Category: Crapwagon Outtake

By on November 3, 2017

'96 Accord ad/Image: YouTube

It’s a running joke around here, but like the best humor, it comes from a kernel of truth: TTAC should always write about Hondas. Every article — Honda. Readers just can’t seem to get enough of the Big H.

California filmmaker Max Lanman knows what’s up. Either he’s been lurking in TTAC’s Slack, or he’s hacked our Google Analytics — but in the course of a day, nearly half a million people have tuned in to his commercial showcasing an eBay auction for his girlfriend’s well-used 1996 Honda Accord.

As expected, it’s working.

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By on March 7, 2016

1994 Rover Mini

I’ve not yet had the pleasure of driving a classic Mini. Residing in Ohio, this isn’t altogether surprising, as the climate has not been kind to many older cars. Also, there’s the problem of not being able to actually fit. Someday, though, I need to give it a try.

With a production run spanning six decades, there are likely many Minis still seeing use as daily drivers in the UK. Like any other ubiquitous car, then, these are subject to the whims of the owners looking to give their rides some additional personality.

As it seems there are no Pep Boys in England, questionable modifications must come from other sources.

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By on March 4, 2016

1996 Ford Thunderbird hotrod

For those who grew up during the Truman and Eisenhower administrations, or perhaps were influenced by movies like “American Graffiti,” the hot rod is an iconic part of the youth culture of the era. Countless aging enthusiasts spend a great deal of time and money modifying, maintaining, and showing off classic Detroit iron.

It makes me wonder if, in 50 years or so, will some of my friends still be showing off tuned and slammed Hondas? Will Bozi unfold his tennis ball-clad walker from the rear of his WRX so he can polish the finish one more time before the judges arrive? Will Bark still be preaching about his FiST from a Kentucky retirement home?

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By on February 29, 2016

1967 Pontiac Stageway Airporter

When I think of limousines, I think of high school and those classmates, who actually had dates to prom, enjoying a hired Lincoln or Cadillac. Dateless Chris worked on prom night, slinging hot doughnuts to hungry stoners and peace officers alike. I can perhaps stretch my perception of a limo to the lengthened sport utilities so often seen lately, as I’m sure body-on-frame trucks are easier to lengthen than unibody front-drive sedans.

However, if I see a stretched Porsche Macan hauling sweaty teens this May, I’ll likely throw my keyboard in disgust.

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By on February 24, 2016

1998 Ford Contour SVT

The appeal of the hot family sedan should be obvious. A car offering both family hauling utility and apex-hunting ability means, in theory, that the sports sedan should be the ideal cool dad car. BMW has been the king of this market for decades.

In practice, though, there are often too many compromises between comfort and performance that doom the sports sedan in the eyes of buyers.

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By on February 22, 2016

1986 Volkswagen Quantum Syncro Wagon

Since September, the collective wisdom of the Internet has changed. Before, the ideal car — as decreed by keyboard warriors across this great nation — was an all-wheel drive, manual, diesel wagon. Now, however, oil burners are less popular than even Jeb Bush.

Today’s feature checks all three remaining post-Dieselgate fanboy boxes.

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By on February 3, 2016

1991 Oldsmobile 442

I love road racing. I grew up about an hour away from the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and spent many summer weekends wandering the grounds while soaking in the sounds and smells unique to the track. I’m pretty sure my first race was the Lumbermens Six Hours IMSA race in 1983, won by my local hero Bobby Rahal. I was four.

While I certainly enjoyed watching the CART and IMSA races, I always looked forward to the support races leading up to the main events. The best battles of the weekend were often dealt by the showroom stock classes, with small coupes and sedans bashing fenders and doors to get an edge in the corner.

Perhaps even as a kid I knew that I’d never be able to afford to race the big bore stuff, and adjusted my expectations downward. That must be why I adore homologation specials.

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By on January 27, 2016

1989 Peugeot 405 MI16

Like every morning, I woke up yesterday, showered, and thumbed through my saved searches on eBay. When I saw a hit on my “Peugeot” search, I had a feeling it would be another crusty old bicycle, destined to become a fixie for some hipster that imports Gitanes.

Not this time.

I quickly clicked “Add To Watch List” and shuffled the kids to the bus stop, hoping the Pug that looked awesome on my tiny phone would turn out as nice once I got to a 24-inch LCD.

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By on January 15, 2016

1983 AMC Eagle

At times, I’ll start a new week with a theme for my Digestible/Crapwagon pieces, such as last week’s “what could I legally import if I had money” saga. Other weeks, I’m lucky to stumble upon any interesting cars at all, so any imagined thread tying them together is absolute happenstance. Like this week’s “Obscure, from Detroit” theme. I never planned it, but it is what it is.

Today brings a car that’s perhaps the most deserving of any to wear the Crapwagon label. No rational enthusiast would ever take this particular car on as a project. Yet, I really want this, or something like it.

Like I said, no rational enthusiast would touch it.

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By on January 1, 2016

Crapwagon Collage

A new year has arrived, and with it the “celebration” of eight months with The Truth About Cars. As is custom, I’m looking back over the most popular pieces of the last year for easy clicks on a hangover day.

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By on December 9, 2015

1992 Mazda MX-3 GS

Today brings Round Two in the “Obscure Project Car That Probably Should Be a Parts Car” series this week. Commenter dwford mentioned the Mazda MX-3 in reply to Monday’s Isuzu, and it reminded me that I haven’t seen one for quite a while as they were prone to rust and rice-ification.

Leave it to Mazda to bring another oddball engine to market in a low-volume sports car. What other company would build and sell a 130 horsepower, 1.8-liter V-6, especially when a four-cylinder engine with similar power was readily available? I thank the iconoclast engineers in Hiroshima for greenlighting the unique “K8-DE” powerplant.

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By on December 7, 2015

1991 Isuzu Impulse

I suppose that I could be considered a “professional” car shopper. I mean, I am paid to spend my time checking out cars for sale across the web and report back what I find. It’s not my full-time gig (yet), but I guess it keeps me off the streets.

Over the years, my friends and acquaintances have decided to help me in my shopping. I’ll get emails with eBay links, get tagged in various Facebook groups (Mr. Zuckerberg, I’ll register as The Charity Rest Home for Wayward Amateur Auto Mechanics and Sentence Manglers for a bite at that $45 billion) and have my Twitter handle (@tonn_chris for those playing at home) added to tweeted Craigslist shares.

Last week, a good friend tagged me with a hot Kei-car not that far from home. However, were I to investigate that car, I’d need a camera crew and “Yakety Sax” dubbed in for the inevitable hilarity involved in getting my linebacker-sized frame in such a diminutive automobile. I’m still tempted, but it’s way out of my price range.

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By on December 4, 2015

2005 Toyota Corolla XRS

As a father, I have to rationalize my automotive wanderlust at times. I can’t go buy a sportscar on a whim, no matter how great the deal, as I still have to feed and transport my children. But something interesting with four doors gives me pause. Also, as my oldest child creeps closer to driving age, I ponder what would be ideal for her.

The Corolla hasn’t been an exciting car for decades, and I’d imagine that few Americans even considered the vaunted AE86 chassis to be a performance car until a dozen years (and countless imported DVDs) had passed. The Corolla is the car that cemented the “beige” reputation of Toyota. Reliable, boring, dependable, slow.

After all, my mother has driven nothing but Corollas for 25 years. Need I say more?

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By on November 13, 2015

1984 Maserati Biturbo

This 1984 Maserati Biturbo is the gas station sushi of the automotive world: It sounds like a bargain, but it’s quite possibly the worst idea ever.

I’ll admit, my automotive tastes are varied and odd. While I drive a sensible, reliable minivan, I lust after oddball wagons and pedestrian cars made from unobtainable parts. I often check West Coast Craigslists for old Peugeots — Portland is lousy with them for some reason — that I could fly out and drive home three thousand miles.

Then I stumble upon some truly odd stuff. What could be more “Crapwagon” than an exotic Italian sports sedan sold at an East Philly used car lot that shouts on Autotrader that “EVERYONE IS APPROVED! WALK IN, DRIVE OUT!”

The car still has a Bensi Box anti theft device for the Clarion head unit, fer chrissakes.

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By on November 6, 2015

2000 Porsche Boxster

A few weeks ago, I made the argument that there can never be such a thing as a “cheap” Porsche. Certainly, there are Porsches that are cheaply made, and certainly some that can be purchased cheaply, but considering the substantial sums of time and money involved in righting a car that is wrong, it’s a folly to even consider it.

Yet, here I am again, perusing eBay. As I write this, there are 155 Boxsters for sale, in various conditions. Quite a few sit under the magic $10,000 mark, including a part-disassembled car for a mere $3,200.

I know. It’s an illness. Talk me off the ledge, please.

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