My Favorite Vehicles of 2011

I get asked questions. I'll bet you know which ones I get asked the most.

On some level, Victory & Reseda provides some form of consumer information for the weary automobile shopper. At least I try to advise the interested car buyer whether a specific vehicle reviewed on here is worth cutting a check or not. It is not the main reason why I do this site, but it is something that is a byproduct of the work I put into this spot on the interwebs.

Yet, I am still asked which vehicle I would buy if I had the money right now to do so. The answer is a trick one. If I had a definitive vehicle I'd buy, this site would be almost meaningless. There would be a bias lurking in every word I post here. I try to avoid such things.

However, a particular vehicle could be influential on some level when I’m examining a competitor or, rather, something else from the same manufacturer. There would be one vehicle that stood out amongst the rest to say "that is the best vehicle I drove this year!"

Is there such a thing? If there were such a vehicle, would I have my integrity and objectivity threatened if I popped out an answer assuredly?

Over the past seven years, I had to dig deep as to which vehicles were amongst the best ever covered by me, whether you'd call it Victory & Reseda, MotorGeek or Lavender. This year alone had its highlights – a lot of them.

This certainly calls for a year-end Five Favorites post based on the best seven (yes, seven!) automobiles I've driven this year. There is a twist – let's try automotive experiences with these vehicles. For all the vehicles I've driven, there were some moments. Which ones stood out the most?

WWRD? It Begins

Remember "Toonces The Driving Cat?"

You have to admit that was one of Saturday Night Live's most brilliant ideas during the Phil Hartman era. The concept of having a cat that drove the family car even with Victoria Jackson and Steve Martin in it was something else.

You know who else loves to drive? Me! Yet, compared to Toonces, I avoid any cliff as humanly possible.

The point here is a new fun and interactive way to develop crowd-sourced content towards further engagement for V&R. I call it "WWRD?" Translation: What Would Randy Drive?

How this works is simple. Via V&R's social media channels on Facebook, Twitter and Google+, I will ask the question for WWRD? submissions. The submissions are compiled and delivered with 3-5 vehicles as called out by YOU.

On your end, just give me a vehicle – any car, truck, SUV/crossover, van of any make, model and year. What I do is compile what I know of said vehicle and give you an answer why or why not I would drive it. I'll also explain why.

It's a Dart!

Remember the Dodge-Alfa Romeo compact I "speculated" a month or so ago? Well…it's got a name…

Much to the glee of everyone even remotely not in the automotive industry, the Dart name is a throwback to a simpler time. The nomenclature's reappearance was received with such joy never seen of any automobile in a very long time. It received huge media coverage – one of the television outlets in the Twin Cities had a piece on the Dart's return.

Perhaps I should explain why everyone went absolutely ecstatic over Chrysler's announcement of their new compact's name.

My Favorite Captive Imports

At a time when the call was to tune down the horsepower and prepare for an oil crisis, a recession and a never ending war overseas, domestic automakers figured it was high time to build another round of compact cars. By going smaller, there were two routes to take: Build them domestically or import them from a global partner somewhere. Three out of the four North American automakers chose the latter.

Los Angeles 2011: The Auto Show that's 23 Miles from Victory & Reseda

It's true – I grew up 23 miles away from the site of this year's Los Angeles Auto Show.

So, how did I get 1,935 miles away from it? Why was I not there to cover it? Long story…but the show did yield some spectacular debuts. Some of these world premieres were well worth the wait.

It is a good thing that the Los Angeles Auto Show found resonance in its timeslot in November. The show itself puts the West Coast in the spotlight for our industry. November in Los Angeles is a great time to soak it all in – just before the Thanksgiving crush.

I'm talking about those of us in and around the automotive industry. But, for those of you who are planning to attend the show…what a way to spend turkey week!

Five Favorites from Auto Show Seasons Past

Next year will mark ten years since I covered my first auto show. No, seriously…

It is a momentous occasion since working press at an auto show has evolved from covering what's new on the scene as a place

Yet, sometime within the last month or so, someone on Twitter called press days at an auto show as sort of a "circle jerk." I get his frustration, as covering the industry certainly has changed over time. Traditional media has been threatened by the likes of myself…and we're being threatened by outlets that can distill the news even quicker.

Still, there is room at the table for all of us – and we're networking with each other all the time. In fact, the industry and the press are interconnected in ways unimaginable when it was strictly the traditional media covering the industry.

In retort to that Tweet that called auto show press days a "circle jerk," I still believe that we need a day to meet with our industry counterparts, enjoy the excitement of vehicle launches and provide varying perspectives on the industry back to you – the readership.

Since the first major USA show is coming up at the Los Angeles Convention Center; this actually calls for a Five Faves post! This posting revolves a single question: What five vehicles made my auto show press coverage experience worth the effort?

That would mean logging back top the 2002 Chicago Auto Show – the one I covered with Midwest Ursine/Tillery Publications along with current Windy City Banner publisher Tom Wray.

I did come up with five vehicles over the past ten years. Here they are…

The Class of 1982

Thirty years ago…a lot happened.

The list can go on forever, but I will concentrate on the most important thing overall: Graduating high school. As I realize today that I am indeed on the latter side of my forties, remembering every moment of that year seems a bit difficult these days.

Thankfully, there's Google. Not for what I exactly did in 1982 – but, rather, the trivial parts of that year.

At the onset of graduation, I ended up the responsibility of car ownership. The 1972 Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight Luxury Sedan of my mother's was in my care. I was free to do what I please with it – replace tires, fuel up daily, baby the car when it overheated…and so forth.

By that time, I truly grasped the idea of the automobile and its inner workings. At least it was getting there. Sports, cars and music filled my time in-between studies and various plots to go somewhere else. Girls? Well…you probably know where that went by now.

As a public service to the Reseda High School Class of 1982, I offer this little glimpse at our senior year through the windshield of the automobile industry.

It's SEMA Time!

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Five Favorites from 1977

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The Speculator: Dodge's New Compact

With the compact market climbing into prominence in the past year, there is still a feeling that something is still missing from the party. But, what would be missing here? Or, rather, who?