Author: Guest

Drop the top – ‘tis the season to get out and enjoy your convertible

As I look outside my office window at the trees with their changing colors, I think to myself, “Self, you should own a convertible.” Then, reality sets in, in the form of a light smack to the back of the head and a loving, “Stop talking to yourself in the third person,” from the wife. Living in an area where others go for vacation (the Lakes Region of New Hampshire), we move with the seasons, adjusting day-to-day life according to what is bringing folks to town. Whether someone likes ice fishing, snow or water skiing, hiking, boating, small town festivals and fairs or a simple drive through the countryside, there’s pretty much something for everyone. My personal favorite happens to be trying to find all the best homemade ice cream joints in the state. But that’s a story for a different time … Currently, of course, the bold colors of autumn are drawing people from near and far. It doesn’t matter which road you travel, inevitably you will end up behind someone taking a Sunday drive (on a Wednesday), and enjoying the colors of fall. And you know what? That’s fine. Because we get it. This is OUR convertible season. Sure, summer has beautiful, scenic views of the lush, green mountains, bright blue skies and beautiful, clear lakes. But there … Read More

Before cell phones we called them car phones

There are so many things today that, while prevalent during my formative years, don’t exist anymore – floppy disks, cassette tapes and coin-operated payphones, to name a few. These are all items that, when mentioned at the dinner table, cause a look of confusion on our 11-year-old daughter’s face. Let’s take a moment, now, to remember the car phone. Ah, the car phone.   Do you recall when it was actually a phone in your car? You couldn’t remove it. Best case scenario, you could stand next to your car and talk on it with the cord strung through an open window. While there is some debate over who created the first car phone, the first service was developed by the Bell System and used in St. Louis in 1946. The phone that connected to it weighed in at a whopping 80 pounds. (Of course back then the cars were just as overweight, so what’s another 80 pounds?) Initially, only three channels were available, so if three people were talking you had to wait your turn to make a call. Imagine the frustration people would have today if their smartphone told them they were fourth in line to make a call! Slowly the car phone developed into a more useful device. By its 1954 appearance in the movie “Sabrina,” when … Read More

Millennials turn to leasing as they return to the market

Millennials, once known as the most hesitant shoppers in the auto industry, are increasingly turning to leasing versus buying according to Edmunds.com. The car-shopping site recently conducted a survey of Millennials and found that leasing accounted for 28.9 percent of all new-car volume for shoppers aged 18 to 34 so far this year. This reflects a 46 percent overall increase in leasing by Millennials in the last five years. Edmunds.com Director of Industry Analysis Jessica Caldwell said the survey findings show that Millennials understand they need to stick to a budget, but they don’t want to limit themselves to the “most basic” vehicles. Leasing can provide a way to get more car or truck for the money. “If they see a chance to get into a nicer car while staying within their budget, they’re likely to explore that opportunity,” Caldwell said. “In most cases, leasing opens the door to the bells and whistles that they couldn’t otherwise afford.” According to the survey, conducted in June and covering new-car transactions from January through April 2015, 57 percent of respondents said that they would want to put no more than $2,999 down when purchasing a new car, and pay no more than $299 per month. Putting those restrictions into a company branded-online calculator, Edmunds found that when financing a vehicle, shoppers are … Read More

Car clubs – take a deeper look, you may be surprised by what you see

A friend asked, “Why are car clubs so important to you?” It’s about a lot more than cars. Cars and car culture are no different from other social groups. Think back 10,000 years or so. People worked together in small groups (a tribe or a pack) toward a common goal. Back then it was known as survival. Fast forward to 2003 and picture a socially awkward 30-year-old arriving in Dallas, home of bling and glam and social cliques. That guy didn’t know anyone. Nope, not a soul. No friends or family nearby to ask advice on where to live or even who made a good burger. That guy was me and it was a tough first couple of weeks. In a sense, survival instincts set in … until I found common ground with a group of good people. It was a group of real, non-pretentious people, more diverse and welcoming than any church could ever hope to be. It was a car club. My car wasn’t the fastest or the most modified or the fanciest but it was a car and that’s all that mattered. The group was quite large and growing. The leadership was friendly but with an edge; you definitely had to earn the group’s respect but not in the way you might think. Mostly you just had to … Read More

The 500X: FIAT’s American Game Changer

There’s no mistaking the FIAT 500 for anything but what it is – an attractive and tiny car with more brio than a triple espresso and enough personality to cameo in a Fellini film. But the 500, for all its charms and its many variants, is aging – it was first introduced in Europe in 1957 – and FIAT’s U.S. dealers have long wanted a larger variety of product to sell. In 2013, they got the 500L – a funky, mini-minivan European style MPV that added flexibility but missed the mark on style and excitement. Now comes the 500X – a small crossover that retains much of the 500’s external style. Small is a relative term – the 500X is much larger than the 500, and is comparable in size to crossovers like the Kia Soul and Chevy Trax – its primary targets in the crossover wars. Contrary to the name’s suggestion, the 500X is not based on the original 500, but rather shares architecture with the equally new Jeep Renegade. Sometime soon, FIAT is planning to launch a non-500 badged car in the United States (a roadster based on the Mazda Miata), but for now the power of the original 500 looms large over the U.S. lineup, hence the designation. The 500X was designed with North America in mind … Read More