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$100,000 Fantasy Garage Challenge: Chris Hafner

Higher EducationWhen Cookie the Dog's Owner proposed the $100K Fantasy Garage challenge, I was immediately intrigued. Who among us has not dreamed about which cars we'd purchase if only we had the funds available? This challenge is a license to mentally catalog our old and new favorites, weigh pros and cons, and show our tastes and brand loyalties through the creation of a carefully curated collection.

The genius in this challenge is the $100K value limit. Without that, we wouldn't have anything to keep us tied to reality. After all, why add a Mazda to your list when you could add a Maybach? Why add a CRX when you could add an FXX? But the $100K limit, combined with the requirement to include one brand new car, is almost perfect. A cool hundred grand sounds like a lot of money, but it doesn't go as far as one might imagine. I could easily concoct a scenario in which two very nice but still fairly ordinary vehicles consume the whole budget, so turning this into a true fantasy garage requires some creativity.

I chose to put my own spin on this challenge by laying out a series of tasks that I want the cars in my garage to fulfill, and then picking the cars I thought would best fill those roles. This required a lot of revision, as I shifted resources from one bucket to the next, and leaves me without some of my all-time favorites (omitting the Porsche 928, E28 BMW M5, and GMC Typhoon was pretty painful). Overall, though, I'm pretty pleased with the results.

Since in some cases I'm linking off to listings on Craigslist and eBay there's a chance that those links will be dead fairly quickly. My apologies for that, but I'll try to capture some of the pertinent details in the text so that the story doesn't suffer too much.

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$100,000 Fantasy Garage Challenge: Nathan of Brainfertilizer Fame

Let's start off with the cars my family needs:

2014 Mazda6:

Mazda_6_2013_MIASThis very nearly was a 2010 Mazda6.  I love my current daily driver car.  It has plenty of power, plenty of room for 4 adults on long trips, handles amazingly well, looks nice, and is generally very satisfying to drive in almost any circumstance.  However, the rules state you have to have one brand new car, and after thinking long and hard, I decided my daily driver would be the best choice to select a brand new vehicle.  The main reason for the upgrade is that the brand new Mazda6 looks nice, has plenty of interior room, has plenty of power, and handles just as well as my 2010...but with the SkyActiv technology, its gas mileage improves by nearly 30%.  To have a non-hybrid family sports sedan that gets 38 mpg highway is very exciting to me, because I am not a fan of the massive batteries necessary for hybrids: the environmental impact of creating, storing, and disposing of the battery pack really bothers me, and I don't like the idea of having to spend several thousand dollars to replace the batteries to keep the car in less than 10 years.

So this will be my daily driver.

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Factory to Dealer--Across the Seas

For our final installment in our series on how cars get from the assembly line to the showroom, we'll look at what happens when the journey requires crossing large bodies of water.

MV Faust maxing out on a cargo of MINIs.

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Factory to Dealer--By Road

In the first installment of our series on how cars get from the assembly line to the showroom, we looked at rail transportation. While not all new cars are shipped by rail, they all end up on a truck at least once on the journey.

Cottrell CX-11HSC

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Thanksgiving 2012

Today is a day set aside in the United States to express thanks for one's material and spiritual possessions. This year, our family has much to be thankful for.

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Factory to Dealer--By Rail

Ever wonder how your car got from, oh, say, Marysville, Ohio or Wolfsburg, Germany to your friendly local dealership with only about 7 miles showing on the odometer? 


Following up on my recent post on the Vert-A-Pac railroad cars built to transport the Chevrolet Vega, I'd like to present here the first chapter in a series on how automobiles get from the end of the assembly line to the showroom. In this installment, we'll look at rail transport.

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November 5 Weekly Open Thread

As usual, this is your place for all conversations automotive.

Tomorrow is Election Day.  For close on two years, at least, we've been canvassed, caucused, focus-grouped, push-polled, robocalled, lawn-signed, and bumper-stickered by one candidate or the other to the point where most of us 1980 bumper stickers. Anderson had the best graphics, but got the fewest votes.are just wanting to get the damned election cycle over with already. As tired as you probably are of electoral politics (as I am), if you haven't already availed yourself of whatever early voting opportunities your state offers (as I did), I would respectfully urge you to go to the polls tomorrow.

The right to vote, which gives us the power to hold our government accountable to its citizens, and the right to speak freely on political matters, which allows us to use that vote, are a large part of what makes this country as great as it is. Yeah, that's kind of a rose-colored Schoolhouse Rock thing to say, but that doesn't make it any less true. As easy as it is to be cynical about our system of government and our political class--my father was an elected official, and after what I saw him having to deal with, I could out-cynic most of you with one hand tied behind my back--what we have is still the best that human beings have devised to date. (Not that there isn't always room for improvement.) Let me relate to you an experience that brought this point home to me.

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5th Birthday Week--Chris Hafner's Greatest Hits

As Car Lust's fifth birthday party continues--please celebrate responsibly!--it falls to me to talk about our founder Chris Hafner's contributions to the last five years.

Chris is, of course, the man who started Car Lust the blog (he told the blog's origin story in our 1,000th post), and he's written more of our content than the rest of us put together. He also deserves recognition as the codifier of "car lust" the idea: the notion that a car doesn't have to be an unattainable exotic or a 100% restoration to be desireable, interesting, or simply something we love.

Following, with apologies to David Letterman, are my picks for the Top Ten Chris Hafner Car Lust Posts:

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An Introduction to RV Week

Recreational vehicles have been around in one form or another since before the internal combustion engine, and not long after cars and trucks became widely available for retail sale, enterprising owners began putting homebuilt structures on them that we'd call camper bodies today.

We don't know who the first RV builder was, but we do know for a certainty who was the inventor of the modern travel trailer....

Wally Byam and his wife Stella, posing with an Airstream trailer in 1955

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Great (?) Moments in Badge Engineering

"Badge engineering" occurs when an automobile manufacturer sells what amounts to the same car under two different brand names.  It's not to be confused with "platform sharing," where two or more different cars share some or all of their basic engineering. To illustrate the distinction with an example: the first-generation Chrysler minivans shared the K-cars' platform, but a Plymouth Voyager was a completely The Reliant K, not to be confused with the Aries K...different vehicle from the Plymouth Reliant--that's platform sharing.  On the other hand, the Reliant and its Dodge Aries counterpart were identical in all but minor decorative touches--that's badge engineering.

Economically, it makes sense to use as many common components as possible across multiple product lines, and carmakers have been doing this ever since Benz & Company Rheinische Gasmotoren-Fabrik started offering two model lines way back in eighteen-ninety-something. Platform sharing is so common we almost don't notice it anymore, and VW is taking the concept a step further by developing a "construction set" platform that all of its vehicles will eventually share. 

The problem arises when the manufacturer gets too focused on keeping costs down (or too lazy, take your pick) and shares more than drivetrain components or platforms between cars. Share too much, like, say, all of the outer body sheetmetal, and soon what are allegedly "different" cars become indistinguishable, whether viewed from twenty yards away or from the front left seat. We look down on the practice today as the bane of automotive variety, but the first recorded instance of automotive badge engineering was actually welcomed by consumers.

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

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