Mopar Memories

Note: Today’s post is by frequent commenter and regular RG reader, Patrick King. Enjoy. -TK
My parents didn’t drive so when I got my license and convinced them we needed a “family car” I suggested a 1969 Dodge Dart GTS 340, yellow with black interior, black vinyl roof and black bumblebee stripe. It was hardly a random choice: I’d been devouring the buff books since I was eight and loved what few imports existed but, being sixteen, I wanted a muscle car and my friend’s ‘65 GTO convertible seemed too large and unwieldy. Also, the Dodge was unibody, unlike the large, body-on-frame GM and Ford hot rods. Everything I read pointed to the Dart. But what really enticed me about the Mopar was the brand-new thin-wall, high-performance small block 340 introduced the year before to combat the small block Chevy. At the time I could quote all the specs of this engine, from its compression ratio to the windage tray in its oil pan (to the great amusement of my chortling uncles who would ask me to perform my routine as if I were reciting the latest Dylan lyrics).

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1986 Toyota MR2: Japanese X1/9

Remember the Fiat X1/9? It  was a lovely little go-kart by all accounts, but with its rust-prone steel and thin-on-the-ground Fiat dealer network (at least in the U.S.) it slowly faded from the scene. Believe it or not, there is a nice bright blue one still living around here. I’ve seen it in a driveway several times.

Sadly, not at car shows or on the street, so no pics yet. Anyway, Toyota took the Fiat’s general hard points and then produced a sporty two-seater of their own: the MR2, or “Mister Two,” as it was affectionately dubbed by its fans. Continue Reading →

Twenty Tips for Traveling For Business, Bark Style

I was 31 years old when I started traveling for a living. I had just taken a promotion to be a Regional Training Manager with Cricket Wireless, and I was supposed to be covering a fairly small territory of Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, North and South Carolina, and Georgia. I had a very young family—my son was barely two, and my daughter was not yet born—and although the travel would be tough on them, the increase in pay was too much to turn town.

Plus, I was finally escaping retail! I know that the prevailing theory on the internet is that the Baruths are silver spoon brats who’ve never worked a day in their lives, but, boy, nothing could be further from the truth. I worked in wireless retail stores for a decade, with Verizon, T-Mobile, and then Cricket. And none of those motherfuckers on Twitter who claim I’ve had it easy could have survived a month doing what I did, much less a decade.

I had a gun in my face twice. I had a guy show up with a gas can and a blowtorch, trying to burn the store down. I had multiple people pull down their pants and take shits in the middle of my stores. I discovered child pornography on phones and was told I couldn’t report it. I was the first manager on the scene when a customer was shot dead in a store. I worked 60-70 hours over at least six days a week for that entire time, and I don’t think I actually took a real vacation once—partially because I couldn’t afford to, and partially because I just couldn’t be gone that long.

So when I was given the chance to get out of the stores, I probably would have done just about anything else to do so. But I was getting to do something I really loved, and that was coaching and training salespeople. I had taken multiple stores to top ten rankings at T-Mobile, and then took my market at Cricket to the top spot in the country. Whenever people across the company asked how I did it, I replied with a simple answer:

“I coach my people.”

And it was true. I somehow had a nose for identifying talent, hiring, and coaching people, and I was convinced that I could teach others how to do it, too. And ever since 2010, that’s pretty much what I’ve been doing. I switched to the automotive industry in 2012, becoming a sales trainer at AutoTrader.com (now Cox Automotive) and then other automotive tech companies.

But anyway, back to the original subject of this post, which was effective business travel recommendations. I’m not talking about the type of business travel that automotive writers do—that shit is easy. Somebody else books your flight and your accommodations, and you just show up and ride buses from the hotel to the restaurant and the “track” (which is really a low-speed autocross course with an instructor sitting shotgun).

No, I’m talking about real business travel, the kind where you’re sitting in the bowels of O’Hare airport at 1:43 in the morning on a Thursday, thanks to the combination of inclement weather and a missing light bulb in the bathroom of the CRJ-200 that you and 49 other weary travelers are about to be shoved into against your will, only to find out that your pilots have timed out—but don’t worry, they’re rolling out carts of mattresses for you to sleep on until 6:00 am. That flight is completely full, so you’ll be on standby, and we’ll call your name out very quietly at the same time that three other announcements are being made, so make sure that you absolutely do NOT miss it or else you’ll be here until Tuesday. Oh yeah, here’s a $10 restaurant voucher for your trouble, but all of the restaurants in this terminal are closed.

Here’s Bark’s list for minimizing headaches when traveling, and maybe even enjoying yourself a bit.

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1985 Oldsmobile Delta 88 Royale: Blue Brougham

Poor Oldsmobile. During the 1980s it went from volume champion to being essentially the Cutlass Division of GM, thus finishing the decade in a real bind. What went wrong? Was it the loss of divisional independence caused by the newly formed B-O-C Group? The omnipresence of front-wheel drive? Increased, and increasingly intense, competition? In any case, only one thing is certain: In the late summer of 1985, the last medium-priced, B-body Delta 88s came off the line. Perhaps taking with it the bulk of Oldsmobile’s upper-middle class clientele.

The first newly downsized full-size Oldsmobiles–including the last of the “big” Delta 88s and equally trimmer Ninety-Eights–debuted in 1977. The zaftig 1971-76 gunboats were now a thing of the past. Sales of their attractive, crisply styled ‘sheer look’ replacements took off. In 1977, Oldsmobile set a production record, albeit on the strength of Cutlasses. But the big cars did very well too.

Despite being much smaller than the ’76s, the ’77 Royales had more interior room and trunk space. One shocking development was that the standard engine was not a V8. A 231 cu in V6 came standard, but 260, 300 and 400 CID V8s were available. And popular. Also available was a 5.7-liter V8 Diesel.

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