Rare Rides: The 1951 Muntz Jet, First-ever Personal Luxury

Did you ever wonder which vehicle is credited with being the very first personal luxury car? Wonder no more, as it’s today’s Rare Ride, the Muntz Jet.

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Rare Rides: The 2012 Maybach 57 S Coupe by Xenatec, as Ordered by Muammar Gaddafi

Today’s Rare Ride is a custom-built version of an already-exclusive car. Originally a large sedan, Xenatec’s 57 S coupe was built only in the single digits.

And this particular example was ordered by a dictator.

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On Tiger Woods, Auto Journalism, and Clickbait

Golf legend Tiger Woods was involved in a nasty one-car accident yesterday. He survived, but he suffered serious injuries, and his golf career might be in jeopardy.

Not long after my social feeds lit up with the news, I came across a tweet in which it was clear that he was driving a Genesis GV80. One that bore the logo of a recent golf tourney on its door. Woods had apparently been loaned the car by Genesis.

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Rare Rides: The 1921 Detroit Electric 85A, a Very Early EV

It’s fitting that the first electric vehicle ever featured in the Rare Rides series is today’s two-door Detroit Electric. One of the earliest electric cars, the luxurious Detroit Electric was whirring around cities when many people still used horses.

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Buy/Drive/Burn: The Cheapest Trucks in America for 2021

We closed out last week with a Buy/Drive/Burn entry that covered the three cheapest sedans available in America this year. Nearly all of you decided you’d buy the most expensive of the three, the Hyundai Accent.

Today’s trio are the least expensive trucks on sale today with plain paint, two driven wheels, and steelies. Think you’ll select the most expensive truck of today’s trio for the Buy? Let’s find out.

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Buy/Drive/Burn: The Cheapest Sedans in America for 2021

Imagine for a moment you’re not a well-heeled connoisseur of expensive cars and high finance, and there’s not a Bentley Mulsanne and a Land Cruiser in your garage. Instead, imagine you have to buy one of the three cheapest sedans on sale in America in 2021.

Today it’s Buy/Drive/Burn meets Ace of Base.

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Rare Rides: The Eccentric Isdera Spyder 036i, From 1991

The name Isdera meant absolutely nothing to your author prior to today’s Rare Ride. A company originally headquartered in West Germany, it seems Isdera’s offerings were intentionally obscure and hard to purchase.

Let’s check out an 036i, whatever that means.

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Rare Rides: The 1972 Gilbern Invader, Obscure and Welsh

Today’s Rare Ride hails from a tiny carmaker in business for less than two decades. The Gilbern name stands out in history as one of the few companies that built cars in Wales.

Let’s check the company’s most successful model, the Invader.

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Rare Rides: A Supercharged 1995 Toyota Previa, Mystical Minivan

Of all the Good Nineties Minivans, the Toyota Previa (like the Mercury Villager Nautica) stands out. Engine in the middle, driven wheels at the rear, superior build quality, and supercharging all made for a unique minivan offering never seen before or since.

But unique didn’t sell in America (still doesn’t), and the Previa taught Toyota a lesson about its customers.

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Rare Rides: The Ridiculous Toyota BB Open Deck, From 2002

Today’s Rare Ride is a very interesting version of a ho-hum economy hatchback. By the time Toyota finished with their edits, said hatchback was turned into a pickup truck in similar in concept to the Chevy Avalanche.

Feeling intrigued?

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Rare Rides: The 1970 International Harvester 1200 D, a Pristine Pickup

Today’s Rare Ride marks the first time the series has featured a vehicle from the defunct International Harvester brand. Though the luxury-lined Monteverdi Safari was International-adjacent, today’s truck represents the agricultural, working heritage of IH.

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Rare Rides: The 1933 Cadillac V-16 All-weather Phaeton

In the midst of the Great Depression, Cadillac offered a new range of ultra-expensive motorcars that featured 16-cylinder engines – a count never offered previously by a domestic automaker. One of the V-16’s most prestigious variations is today’s Rare Ride.

Presenting the extremely exclusive All-weather Phaeton sedan.

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Tesla CEO Accused of Kowtowing to China: A Tale of Two Musks?

Tesla CEO Elon Musk came under fire this week after Bloomberg wrote a piece accusing him of playing nice with totalitarian China following years of showing totalitarian California a complete lack of respect. With the semiconductor shortage leaving the industry in a holding pattern, tabloid journalism seems to be filling in the gaps to the dismay of yours truly. However, Musk’s relationship with both countries remains relevant since they represent the two largest automotive markets on the planet and will dictate the trajectory of the business.

He’s being accused of being extremely apologetic to Chinese regulators, despite having become infamous for acting in the exact opposite manner in the United States. As you might recall, American Musk is all about flagrantly ignoring the rules and telling the government regulators to take their concerns into the bathroom where they’ll have the privacy necessary to stick them where the sun doesn’t shine. When it comes to high-IQ billionaires, our Elon is the bad boy’s bad boy. But Chinese Musk is said to be deferential and happy to comply with the request of oversight groups before they become official mandates.

He sounds like a total traitor! At least, that’s how China’s state-run media framed it before Western outlets took the reporting and made Elon seem even worse on Tuesday. The story has since been spreading online, encouraging this website to take another look to see if Mr. Musk is actually the double-crossing villain that’s being claimed.

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Your Regular Reminder That Fully Self-Driving Cars Don't Exist Yet

While we’re on the subject of Super Bowl commercials, there wasn’t just one, but two, that irritated me on Sunday.

This one has little, if anything, to do with politics, so you can relax and cancel out that angry email you were about to send me.

Nope, this one has to do with the misinformation circulating about autonomous cars.

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Rare Rides: Basic Brown Buick, a 1973 Century Coupe

Though its nameplate dated back to the Thirties, the Century was an all-new model for Buick in 1973. The Century promised exciting value and (optional) power and luxury in the mid-size segment.

Let’s check out this very basic three on the tree coupe.

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Opinion: Jeep's Super Bowl Ad Won't Unite Us

Last night’s Super Bowl got out of hand about as quickly as the newsman fight in Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy.

This meant that I, watching the game home alone since Super Bowl parties aren’t safe these days, turned to the ads to keep myself entertained. Sadly, with a few exceptions, most were as stinky as the game itself.

The ones that were supposed to be funny mostly weren’t, the emotional/inspirational ones were mostly fine but unmemorable, and the one that was so bad that I think it was intentionally terrible for the sake of virality was just annoying.

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Rare Rides: The 1990 Chevrolet Astro RS, Maximum Sports Van

Rare Rides has featured a Chevy Astro van once before, in Provan Tiger GT guise where it had all-wheel drive and an onboard bathroom.

Today’s Astro version does not have a bathroom but instead focuses on the tinsel important to sports van driving enthusiasts of the Eighties and Nineties.

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Rare Rides: The Very Rare 1964 Alvis Graber Super Coupe

A small British firm headquartered in Coventry, England, Alvis faded from the automotive memory of most long ago. But for over 50 years, Alvis produced quality, hand-made British cars for the moderately- to very-well heeled.

Today’s Graber Super Coupe was one of the more luxurious ones.

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Buy/Drive/Burn: Affordable Subcompact Crossovers in 2021, Round Three

After we covered American and Japanese trios of $25,000 subcompact crossovers, round three means it’s time for the Korean offerings. But there are only two Korean brands in North America, so today we cover both of their entries and another from Japan.

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Rare Rides: The 2020 Rolls-Royce Wraith Silver Spectre, Affordable Shooting Brake Time

Ever wanted the luxurious accommodation of a Rolls-Royce, without the stodgy roofline and pesky cargo limitations of a coupe? Well Carat Duchatelet has just the car for you.

Presenting the Rolls-Royce Wraith Silver Spectre, your personal shooting brake.

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Rare Rides: A 2008 Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano, With the Worst Interior Colors Ever

Today’s Rare Ride is a big, front-engine V12 Ferrari in the company’s fine grand tourer tradition. While its exterior color is nothing to write home about, its interior is absolutely a one-off.

Once you get a look at it you’ll see why.

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Piecing Together the Winter Tire Puzzle

A good swath of the country is currently in the thick of winter’s frozen grasp, icy tentacles clutching deep into the heart of every gearhead who’d rather be enjoying a healthy round of burnouts in a deserted parking lot.

OK, maybe that’s a tad dramatic. But our point stands.

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Rare Rides: The Very Rare 1972 Intermeccanica Indra Spider

The Intermeccanica marque is a new one to Rare Rides, and even in scouring the obscure vehicles of the internet one does not come across the name often.

Intermeccanica has dabbled in a number of different automotive enterprises since its inception, and the Indra seen here is one of its more successful projects.

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Adventures in Marketing: BMW Says "OK Boomer" to Its Own Flagship Vehicles

BMW published a four-minute and change ad a couple weeks ago for the start of the virtual CES 2021 show. Though this would not normally be a subject worth covering, this particular ad seems to indicate BMW believes their own E65 7-Series is for ridiculous out of touch Boomers.

Marketing departments always know what they’re doing, right?

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Rare Rides: The 1992 Lotus Excel, End of an Era

Today’s Lotus Excel hails from the end of a period of transition at the famed British brand. Built for 11 years, by the end of Excel’s run the company had chosen a new direction for its cars.

Most would say the change was for the better.

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Rare Rides: The Beautiful 1969 AC Frua Cabriolet

Today’s Rare Ride was in production for nine years, but never reached triple-digit figures in its sales.

Let’s check out this hand-crafted British beauty.

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Buy/Drive/Burn: Affordable American Subcompact Crossovers in 2021

They’re small and space efficient because they’re hatchbacks, and they sell well because they’re called crossovers. Which small American CUV is worth buying with real money if you’ve got a $25,000 budget?

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Opinion: It's a Bleak Future for Mitsubishi Cars in North America

Mitsubishi has an important product debut coming up: the all-new 2022 Outlander three-row crossover. In what will be the fourth-generation Outlander since 2001, the 2022 model ditches Mitsubishi’s ancient GS platform the Outlander has used since 2007 and sees a migration over to the same platform as the Nissan Rogue.

I think this is the beginning of the end for Mitsubishi in North America.

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Rare Rides: The Incredibly Rare 1981 Monteverdi Safari, an International Delight

We’re back again with more Monteverdi today, and I’m determined the Rare Rides series will cover all of Monteverdi’s vehicular offerings. European design, American power, and Swiss attention to detail combined with very high prices to make all the company’s models Rare Rides.

We’ve covered two earlier Monteverdi offerings previously, in the 1970 High Speed 375/4 sedan, and the 1971 High Speed 375/L grand touring coupe. Today we head into luxury SUV territory with the Safari.

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Rare Rides: The 1994 Isuzu Trooper That's Bighorn and Irmscher

Rare Rides featured Isuzu vehicles on four previous occasions, and all of them were from the Seventies or Eighties.

Today we switch it up a bit and present an Isuzu from the Nineties. Ready for Irmscher?

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Rare Rides: The Intensely Sporty 1992 Dodge Daytona IROC R/T

Rare Rides has featured a few sports coupes of the Dodge variety previously, but those Eighties cars were not as modern, refined, and sophisticated as today’s seldom seen two-door.

Presenting the Dodge Daytona IROC R/T, from 1992.

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Rare Rides: The 1967 Hino Contessa 1300S, Rear-engine Blip on the Radar

Hino is a well-known producer of commercial vehicles today and has been in the commercial truck market since World War II. But for a short while in the Sixties, they built their own rear-engine passenger car.

Say hello to Contessa.

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Rare Rides: A 1990 Subaru Legacy Wagon, Sold Back to Subaru

Today’s Rare Ride is an example of utmost care and maintenance. It’s a 31-year-old wagon which was driven and kept in showroom condition over more than 200,000 miles.

This particular wagon was unique enough that Subaru purchased it for their collection.

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Rare Rides: It's a 1977 Reliant Scimitar GTE, You Know

Today’s Rare Ride is a sporty shooting brake from the days when there were still many British manufacturers building cars like it across England.

Let’s travel back to the Seventies when everything was brown, excepting this particular Reliant.

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Rare Rides: The Spectacular Original Ford Taurus From 1987

Rare Rides has covered earlier variants of the Taurus twice in prior entries, with a sparkling SHO from 1990 and the one-off Sable cabriolet from 1989.

Today we go further back in history, and look at an excellently preserved 1987 Taurus LX.

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Rare Rides: The 1976 Maserati Kyalami, Obscure Italian Luxury

Today’s Rare Ride is a very luxurious Maserati which flew in under the radar and was offered by the Italian firm for a short while. A four-seat coupe, it was named after a race track in Africa.

Let’s find out more about Kyalami.

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Rare Rides: A 2003 Volkswagen Passat W8 4MOTION Wagon, for Low-cost Motoring

The Rare Rides series featured a Passat wagon once before, in the long ago time of 2018. It was a 1992 G60 with all-wheel drive, a manual transmission, and supercharged engine. Staying true to quirky form, today’s newer and more luxury-oriented Passat pairs its all-wheel drive grip with an eight-cylinder engine.

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The Oddly Simple Joy of the Pandemic Drive

Like a lot of people, I’ve been driving less on average since the pandemic began. This presents a problem when part of your job requires testing cars.

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Rare Rides: The 1986 Lands Precedent Sportswagon, Ultimate Obscure Luxury Van Time

A gray, two-tone shape crossed the screen of my phone. What followed was one of those moments where one has no idea how to identify the thing upon which they are gazing. The Facebook ad was titled “1986 Other Other,” but what was it?

Presenting the Lands Precedent Sportswagon, from 1986.

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Adventures in Advertising: That Ford Mach-E Ad With Clark Griswold Lacks Laughs

While on the subject of holiday ads, I have another beef with a different automaker than yesterday.

Today’s target: Ford.

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Adventures in Advertising: What is the Creature in That Mercedes Ad?

You’ve probably seen a certain Mercedes-Benz ad this year. Or maybe in years past – I think the ad in question ran last year, as well, and maybe even before then.

It’s a holiday ad featuring one of the brand’s luxury SUVs and advertising a winter sales event for Mercedes.

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Rare Rides: The Lincoln Continental From 2002, Nicest-ever Taurus

Today we take a look at the early 2000s Lincoln Continental. A generation of Continental that didn’t know what it wanted to be, we can take comfort in the knowledge it was at least a nice Taurus.

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Rare Rides: The 1992 Daihatsu Leeza Spider, It's Tearing Me Apart

Oh hi, Mark. Today’s Rare Ride is a very rare version of Daihatsu’s Leeza Kei car. It’s tiny, turbocharged, and one of only 200 made.

No more The Room jokes, I promise.

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Rare Rides: A 2019 Alfa Romeo Disco Volante Spyder, One of Seven

Today’s Rare Ride very likely a vehicle you’ll never see in real life. Extremely expensive and limited in production, just seven were ever made.

It’s pretty spectacular.

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Rare Rides: A 1994 Fiat Coupe, as Legal Immigrant

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen an imported two-door Fiat on these pages which required some paperwork to get into the country. But it is the first time it’s all been done above board.

Let’s check out this 25-year-old Italian.

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Rare Rides: The 2002 Cadillac Eldorado Collector Series

They say all good things must come to an end, and so it was in 2002 with the Cadillac Eldorado. Today’s Rare Ride was the last in a long line of flagship coupes from Cadillac, and one which saw the name exit with a whimper instead of a bang.

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TTAC's Best and Worst Vehicles of 2020

The end of a brutal year is upon us, and I thought we could celebrate the end of this dumpster fire that is/was 2020 by having arguments about cars.

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One-year Ownership Update: 2019 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen

Well friends, it’s been an entire year since I purchased a CPO Golf SportWagen, and it’s time for an ownership update.

Do you expect I’ve had any more issues since we last spoke?

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The Auto Enthusiast's Realistic Christmas Wish List for the North American Auto Industry in 2020

French hot hatches. Affordable full-size wagons. Manual-shift rear-wheel-drive sports sedans under $30,000. Production versions of the Chevrolet Code 130R, Dodge Hornet, and Ford Start. The reincarnation of Isuzu’s VehiCROSS and Trooper. Standard-of-the-world Cadillac sedans and ordinary BMWs that drive as well as modern Cadillacs. A hiatus on coupe funerals.

My unrealistic auto writer’s Christmas wish list could go on forever. Much of it is based on nostalgia. Some of it simply isn’t cognizant of current market trends. A healthy portion of it simply denies the lack of performance-oriented interest among 2020’s car buyers. The remainder shows a lack of gratitude for the spectacular automotive era in which we live.

But what about realistic hopes of what could be gifted to the auto enthusiast community in the new decade?

This is my realistic Christmas wish list for 2020, not for me personally but rather for the North American auto industry as a whole.

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Ford Mustang Mach-E: Right Car, Wrong Name

I mentioned it before, when ripping that Ford ad that got me riled during an NFL Sunday, but I still strongly believe the Ford Mustang Mach-E shouldn’t have “Mustang” in its name.

(Yeah, it’s Mach-E week around these parts. If you couldn’t tell. More to come on the Mach-E later today or next week.)

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Rare Rides: The Incredibly Rare 1981 BMW 735i Touring

Today’s Rare Ride is one of just a handful of custom-built 7 Series wagons, created by a coachbuilder who wanted flagship BMW luxury with additional cargo carrying capabilities.

Come along as we check out this large BMW wagon.

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Rare Rides: The Xedos 6, a Small Luxury Mazda From 1996

While researching information for the recently featured Mazda Lantis, your author came across some other Nineties forbidden fruit from the good people at Mazda. Particularly interesting was the Xedos 6, which, like the similar-looking Millennia, was also a part of Mazda’s early Nineties luxury push.

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Rare Rides: The 1962 Singer Vogue, the Smaller Side of British Luxury

Today’s Rare Ride is the first time a Singer vehicle has appeared on these pages. Compact and well-trimmed, the Vogue was a bit more than the standard Sixties British family car.

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Auto Alliance Pitches Preferred U.S. Strategy: Government Money

The Alliance for Automotive Innovation (AAI) is proposing a national strategy for the United States it claims will help keep the country competitive. However, the AAI represents automakers, parts suppliers, and technology firms around the globe — making this more of a plea to U.S. policymakers and the industry to remain laser-focused on electrification, connectivity, and vehicular automation. It’s pitching its preferred global strategy, not some custom strategy for helping the U.S. achieve dominance because it’s telling the European Union and Asia the exact same story.

Elsewhere, the eight-part plan is being touted as an invaluable tool to help guide America back toward automotive relevance. But here, we remain skeptical.

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Rare Rides: A 1996 Infiniti J30, Luxury Sedan With a Heart of 300ZX (Part II)

In Part I of this two-parter we were introduced to the J30, Infiniti’s luxurious new sports sedan for the Nineties. Having learned from their Q45 mistakes, the brand was determined their new mid-sizer would be appealable to the American Market.

So what went wrong? Let’s find out.

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Rare Rides: A 1996 Infiniti J30, Luxury Sedan With a Heart of 300ZX (Part I)

The other day while we were reviewing the daringly spectacular first generation Q45, commenter SSJeep requested coverage of Infiniti’s other rear-drive sedan from the period, the J30. I thought Rare Rides already covered Infiniti’s mid-size offering, but it turned out I was remembering an installment of Buy/Drive/Burn.

That means it’s time for J30.

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Report: Hyundai Embracing Subscription-based Features, Buying Boston Dynamics

Following reports that Hyundai Motor Company managed to purchase American engineering and robotics firm Boston Dynamics from Japanese financial conglomerate SoftBank for a cool $921 million, we’ve learned that the South Korean automaker has also fallen into embracing on-demand features. The trend, which is sweeping through the automotive industry to our dismay, basically involves manufacturers hiding vehicle options behind a subscription paywall instead of just letting you purchase the options you wanted upfront.

That means tomorrow’s car shopper might find themselves buying a vehicle that’s already fully loaded from the factory only find themselves forced to unlock heated seats or an upgraded sound system via monthly payments. In our estimation, the whole concept is ludicrously wasteful, diminishes the private resale values of automobiles, and seems like the kind of corporate nonsense reserved for dystopian fiction novels.

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Rare Rides: The Absolutely Epic 2002 Renault Avantime, a Big Sales Flop

Today’s Rare Ride is one of those that’s always been on the to-do list, but never floated to top of mind. That changed the other day, when this very tidy example was posted on Twitter.

Let’s talk about Privilege.

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Rare Rides: The 1999 Maserati Quattroporte, and It's Pink

We’ve featured a Quattroporte at Rare Rides on two prior occasions: a beautiful first-generation model, and one in its more modern form which was reworked into a slinky wagon.

Today’s Nineties model is … neither of those things.

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Rare Rides: Be a Pioneer in a Jeep Cherokee From 1985

Today’s Rare Ride is an early example of the Cherokee, built while AMC was still alive and well-ish. And it just so happens to be the same color and trim as the Comanche pickup featured here recently.

And it’s just about factory fresh.

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  • ToolGuy @Matt, let me throw this at you:Let's say I drive a typical ICE vehicle 15,000 miles/year at a typical 18 mpg (observed). Let's say fuel is $4.50/gallon and electricity cost for my EV will be one-third of my gasoline cost - so replacing the ICE with an EV would save me $2,500 per year. Let's say I keep my vehicles 8 years. That's $20,000 in fuel savings over the life of the vehicle.If the vehicles have equal capabilities and are otherwise comparable, a rational typical consumer should be willing to pay up to a $20,000 premium for the EV over the ICE. (More if they drive more.)TL;DR: Why do they cost more? Because they are worth it (potentially).
  • 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.