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November 2012

Carspotters' Challenge #38--Harbor Drive

This time, we've set the WABAC Machine to 1962 and arrived in Seattle* Portland, Oregon.Interesting rear-engined compact there in the foreground.Note the owl on the billboard. It's a hoot.

--Cookie the Dog's Owner

(Photo obtained from the Station Wagon Forum's collection of vintage street scenes, contributed by member "yellerspirit.")

*Corrected per the comments below.

Factory to Dealer--By Road

In the first installment of our series on how cars get from the assembly line to the showroom, we looked at rail transportation. While not all new cars are shipped by rail, they all end up on a truck at least once on the journey.

Cottrell CX-11HSC

Continue reading "Factory to Dealer--By Road" »

Nov. 26 Weekly Thread: " 'HALT!,' In The Name Of The Environment!"

399 - CopyWhat we see here is real. His name is John, and he's an officer with the San Francisco Police Department. He's stationed at SFO (San Francisco/Oakland Int'l Airport), and loves the Segway that gets him around. He says it's quieter than a horse, doesn't eat as often, and leaves much less of a mess.

Then there's New York City's finest hybrid force. That thin blue line protects us citizens from scofflaws and nasty hydrocarbon emissions (Well, it emits less than most other cars and trucks anyway). It also gets about the best fuel mileage as one could hope for in the city that never sleeps. And as a PR tool, it's much less intimidating than, say, a Dodge Charger.











So on both coasts (And in many places in between), America is finding more efficient ways to serve the public. Sure, bicycle cops have been on the beat for a while, and there have even been rollerblading city watch groups. But we're talking vehicles with a motor here. Or an engine. Or maybe both. I'm waiting to see a real Scion xB paddy wagon.

This being an official Car Lust Weekly Open Thread, you have the right to remain silent or you may have an attorney present with you while discussing anything automotively-related here. And of course anything you say can be used against you in a court of your fellow commenters.

--That Car Guy (Chuck)

Just the facts: The Segway photo was captured in San Francisco on October 30, 2012; the arresting Prius image was taken in Times Square on April 13, 2012.

Carspotters' Challenge #37--Olympia Diner

I don't know if the Olympia Diner is in Olympia or not, but it was doing a lively business one evening during the Carter administration.

If it has little jukeboxes at each booth and boomerang-patterned Formica on the tables, it's perfection!See anything good?

--Cookie the Dog's Owner

(Photo obtained from the Station Wagon Forum's collection of vintage street scenes, to which it was contributed by member "OrthmannJ.")

Thanksgiving 2012

Today is a day set aside in the United States to express thanks for one's material and spiritual possessions. This year, our family has much to be thankful for.

Continue reading "Thanksgiving 2012" »

Great Cars of Egypt Revisited

Thanks to the wonders of the 3G cellular revolution, I am now able to surf the Interwebs from "the field"; the archaeological field, that is. As I type this, I am sitting in a dig house in the Fayum Depression of Egypt working on an archaeological project. The last time I was here in Egypt was 2003, well before Car Lust launched. And, as the world watched last year, Egypt threw off the shackles of the Mubarak EgyptTaxisadministration, which had ruled Egypt for some 30 years and ushered in, for better or worse, a new and more democratic era of government. Sadly, we've also watched a number of demonstrations that have occasionally turned violent, but I suppose that might be expected in a country that has rarely known any sort of real democracy.

But hey, this isn't a post about politics, it's a post about cars. As regular readers may be aware, a couple of years ago I composed a post for this blog on the Great Cars of Egypt. Most Americans wouldn't be aware of the sorts of automobiles running around on the highways and biways of many developing-world countries, and I thought the introduction might be of some interest. Besides, having spent quite a bit of time here, I had a certain fondness for many of the models. Were they "great" cars? Well, as I noted then:

True, in some absolute sense they aren't what one would call spectacular. . . .And perhaps quality- and performance-wise, they aren't exactly world-class; though as we have seen, in their day, many of these were considered more than adequate and in some cases exceptional. . .Automobiles are very expensive purchases for most [Egyptians], and many rely on them for their very livelihood. Combined with the generally poor roads in a lot of areas, you really want a vehicle that is simple, has abundant (and therefore, inexpensive) spare parts, are relatively easy for the owner to fix, and can operate on a variety of roads. They're not glamorous or trendy, but by and large they get the job done, if not exactly in comfort or safety.

Continue reading "Great Cars of Egypt Revisited" »

November 19 Weekly Open Thread: The Forlorn Expat Chevy

I snapped the accompanying photo on one of the back streets of Cairo recently and seeing a fine old American sedan rather piteously sitting in the street like that made me a little sad. American cars aren't all that prevalent here in Egypt, primarily because they've traditionally been far too large for the generally tight and crowded streets and roads here. As I've mentioned elsewhere, the bulk of the cars here -- until recently -- were something like captive imports: older European and Russian models IMG_0389produced locally along with some higher-end imports for the well-heeled, which tend to be Mercedes-Benz's. After a government initiative to remove the old clunkers from the roads, the older models have been replaced by newer imports, most from Asian countries: China, Japan, and South Korea. Egypt has also begun manufacturing some of their own versions of at least Chinese models as well.

But you occasionally see some American iron around. Back in the '90s I was shocked to see an early '70s Chevelle muscle car cruising around, though I wasn't able to ascertain whether it was driven by a local or an expat American. I've also been treated to the odd classic Mustang or two. Jeep Cherokees have also been rather popular with the off-road crowd. I even saw a mid-70s GM sedan prowling the streets of Cairo shortly after arriving this year. But that rather just underscores the point that there really aren't that many. GM, I think, has been making more of a push lately, and I drove past one of their showrooms with a threesome of full-size Silverado pickups sitting out front. Will Egyptians take to the US pickup craze? Too soon to tell, although their smaller Chevrolet cousins are fairly common. Only time will tell I guess.

Our particular car here -- one of the 1977-1990 "New" Chevrolets -- seems to have been there quite a while. Both streetside tires are flatter than a pancake, and it even appears that the road may have actually been paved around it. Truly a forlorn piece of Americana. For myself, I had a wild urge to buy the dumb thing for a song (heck, I could probably just haul it away), get it running, and bomb around the highways and biways of Egypt with Stone Temple Pilots or something similar blasting out the windows. Call me crazy.

So, readers, weight in: What are the odd contexts you've seen American vehicles in? Or any other model that seems a bit rare and out of place. And, as always, this is the place to discuss anything and everything car-related.

Credits: Photo by me.

Carspotters' Challenge #36--Stuck in a Ditch

This week, we're in Houston, Texas in the early 1960s, and traffic on US 59 in the "trench" has slowed to a crawl. The driver in the Isetta is probably feeling a mite vulnerable, surrounded as he is by full-sized Detroit road barges that could swallow his "rolling egg" whole.

"Gridlock/Up ahead/There's a line of cars far as I can see/Gridlock/Goin' nowhere/Roll down the window and let me scream" --Warren ZevonSee anything else noteworthy?

--Cookie the Dog's Owner

(Photo obtained from the Station Wagon Forum, to which it was contributed by member "Fat Tedy.")

Factory to Dealer--By Rail

Ever wonder how your car got from, oh, say, Marysville, Ohio or Wolfsburg, Germany to your friendly local dealership with only about 7 miles showing on the odometer? 


Following up on my recent post on the Vert-A-Pac railroad cars built to transport the Chevrolet Vega, I'd like to present here the first chapter in a series on how automobiles get from the end of the assembly line to the showroom. In this installment, we'll look at rail transport.

Continue reading "Factory to Dealer--By Rail" »

November 12 Weekly Open Thread: Gone To The Dogs

100_1216My bud and former GMC Value Van owner Dave took this picture the other day while on his travels. I have no real idea when or where it was taken, probably somewhere in Arkansas, but it gave me quite the chuckle.

It appears that this canine is waiting patiently for somebody (or maybe its significant other) to come out of the store so they can go on about their way. If the next picture had shown Mrs. Bowser appearing with a bag of chew bones, I would not have been surprised. Looks like he (or she) did a great job of getting parked within the parking space lines as well.

Being in a vehicle that may not be streel legal in all 50 states and provinces adds to the believability that Rover there is driving his "rover." That may be a vehicle approved for transit only in a community. And after all, would any state give a dog a drivers license? Even Tennessee?

So have you taken or seen any funny car-related pictures or stories lately? Maybe even one Holiday-related, as that time is nearing. Please share or describe any... we could all use a good laugh.

And of course, this is the place for any vehicle-related discussions without growling at each other too much.

--That Car Guy (Chuck)

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

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