By on October 17, 2019

1988 Oldsmobile Cutlass Cruiser wagon in North Dakota junkyard, rust - ©2019 Murilee Martin - Paardensex

Good morning, all. Your author here just awoke from a nightmare, one whose subject matter should strike fear into the hearts of all vehicle owners. Allow me to describe the dream.

In a rainy and somewhat threatening near future, yours truly noticed something on the rearmost part of his driver’s side rocker panel. A blemish. Maybe dirt or asphalt, I thought, walking over to flick the speck away. Drawing nearer, I realized, to my horror, that this speck wasn’t a foreign object clinging to my vehicle’s blue (why blue?) ⁠paint — it was a hole. Around said hole wasn’t dirt, but a heat rash-like spread of surface corrosion. With mounting dread, I fell to the ground, anticipating worse to come underneath.

Sure enough, my fears were realized. Acres of rust and widespread perforation beneath my relatively new vehicle! I had let a silent killer sneak up on me. (Find Out…)

By on October 16, 2019

On last Wednesday’s Question of the Day post, we began our examination of terrible styling on sporty cars of the 1990s. First up was America, and the oft-fiddled Mercury Cougar. This week we turn our attention to Europe, and sporty designs from across the ocean that didn’t quite work.

(Find Out…)

By on October 15, 2019

This past weekend’s Canadian Thanksgiving afforded me the opportunity to converse with non-Twitter “normies,” thus allowing me to learn a thing or two about how such people live their lives. Of particular note was what goes on in my friend’s son’s high school parking lot.

No, I hadn’t heard reports of illicit activity, though you can be sure it’s happening. Damn sure. Instead, my interest lay in what his fellow students drove, and if they drove. Recalling my angsty, awkward high school years during the height of ’90s nihilism, it seemed my school’s student lot would double nicely as a BHPH lot stocked with nothing but aging GM relics. Granted, the school was a rural one, and its student body was hardly a bastion of wealth and privilege. My friend’s son’s school, on the other hand, is urban, and Soundgarden is no longer burning up the charts.

How would these two student bodies differ in their vehicle use, I wondered? (Find Out…)

By on October 11, 2019


For years now, we’ve watched as the average car/crossover grille has expanded faster than that aunt you got divorced in her 20s and never settled down (the same can be said for a man; don’t send us letters.)

Now, as vehicle grilles — once declared nearly extinct in the Taurus/Sable/Intrepid/Crown Vic era ⁠— reach their zenith, the mind turns to an obvious question: What comes next? You’ve watched on these pages as Toyota and Lexus attempted to swallow galaxies with their gaping front openings. Now, BMW is eager to swallow what’s left. (Find Out…)

By on October 10, 2019

Ford EcoSport Greenhouse Roofline, Image: © 2016 Sajeev Mehta/Paardensex

No, we’re not talking about coming to someone’s emotional rescue, nor are we concerned about that time you pushed your buddy out of the way of that speeding Amtrak while searching for a corpse back in the ’80s.

This is serious stuff. A person can set themselves up for a world of emotional and financial hurt by choosing the wrong car, and, just maybe, you’ve successfully coaxed someone away from the proverbial ledge. (Find Out…)

By on October 9, 2019

Image: 1989 Chevrolet Beretta GTULast week, we wrapped up a trio of posts about the best sporty car designs of the Nineties from around the world. Today we venture into the darker depths of the same subject. First up are the bad designs American manufacturers proffered during the decade.

(Find Out…)

By on October 8, 2019

2001 Pontiac Sunfire in California wrecking yard, front view - ©2016 Murilee Martin - Paardensex

No, not depreciation — though that might come into play here, too. A great number of car models are lackluster, deficient in style, reliability or panache, or basically appeal to buyers only for their low cost of ownership. Some vehicles are simply appliances, nothing more.

Yet appliances stimulate little in the way of bad emotion. They’re not meant to. So, despite the blandness of some vehicles, you wouldn’t call them depressing. No, that term is reserved for a very specific cohort of rides. Which models are they? (Find Out…)

By on October 7, 2019

For an age, car manufacturers were stuck with trying to package an airbag into the centre hub of a steering wheel using technology that — compared to today’s kit — approximated that of what was found on Roman chariots. Most of us will remember the “lunchbox” airbags of the era, especially the enormous rectangular hub from Ford.

Bookending that timeframe, though, there were some nifty steering wheel designs. The acid-trip ’80s provided some good fodder, as does the creative packaging of today’s tillers. What’s your fave? Ours, perhaps predictably, comes from Subaru.

(Find Out…)

By on October 4, 2019

The badge you don’t see in the photo is the no-longer-Ram-associated Dodge badge, the one we’ll be discussing today. In a post the other day, yours truly waxed on and on, probably to your great annoyance, about the brand’s attempt to stimulate interest in its future via its past. What name would you like to see return, the brand’s Twitter account asked.

Some readers considered the tweet a possible sign of a returning Viper — the low-volume supercar that bowed out Dodge’s lineup not all that long ago. A month before his death, former Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne poured cold water over the idea, claiming the Viper could only stage a profitable return if it shared a platform with something from FCA’s European collection, and in doing so wouldn’t be able to handle a giant, honking, torque-laden American engine necessary for a Viper to be a real Viper.

Maybe it’s still a good idea to some, though others might feel a Ford GT-like one-off model punted to a Canadian specialty manufacturer and offered at a stratospheric sticker price is a better way to go. (Find Out…)

By on October 3, 2019

We call upon our vehicles to go the extra mile sometimes; to give us that extra bit of effort to get the job done. And, every now and then, we ask of them too much, as some vehicles just aren’t suited for the task at hand.

Screw it, we’ve thought in the heat and madness of the moment — it’s the only vehicle at hand. Make do with what you’ve got, and all that.

Like the famously lopsided naval battle in the Leyte Gulf that saw a small handful of U.S. destroyers and destroyer escorts successfully fight off a large task force of Japan’s most fearsome warships, our machines’ abilities can sometimes surprise us, even when facing seemingly insurmountable odds. Has your vehicle — or a vehicle in your possession — ever surprised you with its get-it-done spirit? (Find Out…)

By on October 1, 2019

There’s an excellent chance that, based on pure statistical probability, most of us will never have a full-time chauffeur in our employ. Actually, I’m not even sure how many of the 1% choose to have a chauffeur these days. It seems a trifle old-fashioned.

Or maybe not. Having someone shuttle you around at all hours in all weather seems to be a good deal. Thing is, who do you choose? That’s your task today.

(Find Out…)

By on September 26, 2019

Just the other day, Bark told us why he loathes comparison tests — those splashy smorgasbords of contemporary metal, each one resulting in a ranking that probably won’t sway a single new car shopper.

Like many of you, this author’s youth was at least partly spent devouring such tests in the glossy pages of Car and Driver and Motor Trend, with a teenage Steph eagerly awaiting those publications’ findings. Would the Ford Contour beat out the Chevy Lumina? Can the Chrysler LHS really hold a candle to the Cadillac Seville? My God, the titillation.

Great entertainment, as Bark said, but most new car buyers only read a review to see if any glaring deficiency plagues their pre-existing first choice. Basically, they already know what they want, and they’re looking to see that decision reinforced. Performance minutiae or minor gripes need not sway the new car buyer. (Find Out…)

By on September 25, 2019

Image: Corey Lewis/TTACA new trim level here, a revised bumper there, general fiddling. Sometimes, there’s just no way around it — a manufacturer’s vehicular offering is overdue for replacement. Today we want to discuss the models on sale in The Current Year that have lived past their reasonable shelf life.

(Find Out…)

By on September 23, 2019

jvc kwr930bt car stereo double din

It happens to the best of us. Entranced by bigger tires or more horsepower or louder sound, we gearheads are susceptible to bouts of fiduciary myopia. Plugging a stereo system worth two grand into a knackered old Cavalier? Sure! Paying handsomely for a lift kit even though the old Silverado has rust holes like swiss cheese? Let’s go!

We’re all prone to the odd bit of automotive profligacy. Mine, perhaps surprisingly, involves a Ford Escort and some subwoofers.

(Find Out…)

By on September 20, 2019

Almost sounds sexual, doesn’t it? Well, listen, pal — sometimes a warm embrace is just a nice hug, but it doesn’t mean it won’t make you feel special. Special…safe…and content.

Coddled. It’s one of those words whose meaning never evolves, but its use in the automotive realm is usually associated with another word: luxury. And with good reason. The Oxford English Dictionary defines coddled as the act of being treated “in an indulgent or overprotective way.” Hey, that’s right up luxury’s street.

Yet one can feel coddled without all the trapping that come with luxury. Maybe you’ve experienced just such a human-vehicle relationship. What vehicle from your past (perhaps it’s in the present) coddled you the most? (Find Out…)

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