Throwback Review: The Impala Phase

2007 Chevrolet Impala 1
2007 Chevrolet Impala LT sedan. – All Photos by Randy Stern

A Victory & Reseda “Throwback Review” of the 2006-2010 Chevrolet Impala

Prior to 2011 and the rebranding of this site, I went through a few phases with automobiles.

They say you go through phases in life. Through dating, fashion, trends and so forth. Mine was automobiles. I would find a car I really liked, rent it regularly, then get tired of it.

Imagine actually buying a car I was in a phase with? No wonder why car ownership is a challenge…

To understand this “phase with automobiles” bit, let me go through my own history with the automobile.

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A Momentary Lapse of Objectivity

2017 Lexus RC F
2017 Lexus RC F – All Photos by Randy Stern

We automotive journalists are supposed to be unbiased. The same goes for anyone who covers the automotive industry in any capacity.

I try to be unbiased when it comes to objective pieces, such as vehicle reviews. At least I try…

However, there are moments when you drive something and all objectivity is thrown out the window. A vehicle so good that it does something emotionally, spiritually and physically to eschew all neutrality the profession expects out of you.

In the past six years of Victory & Reseda, a select few vehicles garnered such reaction and response to my psyche. This is one of them.

The problem is about the Lexus RC F is I am not supposed to fall in love with it. Continue reading

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V&R Stories: Repping The Job in a PT Cruiser

Photo courtesy of TDS Communications Division

Remember the concept of gainful employment. You might be experiencing it right now. You could be in an employment situation where you are performing duties that are not in your job description. Maybe you like doing these tasks…or, not.

This was me in late 2002.

At a time when Victory & Reseda was only a dream, I worked for a telecom company in Madison, Wisconsin in one of their call centers. The division I worked at the time with sold competitive telephone service in a few states using the lines of the incumbent phone company of those areas. While I taking calls in trying to get people switched from the evil ILEC (that stands for Incumbent Local Exchange Carrier) “land line” to the company’s CLEC (Competitive Local Exchange Carrier), I was asked to add another task to my workflow.

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Historiography: The Automobile in Canada

Back To The 50s Hangout at Har Mar Mall
1956 Meteor – All Photos by Randy Stern

July is a patriotic month for many countries. In particular, the United States of America and Canada.

We know about the USA’s contribution to the automobile. This country set the bar for mass production, parts standardization, performance and emissions control policy. It also has developed and produced some of the world’s most iconic vehicles – from Ford’s Model T to the Chevrolet Corvette. Even the Dodge Challenger SRT Demon!

That is well and good. But, what has Canada contributed to the automotive landscape?

July 1 – tomorrow, to be exact – marks the 150th anniversary of the Confederation of Canada. To commemorate this landmark moment, it is time to look back at the automotive history of our neighbor to the north.

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Throwback Review: That Old Chestnut Called the Pontiac G6

2008 Pontiac G6 Coupe 1
2008 Pontiac G6 GT Coupe – All Photos by Randy Stern

A Victory & Reseda “Throwback Review” of the 2005-2010 Pontiac G6

Sometimes, a car will show up during a period of time that would be much to my liking. But, after a few turns in one…it all becomes too familiar.

I had a habit of renting cars in lieu of actual car ownership. They were expensive forms of therapy that enabled me to explore the place I call home. In the first several years of my life in the Twin Cities, General Motors provided a particular car that would be a staple of anything I attempted to do to explore and be social.

The Pontiac G6.

This car kept the Pontiac brand in business until the end. It also sent Pontiac into the Old GM pile at Bankruptcy court. In other words, it served as blessing and curse for hundreds of thousands of owners in its tenure.

During the time since the G6 was introduced to almost the very end, I’ve driven a lot of them. Continue reading

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A Car, Not by Default

2017 Toyota Corolla XSE
2017 Toyota Corolla XSE – All Photos by Randy Stern

A Victory & Reseda review of the 2017 Toyota Corolla

Every time I get a Toyota Corolla to work with, it bears repeating the importance this single car has on this planet.

That importance simply comes down to the numbers. Over the last 50 years, Toyota has sold over 43 million Corollas – and counting. It is one of the best selling models in the Toyota lineup in the USA, now equaling the delivery rates for the midsized Camry and compact RAV4 SUV. It remains the best-selling car in dozens of countries.

While American consumers value the Corolla as a default for a small, but spacious sedan, other global markets view the same exact car as something to aspire to own. In some other markets , consumers see the Corolla as a direct competitor to some of the other best-selling cars in the world – namely the Volkswagen Golf.

We can get into cliches and overstated plaudits about Toyota’s global sales leading model. Continue reading

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Commentary: Resolving The Not-So Graceful Entry

2014 MAMA Spring Rally
Photo by Victory & Reseda


You know what that sound is? That’s the sound of my head meeting the driver’s side A-pillar when I’m climbing into the car. It’s a weird sound – to you, perhaps.

And, I can feel your question already: Why does my head always meet the A-Pillar when I’m getting inside the car? I can also guess what your next question is…“How in the hell am I getting into a car?”

I do get into the car much differently than I’m supposed to. Since I don’t drive as often as I should (in pertaining to writing such a blog), it may seem that I’ve forgotten to properly do so.

Well…you tell me: “How do you get into a car?”

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Why Certified Pre-Owned Sales Programs Work

Photo by Randy Stern

One of the biggest suggestions I received by anyone associated with me has to do with car shopping. She suggested that I look into a Certified Pre-Owned vehicle. In her case, it’s usually Certified Pre-Owned premium brands of European extraction. Still, for those of us on tighter budgets looking for solid transportation that is well-built, better covered and above-average service, this is a direction to go.

So, what’s so important about Certified Pre-Owned vehicle sales schemes?

In the past, used cars were pushed out like cattle onto a freight train. Rarely will you find a good one, but it comes with a very limited warranty. On the average, a used car has three months coverage from the time of the resale. One would be lucky to get one off a lease where some of the factory warranty is still in play. Then again, many automakers tacked on clauses voiding warranties if sold by the original owner.

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Throwback Review: Searching for the Mundane

2007 Mitsubishi Galant 1
2007 Mitsubishi Galant ES sedan – Photo by Randy Stern

A Victory & Reseda “Throwback Review” of the 2007 Mitsubishi Galant

When is a sedan just a sedan? When do you realize that you cannot drive something so mundane that you forget how to drive?

Questions to ponder, but pertinent ones to consider when shopping for a mid-sized sedan. Since everyone has a car that claims to match up with the dominant paradigm in the market, the Toyota Camry, it becomes a challenge to find the one that is right for you.

Perhaps you want something middle of the road. Maybe you don’t care if you have the most powerful four-cylinder in its class or the most room of any car this side of the Chevrolet Impala. Why stand out when you can blend…a bit.

May I offer up the Mitsubishi Galant ES as a choice in the market? My sampling of the Galant brought some of these questions. The answers may surprise you.

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V&R Stories: How (Not) to Tailgate at the Drive-In Movie

Movie Bears at the Drive-In 12
Yeah…that’s how you’re supposed do it! – All photos by Randy Stern

If you’re my age or somewhat older, then you have a story or two about going to the Drive-In Movies. Some stories are worth telling, others may require some level of adult warning ahead of it.

In my hometown, the Reseda Drive-In played a prominent role for us from the 1940’s to its demise at the end of the disco era. The big screen could not be ignored as we drove up either Reseda Boulevard or Vanowen Street.

My family and I saw Jaws there. That big fish was as scary on the drive-in’s screen as it would at some high-end cinema down in Westwood or Hollywood. You saw your friends and plotted against everyone else while our parents and siblings wondered why it took so long to return from the concession stand.

With the demise of the Reseda Drive-In, my want to go another drive-in again diminished. Years later, my want to see films waned as well.

Back in July of 2009, I was invited to join a local group of guys called the Minneapolis Movie Bears to return a kernel of my youth back in the forefront. Those guys always broke new barriers for the Bear culture. They set up an event where we, as a group, would try to take over a drive-in theater.

There just happens to be a drive-in in the suburb of Lake Elmo just east of St. Paul with three screens and plenty of space for all sorts of automobiles. The Vali-Hi Drive-In is a summer destination for Twin Cities’ folks who want to combine their love for cinema and their automobile together – all starting right at dusk.

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