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110

Springfield Buick: The Little Dealership That Time Forgot – Is It The Last (Or Smallest) Stand-Alone Buick Dealer? (Update: They Closed In 2019)

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(first posted 2/22/2013. Springfield Buick closed in August 2019)    You want to know what small-town car dealerships were like many decades ago? In downtown Springfield, across the river from Eugene, Springfield Buick is like a time machine, except that the cars are new. Family owned since its opening in 1949, this little Buick store has bucked many trends, as well as GM’s edict to eliminate stand-alone stores as part of their post-bankruptcy reorganization. Did it somehow fall through the cracks? No matter; here it still is, just like it always has been for 64 years. Let’s drop in for a visit. Read the rest of this entry »

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Curbside Classic: 1979-1982 Ford Mustang – A Clean Break

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(first posted 12/7/2016)    Retro styling, so beloved in the early 2000s, lives on in the pony car segment. The bulging fenders and swooping rooflines of the newest Mustang and Camaro and the slavish homage that is the Challenger show the Big 3 aren’t taking any chances with the designs of their sporty offerings. Their styling plays like a Greatest Hits compilation, even if underneath the sheetmetal is all manner of modern technology like magnetorheological shocks and cylinder deactivation. But let’s cast our minds back to a time where Ford was far more willing to subvert the design orthodoxy in the segment they effectively created, when they launched the clean-sheet 1979 Mustang. Read the rest of this entry »

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Curbside Classic: 1998 Nissan R’nessa – Rock Bottom Wagon With A High Floor

As I was saying in my previous post, I’m going to try and only post “CC virgins” this month – stuff we’ve not had a look at before. There is a bunch of JDM models that potentially fit this profile, but they can’t all be cool obscure RWD ‘70s coupés. So here’s a somewhat underwhelming unknown-unknown FWD wagon from the darkest days of Nissan, complete with a rather weird (yet oddly prescient) name.

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Cohort Pic(k) of the Day: 1970 Camaro – Restored Base Coupe; Six or V8?

nifticus found something a bit out of the ordinary here: a 1970 Camaro base coupe diligently restored to its original appearance. No Rally wheels or mags, no big exhaust pipes, no Z-28 clone badges and stripes, no nothing, other than how it looked the day it rolled off the lines.

And for all we know, this may very well be a six; its Canadian provenance makes that even substantially more likely.

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6

Artificial Intelligence Classics: “Improvements” on some of my previous rides

There is no doubt that artificial intelligence (AI) generated art is a big thing right now. It can produce some amazing and creative images as well as some very weird and/or disturbing ones. There is also some debate about who the ultimate creator of the resulting piece is. The human feeding it prompts or the machine doing the generation via gathering source images to combine and manipulate with various algorithms. Luckily, we are not here to debate that but instead ponder if any of its creations are any good. I fed it some of my greatest hit vehicles with suggested improvements to see what comes out.

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11

COAL: 2002 Mazda Protégé – Mazda’s The Answer…What Was The Question?

By 2001 our 1992 Ford Aerostar was heading towards its long home; I was topping up the transmission fluid on a bi-weekly basis, the air conditioning was kaput, the power steering pump was leaking again and I forget what all else.  At least the stereo still worked, which helped mask any new noises coming from underneath the Ford’s abbreviated hood.  All those ills could have been addressed, but only at great expense and with the understanding that a new list would soon be forthcoming.  As the old saying goes, it was time to either fish or cut bait.

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84

Book Report: Elon Musk; Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future – The Henry Ford Of Our Times?

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(first posted 12/6/2016. At first thought, I wasn’t going to rerun this. But in rereading it and the comments, I changed my mind. It is a decent short take on a Musk history, especially as applies to Space X and Tesla. Obviously, both companies have prospered since then, especially so Tesla, whose growth is still on a tear as well as its profits. Tesla continues to reduce production costs, and its top-selling Model Y has had some radical under-the-skin changes (Megacastings, structural battery pack, etc.) that have driven down its cost to build and thus creates very large profits. In Q3, Tesla had a profit of $9,500 per car sold, a truly stellar performance given that no mass-producer of EVs is yet making a profit on them. That alone continues to keep Tesla well ahead of the “Tesla Killers”.

As to Musk’s personality issues and its manifestations, let’s just say that success has amplified them, as it almost invariably does. I’m not very interested in spending time on them, but would rather focus on the results. There’s still a lot of unfinished business for Musk. We shall see…)

For those of us with an interest in automotive history, Elon Musk and Tesla is the biggest story that’s come along in a very long time. Watching it unfold in real time is highly fascinating and absorbing; we’re in the middle of the most transformative era in the automobile’s history since the 1920s. And Tesla is pioneering two of the most revolutionary technologies at the same time: electric propulsion and autonomous capability. The last successful start-up of a new automobile manufacturer in the US was Chrysler, in 1925. And even it failed, eventually. The only other major effort to break into this very competitive market was Kaiser-Frazer, in 1946, which lasted less than ten years. Neither of their efforts were genuinely revolutionary; Musk’s breadth of vision and scale overpowers them by a huge margin. The only possible parallel is Henry Ford.

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Curbside Classic: 1977 Chevrolet Bel Air Coupe – A Once-Storied Name’s Last Stand In Canada

1977 Chevrolet Bel Air

(first posted 2/21/2013)    The storied Bel Air name is mostly remembered for the glamorous 1955-1957 models. As a top line model it was dripping with flashy chrome, but the name ended its run in 1981 in Canada on something much more pedestrian, as a poverty-trim companion to the downsized Caprice/Impala.

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Vintage Dealer Postcard: M & C Motors – “The Correct Time And Place To Buy Your New DeSoto & Plymouth

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Cohort Pic(k) of the Day: BMW 1602 – And There Was Also An 1802 And 1502

Here in the US, when we see this iconic shape, we naturally think “2002”. Well, that was by far the most popular version of the 02 Series, especially in the US. But the 02 was available with no less than six different engines, of which only half made it to the states.

The original was the 1600-02, badged just “1600”, and it was the only one when it arrived in 1966. In 1971, it was rebadged “1602”, for clarity, like this one shot by Benoît, but by that time the 1600 was no longer available in the US, where the 2002, which arrived in 1968, reigned supreme until the hotter fuel injected 2002tii arrived in 1971 as a more expensive alternative.

But in Europe, there was also an 1802 and 1502, as well as the legendary 2002 Turbo.

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48

CC Recess: Vanishing Playground Equipment of the 1950s and ’60s

The last time I saw Sammy the Sea Serpent. Scrapping the old playground equipment, Mountview Elementary School, Morris Plains NJ, c. 1990.  I’m sure he’s dead now.

 

About 30 years ago, I noticed that a lot of familiar things from my youth that I took for granted and thought would always be . . . started disappearing.  One day I decided to take a walk through my old elementary school playground, and I came upon the sight above.  Yes, they were scrapping all the old playground equipment that I knew so well and that I had played on with my classmates so many times.  This stuff was built to last forever–why were they doing this?

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Curbside Musings: 2004 Ford Taurus SE – Creative Hair Solutions

2004 Ford Taurus SE. Edgewater, Chicago, Illinois. Monday, November 21, 2022.

I looked at this Taurus in my neighborhood on the day of this writing and thought immediately of myself from about twenty years ago.  Right off the bat, I’d like to level-set by pointing out that while I think this roof treatment is hideous and probably was from day one, the current owner of the car wasn’t responsible for it.  By this stage of this Taurus’s ownership, it serves simply as a device to get from point A to point B.  The presence of a faux convertible top on this car should in no way be considered a reflection on its owner.

A transportation car is just that, and while I never had to own one myself, there was a point in time when I was between jobs when I was seriously considering the purchase of one of several unglamorous conveyances to get me to and from a few job prospects in the Chicago suburbs.  I’m thankful for the job I ultimately accepted over a decade ago, and also for my continued ability to rely on public transit.

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The NYC Curbside Classics of Langdon Clay (1974-1976)

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(first posted 12/5/2016)     Langdon Clay spent two years roaming the streets of New York City, shooting parked cars. The results are now available in a book, Langdon Clay, Cars – NYC 1974-1976, published by Steidl. Here’s a sampler of them for your viewing pleasure, starting with a real gem, titled “White Tower Car”.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Mexican Mopars, Part 3: 1999-2001 Dodge Ramcharger – Rising To The Challenge

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(first posted 12/5/2016)   Perhaps the most intriguing and unique of all of the Mexican Mopars is the short-lived, third generation Ramcharger. Engineered on a shoestring budget and dipping into the Chrysler parts bin, the ’99 Ramcharger represented the last gasp of the once popular two-door, full-size SUV format. Read the rest of this entry »

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Curbside Classics: 1986 Oldsmobile Cutlass Cruiser & 1996 Buick Century Wagon – Separated By Ten Years And A Few Hundred Yards

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(first posted 12/5/2016)     It blows my mind that ten years separate the dates in which these car were brand new, as they are essentially the exact same car, save for a few unique trim details. Even more astounding is that a grand total of 14 years (1982-1996) separates the model years of the very first GM A-bodies with the very last. In essence, someone could’ve bought a new GM A-body the year their child was born, and another brand new, yet very little changed one the same year that child was entering high school.

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