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Jan. 24 Weekly Open Thread

Apparently my life these days consists of 1) planning to write blog content; 2) not writing blog content. I'll try to reverse that pattern this week, but in the meantime here's a place for all of the conversation that doesn't fit into our recent posts (i.e. all conversation).

--Chris H.


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Is everybody having fun in all this snow?

Snow? It's 50 degrees here!

I notice that many commercials (and music videos) generally use cars from the 1960s when attempting to show hipness. Usually some form of big American convertible, something that might not have been particularly hip at the time. Some of the hip-hoppers use pimped out later '70s cars, but they seem to be about the only ones. I have a feeling that when future pop-culture historians of the late 20th and early 21st century examine car culture via popular media, they will have to conclude that interesting cars existed only for about a decade.

Last weekend I visited a Ferrari/Maserati/Lamborghini dealership in the D.C. area. All those exotics in one place become a bit samey after a while. That is until I feasted my eyes on something special in the back parking lot:

Yes, that is a Euro-spec VW Golf "Country" edition. I've never seen one in the flesh before. It belonged to one of the employees. Full factory 4WD, lift, exposed rear tire, and very 80's graphics make this completely full of win. I want one so badly now.

@Anthony Cagle I was recently thinking along similar lines bout these new fangled connected cars. How will the apps and nav systems work in 20 years. Folks like many of us (and our progeny) who drive 20ish year old cars now, will probably be driving 20 year old cars 20 years from now! Will any of that stuff still work? Will there be any support/parts available?

On another note, here is my latest "seen on the street" find...

Okay - the "Country" Golf made me laugh. That thing is all sorts of awesome right there.

Regarding the apps and navs in modern cars, I can actually sort of answer this one based on personal experience. Back in the day, I had an '85 Merc 300TD with a factory-installed phone. The phone stopped working ages ago (nobody lets you activate analog phones anymore), but the rest of the car functioned fairly well. If I had to hazard a guess, I'd say most of the whiz-bang features will embark on a bit of planned obsolescence (looking at you, in-car nav maps), but the car itself will still be mostly functional.

I nominate the VW Golf "Country Edition" for future Car Lust post!!

I've found enthusiast sites about those little gems. And if the sites one finds are in another language, there's always Google Translate. ^^

"How will the apps and nav systems work in 20 years."

This is why I'm avoiding in-car nav systems for as long as possible. A 3rd-party navigation app on my iPhone (with turn by turn voice directions) does the trick as well as any OEM integrated nav system I've experienced so far.

...heck, it's not just obsolescent software, it's the hardware, too - have you seen what happens to shiny-new full-color backlit dashboard displays after half a decade of hard use?..take a look at any five-to-ten-year-old luxury-appointed vehicle, and it's just depressingly faded along its way to uselessness, with more and more critical systems are anchored in the future-obsolescent hardware every model year...

...after three years of searching, i finally tracked down a nice reflective monochrome TN LCD head unit for my lotus, but even its manufacturer, becker, has discontinued their car stereo division in favor of full-color navigation systems...

...likely mobile phone or PDA connectivity will alleviate some obsolesence issues with in-car entertainment systems, terrible ergonomics notwithstanding, but animated dashboards, climate controls, and the like will just be so much dead weight...

My mid-2000's BMW still looks pretty current with almost 80k miles on the clock. Of course, it doesn't have the factory navigation system, which looks hilariously dated by 2011 standards.

Here's something halfway random:

I'm now imagining a supercharged, fuel-injected, hybrid Model-T with an automatic and four-wheel hydraulic disc brakes. Heck, I'm kind of curious if it would be possible to put together such a beast using period designs, and how well it would run?

David, that sounds cool, in a steam-punk sort of way.

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