Real Wheels Live.

Jul 25, 2014

The Washington Post cars columnist Warren Brown and guest Lou Ann Hammond will discuss the auto industry. Plus, they'll give purchase advice to readers.

Good morning Warren and Friends


I'd like to congratulate Ken Gross. 


 Ken received the Distinguished Service Citation Award at this years Automotive Hall of Fame


Ken has written about cars for over 40 publications, has authored 13 books, and written a 12-episode, historic car series for TV, "Behind the Headlights". Today Gross devotes much of his time bringing great automobiles together for public viewing. A four year Executive Director of the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles and respected judge of Concours events, Gross developed a significant practice curating automobile exhibits in fine art museums; the High Museum of Art in Atlanta Museum of Art currently presents a "Dream Cars" exhibit he guest curated.


Ken lives in Hamilton, Virginia with his wife, Trish, and their children. If any of you see him in the Virginia area tell him congratulations. 


Tomorrow starts MINI takes the States 2014. Thousands of MINIs will be congregating in San Francisco to rally across the country. We will be at the beginning and drive all the way to Grand Junction, CO with them. 


You can follow our adventures on




if you're really into it join the MTTS - MINI Takes The States 2014 on facebook as well.


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Lou Ann Hammond

Warren and Lou Ann, Have you driven the Ford Fiesta with the 3 cylinder Ecoboost motor? How does it compare with the base engine?

Yes. It is strictly a commuter, which is okay. Gets you around the neighborhood without much gas or tailpipe pollution. Good when used as designed. Not good when used, or attempted to be used as a long-distance highway runner.

I recently bought a 328 and thought I would report in. First, I agree with you that the option packages can drive the price of the car through the moon. Other than the xDrive and the backup camera, I went with a very basic car. For example, I got the leatherette seats, which in my view are nearly indistinguishable from the leather. The salesman actually pointed this out to me and recommended against spending the extra money. One thing that annoys me is that the only way to get a lumbar support is to pay over $3,000 for the premium package. C'mon BMW, that's ridiculous. Much lesser cars include that as a standard item. Other than that, the car is fantastic - much nicer to dirve than anything I have had before. Also, since I dinged BMW on the lumbar, I should say that I really like the fact that they include four years of free maintenance.

Thank you for buying the backup camera. Once you've driven/parked with a backup camera any  other car seems so 20th century. 

It is the drivability of the BMW that is so seductive. I just got out of the 435 and loved it. 

Congratulations, thanks for checking in.

The Edsel and us? Bill Gates & Warren Buffett feel John Brooks book Business Adventures is one of the best business books ever. In the Nov. 26, 1960 issue of the New Yorker is Brooks' column Annals of Business titled The Edsel. I just read it and it reveals things about us as car buyers and owners that still ring true today and weekly questions to Real Wheels Live reinforces prove it. How does Warren feel about its message which is ...."but people don't like it?" He can reply in a future column because The Edsel by John Brooks is a long column.

Buying a car is - for most people - the second largest expenditure they will make in their lives. Just like buying a home, it can be full of anxiety and joy. 

There are parts of buying a car that we don't find pleasant, but owning freedom of mobility is a wonderful thing. 

I will have to read the book you suggested. As for the Edsel, it is what happens when companies don't listen to their consumers, when they become so convinced of the rightness of what they are doing they wind up on the wrong side of sales and profits. I will read the book. Thanks.

I'm confused -- why is Lou Ann congratulating Warren? Everything is about Ken.


Lou Ann here: 

I wasn't congratulating Warrren. Ken is our friend. Warren and my friend. He was just inducted into the automotive hall of fame


Lou Ann, are you driving a MINI for MTTS? If so which model? What are you looking forward to the most? I wish I could participate with my fellow MINIacs, but instead I'll be at #MSAH2014 (MINIs Stay At Home)

My colleague, Stretch, and I are driving the new hardtop MINI Cooper (starting MSRP $19,950, our mini msrp tops out at #33,095) from Auburn TODAY to San Francisco. We're going to a GO GIANTS! game tonight. 

We will be at the kick-off party tomorrow night and Stretch will drive with all of you from SF to Grand Junction. 

Sorry you can't make it. It's such a fun event. 

I prefer to lease... I Loved the Honda S-2000, had a great time with the Fiat 500. Dream car (Jaguar F) is out of reach, so I am considering the Scion/Subaru/Toyota BRZ or FRS. Should I wait for the 2015, or just go get a 2014... and which one? Is there any rational difference within the first 36 months between either company? thanks muchly...

Lease the F-Type. Its a hot affair that should cool down in two years, about the time your lease will be ending. Expensive, yes. But enjoyable for the duration.

Have you driven the E-Golf yet? Joe, Bethesda.

Not yet. But looking forward to it.

What do you think? I already have the Volvo which I like, but I'm thinking of going with the A3 lease. For about $300 month, it's appealing to me. What would make me regret getting the A3?

I can't think of a reason you wouldn't enjoy either car but the A3 is smaller than the S60 so it would depend on how much room you wanted. 


What's your advice on buying the extended warranty with a new car? Specifically talking about a Mazda3. Is it worth the money to have a 7 year/60,000 mile warranty instead of the 3 year manufacturer's defect one that it comes with? Thanks for you help.

My operating belief is that most extended warranties are unnecessary, primarily because they cover what the car companies already say they cover. Mazda is a good example. Excellent product. I've never seen an ad touting Mazda quality advising you to "buy an extended warranty with this one."

Is it really wise to wait a year after the release of a new edition of a particular car. E.g., I'm interested in a Corvette C7, but since it is so radically changed I'm wondering if there is a "get the bugs out" period that I should observe. Thanks for your expert advice.

I would buy the C7 in a heartbeat. 

There are some people that subscribe to the theory of waiting for the bugs to get out period, there are some that buy the latest and greatest because they can afford it. 

When we're buying new equipment we buy the best we can get. We know there will be bugs but we hope/think there are less bugs than the last time. 

Could this be the 1st tv commercial that doesn't future any humans?: Could this recent tv car commercial w/o any humans be giving us a glimpse of the future?:

I doubt it's the first commercial that doesn't have a human in it but I loved the commercial the first time I saw it and it took me a few seconds to realize they weren't go-go girls :) 

At the top it says "I'd like to congratulate Warren and my good friend, Ken Gross."

Well, hooey, she's always congratulating me. As for Ken, my hat is off for him, too. Great writer. Great person. Congrats, Ken.

Is there a car that you would consider an attention getter? Oh, and not because it costs $$$$$. I want a car that people will notice driving down the street, something that would look good in a parade, have enough storage room for a folding table, 10x10 tent, and a few supplies, and not break the bank. A compact car would be good. I know I can wrap any car to draw attention, but I prefer to do that with the design of the car. I have friends with smart fortwo, mini coopers, and pt cruisers. All are somewhat unique. I am half tempted to look for a hot rod or replica Model T... any suggestions?

Yes, the replica Model T. It will draw attention and have the storage space you want. Did you know the Model T cars often were converted into mobile campers?

Hi guys, we have recently fallen in love with the 4-door Mini Countryman but are wondering a couple of things: 1) based on Warren's experiences, would you recommend leasing over buying, and 2) is there any other car we should consider trying out? Thanks!

Yes, I would recommend leasing. By the time this one starts costing you repair money--and it will--the lease should be ending. Frankly, assuming you want it for people and stuff hauling, the new Subaru Forester would make more sense.

My 13 year old subaru outback is on it's last legs and with a 3rd kid on the way, I would like to move to a slightly larger vehicle... but I really love my Outback and I'm trying to convince my husband our family can do it. What do you think? And what other cars would you recommend we look into?

Isn't the new Outback bigger than it was 13 years ago? It seems like every other car is. I would look at the new Subaru Outback first, than a Subaru Forester. 

I would also think about a Mazda CX9, Buick Enclave and Lexus RX45h

What is your view on long term quality of German cars? A colleague, who has several cars, purchased an S8 and picked it up at the factory in Germany. The factory workers loved the car but told him to make sure he sold it before the warranty expired. My mechanic has been talking about higher mileage issues with BMWs too. What have you heard?

That is just what Warren told someone about the MINI countryman, to lease it because they would return it before the warranty went out. 

It seems to be a theme these days though I do know that VW's reliability has been increasing. 

I think it depends on the model of the car, not just the make. It also depends on the manufacturer, not just the nationality. I don't think all German companies should be put in one group. 

I see Fiat has done some relatively minor improvements to the 2015 500 including a new electronic instrument panel display that looks really nice and some Bluetooth enhancements. Have you driven the 500 Turbo? Is there a complete redesign on the horizon? While it still looks cute, the design is several years old now. I love that it's so small as MINI keeps on making their cars bigger and bigger which is a turnoff for me.

The only Fiat I would buy is the Fiat 500L which has the same interior room as a Chrysler 300. I would also buy the new MINI hardtop because it has functional room and the drivability more like a  BMW. 

I have driven the turbo, i would buy the turbo. I would not buy the regular 500.

Maybe it's age or creeping maturity or both, but as I contemplate a next car, for the first time in my buying history, I'm not paying a great deal of attention to how I hope others will react to my vehicle. Rather, I want to know how it will take care of me. Yet there's a little bit of a tug about the image I will convey. I'm just curious where how the two of your resolve this issue.

With age comes wisdom. Warren and I both look at safety first. We are at the age where we have lost people we love and each time we lose another one it hurts. Safety to us and others is paramount. 

Safety includes the ability to have the power to get us out of a driving issue, such as going up a hill or around a corner. 

No matter how old one gets design is an art form. If you can combine the two of  them - art and safety - it is a beautiful thing. 

Since art is subjective it is okay for you to decide what car you like. Safety is not. 

Warren, your great column usually has questions/discussions on performance. But who are the top six manufacturers as far as safety go? Thanks

Honda is number one in safety for me.  They don't' have to put as many safety technology parts on their car as they do, but they do. 

Look for a car company that puts safety elements on the car as standard that are not required and that's the car company for me. 

Does modifying a truck engine to "roll coal" void the manufacturer's warranty?

I don't know if it does, but it should. They should also be fined. 


Yes -- gotta chime in every few weeks -- the Forester rocks.

there you go. 

Thanks everyone for joining us today. Warren, you and Maryanne have a safe and wonderful weekend. Angela, thanks for all the help today putting the show on. 

To all my MINI miniacs have a great time this week, drive safe, see you in San Francisco soon. 

And remember - never drive faster than your Angel can fly. 

Much love 


In This Chat
Warren Brown
Warren Brown has covered the cars industry for The Washington Post since 1982.

• On Wheels Archive

• Real Wheels Live Q&A Archive
Lou Ann Hammond
Lou Ann Hammond is the founder and owner of the first privately owned automobile website Recently Lou Ann has developed an automotive and energy issues related website,, that covers a broader range of subjects than solely the automotive or the energy industry.
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