Historiography: The Quarter Century Pursuit of Perfection

1990 Lexus LS 400
The original. All Photos by Randy Stern

Luxury has never been the same over the past 25 years.

By 1989, luxury cars were defined by long histories. The names of Rolls-Royce, Cadillac and Mercedes-Benz yielded over a century’s legacy by providing the finest of its kind. These three names always had been there as symbols of great power and wealth. They withstood war, economic collapse, and a changing global landscape. Soon, their names grew – Jaguar, BMW and Lincoln.

These western brands locked down a marketplace replete with those who benefitted from the policies of Reagan, Mulroney, Thatcher and Kohl. They also saw their worth expand where newer wealth is being enjoyed, including the Persian Gulf and across Asia.

Yet, there was a country that was poised to change the paradigm of luxury automobiles on a truly global stage. Though some were skeptical that anything from that country would fall short of the German flagships. In the end, those skeptics were ultimately silenced.

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Turn It On

2015 Hyundai Genesis 3.8 Htrac 028
2015 Hyundai Genesis 3.8 HTrac sedan All Photos by Randy Stern

A Victory & Reseda review of the 2015 Hyundai Genesis sedan

No, I should not use musical metaphors in my review.

But, I am going to. It is because of this car. The name. It evokes anger with Top Gear’s Richard Hammond. A tool for Jeremy Clarkson to use, if he is not reported in some tabloid for some remark he made otherwise.

Still, the name. Not in the biblical sense, but in a context that made a drummer replace a future curator of world music as its lead vocalist. It was a single move that took the prog rock band into mainstream Album Oriented Rock. Otherwise, would they not made hits and sold millions of copies of records to solidify their future?

Just like their musical namesake, Hyundai took a new turn on their premium sedan. Continue reading

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Commentary: Could There Be More Mid-Sized Pickups?

2015 Chevrolet Colorado
Photo by Randy Stern

The 2015 Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon are arriving at dealerships shortly. Can we get an Amen?

General Motors’ new mid-sized pickups will join the Toyota Tacoma and Nissan Frontier as in this once neglected segment. The latter two had been holding on in the face of the rise of the full-sized and heavy duty pickup. It does not help that Nissan and Toyota offer full-sized models. Luckily, in the case of the Frontier, the Titan has been running last in sales for its segment, while the mid-sized truck is selling at a higher rate than its larger cousin. At Toyota, they sell equal numbers of Tacomas as they do the full-sized Tundra.

Now that GM has returned to segment, many analysts are watching the mid-sized truck market concluding that there is a potential for segment growth in North America. But, is that summation for certain? Or, are we going to be disappointed?

On our Facebook, V&R asked our fans whether they think the new Colorado/Canyon will succeed. We also asked that if the conditions were favorable whether they would like to see other mid-sized trucks compete against GM, Nissan and Toyota?

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Carmmunity: For The Crown

Central Crown Rally 2014 116
“Eastbound and down…” All Photos by Randy Stern

Here is a recipe: Take about 41 cars of varying performance levels, skew them towards the most powerful, and let them loose on public roads.

Wait, there is more. You set them up on a rally format where you make a checkpoint at a specific time. Make that six, including the finish line. There are some rules – despite that famous line from “The Cannonball Run” stating otherwise (thanks to Brock Yates). However, the fun in doing so are the start and finish of the event, replete with models, loud music and lifestyle nods.

Sounds like a modern iteration of the “Cannonball.” Perhaps another “Gumball Rally?” You are close.

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Commentary: The Love of Three Cars (And The Work Behind Each One)

2015 Dodge Challenger R/T Scat Pack
Photo by BobbiLe N’Diaye/BobbiLe Ba Photography

I have been told various times how lucky I am.

Maybe. My humility gets in the way. Sometimes, I just smile and enjoy that light shining upon my soul. No, wait, that is the sun in my eyes…

Luck would have it that I reviewed three amazing vehicles within a short proximity of time from each other. They are as divergent from each other as one could get. Consider each vehicle’s country of origin, performance roots, design and price. It certainly adds the spice of variety in life.

These divergent vehicles? Continue reading

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2014 Mazda MX-5 Miata Grand Touring PHRT
2014 Mazda MX-5 Miata Grand Touring. All Photos by Randy Stern

A Victory & Reseda review of the 2014 Mazda MX-5 Miata

Twenty-five years later, this car defined what a roadster should be.

When Mazda unveiled the next generation MX-5 Miata, a few bullet points popped up that solidified this car’s legacy. It is the best selling roadster ever. Mazda sold more MX-5 Miatas than any single model British Leyland could muster – in particular, the MGB. Clearly Mazda outsold the Alfa Romeo Spider and the Fiat 124 Spider.

Mazda also claimed that the MX-5 yielded more race entries than any roadster ever. In the current context, my morning at Brainerd International Raceway was evidence of this claim. No matter if you were a SCCA Pro Racing team or a club racer, the MX-5 was present as a weapon against all comers.

There is a claim I did not see. Continue reading

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Carmmunity: Once Again in Paul Walker’s Name

ROWW Cruise 2014 258
Photo by Randy Stern

Almost a year ago, a group of automotive enthusiasts gathered to create a carmmunity in the aftermath of actor Paul Walker’s tragic death. Over a couple of hundred cars encircled the Twin Cities in snowy conditions to benefit Walker’s charity, Reach Out Worldwide.

This year, In Car Nation and their friends gathered for another drive for Walker’s charity again. This time, it was timed to celebrate the actor’s birthday. Walker would have been 41 years old.

Still, over a hundred cars began their trek from White Bear Lake, Minnesota through downtown Minneapolis to the Mall of America, the end point of last year’s cruise. Instead of snow, we had bright sunshine and temperatures in the sixties.

Instead of a treatise on the event, it is better to show about a couple of hundred photos in celebration of Sunday’s cruise. This is a way to thank In Car Nation and all of the participants for their time to celebrate the life, work and philanthropy of Paul Walker.

Enjoy the photos here.

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Commentary: The Real Art of (Automotive) Writing

Muscle Car Weekend at BIR
The answer is not here. Photo by Randy Stern

“So, Randy, what do I need to become a successful automotive writer?”

The key to doing this art is to write well. Even that is not enough. Writing in a subject matter takes skill and knowledge of the language. It also takes understanding the voice you want to convey towards which audience you want to read your stuff.

End of lesson? Not even close. I just only scratched the surface.

Let me go back before this site became Victory & Reseda. Continue reading

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The Greatest Car Ever Made?

2014 Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG 4matic
2014 Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG 4Matic. All Photos by Randy Stern

A Victory & Reseda review of the 2014 Mercedes-Benz S-Class

This is the greatest car ever made.

You may argue otherwise, but consider how much this lofty title was earned by the Mercedes-Benz S-Class. It shifted the luxury market when luxury became too grandiose and out of scale. Instead of the fattest car becoming the fattest cat amongst the grand automobiles, there was scale to be considered. Things were scalable by quality, efficiency and attaining the right size for a luxury car.

That was in 1972 when the W116 made its debut in North America. All of the sudden we embraced the Mercedes-Benz as the ultimate gift to the luxury car buyer. Namely, the S-Class was the car to get when you made it to the top.

Over four decades on, a new S-Class debuts. Granted, the flagship had its ups and downs when finding the right combination of excellence. Yet, no one would deny its place on the pantheon of luxury cars. The W222 may have taken the S-Class onto a new level.

The S-Class may have jumped into a new paradigm. One reserved for more bespoke brands. Perhaps it was time for such a quantum leap.

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Historiography: Der Sonderklasse

Wheels of Italy 2014
All Photos by Randy Stern

For Mercedes-Benz, the S-Class represents all that is powerful and successful.

For as long as I have been alive, this had always been the position of Daimler AG’s most prominent product. To make it otherwise is to disrespect it. If one product signifies Gottlieb Daimler’s sage words “the best or nothing,” look no further than the S-Class.

The Sonderklasse (Special Class in German) is supposed to the best car in the Mercedes-Benz lineup. In 1972, it was christened as the S-Class as the common lexicon for such a car. Yet, the origins of the Sonderklasse goes back a bit further.

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