Q. I'm thinking of
Mitsubishi, instead of a Chevy, Toyota, Honda or another better-known
brand. But I don't hear much about Mitsubishi. Will it be around for
awhile? -- E.S. (via Internet)
A. Mitsubishi is not a household name, and its showrooms generally aren't big and impressive. But it's actually increasing sales here faster than some automakers by offering affordable vehicles for folks on a budget (often ignored by other automakers). It's new, redesigned Outlander compact SUV has arrived when SUVs are hot. It's not generally known that Mitsubishi is Japan's largest trading company, with holdings in electronics, finance, machinery and chemicals.
Q. Is Porsche really going to make a station wagon for the United States? Tell me it's not true. I'm a big fan of Porsche sports cars. -- F.K. (via Internet)
A. Porsche, like any successful company, is going where the money is. And it looks as if lots of money will continue to be made on more utilitarian vehicles for some time--not just Porsche's sports cars such as its iconic 911. Porsche thus plans to sell a station wagon variant of its Panamera large four-door luxury hatchback in the United States. However, the wagon likely won't arrive here until 2018.
Q. You've written that older, long-neglected Japanese cars are finally becoming collector cars. So what Japanese autos are the most desirable? -- B.Y. (via Internet)
A. The top two (hold onto your wallet) are the $940,900-$1,155,000 1967-70 Toyota 2000GT (featured in the James Bond film "You Only Live Twice") and the 1967-68 Mazda Cosmo Series I, valued at $85,700-$264,000, and the 1968-72 Cosmo Series II, valued at $110,000-$121,000, says the Sports Car Market Price Guide. Toyota produced just 342 2000GTs, and Mazda made 1,519 Cosmos. The Cosmo had wild styling and Mazda's first rotary engine. Only a few of those Cosmos reportedly are in America. Entertainer Jay Leno has one. If you want to have fun without spending a small fortune, grab a 1968-70 Datsun (Nissan) sports car for $7,100-$10,800 or a 1970 Datsun 240Z for $19,000-$52,250.
Q. Why are car dealers excited
delivery vans? -- D.M. (via Internet)
A. Sales of full-size vans are increasing much faster than the industry average, and compact vans also are hot. While the economy is not exactly booming, it's improving. And that spells demand for work vans. Newcomers to the market from Ram and Nissan are selling fast, and Ford--the traditional van sales leader-- has replaced its old Econoline van with the popular European-style Transit.
Q. Why do European and Asian automakers put up with America's numerous--and sometimes ridiculous--rigid vehicle regulations? -- A.C. (via Internet)
A. Because many of the world's automakers consider the United States the world's most profitable market. Once again, it's all about the money.