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September 15 Weekly Open Thread: The People's Car?

Over at Top Gear -- that poor stepsister to Car Lust -- James May had a 3-episode series on Cars of the People (which, you know, we've been highlighting FOR YEARS). Largely devoted to automobiles designed 1024px-VolkswagenBeetle-001 for ordinary folks to carry out their daily business in -- like the VW Beetle, Ford Transit VanCitroën 2CV, Ford Mustang, Fiat 124/VAZ-2101, and various other primarily inexpensive automobiles produced for the masses -- it was an exercise ostensibly directed at determining what the ultimate Car of the People was. Not the car everybody wanted, but the car that the majority of people needed and could get along with and, you know, use

What do you think he decided on?

The VW Golf

"Pah!" said I, "That's not it because. . . .well, because it's. . . .I mean, it can't be since the real ultimate People's Car is. . . . .hmmmmm."

And you know, I couldn't really come up with any good reasons. It seats five. Drives well. Has a hatchback so it's practical. Covers a range of budgets, from basic to hot. And over six generations since 1974 it's sold over 30 million copies so they've got to be doing something right.

Right?

Maybe. But for my money, it's the Honda Civic. It comes in sedan, coupe, and hatch versions in a variety of trim and option levels, it's more reliable and cheaper to maintain than the Golf, and has had its own hot hatchback at times. It hasn't sold quite as well though, only reaching about half the number of the Golf in about the same amount of time (sales figures here). So maybe I'm wrong (perish the thought).

Then there's the Toyota Corolla, the best-selling nameplate ever at 40 million and counting. That must count for something.

He mentioned the Model T and I think that, considered across the entire span of automobile history, I would probably go with it over everything else. It was the first car that was really built for the masses and it fulfilled that role magnificently. As I noted earlier, the Model T was for everything from an around-town runabout to delivery trucks -- beer, milk, you name it -- to ambulances to farm implements. They fulfilled every conceivable use and made motoring a part of daily life for everyone, not just toys for the rich. 

So, what do you think? The Golf? Civic? Toyota Corolla? Something else? 

And feel free to discuss anything else auto-related that comes to mind. Beetle photo from Wikipedia. 

Kia: 20 Years After

Kia the power to surprise logo

Probably the most truthful automotive slogan I’ve read.

Like Mitsubishi’s 30th Anniversary and Scion’s 10th Anniversary, I was caught off-guard by Kia turning 20 in the American market, hadn’t it been for a news snippet on the local classifieds. Truth be told, I wasn’t paying much attention. Kias weren’t my thing. But seeing how much the brand has grown in a slightly shorter period of time than its sister Hyundai, I believe it deserves merit to travel back in time to see where it all began, even if it’s just for the kitschy-ness of it all. So set the VCR to record the series finale of Star Trek: The Next Generation as well as the first episodes of Gargoyles, ReBoot and Street Sharks, to name a few; tie up those rollerblades or Air Jordan IX’s, put some fresh batteries on your Gameboy (don’t forget the Donkey Kong cartridge!) and Walkman (with Corona’s Rhythm of the Night), bring a pair of fresh underwear in your JanSport backpack, get the tickets for Forrest Gump, pay your respects to the late Ayrton Senna, forget about the canceled World Series and please keep your opinion on the OJ Simpson murder case to yourself,  because we’re going back… to 1994.

Continue reading "Kia: 20 Years After" »

Carspotters' Challenge #118--Meanwhile, in Maryland…

While looking for a 1970s reference of businessmen apparel, the search engine of choice gave me this pic as a result. Yes, it had to do with a certain crisis involving petroleum-based goods. Then again, you’d expect that the Wikipedia page that discussed the 1970s would mention something of said events, wouldn’t it?

This photo was taken by Warren K. Leffler, who is an accomplished photographer, to say the least. It’s titled ‘Line at Gas Station, Maryland’, circa July 15, 1979. This photo seems like a pretty big deal, as you can find it in the United States Library of Congress’s Prints and Photographs division (digital ID ppmsca.03433).

1280px-Line_at_a_gas_station,_June_15,_1979
 

Bigger version here.

So, while we wait for gas, how many vehicles can you identify?

--Tigestrypes

 

Image source: Wikipedia.

The Knight Industries Two Thousand – K.I.T.T.- Behind the Scanner

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Just like the first post, lists of all of his gadgets, websites and blogs have been made and books have been written about the making of K.I.T.T., the stunts and how they were made, so I’ll try to keep those details to a minimum, too. Which was easier said than done.

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The Knight Industries Two Thousand – K.I.T.T.

  Knight Rider KITT intro scanner shot

2012 marked the 30th anniversary of many things. This date took me by surprise when I found out that movies like Tron and The Last Unicorn (both Jeff Bridges flicks. Wild, huh?) and albums like Yaz/Yazoo’s Upstairs at Eric’s, A Flock Of Seagulls’ self-titled album and Rush’s Signals turned 30. The youngest of the Checker A11/Marathon taxi cabs as well as the original Suzuki Katana also turned 30 in its odometer. Other 1980s wheeled-sweethearts turned 30, the MkII Supra and 3rd-gen Celica, the S-series trucks and the 3rd-gen Pontiac Firebird… and Camaro. But out of that model year, there’s one 3rd-gen Firebird and 1980s icon that also reached this not-insignificant cornerstone: The Knight Industries Two Thousand- K.I.T.T. for short.

Before we begin, it’s worth mentioning that the body, the hardware, is called the Knight 2000, while the computer A.I. itself is K.I.T.T., but to avoid confusion, for this post K.I.T.T. is the whole machine, as it should be. Websites and blogs have been made and books have been written about Knight Rider and K.I.T.T., with lists of all of his gadgets, including those one-offs seen only once, so I’ll try (emphasis on the word ‘try’) to keep those details to a minimum.

Continue reading "The Knight Industries Two Thousand – K.I.T.T." »

September 1 Weekly Open Thread

WP_20140824_13_01_10_ProAs always, this is the place to talk about anything you want to talk about.

For your amusement and edification, may I present a vintage non-digital gasoline pump, encountered (and refuelled from) a week ago in the bustling (not really) metropolis (not quite) of Sulphur, Indiana, where it is still in service. Apparently, it's not the only preserved artifact of a bygone age to be found thereabouts.

--Cookie the Dog's Owner

Carspotters' Challenge #117--Abbotsford (BC) Air Show, 1977

The air show is an annual event held in early August. The 1977 edition featured performances by the Royal Jordanian Falcons and the USAF Thunderbirds.

Abbotsford Air Show 1977 (GTW)

Bonus points for ID-ing the airplane.

--Cookie the Dog's Owner

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

2014 Frog Follies, Evansville, Indiana

This past weekend, my son Alex moved in to the dormitory to start his academic career at the University of Evansville. Move-in day at the University happened to coincide with the 39th Annual Frog Follies, a gathering of "pre-'49" street rods for the benefit of local charities.

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Something like 4,000 street rods were spending the weekend in Evansville, and you couldn't look in any direction without seeing at least half a dozen. By the time we'd gotten Alex moved in and had dinner, the official Frog Follies gathering was done for the day--but there was a de facto cruise-in going on in every restaurant and hotel parking lot in town.

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Here's some of what we saw that evening before the thunderstorms chased us all inside.

Continue reading "2014 Frog Follies, Evansville, Indiana" »

August 25 Weekly Open Thread: Childhood Toy Car Ads

Recently while perusing Youtube, I ran across this vintage toy car ad. And at my (Soon to be) ripe old age, I can honestly say that I totally remember when it was first shown:

 

I've got to say that I wanted one of those sets back then and to be honest, I wouldn't mind having one now. To share with the next generation. Of course. And, this ad also might have made a Car Lust Carspotters post, maybe asking our loyal readers to try to identify the rolling wrecks in the video.

So, do any other vintage toy car ads come to mind? Maybe Hot Wheels and their tracks... or even the Big Bruiser (I had one of them!)?

And as we say every week, this is also the place to discuss anything even somewhat automotively related. In an adult and responsible way. Of course.

--That Car Guy (Chuck)

Carspotters' Challenge #116--Imperial 400

The Imperial 400 Motel in Omaha, Nebraska, sometime in the 1960s.

Omaha 400 (lileks)Are there any Imperials in the parking lot? Seems like there should be at least one, as a matter of principle.

--Cookie the Dog's Owner

(Photo obtained from the motel postcard collection at Lileks.com.)

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:

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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...

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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

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

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.

Continue reading "The Forgotten Mustang" »

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

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