Here’s your fun fact of the day. Once upon a time in America, you could buy a new Opel. And no, not the rebadged Saturn versions from the late days of the “different kind of car company.” Actual Opels, with Opel badges and everything. But if you’re a little more “yootful” than your author, what really might surprise you is that they were sold through–envelope, please–Buick dealerships. Yes, really.
Lessons Learned and Forgotten: A Dumbass “Restores” a 1994 CB1000
Doing stupid shit is excusable when you’re a kid. You have no experience so you try lots of things. Some of those things work out and some of those things blow up in your face. If you survive, the trick is to quit doing those things that blow up in your face and to stick to doing those things that work. If you follow that method, one day wise-old you can look back and laugh at all the stupid shit you did when you were a kid. Unless you’re a dumbass. In which case you never learn anything. You just keep doing the same stupid shit again and again your whole life.
Years ago, after attempting and failing to rebuild a Honda CBX so far gone it had a piston rod sticking out of a fist sized hole in the engine case, I swore that I would never again buy a vehicle that required repair. It was hard won experience, and because of it I stayed clear of projects for a good long while. But then, a couple of years ago, I entirely forgot about that lesson and brought home a 1994 Honda CB1000. Turns out I’m a dumbass.
In the 1980s, Honda decided to sell motor scooters in the United States. I remember the commercials, a series of funky fresh ads that featured popular music, slickly edited scenes of exciting urban environments, and snappy lines that drove your urge to purchase via memorable phrases like, “Don’t settle for walking.” The fact that I recall these commercials 40 years later shows they had some impact, I suppose, but I’m not sure if they led to the spike in sales that Honda hoped. Perhaps it’s because I am from the countryside, I don’t know, but with the exception of my time in Hawaii I can’t recall ever seeing one on an American street when I was a young man.
That changed a few years ago. Maybe it’s the price of gas and insurance, maybe it’s the fact that today’s young people have diminished expectations, or maybe it’s because as an older man I now live closer than ever to the urban scenes depicted in those aged advertisements, but I am finally seeing scooters on American streets. I can’t say I see swarms of them at every stoplight like I do when I am in Japan, but I do see them and, as someone who has spent a lot of time on two wheels and who lives a mile or two away from my commuter train, that got me thinking. Continue Reading →
Thirty Years of Progress?
Reviewing your own cars is usually a big no-no. When a person plunks down their own hard-earned cash, it makes things personal. And when things are personal for a reviewer, there are usually just two outcomes. They either love their car with all their heart or they hate it with such a passion that they want it, and all others like it, excised from the planet. Extreme examples, of course, but even when they do their best to moderate their passions, self-reviewers still tend to skew one way or another. That leaves it to the reader to sort fact from fiction. But hey, no problem! Americans are good at spotting spin, right?
(Last) Weekly Roundup: Up In The Air Edition
It would be dramatic to call it a nadir, but that moment seven weeks ago where I found myself fish-flopped over a Galapagos-ish boulder on Angel Fire Mountain’s “Hungry Hippo” trail — very recently unemployed, attempting to continue a vacation with my son despite said unemployment while also freaking out about how I was going to get my new house finished, and the owner of at least three newly broken ribs — well, that certainly felt like one of the lower points in my adult life.
Thankfully, a low point is what it was. The positively luminous response to my Substack meant I could finish my house and shop. A variety of new opportunities have slouched along since then. Best of all, as of yesterday I’m back on my bike and hoppin’ to it. Can’t quite muster the two-foot hop that I had last year, but I am fifty years old, and I’ll improve once I have my own little bike park set up at the farm.
I had a couple of freelance pieces show up last week; here they are.
Vintage ads from 1977
Awhile back, I was up at my parents’ cabin for a weekend of R&R and a model car/promo show in nearby Cedarville.
My mom and dad bought the place in 1993, and the cabin is a treasure trove of vintage stuff-photos, books, magazines and a still-functioning VCR with a ton of movies on tape. Continue Reading →
Street Scenes, Part 3: Midwestern Winters of Yore
It’s time, once again, to return to those once upon a time daily drivers of the past, in 1980s and 1990s Illinois. How about a nice opera-windowed Continental? This was taken in Plainfield, IL on February 26, 1986. Continue Reading →
1977 Lincoln Continental Mark V by Auto World
Last Wednesday I had an hour to kill before seeing a movie at the local Cinemark (it was the new Liam Neeson action flick, if you were curious). Continue Reading →
1978 Pontiac Bonneville: Middle Class Lux
A few days after I posted that ’78 Fleetwood Brougham previously discussed, I ran across this Bonneville in similar colors, just with a light gray top instead of black. I’ve always liked these, Dad had one, and I love their clean flanks and fender skirts. This one was for sale in Chicago on Marketplace.
Thin description, rather sucky pictures (I cropped/prettied them up for this post), and it always bugs me when the seller has to hide the price. “$1.” Oh OK, I’ll take it, and if you say it’s more I’ll sue for fraud, bwahahahahaha! Or: “The price is a secret. If you beg and plead, maybe I’ll tell you what it is, hurr hurr!” Great.
What If: 1988 Grand Marquis Coupe
The other day my friend John Kreuz posted this car on his FB page. He’s a dedicated fan of the Panther platform, still has several to this day. Continue Reading →