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THE LA CAR BLOG - DECEMBER 2004

This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Wed, Dec 1, 2004

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

LA Car brewmeister Derrick Lim's latest batch LA CAR BLOG

AUTO CLUB OFFERS FREE TIPSY TOW SERVICE FOR NEW YEAR'S EVE December 29, 2004 Los Angeles (Business Wire) - The Automobile Club of Southern California is offering its free Tipsy Tow service to drinking drivers on New Year's Eve. The service is available from 6 p.m. on Friday Dec. 31 until 6 a.m. Saturday, New Year's Day. Tipsy Tow is available in the 13 Southern California counties served by the Auto Club. Motorists, bartenders, restaurant managers, party hosts or passengers of a drinking driver may call 1-800-400-4AAA (1-800-400-4222) for a free tow home of up to seven miles. Callers simply tell the Auto Club operators, "I need a Tipsy Tow," to receive the free tow and ride home. A regular Auto Club-contracted emergency road service truck will be dispatched. Callers need to keep in mind that the service excludes rides for passengers, is restricted to a one-way, one-time ride for the driver and vehicle, and the destination is limited to the driver's residence. Reservations are not accepted. Drivers can expect to pay the rate charged by the tow truck contractor for rides farther than seven miles. "We want motorists to be aware of the high crash risk from drinking and driving associated with holidays and encourage them to think twice about getting behind the wheel if they have been drinking," said Patrice Frazier, the Auto Club's managing director for community programs. "It takes only one or two drinks to slow physical and mental skills and affect vision, steering, braking, judgement and reaction time," Frazier said. "We hope drivers are aware that the CHP and law enforcement agencies are likely to be using extra patrols to look for drinking drivers during holidays." While the number of Californians arrested for driving under the influence in 2002 (the latest figures available), is far lower than it was 20 years ago, it is still disturbingly high - 180,000, according to Frazier. Statewide annual alcohol-related fatal and injury crashes have also decreased sharply, from 44,200 in 1982 to just over 22,000 in 2002. "We'd like to see these numbers reduced even further, particularly the high numbers during the holidays," added Frazier. Drinking drivers frequently don't plan for other ways to get home because they are concerned about retrieving their vehicle. They cite the expense of taxis and time inconvenience as the major reasons they don't use alternative transportation, according to the Auto Club. Tipsy Tow provides motorists with a safe ride home for themselves and their vehicles instead of driving while intoxicated. People convicted of driving under the influence could lose many of the most important things in their lives, such as family, job, dignity and money. The Auto Club estimates that a first time DUI conviction can cost about $11,000 in fines, penalties, restitution, legal fees and insurance costs. Current laws, enforcement, public awareness and education efforts by public service-oriented organizations, including the Auto Club, have contributed to the decline in the number of alcohol-related fatalities and injuries for the past 10 years. The Auto Club provides the Tipsy Tow service and free publications as part of its "You Drink. You Drive. You Lose." public awareness campaign. The Auto Club advises that motorists can keep themselves and others safe and can avoid DUI arrests by keeping these safety tips in mind: - At social events, designate non-drinking drivers who can get everyone home safely. - Call a friend or family member for a ride if you have been drinking. - Keep a cab company telephone number in your wallet so you can call for a ride home. - Provide a gift to guests who volunteer to be designated drivers. - Take the car keys away from friends and relatives who have had too much to drink. The Automobile Club of Southern California, the largest AAA affiliate, has been serving members since 1900. Auto Club members benefit by the organization's roadside assistance, financial products, travel agency and trip planning services, highway and transportation safety programs, insurance products and services and automotive pricing, buying and financing programs. Information about these products and services is available on the Auto Club's Web site at www.aaa-calif.com. Your LA Car Blog comments can be sent to : Letter to the Editor.

THE BEST HIGH-PERFORMANCE BUY UNDER $25,000 - THE SEQUEL December 26, 2004 Judging from the responses on the popular Internet automotive boards, the December 22nd Blog below has legs. A plurality seems to agree that the 2004 Pontiac GTO is a great buy, although East Coasters are getting better deals than West Coasters. Still, there are those that wonder why their favorite sub-$25,000 car didn't make the list, to wit: Ford Mustang GT - LIke I said previously, the 2005 version is a great performing car. Having been the owner of a 5.0 Mustang, I can tell you that the new one is a quantum leap forward. Unfortunately, I'm having a hard time finding one that optioned under $25,000. Moreover, Ford dealers have not been shy about adjusting the price considerably over the manufacturer's suggested retail price. Dodge SRT4 - At around $20,000, I know of no new cars that can match the Dodge's straight-line acceleration. Moreover, it handles better than any front-wheel drive four-door sedan has a right to. Its interior, however, will never be mistaken for a GTO; neither will the sound of its exhaust. Subaru WRX - It's probably the best-handling car under $25,000 you can buy. In straight-line acceleration, it's quicker than the old Mustang GT. It also puts out a pretty good sound for a four-banger (way better than the sound of the SRT4). On the minus side, its interior leaves a lot to be desired, and it suffers from enormous turbo lag. It's also not the prettiest car around, although WRX owners don't seem to mind. Acura RSX Type-S - This car has the best-sounding four-cylinder engine I've ever heard - particularly when you rev it up close to its stratospheric redline. It also has a great manual shifter, and a great, responsive suspension. The interior is more refined than the WRX, but not quite up to Volkswagen GTI standards. It's hatchback design makes the cabin a bit noisy. For all its goodness, the RSX still feels like a compact car. At $24,000, it's a pretty expensive compact car. Mini Cooper S - Its go kart-like performance makes this one of the most fun cars around, regardless of price. It's been out for a couple years now, but the design still holds up well. It's also the spiritual successor to the original GTI (at least until the Mark V version of the GTI arrives in the USA). It also feels like a more expensive car than it is. All-in-all, a great buy in my book. Volkswagen GTI - The VR6 version of this car is often overshadowed by the highly tunable 1.8T. However, it remains a very good grand touring vehicle - particularly if you're not into driving at 9/10s or 10/10s of the vehicle's capability. With the Mark IV GTI in its last year, dealers are dealing. Consequently, you can get a VR6 GTI for the price of an SRT4. For that, you get a highly refined yet lively motor, and the best interior of any small car around. Corvette (used) - Low mileage C5s are pretty hard to find under $25,000, but there are plenty of C4s that are quite a bit under price range. Fast, harsh, and a little clunky. It feels old, but it's still a Corvette. In the end, it's still a GTO for me - one of the great buys in a field of very good buys. - RN Your LA Car Blog comments can be sent to : Letter to the Editor.

THE BEST HIGH-PERFORMANCE BUY UNDER $25,000? December 22, 2004 Ask me what's the best buy in a high performance car under $25,000, and several names come to mind. There's the Subaru WRX - unrefined, raw, exhilarating, all-wheel drive performance. The MINI Cooper S is one of the most fun cars to drive, regardless of price. The new, 300-horsepower Ford Mustang GT stickers for just under $25,000, and offers great performance. A used C4 Chevrolet Corvette can be had for much less than $25,000, and will practically run circles around any new car for the same price. My choice for the best buy, however, goes to the 2004 Pontiac GTO. Plenty of new ones are still sitting in Pontiac dealerships across the country. We tested one, and found it to be an excellent $32,000 grand touring vehicle - lots of power (350 horses), nimble handling, spacious seating for four, a good ride, and one of the most refined interiors in a General Motors car that we've seen.

I suspect the car hasn't been selling well because it bears a striking resemblance to the lowly Chevrolet Cavalier. Aside from that unfortunate resemblance, this is one nice car. What makes this worth considering, however, is that (with multiple sales incentives and all) you can buy one of these right now for around $24,000. At the manufacturer's suggested retail price of around $32,000, the GTO is a good buy. At $24,000, it's a steal. For 2005, Pontiac has added 50 horse and hood scoops, with the hope that the car will be more attractive to buyers. I say forget the hood scoops. And the 2004 car is plenty fast with 350 horses. If you're in the market for this type of vehicle, I suggest you run, not walk, to your local Pontiac dealer to check out the 2004 GTO. - RN Your LA Car Blog comments can be sent to : Letter to the Editor.

'MR. DWI' ARRESTED AFTER 34TH DRUNK DRIVING VIOLATION December 19, 2004 WASHINGTON (PRNewswire) - A 63-year-old South Dakota man was arrested this weekend after he failed to appear in court for his 34th Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) violation. As law enforcement agencies across the nation kick off annual holiday roadblock campaigns, the American Beverage Institute (ABI) declared that "Mr. DWI" represents what is wrong with nation's focus in the war on drunk driving. "Millions of taxpayer dollars are spent every year on roadblock operations and PR campaigns specifically designed to target responsible social drinkers, yet hardcore offenders like Mr. DWI continue to abuse alcohol and drive drunk," said ABI executive director John Doyle. "It is time to reevaluate our current strategy and focus on apprehending truly drunk drivers and chronic repeat offenders and mandating offender-paid alcoholism screening and treatment programs for these alcohol abusers." The head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) notes that today's drunk driving problem is "by far and away" made up of "those who have alcohol use disorders." NHTSA adds that the average blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of a drunk driver in a fatal crash is .16 percent - twice the legal limit in every state. The MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Drivers) website reports, "nearly one-third of drivers arrested or convicted of drunk driving each year are repeat offenders." Your LA Car Blog comments can be sent to : Letter to the Editor.

The Ford Excavation?

FORD WANTS YOU TO NAME ITS NEXT TRUCKDecember 17, 2004 After the LA Car Blog commemorated the anniversary of Ford's efforts to name the Edsel, we asked our colleagues on the Internet automotive boards what names they suggest for the next Ford product. We published the best of their responses in our December 14th Blog (below). Well, the suggestions keep rolling in. The Chemist VWVortex.com's Car Lounge as a cluster of chemistry-related "F" names for the next Ford: Ford Furan Ford Fission Ford Fluorescence Ford Faraday Ford Free Radical Ford Fluid Ford Flux Ford Flash Point Ford Formula Ford Free Energy Ford Freon Ford Frequency "With the influx of names derived from cities and states," says the Car Lounge's ThatsGoodT, "how about: Ford Florida (giant 2 door sedan with height adjustable seats, top speed 15 mph) Ford Fontana (air tight cabin for SoCal smog conditions, pre-dented bumpers for city traffic) Ford Frankfurt (German designed and built... the one and only Ford hit but too costly for the North American market) Ford Fairbanks (optional studded tires, block heater, and ice scraper... horribly marketed to farmers in the deep South)." And from the Lounge's 98JettaGT: Ford Freestall - Hybrid crossover that refuses to restart at traffic lights Ford Fireball Police Interceptor - to succeed the Crown Vic Ford Ferrous Oxide - In an attempt to cut costs, this subcompact is built without galvanized steel But, the "F" cars only represent part of Fords product portfolio. A number of readers point out that Ford has a number of truck-based products that start with the letter "E". S2K of the Autoweek Combustion Chamber says, "I wrote Bill Ford suggesting he rename the Expedition the Excrement. I never got a reply." Other members of the Chamber had their own "E"-based suggestions: Extreme (Chris Pnoy) Eroder (Chris Pnoy) Expansion (Chris Pnoy) Exurb (Merkurscorpio) Exeter (Merkurscorpio) Excite (Merkurscorpio) En Route (Merkurscorpio) Eco (Merkurscorpio) Explosion (BenLikesCars) And more from the Lounge: Executioner ("SUV with bumpers at the perfect height for tearing through car" - 98JettaGT) Excess ("commemorative edition of the last 1,000 Excursions" - 98JettaGT) Exploitation (Juice) Excavation (Juice) You might say that some of our colleagues have too much time on their hands. I, on the other hand, see some pretty unique talent in search of the right venue.

- RN Your LA Car Blog comments can be sent to : Letter to the Editor.

FORD WANTS YOU TO NAME ITS NEXT CAR December 14, 2004 Or maybe not. In the December 10th Blog (below), we commemorated the anniversary of Ford Motor Company's effort to have Pulitzer Prize-wining poet Marianne Moore's suggest the name of Ford's new car. What Ford wanted was a car name that "flashes a dramatically desirable picture in people's minds," from a woman who seemed to know mainstream America. What they got was "Anticipator," "Thunder Crester," "Pastelogram," "Intelligent Whale," "The Resilient Bullet," "Mongoose Civique," "Andante con Moto," "Varsity Stroke" and "Utopian Turtletop." Ford settled for the name "Edsel." Two score and nine years later, it's not entirely clear that Ford is any better at naming cars, having spawned the "Merkur" and "Probe." Never with a shortage of suggestions, we asked our colleagues on the Internet automotive boards what names they suggest for the next Ford product. Parklife of VWVortex.com's Car Lounge says, "'Fairlane' would be an excellent name to be used for a mid- to full-size sedan. Perhaps a more sporting version of the Five Hundred once the larger Duratec is installed next year." Actually, several people liked the name 'Fairlane.' Nightflight of Blue Oval News observes, "I read a nice article...which mentioned that 'Fairlane' was the name of the road in Ireland where Henry Ford's father lived." "Fair Lane is (also) the name of Henry Ford's mansion," according to Moby Vic of Blue Oval News. "If I started a car company or division, I would call it Aisling (ash-leen) - the Irish word for dream or vision - or Pangaea, the Greek word for Earth, says Atomcat of Blue Oval News. "The models would be Epoch, Avatair, Prodigy, Aegis, and Adventure for a truck/SUV line. Chrysler usually takes my car names like Intrepid, Viper, and Endevour from Mitsu. If Aisling became the name of the company, then Pangaea would be the top luxury car." "Considering that the name has to follow Ford's stupid naming convention of starting with F's, the first six or seven names that I immediately thought of could easily get me banned from the 'Tex," admitted Traum from the Vortex's Car Lounge. Of course, that didn't stop others from running with the 'F' theme. Here are some of the suggests: Falcon ("It would be the Australian Ford Falcon...just sold in the US" - Lounge's LuckyDogg) Funster ("affordable three-seat coupe" - Lounge's Hygog) Firefly ("the Canadian version - don't ask me why" - Hygog) Fjord (Lounge's Desidub) F-100 ("Ranger-size - Blue Oval's Luvnford) Fender (Luvnford) Festival (Luvnford) Freedom (Blue Oval's Kamikaze) Fighter (Blue Oval's theVengineguy) Fantom (Autowarrior1 of the Autoweek Combustion Chamber) Some of the suggestions took an amusing turn (downward): Fossil ("large SUV" - Combustion Chamber's Polov) Foray (Combustion Chamber's Speedeejay) Fleet ("for Hertz" - Hygog) Fatso ("for the Houston market" - Hygog) Feng Shui (Lounge's AndrewTosh) Fudpucker (Lounge's JettaJake00) Focker (Lounge's wnt2rt) Okay, folks, be sure to keep your day jobs. It was good advice for one Pulitzer Prize-winning poet. Reflecting back on the effort to name the car that eventually became the Edsel, Parklife observes, "What's funny is that the unspoken word at Ford was that the model would absolutely not be named the Edsel, since Edsel Ford had died of cancer at a young age and naming a car line after him was thought to be vulgar. It was a directive that seems very wise in hindsight, considering the modern use of 'Edsel' as a pejorative. ...For all the good that Edsel Ford did for the company - the purchasing of Lincoln, the creation of the Mercury brand, the design of the Model A - he has the most mindshare with Americans for being honored by having his name slapped on the biggest joke to come out of Detroit since the copper-cooled Chevy."

- RN Your LA Car Blog comments can be sent to : Letter to the Editor.

OFF THE BEATEN PATH: BEST OF THE WEEK December 10, 2004 Poetry In Motion: The Ford Anticipator and Mercury Thunder Crester

Ford Mustang Stamp

The Anticipator and Thunder Crester can pass as names for the next generation of SUVs. For years, they were part of the laughing stock of Ford's attempt to name its new mid-priced car two score and nine years ago. On December 9, 1955, American poet Marianne Moore submitted the last of the names that she contracted with the Ford Motor Company for their new car. The quest to name the car began six weeks earlier, at the request of sociologist David Wallace, who had been hired by Ford to conduct the search, and who had written to the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet with his dilemma: "Over the past few weeks this office has confected a list of three hundred-odd candidates which, it pains me to relate, are characterized by an embarrassing pedestrianism. We are miles short of our ambition. And so we are seeking the help of one who knows more about this sort of magic than we." Ford wanted a car name that "flashes a dramatically desirable picture in people's minds," from a woman who seemed to know mainstream America. This is what they got: Marianne Moore: Poetry, Ford in Head-on Crash

Aerosmith Sells You A Buick (in which the rock icons waste their finest song, and rock n' roll finally gasps its last) SFGate.com, the online site of the San Francisco Chronicle, has one of the most off-beat columnists around. Mark Morford has his moments. When he's on, he produces roll-on-the-floor and laugh-out-loud material. Other times, his pieces read a bit too much on the cynical and bitter end. In today's column, however, he's both witty and cynical - and writing about cars and rock n' roll. After going through a laundry list of rock n' roll songs that have since been reduced to becoming commercial product jingles, Morford mourns the latest effort on the airwaves: "But then comes those moments when your soul is sort of raked across the coals as you hear a classic, epic song that actually sort of meant something sincere and cool and the tiniest bit profound to millions of fans, and represented everything that corporate profiteering did not, and it just makes you sad. And I truly thought I had really stopped caring all that much about pop music used in TV commercials until this recent visceral hit, the deep pang in my rock n' roll heart that struck like an ice pick when I heard Aerosmith's epic ballad "Dream On" in an ad for ... Buick." (Click here to see the commercial) You can read the rest (and there's quite a bit more) at Notes & Errata. Mark Morford's Notes & Errata column appears every Wednesday and Friday on SF Gate, unless it appears on Tuesdays and Thursdays, which it never does. You can subscribe to his column for free at sfgate.com/newsletters.

- RN Your LA Car Blog comments can be sent to : Letter to the Editor.

The Suzuki Reno was penned by Italdesign

WHAT WILL IT TAKE TO MAKE SUZUKI CARS COOL? December 7, 2004 Suzuki makes good, attractive cars. Their warranties are second to none. The Suzuki product line includes several vehicles shaped by famed Italian car designers at Pininfarina (think Ferrari) and Italdesign (think Maserati and Alfa). And all of their vehicles are priced below their popular competition from Toyota, Honda, and Nissan. Moreover, it's not unusual for Suzuki dealers to offer great deals over and above their bargain MSRP prices.

The problem, however, is that Suzukis don't register on the radar screens of most new car shoppers. This fact must baffle the folks at Suzuki to no end, since their cars are immensely popular in Japan. In the land of the rising sun, Suzuki is the nation's fourth largest automaker. In the hotly contested Japanese mini-car market, Suzuki has led the competition for three decades. Globally, Suzuki ranks 12th, and in the USA, they trail Oldsmobile - a company that's in the process of ceasing operations. So, why isn't Suzuki doing as well here as it does in Japan? The problem, in my humble opinion, is that Suzuki cars need a healthy dose of the "coolness" factor. When Volkswagen introduced the New Beetle in 1998, it brought customers out to their showrooms. They didn't necessarily buy New Beetles. They often did, however, buy Passats and Jettas instead. The New Beetle made the VW brand cool again, which in turn boosted VW's market share substantially. What Suzuki needs is an icon vehicle or two to move their car line. They actually have such a vehicle. It costs just under $11,000, does the quarter mile in the nine-second range, and has a top speed approaching 200 mph. It's the Suzuki Hayabusa GSX1300R Special Edition. It's the fastest motorcycle in the world. And it's already sold right here in the USA. The Hayabusa is a big reason why Suzuki motorcycles enjoy an abundant coolness factor. Thus, what Suzuki needs to do is underscore the connection between their motorcycles and cars. Do clever commercials and advertisements featuring both their car and cycle. Introduce Hayabusa technology into some of the cars. It should be do-able. Suzuki may also have another icon car in the form of an existing mini-car. The success of the new MINI Cooper hints at what could be a huge, untapped market in this country: The micro/mini-car. A California company called ZAP is getting ready to sell the tiny little two-seater Smart fortwo car that won the hearts of European customers in a big way. This effort got underway after DaimlerChrysler, the parent company of Smart, decided to go with a larger, RAV4-sized SUV as the brand's introductory vehicle. Thomas Heidermann, an importer working with the ZAP company, thinks DaimlerChrysler is taking the wrong approach by introducing a Smart SUV. "I never would do an SUV, because there are so many of them already," he told Miguel Llanos of MSNBC. "The times are changing. You see that with hybrid cars, with smaller cars." This writer concurs. What makes the little two-seater Smart car so appealing is lost on a bigger vehicle. Suzuki has a whole bushel full of appealing tiny cars. If they can federalize one, it stands to be a big hit here. In the end, Suzuki may not have to look very far for a couple of great icon vehicles. The company deserves to have cars regarded as cool as their bikes. Ultimately, it could be what's needed to put Suzuki cars on the consumer radar screen.

- RN Your LA Car Blog comments can be sent to : Letter to the Editor.

CALIFORNIA'S HYBRID HOV ACCESS LAW UNLIKELY TO GO INTO EFFECT IN JANUARY December 4, 2004

Ford Mustang Stamp

Owners of the Toyota Prius, Honda Insight, and Honda Civic Hybrid eagerly anticipating the California law allowing their hybrid vehicles into the carpool lanes without a carpool will have to wait a little bit longer. The law was designed to go into effect as early as January 1, 2005. The law, however, requires the blessing of the Federal government. And no blessing appears to be forthcoming in the very near future. When California Governor Gray Davis was still in office, the state wrote to the U.S. Department of Transportation, requesting a waiver of the Federal law that prevents gas-electric hybrids to travel in HOV (high-occupancy vehicle) lanes with single occupants (the driver). So far, the DOT has been unresponsive on the request. Earlier this year, California passed the law allowing certain hybrids meeting a 45 miles per gallon threshold (only the Prius, Insight and Civic Hybrid qualify) into the carpool lane. Absent a waiver from the DOT, the state needs Federal legislative action to make the law a reality. That legislation is included as a rider in the so-called Energy Bill before Congress, but the bill continues to be stalled (see the LA Car Blog entry of November 10, 2004). Since the supporters of hybrids in the HOV lanes are not necessarily the same lawmakers that support the Energy Bill, a single-purpose bill that will grant an exemption for solo drivers of hybrid vehicles to travel in HOV lanes was recently introduced to the U.S. House of Representatives. Spo, the measure is the latest step to try to allow California Prius, Insight, and Civic Hybrid drivers special HOV lane access. The AIADA (American International Automobile Dealers Association) reports that Rep. Sherman's bill has a slight chance of passing before the current session of Congress ends. Staffers for Rep. Sherman informed AIADA that he is lining up supporters within California's 53-member delegation and expects the bill to enjoy bi-partisan support. In order for Rep. Sherman's bill to have any effect on California's hybrid law, however, it needs to pass a floor vote, the Senate will have to approve a similar bill, both Houses will then need to agree on the final provisions, and President Bush will then need to sign it. The likelihood of all of this occurring before January 1, 2005 is between slim and none. Until the Feds give their blessing, it looks like the state's hybrid owners have to do what everyone else does - i.e., have a carpool in the carpools lanes. In the meantime, Prius, Insight, and Civic Hybrid owners will have to be content with their high gas mileage, tax breaks, and free metered parking in various metropolitan areas. - RN Your LA Car Blog comments can be sent to : Letter to the Editor.

2005 Ford Mustang V6

TRICK PONY December 1, 2004 So, What About The Base V6 Mustang? Much is being written about the new, 1960s-inspired 2005 Ford Mustang. Most of the attention has been focused on the GT model, with its 300-horsepower V8 engine. I've driven it. It's pretty damn fast, and a quantum improvement over the 5.0L I owned many moons ago. The other day, I had an opportunity to drive the base car - a V6 model with cloth seats. At a tad under $20,000, it's certainly the price leader. It's not, however, the car that the magazines have been writing about. The GT has been getting a heap of praise, but you can't touch one for under $25,000. Be it known: The Mustang V6 is an amazingly attractive buy. At 210 horses, it puts out more power than some V8 Mustangs of the past. Of course, it gets better gas mileage, but Ford says it's also more than 50 percent cleaner than last year's Mustang engines. Even more surprising, Ford somehow managed to extract a beautiful, V8-like rumble out of the exhaust. The power and sound are so deceptive that I had to stop the car to see if there was a V8 lurking under the hood.

Inside, the cloth seats are attractive, with Mustang lettering running horizontally on the seat inserts. The material is like something you'd expect out of a VW GTI - not the fuzzy mouse fur found on most base cars. Most of the interior shots of the Mustang show it with the optional silver appliqué. I finally saw one with the standard dark charcoal finish, and it looks understated and tasteful - in an Audi A3 sort of way. The bottom line: Unless you plan on drag racing the car or taking it on weekend autocrosses, the V6 version of the Mustang is a mighty good (and inexpensive) alternative to the Mustang GT. It's got all of the GT's heritage styling (it even comes standard with a set of smart-looking aluminum wheels), without the GT's price premium. If you can resist the temptation to load it up with options, you've got a Mustang that looks like an instant classic at a bargain price. Unlike the mid-1960s Mustangs, however, this one is a helluva lot safer and loads more reliable. - RN Your LA Car Blog comments can be sent to : Letter to the Editor.

A JOURNAL OF LOS ANGELES & ITS CAR CULTURE

Ford Mustang Stamp

That was LA Car's subtitle when it started back in 1997. Since then, it became Reporting From Car Culture Ground Zero, then From The Heart of Car Culture, to today's The Cars and Culture of Southern California. At all times, however, we aimed to chronicle the Southland's spirit - much like a journal. Now, the diary goes daily. LA Car has always been a great source to come back to from month-to-month, to see what articles and reviews have been added to our rather staggering database. With the LA Car Blog, we give you a reason to come back virtually every day, as we will be posting new blog entries virtually every day or two (well, there will be occasional vacation breaks).

So, go ahead and bookmark www.lacar.com. We'll be sure to always provide a link to the latest blog entry. In the meantime, welcome to the journal and journey into the cars and culture of Southern California.

- Roy Nakano

For past LA Car Blog entries, click the following: November 2004 October 2004 September 2004 August 2004 July 2004 June 2004 May 2004 April 2004

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