Thursday, July 28, 2011

Look what I saw...a Lexus LFA and Aston Martin DB9 Volante

Two of my favorite sports cars in the same parking lot...what are the chances?! Well actually, I live across the street from a fancy restaurant with a valet service and correspondingly often see fancy cars - I regularly get to see the finest specimens from Ferrari, Lamborghini, Rolls Royce, Bentley, Porsche, Mercedes AMG, and Aston Martin, new and old. This pairing of the LFA and DB9, though, was practically screaming out for me to take pictures! Click through to see more pictures and a comparison.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

My take on the Honda CR-V...past, present, and future

Honda CR-V Concept
If you read any popular car news blogs, you've probably already come across this picture "leaked" by Honda (probably on purpose) a couple days ago. This is the only picture released so far, so we haven't seen the taillights or interior. In a nutshell, I think this "concept" - which, by the way, will probably be ~95% identical to the eventual showroom model - is a huge improvement over the outgoing model, but the grille bothers me. Click through to read my impressions.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Look what I saw...a 1964 Chevy Impala

1964 Impala

I had the pleasure of seeing this beauty parked on the way to work yesterday. I will not claim to be an authority on 1960s cars, but I certainly appreciate this 1964 Impala. While trying to figure out the year of this car online, I noticed that practically each year in the 1960s, Chevrolet made noticeable tweaks to the headlight and taillight design. This practice of planned obsolescence is exactly the same thing Apple does to its i-products today - by making small, inexpensive changes, models become out of style quickly, making consumers want to buy the latest and greatest to stay in fashion. This practice is much less apparent in the automotive world today because of massive retooling costs and a keen focus on the bottom-line. Car models typically see longer lives today, often lasting 3-7 years. This '64 Impala prompted me to think about Impalas in my lifetime so far (in the last 2 decades), and how relatively unexciting they have been. Click through to see.

Monday, July 18, 2011

I love Zipcar...and the Audi A3

Audi A3 Zipcar
Fun fact about me - I live in the city and do not actually own a car. Instead, I am a faithful Zipcar subscriber, which allows me to drive about 15 different cars whenever I want. Zipcar pays for gas, cleans the cars on regular basis, and repairs the cars as necessary. Each car has its own parking space in a secure area. In many ways, Zipcar allows for more fun, less hassle, and significantly fewer costs than owning a car in the city. I know I sound like a Zipcar commercial, but it's true!

You may have seen a few Zipcars on the road - they are not the typical bland cars you'll find at Hertz or Avis (such as Toyota Corollas, Dodge Avengers, and Chevy Impalas). Instead, among the cars you will find are the BMW 3-Series, Volvo S40, Mini Cooper Convertible, VW Golf, and my personal favorite, the Audi A3.

I love everything about the A3, and I feel that the little sport-hatch doesn't get the attention it deserves. Recently I drove the A3 on a long trip involving a good mix of highway and twisty mountain roads; click through to see my impressions.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Three reasons why I would not buy a 2011 Infiniti

As I go through the current Infiniti lineup, my grievances really boil down to 3 categories:

1) The weird "podium-style" dashboard
2) The fact that each car has a near-identical Nissan counterpart, either as a US or JDM model
3) Disappointing exterior styling compared to competition

I can't comment on the ride, acceleration, braking, etc., as I have not driven any of Infiniti's current cars, but that is not the point of this post. From reading popular auto mags, most reviewers draw the same conclusion anyway: Infinitis produce decent performance, but are either on par with or slightly worse than European competitors. When was the last time you saw an Infiniti win a car comparo? I can't even remember.

Click through to see my explanation.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Japanese cars even a non-JDM-enthusiast can appreciate

As you can probably tell so far, I am not a huge Japanese car enthusiast. I don't hate Japanese cars, but for a variety of reasons, European cars excite me more. IMHO, European cars are more elegantly designed and appeal more to the senses than Japanese cars. Yes, Toyotas and Hondas will certainly be more reliable and perhaps technologically sound than their German and Italian counterparts, but Camrys and Accords do not excite car enthusiasts as much as Passats and S40s - plain and simple.

That being said, there are a handful of Japanese cars that do excite me. I'm limiting the list to vehicles under $100k, and sold some time within the last 25 years (1986-2011). I'm also leaving out some of the obvious ones like the Subaru WRX, Mitsubishi Evo, Mazda Miata, because they are too overexposed. I'd much rather write about some of the unlikely favorites. Click through to see which ones made the cut:

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Follow-up: Not all red plastic is pointless...

Dodge Charger
I wanted to add a caviat to my previous post: excessive red plastic can be done tastefully. The examples are few and far between. The new Dodge Charger is the best example, but click through to see a couple others.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Pointless red plastic

I passed the '11 Accord on the way from work yesterday and I realized Honda added unattractive red taillight extensions on the trunk itself. I think they are for reflective safety purposes, but they just don't look good. I wanted to point out some other examples of excessive red glass in recent history:

Thursday, July 7, 2011

No, fake air vents don't make your Taurus look better

I pass this gussied-up Taurus every day on my way to work, and it really bothers me. It looks to be a 2000-03 model, and it sports the champagne color ever popular with rental companies, fleets, and mid-1990s suburbia. The chrome alloy wheels and red brake calipers do look expensive (read: overpriced), but are totally mismatched on a car this bland. But the real problem with this car are the aftermarket air vents and V8 logo. Both are a bit crooked and appear to have been affixed at home using crazy glue.

Air vents aren't supposed to protrude from a car - doesn't that defeat their aerodynamic purpose? And this Taurus is not a SHO (they didn't even offer one on this body style), so affixing a V8 logo is ridiculous. The V8 was only offered on late-90s SHOs anyway - today, a V6 is offered.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Favorite Car Lists #2: SUVs

Time for the second installment of my favorite car lists - this time, sport utility vehicles. Keep in mind that the vehicles listed are assumed to be well-equipped (not base) models. Click through to see the lists - do you agree?

Monday, July 4, 2011

Look what I saw...a 1980 Ferrari 308 GTSi

This weekend I saw this head-turner sitting in Columbus Circle, NYC. The 308 is one of my favorite Ferraris (although I am more partial to the GTB coupe than the pictured GTS targa). The "i" was added to the end of the GTS and GTB monikers in 1980 due to the introduction of fuel injection in response to higher fuel economy requirements coming out of the crisis period in the late 1970s. In every other respect, the GTSi was largely the same as the previous year's GTS, aside from small nuances, such as alloy wheel design, leather seat stitching, and a slightly rearranged dashboard.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

The 5 best and worst corporate-wide redesigns

Every so often, automakers decide to overhaul their entire line with a recognizable "look". I wanted to highlight some of the winners and losers in recent times (click through):

Friday, July 1, 2011

Boring, forgotten car clones

All car manufacturers reuse parts, designs, chassis, wheels, door handles, etc., across different models and brands. In fact, that is the only way large automakers are able to justify the large upfront R&D costs necessary to create a new car. However, as we all know, sometimes car makers get lazy and 2 different models look nearly identical (Ford Crown Vic / Mercury Grand Marquis, for example). Sometimes automakers push the envelope too far, and create a knockoff so irrelevant that consumers have no recollection of it. I wanted to highlight some notable recent examples: