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Phil Hill, by Denise McCluggage
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Words by Denise McCluggage
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Denise and Stirling Moss
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This site is about cars, all sorts of cars. Vintage cars, new cars, the mundane and the magical. And about the people who drive — and drove — them. (Nostalgia will be knife-spreadable here.) You’ll find personal stories of the people who drove race cars with skill and speed — Fangio, Moss, Phil Hill, Jimmy Clark, Fireball Roberts, the Unsers, the Rodriguez brothers. And, too, you’ll read of ordinary people who, alas, drive us to despair.

This site deals with what to drive (I recently experienced the Bugatti Veyron); where to drive (some great roads I’ll tell you about); and how to drive (some tips and admonitions to make those despair-makers more like me and thee.)

I’ve been at both driving and writing a looong time. I got my first driver’s license in 1940. Some ten years later I was writing about, among other things, cars. Some of those other things will show up here, too. But mostly cars, trucks and a few motorcycles. Well, an airplane or two. Yes, and skis. But mostly cars.

Latest McBlog posts by Denise McCluggage

DuoBlog: Denise McCluggage and John Paul Gonzales on the 2013 Buick Encore

2013 Buick EncoreAnother “He Said, She Said” blather about a new car. Denise McCluggage and John Paul Gonzales take on the small Buick crossover. For more extended conventional reviews check out AutoWeek, Automobile Magazine or Edmunds.

Denise McCluggage, enjoying lunch.Denise McCluggage: My quick early impression: endearing little machine. Right size and demeanor for a city like Santa Fe with its altitude (7000 feet plus and minus) and often bad or snowy roads. The Encore is easy to get in and out of. Maneuverable. Easy to see out of. Versatile in use. Appropriately quick steering. Impressively tight turning circle for 4WD. (An option.) Proper city manners, like the A-pillar and mirrors doesn’t hide a herd of first graders at intersections like so many SUVs and crossovers do. For me the Encore is cocky enough to know it deserves applause and I comply. How do you see it JP?

JP Gonzales, enjoying lunch.John Paul Gonzales: I felt that the Encore was a charming vehicle. I’m generally not one for crossovers because they seem to be compromised some way or another, but the Encore felt much more like a small SUV than any sort of SUV crossed over with a car that I’ve ever driven. It’s comfortable, has surprisingly well-balanced road manners, and is looks like something I’d be happy to be seen in.

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DuoBlog: Denise McCluggage and John Paul Gonzales in Car Conversation.

Today: The 2013 Lexus ES 350

D-McC: Years ago when I was a sports reporter for The New York Herald Tribune my specialties were motorsports and skiing, but I was assigned to other stuff from golf to kids’ yacht racing, And dog shows. Though I was amused that canine beauty contests were on the sports page.

One day after the Best-in-Show was chosen we reporters gathered around the judge – pens ready to record a quotable quote to enliven our stories—I got one I’ve never forgotten. The rather lumpy women, frowning with the seriousness of her job, explained her choice with “I could not fault the Peke today.”

Loved it. That became one of my go-to sayings whether apt or not. And, does it fit today. Lexus does not leap to my mind as my kind of car but – certainly JP, I could not fault the ES 350 today. How about you?

JP: You know, it really depends on the context you place the car. The car, like a dog, is innocent and faultless in a vacuum. I think it’s just like in one of those dog shows where one can parade them around on the green carpet, poke here and prod there, and find not a fault with the dog’s perfect coat and obedient demeanor. That’s the dog in a vacuum. But if you want to talk about the dog in the context of “is it good playing with children” or “does parading it around at the dog park attract conversation” then we can really start to get at what the dog means to us—and if there’s fault. (But for the record, I’m not really a fan of normative statements anyway).

You can have a pretty car and find plenty of fault in it, or you can have a plain-jane appliance vehicle that does everything you could possibly want it to do depending on how it’s used. I’ll go on record as saying that the ES350 is pretty much the most fault-less car you can possibly buy for the money today. It does everything you want it do, with no fuss, in comfort and brand-recognition style. After all, “it’s a Lexus!” Look, leather seats, premium sound, this navigation system, and Ooh! A “sport/economy” selector that just might indicate this car has some personality. If I had my clipboard and checklist, I’d tick off these points, frumpily frown, and say “I could not fault the Lex today.”

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Speeches by Denise McCluggage

Get speechified by Denise McCluggage.Photos and stories of Fangio, Stirling Moss, Phil Hill, the Rodriguez brothers brought to your car club gathering or corporate meeting. Questions answered. For a women's group: "Being Safe In and Around an Automobile." And along with Personal Car Consultant Fred Vang, "Choosing, Paying For and Tending To a New Car."


Denise has her own McCluggage.

Etcetera on

6/23/11 - TRAVEL BUG
I think of Santa Fe's Travel Bug as "The Map Store" and confound people when I say that's where I'll meet them for tea (or coffee if they must.)

Travel Bug on

But there are more maps here than ever existed when cartography was middle-aged. Books too, travel guides yes, but books about the places as well.

Lookit - neat things found by

Youtube, Denise on "To Tell The Truth", 1959.

Findings: The Perfect Bungee
I’ve always said that if you couldn’t do it with WD40, a bungee cord or a skinny dime it didn’t deserve to be done ...

Findings: Motormouse
Not many sleek sports cars fit in a soft pouch, but this one does ...


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