A lot of life changes occurred in conjunction with the sale of my old website, GoodCarBadCar. We also sold the family home in Nova Scotia, moved to rural Prince Edward Island, and quickly began spending more time behind the wheel of a Husqvarna lawn tractor than behind the wheel of any car.
From an automotive standpoint, however, the major ensuing change involved the acquisition of an older Miata. A lifelong dream became a 14-month possession, costing scarcely a dollar while entirely living up to expectations. But with a second toy acquired, in the form of a Suzuki Kingquad, attempting to justify the use of a seasonal two-seater seemed laughable considering there are two young children at home.
10 months later, with most of the time spent on winter tires, the FR-S is gone. It was just too practical. Too flexible. Too reasonable. Too functional. Too pragmatic.
Gearheads are never satisfied, are we? After years of carping that no affordable and fun sports cars exist, Toyota deigns to grant our wishes with the FR-S 86 coupe. Lightweight and affordable with just enough power, the lively little scamp seemed to be the magic elixir that cures a case of the common car.
And what did we do? Criticize it, naturally. And then most of us refused to buy it. I sincerely hope the new Supra doesn’t suffer the same fate because – as a statement of intent – these cars are a couple of belters.
We all had to start somewhere. Most of us have turned a wrench or three on a car, particularly one in which we’ve tried — with varying degrees of success — to make “better.”
I put that word in quotation marks because some of my well-intentioned wrenching sessions simply ended up making things a heckuva lot worse. Today’s question is simple: what (realistic) car would you recommend to a kid who wants to spend their time and money hopping up a vehicle?
There comes a point in the lives of most MX-5 owners when an inevitable question is asked. How do you solve a problem like Miata?
In my case – which is similar to many Miata owners, at least according to Miata lore – the Mazda itself is certainly not the problem. Acquired in May 2017 and driven 5,000 miles over the course of 8 months, the Miata’s only costs involved around 200 gallons of premium fuel, a few hundred bucks for insurance, two oil changes, two MVIs, some Autoglym convertible top maintenance spray, and a headlight defogging kit.
Oh, and zero dollars in depreciation.
In 40 years, I may well look back on this 2004 Miata as the best car I ever owned. How does one replace such a car? Why does one replace such a car?
Back in May of this year, TTAC reported the list of changes coming for the 2017 Subaru BRZ and asked if what amounted to a rather modest workover would get consumers excited enough to reverse the sports coupe’s declining sales trend.
Having spent a week acting barely responsible in Subaru’s only two-wheel-drive offering, my belief is no, the BRZ will not buck the trend. After commuting in it, doing school pick up duty and grocery runs — all in a most irresponsible way, revving the little four-cylinder boxer engine to redline again and again — I expect there will be a blip on the sales radar this year. Sadly, I also expect the BRZ (and its Toyota 86 twin) to slowly slip into automotive obscurity.
This terribly depressing thought has mostly to do with declining overall consumer interest in fun, driver-oriented cars, and it does nothing to celebrate what a wildly fun machine this is.
Toyota has long been accused of being a purveyor of somnambulant transportation, but amid rumors of a renewed Supra and Lexus finding its Nipponese NASCAR in the RC F GT concept, it appears Japan’s biggest automaker has finally input directions to the racetrack into its corporate navigation system.
Which, of course, neatly brings us to the
Scion FR-S Toyota 86.
According to AutoGuide, the patent, which was approved in Japan, was filed by Toyota, but named Subaru-parent company Fuji Heavy Industry as its owner. The patent was approved so let’s get them on the lots already.
It seems enthusiasts aren’t the only folks looking for a little more performance from the rear-wheel drive Subaru BRZ. Subaru of America COO Tom Doll would also like a little more performance — in terms of sales — from the sports car co-developed with Toyota.
Thankfully, he sees the best way to increase interest in the BRZ is to give us what we want.
According to Car & Driver, the folks in Toyota City are smitten with the new Mazda MX-5 Miata. So much so they’re considering using the platform for the next Toyota GT86, sold as the Scion FR-S in North America.
The rumor states what goes for Toyota goes for Subaru’s sports car – the BRZ – as well. I’m not so sure about that.
Regulation. It dictates the majority of modern car design. Whether it be for pedestrian safety, crash worthiness, economies of scale, or fuel efficiency, the basic building blocks of modern cars are decided well before pencil is met with freshly-bleached paper (or, these days, before stylus meets tablet).
That last item – fuel efficiency – is as much a matter of aerodynamics as it is what’s under the hood, and aerodynamic efficiency isn’t just about fenders and trunk lids.
Which brings me to wheels – specifically, OEM wheels – and how absolutely ugly they’ve gotten the last few years.
I wrote to you a few years ago about my dilemma with a boring Cobalt. Now I’m writing because I have the opposite problem. I held onto the Cobalt for a wonderful year with no car payment before trading it in on a 2013 FR-S in April 2013. At the time, no one could talk sense into me. I wanted THAT car. While I still love it and by no means want to let it go, there are some issues with the practicality of sports car ownership. Those issues as follows:
- The future Mrs. isn’t comfortable driving stick so we usually take her ’07 Camry with 210k on the clock wherever we go out in case she needs to drive.
- Since buying the car we’ve added a 100 pound fur baby to the mix and he can’t get in my car.
- Future Mrs. ships off to Northwestern in 9 month for prosthetic school and can’t take the dog with her.
- Student debt is going to be a big issue for us upon her graduation in 2017. I’d like to have a reliable 4 door paid off before we think about having kids.
- If I move away from the city center, I’m going to need a way to transport my bikes, which with the FR-S the answer seems to be to install a hitch. To that I say no.
The way I see it my two options are:
Over its long and illustrious sales career, the Toyota Camry has been described in many ways by so-called automotive enthusiasts. Most of them, to be honest, haven’t been particularly flattering. Words like “appliance” tend to find themselves in close proximity to the Camry whenever it’s been discussed elsewhere.
But this is The Truth About Cars, dammit!, and we have never been ones to drink the proverbial Kool-Aid on any car. Our own Jack Baruth has proven time and time again that the Camry, particularly in SE trim, is a capable and dynamic car at the track. I have personally piloted a Camry SE around Nelson Ledges. While it wasn’t quite keeping the pace of my Boss 302, it was no slouch, either.
That’s all fine and good. But what about putting it in a real race, with a real professional driver? How would it do under those circumstances?
Well, the fine folks at Toyota Production Engineering got as close to that as they possibly could by running a four-cylinder Camry SE in the One Lap of America last week. That’s right. They really ran a bone-stock, off-the-lot Camry in a time trial. The story of how they got there is just as interesting as the decision to drive the Camry itself.
If you purchase a Scion FR-S with an automatic transmission, I hope you’re deeply ashamed. There might be a legitimate reason. I’d accept a condition that prevents you from working a clutch and shifter. You know, something like losing a tussle with gangrene as a child or an advanced Type-II Diabetes induced foot-ectomy.
Harsh, inconsiderate statements, but why the hell would you want this car with an automatic?
Oh my, this Toyobaru GT86 situation is a shame, isn’t it? QC issues, dealer gouging, controversial tire choices, sundial acceleration, the catastrophically depressing drone of the engine as it asthmatically stumbles to its powerless redline before the injector seals fail and it vomits out its component parts in a single “FehhhrrrrrrrrggggggghhhhPOP.”
If only the people at Subaru and Toyota had asked you instead of letting their own
accountants engineers make the decisions. As Andre 3000 once sang, you know what to do-oooooh-ooooh.
(Everyone please welcome Speed:Sport:Life alumnus and Cayman owner John Kucek to these pages. Upon hearing that John was going to the famous Burgerkingring, I asked him to get me a review of a car not available here. Strictly speaking, he did what I asked him to do. Frankly speaking, if he comes back next time with a review of a Toyota iQ or any other badge-engineered cars we’re firing him! — JB)
“Get me a couple of forbidden-fruit car reviews”. Jack’s words were still ringing in my ears as I gingerly walked up to a rental counter in Dusseldorf a few weeks later. I knew what this particular outfit had to offer, having been here almost three years earlier to the day on another Nordschleife-bound excursion, and it was good stuff. Imagine numerous E92 M3 Coupes, with the Competition Package even, lining the airport garage tower stalls. There was an Aston V12 Vantage standing on display in the terminal, the circular kiosk next to it touting its availability “from 169 Euros a day”. At least, I think that was the gist. It could have been 169 Euros per hour, but since most of my comprehension of the German language has been cobbled together from watching Inglourious Basterds on repeat, I might have been wrong on that count. Either way, the fact that a run-of-the-mill rental counter in Germany even offers such metal bodes well for my reservation, a “Premium” class upgrade that promised a new BMW 1er, VW GTI, Mercedes-Benz A-Klasse or similar.
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- 285exp If the conversion to EVs was really so vital to solve an existential climate change crisis, it wouldn’t matter whether they were built by US union workers or where the batteries and battery materials came from.
- El scotto Another EBPosky, "EVs are Stoopid, prove to me water freezes at 0 degrees Celsius" article.It was never explained if the rural schools own the buses or if the school bus routes are contracted out. If the bus routes are contracted out, will Carpenter or Bluebird offer an electric school bus? Flexmatt never stated the range of brand-unspecified school bus. Will the min-mart be open at the end of the 179-mile drive? No cell coverage? Why doesn't the bus driver have an emergency sat phone?Two more problems Mr. Musk could solve.
- RICK Long time Cadillac admirer with 89 Fleetwood Brougham deElegance and 93 Brougham, always liked Eldorado until downsized after 76. Those were the days. Sad to see what now wears Cadillac name.
- Carsofchaos Bike lanes are in use what maybe 10 to 12 hours a day? The other periods of the day they aren't in use whatsoever. A bike can carry one person and a vehicle can carry multiple people. It's very simple math to figure out that a bike lane in no way shape or form will handle more people than cars will.The bigger issue is double parked delivery vehicles. They are often double parked and taking up lanes because there are cars parked on the curb. You combine that with a bike lane and pedestrians Crossing wherever they feel like it and it's a recipe for disaster. I think if we could just go back to two lanes of traffic things would flow much better. I started coming to the city in 2003 before a lot of these bike lanes were implemented and the traffic is definitely much worse now than it was back then. Sadly at this point I don't really think there is a solution but I can guarantee that congestion pricing will not fix this problem.
- Charles When I lived in Los Angeles I saw a 9-5 a few times and instanly admired the sweeping low slug aerodynamic jet tech influenced lines and all that beautiful glass. The car was very different from what I expected from a Saab even though the 900 Turbo was nice. A casual lady friend had a Saab Sonnet, never drove or rode in it but nonetheless chilled my enthusiasm and I eventually forgot about Saabs. In the following years I have had seven Mercedes's, three or four Jaguars even two Daimlers both the 250 V-8 and the massive and powerful Majestic Major. Daily drivers of a brand new 300ZX 2+2 and Lincolns, plus a few diesel trucks. Having moved to my big farm in central New York, trucks and SUV's are the standard, even though I have a Mercedes S500 in one of my barns. Due to circumstances with my Ford Explorer and needing a second driver I found the 2006 9-5 locally. Very little surface rust, none undercarriage, original owner, garage kept, wife driver and all the original literature and a ton of paid receipts and history. The car just turned 200,000 miles and I love it. Feels new like I'm back in my Nissan 300ZX with a lot more European class and ready power with the awesome turbo. So fun to drive, the smooth power and torque is incredible! Great price paid to justify going through the car and giving her everything she needs, i.e., new tires, battery, all shocks, struts, control arms, timing chain and rust removable to come, plus more. The problem now is I want to restore it and likely put it in my concrete barn and only drive in good weather. As to the writer, Alex Dykes, I take great exception calling the 9-5 Saab "ugly," finding myself looking back at her beauty and uniqueness. Moreover, I get new looks from others not quite recognizing, like the days out west with my more expensive European cars. There are Saabs eclipsing 300K rourinely and one at a million miles and I believe one car with 500K on the original engine. So clearly, this is a keeper, in love already with my SportCombi. I want to be in that elite club.