Weekly Roundup: She’s Always Buzzing Just Like… Edition

What a long, strange trip this has been… and it’s not over. One of my readers put his one-owner ’98 ACR Coupe on eBay back in, uh, February. I was pretty much the only bidder. Then we all had to sit around and flatten the curve a bit… which didn’t help anyone but did keep me from going to Atlanta to pick up the car. Finally, another one of my readers offered to finish the transaction of my behalf. Which involved getting a tow truck. Well, it involved getting three tow trucks because the first two backed out with zero notice.

So the Neon now has a temporary Georgia home while I make plans to go get it. My hopes are that I will repaint the car — it’s a Belvidere Plymouth, the clearcoat was finished before the bumper-to-bumper warranty expired — and get it fixed up to the point where it more or less feels like a new 1998 Neon ACR coupe. It would be a waste to turn it into a race car, of course, and I already have a SCCA/NASA-legal Neon to race.

Something tells me that it will be harder to find a survivor/restored first-gen Neon in ten years than it will be to find a Ferrari 250GTO. Sadly, that doesn’t mean it will be worth anything to anyone.

This week, for Hagerty, I discussed vehicular envy and offered some suspicious advice. I also wrote another What If?, this one about a DMC with a French twist. For The Truth About Watches, I briefly related my experience using G-SHOCK SoHo for service. The title on that one isn’t mine; I would never describe waiting for digital watch service as “a catastrophe”.

36 Replies to “Weekly Roundup: She’s Always Buzzing Just Like… Edition”

  1. AvatarRonnie Schreiber

    it’s a Belvidere Plymouth, the clearcoat was finished before the bumper-to-bumper warranty expired

    Chrysler had a lot of paint issues in the 1990s, most likely due to cheapening out on UV screeners. Whole sheets of topcoat and clear would peel off of minivans, exposing the primer. Counterintuitively, it wasn’t due to a fault in the primer. Not having enough UV screener in the top coats allowed UV light to penetrate into the electrocoat primer, which then failed at the adhesion layer to the topcoats.

    Car companies like to blame suppliers for problems but many of the worst horror stories arise from the companies’ requests or them not applying the product properly.

    Reply
  2. AvatarChris Tonn

    Not at all joking..if you see another cheap ACR out there, let me know. I need a cheapish streetable toy that can be somewhat interesting for the occasional track day.

    Reply
    • Avatargtem

      Not an ACR, but there was a 96k mile ’98 Neon RT for sale in Windfall Indiana a few months ago for $3k, it was around for a good month or so before someone snatched it up. I considered it myself, as a companion to my stripped out ’98 RT circle track car, but realized I was lookign to buy mostly for the novelty, but without an adequate “use case” (not willing to use it as a kid hauler/commuter). Sent it to Jack, didn’t realize he already had this ACR lined up!

      Reply
  3. AvatarCJinSD

    If you have figured out how to make it worth painting a four-figure car that doesn’t get towed for vagrancy wherever it is parked, let me know. I loved how some aspiring great-reset slaves claimed that liberal environmentalists don’t know what a TRX is, as if they don’t care about the middle class remainders still having too much freedom.

    Reply
    • AvatarKevin Jaeger

      Painting a car like this isn’t about being a sensible investment. It’s something a car guy does for no one but himself.

      Of course predicting the future is hard. It’s theoretically possible there are three people out there who will get into a bidding war for the last survivor and Jack will make a killing on it.

      I’ve actually been looking for a similar type of 90s car as a project for reasons I can’t quite articulate either.

      Reply
  4. Avatar-Nate

    Vehicular envy is indeed a thing .

    Anyone who thinks restricting your engine choices is not just a dolt but un – American to the extreme as well .

    I have no problem $pending more $ than any particular vehicle is worth ~ if you like, go for it .

    Worrying about what it is or might be worth means you don’t like it in the first place so why keep it whatever it is ? .

    -nate

    Reply
    • AvatarGene

      Jealous here, too. I had one of the original poverty specials, a ’95 5 spd sedan with manual steering and windows, and grey bumpers. The car was an absolute joy, took untold abuse, and I’d buy another in a heartbeat.

      Reply
    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      In my case that was literally true. I bought a SOHC ACR sedan that had won an SCCA regional championship. A Spec Focus driver turned me into the wall in 2008 and bent the unibody.

      Reply
  5. Avatarstingray65

    Science experts AOC and Greta Thunberg tell us that we only has 8-9 years left before the planet melts, and of course Trump getting re-elected on Tuesday will likely accelerate our plunge into oblivion so we might as well enjoy our remaining few months with some Hellcat powered toys. On the other hand, if Greta’s endorsement manages to convince enough dead people to vote Green New Deal Biden into office, fossil fuels and Hellcats will be banned and the envious tree huggers will start telling us how nobody needs an EV with 300 miles of range or more than 62 horsepower as the lights go out at 4 PM on a cold windless winter afternoon.

    Reply
    • AvatarJohn C.

      CJ will be ready when Greta and AOC are proved correct as his celebrated 90s Corolla will make it for another 8-9 years and he will have successfully saved $279 by not having it painted until then. He is of course will be counting on police defunding and blue flu to avoid the vagrancy tows. Vagrancy rules after all are discriminatory to the vagrants so can not last.

      Meanwhile some of us feel left out of the hellcats/coyote/batwing in everything phenomenon. We are not awaiting the coming Armageddon by silly and ever less effective doses of adrenalin to distract. We are still out there assuming there will be a better tomorrow in America and supporting our families and paying our taxes toward that end. More stressful sure, you know America used to build great cars to assist family men in that, by building affordable, comforting, and dignified commuters. Why did those have to go?

      Reply
  6. AvatarCompaq Deskpro

    While I don’t doubt plenty of people hate the concept of the TRX, I couldn’t actually find any article referring to the TRX as anything but “cool and awesome, if you have the money and inclination go for it”. Who are these auto industry critics, because I can’t find any of them.

    Reply
  7. Avatararbuckle

    I think envy is a part of it but I think an even bigger part of it is has to do with politics. If more right-leaning people like it then it is bad, if left-leaning people like it then it is okay.

    A $70K 18 MPG-rated Yukon AT4 is a hedonistic planet-destroying child murder machine while a $70K 18 MPG-rated Land Rover Defender is a fun and cool safari wagon and a 35 year old 11 MPG Jeep Wagoneer is even better because maybe the owner got a vasectomy as a carbon sacrifice. A Dodge Demon is an extremely irresponsible thing that requires serious conversations about vehicle power but “ZOMG new Tesla is 1.9 seconds 0-60!!!!11”. Muscle cars are “dumb” compared to sports cars or grand touring cars. Diesel in cars and little trucks is awesome but not in big trucks. Owning a classic VW Beetle or Porsche 912E is fine but owning a Chevelle is stupid.

    Reply
    • Avatarstingray65

      Envy is a human universal, but envy to the degree that someone goes out of their way to make your life miserable for making the “wrong” choice is pretty much a Leftist thing.

      Reply
  8. AvatarRonnie Schreiber

    Lots of pickup trucks at the Trump rally in Macomb County today. Of course, if you don’t realize that the three best selling vehicles in America are pickups, you might be working for a mainstream media organization.To be honest, I’ve seen most U.S. presidents since Ford in person, so I’ve been to a politcal rally or two but I’ve never seen anything like Trump’s rally, with people chanting “We love you,” to the candidate. The atmosphere was festive, everybody was happy and smiling. It was very crowded and I had to traverse the entire crowd to get to where my son and grandsons were standing but nobody gave me a hard time about moving through the crowd. Toward the end of Trump’s stump speech some folks started to beat the rush and left early, leaving space for me to stand on the bleachers. A couple of women helped me climb up. There was just a nice friendly vibe at the event.

    I was surprised at the large number of teens, young adults, and young families with kids. I’d say that a third to half the folks there were wearing masks. Not sure what the deal is with playing YMCA after his speech, but the crowd loved it and he did too. I get the impression that Trump enjoys being president.

    Also, this year I’ve noticed lots of Trump flags and banners, not just lawn signs. I don’t recall seeing flags for a candidate before.

    Reply
  9. Avatargtem

    That’s awesome Jack, congrats! Didn’t realize you had this up your sleeve when I sent you that ’98 R/T.

    I’m hoping to get my R/T caged over the winter and maybe then we can have you come out for a test and tune session in the spring to help us set it up better for the oval track. She felt really good in practice, a lot more optimization to be done I’m sure but everything felt tight and the engine was strong. Rotated really well with some braking into the corner.

    Reply
    • AvatarRonnie Schreiber

      Well, at least Funko-Pops are keeping some comic book stores in business since the mainstream comics industry has decided to get woke and go broke.

      Reply
      • AvatarOne Leg at a Time

        I love the challenge! Sadly(?) a recent promotion means that I will not be doing any writing in the near future.

        As for Funko-Pop figures, my defense is heartfelt, but interesting only to me – they make my wife smile.

        Reply
        • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

          “Sir, there are many things that are acceptable and appropriate to woman which are not acceptable and appropriate to man.”

          — Jack Baruth, March 2021, recalling the quote that got him fired and started him on the path towards insurrection

          Being serious, if your wife likes them, that seems reasonable. To be a grown and solitary man who collects them instead of collecting trophies or Mauser-stamped Manurhin P1s — that’s a different thing IMO.

          Reply
  10. AvatarNoID

    “Those of you who didn’t pull the ripcord out of this column at the mention of Augustine may recall this word from Acts 10.”

    I recently attempted to back up my complaint that our corporate bloggers are (with some exceptions) completely phoning it in by writing a review of my high mileage company lease for our internal newsletter. In addition to having to cut it down by two-thirds of its original length in order to fit it on one page, I also had to strip out a few terms/references because the editor had to Google them. I told the editor that I had faith in the intelligence of our employees, and that perhaps it isn’t a bad thing to expand the vocabular horizons of those who might click open a new tab to better understand the references, but to no avail.

    Maybe I’ll share the original and abridged versions with you for shiggles and criticism. The abridged version was well received, for what it’s worth. To be fair to the editor (or all editors) it’s probably not a terrible skill to cultivate, that of chopping something down to its barest elements. It certainly worked for the Neon ACR, in another context.

    As it relates to the TRX, that vehicle exists because FCA has a very “PopCopy” attitude toward critics of the product plan, and because responding to customers pays the bills far better than responding to critics does.

    Reply
    • AvatarRonnie Schreiber

      One of the reasons I like our host’s writing is he makes me look up words – and I was a big vocubulary kid.

      I’ve had an editor change a word to a homonym with a different meaning because he thought I misspelled the word. Another editor wrote a story using the word “nadir” when he really meant “apogee”, literally 180 degrees wrong.

      In the mainstream media I see a lot of stuff that’s never been line edited before publishing. Much of the current media isn’t just politically biased, it’s of demonstrably poor quality.

      Reply
  11. AvatarRichard

    I have never understood why they junked the neon in favor of the caliber or have never tried to reintroduce the brand. Am I missing something? I was a teen in the nineties and didn’t start driving till I was 18.

    Reply
    • AvatarNoID

      The Caliber was ahead of its time, really…look at all the hatchbacks on 1″ heels we have on the roads today, “CUV” in name only.

      Ahead of its time on segment, behind the times on just about every other metric (except for cornering the market on weird, dangly, dingle-berry speakers in the hatch).

      Reply
      • AvatarOne Leg at a Time

        I worked with a guy who was part of the group that Diamler-Chrysler poached out of Toyota in the early 2000’s.

        He worked on the roll-out of the LX (Charger / 300) platform, and said that he always felt guilty about introducing a second architecture – even though they sold incredibly well.

        He said that the ‘Neon -> Caliber’ team basically dissolved, and within a month of roll-out, there was no one who would actually take “credit” for the decision.

        Reply
      • Avatargtem

        My thoughts exactly. Absolutely horrid pile of dogsh*t at the time (well, and still is). But they could introduce it right now with an updated interior and a bit more engine refinement and it would sell like hotcakes.

        Reply

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