Travelogue: Twenty-Seven Hours for Twenty-Two Years

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All Photos by Randy Stern

I left the San Francisco Bay Area in 1996. I never returned. Until now.

Over the past 22 years, I tried my best to remember the good times and forget the rest. It was not because it was a not so great situation for me. Quite the opposite. It was a life-changing nine years spent living north and east of that 49 square mile center of the self-proclaimed universe.

San Francisco is on its own axis. If you read Armistead Maupin’s books, you get a sense of The City’s self-importance. Herb Caen’s columns and Alex Bennett’s morning shows confirmed this for morning commuters on BART coming from Fremont or Concord into The City.

Yet, it was conservative before it became liberal. It was racist before Willie Brown was elected to the state legislature. It was homophobic before Harvey Milk moved to The City.

It has always been hedonistic – going back to the Gold Rush. And, it always had a gravitational pull for those looking for a different kind of life, including who arrived for “The Summer of Love.”

I have roots in San Francisco. Continue reading

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Commentary: Electrification or Just Electric Vehicles?

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Photo by Randy Stern

Electrification is more than just a buzzword. It has become a battle cry in the premium/luxury vehicle segment.

This month alone witnessed the unveiling of two upcoming production full-battery electric SUV/Crossovers and a glimpse at another such future vehicle in the same class. These developments are happening, as another European premium/luxury brand is about to deliver on their full-battery electric crossover.

Neither of these introductions and production plans involves the only enterprise to set the benchmark in terms of full-battery electric vehicles with longer ranges – Tesla.

And, besides, Tesla has too many problems of their own to deal with.

While Tesla has been both revered and beguiled on many levels, Mercedes-Benz, Audi, BMW, and Jaguar have their sights on Elon Musk’s automotive-cum-technology enterprise.

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Snapping Necks and Starting Conversations

2018 Lexus LC 500h
2018 Lexus LC 500h – All Photos by Randy Stern

A Victory & Reseda review of the 2018 Lexus LC 500h

Whenever I get a chance to revisit a vehicle I worked with, I try to get a different perspective out of it. Sometimes, you arrive at the same conclusion as the previous time. Others yield a completely different experience – one worth discussing on here.

The last time I worked with the new Lexus LC grand touring coupe, I gave it a glowing summation as a “crowning achievement for the brand.” It was achieved by taking a daring concept car and putting it into production with nominal changes. The result is a car that is in the same conversation with some of the finest coupes available to the most discriminating customers in the world.

The first one was powered by a 471-horsepower 5.0-liter V8, with a 10-speed automatic transmission and a host of tech goodies that have raised the bar for Lexus. The experience was superb by the LC 500 exhibiting true grand touring manners with a heavy breathing V8 propelling it with ease. Yet, it was made for a specific driver – one who wants the drama of performance seeking a superb driving experience.

In my first review of the LC 500, I mentioned that this grand tourer also came in a hybrid version. At the time of publishing the review, I thought that I would just skip the LC 500h and call it good.

That all changed when I was presented to chance to work with the LC 500h. Continue reading

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Travelogue: The Ultimate West Coast Road Trip?

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All Photos by Randy Stern

I looked east because I had to. Yet, I grew up out west…Reseda, to be exact.

So, why can’t I figure out an epic road trip out west?

I never did a road trip past Sioux Falls, South Dakota. You have. They are indeed epic, considering the crossing over/through the Rocky Mountains. It is a long journey, but it is doable.

But, how? What would a western road trip look like for me? How should I accomplish such a monumental feat?

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My Favorite Vehicles That Make You Scratch Your Head and Wonder “Why Did You Buy This?”

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All Photos by Randy Stern

Have you ever looked at a vehicle out on the road – or in a parking lot – and wondered “why would anyone own such a thing?”

Sounds judgmental, right? It is…or, not.

The big thing about the vehicles we drive is that we choose it for a reason. Maybe it’s the interior space. Maybe, it’s just very practical. Maybe because of what’s under the hood. Maybe we don’t care what we buy, as long as it gets us to wherever we need to be.

Picking a list of favorites means reaching deep down inside a path of comedic and tragic thoughts and circumstances. You can blame me for this list. But, if you own one of these vehicles – congratulations and good luck.

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Quickies: Turning The New Leaf

#MAMA18SR
2018 Nissan Leaf SL – All Photos by Randy Stern

Whenever I hear or see a Tesla, I go into Jan Brady mode. Because it is all about Elon Musk’s automotive enterprise, really. Just like Marcia is to Jan.

The subject of electric vehicles is a mixed bag for me. I appreciate the willingness and gumption of Tesla and other automakers to push the idea of an electric vehicle for today. However, we often forget two things in the discussion. One, electric vehicles became as equally popular to steam- and gasoline-powered vehicles about 110 years ago. The gasoline engine won out, thanks to World War I. And, two, there are other manufacturers that produce electric vehicles today that are actual automotive enterprises – not a tech firm.

Before you say anything about Marcia Brady – hence referred to as the Tesla Model 3 – let me introduce you to Jan: The 2018 Nissan Leaf.

The second-generation Leaf is one of several Jan Bradys in this conversation. Continue reading

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Commentary: It’s a Collector’s World After All

2018 10,000 Lakes Concours d'Elegance
This Duesenberg is only worth $4 Million… – Photo by Randy Stern

It is smart to react. It is absurd to overreact.

The problem with keeping a personal opinion to one’s self rather than espousing them on the interwebs is the scrutiny and trust you receive from anyone reading your content. You can say anything you want – there are laws protecting such opinions. But, one has to be mindful of the court of public opinion – or, the personal Twitter account of the President of the United States of America.

There had been a lot of topics floating around lately. But, one set of headlines have seared through my brain with an unprecedented quizzical look. They came from auctions during Monterey Car Week.

A few friends/colleagues were on hand during that week to get a taste at the highest point of automotive enthusiasm. They witnessed motoring greatness at every turn. But, the one thing that came out of their experiences was one disturbing fact about the collector’s automobile market Continue reading

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SlashMedia Takes Asia – Part 1

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Josh, Veronica, and Rezal at the 2018 Twin Cities Auto Show – Photo by Randy Stern

V&R’s friends and collaborators, slashMedia, are on an adventure right now in Asia.

One of the crew is actually getting married (Rezal) in Malaysia. Josh, Kevin, and Veronica went off last weekend to join Rezal in Kuala Lumpur to celebrate the matrimony. From there, everyone will be on an adventure in other countries.

This first installment has Josh, Kevin, and Veronica leaving Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport for Kuala Lumpur via Tokyo’s Haneda Airport. Let’s find out how that part of the trip went…

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Burt Reynolds: 1936-2018

Photo courtesy of iMDB



He drove a Pontiac Firebird Trans Am with Sally Field in the passenger seat. He was always on the run from Sherriff Buford T. Justice – played by Jackie Gleason. The entire movie where the Bandit was playing a decoy for a semi-trailer full of moonshine introduced us to an actor who loved his cars very, very fast.

That was not the only role Burt Reynolds was known for. Both “Cannonball Run” films showed both his arrogant and comedic side. He had Dom DeLuise playing the silly foil Victor to Reynolds’ J.J. Not to mention, having Farah Fawcett in the back of their ambulance added to the insanity of the replay of Brock Yates’ transcontinental automotive speed grab.

We lost Burt Reynolds. He was 82, felled by a heart attack near his home in Jupiter, Florida.

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Commentary: Protest and Consumerism

2018 Ford F-150 SuperCrew 4X4 Platinum
Photo by Randy Stern

Sadly, I have to write another politically-based commentary on this website. And, yes, it has to do with a related topic involving the automotive industry.

But, first, some lyrics from Peter Gabriel…

You can blow out a candle
But you can’t blow out a fire
Once the flames begin to catch
The wind will blow it higher

To explain the context of these lyrics, let’s cut to the chase. Continue reading

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