Posts from ‘Chevrolet’
Here in Chicago, at least, we’re finally seeing signs of spring. And every year about this time, I start thinking about convertibles.
Since ragtops aren’t really practical as daily transportation in these parts (especially where I live in the city, where anyone with a pocketknife can cut their way into your car), I always think of a convertible as being a “weekend” ride. Trouble is, it’s really tough to justify the expense of insurance and license plates for a car you only drive occasionally—and even then, only half the year.
But get one old enough, and that’s not so much of an issue. When a car turns 25 years old, it’s considered a “classic” by some insurance companies and state licensing agencies, meaning both insurance and license-plate fees can be cut tremendously. So whenever I start thinking of convertibles, I also start thinking about any that just turned that “classic” corner.
This year, it’s the 1988 models. However, not many new ragtops appeared that year, so I’m also including a trio of one-year-olds I missed on last year’s list (partly because some were late-year additions), all of which were also offered in ’88.
There was a long period where the words sexy and sedan simply didn’t belong in the same sentence. Some might argue that the pair can describe classic-era Cords and Duesenbergs, but wouldn’t you still rather have the 2-door version?
Today, there are any number of sedans, even popularly priced ones, whose styling can be considered “sexy”—popping instantly to mind is the current Kia Optima. But that’s been a relatively recent transformation, and following are some of the cars that strike me as having paved the way.
If you weren’t car cognizant in the mid-1980s, you may not understand the revelation that was the Ford Taurus. Splashing into a sea of squared-off sedans, it introduced the “jellybean” profile quickly adopted by almost every other manufacturer. Although it was nice-looking and certainly trendsetting, “sexy” it wasn’t—at least not in base form. But that accolade could be given to the first high-performance SHO version, which, like the BMW 5-Series of a decade earlier, helped realign people’s stance on sedans.
You hear often enough that ugly vehicles are the product of “design by committee” thinking. I can’t help but wonder, in the case of the five cars and trucks listed here, why no one on that committee raised his or her hand and noted, “Dude, that thing’s nasty.” But, be it too many or too few decision-makers in the design studio, these are some unpleasant-looking machines.
I certainly didn’t mean to pick on General Motors here, but the truth is unavoidable. America’s biggest car builder is responsible for three of the five ugliest vehicles built in the last decade. Sure, you can poke fun at Toyota for building cars and trucks that err design-wise on the pedestrian side, but to their credit, few would call the vehicles ugly.
General Motors bounced back, however, as the replacements for each GM vehicle listed here was decidedly better-looking. Likewise, the Kia Amanti would prove to be the last odd-looking ride from that maker. Jeep, too, quickly made amends for the Compass, fixing what ailed it and picking up buyers in the bargain.
Got your own list of ugly cars of the last 10 years? Let’s hear it.
Click here for more coverage of the 2014 Chevrolet Cruze Turbo Diesel.
At the 2013 Chicago Auto Show, General Motors introduced the 2014 Chevrolet Cruze Turbo Diesel—the company’s first diesel-fueled passenger car in the U.S. in more than 30 years. Today, GM declared that the 2.0-liter 4-cylinder Cruze TD has been EPA estimated at 46 mpg highway, which trumps fuel-economy estimates for non-hybrid passenger cars, including all competing diesels.
The Cruze Turbo Diesel will go head-to-head with the Volkswagen Jetta TDI, the only other diesel compact (along with the Jetta SportWagen TDI) offered on the U.S. market. The Jetta TDI gets an estimated 30 city/42 highway. While Jetta TDI shoppers can choose between a 6-speed manual or 6-speed dual-clutch automated-manual transmission (which behaves like an automatic), Cruze TD shoppers will be offered one transmission, a 6-speed automatic.
The diesel-powered Chevy has a tough act to follow, as Volkswagen is an industry leader when it comes to diesel-powered cars. The Cruze Turbo Diesel, which has been successful overseas, will be available in select U.S. markets this spring, and then will go nationwide. Keep checking back for Consumer Guide’s coverage of the 2014 Chevrolet Cruze Turbo Diesel.
My colleagues probably didn’t expect me to jump in on this thread, but I couldn’t resist. You see, I was lucky enough to be a car-crazy high-school senior in 1965, a year so packed with cool cars that it’s still tough picking just five personal favorites.
Some of you will be pleased to note that my choices are American. Two reasons: Back then, import brands weren’t much of a factor in the U.S. market, and Detroit was unquestionably the center of the automotive universe. American automakers sold some 9.3 million cars in calendar 1965, the highest 12-month tally since record-setting 1955. That performance was impressive but not surprising in retrospect. The economy was booming, and Detroit styling, performance, innovation, and workmanship were never better. No wonder so many ’65 American cars have become prized collectibles—not least those listed below.
It was only a third-year restyle of the matchless 1963 original, but Buick’s elegant personal-luxury hardtop acquired hidden headlamps, way cool for ’65. Outboard vertical parking lamps and side-by-side quad headlamps gave way to horizontally split “clamshell” doors fronting stacked quad lamps in the fenders. Simple, eh? The doors winked open and closed when the lights switched on and off. But they were vacuum-operated, as I recall, so they inevitably gave trouble, sometimes leaving the car with one eye open or partly open, like a flirtatious drunk. I also liked the taillamps moved down into the bumper. They were more vulnerable there, but I thought they looked neat.
Also check out Tom Appel’s “Senior-Year Lust: The 5 Coolest Vehicles of 1983,” Ed Piotrowski’s “Senior-Year Lust: The 5 Coolest Vehicles of 1998,” and Rick Cotta’s “Senior-Year Lust: The 5 Coolest Vehicles of…1974.”
In my senior year of high school, the auto industry was finally pulling out of the 1990s and moving away from all of the jellybean car designs produced during that period of time (*COUGH* FORD ASPIRE *COUGH*). While many other desirable cars were available, these were my favorites from my graduation year of 2002. Though I had to settle for driving Mom and Dad’s Volvo 240 sedan and station wagon (vehicles I learned to love and still do), these were the ones I lusted after. I put pictures of them on my bedroom wall and on the inside of my locker door at school to show the world that I was a car enthusiast, and had damn good taste in vehicles.
Just before the introduction of the Chevrolet Cruze Turbo Diesel at the 2013 Chicago Auto Show, Consumer Guide sat down with Chevy’s marketing director for small cars, Cristi Landy, to talk about what’s behind the brand’s first U.S.-market diesel passenger car in more than three decades.
CG: So, why break the diesel ice with Cruze?
Landy: Well, we’re leveraging our global capabilities. Last year, we sold over 33,000 Cruze Diesels around the world. So we have the engine, we have the capability, and it seemed like a good fit. We’ve also seen the success that Volkswagen is having in the compact-car market with their diesels. So it’s the logical play to test the waters in the U.S.
CG: So, it’s safe to say that this is sort of a test?
Landy: You could view it as such, though test is too strong a word. I would probably say that we’re doing a slow ramp-up. We’re not making an announcement today that every vehicle in our portfolio is going to have a diesel.
Also check out Tom Appel’s “Senior-Year Lust: The 5 Coolest Vehicles of 1983” and Ed Piotrowski’s “Senior-Year Lust: The 5 Coolest Vehicles of 1998.”
By my senior year at Riverside-Brookfield High School outside of Chicago, the auto industry was facing some dark days. Not only was horsepower plummeting due to emissions standards, but it was the first year that federal regulations forced manufacturers to tack on huge, girder-like protruding bumpers both front and rear in order for their wares to (supposedly) withstand five-mph impacts without damage. And they looked just as attractive as they sound.
So 1974 was noteworthy as kind of a double groaner to those of us smitten by the intoxicating appeal of internal combustion. And I suffered a historically longer and substantially deeper smittening than anyone else I knew.
But there were some bright spots.
Cool is a pretty ambiguous word. While some folks might think it’s cool to visit Denny’s daily during that chain’s Baconalia promotion, others might reserve the term for activities more akin to successfully scaling Mount Everest without gloves, or being stuck in an elevator with the surviving members of The Bangles.
Here, we’re leaning more toward the Mount Everest/Bangles thing. We’re using cool in same sort of emotive, “heck yeah!” sort of way that an eighth-grader might after finding a copy of last year’s swimsuit issue hidden away in his dad’s sock drawer.
To that end, the 10 vehicles we present here are the current American-brand rides that have us screaming “heck yeah!” There’s nothing especially nationalistic about our list, as we intend to follow this missive up with similar posts featuring the coolest European and Asian vehicles. Got a car in mind you think we should have included? Let’s hear it.
Also check out Consumer Guide’s thorough review of the 2013 Chevrolet Camaro.
With the unveiling today of the 2014 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28, we thought it would be cool to look back at the Z/28s of yore. The first one dates back to the original Camaro, which first hit American streets in the autumn of 1966 as a 1967 model.
Introduced in early 1967, the Camaro Z/28 package was created for the Sports Car Club of America’s year-old Trans-American road-race series. Included were dual stripes on the hood and trunk, wide red-stripe tires, “Rally” wheels, and an uprated suspension. The heart of the package was a special high-winding 302-cubic-inch V8 rated at 290 horsepower. Only 602 were built.
It was only the Camaro’s third model year, but the Z/28 was already a legend. The basic styling was reworked, and it was a masterful job. Great actually, and it served as the inspiration for the 2010 Camaro. Z/28s still had the specific 302-cubic-inch small block and a mandatory 4-speed manual transmission. Chevy made 20,302 Z/28s in ’69, a healthy increase over the 7,199 sold the year before.