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The Driverless Roundtable

In just the past few years, thanks to Moore's Law and the march of technology in general, self-driving vehicles have gone from pure fantasy...

All they need is Van Morrison on the Hiway Hi-Fi: "I said oh, oh, domino/Roll me over romeo/There you go, say it again/I said oh, oh, oh, domino...."...to working prototypes.

They're not yet quite ready for prime time, but it's probable that consumer-grade versions will be on sale for use on the streets within a decade. Our children and grandchildren will grow up surrounded by cars which drive themselves, and will think of them as utterly mundane and normal.

For this edition of the Car Lust Roundtable, we the contributors will send our opinions on the impending driverless car revolution hurtling straight at you down the information superhighway--with no one at the controls. Hang on!

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David's Greatest Hit: The 1992 Mercury Marquis

DD Grand MarquisNathan of Brainfertilizer Fame:  I never met David. We didn't spend extra time talking via emails, and I never once heard his voice.  We never shared a special friendship above all others.  But we shared something: a silly love for cars that didn't always deserve the passion.

John Donne said, "Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankind; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee."

Do not ask for whom the car horn honks; it honks for thee.

I hope that my alteration of the quote isn't taken as a lack of respect.  It is my first reaction to try to lighten serious moods, to make it easier to carry the burden.

At times, as I've participated in various online communities, I've wondered what would happen if I died.  How would anyone know?  How would I be remembered?  Would I be missed?  Would my absence even be noticed?

David, you are remembered.  You are missed.  This man, whom I have never met...his friendship, the bond created through a common love, touched me in ways I never realized until he was gone.

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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" »

$100,000 Fantasy Garage Challenge: That Car Guy

Let's see... a hundred grand for garage toys. Where to start?

Jeep Garage ChallengeHow about our brand new vehicle first. For that, I'd get a 2-door Jeep Wrangler Sport, which is their base model. And from their somewhat limited palette, I'd get this color called Commando Green, which looks somewhat military to me.

I built and priced one; they come standard with tilt, cruise, traction control, steering wheel-mounted audio controls, fog lamps, a 285-hp V-6, a 6-speed manual, and more. Oh yeah, it also has 4WD standard... a Jeep without 4WD? Heresy!

The only options I'd want are air conditioning and a hard top; soft tops are just way too noisy on the highway. Its Grand Retail Total, minus shipping, is $24,085. Not bad.

Why get a Jeep? Well, I've always liked them, they make great service vehicles, if you get stuck it's your fault, and despite new model year updates, I think we know pretty much what the next one will look like.

Continue reading "$100,000 Fantasy Garage Challenge: That Car Guy" »

Car Lust C7 Corvette Roundtable

That Car Guy (Chuck)

Few events stir a car guy's interest more than a dented fender or a new Corvette. Yes, even the slightest vehicle abrasion will cause us to become instant body shop professionals. We immediately and uncontrollably chime in with statements such as, "Yeah, just put some Bondo on it." Then there's always, "The paint will never match, it's a metallic." You know... really important stuff like that.

Corvettes 7 generations

And now our interest is directed to what is unquestionably the biggest automotive excitement in recent time... the official unveiling of a new Corvette. Which happens about as often as, say, a mountain gets moved. This is one of the few times in our lives that we'll actually see a new Corvette... not disguised spy photos or an "artist's conception," but actual pictures from Chevrolet, of all places! One glance is never enough, we have to study and memorize the details of the brand new sports car for the next few days to come.

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5th Birthday Week--Anthony Cagle's Greatest Hits

HillbrookI've never met Anthony Cagle, but I think we'd have a lot in common. He's into history by trade; I do it as a hobby, like having spent part of the last four years relocating a magnificent mansion named "The Hillbrook ." This not so humble abode used to stand in Westchester County, New York, and was once owned by the family of a dear late friend of mine.

But where we probably share the most commonality is our admiration (Dare I say love) of the Mustang II. I bought a new one in 1974; presently he is the keeper of a magnificent 1978 Fastback. And if he ever wants to sell it, I hope he lets me know.

So in keeping with this week's theme, I'd like to present a few of my favorite Car Lust posts by Anthony J. Cagle, and a few words about each:


1962: It was a very good year

on December 18, 2008

I take this opportunity to sing the praises of not one car, but many: those from a single year, 1962. Why this particular year? I can almost hear the thoughts of many out there wondering why this year and not some other one that has way more hot cars. What about '69 when we had Super Bees and Boss 302s? Or maybe 1964, which saw both the GTO and the Mustang debut? To these criticisms I can only respond: Hey, this is Car Lust, after all.

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Car Lust Round Table: Is the Road Trip Dead?

We here at Car Lust have the occasional back-channel email discussions on various topics, some of which end up morphing into something that we think would make a good post to send out for wider discussion. We haven't had one of our Round Tables in a while until our own Rob Podell sent around the following observation on the classic American Road Trip. Some of us have chimed in with our own Take_a_road_tripthoughts and we look forward to readers doing the same in the comments.

Rob Podell

I was doing some thinking, and ... I might be wrong here, but is the road trip dead? The reason I ask, is that I just priced out how much it would cost me, in JUST GAS, to go visit a friend in Texas. If I took my prelude, it would cost me about $500 if I drive conservatively. With the Audi, sucking premium and getting only 23mpg, it would cost upwards of $750.

Given that roundtrip airfare would cost me roughly $250, does anybody bother driving anymore? Not only does it take longer, but the gas isn't the only price. Factor in the wear and tear on your vehicle (tires, oil, reduced value with higher miles), the number of times you'll stop for food ($$$), possibly hotels ($), the chance of being stranded due to a breakdown, or the pathetic ways states generate revenue by ticketing speeders.... it's just.. sad.

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Mille Bloglia: Car Lust Turns 1,000

(Before we get started, I want to give a big thank you to That Car Guy and Cookie the Dog's Owner for doing the majority of the work putting this 1,000-post anniversary piece together.)

MilleBlogliaChris Hafner:

I know that referencing the famous pre-1960s Mille Miglia (Thousand Miles) road race in the title of Car Lust's 1,000th post might seem a little bit over the top, but for me the title is apt. The last four years and 1,000 posts have represented an amazing journey from a quirky series of e-mails to an audience of my co-workers, to a blog that has attracted a great set of contributors, commenters, and readers. That transition obviously can't challenge Sir Stirling Moss' exploits in the Mille Miglia, but I'm as proud of what this blog has become over its last 1,000 posts as I am of anything I've done in my life.

Continue reading "Mille Bloglia: Car Lust Turns 1,000" »

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

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