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About Anthony Cagle

Anthony Cagle came of age in an era when women were women, men were kinda like women, too, and cars developed a reputation for being overdesigned and underpowered--the '70s. His Car Lust bonafides include owning only one car not made during that ersatz decade of automobile history and then for only a month and a half. He currently pursues archaeology and keeping his 1978 Mustang II as clean and wickedly fast as possible, all the while defending its honor among the hordes of non-Car Lust afficionados.

Posts by Anthony Cagle

VW Rabbit Pickup: 1980-1983

This is what I wrote some time ago about the Chevrolet El Camino:

Ladies, you may stop reading right now. Avert your eyes, if you must, because this post is about men. Real men. Manly men. Who do manly things in manly ways, that only manly men can do them. Men who mow their own lawns, fix a leaky faucet, and change their own oil. Men who brew up a pot of battery acid every morning. Men who use after-shave, not "post-shave skin conditioner with aloe, seaweed extract and Vitamin E with a subtle scent of coriander." Men who wouldn't touch a quiche with a 10-foot fork. Men who only drink whiskeys that are named after animals or people. Men who only cry when their father or best hunting dogs die. Men who frankly, my dear, don't give a damn. Men who know every manly cliche from the last 30 years and aren't afraid to use them.

These men drive a particular type of car. A car that drips testosterone like a leaky gasket. A car that says, "I know what I need, and this is it." These type of men know that they'll never drive the length and breadth of the Kalahari, but they will sure as hell be hauling 4-by-8s home from the lumberyard (note: not the "home improvement store"). Men who don't need fine Corinthian leather or a station wagon dressed up as an Urban Assault Vehicle. No, this is the Steve McQueen of cars: no entourage, no workout video, and no froufrou drinks with umbrellas in them.

This...

"That's no ordinary Rabbit."...is not that kind of car. 

Continue reading "VW Rabbit Pickup: 1980-1983" »

June 16 Weekly Open Thread: Car Lust Crowd-Sourced Data Collection Project

This week I present Car Lust readers with a challenge and a request: Science!

There's a little project I've been pondering for a while now that combines automobiles and evolutionary theory. In fact, cars are often used to illustrate various aspects of evolution, both cultural and natural. DataCarWe note that many stylistic cues on cars -- like the utterly useless VentiPorts on many Buicks after 1949 -- tend to come and go with a certain regularity, while certain other purely functional attributes -- round, rubber tubeless tires, for example -- become 'fixed' in the population, much like natural selection fixes certain traits in animals. 

What I'm interested in, and I'll be a little obtuse here so I don't give it away, is measuring the sizes of particular models over time. I realize that size has many potential components  -- length, width, interior volume, for example -- but I'm going to simplify things somewhat and use only a few attributes. Then I shall use the data to see what trends are present and when. 

So, what I would like to invite readers to do is this: find the specs on a particular model over a period of time, record them in a spreadsheet, and send them to us here at Car Lust (email is to the right). Use 'Data Collection' in the subject line so we can sift through them more easily. Try to get as many data points as possible on a model. Say, for example, all Mustangs from 1965 to the present day. Or Ford F150s through as many years as possible. Or Camaros. Or even a particular Studebaker. As long as it seems like a relatively continuous model line. Try to restrict it to the same configuration as well, say, all 4-doors or all coupes. As long as what you're recording seems to be comparable. 

As for the variables, let's just go for these:

Make/Model; Year; Overall Length; Overall Width; Weight; Height; Wheelbase. Use Inches and Pounds, please. Europeans are certainly welcome, as the broader the database the better; just make sure you note that and make the appropriate measurement conversions. 

Just stick those into a spreadsheet, enter as much data as you can find, and send it in. And please put in another column for the source you derived the data from. If it's a web site, just pop in the URL. If it's a book, just put in the author and title. Just so we can spot check some of them to make sure we're getting accurate data. This is Science after all! Here's a (hopefully) example:

Make/Model Year Length Width Weight Height Wheelbase Source
Ford Mustang 1965 181.6 68.2 2556 51.1 108 http://www.thehenryford.org/exhibits/showroom/1965/specs.html

So go for it, indulge your inner nerd or OCD. In a few weeks, I'll 'analyze the data' as they say, and present it in another post. Send along your name or moniker as well, and I'll make sure to provide proper credit. 

And feel free to talk about anything else vaguely auto-related.

Photo is from this site

June 9 Weekly Open Thread: Youth, the Gift That Keeps on Giving

Which is, at least in some cases, not a good thing.

I direct your attention this week to an article over at The Truth About Cars: I Flunked Driver's Ed: BabyDriver

It’s true. I write about and review cars and the first time that I took driver’s ed I flunked. How’s that for irony? Now I’m not like that Korean lady who spent a fortune repeatedly failing her driver’s test before finally passing on the 950th try. The next time I took it, I passed, then passed my road test, got my license and never had a problem on the road. 

Good article and worth a read. But this is the quote that struck me:

When I was seven and we were at my aunt’s house. I was playing in the car in the driveway, pulled it out of gear and managed to turn it right into a parked car as gravity took over and I couldn’t reach the brakes.

I'm going to go a bit Oprah now and make a bit of a confession. When I was a wee lad of maybe three or four years, I managed to make my way into my parents' car, put it into Neutral, and proceed to coast back down the driveway and into the street. Fortunately, I didn't hit anything except maybe the curb on the opposite side of the street. I do, however, recall madly (and vainly) trying to stop it by pushing down on the brakes, but my little legs just weren't strong enough to fully depress the brake pedal. Or perhaps I was hitting the clutch or the gas, I don't know. Recall that back in the 1960s (when this happened) a big ol' American land yacht with no power brakes would have been a bear to stop anyway, even if you weren't using itty-bitty 3-year old legs. Either way, what I was doing wasn't working and I do remember being in a mad panic. 

And to this day I still have the occasional dream/nightmare where I am in a car and it's moving and no matter how hard I stomp on the brakes, it just won't stop. Matter of fact, I thought of this post not only becaue of the TTAC post but also because I had another occurence of this dream just a few days ago. In fact, it was only a few years ago that I made the connection between that event and the dreams. It actually happened, by the way, it's not a false memory that I made up as an explanation. My mother till brings it up on occasion. 

I find it somewhat amazing that an experience from my childhood almost a half century ago (Did I just type that?) still affects me to this day. 

So what about you, faithful readers? Do you ever get a similar dream? Are there any particularly memorable/terrifying/exhilarating automotive experiences from your youth? Keep it clean, please. And discuss anything else automobile-related that you wish. 

Credit: I got the above photo from this article at The Age regarding a Hyundai ad that was actually pulled: "The Advertising Standards Bureau requested that Hyundai pull the ad in February this year after receiving more than 80 complaints - many from parents who feared their children would attempt to emulate the ad's nappy-clad stars." 

I think we have successfuly demonstrated that you don't need some stupid TV ad to make kids do stupid things. 

Which I shall reproduce here just to stick it to the censors (below the fold):

Continue reading "June 9 Weekly Open Thread: Youth, the Gift That Keeps on Giving" »

Subaru Justy 1987-1994

Following a bit on my post from last week on the Subaru Outback, I thought I'd send a shout out to another of Subaru's goofy little models: the Justy. I'll be honest: I don't really lust after this car. It was Suby_justysmall and underpowered and not very interesting to look at and I'm not sure what all else, but I never thought much of it, with one exception: I really liked the commercial. 

Other than that, it was more or less derived from a Kei car, and had a tiny 1.2-liter 3-cylinder engine and came with either front- or four-wheel drive. The 4WD was what really set it apart; it may not have been the first or only 4WD subcompact out there, but it's the only one that immediately springs to my mind at least. And while I gently deride the engine -- the original carbed engine put out a (none too) whopping 66 bhp -- it did get fuel injection in 1991 which bumped that up a bit and I think was a neat feature for such a tiny little car. 

And, no, I don't know where the name "Justy" came from. 

But, alas, unlike the BRAT which I would dearly love to have, I'm content to just reminisce a bit over the Justy. And it gives me an opportunity to link to their utterly and completely brilliant commercial:

Continue reading "Subaru Justy 1987-1994" »

Subaru Outback: I've Got a Dyslexic Heart

Do I read you correctly, I need you directly
Now, help me with this part
Do I love you? Do I hate you?
I got a dyslexic heart
-- Paul Westerberg, "Dyslexic Heart"

OutbackGen1Yeah, that pretty much sums up my feelings regarding the Subaru Outback. Do I love it for being a practical, non-offensive-looking, Everyman's sport utility wagon? Or do I hate it for being soulless and and styleless and intimately associated with the Birkenstocks-and-socks-wearing set? Who will get irritated most depending on which side I come down on? 

Sometimes it's tough being a Car Lust contributor.

I'll readily concede that I'm occasionally influenced in my taste for a lot of things by the (real or imagined) kinds of people associated with certain items. I admitted as much in my gentle diatribe against the BMW 3-Series and that same sentiment extends to other things. Ferinstance, I was reluctant to get a Mac for a long time because, well, I didn't want to be seen as a Mac PersonTM ("OOOoo, let's wait in line 36 hours for the new iPhone. The headphone jack is on the bottom this time!"). There's even a chance I might have bought a Grateful Dead album at one point but I'd never have gotten past the thought that someone, somewhere might associate me with Deadheads (What do Deadheads say when they're not high? "Hey, this band really sucks."). Not that there's anything wrong with that.

I also admit that I have a proclivity, on occasion, to try for the Ironically HipTM look. You know, like driving around in a hopped-up old pickup truck with fuzzy dice dangling from the rear view and Spandau Ballet cranked up really loud. But I digress.

So I have some trouble with the Outback. I want to hate it, but I just can't; I want to love it, but I just can't. It's functional and practical and efficient and reliable and . . . .bland. Not that there's anything wrong with that. But. . . .

Continue reading "Subaru Outback: I've Got a Dyslexic Heart" »

Car Lust Mustang Classic: My Mustang II

And here we come to the end of our Mustang retrospective with my very first contribution to Car Lust: My very own Mustang II. I've also included a link to something of a followup post on the old Mustang at the bottom. It's recently retired and is moving off into new adventures which will be recounted in a future post. 

by Chris Hafner on March 19, 2008

Submitted by Anthony J. Cagle

I acquired this car back in 1990 while on my way from Seattle to northern California for some MustangBeacharchaeological fieldwork. My month-and-a-half old 1984 Bronco II's engine seized up in central Oregon and, not being able to afford an on-the-spot engine rebuild, I swapped the dealer for something off their lot.

Up until that point I'd not paid much attention to Mustang II's--like many others, I thought of them as "glorified Pintos" and "that thing that Farrah-Fawcett drove"--but this one was in mint condition with only 43k miles on it. It really was owned by the proverbial little old lady who drove it to church on Sundays. And it had a V8! So the deal went down and I drove off with a 1978 Mustang II.

After all of the trouble I had had with both the Bronco and my previous 1975 Buick, the Mustang was a god-send. It drove well, was mechanically sound, but most importantly it just worked. I drove all over northern California for several weeks without problem. And it was fun to drive to boot. The beach photo above was taken shortly after purchase.

Also see this post on the rigors of owning this vehicle.

To view and comment on this post click here.

Car Lust Mustang Classic: Mustang II Cobra II

We end our Mustang retrospective week with a true classic Car Lust: The Mustang II. This post generate moderate interest when it was first put up, but after I linked to it on a Mustang II enthusiast site the partisans came out to defend their car. As much as I love the II's -- I own one, after all -- I had to admit that Chris was mostly correct: It wasn't the greatest car of its time. My view is that the II tried to be too many different things at once -- pony car, personal luxury car, small sporty import, etc. -- and ended up not being very good at any of them. I still think it was a far better car in a lot of ways than the preceding generations, but there you have it. 

by Chris Hafner on September 21, 2007

I wouldn't feel right running a week-long Poseur Muscle Cars in the Afternoon feature without honoring the granddaddy of faux muscle cars, the hands-down premier combination of puffed-up ostentation with knock-kneed weakness, the in-the-sheetmetal realization of the saying "All Hat and No Cattle."

Yes, we're discussing the Ford Mustang II--the Pinto-based blasphemy to the Mustang name. Even today, if you mention the Mustang II to hard-core Mustang fans, they're likely to blanch and quickly change the subject.

When the Mustang II was introduced in 1974, the idea of a downsized Mustang was a pretty solid one. The previous-generation Mach 1 was a massive car--still easily the largest Mustang of all time--that could nevertheless really only fit two people comfortably. Given the trends of the time, a smaller car and a smaller engine made much more sense.

Still... a Mustang based on a Pinto? The Mustang II, symbolizing, I suppose, the rebirth of the Mustang, wasn't a terrible-looking car when it debuted. In fastback trim, with the original relatively understated graphics, it looked pretty good. The Ghia luxury notchback edition, on the other hand, looked pretty awful.
 

Car Lust Mustang Classic: 1964-1966 Mustang

This post was part of our All-America Week back in 2011 where we celebrated many classic American cars. The original Mustang could not conceivably be excluded from that list.

Ya know, I can't believe we haven't done this car yet. After all, this may be the most lusted-after MustangTempaffordable and available car in American history. "Mustang Fever" overtook the USA in 1964, and it hasn't gone away yet.

I guess this post is a little late to the party to be included in our recent "Old Fords Week," but as timeless as these cars are, maybe they don't belong there anyway. I'll stay away from just a boring history of the car (We all pretty well know it anyway) and just try to explain why I think we admire these so much.

I think the main reason people first liked these Mustangs is because anybody could make a Mustang their Mustang, and on a reasonable budget. Each Mustang could be carefully built from Ford's options list, and would be truly unique to the customer.

Mustang showRather than today's mundane trim packages that let you constantly meet yourself on the highway, personalization was what these first Mustangs were all about. And I don't think that philosophy has ever changed.

At one time, there were over 500 dealer spon- sored Mustang Clubs across the country and around the world. 1970 was the peak year with over 200,000 Mustang club members worldwide. In addition to swapping information and stories about them, they are also a great source for parts, or maybe even to find the Mustang of your dreams.

So, do you want to keep it all original? Maybe make it look stock, but replace the suspension, brakes, and drivetrain with modern stuff? You can do anything you want to a Mustang to make it your car.

To read the rest of this post and comment click here

 

Car Lust Mustang Classic: The First Special Edition Mustang

Today's Mustang Classic deals with one of the "Special Edition" Mustangs from the first generation. 

I was cashing a check at the bank recently, and the friendly teller lady had a picture of her '66 Mustang MustangTempright there. I knew we had cars in common and that car obviously meant a lot to her, so I asked her about it. She proudly told me it was a "High Country" Mustang; a car that I had never heard of.

There were people in line behind me, so I got all of the information from her that I could as quickly as I could. She motioned to the extra fender badge, and I smiled and acted like I knew what she was talking about.

But later I talked with a bud of mine who has owned several Mustangs and taken them down to their last lock washer. He hadn't heard of them either... so then I didn't feel so bad.

HC Ad 1966Sales were slow in late 1966, so to boost them locally, a special promotion vehicle for Colorado-area Ford dealers was made. The 1966 High Country Mustangs were special in that they had an extra badge on each front fender, a choice of three unique colors: Aspen Gold, Columbine Blue, or Timberline Green, and, well, that's about it. But all 1966 Mustang body styles, powertrain combinations, and all other options were available with the package.

To read the rest of this post and comment click here

 

Car Lust Mustang Classic: Can You Go Home Again?

Today's Mustang classic was originally submitted by Car Lust reader and Carspotting: Auto Archeology Editor Michael E. Gouge. It's a wonderful ode to Michael's automotive youth and rekindling at least some of what made it such a grand time, connecting two generations of Mustang. 

Mustang guest post
For my fellow car lovers, there is no need to explain the bond a 16-year-old has with his first car. Mine was a 1966 Mustang in Nightmist Blue, and it opened up a world of freedom, of escapism, of pleasure in the sound of an engine purring along an open road. In other words, this angst-filled teenager discovered a home, a sanctuary, in a Mustang.  Three decades hence, that old pony car--along with my youth and a new-found euphoria for the open road--are but memories.

Thomas Wolfe, the acclaimed Lost Generation author who hailed from my hometown of Asheville, N.C., famously wrote, “You can’t go home again.”  The phrase comes from the title of Wolfe’s follow-up novel, published posthumously, to his thinly veiled scathing depiction of Asheville in his classic 1929 work, “Look Homeward Angel.”

Wolfe wrote, “You can’t go back home to your family, back home to your childhood, back home to romantic love, back home to a young man’s dreams of glory and fame … back home to the escapes of Time and Memory.”

I’m offering this brief note on literature because I find myself in some ways journeying back to those youthful dreams and memories Wolfe found are often ruined by time and circumstance. My time machine: A descendant of my long-lost Mustang.

To read the rest of this post click here.

 

Car Lust Mustang Classic: 1984-86 SVO

Another day, another Mustang. This time a true Car Lust Classic: the 1984-86 Mustang SVO. It was a different kind of Mustang in a more European mold, with a turbo 4-cylinder and an emphasis on handling over straight-line performance. While a truly fine car, it didn't make much of a lasting impact on the Mustang line.

I usually go on and on about cars with big honkin' V-8s in big American iron and leave the sporty little 1980

2-MustangSVOs turbo coupes to my fellow bloggers. That's probably the result of the era that I grew up in, where displacement was king and handling an afterthought, if that. Long hood, short deck, and no fewer than 8 cylinders of raw muscle, that's for me, thankyouverymuch.

In a departure from my usual schtick, I shall now sing the praises of another of the forgotten Mustangs  and a true Car Lust special: a 4-cylinder turbocharged Mustang, the SVO (Special Vehicle Operations) made from 1984-1986. It was probably the closest the Mustang ever came to a European-style coupe in terms of execution and all-around performance. And, of course, in true Car Lust fashion, it pretty much went nowhere, too.

To continue reading this post, click here.

Car Lust Mustang Classic: Ford Mustang Boss 302

We begin our retrospective tribute to the Mustang with one of the (few) truly classic cars we've covered, the Boss 302 by our own Chris Hafner.
 

Boss3021_2 I've been doing a little bit of introspection lately, and in the course of that introspection I've realized I've done a really poor job of representing muscle cars. Okay, I started off with a few bona fide muscle cars, but after that most of the muscle car-related Car Lusts have been poseur muscle cars, or cars like the Chevy Cavalier Z24 or Shelby Charger. Don't get me wrong--I love those cars--but frankly my inattention to true, glorious muscle cars is scandalous and unrepresentative.

I've also realized that the only love I've thrown the Ford Mustang's way, in the form of dubbing the Mustang II a poseur muscle car, was pretty backhanded. Happily, Anthony Cagle responded with a post extolling the virtues of his Mustang II. Well, no more of this shabby treatment.

 

Happy Birthday, Mustang!

It was 50 years ago this month that one of the most iconic cars in American history went on sale. April 17, 1964 to be exact. It debuted on April 16 at the World's Fair and went on sale the next day, going on to become one of the best selling cars in Ford's history and giving its name to a new class of automobile: the Pony Car. And we here at Car Lust are going to spend the next week or two looking back at some of TwoMustangsthe models we've profiled over the years. 

The Mustang went through a lot of changes over the past half century. What started out as, essentially, a dressed-up Ford Falcon soon became a monster muscle car, an accomplished Trans-Am racer, and the automotive star of numerous films. Through the dark performance days of the 1970s, it shifted back to its roots as a small sporty car, the Mustang II, probably by doing so saved itself from the fate of several other of its pony car stable mates. After a thorough redesign in 1979 it matured through the 1980s and 1990s to become a favorite of the tuner crowd, especially the 1989-1993 model years (which they very nearly screwed up). After a questionable redesign in 1994, Ford reached back into the nostalgia bin in 2005 and made the Mustang a classic once again. And now they've evolved it even further for its Golden Anniversary year into. . .well, we'll have to wait an see a bit longer how it all comes together. 

How to explain its success? 

Continue reading "Happy Birthday, Mustang!" »

March 31 Weekly Open Thread: Dueling Commercials

Why do we here at Car Lust work so hard? For what? For this? For posts about goofy old cars? Other web sites, they do articles about high end super cars that a total of 29 people actually drive on a daily basis, super-expensive classics that touch asphalt one day a year, and snarky treatises on the detailed ins and outs of the auto industry, and get up to 25 million hits per month. 25 million! Why aren't we like that? Why aren't. . .ummm. . .we like that? Upside-660

Because we're crazy, driven hard-workin' believers in weird cars, that's why. Those other web sites think we're nuts. . . .whatever (we are, btw). Was the Vega nuts? (yes) Pontiac Aztec? (yes) Gremlin? (yes) Allanté? (yes) Were we nuts when we pointed to the AMC Hornet and said it was The Best Bond Car Ever? That's right, we bad-mouthed the 1969 Camaro and you know what we got? A bazillion comments. So we went and bad-mouthed the BMW 3-Series a few months later, and do you know why? Because we really like lots of hits.

But I digress.

It's pretty simple. You write about cars you really like, treat them fairly, and you gotta believe anything is possible. As for all the goofy cars. . . .that's the upside of looking at cars lots of ordinary people live. . .and die. . . with. N'est-ce pas?

Astute readers have probably already guessed that I just parodied a fairly controversial Cadillac ad, which was itself parodied by a Ford ad. As much as we here at Car Lust eschew politics -- seriously, we eschew politics -- I felt this little tit-for-tat marketing campaign might be good fodder for polite -- SERIOUSLY: POLITE -- discussion. I realize the cultural milieu surrounding them is almost inherently political, but we really need to confine comments to the content of the ads, what they say about the respective companies and the core message of each. Do they alienate any of their core customers? Bring in any new ones? Videos below the fold. And feel free to discuss anything else.

My opinion? I'm having trouble fathoming why a commercial that celebrates the benefits -- both material and non-material -- of hard work and perseverance would be at all 'controversial'. But then, to each their own. And the irony of this being from Cadillac, which has graced these pages more than once for their, um, rather sub-par performances (hint hint), makes it all the more intriguing.

But I digress.

Obviously they're both right. They're both hawking vehicles -- let's not forget that part of it -- that were designed, built, marketed, and sold by a whoooooole lot of crazy, driven, hard-workin' believers who wanted to make something more than a two-wheeled wooden cart to haul a religious icon or load of turnips around, not to mention making a better life for themselves than hauling around religious icons or turnips. And all those ecologically-correct environmentalists? Probably posting their composting research to the Web on a computer designed by a couple of crazy, driven, hard-workin' tech gurus. That shade-grown free-trade coffee didn't fly up from Costa Rica on the backs of magic unicorns either. As for the other side, well, the nicest car in the world isn't much fun if you're drowning in your own sewage. So please, try to maintain some perspective.

Image comes from the Fox News (Oh noes! More flames!) web site.

Continue reading "March 31 Weekly Open Thread: Dueling Commercials" »

March 24 Weekly Open Thread

I was sitting around last weekend and happened to catch a portion of The Blues Brothers. I've been watching quite a bit of old 1980s television lately, just for nostalgia's sake (most of which I missed, having spent the bulk of the decade in college and grad school along with the attendant social activities -- i.e., drinking -- that constituted my higher educational career) so whenever something's on from that decade, I make sure to watch a bit of it and reminisce about The Good Old DaysTM or at least see what I missed.

We've touched on the Bluesmobile before, at least in passing, with our ode to the 1974 Dodge Monaco but the film has numerous other Car Lust favorites: The Neo-Nazis' 1974 Pinto Wagon and LTD Country Squire, Carrie Fisher's 1977 Pontiac Grand Prix, and Twiggy's 1974 XKE, not to mention the dozens and dozens of cars wrecked in the many chase scenes (for a while it held the record; that has since been eclipsed).

And did you know what the deal was with the mall they destroyed?

But I shall leave you with some of the classic scenes from the film nicely recreated in modern-day Chicago and environs. I saw this a while ago and have been meaning to link to ever since. Well, now's the time. And feel free to discuss anything else you'd like.

 

Meet the new car, (not the) same as the old car

The vehicle to the right there probably doesn't strike anyone as being particularly significant; for the most part it's not. Just a basic early 21st century compact Compact Sport Utility Vehicle (CUV or SUV), not too different from half a dozen other similar vehicles we see about a thousand times a day on the streets of our fair cities, 'burbs, and rural roads. Just a fairly basic 2014 Subaru Forester 2.5i. Subaru

It has a couple distinctions though. For one thing, it was Motor Trend's 2014 SUV of the Year:

The Forester combines the practicality of a small, wisely engineered SUV with the fun enthusiasts will enjoy. . .The Forester has the right combination of attributes for many SUV buyers, and seems to do the impossible: It has more power than before, with better fuel economy, is fun to drive, offers generous ground clearance, and achieves all this at reasonable prices. The Forester isn't a wagon anymore. When a vehicle does this much and does it this well, it truly earns the title of Motor Trend's 2014 Sport/Utility Vehicle of the Year.

So it's a decent little SUV. And as a matter of fact, it is now not only my primary vehicle, but the final contestant in an almost year-long search for something to take me into the field and back, albeit not quite at the sub-$10k amount I'd intended.

Even more than that, this thing has the distinction of being the first vehicle I've purchased since George Bush was president.

That would be George H.W. Bush.

Continue reading "Meet the new car, (not the) same as the old car" »

March 10 Weekly Open Thread: And Here I Thought 24 Years Was Pretty Good. . .

Via Autoblog, we have a man who owned his 1928 ROlls Royce for 78 years:

Mr. Allen Swift died in 2005 at the impressive age of 102, but his automotive story is even more remarkable. Not only is the gentleman credited with owning a Rolls-Royce automobile longer than anyone else in the world, but he had the forethought and funds to ensure its future preservation after his death.Oldestcar

In 1928, while living in Springfield, Massachusetts, Swift's father gave him a 1928 Rolls-Royce Piccadilly P1 Roadster as a graduation present (Springfield and Rolls-Royce have a history – from 1920 to 1931, the British automaker built 2,944 vehicles in the city as part of its attempt to establish a US plant). The young man was passionate about his green-over-green softtop convertible, not only driving it on a regular basis, but maintaining it meticulously over the decades (the two door-received a complete body-off restoration and engine rebuild in 1988).

I can't say as anyone in my family has ever come close to that amount of time on a single vehicle, although I believe I'm way ahead with mine, at around 24 years coming sometime this June. The Spousal Unit has had her Honda Civic for almost 18 years so we're both either very thrifty or just plain cheap. Well, scratch the cheap part, at least for me: If I counted up all the money I'd put into that car over the years I'd probably cry. In public.

Be that as it may, I did a little searching but couldn't find anyone else who'd owned their cars that long. So we put the question out to readers: How long is your longest-owned car?

And whatever else you'd like to discuss.

Photo is from Snopes.

1987-1993 Cadillac Allanté

How this blog managed to survive for almost seven years without a feature on the Allanté is beyond me. Well, chalk it up to ignoring the obvious I suppose. But better late than never.

I aim here to complete our trilogy of late 20th century Cadillacs that failed to meet expectations.

Say it with me: Only three?

We've already bookended the Allanté with two other unfortunate Cadillac nameplates, the Cimarron, by Cadillac and the Catera. . .also by Cadillac but maybe a bit less embarassing? Well, hardly, but we'll Allante_1
leave that go for now. As a wise sage once remarked, following Karl Marx: "History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce." While our farcical bookends, the Cimarron and Catera, were separated by almost two decades, one might argue that Cadillac had tried to learn something in the interim -- even down to not starting the name with a 'C'! -- and took a new tack by not simply rebadging another GM product and trying to sell it with a few upgrades from the parts bin and charging a wad of dough for the privilege. No, this time they used a different letter for the name (although they almost blew that, too), and tried building something almost from scratch. Did it work?

Well, in a word, no. But it was sooooooo close. Almost irritatingly so. But, like other GM projects that began with a really good idea but seemed to suffer from wrong decisions at nearly every step--*cough* Vega! *cough*--the Allanté was actually quite a good car for the time and, I would posit, still holds up pretty well in most respects. But, being GM in the 1980s, it suffered from a couple of fatal flaws whose origin we look back on with a "What were they thinking?" look on our collective faces.

Continue reading "1987-1993 Cadillac Allanté" »

1937-1940 Ford Coupe

“Down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean. . ."

And he'll probably be driving those mean streets in a 1940 Ford Coupe. Preferably black.

If the El Camino is the Steve McQueen of cars, the 1937-40 Ford coupe is the Phillip Marlowe. Kinda tough looking on the outside, but philosophical on the inside. Not flashy, suave, sophisticated, or calling attention to itself, but tough, effective, and not looking for trouble unless it comes looking for 1940FordTophim. Yeah, that's what this car is all about: “The cheaper the crook, the gaudier the patter.” Or the car.

All melodrama aside, this may seem an odd Lust for me. Heck, pretty much anything pre-1960s is a bit odd for me, even though I've dipped into preceeding decades a few times (e.g., here, here, and here). I'm not even sure why this particular model caught my fancy: I'm really not that into hot rods, of which this generation of Fords is rightly famous. Chopped, lowered, painted gaudy colors. . . .no thanks. I won't bash 'em but I also won't celebrate 'em.

Then again one could conceivably argue that the '37-'40 Fords marked the start of the mass-produced muscle car, of which I am definitely an aficianado. They weren't factory-produced muscle cars like the later ones, but they had the basics down: largely standard cars that many owners -- often for very particular reasons -- modified into ground-pounding monsters. And for the most part they didn't dress them up like a two dollar hooker -- again, for very particular reasons. I like that. I'm a fan of the sleeper, a wicked fast car that looks like a standard grocery-getter until you step on the gas and all those horses come roaring to life.

On top of that, it's a very handsome car, IMO. It's got a nice balance, not too chromed up (usually), and with more of a modern form to it than many others from that period. You can kind of see the direction that automobile design is heading, from the big carriages-on-wheels to a more modern, sleeker, and more aerodynamic design.

Continue reading "1937-1940 Ford Coupe" »

February 17 Weekly Open Thread

This week we bring you yet another list. Thankfully, not another (and another and another. . .) 'Worst Cars Of All Time" list. No, this one is actually kind of fun. It is, via Mental Floss, 11 Features you No BenchseatLonger See In Cars:

It’s hard to picture what today’s teenagers will wax nostalgic about 30 years from now when they reminisce about their first car. (It still required gasoline, perhaps?) Who knows how automobiles will change in the future; what we do know is how different they are today from 30 or more years ago. If you fondly remember being surrounded by two or three tons of solid Detroit steel with a whip antenna on the front from which you could tie a raccoon tail or adorn with an orange Union 76 ball, and enough leg room that you didn’t suffer from phlebitis on long road trips, then you might also miss a few of these.

Among them: The bench seat, ash trays, and vent windows. I like some of these. Bench seats are really passé sad to say, although I'm not sure why I think that; they were never very comfortable and their sole saving grace was the ability to fit three passengers in the front seat (and, um, being somewhat more amenable to certain amorous adventures).

I rather miss vent windows as well. I'm not sure why they aren't made anymore, it seems to me to be a really ideal way of letting a bit of air in without the noise of opening the whole window, if even a crack. Plus you could direct the air flow right at your face. I suppose they were probably expensive to produce and you can get almost the same effect from adjustable air vents.

Ash trays I never had a use for, never having picked up the habit m'self. Ditto the 'cigarette lighter' which most younger folk now might now just refer to as a "DC connector" or something.

Missing from the list? Are there any real hub caps anymore? I've seen a few plastic ones that even have fake bolts molded into them, but I haven't noticed any true metal hub caps lately (not that I've really been looking). I don't think there are too many whitewall tires around either. And of course we here at Car Lust have already told the story of the missing cassette player.

Anything else that seems to have disappeared from the automotive landscape? And feel free to discuss anything else of interest.

Credit: photo is from the article.

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

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