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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 Vizu.com has ceased operations.]

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Face Off--1986 Porsches

Back in 1986, Road & Track ran a feature in which the staff drove and tested every available 1986 model-year Porsche. It struck me as an interesting idea in that it differed dramatically from the normal practice of extensively testing an individual car or comparison-testing similar cars across a brand. R&T didn't declare winners or losers, but the experience did provide a perspective of the manufacturer's overall offering.

It was a novel perspective, and it helped me realize that Porsche's lineup has one very curious quirk--namely, that many of Porsche's cars performed very similarly. Most car manufacturers have clearly stratified product lines with very little overlap, broken by size differences, performance disparities, or both. Porsche, on the other hand, was a little different. While it had the Porsche 924S and 944 on the low end of the performance spectrum and the Porsche 911 Turbo on the high end, there was a vast middle ground inhabited by the 944 Turbo, 911 Cabriolet, and 928S, all of which ran the 0-60 sprint within a half-second range.

This is not to say that the cars were in any way clones of each other. In fact, the most intriguing thing about the performance logjam was the fact that the three cars differed so radically in price, purpose, and technology, making each a logical choice for a different type of customer. Today's Face Off is your opportunity to make that choice. If you had been a consumer in the market for a Porsche back in 1986, with a price an object, which of these three cars would you have purchased?

Car As-Tested Price Horsepower 0-60 (seconds) Top Speed
Porsche 944 Turbo $30,820 217 6.0 155
Porsche 911 Cabriolet $41,301 200 5.7 130
Porsche 928S $50,702 288 6.3 152

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

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Face Off--Ferrari 288 GTO vs. Porsche 959

This isn't exactly news to long-time readers, but we at Car Lust enjoy our cars a little on the offbeat side. Sure, we like fast, beautiful, and competent cars, but unlike many sites and most car magazines, we give at least as much love to the lumbering land barges, wheezing econoboxes,French oddities, and Eastern bloc agricultural implements.

I'm proud of the diversity of the cars we highlight, but after last week's Jellybean Quasi-Sportsters Face Off, which featured six brightly painted, 130-horsepower, economy-car-based, quasi-sports coupes, I feel as if I owe the long-suffering readers of this blog something just a tiny bit more traditionally lustable. Hopefully high-performance homologation specials from Ferrari and Porsche will do the job.

More detail follows after the poll and the jump.

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

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Face Off--1990s Jellybean Quasi-Sportsters

Jelly Bean As you might infer from the awkward title of this post, I had a great deal of difficulty coming up with a name for this face off. The category and the eligible cars were clear in my head--all of these cars were of Japanese or Korean manufacture, they were essentially miniature sports coupes largely based on economy car underpinnings, and they shared similar ovoid profiles--but I really struggled with the challenge of turning that into a pithy description.

In the end, I went with jellybean as a general descriptor because I felt that it worked on several levels. Most obviously, it describes these cars' overall look--diminutive, heavily rounded, and available in bright and sometimes garish colors (the Mazda MX-3's signature teal stands out here). The comparison works at a deeper level too--like these cars, jellybeans are cheap, sweet, and a lot of fun, especially for the younger set. More mature tastes generally prefer something a little more substantive, but even so jellybeans retain an attraction as a fun occasional treat.

Now that I have sufficiently tortured that metaphor, on to the poll and the jump!

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

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Face Off--Chevrolet Astro/GMC Safari vs. "Dustbuster" Minivans

In our past face-offs, we've compared cars that were generally considered desirable, but that's not really the case this time around. As befitting our minivan theme this week, I'm pitting against each other two GM minivans--the Chevrolet Astro/GMC Safari rear-wheel-drive minvan vs. the radically styled front-wheel-drive Chevrolet Lumina APV/Pontiac Trans Sport/Oldsmobile Silhouette (colloquially known as the "Dustbuster" minivans due to their unique profile).

I will elaborate on the two options and reveal my choice after the poll and the jump.

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

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Face Off--Nissan Z-Cars

Most peope should be familiar with the idea behind a traditional (or horizontal) wine tasting. Essentially, a tasting is meant to give the taster a sampling of comparable wines or high-end beers--for example, California chardonnays or Russian Imperial Stouts--to help illustrate the impact of different ingredients, different soil, different techniques, and the like. Or at least that's meant to be the point; I was raised on a steady diet of car magazine comparison tests, so I usually just try to figure out which I like best.

However, I'm guessing the idea of a vertical tasting might be a little more foreign--it certainly was to me until a few months ago. Vertical tastings give the taster a sampling of different vintages of the same wine or beer, with the goal of comparing those vintages and learning how that beverage ages. The idea is to compare the 1969 Dom Perignon with the 1988 Dom; or, to get a little closer to my price range, comparing a six-month-old box of Franzia to Franzia purchased right off the supermarket shelf.

If our regular face-off features are traditional, horizontal comparisons between direct competitors, today's head-to-head is decidedly vertical in nature. Rather than pit a given Nissan Z-car against the Toyota Supra, Chevrolet Corvette, and Porsche 911 against which it competed, I'm pitting the various Z-car generations against each other and challenging you to pick your favorite. This removes brand loyalty from the equation and poses a completely different question--what do you value in a sports car? Do you prefer the classic, timeless simplicity of the older vintage, the more robust capability of the modern editions, or the character of the cars that came in between? Feel free to vote using your own criteria and explain those criteria in the comments section.

My commentary on the various Z-car vintages can be found after the poll and the jump.

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

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Face Off--1970s Super Coupes

The mid-1970s were a dark, dark time for automotive enthusiasts, as the spectre of emissions regulation, a gas crisis, and skyrocketing insurance rates dimmed the vibrant high-performance youth culture that had blossomed in the 1960s. Muscle cars, the cheerfully one-dimensional heroes of the late 1960s, were systematically eliminated; the survivors were emasculated and became sticker-and-tape caricatures of their former glory. Exotic European sports car models either retreated back to Europe, underwent a similar emasculation, or died entirely. British sports cars sprouted unwieldy bumpers and lost horsepower. At the time, doom-and-gloom forecasts predicted the end of performance; even worse, the end of fun.

But, from every great extinction, new life appears--and with it, hope. From the scorched landscape of the mid-1970s sprang a few tentative shoots of a new organism that was better-suited for survival in this harsh automotive climate. This class of cars was known as the super coupes, smaller, lighter cars that substituted agility and enjoyment for brawn and intimidation. The first steps were tentative--graphics packages on Chevy Vegas and Ford Pintos--but progress picked up with the cars pictured here, which mixed style and sportiness at a price that young enthusiasts could afford. These cars broke the ground for the burgeoning sports coupes that brought performance to the people in the 1980s and 1990s. The Honda Preludes, Mitsubishi Eclipses, Acura Integras, Ford Probes, Nissan 240SXs and Volkswagen Corrados of the world can all trace their roots back to these early trailblazers.

So--in our short but proud tradition of Car Lust Face Offs, here's your opportunity to vote for your favorite of this all-but-forgotten class of cars. More detail and my choice after the jump.

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

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Face Off--BMW M3 (E30) vs. Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.3-16

I'm pleased to introduce a new blog feature, Face Off, inspired by the wildly overwrought and extremely entertaining John Woo film of the same name. Instead of John Travolta and Nicholas Cage, the Car Lust feature will put head-to-head various lust- and disgust-worthy cars for your voting pleasure.

Essentially, I will give you the option to vote between two or more cars that I think would create an interesting matchup, and then I'll provide some background on the cars and divulge my leaning. You should vote for the car you prefer, using whatever criteria you see fit--perhaps you prefer the way one car looks, or you hate the type of people who drive the other type of car, or you think one car would make a better base for your restomod project. You're voting your preference on your own criteria. However, please feel free to discuss your criteria and your choice in the comments--I think there could be some interesting comments that result.

Today's face-off is between two high-strung 1980s European sports sedans with racing pedigrees--more detail after the jump.

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

Continue reading "Face Off--BMW M3 (E30) vs. Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.3-16" »

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

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