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1985-2007 Yamaha V-Max

  Yamaha-vmax

For 1985, the motorcycle world would never be the same. Few bikes deserved the title of “game-changer”, but this one did. And that bike was… the 1985 Suzuki GSX-R750.

But wait! What’s going on at the Yamaha pits? A roaring engine, a cloud of smoke and burning rubber, accented with the almost totally-drowned-out sound of uncontrollable laughter?

I can just picture the (totally made-up) scenario…

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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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Great(ish) Commercials – Style Never Goes Out Of Style… Allegedly

I’ve wanted to tear into this commercial from the moment I saw it. I chose the longer version for further dismemberment.

 

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Great(ish) Commercials – Let The Race Begin

 

Acura Let the Race Begin black horse1

It’s been a while since Car Lust did a proper commercial break-down. I wanted to give it a try. Now, there are many great car commercials out there, plenty for me to choose from, but when the following commercial aired this year, I knew I had to use it for reasons that will become obvious as we break it down. Before we begin, place yourself on your living room. You’ve never seen this commercial before. Could be about anything. Ready? Now, the commercial:

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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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Great Commercials--Mel Tormé for Oldsmobile

General Motors got a lot of mileage out of "In My Merry Oldsmobile," the first popular song with an automotive theme, to advertise Oldsmobiles.  For a period of time in the early 1950s, the Olds ad campaign featured "Johnny" and "Lucille," the characters from the song, singing the virtues of the "Rocket" V-8, "Hydramatic" transmission, and "Futuramic" sheetmetal.

Here they are in a 1953 installment, in which Johnny is rather abruptly upstaged by jazz singer Mel Tormé.

Though clearly flummoxed that his gal Lucille has dumped him for the velvet-voiced interloper--What's he got that I ain't got? Besides the great singing voice and the mansion and the multimillion-dollar recording contract, I mean.--but he's enough of a professional to finish the sales pitch.

--Cookie the Dog's Owner

June 9 Weekly Open Thread: Youth, the Gift That Keeps on Giving

Which is, at least in some cases, not a good thing.

I direct your attention this week to an article over at The Truth About Cars: I Flunked Driver's Ed: BabyDriver

It’s true. I write about and review cars and the first time that I took driver’s ed I flunked. How’s that for irony? Now I’m not like that Korean lady who spent a fortune repeatedly failing her driver’s test before finally passing on the 950th try. The next time I took it, I passed, then passed my road test, got my license and never had a problem on the road. 

Good article and worth a read. But this is the quote that struck me:

When I was seven and we were at my aunt’s house. I was playing in the car in the driveway, pulled it out of gear and managed to turn it right into a parked car as gravity took over and I couldn’t reach the brakes.

I'm going to go a bit Oprah now and make a bit of a confession. When I was a wee lad of maybe three or four years, I managed to make my way into my parents' car, put it into Neutral, and proceed to coast back down the driveway and into the street. Fortunately, I didn't hit anything except maybe the curb on the opposite side of the street. I do, however, recall madly (and vainly) trying to stop it by pushing down on the brakes, but my little legs just weren't strong enough to fully depress the brake pedal. Or perhaps I was hitting the clutch or the gas, I don't know. Recall that back in the 1960s (when this happened) a big ol' American land yacht with no power brakes would have been a bear to stop anyway, even if you weren't using itty-bitty 3-year old legs. Either way, what I was doing wasn't working and I do remember being in a mad panic. 

And to this day I still have the occasional dream/nightmare where I am in a car and it's moving and no matter how hard I stomp on the brakes, it just won't stop. Matter of fact, I thought of this post not only becaue of the TTAC post but also because I had another occurence of this dream just a few days ago. In fact, it was only a few years ago that I made the connection between that event and the dreams. It actually happened, by the way, it's not a false memory that I made up as an explanation. My mother till brings it up on occasion. 

I find it somewhat amazing that an experience from my childhood almost a half century ago (Did I just type that?) still affects me to this day. 

So what about you, faithful readers? Do you ever get a similar dream? Are there any particularly memorable/terrifying/exhilarating automotive experiences from your youth? Keep it clean, please. And discuss anything else automobile-related that you wish. 

Credit: I got the above photo from this article at The Age regarding a Hyundai ad that was actually pulled: "The Advertising Standards Bureau requested that Hyundai pull the ad in February this year after receiving more than 80 complaints - many from parents who feared their children would attempt to emulate the ad's nappy-clad stars." 

I think we have successfuly demonstrated that you don't need some stupid TV ad to make kids do stupid things. 

Which I shall reproduce here just to stick it to the censors (below the fold):

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Subaru Justy 1987-1994

Following a bit on my post from last week on the Subaru Outback, I thought I'd send a shout out to another of Subaru's goofy little models: the Justy. I'll be honest: I don't really lust after this car. It was Suby_justysmall and underpowered and not very interesting to look at and I'm not sure what all else, but I never thought much of it, with one exception: I really liked the commercial. 

Other than that, it was more or less derived from a Kei car, and had a tiny 1.2-liter 3-cylinder engine and came with either front- or four-wheel drive. The 4WD was what really set it apart; it may not have been the first or only 4WD subcompact out there, but it's the only one that immediately springs to my mind at least. And while I gently deride the engine -- the original carbed engine put out a (none too) whopping 66 bhp -- it did get fuel injection in 1991 which bumped that up a bit and I think was a neat feature for such a tiny little car. 

And, no, I don't know where the name "Justy" came from. 

But, alas, unlike the BRAT which I would dearly love to have, I'm content to just reminisce a bit over the Justy. And it gives me an opportunity to link to their utterly and completely brilliant commercial:

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Happy Birthday, Mustang!

It was 50 years ago this month that one of the most iconic cars in American history went on sale. April 17, 1964 to be exact. It debuted on April 16 at the World's Fair and went on sale the next day, going on to become one of the best selling cars in Ford's history and giving its name to a new class of automobile: the Pony Car. And we here at Car Lust are going to spend the next week or two looking back at some of TwoMustangsthe models we've profiled over the years. 

The Mustang went through a lot of changes over the past half century. What started out as, essentially, a dressed-up Ford Falcon soon became a monster muscle car, an accomplished Trans-Am racer, and the automotive star of numerous films. Through the dark performance days of the 1970s, it shifted back to its roots as a small sporty car, the Mustang II, probably by doing so saved itself from the fate of several other of its pony car stable mates. After a thorough redesign in 1979 it matured through the 1980s and 1990s to become a favorite of the tuner crowd, especially the 1989-1993 model years (which they very nearly screwed up). After a questionable redesign in 1994, Ford reached back into the nostalgia bin in 2005 and made the Mustang a classic once again. And now they've evolved it even further for its Golden Anniversary year into. . .well, we'll have to wait an see a bit longer how it all comes together. 

How to explain its success? 

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March 31 Weekly Open Thread: Dueling Commercials

Why do we here at Car Lust work so hard? For what? For this? For posts about goofy old cars? Other web sites, they do articles about high end super cars that a total of 29 people actually drive on a daily basis, super-expensive classics that touch asphalt one day a year, and snarky treatises on the detailed ins and outs of the auto industry, and get up to 25 million hits per month. 25 million! Why aren't we like that? Why aren't. . .ummm. . .we like that? Upside-660

Because we're crazy, driven hard-workin' believers in weird cars, that's why. Those other web sites think we're nuts. . . .whatever (we are, btw). Was the Vega nuts? (yes) Pontiac Aztec? (yes) Gremlin? (yes) Allanté? (yes) Were we nuts when we pointed to the AMC Hornet and said it was The Best Bond Car Ever? That's right, we bad-mouthed the 1969 Camaro and you know what we got? A bazillion comments. So we went and bad-mouthed the BMW 3-Series a few months later, and do you know why? Because we really like lots of hits.

But I digress.

It's pretty simple. You write about cars you really like, treat them fairly, and you gotta believe anything is possible. As for all the goofy cars. . . .that's the upside of looking at cars lots of ordinary people live. . .and die. . . with. N'est-ce pas?

Astute readers have probably already guessed that I just parodied a fairly controversial Cadillac ad, which was itself parodied by a Ford ad. As much as we here at Car Lust eschew politics -- seriously, we eschew politics -- I felt this little tit-for-tat marketing campaign might be good fodder for polite -- SERIOUSLY: POLITE -- discussion. I realize the cultural milieu surrounding them is almost inherently political, but we really need to confine comments to the content of the ads, what they say about the respective companies and the core message of each. Do they alienate any of their core customers? Bring in any new ones? Videos below the fold. And feel free to discuss anything else.

My opinion? I'm having trouble fathoming why a commercial that celebrates the benefits -- both material and non-material -- of hard work and perseverance would be at all 'controversial'. But then, to each their own. And the irony of this being from Cadillac, which has graced these pages more than once for their, um, rather sub-par performances (hint hint), makes it all the more intriguing.

But I digress.

Obviously they're both right. They're both hawking vehicles -- let's not forget that part of it -- that were designed, built, marketed, and sold by a whoooooole lot of crazy, driven, hard-workin' believers who wanted to make something more than a two-wheeled wooden cart to haul a religious icon or load of turnips around, not to mention making a better life for themselves than hauling around religious icons or turnips. And all those ecologically-correct environmentalists? Probably posting their composting research to the Web on a computer designed by a couple of crazy, driven, hard-workin' tech gurus. That shade-grown free-trade coffee didn't fly up from Costa Rica on the backs of magic unicorns either. As for the other side, well, the nicest car in the world isn't much fun if you're drowning in your own sewage. So please, try to maintain some perspective.

Image comes from the Fox News (Oh noes! More flames!) web site.

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

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