Weekly Roundup: Smoke ‘Em If You’ve Got ‘Em Edition

I just found an old DVD with about 2,700 photos I took between 2001 and 2006. It’s been fascinating going through them — mostly because it shows how different my life was more than a decade ago. No kid, very few limits on my spending, and not much direction in life other than buying cars and clothes. Hmm. Maybe nothing’s changed at all. I don’t know.

This shot is me doing a brake-torque on my old friend Berg’s 300SEL 6.3, some time in 2005. It’s particularly relevant because Berg and I just collaborated on a new article for Hagerty Magazine this past Thursday. If you like classic American luxury sedans, or if you’re interested in the very best this country can make right now in 2017, it will reward your attention.

In the meantime, let’s check out this week’s contributions, including two print pieces for R&T that just went online.

For R&T Web, I wrote about five ways to improve modern cars on the cheap. We also had two print-only pieces from last month’s issue released: 1989 was the Year Of The Japanese Car and a review of the Alfa Romeo Giulia Ti.

At TTAC, I discussed the perceived need for AWD, the link between credit rating and idiocy, as well as your loopiest search-engine questions.

Oh, and here’s a bonus photo from those carefree days: $155,000 worth of Volkswagens in one driveway.

15 Replies to “Weekly Roundup: Smoke ‘Em If You’ve Got ‘Em Edition”

    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      Yeah — they even worked most of the time!

      I should grab one of those actuator arms from a junkyard.

  1. tmkreutzertmkreutzer

    Really enjoyed the article on credit idiocy. That hit really close to home.

    I was out at a recycle shop yesterday looking over piles and piles of “old” electronic equipment when it struck me just how much of that crap I had purchased, used for a few years and then discarded. Probably tens of thousands of dollars in VCRs, laser discs, assorted bits of mid-to-low end audio equipment and other electronic doodads. Then I found a box of 500yen SLR camera bodies – old Nikons, Canons and Pentax – and realized that I have two in a box here in the closet, each one costing several hundred dollars (plus lenses) now just sitting there in the dark gathering dust. My God, I have just wasted so much money over the years – just pissed it all away with no thought for the future…

    I feel like I am just about finished with rampant consumerism. I’ve always been a sucker for a slick ad campaign, always been driven for the next new and shiny object, but these days when I look at the new cars on the lot there just isn’t anything that appeals to me at all. Once I get back to the world I’m probably gonna end up in a plain old Impala limited or something as equally stolid and bland. The best part is, I’m going to like it.

    • -Nate

      Hi Tom ;

      Nikon F and a new 6 cylinder 1/2 ton pickup….

      I gave my Son my old Nikon F when he went to the 9th grade and decided to work for the yearbook all four years ~ turned out he was a very good photographer (I suck) and also people were offering him $3,000.00 + for my old Nikon ! .

      I still have my $10 Radioshack AM/Police (VHF) pocket radio I bought in……1970 (?) it works fine but uses those crappy fast to die 9 volt batteries .

      I liked looking at slick adverts but as a (damn) Yankee Farm Boy I have always had a jaundiced eye to – wards any thing/one trying to get my money .


  2. Pat

    Cloth is indeed good. The cloth in my soon-to-be 28 year old Miata (concur, we may never again see a year like ’89) looks fine and has worn like iron. Of course… MB-TEX (or even BMW pleather) also good.

    • EMedPA

      Yup. My first new car was an 85 Golf that had a tweed-like fabric that was both comfortable and indestructible. A real “winter package” would have that fabric with seat heaters.

      • -Nate

        The M-B Tex in my ’84 Diesel Sports Coupe has developed a crack/tear in the driver’s side bolster cushion ~ after _ONLY_ 400,000 miles ! I thought these were supposed to be good cars ?! .

        =8-) .


          • Midnight DeSoto

            My folks had a 300SD with MB-tex and put 300k 4-kid, 2-dog, southern-Connecticut-based miles on it. The Acura Legend mom replaced it with started to fray a bolster around 125k widowed empty-nester miles, ca 2002.
            Mom’s still *pissed* about that.
            I dream of stitching Pasha into my 996, but of course it’ll need a motor before upholstery…

  3. CJinSD

    The article about Japanese cars introduced in 1989 missed on one point. The Cavalier was meant to compete with the Honda Accord. They bench marked the first generation Accord and then rationalized every mark they missed while Honda readied the second generation Accord, which followed the J-cars to market but was a distant memory when the J-cars finally were replaced by the Cobalt. It is true that the Cavalier was playing in the Civic’s arena after a few years in production, but that wasn’t the intent.

  4. viper32cm

    Your anecdotal conclusion at the end of the future time orientation article concerning the Nissan Altima mirrors the opinion I reached a few years ago after observing nearly a decade of Atlanta and New Orleans traffic. I would say the Nissan Maxima is a close second in my book, but there are a lot of other “repeat offenders.” I think one thing that hurts the Altima and Maxima’s reputation in this regard is that, in my mind, their styling remained similar between 2002 and 2012 for the Altima and 2004-2104 for the Maxima. So, there are just a lot of very similar cars out there. Further, it doesn’t help that, in my estimation, the Altima and Maxima represent somewhat of an “also ran” category in the Japanese mid-size sedan market, and, while I haven’t seriously looked into, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Altima and Maxima’s resale value lagged behind that of their Honda and Toyota competitors.

    Ironically, the most future time oriented couple I know own an Altima and a Maxima–both paid off with six-figure odometer counts (~300k on the Maxima), naturally.

  5. Harry

    As far as reducing the cost of new cars, you forgot dumping CANBUS and replacing it with a more modern protocol that requires less wiring.

  6. Disinterested-Observer

    I don’t know if they made it to print but there are a number of typos in the 1989 article. They are very minor, drops of the leading vowel for two letter words like ‘in’ and ‘of’ but it’s kind of weird because I almost never see typos on this site.


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