Commentary: The Supreme Court of The United States of America v. This Work

Photo by Randy Stern

Photo by Randy Stern



On Friday, the Supreme Court of the United States of America ruled 5-4 in the Obergefell v. Hodges case that enabled all 50 states to recognize same-gender marriage. This was considered a ruling on par with two of the biggest cases in the last 75 years enabling social and legal change: Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka in 1954 for desegregating public educational institutions and Roe v. Wade in 1973 enabling a woman’s right to an abortion.

In today’s socio-corporate climate, several companies added their names to the Amicus brief on the plaintiff’s side of the case. Some companies were public about their views of this case, including Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. FCA, in conjunction with the LGBT community center in Ferndale, Michigan, Affirmations, invited couples that were married in the brief window of legality in Michigan to join them at Motor City Pride earlier in June.

Upon the announcement of the ruling, FCA released a statement of congratulations. It was joined by other manufacturers. According to GayWheels.com, BMW, General Motors, Honda, Infiniti, Nissan and Subaru issued similar statements.

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Ride Along…in an Exotic

All Photos by Randy Stern

All Photos by Randy Stern



What would you do if you were around some of the greatest automobiles ever made?

There are many layers of automotive enthusiasm. At the top of the mountain are automobiles that are perceived as dream machines. These machines contain a complex combination of horsepower, technology, engineering, craftsmanship and elegance. They are the kind of automobiles that will draw attention, even when its owner would rather not want it.

Yet, these machines are very special – to its owners and anyone witnessing their approach. Seeing is believing, true. What about touching it, feeling it…and experiencing it?

For a fortunate few, the greatest automobiles in the world happen to belong to them. These are owners that care about fine machinery. Though there is pride in ownership of these great automobiles, there is also a lifestyle that goes along with it. When you are at the top of the automotive food chain, you live as you are expected to do to fulfill the rewards that come with exotic car ownership.

But, what if you never experienced an exotic car? What if you wanted to sit inside and simply feel it, even when it is not in motion? What does it feel like when it on the road.

To many, there are several experiences available to do exactly that. Continue reading

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A Different View – 2015 Volkswagen Golf R

All Photos by Eric Vilendrer - Eric Vilendrer Photography

All Photos by Eric Vilendrer – Eric Vilendrer Photography



How do you transform one of the world’s most popular cars into something truly special?

The Volkswagen Golf celebrates 40 years of existence this year. It defined a segment worldwide with a simple formula: A hatchback that does everything and the ability to please everyone. Since then, the Golf (and the Rabbit for a couple of generations in this country) had the ability to excite enthusiasts with performance editions that created new segments along the way. The GTI was the original “hot hatch.” It remains this way today, now in its seventh generation.

For VW, the GTI was not enough. During the MkIV era, the R32 took Golf onto another plateau with its fire-breathing VR6 engine, 4Motion all-wheel drive and segment defying performance for a consumer vehicle.

Here is the MkVII version – the 2015 Volkswagen Golf R.

To celebrate this magnificent car, my friend, photographer Eric Vilendrer, focused his lens onto the latest edition of VW’s hottest Golf to make this Tornado Red example as it basked in the late afternoon sun. Later that day, the car went on a drive with the crew at SouthWest Sunday Cruise group from Shakopee, Minnesota to Tonka Bay. These are Eric’s images of the Golf R from that drive.

A review of this newest hot Volkswagen is forthcoming on the web in the near future. In the meantime, enjoy these images from Eric.

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Commentary: “Back To The 50s” and Classic Car Stewardship

All Photos by Randy Stern

All Photos by Randy Stern



Quick: Name the largest car show in the USA?

Tough one, isn’t it? Consider this: This show had a record of over 13,000 cars in one spot a couple of years ago.

Still guessing? Here is a clue: It is held in the Twin Cities.

In is forty-second year, the Minnesota Street Rod Association hosted the largest car show in the country inside of the Minnesota State Fairgrounds. It is called “Back to The 50s” and it is an annual “can’t miss” event for the car lover.

Having been there last year, I was on the fence about going. There was a media event I needed to attend at the Mall of America and I was concerned that I would not be able to do both in one day. Somehow, miracles do exist and this one was pulled off nicely. To return to the Fairgrounds to see these wonderful classics again is a treat.

This time, I left happily fulfilled.

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Putting EcoBoost to The Challenge

All Photos by Randy Stern

All Photos by Randy Stern



How do you know if a technology is good or not?

The technology in question is a familiar one to me – the lineup of Ford’s EcoBoost engines. Ford went on to install a turbocharger – or two – to some smaller engines across their lineup. The idea was to prove that boost is more than just a modern substitute for good old power from a larger engine. Though equal in power, Ford claims they will turn improved fuel economy than the original engine for each vehicle.

Through my experience with several Ford and Lincoln vehicles equipped with EcoBoost engines, I have seen a series of results. In all, performance with the EcoBoost is quite good for each model I drove. The fuel economy part was a mixed bag.

Was I missing the point every time I drove a Ford or Lincoln product with one of these engines?

Perhaps I needed convincing. Continue reading

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(At Least) One Response to a Question Often Asked…

2016 Mazda6 Grand Touring - All Photos by Randy Stern

2016 Mazda6 Grand Touring – All Photos by Randy Stern



A Victory & Reseda review of the 2016 Mazda6

We automotive media professionals hate being asked one thing: “What’s your favorite car?”

It is a trite question. It puts us on guard to try not to offend someone in the room – an enthusiast or an employee of a manufacturer. Because we like a certain car challenges our perceived loyalty – if one exists – and integrity of the work we do.

I know I am supposed to one of these professionals. I try to maintain decorum and keep all frustrations to a dull roar. Yet, given the right situation, I would enjoy the moment and thrive in it. It simply comes down to the passion for the work – and how it manifests in your life. It has to satisfy and makes one happy…

Right?

Back that question, if I say what my favorites were, would that challenge my integrity?

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V&R Stories: O, Madison!

A Capitol view of State Street - All Photos by Randy Stern

A Capitol view of State Street – All Photos by Randy Stern



Madison, Wisconsin used to be my home…

It is all too familiar location for when I do road trips by car between home, Chicago and the annual sojourn to Road America for the Midwest Automotive Media Association Spring Rally. Though Madison is skewed closer to their intended destinations, it serves as a respite from the road. It is a place where I could see friends and colleagues, along with revisiting old familiar places.

What I meant by “used to be” was that I used to live there – from October, 2000 to the spring of 2004. I lived in two places there. One was an apartment a block from the northwest shore of Lake Mendota in Middleton. The other was a home I shared with a couple on Madison’s Far West Side, several blocks from my day job. Between these two places bore the genesis of this work you are seeing now.

That began as a meeting with someone connected with an old community work I founded in 1996 via the internet. We met in February, 2001 at a bar in Chicago’s Lakeview East neighborhood near Wrigley Field. Soon after, Tom Wray offered me the position of Managing Editor of his lifestyle magazine website, in which I worked remotely from my home in Wisconsin. It was from that starting point where my professional life began – as well as my automotive work.

Madison always served as a hub for my travels. Continue reading

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The Hybrid Theory of Relevance

2015 Toyota Avalon Hybrid XLE - All Photos by Randy Stern

2015 Toyota Avalon Hybrid XLE – All Photos by Randy Stern



A Victory & Reseda review of the 2015 Toyota Avalon Hybrid

The full-sized sedan market is not as relevant as it once was.

Consider that the full-sized car has shrunk over the past four decades – thirty inches worth of size reduction. Yet, interiors are as spacious as they once were, including trunk space. Fuel economy is better, too.

The demographics for these large cars have changed. Today, the average consumer for a large car is best described as a Baby Boomer. They still consider size to equal safety and room for everyone. To some extent, they are right. They also have not considered crossovers and SUVs to be their rightful replacements because of their step-up and overall height.

That alone could be a win for sedans, right? Maybe, but as sales have been shrinking in the past couple of years, one wonders if there is any life left in this segment?

Toyota’s Avalon led this pack for a few years now. This American-developed and manufactured big sedan had the edge on the pack due to the fact it’s a Toyota. Yet, even the Avalon lost customers to the smaller (and best-selling passenger sedan in the U.S.A.) Camry. One wonders if this big sedan – and its competitors – is still relevant in today’s marketplace.

To find out, I received a 2015 Toyota Avalon Hybrid XLE to see if it can hold muster in the marketplace. Yes, I did say “Hybrid.”

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NEW! V&R Vinyl Stickers!

Represent! Photo by Randy Stern

Represent! Photo by Randy Stern



Some automotive websites offer merchandise. They offer t-shirts, stickers and other swag to engage their fans towards absolute loyalty.

After four years in the game, V&R has jumped into the merchandise bandwagon. This time, we are offering vinyl stickers! These are popular with modified cars, but it would look cool on any vehicle, laptop, tool case…anything!

It applies with a two-run method: Remove the backing to apply on a clean, dry surface, leave it alone, then remove the plastic cover to expose only the lettering. Make sure you remove back the backing and front covering carefully! Get some help from a friend to make sure it is applied with no bubbles – and is straight on the surface!

Now that the instructions are out of the way – how much do these stickers cost? They are as follows:

Initials “V&R” – sized 1.5″ x 2.1″ – US$2.00/each
Full Name “Victory & Reseda” – sized 1.5″ x 8.4″ – US$4.00/each

To order for delivery to your home, please use PayPal to make your purchase. Indicate the quantity of each sticker and shipping address to where to send these stickers. They will go via US Postal Service – please add US$.50 for domestic shipments, US$1.00 for Canadian shipments.

The e-mail for PayPal purchases is randy@randystern.net.

Randy will be out and about with local inventory at club meets and other events in the Twin Cities (Minneapolis-St. Paul area). If you happen to see him, ask him about the stickers. You save US$.50 if you do. Please message him via Facebook/Messenger or via e-mail (randy@randystern.net) if you are interested. Personal home delivery is available within the Twin Cities, as well.

Stickers will become available by June 17. Orders can be placed now. Mailings will begin as soon as the initial inventory becomes available.

If you want to represent V&R – now there is a way to do so! Show your support and pride for this automotive website!

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A Different View – 2015 Audi A3 TDI

The Importance of Being Important... All Photos by Randy Stern

The Importance of Being Important… All Photos by Randy Stern



When I bring in vehicles to review, I get inquiries from readers and friends about them. In a couple of occasions, as seen on here, they became subjects for their lenses. I am grateful to give the opportunity to my photographer friends – such as Altamish Osman and Eric Vilendrer here in the Twin Cities – a chance to work with these vehicle subjects to put their own spin on their vision of them.

On this occasion, I figured that it was time I would show what I did with one of my vehicle subjects.

Normally, one of my photos shoots is quick and journalistic. They appear on various sites and publications, so I had nothing special in mind when I do these shoots. However, I was in a place I once called home and figured I would try something different while I was there with the vehicle I had with me.

The subject was the 2015 Audi A3 TDI – the first vehicle I ever reviewed as supplied by that brand. The place was Madison, Wisconsin – my home from 2000 to 2004.

What did I do in Madison with this Audi? I went around town to find places that would be amenable to the subject. What transpired was these images. They were taken in various locations around town – the state capitol, an industrial location on the East Side of town and an old hang out place on Williamson (better known as “Willie”) Street.

Without further discussion, here is what I came up with…

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