One of the cars we had for only a short time as I grew up was one that I remember fondly, not just because it was a car I liked to be seen in, but because it had, in a tiny but not insignificant way, a positive role in world history.
This simple car is the definition of the Chrysler Corporation in 1980s North America. From 1981 to 1995, this basic architecture was molded, shaped, stretched, shrunken, and face-lifted into everything from sporting car, to minivan, to all guises of sedan. So let’s travel back to the time of big hair and parachute pants to explore all the permutations of the humble Chrysler K-car.
We will start with the beginning of the family; it all spirals outward from there.
One of things that never ceases to amaze me about Eugene is just how many old VW Beetles are still in daily driver use. One day I was running an errand, and I swear I counted eight or nine, parked or in traffic. And that’s just in the course of maybe forty-five minutes or less. I should really document them all, before they disappear. Never mind; they’ll never disappear. This is a forty-three year old car designed eighty years ago still being used as a daily driver, and I’ll bet there will still be some being used that way when the design is a hundred years old.
I’ve got Beetles on the brain, as I’m in the midst reading Karl Ludvigsen’s excellent book “Battle for the Beetle”, which covers the years from the start of the project through the rise of VW in the 1950s, including Ford’s clear interest in merging VW with its German operations, which only didn’t happen because the Ford exec in charge never really followed through. Now that would have changed history.
Car number two on my “Great 28″ lags infinitesimally behind my favored Continental, and in some ways outpaces it, largely because of its relative attainability. Alas, my window of opportunity has nearly closed, leaving a pinpoint of light at the end of a Buick-shaped tunnel. People have, unfortunately, finally come to the realization that the early Riviera is what I’ve known it to be all along, one of the most beautiful American cars of the postwar era and a dazzling collectible.
Yesterday we stopped by Westside Auto in Steamboat Springs, CO in the hopes of having them weld up an exhaust for an ’86 Audi 4000 Quattro that had disassembled itself into three distinct pieces when I spotted this old tailgate mounted to the wall next to the entrance door and for a second wondered why it was there…
Today, South Korea manufactures hundreds of thousands of high-quality, competitive sedans, hatchbacks and crossovers. GM’s Korean operations, for instance, produce the Chevrolet Spark, Sonic, Cruze and Malibu. Not too long ago, though, GM Korea was known as Daewoo and had a far less compelling lineup.
(first published in 2007) As a boy in the pre-internet early sixties, I became obsessed with unveiling the secrets of that inexplicably alluring object of male interest. I had a general notion of what transpired: the rhythmic in and out motions, the frenzy of moving members, the rapid inhalations, the (hopefully) synchronized explosions, and in their wake, the murmur of exhalations. Yes, life’s most intimate mysteries sang their siren song, and I was powerless to resist.
I finally found the willing partner/victim for my exploration. And so, one fateful summer afternoon in a dark corner of the family garage, well out of sight of adults, I furtively removed the outer coverings. In detaching the final gate-keeper of the mystery, I met unexpected resistance. My clumsiness and inexperience resulted in unnecessary pain. Blood flowed. The rite of passage had already exacted a price. Other sacrifices lay ahead. But for the moment, I savored the sweetness of success. Read the rest of this entry »
Ok; we’ve all seen shots like this before, and we all know how much bigger a Tundra is compared to a Toyota pickup from the 80s. But how could I not stop and shoot this scene anyway? Read the rest of this entry »
From the past few COALs I had learned a few things: 1) I was in love with the B body design 2) I missed the LT1 performance of my 9C1 3) I liked the white non-descript color of my 9C1 4) the utility of the B body wagon was essential 5) I liked cushy brougham interiors 6) I liked the big fold away heated side view mirrors of the 95-96 B bodies.
I was passively searching for a replacement for my last COAL because nobody wanted to ride in it anymore and came upon the following:
1) 1995 Chevrolet Caprice wagon with big, fold-away heated side view mirrors
2) Cranberry red cloth interior with power windows, locks, seats and antenna
3) Bright white exterior with no fake wood (a huge bonus for me)
4) Station wagon with third-row seat
5) 5.7 liter LT1 V8 with 260 HP
6) Definitely a B-body
The DMV. Forever in the list of places you only want to go if there’s a zombie apocalypse going on and the only other option is to run towards them shouting “What about me!? What about me!?” sadly for us we’re forced to go if we want to drive our cherished chariots or, in my case last month, because you have to fight a ticket. No rest for the weary.
(first posted 12/22/2011) My gig is to wander the streets of Eugene and hopefully stumble onto something worthy of your attention. Sometimes, my wildest expectations are exceeded, and then exceeded again. Walking down Willamette Street, I see the distinctive rear hatch of what I take to be a Pinto. Nice enough. But no, this is a Mercury Bobcat; quite a find in this day and age. I start snapping away. And then the owner shows up and tops it all: he’s converted this Bobcat to a steam injection system of his own invention, and it’s going to pull twelves in the quarter mile and get 75 mpg. Incredible! Read the rest of this entry »
I picked up this beauty at a record fair last year. Finntrio’s music isn’t as glum as the cover, sort of a sprightly folk sound that’s not really to my taste. Anyway, guessing the car on the front cover isn’t so hard; it’s trying to figure out all the cars on the back cover that’s a more – ahem – goliath task. Read the rest of this entry »
(first posted 10/7/2011) The weather is way too beautiful in North Georgia to stay inside these days. Even if I have no particular place to go, I will go there anyway just to spot cars. My lack of focus was rewarded today when I spotted a rare and exotic bird indeed: A local glass shop owner (who is a confirmed Suzuki Man) had parked his pride and joy X-90 out front in place of his normal Samurai. This happily coincided with me having my trusty Kodak at the ready. He was pleasant and friendly, and the car itself had some stories to tell (just like it promises in the banner up above).
If I haven’t learned something new each day here, it’s been a waste. A couple of days ago, at the V5 diesel post, I got into a spirited debate about diesel versus gas engines. The issue was that every naturally-aspirated (non-turbo) car diesel engine I’ve ever encountered has a lower torque output than a comparable gas engine. I and some other commenters found stats on numerous car and truck engines, all with the same result, like these two compared above.
Others insisted that diesel engines intrinsically make more torque due to their higher compression and because diesel fuel has 12-15% more hydrocarbons per volume than gasoline, and other aspects too. Well, that all sounds good in theory, and I almost had the right rebuttal in hand, but was missing one key detail. I little research found the answer, and it explains perfectly why gas engines make more torque. Read the rest of this entry »
I should be completely honest with you: There are a couple of reasons why you don’t see much from me in the way of images. For one, I live in a country where if someone finds you taking pictures of a car they will really think you’re up to something. And, speaking from experience, “I’m taking it because I want to write about it for the internet” is NOT an acceptable reply. Second, my only camera is my phone, and it certainly is not the last word in image capture. It’s more what my fellow demographic will call a “Potatophone” Still, I thought this was worthy of sharing.