Scenes From a Mall


We are always working to improve, experimenting, revisiting with fresh techniques. At the last Cars and Coffee, the experiment was tripod and fill flash at dawn.

1977 Ford Thunderbird: Dad’s Coworker

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This is the 1977 Ford Thunderbird. Larry at Upjohn had one, yellow with brown velour seats. “Cramped back seat.” That was the official reason we couldn’t have one in a 4 teenager household.

At the time, I thought these were cool. I liked the 1978s better because they had Thunderbird logos on the headlight covers. Ideally, mine would be midnight blue and chamois. [Ed.: It was a thing.]

These were wildly successful for Ford. The previous generation was blobby and overwrought, on top of fat and slow. These were crisp and underpowered and mostly slow. Except in NASCAR form. Or when flogged by Car and Driver. A great car for the disco era, but it’s pretty transparent as a cosmetic burnish. What’s cool is how it echoes the brand and corporate styling cues of the time. What is not so cool for this period is that the only things making this a “Thunderbird” and not an LTD II Landau Brougham or a Lincoln Mark V Junior, are the badges (the words and the birds).

Yes, the greenhouse is unique. Basket handle B pillar treatments are not inherently Thunderbirdian. It just identifies it as a T-bird because the T-bird is the only model on the lot with that look.

And, cynically, it disguises the profile, so as to not be equated with its twin under the skin when pitching that sticker price.

It’s the New Taurus MT-5!

2016 Ford Focus SE

There will be a more in depth post to come, but for now, welcome to the fleet, Mr. 2016 Ford Focus SE. Yes, I am a sucker for a deep red clearcoat Ford.  Yes, I still love my ’88 Festiva and ;06 Mustang. Yes, I also support orphan cars – this 1.0L EcoBoost Focus (2016 only). See: Fiat 500L. See also: 1971 VW 411, 1973 Plymouth Fury, 1973 Honda CB350 – Four, 1979 Futura, 1990 Suzuki Swift (remember those?!), 1993 Geo. 2008 Scion.

I get it from my dad. He always wanted a 1980s Maxima wagon with a stick. And a Taurus MT-5. No one remembers MT was a nod to Motor Trend for being named car of the year. POS orphan car with a big 4 and a stick, so of course.

Likewise this car – no one makes performance mods for this specific model: a classy car with a Geo Metro motor on speed. No worries. I am content (for now) with it not sticking out.

2016 Ford Focus SE-1-3
Faster than the 1988 Festiva, with similar mileage. Way more responsible than the 2006 Mustang. #SuckerForARedFord

Continue reading “It’s the New Taurus MT-5!”

Best Mustang Ever?

2015 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350
2015 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350

As much as I love, love, love a 1969 Boss 429 or a 1970 Boss 302, this car is Boss-er. And similarly rare.

This particular one was on  display at the 2016 Windgate Festival of Speed, an annual charity show in Scottsdale.

#TBT Hanging Out With Ford at the 2013 International CES

If you could see tomorrow, the way it looks to us today, you’d say incredible…

Ford Motor Company jingle, ca. 1980, hyping the 1981 Escort “world car“

Or, You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby. Or, Why yes, they’re real.

This is the 2013 Ford C-Max Energi “MAV (multi-activity vehicle).”  This is the plug in hybrid version – there is a “conventional” hybrid as well.  The engines are the same; battery output is not.  Not to piddle on a couple billion dollars of R&D, engineering and marketing (words like  MAV and “Energi” don’t coin themselves, you know), but basically, the car comes in Prius (regular) and Volt flavors. Except better.  Here’s why:

Another feature of the C-MAX Energi is called EV mode. This is a button that lets you switch the vehicle between EV Now, Auto EV and EV Later. So you can choose which mode to drive in – electric only, gasoline only, or a combination of gas and electric.

Kevin from Ford spent 20 minutes translating the story of hybrids into the language of 10 mpg Continental drivers. And explaining power tailgates.

I put a couple miles on this fish, in and around the LV Convention Center.

  • plug in, rather than cordless.  At least you don’t have to rewire your house.  You can just plug it in overnight, just like a smartphone.  But, you’re never stranded.  Unlike a Volt, it’s designed to use the engine like an engine when you want or it needs to.
  • “is it on?” Hit the start button and nothing mechanical happens.
  • When Car and Driver tested the electric Rolls, they heard “an occasional hint of dynamo hum, but for the most part, the drivetrain dialogue was overwhelmed by the hiss of tires on pavement and the whoosh of air flowing past the side windows.”  Ditto.
  • At city speeds, the tire hum over the hard concrete of Vegas was a noticeable sound, if only because it had no audio competition. The engine never fired up.
  • We were not allowed to test its maximum dynamic capabilities in a high school parking lot. it was solid over bumps and softer riding than a Scion xB on 16s.
  • Roomy.  The cowl is low, so the front is airy.  The back seat was comfortable and roomy for our camera guy, a big man with a massive video camera.
  • Yes, I called it a fish.  That metal middle grill and the big headlights seal it.
  • Yes, I would buy one.

In four words:  Better Than Any Prius. (Or, “Best Escort Wagon Ever.”)

#TBT Goooooood morning Deetroit!

[Ed.: From one of our ghostwriting gigs. First published 1/16/13]

We were invited to drop 500 words on a website tied to a major player in the auto industry, about our experience at CES 2013.

My Editor: I understand you’re pretty funny as a writer, and

Legal Department (butting in)… well, comedy is [something we usually squash] a kind of hobby of ours. Well– Well, actually, it’s a little more than just a hobby. Reader’s Digest is considering publishing two of our jokes.

Me:  Really?

Legal Department:  Yeah. And perhaps some night we could maybe get together and swap humorous stories for-for fun.

Me:  Oh, why not? Maybe play a couple of Adele records. That’d be a hoot.

Yay! Free publicity!  Backlinks!  Money raining from the sky! Hookers and blow!

Legal Department: That’s a joke right?

Me:  Maybe.

Legal Department: We get it.

However, writing for one’s corporate overlords is not like writing on your own site that no one will ever read.  They have rules.  They have a team of lawyers vetting every syllable.

Legal Department: “Good morning, Detroit.” What the heck is that supposed to mean?

My Editor: I don’t know, Legal Department, I guess it means good morning, Detroit.

Legal Department: And who gave him permission to link YouTubes?

So, to continue the story (as pitched)…

I strolled by an outdoor display featuring a 2013 Shelby GT500 and a sultry Russian spokesmodel explaining the internet radio integration.  Helpless to resist my charm and smooth lines, I seduced her right out of…

the keys to this 200 MPH (Legal Department: +/-.  Professional driver on closed course. Do not attempt.) Cialis monster and back-drifted from Circus Circus to the Mirage. Joy rides.  Kind of our thing.

Legal Department: What do you think you’re doing? You know you’re forbidden to write anything not checked by this office.

Me: What was there to check? I was there.

Legal Department: You know the rules. If this is a legitimate news story, it must go through proper channels.

Legal Department:  And you– You are not funny, but you are a maniac… and you’d better start changing your life.

Me:  Sirs? Thank you for that constructive criticism. It’s– It’s a privilege to take comedy notes from a department of your stature.

Legal Department: Fine. Just don’t let it happen again.

The [lies] story about the Shelby:  Killed.  NSFW footage of drifting down Las Vegas Boulevard to the cabaret with the model: Killed. Repeatedly. Punchline about Pandora’s box unlocking the Strip:  DOA.

Legal Department: What the Hell was that? “unlocking the Strip?” “boxes?”

Me: Comedy, sir.

Legal Department: “Comedy?” No, no, this is not comedy. Comedy is funny, hysterical-type things.

Me: “Hysterical-type things?” We’re requesting you elaborate, sirs.

Legal Department: Antics, dammit! Comedy of error, like the Keystone cops falling down. General wackiness like that.

Me: Falling down? That’s a sight gag. How would anyone see you fall down on a blog post, sir?

Fine.  On to the [golf carts] Hybrids and EVs.  You can steer the Ford C-MAX Energi with one pinky. (Legal Department: No you can’t.  Two hands on the wheel at all times. Professional driver on closed course. Do not attempt.)  It has an observed top speed of Warp 9. We made the Kessel run in less than 12 parsecs.

Legal Department: [reads the story] This is not official news, you loon. As far as I’m concerned, it didn’t happen.

Me: It did happen.

Legal Department: You shut your mouth!

Fine.  Next, we drove the Ford Focus Electricduring a quick round at the Wynn.  (The beer wench vendor will recover.)

Legal Department: How can you have the gall to compare our electric vehicles with golf carts… and rear-end “collisions”?

Me: Well, I was– It just comes up. I was trying to be funny.

Legal Department: Funny is good. Funny is good.

Me:  Yeah.

Legal Department:  But then do it by using comedy and humour… not “hooking into the rough” and “rear end” remarks. Furthermore, you are to stick to linking normal modes of YouTubes… not wild stuff.

Epilogue:  After an actual attempt to pass corporate muster on the first pass, and several edits later, our work is scheduled to be posted on the internet, on a legitimate site, and without the usual tears and extortion that usually serve our publicity department so well.

Me: Sir, in my heart, I know I’m funny.

My Editor (after shopping the draft around): We got one email from a man who thought that your “comedy” was “visionary and interesting.” The other eleven hundred emails and texts say that you can’t do comedy to save your dick!… That’s a direct quote, dude.

Post Script.  Of course, we’re kidding!  The whole experience was great, and we’re grateful for it.  Even for getting fact checked like we’re Mitt Romney.