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.
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