Blogs at Amazon

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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To Show or Not To Show: That Is The Question

I just wanted to toss this out for Car Lust reader contemplation. The past couple of months I've been wrestling with the question of what to do with my Mustang II. Essentially, to keep it as a fun old car to drive around in, or make it into a show car. I'll run through the pros and cons below, but here's a bit of Car-Show-Fieldbackground to ponder:

First, it's not stock. As the link above indicates, it was my only car for nigh onto 25 years so it got its share of dings and such, and I eventually replaced the engine and exhaust because the old one was pretty wheezy, dirty, and expensive to gas up and maintain. Plus, you know, the old 302 couldn't spin a donut on dry pavement if I tried. Second, despite much of it being in truly excellent condition, it's really not up to car show standards. Oh, I've put it in three Mustang shows and it won something at all three, but in reality it looks pretty pathetic compared to the gleaming, shiny, nearly-perfect cars that populate car shows. So I would be extremely hesitant to put it into a show again without major improvements. Therein lies the rub.

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Winter - getting ready for the change

Parked Car

 

I live in Minnesota.  Or as some say, Minnesnowta.  Inclement weather is just par for the course here.  We don't feel compelled to name every storm, and even when it snows more than a foot (not uncommon) we aren't compelled to label it as a Snowami or Snowpocalypes or things like that.  What we are compelled to do though, is be prepared.  Well, at least the smart ones are anyhow.

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The 2015 Ford Fusion Energi: Sunshine on a Cloudy Day

During my entire week with the Ford Fusion Energi, it did not stop raining. Not. One. Day. Well, maybe once for a few minutes, but it was at night when I couldn't shoot pictures. But you know what? It didn't matter. This velvety-smooth little hybrid, combining everything that's perfect and balanced about Ford's Fusion platform with the ultra-efficiency of a plug-in hybrid, managed to shine through the most dreary miasma that Seattle's late-fall days had to offer. Maybe the pics turned out a little soggy, but the essential vibrancy of this plucky and refined hybrid was impossible to ignore.

Focus8

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SEMA at the Speed of Light

What car enthusiast doesn't include the SEMA show on the old bucket list? Here at Amazon Automotive, our whole team gets to make a yearly foray into that candyland of automotive excess. And while we feel blessed about that, one of the torments of that grueling week is that we are there for work, and we don't get to spend as much time as we'd like just goggling at cars and taking it all in. But people have some pretty high-quality cell phone cameras these days, and how are we supposed to stop ourselves from snapping occasional pics of the most fantastical rides as we run from one meeting to another? Now that we're all back in the office, I've rounded up the compiled cell-phone SEMA pics of Amazon Automotive. While most of them are just quick fly-bys, they represent a broad skim off the surface of the most intense car show on earth through the eyes of a few of us who were there for business. Hit the jump to enjoy!

2014-11-05 12.17.05

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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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Time To Go Rogue: A Review of Nissan's Dark-Horse Crossover

While the Nissan Rogue has yet to achieve household-name status in the ongoing crossover arms race, it would be a mistake to look only at the well-worn CR-V, RAV4 and Escape if you were shopping this segment. While it might not yet have the sales numbers of these perennial favorites, the Rogue is possessed of the underdog's hunger to please, and the result is a feature-rich, comfortable, and super fuel-efficient version of the miniature SUVs we've come to know so well. I test-drove one for a week, and came away from the experience with a new respect for a vehicle to which I'd probably never otherwise have given a moment's thought. And since its 2014 redesign, consumers have been taking notice of the Rogue too, rewarding it with steadily increasing sales. So will it take over the world? If it does, we will be able to say we knew it when.

Rogue8

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November 10 Open Thread: The More Things Change. . . . .

You know the saying "There's nothing new under the sun"? Yeah. 

Submitted for your contemplation: Girls + Cars. Cars + Girls. I'm fairly certain that the average Roman  curri dealer occasionally had a couple of calida mulierculae Romana* posing next to the new (AD) 14 models. And you can bet that the first thing some guy will do when he invents an anti-gravity landspeeder is dress up a future honey or two in quasi-futuristic bikinis (or perhaps grab a couple of Fembots) and sit them on the hood. It's what we do. Hence, compare and contrast:

Flappercar

That, according to Vintage Everyday, is a Peerless Touring Car, taken in 1923 in San Francisco.

And here. . . .

Two_girls_one_car_by_Graffton

is a more recent rendition.

A couple of things I noted:

-- There's no bumper on the Infiniti to stand on

-- There's probably more steel in the hood of the Peerless than in the entire Infiniti

-- You could probably outfit 20 of the modern ladies in the material in one of the vintage ladies' suits. 

Anything else? 

Sources for the photos in the links above. And let me tell you, if was a tough assignment doing research for this post. . . . .

* Hot Roman Babes. Loosely translated, of course. 

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 Cars of Death V: Conspiracy Edition

Once again the wind whistles through the trees and a mournful cry drifts across the shadowy moors as ghostly images cruise down silent streets. Is that a Gremlin? A Shadow? Or perhaps a Demon

No, it's just another edition of Great Cars of Death here at Car Lust. This year we've chosen a topical car PattonCarfor highlighting, the 1938 Cadillac Model 75 that General George S. Patton was. . . .almost killed in. Technically, he didn't actually die in the car but did pass away 12 days after having an accident in it that paralyzed him from the neck down. I say 'topical' because Patton is back in the news lately with the release of Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard's latest book in their "Killing. . ." series, Killing Patton:

General George S. Patton, Jr. died under mysterious circumstances in the months following the end of World War II. For almost seventy years, there has been suspicion that his death was not an accident--and may very well have been an act of assassination. Killing Patton takes readers inside the final year of the war and recounts the events surrounding Patton’s tragic demise, naming names of the many powerful individuals who wanted him silenced.

Ooooo. . not only a death but a conspiracy theory, too! Almost as good as a regular old (car-related) ghost story. O'Reilly and Dugard aren't the first to broach the conspiracy angle, it's been kicking around for decades now, but they may be the first to really popularize it. So was there anything to it? Does the car still possess secrets waiting to be uncovered? Read on, but I must warn you: if you believe any of it, we'll have to kill you. . . .

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

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