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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
Rare Rides has touched on the first generation Pajero (Montero to North Americans) once before via the Raider, a captive import Dodge dealers could shift while the company had zero small SUV action of its own. Today’s Pajero is a second-generation version – the three-door never sold on our shores. Surprisingly, it even maintains the same color scheme as the Raider.
We’ve covered the second album of Infiniti’s ill-fated Q45 flagship previously, in a stunningly clean example from 1998. However, the first generation is much harder to find; they just didn’t have the longevity or caring ownership profile of the Lexus LS 400. But someone in Japan maintained this one, and it’s been imported to the US just for you.
It’s time for blue-green, grille-free luxury.
Today’s Cadillac is an example of what happens when you combine consumer tastes in places like Miami in the late Eighties with the refusal of some domestic manufacturers to make luxury convertibles.
Presenting a Cadillac coupe that’s custom, cabriolet, and
After teasing, promises, and COVID-related delays, the Infiniti QX55 debuted a few weeks ago, as Infiniti eagerly drew direct comparisons between their new “classy” successor and the departed FX35/45. You might remember that shapely SUV headed to its demise in 2017 after it was left to rot for a few years, then renamed QX70. Infiniti chose to ignore its final QX70 name in the press materials and call it FX instead, which says something about their branding strategy, doesn’t it?
Today I’m here to tell you this “new car” is a perfect example of exactly what’s wrong at Infiniti, and the changes needed years ago, not sometime in the future.
There were precisely two generations of the Nissan Pulsar sold on North American shores, and we’ve covered the latter previously in an absolutely excellent NX Sportbak from 1988. Today’s Rare Ride is a final-year 1986 example of the first generation Pulsar, which wasn’t quite as versatile as its replacement in 1987.
This one’s as clean as they come.
This isn’t the first time Rare Rides has featured a car from long-deceased automaker Glas. That honor goes to this luxurious 2600 V8 coupe from 1967. But while the 2600 was the most expensive car Glas made, today’s 1304 is one of the least expensive.
Let’s check out a compact wagon built just as Glas was being consumed by BMW.
As we’ve arrived at another edition of Thanksgiving in this, the Most Awesome Current Year, let’s celebrate with a very American Rare Ride. Today’s big boat was the pinnacle of the Buick brand in 1980. Full of acres of ruched velour and wood-look trim, the Park Avenue took Electra to new heights before the fancy name ever became an independent model.
Come along and enjoy American Luxury, even if it’s not an Oldsmobile.
We've Heard This Incorrect Forecast Before: Honda Believes in 2022 Civic Because "Passenger Cars Are Going to Stabilize"
As Toyota approached the launch of the all-new, 2018 Toyota Camry in mid-2017, the automaker telegraphed its intentions very plainly.
Toyota wasn’t alone.
“I don’t expect to sell fewer Accords in 2018 with this great new product,” Honda’s sales vice-president, Ray Mikiciuk, said later on in 2017. Accord sales fell 10 percent in 2018 before sliding 8 percent in 2019.
One year later, Nissan’s Dennis Le Vot worked up to the launch of the 2019 Altima by suggesting that when it comes to passenger car market share: “We think 30 percent is the bottom.” Passenger car market share fell below 30 percent in 2019, the new Altima’s first full year.
Now we’re months away from the arrival of the 11th-generation Honda Civic. You know the drill: major automaker launches major car nameplate, major automaker suggests car market will stop the free-fall, major automaker hypes possibility of car market healing.
In 2000, shortly before the ill-fated revival of the Maybach brand into a gauche purveyor of S-Class Baroque Editions, the 12-cylinder S 600 resided at the top of the Mercedes-Benz model hierarchy. This example in particular was ordered with a unique feature at the behest of a very well-heeled original owner.
Today’s Rare Ride comes from a time when Jeep still offered a two-door pickup to the American small truck consumer.
Super clean, pretty retro, and with great tape stripes, it’s the Jeep Comanche Pioneer. A fitting example of the first-ever Jeep featured in this series!
Today’s Rare Ride started out in life as an already very expensive Aston Martin Vanquish. Then it was reworked in a significant way by that Italian house of all things coupe, Zagato. Surprisingly, the Italians resisted painting it Rosso Corso Collezione or whatever, as its owner demanded a nice BRG-adjacent matte color.
Let’s check out this sports wagon shaped Aston Martin.
The Ford Thunderbird is popular here at Rare Rides, apparently. Thus far, we’ve covered one from 1982 which was hacked into a convertible, and one from 1988 which was turbocharged and very good. Today’s Bird hails from 1979, which was the very last year the model was large(ish) and in charge.
Today’s Rare Ride hails from the last bit of the Fox-body Mustang era. And while there were only supposed to be a handful of these 7UPs ever made, the special edition ended up with a production figure in the low five digits.
Only one car is lemon, lime, Mustang, and forgotten. Let’s go.
Turns out when that special combination occurred in 1998, it was purp drank and banana colored.
We’ve spent the last few years wondering how Mazda’s upmarket push would impact its focus on performance. But keeping tabs gradually devolved into holding out hope that the brand wouldn’t totally snub fun-to-drive products to broaden its appeal. While there’s a wealth of Japanese brands ready to sell you comfortable and well-appointed automobiles, there aren’t many devoting a sizable amount of resources into maintaining engaging driving dynamics for the whole of their lineup. Mazda used to be the exception but now seems interested in banking on its above-average styling and novel luxury aura to drive sales.
It’s not a bad strategy but appears to have come at the expense of performance. Despite Mazda products rarely being famous for the output of their powertrains (unless we’re talking in the context of size), the brand is not making up the difference in handling anymore. It also hasn’t built any new Mazdaspeed performance products in years and doesn’t seem interested in trying.
Rare Rides has never featured a Camry previously, and that’s mostly down to the model’s general abundance in salt-free locations. However, a fine liftback like today’s example in brown, brown, and tan is well worth some coverage!
Come along as we check out the Camry body style which passed away long before any of the others.
Rare Rides has featured Ford’s compact Escort offering previously, in a first-generation EXP from 1986. Today’s Escort hails from the model’s second generation and wears a Mercury badge instead. It also has three important letters on the back: LTS.
Let’s check out a sporty economy sedan from the good people at Mercury.
In the last edition of Buy/Drive/Burn, we discussed three large European wagons with a $65,000 price point. The Buy vote was a toss-up between the E-Class and the A6 allroad.
Today we cover the sedan variants of the same three cars, at the exact same price point. Think you’ll choose differently?
Unaware that the inherent danger of motorsport is often what makes it popular (check the ratings for any series throughout history and count the number of driver fatalities if you’re in doubt) Roborace plans on becoming the first global championship for battery-driven autonomous cars programmed to run the course without help. Organizers are convinced that the sport will eventually yield compelling competition with teams using nothing more than their own coding acumen and self-driving hardware. Chassis and powertrains are shared between vehicles, making this a battle of real-time computing algorithms and artificial intelligence technologies.
It actually sounds kind of boring. But one of Roborace’s first live-broadcasted events opened with a bang after one of the cars pitched itself directly into a wall — suggesting organizers could still give the viewing public what it wants.
The Rare Rides series has touched on Acura only once before, in the only Rare Rides Review (to date) of a Honda-owned 2003 Acura CL Type-S.
Today marks the second edition of Acura Time, and we step back to the company’s first-ever midsize coupe. Let’s check out a tidy tan-over-tan Legend from 1989.
Despite governments the world over practically forcing electric vehicles down our collective throat via stringent emission standards, the average person living in North America hasn’t changed their mind on them. According to a recent survey by J.D. Power, the “Mobility Confidence Index” for battery-electric vehicles remains largely neutral.
Even as global lockdowns have made them a more viable option, with more people working from home and driving fewer miles every week, North Americans aren’t budging. In fact, citizens of the United States may actually be turning on EVs while Canadians remain slightly more agreeable — something that probably extends beyond the automotive realm.
In our last Rare Rides, we discussed how the W126 S-Class established the model as a default for the large German sedan shopper. I also referenced the failed attempt at S-Class competition which was the Audi V8 Quattro.
So today let’s expound upon that failure a bit.
Today’s Rare Ride was the ultimate display of Germanic automotive wealth in the early Nineties. Always rarer than its sedan brother, the SEC was the S-Class with two doors and no pillars.
Let’s check out a hardtop from the arguable height of modern Mercedes-Benz engineering.
Car Twitter is a weird, wonderful online “place”, but sometimes bad takes bubble up. And there’s a double-whammy of bad takery floating around this afternoon.
Take number one: Ford CEO Jim Farley is taking an unnecessary risk by racing cars that could hurt Ford should an accident leave him dead or too injured to work/lead the company, according to some experts interviewed by the Detroit Free Press for a story by Jamie LaReau.
Take number two: The Freep and/or Jamie are dumb for publishing/writing this article.
Rare Rides has featured a couple of F-150 things previously, in the super luxurious Lincoln Blackwood, and the performance-oriented first generation SVT Lightning. Today’s truck combines both luxury and performance into a single F-150.
Let’s check out this very clean triple-tone Harley-Davidson F-150 from 2003.
In Part I of this two-parter, we learned about the Fiero’s high-cost conception, and initial stumbling blocks in the form of fires and subsequent piles of melting plastic. But the team behind Fiero never gave up hope, as evidenced by what happened in the second half of its life.
I was thinking about Volkswagen this weekend, as you do. We’ve all seen the recent reports that the company is losing money, betting big on the new electric ID lineup, and about to sell its halo supercar brand Bugatti.
But I think the company has another, product-centric issue in North America as you might’ve guessed by the title above. The Arteon must go.
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- Ollicat I have a Spyder. The belt will last for many years or 60,000-80,000 miles. Not really a worry.
- Redapple2 Cadillac and racing. Boy those 2 go together dont they? What a joke. Up there with opening a coffee shop in NYC. EvilGM be clowning. Again.
- Jbltg Rear bench seat does not match the front buckets. What's up?
- Theflyersfan The two Louisville truck plants are still operating, but not sure for how much longer. I have a couple of friends who work at a manufacturing company in town that makes cooling systems for the trucks built here. And they are on pins and needles wondering if or when they get the call to not go back to work because there are no trucks being made. That's what drives me up the wall with these strikes. The auto workers still get a minimum amount of pay even while striking, but the massive support staff that builds components, staffs temp workers, runs the logistics, etc, ends up with nothing except the bare hope that the state's crippled unemployment system can help them keep afloat. In a city where shipping (UPS central hub and they almost went on strike on August 1) and heavy manufacturing (GE Appliance Park and the Ford plants) keeps tens of thousands of people employed, plus the support companies, any prolonged shutdown is a total disaster for the city as well. UAW members - you're not getting a 38% raise right away. That just doesn't happen. Start a little lower and end this. And then you can fight the good fight against the corner office staff who make millions for being in meetings all day.
- Dusterdude The "fire them all" is looking a little less unreasonable the longer the union sticks to the totally ridiculous demands ( or maybe the members should fire theit leadership ! )