Paul and the Gang – once again! All Photos by Randy Stern
For every generation, there was an icon that melded automotive enthusiasm and the silver screen.
In the 1950s, that was James Dean. The ensuing decade had Steve McQueen. The 1970s would have an argument, but memory serves me well enough to give that and the early 1980s to Burt Reynolds. There are many others worth arguing about, but you agree that certain key films featuring automobiles and motorsport would not be replete if they did not appear in them.
For the past twelve years, one movie franchise would equal to the films the older icons would have appeared in. “The Fast and The Furious” series opened up a new generation to another level of enthusiasm. It gave an entire generation of enthusiasts a new set of heroes – human and vehicular – to aspire to become a part of.
At the center of these films is an actor – Paul Walker. In the first film, he played an undercover police officer, Brian O’Connor, assigned to take down a ring that had been stealing electronic equipment. In subsequent adventures, Walker’s character would end up on the either side of the law, despite maintaining hero status across the franchise.
We lost Walker on Saturday, November 30th. He and business partner Roger Rodas were in a 2005 Porsche Carrera GT coming from a fundraising event of Walker’s charity, Reach Out Worldwide in Santa Clarita, California. The Porsche reportedly slammed into a tree. The accident trapped both Walker and Rodas inside the car while triggering a fire.
Walker was 40 years old. He is survived by his 15-year-old daughter.
My Favorite Moment? All Photos by Randy Stern
V&R is trying to forge some traditions. Vehicle of The Year, Speculators, auto shows…the works! There is one that I always find fun to do and solace when it is posted.
If you read the title right, it is time for My Favorite Vehicles of the Year.
Unlike the strict rules of VOTY, this encompasses every vehicle I have driven from mid-October of last year to the VOTY cut-off this year. That means every vehicle, everywhere. If I had a nice taste of one, it is considered.
Unfortunately, I could not name just five. There were many more considered for this post. This year, the total favorites came out to… They ranged from ordinary models to some of the finest machines in the world.
So, my favorite vehicles of this past season are…
2014 Kia Forte EX. All Photos by Randy Stern
A Victory & Reseda review of the 2014 Kia Forte
The Kia Forte is transformed. Its looks are undeniably sporty – almost coupe-like. You cannot deny another masterpiece of Peter Schreyer and his team at Kia.
But, what proof do I have to support these initial thoughts? Sure, my job is to not judge a book by its cover – even something as sexy as the Forte sedan. However, given the timing of its arrival and the want of something special, I took the Kia Forte on a Thanksgiving road trip.
How did the latest iteration of Kia’s compact sedan do given cold temperatures, three states of road and being away from home? Well…not bad, really.
The idea is to take the Forte to Madison, Wisconsin to see a friend and partake in some form of Thanksgiving. Nice idea…charming, may I add! Again, it is an excuse to get the Forte on the road and experience some pieces of tarmac I only read or heard of.
After an interim stop after work in Mankato, Minnesota, I positioned the Forte towards the heartland of Southeastern Minnesota, through Decorah, Iowa and across the Mississippi River at Prairie du Chien in Wisconsin. These were unfamiliar roads that presented the premise of a somewhat peaceful drive on Thanksgiving morning. The prize was Madison – attained by the way of Verona and aside the University of Wisconsin campus.
“I’m a #DETHLOON!” All Photos by Randy Stern
It came as no surprise to you, either.
Based on feedback I received offline, the selection of the Cadillac ATS as the 2013 Victory & Reseda Vehicle of The Year was pretty much expected. Some people even thought that the Mazda6 would be a worthy winner amongst the five finalists, but you truly knew the Cadillac would own this award better.
Certainly the ATS is a worthy winner by virtue of what it represents. I always refer to the story as part of the VOTY win. Not just the vehicle itself, but the journey and impact it would have today and in the future. The Cadillac’s story will be one scrutinized by the most discriminating consumers of automobiles – luxury car buyers.
It is an example of the impact of VOTY. Not everyone has heard of the award itself, but they know when a vehicle is named by such an award, there better be a damn good reason for it. It should also have a legacy and resonance. This is why Motor Trend’s Car of The Year award comes up in conversations with applause, curious looks and some laughter. After all, if you recalled the Ford Mustang II winning MT’s 1974 COTY – you had to figure out why within the context of its image today.
Yet, an award winner should also be fondly remembered. If a winner was one where the story was lived beyond its awarding, that should tell you how much impact the subject had on a publication, website, blog…etc.
All Photos by Randy Stern
Just when the pundits, the analysts, and the skeptics were predicting the demise of Mitsubishi Motors in North America, there are still signs of life over at the three-diamond brand.
Though volumes were at its smallest since Mitsubishi established a beach head in the USA, the promise of new product is finally showing up on dealer lots. For 2014, Mitsubishi already introduced their Outlander three-row crossover and the Mirage subcompact.
Yes, we have heard this formula before, but will both work in the guise of rebooting Mitsubishi as a competitive brand?
2014 Toyota Tundra 1794 Edition Crew Max 4WD. All Photos by Randy Stern
A Victory & Reseda review of the 2014 Toyota Tundra
The luxury pickup is a concept that was never in the cards 40 years ago.
Then again, the pickup was not seen as a family vehicle back then. That is, if you count one to have a camper attached to it. Or, tow the prized boat to the launch from spring to fall. Things have changed and luxury trucks are de rigueur in today’s market.
To complicate things further, pickup truck owners have the choice of adorning the cabin in some form of “Cowboy luxury” decor – especially for Texas truck buyers. Ford has its King Ranch edition across the F-Series line, while Ram offers the Laramie Longhorn. Seats remind you of horse saddles with the design and stitching to boot.
Considering Toyota and its links to San Antonio, they are now offering a “Cowboy luxury” edition called the 1794. That sounds like a year, right?
The new VOTY is about to go somewhere… All Photos by Randy Stern
One thing is clear in the business of giving out awards – no one is predestined to win anything.
There are a few exceptions, but only driven by dialogue, discourse and overall punditry. Yet, how many people would predict an Academy Award winner a year out from the ceremony? Or, a pick a Grammy Award winning song, album, or musical act at the moment the new track was released?
This was the case a year ago, when I asked the question on Twitter: “Who would you like to see as next year’s Vehicle of the Year?” This question was asked before the Dodge Dart was named last year’s winner.
There is a difference between predictions and predestination. Perhaps both were somewhat apropos when this vehicle was mentioned in response to that question on Twitter. Even more apropos would be the reasons why it will be feted for this year’s VOTY.
Without further ado, the 2013 Victory & Reseda Vehicle of the Year Award goes to… Continue reading
2014 Chevrolet Cruze 2.0TD. All Photos by Randy Stern
A Victory & Reseda review of the 2014 Chevrolet Cruze Diesel
Remember the Chicago Auto Show in February?
I did. It was a crazy time for me. The first media day was spent hustling from Midway on the Orange Line “L” to McCormick Place. In-between, e-mails and phone calls were going back-and-forth as to when and whom I was awarding the 2012 Vehicle of The Year to. I had my roller bag in one hand ready to replay “The Amazing Race” from the “L” station, down the street to the Metra Electric Line in hopes of getting there to catch anything before the big moment.
Once I got there, General Motors had their annual press conference on the show floor. It was for a familiar car – the Chevrolet Cruze. It was already announced they would offer a turbocharged diesel for the North American market. For some, that was big news. For others – it received a response of “meh.”
Before you make your judgments several months after the fact, it is now a reality. You can now go to a Chevrolet dealership, go up to a Cruze and ask if they had any in stock with the diesel option. So far, there are plenty on the ground for you to choose from.
A decision has been made on the voting period. Due to the U.S. Thanksgiving Holiday and the First Night of Hanukkah next week, the polls will officially close this Sunday, November 24. That way, the votes and scores would be tabulated not to interfere with your holiday time.
Meanwhile, you may vote below…Thank you for voting!
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A recap of good times… Photo by Tyler Mallory/General Motors
While we are on the brink of a announcing the 2013 Victory & Reseda Vehicle of the Year, here are the past winners of this award…