Category archives: Driven

Driven: USAC sprint car, with bonus laps in a real Indy racer

Larry Crane at the wheel of an Edmonds print car on the high banks at Winchester, Indiana
Larry Crane at the wheel of an Edmunds print car on the high banks at Winchester, Indiana

‘Engage the dogs by squeezing the lock lever against the shifter and pulling it back. As soon as the push truck makes contact, watch the oil-pressure gauge. When the needle moves, hit the ignition switch and brace your neck for the acceleration.”

I did. It did. And we did. Continue reading

Driven: 2017 Kia Soul!

2017 Kia Soul! has turbocharged engine | Larry Edsall photos
2017 Kia Soul! has turbocharged engine | Larry Edsall photos

I think Kia puts the exclamation point in the wrong place. The name of this car should be 2017 Kia Soul Turbo!

I’ve always liked the Kia Soul, and the spunky little box on wheels has gotten better and better, not only with each new generation, but with each model- year update. Continue reading

Driven: 1942 Oldsmobile Custom Cruiser Club Sedan

1942 Oldsmobile was the first car equipped with GM's revolutionary Hydra-Matic transmission | Nick Kurczewski photos
1942 Oldsmobile was the first car equipped with GM’s revolutionary Hydra-Matic transmission | Nick Kurczewski photos

For automotive purists, now might be the time to look away. That’s because standing right in front of you is the car that helped bring automatic shifting to the masses. While the sleek Art Deco exterior of this 1942 Oldsmobile is striking, it’s what connects car’s inline8-cylinder engine to the rear wheels that makes this truly an historic automobile. Continue reading

Driven: 1950 Chrysler Town & Country Newport

1950 Chrysler Town & Country Newport is part of the Bulgari collection | Nick Kurczewski photos
1950 Chrysler Town & Country Newport is part of the Bulgari collection | Nick Kurczewski photos

The 1950 Town & Country Newport coupe was the swan song for Chrysler’s wonderful wood-sided luxury cars. As some of the most expensive models in Chrysler’s lineup, these “woodies” were often the car of choice for celebrities and movie stars.

Yet, even the brightest name on the biggest marquee eventually fades away. By the time 1950 rolled around, the Town & Country’s time in the spotlight was drawing to a close. Ironically, despite being in its last year, Chrysler opted to roll out an entirely new variant. Continue reading

Driven: 2017 Toyota Prius Prime plug-in hybrid

Toyota went all out in enhancing the styling of the new Prius Prime | Bob Golfen photos
Toyota went all out in enhancing the styling of the new Prius Prime | Bob Golfen photos

Toyota pulled out all the stops in styling the all-new Prius Prime, creating something that seems like a cross between a space probe and a Lamborghini. That’s a good thing, raising its hipness quotient considerably and making the plug-in hybrid look as high-tech on the outside as it is underneath.

The Prius Prime is new for 2017 and is another effort by Toyota to market a plug-in car with the clean economy of a pure electric vehicle with the practicality of a hybrid. The last go-round for a plug-in Prius resulted in less-than-stellar reviews, most complaining that it seemed like a half-hearted effort that didn’t work all that well. Continue reading

Driven: 2016 Toyota Tacoma TRD Off-Road 4×4 Double Cab

2016 Tacoma with TRD Off-Road package during recent media event in Phoenix | Mark Elias Media Services photo
2016 Tacoma with TRD Off-Road package during recent media event in Phoenix | Mark Elias Media Services photo

We were so eager for our time with the 2016 Toyota Tacoma, we being one of my sons-in-law, one of my grandsons and me.

My son-in-law had owned a Toyota pickup when he was an undergrad at Arizona State University, and his truck carried him back and forth each school year from Seattle to Tempe. An MBA, nice career in finance and a family later, he’s been thinking it’s about time to swap his aging Corolla for something new, maybe another truck. Continue reading

2016 in Larry’s rearview mirror

Pit stop at the Tire Rack for a new set | Larry Edsall photos
Pit stop at the Tire Rack for a new set of Michelins | Larry Edsall photos

I’m a reporter and writer by trade, but when it comes time to look back at 2016, it’s my camera that provides the road map. And when people ask me how I’ve put nearly 100,00 miles on a three-year-old pickup truck, I suppose I should just suggest they read the following: Continue reading

Driven: 1931 Franklin Series 15 convertible coupe

1931 Franklin provides air-cooled power, and driving experience as well   Nick Kurczewski photos
1931 Franklin provides air-cooled power, and driving experience as well | Nick Kurczewski photos

A dreary and grey morning forecast called for anything but top-down driving in a nearly 86-year-old convertible. Little did we realize this 1931 Franklin was once a champion of foul weather.

According to its previous owner, many decades ago it deftly navigated through rain and deep puddles that literally sunk lesser automobiles. All things considered, however, we weren’t complaining when the skies cleared and the sun broke through the clouds just in time for our test drive. Continue reading

Driven: 1970 Buick Electra 225 Custom Limited Sport Coupe

1970 Buick Electra 225 is a muscle machine minus the machismo | Nick Kurczewski photos
1970 Buick Electra 225 is a muscle machine minus the machismo | Nick Kurczewski photos

Who doesn’t love the power and drama of a good, old-fashioned American muscle car? The genre always suggests images of wild racing stripes, ram air hood intakes, fat tires, and an engine bay bursting with a massive V8 engine.

So why are we so smitten with this big brown Buick? It’s definitely no Road Runner when it comes to visual impact – sorry, there is no SubLime green or Go ManGo paint job to be found here. Continue reading

Driven: Jeep Wrangler Unlimited 75th Anniversary Edition

The Jeep Wrangler feels right at home in the Arizona desert | Bob Golfen photos
The Jeep Wrangler feels right at home in the Arizona desert | Bob Golfen photos

The four-door Jeep Wrangler is such a brilliant product, combining the freedom and joy of the venerable CJ with the practicality of a crossover SUV. There are compromises in ride and convenience, but for many people, those are outweighed by the go-anywhere capability and rugged image of the Jeep.

With four doors, more-refined interiors and reasonably accommodating back seats, such Jeeps can pass as viable family transporters. The familiar two-door Wrangler would be fine for singles or couples, not so much for a foursome where the rear seat is more of an afterthought. Continue reading