Archive for January, 2013

Jan
30

This 1906 Buick is 107 years old. When it was new, it shared the roads (or what passed for roads) with horse-drawn carriages. Even if antique cars aren’t your cup of tea, it’s a real treat to soak in the details of a car like this in person.

Here is our second installment of the amazing machines on display at the 2012 Holiday Motor Excursion this past December. If you missed Part One, you can find it here. Enjoy! . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Jan
29

Most Gen-X car guys read about cars more than they worked on them. The author spent much of his time poring through the latest issues of Consumer Guide.

By most accounts, the epicenter of the automotive dark years was 1980. That was the year that the only Corvette Californians could buy was powered by a 5.0-liter V8 saddled to an automatic transmission. The early ’80s was the era of downsizing, sticker shock, and the furtive and desperate shade-tree “desmogging” of under-powered, low-compression engines.

Jan
28

Dave, from Minnesota, gets happy behind the wheel of a Volkswagen Beetle.

Two years ago, Volkswagen nearly upstaged the victorious Green Bay Packers with its humorous “little Darth Vader” Super Bowl ad. Last year, VW’s “The Dog Strikes Back” Super Bowl spot became a massive hit on YouTube; it has surpassed 16 million views. Now, for Super Bowl XLVII, the German automaker steers away from the “dark side” with its “Get Happy” ad, which promotes the Volkswagen Beetle and the VW brand in general. Volkswagen of America exec Tim Mahoney says the new commercial “is designed to bring a jolt of happiness to viewers’ daily lives.”

In the “Get Happy” spot, an everyday white Minnesotan named Dave brightens up his dreary office environment with a positive attitude and an inexplicable Caribbean accent. The commercial’s jingle is a version of “Come On, Get Happy,” which Baby Boomers remember as the theme song for the 1970s sitcom The Partridge Family.

“With ‘Get Happy,’ we set out to create a lighthearted and energetic ad to represent the positive energy and sunny disposition that only the Beetle and Volkswagen can deliver,” said Mike Sheldon, CEO of Deutsch LA.

Jan
27

Jay Leno regularly participates in the Holiday Motor Excursion. This year, Jay showed up in his unbelievable 1917 Fiat Botafogo Special. This is a precise recreation built by Pur Sang in Argentina.

If you’re a vintage-vehicle fan and you find yourself in Southern California for the holiday season, there is one event that you must put on your calendar.

The Horseless Carriage Club of Southern California (a division of the Horseless Carriage Club of America) puts on Holiday Motor Excursion every year, always on the Sunday after Christmas. Since the HCCA is officially open to pre-1917 automobiles, the primary focus of the event is brass-era classics. The driving tour itself is open only to pre-1932 stock vehicles, but lots of other amazing vintage machines show up to make the scene.

For this year’s edition (the 57th annual), the event moved from Pasadena City College to the more spacious parking lot of the Irwindale Raceway. The cars start arriving before sunrise, and by the time the official tour participants start rolling out at around 10 a.m., there are well over 100 vehicles in the parking lot.

Jan
25

1973 Ford Pinto

Inflation can play tricks on you. Look at the ad above and try not to feel nostalgic for new cars that could be had for less than $3,000. Truth is, assuming you could find a stripped model like the one above, and that you didn’t overpay for the Rusty Jones undercoating, you probably could sneak out the door with a Pinto “2-door sedan” for right around three large.

Jan
25

2013 Dodge Dart Rallye

Steve King and Johnnie Putman, Chicago radio personalities and car enthusiasts, are longtime friends of Consumer Guide Automotive. Click the video below for their latest car review. For more details on this feature-packed, all-new car, go to Consumer Guide Automotive’s review of the 2013 Dodge Dart.

 


Jan
23

The redesigned 2014 Mazda 6 is the latest vehicle to benefit from the brand’s SKYACTIV technology and KODO “Soul of Motion” design language

Be sure to read The Inaugural “EdWards for Automotive…Anything”; Part One: The Products.

The “Two Left Foot Ballerina Award for Most Missteps”
Let’s move away from the actual product and talk for a bit about the companies that make them. This “prize” goes to the firm that had the roughest 2012, at least in this writer’s humble opinion.

And the “winner” is . . . Hyundai
From 2008 to 2011, it seemed like nothing could stop Hyundai. With a focus on design and quality, the Korean automaker started churning out hit after hit. The company truly found its stride with the debut of the 2011 Sonata.

Then the wheels fell off, so to speak. It was an inauspicious start for Hyundai when it debuted the face-lifted 2013 Genesis Coupe at the 2012 Detroit Auto Show. Dynamically, the car was much better, with more power, a better ride, and a more upscale interior. But when I saw the revised front end in person, I was nearly brought to tears. Hyundai had taken one of the most gorgeous cars on the road and turned it into a rolling joke.

Jan
22

Inner workings of the Ford C-MAX Energi. Its “plug-in” battery is the silver box between the rear wheels.

In a previous post, we discussed the meaning behind MPGe ratings—which, essentially, are given to any vehicle that plugs into an outlet to recharge its battery. These vehicles are either all electric, such as the Nissan Leaf, or have both electric and gasoline powertrains, such as the Chevrolet Volt. In both cases, the cars can be driven a fair distance on just electric power.

Jan
21

A Dodge Charger with all-wheel drive bites the snow at Chrysler’s winter testing facility in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is typically one of the snowiest places in the United States. Snowfall is light by U.P. standards this winter, but that didn’t stop Chrysler Group from showing off the all-wheel-drive capabilities offered on the full-sized Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger.

Both 300 and Charger are big, rear-wheel-drive sedans. Many buyers appreciate the rear-drive characteristics of these two vehicles, and Chrysler engineers wanted to preserve the rear-drive feel on the AWD versions by sending most of the torque to the rear wheels. In fact, when not needed, the system automatically disconnects the front-drive wheels entirely to lessen the fuel-economy penalty of AWD.

The rear-wheel bias of 300/Charger AWD also helps control. I’ve never been exactly adventurous in the snow. I’d rather take it slow and easy to protect the sheet metal than kick the tail out. At Chrysler’s winter testing facility at Keweenaw Research Center (KRC), I had the chance let loose (by my standards) on a handling course. Only orange cones were in danger. An AWD Dodge Charger could stay on course through tight turns. A competitor’s AWD sedan with front-biased power distribution killed several cones going through corners that the Dodge handled with ease. I also drove on a small, circular track. The AWD Dodge stayed on course at speeds where a competitive front-wheel-drive car was sliding.

Jan
21

2009 Hummer H3 Alpha

History has been unkind to the Hummer brand, and for the most part, rightly so. It would be hard to point at any General Motors project that better demonstrated a culture of commercial crassness, environmental tone-deafness, and just plain shortsightedness.

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