We keep getting spectacular sunsets here in central Indiana. We probably have always gotten them, but I didn’t know it until I moved here with this almost unobstructed view. I shot all of these with the Canon PowerShot S95.
I’m still photographing the loveliest sunsets I see when I look out my back door, past the Toyota dealer. Here are the photos I’ve made since I last shared some with you.
I used my Canon S95 for all of these as it is always on my desk, steps from the back door. A couple of these photos strained its low-light performance so I increased the blacks in Photoshop to hide the shadow clipping.
In college, one of my roommates had one of these. He bought it new in 1985. It was a hell of a car for a college freshman to own, and he was very happy with it.
I got to drive it once. He and I had been at a bar in town and where I had just one beer he had three. He was always extra careful when he’d been drinking, so he handed me the keys.
This car is super low, so much so that oncoming cars’ headlights shone directly into my eyes as if they were high beams. I don’t know how fast it would go as I drove it only over city streets near the speed limit. But I remember its stiff chassis and excellent clutch and shifter.
I shot this on Kodak ColorPlus, which was provided by Analogue Wonderland in exchange for this mention. You can buy ColorPlus from them here.
Tomorrow I’ll publish an Operation Thin the Herd report on my Zeiss Ikon Contessa LK. Here’s a frame from the previous time I used that camera. I’m not a giant fan of Kentmere 100 — I’ve had terrible luck with its highlights blowing out. Yet my Contessa managed that well in any light. It seems to “get” this budget film.
And just look at the great detail that Tessar lens captured on my former Toyota’s flank. Count those water drops! If you guess focus right, the Contessa does credible close work. But don’t ask it to shoot macro: it focuses down to only one meter.
I might have a couple more rolls of the Kentmere in the freezer. I know which camera I’m putting them through.
At last, a new car. A new-to-me car at any rate: a 2013 VW Passat 2.5 S.
With that, my beloved Toyota Matrix is finally gone. I wrote its eulogy last September (read it here) after it developed several problems that would cost far more to fix than the car was worth. One of those problems made the car a safety risk on the road.
But then I dragged my feet on selling it. In part, I struggled to let go of my baby. In part, other priorities kept winning over selling a beater car. In part, I wanted more from it than the $200 my mechanic offered me so he could part it out.
But then late in January it became essential that my family have three safe and reliable automobiles. My wife and I both own Ford Focuses that, despite age and high mileage, are entirely roadworthy. I had to act, and fast, to replace the Matrix.
My wife and I set a budget and I went shopping. That budget was low enough and time was enough of the essence that my purchase criteria were very broad: under 50,000 miles, good reliability reputation, four doors, usable back seat. I looked at a handful of cars and SUVs before coming upon this Passat.
The back seat is cavernous. Our 6′2″ youngest son can sit back there with easily four inches between his knees and the back of my seat. Finally, a comfortable trip car for the family!
The automotive press panned the 2.5-liter, 5-cylinder engine for lacking power compared to the competition. I’ve not driven other midsize sedans, but this Passat has plenty of scoot for me, especially when I drop the transmission into Sport mode. Whee! Fusions and Accords and Camrys must be blazing quick.
The press also criticized the Passat’s generic styling. Can’t say they’re wrong.
After so many years driving inexpensive economy cars, I feel like a real grown up driving this large, comfortable car. But it feels like a wasteful amount of car for me to drive alone to and from work, which is what I use it for most. I take solace in the fact that it gets gas mileage at least as good as my lamented Matrix and my Focus!
Oh, and the trade-in value on a beater 2003 Toyota Matrix: $750. Score!
One of the cool features of my Toyota Matrix is how its gauges are invisible until you turn the car on. I think the display looks especially cool at night.
Astute readers may be curious as to why my car’s redline is so high, 7,800 RPM. It’s a feature of Toyota’s 2ZZ-GE four-cylinder engine, which was designed by Yamaha and built in Japan. It’s the go-fast engine in Toyota’s ZZ engine family. You’ll find versions of this engine in several Toyotas and, surprisingly, one Pontiac and two Lotuses.
Revving the engine past 6,200 RPM activates a second camshaft profile that boosts speed suddenly and considerably. It feels like turbo and is great fun. Unfortunately, my Matrix is hobbled with an automatic transmission, making it hard to reach the revs necessary to have this fun. If you ever buy a 2ZZ-GE-equipped Matrix (it will have the XRS badge on the hatch), go for the six-speed manual transmission.
I’m still talking about this car in the present tense because I haven’t disposed of it yet. It still has the front-end problems that aren’t worth fixing given the car’s market value. It’s days remain numbered. But with everything else going on I haven’t found time to deal with getting rid of it yet.