The Great Pacific Road Trip: Part 2

Read part one here.

The plan for this stage of my trip is to finish my work trip to San Diego, drive out to Palm Springs and pick up my ’75 Ford LTD, and then drive it to the Port of Oakland. It all sounds so simple, right?

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Cash for Clunkers: Spanish Citizens Roll Out a Very Different Kind of Program

It’s not so much a program as it is a trend. In Spain, which is currently enduring a second blow from a very resilient coronavirus, people are shunning public transit like their life depends on it. It very well could.

What to do? Simple — search classifieds and backyard sheds for any old heap that’s still roadworthy and drive the hell out of it.

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IIHS: Small Cars Remain, by Far, the Deadliest Ride for Teens

The other week we brought you a list of best used car buys for teen drivers. Driver safety factored heavily into the choices compiled by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and Consumer Reports, with the cheapest offerings obviously being car-like in nature.

With their lower prices, cars remains the ride of choice among teens, despite the new vehicle market shifting violently away from traditional three-box conveyances. They’re also the type of vehicle teens are most likely to turn up dead in, and the trend shows little change, despite the rapidly evolving auto landscape.

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QOTD: Youthful Recollections of Superbly Disappointing Automobiles?

Last 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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QOTD: Youthful Recollections of Cool Cars Gone By?

Today we take a little trip down memory lane and consider the cars which impressed us most in our youth. And not the part of youth which contains a driver’s license and costly insurance, but the more formative experiences before that. Let’s talk foundational cool cars.

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Could Bringing Classic Cars Into Dealerships Create a Halo Effect?

While there are dealerships that will happily service your vintage automobile, there are reasons a lot of classic cars are wrenched at home or taken to speciality shops. It’s not typically in a service center’s best interest to hunt down rare discontinued parts and train employees on the reassembly of carburetors. But it still happens, especially among premium brands.

Porsche is rather obsessive about its heritage and has extended that to maintenance and repairs at a large number of stores. It isn’t alone, either. Mark Rogers, a 20 Group consultant with the National Automobile Dealers Association, estimates as many as 1,800 U.S. franchised dealerships are willing to service vintage cars. Some are even selling them — putting desirable classics on the showroom floor in the hopes they might garner positive attention.

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Forget the Eclipse - Here's the Other Woodward Dream Cruise Cars Deserving of a Little Love

Detroit in August. Hot streets, hot cars, and no shortage of gawkers lining the sides of Woodward Avenue during the annual Dream Cruise.

All that iron. All that muscle. Wall to wall desirability. Well, not quite. The Dream Cruise remains an inclusive event, meaning every proud owner of something he or she feels is unique and exciting and rare has a chance to let it all hang out.

What follows is our picks of the rear guard. The oddballs. The head-scratchers. The secretly-desirable-but-we-don’t-want-to-admit-it vehicles. Oh, and there’s an extra-special Oldsmobile surprise at the end.

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Finally, an Answer to the Question an Auto Writer Gets Asked Every Day: What's My Favorite Car?

Answering a question with a question isn’t my way of being rude. It’s my way of finding out what the questioner truly wants to know.

Their question comes in a variety of forms. What’s the best car? What’s the best car on sale right now? What’s the best car ever?

I want to know how much money they’re allowing me to spend, to which era I’m limited, whether I’m buying for my current life situation as a married work-at-home father or for some other situation, such as life on my neighbor’s farm.

With a recent move to a new province, I’m getting the question with far greater frequency — the result of meeting new people who are confused or delighted or dismayed at what I do for a living. I’m not sure I’ve ever had the answer pinned down before, but being asked so often has forced me to develop a thoughtful response.

What’s my favorite car? I now know.

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Hammer Time: How Old is Too Old?

She seduced my soul.

She is a a 1989 Jeep Wagoneer with just over 200,000 miles and a fantastic maintenance history. With beautiful, thick leather seats and a working A/C system which is a huge deal here in Georgia, the old woody Jeep could only have been better if it had a stick and a four-wheel drive system mated to its iron-block 4.0-liter inline-six.

I started the bid at $700, a dealer who specializes in the Latino clientele bid it at $800, and then another fellow jumped in at $900. By the time bidding was at $1100, I waited a few seconds, and did a slicing motion with my hand which knocked it up to $1150.

Would I get it?

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The Deeper Dive: When Is It Time To Junk Your Car?

About a third of the questions I get from readers center around one issue: euthanasia in the car world, or what I like to call “automotive decrapitation”.

In other words, when is it the right time to recycle an old car and transform it into a cheap Chinese washer and dryer?

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Question Of The Day: What Is The Most Common Vehicle You Have Seen…

…on the side of the road?

Way back in the day, I used to work as an auctioneer at Logandale Auto Auction. I used to call it, “the red light district” because every vehicle there sold under the red light, which meant AS/IS.

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Hammer Time: Not All Cheap Cars Are Beaters

One dollar of depreciation in four years.

Fifty-five miles per gallon.

Forty-eight thousand miles.

I may have very well owned the cheapest car in America a few years ago. Back in 2009, I bought a 2001 Honda Insight with 145,000 miles for all of $4001 at an auction. After four years and with 193,000 miles, I sold it last year for exactly $4000.

That’s all well and good, but let’s face it folks. I’m in the car business. Plus, a first generation Honda Insight is pretty much a cheat when it comes to cheap cars. It was designed with stingy bastards like me in mind who use the edge of the technological envelope instead of individual ingenuity and improvisation.

That Insight was a cheap car… but definitely not a beater. Why? Too much money and too few stories about personal travels and other unique mayhem. To me, a beater is a concept that has far more to do with the owners than the actual car.

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Hammer Time: The Weakness

I love old rear wheel drive Volvos.

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Hammer Time : Saving An Old Cougar From Extinction

An unsellable car comes in many forms.

The three-door minivan. The stickshift attached to a non-sporty wagon. The Daewoo. The conversion van with design graphics rooted in sexual fantasy.

Then there is this car. A car designed in the Reagan era with a cheap plastic grille, an even cheaper plasticized interior, and a luggage rack on the trunk that would do Lee Iacocca proud.

God I love this thing. What the hell is wrong with me?

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Hammer Time : Pick Your Stick!

5 cars – 5 sticks = 0 Customer Demand

I hate looking at that equation. But these days, it’s about as true for the car business as Georgia is hot. An older stickshift vehicle that isn’t an all out sports car will sit at a retail lot for months on end.

Nobody knows how to drive them except for those folks who are either too middle-aged, too arthritic, or too affluent to buy an older car with a manual transmission.

Don’t believe me? Well, here’s five vehicles that have become the equivalent of heavyweight paperweights at my humble abode. The funny thing is I like driving them all… I just wish I wasn’t two stickshifts away from driving a different handshaker every day of the week.

They are….

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  • ToolGuy "Idle," or "Shutter"? Let's don't get completely lazy.
  • Jeff S Might not matter during car shortages. I have a Costco and Sam's membership which I thought about using for buying a vehicle but when the Maverick order banks opened up in June 2021 I went online to built my own Maverick and still had to go to the dealer to order it. With vehicle shortages you might still have to go to the dealer to order but it might be worth it to try to use Costco if you know what you want and are not too picky about colors and options to see what is available now especially if you don't want to wait for a vehicle. I doubt in today's environment that you would save a lot on the purchase of a new vehicle especially since many dealers are adding adjustments to market prices on top of msrp.
  • ToolGuy "adjustable regenerative braking"Yes, please and thank you.
  • MaintenanceCosts This truck could go plenty farther (assuming good basic maintenance) but the price:remaining life ratio still makes me gag a bit. The used truck market remains overheated and the price is probably market correct, but these are the sort of prices that would make me prefer to buy a new truck if I could afford it.
  • Jeff S I ignore the commercials. Never owned a Mazda but I would definitely look at one and seriously consider it. I would take a Honda, Toyota, or Mazda over any German vehicle at least they are long lasting, reliable, and don't cost an arm and a leg to maintain.