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Latest Stories in Columns

From the Armchair – Of Wives And Wagons

posted by on 12 April 2005 in Columns

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I got a phone call this weekend. It was a friend from high school. He’s doing well these days, living in upstate New York, about to get married and looking for a good all-wheel-drive second car to complement his Boxster S and keep the miles off his leased Land Rover Discovery. Naturally, I suggested a […] More…

Der Ölmesser: A Letter To Clifford

posted by on 4 April 2005 in Columns

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Dear Clifford, You’re only 9-years-old right now, but I know your 16th birthday will be here before we know it. God help us all. It’s no surprise you’ve already developed a healthy appreciation for all things automotive – look who your dad is – and you’re wise enough to know that if 200-hp is great, […] More…

Rearview Mirror: Will Higher Gas Prices Really Change Your Life?

posted by on 28 March 2005 in Columns

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I just got back from a week-long driving trip in Europe. Four of us Vortex staffers made the trip to Geneva for the annual auto show, then spent the next five days bombing about the countryside of Germany, Switzerland, Italy, France, and Austria in a trio of premium hatchbacks. And by premium, I mean that they required frequent refillings of premium unleaded gasoline. More…

Staggered For A Reason

posted by on 21 March 2005 in Columns

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All too often I see claims being made about why it is stupid to put staggered wheels on a FWD VW. Amidst the numerous reasons given why one should never dream of doing such a thing, my favorites are; “It adversely affects handling” and “Your car isn’t RWD.” You may well expect that right about […] More…

Der Ölmesser: The Best GTI Ever Made Is…

posted by on 1 March 2005 in Columns

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The Mk3 GTI VR6. Here’s why… When criteria such as affordability, mod-ability, livability, and an over all fun-factor are considered, the 3rd-gen GTI with a VR6 engine comes out on top. Don’t believe me? Check this out: The Mk1 GTI is a blast to drive, no doubt. If you can find one still running and […] More…

Rearview Mirror: In Search of Fellow Junkies

posted by on 22 February 2005 in Columns

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Hello, my name is Bryan (group- “Hello, Bryan!), and I’m a junkie. My addiction clouds my ability to think rationally, obscuring my ability to see a vehicle’s shortcomings if it can lure me with the scent of rich leather, the warm depth of genuine wood or the sensual touch of Alcantara. It’s not easy to say this, but I am an interior junkie, a full-fledged dashstroker.

Like so many others, the first time I tried it was in high school, in the front seat of my ’81 Rabbit. It was one of the horrible Westmoreland-built cars with the abysmally Americanized fake wood and velour interiors. That wood had to go immediately, and in no time the dash bezel was covered with a light dusting of matte black spray paint. That was about all I could afford on the four bucks an hour I earned working at the mall. A short time later, the factory headliner did what they do best, releasing itself from the roof panel and descending into my outward rear view. I couldn’t deal with the thought of pushing thumbtacks into its thin gray skin, so I pulled the entire thing out of the car, stripped all of the old material, and re-trimmed it in a nicer material. After these first two experiences, I felt pretty good, sort of “happy” in a way that I hadn’t felt before. More…