ABC Family has a new show based on the 1999 movie “10 Things I Hate About You” and from the promo it looks like a Volvo 240 is once again used as a prop to symbolize and extend the personality of one of the main characters. The driver is Kat Stratford, played by actress Lindsey Shaw. From the character description on the ABC site:
A feminist with a razor-sharp tongue, Kat possesses a strong sense of self and a keen scorn for the trappings of high school. She does have a softer side under that tough exterior, though — a fact she keeps closely guarded.
The 240 matches perfectly, as it’s the complete opposite of the trendy new vehicles the other kids in the school drive. You’ve got to have a “strong sense of self” to be seen in this tank-on-wheels. She even uses it as a weapon, getting into a battle over a spot in the school parking lot.
The characters play chicken over a parking space until Kat’s rival calls her car a dinosaur. Kat then nonchalantly rams into the front of her opponent’s Mini-Cooper, tearing off the bumper and sliding into the spot. She strides out and says “My dinosaur wanted to Jurrasic park, here.” Oh snap! Groan…
While the car may look out of place, old and insignificant, Kat uses it as a source of power and violence, establishing herself as someone who is unafraid to use brute force to get her way, regardless of the consequences to her reputation.
From the sound of the audio track, Kat is packing V8 power under the hood of her Swedish iron. The sound emerging from under the hood as she slides into the space doesn’t match any brick I’ve heard.
Any DL drivers want to weigh in on Jalopnik’s Question of the Day “What’s the Best Diesel Ever Sold in the US?“
For a vehicle that’s almost a wagon but not quite a mini-van, the Chrysler Pacifica seemed to have everything going for it. With a lower ride than an SUV, but more cargo space than a car, this CUV (crossover utility vehicle) seemed a great match for families. But as The Truth About Cars documents, DaimlerChrysler took yet another promising concept and f-ed it up:
In keeping with Motown traditions, the first Pacificas hit dealer showrooms fully-loaded: all wheel-drive, load-leveling suspension, leather upholstery, heated first and second-row seats, sunroof, power liftgate, navigation (beautifully situated directly in front of the driver), dual zone climate control, DVD entertainment system and Sirius satellite radio. While the car’s upscale pretensions were obvious from the git-go, potential customers couldn’t see the price point. Initial Pacificas cost north of $35K. Even worse, the CUV’s build quality didn’t match the model’s “near luxury” aspirations. In-dash rattles, plastic panels that fell off, unpainted gas caps—the Pacifica (along with the new Crossfire Sports Car) was ground zero for dreams of Mercedes quality combined with Chrysler style.
But it looks to me like Mercedes has had problems with this market too.
FCP Groton started a new Volvo forum, Volvolution. To gain readership they created a contest to find the best blog post. I entered a couple of posts, including “Where Do You Put Your Latte, You Freak“.
You’ll need to register with the site, which is a quick username and password setup. The prize is a $200 credit, which is just the price of the lowering springs I’m looking at. I promise to document and post the installation, so vote now!
UPDATE: Voting is over. I tied for second place. Thanks!
A beat up Volvo 240 seems to be the vehicle-of-choice when a film script calls for low-income, shabby-chic characters to have a car that could feasibly drive long distances. Witness the new film “Away We Go“, pictured above. How will they get where they go? In a blue brick, of course.
The movie “follows the journey of an expectant couple as they travel the U.S. in search of the perfect place to put down roots and raise their family.”
Raise a family? I highly recommend they upgrade to a wagon.
Who has the responsibility for casting cars in movies like this? Is it the set designer? Cinemetographer? Casting director?
It’s obvious that the vehicle in this movie has an important role transporting the couple around the US and the film makers decided that for this journey, they needed a beat up 240. It’s an older car that has a quirky, hipster feel. Unlike other manufacturers, Volvo made so few stylistic changes over the years of production that it’s hard to place the model year. The sedan looks so generic that it becomes almost invisible. It doesn’t have the retro look that a 1980s Ford Taurus would; with a few rusted panels it just looks like “old car”.
When Rachel McAdams’s character, Amy, slides into the driveway for the holidays in the movie “The Family Stone” she’s also piloting a rusty 240. If we read between the lines in the photo we surmise that it was handed down to her when the parents bought their new V70. In the video below, Amy pulls up at :20.
Amy is the “NPR supporting” black sheep of the family. We immediately know she’s low income from the car she drives. She works as a school teacher and obviously rejects the material rewards the other members of the family have gained from their achievements, as evidenced by the palatial home and slick cars in the driveway. We don’t see the car again, but it plays an important role in introducing her character at the beginning of the movie.
But who are we kidding? In the real world, every one of these people would actually be driving a 1991 Honda Accord.
Here’s how the plan works: Car owners could get a voucher worth $3,500 if they traded in a vehicle getting 18 miles per gallon or less for one getting at least 22 mpg. The voucher would grow to $4,500 if the new car’s mileage was 10 mpg higher than the old vehicle. The mpg figures are listed on the car’s window sticker.
Owners of sport utility vehicles, pickup trucks or minivans getting 18 mpg or less could receive a voucher for $3,500 if their new truck or SUV got at least 2 mpg higher than their old vehicle. The voucher would increase to $4,500 if the mileage of the new truck or SUV was at least 5 mpg higher than the older vehicle.
The program was aimed at replacing older vehicles _ built in model year 1984 or later _ and would not make financial sense for someone owning a vehicle with a trade-in value greater than $3,500 or $4,500.
The MPG stipulation makes sense, and it’s not $10,000 as had been proposed earlier. Steven Levitt on Freakonomics blog is still skeptical, however:
Let’s say you own one of those vehicles which you could sell for $3,000. If you use Cash for Clunkers you get an extra $1,000 for your vehicle. So of those 5 million people driving gas-guzzling old beaters that are worth almost nothing, how many of them are going to be pushed over the margin to buy a fancy new vehicle because of a $1,000 subsidy?
I have no idea where he’d find a car that would qualify for the subsidy that could get $3000 on the open market. Even pre-1990 Volvos barely pull $2000. Good luck getting even that much for a 1983 Ford Escort.
But Steven’s original argument is still strong: people who are driving cars that qualify for the incentive program probably aren’t in the market for a new car. Those who are in the market have a great incentive to search for any old P.O.S. to limp into the dealer for a nice $4500 rebate. The secondary market that will arise would be an indirect consequence of this silly program.
He had the same problem with the fuel gauge on his 2000 Chevy pickup as I have on my Volvo: the fuel gauge doesn’t work and sits at empty but the car runs fine. To replace the faulty fuel gauge sender you need to replace the entire fuel pump, at considerable expense, even though the pump works fine.
But you can’t buy a fuel sender separate from the fuel pump. It is an integrated component. Looking at the fuel sender, it is clearly designed to be removed and replaced. And to prove my point, I did remove it. It took longer to get the pliers from the toolbox than it did to disassemble.
Sometimes components fail and you have no idea way, but in this case, the cause of failure was obvious. There were two little metal tangs that glided over the PCB resistor contacts and one of them had broken off. This is clearly a component designed for a short life…
So, what happened? I bet Chevrolet specified that the fuel sender unit would be removable. Perhaps they were planning to offer it as a separate SKU. And why would they want to sell it separately? And make less money?
He then segues into his manifesto, explaining that when you buy something, you should own it outright and be able to fix it at reasonable cost when it inevitably breaks down. Too many products are tossed aside when a minor component breaks, even though it may still work.
I now have 2 digital cameras that were rendered almost useless because their flimsy battery door hinges wore out and the battery wouldn’t stay in its proper place to easily take a picture. The temptation is to toss it, but I know we’ve still got a functioning digital camera with better optics than ones just 5-10 years ago. So it’s taped up and back in business.
NPR ran a piece on Mister Jalopy and the Makers movement of people who have an understanding that just because a part is broken doesn’t mean the whole thing is junk.