Thowback Review: That First LaCrosse

2005 Buick LaCrosse

2005 Buick LaCrosse at the 2004 Chicago Auto Show. Photo by Randy Stern

A Victory & Reseda Throwback Review of the 2005 Buick LaCrosse

When you hear someone talk about the “near-luxury market,” which brands do you think of? That will depend on the type of buyer you are. Foreign-oriented buyers will tout the greatness of an Acura, Audi, and Volvo. These are fine marques to consider unless you are a domestic car buyer. Domestic brand consumers are much more conservative about their values and consider cost above all other aspects of the product. Throw both camps in together and you have an interesting dichotomy in the use of the term “near luxury.”

Buick’s position in the “near luxury market” is a solid one in North American terms. The “Doctor’s Car” has delighted owners for over a hundred years. However, Buick has suffered an image problem as they have the highest average age for consumers in the new car market. As domestic upscale brands, such as Cadillac and Lincoln, found younger buyers through exciting products, Buick continued to serve its traditional buyers. That also is changing; however, Buick wants to cater to a wider audience, including their “traditional” target markets.

However, those “traditional:” Buick buyers may be in for a shock. In 2000, Buick came out with a concept car called the LaCrosse. A cool name, especially if you are a fan of the sport played mainly on the East Coast or lives in Wisconsin. When the decision was made to christen the new entry level Buick with that “cool name,” one minor detail was overlooked. LaCrosse is also a French Canadian colloquialism for masturbation.

Despite the faux pas from a branding standpoint, the 2005 LaCrosse sedan turned out to be a very nice product for Buick. Continue reading

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On The Dial: Bouncing Off The Satellites

All Photos by Randy Stern

One of the first things I do when I receive a vehicle to work with is to program the presets on the radio. Depending on the number of presets available – either per band or in combination of all bands – I have a few stations I prioritize above others.

Contrary to popular belief, none of my priority presets are local terrestrial stations. I will get into that in another article. They all happen to be satellite radio station via SiriusXM.

In North America, all of our digital radio stations fed by satellite are programmed by SiriusXM, a conglomeration that combined two different networks into one since 2008. They offer nationwide programming through 151 full-time channels. To get the full experience, one must subscribe – and there are levels of subscriptions available. Programming is diverse and one can find a channel for the music and interest a subscriber would have.

What I like about SiriusXM is that I can listen to a channel anywhere in the USA. A terrestrial radio station may lose its signal once it reaches outside of the metropolitan area. A SiriusXM enabled radio can still grab the signal off of any of its satellites even in more remote areas. Some mobile telephone signals might not reach where SiriusXM radio can.

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An Entry Towards Fulfilling the Dream of a Sports Car (or Better)

2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray
Photo by Randy Stern

We all cannot be like Tim Burton.

That name might not ring a bell, but over a million subscribers to his YouTube channel know him by his handle: Shmee150.

Burton is a likable fellow. Very joyful, happy, upbeat. You can see it in his videos around his fleet of special automobiles. Lately, we have been seeing Burton covering the automotive industry and its products as a part of the European new media corps. A huge step from his first videos, as he embarked on a viral life of pursuing the finest automobiles in the world.

There are only a few in the world that live the “supercar dream.” Those few are the ones that buy them new. These include those who buy less expensive sports car, such as the Porsche 911, Maserati Gran Turismo, Jaguar F-Type or Chevrolet Corvette.

It is clear that sports car, supercar and hypercar customers are not like anyone else. Continue reading

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Car Guys and Charity in the Twin Cities

Barry Meguiar and Chip Foose – Photo by Craig McNitt/McNitt Photography

To raise some money for your charity, you have to bring out your best.

This is true everywhere. Including the automotive world. And, it could be anywhere.

In the Twin Cities, 3M has a standing relationship with the United Way. The company has given well over a hundred million dollars to the charity over the years – one of the deepest philanthropic relationships in the Minnesota business community.

Through the 3M Auto division, another charitable opportunity was created to bridge the automotive community with the United Way. On a mixed-weather Saturday, 3M Auto set up an event at the AutoMotorPlex in Chanhassen called “Car Guys for United Way.”

Car Guys? Which car guys?

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Commentary: Accidents Should Never Happen

Minneapolis Mayhem Rugby
Photo by Randy Stern

There has been a lot of car crashes lately. Not that it is unusual in a sense of the number of crashes seen or reported on social media. It is because they are really hitting home.

One person I know got really lucky. His Volkswagen Jetta looked totaled. Airbags deployed all around. His wife was panicked but was glad he was OK. So were all of us who know him.

Not all accidents had a positive result. On Friday, July 14 at 5:44PM, three young men were killed in a head-on collision with another vehicle in Knapp, Wisconsin – 37 miles from the state line in Dunn County. A Kia Soul was driving eastbound when a Mitsubishi crossed the median from the opposite direction and into the Kia. The driver of the Mitsubishi from California who crossed the median had life-threatening injuries and was airlifted to a nearby hospital. No one came out of the Kia. It burst into flames after the other car made impact with it. All three occupants were pronounced dead at the scene.

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My Favorite Cars of My Brother’s Birthyear

All photos by Randy Stern

The Camelot Era began. The Kennedys swept into the White House with a new sense of glamour never seen in D.C. before. A modern couple’s presence in power was a sign of change for the world. A point of where change will come with a tumultuous price.

That wasn’t the only thing happening in 1961. Sheldon and Barbara Stern waited 10 years for their first child to be born. At a hospital in Encino, the young boy arrived into the world. He would become an intelligent young man dedicated to being a loving husband and the best father he can be to two wonderful teenage children.

This special Five Favorites is dedicated on the birthday of this gentleman who turns…uh…39 again!

In honor of Matthew’s birthday, here are my favorites of his birthyear. They include vehicles introduced for the 1961 model year or automobiles introduced in 1961 for the 1962 model year. And, they are…

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Throwback Review: The Most Fun To Be Had…

2007 Volkswagen Rabbit 4
2007 Volkswagen Rabbit 2.5 S – All Photos by Randy Stern

A Victory & Reseda Throwback Review of the 2006-2009 Volkswagen Rabbit

No one should underestimate the power of a Volkswagen. Not just in mere horsepower or presence on the road. Rather in a single word: Fun.

If I looked back at all of the Volkswagen cars and SUVs I have driven since that first Mark II Golf in 1986, one common thread has been experienced in every one. These are not just mere automobiles. They are ones that subliminally encourage its drivers to do things they normally should not legally do. Whether or not that subliminal message is heeded is up for debate.

Yet, a Volkswagen can be pure bliss. Like that Mark II Golf back in Los Angeles. Like the Mark V Golf – er, 2007 Rabbit 2.5 – featured in this Throwback Review. In other words, the link between these two hatchbacks is the word “fun.”

Fun is a relative term. For Volkswagen, there are degrees of fun even as each model shares the same DNA throughout the line. This is true for the fifth generation Golf…OK, Rabbit. Continue reading

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Dedicated to Be Heavy-Duty

2017 Ford F-250 Super Duty Crew Cab Platinum 4X4
2017 Ford F-250 Super Duty 4X4 Platinum Crew Cab – All Photos by Randy Stern

A Victory & Reseda review of the 2017 Ford F-Series Super Duty

In the pickup business, a half-ton full-sized pickup is what consumers and fleet buyers actually get.

Half-ton pickups are indeed important for both types of customers in the segment. It has always been this way for decades. Dealerships stock more half-ton pickups than they do anything else – whether these showrooms are in urban, suburban and rural locations.

However, we have seen the growth of heavy duty pickups, thanks to those who need more capacity and capability. Commercial and fleet buyers know that heavy duty pickups can do more jobs with more payload and towing capacity. They also know that their available diesel engines can produce a mass of torque for bigger jobs to be accomplished. Retail consumers have caught on to Heavy Duty pickups for their need to tow larger items for recreational purposes – such as large campers, boats, race and collector vehicles.

Heavy Duty pickups have always existed through the decades. Though one needed a trained eye to distinguish between a half-ton, a three-quarter-ton or one-ton version of each. They shared the same cab and bed designs, although the crew cab was the domain of the larger capacity pickups.

It was not until 1998 when one of the pickup truck manufacturers decided to dedicate a specific platform for their heavy duty pickups. Continue reading

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Photo by Randy Stern

Who are you?

Are you an enthusiast? Are you a person who wants to be an enthusiast? Do you have the best car in the world? Or, do you have the bets car you can find for the money you can spend?

We are all of the above – and in-between. But, what makes us tick? What makes us a car person? Or, a non-car person?

Is it the shows and meets we attend? Is it the clubs or social media groups we follow? Is it a slightly keen interest based on the car you drive?

Is it what you do for your automobile?

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Historiography: 100 Years of Three Diamonds

2015 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution MR 015
2015 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution MR – All photos by Randy Stern

In 1917, a company that made ships decided to build a car. Over the next 100 years, it would make millions of them for a global audience. It took one movie franchise to put this company over the top.

The last statement is not necessarily true. Prior to its movie stardom, the automotive company in question had many triumphs and low points along the way. The latest low point caught the attention of a rival to take a controlling stake in this historic automaker.

Mitsubishi Motors is celebrating its centennial of its first automobile. Though the company’s history dates back another sixty years, its history is an interesting one to tell. It is one that questioned whether it was prudent for a shipbuilder to build a car in the first place. Perhaps Mitsubishi’s worldwide enthusiasts were glad they did.

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