can still respond to simple instructions), in front of the appropriately colored cloth hanging on the wall, and flashes the happiest (only?) smile you’ve seen in years, proudly showing off the thousands of dollars you spent on orthodontia. The irritated DMV worker snaps, “YOU CAN’T SMILE!!!!”* Your child’s face turns to mild annoyance, and SNAP, the somewhat puzzled look is captured for what is probably “all time” in this day and age of the “cloud”. Why are the evil DMV people raining on your kid’s parade, making driver’s license photos even more hideous than seems necessary? It’s all in the name of facial recognition.
TTAC reader Richard Murdocco submits his tale of doing the unthinkable…willingly buying a V6 muscle car. While TTAC has been a proponent of the most recent V6 Mustang, few are so enlightened to its performance potential.
It was early 2011, and my last car, a 2003 Infiniti I30, became intimate with a Dodge minivan. I was just starting out my professional career, and I needed a car. Weeks prior I walked the lot of a Ford dealer on Long Island, and saw it there…a 2011 Kona Blue Ford Mustang, with the tech package, brown saddle leather seats and white stripes down the rocker panels. It was beautiful. It is a V6… *Gasp!*
Welcome Gas2.org‘s Jo Borras to our HIGHLY EXCLUSIVE AND UPSCALE circle of TTAC contributors. Jo’s brought us a piece on a “recycled” VW Beetle. Check it out and give his site a click, too! — JB
We’ve often said that the greenest car is the one that’s already built, and we’ve featured several repurposed cars, bikes, and even campers here on Gas 2 that loudly proclaim “You don’t need a new car!” and, hopefully, inspire you to put more love and more elbow grease into your existing car and – if you do it right – end up with something that’s worth more than the sum of its parts.
Which brings me to this car. The original “Godzilla”. The OG, as it were. Newman’s own Ford racing V8-powered Volkswagen Bug, and it may be the first car to be nicknamed “Godzilla” by the automotive press way back in the 1960s, and it was busy earning its monstrous reputation (some 48 years before Nissan’s R35 came along) at places like Ontario Speedway, where some cat named “Paul Newman” was using it to abuse John Z. Delorean’s hotshoes at a Camaro “open house” trackday.
Yes, that Paul Newman.
Please welcome Ryan Patrick Murphy to TTAC. A college professor and automotive enthusiast, he’s owned two E28 BMWs, a couple of M3s, and an old 911. Lately, he has been nursing a Land Rover Discovery back to health with the aid of a local junkyard. His first contribution is a tribute to those low-eyed, Tilley-hat-wearing, steering-wheel-jerking parking-lot rats known as autocrossers — JB (SCCA autocrosser since 2002!)
I’ve been participating in a form of motorsport called autocross for about three and a half years now. It is in some ways an odd and unfamiliar sport to the general public. Broadly speaking, there are two ways of describing it, and I’ve noticed that avid enthusiasts are very particular about the language they use when explaining it to others. Let’s imagine a hypothetical conversation:
Her: “So what do you do for fun?”
Me: “I race old BMWs.”
Me: (casually) “Yep”
Her: “Tell me about it!”
Yesterday’s piece on Mazda’s “upmarket” move (really, a pledge to improve the quality of their cars) dredged up the name “Amati”, as these discussions are wont to do. The legend of Amati has persisted for years, partly due to the fact that so little is known about the project.
TTAC Reader Richard responds to Derek’s Scion Metalhead Marketing piece from the perspective of a car lover and metal fan
” ‘Entrails ripped from a virgin’s c**t,’ ” I thought to myself. Toyota wants to play patron to a musical genre that has spawned songs like ‘Entrails Ripped from a Virgin’s C**t’ and ‘Christraping Black Metal.’ What are they thinking?”
My disbelief at Scion AV’s announcement echoed across heavy metal fandom. If there’s such a thing as collective cognitive dissonance, Scion AV caused it. Nobody could believe that Toyota was going to do this. What did heavy metal have to do with selling cars? And why would Toyota risk its stodgy and safe image on promoting itself via heavy metal, even if done through the ‘edgy’ and ‘youth-oriented’ Scion brand?
This time on Ur-turn, reader Erikstrawn weighs in on an issue that kept TTAC busy for years: Will GM go bankrupt? After all those years, Forbes woke up to the issue and wrote a long article on same.
While we are at it: Parts of the Forbes article was written with generous help from TTAC. What bedeviled the magazine to quote an article on Volkswagen’s Winterkorn checking a Hyundai at a motor show is anybody’s guess. While Forbes acknowledged TTAC as a source, the magazine did so without adding a link, which is considered both common and professional courtesy in the business. Also, the rather generous “quote” from a TTAC article was more generous than the formatting at Forbes made believe. Letters to Forbes were not returned. Both common and professional courtesy must run short at the magazine.
With that said, now it’s Ur-turn:
There’s a big argument online this last week over whether or not GM is really going bankrupt again, and it seems to have been started by a politically motivated piece on Forbes.com. I’ve been keeping an eye on GM’s situation, and I don’t think GM’s going bankrupt any time soon, but I think they eventually will if they don’t change what they’re doing.
This is a guest article by our reader levaris. We wanted to see what the Best & Brightest think.
According to an Associated Press article today, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is recommending that States “should ban all driver use of cell phones and other portable electronic devices, except in emergencies”. How using a phone during an emergency is safer for the driver than when they aren’t calling about an emergency isn’t made clear, but that is not the biggest problem with this latest public safety cry.
The article mentions that this recommendation is made because of a crash in Missouri involving a semi cab (no trailer), a pickup truck, and two school buses. The driver of the pickup was killed, as was a student on one of the buses; a further thirty-eight people were injured.
Ur-Turn is your weekly opportunity to contribute to TTAC. Every weekend (well, almost) we select a piece submitted to our contact form, and publish it as a showcase for the diverse perspectives of TTAC’s readers. Today’s contribution, from Mark Whinton of carquestions.ca, casts a winking eye at Chrysler’s interior improvements to a vehicle that seemed to escape much of the media’s attention at the North American International Auto Show.
Well it looks like Chrysler has finally listened to the chorus of criticism from its customers and industry pundits and the results are better than anyone expected. Bucking the industry norm Chrysler has a number of trend setting “firsts”. Starting with seating Chrysler has ditched the standard bucket seat arrangement and developed a new “wide body” style that fits any size width and meets the goal of fewer parts since the seat needs two less tracks, one less motor and entirely eliminates the center console, a reported savings of $350 per vehicle. The biggest change has been a switch from mostly plastic to a definite functional metal theme. Gone are the plastic shifters and door handles replaced by solid metal. The feeling is incredible and reminds me of the mid 60’s when you knew you had your hand on something, not like the 90’s that feel like a pool noodle.
Ur-Turn is your weekly opportunity to contribute to TTAC. Every Weekend we select a piece submitted to our contact form, and publish it as a showcase for the diverse perspectives of TTAC’s readers. Today’s contribution, from Jag Singh, reveals that, for an Indian immigrant in post-9/11 America, love of the Panther chassis could hold hidden dangers.
Coming out of India two decades ago, I had a broad experience with 2 wheelers of various types. But, my experience with 4 wheels was limited to micro Suzukis that still rule the road over there. When I bought an old Integra it was everything I could ask for, and provided more hoonage possibilities than I could muster courage for. I used to travel every week, and Taurus was my default weekday rental car. Soon I had a gold plated card from Hertz, and could walk into the rental car lot to pick up any car available there. There were always some Town Cars or Grand Marquis’ in the lot, most people seemed to ignore them. And so did I, initially. Jaguars were rare, but Maximas quickly became my favorite. I tried Mustangs but did not like the rattling noises or the cheap plastics used. Also, they felt way underpowered compared to a Maxima.
Ur-Turn is your weekly opportunity to contribute to TTAC. Every Weekend we select a piece submitted to our contact form, and publish it as a showcase for the diverse perspectives of TTAC’s readers. Today’s contribution comes from Nick Naylor, who explores the street-level reality of American cars in Asia, and the prospects of American exports to Asia.
As a frequent TTAC poster and lifelong enthusiast, some of my favorite topics and articles are the ones in which vehicles are found outside their cultural context. Paul’s classic Mustang on the streets of Paris, for example, struck me as a particularly beautiful image. “Real” American cars are of special interest to me—cars designed predominately for the North American market, built there, and exported. You don’t see too many of these outside of North America–for a myriad of reasons I need not get into here. That said, when I see a Cadillac, or an American Ford product in an Asian or European city—it invokes a similar feeling to what Paul experienced seeing the Ford and the Hummer in Paris. In this time of Obama’s pledge to double exports in 5 years, with cars being a particular sticking point with Korea, it is American made vehicles that he must be most interested in selling, not Chinese-made Chevy Sails. Is it possible?
With this on my mind, and camera in hand; I recently spent three weeks between China (Hong Kong and Guangdong province), Korea (Seoul) and Japan (Tokyo). What I observed follows below. There’s no reports, sales numbers, or data here…just observations and supporting photos.
Ur-Turn is your weekly opportunity to contribute to TTAC. Every Saturday we select a different piece submitted to our contact form, and publish it as a showcase for the diverse perspectives of TTAC’s readers. In the spirit of Halloween, today’s contribution from Bobby Wayland takes on the scariest scenario a driver can face: motoring in Italy.
I recently arrived in Italy, stationed in Naples for a two year tour. When the topic of driving in Italy arose, most passed on stock advice they’d heard third hand from those who’d actually done it: the Italians are crazy drivers; get a beater and forget about exploring Europe in anything zippier or more comfortable than a Fiat Punto. Possibly good advice, and buttressed by simple observation of many Italian (especially Neapolitan) cars – they’re nearly all dinged, dented, scraped or deformed in some fashion. There’s even a term for it employed in used car advertisements; “just a few Naples kisses,” they read, to describe a bruised VW Polo as if the fist-clenching scrape of another car against your own is somehow comparable to pleasant lip to lip contact. The phrase is actually a reference to the palms-turned-upward, eyes aloft, “who, me?” gesture that accompanies most Neapolitan smooches, a cheerful way of dismissing the frustration and inconvenience of 430€ of body work by swaddling it in “isn’t that adorable?” Since lots of Neapolitan cars would only be worth 430€ if they were transporting 615€ of socially inadvisable narcotics, they go unrepaired and their owners grow further unconcerned about a little bit of contact driving.
Ur-Turn is your weekly opportunity to contribute to TTAC. Every Saturday we select a different piece submitted to our contact form, and publish it as a showcase for the diverse perspectives of TTAC’s readers. Today’s contribution comes from TTAC commenter Rob Finfrock, and it tells the story of how one car-buying decision might have made the difference in his battle with cancer.
I’d planned to buy a new car on August 26, 2006. A loaded Mazda6S Grand Touring with the 6-speed manual, Dark Cherry Red over beige leather, with in-dash CD changer and moonroof. I justified the extravagance as a reward to myself for getting through the last seven months following a health scare. Diagnosed with testicular cancer that January, I had been extremely fortunate in the time since the initial surgery. Monthly observation scans had shown no additional tumors, which meant no radiation or chemo.
The deal wasn’t done that Saturday, though. The dealer’s numbers were still a bit too high for my tastes, so I left that day in my Grand Am. I wasn’t too worried, as I expected the dealer to come around in a day or two. The plan changed two days later, during the monthly consult with my oncologist.
I was still a nervous patient, and sweated each CT, X-ray, blood test, and follow-up. Dr. Bhogaraju was extremely understanding of that fear, and it was his custom to greet me with the statement ”you’re OK.” He didn’t say it that day.
[Ed has flown the coop for a week of R&R, and I know he has a number of Ur-Turn submissions in his inbox. Normally, we wouldn’t be running a piece from a prior Ur-Turn contributor, but these are not normal times. Mike George sent me this, and its a fitting finale to Panther Week. PN]
My auto insurance bills remind me of two things: how old I was when I got my drivers license, and how much older I have become since . You see, I got my license on my eighteenth and a half “birthday”, so the first due date of the year reminds me of the license, the second of my graying hair. Oftentimes on paying the first bill I think back of my first Road Trip, which took place no more than three months after Oregon gave me the go-ahead. My best friend Matt had moved to Culpeper, Virginia to drive a snowplow for his uncle. I wanted in on the action.
Ur-Turn is your weekly opportunity to contribute to TTAC. Every Saturday we select a different piece submitted to our contact form, and publish it as a showcase for the diverse perspectives of TTAC’s readers. Today’s contribution is a a meditation on the coming classic car crisis, from reader Matthew Betts.
Classic cars have been part of American car culture since the 1950s, when rat rods roamed the evening streets and gas contained heavy metal. As years have passed, those classics have given way to the over-restored muscle car and the garage queen time capsule. Those cars have held the spotlight for quite some time, probably because the kids of the 80s lusted after the cars of the 60s, much like their parents. The next step in the progression of the classic car will be Japanese and turbocharged group from the early 90s. This new wave can already be found creeping into auctions with prices on the rise.
After this wave passes, what will be next, if anything at all? While this may seem like a crazy question at first glance, there are several drastic differences between the cars of the last 10 years and the cars of yore that will make long-term car of them a nearly impossible goal. Some of these differences strike at the very core of classic car culture.
Ur-Turn is your weekly opportunity to contribute to TTAC. Every Saturday we select a different piece submitted to our contact form, and publish it as a showcase for the diverse perspectives of TTAC’s readers. Today’s contribution is a cautionary tale about knowing your (mechanical) limits, from reader Ross Schold.
I saw an interesting thing recently. While in a parking lot I noticed a couple clearly having mechanical trouble with their van. Being only two spots away I was able to determine in just a few seconds that they were not stranded, but working through the process logically. I gathered that even with the turn of the key their vehicle showed no signs of life. The hood was up, Mr. Van was peering into the engine compartment with a look that bordered on wonder and complete confusion. Mrs. Van, however, was clucking into a cell phone to arrange roadside assistance. They surely seemed to have everything under control.
Memory can be a funny thing: an ally or an enemy. Any modern American likely grew up with cars, and can summon countless tales of good and woe. Childhood vacations that required an I-70 burn through Kansas winters, causing the POS ‘83 Vanagon’s fuel lines to freeze. Dad pumping bottle after bottle of Heet into the damned thing to no avail. Making our way to Oregon during the freakish Wyoming blizzard of ’85, seeing countless vehicles of all sizes rolled in the median, while the family cat is sleeping peacefully on Mom’s lap…
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- Lou_BC ERay? A southern model will be the BillyRay.
- Lou_BC I've never used a car buying plan service. My Costco membership did get me 1,000 cash back on my last truck.
- Jeff S I can understand 8 cars is a bit much unless you are a serious collector. I always loved the Challenger when it first came out and now. I don't need a car like this but I am glad it exists at least for 1 more year. If I had a choice between a Mustang, a Camaro, and a Challenger I would opt for a Challenger but probably with a V-6 since it has more than enough power for most and I don't need to be burning rubber. Challenger has the classic muscle car looks, more cabin room, and a decent size trunk which makes it very livable for day to day driving and for traveling. The base models of the Dodge Challenger has a 3.6-liter V6 engine that gives you 305 horsepower with 268 lb-ft torque. The car attains 60 mph from a standstill within just 6 seconds, which is quite fast. Even with their base engines, the Challenger and Camaro are lightning-fast. The Camaro reaches 165 mph, while the Challenger can go up to 11 mph faster!
- Inside Looking Out I would avoid American cities if I can. European cities are created for humans and Americans for cars.
- Inside Looking Out I used True car once in 2014 and got a great deal. The difference is that you do nothing but dealers call you. No haggling but you can get the same deal browsing inventories on dealers websites. It just matter of convenience, Rich people delegate job to someone else because time costs more.