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Cold Start: It Begins

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Hello, fellow Autopians! Here it is, the first week after the launch, and now we have to keep filling up this site with top-notch car-stuff for you to enjoy. We’re excited. Maybe a little scared. No, that’s the wrong word; I meant frightened. Much better.

[Cold Start is how we’re going to start our days, with an interesting automotive image, and a bit of text. Our way of saying good morning as we pull the choke and try to get started. –Ed]

I picked this AMC lineup to start for kind of symbolic reasons: AMC was always sort of the underdog, which is how we’re starting out, but they were always clever and strange and fun and those are all qualities I hope we have, too.

Granted, I’d prefer a different outcome for The Autopian (Powered by Optima Batteries) than AMC, but maybe if Renault wants to pour a lot of cash in us like they did AMC, that could be okay.

Also, I’ll leave it to you to decide who is the Pacer, Hornet, or Gremlin. I’m torn between Pacer and Hornet for myself.

We have great things coming, but we are a bit understaffed at the moment, so I’ll ask some forgiveness up front: if there’s a typo or two, or the pace isn’t exactly as quick as you’d like, just know we’re trying our best, and will always try to do better.

We want to give you the best place for automotive enjoyment possible, and want you here, every day! So, please, stick around, share the things you like, and give us plenty of feedback–this is your site, too.

Okay, time to write. See you in the comments!

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87 Responses

  1. My parents bought a 1971 Sportabout new, in Lime Gold. We traveled from PA to FL in it…no AC, and a record red tide that summer (yes, summer).

    It was handed down to me after my marvelous/dreadful Fiat 128SL rusted apart in a very short period of time. It ultimately had dents on every panel, including the roof when a bicyclist went over the top (the car was in Park at the time).

    When I moved to NYC in 1979, Dad took it back and sold it to a “collector”.

    It now resides in the AACA in Hershey, PA. And I own a 5-door hatchback now that I’ve retired and left NYC (2015 Fit).

  2. We had a Hornet hatchback in the early 70’s. My most enduring memory is a vacation roadtrip from Houston to Michigan to visit grandparents. Being the youngest child I got the middle hump in the back seat for the 3 day journey.

    1. I was allowed to sit/lay/crouch in the “backity back” as we called it. Which is the trunk. Safety be damned. Also, my father put a radio, complete with 8-track player, in the glove box to thwart thieves he said. I think he just didn’t want to deal with taking out the old radio and making the new one fit.

  3. Looking great gents. My family had ALLLLLLL the AMCs in the 70’s so I can speak from experience:

    Given the extremely limited choices here, Torch is 100% the Gremlin.

    DT is absolutely the Hornet wagon in the image. I think he would actually be an Eagle wagon 4×4, but I digress.

    If anyone needs rationale for these choices, you haven’t been paying attention the last few years.

    Thanks again for the site.

  4. I think Torch is more of a Gremlin, than a Pacer or a Hornet! Maybe David Tracy is the Pacer.

    Although the engineer and sketch artist you recently hired might be better described as an AMX and AMX II.

    Love the site.

  5. Gremlin all the way – the worst thing you could say about it was that it was funny looking, which isn’t much of an insult when your competition was the Pinto, Vega, and Cricket. Also the only subcompact to pass the IIHS’ crash testing when they first started studying impacts between large and small vehicles in the early ’70s

    1. Same here. I’d rather pay a monthly subscription than see ads, but I don’t mind the “sponsored by” thing at all. Hey Pacer – I mean Torch – you guys should put an affiliate link for Optima batteries here on the site so we can buy them and get you a cut of the profits or something (I’m not sure how all that works). I didn’t know about Optima until I saw them on your site and when I researched them, I liked what I saw. So out of Autopian loyalty (we Autopians are known for our loyalty, if not for our intelligence), and because I think it’s a good product, I’ll get batteries from them from now on.

      Keep it up – you’re doing great! And I love the “Cold Start” idea. I’m old enough to remember what that feels (and smells) like and it brings back memories — mostly good ones.

      1. I too would be happy to do a Patreon or whatever, plus I bought some merch. I’d also be fine with sponsored content, as long as it’s clearly marked. (Full disclosure though, I’m not gonna actually read it.) Affiliate links are not a problem, site sponsors are not a problem (as long as any shilling you do is of the so-blatant-it’s-funny kind) and I don’t even see a an issue with a few ads here and there as long as they’re not intrusive. (I’m never gonna turn my ad blocker off though, sorry.) If you plan to run a YouTube channel then ads there are also no big deal (so long as they integrate into the script—it’s annoying when they cut the video off mid-word) and anyway people with YouTube Premium wouldn’t have to see them.

        Lastly, have you considered a dunking booth?

        I think we’re all on the same page about what we *don’t* want this site to be like. Hopefully you can make this work, because what you’re doing so far rocks!

      2. Just another chiming in to say that I’d happy pay a Patreon style subscription for this kind of content. Also seeing properly nested comments made me squee a little inside.
        Seriously, this seems like a great start. If getting money to continue means leaning on the readership rather than taking outside investment at the cost of editorial control, lean on us!

      3. Also agreed, I think a few bucks a month to skip ads could work. I don’t think I want this to go full Defector and block you, but a subscription with some value may work since it seems the people that are going to be hanging out here want this place to succeed.

        Side note, I’ve had incredibly bad luck with Optimas personally, although I read overwhelmingly good things about them so it’s probably just bad luck that I’ve had two red tops fail on me over winter storage in five years.

    2. Same here. I never turn ad blocker off but I want these guys to succeed so I’m trying to give them some ad revenue. I know they’re sponsored by Optima Batteries so I hope that’s enough for them.

  6. What a good way to start!

    A related-unrelated AMC story- there was a massive salvage yard we would always pass on my way to grandmas house. Opened in the 50s, this was the 90s. There were the ‘coolest’ cars lined up roadside on a hill as you drove by. I recall an impala wagon, mustang coupe, a dart, and some multicolor car i didnt know. It was red, white, and blue, divided in thirds front/middle/back. Years later, i find out it was an AMC javelin. They used that scheme on the trans am cars. Real deal? We will never know.

    Same yard gave parts to my moms fiest car- rebel machine. Wish it still existed.

  7. Love the Cold Start concept as I always enjoyed those old brochure pics. Honestly I find myself looking at that wagon up there and going “wonder how much they’re going for these days” and then I remember what AMC was like back then. Suppose I need another cup of coffee, as I owned a Renault Alliance and have probably repressed those memories.

  8. Fun beginnings to hopefully something great… My friends lost it over STAB’s story, and I’m excited to see David be David on another continent. May need him to nab me some parts for my captive Aussie… Either way, excited to be along for the ride!

  9. I still like the looks of the mid-’70s AMC lineup. Yes, even the Pacer. It’s weird, but somehow it works. But the Gremlin is my favorite. I’ve always wanted one, ever since riding in my aunt’s Levi’s Edition when I was little. That’s a concept that should make a comeback, except that these days it would probably be the H&M Edition Kia Soul, or something, and the seats would fall apart after about a month.

    Oh, and good morning!

  10. My dad had a Gremlin back in the early 80’s before I was born. Typical fat tires, traction bars, flat black paint job (could have been a crap factory job too) and a 304.

    Wonderfully ugly cars, same as the Pacer.

    Oddly, I’ve always wanted an Eagle wagon, to swap in a 304/standard shift combo……the Eagle AMC should have built.

  11. My first car was an ’83 AMC Concord…in 2002. But I loved that goofy old thing. My teenage self sunk most of his after-school job money into ridiculous things that had no business in an aging AMC, like blue neon light tubes to replace the melted/broken dome light and big, cheap Jensen speakers and an MP3-CD receiver to replace the factory AM/FM (not even a tape deck!) radio and single glovebox-adjacent speaker. There were also more practical upgrades–I thought it’d be neat to have a passenger side-view mirror, for example.

    Sadly, having spent 18 winters in Wisconsin already by the time I took the keys, my beloved “Earl” (I could tell this car used he/him and that his name was Earl. My maroon AMC sedan just oozed classic old-man vibes) was not much longer for this world. The carpet was the only thing keeping the outside outside and the inside inside down by my feet, and the rest of the body was ready to rot as well, culminating in a very bad day when one of the rear strut towers decided to take a field trip to the inside of the trunk. I only spent about a year with this car, but I loved every minute of it. There were no other AMCs in my high school parking lot. There were maybe one or two Eagles in my whole small town. I loved having something unique and with some local Wisco history to it.

    My next car, a ’93 Taurus was a marked upgrade all around, but I never loved it like my AMC.

  12. I love the name Cold Start, it’s perfect.

    Really happy with the site layout, too. It’s great to have a “feed” that you can scroll through in order rather than a magazine-style front page where you have to dig around in different areas.

    I’m training my fingers to type the letter A instead of the letter J when I hit the URL bar now.

  13. The picture of 3 AMC cars on the fairway of the 18th hole of some hoity-toity country club is a bit optimistic, don’t you think??
    Maybe it’s the AMC dealership OWNER that golfs there. Any regular driver of these 3 cars would be better suited in the parking lot of the local bowling alley. These cars were more apt to hold balls than clubs, some would say.

  14. I like how this is starting out: A hopeless piece of Dave worthy vaguely car shaped rust, minutia about indicators, getting a “handle”. I’d seriously pay money to see this succeed and continue to be weird takes on cars.

  15. Jason got it wrong on AMC…. They didn’t need Renault, they just needed a good corporate sponsor. Y’all got Optima batteries. With a big Optima banner on the side, and the battery inside, we might still be lucky enough to be driving a Sportabout…..

    Concept works for Nascar….

    An aside. I suppose all the staff was given a life time supply of Optima batteries. I just don’t see it working for Tracy. None of his vehicles seem worthy of an Optima…. Maybe the aJ10…. But I can see David scrounging every U-Pull-It yard in southern Michigan looking for used batteries. Hope he writes it up….

    1. Optima batteries rule. Will never buy a different brand. On my 4th Optima now. First two lasted 9 and 12 years and powered my truck stereos for afternoons (hundreds of them).
      Sorry but you guys are NOT the underdog here. You outshined the other kids on your first day.

  16. Had a 73 Hornet wagon in the mid 80s. 6cyl, 3 on the tree. Best snow car I ever owned, or would ever own. Skinny bias snow tires on the rears, and that thing was a goat. Funny thing about the Hornet under the hood: it had two battery platforms, one on each side. So I added a second battery, and wired them in parallel with some jumper cables and terminal clamps. I lived in Wisconsin at the time, and that damn car would ALWAYS start, and get me where I needed to be. Bailed out many a friend with that thing. Kinda nice looking too, in an AMC way. I recall dumping the bimetal coil auto-choke for a manual pull-by-wire. Wonderful simple bulletproof car.

  17. Thanks guys for doing this.

    My heart sank a bit when I read the announcement that JT was leaving the previous site and doubly so when DT was leaving as well. And on the same day. That was about 90% of my daily car/wrenching infotainment.

    Patience has paid off and here you both are with all of the amazing content and whimsical writing that I enjoy. Thank you and your whole team. Whomever you’ve rallied around you they deserve kudos as the articles are well done and the writing top notch.

    Keep it up

  18. Wonderful, I just found this new site, and I’m thrilled to see the names of a few authors that I have been reading for years elsewhere.

    Waaaaay back in high school I had a ’71 Gremlin X, Yellow/Black, Levi interior, 258 ci I6, 3 on the floor. I loved that car! And honestly, over the years I have just learned to just ignore all those who don’t. And in hindsight it’s kinda funny because as I got older and had more money to spend on cars, about the only things I bought were 3-door hot hatches. The Gremlin X started all that for me.

  19. Being of the older persuasion, I will not begin with these misbegotten products of AMC. Instead, I will begin with my G’pa’s 48 Hudson, followed by a 49, and 51. When they got involved with Packard and Studebaker he lost interest until he bought a 57 Rambler Wagon. I guess he figured the bloodlines were sufficient. Sadly, I’ve never owned a Hudson.

    I am very pleased with the direction you are going with this. If the quality is this good, frequency can come as it pleases.

    On an admin note, my current email address is invalid but your login won’t accept my Gmail account for some reason.

  20. Some site feedback:

    1) New comment box immediately after the article so we don’t have to scroll past everything to post a new one.

    2) Add a brief window of time to edit a comment after posting to fix typos etc. Maybe 2-3 minutes?

    1. I actually like having it at the bottom, it’s like a little suggestion to read the fucking room before I open my big fat mouth. Can’t say I’m always gonna do that, but I do think it promotes better discussion. It also creates a tiny bit of friction to dissuade casual shitposting.

      I assume the commenting engine will get more features over time. What we’re dealing with here seems like basically an MVP—presumably they intend to flesh the site out a bit as they go. In the meantime the actual content seems excellent, and that’s what really matters!

      1. Agreed, I can wait for new features since the content is gonna rule. And hey, they already got replies in at least since the first teaser post. It would have taken a year for that to be done in Kinja.

    2. I think the biggest disappointment with the commenting engine is the inability to either host or even link images. I agree with your other two points though.

      I get that commenting engines are just hard though. Kinja was a multi million dollar ground up platform designed for the commentariat so it’ll never match it for the (former) easy of navigating the notifications menu and getting to easily create well formatted replies in a threaded form. On the ad free subblogs it even ran pretty quickly.

  21. I’ve always loved the styling of the Pacer. It gives me 928 vibes with its round, greenhouse of an ass, and has such a goofy, cartoonish aesthetic. The one in the brochure pic makes me long for some two-tone paint jobs coming back on average cars.

  22. “If there’s a typo or two, or the pace isn’t exactly as quick as you’d like, just know we’re trying our best, and will always try to do better.”

    Personally, I plan to throw a fit regardless. Bet you’ve never seen a grown man hold his breath until he passes out!

    Actually, I knew a guy who crashed his car because of holding his breath until he passed out. A bet was involved.

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