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March 2013

April 1 Weekly Open Thread: Don't Open That Door!

We've all seen it played over and over in hundreds of movies and TV shows: The hero or heroine is trying to escape from the bad guy, monster, zombie, alien, TV critic, etc. They rush to a car -- either theirs or any random car sitting nearby which miraculously almost always has the key left in the ignition -- and start it up. . . .only to find it won't start! After thumping the steering wheel and looking at the approaching fiend a couple of times, the car miraculously starts just as the bad guy reaches it! Saved! (loud clip, btw)

I'm not entirely certain when this particular cliché got started. Some have argued that it all began with Double Indemnity when the director, after his personal car didn't start on the set, decided that a little more drama was required and had the actors pretend to have difficulty starting the car a couple of times before really turning it over for real and speeding away. This made sense to me growing up because, let's face it, anyone over the age of 30 or so remembers when cars quite often did have trouble starting. This scenario has gradually changed as cars have become far more reliable and the idea of, say, a Honda not starting up is kind of unthinkable.

Continue reading "April 1 Weekly Open Thread: Don't Open That Door!" »

Car Lust Easter Classic: What Did Jesus Drive (WDJD)?

On this Easter weekend we resurrect (pun entirely intended) a Car Lust Classic that poses a question nobody really asked: Just what did Jesus drive?

A somewhat farcical question to be sure, but one that we here at Car Lust are more than willing to throw ourselves into with gusto. This post has as its ultimate source a small movement some years ago by environmentally-directed religious groups to get people out of their gas-guzzling SUVs and into JesusDrivingsmaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles (no obvious relation other than in name to the band). While the merits of this quest of theirs is beyond the scope of this post, it nevertheless spurred me to ponder the question: Just what did Jesus drive?

Admittedly, a small treatise on the wheeled vehicles present in the early 1st century AD Levant isn't all that relevant to modern drivers. OTOH, it's still (IMO) a useful exercise that may shed some light on our common wheeled heritage going back a bit further than the initial stabs at automobiles early in the preceding century. Besides, a little foray into ancient history never hurt anybody and it might add another small  dimension of humanity to the divine that many of us are celebrating this coming weekend.

So, come with me as we journey back 2,000 years to see what sort of wheels our Car Lusting forebears were perhaps drooling over and come at least a little closer to answering the age-old question of: What Did Jesus Drive?

(Obviously, If Jesus did come back today, He would certainly drive a 15-passenger Econoline van: room for the 12 Apostles, plus the two Marys, of course!)

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David's Greatest Hit: The 1992 Mercury Marquis

DD Grand MarquisNathan of Brainfertilizer Fame:  I never met David. We didn't spend extra time talking via emails, and I never once heard his voice.  We never shared a special friendship above all others.  But we shared something: a silly love for cars that didn't always deserve the passion.

John Donne said, "Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankind; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee."

Do not ask for whom the car horn honks; it honks for thee.

I hope that my alteration of the quote isn't taken as a lack of respect.  It is my first reaction to try to lighten serious moods, to make it easier to carry the burden.

At times, as I've participated in various online communities, I've wondered what would happen if I died.  How would anyone know?  How would I be remembered?  Would I be missed?  Would my absence even be noticed?

David, you are remembered.  You are missed.  This man, whom I have never met...his friendship, the bond created through a common love, touched me in ways I never realized until he was gone.

Continue reading "David's Greatest Hit: The 1992 Mercury Marquis" »

Car Lust Classic: Our Cars--1951 Cadillac Sedan

by David Drucker, posted May 2, 2008

1951cadillac1I want to tell you about the 1951 Cadillac sedan I bought in 1970. Not because it was such a wonderful car--although it most definitely was--but because of a defining experience I had behind its enormous, non-power-assisted steering wheel. First, though, let me introduce the car.

I was 21, living in Brooklyn, and needed something to replace the '65 Dodge Custom 880 that I had, in a fit of pique, sold. For a while I looked at first-generation Corvair convertibles which, thanks to Ralph Nader, were as cheap as cheese. I was about to answer an ad for a red four-speed when a nearby listing caught my eye. It read, “1951 Cadillac 62 sedan. Black. Good shape. $150.” I was intrigued, and not just by the price. You see, in 1970, a car from the early Fifties looked positively ancient. It made a fashion statement that your average late-Eighties sedan wouldn’t begin to duplicate today....

Click here to read the rest of the original post.

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The David Drucker you saw here at Car Lust, unashamedly singing the virtues of V-8 Yankee road barges like the one above, was just one small part of a very large picture. He was the author of Billboard's Complete Book of Audio, an avid musician and guitar collector whose musical tastes ran from the Grateful Dead to Frank Sinatra by way of Alison Krauss and Widespread Panic, a fan of Terry Pratchett's Discworld books and Monty Python's Flying Circus. He was one of those people who found joy in life, and brought joy to everyone around him. Though I never physically met him, my life is richer for having known him.

As he walks the Streets of Gold, I have no doubt he'll come across a pristine '92 Grand Marquis with the keys in the ignition and a copy of American Beauty in the cassette deck--that or a '51 Caddy.

--Cookie the Dog's Owner

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David's work here at Car Lust inspired me before I became a contributor. He brought the perfect cars to the limelight, and contributed to our long-running "Very Good/Bad Years" series. I can't remember a bad word he ever said about anybody or anything... in fact he even defended minivans.

I, too, never met or chatted with David. But I still felt I knew him. He, I, and the rest of the Car Lust writers and readers are united by our interests in these jalopies. I just wish he was here to write some more about them.

And if I take anything from this, I want to reach out and meet as many of this group as I can. I'd like to call some folks and put a voice to a name. Maybe even meet one or two more in person. We've lost a member of the Car Lust family... but maybe this will knit the rest of us a little closer together.

David, I hope you enjoy that Grand Marquis up there.

--That Car Guy (Chuck)

Car Lust Classic--A Minivan Is Better Than What You're Driving

Odysseyextby David Drucker, posted August 22, 2008

I don't care what your current ride--or even pie-in-the-sky dream ride--might be. A minivan is better. "But wait!" (I can hear you say)... "A minivan will make me look, well, like a minivan-driving loser." Get over yourself. If your self-image is based on what you drive, just put a Ferrari Owners Club license plate frame on the minivan. Awestruck onlookers will assume that your Ferrari is in the shop, which it probably would be anyway....

Click here to read the rest of the original post.

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I didn't know David Drucker particularly well, having only 'worked together' tangentially here at Car Lust. Being as we're such a far-flung and almost entirely virtual set of co-workers, I haven't really gotten to know any of the other contributors very well -- I've only met Hafner once and we live in the same city! -- but we've generally worked together harmoniously and with little conflict. All this despite having some deep divisions on certain subjects, from the role of the SUV to (probably) politics and, perhaps far worse and more contentious, basketball. I think this is probably because this is an all-volunteer outfit and we're just in it for the love of writing about (mostly) dorky cars. Still, it saddens me to see one of our own shuffle off this mortal coil and into the Great Unknown. At my age (ca. 50) I'm still young enough to be surprised when people I know pass away, but old enough to be starting to get used to it. As a great philosopher once said "We seem to have reached the age where life stops giving us things and starts taking them away."

Like many others here, I enjoyed David's devotion to big American cars, even though some of them had barely crossed my radar over the years and the idea of someone actually writing fondly about them was beyond my ken. I mean, a 1992 Mercury Grand Marquis? Well, that's what we're all about here, and David pretty much exemplified the Car Lust philosophy in every one of his unfortunately small stable of posts.

The one that will always stick with me, however, is his famous homage to the minivan. "A Minivan is Better Than What You're Driving" -- the title alone is enough to demand a click-through just to see what this deranged lunatic is talking about! But, you know, it actually made some sense; even though I didn't agree with all of it, the whole post started to change my mind about minivans -- especially in comparison to SUVs -- and my own attitudes towards them (along with our Minivan Madness Week which, if memory serves, this may have been the impetus for). I've actually passed that link along to others who are thinking of bypassing a minivan purchase because they don't want to be one of those people who drive a minivan. And all this after Drucker went and celebrated the Lincoln Navigator! Truly the mark of a great mind: the ability to hold two opposing ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.

So, yeah, even though I didn't know him very well personally, I'll miss David's unique insights into the world of Car Lust. Requiescat in Pace, sir: You enriched my life.

--Anthony Cagle

David Drucker 1949-2013

David Drucker (photo by Cliff Monges)In 1971 an automotive journalist described David Drucker to an editor/publisher as having "a debilitating passion for cars."

Alas, nothing came of that recommendation. Still during a 30+ year career in consumer electronics journalism Drucker seized the occasional opportunity to contribute to Automobile Magazine, Autoweek, American Iron, and other publications.

Blogging for Car Lust allows him to fulfill a lifelong dream of writing about cars for no money, and with no deadline.

That is David Drucker's biography here at Car Lust. Last Friday came the sad news that David had passed away. 

His friend Todd Stuart Phillips wrote on Facebook, "This morning my friend, David Drucker, exited the bus and passed away from this circle of the world, but not from the hearts and souls who were enriched by his friendship, warmth, and frequent examples of how to be a good, kind, musical, funny, loyal person, increasing the happiness around him and making the most out of the simple but priceless pleasures. This long, strange trip will never be the same without him. So we shall sing the songs he sang, and try to be as peaceful and loving with our fellows, as so effortlessly was David."

Car Lust will be paying homage to David this week and remembering him by featuring some of his excellent posts--maybe even writing a comment or two along the way.

Rest in Peace.

--The Car Lust Contributors

(Photo by Cliff Monges, used with permission.)

Carspotters' Challenge #52--Blue Hawaii

Waikiki in the pre-McGarrett part of the 1960s.

"Lovely you/And blue Hawaii/With all this loveliness/There should be love..." --Elvis PresleySpot 'em, Danno!

--Cookie the Dog's Owner

(Photo obtained from the SDC Forum, to which it was contributed by member "JRoberts.")

$100,000 Fantasy Garage Challenge: Readers' Responses

Our readers seem to have had at least as much fun with the Fantasy Garage Challenge as we did.

If I had a million dollars..... (Photo from the Station Wagon Forum)Here's what they came up with:

Continue reading "$100,000 Fantasy Garage Challenge: Readers' Responses" »

March 18th Weekly Open Thread: The Borg Edition

With this entry, we continue (sort of) our series of Star Trek Cars, although this one may actually be more deliberately Trekkian in origin than those others. For those unfamiliar with this whole "Borg" thing, I direct Borg from frontreaders to the relevant Wikipedia page:

Borg is a collective proper noun for a fictional alien race that appears in various incarnations of the Star Trek franchise. The Borg are a collection of species that have been turned into cybernetic organisms functioning as drones of the collective or the hive. A pseudo-race, dwelling in the Star Trek universe, the Borg force other species into their collective and connect them to "the hive mind"; the act is called assimilation and entails violence, abductions, and injections of cybernetic implants. The Borg's ultimate goal is "achieving perfection".

I actually find this to be a fascinating concept, something of a melding of different science fiction end-of-the-world scenarios. Instead of a purely biological (e.g., Invasion of the Body Snatchers) or machine (e.g., The Terminator, The Matrix) entity or collective taking over humanity, with the Borg we have a combination of the two. I should also point out, however, that this isn't an entirely new concept. BorgPicardAmong probably others with which I am unfamiliar, the Dr. Who series also had a species of cyborg -- the Cybermen -- attempting to absorb other species into their collective, although the Borg took the concept to a higher level, being possessed of a 'hive mind" rather than justa large collection of autonomous beings with a common goal.

Admittedly, this is all just a nerdy prologue to the car of the week provided here. I have no idea what the story behind this car is; the photos were sent to me by a colleague from the University of North Dakota. I've not even determined what make/model/year it originally was. Apparently, this "Borg car" has often been seen parked near the engineering building, and she decided to snap a couple of photos. An engineering student's project car? A Trekkie's project car?

Or could it be. . . .

Continue reading "March 18th Weekly Open Thread: The Borg Edition" »

$100,000 Challenge, Take 2: Nathan of Brainfertilizer Fame's Max Cars Edition

After reading Chris Hafner's post, I realized that if I hadn't gone so Mazda-heavy, I could have gotten some great 20- and 30-year-old cars in my garage.

I wanted to try again, with a fresh slate.  I hope you'll indulge me, and I hope you even find it entertaining.

But I've got to change the rules, slightly.  I'll still have limitations, because limitations help channel and inspire creativity.

First change: no "car currently on sale" requirement.  All cars need to be 20 to 30 years old.  Maybe 15, at most.  The point is to get cars that are old enough to be great value, but not so old as to be "classic".  The point is to catch cars near the bottom part of the trough, where the value has declined as much as possible, but not to the point where the value starts to rebound from rarity/coolness.

Second change: I have to have exactly 20 cars.  No more, no less.  The point is to see how close I can get to the $100k total without going over, for exactly 20 cars.

Third change: All car prices will be according to the NADA "clean retail" price, but here's the twist: if you can manage to find a 20-year-old car in "clean retail" condition, it won't really be ready to go.  The coolant system will be having problems, or it will consume oil as lustily as Vikings drank mead, or the paint will be starting to flake off, or a few minor rust points, or the alignment will be horribly off, or...you get the picture.  A 20-year-old car that wasn't lovingly restored to new condition is going to have some issues.  So right off the bat, I will budget $2000 per car to get it up to speed.  That might go to a tune-up, or a paint job, or a replacement door + paint, or an alignment, or a new radiator, etc.  That might be an underestimation, but we are starting with a "clean retail" example, so I think an average of $2000 will work.

That leaves me with $60,000 to get 20 cars.  So I'm looking for cars I can get for averaging just about $3000 each.

That's the rules I have.  Let's see what I come up with.

Continue reading "$100,000 Challenge, Take 2: Nathan of Brainfertilizer Fame's Max Cars Edition" »

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

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