Recent Posts

Curbside Classic: 1969 Mercury Cougar – Premium Ponycar

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(first posted 3/25/2013)     Mercury, that recently-departed Ford division, never really had an easy life. From the beginning, in 1939, it vacillated between fancy Ford and cheap Lincoln while never really finding its place. But still, there were some neat cars built during its seventy-two-year existence. Perhaps the best of them was the 1967-70 Cougar.

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Curbside Classic: 1980 Toyota TownAce Wagon Super Extra – All You Need Is Loaf

One-box cars and minivans, especially the shorter ones, tend to be called “bread loaf” in several languages – including Mandarin, Russian, Burmese and doubtless plenty of others. It’s a pretty accurate description of the overall shape. This Toyota TownAce, however, pushes the verisimilitude up another notch by wearing a high roof and golden brown paint job that really makes it very loaf-like, in a nicely baked sort of way. Let’s have a slice while no one’s looking.

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CC Global: “It’s A Honda, Jim, But Not As We Know It” – Car Spotting In New Zealand

Travel genuinely broadens the mind; it adds new facts and information about places, people and cultures, it corrects misconceptions, it can stimulate ideas in both the traveller and the host, it builds relationships and enduring friendship. It is unashamedly a Good Thing. Traveling to a small country may also lead to witnessing influences and experiences from neighbouring areas – USA and Canada or continental Europe in the UK for example. New Zealand offers that, with influences from Europe, Australia, south east Asia and the Far East.

A major source of cars in NZ is imported, used, Japanese domestic market (JDM) vehicles. For someone who has not been to Japan, the resulting traffic can provide a rich source of the unfamiliar, but also the familiar, at the same time. Familiar brands, sometimes model names, sometimes familiar styles and appearance, often not all at once and not as seen at home. Read the rest of this entry »


CC Global: A Celebration of Holdens On The Day the Very Last One Rolls Off the Line

Because today, 20 October 2017, is the day that the Holden production lines will come to a halt after almost 70 years, I thought that rather than recount the history of Holden – which can be found at many places from Wikipedia onwards – I would run through a few interesting CC finds.  So let’s start with this 1968 HK model Brougham, which was the top of the line of the sixth-generation Holden, and looked like it was a fresh restoration. A closer look at it and its long tail can be found here. Read the rest of this entry »


Future Classic Introduction: 2018 Nissan Leaf – Turning Over A New One

2018 Nissan Leaf

A few evenings ago, my wife and I journeyed to Denver to participate in an introduction event for the new 2018 Nissan Leaf, the second generation of Nissan’s electric car.  Held at Denver University’s Cable Center, upon arrival we felt more than a little conspicuous in the parking area as we parked our huge gas guzzler SUV among a sea of first-generation Nissan Leafs; clearly our compatriots were mostly current owners.

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Curbside Classic: Home-Built Toronado-Based Motor Home – The Poor Man’s GMC Motorhome

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(first posted 5/24/2013. The anonymous yet familiar GM truck Myster Concept reminded me of this, for some reason)

I called GM’s decision to build a giant personal-luxury coupe with front wheel drive a Deadly Sin (here).  The dubious advantages hardly outweighed the disadvantages, as well the whole exercise being a case of an expensive misplaced priority. But the silver lining of the Toronado project was that it was instantly recognized by a few forward-looking motor home builders as manna from heaven. At a time when motorhomes weren’t quite the split-level McMansions on wheels today, the Toronado’s Unitary Power Package (“UPP”) offered a way to build them with a superbly-low center of gravity and car-like performance and handling. And that extended to back-yard builders too, like whoever it was that can take credit for building this one. Read the rest of this entry »


Car Show Classics: Toyota Australia – Marking The End Of An Era, Part 2

Continuing a stroll through Toyota Australia history via the Toyota Car Club’s show at the just-closed Altona North factory, I’ll start with the Japanese pony car – Celica, which debuted in Japan in 1970 and Australia in November 1971 with a 1.6L engine.  Because it has the fuel filler relocated to the pillar (from between the tail lights), this car would be a 1973-75 model.

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CC Jukebox: Blondie’s Car-Eating Man From Mars

Back in January of 1981, the group Blondie released “Rapture”, which was a multi-format smash in the United States – placing at #1 on the Hot 100, #1 in Dance Club Play, and #33 on the Hot Soul Singles charts on Billboard Magazine that year.  This song, taken from their sixth studio album, “Autoamerican”, also charted in over ten other countries, internationally.  I grew up listening to a fair amount of Top-40 and Urban Contemporary music starting in the ’80s and became familiar with the musical tastes of a broad cross-section of people in my Rust Belt factory town of Flint, Michigan.  Blondie, however, was one act that had managed to elude me almost completely.

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Car Show Classic: 1987 Audi 5000 CS Quattro – A Runaway Success?

Success: Is it something measured by popularity and profitability alone? Or is it something measured by innovation, inspiration, and ultimately, legacy? Furthermore, for something to achieve a lasting legacy, does it require an impeccable reputation, unscathed by any marks of negativity?

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CC Capsule: 1965 Mazda T1500 – Sumo Trike

Three-wheelers are generally pretty small affairs – and they are all the more cute and cuddly for it. This Mazda pick-up, however, presents a rare case of what biologists call “insular gigantism”. Let’s examine what is probably the largest road trike ever made for the civilian market, as we welcome the Mazda T1500, once a common sight on Japanese roads, into our dojo.

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CC Outtake: Unchronological Evolution

When I took this photo, I was struck by how the juxtaposition reminded me of the classic evolution-of-man image. It is interesting that a 60 year old shape (and counting) could sit so comfortably between these two modern examples, appearing almost as a missing link. Just like the word ‘unchronological’, there’s something illogical about this succession that still seems to make sense.

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CC Capsule: 2004-08 & 2008-13 Honda Odyssey – World’s Sexiest Minivan

No, I’m not talking about the North American market Odyssey when I apply the “World’s Sexiest Minivan” label. As you can see, the featured Odyssey looks entirely different to the one sold in the US and Canada. After the first generation model, the Odyssey nameplate was applied to two different lines: one sold in North America, and one sold in Europe and the Asia-Pacific region. Americans and Canadians got a bigger body and a V6 engine, we got style. Who was the winner? Read the rest of this entry »


CC Outtake: 1976 Corolla Liftback – The Dragon Roars

Eugene’s 20×21 Mural Project’s goal is to have 20 world-class murals by the time of the 2021 IAFF World Champions, which Eugene is hosting. Several have already appeared, including this one by Chinese artist Hua Tunan. It’s at a favorite location of mine, directly across the street from where this Corolla Liftback has been parked at the curb along with the ’72 Cadillac that was my first-ever CC. The Caddy left a couple of years ago, but the Corolla is still there, and now has a colorful backdrop. Read the rest of this entry »


Curbside Classic: 1983 Chevy C10 Step-Side Scottsdale – I’m Ready To Be Its “Driver”

Perhaps it was the oncoming traffic, or maybe my attention was towards a convenient parking spot, but arriving on my birthday to a favorite restaurant with my wife, I was slow to notice a very familiar, not to mention favorable shape. Read the rest of this entry »


QOTD: Is Black The New Chrome?

For as far back as the memory can go, just like jewelry on a person, chrome trim has signified a car’s prestige and prominence, whether it be among lower trim levels of that car or other vehicles in general. But in today’s automotive age where everything from a Toyota Corolla to a Dodge Durango to a Porsche 911 can be had with various “sport styling” packages and accessories for extra cost, does chrome have the same panache and desirability it did in decades past?

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