Volkswagen runs out of ideas, crashes the Bus.

Vanagon Fragment
The above is the sole digital photo I have of my old VW Vanagon. I found it in my photo library. Taken with a primitive digital camera in 1996, it was a photo of my house, which I was selling on the Internet as we planned to depart for the UK. Note the “for sale” sign in the rear window of the van as well. We sold the Vanagon to another small family in our neighborhood. I hope it served them as well as it did us. If I find a analog photo I’ll scan it and put it here too.

I noted that VW is going to be selling a badge-engineered Chrysler minivan as the VW “Routan”… what a sorry state of affairs. They teased the world with a retro-Bus 7 years ago to wrap up their resurgence of the Beetle design. It never has come to fruition. Instead we get this. below is the text of a comment I left on TTAC early this morning…

Back in the early 90s when my kids were little and my dog was big I have a ’89 Vanagon “Wolfsburg Edition”. Built the year the Wall Came Down. I loved that box-on-wheels. So OK, 80 MPH was about as fast as it could go without being dropped from high altitude, but as a family hauler and hockey bus (I was a goalie, and my wife played “D” on local adult rec team) it was unparalleled.

Our two annual vacations were always in that machine. In winter we would load the kids in, and the luggage and skis onto the Yakima rack up top, lay down the bed in the back, throw in a cooler between the seats and drive 24 hours straight from Seattle to central Colorado where my parents live at the base of a ski hill. “Hi Mom, here’s the grandkids, see ya later!” 😉 The other trip was a summer wander all over the West, either US, Canada or both. That Vanagon was the cheapest and most utilitarian funtcional RV ever built. No, it wasn’t a Westphalia camper, but the 2-2-table-3 seating arrangement was fantastic, and terrifically functional for hauling kids. The passenger (myself or my wife) could stand up and walk to the backseat ferchrissakes! The kids could sit facing each other, even strapped into those damn car seats, and be engaged in sibling rivalry yet be out of fist range!

My only complaint was thedesign of the fold-up cupholdeers, they were all destroyed within a year of buying the thing. So were all the replacements. Just a bad design.

The tightest turning circle of any car I’ve ever owned. Very easy to maintain and self-service (important for this home mechanic!) Fun to drive in it’s own looney sort of way. You could park it anywhere as the footprint of the thing was in reality about the same as a Jetta, but with that big sliding door and the fact that the front seat riders can easily walk back to it meant that door clearance was never an issue.

I sold that Vanagon when I was transferred overseas in early 1997. I wish I hadn’t.

It is a shame that 50 years of design and refinement were abandoned by VW. The Vanagon was essentially the apogee of the original VW Bulli/Combi Bus, just with the “wasserboxer” engine in the end. Literally. Nobody thought outside the van shaped box like VW. Their products were always offbeat and unique.

To badge-engineer something from Chrysler is an insult. Though I agree with others and say that at least they’ve tarted it up beyond its ugly start. The problem with most “minivans” is that they are just station wagons with a sliding door. They are NOT vans. They lack the utility of a van. They lack the room to maneuver INSIDE that a van gives you. VW vans have a long history of being second homes on wheels and nothing from Chyrerberus is going to get that job done.

We’ve all been waiting for that New Bus to complement the New Beetle, and VW craps out THIS TURD?? Whisky Tango Foxtrot?

Ducks & Senators in the Stanley Cup final

The Ducks eliminated the Red Wings tonight in the NHL Western Conference finals. I can’t comment too much on the series since I really only watched the playoff out of one eye after the Canucks were eliminated (by the Ducks). I really wanted the Canucks to go all the way, especially with the way Luongo was playing, but alas, the Ducks were just unstoppable. They are young, and fast, and relentless, and Giguerre is playing as good as Luongo with a better team in front of him to boot. If you are going to go down, it is best to have the guys who beat you go all the way though, right? I’m happy with the outcome.

I also half-watched (OK… 1/8th watched) the Ottawa Senators work their way through the Eastern series. They had it easier than any team in the West. I loved seeing them finish on top, dispatching team such as the Devils and Sabres. As much as I’d like to see the Cup return to Ottawa (They last won it in 1927, and 18 times before that going back to 1903 or so) I have a feeling they are no match for the Ducks.

It is 2,785 miles between the two cities, and it will be interesting to see how that long travel distance affects the series.

Geography Trivia: I live in the “lower 48” and I am NORTH of Ottawa… by several hundred miles.

Odd week.

It was an odd week, this first week of October, 2006. At work, our “we have power” message is finally starting to see some traction in the marketplace. I celebrated my forty-third birthday. The NHL opened their season. My car was voted “Reader Ride of the Week”. My friend Peter Lalor (see blogroll) passed away.

A lot to digest.

Stanley Cup Comments

I watched game one. Well, actually I watched MOST of game one. It went like this:

Oiler Goal, Oiler Goal, Don Cherry in an insane suit made of drapery remnants saying that Edmonton would win (did I mention I’m so happy to live close enough to Canada to be able to watch the NHL on HNIC), Oiler Goal. Chuck thinking, wow, these guys are dominating. I had a feeling it would be a five or even four game series.

That is when I had to walk away from the TV and do some things… first I had to carry a bag of rabbit food out to the barn. It took me a while. When I walked back in the house the score was tied 3-3… before I could digest that Carolina scored again… then I noticed Edmonton had switched goaltenders. I then had to make dinner, but kept walking over to the TV to stare slack-jawed at what was happening. I iChat a friend in Vancouver who informs me as to why Roloson was off the ice… his own teammate dumped an opposing player on him and he’s tweaked a knee. That is exactly how my hockey “career” ended. sigh. At least Roli’s happened in a Stanley Cup final instead of a Wednesday night beer league game. :\

(Un)fortunately I was unable to watch game two, but Chuq posted a nice analysis, and this still could be a sweep, or maybe a 5-gamer but not in favor of the Oilers. Oh well.

There have been some legendary Cup Finals where injury-plagued underdogs pull off amazing feats. Ironically, my favorite was in 1987, when the Flyers (a team I hated up to that point) managed to wring seven games from what was essentially the Hershey Bears first two lines, up against the legendary Edmonton Oilers. What got them there was a hotheaded but brilliant Goaltender named Ron Hextall. You can’t win Stanley Cups without goaltending and the goaltender that got the Oilers there is now out. It will be a miracle if the Oilers can pull off a win, much less a Stanley Cup.

I hate to see it go that way, but as Don Cherry says on Coaches Corner “Kids, watch this… YOU DON’T DO THIS: Dump a player on your own goaltender!” I don’t know if Grapes pointed out Marc-Andre Bergeron’s grave error, but he should have.

“Lousy postseason TV ratings are an NHL way of life”

So says John Rolfe of Sport Illustrated.

I think part of the NHL’s problem is schedule. It is almost June ferchrissakes!

I recall when the Stanley Cup would be decided by the end of the first week in May. Now it seems it is almost the 4th of July when they hoist The Cup for a skate around the rink. I used to be glued to the set for the playoffs, but now I’d rather be outside. It stays light here at this latitude until 9 PM this time of year. By the time the finals roll around, it will be light until after 10 PM. I don’t even think of turning on the tube once the rains (mostly) cease and sun comes out.

Hockey is a winter sport, it starts in the first week of October, when the air starts to chill. It SHOULD finish sometime between tulips & daffodils and the closing of the lifts at Mt. Baker. But instead, they’ve created a system to milk the maximum revenue out of the playoff process.

It is backfiring on them.

After the disaster of the 04/05 non-season, they made a lot of rule changes to improve the game, with a strong focus on speeding the game up. They are calling the interference, and the clutch & grab. Now let’s speed up the playoff please!

Drop the first round and half the number of teams eligible. Get it all done in the month of April, and wrap it up by the end of the first week of May.