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Archive for September, 2012

The Best and Worst Car Slogans Ever

September 14th, 2012

Mazda Zoom Zoom

How many ad agencies does it take to come up with a new three-word slogan for an automaker?

Six.

Six big and expensive marketing, advertising and research agencies were hired to collaborate and come up with a new slogan. What they came up with might as well have been created by the company’s accounting department. It’s meaningless and cliche.

Toyota’s new slogan, to replace “Moving forward,” is: “Let’s go places.”

Six agencies, extensive research and, surely, plenty of 30-year-old guys in skinny jeans and square glasses all working together to create a slogan that will certainly be mocked the world over. I come from a background of agency work, and I can tell you, the best slogans are created by three people in a room full of cigarette smoke and an empty bottle of brandy.

“Moving forward” at least conveyed an image of confidence and told its audience the general direction of the company. “Let’s go places” just raises questions. Where are we going and why are we all going together?

“Let’s go” would have been a fine slogan, like a rallying cry. “Go places” would have worked, too. “Let’s Go Places” is just… well… lame.

But there have been plenty of lame slogans in the auto world, in addition to some classic great ones.

Keep reading for my take, then please chime in with your thoughts!

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Cars Coming Soon: Porsche Macan Expected to Dominate

September 13th, 2012

2014 Porsche Macan

If the thought of every semi-affluent soccer mom in the nation parking a small Porsche SUV in the garage makes you slightly ill, it’s better you don’t read this.

If you believe a real Porsche shares a platform with no one, this isn’t your post.

If, in your mind, the only true Porsches have a model name starting with a 9, this will upset you.

If you thought the Porsche Cayenne brought the German sports car maker too far into the realm of the mass market, go find some sand and bury your head in it. You’re about to be swarmed by a small CUV known as the Porsche Macan.

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2013 SRT Viper Priced, Ford FF Racer Could Offer Alternative

September 12th, 2012

2013 SRT Viper

There are two ways to build thrilling performance-wielding sports cars:

1. Go big, powerful and fast.

2. Go light, turbocharged and fast.

In the first category, we have cars like the Corvette and Viper. The second category has been limited to cars from Lotus and, even more obscure, Ariel.

Typically the American automakers prefer category 1, but Ford may dive into category 2 with a competitor to the Ariel Atom. That news comes as Chrysler has announced pricing on the new SRT Viper.

Two vastly different ideas for cars with a common purpose: speed.

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More Volt Sales: Bad News for GM, Good News for Used Shoppers

September 11th, 2012

2012 Chevrolet Volt

You might think that the good people over at General Motors would love to read a news story that begins with this sentence:

General Motors sold a record number of Chevrolet Volt sedans in August.

That’s really good news for the maker of the slow-selling $40,000 electric car, right?

Well, yes, it is, but there’s a huge problem with those increased sales numbers.

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An Autobahn in America?

September 10th, 2012

85 mph road sign

A number of years ago some discussion took place about going back to a nationwide 55-mph speed limit on American highways. The idea, of course, was to increase the number of miles travelled per gallon of gasoline while decreasing the amount of emissions from the country’s fleet of motorcars.

Obviously nothing ever came of that.

In contrast, speed limits keep increasing. I remember the days in Montana when no speed limit existed at all, other than a “safe and prudent” law that was open to interpretation. While we’re far from anything like that coming back, there’s news from Texas that new 85-mph speed limit signs are going up.

An interesting prelude, perhaps, to an eventual return to the era of no speed limits at all?

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When Crazy Cars Gain Cult Status

September 7th, 2012

AMC Pacer

It’s hard to believe that Wayne’s World came out 20 years ago. That movie defined a generation and cemented the phrase “Party on” into pop culture. Teens in the ’90s ate up the Mike Meyers/Dana Carvey comedy, and today the movie could be regarded as a cult classic.

Oddly enough, the film featured a once-laughable car and turned it into a cult favorite in its own right: the AMC Pacer.

Remember the “Bohemian Rhapsody” scene in the old Pacer? Truly a moment of cinematic history.

The Pacer is just one example of cars, some with less-than-glorious-pasts, that have achieved the level of cult favorite. Keep reading for more, and feel free to add any car you think I’ve missed. I know there are plenty.

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Cars Coming Soon: 2013 Ford Fiesta, New Suzuki SX4

September 6th, 2012

2013 Ford Fiesta

If you’re going to drive a small car, drive one with some attitude.

Yeah, something like the Toyota Yaris will get you to Starbucks and back, but no one will turn their head and wonder what you’re driving as you order your triple mocha breve.

For that, you need something with a little more personality. Two small cars on the way could be the answer, as they’ll offer fuel economy and dependability to go with head-turning style.

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Alfa Romeo in America? Yes! Maybe. Someday.

September 5th, 2012
Alfa Romeo 4C

Alfa Romeo 4C rendering

When FIAT took over Chrysler, there were great possibilities for more Italian models to grace showroom floors here. So far, all we’ve seen is the tiny, but fun, FIAT 500 and the super-exclusive Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione.

Promises of more Alfa models have teased those of us in the U.S. for a while now, but all we seem to get are announcements declaring another delay in getting the brand over here.

Could those delays be because Volkswagen wants to buy Alfa? Or is FIAT CEO Sergio Marchionne just fine-tuning the American Alfa offering?

Reports are all over the board.

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Saab Name Lives On As Brand Dies

September 4th, 2012

Saab Phoenix concept

For all intents and purposes, Saab has died.

Maybe the death sentence began when General Motors acquired the storied Swedish brand. One thing for sure, the brand took its last breath after being taken over by Spyker and then suffering through an extended tug-of-war between American, Swedish and Chinese companies.

So how can the Saab name live if the brand has died?

That’s due to a complicated international consortium formed by Swedish and Chinese stakeholders to build cars using existing resources and Japanese technology. Yes, Saabs will be built again through some worldwide cooperation. But with three really big catches.

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The Mystery of the Labor Day Weekend Car Find

September 3rd, 2012

My son and I made a discovery this weekend: a rusted-out shell of a car that crashed in 1957 and may or may not have a skeleton inside.

Or we found a car that a bank robber stole then abandoned in the woods after a high-speed police chase.

Or a busy road once ran near the spot where the forgotten car sits and, years ago, it careened around a corner too fast, flipped onto its top and has lied, undisturbed, until we stumbled across it on Saturday.

There were a hundred different scenarios created by the mind of my 10-year-old on how the old car ended up in the woods, on its roof and seemingly forgotten. There were no engine pieces, no tires or wheels, no headlight assemblies, just the crushed and rusted shell of what I could only guess might have once been a 1950s Chevrolet. My son convinced himself it was a 1960s Cadillac Eldorado. After closely inspecting the car for a good 15 minutes, he excitedly proclaimed that he had found the reason for the crash.

“Dad! I found it! The steering linkage detached from the axle! He couldn’t steer and crashed!”

While it’s doubtful the car suffered some long-forgotten tragedy and certainly has been “discovered” by middle-school-aged boys countless times over the years, that old car sparked a new passion in my son’s already car-obsessed mind.

He wants to tow that shell of a car home, put it in the shop and restore it.

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