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Birger car gets a facelift
Red Talley cleans a lot of cars, but it's not often that those cars are more than 100 years old -- or that they belonged to local gangster legend Charlie Birger.
BY HOLLY KEE
Apr 4, 2017 5:00 AM
Silvio Calabi: RAV4 Hybrid is a fuel-sipping sophisticate
About the heaviest thing I've lifted all winter is a martini, so after the last snowfall I left my Honda (snowblower) in the garage and dug out the driveway by hand. Puff, puff. In the aid of research, I also fired up, if that's the word for a gas-electric car, this week's Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Limited AWD. I wanted to de-ice the windows, and to see how a hybrid warms up at idle. Does it just sit there like a toaster oven until the charge dwindles? Basically, yes. Periodically the gasoline engine wakes up and runs long enough to top off the batteries, and then it goes quiet again. When I got back in the car, the cabin was 72 degrees, the glass was clear and the front seats were warm. In early hybrids, seat heaters were taboo--too much power drain!--and we got the feeling that the engineers really didn't even want air-conditioning, much less the weight and friction of all-wheel drive. But that was almost 20 years ago (yes) and this is a fresh, well-appointed $34,000 compact crossover sport utility with a $1,435 Advanced Technology Package.
Feb 15, 2016 12:30 PM
Silvio Calabi: Are diesel cars still in our future?
Is the world clamoring for a resolution to Dieselgate, the VW emissions cheating scandal that broke in September? Who knew what when, who's going to hang and how much will VW have to pay? Six hundred thousand US owners of VW, Audi and Porsche diesels haven't forgotten. Many of them are outraged and screaming, You bastards lied to me and I want my money back! And the rest are just as ticked off but yelling, Dude, I'm getting awesome mileage and performance and you want me to give up this car?
Feb 8, 2016 9:08 AM
Cars We Remember: Who really won the first Daytona 500 in 1959?
Q: Hi, Greg. With the 2016 Daytona 500 coming up in a few weeks and celebrating 58 years, I still talk with friends about that very first race in 1959 and the photo finish between Johnny Beauchamp and Lee Petty. You've written about it before, but I'm still wondering about this race and why it took so long for Bill France to reverse his decision and give Petty the win over Beauchamp. Your further thoughts would be appreciated, and also what were your favorite Daytona 500s? Glenn L., New Jersey.
Feb 8, 2016 11:29 AM
Silvio Calabi: Lincoln's big-daddy Navigator needs help
Ford likes to say its Lincoln division spearheaded the full-size luxury sport-utility class when it rolled out the first Navigator in the fall of 1997. That was 19 years ago, but the current version is only the third generation -- and it's still being sold as a 2015 model, with rear- or four-wheel drive and in XL or XXL lengths. Unfortunately, the Navigator has several millstones around its neck: First, it's a tarted-up Ford Expedition, one of the last big, body-on-frame SUVs, which in turn is an F-150 pickup truck with a passenger shell stretched over it -- and not one of the new, better-behaved aluminum F-150s, at that. This would be OK if Navigator owners wanted to mount snowplows or anti-aircraft guns on their vehicles, but that's rarely the case. The fact that it's a Lincoln isn't really helping the Navvy either. Lincoln has wandered the automotive wilderness for years, searching for an identity that would let it stand up to Cadillac, not to say Audi, Jaguar, Volvo, Lexus and all the other flash foreigners. And finally, like its competitors, Lincoln is staring down the barrels of the dramatically higher, and emissions-driven, federal fuel-economy standards that will take effect by 2025. (Carmakers here and abroad are rooting for Republican candidates in hopes that our next President will roll back these rules.)
Feb 1, 2016 11:23 AM
Auto Bits: Google and Ford rumored to team up on autonomous cars
Tip of the Week Google and Ford are reportedly embarking on a joint venture to develop and build the autonomous cars of the future. It's potentially a winning situation for both Ford and Google, but has not been officially announced.
Jan 25, 2016 4:14 PM
Cars We Remember: Finding a 1932 Ford BB truck just like dad's
Q: Hello Greg and I have just been introduced to your informative and well crafted articles thanks to the internet sites. I am undertaking a retirement project (I am 70) to find a Ford truck as similar as possible to the first vehicle I drove, which was my dad's Ford truck which I had to wait until age eight to drive. Before we bought it, it was used as a coal delivery truck during the Great Depression. We used it daily for hauling firewood and bagged grain to the local chopping mill. It had a hand hoist with a big crank and took a minute or so to raise the box up high and feel the load slide off. We called it "The Old Red Truck" and it had dual rear wheels and tires and came with steel wheels all around. The vehicle was either a AA or BB Ford Truck, and I suspect the latter as it had a longer box than most of the AA photos I've seen. What is frustrating is that there is no really clear explanation that I have found as to the differences between the AA and BB models.
Jan 25, 2016 2:24 PM
Silvio Calabi: Stuck in style in a Jaguar XF
Unless you're already an aficionado, Jaguar models can be confusing -- all those Xs paired with other letters, and some are called "Type" this and "Type"' that. But, old as it is, Jaguar is still a small car company, with just five models right now, of which two are so new that deliveries haven't yet begun. Recently I met one of them, the midsize aluminum XF sedan, in Arizona, and promised more detail after I'd been able to live with it for a week. That week is now up, but our XF spent nearly all of it in a garage at the bottom of a steep, snow-covered hill in Breckenridge, Colorado. The agile, comfortable, well-equipped rear-wheel drive XF made short work of the 100-mile dash up into the mountains from Denver, but even with snow tires and All-Surface Progress Control it couldn't handle our driveway. An AWD XF will be available soon--just not soon enough. Stay tuned. Postscript--Pilot texting and driving. A reader from North Carolina reacted to my review of the updated Honda Pilot, wherein I claimed that its new safety systems could protect the driver while texting. She wrote: "Are you encouraging or condoning texting? The Honda Pilot may hit the brakes if a frontal collision is possible, but the driver should not have been texting to begin with. Your statement could make the reader/driver assume it is now safe to text and drive."
Jan 25, 2016 11:08 AM
Silvio Calabi: Could the Golf R be the perfect car?
Every now and then we stumble upon a car that seems to have it all: Power and performance to make us smile? Oh, yeah. Behavior and style we could live with for years? Yes, it's easy to drive and to park -- and looking at it doesn't hurt either. Room for four? That too, with four doors and a space-sensitive footprint. Comfort and convenience? Plenty of both, across town and on long trips. Efficiency and economy? Check. The latest active and passive safety and driver-assistance features? All-weather all-wheel drive? Cloud-based technology, from App-Connect to GPS? Yes, all of that too, plus grown-up sophistication and build quality that impresses. It sounds great, too. Maybe best of all, this automotive paragon carries a sticker price that's barely five grand more than the average new car sold in America today: $40,010. And with some judicious paring of options, or lowering of demands, that can be shaved by as much as $4,000.
By Silvio Calabi
Jan 18, 2016 11:46 AM
Auto Bits: Why buy a late model used car?
Tip of the Week If you are in the market for a vehicle upgrade, you just might want to consider buying a vehicle that is a few years old. The price will certainly be lower than that of a new vehicle and ownership expenses are often lower as well.
Jan 18, 2016 1:01 AM
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