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May 12 Weekly Open Thread--Street Shark

Presented for your amusement, a photo from the parking lot at the Great Meadow Field Events Center in northern Virginia, taken at Saturday's Team America Rocketry Challenge national fly-off.

[Insert theme music from "Jaws" here.]As always, this is the place to talk about all things automotive.

--Cookie the Dog's Owner

The Way We Were - Big Chris

While I haven't had a list of tremedous vehicles I've driven, what I lack in quality I make up for in quantity.

My first two cars were Toyota Corollas.  I started with a 1979 in white with 4 doors and a 5-speed manual.  We got this from some relatives and my parents drove it for a year or so before I was old enough to drive.  Unfortunately, I don't own photos of most of my vehicles (or most of my childhood).  We didn't own a camera most of my life (crazy huh?) and it just was never a concern of mine to document these sorts of things.  The '79 was a great learner car.  It was a stick, and it was slow.  So I got good experience but was limited in how quickly I could do stupid things.  Eventually the clutch cable broke, and the car wasn't worth fixing with some of the other issues that began to crop up with it.

The second Corolla was a dirt brown 1978 2-door with the automatic transmission (was previously my grandparent's car).  The only option it had was a rear window defroster.  Both Corollas were glorified beer cans with wheels.  I give thanks I was never in an accident in them.  The only claim to fame for the brown car was that we sold it with nearly 300K on it for something like $500.  The body was shot, everything mechanical worked, but barely.  Suspension was laughable.  But 4 years later the same guy who bought it was driving it around town still.  You just couldn't kill it.  A cockroach of cars.

The next car I got was a 1984 VW Rabbit.  4 doors, tan everywhere, and epically slow.  My first front wheel drive car and my first hatchback.  It was as uninspiring as a car could get, but it served me well until the distributor broke off in the motor.  I regularly ferried about a half ton of offensive linemen home after football practice in this little car.  Rear bumper just barely above rubbing pavement.  Imagine three linemen in the back seat of a VW Rabbit.  Yeah.

Bob

Continue reading "The Way We Were - Big Chris" »

Car Lust Easter Classic: What Did Jesus Drive (WDJD)?

On this Easter weekend we resurrect (pun entirely intended) a Car Lust Classic that poses a question nobody really asked: Just what did Jesus drive?

A somewhat farcical question to be sure, but one that we here at Car Lust are more than willing to throw ourselves into with gusto. This post has as its ultimate source a small movement some years ago by environmentally-directed religious groups to get people out of their gas-guzzling SUVs and into JesusDrivingsmaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles (no obvious relation other than in name to the band). While the merits of this quest of theirs is beyond the scope of this post, it nevertheless spurred me to ponder the question: Just what did Jesus drive?

Admittedly, a small treatise on the wheeled vehicles present in the early 1st century AD Levant isn't all that relevant to modern drivers. OTOH, it's still (IMO) a useful exercise that may shed some light on our common wheeled heritage going back a bit further than the initial stabs at automobiles early in the preceding century. Besides, a little foray into ancient history never hurt anybody and it might add another small  dimension of humanity to the divine that many of us are celebrating this coming weekend.

So, come with me as we journey back 2,000 years to see what sort of wheels our Car Lusting forebears were perhaps drooling over and come at least a little closer to answering the age-old question of: What Did Jesus Drive?

(Obviously, If Jesus did come back today, He would certainly drive a 15-passenger Econoline van: room for the 12 Apostles, plus the two Marys, of course!)

Click here to read the rest of this post

1985-2005 GMC Safari / Chevrolet Astro (M-body platform)

(Submitted by Car Lust reader and commenter Tigerstrypes)

 

1985ChevroletAstro_700

Car Lust has discussed a bit on the M-body twins, the Chevrolet Astro and GMC Safari (but mostly the Astro) on the Face-Off series as they battled it out with their cousins, the “Dustbuster” minivans. Judging by the results and by the comments, the Astro/Safari won, though it must be said that the “Dustbusters” gave them a ride for their money. In said article, we find this rather summarizing piece of information:

“The Astro and its Safari twin debuted in 1985 and represented GM's first response to the revolutionary and amazingly successful Chrysler minivans. The Astro was an odd fit in the segment--perhaps unsurprisingly, considering it was a 1980s GM product, the Astro represented an attempt to compete with the ground-breaking Chrysler minivans without really capturing what made them so special.

Continue reading "1985-2005 GMC Safari / Chevrolet Astro (M-body platform)" »

1990 Chrysler Town and Country

Submitted by Car Lust reader and commenter Al Sapp

All my life, I’ve been a die-hard Chrysler fan, a genuine Mopar man. I’ve coveted damn near everything ChryCo has put on the market. So I’d like to share an interesting, little known piece of Chrysler history. Heck, I’m willing to bet my leather Pentastar key fob that, with the exception of its introduction, few have ever written, talked about, or really ever paid any attention to this article’s subject matter. Theres a very good reason for all of this. What might that be…… let me think… oh yes:

Everyone takes minivans for granted and completely writes them off without a second thought.

That’s actually pretty valid.  Most minivans are drab, boring, characterless vehicles which serve no purpose other than transporting kids around the suburbs. But as with most drab things in life, there are some exceptions. Dodge currently sells a Grand Caravan R/T, with performance suspension. Then there is a certain purple Plymouth which will definitetly be subject of a future post. And, of course, the subject of today's discussion.

Ladies & Gentlemen, if you please: The 1990 Chrysler Town and Country!       

Note the seats available in soft Corinthian leather.I can already hear you shaking with excitement. But don’t smirk just yet. This special, one year only van is a whole lot more interesting than you might think.

Continue reading "1990 Chrysler Town and Country" »

8/6/12 Open Thread - 2001 Dodge Caravan - 250k is a lot of miles!

2012-07-16 10.27.48

 

I don't know that it qualifies as a historic day in automotive history, but certainly historic in my automotive history.  Considering the rough life this van had before I got it, it truly is amazing that it has made it this far!

 

 

What is your mileage story?  400k in your old Merc diesel?  65k with the top down in your convertable?  You squeezed 125K out of a Chevy Vega?  (we won't believe you...)

 

Other posts related to this van:

2001 Dodge Caravan Headlight Lens Restoration -Worked better on the van than my wife's '96 Civic.

Working on our own junk - The most comments of any post I've made (thus far).

 

--Big Chris

Show Cars Week--The 2012 New York International Auto Show (And Some Other Stuff)

I had not been to New York City for 32 years, and things there have changed quite a bit since 1980. But the weekend of April 13-15, 2012, was full of events like the 100th Anniversary of Titanic's sinking, the 2012 New York International Auto Show was wrapping up, and I could barely get tickets to the 9/11 Memorial in time. So when the invitation and other events fell into place, plane tickets were bought and bags were packed.

338

248The only non-stop flights from Nashville to New York I could find were on a smaller jet. I had never been on one before, and expected treatment such as the old Southern Airways ad. But I was amazed and surprised at what a smaller aircraft offered, like being able to immediately get off of the plane when we arrived at the gate, and I'll gladly fly on one again.

The Auto Show was held at the Jacob J. Javits Convention Center on the west side of Manhattan from April 6-15. Of course, the weekend was packed with many other things, like seeing where Titanic would have docked, reflecting at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, visiting the Empire State Building, meeting Rupert Jee at Hello Deli, and watching the sun rise on Manhattan.

Continue reading "Show Cars Week--The 2012 New York International Auto Show (And Some Other Stuff)" »

What Did Jesus Drive (WDJD)?

A somewhat farcical question to be sure, but one that we here at Car Lust are more than willing to throw ourselves into with gusto. This post has as its ultimate source a small movement some years ago by environmentally-directed religious groups to get people out of their gas-guzzling SUVs and into JesusDrivingsmaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles (no obvious relation other than in name to the band). While the merits of this quest of theirs is beyond the scope of this post, it nevertheless spurred me to ponder the question: Just what did Jesus drive?

Admittedly, a small treatise on the wheeled vehicles present in the early 1st century AD Levant isn't all that relevant to modern drivers. OTOH, it's still (IMO) a useful exercise that may shed some light on our common wheeled heritage going back a bit further than the initial stabs at automobiles early in the preceding century. Besides, a little foray into ancient history never hurt anybody and it might add another small  dimension of humanity to the divine that many of us are celebrating this coming weekend.

So, come with me as we journey back 2,000 years to see what sort of wheels our Car Lusting forebears were perhaps drooling over and come at least a little closer to answering the age-old question of: What Did Jesus Drive?

(Obviously, If Jesus did come back today, He would certainly drive a 15-passenger Econoline van: room for the 12 Apostles, plus the two Marys, of course!)

Continue reading "What Did Jesus Drive (WDJD)?" »

1984: Was It A Very Good Year?

Orwell_1984George Orwell foresaw it. David Bowie sang about it. 1984 was almost like "Y2K," in that we had been told it was coming and we should prepare for it. But looking back, the year seems to have been one of national pride, salad bars, economic prosperity, and, well, just good times.

Nineteen Eighty Four did not go unnoticed by several Car Lust contributors:

Anthony Cagle penned the 1984 Mustang SVO.

Bernard Bolisig wrote about the Toyota MR2.

Chris Hafner brought us the Pontiac Fiero.

Cookie The Dog's Owner did the VW GTI.

David Colbourn authored the 1984 Chrysler Executive.

But did 1984 impress other enthusiasts? Were there any new cars that changed the landscape? And did we run out of fossil fuels as had been predicted in 1973?

FieroAs mentioned, 1984 brought us the Pontiac Fiero. In typical GM fashion at the time, it was rushed to market and was not ready for sale, as early- model engine fires and other recalls proved. We all know the car was originally meant to be a high gas mileage commuter car, and by the time the Fiero GT was finally tuned as a true sports car, its reputation was soiled and the car was cancelled.

Continue reading "1984: Was It A Very Good Year?" »

End of the (Econo)Line: The Ford E-Series van

When word came down a couple of months ago that Ford was discontinuing its venerable Econoline van -- known since 2001 as simply the E-Series -- the news was greeted with consternation and dismay by large swaths of the American public. Newspapers carried the story on Page 1 and the airwaves were filled with Ford_E-Series_wagonvitriol at Ford's unfortunate decision and high-minded praise for a vehicle that has been a crucial part of the American road for over 50 years -- not to mention the best-selling full-sized van since 1982. Indeed, the reaction was so strong that we here at Car Lust simply had to finally take notice and deliver a post to you, the CarLusting public, commenting on the unfortunate demise of this mainstay of automotive Americana.

Okay, I made most of that up. There wasn't much reaction at all and, for what it's worth, I found all of 3 news stories regarding the decision, none more than a few paragraphs long. True, full-sized vans don't generally get that much attention anymore, certainly not since the minivan made its appearance and caused us all to bemoan (or celebrate) the day when we became minivan-driving-soccer-moms/dads, or when the SUV started grabbing a significant market share leading to all sorts of smackdown by partisans on either side.

It doesn't get many props, the humble cargo van, but chances are you've either used one or depended on one at some point, probably recently, and often never even noticed it. They're a staple of commercial fleets for hauling cargo, for use as mobile workshops by all manner of craftsmen, and have been a staple of various organizations for hauling people around. But now, as it is about to fade into memory let's take a few minutes to, well, notice it for once.

Continue reading "End of the (Econo)Line: The Ford E-Series van" »

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

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