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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

 Image9

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.

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The Knight Industries Two Thousand – K.I.T.T.

  Knight Rider KITT intro scanner shot

2012 marked the 30th anniversary of many things. This date took me by surprise when I found out that movies like Tron and The Last Unicorn (both Jeff Bridges flicks. Wild, huh?) and albums like Yaz/Yazoo’s Upstairs at Eric’s, A Flock Of Seagulls’ self-titled album and Rush’s Signals turned 30. The youngest of the Checker A11/Marathon taxi cabs as well as the original Suzuki Katana also turned 30 in its odometer. Other 1980s wheeled-sweethearts turned 30, the MkII Supra and 3rd-gen Celica, the S-series trucks and the 3rd-gen Pontiac Firebird… and Camaro. But out of that model year, there’s one 3rd-gen Firebird and 1980s icon that also reached this not-insignificant cornerstone: The Knight Industries Two Thousand- K.I.T.T. for short.

Before we begin, it’s worth mentioning that the body, the hardware, is called the Knight 2000, while the computer A.I. itself is K.I.T.T., but to avoid confusion, for this post K.I.T.T. is the whole machine, as it should be. Websites and blogs have been made and books have been written about Knight Rider and K.I.T.T., with lists of all of his gadgets, including those one-offs seen only once, so I’ll try (emphasis on the word ‘try’) to keep those details to a minimum.

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August 25 Weekly Open Thread: Childhood Toy Car Ads

Recently while perusing Youtube, I ran across this vintage toy car ad. And at my (Soon to be) ripe old age, I can honestly say that I totally remember when it was first shown:

 

I've got to say that I wanted one of those sets back then and to be honest, I wouldn't mind having one now. To share with the next generation. Of course. And, this ad also might have made a Car Lust Carspotters post, maybe asking our loyal readers to try to identify the rolling wrecks in the video.

So, do any other vintage toy car ads come to mind? Maybe Hot Wheels and their tracks... or even the Big Bruiser (I had one of them!)?

And as we say every week, this is also the place to discuss anything even somewhat automotively related. In an adult and responsible way. Of course.

--That Car Guy (Chuck)

Theme Week: New Cars Week--A Tale of Two Cars

Regular readers may know that I recently purchased a new vehicle, primarily for fieldwork: a 2014 Subaru Forester. Thus far it's* performed its job quite admirably, and I'm really pleased with it overall. Readers may also be aware that for the 24 years preceding that purchase, my daily driver was a 1978 Mustang II. As this is New Car Week here at Car Lust, I thought I'd take the opportunity to offer a little BothCarscomparison as to the driving experience of the two. I do this because probably not that many of you have been regular drivers of anything made in the 1980s, let alone the 1970s, and probably few have done so recently (and many of you young'uns, not at all). 

To start off with, at the right there are two photographs of the driver's side dashboard of each; I'm assuming you can tell which is which. When first stepping behind the wheel of the Forester I was immediately struck by the wide array of controls and bits of information display devices that were present compared with my Mustang. I haven't actually counted them up yet, but thought that might be part of the fun of this post: how many functions can you count on each, just from the photographs? 

Hidden behind the wheel on the Mustang's left are the climate controls (one heat slider control and one controlling the various fans, heat/vent, etc.) and on the right is a knob for the side mirror, the "cigarette lighter", and a modern radio/CD player with a USB input. The left turn signal stalk also has a cruise control attachment on it.

On the Forester I don't believe anything is hidden, although there are probably a dozen or so additional indicator lights on the dashboard that can light up. 

So have at it! You'll undoubtedly fall far short on the Forester since the screen has dozens and dozens of entries, most of which I haven't even seen yet. I'm betting the ratio probably at least 10:1. 

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Theme Week: New Cars Week--2013 / 2014 Honda CBR600RR (Race Replica)

600RR frontI've mentioned here before that this bike is a motorcycle masterpiece.

And to quote Honda, "And for 2013 the best just got a whole lot better. We’ve given the CBR600RR some major updates, including new 12-spoke wheels, revised ECU settings, and a fine-tuned ram-air system to increase torque. Best of all, the CBR600RR gets a new “Big Piston” fork and retuned rear shock.

And it’s all wrapped up in some sharp new bodywork. There’s even a version with Honda’s revolutionary Electronic Combined Anti-Lock Braking System (C-ABS), the first ever on a production Supersport motorcycle."

All of this is carried over for 2014, of course. And since there's absolutely no difference between a 2013 and a 2014 model, we'll just call them the same, if that's OK.

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August 4th Weekly Open Thread-- "Theme Week: New Cars Week"

New Car SmellThey say nothing smells as good as a new car. And that is kind of hard to argue with. Just ask these two olfactory experts.

This is the time of year when the dealers are "giving away" the 2014 models to "make room" for the 2015s. From "$1,000's Off!" to "Zero Down, Zero % !!!," the dealers will be working overtime to "Get you into this beauty!" with whatever it takes.

So this week, we're going to feature some new cars. Or maybe I should say new vehicles. At least one of these posts isn't about a car.

And as always, this is the place to discuss anything even remotely automotively related. "Anything!"

--That Car Guy (Chuck)

Image Credit: The picture here was found at CHZBGR.com.

The Forgotten Mustang

As of this year, the Ford Mustang, the prototype, archetype, and trope maker of the "pony car," has been in production for half a century. In all the discussion of the Mustang's golden anniversary, and its unquestionably important place in the history of the American automobile, I've seeen very little about the other Mustang, the Mustang that came before the Mustangs that we all know and love.

Ford publicity photo, 1962The "Mustang I" concept car of 1962.

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RIP James Garner

The world lost a fine gentleman and actor this past week. We here at Car Lust express our thanks to Mr. Garner for gracing us with his craft all these years and our regrets at his passing. To help celebrate his life in our own somewhat peculiar way, we're linking to an old post of mine about the car(s) of The Rockford Files. Garner had some input into the choice of automobile for the show and did most if not all of the stunt driving himself; he was that good. And he earned kudos from the real drivers on the set of Grand Prix for learning the craft of Formula 1 racing to a high level. And if that weren't enough, by all accounts Garner was just a damned decent fellow. 

Rest in peace, Mr. Garner. And thank you.

1970-1981 Pontiac Firebird Esprit

by Anthony Cagle on February 08, 2011

You may not ever have heard of this car, but many of you over a certain age probably already know of it. The Firebird, arguably, rarely gets quite the attention that the Chevrolet division's sister car, the EspritCamaro, does but it has a nice lineage and it produced quite a few memorable cars--even though a lot of them appear here at Car Lust rather than in the big muscle car magazines and web sites.

I always preferred the Firebird to the Camaro myself, for whatever reason, and the second generation has always been my favorite, especially the later '70s. Again, for whatever reason, the first generation'sstyling never quite did it for me; it just looks to me like something that was thrown together quickly to get something into the pony car market (this is all apart from the performance which was generally stellar). The second generation's styling just seems to have been well thought out with clean lines, good proportions all around, and manages to seem elegant, powerful, and sporty all at the same time. They look good from any angle. Although I adore my Mustang II the Firebirds from that time remain my absolute favorite car.

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1963 Volkswagen Dunebuggy

Sometimes life gets in the way of having fun.  This is true when it comes to having fun with our cars.  Cars should be more than just tools in our lives.  Many (all?) of us dream of having a great car to have fun in, but for some of us it takes a while to reach the place where that can happen.  For others that "while" is 36 years.

2012-07-15 12.47.54

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

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