Maybe you can find ‘em.
Maybe you can find ‘em.
Thank You so much, dear readers! Your contributions and input when this post was suggested a while back were well received and appreciated. But we had a couple more blanks to fill, so I've injected my own supplemental nominees for this dubious honor. There aren't really any winners here, except for maybe some great deals on a used car lot if you can find one of these veehickles in superb condition. If.
So now, without any further fuss and in no particular order, here are your (And our) suggestions for
The NEXT Top 10 Worst Cars Of All Time:
Ford Windstar. Ya know 'em, Ya love 'em, Ya can't live without 'em. Well, OK, we can. And we do. Plagued with corrosion and durability issues throughout its production life, the resale value on these is, well... ▼.
Fake engine noise has become one of the auto industry’s dirty little secrets, with automakers from BMW to Volkswagen turning to a sound-boosting bag of tricks. Without them, today’s more fuel-efficient engines would sound far quieter and, automakers worry, seemingly less powerful, potentially pushing buyers away.
Softer-sounding engines are actually a positive symbol of just how far engines and gas economy have progressed. But automakers say they resort to artifice because they understand a key car-buyer paradox: Drivers want all the force and fuel savings of a newer, better engine — but the classic sound of an old gas-guzzler.
Read, as they say, the whole thing.
In your humble correspondent's opinion, when Ford decided to tune the exhaust and pipe in some of the noise to the cabin to give more of that muscle car feel, I was a bit wary, but eventually (mostly) okay with it. It was the actual noise, just redirected a bit. Meh. Whatever.
And putting some sort of noisemaker on super-quiet electrics and hybrids just makes sense; it really is a safety issue.
But a completely digital noise solely for the purpose of driver enhancement? No. Stop it. Stop. It. That's even worse than a fart can on an untuned Honda Civic.
Feel free to vent and agree with me on this one. And anything else.
Being that Truck Lust theme had more to give than expected, it made sense that the Carspotters’ Challenge was to be truck-related. I could’ve just looked up a truck-heavy picture, but a scene used on an Internet music video that I saw a couple of years ago came back to me: the final chase scene from 1978’s cult classic The Driver. In it, we find two drivers-for-hire and their passengers: one drives a hot-rodded 1976 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am, a great period getaway vehicle. The other? A 1973 Chevrolet C-10 pick-up truck -the type of rig that’s highly thought of and has been written about- driven by the movie’s anti-hero.
There’s no shortage of videos showing that particular chase scene. I could’ve taken any of those over the synth-laden one, but chose not to because a) to avoid spoilers if you haven’t watched it, b) avoid any trouble with the violence scenes that come afterwards and c) this is the video that motivated me to watch The Driver, which is one very cool movie, alright.
In case you were wondering, the song is called Highway Knight, from the artist Kick Puncher. The song and artist are just one of the many contemporary examples that follow the retro sounds of 1980’s synth music.
So as the C-10 chases down the Firebird, what else are they avoiding to hit as they barrel down the streets of late-1970’s L.A.?
Form follows function. That pithy little slogan, coined by architect Louis Henry Sullivan over a century ago, sums up the hard core modernist approach to architecture and industrial design: the shape of a thing should be determined solely by what it is intended to do, with little or no allowance for ornamentation.
Sullivan's buildings were not nearly as austere as the slogan suggests, but other modernists took the concept all the way to its logical extreme. Adolf Loos, one of Sullivan's contemporaries, declared that all ornamentation--any ornamentation--is "immoral" and "degenerate," and when it came time to design buildings, he practiced what he preached. Had he lived to see it--he died in 1933--Herr Loos would certainly have approved of the squarish Studebaker prototype compact pickup truck which is our topic for today.
We'll start this week on another pickup-themed note: the potential return of a smaller pickup in Ford's arsenal. Since the Ranger ceased production (at least in North America) the only non-full-sized pickups have been from GM and brethren, Toyota's Tacoma, and Nissan's Frontier. And even these aren't what anyone would consider "compact" or even in the range of "small" except by comparison. In my Truck Lust post I lamented the increasing size of pickups in general and the extinction of true compact pickups like the Ford Courier. Without looking up the numbers, I'd wager a Tacoma is probably about the same size as a full-size F-150/Silverado/etc. from the 1980s and earlier.
Last fall a number of news outlets ran stories about the potential return of Ford's Ranger to their North American lineup, such as this one from USAToday:
[Ford 's truck marketing manager, Dave] Scott says Ford is aiming for a true small pickup, not a midsize such as General Motors' 2015 Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon, which just went on sale, or Toyota Tacoma.
"We're looking at it. We think we could sell a compact truck that's more like the size of the old Ranger, that gets six or eight more miles per gallon (than a full-size truck), is $5,000 or $6,000 less, and that we could build in the U.S. to avoid the tariff on imported trucks," he says.
That tariff is something we here at Car Lust are familiar with. I haven't seen much since then to indicate Ford's plans. As they say, the Ranger now being sold is still in the range of the other mid-size units, and I suspect they may be correct that such a truck would probably steal sales from the F-150 rather than adding to them. Since they went all-aluminum with the F-150 (a pricey change) they can't really afford any diminution in sales.
So what do you think? Is there still a market for a true, small pickup truck? One that would actually make money? What could they use for a base (e.g., a Focus-based unibody platform) or a rebadged import?
As always, feel free to discuss anything else automotive-related. (Ranger photo is from our old post).
This will be kind of a drive-by (pun intended) post; even I will admit that the Star Chief has little to recommend it, barely making it over the rather low bar we here at Car Lust set for automobiles to be "interesting". In fact, the only generation of this car that I really find "interesting" in a Lust-worthy sense is the fifth generation (1961-1964). As regular readers may know, I have some affection for that whole early '60s field of cars and the Star Chief fits the stylistic bill from that period to a T. Even so, it wasn't a spectacular performer or a great looker or a sales superstar or anything like that.
So, um, why write about it then?
I honestly don't know; I just adore it for some reason. I think maybe it's the name: Star Chief. A Star Chief? A Space Indian? That's what I'd always thought it referred to, but looking back it probably had more to do with a Chief of police or something like that. At any rate, it has that sort of Buck Rogers 1950s vibe to the name, as if you were more likely to hop in and take it on a cruise to Mars than to your local drive-in. A car that a 12-year old boy might climb into and pretend he's on a mission from Star Command, where the cigarette lighter fires the photon torpedoes and the turn signals are laser cannons.
Yeah, that's the ticket. . . .
I’ve been noticing these more often on the streets lately. There are plenty of them on the roads around here. That’s probably because I’ve been checking out trucks. There’s another reason: the Canyon and Colorado are making a comeback, and mid-size truck guys are frothing at the mouth.
I'm going to say it right up front: This may be, in my opinion, the most handsome pickup truck ever:
When I began my foray into the world of pickups, this Dodge was one of the first ones to grab my attention. Not because of its performance or place in history or any of that intellectual stuff. It just looks hot. There's just something so utterly perfect about its design, especially in this sideview, that strikes the right chord of utility, sportiness, proportion and captures the pure essence of its time; so much so that it justifiably ranks up there with a Monet landscape or a Bach contata; it's just that. . .right.
Well, perhaps I exaggerate. But only slightly. In truth, I really do believe that they got the design of this sucker just about perfect. And on their first (more or less) try!
Interesting cars meet irrational emotion.
That's our mission statement, of a sort, and we've hewn fairly close to it. Perhaps a bit too close. We have, I'm afraid, somewhat neglected one of the most popular personal vehicles on the road: the truck. More specifically, the pickup truck. Perhaps no vehicle is more distinctively American than the pickup
truck. Oh sure, they're very popular in other countries as well (some more than others), but there seems to be something in our collective DNA that is attracted to this in some ways simplest of vehicles. As of this writing at the end of 2014 three of the top five best selling vehicles in the U.S. are pickups; the Ford F-150 has been the top selling vehicle in the U.S. for over the last 3+ decades. We love our pickups. We even love our sorta-pickups. What the Jaguar E-Type is, arguably, to Great Britain, the pickup truck is to the United States.
And yet, we here at Car Lust have been somewhat remiss in highlighting these most pedestrian -- and I mean that in a good way -- of vehicles. Out of over a thousand posts we've covered a few true pickups -- some vintage Studes, Ford Ranger, the Subaru BRAT, and the VW Caddy -- and we've also delved into the realm of commercial trucks -- the Divco "Shark Noses" and REO Speedwagons (the trucks, not the band) -- but we've oddly avoided much discussion of perhaps the most common American vehicle on the roads. Obviously there are far more different kinds of cars out there than there are pickup trucks, and one might reasonably argue that a pickup is a pickup is a pickup (except to the enthusiast -- or partisan -- of course) in contrast to the various hatchbacks, coupes, sedans, muscle cars, etc. on the car side of things. We're also not generally a bunch of "pickup guys", in the same way we aren't generally "motorcycle guys" even though we've probably covered those more than trucks.
Well, we aim to remedy that. Over the next few weeks and months we'll be devoting more space to these vehicles. I for one have developed something of a crush on pickups over the last couple of years for reasons that remain largely unknown (really; I don't know why), so much of this will be part of my personal Car Lust evolution and indulgence. Still, we've all got some experience with the humble pickup truck and we hope to bring a bit of fresh material for your Car Lusting pleasure.
You wouldn't be alone if you were to claim not to have much of an opinion about Lexus one way or another. Up until recently, they've been known for solidly reliable but unremarkable alphabet-soup-named luxury vehicles. Cautious and somewhat derivative, Lexus inspired a muted but but dedicated brand loyalty among previous owners, and the only demographic whose true hatred they could claim was an insignificant subset of BMW fanboys. Opinions were had, and sure, there were the SC-series and the early IS's, but across the board, Lexus wasn't a brand that could accurately be said to inspire passion. Things began to change in 2007 with the advent of the IS F, and ramped up substantially with the halo LFA's limited run beginning in 2010. Increasingly over the last decade, Lexus has been on a mission to stake a legitimate claim to the luxury-performance marketplace, and it's got something to prove. Which brings us to the IS350: polarizing looks, impeccable manners, and 306 hp all packed into a car the size of a Corolla. There's a fence, Lexus is saying, and it's time to get on one side of it or the other.
Lately here at Car Lust, we've featured a few new and old commercials, for better or for worse. A Corvette ad of over 30 years ago is probably the best of the best, but now this ad may be the worst of the worst.
Now please don't get me wrong, I love FIATs. It was a pleasure to cover their "FIAT FreakOut" here in Nashville a few years ago, and I even owned an X1/9 for a few hours... which of course is another story.
But personally, I don't like people shouting at me. So every time this commercial comes on, I dash for the Mute button. Madly and instantly. The moment I hear those notes and that voice screaming coursely and repetatively, it has to go. Now.
Here is said ad:
Hopefully their Gran Finale commercial will have its swan song soon as well.
Your thoughts please? And of course, this is the place to vent anything even slightly automotively related. Anything.
--That Car Guy (Chuck)
I've decided to take the reins (pun intended) this year for our annual Christmas With the Car Luststribute to Santa's wheels skids. In past years we've examined the history and various incarnations of Santa's sleigh(s) and other Christmas-related automobiles, but this year I'm just going to toss out a few of my favorite Christmas and/or Santa-themed vehicles. No rhyme or reason involved, just bits and pieces from the Interwebs that may amuse you in between the egg nogs and holidays parties. Enjoy!
Before we begin, I have to clarify that this isn’t really my car in the sense that I own it. Another thing worth mentioning is that I have 3 uncles. To avoid confusion, MR2-driving uncle shall be known as Uncle J, his older brother shall be known as Uncle V and their sister’s husband –and former Chevrolet Astro owner- shall be Uncle D.
An interesting proposition was bestowed upon me earlier in the year (May 2013): my family was to drive Uncle V’s new-ish Toyota 4Runner as part of our daily-drivers, with me being the main driver. This came to be for the following reasons: Grandpa’s former steed, a 2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee Special Edition has been acting up. Not once, but twice I left work in it only to not start, while blocking the same fellow employee in this concrete slab we call parking lot. Thank goodness it had a small descent towards the exit. We got it fixed, but it’s just one of a list of problems that it’s given us. It doesn’t exactly inspire much confidence and its days are numbered.
The second reason was that Uncle J was in Bolivia, at least until mid-July. While over there, we took care of some minor bodywork on his new Ford F-150. Convinced that the truck needed to be used, Uncle V began to use it more as his daily-driver. After the 4Runner got much needed dealership work after serving as my Aunt’s driver while her Toyota Sienna LE was at said dealership, and after I finished ridding the Grand Cherokee of its electrical faults, Uncle V told me to take the 4Runner and park the Grand Cherokee until further notice. While my Mom was the first to let me in on my Uncle’s idea, it came as a surprise that not only did he actually go through with it, but also how soon it was. At least until Uncle J returned in July and order was restored, I have a 4Runner… I kinda like the sound of that.
We’ve talked about Cadillac commercials in the past, though those examples aren’t exactly regarded as automotive advertisement’s crowning achievements. And today is no different. Yes, the ELR commercial had some political undertones attached to it, but it could still be enjoyable. This one struck a nerve the first time I saw it. Even its title rubs me the wrong way. So let’s watch it before it gets taken down.
It may not be on the scale (pun intended) of "Peace on Earth, Good Will Towards Men" but for we here at Car Lust, the following development is truly, awesomely, magnificently welcome. Gone are the days (hopefully) when all you could decorate your mantle with were Lambos, Ferarris, and other assorted supercars. Or even just the souped-up (sorta) versions of some regular cars. Now, we might just have the opportunity to display. . . .our own cars. This story from Autoweek:
If you had given up all hope of finding a scale model of your family truckster from back in the day, NEO Scale Models may be able to help. Models of domestic cars in 1:43 scale had basically been written off by model manufacturers because the U.S. market was never really deemed big enough to support them. Those that were offered tended to be purchased exclusively for decorating model train diaramas (O Gauge is 1:48 scale, by the way), and thus had to meet a very low price point. Thus diecast manufacturers like Minichamps, Norev, Herpa, and others focused their attention on churning out models of European cars, producing twenty different versions of a Porsche 911 race car for every one car that someone might have actually had in their driveway, like a Volkswagen Golf.
Or a Mustang II! VW Caddy! Ford LTD! I've been looking for a Mustang II model kit for a while, but with no success (though never mind eBay). Even if I did find one in the box it would ruin its collectibility (I think) to put it together. So I'm hopeful these things will take off and become viable enough to expand. The design is virtual and, as the article notes, with 3D printing perhaps in the not-too-distant future we'll be able to specify year, color schemes, and options. Even so, once they make a fastback Mustang II, I'll be tempted to just buy whatever they have and paint the mother pink brown.
Lawdy, just go to their web site and start clicking away, but hold on to your credit card. Following the jump are a couple more images for your Lusting pleasure. Also, feel free to discuss anything vaguely auto-related.
If one lived in California circa 1993 and wanted to rent a video, this is the type of scene one would find on the parking lot outside the Blockbuster… if you lived in the parallel universe of the Jack Slater movie franchise.
In reality, the pic is from the movie Last Action Hero, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. The movie deconstructs the action-movie genre that Schwarzenegger himself helped redefine, case in point the parking lot filled with glamorous beauties (and girls, too) as only an over-the-top movie can get away with. The entire movie is full of great cars, but just from these screenshots, how many can you name?
(Sung to the tune that opens "The Andy Griffith Show:")
♫ Well now, take, down, your fishin' pole, and meet me at The Fishin' Hole,
We may, not, get a bite all day, but don't you rush away.
What a great, place, to rest your bones, and mighty fine for skippin' stones,
You'll feel fresh, as, a lemonade, a-settin' in the shade.
Whether it's hot... whether it's cool... oh what a spot... for whistlin' like a fool.
What a fine, day, to take a stroll, and wander by The Fishin' Hole,
I can't think, of, a better way, to pass the time o' day. ♫
The name of that song is "The Fishin' Hole," and those were the words to the whistling theme you heard every time you saw Sheriff Andy Taylor and his son Opie walking toward Myers Lake in Mayberry. Of course Myers Lake didn't exist, so maybe surprisingly, the title openings of the show were shot here.
Just like the music in "The Andy Griffith Show," cars also played an important part. In fact, several of their best episodes were written around them and the people who were driving them. So let's take a gander at a few of these machines... some of them might even surprise you a bit!
The GMC Yukon: it’s massive, it’s luxy, and it comes equipped with all the comforts of home. As the GMC-branded variant of the Chevy Tahoe (with the even more massive Yukon XL corresponding to Chevy’s Suburban), the Yukon is a longstanding and much-loved full-size SUV, now in its 3rd generation, that epitomizes both road-ready hauling muscle and the distinctly American art of hitting the road without even leaving your couch. As a full-frame, truck-based SUV packed with more Lazyboy recliners than cargo space, the 2015 Yukon feels in some ways long-since antiquated, the improbable survivor of a dying species as it lumbers among today’s nimble unibody car-sized SUV crossovers. But at the same time, it manages to feel fresh and sophisticated, a technological marvel. And once you lay eyes on the thing, sink into its sumptuous interior, and mash the gas, it’s not hard to see why.