LA CAR REPORT—$10,000. That’s the price the pundits were saying it would cost to replace the hybrid batteries when the second-generation Toyota Prius splashed onto the scene. Along with all the accolades (car of the year awards, etc), the technology was accompanied by fear and loathing—fear of the unknown and loathing over all the attention it was getting. Fast forward ten years, and hybrid battery repair can be now had for the cost of a major tune-up. How did it get from $10,000 to under $1000? This is the story.
GALLERY—Los Angelenos are familiar with Carmageddon and Jamzilla. Here’s another one for the local lexicon: Carcadia. It’s Arcadia’s equivalent to an automotive flash mob that happens every fourth Sunday of the month at 7:30 a.m., right off of Route 66, in the lot behind the windmill-laden Denny’s restaurant that once served as a Van de Kamp Bakery store.
AUTO REVIEW—Resplendently loud in its blatant yellow and black, the R Line Beetle GSR is surely the most boy racer-ish of cars that I’ve lately been assigned to drive. I think that I saw more than a couple pedestrians raise their arms as if to hail a cab as I drew near. On the other hand, this Beetle has all sort of fun features. At one point in time, VWs were taken up by people (like Paul Newman for one) who could afford far more costly machines and driven as sort of reverse status symbols. “I can afford a $90K car, but I’m driving this $30K tuner car because it is just so damn much fun.”
AUTO REVIEW— Each year, I have the opportunity to road test a number of new vehicles for review purposes. Some of them are impressive, others are quite unmemorable and, every once in a while, there is one I just don’t want to give back. When a car is sporty, fun to drive, practical and fuel efficient, it really gets my attention and respect. Such is the case with the 2014 Mazda3 I 4-Door Grand Touring. I’ve always heard that things happen in threes.
HOT WIRE—Former janitor, nightclub bouncer, chemical technician and literature teacher—now add to that, former Harley-Davidson owner. Pope Francis, named after the famous Saint Francis of Assisi, has been raising eyebrows with the church’s emphasis as humble servant and comforter to people who are hurting. Today, he sold his Harley-Davidson Super Glide Custom to raise funds for a soup kitchen and a homeless hostel.