From the highest altitudes of the Andes Mountains to the driest sands of the Sahara, a Land Rover in one form or another has traveled the world’s most remote regions, conquering countless boulders, traversing rivers and rutted two-tracks, and scaling massive dunes along the way. Some claim that during the brand’s illustrious 60-year history a Land Rover was the first motorized vehicle to be seen by some 60 percent of the planet’s population. Thanks to their impeccable off-road credentials, Land Rovers continue to be used by armies and explorers all over the world. As tough as they are, Land Rovers are also an unmistakable symbol of prestige: The Queen of England uses one to tool around her country estates, and one of Pope John II’s popemobiles was a Range Rover. But it wasn’t until 1987 that the iconic off-road brand set foot in the U.S., where it would take on an altogether different kind of jungle. So in celebration of 25 years since the first Landie … [Read more...] about Top 10 Most Notable Land Rovers in the U.S.
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Quick Stats: Drew Shirley, guitarist of Grammy-winning SwitchfootDaily driver: 1973 Chevrolet Nova (Drew’s rating: 8.5 on a scale of 1 to 10)Other cars: see belowFavorite drive: Del Dios HighwayCar he learned to drive in: 1980 Mitsubishi pickupFirst car bought: 1978 Pontiac LeMans When Grammy-winning alt-rock band Switchfoot recorded the new album “Fading West,” guitarist Drew Shirley’s 1973 Chevrolet Nova helped get him into the right mindset. “We’ve recorded our last three albums at a studio that we bought and built right here in San Diego,” he says. “When we’re recording a record, I’ll drive my Nova to the studio every day and I’ll be listening to songs that we’re going to work on, stuff that I’m getting ready to play on in the studio. That moment in the car, it just gives me a feeling. I think that’s what I like best about the Nova, is it has soul. It has some kind of feeling when you’re … [Read more...] about Celebrity Drive: Switchfoot Guitarist Drew Shirley
The Trooper II deserves some serious respect and love. It was among the very first, perhaps the very first of the “compact” SUVs that took the US market by storm in the eighties. It was eminently practical, durable, rugged, and good looking. And it’s one of the cars on the list that I wish I had bought. Did it have any faults? Probably, but as far as I’m concerned, someone should still be making this Trooper. Let’s do the history first. I don’t have the proof to back me up, but I seem to remember the Trooper being available in California before the 1983 Chevy S-10 Blazer. We gave the baby Blazer GM Deadly Sin status, so maybe my memory is skewed by the fact that I instantly elevated the Trooper well above the Blazer in my ranking. I readily admit that they were very different animals, and the Blazer’s claim to fame was that it offered the amenities (V6, automatic, etc) that made SUVs acceptable to the mainstream and sparked the whole boom. That … [Read more...] about Curbside Classic: 1983 Isuzu Trooper II
References to the “DNA of a brand” is a long overused cliche, and perhaps finally on the way out. But it can be a valid consideration, depending…In thinking about Toyota and its early genetic roots, one might well conjure up images of the first Corona, or the Corolla, whose modern descendants (Camry/Corolla) still reflect the basic mission of their ancestors. But isn’t the true Urquelle of Toyota’s reputation its legendary reliability and durability? Well, the following historical tidbit may cement the idea of where I’m going: in 1965, the year this FJ40 Land Cruiser was built, it was Toyota’s best selling vehicle in the USA as well as the rest of the world outside Japan. This is the car that Toyota sent out to conquer the world. And this well-worn original example typifies it better than any other I’ve ever seen: it’s literally exuding ruggedness through the pores of its patina. How many folks has it sold on the brand over its long … [Read more...] about Curbside Classic: 1965 Toyota FJ 40 Land Cruiser