Tag Archives: Everyday Cars

1978 Ford LTD Brougham 2 Door at Das Awkscht Fest

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Ford may have been late to the party for downsizing their full size sedans, but they made sure the glitz and the glamour of the LTD Brougham stayed as gaudy as possible. Vacuum-powered headlight doors? Check. Color matched interior and landau vinyl roof? Double check. Whitewall tires and chrome wheel covers, complete with gorgeous door edge molding? Triple check. This car has the Malaise Era credentials that only President Gerald Ford could hope to match (or Carter). It’s a big red party, and we’re all invited. Continue reading 1978 Ford LTD Brougham 2 Door at Das Awkscht Fest

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Test Driven: BMW X3 xDrive M40i (Grade: B)

BMW X3 XDrive M40i Cargo Area

Compact crossovers have taken the American market by storm in epic proportions. Sales of sedans are declining, and sales of luxury crossovers from brands like Mercedes, Audi, Lexus, and the like have gone through the stratosphere. Cadillac’s best selling vehicle is the XT-5, the replacement for the SRX. Meanwhile, BMW started working this segment with the first X5 way back in the Bush Administration. Two Presidents and eighteen years later, we face the new X3, a car that I mocked often when it launched in 2004. Now in its third generation, I took the keys to this blue M Sport (as ridiculous as it sounds) and found it to be quite an eye-opener. Continue reading Test Driven: BMW X3 xDrive M40i (Grade: B)

1977 Checker Marathon at Cops and Rodders 2018

Checker Marathon Rear 1

At one time, almost every single taxicab in New York City was the same shape. Unlike today, when you hail a checker cab and it could be a Toyota, Ford, or a Nissan, all “checker cabs” were indeed made by a company called Checker. The very last one of these finally went out of commission in 2001, twenty years after the last one rolled out of the factory. These were a hodgepodge design–they used GM engines and steering columns, but the front end interchanged with a 1956 Ford. The bodywork, however, was in-house. Not a lot of them are on the road today, but those that are always draw a good amount of attention for their tough-as-nails engineering, cavernous interiors, and retro styling (for the Seventies, anyway).
Continue reading 1977 Checker Marathon at Cops and Rodders 2018

$25K Used Car Shootout: Audi B8 S4 vs Lexus IS F

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For $25K you have many great options for a high-performance daily driver. If you want a brand new car you can get a Honda Civic Si or a Volkswagen GTI, both great “hot hatches” with amazing handling and turbocharged power. Looking a couple years used, you can find a current-gen Subaru WRX, or variants of the Ford Mustang or Chevy Camaro. But what if you want something even more serious with more emphasis on luxury and even higher performance? For $25K, the cars will be a few years older, 8-10 years old in this case, but you are getting $60K worth of car for less than half the price.

I’m starting to look around in this general price range for my next step, and I have various options depending on what I decide to do with my current stable of cars. I decided to go have a drive in some of the cars I’ve been looking at to see what they’re really like from behind the wheel.

I went to a local dealer to check out two Audi B8 S4s, and low and behold, they had a Lexus IS F on the lot as well – it hadn’t been listed online yet. IS Fs are pretty rare, and this one was in my range, so I added it to my list to drive.

The S4 and IS F are a somewhat strange comparison, the Audi is AWD with a supercharged V6, and the Lexus is RWD with a 5.0L V8. When it comes to driving in bad weather, they don’t really do the same things. That said, both are midsize sedans that offer high performance with a lot of polish. Overall, they serve the same basic function for the same basic price, so, despite their vast differences in many areas, that means they compete.

Continue reading $25K Used Car Shootout: Audi B8 S4 vs Lexus IS F

Alfa Romeo Giulia Ti AWD: Is an Italian Daily Driver a Good Idea?

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Italian cars are frustrating. Their good aspects are beyond wonderful, as in they will genuinely make your life worth living. The problem is, there’s always a catch, some significant issue (usually “issues”) that counter-balance the positives to such a massive degree that buying one is often a bad idea if you’re thinking rationally. Italian cars are made to give you an in-depth emotional experience, but like people, the great times come with the hardships. The Italians have always built cars this way, and it has always made their cars intriguing because they seem like so much more than cold machines. It makes them feel genuinely alive.

Because of their unpredictable nature, there’s always something daring about buying an Italian car. It’s not a sure bet, but the rewards are so immense when things are going well that it always seems it may be worth the risk. A test drive in an Alfa will make you ask yourself deep philosophical questions like, “Am I really living the sort of life I want?”

Playing it safe works, but are you really living, or do you just merely exist? There’s a big difference between the two, and that’s what Alfa Romeo is all about. It’s the sort of car that will give you a reason to get out of bed in the morning, and will have you lusting all day for your drive home.

I literally fell in love with the Alfa 4C Spider when I drove it because it spoke deeply to my inner desire. How can an object make you feel so fulfilled and so happy to be alive? It was insane.

The Alfa 4C is an impractical sports car, though. Meant to be a second car for the weekends, it’s Italian imperfections are more tolerable than they would be in an everyday sedan. That brings us to the Giulia Ti you see here. It is an everyday luxury sport sedan, here to take on the BMW 3 Series and the Audi A4. There’s surely less room for error in this market of everyday sedans.

That brings up my big question: Has Alfa kept the Italian magic alive in the Giulia sedan, and how much Italian “character” is tolerable to sedan buyers? Have they watered it down in an attempt to compete for the mass market?

I had heard good things about the car, but many people seem to let the car’s shortcomings overshadow its strengths. Knowing the risks of reliability and build quality, I wanted to know if the upsides were worth the the gamble on this Italian 4 door.

Continue reading Alfa Romeo Giulia Ti AWD: Is an Italian Daily Driver a Good Idea?

Hyundai Elantra Sport DCT Review: An Unknown Gem

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Many good things in life fly just under the radar. Like the other day when I went to lunch at work, and noticed a bright blue Hyundai Elantra parked out front. The color caught my eye, but I figured it was just another Elantra. Then I noticed the wheels, the slightly aggressive body styling, and the dual exhaust tips protruding from the diffuser-looking rear valance. I thought to myself, “Damn, Hyundai is really trying to make the Elantra look like a performance model.” I saw the word “Sport” displayed on the back, and the subtle “Turbo” badge on the front grill. That prompted me to get out my phone and Google the Elantra Sport over lunch. What I found out was very intriguing.

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1976 Cadillac Fleetwood at the 2017 Misselwood Concours

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Sometimes, a car shows up at a Concours that you wouldn’t expect to see. Citroen 2CVs don’t usually belong, unless they’re picture perfect. Most Malaise-Era cars aren’t usually welcome unless they’ve got a prancing horse, raging bull, or a trident adorning the hood. Well, say hello to the Wreath and Crest, packing a Seventies punch at Misselwood. A Fleetwood may lack the pizazz and the outright ostentatiousness of the Eldorado in 1976 but it was still the most expensive Caddy sedan on the showroom floor that year. This example has covered under 50 thousand miles and carries all of its original paint, bodywork, and interior to this day. I’ve been a fan of the ’76 for years, thanks in no small part to the fact that just a year later, GM turned the magnificent Cadillac into a shadow of its former self. Enjoy the photos of this big, mean, red machine. Continue reading 1976 Cadillac Fleetwood at the 2017 Misselwood Concours

Alfa Romeo 1750 Berlina spotted in Greenwich, CT

Alfa 1750 Front

Even as you leave Greenwich, you’re bound to see some nice cars on the way home. This time, I only had to walk a few feet from the car to glimpse one of the finest looking sedans of the 1960s. This little Alfa 1750 was taking up space, and time, in the parking deck, and showing off its best lines while I took a few pictures. It’s a shame that they don’t make cars like this anymore. Enjoy the photos.