By on August 22, 2019

1993 Volvo 240 Wagon in Colorado junkyard, LH rear view - ©2018 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

We know, we know — you aren’t. Almost no one is, which handily explains why new wagons are now rarer in North America than sobriety on the first night of Woodstock. Or virginity on the last. It wasn’t always the case, though, as once upon a time a great herd of long-roofed family haulers roamed freely across the vast expanses of pre-Millenium America.

We’re left with premium niche models, and that’s that. Deal with it. This Question of the Day isn’t designed to make you pick favorites from among the skimpy crowd of remaining estate cars, but to think back to those halcyon (or perhaps traumatizing) days before you earned your driver’s license. (Read More…)

By on August 21, 2019

Between 1953 and a few weeks ago, the Chevrolet Corvette stuck to a very specific formula: Engine at the front, driven wheels at the back. With the debut of the 2020 C8 Corvette, all of that changed. Today we want to find out what you think about the metamorphosis of an iconic sports car nameplate.

(Read More…)

By on August 20, 2019

2017 Jeep® Wrangler Unlimited Sahara - Image: Jeep

For no reason in particular, your author found himself researching the various attributes and eccentricities of Greenland these past couple of days. Again, no reason. And while Greenland itself is pretty sparse and remote, you can’t actually drive very far from what passes for civilization in that big island sort-of country. Something to do with fjords and glaciers and such.

If you’re looking to really get away from it all behind the wheel of a vehicle, there’s better choices closer to home. And, obviously, further. But maybe you already know that… (Read More…)

By on August 19, 2019

1991 Pontiac Trans Sport, Images: RM Auctions, Inc.

Over the weekend at Monterey, RM Sotheby’s executed what will forever remain one of the worst screw-ups in auction history. With a piece of is-it-or-isn’t-it Porsche history on the block, the auctioneer started his patter at what the crowd (and the media screen) thought was thirty million dollars. That same media screen quickly rocketed to seventy mil before said auctioneer clarified he was saying seven-teen not seven-ty. Boos rained down upon the room and bidding predictably evaporated like chloroform. The car failed to sell.

Conspiracy theorists will forever debate what really happened, but our question for you today is this: what’s the biggest error — either in buying or selling — you’ve ever seen at a car auction?

(Read More…)

By on August 16, 2019

2017 Toyota Camry rear, Image: © 2017 Sajeev Mehta/The Truth About Cars

It’s normal to worry about — or at least give a passing though to — the possibility that the airliner you’re about to step onto may, in fact, never reach its destination. The same goes for thinking, hoping, or praying that a road trip you’re about to embark on goes well, with no cataclysmic incidents along the way. It only becomes a problem if these concerns dominate the mind, leading to paralyzing fears and a determined avoidance of certain activities that negatively impacts your life. At that point it’s time to see a psychologist.

We’ve talked in the past about our worst driving fears, the most obvious being the accidental running over of a human being. Understandable! But sometimes, despite our fearlessness behind the wheel, we bake into our daily lives strange little habits, performing these rituals unconsciously until a friend or family member calls us out on our neurosis. (Read More…)

By on August 15, 2019

2018 Ford Europe Fiesta range - Image: Ford

If the global economy were weather, yesterday brought dark clouds, an unsettling calm, and that weird ozone smell that heralds a violent storm. The bond market is waving its hands and flashing a warning sign. Spooked traders waded through a sea of red as Wall Street and other foreign exchanges began resembling the elevator scene in The Shining.

It’s quite possible all those warnings issued by major automakers of a looming recession weren’t made out of an abundance of caution, but something a little more concrete. No wonder the likes of Ford and General Motors find themselves in the midst of “downturn planning.”

As you read yesterday, one possible consequence of another economic meltdown is a return of smaller, more affordable vehicles — products both Ford, GM, and Fiat Chrysler spent the last few years dropping from their lineups. While the entirety of these small vehicles wouldn’t return in such a scenario, some might. Which cars deserve a green light? (Read More…)

By on August 14, 2019

In last Wednesday’s QOTD post we covered all the worst examples of automotive collaboration. Commenters racked up the examples, sharing collaboration failures even worse than the Jaguar X-Type selected for textual pillory in the post.

Today we flip it around and discuss the best outcomes of automaker cooperation.

(Read More…)

By on August 13, 2019

2017 Toyota Corolla XSE interior - Image: © Timothy Cain/The Truth About Cars

Cars, like their drivers, often fly so far below the radar that they may as well not exist at all. Despite the best intentions of designers to stimulate (but not over-stimulate) loyal buyers, a great number of vehicles roll off the drawing board and into reality with an exterior tailor-made to avoid being noticed.

Some vehicles are nothing less than rolling anonymity. Which, depending on your line of work, may be just the thing you’re looking for. (Read More…)

By on August 9, 2019

2019 Mazda Mazda3 interior

The headline refers to the automobile itself, though it can just as easily refer to each and every one of us. We’re all along for the ride as the industry ditches coupes, sedans, affordable cars, and manual transmissions en masse, and there’s no option of tucking and rolling as the ride slows to turn a corner.

With that said, what recent addition to a vehicle’s content do you find most hard to live with? For our amusement, we’ll list a single rule: you can’t bitch about the loss of stick shifts. (Read More…)

By on August 8, 2019

EcoBoost Mustang Burnout, Ford Motor Co.

Have you ever strayed? Fallen off the well-trodden path that carried you into adulthood from your imaginative youth?

We’re not talking sin, vice or philandery here, no sir. We’re talking cars. Most adults who harbor a deep love for all things automotive grew up loving all things automotive — it’s one of those age-spanning infatuations, unlike a passing interest in grape popsicles or dance music or that girl who sat in front of you in Grade 9 English class. Once you’re hooked on broader subjects like autos, history, or whatever else, it seems a person never strays from the path.

But maybe your interests took a sharp detour at one point. What sparked the sudden lack of interest, and what brought you back to the flock? (Read More…)

By on August 7, 2019

Automakers are keen to pursue partnerships with one another when it means saving money via economies of scale, or when it supports an established corporate structure. Whether it’s in the form of some basic components-sharing or a more intensive joint venture, today we want to hear about the worst possible examples of automotive cooperation.

(Read More…)

By on August 6, 2019

We often place ourselves in enviable situations in these QOTD posts, selecting which model best suits us following a sudden windfall, or perhaps deciding which vehicle tops all others in performing a certain task. In a sense, this is just like those other questions.

Except… you’ll be taking a severe pay cut.

Things have gone bad, you see. Somehow, following some unfortunate sequence of life-altering events, all the strings that tied you to a life of leisure and fair pay have snapped. You’re now just surviving. Yes, you’re stuck driving for Uber. (Read More…)

By on August 5, 2019

1982 Chrysler LeBaron in Colorado wrecking yard, LH front view - ©2018 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

This first week of August finds us in the thick of summer, battling heat and mosquitos in equal measure. One summertime treat that has faded from your author’s life now he’s knocking on his fortieth year? The purchase of a summer car.

You know exactly the kind of summer car I’m talking about. It’s a beater, bought for peanuts and likely ending its life at the end-of-summer demolition derby. In between, though, full-throttle blasts and the lack of concern for dents and bumps (in both the car and myself, if we’re honest) lend themselves to the creation of a roster of stories to be told and re-told at the local bar that winter after the car is long gone.

(Read More…)

By on August 1, 2019

Last week we played a round of Armchair Alternative History where we discussed missed opportunities in the automotive industry. Conversation focused on actions automakers didn’t take when they should’ve.

Today is round two. Let’s go back and erase things that actually happened.

(Read More…)

By on July 31, 2019

The news of Nissan’s recent financial trouble brought attention right where it needs to be: on lackluster product. In our most recent reporting regarding Nissan’s sales woes, I was asked in the comments whether I had any ideas for improvement. Well that got me thinking (and worked up), and it turns out I do have ideas, and they fall into three major categories.

(Read More…)

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