Throwback Review: Becoming the Chauffeur

2009 Lincoln Town Car 1
2009 Lincoln Town Car Signature Limited sedan – Photo by Randy Stern

A Victory & Reseda Throwback Review of the 2009 Lincoln Town Car

Just before taking the wheel of this luxury yacht, I did some research on the then-new Rolls-Royce Ghost. The newest Rolls sedan, based on BMW’s latest 7-Series, is looking more to be perhaps the best automobile for drivers in this vaunted line’s history.

Now, one might argue that the newest Phantom sedan is perhaps a sign of absolute excellence. Granted this single model not only saved Rolls-Royce from obscurity but made BMW some valuable coin. Add the Phantom Coupe, Drophead Coupe and the upcoming Silver Ghost and all one could say that it’s not just a comeback for the ultimate in luxury automobiles.

There is one problem with Rolls-Royce. In contrast with the promise of the upcoming Silver Ghost, there is still the enormous Phantom. Frankly, one does not drive a Phantom. You simply can’t drive one like a Bentley Continental Flying Spur or a Maserati Quattroporte. If you own a Phantom, you ride in the back and your driver will carry you away. It’s just too astute to simply get behind the wheel.

On this side of the pond, there is a car like the Rolls-Royce Phantom. You probably know which one I am referring to. This was demonstrated last September in Toronto when I opted for a quick and comfortable way to get from Pearson Airport to the Church and Wellesley Village. I must admit that I thoroughly enjoyed my chauffeured driven experience in the back seat of a Lincoln Town Car.

Now, the tables have turned. This time I was behind the wheel of a Town Car – a place I’d prefer not to be even if I had to justify doing so.

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The Coolest Car on The Lot

2017 Toyota Corolla iM
2017 Toyota Corolla iM – All photos by Randy Stern

A Victory & Reseda review of the 2017 Toyota Corolla iM

Scion is dead. Long live the Toyota Corolla iM…

That’s pretty much about it. Last September, Toyota did exactly that. They removed the Scion badge to fold its three remaining models into the Toyota fold. Therefore the lineup looks like they were ripe for the youth market, which Toyota had in some form or another.

The FR-S became the Toyota 86, giving them their first sports coupe in a long time. The Yaris iA was seen as the best subcompact car sold in this country and is seen as the best value in the marketplace – period.

The Corolla iM is a different story. Aside from being an addition to one of the more popular models inside Toyota’s showroom, it has not caught on as an integral part of the Corolla lineup. The numbers tell the story. Out of 28,333 Corollas sold in July of 2017, only 1,733 of them were the iM.

This is interesting because everyone was lauding the return of the hatchback to the compact segment. Continue reading

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On The Dial: In Service for The Nation’s Citizenry

All photos by Randy Stern

What is your definition of “public” radio?

It depends on where you live. But, traditionally, public radio is one that is funded by a governmental source with its main priority to fulfill primary functions of public service. It is a noble service that has is intended to fulfill the tenets of universal broadcast coverage and appeal to the masses.

The programming through public radio should also have every population in mind – from indigenous peoples to newly arrived immigrants, and everyone in-between. The content would be driven by forming a national identity and a sense of community, without delving into vested interests to achieve universal programming. Ratings and numbers should not be a factor in the operation of these networks and stations.

Importantly, because most of these public broadcasters do not take in advertising in the commercial sense, they have the license to program their stations for the social benefit of its citizenry. This is where they are able to produce interviews and documentaries of deeper interest to a vast population.

These tenets are just where many of the national public broadcasters are supposed to adhere to. But, that is where the definition stops. If you listen to various public broadcasters across the globe, you will find variations on almost the same theme.

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Historiography: Replacing Greatness With Another Great

Eurowerks 2015
All Photos by Randy Stern

How do you replace the most iconic and popular car in the world?

It was a monumental task to achieve a proper replacement for the Volkswagen Type 1 Sedan and Cabriolet. This was a car that was developed before World War II as a dictum by the Nazi regime in Germany. From its unfortunate roots, it became the savior of a nation that was split up by the Allies. The idea of the “people’s car” truly took flight from the rubble of the Wolfsburg plant in Lower Saxony after the surrender of the Nazi regime.

Luckily for the most of the victors of the war, Wolfsburg was on the western side of the split. That enabled the rear-engine, air cooled, flat-four-powered Type 1 to take hold in most of the globe. Hence its popularity by export and eventual production in many parts of the world.

By the 1970s, the Type 1 – affectionately known as the Beetle, Bug, Mosca…whatever you call it in your part of the globe – was being carved up by more modern and efficient competitors. The Japanese began to make inroads on the Beetle’s sales leadership by producing a front-engine, rear drive conventionally-designed compact. Soon, the Datsun 510/Nissan Bluebird and the Toyota Corona would join the Opel Kadett and Ford Escort in eroding the Beetle’s stronghold among buyers in its class.

In the USA, the beloved Beetle faced a harsher future. Continue reading

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Commentary: Dancing on The Emotional Jetty

MN Cars & Coffee July 2017
Photo by Randy Stern

The volume has been turned up on issues surrounding emotional health lately. But, are we listening to the message and absorbing it into our lives?

Compared to forty years ago, we seem to be absorbing the message. Social media has accelerated this issue greatly since it has become a stressor in our lives by itself. It is a mine field that we walk on gently and carefully in which a few louder voices are trying to thwart an emotional breakdown of society.

This happens far too much in the circles we walk in. Not just the absorbing and acknowledgment of these messages, but of the acts that are caused by poor emotional health that ends up in fatal conclusions.

It is a heavy subject. Heavy for the casual reader to this automotive website. You’d rather read about the newest car or the story of an older vehicle. But, look around you – and next to you. What do you see?

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Throwback Review: Sitting on the Middle-of-the-Road

2010 Honda Accord 4
2010 Honda Accord LX. Photos by Randy Stern

A Victory & Reseda Throwback review of the 2010 Honda Accord

Seven years ago, I posed the following question when I reviewed this car: “Has anyone realized how truly middle-of-the-road we are as a country?”

I was anticipating a lot of disagreement about that question. Think about it for the moment. No matter how polar opposite our views can be – ranging from the President, humanity itself and other sundry foreign matters – we actually share a lot of common ground. Deep inside, there are some core values we grew up with designed for us to find a middle ground for our lives. Perhaps all will be revealed when we we are on the verge of expiring in our lives.

The truth is that we as automotive consumers prefer our middle-of-the-road automobiles to something more adventurous. Yet, for being sheep, we also have a choice of many flavors of mundane.

But, should a mid-sized family sedan be so mundane? If you think about your choices, you have a wide variety of styles and tastes.

Still, the numbers do not lie. Back in 2010, Americans bought over 257,000 mid-sized cars on average on a month-to-month basis. The top selling car in its class was the Toyota Camry. Behind the Camry on the individual model sales charts was the Honda Accord. It had been pretty much the pecking order for the past 20 years.

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Quickies: A Four-Ringed Duet

2018 Audi A5 Sportback – All Photos by Randy Stern

I will admit feeling guilty about not giving some brands their due on this site.

In other publications, absolutely! Those brands attract a wide swath of customers buying their wares. Yet, they are somehow allusive in a sense that they become enigmas.

That statement may sound strange, but very true in this case. Although, one would absolutely call Ferrari an enigma, even though there has been plenty of press on their latest vehicles lately.

The brand I am referring to is Audi. A more accessible and attainable brand, but oh so elusive when it comes to planning content with their products.

All it takes is the right timing and opportunity to produce content for this site based on that brand. Recently, I had a chance to sample a couple of Audi models. The time and opportunity were made available. Hopefully, you might be as excited as I am about what I came up with for V&R…

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Good Car, But Have You Seen The Movie?

2017 Volkswagen Beetle Dune
2017 Volkswagen Beetle Dune – All Photos by Randy Stern

A Victory & Reseda review of the 2017 Volkswagen Beetle Dune

Remember when you first saw the Volkswagen Beetle…

When I mention the “Beetle,” I’m not talking about the resurrected “New” one that was a cuter version of what once roamed this Earth million times over. I’m talking about the original. The one that saved the (West) German economy from Post-World War II ruin. The one that arrived in 1949 sparking the company’s fortunes in this country.

The one that was a byproduct of the wrong side of history.

Since 1949, Volkswagen traveled on a path built from the Type 1 Sedan – the one we affectionately called the “Beetle.” We also called it a “Bug.” – still do. The formula was a bit different for American tastes: a rear-mounted, horizontally-opposed four-cylinder engine that was air-cooled. It drove the rear wheels with virtually no weight up front.

The original Beetle’s shape never changed. Americans last saw these survivors of history well into the 1970s, with the final “sedan” sold in the USA by 1977. The convertible remained in this market through 1979. Production continued elsewhere – mainly Brazil and Mexico – until the last one rolled off the Puebla, Mexico production line in 2003

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“What Would Randy Buy?” – 2017 Edition

Cover photo by Rick Mudge/Audi Richfield. All other photos by Randy Stern

This is becoming an annoying tradition.

This is where I do an annual “What Would Randy Buy if He Won The Freakin’ Lottery, Paid Off His Creditors and Have More Than Enough Money to Buy a Car…or Three.”

I do this not as a personal indulgence. Nor do I wish that I win some sort of lottery to become instantly under a massive tax burden.

Actually, this is a service to the consumer. If you noticed that your television, radio, and internet are now blasting clearance sales by the manufacturers, brands, and dealerships. They are making way for the vehicles of the coming model year. They need to move a lot of units in August and September with huge deals fueled by various incentives. All of the sudden, your $30,000 dream car can be bought for $26,000 with a new car warranty and all of the trimmings.

With that said, what if you were me? Except that you have a higher credit score and a higher paying job. In other words, what would I buy?

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Throwback Review: It…Stands Out

2009 Nissan Murano 2
2009 Nissan Murano – All photos by Randy Stern

A Victory & Reseda Throwback review of the 2009 Nissan Murano

It was either this or a Dodge Journey.

Why not the Dodge Journey? It would’ve been good to fulfill my Sirius satellite radio fix, but one thing prevented me from doing so. It is a peeve of mine when you think a vehicle would be generous enough to accommodate people of various shapes and sizes that it does the opposite. I must note for designing crossovers in the future to understand the human body a bit more and that there are drivers that need more steering wheel adjustments than others.

Sorry, Chrysler, but had the height adjustment for the steering wheel would’ve gone higher for tall-torsoed and thickly-thighed guys, I would be talking about your hot-selling crossover.

Instead, I will talk about another crossover. A vehicle that broke many molds in terms of design, driving manners and space utilization.

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