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Back To The Future Day: The Future Is At Bob Statler Toyota

2016-toyota-tacoma-statler-back-to-the-future-teaser-02If you’re a Back To The Future fan and are also good with math, then October 21st might hold a special meaning: It’s the date certain teenagers and eccentric genius scientist come visit the year 2015 in a souped-up time machine sportscar.

I’m not here to bemoan the lack of certain future-tech (there are plenty of other people doing that) that even BTTF head-honchos Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale knew they weren’t going to happen by this date, but decided to add it to their franchise for the fun of it.

We’ve seen plenty of BTTF-related news articles, movie re-runs, merchandise and marketing campaigns, all of which were kinda inevitable, given the popularity of the franchise, though I'll admit that it's a little overwhelming how many companies have jumped the Back To The Future Day bandwagon.

Which brings us to today’s post. Some time ago, I’ve found an article telling the story about Marty McFly’s black Toyota pick-up truck, its fall from grace and how its current owner is restoring it. Thinking that I found a follow-up story, I stumbled on another BTTF-based marketing campaign. After getting over the brief disappointment, I checked it out. It was pretty neat; I never realized that Hill Valley’s Statler Toyota had their roots in selling horses way back in 1885! Then, the following teaser scene appeared:

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Going (Semi) Topless: The T-Top

Ah, the T-top. Like the opera window a classic from (mostly) the 1970s. This semi-convertible feature was designed to give you the open-top experience of a convertible while getting rid of flimsy and leak-prone rag-tops, giving the driver a coupe-like quiet inside and maintaining some semblance of structural rigidity. Pop the panels off, stow 'em in the trunk (or garage if the rain chance is low), and you can cruise around admiring the sky and feeling the wind in your hair.  1978_Trans-Am_bandit

That was the idea anyway. What many ended up with was a leak-prone roof that didn't make much appreciable difference in what was considered 'handling' back then. Whether installed at the factory as part of the options package or put in later, T-tops seemed like such a great idea but never really worked as well as their billing suggested. They've made an appearance off and on since their heyday in the 1970s, but for the most part they've been supplanted by traditional convertible tops (that actually work well), single-piece removable tops (ala, the modern Thunderbird), or more modern retractable hardtops. 

I've often thought that the T-top was a great idea -- a happy medium between the true convertible and the coupe -- that manufacturers would find some way to bring them back, make them work well, and give us nostalgia-seekers a little feeling of semi-convertiblism in our modern, comfortable, and well-performing automobiles. It's been 30+ years, the time must be ripe. . . .right?

Probably not, sadly. 

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Carspotters' Challenge #154: "Sha-za-yum!"

Many of us grew up watching "Gomer Pyle, USMC," if even in reruns. But one episode probably appealed to us car nuts the most. That episode followed Gunnery Sergeant Vincent Carter's most beloved possession, his car, left in the "trusty" hands of, you guessed it, Gomer. Needless to say, the car looked different after Gomer had it for a while.

Here's the "Before":

  Sgt Carter's car

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Our First Cars Week (Week Two): 1998 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo

IMG_0725The Our First Cars series couldn’t have come at a more opportune time: 2015 marks the 10th Anniversary of when I got my driver’s license. With that in mind, I’ve toyed with the idea of breaking the silence and talk about “my” first car: a 1998 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo.

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Our First Cars Week (Week Two): Chuck's 1972 Vega Hatchback

Fair Warning Dear Readers. This may be the most positive review of a Chevy Vega since 1973.

Vega day 1I wasn't even halfway through my 16th year, but it was time to have a car. I had a couple of motorcycles up to then, but the junior year of high school wasn't far away, and I needed a ride.

For whatever reasons, the idea of a small car won out over and large or muscle cars. Or any trucks. I really wanted a '65 or '66 Mustang, but they were just considered "old cars" in 1973. A Chevy Nova would have been nice, but...

The Vega was still new to the car scene, and they were really cool in those early years. The Vega GT was the most fun and racy looking, especially with the sport stripes that were usually found on them.

One day while riding around our little town, I spotted a red Hatchback on a used car lot. We stopped in, and it looked like new. Plus it had some very desirable options... air conditioning (This was July in Tennessee after all), tinted glass, the Custom Interior, and it had a 4-speed. The Hatchback also had wheel trim rings, "bright" metal body side moldings, and the all-important AM push button radio. Immediately, I began to wonder how many gears I could bark the tires in.

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Our First Cars Week: Virgil Exner's '37 Ford (Then and Now)

Mr. Virgil Exner has taken his first car, a 1937 Ford, and significantly updated it. Now called "Purple Max," the car is a sight to behold and surely would be a thrill to drive. Looking very much like a dragster, the Purple Max would cause crowds to stir at any event it attended:

  Fullscreen capture 8282015 33059 PM.bmp

PURPLE MAX  Specifications:

• Frame: Semi-Space Frame; 2” and 1.5”, 14 Ga. sq. steel tubing. 2” Dia. Roll Bar. 

 • Body: Molded & Sheet Fiberglass. Front Fenders turn & Jounce, Rears are Fixed. Tinted Lexan Canopy slides rearward and pivots down for entry. Side Grillework provides air exit and intake in several areas.

• Engine: Ford 302 V8 (280HP Carburated) with Ford A.O.D. Trans.

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Our First Cars Week: My First Car(s)

I'm a bit torn on this one because this discussion more or less depends on what the definition of my first car entails. Is it the first one I drove almost exclusively as mine, or the first one I actually owned and drove outright? 

One might think that the latter would be my car of choice, the one I look back on with fond memories

Anthony's Buickthrough rose colored glasses and lament that I ever let it slip away from me. One might think that, but one would be dead wrong in my case. I hated that thing. That 1975 Buick Century perfectly embodied everything that was wrong with the American automotive industry in the later 1970s: heavy, underpowered, and unreliable. I did have quite a few memorable (née, nostalgic) adventures in that old Buick -- from an epic road trip from the mid-west bound for the west coast to a delightful summer on an island with a nicely attractive young blonde -- but I still hated it then and hate it now. No matter how much of my hard-earned money I spent on it (which was to say, $1; I "bought" it from my parents). 

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September 21 Weekly Open Thread: "Our First Car(s) Week"

Our first car imageGreetings and salutations, dear and faithful Car Lust readers. It seems that we, your humble contributors, have been working on something special as of late. So we bring to you, for better or worse, the first cars we either owned, or drove as our principal mode of transportation, back in the day.

No, Mumsie and Daddykins didn't leave the keys to a new Ferrari next to the birthday cake; most of these machines were brought to us by our own labors. Or we shared them with others in our households.

Either way, these were the first contrivances that gave us freedoms we had only dreamt about.

We'll try to post all of these in one week, but we may go into next week as well. All I'll say is that we have some pleasant posts in the hopper. Maybe they helped make each of us the car enthusiasts we are, and/or maybe they taught us how to differentiate between a metric and an SAE Crescent Wrench.

And of course, this is the usual place for discussing anything else even remotely relating to motor vehicles.

So let's get started!

--That Car Guy (Chuck)

Image Credit: Our photo was found at

September 14 Weekly Open Thread: Return to the '80s Edition.

I hereby throw down the gauntlet, metaphorically speaking of course. Is the Honda Prelude. . .


the archetypal 1980s car?

It's got a lot to recommend it. It didn't start out in the 1980s and it lasted well past the 1980s. I'm not even sure it was that big of a seller in the 1980s. But whenever I see one, it just screams "1980s" at me. Clean but sporting lines, a good performer, excellent build quality, the sort of car that US manufacturers hated the Japanese for but envied at the same time. It was, in a phrase, all that was good about the 1980s. 

As a side note, in the last four days I've seen two Cadillac Allantés, which also scream 1980s at me, though at slightly lower volume (and without the positive vibes). To be honest, the DeLorean might really be the Ultimate 1980s car, but so few were made that seems kind of irrelevant. 

Yes? No? Indifferent? And feel free to discuss anything else of potential automotive interest. 

Photo from Wikipedia. 

1977-1984 Coupe De Ville/Sedan De Ville, 1977-1986 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham, 1987-1992 Cadillac Brougham tumblr_ml7jlz7vnj1qgapm9o1_1280Where I work, there’s a used car dealership right beside us. It holds an eclectic collection of automobiles, ranging from Hyundai econoboxes to old Ford Super-Duty trucks suited for different applications. Among them there’s old ‘80s metal for sale. Parked right outside the window I stare out of in a daydream-like haze is a worn-down, big, white Cadillac.

From that view to that dealer I’ve lusted after a neat, red Z31 Nissan 300ZX and a beater early-3rd-gen Chevrolet Camaro, to name some. Then how come that Cadillac, with mismatching whitelines and blackwalls and faded business advertisement telephone numbers still present on its rear flanks grabs my attention as much as iconic 1980s sporty coupes? Ladies and gentlemen, I believe we have a case of CarLust.

Continue reading "1977-1984 Coupe De Ville/Sedan De Ville, 1977-1986 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham, 1987-1992 Cadillac Brougham" »

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

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