By on October 11, 2016

1991 Spartan Fire Truck

My four-year-old grandson Aryeh wants to be a firefighter when he grows up. He’s got a full fire chief’s outfit and his ears perk up whenever he hears a siren. That’s probably due to the influence of Fireman Sam cartoons and the fact there was a fire in one of the buildings in the apartment complex where he lived until just recently.

There are worse things he could do when he gets older. For example, scouring auction listings of oddball vehicles he can’t really afford — like his grandfather. Read More >

By on June 27, 2016

1989 Ford Sierra Sapphire RS Cosworth

An alternate title I briefly considered: Digestible Collectible: Brexitopia!

I’m not going to pretend that I know anything about the state of international politics beyond what I’ve read here on TTAC, or a few brief articles around the web. While I have my doubts that the world will end because of the “Leave” vote, I’m happy to remain relatively ignorant.

That said, I’m happy to take advantage of the sudden, favorable exchange rate drop, and of course hit the web to see what interesting stuff might be imported.

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By on March 2, 2016

1984 Volkswagen GTI

Once again, I’m dazzled by those wheels, just like the Quantum we looked at last week. I’m a sucker for clean, well-styled factory wheels: Oldsmobile Rally wheelsFuchs found on Porsches, Rostyles worn by so many British cars. The Volkswagen “Snowflake” wheel is another that is difficult to improve upon by the aftermarket.

For some reason, that hasn’t stopped VW enthusiasts from “improving” their cars with incongruous tire and wheel widths and double-digit camber settings. “Stance” culture isn’t exclusive to the Wolfsburg faithful, but it has infected too many good cars.

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By on February 26, 2016

2009 Pontiac Solstice coupe

While I certainly love roadsters, there is something special about the coupes derived from those roadsters. The MGB GT was a stunning Pininfarina tiptop riff on the classic MGB Tourer, and the BMW M Coupe was a flared Z3 styled like a ‘roided Reebok Pump. Both of them were iconic in their own way.

Considering how few small convertibles are actually sold, it’s surprising that General Motors decided to enter the market a mere 15 years after the Miata, and ten after the BMW Z3.

Well, perhaps not that surprising, considering GM launched the Kappa platform on not one, but two dying brands.

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By on February 19, 2016

1980 Triumph TR8

As I was born in late 1978, I’m a bit young to recall the Malaise era. One of my earliest memories in life is of John Hinckley’s assassination attempt on President Reagan, so most recollections I have of the cars of the time were on used car lots and, just as often, with the hood up roadside.

Of course, the British car industry was imploding around this time. Very few new models were introduced; most cars were rehashed, smogged versions of the cars British Leyland had been building for many years.

In the Triumph TR7 and later TR8, they did manage to bring a clean-sheet design to U.S. showrooms. Read More >

By on February 17, 2016

2009 Suzuki SX4

At least in the U.S., Suzuki always operated on the fringes of the auto industry. Save for those vehicles it rebadged for General Motors, Suzuki never seemed to match up well against the competition. The cars were either a half-size smaller than the competition — see Kizashi — or had no discernable competition whatsoever, like the inexplicable X-90.

Likewise, the dealers never had the best real estate, at least from my experience. Here in Columbus, for example, the local Suzuki dealers were set up in corners of Budget Car Rental locations. Hardly a recipe for success.

Shame, really, because Suzuki built some wonderfully interesting cars.

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By on February 16, 2016

1988 Mitsubishi Starion ESi-R

I try not to repeat manufacturers too quickly in this series of digestible crapwagons, save for last September’s Wolfsburg Week. I know I get bored writing about the same OEM, as I’m sure you like the variety. However, when I finally find a clean example of a car that has been on my wish list, I can’t help but feature it, no matter how recently we’ve seen the badge.

I never expected Mitsubishi to be the quickly-repeated marque.

Read More >

By on February 12, 2016

1994 Dodge Viper

As a classic car fanatic, I should be fundamentally opposed to the idea of the Dodge Viper. After all, the Viper was Chrysler’s attempt at co-opting the heritage of the Shelby Cobra. The later coupe was even worse in this respect, aping the legendary Cobra Daytona Coupes.

It’s blasphemous, I tell you. Imagine the uproar should Mazda, for example, try to recreate an MGB or Lotus Elan.

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By on February 10, 2016

1988 Toyota Corolla FX16 GT-S

It was the summer of 1990, and my mom was getting tired of her old Sentra. With barely 70 horsepower, it was lethargic on any grade. To be fair, we live in Ohio, so steep hills are not frequently encountered, but the car was not meeting her needs. I encouraged her to start shopping, and we ended up at a Toyota dealer.

While I drooled over the Celica and Corolla GT-S, mom found a light blue Corolla sedan that she fell in love with. Save for an AM/FM-cassette, it was stripped — we even had to buy an aftermarket clock! — but it had more power and room than the old Nissan. Good thing, too, as that was the summer I went from five-foot-five to six-foot-two-inches tall.

She’s on Corolla number five or six now. It may not inspire enthusiasts, but the Corolla inspires loyalty.

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By on February 8, 2016

1990 Eagle Talon TSi

For me, certain car brands evoke strong emotions. Nissan is certainly one that will always get the benefit of great memories, even if some of their current products are less than memorable. Conversely, I have reservations with Ford. As much as I enjoyed the Fusion I drove last month, the Focus I owned at the turn of the century had so many failures and recalls that I struggle to consider the Blue Oval without shivers.

Mitsubishi, on the other hand, doesn’t really register with me. There were at least two of them in the household as I was growing up — a 3000GT and an Eclipse Spyder — but I never drove them, and never bonded with them like the other sports cars to grace our garage. Perhaps the cheap prices and seemingly-disposable nature of the cars effectively blocked them from my memories.

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By on February 5, 2016

1997 Honda Prelude SH

It’s time for everybody’s favorite parlor game, “Remember When?” where the good old days are magnified and revered.

Today’s subject: Remember when Honda made fun, affordable cars? Nowadays, the Civic Si all the H-brand has to offer, though the Type R might restore some mojo. Back in the day, one could buy a CRX, a Civic Si, a del Sol, a Prelude, or an S2000 from your friendly Honda store — and the Integra across the street from Acura. They’re all gone, replaced by crossovers.

Yes, I left the CR-Z out, as my arbitrary criteria for this list requires actual fun.

Read More >

By on February 1, 2016

2000 Subaru Impreza RS

Few people get dressed up for a test drive, but I had to be convincing and look respectable. I was an occasional college student at the time, somewhere between my freshman and sophomore years on the 10-year plan. I walked into the local Subaru dealer and waited to be approached.

I can’t tell you how I did it, but I ended up taking a new Impreza for a test drive, solo. Thank goodness, as my early-20s self had long dreamt of sliding a Subie around some gravel, with a handbrake pull to get the car to rotate. The polyester-clad salesman would have stopped the fun entirely too early.

If you bought a slushbox-equipped Impreza wagon sometime in 1998 from a dealer in Columbus, I’m sorry.

Read More >

By on January 29, 2016

2003 Acura CL Type S

Yes, dear readers, I do read the comments. I try and chime in when I can, but I have a day job that doesn’t always allow me to monitor, refute, or verbally flog every remark, even when warranted.

Wednesday, prolific commenter CoreyDL noticed a blurple Acura CL lurking behind my beloved Gallic pile of rust. Somehow, I’d forgotten about these, even though a former neighbor had a beautiful metallic orange CL Type S that always caught my eye.

In other words, I’m running out of ideas. Keep up the comments and suggestions!

Read More >

By on January 25, 2016

1991 Honda Civic Si

The “Si” badge has always denoted something special from Honda, from the ’85 Civic and CRX that flaunted the new-fangled fuel injection on the sport model to the not-quite-a-Type R that will hopefully be gracing our roads later this year. Honda fanatics will continue to debate the best, but my favorite Civic generation has to be its fourth, popularly known as the “EF” Civic.

Honda apparently didn’t like the U.S. at the time, as other markets were blessed with hotter engines, some with VTEC to boost high-end power. It took enterprising enthusiasts, some with more energy than money, to develop a trend to swap these powerplants into American-market Civics.

I recall test-driving one such swapped Civic, put together so poorly that the shift lever — not the knob, mind you, but the entire lever — came out in my hand on a 3-2 downshift.

No, I didn’t buy that car.

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By on January 22, 2016

1991 Toyota MR2 Turbo

Based on pageviews, you guys didn’t particularly love Wednesday’s Ferrari. So, let us consider something at twenty percent of the price, but with maybe 85 percent of the performance:

Toyota MR2 Turbo: 94.5 inch wheelbase, 2,700 lbs, 200 hp
Ferrari 308 GTSi QV: 92 inch wheelbase, 2,800 lbs, 240 hp

No, I’m not kidding. I don’t have proper instrumented test data at my fingertips, but the generally-close-enough accuracy of Wikipedia for both cars tells me that the performance probably isn’t too far apart.

Read More >

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