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Great(ish) Commercials – Let The Race Begin

 

Acura Let the Race Begin black horse1

It’s been a while since Car Lust did a proper commercial break-down. I wanted to give it a try. Now, there are many great car commercials out there, plenty for me to choose from, but when the following commercial aired this year, I knew I had to use it for reasons that will become obvious as we break it down. Before we begin, place yourself on your living room. You’ve never seen this commercial before. Could be about anything. Ready? Now, the commercial:

Continue reading "Great(ish) Commercials – Let The Race Begin" »

August 18 Weekly Open Thread: Photographs and Memories

A slightly different Open Thread this week. Feel free to discuss anything else auto-related

Two happenstance events came together to make me post the photo to the right. I'm not entirely sure of the date of this, but probably from the later 1960s. It’s from one of many family summer trips to Alabama that we took to visit my dad’s folks when we were growing up. He hailed from deepest darkest Alabama, married my mom while both were in the Air Force stationed in England, and they eventually Catalinasettled in Wisconsin near where she grew up.

I'm also not sure what car that is but it looks like it would have been the Pontiac Catalina. The location is no doubt somewhere between Wisconsin and Empire, Alabama, probably in July or August which is when we went down there. We’d make the trip in one day, usually starting out about 4 a.m. and getting to "grandpaw’s" house early in the evening. It was a looooong day of driving in a hot car with just the stock car radio and whatever other junk we brought along for entertainment.

Anyway, some time ago I was trying to figure out the ftp function on my (new to me) Mac, and came across a set of old photos I’d scanned some time ago. The negatives were sitting in mom’s attic and I brought them back, scanned them in, and mailed them back. I noticed this one in particular because of an old Car Lust post. What a nice piece by one Steven Manseau:

Certain cars remind one of certain periods in our lives, just as certain songs and certain smells can transport us back to simpler times. I didn’t own this car, but the memories from when I was 10 years old will last a lifetime.
. . .
The snapshot-in-time came on a summer afternoon in 1968, upon leaving Hampton Beach sunburnt and sandy (sunblock? what’s that stuff?). Mom stopped at Brown’s Clam Shack to satiate her hungry brood. Afterward, we all piled in (no seat-belts required), fought for our choice seats, and Mom got on the then-new Interstate 495. Back then, few people were on those new roads (my father-in-law later explained it this way–his contemporaries took awhile to realize where these new roads went, and how much time they would save).

Read the whole thing.

Continue reading "August 18 Weekly Open Thread: Photographs and Memories" »

2014 Acura ILX Hybrid: The Hybrid That Wasn't

The ILX Hybrid has all the ingredients of a great car: it's an Acura, and Acuras are generally great. It's Acura's shot at a hybrid, which you'd think at the very least would be interesting. And it's compact and maneuverable, making it ideal for city driving. So, how badly then could Acura, of all brands, bungle up a cute, compact, luxy little jewel box of a hybrid? As its short life has played out, the ILX Hybrid is a cautionary tale, a maudlin portrait of opportunity missed. Want to know why Acura is canceling its production for the 2015 model year? Let's find out...

DSC_0662

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Carspotters' Challenge #115--That's All Volks!

We close out the week with a dealer postcard from Willis VW in Burlington, New Jersey.

The Muzak system is playing Volks music.--Cookie the Dog's Owner

(Photos obtained from the Station Wagon Forum collection, contributed by member "GTW.")

Theme Week: New Cars Week--A Tale of Two Cars

Regular readers may know that I recently purchased a new vehicle, primarily for fieldwork: a 2014 Subaru Forester. Thus far it's* performed its job quite admirably, and I'm really pleased with it overall. Readers may also be aware that for the 24 years preceding that purchase, my daily driver was a 1978 Mustang II. As this is New Car Week here at Car Lust, I thought I'd take the opportunity to offer a little BothCarscomparison as to the driving experience of the two. I do this because probably not that many of you have been regular drivers of anything made in the 1980s, let alone the 1970s, and probably few have done so recently (and many of you young'uns, not at all). 

To start off with, at the right there are two photographs of the driver's side dashboard of each; I'm assuming you can tell which is which. When first stepping behind the wheel of the Forester I was immediately struck by the wide array of controls and bits of information display devices that were present compared with my Mustang. I haven't actually counted them up yet, but thought that might be part of the fun of this post: how many functions can you count on each, just from the photographs? 

Hidden behind the wheel on the Mustang's left are the climate controls (one heat slider control and one controlling the various fans, heat/vent, etc.) and on the right is a knob for the side mirror, the "cigarette lighter", and a modern radio/CD player with a USB input. The left turn signal stalk also has a cruise control attachment on it.

On the Forester I don't believe anything is hidden, although there are probably a dozen or so additional indicator lights on the dashboard that can light up. 

So have at it! You'll undoubtedly fall far short on the Forester since the screen has dozens and dozens of entries, most of which I haven't even seen yet. I'm betting the ratio probably at least 10:1. 

Continue reading "Theme Week: New Cars Week--A Tale of Two Cars" »

Theme Week: New Cars Week--2013 / 2014 Honda CBR600RR (Race Replica)

600RR frontI've mentioned here before that this bike is a motorcycle masterpiece.

And to quote Honda, "And for 2013 the best just got a whole lot better. We’ve given the CBR600RR some major updates, including new 12-spoke wheels, revised ECU settings, and a fine-tuned ram-air system to increase torque. Best of all, the CBR600RR gets a new “Big Piston” fork and retuned rear shock.

And it’s all wrapped up in some sharp new bodywork. There’s even a version with Honda’s revolutionary Electronic Combined Anti-Lock Braking System (C-ABS), the first ever on a production Supersport motorcycle."

All of this is carried over for 2014, of course. And since there's absolutely no difference between a 2013 and a 2014 model, we'll just call them the same, if that's OK.

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Theme Week: New Cars Week--The 2014 Hyundai Santa Fe Limited AWD: An SUV That Takes Care of You

The midsize-SUV segment is admittedly not easy to get excited about. While it's not quite minivan territory, it does tend to conjure the soul-killing daily commute, the banality of family life, and a kind of yawning beige practicality that prompts fantasies of selling all your earthly possessions, getting a ratty motorbike, and moving to Ecuador. Right? But then there's this: at some point, circumstances might dictate that you have to own such a vehicle. Maybe you made some choices, and now you need that cargo space and that versatility, wrapped in a hassle-free vehicle that you just submit a payment for each month in exchange for not having to think about it too much. And if that's the case, really, if you're going to spend half your life in the thing, you might as well go the whole hog: have it be a floating fortress of plush and convenience. Wait'll you what $40K worth of Korean luxury SUV looks like: you might find it tempting.

DSC_0106

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August 4th Weekly Open Thread-- "Theme Week: New Cars Week"

New Car SmellThey say nothing smells as good as a new car. And that is kind of hard to argue with. Just ask these two olfactory experts.

This is the time of year when the dealers are "giving away" the 2014 models to "make room" for the 2015s. From "$1,000's Off!" to "Zero Down, Zero % !!!," the dealers will be working overtime to "Get you into this beauty!" with whatever it takes.

So this week, we're going to feature some new cars. Or maybe I should say new vehicles. At least one of these posts isn't about a car.

And as always, this is the place to discuss anything even remotely automotively related. "Anything!"

--That Car Guy (Chuck)

Image Credit: The picture here was found at CHZBGR.com.

Carspotters' Challenge #114--Down in the Mall

A mall parking lot in 1982, filled with Car Lust favorites. See anything you'd like to put on your credit card?

Mall 1982 (SWF GTW)

--Cookie the Dog's Owner

(Photo obtained from the Station Wagon Forum collection, contributed by member "GTW.")

The Forgotten Mustang

As of this year, the Ford Mustang, the prototype, archetype, and trope maker of the "pony car," has been in production for half a century. In all the discussion of the Mustang's golden anniversary, and its unquestionably important place in the history of the American automobile, I've seeen very little about the other Mustang, the Mustang that came before the Mustangs that we all know and love.

Ford publicity photo, 1962The "Mustang I" concept car of 1962.

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2014 Mustangs Northwest Car Show

Last weekend I put my Mustang II in the Mustangs Northwest 2014 Mustang Roundup and All Ford Picnic. This is the first one I've been to in a couple of years so, following tradition, I've collected a few photographs of some of the more interesting cars I saw that day. Yeah, there is the usual assortment of perfectly restored classic Mustangs, but I've tried to highlight the unusual cars that showed up, both Mustangs and assorted other Fords.  AllCars

Interestingly, the last year I was at the show -- 2011 -- it was rainy and again this year it was fairly gray and drizzly as well. This is odd for Seattle, which is usually very dry in July. But a good time was had by (almost) all. I'm just going to throw out a few photos for your enjoyment with what I know about the cars. Often the owners weren't present for me to quiz on their cars, so I've pieced together what I can from what was there and what other information I could find out on the Interwebs. 

On with the (car) show!

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July 28 Weekly Open Thread--It's a(n Urban) Jungle Out There

"Welcome to the jungle, it gets worse here everyday/Learn to live like an animal in the jungle where we play...."That driverless car revolution we were talking about at last week's picnic might not come as fast as some people have been predicting. MIT Technology Review reports that Google has its hands full getting its new-model autonomous cars to safely navigate the "urban jungle":

Academic experts at the conference say Google is taking on some of the hardest problems in artificial intelligence and robotics, essentially trying to replicate the ability of humans to effortlessly make sense of their environment. That’s because driving safely relies on much more than just knowing to avoid big objects, such as people or other cars, or being able to recognize symbols such as a stop sign. Humans make use of myriad “social cues” while on the road, such as establishing eye contact or making inferences about how a driver will behave based on the car’s make and model . . . . Even if a computer system can recognize something, understanding the context that gives it meaning is much more difficult . . . .

John Leonard, an MIT expert in autonomous driving who attended the conference, says that he and other academics find themselves constantly battling the assumption that all of the technology challenges associated with robotic cars have been solved, with only regulatory and legal issues remaining. “It’s hard to convey to the public how hard this is,” he says. Leonard stands by a comment that earned him some online criticism in an MIT Technology Review story last year, when he predicted that he wouldn’t see a self-driving Manhattan taxi in his lifetime , , , ,

It may take decades to "teach" computers all the things you need to know to drive safely in a complex environment. What I expect we will see more of in the short term is automated driver-assistance systems such as adaptive cruise control, lane-change warning and collision avoidance, and maybe even semi-automatic "platooning" for highway driving.  When we do get fully-robotic road vehicles in general service, I would expect the first to be long-haul robo-trucks that operate on the Interstates only.

This is the place to talk about robot cars, or any other car topic.

--Cookie the Dog's Owner

(The illustration is a Google Cars project promotional image.)

RIP James Garner

The world lost a fine gentleman and actor this past week. We here at Car Lust express our thanks to Mr. Garner for gracing us with his craft all these years and our regrets at his passing. To help celebrate his life in our own somewhat peculiar way, we're linking to an old post of mine about the car(s) of The Rockford Files. Garner had some input into the choice of automobile for the show and did most if not all of the stunt driving himself; he was that good. And he earned kudos from the real drivers on the set of Grand Prix for learning the craft of Formula 1 racing to a high level. And if that weren't enough, by all accounts Garner was just a damned decent fellow. 

Rest in peace, Mr. Garner. And thank you.

1970-1981 Pontiac Firebird Esprit

by Anthony Cagle on February 08, 2011

You may not ever have heard of this car, but many of you over a certain age probably already know of it. The Firebird, arguably, rarely gets quite the attention that the Chevrolet division's sister car, the EspritCamaro, does but it has a nice lineage and it produced quite a few memorable cars--even though a lot of them appear here at Car Lust rather than in the big muscle car magazines and web sites.

I always preferred the Firebird to the Camaro myself, for whatever reason, and the second generation has always been my favorite, especially the later '70s. Again, for whatever reason, the first generation'sstyling never quite did it for me; it just looks to me like something that was thrown together quickly to get something into the pony car market (this is all apart from the performance which was generally stellar). The second generation's styling just seems to have been well thought out with clean lines, good proportions all around, and manages to seem elegant, powerful, and sporty all at the same time. They look good from any angle. Although I adore my Mustang II the Firebirds from that time remain my absolute favorite car.

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July 21 Weekly Open Thread--Who's Driving?

It's too nice a day to stay inside, so we're going on a picnic. Come tag along and join the conversation.

Looks yummy!Saw an article last week that I wanted to pass along to you: "17 Ways Driverless Cars Could Change America" by Dan McLaughlin in The Federalist. He writes:

Projections of the future are always uncertain, and small variations in what is technologically possible can have large impacts on what happens socially. But we know this much: in a world of driverless cars, a lot will change with the disappearance of drivers, for good and for ill. The possibilities and the risks are only beginning to dawn on us.

 The author's list of possible changes is:

1. Fewer Car Accidents
2. Revolutionizing Car Design
3. Changing The Layout of Roads and Traffic Patterns
4. Changing Who Can Drive
5: Altering the Legal and Insurance Landscape
6. Lowering The Drinking Age
7. Destroying Car Culture
8. Degrading Military Preparedness
9. Extending Telecommuting
10. Eviscerating Drive-Time Radio Ratings
11. Destroying Taxi and Driving Jobs
12. Eroding Privacy
13. Revolutionizing Law Enforcement
14. Reducing Car Theft
15. Fewer Used Cars, More Inequality
16. Increasing Vulnerability to Terrorism and Natural Disasters
17. Flying Cars?

He makes a plausible case for all of them--well, the first sixteen, anyway. I don't know about you, but I'm not really liking #7.

--Cookie the Dog's Owner

Illustration obtained from Desktop Nexus.

1963 Volkswagen Dunebuggy

Sometimes life gets in the way of having fun.  This is true when it comes to having fun with our cars.  Cars should be more than just tools in our lives.  Many (all?) of us dream of having a great car to have fun in, but for some of us it takes a while to reach the place where that can happen.  For others that "while" is 36 years.

2012-07-15 12.47.54

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Great Commercials--Mel Tormé for Oldsmobile

General Motors got a lot of mileage out of "In My Merry Oldsmobile," the first popular song with an automotive theme, to advertise Oldsmobiles.  For a period of time in the early 1950s, the Olds ad campaign featured "Johnny" and "Lucille," the characters from the song, singing the virtues of the "Rocket" V-8, "Hydramatic" transmission, and "Futuramic" sheetmetal.

Here they are in a 1953 installment, in which Johnny is rather abruptly upstaged by jazz singer Mel Tormé.

Though clearly flummoxed that his gal Lucille has dumped him for the velvet-voiced interloper--What's he got that I ain't got? Besides the great singing voice and the mansion and the multimillion-dollar recording contract, I mean.--but he's enough of a professional to finish the sales pitch.

--Cookie the Dog's Owner

Willys Jeep Wagon

Submitted for your consideration, a charming example of a Willys Jeep Station Wagon, the first all-steel wagon and the mother of all SUVs.

Willys Jeep Wagon 4

This particular Willys was spotted and photographed on the streets of Rocky Ford, Colorado, this past Fourth of July, by my friend Norman Kincaide.

Willys Jeep Wagon 6

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July 7 Weekly Open Thread

It's the height of summertime, so we've closed the Car Lust Garage early and loaded up the lemonade and sandwiches and gone on a picnic.

A perfect day to open the sunroof....Come join us at the park for potato salad and friendly conversation.

(Photo from the SDC Forum, contributed by user "62champ.")

VW Rabbit Pickup: 1980-1983

This is what I wrote some time ago about the Chevrolet El Camino:

Ladies, you may stop reading right now. Avert your eyes, if you must, because this post is about men. Real men. Manly men. Who do manly things in manly ways, that only manly men can do them. Men who mow their own lawns, fix a leaky faucet, and change their own oil. Men who brew up a pot of battery acid every morning. Men who use after-shave, not "post-shave skin conditioner with aloe, seaweed extract and Vitamin E with a subtle scent of coriander." Men who wouldn't touch a quiche with a 10-foot fork. Men who only drink whiskeys that are named after animals or people. Men who only cry when their father or best hunting dogs die. Men who frankly, my dear, don't give a damn. Men who know every manly cliche from the last 30 years and aren't afraid to use them.

These men drive a particular type of car. A car that drips testosterone like a leaky gasket. A car that says, "I know what I need, and this is it." These type of men know that they'll never drive the length and breadth of the Kalahari, but they will sure as hell be hauling 4-by-8s home from the lumberyard (note: not the "home improvement store"). Men who don't need fine Corinthian leather or a station wagon dressed up as an Urban Assault Vehicle. No, this is the Steve McQueen of cars: no entourage, no workout video, and no froufrou drinks with umbrellas in them.

This...

"That's no ordinary Rabbit."...is not that kind of car. 

Continue reading "VW Rabbit Pickup: 1980-1983" »

June 30 Weekly Open Thread

It's that top-down time of year.

Night Convertible (SWF Jim 68cuda)

Here's the place to discuss your favorite summer driving topic.

(Photo from the Station Wagon Forum, contributed by forum member "Jim68Cuda.")

Pictured above: This is a forlorn Chevy Vega photographed by reader Gary Sinar. (Share yours)

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