Chrysler Wants Original Vipers Destroyed

March 10th, 2014
1992 Dodge Viper Coupe prototype

Heading to the crusher

I checked my phone after the familiar buzz in my pocket. With the swipe of my thumb, the sexy rear end of an SRT Viper popped up in my text messages.

My lovely girlfriend, on her way home from work, sent the text along with a brief message asking about the car. That quick text led to a lengthy conversation about the Viper, why it’s no longer called a Dodge, and the history of the devastatingly powerful car.

Being a Porsche purist, she was only mildly impressed, but left our talk with a healthy dose of respect for the brute. Enough respect, anyway, to shed a tiny tear when we read last night that Chrysler has ordered the destruction of up to 93 vintage Vipers.

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What to Drive If You Want to Look Rich

March 7th, 2014

1980 Porsche 911

A Kia will never make you look rich. Nor will a Ford Focus.

I don’t care how shiny and sleek it looks on the showroom floor, once it’s out on dirty roads and covered in grime and leftover road salt, you’re going to look like any other guy or gal in a value econobox. There’s nothing wrong with having a cheap Ford or Kia, it’s even a bit admirable, but don’t think for a second that you’ll be perceived as having a lot of money.

For some reason an article at Men’s Magazine included the Kia Soul and the Focus on their list of cars that make you look rich. The list sinks in quality from there.

If you want to look rich, you simply need to be seen in the brands that are perceived as “for the rich.”

Keep reading to find out how to really do it.

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Look Out BMW, Here Comes the Jaguar XE

March 6th, 2014

Jaguar XE

I gave the car two chances. I bought the first one brand new after negotiating a killer deal, then sold it two years later when I noticed the devastating effects of rapid depreciation along with a host of technical issues.

A few years later I found the same make, model and trim level on a used car lot, and fell into temptation and bought it again.

I shouldn’t have, because the same issues began to surface.

The lack of power. The strange amount of effort it took to put the car in reverse. The power windows sporadically not working. Then, after a couple years of driving, the refusal of the engine to rev past 3,000 rpm.

Ahhh, the pleasures of owning a Jaguar.

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Renegade? That’s Not a Renegade

March 5th, 2014

Renegade? That's not a Renegade...

Oh, how the Renegade has fallen.

Picture a Jeep Wrangler Renegade in your mind, and you’ll likely see an American-made, brutish, square-shaped, dirt-covered, rock-hopping jacked-up SUV on oversize tires.

That’s the Renegade of the past, which was actually an option package offered for the Wrangler from 1991 to ’94.

The Renegade of the future is a FIAT with a 7-slot grille.

There’s not anything wrong with that, per se, it’s just not what one would expect from the Renegade name. I totally get it—there’s an economic demand to create vehicles with low price tags and high miles per gallon. Why is it necessary, though, to mess with history to make it happen?

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Drugged Driving: America’s New Problem

March 4th, 2014

Driving High

The first time you try it is the last time you can ever say you’ve never done it.

I try to avoid topics here that aren’t specifically car related, but we’ve reached the point where recreational drug use and cars have collided into a seriously important point of discussion. I live in Washington, where marijuana use is now legal, and people wonder how much their bodies can handle before driving becomes impaired.

It’s hard to avoid the distinct musky smell of the drug here—it fills everything from concert halls to hotel halls.

While I choose not to partake, because I don’t want to artificially alter my mind or endanger myself behind the wheel, plenty of Washingtonians are taking advantage of the new legislation.

I’ve heard two arguments in the Driving While High debate:

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Another Fuel-Efficient Honda Bites the Dust

March 3rd, 2014

Honda Insight

Way back in 1999, Honda released a funky little car with an electric motor, a gas motor and enclosed rear wheels. The Insight was successful as a niche car and gained a cult following, but never had mainstream success and died a quick death.

Just 5 years ago, Honda released a new version of the Insight, built to nearly identical specs as the much more popular Toyota Prius. The Insight took the Prius’ shape, but lacked a certain something we in the car business like to call “fuel economy and performance.”

Honda likes to believe it’s a leader in hybrid technology, but it has trailed the competition since hybrid technology became a thing.

Want proof? The Insight is about to die. Again.

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10 Best Convertibles for All Seasons

February 28th, 2014

2008 Land Rover Defender

Every once in a while, Mother Nature likes to throw us a real curveball. This February was a perfect example here in New England. After weeks of getting pounded by heavy snow, the clouds went away, the sun came out, and the temperature shot up. It was a little taste of spring—just enough of a taste to get us thinking about things like convertibles.

In a move any good New Englander should have predicted, Mother Nature ripped that all away after just a few short days, sending the region back into a bitter cold and bringing intense snowfall to some parts. Even with the temperature below 30, we still can’t get our minds off convertibles. If you’re like us, you probably don’t want to wait any longer to put the top down and drive with the wind in your hair. There are likely to be a few days in the near future when that will be possible, but what if Mother Nature changes her mind again, and you find yourself stuck with a convertible in the middle of a snowstorm?

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Cadillac Ad Spotlights American Materialism

February 28th, 2014

Cadillac ELR ad, poolside

After what I saw yesterday, I kind of wish I was from France.

In France, and many other countries, people don’t live to work, they work to live. It’s not uncommon to take exceptionally long lunch breaks, work 4 days a week and even take the entire month of August off. New mothers often take far more time off in other countries than they do here in the States.

Why is that?

People in other countries value family time and personal growth over materialistic success.

Here in the U.S., that hasn’t traditionally been the case. We’ve been quite the opposite, working our tails off to accumulate stuff and all the debt that goes with it. We’re making slow progress in the other direction, much to the chagrin of marketers everywhere.

None, perhaps, more than Cadillac.

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Tesla’s “Gigafactory” Could Change the Future

February 27th, 2014

Tesla Gigafactory

Today we will discuss an important theme: the future.

In the film Back to the Future 2, Marty McFly travels from 1985 to 2015 and encounters a future he didn’t expect, only to return to a present he never knew.

That’s on my mind today, because I’m watching the antics of crazy old scientist Doc Brown with my family while reading about a young brilliant entrepreneur and his plans for the future. Doc Brown needed 1.21 gigawatts to power his DeLorean, while this modern-day man plans a “Gigafactory” that could change the auto industry as we know it.

What is a Gigafactory? Read on, with no worry that you’ll learn too much about the future and cause a chain reaction that could unravel the very fabric of the space-time continuum and destroy the entire universe! This time, the future seems set.

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GM Recall Poses a Serious Safety Issue

February 26th, 2014

2008 Saturn Sky

Sometimes topics in the auto world get pretty serious.

We like to have some fun and make light of certain situations, but there are times when humor is off the table. The fact is, building cars is a dangerous business. A lot can go wrong when putting together the pieces of these metal capsules that hurl us down traffic-filled roads at upwards of 70 miles per hour.

Usually, things go according to plan, and our vehicles safely transport our families and us for many years. When things go wrong, though, lives can be lost. Even worse is when an automaker knows about a problem, but fails to act in time to save lives.

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