With the Biden administration having announced that it would start requiring companies to vaccinate employees, automakers and UAW are finding themselves in a sticky situation. Unions had previously said they wanted to hold off on endorsing or opposing mandatory vaccinations until after they discussed things with the industry and their own members. Considering Joe Biden said he wouldn’t make vaccines mandatory less than 10 months ago, employers are getting caught with their pants around the proverbial ankles.
Automakers had previously been surveying white-collar workers to see what they wanted to do while upping on-site COVID restrictions, but operating under the impression that any hard decisions were likely a long way off and left entirely to their discretion. Now the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration is planning a new standard that requires all employers with 100 (or more) employees to guarantee their workforce is fully vaccinated or require any unvaccinated workers to produce a negative test result on a minimum weekly basis.
Our recent Rare Rides coverage of the Chevrolet Citation made one thing very clear: We need more Citation content. Today’s 1982 Buy/Drive/Burn lineup was suggested by commenter eng_alvarado90, who would like to see all of you struggle. Citation, Aries, Escort, all in their most utilitarian formats. Let’s go.
New York Governor Kathy Hochul signed into law a bill that effectively makes the sale of new gasoline-powered automobiles illegal within the state after 2035. On Wednesday, the state’s new governor took the brave step of copying California in deciding that all new passenger cars and light-duty trucks be zero-emission models within the next 14 years. Though she saw it as a totally original strategy necessary for stopping the horrors of global warming, which we now call climate change.
It’s also not technically her plan, as the State Assembly voted on the bill months before she took office with all Democrats and three Republicans voting in favor. It later passed the Senate in another party-dependent vote aided by the state’s Democratic majority.
We continue our Chevrolet Citation coverage today, just after the economy car’s 1980 introduction to critical acclaim and huge sales figures. Unfortunately for GM, the Citation’s true personality was quickly exposed, and things were entirely downhill from there.
Born at the turn of the Eighties during a very lackluster period in the American automotive landscape, the Chevrolet Citation was a successful entry into the hot compact segment. It debuted to immediate sales success as a budget used car buy and won a major award. Could it be the ultimate economy car for the Eighties?
It’s Citation time.
Today’s Rare Ride is one of just nine Alfa Romeo TZ3s built in 2010 by Zagato. Priced at over $1 million at the time, every example was immediately sold to a collector who put it in an alarmed garage somewhere warm and sunny, and then didn’t drive it.
However, underneath the fanciful Zagato bodywork was a platform few million-dollar class collectors covet for their garage.
This week, the Alliance for Automotive Innovation (the largest automotive lobby in existence) released a set of principles relating to the EV charging infrastructure that it believes will be absolutely necessary to spur consumer adoption of electric and alternative energy vehicles in the United States.
“For the auto industry’s transition to electrification to be successful, customers will need access to affordable and convenient charging and hydrogen fueling, easy-to-understand utility rate structures that reward off-peak charging, and improved charging times,” John Bozzella, CEO of the alliance, said on Wednesday. “And we must also work together to grow EV sales without leaving low-income, rural or disadvantaged communities behind.”
That’s corporate-speak for “we need to stop catering to wealthy buyers and the government needs to pay for as much of this as possible.”
The Nineties W202 C-Class was Mercedes’ second-ever compact car offering, after its debut small car the 190. Not made of the heritage-level materials of the 190, the W202 cars were largely trashed at the bottom of their depreciation curve a decade ago by second and third owners.
Said trashing is why today’s very clean example is so unusual.
General Motors now requires salaried employees operating in the United States to disclose their coronavirus vaccination status. As confirmed by the automaker on Thursday, the decision is supposed to help the company determine what percentage of its own workforce is vaccinated so it can make better decisions about which safety protocols to implement. But your author is under the assumption that “as many as possible” will always be the preferred answer.
Earlier in the month, GM forced all salaried employees to disclose whether or not they were immunized for COVID-19 using the automaker’s internal network. Those answering to the affirmative were required to submit proof of vaccination by last Monday. But it sounds as though the manufacturer is just getting warmed up for more invasive activities.
In Part V of the Rare Rides series on the Eagle Premier, I mentioned an abandoned project at Chrysler called Liberty. Announced in 1985, Liberty was supposed to be a direct challenge to GM’s recently announced Saturn brand. Or it wasn’t, depending on what day of the week Liberty was addressed.
Chrysler’s PR department and CEO Lee Iacocca seemed at odds on what the Liberty project was, but they were both sure it was very important and it would build something, probably.
Software updates. Precisely when we had to start having a conversation about software updates – over the air or otherwise – in an automotive context isn’t something I can answer. We didn’t have them for about 100 years. Then, we did. What’s more, it seems like everyone is more or less OK with that, but should they be? Are these software updates really making your car better, or are they slowly throttling back your car’s performance and functionality in a bid to frustrate you into buying a new one?
Let’s take a few minutes to explore the possibilities.
The fifth entry in our Rare Rides series on the Eagle Premier brings us to 1988. The Premier was newly on sale after a delayed introduction, and the company building it was not the same company that spent years designing it.
Chrysler was in charge of the Premier’s fate.
Since last night’s unveiling of the 2023 Nissan Z, I’ve been chewing over my thoughts on the car. Is it good, or is it another misfire from a brand that’s struggling to recapture glory days?
After exerting far too much brainpower on the question — I’d rather ponder what’s for lunch — I’ve arrived at my answer.
The Renault group’s high profile chairman had been assassinated in fall 1986 by French extremists, and the company’s new chair, Raymond Lévy, was experiencing pressure from all sides.
There’s a great scene in The Commitments where Jimmy Rabbitte, the main kid, puts an ad in his local paper to recruit talent for his band. If you’ve never seen the movie, it’s definitely worth the two-hour – a er, commitment (sorry), but that’s off-topic. Rabbitte puts out this ad, and would-be musicians knock on his door. When he opens the door, he asks them one question: Who are your influences?
It’s a great question, isn’t it? It cuts through lots of the usual interview BS and small-talk and hand-wringing and gets right to the meat. In The Commitments, the right answers were Al Green, Wilson Pickett, and Otis Redding. Over at Hyundai/Kia, however, it seems like the right answers were Lancia Delta, Lancia Stratos, and Porsche 959.
What the heck is Jo talking about this time? I’m glad you asked.
We continue our coverage today of the Eagle Premier from over 30 years ago. Parts I and II detailed the inception of the AMC-Renault joint project, and the technical aspects of what was a pretty advanced (or quirky) family sedan.
The time had come to put this all-new AMC offering on sale, but Premier arrived alongside some very unfortunate historical circumstances.
As I’m sure you’ve seen elsewhere on these pages, the 2023 Nissan Z has broken cover in Brooklyn. And as much as I, TTAC’s professed Z fanatic, would love to be there, I simply can’t get away from the desk this week. Tim’s there, but I suspect he’s spending most of his time geeking out over Seinfeld filming sites.*
*Ed. note: Chris knows me too well. But Seinfeld was mostly filmed across the river in Manhattan and I’ve been to the diner that served as the coffee shop. It wasn’t that good.
Yes, we saw the reveal of the Z Proto last summer, and this production version isn’t changed all that much. Most notably, beneath the sculpted sheetmetal lies a platform that isn’t all that different than the outgoing 370Z, with a 400hp V6 that, while stout, isn’t all that new either. The journalists are surely agog with the reveal of the new car, but almost none of them will buy it. And, when you break down the likely sales figures, the new Z will likely sell in a year what a Ford F-150 sells in a day or two.
The sports car market in general is irrelevant. So why does a new Z matter? Let’s wander a bit into the history of the Z for a moment.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has been keeping tabs on Tesla’s Autopilot for years, sometimes giving crashes involving the system a bit more attention than they otherwise would have. But the extra scrutiny seemed to dissipate as practically every automaker on the planet introduced their own advanced driving suites and Telsa seemed to preemptively adhere to fast-approaching government regulations (and industry norm) by introducing driver-monitoring cameras.
On Friday, the NHTSA returned to business as usual and announced it had opened a preliminary evaluation of Autopilot to determine if there were any problems with the system. The agency has claimed it received at least 11 verifiable crash reports since 2018 where a Tesla product struck at least one vehicle that was already at the scene of an accident. It’s sort of a weird metric but allegedly worthy of the NHTSA wanting to look into every model the company produced between 2014 and 2021. However, actually reading the report makes it sound like the agency is more preoccupied with how Tesla’s system engaged with drivers, rather than establishing the true effectiveness of Autopilot as a system.
The reviews are breaking today on the new Jeep Grand Wagoneer. As Jeep resurrects one of its most historical full-size nameplates from a three-decade slumber, it’s getting a lot of positive press coverage. But Jeep is in for a world of disappointment in a couple of years.
Part I of The Eagle Premier Story covered the inception of the collaborative AMC-Renault X-58 project in 1982, and its front-drive full-size flagship goal. It was to be an all-new car to lead AMC’s North American offerings. In today’s installment, we’ll take a look at the stylish sedan’s technical details more closely.
The current $7,500 Federal electric vehicle tax incentive could get a boost to $12,500 if the “Clean Energy for America” bill ever makes its way to reality – but it’s absolutely the wrong way to go, in my opinion. And, I know – “Who cares what Jo thinks about EV incentives,” right? Right –except that very, very few people in the industry have as much “green cred” as I do, so maybe you’ll want to give this one a read.
Despite regulatory efforts often being praised as essential for elevating standards and promoting safety, they’re also an excellent way to funnel money and favors between political and corporate entities in plain sight. This dichotomy is particularly glaring in regard to environmental restrictions, which frequently favor businesses that are wealthy enough to afford to adhere to them and subsidies that effectively reroute tax funding to support various industries.
Considering this, it’s fairly rare to see bigger businesses griping about government assistance. But that’s exactly what Honda is doing with a proposal in Congress seeking to provide additional EV subsidies to consumers that buy vehicles manufactured by union-backed plants. The manufacturer has stated it believes the Clean Energy for America Act is discriminatory by favoring specific automakers and will ultimately restrict the choices available to consumers – which is true.
I’ve been meaning to cover the final Chrysler Imperial for some time now. The only Imperial featured in this series so far is a collection of the early Eighties version, which was a very expensive and complicated pet project failure of Lee Iacocca.
Today’s Imperial is the follow-up model to that boxy rear-drive PLC. Let’s check out the longest and most luxurious K-car variant ever made.
The Fast and Furious franchise gets a lot wrong when it comes to tuning cars – but what thing it gets mostly right is the spirit of family that comes with that lifestyle.
We continue our 1990s-then-2000s series today, following up the last post that featured compact American two-doors from 1998. By the late 2000s, the Escort, Neon, and Cavalier were all dead. In their place were the Focus, Caliber, and Cobalt, and not all of those had a two-door variant. That means we focus on four-doors today. Let’s go.
We’ve featured a number of Zagato-enhanced Rare Rides previously, the majority of which were from exotic European nameplates. The most recent example of the type was the Ferrari 599 GTZ Nibbio Spyder. Today’s Rare Ride is from a different Italian brand, one thus far unrepresented by Zagato edits.
Presenting the Lamborghini 5-95, from 2014.
The special takes on the early 2000s Ford Thunderbird just keep on coming! Our first Thunderbird edit came from Ford, in the 007 Special Edition made in conjunction with the fairly terrible James Bond film Die Another Day. More recently, we took a look at a Chip Foose creation ordered up by Ford called the Speedbird.
In a similar vein, today’s Rare Ride comes from Ford customizer Saleen in conjunction with Californian wheel firm Bonspeed. Are you ready for retro?
They say that drag strips are for fast cars, while racetracks are for fast drivers. That may be true, but this is a premier, top-shelf car enthusiast blog, however. We’re all friends here, and we’re all just delusional enough to believe – if only a little bit – that we were all but a go-kart or midget sprint or jr. dragster away from motorsports greatness at one point in our lives, and that’s the real allure of the drag strip: it’s an easily accessible, relatively affordable way to experience motorsports firsthand.
Ready? Let’s get started.
I’m back with more boring used car content, a topic some of you apparently despise with a passion. Caution: More used-car discussion ahead, get out while you still can if this is the case! For the rest of you, let’s review the impractical car suggestions you’ve made that earned a spot on the Yes, I Like list.
Not long ago, Rare Rides featured the Gurgel XEF, a Brazilian microcar of luxurious intent that was styled like a contemporary Mercedes-Benz, and based on a Volkswagen. Today’s Rare Ride is a very different Brazilian take on the same basic bones.
Say hello to the Renha Formigão.
Detroit automakers and the UAW have elected to reinstitute national masking mandates for all of their facilities, starting Wednesday. General Motors, Ford, and Stellantis have issued a joint announcement clarifying that the rules are in accordance with the updated guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommending masks be worn by all persons regardless of their vaccination status.
Based upon the text included in the release, the industry seems aware that the decision will be unpopular and is doing its utmost to transition responsibility without absolving itself entirely.
July 30th saw the streaming release of the third installment in The Grand Tour Presents series, Amazon’s installment rework of the formerly tent-based automotive series. Following up their “Seamen” premiere (which I liked) and “A Massive Hunt” ( which I didn’t), Clarkson, Hammond, and May get back to their basics of years ago with “Lochdown.” And there’s not a lot wrong with that.
The Buy/Drive/Burn series has taken on a late Nineties theme lately: Our last two entries represented midsize sedans from 1997. Based upon a suggestion in the comments, we return once more to the period. On offer today are three very basic American compact coupes from 1998.
Tim asked the other day if I might work up an opinion piece on the current state of Subaru. “Sure,” I said, and immediately felt salty. In mind were many criticisms on how the smallish automaker is doing things currently. After that initial salty reaction, I got to thinking about Subaru’s current offerings and recent trajectory more critically. And I realized they’re doing most everything just as they should.
Today’s article is a follow up to the one from about a week ago, wherein I outlined my current used car shopping idea: something fairly impractical with two doors. The article racked up 195 comments thus far, and I’ve read them all and taken notes.
Let’s get down to your suggestions. First up are the cars I won’t be considering.
We continue our 2007 and 1997 sedan series with its fourth installment. We’ve covered V6 Japanese sedans from two different decades, as well as American-branded entries from 2007. Today we step back to the midsize V6 sedan class of 1997. The Big Three beckon you with medium build quality, equipment, and value for money in a midsize sedan; a segment in which only GM deigns to participate in 2020. Let’s go.
It’s been a few weeks since I sold the Golf Sportwagen back to the dealership from whence it came, and it’s still there if any of you would like a very clean Golf with no present water issues. Since then, I find myself peering out the kitchen window at the empty driveway space where the Golf used to reside. And it makes me have many thoughts, impractical thoughts.
Dieselgate. It was one of the biggest corporate scandals in recent history, resulting in billions of dollars in fines, CEOs stepping down in shame, a few scattered criminal charges, and the death of Volkswagen’s beloved TDI diesel engine line in North America. You could even argue that the current accelerated push for EVs is just ongoing fallout from the initial Dieselgate dirty bomb. But by far the worst thing about Dieselgate is that I saw things happening with my own eyes back in 2008, had no idea what I was looking at, and blew my chance to break the biggest automotive news of the decade.
Allow me to set the stage a bit.
Years ago, waiting for a haircut, dental appointment, or psychological evaluation meant thumbing through a paperback filled with local listings of automobiles you had convinced yourself you might be in the market for. While primarily an exercise for wasting one’s time, there was always a chance you’d run to a payphone or whip our your Nextel to contact the seller so you could begin the delicate dance of commerce.
Today marks Part III and a conclusion to our series on the 2003 Studebaker XUV. We’ve covered the truck’s announcement and immediate lawsuit action from General Motors, who were not keen to let something so similar to the Hummer H2 enter production without a fight. We join the action post courtroom.
We introduced the Studebaker XUV in Part I of this series, a concept SUV for which Avanti Motors was immediately sued upon by GM upon its debut. Barred from producing any H2-esque vehicle, their chairman thought up a way to differentiate the XUV in the marketplace: Make it “feminine!”
In part five of our six-part series on the Studebaker Avanti, I mentioned a concept the company debuted in the early 2000s, the XUV. A Big Tough Truck styled almost-just-like the crazy popular Hummer H2, consumers weren’t the only party to take notice. Let’s talk lawsuit.
Today’s Rare Ride represents the only time in history Buick built a two-seat car, and the only time a Buick had pop-up headlamps. It was also the last time Buick made a factory convertible in the United States, as the Opel Cascada wasn’t built domestically and was not a real Buick.
Let’s check out the Eighties low-volume experiment that was Reatta.
Last week, the European Union proposed banning the sale of all new internal combustion vehicles starting in 2035. With several member nations proposing restrictions in the coming years, EU leadership feels it can accelerate the timeline to force electric vehicles as the de facto mode of transportation. The European Commission has suggested making it illegal to sell gas or diesel-powered vehicles in 14 years, with aims to reduce CO2 emissions produced by automobiles by 55 percent (vs 2021 levels) by 2030.
But countries that still produce vehicles have expressed reservations about the scheduling. France absolutely agrees with mandating restrictions that would reduce greenhouse emissions. Though President Emmanuel Macron’s office has been pressing that hybrid vehicles would be able to do much of the heavy lifting and fears that an outright ban of internal combustion could hamstring the industry if conducted too early. Germany, which manufacturers more vehicles than other EU member nations, is of a similar mind.
Last week we featured the very uninspiring Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera, which was a basic three-box A-body that never excited anyone, ever. Today we look at another Cutlass from the Oldsmobile Cutlass Everything Incorporated timeline.
This one’s a bit more exciting, as it says FE3 on the back.
Late last year I put forth some thoughts about the future direction of Infiniti, largely about how the company was on a downward trajectory. Looking forward, the brand needs a major change in direction – not much has changed since December when I wrote that piece.
But one might then logically ask “Where did the company first lose its way?” I’m going to answer that question right now. Let’s take a little trip to the Before Times, in 1990.