Q. I’ve read that a large percentage of women killed in accidents driving General Motors small cars with faulty ignition switches were young women. Why is that? — J.M., Chicago

A. I’ve known a few really good female drivers in their early 20s. But, generally, I’ve found that most young women drivers have little or no interest in cars and lack the skill, knowledge and strength to handle a car that’s lost its power steering and power brakes when an engine cuts out due to an ignition switch failure. They consequently panic because, for instance, their car becomes harder to steer.

Q. I hear that all cars and light trucks eventually will be required by law to have a rearview camera. Will such cameras really cut down on accidents and fatalities? — D.M., (via Internet)

A. Yes—and no. I drive many test cars with rearview cameras and find them helpful, but no substitute for looking over my shoulder to the left and right before backing up. Such cameras will be mandated for all new cars and light trucks by 2018, although they’re offered as standard equipment or in a good number of option packages for 2014 models. 

Q. Should I buy a 1970s Porsche 914-6? It looks kind of weird but has a Porsche 911 six-cylinder engine and I know of one that doesn’t cost much. — F.K., Phoenix

A. The 1970-72 Porsche 914-6 looks like an inverted bathtub and has a mild version of the 911 engine. Most of the other 1970-76 914 models had a Volkswagen engine that was easier to live with and less costly to fix. However the early 914 four-cylinder models were slow and not much fun. Careful, also, because 914s can have much rust (like all early Porsches) and a good 914-6 with a 911 engine can be hard to find. Decent ones are valued at up to $24,000. You’re best off getting the fast-appreciating 1969 Porsche 912, which the 914 replaced. The four-cylinder 912 looked the same, inside and out, as the 1969 Porsche 911 six-cylinder. With some engine modifications, a 912 is as fast, if not faster, than the much heavier base 1969 911T six-cylinder model—not to mention being cheaper to own because Porsche had used its tough, reliable four-cylinder in America since 1950.

Q. When growing up in the 1950s, my uncle came over with his new 1957 pink Cadillac coupe. My father had an old Ford, so riding in the Cadillac was like being in a plush yacht. I’d love to get a pink 1957 Caddy now, if only to revisit my youth, but wonder what I would have to pay and such. — G.M., San Francisco

A. Small world. My uncle also had a 1957 Cadillac Coupe deVille, painted pink with a white top. And my father also had an old car. Rides in the quiet, luxurious Cadillac thus were a treat. It had great styling and was considerably lower than the 1956 Cadillac. By today’s standards, though, it was huge and gas-thirsty—although I doubt you’d use it as a commuter car. Note that, years later, my uncle, a top printing press repairman, said his Cadillac was a troublesome car “that the dealer never seemed able to fix, so I fixed it myself.” The Old Cars Price Guide puts the value of a good-condition ’57 Coupe deVille at $18,900 to $29,400.

Q. What do you think of the new $60,325 Cadillac CTS 2.0T Performance Collection Sedan with its 272-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine? — J.C. (via Internet)

A. Not much, if only because it seems inappropriate that a $60,000-plus Cadillac has a four-cylinder engine, turbocharged or not. That car, which has a ridiculously long name, weighs a hefty 3,616 pounds, which calls for a turbocharged V-6 or a strong V-8.

Back to Q & A main section