Friday, February 28, 2014

Jaguar XJ L

For whatever reason, this one does a much better job than the F-Type of bringing Jaguar where it needs to be.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

2013 LAAS: Why Mercedes Gets Half a Star

Mercedes used to be synonymous with expense.  It was the type of expense where you could see where the money went.  Although their prices are higher than ever, their quality is risible. Their hood ornaments and emblems used to be substantial.  This one is a disposable plastic dinner plate with a little chrome on it. If the plastic masks a camera or other sensors, it is still a wonder that they made the package look so bad. All of the elements work together to make a very cheap looking front end.

Friday, February 14, 2014

A Bunch of Range Rovers

This was what started the SUV boom in the US.  Sure, there were others.  You can go all the way back to the first cars, when there were very few paved roads.  As roads got paved, there were dedicated SUV's, such as the Dodge Power Wagon, the Jeepster and the Wagoneer. Their owners, however, were too rich or too weird or too outdoorsy to start a trend. In the early 1980's, Range Rovers were aspirational, hard to get, but not quite out of reach. Their wow factor changed everything.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Suddenly it's 1990!

Seen but not photographed:  Nissan Pathfinder.  It's an old red box with too many accents stamped into the sheetmetal.  They had to draw something to make the meetings look productive.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Suzuki Forenza

While other companies often have the same models for years, GM cars, especially small ones, come from nowhere, then disappear. There are no successors. Had they built them well, the Corvair would exist as a long running world car.

 This car has had many make and model designations. In China, it was the Buick Excelle. It was usually a Chevy or a Daewoo. Model names include Lacetti, Optra, Estate, Nubira, Gentra and Reno. In Australia it was the Holden Viva.

It's rare in the US. Why did the owners pick it? How did they find it? And how did they manage to get it in a wagon??

Saturday, February 1, 2014

What's Wrong with the Auto Industry

Car designers and engineers waste their best work on fantasies that occur to very few people.  That's why there are so many options for drag racing, off-roading and ski trips. 

Similarly, car testing is wildly unrealistic.  Prototypes with manufacturer or distributor plates are always driven to their limits on public roads. They are painfully easy to spot.  If you can't find them, they will tailgate you and do other stupid things to make sure you remember them. Often, they chase their tails around cones in rented parking lots, gathering data on situations that never happen.

What's the best car for Chicago? Beijing? Paris?  Don't ask anyone in the auto industry.  The only people who think of such things are stuck in traffic.