Abandoned History: Chrysler and the Colt, Captive Economical Import Time (Part III)

After Mitsubishi vehicles made their way to Dodge and Plymouth dealerships as the Colt in 1971, Chrysler expanded the fledgling model’s lineup quickly. Nine years after its introduction, the third generation Colt offerings (two different Mitsubishi models) were being discontinued. Accompanying the old Colts on the lot were all-new ones, though old and new alike were sold as ’79 model year cars. It’s Twin Stick time.

Read more
Rare Rides Icons: The Second Generation Nissan Maxima, Approaching 4DSC

The PU11 Nissan Maxima was among the Japanese sedans to experience a complete identity shift in the mid-Eighties. Nissan was rebranding itself from a discount Datsun identity and took Maxima upmarket. Packed with technology and on its way to the 4DSC identity that defined the model, the Maxima deserves a place at the table with the V20 Camry and CA Accord. Let’s get technical.

Read more
Opinion: Freedom Convoy Truckers Hurt Their Own Cause

Whether the truckers who’ve shut down parts of Ottawa, Canada and the Ambassador Bridge between Detroit, Michigan and Windsor, Canada, are winning the debate over vaccine mandates or not, I suspect they aren’t winning the hearts and minds of some people they might otherwise be able to convince to support them.

Read more
Rare Rides Icons: The History of Stutz, Stop and Go Fast (Part II)

From humble beginnings in the rural farmlands of Ohio to the bustling city that was Indianapolis, Harry Clayton Stutz made his way through a winding career path to found the Ideal Motor Car Company in 1911. Ideal’s first product was the Bearcat, a sporty open-top two-seater that Stutz designed himself in just five weeks. After racing at the inaugural Indianapolis 500, Stutz took his racer and made a couple of minor edits, then put it into passenger car production. However, Stutz was a tinkerer first and foremost, so he began to revise the Bearcat almost immediately.

Read more
Freedom Convoy Update: Truckers Are Winning

The Freedom Convoy that originated in Canada last month has gained an incredible amount of momentum, garnering loads of support from citizens around the world. Sympathetic protests seem to be erupting everywhere while the original group of truckers remains planted on the streets of Ottawa to demand an end to government mandates. But honking at Parliament Hill for two weeks was only a portion of the convoy’s grand strategy.

Large groups of truckers have broken off to create blockades at meaningful border crossings, gaining control of North America’s already ailing supply lines. The most recent example resulted in the taking of the Ambassador Bridge in Detroit, an essential trade crossing for both the United States and Canada. Truckers have held the bridge for five days and automakers have begun announcing shutdowns due to supply issues. Meanwhile, the Canadian government has begun discussing an end to lockdown measures after failing to stop the protests and other nations appear poised to follow in its footsteps.

Read more
2022 Chicago Auto Show: Still Relevant?

As you might be aware, Thursday was the first day of media previews for the 2022 Chicago Auto Show. Both editor Tim and yours truly are in attendance – Tim’s a local, and I really needed a few days away from the day job. I can’t, however, shake the feeling that the entire show is on something resembling life support. Beyond that, I wonder if my impressions of the show are a metaphor for the auto industry in total.

Read more
Opinion: The New York Times Needs to Get Autonomous Driving Terminology Right

The New York Times often gets unfairly criticized, usually by readers who have their own political biases (right and left), but sometimes the criticism lobbed its way is not only very fair, but accurate.

And when it comes to autonomous driving, the vaunted Times has stepped in it, big time.

Read more
Rare Rides: The 1989 Mazda MX-6, an Enthusiast's Four-wheel Steering Choice

Today’s Rare Ride represents the rarest subset of a vehicle that was for most, an afterthought. A sporty coupe ignored in its day, the MX-6 was by most accounts a handsome car that was fun to drive. Particularly elusive is the MX-6 behind today’s article. It has a manual transmission, is turbocharged, and has four-wheel steering. Could it be any cooler (Chandler voice)? Let’s find out.

Read more
Rare Rides Icons: The History of Imperial, More Than Just a Car (Part XVI)

We return to the Imperial story once more today, at a worst-ever moment. The year is 1974, and the future is bleak for the large prestige car. The economy is down, fuel prices are up due to a recent oil crisis, and the market’s trend is toward front-drive vehicles and sedans of a smaller size. What was Chrysler to do with its flagship Imperial in that sort of environment? Kill it off, that’s what.

Read more
Rare Rides Icons: The History of Imperial, More Than Just a Car (Part XV)

We return to the Imperial’s saga once again today, at a very low point for the brand. Though the Fuselage Look of 1969 had propped up Imperial’s sales and generated consumer interest, sales were in decline after the ’69s debut. Chrysler put less and less money into its flagship, as parts sharing increased while options and trims did the opposite. There was a second version of the Fuselage Look for 1972 that showed as longer, lower, and heavier than ever before. And though the new metal buoyed sales slightly, the U.S. car market as a whole saw record sales in 1972 and 1973. 1973 was the last such record year for America, and it coincided with the last Fuselage Imperial. Chrysler had a decision to make about its flagship brand.

Read more
Opinion: Nissan Used to Care. Does It Still Care?

Last week, Nissan – as part of the Renault Nissan Mitsubishi Alliance – announced an ambitious plan to invest 23 billion Euros in new products, starting with the all-electric Nissan Ariya crossover and compact Nissan Micra, as well as a commitment to developing a new type of solid-state battery that could rocket the company back to the forefront of the electric car market in a way that it hasn’t been since the original Nissan LEAF went into production all the way back in 2010. It was a bold statement of intent, but one that begs the question: Can Nissan pull it off?

Read more
Rare Rides Icons: The CA Honda Accord, It's Continental

Much like the V20 Toyota Camry covered by Rare Rides recently, Honda’s CA generation Accord was a big, important step forward for Honda’s mainstream sedan. Designed for a global market and manufactured in many different countries, the CA Accord put the nameplate on the minds of many a middle-market American consumer. Let’s take a trip back in time, to when cars were still square.

Read more
Abandoned History: General Motors' High Technology Engine, and Other CAFE Foibles (Part III)

In today’s edition of Abandoned History, we return once more to the late Seventies engines of General Motors. After the disaster which was the V8-6-4 and the subsequent release of the quite flawed HT4100 V8, we take a sidestep today into diesel. Time for a turn with the cost-cut cast iron Oldsmobile oil burner that accompanied the troubled gasoline engines at GM dealerships across the country.

Read more
Opinion: Tesla and Elon Musk Need to Hold Themselves Accountable

Tesla and its boss, Elon Musk, stepped in it again this week.

As we reported the other day, Tesla faced a recall of 54,000 vehicles because the company had programmed its Full-Self Driving software to allow rolling stops.

When the Associated Press’s Tom Krisher wrote a pretty straightforward news story describing the recall, Elon Musk called him a “lobbyist” while replying to a tweet.

Read more
AAA Endorses Driver-Monitoring Camera Systems

Despite the automotive industry collectively promising to commence deliveries of self-driving cars in 2019, autonomous vehicles have remained test platforms for technologies that don’t yet seem ready for mass consumption. Public perception of the concept has also endured a few setbacks after several fatalities involving partially autonomous vehicles received national media attention. Today, the relevant technologies have failed to mature as swiftly as indicated and there are a whole host of legal ramifications to contend with.

Selling an automobile that’s marketed as being able to drive itself (even partially) are exposing automakers to a whole new demographic of lawsuits, so they’re desperate to install failsafe measures that places the onus of responsibility back onto the driver. Their current favorite is driver-monitoring cameras, which the American Automobile Association (AAA) likewise believes are probably the best solution. The outlet recently shared the results of a study attempting to determine which driver-engagement systems worked best and decided that in-cabin cameras were the leading choice in a batch of bad options.

Read more
Rare Rides Icons: The History of Imperial, More Than Just a Car (Part XIV)

In our last installment of the Imperial saga, we worked through the earliest years of Chrysler’s Fuselage Look era. The Imperial wore its hefty new styling well, even though it shared more parts and even body panels with Chrysler’s lesser New Yorker. Although the new looks were a sales hit in 1969, customers who wanted a Fuselage Imperial bought one immediately. By 1971 things were much grimmer. Imperial was relegated for the first time to a singular trim: LeBaron. A sign of the times, the brand was no longer advertised separately in marketing materials, but alongside Chrysler’s other offerings as “Imperial by Chrysler.” However, for 1972 it was time for a big update, as Chrysler tried to bump up the Imperial’s seriously sagging sales.

Read more
Rare Rides Icons: The AMC Matador, Medium, Large, and Personal (Part IV)

We finish up our Rare Rides Icons coverage of the AMC Matador today by spending some time abroad. The Matador maintained a few different passports as it donned new branding and nameplates for its various international adventures. And unlike many domestic cars of the period, AMC saw sales success when its midsize arrived in other markets.

Read more
Abandoned History: General Motors' High Technology Engine, and Other CAFE Foibles (Part II)

In our last edition of Abandoned History, we covered the years leading up to the release of the Cadillac High Technology V8. Used almost exclusively in 1981, the disastrous V8-6-4 had a primitive engine management system that could deactivate either two or four cylinders on Cadillac’s traditional V8. And while the idea was sound, the technology and engineering behind it were not. Cadillac was left in a bind and needed a replacement engine immediately. But the engine of choice was not finished, and not ready for primetime. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome the medium-rare HT4100.

Read more
Rare Rides: The 1958 Buick Limited Lineup, a Very Expensive Roadmaster

Today’s Rare Ride was a single-year offering at Buick; it came and went in 1958. As General Motors reworked its large car offerings that year in response to styling changes at one of its biggest competitors, it reintroduced a historical nameplate at Buick: Limited.

Read more
Rare Rides Icons: The History of Imperial, More Than Just a Car (Part XIII)

We entered the Fuselage Look era of the Imperial in our last installment, as Chrysler shook off the conservative and upright styling its flagship brand wore prior to 1969. Prices were notably slashed and quality suffered as Imperial shared body panels with its Chrysler siblings, incidents that in previous decades would’ve been out of the question. We pick up in 1970, for the second year of the C-body Fuselage Imperials.

Read more
IIHS Takes a Dump on Semi-Autonomous Cars, Then Impositions Drivers

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has said it is developing a new rating system to evaluate the existing safeguards found inside vehicles equipped with partial automation. Considering how commonplace advanced driving aids have become, you might be thinking this was long overdue. However, insurers were blindly praising advanced driving suites a few years ago — until they actually started testing them in earnest.

As luck would have it, there’s been mounting research supporting claims modern automotive tech encourages drivers to tune out and become distracted. While this wouldn’t be a big deal if the relevant features all functioned perfectly, the reality is that most are far less effective than advertised and practically all of them run the risk of being completely undone by inclement weather or poor lighting. Confusingly, the IIHS believes the best solution here is to make sure systems constantly monitor the driver to ensure the driver is constantly monitoring the system.

Read more
Abandoned History: Chrysler and the Colt, Captive Economical Import Time (Part II)

Chrysler had its first involvement with Mitsubishi Motors Corporation in 1971. With a considerable stock purchase by Chrysler, the two companies’ long-lived captive import cooperation began. Introduced immediately to Americans in 1971 as the Dodge Colt, the nameplate was on its second generation by 1977. We pick up in the middle of that year, as third-gen Colts started to arrive from Japan. In the unusual arrangement, brand new (and differently sized) Colts were sold alongside second-gen Colts during the same model year.

Read more
Um, What? Survey Claims People Happier With Modern Car Buying Experience

A new survey from Cox Automotive is suggesting that people are relatively pleased with their trips to the dealership these days — at least compared to the last few years. According to the team that’s been crunching the numbers over at Automotive News, “Buyer satisfaction with the shopping experience from the research stage through delivery dipped to 66 percent in 2021.” Back in 2020, respondents claimed they were happy 72 percent of the time. But in 2019 Cox was only getting 60 percent of shoppers to say they had an okay time buying a vehicle.

The uptick in 2020 is obvious. Showrooms were devoid of customers, production shortfalls hadn’t yet become the norm, and dealers were selling just about everything at a discount — keeping prices low until 2021 sent them into the stratosphere. However, the outlet still framed it as a win against 2019, suggesting that consumers are more satisfied with their shopping experience than before the pandemic. It also claimed that people who purchased vehicles online, the no-haggle alternative to going to a dealership to argue in a small room, tended to be happier overall.

Read more
Rare Rides Icons: The History of Stutz, Stop and Go Fast (Part I)
An early American car company, Stutz started out as a manufacturer of a race car for the road. However, much like its founder, the brand’s direction changed very quickly. Stutz followed a winding path to its creation and went through a wild ride of death and rebirth over several decades. We begin our story in Ohio in the late 1800s. Everything is probably dark and muddy.
Read more
Rare Rides Icons: The History of Imperial, More Than Just a Car (Part XII)

As we make our way into the 12th installment of Rare Rides Icon’s Imperial coverage, the third generation 1967 Imperial became the shortest-lived in the nameplate’s history. After the decade-long reign of the D-body, Imperial switched to the unibody C platform to cut costs, and move on from dated body-on-frame underpinnings. But it was an odd time to introduce a new car, as the C-body was no spring chicken when the Imperial debuted. More importantly, Chrysler was on the cusp of an entirely new styling direction: The Fuselage Look.

Read more
Early 2022 Auto Sales Forecasts Are Disheartening

After a tough couple of years, consumers went into 2022 hopeful that unhinged automotive pricing and lean dealer lots would be a thing of the past. However, analysts and industry groups have gone from being cautiously optimistic just a few weeks ago to fairly sullen about the prospects of North American shoppers locating anything that could be considered a square deal.

Goldman Sachs recently issued a report that attempted to encapsulate the whole picture, citing sustained congestion at the ports, pandemic-related factory closures, market inflation, millions of people just dropping out of the workforce, and continued complications stemming from the semiconductor shortage. It estimated that vehicle pricing would fail to go down — and may even pitch up in the first half of 2022 — until all of the above issues have been addressed. But it was hardly the only group chiming in or suggesting that the hard times could last through 2023, as the goalpost for what should be deemed acceptable is moved yet again.

Read more
Abandoned History: Chrysler and the Colt, Captive Economical Import Time (Part I)

For over 20 years Chrysler offered various Mitsubishi offerings as rebadged captive import vehicles in the North American market. For a handful of years, a Colt at your Chrysler-Dodge-Plymouth-Jeep-Eagle-DeSoto-AMC dealer was the exact same one you’d buy at the Mitsubishi dealer across the street. Let’s take some time and sort out the badge swapping history of Colt.

Read more
Rare Rides Icons: The AMC Matador, Medium, Large, and Personal (Part III)

We left off in Part II of our AMC Matador coverage during the model lineup’s second year on the market. The Matador was working overtime by 1975, as AMC marketed their largest car to the intermediate and large car buyers. Unfortunately, things only went downhill from there.

Read more
Rare Rides Icons: The AMC Matador, Medium, Large, and Personal (Part II)

AMC introduced its new Matador lineup into the very competitive intermediate (midsize) car market in 1971. It was a time when the company was making advances in build quality, streamlining, and an industry-leading all-encompassing warranty. And though the Rebel by any other name was selling decently, it wasn’t grabbing market share as AMC expected. Especially lackluster were sales of the Matador Coupe, a body style that was the top seller amongst its domestic competitors. As 1974 approached, AMC prepared to make some big changes to Matador, and introduce an all-new two-door.

Read more
Rare Rides Icons: Arrol-Johnston, First Four-wheel Brakes and Inventor of Off-road Vehicles (Part II)

In our introductory article on historical Scottish car maker Arrol-Johnston, we covered the company’s 1895 inception, its invention of four-wheel automotive brakes, and the financial difficulties that led it to become a subsidiary company under steel magnate William Beardmore. Today we finish with the brand’s rise to luxury and rather rapid demise.

Read more
Rare Rides Icons: Isotta Fraschini, Planes, Boats, and Luxury Automobiles (Part IV)

Today we conclude the story of Isotta Fraschini, a company that started as a simple import business but rose quickly through racing successes to become one of the most highly regarded luxury car makers in the world. In our last entry, the Great Depression finished off IF’s last passenger car – the 8B – in 1934. Afterward, the company moved on to heavy truck manufacture alongside its marine and aeronautical engines. Said trucks were still in production when Isotta Fraschini launched a grand final attempt at a return to the luxury passenger car market.

Read more
Abandoned History: The Vehicle Production Group and Its MV-1, Accessible Mobility MPV

Historically speaking, the handicap accessible vehicle market in North America was catered to by aftermarket companies, who’d convert standard passenger vehicles (usually larger vans) to be accessible. But in the early 2000s, a couple of entrepreneurs had a new idea: A commercial vehicle designed from the get-go as accessible. Let’s talk about the Vehicle Production Group, it’s a bit of a wild ride.

Read more
Rare Rides Icons: The History of Imperial, More Than Just a Car (Part XI)

We return once more to Imperial today and find ourselves in 1967. The earlier portion of the Sixties was a turbulent time for Imperial, as the D-body soldiered on from 1957 through 1966 model years as the Imperial marque’s second-generation car. In 1967, Imperial’s lead designer Elwood Engel managed Imperial’s transition to a new shared platform. Say hello to C.

Read more
Rare Rides Icons: The AMC Matador, Medium, Large, and Personal (Part I)

The American Motors Matador line was many things to many people during its run from 1971 to 1978. Built domestically and abroad, Matadors occupied more than one size class, a broad range of price points, and were even dressed in fashionable luxury garb for a while. Come along as we explore the world of Matador.

Read more
More Western Leaders Call for the End of Private Vehicle Ownership

If there’s anything that’ll get my stomach into a twist, it’s the government talking about the merits of reducing people’s ability to own things. Fortunately, the 36-hour flu I just experienced made me nigh-invulnerable and someone had forwarded me the latest on what U.K. Parliamentary Under-Secretary for the Department for Transport Trudy Harrison had to say about personal vehicle ownership. She’s very keen on public transpiration but not so interested in the plebian masses having access to their own, individual modes of transport.

Earlier this month, she told a virtual audience at shared transport charity CoMoUK that the United Kingdom needed to move away from “20th-century thinking centered around private vehicle ownership and towards greater flexibility, with personal choice and low carbon shared transport.”

Read more
Rare Rides Icons: Isotta Fraschini, Planes, Boats, and Luxury Automobiles (Part III)

Isotta Fraschini advanced very quickly from its humble roots as a French car importer. Through racing recognition and the utmost attention to quality and engine technology, IF became one of the most well-regarded luxury car companies in the world. The firm’s first two large cars the Tipo 8 and 8A were considered on par with Rolls-Royce, and the company found buyers in the elite of America and Hollywood stars.

But the company’s fortunes changed in 1929 as The Great Depression bowed its head, and put a big dent in the ultra-luxury car market. The 8A concluded its run from 1924 to 1931 with under 1,000 total sales. IF was immediately ready with another super lux car as the world was still deep in The Great Depression, but company ownership attempted to pursue other passenger car avenues. And IF might’ve prospered were it not for fascist government intervention.

Read more
Abandoned History: The Mercedes-Benz X-Class, Nissan Luxe

Sort of like the Cimarron we covered in our last edition of Abandoned History a couple of months ago, today’s vehicle is pretending to be more than it is. It’s the luxury X-Class truck Mercedes-Benz sold in markets outside the USA. Can you tell what it actually is?

Read more
Analysis: Ram and Dodge and the J.D. Power Initial Quality Study

It’s been a few months now, so I’ve had plenty of time to get used to it — and yet, it still seems wrong. It feels factually wrong, emotionally wrong, and just wrong wrong. What is “it”, you ask? It’s this: Ram and Dodge topped the 2021 J.D. Power Initial Quality Study, ahead of Lexus, Mitsubishi, and Nissan.

If someone told me, “The most reliable new cars you can buy are Rams, Dodges, Lexuses (Lexii?), Mitsubishis, and Nissans …” well, I’m not sure how you’d respond, but I would assume they sold Rams, Dodges, Mitsubishis, and Nissans, and just threw Lexus in there to give the list some credibility.

I won’t go as far as Brightwork Research in calling J.D. Power “a fake entity”, but my gut tells me that there has to be more to JDP’s Initial Quality Study than — well, initial quality — that’s pushing weird brands up in the ranking, and I’ve decided to do a little more research to find out what. If you’re as curious as I am, keep reading.

Read more
U.S. Regulators 'Crack Down' on Tesla for Letting Customers Play Video Games

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has launched a formal investigation into 580,000 Tesla vehicles sold since 2017 that allowed customers to play video games inside the vehicle. The company has allowed users to play a variety of games while vehicles are in park, some of which allowed drivers to use the steering wheels and pedals as part of the controls, for quite some time. But an over-the-air software update permitted a few of them to be launched while the car was in motion by the passenger in the summer of 2021. Called “Passenger Play,” the service was limited to games that only used touchscreen controls.

It’s since been axed, however, regulators have taken an interest following some manufactured outrage. The NHTSA has faulted the feature as part of the ongoing distracted-driving problem in an attempt to link it to its crusade against Autopilot. The agency has launched a preliminary investigation into 580,000 Tesla Model 3, S, X, and Y vehicles to determine if they’re attention-sucking deathtraps.

Read more
Rare Rides Icons: The History of Imperial, More Than Just a Car (Part X)

This 10th installment of our Imperial coverage finds us at a turning point in its styling. Virgil Exner had been fired but was allowed to stay on as a design consultant at Chrysler. Exner’s immediate replacement was Elwood Engel, who’d designed the 1961 Lincoln Continental and then jumped ship when he was not promoted at Ford. Chrysler execs wanted out of Exner’s winged, googly-eyed stylistic cave, and Engel took the aged D-body in a very different direction for 1964.

Read more
Opinion: Detroit Auto Show Waste of Taxpayer Money

The Detroit Auto Dealers’ Association recently got some good news. Michigan lawmakers have decided to give them a $9 million grant to put on a Detroit Auto Show — the first since 2019 — and effectively “reopen” one of the world’s biggest auto shows. And, while it’s good for the dealers, I have to admit that the news has left me angry with rage.

But why? I’m a car person, so I should be happy, right? After all, Detroit is a major show, packed with cool concept cars and big, international reveals. That stuff’s exciting, who wouldn’t want more of that!? But, sitting here and facing down the start of 2022, I can’t get past the feeling that the traditional auto show is dead — and should stay dead.

Read more
Rare Rides Icons: Isotta Fraschini, Planes, Boats, and Luxury Automobiles (Part II)

Isotta Fraschini never intended to build its own cars and was founded as an Italian-based importer of French vehicles and engines. But as we learned in Part I, after a few years in the business its small group of owners experimented with building their own cars. Then they tried their hand at winning races with Tipo D in 1905. After D’s successor the Tipo FE was unsuccessful at racing, the company redirected itself and decided to make sporting luxury cars instead. We pick up the action in a year many of you remember vividly: 1910.

Read more
The Grand Tour's "Carnage a Trois" Episode Falls Largely Flat
The Grand Tour returned this past Friday with the fourth special of its fourth season, entitled “Carnage a Trois.” The French-themed episode follows “ Lochdown” of August 2021, “ A Massive Hunt” from December last year, and “Seamen” from December 2019. “Seamen” was the first installment of The Grand Tour’s new format where the tent, audience, track, and stupid time-wasting went by the wayside in favor of a specials-only format with grand adventures and less choppy segmented content. How does “Carnage a Trois” fare in that mold? Pas bon.

Read more
Analysis: What's the Opposite of Reducing Your Carbon Footprint?

Why are we switching to electric cars? I mean, I’m not talking about the need to “do better” when it comes to Mother Earth and the baby kangaroos — even Randy Newman wouldn’t bomb the baby kangaroos — but are EVs and billions spent to lower prices and build chargers for the things really going to make the world better if people just look at them as a way to have their cakes and eat them, too? To put it another way, are you really reducing your carbon footprint behind the wheel of a 9,046 lb. GMC Hummer pickup?

That’s right, kids. The upcoming all-electric Hummer will tip the scales at more than 4.5 tons — and that’s “just” the pickup. The SUV will probably weigh more since it’ll be hauling around more glass, seats, and carpets than the pickup. Despite having enough mass to generate its own gravity, the GMC-badged truck can rocket to 60 mph in under 4 seconds, and effectively crush its way through untouched, virgin wilderness in a manner worthy of its heritage as an Army man cosplay favorite (Punisher window sticker not included).

It’s almost enough to make me throw my hands up and say, “Why bother!?” And that, dear B&B, led me to ask myself the question: What would I drive if I just didn’t give a f***?

Read more
Rare Rides Icons: Arrol-Johnston, First Four-wheel Brakes and Inventor of Off-road Vehicles (Part I)

We discussed Arrol-Johnston briefly in our Rare Rides Icons coverage of Isotta Fraschini a few days ago. Though the brand didn’t even make it to see World War II, the company’s contributions to the advancement of passenger vehicles make it an important one. Onward, to Scotland!

Read more
Rare Rides: Vanderhall Motor Works and The Venice, Three Wheels Only

Today’s Rare Ride is presented to you because I saw one in traffic on Wednesday. Unsure what the three-wheeled thing I saw was, I gave a vague description to Twitter and was informed almost immediately that what I’d seen was a Vanderhall Venice. Let’s learn some three-wheel car-bike things.

Read more
Can Automakers Really Cash In on Connectivity and Subscription Schemes?

A little over a decade ago, it seemed like everyone I knew was abandoning cable packages for online streaming services. They were cheaper, on-demand, and offered more choices with fewer advertisements. But as the years progressed, companies stopped selling their media to a handful of online video platforms and started building their own. Programming became more transient and isolated, forcing consumers to buy into additional subscription services. We’ve since hit a point where the overall consumer experience has diminished and grown more expensive, despite the steady influx of competition.

While automakers have been dabbling with subscription services of their own, their earliest attempts turned out to be such overwhelmingly bad deals that the public refused to play along. But they’re not giving up that easily. Industry players have been trying to figure out ways to charge customers indefinitely for years and are starting to settle upon subscription packages that can unlock hardware that’s already been installed into the vehicle or add software that can be downloaded via over-the-air (OTA) updates. Love or hate it, vehicular connectivity has opened up the door for new sources of revenue and businesses everywhere are eager to take advantage — with most companies projecting exceptionally healthy profits for the years ahead.

Read more
TTAC Television Review: American Auto Has Promise but Already Needs a Tune-Up

Not even 10 minutes into NBC’s preview of its upcoming workplace sitcom, American Auto, I had hopped into TTAC’s Slack channel to offer a negative appraisal.

That’s unusual for me – I tend to give a new show more than 10 minutes before judging – but I was struggling to find redeeming qualities. It’s one thing for a show about a fictional car company to get things about the auto industry wrong – much more on that in a bit – but this is a comedy, and I wasn’t laughing.

I dutifully forced myself to keep watching the rest of the two-episode, one-hour preview. The show got better – but it still needs work.

Read more
Rare Rides Icons: The V20 Toyota Camry

The Toyota Camry made leaps and bounds after the model debuted as a sedan sub-variant of the Celica in 1980. The first Camry to stand on its own was the V10, a very boxy four-door on sale for just four years, from 1983 to 1986. In the North American market, the front-drive V10 Camry replaced the rear-drive Corona as Toyota’s compact offering. And though the V10 was designed in part with export markets like North America in mind, its successor the V20 used the North American customer as its starting place.

Read more
Rare Rides Icons: The History of Imperial, More Than Just a Car (Part IX)

Today marks the ninth installment in our history of Imperial, as the calendar flips over to 1961. The second generation Imperial is not quite to the middle of its tenure on its own platform, the D-body. Virgil Exner imposed a wild new styling direction on Imperial for 1960 that was both outlandish visually, and heavy-handed in its execution. “More of that,” said Exner for ’61.

Read more
Abandoned History: General Motors' High Technology Engine, and Other CAFE Foibles (Part I)

A modern and efficient V8 of 4.1 liters, the HT4100 was the exciting way forward for Cadillac’s propulsion needs in the early Eighties. The engine came hot on the tail of a very iffy cylinder deactivation experiment, V8-6-4. Unfortunately, just like the cylinder games before and the Northstar after, the HT was plagued with issues that took years to iron out. The HT in its name meant High Technology but could’ve meant Halfway There. Let’s travel back to the Seventies and talk cylinders.

Read more
Rare Rides Icons: Isotta Fraschini, Planes, Boats, and Luxury Automobiles (Part I)

Founded at the turn of the 20th century, Isotta Fraschini dabbled in different modes of transportation during the handful of decades the original company was operational. Though it ended up as a luxury carmaker to rival the likes of Mercedes-Benz, the founders of Isotta Fraschini never intended to make a car at all.

Read more
Quantum Leaps: Geely Saves Saab Instead of Volvo
These days, it’s hard to imagine a company better positioned to take on Tesla than Geely-owned Volvo and Polestar. Volvo made headlines back in 2015 when it promised that all new Volvos would be electrified starting in 2019 and ruffled more feathers when it spun off its successful motorsports brand, Polestar, into a purely electrified performance car line. Parent company Geely’s Chinese heritage allows Volvo nearly unfettered access to the all-important Chinese market and allows the company to benefit from economies of scale – through the Geely, Lynk & Co., and Zeekr car lines – that it simply wouldn’t be able to realize on its own.Over the past 10-or-so years, the Swedish company – once on the verge of extinction – has flourished, going from strength to strength. Ford looks absolutely ridiculous for having sold Volvo, now valued at more than $20 billion, to Geely for “just” $1.5 billion ( with Polestar going for another $20 billion, all on its own) back in 2010.Sure, Ford wanted to fire-sale Volvo – but Ford wasn’t the only troubled American car company holding on to a respected Swedish car brand looking to make some fast cash. With a push here and a nudge there, Geely could have bought Saab, instead.
Read more
Driving Dystopia: Stellantis Is Becoming a Software Company Like Everyone Else

On Tuesday, Stellantis announced a plan to cultivate €20 billion ($23 billion USD) per year by 2030 via “software-enabled product offerings and subscriptions.” However, the automaker will first need to increase the number of connected vehicles it has sold from 12 million (today) to 34 million by the specified date.

This is something we’ve seen most major manufacturers explore, with some brands firmly committing themselves to monetizing vehicular connectivity through over-the-air (OTA) updates, data mining, and subscription services. Though much of this looks decidedly unappetizing, often representing a clever way for companies to repeatedly charge customers for equipment that’s already been installed.

Read more
Rare Rides Icons: The History of Imperial, More Than Just a Car (Part VIII)

We continue our Rare Rides Icons series on Imperial today. Starting in 1957, Chrysler’s then-separate luxury arm spent more and more time on bold styling, and less on the hand-built quality for which the company’s first cars in 1955 and 1956 were known.

Read more
Opinion: Vehicles That Deserve A Heritage Parts Program

You finally did it, didn’t you? You beautiful disaster, you did it! You spent nearly $30,000 US American dollars on thirty-seven-year-old Toyota Corolla because of a comic book, and you aren’t even mad about it. Hell, you paid a little extra for the “authentic” Fujiwara Tofu Shop decals on the doors. You. Kick. Rear. And now, after you didn’t think it could be possible to feel better about your automotive purchase, I’m going to make you feel better about your automotive purchase – because you can now buy factory-fresh parts for your Corolla AE86, straight from Toyota.

That’s right kids, through its captive motorsport brand, Gazoo Racing, Toyota is reproducing spare parts for the Corolla Levin Sprinter Trueno “AE86” as part of the GR Heritage Parts Project. The project reproduces new original parts that have been discontinued and sells them as genuine parts with a standard new part warranty, “ in order to support customers who wish to continue driving older vehicles that are full of memories and that they truly love.”

All kidding aside, you have to admit that the concept of a Heritage Parts program is great, even if the Initial D AE86 isn’t exactly your cuppa – but it sort of begs the question, what other new-age classics might be worthy of a heritage program? I’m glad you asked!

Read more
Opinion: How Many Deaths Does Tesla Consider Acceptable?

Back when the Tesla Model S was new, it achieved something almost unthinkable for an upstart carmaker. I’m not talking about bringing a full-size electric sedan to market, and I’m not talking about building a seven-passenger sedan capable of Ferrari-baiting acceleration, either. What I’m talking about is the Tesla Model S’ outstanding 5.4 safety rating from the NHTSA – a score that was so high, it effectively “broke” the organization’s five-star scale.

The question of Tesla safety in the lab seemed to be settled, but – nearly 10 years on – we finally have some real-world data to look at, and the results are not quite what you’d expect from a car with “the highest safety rating of any car ever tested”.

I mean, unless you expected the Model S to have nearly 160x the fatality rate of a Chevy Bolt, anyway.

Read more
Rare Rides Icons: The Abandoned Bugatti EB 112, a Super Sedan

Power, luxury, exclusivity, and grand touring driving enjoyment. The Bugatti EB112 promised all those adjectives in spades were it ever actually produced. But it was born at a very difficult time in the company’s history, and the super sedan never made it beyond the concept stage.

However, due to some interesting timing at the company level, the EB112 was not just a one-off concept. In fact, there are three in existence.

Read more
Rare Rides: The 1980 Toyota Corona, a Camry Predecessor

Today’s Corona is the third to appear in the Rare Rides series. We started in early 2020 with a 1968 Corona Coupe and followed up that October with a Mark II wagon. Today’s entrant is from the last time North Americans could buy one.

Read more
Rare Rides Icons: The Ford Capri, a European Mustang (Part III)

Today we conclude the Ford Capri’s story with its third and final generation. After the Mark I’s promising start as a simple and affordable sporty coupe, the Mark II went a bit too soft and comfortable and diverged into many different trims as Ford tried to appeal to a wider audience.

“We can fix it!” exclaimed Ford. Time for Capri Mark III.

Read more
  • Inside Looking Out Why EBFlex dominates this EV discussion? Just because he is a Ford expert?
  • Marky S. Very nice article and photos. I am a HUGE Edsel fan. I have always been fascinated with the "Charlie Brown of Cars." Allow me to make a minor correction to add here: the Pacer line was the second-from-bottom rung Edsel, not the entry-level trim. That would be the Edsel Ranger for 1958. It had the widest array of body styles. The Ranger 2-door sedan (with a "B-pillar", not a pillarless hardtop), was priced at $2,484. So, the Ranger and Pacer both used the smaller Ford body. The next two upscale Edsel's were based on the Mercury body, are were: Corsair, and, top-line Citation. Although the 1959 style is my fav. I would love a '58 Edsel Pacer 4-door hardtop sedan!
  • Lou_BC Stupid to kill the 6ft box in the crewcab. That's the most common Canyon/Colorado trim I see. That kills the utility of a small truck. The extended cab was a poor seller so that makes sense. GM should have kept the diesel. It's a decent engine that mates well with the 6 speed. Fuel economy is impressive.
  • Lou_BC High end EV's are selling well. Car companies are taking advantage of that fact. I see quite a few $100k pickups in my travels so why is that ok but $100k EV's are bad? The cynical side of me sees car companies tack on 8k premiums to EV's around the time we see governments up EV credits. Coincidence? No fooking way.
  • EBFlex "I'd add to that right now, demand is higher than supply, so basic business rules say to raise the price."Demand is very low. Supply is even lower. Saying that demand is outstripping supply without providing context is dishonest at best.