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Some Cars Just Should NOT Have 4 Doors

"You're travelling through another dimension. A dimension not only of sight and sound, but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination. At the signpost up ahead, your next stop... the twilight zone." --Rod Serling

Dodge Charger 2006Yes, folks, some cars just should not be 4-doors. A lot of folks felt this way when the Dodge Charger was reintroduced in the 2006 model year, but we did get used to it. For the most part. I know the cops sure did.

And usually, if a car has a back seat, I'd like back doors there. I learned my lesson in a 2-door Chevette about leaning forward to let folks in the back.

But there are some cars that no amount of time will ever pass to let them be. They are surely from, or should go to, the twilight zone.

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April 22 Weekly Open Thread: The "New Car" Blues

Used-car-salesmanOur recent $100,000 Fantasy Garage Challenge has inspired me to seek out and find a new vehicle. I won't say the brand so that nobody gets offended or sued, but I will say that so far, the experience has been a borderline nightmare.

On my first visit to the dealer, they said they can't discount any new ones at all. Then I got on the internet, and saw that they are advertising a $1,500 discount or more on all of them (after a "Dealer Fee" of $598 is added).

Now I'm getting the usual runarounds... "There's no markup to work with," and "It's the time of the year where everybody wants one."

There was the perennial favorite, "There aren't any incentives on them right now." Then I got hammered with, "What are you going to trade in?" (I never trade.) Also, "Who do you have your financing with?" (It's a cash deal, folks.) Seems they're exploring every other opportunity to stick me as well. At this point, I'm seriously thinking about forgetting the whole thing.

But the biggest "pisser" has been when I have twice placed a vehicle request all over the Middle Tennessee region, and the local dealer sees it. They saw the requests and quickly called me back to say, "You won't get a better deal than we will give you," and, "You need to come back in so we can toss some numbers around."

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$100,000 Challenge, Take 2: Nathan of Brainfertilizer Fame's Max Cars Edition

After reading Chris Hafner's post, I realized that if I hadn't gone so Mazda-heavy, I could have gotten some great 20- and 30-year-old cars in my garage.

I wanted to try again, with a fresh slate.  I hope you'll indulge me, and I hope you even find it entertaining.

But I've got to change the rules, slightly.  I'll still have limitations, because limitations help channel and inspire creativity.

First change: no "car currently on sale" requirement.  All cars need to be 20 to 30 years old.  Maybe 15, at most.  The point is to get cars that are old enough to be great value, but not so old as to be "classic".  The point is to catch cars near the bottom part of the trough, where the value has declined as much as possible, but not to the point where the value starts to rebound from rarity/coolness.

Second change: I have to have exactly 20 cars.  No more, no less.  The point is to see how close I can get to the $100k total without going over, for exactly 20 cars.

Third change: All car prices will be according to the NADA "clean retail" price, but here's the twist: if you can manage to find a 20-year-old car in "clean retail" condition, it won't really be ready to go.  The coolant system will be having problems, or it will consume oil as lustily as Vikings drank mead, or the paint will be starting to flake off, or a few minor rust points, or the alignment will be horribly off, or...you get the picture.  A 20-year-old car that wasn't lovingly restored to new condition is going to have some issues.  So right off the bat, I will budget $2000 per car to get it up to speed.  That might go to a tune-up, or a paint job, or a replacement door + paint, or an alignment, or a new radiator, etc.  That might be an underestimation, but we are starting with a "clean retail" example, so I think an average of $2000 will work.

That leaves me with $60,000 to get 20 cars.  So I'm looking for cars I can get for averaging just about $3000 each.

That's the rules I have.  Let's see what I come up with.

Continue reading "$100,000 Challenge, Take 2: Nathan of Brainfertilizer Fame's Max Cars Edition" »

$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.

Continue reading "$100,000 Fantasy Garage Challenge: Chris Hafner" »

$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.

Continue reading "$100,000 Fantasy Garage Challenge: Nathan of Brainfertilizer Fame" »

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.

Continue reading "November 5 Weekly Open Thread" »

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

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