Blogs at Amazon

Car Disgust

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" »

February 10 Weekly Open Thread: Most Boring Open Thread Ever

*yaaaaawn*

Yeah, Dullsville. Corolla

Paint drying.

Chartered accountancy.

Sitting in a bucket of warm wallpaper paste reading a Jane Austen novel.

February.

Or perhaps a Toyota Corolla? I've taken to disagreeing with my esteemed colleagues on this one: It's not the Camry. I know, I know, it's sold 40 million copies and is the best selling nameplate ever. It's reliable. It's practical. It's cheap. It's. . . .boring. So boring that after looking at it for five minutes I kind of want to poke out both of my eyes just to give them something interesting to do.

When I first saw the "Corolla S" out and about I had a fleeting thought that maybe they'd finally done something interesting with it, but such was not to be. Unless you consider adding a "Unique piano-black front grille" to be, you know, interesting. More "utterly forgettable" is more like it.

So I dunno, talk about the Corolla or anything else auto-related you can think of. I'm already tired of thinking about this car. It's. . . .it's. . . . . .

What was I talking about again?

April 22 Weekly Open Thread: The "New Car" Blues

Used-car-salesmanOur recent $100,000 Fantasy Garage Challenge has inspired me to seek out and find a new vehicle. I won't say the brand so that nobody gets offended or sued, but I will say that so far, the experience has been a borderline nightmare.

On my first visit to the dealer, they said they can't discount any new ones at all. Then I got on the internet, and saw that they are advertising a $1,500 discount or more on all of them (after a "Dealer Fee" of $598 is added).

Now I'm getting the usual runarounds... "There's no markup to work with," and "It's the time of the year where everybody wants one."

There was the perennial favorite, "There aren't any incentives on them right now." Then I got hammered with, "What are you going to trade in?" (I never trade.) Also, "Who do you have your financing with?" (It's a cash deal, folks.) Seems they're exploring every other opportunity to stick me as well. At this point, I'm seriously thinking about forgetting the whole thing.

But the biggest "pisser" has been when I have twice placed a vehicle request all over the Middle Tennessee region, and the local dealer sees it. They saw the requests and quickly called me back to say, "You won't get a better deal than we will give you," and, "You need to come back in so we can toss some numbers around."

Continue reading "April 22 Weekly Open Thread: The "New Car" Blues" »

$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" »

Car (Truck) Disgust: 2002 Lincoln Blackwood

Blackwood frontWe here at Car Lust haven't done a "Car Disgust" post in a while. That's because these posts are usually reserved for the most vile aberrations of automotive expression, the lowest of the low, cars that either have the soul of the devil, or maybe no soul at all.

Car Disgust also includes vehicles so poorly designed or rebadged that the public takes one look, and either laughs histerically, runs away from them, or shrieks in terror en masse. Or worse, we aren't affected at all.

And I think we have one here today folks, that fits many of the requirements of true Car Truck Disgust.

Blackwood rear greatSo if I may, to get this post rolling, a little history first. At about the turn of the 21st century, the "Bling" movement was coming into vogue. Some requirements to be in this crowd were that your vehicle had to have huge-diameter (Dubs or larger) shiny wheels that attracted both attention and thieves, tons of chrome and/or gold trim, and all passengers were customarily attired in white wife beaters, excessive jewelry, and droopy trousers. The automotive term "grilles" took on a whole new meaning as well.

To cash in on some of this blingness, Lincoln took one look at this trend, took their F-150 pickup, and tried to turn it into an instant "Blingmobile." But despite a blingafied effort, I think their attempt of puttin' da 'Wood in da 'hood was epic fail.

Continue reading "Car (Truck) Disgust: 2002 Lincoln Blackwood" »

Highway HORROR!!!!

Aaaaaaaaaaaahhhh!Tomorrow is Halloween, and our culture is once more engaged in its annual flirtation with the macabre and the supernatural--ghosts, witches, ghouls, monsters, ancient legends that turn out to be all too real, mad scientists tampering with Things Man Was Not Meant To Know, open portals to Hell, and nameless horrors from A to Z.

In the, ah, spirit of the times, Car Lust today counts down the five most horrifying things ever to roll on four wheels.

Come along and see for yourself. 

You're not scared, are you?

Continue reading "Highway HORROR!!!!" »

Car Disgust: 1997-1999 Oldsmobile Cutlass

(Submitted by Car Lust reader and commenter Al Sapp)

Cutlass 4In the late 80’s, Pontiac’s ad campaigns forced themselves right into your face. One such commercial, seen on this blog a few years back, featured a kick-ass hair metal jingle, with people dressed in all white power sliding Trans-Ams and Fieros around dark neon-y streets, high fiving, and pointlessly jumping into the back seats of drop top Sunbirds. The whole theme for all the tin Indians back then was “We build excitement!”  However, this was still a period when the Firebird’s speedometer still only went up to 85. Of course, Pontiac paid no attention to that, and still stressed the “buy a Grand Am or get left in the dust” spiel.

Down the hall at Oldsmobile, things were just a little bit different. From commercials ranging from a car singing about the fact that it “knows the roads from Oregon to Maine”; ads claiming “this is the new generation of Oldsmobile.” And then there’s the one we all fall over laughing at: This is not your father’s Oldsmobile.” (Note from TCG [Chuck]: Al, I inserted that link; that's my house at 16:00.)

Olds tried telling everybody that they didn’t build bland, dull, boring cars. This was just plain ol’ simple denial. They didn’t build interesting cars. They built hoary cars, and labeled them exciting. The reason we laugh at “This is not father’s Oldsmobile” is because it’s a good source of irony. When Olds was running these ads, the cars they were building were your father’s Oldsmobile.

Continue reading "Car Disgust: 1997-1999 Oldsmobile Cutlass" »

5th Birthday Week--Anthony Cagle's Greatest Hits

HillbrookI've never met Anthony Cagle, but I think we'd have a lot in common. He's into history by trade; I do it as a hobby, like having spent part of the last four years relocating a magnificent mansion named "The Hillbrook ." This not so humble abode used to stand in Westchester County, New York, and was once owned by the family of a dear late friend of mine.

But where we probably share the most commonality is our admiration (Dare I say love) of the Mustang II. I bought a new one in 1974; presently he is the keeper of a magnificent 1978 Fastback. And if he ever wants to sell it, I hope he lets me know.

So in keeping with this week's theme, I'd like to present a few of my favorite Car Lust posts by Anthony J. Cagle, and a few words about each:


1962: It was a very good year

on December 18, 2008

I take this opportunity to sing the praises of not one car, but many: those from a single year, 1962. Why this particular year? I can almost hear the thoughts of many out there wondering why this year and not some other one that has way more hot cars. What about '69 when we had Super Bees and Boss 302s? Or maybe 1964, which saw both the GTO and the Mustang debut? To these criticisms I can only respond: Hey, this is Car Lust, after all.

Continue reading "5th Birthday Week--Anthony Cagle's Greatest Hits" »

Car Lust Classic--"Cimarron, by Cadillac"

Unfortunately for GM, this was not an April Fool's Day joke.On May 21, 1981, one of the biggest "You've got to be kidding me!" moves in automotive history was made when General Motors' Cadillac Division rolled out this generic economy car to an unenthusiastic, not-so gullible press corps and public. Essentially a rebodied Chevrolet Cavalier, even today the Cimarron evinces grimaces from Cadillac faithful....

The Cimarron was virtually identical to GM's other J cars, but its Planet Bizarro pricing was roughly twice that of any of the other "J" cars that had the same equipment. During development, GM President Pete Estes had warned Cadillac General Manager Ed Kennard, "Ed, you don't have time to turn a "J" car into a Cadillac."...

Click here to read the rest of the original post by That Car Guy, and to leave your comments.

Great (?) Moments in Badge Engineering

"Badge engineering" occurs when an automobile manufacturer sells what amounts to the same car under two different brand names.  It's not to be confused with "platform sharing," where two or more different cars share some or all of their basic engineering. To illustrate the distinction with an example: the first-generation Chrysler minivans shared the K-cars' platform, but a Plymouth Voyager was a completely The Reliant K, not to be confused with the Aries K...different vehicle from the Plymouth Reliant--that's platform sharing.  On the other hand, the Reliant and its Dodge Aries counterpart were identical in all but minor decorative touches--that's badge engineering.

Economically, it makes sense to use as many common components as possible across multiple product lines, and carmakers have been doing this ever since Benz & Company Rheinische Gasmotoren-Fabrik started offering two model lines way back in eighteen-ninety-something. Platform sharing is so common we almost don't notice it anymore, and VW is taking the concept a step further by developing a "construction set" platform that all of its vehicles will eventually share. 

The problem arises when the manufacturer gets too focused on keeping costs down (or too lazy, take your pick) and shares more than drivetrain components or platforms between cars. Share too much, like, say, all of the outer body sheetmetal, and soon what are allegedly "different" cars become indistinguishable, whether viewed from twenty yards away or from the front left seat. We look down on the practice today as the bane of automotive variety, but the first recorded instance of automotive badge engineering was actually welcomed by consumers.

Continue reading "Great (?) Moments in Badge Engineering" »

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

Powered by Rollyo

Car Lust™ Contributors

September 2014

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
  1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 30