Archive for September, 2012
Are wagons cool again? It’s kind of hard to tell. European makers enjoyed some success with them this past decade, and yet even they are now disguising their wagons in the form of “GT” models (BMW) and pseudo rally-ready “allroad” models (Audi). It’s worth noting that even Volvo, the world’s most wagon-dedicated brand, has turned away from the simple, functional, two-box design. They peddle only XC70 models, which they now position as crossovers, not wagons.
Every January, I make a mental list of cars that just became “classics.” That’s because—to some insurance companies and state licensing agencies—a car becomes a classic when it reaches 25 years of age. This can be an important distinction if the vehicle is used as a weekend fun machine and/or backup vehicle, as classic-car insurance can cost just a fraction of what it is for a normal car (though your classic car has to be in good condition and not driven much), and many states issue Antique license plates for classic cars that are far less expensive than regular plates. For example, a co-worker of mine gets full insurance coverage on his 1967 Jaguar XKE for less than $300 a year, and in Illinois, Antique license plates cost about $40 for three years rather than $78 for one year. Furthermore, most of these cars have bottomed out on their depreciation curve, so it’s unlikely you’re going to lose much money if they’re kept in good shape.
Don’t look now, but summer is almost over. Labor Day has passed, and that means the summer cruise night season is soon to be ending in many parts of the country. Did you partake in one yet? If not, you should—either as a spectator or a participant. Most urban areas have weekly informal car gatherings; most are evening cruise nights, and some are early-morning weekend get-togethers (such as the “Cars and Coffee” show series), but all are great ways to enjoy cars without all the formality of an organized car show. The best part about these cruises is that you never know what rare or interesting vehicle might show up. The photos seen here were taken at the last two editions of the Monday Night Car Show, which kicked off this past June at the Westfield Old Orchard Mall in Skokie, Illinois.
My dad had a pea-green 1970 Chevy Nova. It was a dealer demo that he had purchased during the summer of that same year. The car had few options, including a 307-cid V8, automatic transmission, and an AM radio. The cabin was hose-it-out black, and as far as I knew, it was the greatest car in the world. It was also the first car I would ever drive.
Events recently conspired to remind me that it’s now 50 years since I started high school. With model-year 2012 having passed into history, I thought my minor golden anniversary was a good excuse for recalling a few “golden oldies” from model-year 1962. This is a personal list, so don’t be offended if you don’t see one of your favorites.
Four months ago, I wrote a piece about Mazda’s sagging fortunes in the U.S. market. The small Japanese brand was putting all its eggs in a basket called SKYACTIV. Now it appears that the gamble is starting to pay dividends.
The Batmobile didn’t originate in a secret research center of Wayne Industries, but instead began in the styling studios of Ford’s Lincoln-Mercury Division. The Caped Crusader’s vehicle actually started life as the Lincoln Futura concept car.
Consumer Guide interviews Masatoshi Hasegawa, executive vice president of Mitsubishi.
Sales are down, and three of the company’s most recognizable nameplates have been killed. Not returning for the 2013 model year are the Eclipse and Galant, and the Endeavor got the axe at the end of 2011.