Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Automotive Predictions for 2014

1.  Lots of unreliable duds will get stirring introductions.

2.  One or more big automakers will face lawsuits.

3.  Many new cars will be copies of competing products.

4.  Absent a return of Yugo, Chrysler will remain in last place.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Friday, December 20, 2013

LAAS 2013 Youabian Puma

When I saw a photo of this car, I thought it looked like a Hyundai. In person, it's much different.  The whole car is outsized.  The tires are over five feet tall.  I suspect that riding in a Youabian would be like what babies experience in their car seats.

St. John's 4:03

Thursday, December 19, 2013

I copy you, and you copy me.

Here's the Ford Panther that is the template for the others. It doesn't look that great, but it has been flattered in the form of imitation at least twice.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Cadillac XTS 4

This may be 2 different cars.  The plate numbers are different.  The bottom one is a V.  Other than the numbers, I can't tell them apart.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

2013 LAAS: Mitsubishi's White Cars of Haplessness

In this display, you can see headquarters trying to micromanage.  I don't remember why, but white cars are traditional in Japan.  The idea doesn't translate to the US.  Next to everything else, Mitsubishi looks like Brand X.  It appears that they have given up.  A closer look reveals that their cars look outdated. Toyota was also drowning in white cars, but theirs looked better.

Friday, December 6, 2013

LAAS 2013: The 1954 Plymouth Belmont!

This prototype helped set a pattern.   Like many others, it drew crowds and ultimately led nowhere.  It tells us why cars are appliances.  The highly functional works of art at auto shows are only for show.  Your next car will be like the one you have, with more LED's.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

2013 LAAS 3, with Special Guest Star, Flat Stanley from Kansas City!

 When you're Flat Stanley, you don't need a ticket.  You can just go to the auto show any time.   So, he went for a drive in the FIAT 500, a fun little car where he had plenty of room. From there, it was on to the rest of the show, indoors.  The picture below is from a map of the area carved in granite. The round thing he's next to is the convention center where the show was.  After that, it was back to the envelope.  What a day!

Monday, December 2, 2013

LAAS 2013, 2

An ego in Michigan got by the parent company, which is listed last. It should be separated and on different materials.

Their survey question was about the SRT (???) brand. Where they get the confidence to build another brand after bankruptcy and losing Plymouth is anyone's guess. Right before the question was asked, I caught a glimpse of an imitation Mustang with an SRT badge, which seemed to indicate a higher price and louder paint. If they need a defining characteristic beyond weak transmissions, this might be it.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

2013 Los Angeles Auto Show

Rather than working as an unpaid publicity machine, our team chose to cover the event on the last, most convenient day. We're here for us. Also, we like to walk around when the corporate types are too tired to bother anyone. There are lots of pictures, but laziness prohibits their uploading at this time.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Seen but not photographed: Big Unlabeled Audi

This one is still an Audi, but the magic is gone.  Sleekness and style are starting to yield to bloat.  Has Audi become Detroit in the late 60's?  It was a prototype, which means it might not be too late.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Seen but not photographed: Jetta Wagon 2.5, Mitsubishi iMiEv, Tesla Beverly Hills

Both looked about the same as they always do. The Jetta was the most puzzling, because the 2.5 is supposed to be going away.  Often, however, cars that are a few years old are used to test new engines.  I have pointed out in the past that the only reason displacement is written on the outside is because you wouldn't have any idea otherwise.  In this case, nothing in the way the car was driven indicated anything about the engine.  Whatever they're testing is just like everything else.

Seeing the Mitsubishi was interesting, just because they're not dead yet.  Their electric car hasn't caught on, and I doubt more testing will help. 

Tesla is falling behind stylistically.  Their dealership is a squat box painted flat black with a sign done in polished aluminum letters.  They are just in time for the rat rod trend.  Will their cars have wide white walls?

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Vision SZR

My late grandmother often said, "It's not what you know, it's who you know."  The people driving this car were great, but I have never heard of them. I hope that those in the business who matter have heard of them.  The Vision was designed and built in Orange County, California, USA.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Seen but not photographed: The Mercedes Accord

There is an E class running around that has less chrome than the current one.  The new shape looks familiar. It is hard to believe, but a company that once defined so much is now imitating someone else's bland but very functional car.  They have inadvertently taken laziness to a new level.  It was painted in a new Honda color:  Hematite Metallic.  Will this trend extend to lower prices?

Friday, September 20, 2013

Cars of the American West: The Stillborn Series

This is the last of the series.  No such feature is complete without a rundown on the destinations.

There is plenty to see and do in Las Vegas, and you can be finished in about an hour.  Drive the strip and look at the casinos.  Pick one, and go in for a meal.  While the exteriors are different, their interiors are exactly the same.  Unless you have friends or family in the area, there is nothing else.

Salt Lake City:  The natural history museum has one of the greatest dinosaur collections anywhere.

Jackson, Wyoming is Santa Barbara in a borrowed cowboy hat.

The North Rim of the Grand Canyon lives up to the hype.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

BMW Bankruptcy

Their design is bankrupt.  I just saw their two disgusting SUV's in a caravan again, still clad by Here-Comes-A-Prototype!®.

At that moment, I made an immediate editorial decision: BMW no longer exists.

I will reevaluate my decision in a year.  It's funny to write about a bad car once in a while, but tracking their missteps is too much work.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Seen but not photographed: BMW SUV again.

This one was headed the other way.  I didn't have time to get out my camera.  I wouldn't have noticed it, but for the efforts of the friendly people at Here-Comes-A-Prototype®.  This time, the car was silver, with some wrapped accents on the front and back, and following the overly slanted line down the side.  This BMW not only looks ungainly, it looks improbably cheap.  Is tawdry next?

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Seen but not photographed: BMW SUV, BMW Mini

Once again, the folks at Here-Comes-A-Prototype® made the unremarkable stand out.

The BMW SUV, a black car with the front and back ends wrapped in black with white swirls, looks like what they have made so far. The lines  along the sides slant more, making the front end  appear lower and back end look higher. Like its predecessors, it's hard to look at.   It's top-heavy and suffers from low profile tires.  At first, I thought it couldn't be the ultimate driving anything.  Then, I realized that it is the BMW for those who don't like to drive.

The Mini was entirely clad in black with yellow swirls.  This is the first one in a while that BMW has gotten right.  It's a Mini that's slightly longer, lower and wider.  It's about time.  Their coupe shows that the Ford EXP could have been built in Europe, while their four door just looks bulbous.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Events Surrounding the Concours d'Elegance, Pebble Beach 2013

What an event, complete with the gratuitous use of French!  There were lots of great antiques, hot rods, and many other cars whose owners thought they belonged.  Here's an incoherent series of notes on what happened, because we neither have the time, nor the budget to do any better.

He said, "We're broadcasting live," while taping several takes.  Maybe NBC was doing some of it live.  In any case he did a good job of entertaining the crowd between takes.  "Back to you, Doug!"

Language Usage:  One big difference between British and American English is what gets Anglicized and what doesn't. Every event is filled with ads for future events. The ads in Monterey are for events all over the world.  I saw one for a, "Concourse of Elegance."   Had the term been fully Anglicized, it would have been an, "Elegance Concourse."  Lowering the register for Americans, it could have been an, "Elegance Contest."  Anglicizing various expressions makes their silliness more readily apparent.  Would anyone buy watches because of Cartier's musts?

Best Refreshments:  Hyundai/Kia.  They had two displays, one for each car company.  The company covered both kinds of weather that could happen at the show.  Hyundai was prepared for the North Coast, with hot chocolate, which is perfect on a cool foggy day.  Kia was ready for summer, with a lemonade stand.  Last year was Kia weather.  This year, it was Hyundai.  Covering both bases was a masterstroke.

Biggest Surprise:  A free ride from the Chrysler shuttle.  All 8 of us piled into a luxury minivan.  Attention to detail abounds.  There was a leather interior, an analog clock and seats that collapsed and came back up without landing on the passengers' feet.  Watch out if they get a reputation for reliability.

Biggest disappointment:  The Concours d'LeMons parody is still worth seeing, but the stench of corporate sponsorship is already there.  A 1977 Trabant made the show and ruined it.  It was great to see it, but it had a for sale sign with a long whine about California regulations. He couldn't be selling it because it was unreliable when new and ostalgie in Northern California is in short supply.

Bentley:  There was an old racing Bentley driving around.  It looked like a giant '32 Ford highboy, but with a big, high framed radiator.  On new Bentleys, you can see that updating old ideas doesn't always work.

Rolls-Royce looks as bad as Bentley.

Upstarts from Coventry:  How does Jaguar get away with selling heritage?  The SS90 showed up in 1935, long after the Brass Era.  I have heard Jaguar owners say that they prefer something with a pedigree, unlike a Lexus made by Toyota, an older company which also produced its first cars in 1935.  As such, Nissan was founded in 1934, with a history of car production going back to 1914.  Chevrolet, Buick, Ford, Cadillac, FIAT and even Mack Trucks have much longer pedigrees than Jaguar.

Most Fun:  The FIAT 500 Abarth. Lots of them were buzzing around.  Everyone wanted one.

Lamborghini:  A tragic origami accident.

Absent:  All of GM besides Cadillac, Ford, Toyota, Volkswagen, Mazda.

Free Advice from the Other Half:  Ferrari should build something simple that looks like what they made in the 1960's and sell it in the $70,000 range. 

Friday, August 23, 2013

Press Release Radio

KNX recently ran a long press release from Cadillac.  They announced that one of their cars would no longer be sized between the BMW 3 and 5 series.  Instead, "The Standard of the World" will follow BMW more closely with cars in the same sizes.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Cars of the American West: The Stillborn Series

Before I realize I would be unable to photograph anything, I thought about what stood out.  As you leave Los Angeles and drive upcountry in a modern anabasis, Scions disappear.  A higher percentage of pickups are work trucks, as opposed to bling.  There were a few lone Fiat 500s in Salt Lake City.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Seen but not photographed: Sandwich Loaf

Today's prototype was a small wagon shaped like a loaf of the type of bread that would have been used to make finger sandwiches way back when.  All four corners are rounded.  The rear is pinched off like cheap bread, and there's a hood in the front.  Some cars, when seen for the first time, look new and exciting.  Others, like this one, stand out because they are misshapen.

I wouldn't have noticed it, but for the efforts of the kind people at Here-Comes-A-Prototype!®  This was wrapped up in medium blue with white swirls.

I didn't see any labels, but it doesn't make any difference.  It's a car that could be designed anywhere in the world, made anywhere else, with a badge from the automaker that bought the rights.  While the designers made a car that could be anything anywhere, they still managed to get it wrong.  It's likely to be a third choice all over the world.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Mazda CX-9 AWD

The camera comes back! Here's a car I never thought of, much less expected.  An all wheel drive version of one of Mazda's many non-entities.  Mazda is proof that good reviews aren't enough.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Shout Out!

Hey, to all the Eastern European content farms!  You're the only ones keeping the numbers up!  Comment if you're a real person.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Seen but not photographed: Scion IQ

A Scion IQ covered in blue wallpaper with white clouds on it looks a lot like a Scion IQ.  Then again, it could have been an imitator.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Seen but not photographed: BMW Coupe

It was either a 1 or a 3, driving south towards LAX on a side street in Santa Monica.  The front end looks like a tray of cold cuts that was left out too long.  BMW needs to stop wrapping their prototypes so colorfully.  Noticing them is getting more and more painful.

On the same trip, I noticed several new Lincolns.  Why anyone would buy a car with a malformed chrome mustache for a grill is an open question.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Cars of the American West: The Stillborn Series

We went on a road trip across the west.  Unlike the recent past, I had my camera with me.  Unfortunately, I forgot the chip and was too cheap to buy another one.  No matter.  There weren't any prototypes until we were driving south into Las Vegas.  There was a caravan of them.  It was also the first caravan I have seen with more than one brand.  It could have been an auto magazine, but who knows.  Would they have been worth photographing?  Probably not.

Dodge Dart:  America's fat Alfa puts on weight.

Dodge Charger:  Old school sedans come back, but not as long, low or wide as they were in the past.  It's easier to park, but just as dull.

Chrysler Minivan:  If you need sleep, count these.  Lack of reliability makes Chrysler products interesting.

Ford Taurus:  The great white brick.

There rest of the caravan, one or two other cars, was Chrysler products.  I don't remember them beyond that.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Seen but not photographed: Audi GT-R

Maybe it's their version of the midengined Corvette that GM threatens from time to time.

It looks like a fun car.  It moved the tester to stomp on it on a well patrolled street.

Unlike most Audis, this one looks like everything else.  The motor sounds like a small block Chevy.  

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Infiniti M37S

I always wonder about internal names.  Might this and other S cars be known differently?  The Infiniti M37$.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Seen but not photographed: Two BMW 1 Series

All of the wrapping in the world can't hide this bulbous and top-heavy car.  The designers and management have no idea about their brand.  Their future is one of random cars with roundels.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Monday, May 20, 2013

Toyota Avalon

It's interesting how market niches remain the same, but different companies stake them out over time.  Luxury without bling used to be owned by Buick.

This is definitely a hand-built prototype headed for the crusher. Notice all the zeroes in the VIN.  Apparently, it was built in the USA.

It is likely to sell, but it's unlikely to generate much enthusiasm until after the 300,000* mile mark.

*482,803 km.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Fun Stuff from Mexico

And so, the short series that's too long comes to an end.  This last set of pictures didn't fit in the other categories, but I like it anyway.  First, we have a medium sized Toyota van.  That means it's between the size of a US market minivan and a full sized van from the D3.  From there, we have an Aveo police car from Cholula. It makes me wonder what the police package is like.  In the US, the police version is usually close to what the civilian version should have been.  Can anyone identify the old VW?  I think it might be a Quantum, but the name is unreadable.  I searched and couldn't find anything like it.  I suspect it's Brazilian.  The red box has recently been mentioned in the automotive press.  It's the Hyundai Atos.  I have seen the Mexican market version around for the past few years.  The series closes with a car that's a press darling of the, "If only they sold it here!" variety, the Suzuki Swift!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Fisker Karma, Data Gathering

Notice the wires running along the right side.  The light was not conducive to interior shots.  There was all sorts of equipment in there.

The car was made in Sweden.

This is one of the swankiest cars ever made.