By on May 2, 2019

The last decade is littered with announcements from cities, provinces, and states from across the globe, promising to ban internal combustion vehicles by a predetermined date. While the rules and timelines vary quite a bit, the locations are relatively consistent. China and Europe are the most eager to adopt a zero-emission strategy, with California doing most of the promising in North America.

This week, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced the city’s “Green New Deal.” Styled to resemble the contentious stimulus program sponsored by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) that shares its name, LA’s plan is similarly concerned with promoting “environmental justice,” equity, green jobs,  renewable energy, improved air quality, and sourcing clean water.

Transportation is also a major component of the deal, with the city suggesting that 100 percent of car sales will be zero-emission by 2050 and 50 percent of all trips could be completed by walking, biking, “micro-mobility” (scooters, etc), or public transit — reducing vehicle miles per capita by 45 percent in the same timeframe.  (Read More…)

By on December 7, 2018

There are many things I don’t like about Los Angeles. The traffic, the cost of doing just about anything, the traffic, the sprawl, the traffic, the oversaturation of chain fast-food restaurants and billboards, the traffic.

However, there is one thing that makes me rethink my living situation. One thing that tempts me to move to the West Coast.

It’s not the weather, or the beach, or the chance at Hollywood stardom. It’s the roads.

(Read More…)

By on January 18, 2018

BMW i3 LAPD Vehicles

We know the State of California loves electric cars, but the Los Angeles Police Department may have mixed emotions. Back in June of 2016, the LAPD awarded BMW with a contract to provide 100 battery-powered i3 hatchbacks as part of a plan to enhance its public image. At the time, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti told the press, “We should be thinking green in everything we do,” adding that the electric BMWs would “also save money and resources.”

Fast forward to 2018 and the contract is beginning to look like a good way to waste millions of dollars. The LAPD agreed to lease the vehicles, effectively doubling its electrified fleet, for three years. The logic was that the gas savings would offset the $1.4 million it would cost the police force to apprehend them from BMW. While that sounds wonderful, there is a problem — the LAPD isn’t driving them.  (Read More…)

By on November 14, 2017

2018 Cadillac CTS-V

Since its launch in the Big Apple earlier this year, the BOOK by Cadillac car-subscription service has allowed customers in New York City to get behind the wheel of a Cadillac without signing the note on one of The General’s top-flight vehicles.

The project has proven to be enough of a success that Cadillac is now launching the product in two additional markets: Dallas and L.A.
(Read More…)

By on March 30, 2017

A striking neo-classic, the 1985 Armaretta

Initially, I drove to Penmar Golf Course expecting to find a Rolls-Royce.

My partner Leslie (a fine car spotter herself and the originator of the “Parked in Drive” name) mentioned seeing a swoopy car with a “flying lady” radiator mascot parked there for sale. When I pulled into the parking lot and saw this tan-on-brown behemoth, it was clear the Rolls was gone, replaced by something far more fascinating.

All the typical cues — separate fenders, landau top, whitewall tires — indicating a classic car also placed it in that most self-contradictory of categories: “Neo-Classic.” The coupe’s “bustle-back” trunk initially reminded me of the last Cadillac design approved by Bill Mitchell, the second-generation Cadillac Seville (which, in turn, took inspiration from the mid-1930s “Razor Edge” Bentley), and gave me a useful spread of dates to search: 1980-1985.

(Read More…)

By on January 30, 2017

Homeless Toyota Van Home

Homelessness is an issue in all major cities across the U.S., but it’s particularly acute in large ones fortunate enough to have a pleasant climate year-round. Los Angeles has both of these attributes, and that means there’s quite a large homeless population. A recent article from the LA Times caught my eye.

With over 6,000 homeless people sleeping in their cars every night, the city is enacting a new ordinance to give them somewhere to (legally) park.
(Read More…)

By on November 15, 2016

2017 Mazda CX-5 LA auto show introduction - Image: Mazda UStream screenshot

Nearly five years after the first Mazda CX-5 became an instantaneous success for Mazda North America, the automaker has revamped its best seller. Revealed on the eve of the 2016 Los Angeles Auto Show, the 2017 Mazda CX-5 should have little trouble capitalizing on the momentum created by the oft-praised crossover.

In 36 of the last 45 months, year-over-year CX-5 volume has increased, a striking achievement given the Mazda brand’s struggles to earn mainstream market share in the United States. Mazda brand sales are down 8 percent in the U.S. this year.

But the CX-5 is another story; the bright light at a brand where the midsize car is ignored, the biggest and smallest crossovers are niche products, the compact is fast fading, the subcompact and minivan have both been extinguished, and the most famous product is the brand’s least common product.

Tonight’s 2017 Mazda CX-5 reveal is hugely important to Mazda, as nearly four-in-ten sales in Mazda’s U.S. showrooms are generated by the brand’s surprisingly fun to drive CR-V fighter. (Read More…)

By on March 28, 2016

McLaren 675 LT Front 3/4 on Pacific Coast Highway, Image: © 2016 Ronnie Schreiber/The Truth About Cars

The rich are different. They have nicer things. – Leonard Schreiber, DVM

I try to avoid superlatives unless the object of said superlatives is, well, truly superlative. In this case, however, they may be applied without reservation. The McLaren 675LT is an extraordinary car, with performance capabilities exceeded by fewer than a handful of very limited production vehicles. Perhaps what makes it most extraordinary, though, is just how well it performs as an ordinary car.

(Read More…)

By on February 11, 2016

20160206_083324

I’ll start with this: Hannah, wherever you are, I do not apologize for stealing your car. You were a real b— … well, white men like myself aren’t allowed to use the “b-word” nowadays, it’s considered more harmful to womyn than all 359 of those sexual offences that happened in Cologne that we’ve all agreed to pretend didn’t really happen. Why don’t we just say that you’re a very mean person. I don’t apologize for that, or for stealing your car.

Now, where were we, to use three words in a row that start with “w” and end with “e”? Well, it’s like this:

(Read More…)

By on December 2, 2015

Two weeks ago, the B&B took the time to educate me about license plate readers and their various extra-legal uses. As someone who has worked at least part-time in the tech industry since the mid-90s, I started thinking about what the cost would be of a distributed plate-tracking business. Eventually the readers will be smaller and less obvious, at which point you throw a couple of bucks to Uber drivers and the like to toss them on all four corners and send you the data.

Given enough sources, eventually you’d be able to have a pretty good database of personal movement in your chosen area. That data is certainly worth money to someone, whether that “someone” is a real-estate developer, a fast-food franchisor or a private detective. Short of writing legislation specifically to stop such activity, I don’t see how anybody’s going to stop that business model from eventually becoming a reality.

In the meantime, however, there’s already one entity that has access to a nontrivial database of ANPR information. Good news! At least one government official has proposed that this information be used to save you from yourself.

(Read More…)

By on November 16, 2015

170662_Oscars_ALS_02

Like Randy Newman, automakers love Los Angeles this week as the industry descends on Southern California for two days (really, one-and-a-half days) to showcase their latest and greatest.

Automakers are lining up to show off their wares Wednesday (Cadillac is a lone exception for Thursday) so we’ll reuse our tuxes without dry cleaning for two days, we guess. We’re animals.

We’ll be on the floor live Wednesday to cover everything we can, but in the meantime, here’s a primer to whet your appetites for the show.  (Read More…)

By on November 11, 2015

2015 Mitsubishi RVR (1 of 11)

Mitsubishi will reveal redesigned versions of the 2016 Outlander Sport crossover and 2017 Mirage subcompact at the 2015 Los Angeles Auto Show next week, the automaker announced Wednesday.

Both models will be mid-cycle refreshes, though the Mirage is expected to get more attention beyond a simple skin-deep rework.

The latest news means Mitsubishi’s rumored future crossover, expected to sit between the Outlander Sport and larger, three-row Outlander, won’t be making its debut in Los Angeles this year.

(Read More…)

By on April 30, 2015

08 - 1984 Cadillac Eldorado Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

As the owner of a proper California-built custom, I’m always on the lookout for down-at-the-heels examples of the breed when I return to my former state of residence. Last month, I spotted this flamed-and-custom-grille-equipped Eldo in a San Jose-area yard. (Read More…)

By on April 21, 2015

01 - Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinMost of these Junkyard Finds come from big chain-owned self-service wrecking yards that have fast inventory turnover and plenty of fresh cars at all times. This means that I’m going to see lots of Volvo 240s in California, lots of old Subarus in Colorado, and millions of acre-feet of Tauruses and Sables everywhere. Oddball high-end stuff shows up, too, like the occasional Maserati or every Jaguar XJ-S ever made, but you just aren’t going to see a Rolls-Royce in this type of yard… until now. (Read More…)

By on April 17, 2015

UIS-CroppedSome might tell you that Cheech & Chong’s 1978 movie, Up In Smoke, was about Malaise Era drug culture, or Los Angeles, or California punk rock, but in fact it is one of the greatest car movies in cinematic history. For this reason, I have used my Svengali-like powers to convince the management of the Denver Alamo Drafthouse theater to include this fine automotive film as part of the Murilee Martin Presents series. Yes, on Monday, which just happens to be April 20, we’ll roll Up In Smoke starting at 7:30 PM. (Read More…)

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