Blogs at Amazon

August 3 Weekly Open Thread: Welcome to Amazon, (former) Top Gear Presenters!

Dear Jezza, Captain Slow, and Hamster (Can I call you guys that, seeing as we're co-workers now?),

Now that you are joining us on the Amazon payroll (even though, to be completely forthright, we're not exactly on the Amazon payroll, at least most of us), I thought I would take the opportunity to welcome TGCrewyou to the company, late-comers though you are to this whole Internet-thingie. Admittedly, your penchant for expensive super-cars might put you a bit at odds with what we do here, but I like to think of your new role here as complementary rather than competitive. Nevertheless, although we've largely cornered the market on cheap domestics (and even some cheap exotics!), we have been somewhat remiss in covering European models that are, shall we say, not at the top of anyone's Ten Best list. We've done a few missives on your Brit cars -- Stag, TR6, and a Jag or two --  but unless it was imported in (relative) droves, we haven't given our typical Car Lust treatment to your own set of cheap domestics

I'm guessing you'll have a slightly bigger budget than we do (which is, basically, nothing nil). I actually suggested we start our own Car Lust television program at one point, but the idea was stillborn owing to the fact that it's difficult to do much on a budget of $0.00. We would have had to use our own cars for all of our road tests and challenges and what-not and just put a sticky-note on the dash that would let the viewer know what car we were supposedly reviewing:

"Now, If this were an actual Lincoln Continental Mark V, I could show you the plush velour seating, but since it's a 1978 Mustang II you'll just have to imagine that it has copious amounts of room and no chamois-colored vinyl bucket seats. . . ." Our production facilities would, of necessity, be somewhat limited; instead of our own hangar and track, we'd be pretty much limited to Hafner's driveway. 

I'd also like to offer our services as Producers. I'm certain we could find difficult and entertaining challenges for you to accomplish, even throwing in some of our own North American vehicles for you to enjoy ("Your challenge is to each buy a 1970s GM subcompact for less than $500 and then get it to start"). We can also demonstrate the proper way to drive a 1970s land yacht; please note that it does not involve "handling", but more like a long, flat highway and AC/DC. 

We might even see our way, as fellow Amazoners, to letting you guest-post here once in a while. I'm betting we'd even waive the initial writing sample. You'll probably appreciate the fact that we have little editorial oversight. If you wish to do so anonymously we could even generate noms de plume for you. You would, obviously, have a certain leeway in terms of subject matter, but you might want to leave the pickup trucks to us (cuz we're experts and stuff). 

So that's it. If you have any questions on how to maneuver around the Amazon world headquarters building or navigate the various rules and regulations covering employment here, well, don't email us because none of us know anything about that stuff ('cepting maybe Hafner, they supposedly pay him to do this). But we'd certainly welcome your input here at Car Lust, and will gratefully accept a great deal of money to name your new show "Car Lust". FYI.

-- The Car Lust Team

Credits: Photo lifted from The Independent.

Carspotters’ Challenge #146: The Driver (1978), Police Chase

It’s been a while since we’ve featured a Carspotters’ Video Challenge. This time we’re showing the police chase scene of the movie The Driver (1978), a cult classic movie whose iconic C-10 pick-up truck vs. Firebird Trans Am lent itself very well to one of my first Carspotters’ Video Challenge. On the same video account on which I’ve found that particular chase -as well as others- I also found this chase scene related to the movie, previously not included on said video account.

It too received a 1980s-inspired synth track -Elimination, from the album Activation, by Danger Mode- and the chase was edited for the track’s timeframe as well. Unlike the other chase, there were less videos of this particular chase. I found one, but the image’s colors aren’t that great.

Still enjoyable, though.

 

--Tigerstrypes

Carspotters’ Challenge #145: NYC Bridge Commute, 1956

Last week’s Carspotters’ Challenge focused around the Golden Gate Bridge on the West coast. I threw a question out there it if the commute ever got old and readers responded with a resounding ‘no’ plus explanation. Inspired by it, I now give you the East coast version Aside from no then/now photos, this time the bridge is unknown, at least to me, and NYC has a lot of bridges.  Tumblr_msvp3iV3LR1r9qhhio1_1280If you can identify the bridge, what’s the view/commute/experience/etc. like? If it can’t be identified, no worries. See if you can identify the cars instead.

 

--Tigerstrypes

 

References: http://rogerwilkerson.tumblr.com/

Summer Cruise-In Time

There's a cruise-in every Thursday at the local Arby's, and I was able to break free from work this past week in time to attend.

WP_20150716_19_13_09_ProThere were a few familiar faces from past cruise-ins,...

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Carspotters’ Challenge #144: Golden Gate Commute, Then and Now

How long would it take to lose the novelty of driving through the Golden Gate Bridge every day?

Tumblr_mjkj6pRX8N1r9qhhio1_1280

 

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Ye Olde London Taxicab

 

London-taxisThey are as associated with London as Big Ben. They have a reputation for being as clean as a crumpet plate. And they are as recognizable as Parliament.

And perhaps they should be, since they have been around for quite the while. Perhaps the best-known is the Austin FX4, which was made from 1958 to 1994.

They also have a reputation for being all-black, but they do come in many colours. In fact, there are no rules and/or regulations requiring any of them to be black. They can also carry five passengers in comfort, and can turn on a dime. 

They had diesel engines of various sizes and makers, though a gasoline engine was available starting in 1962. Automatics were standard from Day One, but manuals became an option later. Why? I have no idea. I mean... a manual tranny in London???

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Top Gear: The Show That Made Everyone a ‘Car Guy’

Tonight we here in the US of A bid a fond farewell to Top Gear when the last show featuring the trio of Jeremy "The Orangutan" Clarkson, Richard "The Hamster" Hammond, and James "Captain Slow" May airs on BBC America. I'm sure I don't need to go into the details about how their run on the show came to an end, but there was some doubt whether we would get to see the last of the programmes that were TopGearfilmed before it all went belly up. It was a bit of a let down, just sort of petering out mid-season series like it did. I have no idea what tonight's episode will include, if anything, regarding their exit from the Top Gear stage, but at least it's something we know is coming this time and we can treat it with the profound respect it deserves. 

More or less.

When I first started this post -- if I'm honest it was about 2 months ago -- I was trying to find some clever hook by which to hang many profound insights into the allure and worldwide popularity of the show. At first I thought it was simple writer's block (heaven forbid), but then decided that attempting to be all and melodramatic 'n junk would have done a disservice to what they'd accomplished over the last 13 years. So I ditched the profundity idea and decided to just blather a bit on what I think about it. Which will, if you bear with me for a few sentences, hopefully make some sense. 

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Carspotters’ Challenge #143: Lillian, Ohio, 1979

The summer of ’79. School's over. What to do… Summer camp? Family vacation? Hang around town? Make a movie with your friends? Solve a mystery? Save the town from an invader from outer space? Evacuate town?

Wait. What…?

I454907 That’s what a group of kids did in their hometown. I’m referring to the 2011 science-fiction/adventure movie Super 8. That’s a screenshot. The movie’s filled with lots of period things (though eagle-eyed viewers will notice that some toys are a bit modern, including the Sony Walkman that’s a year too early for the U.S. market). As you can see, that also includes cars, which they pretty much nailed it, IMO. Yes, there were a couple that got wrecked (AMC Pacer fans, you’ve been warned).

The movie gets quite violent at times and can be scary for younger viewers, and the way it was filmed may not be everyone’s favorite (light glare! Autofocus!), and neither is the ending. As far as summer movies go, one could do a lot worse.

 

--Tigerstrypes

 

References: http://www.imcdb.org/

July 6 Open Thread: Summer Cruising Music, Weird Edition

We've already had one thread this summer devoted to driving music and some good choices there were. I'm sure we also have our share of one or two songs or albums or even entire genres that might seem a little. . . odd. But whatever; we write paeans to Ford Pintos so what's another oddity? Here are my two:

TENEBRAE

That's right, 16th century sacred polyphony, this one by Tomas Luis De Victoria, his Responsories for Tenebrae. These were sung during Holy Week, and I first stumbled upon them several years ago when the Internet was young and I was actually searching for Allegri's Miserere (which remains my single favorite piece of music, period). Definitely a morning drive CD, I'm not sure how I came to associate it with summertime, but I think I took it along with me one summer vacation and ended up having it locked in my mind with warm mornings with few cares in the world save for having fun with my family back in Maryland and Wisconsin. Hence, I find starting out early on a cool summer morning with one of these sorts of CDs immensely peaceful. You can hear a sample here.

NatNatNatNatNat

The great Nat "King" Cole. This favorite is more straightforward: Probably 10-15 years ago I went through a 'standards' phase: Bobby Darin, Frank Sinatra, and Dean Martin mostly. Nat was a bit later, and I came to link him and summer via. . . .The Twilight Zone? Yes. The Sci Fi Channel (now SyFy) used to (still does, actually) run a Twilight Zone marathon on the 4th of July. I'm too young to have seen them originally, and didn't see many earlier in life, so these marathons really got me hooked. I love the creepiness, the cool early 1960s vibe, and, of course, the many cars. That might be where I really got my affection for that era. 

At any rate, I got that whole nostalgia thing going for that time, and then snagged a Nat CD and played it concurrently with summer and The Twilight Zone and it all kinda stuck together. Especially. . . .

 

Anybody else have any sort of oddball summer driving music? And, as always feel free to discuss anything else vaguely auto-related. 

Credits: Images from Amazon.com.

Carspotters’ Challenge #142: Venice Beach, 1952

There seems to be a parade of sorts getting ready to go. I wonder what the occasion is.

Tumblr_moo0tvrYDb1r9qhhio1_1280 Click here for full-size version.

 Anyways, let’s walk around the parking lot until they’re finished getting ready.

 

--Tigerstrypes

 

References: http://rogerwilkerson.tumblr.com

1998-2010 Fiat Multipla

Fiat-multipla-pretty-face-small-97852I was waiting at an accountant’s office, so I whipped out my phone proceeded to rot my brain with 9gag, one of those meme-centric websites. And there it was, a reminder of the existence of the infamous Fiat Multipla, in a garish muli-colored/Harlequin-style paint job, and captions stating how ugly it was while trying to be both funny and uplifting at the same time. Due to profanity, I can’t use that pic. Besides, it’s not as if that was the only time the Internet, let alone 9gag, ribbed the Multipla’s looks.

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25 Years of Car Lust

A short vanity post commemorating me and my Mustang II's 25th Anniversary together. I've written a couple of times before (here and here) about how this thing came into my possession and how we'd gotten to various points on our mutual trajectories. There's really nothing special happening with the old car and I this year apart from the somewhat arbitrary milestone of reaching the 25-year mark. And I have quite a few other Big Anniversaries in 2015. The Spousal Unit and I went on our first date 25 MeMustang1990years ago, I graduated from high school (*gulp*) 35 years ago, and I graduated from college (undergraduate school anyway) and moved out to Seattle 30 years ago this summer as well. So, for me it's kind of a reflective time in more ways than one.

Back then I was in the midst of the graduate school paper chase, fresh off of passing my comprehensive exams ("comps") and trying to figure out a reasonable dissertation topic. Work consisted of grabbing whatever teaching positions I could wrangle, trying to get research assistant money, doing contract archaeology in my new (to me) Bronco II, figuring out this whole new girlfriend thing, and drinking a lot of beer. Graduate school is an odd thing, something like an extended boot camp for nerds. You've gone and thrust yourself into a world of arcane knowledge that can only be crammed into your brain through many tedious hours of reading equally arcane journal articles and books. In archaeology, a lot of these works can be almost as old as the subject matter itself and you occasionally find yourself doing an archaeological study of archaeological studies. Really strange things take on enormous significance, such as figuring out what exactly the difference is between intensive and extensive definitions (you really don't want to know) or the theoretical consequences of equifinality. The outside world consists of 'stuff you occasionally experience when you're not trying to get the latest assignment done or paper written' and a good weekend consists not of relaxing with family or friends but 'getting a lot of work done'. I guarantee you that the following exchange takes place at least one million times each Monday morning:

Graduate student 1: "Hey, how was your weekend?"

Graduate student 2: "Pretty good. I got a lot of work done." *heavy sigh*

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Carspotters' Challenge #141: Sign of Good Taste

I honestly thought that clever title came from the site that I found this pic. I got curious, looked it up and found out that is truly the title of this photo.Tumblr_mrsqfmyz7u1r9qhhio1_1280This colorful photograph was taken by Fred Herzog. It was taken in Portland, circa 1959. Not the first Carspotters' Challenge involving Portland.

Go ahead and tell us what do you see. For some reason I'm feeling thirsty. You want something?

 

--Tigerstrypes

 

References: http://rogerwilkerson.tumblr.com/tagged/parking-lot

Carspotters' Challenge #140: Junkyard Dogs Edition

This week's photo comes from (again), Vintage Everyday:

New York City in the Early 1970's (5)

The caption for the photo is "View of Brownsville from the Sutter Ave. stop on the L line, Brooklyn, 1978".

I urge you to peruse the other photos at the link. Some of them are quite haunting, especially the World Trade Center under construction. The number of abandoned and junked cars is also rather distressing. 

Caption This

Stop me before I paint again

Akron, Ohio, June 13, 2015.

Carspotters’ Challenge #139: Jammed Both Ways

Tumblr_mlcouzKJCJ1r9qhhio1_1280Full size version, click here.

There’s no date or place mentioned for this picture. At most, I’m guessing 1955-1956. Aside from the cars (kudos if you can get the ones heading over the overpass), maybe you can guess the place, too.

 

--Tigerstrypes

 

References: http://rogerwilkerson.tumblr.com

Road Music #1: Twistin' Through the Twisties

The summer season of long car trips and top-down joyrides is upon us--and we are again confronted with the critical question of what mood music to have playing in the stereo as we drive.

"Now there was a time when you loved me so/I could have been wrong, but now you needed to know/See, I've been a bad, bad, bad, bad man and I'm in deep, yes I am/I found a brand new love for this man and I can't wait till you see/I can't wait/So how you like me now?...."Today, we'll discuss appropriate soundtrack selections for a mad dash down one of the squiggly lines on the map.

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The Cars From That ‘70s Show

Snapshot20061113143043fx9.3449That ‘70s Show was not only gut-busting entertainment, it was a learning experience. It gave a window to how life was in mid-to-late 1970s North America. What we now consider kitschy-cool was actually considered lame back then, not everyone liked ABBA (or Styx for that matter), and being in the throes of adolescence sucked no matter what decade it is. Am I right?

If these cars could talk… most of them would have trouble remembering what went down. That's why we're here for.

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June 1 Weekly Open Thread: Who Are The Best Drivers?

As my little "hook" to this little bit of theorizing, I shall remind readers of our mixed opinion on the Beige Toyota Camry. We'd kicked the Camry around a bit, and even voted it the Most Boring Car Ever, although one of our number sought to defend its honor. We have even, somewhat perversely, come to a grudging respect for its sheer indomitable will to live despite our loathing indifference.  BeigeCamry

We have also, on occasion, evinced some disgust for certain models, and -- let's be honest -- the people who drive them. We have bemoaned the utter banality with which the 1969 Camaro is held in such high regard by so many, such that you can't swing a dead torsion bar at an average car show without hitting at least a dozen. For myself, I have even written a missive attempting to articulate my disgust for a certain yuppie-mobile which, as I admit in that post, is due in part to my own hangups toward a certain segment of the population. 

But ever since then I've had cause to contemplate the following question: Who are the best drivers? I daresay most of us would answer "Why, I am, of course". Which I -- of course -- immediately thought of when I pondered the issue. 

Frankly, I'm wrong. I'm not the best of drivers. Neither are the guys in their European Sport Sedans blasting along in the fast lane, or the guys in the hopped-up ricers switching lanes every 1000 feet to get to Point B ahead of whoever they happen to be trying to get there ahead of. Certainly not the guy pretending to be on the racing circuit, coming up to within spitting distance of your back bumper and flashing his/her lights if you don't move over within 9 milliseconds of his/her being there. Nor is it the one who can do a J-turn with ease. Or scream into a parking space sideways (despite how cool it is). 

Well, okay, maybe those last two have some non-day-to-day Best Driver applicability. . . .

No, after wondering about the question for a while I came to a decision: It's the people you never even notice. Not the ones puttering along in the slow lane going 5 miles under the speed limit; you notice them and they can be a hazard if you're not paying attention. Not the ones who wait to turn left until there is at least a block between oncoming cars, or who turn on their turn signals three blocks before they actually turn. No, I'm talking about those who probably drive a near-pristine Beige Camry, drive within a few miles of the speed limit, always use their turn signals, stay in the right hand lane except to pass, can execute a parallel park on the first try, and never get speeding tickets or get in accidents that are their fault. They treat driving as transportation to get them where they need to be safely, but without fuss or muss. 

Yes? No? Feel free to discuss, and anything else that comes to mind. 

Credit: The Beige Camry is from our earlier post

Carspotters’ Challenge #138: The Last Traffic Jam

“The traffic jam. Scourge of the 20th century city life. Raiser of blood pressure. Disruptor of supply chains. Stealer of bed-time stories…”

Grabs your attention, doesn’t it? It did for me, until I realized this was a tech commercial. Then my attention waned. I’m not going to dedicate this particular post to the discussion of traffic jams in general, how bad they are, how they make me feel or the technologies involved in making them go away in the future a reality. Why would I want to use a traffic jam as a Carspotters’ Challenge? Well, have a look:

 

As far as “traffic jams” go, this one at least has some interesting iron on display, for car-people at least. What’s also interesting is the eclectic mix: old, not-so old, North-American, European, UK, etc.

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

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