Latest auto news, reviews, editorials, and podcasts

By on March 26, 2020

About a year ago Rare Rides featured its first Nash, the tiny Metropolitan. Today we take a look at the full-size car that occupied the showroom floor alongside its smallest sibling.

Hailing from 1955, it’s a Statesman.

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By on March 26, 2020

2019 BMW M340i front quarter

Do you consider yourself a responsible, wholesome driver? Are you a driver who maintains control in all driving situations? Or are you tempted to leave each stoplight in a snarl of revs and a haze of vaporized Michelin?

At the moment, BMW does not offer its flagship sports sedan, the M3. We are left with this, the 2020 BMW M340i. While the M3 – when it comes – will likely offer a batshit crazy amount of horsepower, I’m reminded when I drive this sensibly-powered M340i of Lord Acton’s chestnut: “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

I’d like to think that I’m a decent, incorruptible fellow, thus 382 horsepower is enough for me. It’s probably enough for you, too.

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By on March 26, 2020

fca

The growing movement to ditch monthly sales reporting in favor of quarterly updates will blur the impact of this month’s coronavirus-related shelter-in-place orders.

Many automakers, the Detroit Three most notably, left monthly sales reports in the dust long ago, meaning the March decline will have to mingle with the business-as-usual months that preceded it. Right now, it’s left to analysts to tell us the damage.

One has a good idea of what happened this month. Read More >

By on March 26, 2020

2020 Ford Super Duty

Given the level of uncertainty out there, even best-laid plans rest on a quivering foundation of JELL-O. It’s the same for automotive plant shutdowns in North America — most temporary idle periods carry an open-ended end date. We’ll reassess at that point and make a decision, automakers are saying.

Just two days ago, Ford Motor Company said its shutdowns would go well past the original March 30th end date; now it’s saying some facilities will come back online earlier than thought. Read More >

By on March 26, 2020

Ford F-150

Last year’s debut of a wonderfully throwback engine was just the early Christmas present many traditional truck fans needed. Sporting an iron block, pushrods, and 7.3 liters of displacement, Ford’s new heavy duty V8 felt like the 1970s were still upon us.

Rumor has it Mathew Guy has a blueprint of one adorning his bedroom ceiling.

While a delightful addition to the world of all things American and big, the engine carrying the codename Godzilla leads us to ponder how long it can all last. Read More >

By on March 25, 2020

Driving schools in Japan are reporting an increase in attendance from individuals who already possess a driver’s license. According to The Japan Times, the new trend is epitomized by Paper Driver School Kitakanto in Maebashi. The school has seen influx of already licensed drivers this month in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Roughly 10 percent of new students are said to have signed up as a direct result of COVID-19. As Japan’s population has a lower percentage of drivers than in North America, many are dependent upon public transportation to move about — a mobility type that’s become problematic overnight, what with fears of contagion spreading as quickly as the virus itself. To avoid sharing space, some Japanese drivers are attempting to brush up on their skills in order to feel more comfortable behind the wheel.  Read More >

By on March 25, 2020

BMW X5 Spartanburg Assembly - Image: BMW

For a brief while, it looked like BMW’s Spartanburg, SC assembly plant would be the last such factory in the U.S. still in operation. Nope.

The German automaker announced Wednesday that pressures from the coronavirus pandemic have forced its hand, prompting a shutdown scheduled to begin Sunday. Read More >

By on March 25, 2020

2020_Tacoma_TRD_Off_Road_01_50A9E609C6722DED1EB517DDEAC1D10E71825716

Here’s a change of pace: something to look forward to! In this instance, it’s a bevy of Toyota products poised to spring forth after this virus thing shuffles beneath the banner of “bad memory.”

The brand that’s shown no shortage of initiative in recent years plans to continue its new product flow, this time focusing more on trucks than cars. Read More >

By on March 25, 2020

The UAW has announced the death of two Fiat Chrysler factory workers who contracted the novel coronavirus, extending sympathies while urging members to exercise safe practices during the ongoing health crisis. With COVID-19 infections ramping up across Europe and the United States, this was to be expected. The deaths are simply the first known to impact autoworker union members directly.

FCA declined to offer the names of the men, citing a respect for privacy. For our purposes, we’re only interested in their places of business, noticing the facilities where the two individuals worked — FCA’s truck plant in Sterling Heights, MI and transmission facility in Kokomo, IN — previously reported cases of employees contracting the virus.  Read More >

By on March 25, 2020

2019 Maserati Levante GTSOne of my longstanding beefs with certain luxury brands that share corporate families with mainstream nameplates is that many of them don’t do enough to differentiate their high-priced metal from what’s on offer further down the ladder.

Count Maserati among that number — at least when it comes to the Levante GTS. While it boasts Italian designer looks on the outside, its connection to “lesser” Fiat Chrysler models is apparent on the inside.

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By on March 25, 2020

Road traffic across the United States is dropping drastically, thanks to social-distancing efforts taking place to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus. For yours truly, traffic in New York City has gone from frequently hectic to downright pleasurable and relaxed. While there’s a statewide initiative in place to keep residents in their homes, the days leading up to the shelter-in-place order saw a decline in roadway activity I’d only previously witnessed during Hurricane Sandy.

According to INRIX, a Washington-based firm providing traffic analytics, road use in the United States dropped by about 30 percent last week — with regions affected by state-mandated shutdowns seeing even larger declines. The study compares the national traffic volume from the 14th to the 20th of March to volumes recorded between the 22nd and the 28th of February — noting that March 13th was the first day traffic started trending downward in most regions. Moving forward, INRIX says it wants to continue offering up a weekly synopsis of national traffic volume until the health crisis ends.  Read More >

By on March 25, 2020

Everything seemed hunky dory after the New Year’s celebrations wrapped up and all the party hats and disposable drink cups were swept from the floor. Unbeknownst to the auto industry, however, the ship was heading into a sea roiled by a storm no one saw coming. Now, with the first quarter of 2020 almost in the rear-view, the radar mast is overboard, the bilge pumps are running non-stop, and the crew can only guess when the skies will clear.

The impact of COVID-19 on U.S. auto sales is far from set in stone, but the best-guess picture is becoming clearer. Clearer, and worse for the industry. Read More >

By on March 25, 2020

Long-time readers (thanks, all three of you) may recall a certain, erm, affinity at this site for vehicles from the old Lincoln-Mercury stable. Sajeev shed many bitter tears over various Cougars and Marks found in our nation’s junkyards, while your author freely admits he suffers an odd form of Stockholm Syndrome. And the world turns.

It’s difficult to pin down just how much time the Continental has left on this mortal earth, with the Blue Oval suits pulling the plug on everything with a trunk in Ford’s showroom. Production changes at Flat Rock surely spell its death by 2021 to make room for EVs, but, for now, it remains.

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By on March 25, 2020

1986 Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera Brougham emblem in California junkyard - © 2016 Murilee Martin/The Truth About CarsLast Wednesday we recounted the cars of our youth — specifically, the first car we could recall which really impressed. Though few of you could top my example of the superbly fresh and fun Dodge Neon, everyone put in a good effort.

Today we’ll flip the question, and consider the first vehicle we recall as a disappointment to our youthful car enthusiast selves.

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By on March 24, 2020

Far be it for us to don the cloak of an uptight, finger-wagging, very online scold. That’s the job of other outlets, at least when their staff finish fantasizing about authoritarian purges on social media.

With that in mind, BMW’s electrified “i” sub-brand earns a measure of understanding from us that it might not receive from others. Still… this is truly a ham-fisted attempt at combining an important social message with product marketing. Read More >

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