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Our Cars: 2010 Toyota 4Runner Trail Edition

003Before we begin, I have to clarify that this isn’t really my car in the sense that I own it. Another thing worth mentioning is that I have 3 uncles. To avoid confusion, MR2-driving uncle shall be known as Uncle J, his older brother shall be known as Uncle V and their sister’s husband –and former Chevrolet Astro owner- shall be Uncle D.

An interesting proposition was bestowed upon me earlier in the year (May 2013): my family was to drive Uncle V’s new-ish Toyota 4Runner as part of our daily-drivers, with me being the main driver. This came to be for the following reasons: Grandpa’s former steed, a 2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee Special Edition has been acting up. Not once, but twice I left work in it only to not start, while blocking the same fellow employee in this concrete slab we call parking lot. Thank goodness it had a small descent towards the exit. We got it fixed, but it’s just one of a list of problems that it’s given us. It doesn’t exactly inspire much confidence and its days are numbered.

The second reason was that Uncle J was in Bolivia, at least until mid-July. While over there, we took care of some minor bodywork on his new Ford F-150. Convinced that the truck needed to be used, Uncle V began to use it more as his daily-driver. After the 4Runner got much needed dealership work after serving as my Aunt’s driver while her Toyota Sienna LE was at said dealership, and after I finished ridding the Grand Cherokee of its electrical faults, Uncle V told me to take the 4Runner and park the Grand Cherokee until further notice. While my Mom was the first to let me in on my Uncle’s idea, it came as a surprise that not only did he actually go through with it, but also how soon it was. At least until Uncle J returned in July and order was restored, I have a 4Runner… I kinda like the sound of that.

Continue reading "Our Cars: 2010 Toyota 4Runner Trail Edition" »

The Cars Of "The Andy Griffith Show"

 

TAGS Opening(Sung to the tune that opens "The Andy Griffith Show:")

Well now, take, down, your fishin' pole, and meet me at The Fishin' Hole,

  We may, not, get a bite all day, but don't you rush away. 
  What a great, place, to rest your bones, and mighty fine for skippin' stones, 
  You'll feel fresh, as, a lemonade, a-settin' in the shade. 

  Whether it's hot... whether it's cool... oh what a spot... for whistlin' like a  fool.

 What a fine, day, to take a stroll, and wander by The Fishin' Hole, 
 I can't think, of, a better way, to pass the time o' day. 

The name of that song is "The Fishin' Hole," and those were the words to the whistling theme you heard every time you saw Sheriff Andy Taylor and his son Opie walking toward Myers Lake in Mayberry. Of course Myers Lake didn't exist, so maybe surprisingly, the title openings of the show were shot here.

Just like the music in "The Andy Griffith Show," cars also played an important part. In fact, several of their best episodes were written around them and the people who were driving them. So let's take a gander at a few of these machines... some of them might even surprise you a bit!

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Lamborghini Jalpa

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When did I first learned about the Lamborghini Jalpa? Was it when I saw a pic of it was while perusing through IMDCb.com’s Miami Vice page a couple of years ago? Could have been Rocky IV. I truly believe it was in an indoor auto expo. I have photographic evidence and everything on that one. When browsing Jalopnik, there was this review on the Jalpa. It’s where I got the inspiration and pic to to a Carspotters’ Challenge. It could’ve been that we had few views on the post (nothing wrong with that, it did OK, IMO), but no one blurted out what the black wedge actually was: a Lamborghini Jalpa.

And I don’t blame the readers that didn’t know what it was.

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Car Lust Followup: The Renault Le Car

Seeing as it's the 1st of December and we've recently been discussing winterizing our vehicles, I thought I would throw this out for your consideration. I'm not sure this qualifies as a Car Lust exactly, but it definitely qualifies as a Car Thank You. It also represents something of a turning point in my automotive thought process. Herein, my short, sweet, and cold ode to Le Car.  1024px-Renault5-Le_Car

Yes, we have already covered Le Car (or the Le Car, which may be linguistically incorrect however accurate in marketing terms) in its guise as the Renault 5:

Mention the Renault Le Car to the average person on the street, and, if they even remember it, you'll get only snorts of derision and, perhaps, even some open, scornful chortling.

In truth, the Le Car was an awful car with a cutesy name--slow, unreliable, and little more than a French Chevette. To the cynical, it was the latest installment in a decades-long plot to grind Renault's already iffy reputation in America into dust.

I'm afraid I can't add much to that description and won't attempt to. Nevertheless, despite its sordid reputation, Le little Car holds some pride of place in my Car Lust heart if for no other reason than it once saved my life.

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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.

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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.

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

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