Charge It

 The new Dodge Charger that's coming soon is generating a lot of controversy, but I think Dodge is doing the correct thing. While there may be no direct styling cues from the original Chargers,and it's a sedan instead of a coupe, it's the right car for the market.

 Nostalgia is a great, but the market that dictated the design of the original CHarger no longer exists. Sedans are the new muscle cars, with only the Mustang hanging on in the original form. Everything else in the class has either morphed into something else or is no longer made.

 For the third version of one platform (Chrysler 300,Dodge Magnum), Chrysler has garnered a lot more attention for the Charger than they could have asked for, and I don't think it will hurt sales of the CHarger at all.

Toyota The New Buick?

 My uncle used to own a Buick Roadmaster, an absolute boat of a car. While it was extremely comfortable to ride in, there wasn't much there to get your blood pumping, unless you got into a corner too fast. Then it was like trying to keep the Titanic from striking the iceberg.

 He recently replaced the land yacht, with a Toyota Camry. It's a fine automobile, and I'm glad he picked it out of the many possibilities in the market. It should prove to be a faithful companion, but it illustrates the problem facing Toyota, aging customers.

 In the ongoing quest to improve the breed, cars like the Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic are now larger than the original Camry and Accord. It's been a successful strategy so far, but with the advent of the Scion Brand, Toyota has recognized that it needs an injection of youth, else it ends up like Buick and Oldsmobile, with vehicles that only appeal to older customers.

 While Scion has been successful so far, I don't know if it will translate into eventual customers for Toyota. During the 80's, Toyota offered much for the young driver, with the Tercel anchoring the bottom, the Corolla GT-S, MR2, and Celica covering the middle, and the Supra on the top. The Tercel became the Echo, which has flopped, the Corolla GT-S has been gone for quite some time, along with the Supra, and this is the last year for the Celica and MR-S. The only car that can claim to be sporty in the Toyota line-up is now the Solara, basically Toyota's version of the Thunderbird/Cougar personal luxury coupe.

 For someone like me, a teenager during the 80's, I still remember the sporting side of Toyota, and Scion just doesn't fit the bill. The new TC is a fine replacement for the Corolla GT-S, but it ends there. What I'd like to see is a return of the original MR2, based off the Echo/XA-XB platform. Keep it light and simple, and don't move it upmarket. I know the MR2 went upmarket partially because insurance ona two-seater is outrageous, so maybe Toyota could offer insurance as part of the loan or lease (at least a year's worth), lessening the price shock.

 The sporting side of Toyota appears to be on life support right now, hopefully Scion can light a spark under the bosses at Toyota. Without sporting vehicles, an automaker faces a long and painful decline a'la Oldsmobile, Plymouth, and Mercury.

Christmas Down Under

 An interactive Christmas card designed for Toyota of Australia. Happy holidays!

Merry Christmas

The Truth About Transmissions

 There's a debate going on at The Truth About Cars about which is the better tranny, auto or manual. The automatic side points out "he main premise of my article was simple: it takes a higher level of driver attention to operate a manual transmission than an automatic." Because of this, it is deemed safer to use an automatic rather than a manual.

 In a perfect world, that statement would ring true, but it's far from a perfect world. There's a technique employed by big-rig drivers when they're caught in stop and go traffic. They move at a constant speed whenever possible, and the skillful almost never touch their brakes. They just coast along, while everyone else using their slushboxes speed up, apply the brakes, stop, then start the cycle over again.

 Because of the manual transmission in an 18-wheeler, the driver does have to pay more attention to what they are doing, otherwise they'll be shifting gears constantly. The driver is scanning ahead, and matching their speed to the general flow of traffic. Instead of adding to the traffic problem, they're doing their small part to alleviate it.

 I've tried, and there's no way to achieve this technique with an autobox. Below 35 mph there's just no way to regulate your speed precisely enough, the transmission fights you every step of the way. So what does all this have to do with safety? It's precisely because the manual transmission forces you to be an active participant in the act of driving more than an automatic that makes your average manual driver safer than your average auto driver.

 You have to scan ahead,rewad the road, and comprehend what's going on around you so you're not caught in the wrong gear. An automatic driver just hits the accelerator and goes, and to most it really doesn't matter what's happening five or ten car lengths in front of them, they'l happily let the tranny decide what gear to pick after they have to break because they didn'y\t predict that car merging into their lane. Again, in a perfect world, the auto has the advantage, because it frees you to worry about other things, the only problem is human nature takes that to mean that you don't have to worry about what's happening on the road ahead, while manuals force you to care. Your attention is more focused on the job in front of you, not what's happening at the office, in your marriage, and with the kids.

 If something forces a driver to pay more attention to what they're doing on the road, that's a good thing, not a hinderance.

Garage Life

 While waiting for Gran Turismo 4, I've finally started to seriously play Auto Modellista, and the game ain't half bad. It's more arcade style than sim, but it does offer some features that the Gran Turismo series sorely lacks.

 You can change the color of your car, alter some of the exterior parts (hood, spoiler, front and rear air dams), and sticker the hell out of the cars. It also features some tracks styled around the Initial D anime series, and these are a blast. But, the one feature that is a stand-out, and keeps me playing, are the items and posters you win for completing races. You can then place them in your garage, wherever you like, and it's wickedly addictive. I can spend an hour just designing the layout of my garage, calculating what's the most efficient organization. It's like a barbie doll for guys, and makes me long for a garage of my own.

 I've never understood people who take a garage and turn it into just another room of the house, or use it simply to store things. It's a holy place, a shrine to tools and automobiles, a refuge for your vehicles, and should be a vital part of anyone's love affair with things that go fast.

 If you've got a great garage, send in your photos and I'll post them here for all the world to see.

Burning Sensation

 I was giving the Corolla a wash today, and when I arrived back at the apartment to clean the windows, there was a truck burning in the parking lot.

 It wasn't the engine compartment that was aflame, it was the cab. When the firemen forced open the driver's side door, orange flames filled the compartment, but were quickly extinguished by the liberal application of some water.

 Someone's baby just died, and another cehicle goes to the grave before it's time.

Semper Fi

 Today, in 1775, the US Marine Corps was created. Happy birthday to the Marines, and let's pray for the safety of all the troops, especially the ones fighting in Fallujah, Iraq.

Tire Safety

 As cars have gotten safer, the safety groups are being forced to focus on marginal issues to justify theri existance. The newest safety "fad" is a tire expiration date. Amazingly, older tires seem to fail, and unlike that gallon of milk in your refrigerator, there's no expiration date on your tire sao you know when to replace it.

 There is a manufacture date on your tires, but like the article syas, "In the United States, consumers and tire dealers must decipher part of a serial number engraved on one side of a tire to determine the date it was manufactured". All it takes to "decipher" your tire's manufacture date is a quick search on Google, and voila, there's the answer. Look for the DOT certification, and the last four numbers are the manufacture date, the first two the week, the last two the year.

 Now, if someone is not going to take the effort to figure this out, how likely are they to pay attention to an expiration date? Consumers abuse the hell out of tires, and you see it every day. Tires with almost no tread, tires that are dangerously underinflated, the list goes on and on.

 It would be one thing if people were dying left and right, but the safety group can only produce 50 examples of this problem, resulting in 37 deaths. Plus, that's data over at least 5 years, not 50 examples in one year. Imagine what a difference could be made if the safety groups focused on something that would make a real impact, like driver education perhaps? Oh wait, then we couldn't blame evil corporations, we'd actually have to take responsibility for our actions. Never mind.

On Pins And Needles

via Cox and Forkum


  What the hell is this graphic doing on this site? Completely inappropriate, ya jackass.

 That's the only comment I've gotten on the 9/11 graphic (permalink here).
It's a very strange comment, and I'm not sure what NickNack is trying to communicate.

 In answer to the question, the graphic is here because I placed it here. It was posted on September 11th, and was the most poignant summary of my feelings for the day. Of all the images from that horrific event, the people jumping to their deaths from the World Trade Center towers still choke me up the most.

 About the graphic being inapproprite, this is my site. I, and only I determine what is appropriate. If you don't like what I have to say, that's fine. There's a million other blogs you can go to. There are many blogs I used to read, but no longer visit, because of their views. I didn't go on their site and leave a comment calling them a jackass, I just stopped reading their blogs.

 In the end, it comes down to how tolerant you are of other views. I disagree often with Autoguy's views and conclusions, but I still think what he has to say is deserving of consideration. Never exposing yourself to other views and different theories keeps you from expanding yourself. Alas, there are people out there who never will.

 If you want to see more graphics like the Never Again one, I suggest a visit to Cox and Forkum.

Happy Halloween


Light Reading

 There's an article on Netscape Autos about What Makes a Great Car.

 If you like to sit in it, even when it's not running--or always turn back to give it one more glance after you've parked it and are walking away--it's a Great Car.


How To Save Plymouth, Oldsmobile, Mercury

 It's too late for Plymouth and Oldsmobile, but there's still hope for Mercury. The division can still be saved before the realities of business drop the guillotine on another marque, and the answer is staring Ford right in the face. It's the 2005 Ford Mustang.

 It's a strategy that has served Harley-Davidson well. The hottest segment in motorcycles are cruisers, bikes styled along the lines of the '50's machines. The closer the machine emulates that style, the more successful it is.

 Ford has been trying for years to make Mercury work (80's Capri, 90's Capri, the last Cougar), but has never hit the target. The basic premise is to sell a vehicle that is similar to the Ford model, at a higher price. The only way to achieve this that I see is to go in a new direction from what's been done in the past, and it means heading towards the past.

 Imagine a Ford 500, except retro-styled. The basic platform remains the same, but the styling is a virtual copy of the Mercury models from the 50's. The cost savings would not be as great as the current models, as the exterior and interior would be different from the Ford, but the potential to make a larger profit is greater also, and they'd be targeting the market group that Mercury is looking for.

 Mercury could become the Harley-Davidson of the automotive world. It can't do any worse than what's already been done with the marque.

Maybe, Just Maybe

 Autoblog has actually seen a Ford 500, and commented on the styling. Apparently it actually does stand out, and that's good news. Ford could really use a boost, and it's really an advanced vehicle (AWD and CVT) that probably deserves praise. Of course, an enthusiast is going to notice a new vehicle, the real test is how the general public percieves the vehicle. It certainly won't have the impact of something like a Chrysler 300 or Dodge Magnum.

Return Of The King?

 Toyota's new advertising slogan is Moving Forward, and while it lacks a certain flair, it's still acceptable. The Toyota website has had a slight redesign to go with the new slogan, and there's a new feature there, PlanetKaisen. Kaisen is Toyota's way of doing business, and it roughly translates to continual improvement. Nothing really revolutionary there, but if you go to the site and take the Kaisen test, one of the questions is truly thought provoking...

 Toyota enthusiasts have longed for the day when Supra will once again roll in America. Not content with the current performance vehicles in the Toyota lineup, like Celica GT-S and Matrix XRS, Toyota loyalists alway want more. When was the last year Supra was built and sold in the U.S.?

 I think it's a hint that the Supra is returning, finally. There's no hard evidence yet, but I'm leaning towards a debut next year, probably as an '06 model.

 By the way, the answer is 1996, and I scored a 9 out of 10 on the quiz.

What's Happening To Ford?

 It's 1983, and Ford introduces the new Thunderbird. Sleek, aerodynamic, and different from everything else on the road, it signals the beginning of a styling tour de force from the Blue Oval. The next year Ford brings out the Tempo, once again a sleek, stylish design. 1986 marks the high point in Ford design with the debut of the Taurus, still one of the best looking sedans ever made.

 Forward to the nineties, and you can see Ford's designs start to lose their direction. Ford attempts to regain the initiative with it's new edge styling, but it's a half-hearted effort that only really shines on the Focus.

 Now it's the 2K's, and what are we getting from Ford? New grilles that will differentiate each of Ford's three lines, and a strange desire to have every model's name start with the same letter as the division. Instead of keeping well known names, Ford wants each of it's cars to start with the letter "F", so out with Taurus and in with 500.

 It boggles my mind that the new 500 is based off a Volvo that has more adventerous styling than Ford's. What used to be a company that dominated the domestic styling arena is now retreating into mediocrity as sales lag behind the competition. Now Chrysler in the king of design, and it's sales are on the rise. Ford is heading down the same road GM took in the 80's, badge engineered cars that all look the same, with only a different grille to distinguish between them.

 J Mays, group vice president of design, is not the man who is killing Ford, he's just the one killing the spirit of design that used to make Ford something special.

Never Again

via Cox and Forkum

10th Anniversary

What's an automotive enthusiast in Nashville supposed to do for Labor Day weekend? Why, the 10th anniversary celebration of the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky, of course! Seeing all those Corvette reminds one that GM can still make magic.

If you're going down I-65 through Kentucky, don't pass this museum by. It's well worth the cost of admission, and you can't help but admire the 'Vette.

Today we're going to start with some horsepower again, actual horses! I love holidays!

Bad News Is Good News

 The headline reads GM Recalss The Troubled Aveo. Sounds like there's something majorly wrong with the car, doesn't it? The recall, "the rear seat belt can lock and become unusable", is not something that is really newsworthy. This is not an "Aveo's spontaneously exploding" type deal here, so why is the Aveo "troubled"?

 Why, because "GM has had substantial problems with the Aveo since it went on sale last year. In February, the company ordered dealers not to sell the cars for a week after they were involved in five crashes that caused injuries. GM found that the vehicles weren’t to blame for the wrecks and let dealers begin selling them again." Seems to me like GM was acting more like a company afraid of getting sued , a la Ford Explorer and their Firestone tires, than a car with substantial problems. All this does is damage the reputation of a car that does not deserve it.

Double Take

 Take this Detroit News Headline, SUV glut signals dip in interest. Hmm, makes it seem like the slaes of SUV's are down, right? Autoguy takes from this that SUV sales are down 5-10%. Yet, right in the middle of the article is this gem...

 Still, SUV sales growth continues to outpace the overall U.S. new light vehicle market. While industry sales are up 2.4 percent this year, sales of entry-level SUVs are up 4.3 percent, midsize SUV demand is up 6 percent, full-size SUV sales have advanced 3 percent, and demand for luxury SUVs is up 29 percent.

 So which is it? Are SUV sales up, flat, or down? They're up, but the Detroit News is trying to convince you the end is near, the party is over, America is finally realizing the error of it's ways and buying smart. It's all wishful thinking, trying to force the facts to fit a preconcieved notion of what vehicles people should buy, instead of letting people decide for themselves. I'm no fan of SUV's, but I'm a big fan of the free market, and this article is a thinly veiled attempt to convince people niot to buy SUV's. So what if the facts get in the way, the SUV must die!

Bluegrass Adventure

 Wednesday I took the Escort up to Lexington KY. Took a look at a '92 Toyota Paseo, and I ended up buying her. She needs a new motor, and a new front fender, but is otherwise beautiful. Bobby and I are going to put the new motor in ourselves, a first for me, and the first time he's ever replaced a motor on a FWD car. Should be, well, interesting. We're going on Sunday to pick her up, and will probably stop at the National Corvette Museum, since it's on the way.

 Of course, wednesday being a mini-roadtrip, there were a few unusual thing seen along the way. Washington County is a "certified clean county", so I guess someone goes around and verifies that everyone takes a shower each day. Passed a farm with "used cows for sale", but I didn't see abunch of rusty, dented cows with faded paint anywhere, big disappointment.

The Gamboy Advance Tune Up

Now you can use your Gamboy Advance as a programmable automotive tuning tool. I guess it's cheaper than a laptop, unless you get a nice used one off eBay.

Mini Madness

 Cant afford to get a Mini just yet? Download the Mini Costume and you can act like you own one. Danger: just 'cause you dress your car up like a Mini, don't expect it to handle like a Mini!

Time Travel

  Two days ago I received a shipment from eBay. It's a complete set of Car and Driver issues, 91-92. I've been reading each issue, and it's been like a journey back through time. The early nineties were truly a great era for enthusiasts. Just look at what was available.

 Mercury Capri XR2 - Not as good as the Miata, but much more attractive now on the used car market.

 Geo Metro Convertible - Convertible for those on a tight budget.

 Nissan Sentra SE-R - Nissan hits one out of the ballpark.

 BMW 325i - The new 3 series were stunners, and still look good today.

 Dodge Spirit RT - A nice effort by Chrysler before the LH sedans came out.

 Ford Taurus SHO - Proving that a Taurus does not have to be boring.

 Chevrolet Corvette ZR-1 - aww yeah.

 Nissan NX2000 - A Sentra SE-R for those who want to be more stylish.

 Lotus Carlton - Never available here, but wonderfuul nonetheless.

 Dodge Stealth and Mitsubishi 3000GT - Mitsubishi really hit their stride in the early nineties.

 Lexus SC400 - Lexus makes a car with passion!

 BMW 850i - Not great, but still desireable.

 Mazda MX-3 - A 1.8 liter V-6, Mazda proves they're still strange.

 Lotus Elan - A FWD Lotus? Who would of believed it.

 Nissan 300ZX - Still one of the best ever sports cars ever made.

 Toyota Celica GTS - Not everyone liked it, but I think the design was the sexiest Celica ever.

 GMC Syclone - GMC goes crazy on us. Someone at GM has passion!

 Subaru SVX - Never caught on, but Subaru built a true GT car.

 Nissan Maxima - When Nissan referred to it as the 4-door sports car, and it was true.

 Mazda RX-7 - Mazda took the RX-7 back to it's roots, and made a true sports car.

That's just the '91 issues, but you have to admit that performance was the main course during the early nineties. Before the SUV crowded onto center stage, there were cars in every price range that spoke to the enthusiast. I miss those times.

First SUV

Found out this Sunday my sister bought a new vehicle. It's ugly, but in a spunky way, and with the rubber mat floor instead of carpet, it's definitely going to be useful to her. It's a Honda Element. Not quite sure what to think about it yet.

eBay Gets Better

Finally, eBay lets you search for cars, and will sort by distance. No more having to click on the item to see just how far from me that car is. Now, if they would only let me filter out things like transmission type, I'd be thrilled. Wait, cancel that, about 10% of the vehicles I look at have the trans listed wrong. And don't even get me started about the spelling errors, or things like a Mazda RX-7 with a 4-cylinder rotary engine!

How Much Is $2,000 Worth To You?

 Lo and behold, the sales of big SUV's are dropping. People are considering the price of gas when making vehicle purchases, yet overall, SUV sales continue to rise. People are just choosing smaller SUV's, or opting for a V6 instead of a V8. What I find interesting about this article is what some people consider a "gas guzzler.

 The first example is someone who wanted a big SUV, then settled for a Toyota 4Runner. Not exactly the most efficient vehicle out there. Then there's the guy who wanted a Toyota Sequoia, but decided on a Toyota Sienna. Why? "It's not a gas guzzler" was the response, and yet the Sienna gets 19 MPG in city driving.

 Somehow I think the SUV is going to survive our "fuel crisis", stronger than ever.

$2.00 Gas Is No Big Deal

$nbsp;While the price of gasoline continues to climb, it could be worse. Consider what drivers in Japan have to contend with...

>Average cost of mandatory driving school is $3,000.

>It is mandatory to obtain a garage or a space to park your car and register that space with the local police station. Average cost id $300 a month.

>Every 2 years your car must undergo a mandatory inspection process that can cost upwards of $3,000.

>Car taxes are due every year and are based on either the weight of the vehicle or the engine displacement. Cost varies from $500-$1,000.

It's The End Of The World

 There's a Mitsubishi Montero that inhabits one of the parking spaces close to my apartment. It's a damn fine looking vehicle, brutish and big, and it has a presence that many a sedan lacks. You notice the Montero, a predator among the sheepish Camrys and Accords that mull around the parking lot.

 It will probably never venture off the paved highways and romp through the wildlands of Tennessee, and logocally a mini-van would have fulfilled the owner's needs better, but logic always fails when it comes to the defining characteristic of the American consumer, passion.

 There's a lot of buzz going around about the rising cost of gasoline, and how that's going to impact the automotive world. It's having an effect, but cruising around the auto internet gives you the impression that America's love affair with SUV's is about to collapse and we're all going to start driving Honda Insights and Toyota Prius'. It ain't gonna happen.

 Passion has to be thrown into the mix, otherwise we would be in the middle of a mini-van craze rather than an SUV craze. People have been buying SUV's because that is what they want, what they desire. Yes, large SUV's are going to take a hit with rising fuel costs, but to say that the dominance of SUV's has already come to an end is jumping the gun. Smaller, more fuel-efficint models will gain in popularity, the process of basing models off car vs. truck platforms will continue, and mileage across the board will increase.

 SUV's are at a bump in the road, not a roadblock.

No So Titan?

 The sales results for the Nissan Titan are out, and it has not met sales expectations. Instead of capturing 5% of the market, it now stands at about 2.6%. So is the Titan a failure? Absolutely not.

 Like anything worth doing, it's going to take time for the Titan to hit it's stride. The truck is supremely capable, and unlike the Toyota Tundra, it's out the gate full-sized and with a V8. So why the weak start?

 There's a reason that full-size trucks are the last bastion of the domestic automakers. For a long time there were no other choices. While full-size truck customers seem to be lmore loyal than car buyers, I believe that's more from a lack of choices in the market.

 There's nowhere left for the domestic's to hide. The Titan is here, and a new, larger Tundra is on the way. It's not going to be a dramatic changing of fates, but change is on it's way. If the big three think that the loyalty of their customers are going to keep them competitive, then they haven't been paying attention the last thirty years.

I Must Be Adopted

 My Stepmom has a new vehicle, an Audi A4 Cabriolet.

 What does my father thinkof it? It's too small. It doesn't have a large enough trunk. I swear I'm adopted. It's a freakin' convertible, it's meant to be impractical. You drive it to renew your soul, enjoy the weather, and have a blast. My father and I will probably never see eye-to-eye on cars.


 Daimler-Chrysler is not going to bail out Mitsubishi, leaving the Japanese company in some trouble. There's speculation that Mitsu might have to pull out of the US market. Chrysler has long relied on Mitsu for engines and platforms, but has never taken advantage of sharing resources like Ford and Mazda have. Chrysler has been distancing itself from Mitsu for a long time, and it now seems that a permenant disconnect is about to take place.

 It's too bad Daimler-Chrysler pulled the plug on Plymouth. It would have been an excellent way to help Mitsu out. Just rebadge their cars as Plymouths, the Lancer could be a new Duster, the Galant as a new Breeze, the Eclipse would become a new Laser, the Diamante would make a fine Caravelle, and the Endeavour could become a new Raider. It would give Mitsu more sales outlets, and would have solved Plymouth's problem of being just rebadged Chrysler and Dodge models. Yes, they would have been rebadged Mitsu's, but once sales improved they could have invested in differentiating the two brands.

 It's just a pipe-dream, since it's not very likely, but it would be a shame to see Mitsubishi leave.


 The Detroit Free Press has an article about the high price of gasoline, then compares it to what the Europeans pay.

 In the United States last week, gasoline was averaging about $1.76 a gallon for regular unleaded, with some motorists in California paying more than $2.
The average price of gasoline in Britain was $5.38 a gallon, a bargain compared with the Netherlands, where it was $5.69 a gallon. In Germany it was $5.01. The French got away with paying $4.78.

 The article is rather condescending, another one of those we're more enlightened than you responses from Europe about America, but who's really being stupid? We're not the ones paying 75% tax on gasoline. Our pices are driven by the free market, not controlled by some government buerocracy.

 They simply drive less, take public transportation more, buy more fuel-efficient cars and — get this, Americans — occasionally they’ll walk to the corner to pick up milk rather than drive.

 I live in Nashville, and have had to walk "to the corner" to get some milk when my car wasn't running. It's an hour round trip by foot, and unless I'm off from work that day that's just not a realistic way to for me to get some groceries. It's 10 minutes by car, round trip. America is not Europe, and never will be. We're just a bit larger, with more open spaces, and taking a short trip by foot or bicycle is not a reality for most Americans.

 Enjoy the price of gasoline. It may be higher than we are used to, but at least it's not artificially inflated 75% by our government.

Small Sube

 Every car deserves it's 15 minutes of fame on the web. Even the Subaru 360.

 Check out Subaru's little wonder, the Subaru 360.

Happy Easter

Lost Lexus

 If someone offered me a free Lexus, any model I wanted, what would be my choice? An LS400? Too big. Surely the new SC430 convertible? Nope. Here's the model I would choose.

 Yes, the ES250 with a 5-speed manual transmission. Why would I choose something that's not really even a true Lexus, just a dressed up Camry? It's all a matter of size. Short, compact, it's the smallest Lexus available that has some useful room with it. Choosing a 4-door vehicle is not something I would normally do, but I can't help but admire this car. I've always liked the underdog, and the ES250 fits that desription. Besides, souping that car up would be a blast, a true sleeper prowling the highways.

Designer Genes

 Platform sharing, it's all the rage in the automotive industry. It keeps development costs lower, and allows a manufacturer to bringa product to market quicker. Some companies make it work fabulously. Mitsubishi in the 90's took the lowly Mirage, and sprouted the Galant, Eclipse, Diamante, and 3000GT from it. I can't remember a review saying any of them felt like a bigger Mirage. Toyota has made it work with the Camry/Highlander/Solara/Lexus ES, and Lexus RX300/330. When everything goes well, it's a wonderful process, but sometimes companies falter, badly.

 The classic example is the Cadillac Cimarron, basically a dressed up Chevrolet Cavalier, and it was a dismal failure. GM seems to have learned their lesson, at least partly, as their shared models are a lot more distinct than they used to be. But sometimes, I think the car genes just won't allow you to hid the fact that two cars are close relatives.

 Pontiac's Aztek is like the Quasimodo of the automotive world, a horribly disfigured model that blemishes a marque that usually has some of the best looking models in GM's lineup. The Aztek's mechanicals are also the underpinning of the Buick Rendezvous, and somehow Buick got the styling right, well almost. From the B-Pillar forward it's a sleek, modern, and graceful design. Pleasing to the eye, it embodies the typical Buick flair, until you get to the C-Pillar.

 Everything then goes wrong, and it looks like one designer did the front, while a less skilled subordinate finished the rear. It's the Aztek gene, it has to be. It reared it's ugly head and gave the Rendezvous a hump on it's back, just like it's brother's. At least it spared the face this time.

Standard Catalog

 If you're looking for excellent model-by-model information on American cars, There's two books that might interest you. Standard Catalog of American 1946-1975 and Standard Catalog of American Cars 1976-1999 are superb sources of information. But, when you get to Standard Catalog of Import Cars 1946-2002, the series goes way downhill.

 1976-1999 is 969 pages, for $34.95, and covers each manufacturer year by year. Imported Cars has 909 pages for $32.95, with each manufacturer covered, but not year by year. Take Toyota for example. You get 1978-83, then 1984-90, then from 1991 to 2001 it's year by year. Why the change? Because this is actually the second edition, with expanded information. Unfortunately, they didn't go back and expand the information from 1946-1990, just added the information from 1991-2002.

 While it's still the best resource out there on import cars, to take a major manufacturer like Toyota and lump all the models between 1984 to 1990 under one entry is inexcusable. That the data is incomplete is just another slap in the face. Apparently Nissan didn't have a Stanza or Sentra until 1991, the first time those two cars are mentioned. The publisher has had eleven years to make this book match the standards set by the other editions, but nothing has really changed.

 While I recommend the Standard Catalogs for the American models, the Imported edition falls short of being a "detailed listings of autos imported into the U.S. from 1946-2002", as it says on the cover. It still has a lot of information, but don't buy it thinking it's as comprehensive as the other editions in the series.

There's No Future In Futura

 Looks like Ford can't use the the Futura name for it's upcoming Taurus replacement. Gee, I dunno, what's wrong with calling it Taurus? Oh, that's right, it doesn't start with "F"! Yeah, let's take a well known brand name, and replace it with a name from the 50's that just sounds old and out of date because some marketing genius decided the car will sell better if the name starts with "F".

 Someone in Dearborn just doesn't understand the value of an established name. If Honda was to rename the Civic so it would start with an "H", or Toyota decided the Corolla needed a name that started with "T", they would be abandoning over 30 years of brand recognition. The Taurus name has been part of the automotive landscape since 1986. It's not something Ford should just abandon. And Detroit wonders why people are not as brand loyal as they used to be?


 Just read an article about how auto manufacturers define consumers into generations, and apparetly I'm a generation X'er. That's anyone age 26 to 37, then there's Gen Y (6 to 25 years old ), and apparently we're hard to market to. Here's how we're defined. See if you agree..

Generation Y

Who they are: Often called echo boomers, they crave technology, music and the Internet and they remain loyal to brands. But as an emerging consumer group, they remain difficult to label, though they are the savviest of all shoppers.

What they drive: Used cars and trucks, Mitsubishi, VW.

Generation X

Who they are: Raised on "Beverly Hills, 90210" and Grunge Rock, they shop at The Gap and Urban Outfitters. Difficult to market because they defy labels.

What they drive: Pickups, Subaru.

Even better Than The Last Post

 And I thought the Metro has a confusing name history? Check out the Pontiac LeMans. Germany called it the Opel Kadett, the UK had the Vauxhall Astra, Canada couldn't decide, so it was first the Passport Optima then the Asuna SE/GT, and Kore'a's Daewoo thought Nexia was mighty fine name, but then again Celia worked too. Schizophrenia, thy name is General Motors.


 It's amazing how many names one car can have. The Chevrolet Sprint became the Geo Metro, and then the Chevrolet Metro when Geo was discontinued, but it's also the Suzuki Swift. In Canada it was the Pontiac Firefly and Suzuki Forsa. Meanwhile, across the Pacific Ocean, Japan called it the Suzuki Cultus, and Australians knew it as the Holden Barina. Is anyone else confused yet?

Link Of The Day

 I don't know how I didn't run across this site earlier, 2.6Liter, loads of info on the Mitsubishi Starion and Chrysler Conquest.

Link Of The Day

 Every now and then, GM manages to create something magical, letting their engineers unleash an automobile that has little pratical value, but ignites the souls of enthusiast everywhere. If you haven't heard of the Lotus Vauxhall Carlton/Opel Omega, check out James Waddington's site. These cars were like a Chevy Impala( the Caprice-based one) on steroids, a fiery beast that blazed across the highways of Europe like Attila the Hun in automotive form.


 I'm not much of a mechanic. While I'm mechanically inclined (my grandfather was a mechanic for White Truck in Cleveland his whole life), it's not a skill that was passed down to me by my father. That's changing though. My best friend Bobby is teaching me the basic skills, and the Corolla just received new plugs, wires, and distributor, courtesy of me. The engine runs better, considering that before you could detach the plug wire on the #4 cylinder and the engine didn't even notice. She's still reluctant to start, but then she's carburated, so that'll be something else I can learn about, though the exhaust system is next on the list.

 Wrenching on your car, then seeing that there has been a noticeable improvement, connects you even more deeply with the machine. Not only is it something that you drive, it becomes you own personal creation, a work of art where your hands were involved in the process instead of an object that you admire. Getting grime under your fingertps, wiping the sweat off your brow, then the fateful turning of the ignition to see if it worked. It's like drilling for oil, but with a spiritual instead of a monetary payoff.

The Top Five

 After weeks of deliberation, I have finally narrowed down the list of Cars I Must Own. Five different cars, from a group of over 50 candidates. The winners are...

  Microcar : Ford Festiva - Mazda mechanicals, built by Kia, and sold by Ford, the Festiva is one of the few microcars available here in the U.S. While the Chevrolet Sprint Turbo and Subaru Justy are worthwhile options, there's just something about the Festiva that strikes a chord with me. The Mini Cooper is another alternative, but there's no way I'll be ble to afford one anytime soon. If cost was no object, the Honda Beat would win this category, but alas, I haven't won the lottery yet.

  Hatchback : Pontiac LeMans - Enginerred by Opel, built by Daewoo, and sold by Pontiac, the LeMans is my choice for hatchback to have. There's a ton of choices, with the likes of the VW GTI, Dodge Colt, Toyota Corolla FX-16, Honda Civic, and Daihatsu Charade, this is my nod to the European manufacturers. I'd love to take one of these and put Opel Kadett body pieces on it. The styling is funky, and it will take some work to get one where I would want it, but the LeMans is surely a car you don't see every day.

  Sporty Coupe : Isuzu Impulse - Turbocharged, all-wheel-drive, with suspension designed by Lotus, how can you not like this car. Thee's a soft spot in my heart for Isuzu, and while the Diamond Star trio adn Celica All-Trac are attractive alternatives, the Impulse wins hands down. I lusted after this car when it was new, and that fire still burns in my heart. I gotta have one!

  GT Car : Mitsubishi Starion - This was probably the hardest choice. The superb Nissan 300ZX came a close second, and of course there's Toyota's fabulous Supra, but the Starion is the most unique of the choices. While it doesn't come with a six-cylinder engine, the styling puts Ford's New Edge to shame. The Chrysler Conquest is the same car, but if I have the option, it will be a Starion.

  True Sports Car : Toyota MR2 - This was a foregone conclusion from the start. While the Miata is convertible, and a blast to drive, the MR2 is the car I want more than any other. Mid-engine design, nimble and quick, a true driver's car in every aspect. She's out there, somewhere, just waiting for the right time to present herself to me.

 What about the three cars I own right now? The Probe is a birthday gift for my Nephew Dorian on his sixteenth birthday. There's a lot of work to do to her, but I think 15 years should be enough time to get her ready. The Corolla and the Escort will be daily drivers, cars I won't be afraid to put miles on and haul groceries in.

 Most people that make a list like this usually list cars like Ferrarris and Porsches. While they're the paragons of automotive performance, and eventually I could own one, why bother. The enjoyment of driving is not determined by how expensive the vehicle is, how fast it gets to 60 mph, or how high the skidpad number is. It's a union between a man and his machine, and's that something that can be achieved with any car.

Link Of The Day

 Yes, there are actually performance parts for the Ford Festiva. Check out Festiva Motorsport.

Link Of The Day

 Remember the Chevy Chevette? It was also sold as an Opel, Vauxhall, Holden, and Isuzu. Get more info at GM's T-Car.

More Minis

 I like small cars. Geo Metro's, Ford Festiva's, Subaru Justy's, there's just something about a minimalist auto. Although they need better engines, something with a little more oomph, upgrade their suspensions and wheels and you have your own little pocket rocket. Speed is a relative thing, and taking a Festiva around a corne at the limits of the tire's grip is just pure entertainment. You don't need the most powerful car out there to have some fun, and less is more when it comes to handling.

 That's probably the reason I like the Mini so much. It has a good engine, great handling, and from all accounts a blast to drive. It's been very popular, and hopefully indicates a trend in the American market towards more fun cars. I've had enough of SUV's, but I don't hate 'em cause they get poor mileage. they're just too big, get in the way, and handle like a beached whale.

 There is another small car out there that I wish was available here in the U.S. It's the Ford Ka.

 Of course, to be a success, it would need to be marketed like the Mini, meaning dealers would have to treat perspective owners differently than their regular buyers. If the whole experience isn't fun, and they don't realize the customer is there to buy a small car because they want one, not because it's all they can afford, it just won't happen, and I seriously doubt most Ford dealers are capable of making that happen. It's nice to dream though.

Driving From The Desk

 Who says you're tied to your desk at work. Mine has it's own instrument cluster now!

More Truth In Advertising

 If you're going to offer something crappy on eBay, it's good to have a sense of humor.


Caveat Emptor

 Sadly, it seems, it will always be buyer beware in the automotive repair world. Yesterday I tool the Corolla to see what was needed to get the exhaust repaired. She needs a new downpipe and muffler, nothing special, and something that shouldn't be too expensive.

 The tech didn't speak much english, but he showed what needed to be replaced. He tried to get the boss to take a look at what needed to be replaced, but he ignored him as he checked to see if he had some parts in stock. I found out s0on just what he was looking for. He went into his office and typed up my work order. The grand total was $626.02!

 This was, of course, because he thought I was stupid enough to take him at his word. You see, I didn't have a catalytic converter, and that was a required part. That was the part he was checking for, since it is the most expensive piece of the exhaust system. Instead of just a down pipe and muffler, I was supposed to believe I needed everything from the downpipe back replaced.

 Thinking about it now, exhaust systems are probably the perfect way to test the integrity of whomever you are contemplating servicing your vehicle. Get yourself a screwdriver and flashlight. If something's rusted through, it needs to be replaced. If it looks suspect, tap it with the screw driver. If you create a hole, that needs replaced too. Then go see your mechanic and see what he thinks needs fixing. You might be suprised.

Karma's A Bitch

 Last year my best friend Bobby was purchasing a 1987 BMW 3-series coupe in excellent condition. The lady that was selling it lives in the same apartment complex, and wanted $700.00, and in two weeks Bobby would have had the money. She agreed to let Bobby buy the car, and went ahead and let him drive it while he came up with the dough. That lasted a week.

 In that week Bobby fully deytailed that BMW, and replaced the power window switches that had gone bad. The car looked brand new. Bobby had poured his heart and soul into that beemer, and it showed, which turned out to be a bad thing. The owner noticed how much better the car looked, and decided to sell it to someone else. She came over and took the keys, and sold it the next day. Bobby was crushed. We're not sure how much she got for it, but it was enough for her to buy a later model 3-series for $3,000.

 Skip ahead to now, and she's got a for sale sign up in her BMW, $3,200 firm. The reason it's for sale is that there's a problem with the engine, and no one's been able to correct it. So, now she wants more than she paid for a car that has a known problem that will prpbably cost a bundle to get fixed. We've let the people in the apartments around us know there's a problem with that beemer, and just how much she originally paid for it. As a public service, mind you.

Luck O' The Irish

 Tuesday I went to secure a duplicate title for my Kawasaki Zephyr. After eleven years the original title had gone missing, hence the replacement. Normally you go in, they take your Drivers License and VIN, and five dollars and five seconds later you have a crisp new title. Problem was I hadn't registered the bike since '96, when she stopped running. Apparently they had just received instructions that titles not in the computer would have to be retrieved by another department, and then mailed out, a process taking two weeks. She looked at my license and asked if I had come all the way from Columbia (45 minutes south of Nashville).

 I hadn't, but since the address on license hasn't been updated with my new one, I said I had. She got on the phone to her supervisor, talked for a minute, ended the conversation with "So you never told me about the new memo until I'm done with this title.", and told me she would be right back. After all these years, being friendly to the people at the DMV had finally paid off! The DMV was doing a favor for me.

 She came back in about ten minutes with a photocopy of my registration form from '94, when I first registered the bike in Tennessee, a big grin on her face. She pointed to the signature at the bottom. Eight years ago she worked at another office, and was the one who processed my title transfer from Ohio!

 When I moved here, I had just made the final payment on my bike loan, so my new Tennessee title was the first one that had me as the owner and not Phoenix National Bank. It's fitting that she was there when the bike truly becam mine, and now that I was selling the bike, she was there at the end.

Corolla Report

 My new Corolla is, by no means, perfect. It needs exhaust work, something I knew beforehand, but there's a few details the previous owner left out. The car has been repainted, and while decent, it's not great. Apparently instead of sanding down the old paint, it was just painted over. There is no radio, like the eBay ad said, but it didn't mention that they had to break the plastic bezel around the radio. The cupholder, cigarette lighter and ashtray, and storage bin have all been removed, and while I have the parts, the bezel itself will have to be replaced. "It has a crack in the dash" somehow equates to four cracks in the dash, so I'll be investing in a dash cover soon.

 That's all the bad stuff, but I think her good points outweigh the bad points. She's a Toyota, for one, so dependability shouldn't be aproblem. She drives nice, handles well, and looks good doing it. With a little time, effort, and money, she should be just about perfect!

Now What?

 Now that I own a Toyota Corolla, am I required to start calling it an AE92? How about Trueno, or Levin. Gosh, I don't want people to think I'm not cool, I better start using the Japanese terminology!

 Nah, I think I'll call it just what it is, a Toyota Corolla SR5.

Truth In Advertising

Link Of The Day

 Acura came onto the U.S. car scene in 1986, warming the hearts of enthusiasts everywhere with the wonderous Civic-based Integra. Celebrate the first generation of Integras at First Integration.

The Calling

 She sits silently, waiting. The wind gently caresses her body, but it carries with it a chill. Change is coming, whispers the breeze, and so she prepares. Without a sound she reaches out, feeling for the one who will be next. She knows not his name, nor even what he looks like, but relentlessly she searches. She will find him.

 He feels the call, first as a tingle, a tickle in the ribs. The feeling is subtle, barely noticeable over everyday emotions, yet unmistakable. He's felt it before, but until recently was not able to recognize what it truly was. The pieces came together like some mystical jigsaw puzzle, and he could feel her looking for him. She was calling, and he had to answer.

 Carefully she guided him, revealing the path bit by bit. The process was deliberate, seemingly at a snail's pace, yet inexorable. It took seven days before he saw her, an ensemble of ones and zeroes, a digital representation of her physical form. Seven more days would pass before he was confident she was the one, her voice becoming more distinct with each passing day.

  Fifteen years she had waited, watched, wondered where her path would lead. Now she knew. And she smiled.

 For the last two weeks I have know that a car was coming my way, and tonight it happened. A 1989 Toyota Corolla SR5, and she's mine. Sleek, sexy, a vision in black. I can't wait to pick her up!

Link Of The Day

 Known more for their beautiful sedans, Audi also imported a coupe, the car that started the Quattro legend.

Link Of The Day

 Like the music in Mitsubishi's commercials but don't know who makes the song? Mitsubishi's got you covered.

Link Of The Day

 It may be the end of the line for Oldsmobile, but the marque still lives on through the internet.

The Japanese Decade

 The Seventies was the beginning of the rise of the Japanese automobile manufacturers in the US. The Oil Crisis had caught the Big Three unprepared, whil ethe Japanese were selling exactlt what was needed in the changed market conditions. Performance-wise, things were not so bright. Toyota had it's newly introduced Celica, which was more show then go, but by the end of the decade there was the Mazda RX-7, Toyota Celica Supra, and the fabulous Datsun 280ZX, all harbingers of what the future held.

 The eighties was when the Japanese really started to expand their horizons, and performance took a huge leap forward. It was also the decade that front wheel drive started to dominate drivetrains, which led to the introduction of the MR2, a mid-engined sports car. The specialty coupes like the Celica and Prelude gained more horsepower and better handling, and higher prices. The GT cars like the Supra and 300ZX were approaching Corvette territory by the end of the decade.

 It was the nineties where the Japanese really showed their prowess in sports cars. Nissan kicked it off with the new Z, arguably one of the best GT cars ever made. Mazda and Toyota took the RX-7 and Supra beyond their GT roots into true sports car territory. Honda had the coup de grace though, with it's fabulous NSX, the first Japanes exotic.

 The specialty coupes were reaching the performance levels of the previous decade's GT class, and there was an explosion of different models. Long timers like the Celica, 240SX, and Prelude were joined by the Probe/MX-6, Talon/Eclipse/Laser, and the Subaru XT. Along with the jump in performance level came an increase in price, resulting in a swarm of cheaper coupes. The pack included the Geo Storm/Isuzu Impulse, the Toyota Paseo, Nissan NX/200SX, and the wonderful Mazda MX-3 with a 1.8 liter V6!

 It was also the decade that the roadster made a well deserved return with Mazda's Miata, a sensation when it was introduced. Truly it was the decade of the Japanese sports car.

 Now we're in the 2K's, and it's rather boring on the performance front. Sedans are the new performance vehicles, while coupes have faded. Nissan has dropped the 200SX, 240SX, and there is no longer a 2-Door Sentra. Mazda no longer makes the MX-6 or MX-3. Toyota still has the Celica, but the Paseo and Supra are history. Mitsubishi's 3000GT went the way of the dinosaurs, and Subaru and Suzuki don't even make any coupes.

 Yes, the Lancer and the WRX are impressive performance vehicles for the price, but they're still sedans. A sports car comes with only two doors, not four. At least Scion is bringing out the tC, but I fear that coupes are an endangered species in the automotive market. Young people are leaning more towards SUV's instead of sports cars as automotive expressions, but when the SUV bubble finally bursts (seen gas prices lately?), will the sports car make a comeback? I can only hope. I miss the nineties.

Link Of The Day

 Most people haven't even heard of this car. It has terrible reliability, is almost impossible to get parts for, and has strange styling, but I would own one. It's Renault's Fuego. You can also read some history on

Link Of The Day

 Today we look at an enthusiast's website. Welcome to Dan McBoost's Online Garage.


 Since I had the day off, I decided to redo the layout. It'll do for now, but there has been a major change! NO MORE ADS!!! This site is now ad-free!

Link Of The Day

 The assault of the US Microcars continues, this time Ford's spunky little Festiva gets the spotlight.

Link Of The Day

 It's a small car, often with only 3 cylinders for the powerplant, but I think they're cool. It's a page dedicated to the Geo Metro.

Whodda Thunk It?

 I just won some items off eBay, specifically some older Toyota keychains. Nothing really special, just something I'm going to use to make a nice little Toyota artwork. There was one each for a Tercel, Corolla, Celica, Supra, and a Cressida. The bidding started at the same price for each, but guess which one I had to have the highest bid to win? The Supra? Nope. The Cressida? No again.

 It was the damn Tercel keychain!! Somebody really wanted it, but I'll be damned if I was gonna lose one of the set!

Wagons Ho!

 I really like Autoguy, and I definitely recommend you check out the site. That said, I find that I often don't agree with his view of the auto industry. This is a good thing, as it means I get exposed to a different point of view. I'm not an automotive guru, and my views on the industry are influenced by my life experiences and where I live. The same is true for Autoguy, and I think that is one of the main reasons I find our views are disparate. Here am I, in Nashville, Tennessee, a land of trucks and SUV's, while autoguy is in LA.

 As someone who lives in LA, and knows the Hollywood/freeway mentality that goes on here, it's important that the word gets out on what is cool in the auto industry, and what isn't. LA leads in fads, and what cars we Angelenos drive, are the cars that eventually all of America will drive, and whatever car company doesn't sell well here, there's a good chance they won't sell well in the future.

 I happen to believe that LA is not the center of the automotive world. It's very influential, yes, but a car that is not successful there does not mean it will be unsuccessful in the rest of the country. Fads come and go, and the internet has greatly changed the way they spread and develop. LA also has adifferent climate than a lot of the country, and winter has a huge affect on many automotive purchases. I used to live in Cleveland, Ohio, and I can tell you that how a car handles in the snow makes a major impact on which vehicle you buy if you live in the north.

 All of this leads up to Autoguy's latest post, discussing the upcoming Chevy Nomad. Autoguy thinks it's a mistake, while I think it's a smart move. Chrysler has been very successful with the PT Cruiser, and the Nomad is a logical choice to compete n that market. The wagon market has been in decline for over a decade now, with the rising popularity of SUV's, and that's exactly why I think the Nomad makes sense. These are not your father's wagon, as it were.

 Autoguy says the Pontiac Vibe and Toyota Matrix have been a failure, but I see more of them every day. Yes, they're wagons, but they don't have the old wagon image. They look like hybrid wagon-SUV's, and that's why they sell. Instead of being simply a Corolla wagon, Toyota has wisely given them they're own style. The Mazda Protege S wagon is another of these vehicles I see more of everyay, and the Mada 3 wagon continues this trend. The same will be true for the Nomad, but it will need a four-door version if GM wants it to be a commercial success. The poeple buying these wagons are the young and young at heart, who want the utility of an SUV but not the handling of a truck.

 We won't really know which one of us is correct for a while. The Nomad won't reach showrooms until 2007.

Wankel's Turning In His Grave

 This is just so wrong. Putting a Chevy V8 into an RX-7.

Link Of The Day

 Perhaphs the weirdest styling exercise ever, we proudly present, a tribute to Subaru's wonder-wedge!

Segway Into The Junkyard

 Shock and awe!! The Segway is doing terrible. You know that thing, the two wheel scooter that uses gyros to saty balanced while you ride it. It was supposed to change the world, revolutionize city transportation , and make the world a better place to live. Apparently 6,000 units have left a factory that can produce 40,000 a month. I'm shocked!

 When will people learn that you're just not going to replace cars with something that is less practical? If it can't do what a car does, and do it better, people will ignore it. Cars are a necessity, and all the feel-good planning that enviromentalists say will eliminate the need for automobiles won't change that.

 It doesn't matter how close you live to work, people are not going to ride down the street in the middle of winter on something that doesn't have a sealed cockpit!

Everything's Super

 Doing some research on the internet a few days ago led to a website that had a gallery of Toyota Supra's, the mark II models. There I found a picture that was damn close to my Supra.

 A flood of emotions came to me when I saw that photo. That was the best car I've owned, bar none, and there's not another vehicle I'd rather own, even a Toyoa MR2. The attachment I feel for that vehicle still lingers on, nine years after I sold her.

 Damn I want my Supra back!

Coolest Aquarium Ever!

 Oh yeah, I gotta get me one of these!

 A tank made out of a Mazda rotary! Hell yeah!

Roomba Zoom

 Your new Roomba robotic vacuum cleaner is not complete until you put a Nos sticker on it!


 I've always seen the Honda S2000 as a response to the Miata, and thought the styling was OK. But, I've never actually stood next to one, only seen them from afar. It's not until you stand right by one that the design really catches your eye. It's sleek and catlike, and blows the Miata's curves out of the water. The car has "presence", a style that envokes an emotional response, something not many cars do.

 I like the Miata. It's cute, and has a singular mission in life, but it's not a very manly style. The S200, on the other hand, oozes masculinity. It looks more like a wild animal, something that takes you along for the ride instead of you having to lead.

 That's the kind of car a sports car should be. Good job Honda! I never thought you had it in you.


 I've found a new blog that focuses on the automotive world, Autoguy, and it's nice to see a site like this. Ride could be considered similar, but there's fundamental differences between the two blogs, and that's a good thing. Autoguy's latest post is about rhythym, or what the Japanese auto industry calls the 2-4-6-8 plan.

 What this translates to is that every two years, you make some kind of change to a model. Year 2 is a mild style refresh, year 4 is a major style change, year 6 another mild restyle, then year 8 you bring out a new platform. The Japanese have used this model very successfully, keeping their cars looking up to date and fresh, while the Big Three tend to postpone updates to their models as long as possible, because the 2-4-6-8 plan is very expensive.

 There's another effect tp the domestic brands that autoguy alluded to, and I'd like to expound upon it. Honda has the Accord, Toyota has the Camry, but what is Chevrolet's bread-and-butter sedan? Right now it's the Malibu, which used to be the Lumina, and before that it was the Celebrity. Why three names in the same period that Honda and Toyota have only needed one? Image. The Celebrity was competent but uninspiring, as was the Lumina, and in an attempt to avoid the stigma of the previous model from affecting the next model, Chevy changes the name.

 That may work well on a household cleaner, but it gives no continuity to the brand at all. The Accord and Camry are nearly legendary names in the marketplace, representing style, value, and quality that has been built up over several years. If Chevrolet really wants to compete against these cars, then they need to spend the time and money to build a really good sedan, wgive it a name, and keep that name, and commit to a 2-4-6-8 plan.

 All this is great, but I've learned to expect very little from GM. A company that large is not very nimble in the marketplace, and trying to radically change the way it operates is like trying to fight against an undertow with your arms tied behind your back. This is the company that is killing Saturn right before our eyes, after all.

Mini Fun

Take the MINI Driver psychological exam.

Digital Dreams

 Ever wanted to see what Polyphony Digital's (the creators of Gran Turismo) studio looks like? Take a tour!

Top 10 Top Down

 If you've got a convertible, Mazda has some destinations for you. Here's Mazda'a Top 10 Top Down driving destinations. I need a convertible!

Toyota News

 Toyota has released some pics of it's upcoming vehicles recently, one a production vehicle, and the other a concept that gives a peek at the new full-size truck. Take a look.

 That's the Toyota FTX, a concept truck that gives the styling direction for the next Tundra. Looks pretty good to me, aggressive, distinctive, and tough enough to go toe-to-toe with Dodge, Ford, and Nissan. The Domestic boys better watch their back, with the Titan and a new Tundra on the way, the Japanese are finally competing in the final automotive frontier.

 This is Scion's new tC coupe. Finally, a car that should really appeal to younger buyers, unlike the xA and xB. No word on price yet, and the styling is, well, somewhat bland, but at least when Scion launches nationwide in June there will be a coupe in the line up. If the price is right I will have to seriously consider purchasing one.

Deeper Meaning

 HondaKid's blog has a post about someone thinking there's no deeper meaning in cars. I have a perfect example of one, and it's a certain styling element on my Ford Probe. You look at the hood, and there's two bulges, where the shock towers are. Without the bulges, the towers would protrude above the hood. It's a blemish on an otherwise sleek design, and there's a story behind it.

 It's a story about the conflict between design, engineering, and cost control. Design wanted the sleek hood, cost control wanted off-the shelf shock parts, which meant engineering couldn't design shorter components to clear the hood. A compromise was achieved, and engineering had to design the bulges, instead of more compact shocks.

 Those bulges are a snapshot of the way life often works out, the things you have to do to achieve your goals, even though it may not turn out the way you hoped. Looking at my life, I can see plenty of "bulges" during my life. If it was good enoogh for Ford, I guess it can be good enough for me.

Old School

 You just gotta see this! A Mazda RX-8 Transformer!

Source: The Presurfer

Pieces Parts

 It all started with Ford and their "New Edge" styling. Sharp creases, bold angles, and straight lines are the concepts in car design, but it's going too far. The Honda Element typifies the new look, but there seems to be a subset, what I call "Lego styled" cars. The Saturn Ion is the worst offender I've seen so far.

 Instead of the car looking like a piece of sculpture, it looks more like something created with Lego's. Is there any reason for the bodywork around the windows to be made of so many pieces that don't flow together? You can't look at the car and see one entire shape, your eye is drawn towards each individual part, and nothing meshes together to create something that is greater than the sum of the parts. It gets even worse from a rear-view.

 Each piece can be interesting in itself, there's no crime in that, but when that's all you see, a mishmash of seperate items instead of a whole car, something has gone horribly wrong. Your eyes should flow over the lines of a car, drawn from the front to the rear in an easy sweep. Someone at GM's design center needs to take a lesson from Mazda. The 626 is a perfect example of a car that looks more like it was hewn from a solid block of steel, instead of individual pieces bolted together.

 That is how cars should be styled. Graceful, sleek, and beautiful.
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