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1985-2005 GMC Safari / Chevrolet Astro (M-body platform)

(Submitted by Car Lust reader and commenter Tigerstrypes)



Car Lust has discussed a bit on the M-body twins, the Chevrolet Astro and GMC Safari (but mostly the Astro) on the Face-Off series as they battled it out with their cousins, the “Dustbuster” minivans. Judging by the results and by the comments, the Astro/Safari won, though it must be said that the “Dustbusters” gave them a ride for their money. In said article, we find this rather summarizing piece of information:

“The Astro and its Safari twin debuted in 1985 and represented GM's first response to the revolutionary and amazingly successful Chrysler minivans. The Astro was an odd fit in the segment--perhaps unsurprisingly, considering it was a 1980s GM product, the Astro represented an attempt to compete with the ground-breaking Chrysler minivans without really capturing what made them so special.

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Plymouth Cricket

Extinction. It happened to the dinosaurs, the wooly mammoth, sabre-toothed tiger, trilobite, passenger pigeon, and the badge-engineered Plymouth Cricket. The Cricket's not just extinct, however, it's also all but absent from the fossil record, a car so obscure that many expert automotive paleontologists have never heard of it.

Have you seen this Mopar?And no, I'm not exaggerating. Just try to find an intact Plymouth Cricket, I dare you. Neither Craigslist nor any of the major car-trader websites lists a Cricket for sale anywhere in North America as of this writing. There is no Plymouth Cricket owners' club, either--Google the phrase "Plymouth Cricket Club" and you get plenty of information about a community athletic league in England, but nothing about the car.

Jalopnik called the Cricket "the amazing disappearing Mopar" and speculated that it may have been the worst car Chrysler ever sold. It wasn't; the Aspen and Volaré have it beat by a mile in that department. Any car that "aspires" to the title "Worst Ever" has to be memorably bad to even be in the running--but the Cricket isn't even remembered for its inadequacy. Our own Chris Hafner, who once famously wrote that "bad cars can be incredibly interesting," has never so much as mentioned the Cricket in passing in nearly five years of blogging. That should tell you something right there.

So, does the Cricket truly deserve its obscurity? Should we mourn its extinction, as we do that of the Carolina parakeet, or should we leave it to rest in peace at the bottom of the memory hole?

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Great Commercials Double Feature--The Coolbear and a Cool Bear

Following up on yesterday's post on the Great Wall Coolbear, here's a Coolbear commercial from Chinese television:

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Great Commercials/Our Cars--"Connections"

The first time I saw this commercial, my first thought was, "Toyota's ad agency filmed an 'Our Cars' post."

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Over 100kDad and I were in the "Battleship," the grey '76 Ford LTD, somewhere on I-76--I don't remember where we were headed. For the last couple of miles, Dad had been paying very close attention to the instrument panel. "Instrument panel" is kind of too strong a term for what the LTD had: a CinemaScope wide-screen speedometer, a gas gauge, and a bunch of dummy lights, none of which were lit up. The engine sounded normal, the car was tracking straight and true, but Dad was very intently focused on something. "What's wrong?" I asked.

"Nothing," he replied. "Just hold on."

He started slowing and pulling off into the median, extremely attentive to his speed and rate of deceleration. He came to a precise stop and pointed at the odometer, a very satisfied look on his face.

"00000.0", it read. All zeroes.

At Dad's insistence, we got out and stood in front of the car and shook hands, a modest ceremony to commemorate what was, at that time, something of an accomplishment: getting a 1970s Detroit car to hold together for 100,000 miles.

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1985: It Was a Very Good Year!

October 1984 C/DIt was "Morning in America," a time when men were real men, women were real women, and hair was real big. Ronald Reagan had just been sworn in for his second term after winning one of the most lopsided Presidential elections in American history. and the "national malaise" of just a few years before had been replaced by a mood of confident optimism. Technology was on the march: personal computers now had floppy drives and 12 MHz processors, fully-functional mobile phones were down to the size of a box of Girl Scout cookies, and used DeLoreans were being retrofitted with aftermarket flux capacitors. On the big screen, besides the one with the time machine, we had Out of Africa and Witness and The Breakfast Club and Rambo: First Blood Part II. On the small screen, you had The Cosby Show and Hill Street Blues and MacGyver.

On the radio was Springsteen, Madonna--this was way before Nirvana--there was U2, and Blondie, and music still on MTV. The cars then were old school, and you might think them uncool, but this post will be occupied with cars of Nineteen Eighty-Five.

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Great (?) Commercials--Subaru of America's "The New Look" (1969)

In the grand cinematic tradition of the action-packed Corvair in Action!, the romantic Koers Amerika met de Holland-America Line, the harrowing Death to Weeds, the insanely comic Inside Story of Modern Gasoline, and the groundbreaking classic Your Name Here, comes director Malcolm Bricklin's 1969 magnum opus, The New Look:

My comments come after the jump.

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The Last Saab Commercial

Among the projects Saab still had going at the end was a new crossover, the 9-4X, to be built at a GM plant in Mexico on a platform shared with the Cadillac SR-X.

MFX is a Swedish commercial media production company which has done the photography for Saab's advertising and promotions for some time. In an attempt to help its ailing customer, MFX offered to produce a promotional video for the 9-4X for free. Saab loaned MFX the prototype, and MFX spent a full rich day shooting footage of the car in and around the city of Gothenburg. It was edited together into this video for use by dealers in promoting the launch of the 9-4X.

Since there now will be no 9-4X, MFX released the video as a tribute to Saab. The music bed is "Make Yourself Heard" by Dutch singer Tara Teresa.

Considering the haste with which it was filmed, the video is remarkably good, and makes the 9-4X look pretty Lust-worthy.

We'll return to happier topics on Friday, with what you might think of as "a very Car Lust Christmas."

--Cookie the Dog's Owner

Face Off--Car Lust Film Festival

Car Lust is devoted, above all else, to the chronicling of the "irrational emotions" we have for our automobiles. In the past, we've talked about how that emotional connection has been exploited to sell us those automobiles, and even traced the practice of what might be called "Car Lust advertising" back to its point of origin (which is somewhere west of Laramie).

It's been a while since we've done one of our "Face Off" interactive polls. For this edition, we invite you the readers to be the prize jury at the Car Lust Film Festival. Vote for which of the following five commercials best communicates the Car Lust ideal. You can view them on embedded video after the poll and the jump, along with my comments on each.

[The poll widget is no longer available because has ceased operations.]

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Chevrolet: 100 Years Deep

Today is the exact 100th anniversary of the founding of the Chevrolet Motor Car Company by race car driver and engineer Louis Chevrolet, former GM executive William Crapo "Billy" Durant, and investors William Little and Edwin R. Campbell. This seems an appropriate time for a little reflection:

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

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