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May 2 Weekly Open Thread

There is a lot going on in the outside world that dwarfs what's going on in the world of Car Lust, and we at Amazon are pretty busy as we move buildings. So I don't have any fantastic prompts for this week, but please do feel free to talk about whatever comes to mind.

--Chris H.

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Why is it that whenever I get a new car, a more tempting one pops up right after? I managed to pick up a '93 Explorer for $400. All it needs is a new clutch. Now I've seen an 80's diesel Golf, which I've been lusting after for years, for $600. Guess I'll have to wait for the day that I make enough to buy two beaters at a time.

This is an open question on preference. My wife recently said that she would like a convertible after seeing a Pontiac Solstice. I have had some converts in the past, and I enjoy them, but they are windy. After her statement, I started looking around at different models. My first choice was a Chrysler Crossfire, but an immediate response from another website was, “Chrysler resale with Mercedes maintenance costs.” The luggage space is also very limited. My next thought was a Cadillac Allante. Nice, poor mileage, but will carry more. Then I looked Solstices and Saturn Skies. Any ideas?

Let's see... a 20-year-old Cadillac with a manual folding roof?

I'd run away from it.

They don't make Pontiacs or Saturns any more either. Does that tell you something? I don't know what your budget is, but I'd keep looking.

That Car Guy,
I'D BE DAMNED if there weren't club support for the Pontiac Solstice/Saturn Sky. I've found clubs for just most states and Canada, even a V-8 conversion site. As far as I know, GM will still service Pontiacs/Saturns in their dealerships and continue to stock parts for them.
Bill T will be fine.

Just because GM nixed them doesn't mean they weren't loved, ESPECIALLY Pontiac, whose overall sales were actually good before getting the corporate axe (and yes, the Mazda MX-5 Miata may be a better car overall but it still doesn't make the Solstice/Sky a bad car).

Tigerstrypes, my concern was for their resale value. I personally think the Sky is the best-looking American car in the last 10 years. And I've owned a few Pontiacs, and miss that marque very much.

I wish Bill T. the best. He asked for ideas, I gave him mine.

@BillT:
The Pontiac Soltice/Saturn Sky twins were actually very well sorted convertibles. The typical convertible problem abound (i.e. limited truck space, rear visibility with top up), but these cars are well balanced and feature GM's relaible Ecotec engine (either NA or turbocharged).

I would stay away personally from the Chrysler Crossfire. While nice, it is an orphaned model with a variety of expensive Mercedes parts. Ditto that on the Allante, nice car but replacemnt costs for the dash display et al is quite expensive (and many of these cars are hitting the 20 year mark, it is bound to fail). The later models had the Northstar V8, the earlier models had the caddy 4.9 pushrod V8.

Mazda's Miata is a faithful homage to simpler convertibles in the past and are blessed with above average reliability,economy and a fantastic neutral balance. It is a bit small, so if you are a large man , it might not be for you.

My two cents

That Car Guy, resale value? Ah. OK. My apologies.

Bill T, while it seems you're preferences are sporty cars, how about something a little off the beaten path, literally?

How about a Suzuki Samurai, Suzuki Vitara soft top models? Something with a little more track width? Isuzu Amigo and Daihatsu Rocky (though parts availability is of concern). Hell, maybe even the Suzuki X90 or Kia Kia Sportage soft top version (if you can find 'em)! And you can't go wrong with a first-gen Toyota 4Runner. Just remove the right clips (don't lose 'em!) and the camper-shell-thing comes off, but that one's even more of a stretch to actually consider convertible compared to the other ones.

Slightly more conventional would include Jeep CJ-series, Jeep Wrangler, even Jeep Jeepster. I dunno much about International Harvester trucks, but they do have soft-top models. Even the original Ford Bronco had a soft-top.

A car? Umm... E30 BMW 3-series convertible perhaps?

Lots of good input from the respondents. Actually, the Caddy was the lowest in terms of preference. A short product life, expensive, and obviously didn’t appeal to the number of buyers GM had hoped for. Plus, since it is now twenty years old, parts could be a problem. The Crossfire looked neat, but again, maintenance figures and limited carrying capability. That leaves the Solstice/Sky options, both of which are good. Also, I like the way the back cover/hatch forms the headrests in back of the driver and passenger. A ride consideration would be the feel with the short wheelbase. Maybe rather bumpy?
The convert subject came about in a strange and rather funny way. I have thought about buying a cycle for a while now, and every time I mention it, the lady says succinctly, “When you get it, only buy one helmet.” Then, the next time we see a convert with the top down, she says, “I think I would like a convertible.”
About the sports-type vehicle. I have a Jeep (Grand Cherokee) which she bought some time back. I keep it for driving in the winter. It is a ’94 with just 138,000 miles on it. We live in northwest Mich., where the road crews use liberal amounts of salt on the roads. The rocker panels are almost totally rusted out, and I have had to replace the tailgate. It is essentially a luxury truck, and I am not a truck person. The ride is rather stiff. When I mentioned this to the dealer, he characterized it as “firm.” My spring-summer-fall drive is a ’91 Buick Park Ave. with just under 70,000 miles. A smooth ride and great road car. I prefer the Buick.

Is it me, or is it that there aren't that many "car lust" cars made after about 2000 or so? Other than possibly the Solstice/Sky, I can't think of a car newer I have lusted after that hasn't lasted a model year or so. Is it that so many cars are so good/similar nowadays, that the threshold for lustworthiness is harder to determine?

FWIW, I own a '98 Audi A4 - I've lusted for the B5 A4s since new. Obnoxious maintenance, but (almost) worth it. Can you say 'Chinese puzzle' in German?

I just saw where 150,000 Chevy Cruze units have been recalled because their steering wheels may fall off. This is beyond embarrassing.

http://98kool.com/chevy-cruz-recall-information/

Jeff, while it is a rather good observation, that doesn't mean there aren't post-2000 CarLust subjects. Every reader/contributor here may have their own theory on why is this. Since no one have said anything first, I'm gonna give my 2 cents.

1. They're still above most of our budgets (I've never seen a cheap 2004 Subaru Impreza WRX STi)

2. Depending on the age and computer skill level, many owners are put off having to work on the vast arrays of electronics (did ya know that Ford Mustangs can have their compression tested using the OBD2 port?)

3. If need be, regular mechanics will barely be able to work on them, and specialists will charge you. Hard. And if you crash your car, how much time and money will it take to replace all those airbags?

4. Nostalgia plays a huge part in CarLust. Some cars will take awhile to warm our hearts, if at all.

5. They may be built better, but there's something missing from them (when Dodge begins to produce he next generation of Vipers, they'll be forced to include stability control, something that previous generations didn't have, further emasculating them).

6. They keep getting FAT(TER). (A US-spec Mk1 Golf weighed about 1800lbs. The Mk5, despite the obvious power hike, can WEIGH close to 3,500+lbs!! A GTI!!!!)
It doesn't help that those that know how politics work may feel disconcerted about the fact that their cars are being designed around their rules.

7. The drawback of "organic" or "aerodynamic-friendly" styling is how easy it is to make a characterless car. Same goes for ergonomics. They all start to look feel pretty much the same. And color choices (or lack thereof) certainly doesn't help.

Needless to say, this list won't apply to ALL post-2000 CarLust candidates, but it's pretty close...

Isn't it?

That Car Guy, I finally found what I wanted to share with you guys about the Chevy Cruze, but seeing that they can't even do something as basic as keeping their steering wheels on, I doubt it really matters anymore.

Meh. What the hell.

http://www.classicandperformancecar.com/features/columnists/265960/jay_leno_march_2011.html

Thanks Tiger. I like Jay Leno. He doesn't keep his amazing car collection to himself, he shares it with us as best he can. But I'm also under the impression that the Volt is built on GM's Delta II architecture, similar to the Cruze. Both are built at Lordstown, aren't they? Jay says it's totally different. Am I incorrect here?

I'm truly scared to see what else happens to the Cruze. This was a chance to replace the Cobalt with something nice. I hope they don't muck it up too.

Well, I did some quick homework. Yes, the Volt is built on GM's Delta II architecture (http://www.autotropolis.com/auto-news/is-the-delta-ii-platform-gms-k-car.html), same as the Cruze. However, the Volt is assembled at GM'sDetroit/Hamtramck plant (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Detroit/Hamtramck_Assembly) that also build the Buick Lucerne and the Cadillac DTS. The Cruze is built at Lordstown (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lordstown_Assembly).

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