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Renault shows you the electronic future – in 1984

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Picture this: it’s 1984. You have a Christmastime journey through foggy France to complete, and you’re in luck: the Renault 11 TXE Electronic sitting on the parking lot is awash with every technological gadget you can possibly wish for – in 1984. Voice commands, digital instruments, anti-collision radar, an early navigation system, it’s all there in your European Encore.

And in this promotional video, the driver aids are not only demonstrated by the attractive driver, but also faithfully reproduced in 30-year-old 3d animation.

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Wagon Wednesday: German-Spec Ford Focus Turbodiesel in Phoenix

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Remember the first-generation Ford Focus? Of course you do, some of our readers even have owned ones. But depending of your place of residence, your Focuses might be quite different.

Here, then, is the kind of Focus of which our roads are practically crammed full, and which you never see on American roads. A manual turbodiesel wagon version, straight from Germany, currently residing in Phoenix according to the Craigslist ad. I have no explanation why it is in there, except maybe for the Phoenix Foundation. Yeah, if you’re playing the MacGyver drinking game, you may take a sip right now.

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Weekend Edition – Alex and Joe’s German-Finnish Roadtrip

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Remember that ice track post I ran about a month ago or so? It centred on the haps and mishaps of two more or less German guys who drove a 1988 BMW E34 535i to Finland for a laugh, spent a cottage weekend with friends and in the end sold the BMW and flew back to Germany. Anyway, the whole experience was captured on video, and it makes excellent Sunday viewing on the sofa.

There’s time lapse and judgement lapse aplenty, so take a look.

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Weekend Edition – Spring in Beaterland: 1993 from two directions

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Last spring, not quite a year ago, I juxtaposed my then-cars on the same parking lot you see here. The 1990 Mitsubishi Sapporo and the 1995 BMW 518i were two roughly similar sized sedans, and their combined value at purchase was somewhere south of three grand. This year, I again parked two of my cars face to face, but both the Sapporo and the 518i are long gone, in their place the 1997 Xantia Break and the 1990 Saab 900S. And what do you know, three grand would easily buy you these two as well.

But while the Sapporo and the 518i weren’t exactly hewn from the same block, the cars I now have are even more drastically different. Right now, I’m shuffling both the Citroën and the Saab, as they easily suit different uses, both being able to show me their respective strengths. What the other does well isn’t far from the other’s reach, but there’s plenty of justification to run both. Let’s reiterate some of the characteristics.

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Weekend Edition – Awakening the Saab 900S after a long winter

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Spring is here. Finally. The days are getting longer, the sunrays, coy at first, have punctured through the all-encompassing clouds and greyness and it’s at long last possible to feel one’s own solar panels working again. It puts a jolt in your step, it makes your grins stay just a little longer on your winter-beaten face. No matter how rainy or slushy it gets in between of the sunny days, the first promises of a long-awaited summer have been made.

Naturally, that means I get to roll out the one sleeping beauty that has been avoiding the road salt like a plague: my 1990 Saab 900S. I’ve had it tucked away at a corner of a storage barn for five miserable months, a fact helped by the lessening of the yearly road taxes and insurance bills. Despite a couple of disturbances to see how it’s doing, it’s been sleeping since October. But now, I couldn’t resist the temptation any more, and the ice-free roads just had to be visited in the Saab, even if snow is still present on parking lots and roadsides.

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Fastback Friday – 1982 Volkswagen Passat 3-door

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“It’s such an Antti car, that one he likes on Facebook”, said the girlfriend of Joe, the Colognese friend of mine whose photowork has occasionally made it onto these pages. It’s the Passat to which she’s referring, as I was linked the car earlier today and I went into total swoon mode, even posting it on the Brown Car Appreciation Society page. And she’s right, I’d daily drive the damn out of the three-door 1982 Passat finished in cardboard brown. And it’s even cardboard matte by now.

The Passat obviously needs some love, and there are no interior shots, but it displays such potential for perfection some VAG-head definitely needs to go pick it up from the southern coastal town in Skåne, Sweden, where it’s situated.

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Our Cars – The Final Chapter in the Mazda 323F Story

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Way back when I joined the ranks of Hooniverse writers, I introduced myself and my cars. As well as the Sapporo, I had a red 1991 Mazda 323F which I had just recently crashed into a tire wall at Ahvenisto, a race track in central Finland. The damage to the Mazda necessitated the change of two doors and a fender, after which it was sort of okay-ish but no longer as good as I wanted it to be, as the panels were somewhat rough and ready instead of the clean ones with which it came from the factory.

The Mazda sat the following winter on my street, and after some time it ended up with my brother, who took it with himself to Helsinki, where he lives, works and studies. This past weekend, the 323F fell victim to an attempted theft, which left the steering column and its contents mangled and bashed, along with some vandalism damage on the outside. Little things, but they add up; the now undriveable car was hauled to a garage where the damage was appraised. Most everything in the steering column would need swapping, so the tab ran high and the insurance company ended up offering to total the car instead of getting it repaired.

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It’s a Wrap – The 60 Euro Volkswagen Polo gets down to money

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Two things about the 1986 Polo nestled in my garage spot form its core values. First, I paid 60 euros for it in non-running condition. Second, it’s white. The ever-so-talented Blayde Works of t-shirt and FinalGear fame combined the Polo’s outer, appliance-like appearance with its purchase price, getting it to wear its heart on its sleeve. The car has already reached meme-like status amongst the gearheads at FinalGear, so wrapping it in European currency would be the perfect decoration for it. Of course, a vinyl wrap would be infinitely more expensive than the car so far.

Next step: producing some Euro coin stickers to slap on its hubcaps?

[Image: Blayde Works]

Trouble in Beaterland – Citroën Xantia Break, uh, breaks down

Antti Kautonen February 24, 2014 Finnish Line

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My Citroën Xantia Break is my first Citroën and my first wagon. And as of today, it’s my first car to leave me stranded. That’s right, the Xantia just put the Break in “Break”, which obviously is a French term for “Not the Berline”.

After completing a 1300-km drive around Finland this past weekend and successfully bringing me home with the cargo area stuffed with Ikea mirrors and quality German wheat beer, the Xantia was unbearably dirty again. I had spent one evening buffing it to a presentable shine, so having it sit in my parking spot covered in cack was something I needed to sort out, at my earliest convenience. So, as I had thrown my girlfriend the keys and let her drive to the supermarket, I suggested we take a trip through the carwash nearby. This proved to be a mistake.

As the carwash programme ended and the Xantia was seemingly sparkly again, I turned the key. Idiot lights came on as expected, but crucially – no start. No starter whine. No click. Nothing. What?

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Weekend Edition – Back to the Ice Track

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About a year ago, I wrote a couple short articles which showed you just how fun it is to drive to Eastern Finland with your friends and spend a day at an ice track with BMW:s everywhere. This year, with an international FinalGear crowd, we did the same.

By now my own BMW is gone, so I took the liberty to attend the BMW club trackday with my Citroën Xantia. It wasn’t really an offense, as you could also see a Passat, a Mazda RX-8 and a Volkswagen Caravelle T5 doing laps amongst the Bavarian machines.

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