Specs don’t tell you the whole story

Posted on January 30th, 2005 in Opinion by Julian Edgar

One of the difficulties in assessing cars – whether new, secondhand or modified – is that no matter how extensive the spec sheet, you can never tell how well the cars drive until you do just that… drive them.

As I write this I’m in Sydney, here for the week with Michael Knowling to collect lots of stories. A few days ago we were at MRT Performance, the Subaru specialist tuners and modifiers. The company uses the ECU-Tek software package to modify the factory ECU, an approach which works very well. In addition, they often fit upgrade turbos, exhausts and intake systems. Anyway, one of the cars on which we were doing a story was a current model XT Forester. Factory turbocharged, this particular one came with an auto trans.

Buying (yet another) car

Posted on January 16th, 2005 in Opinion by Julian Edgar

Now that new cars (at least here in Australia) are cheaper in real dollars
than at any time in my lifetime, and secondhand cars are so low in cost I am
often disbelieving of the prices being asked, it’s no longer inconceivable that
an enthusiast should own multiple cars.

In fact, if I go to the window of my home office and look out at the car
park, er, I mean side yard, I will see five cars sitting there, all
resident in this household of two adults and one baby boy. There’s my 1998 Lexus
LS400, of which I have written much in the past; the recently acquired ’99
hybrid Prius, again of which much has been – and is to be – written; the V6
turbo Nissan Maxima (is it 1988?) which runs lots of mods; and a largely
untouched Toyota Crown Supercharger, which is an ’88 model.

(While that seems like rather a lot of Toyotas, that was never the buying
intention. The Lexus came after the experience with my partner’s ’91 model,
which so amazed me that I followed in her footsteps; the current Prius is one of
the world’s most impressive cars – and the 1999 Japanese import model the
closest I can afford; and the Crown came into the stable when I wanted a
supercharged six.)

And the fifth car? I’ll come to that in a moment.