When I first joined The Truth About Cars in April of 2015, I made it my mission to catch up on TTAC’s illustrious history. I marked a date in my calendar: November 14th, the date of TTAC’s first published post, which makes today TTAC’s 15th anniversary.
TTAC has done a lot in 15 years. It’s offered up honest, informative, and entertaining reviews, which many in the industry still describe as “brutal” — a descriptor we wear with pride. We’ve kept an eye on the Detroit Three before, during, and after the massive bankruptcies of General Motors and Chrysler. We’ve kept Silicon Valley and government honest. And we’ve launched the careers of some of the industry’s most trusted critics (and others who completely sold out — you can’t hit a homerun every time you step up to the plate).
It’s easy to look back on 15 years of history with a romantic view, but it’s infinitely more difficult to predict and anticipate the future.
That’s why I come before you today.
If you didn’t know it was Jeep’s 75th anniversary this year, it’s your fault for not paying attention. Pretty much all of the automaker’s SUVs are rolling billboards for its “Since 1941” branding, and now Jeep is officially doing something to celebrate.
Jeep launched its 75th Anniversary lineup Wednesday, which includes special editions for all its models. All of the Jeeps are candied in some sort of “macho” green — Jungle Green, Sarge Green or Recon Green — with bronze wheels, some sort of opening roof, and available cloth.
Oh, and there are a bucket-full of badges everywhere so you can feel special edition too.
Volkswagen’s 40th anniversary model of its Golf GTI will be shown this year in Frankfu — and they’re probably already all gone.
The GTI Clubsport carries the same 2-liter, turbocharged, four-cylinder engine found in the current GTI, but increases its output to 261 horsepower (290 horsepower when overboosted). Power is shifted through a six-speed manual or six-speed DSG automatic.
In addition to being a turbocharged manual hatchback, the GTI Clubsport hits the fanboy superfecta: It won’t go on sale in the U.S.
So here we are, celebrating forty years of the “Dreier”, or 3-Series, depending on how Euro-wannabe you wannabe. Since I don’t wannabe, I’m going to call it “39 Years Of The 3 Series”. After all, we didn’t get the 320i in the United States until the 1977 model year. When it did arrive, it was a thermal-reacted boondoggle with a tendency to rust out from under the feet of the unlucky first owners.
Although it looked like a million bucks, particularly in “S” trim, and it was one of the dream cars of my pre-teen years, I cannot allow any of you Millennial readers out there to come to the mistaken belief that the E21, as adapted for the American market, was anything other than a shitbox with the lifespan of a fruit fly. It was also easy meat for a Rabbit GTI in any venue from the stoplight drag to the road course. It was, however, expensive, costing about as much as a base Cadillac Coupe de Ville, so at least it had that going for it. The most damning thing I can tell you about the 320i is this: I worked for David Hobbs BMW for much of 1988, and although the newest 320i was just five years old at that point, I never saw one come in for service, and we never took one in on trade.
The “E30” 318i that appeared for the 1983 model year was a major improvement over its predecessor in everything from climate control to rust resistance, but it was “powered” by the same 103-horsepower, 1.8-liter, eight-valve four-cylinder that made the badge on the back of the 1980-1983 320i a comforting lie. I put “powered” in quotes because the E30 318i struggled to break the 18-second mark through the quarter-mile in an era where the Mustang and Camaro were in the low fifteens and even a 1981 Dodge Omni 024 “Charger 2.2” could rip the mark in 17.2 seconds. That’s right: if you were in a brand-new BMW and a three-year-old Dodge Omni pulled up next to you at the light, the only thing that could save you from an ass-kicking would be a swift activation of the turn signal.
But then, one day about halfway through the first year of the 318i’s lukewarm tenure in North America, things changed.
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