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December 2012

December 31 (New Year's Eve) Weekly Open Thread: Looking Back

139Today is New Year's Eve. And before we watch the crystal ball drop in Times Square and say goodbye to 2012, let's have a cup of cheer, take a few moments to look back, and make those New Year's resolutions that we oh so rarely keep.

December 31 has also been a notable date for transportation-related milestones. Ships, airplanes, and, oh yes, cars, have made some news on this date.

And some of those things that happened on past New Year's Eves include:

1862: The Union ironclad ship Monitor sank off Cape Hatteras, NC. No blockbuster movie/love story has yet been made about the event.

1879: Thomas Edison gives the first public demonstration of his incandescent lamp. He had no idea he LED the way in automotive illumination.

1896: The 25th automobile is built in the USA. It was not built by a Japanese company.

1907: For the first time, a ball drops at Times Square to signal the New Year. The ball was not dropped in 1942 and 1943 due to wartime concerns.

1921: The last San Francisco firehorses are retired. They served heroically in The Great Fire of 1906.

1938: Dr. R. N. Harger's "drunkometer," the first alcohol/breath test device, is introduced in Indiana. Later that evening, the first DUI was issued. The perp later pled not guilty, citing, "The car knew the way home."

Continue reading "December 31 (New Year's Eve) Weekly Open Thread: Looking Back" »

1987 Nissan Sentra Sport Coupe

004I've been wanting to write about this car for a while, so I finally pulled out an old photo album, copied the prints, and went to work.

And this is why: When I worked at the Nissan plant here in Tennessee (Where they now build the Leaf), they had a very affordable Lease Car Program. A version of it still survives. Any full-time Nissan employee, after 8 months of employment, was eligible for the program. The only requirement? You had to have a driver's license; your previous driving record was of no concern.

You could order any Nissan vehicle that was sold in the US and wait about three months for its arrival. The Infinity Division had not yet been born while I was there; I don't know if they are available now or not. But a stripped Sentra could be had back then for as little as $88 a month, and a 300ZX Turbo was, if memory serves, around $270. The BIG NEWS was that insurance was included, with a $250 deductable.

So for a whopping sum of approximately $185 a month, I had the unlimited use of this custom-ordered Sentra Sport Coupe SE. I had seen a prototype/early production model in the plant's Quality Assurance Department for whatever reason (They were never built in Tennessee), and immediately had to have one. The car you see here is the first white Sport Coupe delivered in Tennessee, or so I was told.

Continue reading "1987 Nissan Sentra Sport Coupe" »

December 24 Weekly Open Thread: "And All Through The House..."

Hey folks. Well, it's Christmas Eve, and the Car Lust home office is closing early. So instead of our usual Weekly Open Thread, we're going to do the honorable thing and repost. We hope you enjoy this feature by Cookie the Dog's Owner.

Hopefully the tree is trimmed, the last package is wrapped, and any assembly that may be required has been easily accomplished. So it's time to sit back, watch the fire, get ready for the sleigh to arrive at midnight, and enjoy the evening.

And if you have any comments, please go to the original post and place them there.


"Yes, Virginia...."

by Cookie the Dog's Owner on December 23, 2011


I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Car Lust. Papa says, "If you see it on the Internet, it's so." Please tell me the truth; is there a Car Lust?


VIRGINIA, your little friends are wrong....

...They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age and an over-reliance on Consumer Reports. (They also don't seem to know what a search engine is. Put "car lust" in as your query and it comes right up as the first result, f'cryin'outloud!) They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men's or children's, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere turn signal, an SAE 330 bolt, a radiator hose clamp in his intellect, as compared with the twin-turbo V-16 of the world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth--and of finding something positive to say about Chevy Vegas.

Continue reading "December 24 Weekly Open Thread: "And All Through The House..."" »

Carspotters' Challenge #41--Longroof Night at the Movies

For this week, let's try something different. This is the trailer to the forthcoming documentary film Wagonmasters:

And here's a sequence from the movie itself, shot at the 2011 Hershey Auto Show:

See anything interesting in either clip? (Hint: the white Pontiac has appeared in Car Lust before.)

Sam Smartt and Christopher Zaluski made the film as part of their "homework" while earning their MFAs at Wake Forest University. It's been screened at some film festivals, and they're shopping it around for TV broadcast. Expect the DVD to hit the streets sometime next year.

Looks like our kind of film, about our kind of people.

--Cookie the Dog's Owner

2002-2005 Honda Civic Si (EP3)

(Submitted by Car Lust reader and commenter Tigerstrypes)


Civic 1

While Hondas have not been super-influential to me, I gotta admit that I liked them. I drew their sleek 2-door CG-series Accords and EK9 Civic hatchbacks (both 6th-gen models from their respective models) in my school notebooks from time to time. They were just great-looking cars.

When the 7th-gen Civics rolled in, it took me awhile to get used to the coupe and sedan’s cleaner, sanitary lines. OK, it didn’t take that long. Then I saw the hatch. I was blown away! If the coupe and sedan were evolutionary, the hatch was definitely revolutionary.

Continue reading "2002-2005 Honda Civic Si (EP3)" »

Dec. 17 Weekly Open Thread: Is GPS Taking the Fun out of Driving?

Fsg4_nowhereSubmitted for your edification and approval, this article from The Smithsonian Magazine:

If we are, in fact, ditching the map for flashier gear, will we be better off? Maybe not. A study conducted in Tokyo found that pedestrians exploring a city with the help of a GPS device took longer to get places, made more errors, stopped more frequently and walked farther than those relying on paper maps. And in England, map sales dropped by 25 percent for at least one major printer between 2005 and 2011. Correlation doesn’t prove causation—but it’s interesting to note that the number of wilderness rescues increased by more than 50 percent over the same time period. This could be partly because paper maps offer those who use them a grasp of geography and an understanding of their environment that most electronic devices don’t.

We've all heard or read of people who slavishly follow their GPS while it leads them into deserts, mountains, and even lakes, sometimes with fatal consequences. This isn't to suggest that people never got lost before GPS technology, but I do wonder whether many are not relying too heavily on the devices and letting common sense lapse.

I've yet to break down and get one for the car, relying instead on a trusty DeLorme Atlas & Gazetteer for most of my navigational needs 'round these parts. And, as I once opined, I'm quite comfortable heading down the road "with nothing but a star and an oil company map to steer by." That's not really a Luddite's lament; I'll happily use electronic maps when the need arises, but I don't travel often enough to unfamiliar areas to really need a specific device for navigation. OTOH, I will admit to being somewhat wary of the turn-by-turn GPS units, and e-maps in general: several times either one has been just plain wrong with the location of a road or it decided on routes so circuitous that I really wondered if it had any clue what it was doing. Mostly, I put this down to an over-exuberance on the part of designers to get maps out with something -- anything! -- on them, whereas the slower pace of paper-map making would, I think, tend to persuade mapmakers get something right before committing it to paper. Of course, it's also far easier to update an electronic map, so there's an advantage of the new devices right there.

Still, part of that article resonates with me: knowing the general area you are navigating through rather than just the narrow route your GPS takes you through, for example. I find it quite satisfying to get to where I'm going with a combination of maps, experience, and sometimes just with by-guess-and-by-gosh dumb luck. It also, I think, makes one less prone to panic when making a wrong turn here or there, though I suppose knowing/assuming your GPS will get you back on track probably also has that effect. But I also have sort of a longer-term fear that road designers might end up getting sloppy with their signage once they think everybody's GPSing it around.

So, what do you readers think? Do you use GPS to navigate? Often? Has it ever led you astray? And, as always, feel free to discuss anything else auto-related.

Credit: The Far Side image from this site which laments other GPS-related incidents.

Carspotters' Challenge #40--Border Line Case

The U.S.-Mexico border line, to be specific, in 1969. Please have your passport ready.

"Borderline feels like Im going to lose my mind/You just keep on pushing my love over the borderline"See anything interesting to declare?

--Cookie the Dog's Owner

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


Dear Honda; Here's My Christmas List:

Dear Honda,

CBR500R Beauty ShotYou know, I've been pretty good this year. Haven't been pulled over by the police, and I even brought a pound puppy home for a couple of nights. So since Christmas isn't far away, I thought I'd write and tell you what I want under the tree.

Right as I was preparing to hand you some bank for my dream bike, your NC700X, you came out with something to make an even more perfect union between bike and rider. Oh I still like that bike, but now you are going to make the dang-diddley-darndest thing on two wheels with a motor that I could want... and you're saving me about $1,100 while you're at it.

The bike I want, that you're just now releasing photos of, is your new CBR500R. Unlike the 2012 NC700X, you're offering it in three colors... black, red, and red, white, and blue. I'm churning between the latter and the former, but most likely the patriotic/your team colors will win out. Plus, being mostly white, I hope it will be more visible to everybody else on the road.

Continue reading "Dear Honda; Here's My Christmas List:" »

December 10 Weekly Open Thread: The New/Old Lincoln

Lincintro_570It's official: It is now known as The Lincoln Motor Company. Errrr, what's that? What was it called before? The Lincoln Division of the Ford Motor Company, as of 1940, according to Wikipedia. Well, there you go. 

This has caused a bit of consternation in some quarters, bordering on (dare I say?) sarcasm:

Legions of people with much more experience and wisdom have written about Lincoln’s pitfalls and how the brand can save itself from oblivion, so I’ll steer clear of those prognostications. But it doesn’t take a genius to see that this whole retro theme (which Lincoln has been playing up heavily at auto shows with displays of classic vehicles) is a non-starter.

I don't mind the change so much, but as the TTAC link makes clear, Lincoln needs to have better products or else this whole retro-naming scheme will go down in the dustbin of history as yet another Silly Gimmick designed to put a fancy shade of lipstick on a pig. We'll see, I guess. But who knows, if this works out, perhaps we'll see the return of The Chevrolet Motor Car Company, the Dodge Brothers Company, or perhaps even Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft!

What say you, gentle readers? Is this the first sign of the end of Lincoln, the start of a renaissance for the division, or a minor blip on the radar signifying nothing? As always feel free to discuss anything auto-related.

Carspotters' Challenge #39--Cleveland Rocks!

Cleveland, Tennessee, that is.

Cleveland Tennessee, the Cleveland where rivers don't catch fire.Crawford's Pharmacy is still in business, though apparently not in the same location.

See anything interesting?

--Cookie the Dog's Owner

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

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

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