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1989: It Was a Very Good Year!

Nineteen eighty-nine was a dream in a dream
We straddled the thin line between what it means or it seems
To be sure enough we left the world behind

--Grey Eye Glances, "The Lost Coast"

Though nobody expected it to be that way at the start, 1989 was a momentous year, one in which much of what seemed a permanent part of the world was left behind by December 31.

It was certainly that way in Eastern Europe. The "Iron Curtain" looked like it would be there forever on January 1, but that would soon change. In February, the Polish Communist government and representatives of the Solidarity independent trade union entered into the "Round Table Agreement" for the liberalization of the political system; the country held free elections that summer and the new government abolished state socialism and withdrew from the Soviet-dominated "Warsaw Pact" by year's end. In East Germany, a series of mass demonstrations inspired by Solidarity's success led to the fall of the Berlin Wall in November.

"You can bend me you can break me, but you'd better stand clear/When the walls come tumblin' down..." --John MellencampThere were other peaceful transitions to democracy in Chezchoslovakia ("the Velvet Revolution"), Bulgaria, and Hungary. The not-so-peaceful Romanian Revolution in December overthrew the brutal Caucescu regime, and the tyrant met his fate before a firing squad. Even in the Soviet Union, the seemingly-mighty empire which would go out of business completely in anticlimactic fashion just two years later, the government had begun yielding to the tide.

The tides of liberty weren't confined to Eastern Europe. Down in South Africa, P.W. Botha met face to face with Nelson Mandela, one of a series of negotiations which led to the end of the apartheid system of racial segregation. The thuggish Noriega dictatorship in Panama was put out of business Just under half of the class appears in this photo.by U.S. military intervention. Brazil and Chile held their first free elections in decades. In China, the Tiananmen Square protests captured the world's attention before the democracy movement was brutally suppressed.

On a much smaller scale of importance, 1989 was a year of great changes for me personally: I graduated from law school, moved, passed the bar, got married, and embarked on my present career. With my law school class holding its 25-year reunion in August (photo at right), and me being all nostalgic and such because of that, it seemed an appropriate occasion to look back on the automotive world of 1989.

Continue reading "1989: It Was a Very Good Year!" »

The "New" Kit

We all love that new car smell. And we all hate the payment book. But we also love something else about getting a new car, truck, motorcycle, or whatever. It's a bunch of little things that make no real sense whatsoever individually, but collectively, no new vehicle would be complete without them.

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It's called The "New" Kit. And it's those extra little markings, stickers (This time, on the headlight), and other things that usually disappear in a week or two.

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October 20 Weekly Open Thread: American Retro Edition

This week we bring your attention to a photo essay by Vanessa, also known as Nessy, the proprietress of Messy Nessy Chic. Recently, Nessy highlighted a few photos by photographer Ryan Schude, many of whose works feature automobiles, both newer and older. Sayeth Nessy: Tree

The fascinating scenes, the colours, the cars, the people, the places– there’s just so much to soak in, but I’m going to let the pictures do all the talking. All I can say is that his pictures have stolen my American retro-loving heart…

Some of them are a bit busy and, well, goofy for my taste (if that's worth anything) but in most cases the photographs featuring automobiles are mostly simple but elegant in composition. You'll notice often the color pallette of the background scenery and the featured automobile are nicely complementary to one another. They look like they really do fit where they are. Most of them have sort of a mid-century modern flair to them (which I adore), even when there's nothing particularly "mid-century" involved (e.g., the '85 Volvo). I'm particularly tickled that one features one of my faves, the Subaru BRAT.

I'll let you all click over and check out the images in her essay and the photographer's Tumblr pages, all of which are both gorgeously shot and feature several cars known throughout these Car Lust parts. And feel free to discuss anything else. Enjoy.

My favorites (so far) include the photo above and this one in particular:

Jag

 UPDATE: Schude's web site is here and he has a Facebook page for more photos.

Open Thread Mystery: The Answer

On Monday I posted a photo of a couple of old pickup trucks as something of a little mystery for Car Lust readers to solve:

MysteryTrucks

So here's the answer to the mystery:

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2002 -- 2006 Honda CRV

Remember when you were a teenager and you developed various crushes on certain celebrities? Teen girls had their Davy Jones'sDavid Cassidys, Leif Garretts, Rob Lowes, and James Van Der Beeks (pick yer decade, ladies), while we young men had our Farrah Fawcetts, Catherine Bachs, Dallas Cowboys 2006CRVCheerleaders, Britney Spears'ss's, Kate Uptons, and Lamborghini Countachs (hey, we're a little geeky, okay?). Most of those are pretty standard and easily understood even from the pedestal of advanced age. Heck, much to my parents' chagrin, I had Farrah's 1976 Red Swimsuit poster on my wall (along with God knows what all else, I don't even remember; but I remember that one. . .). 

On the other hand many of us probably had one of those that came out of left field that no one else went gonzo over. You know the type, kind of homely, maybe a bit nerdy, and not someone who would leap to mind as being traditionally sexy, hot, or any other adjective that leaps to mind. But for a time they were the center of our little-understood teenaged hormonal universe and we look back on them, again from the pedestal of advanced age, and. . .well, usually get a little wistful after the initial "What was I thinking?" moment. For what it's worth, my bizarro crush was none other than [censored to protect my dignity] so make of that what you will.

Thus my odd and fairly recent fascination with the 2002-2006 Honda CRV. Oh, don't get me wrong, it's a fine vehicle, but more in the way a KitchenAid Mixer is a fine appliance, but definitely not something to almost obsess over. Think perhaps Kate Jackson to Farrah Fawcett. Danny Bonaduce to David Cassidy. Ringo. Answering Mrs. Thurston Howell III to that eternal question for pete's sake! 

So, no, I'm not sure why I've latched onto the CRV as my Objet d'Lust lately. But I suppose admitting it to others is the first step in recovery. . . .

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Carspotters' Challenge #119--"Oh, The Pain... The Pain"

We've sort of done one of these Carspotters' Challenges before. But I saw so many especially Lust-Worthy cars here, I thought... "Hey, what the heck!"

CS 119

I see a car that was in one of the best-loved James Bond movies (Hint: It's 50 years old this month). And I think I see at least one that was designed by fellow Car Lust contributor Virgil Exner, Jr. There are also a few more that I would like to pull out of that pile.

See anything in there that you would like to restore?

--That Car Guy (Chuck)

Image Credit: Our heapin' helpin' of scrap cars image came from PinupsAndKustoms.com.

Miller Motorcars (née) Chinetti Motors, America's First Ferrari Dealership

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Miller Motorcars

There is an elegant structure in upscale Greenwich, Connecticut. It's something of a stately 2-story Tudor with large picture windows, and graces Putnam Avenue with style. At first glance, the building could house antiques and/or art... and yes... in many, many ways, it does house fine art.

The establishment features Ferrari, Maserati, and the occasional "previously owned" Rolls-Royce Motorcar and such. Why, I even thought I saw a more-pedestrian BMW on the premises. They also feature new and, ahem, used Aston Martin, Bentley, Bugatti, McLaren, Pagani, and Rolls-Royce. In fact, they are the only factory authorized dealership for all these unique brands in the state of Connecticut.

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September 22 Weekly Open Thread: The Top 10

Rusty-car1As we all know, every car publication, blog, and TV car show has produced its choices of the "10 Worst Cars Of All Time." And many cars, such as the Chevy Vega, the Pontiac Aztek, and the AMC Pacer, have shown up on virtually every 10 Worst Cars List ever done.

So since those lists have become all too familiar, we're now going to do a 10 Worst Cars Of All Time list, but with a little twist. And we need your help.

The twist is this: We're putting together a list of "The Next 10 Worst Cars Of All Time," and we need your choice(s) for any of the Top 10 worst cars of all time, especially when you exclude the following:

Chevy Vega/H-Body Cars

GM X-Body Cars

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Kia: 20 Years After

Kia the power to surprise logo

Probably the most truthful automotive slogan I’ve read.

Like Mitsubishi’s 30th Anniversary and Scion’s 10th Anniversary, I was caught off-guard by Kia turning 20 in the American market, hadn’t it been for a news snippet on the local classifieds. Truth be told, I wasn’t paying much attention. Kias weren’t my thing. But seeing how much the brand has grown in a slightly shorter period of time than its sister Hyundai, I believe it deserves merit to travel back in time to see where it all began, even if it’s just for the kitschy-ness of it all. So set the VCR to record the series finale of Star Trek: The Next Generation as well as the first episodes of Gargoyles, ReBoot and Street Sharks, to name a few; tie up those rollerblades or Air Jordan IX’s, put some fresh batteries on your Gameboy (don’t forget the Donkey Kong cartridge!) and Walkman (with Corona’s Rhythm of the Night), bring a pair of fresh underwear in your JanSport backpack, get the tickets for Forrest Gump, pay your respects to the late Ayrton Senna, forget about the canceled World Series and please keep your opinion on the OJ Simpson murder case to yourself,  because we’re going back… to 1994.

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The Knight Industries Two Thousand – K.I.T.T.- Behind the Scanner

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Just like the first post, lists of all of his gadgets, websites and blogs have been made and books have been written about the making of K.I.T.T., the stunts and how they were made, so I’ll try to keep those details to a minimum, too. Which was easier said than done.

Continue reading "The Knight Industries Two Thousand – K.I.T.T.- Behind the Scanner" »

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

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