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Brandon Seiler's Blog on Cars

Archive for April 2010

MotorSpaceNW crashes Ford Fiesta launch, San Francisco – Part 1

Before we get into this amazing adventure, my editors asked I make explicitly clear everything Ford paid for on my trip to the U.S. launch of the Ford Fiesta, per FTC guidelines governing endorsements and testimonials. Here’s the list:

1. Air Fare to San Francisco 
2. Shuttle service to Fiesta presentation
3. Catered lunch (Delicious)
4. Gas in my Fiesta on a TSD rally to Byington Winery:
-Cookies, granola bars, bottled water.
5. Gas in Fiesta on trip back to Hotel Vitale
6. Private room at Hotel Vitale
7. Fully stocked mini bar:
-Assorted Fine chocolates
-Top shelf liquors/classy half bottle of wine
-Personal oxygen bottle
-Prophylactic kit
-Classy purified waters
-Health bars
8. Dinner/Cocktails:
-A special moment with Ken Block
-Shmoozing with Ford personnel/Internet famous car people. 
9. Shuttle to Ken Block Gymkhana reveal of Fiesta rally car (free drinks)
10. Ability to impress local women with free drinks/press ID
11. DC swag bag
12. Shuttle back to Hotel Vitale
13. Breakfast
14. Shuttle to Autocross in Candlestick Park parking lot 
15. Gas in Fiestas, Honda Fits, Toyota Yaris’
16. Sack lunch
17. Shuttle back to Airport
18. Air Fare back to Seattle 
19. Tears of joy 
20. Vindication

That’s right y’all, MotorSpaceNW just went big time with a little help from our friends at the blue oval. As for the Fiesta, it’s got the goods and then some. Expect the full story very soon.

Fiesta Movement: Mission #2

For their second mission, Ford asked State of the Artist to showcase a local artist. The result was a double dose of appropriateness. Firstly, SOTA is comprised of artists. Secondly, they showcased themselves by throwing an album listening party for their new album, SeattleCaliFragilisticExtraHellaDopeness. Fiesta means party in Spanish. This pleases me. 

The guys played the album twice through to a packed house at Capitol Club in Capitol Hill. Ford was nice enough to supply a party budget, which meant free drinks and food for the lucky guests. 

“All the faces looked happy, heads were nodding,” Nate said, “Every piece of feedback we got was positive.”

With the Fiesta parked outside a hip club chalked full of dazzling young urbanites, mission number two was a win-win situation for SOTA and Ford. But then again, free Pabst Blue Ribbon will make just about anyone instantly popular on Capitol Hill. Did SOTA really have the goods, or just the suds? 

As it turned out, the listening party was only part one of mission number two. The second half was the real kicker. SOTA was going to throw an album RELEASE party several days later. Details:

-A live performance of SeattleCalifragilisticExtraHellaDopeness at Pravda, a swanky private loft in Capitol Hill 
-$8 cover
-Moderately priced drinks

The doors opened at 10pm. On the way there I got desperately lost in an attempt to navigate the public transit system. Disoriented and thirsty, if it weren’t for the brand recognition of the bright green Fiesta movement banner outside the loft’s unremarkable street-side entrance, I might have continued to wander the streets aimlessly and eventually deteriorated into a street person.

By the time I made it upstairs it was 11pm. The loft was swanky indeed with a large stage, a bar on either end of the room, a video screen playing footage of SOTA and a DJ mixing with a Fiesta banner hung from his setup. 

It had everything but people. Only twenty or so were standing around idly. SOTA was nowhere to be seen. No one was talking about Fiestas. 

Troubling. A Pabst later Nate and Parker appeared at the top of the stairwell in good spirits and explained the show wasn’t set to start until midnight; that's when parties start. Nate described the theme as:

“A huge North West hip-hop slash Ford Fiesta Fiesta.” 

I hurried out to an adjacent bar to grab a friend. When we returned to the loft at 11:55pm the place was nearly full, the DJ's music was growing louder with the crowd. 

Right around midnight SOTA took the stage and tore through on one hell of show with a series of local guests off the album, a goulash of Seattle sound. All the while the Fiesta banner hung smartly in the background, but that was it; no Ford grab bags, no spokespeople. Alan Jackson never showed up. 

When my friend and I left in the wee hours of the morning the show was still going strong. Our bus route wasn’t running anymore. Several miles into our search for a backup route we found ourselves on Third Avenue, just up from the Alaskan Way Viaduct. 

It was a ghost town. I was still struggling to digest how progressive it was for Ford to be involved with such a genius stroke of marketing, one that must be unnervingly risky to have so little control over, but it sure seemed to be working. 

The Pabst was digesting much easier. Every toilet within a sea of city blocks was closed up for the night. I’m not sure if what we did next is considered vandalism, but it was necessary. We hailed a trusty Ford Crown Victoria and got out of town. 

Mission accomplished. 

*The next mission is the secret one. Stay tuned. 

(To follow SOTA/Team Seattle, Text SeaCal to 44144)


OBSESSED: Finding the perfect 1992-1995 Honda Civic (Enumclaw)


Enumclaw. Already this Civic had to be bad news. But the ad on Autotrader really spoke to my plight: 

“If you don’t buy this one, you’ll never buy one!” The horse lovers had my number, and a red 1995 Civic LX sedan that looked to be in mint if not great condition. 

“Don't do it,” I said to myself, “This Milano red Civic looks to be well worth the $3,500 asking price, but its been for sale too long. It's a dud, just like the last one.” 

Then again it wouldn't sell in ENUMCLAW; most people looking to buy a 1992-1995 Honda Civic probably weren’t obsessive enough with their search to travel an hour deep into an area of the boonies best known for a reverse Deliverance scene with horses. 

Not being one of these people, I asked my Dad to come along, knowing he enjoys the delicate dance of a car sale and was formerly captain of a Yakima high school wrestling team in the seventies. 

We piled into my 1991 Dodge Dynasty, equipped with beef jerky and several Creedence Clearwater Revival tapes. Everything was peachy until we left I-405 South for a series of Highways due southeast. The road narrowed to two lanes, trees closed in along side us, “Run through the Jungle” started to sound disturbingly twangy in the Dynasty’s speakers… like a banjo…

The name of the dealership we eventually arrived at will not be mentioned here. The parking lot was gravel. We parked the Dynasty and stood at the trunk. There was no one around. Just us, a low-slung rambler and some used cars. 

Eventually a man I presumed to be a mechanic emerged from a squeaky door cut into the siding of the building. 

“You here to see the Civic?” He asked cordially. 

We said we were. 

“**** will be right with you.” 

His tone was unsettling. When **** came out to greet us it was apparent he was overdue for retirement, but from the looks of his nose it might have bee his own fault. Inside the rambler he sat me on a white plastic patio chair while he took down my insurance. The building smelled like mold. There was a single BMW in the showroom. 

Outside with the keys Dad and I gave the Civic a quick walk around before starting her up. There was a gouged hole in the door above the driver’s side keyhole that looked about the size of a screwdriver. The tires weren’t properly inflated.

She looked like the Sales Guy’s nose. Sigh. But what the hell, maybe the engine was strong. 


Bad valves. 

“I think there’s some water in the trunk,” **** said. 

We popped the trunk and found the carpet to be damp… Seeing as we traveled close to an hour down to Rudolph’s lot, it was only fitting we took his Civic for a spin up into the hills. He gave us directions up the nearest mountain and we were off. 

Once up to highway speed I gave Dad a heads up for the brakes test and stomped them hard. They weren’t bad, all things considered, but the sound of a babbling brook filled the car. Over my shoulder water was rising from the rear floorboards. We pulled off to the shoulder, popped the truck and found standing water in the basin beneath the mat, deep enough to bathe roughly four babies in. 

We didn’t see any horses on the way home. We did stop to buy a pair of windshield wiper blades for the Dynasty on the way out of town. It felt good to buy something.  

Fiesta Movement: Mission #1

Mama’s Mexican Kitchen has a mural painted on the side of the building that wasn’t there last month, a bright colorful display that looks as if it could have been there all along. Tucked into the lower left corner is Ford’s iconic blue oval, just large enough to be recognized. Above it, an explanation runs up towards the roof:

“This art wall installation was designed by Parker Reddington and Nate Fihn and was inspired by the Ford Fiesta Movement project, Mission #1. The mural highlights Parker and Nate’s top 10 favorite locations in Seattle. They are one of 20 teams of agents located throughout the country who are challenged with showcasing the creativity and social vibrancy of their home town. To follow their adventure and participate in the Ford Fiesta movement visit the locations on this map and follow them on or text SeaCal to 44144.” 

The smell of taco lingered in the air, not the Taco Bell variety, but “Authentic Southern California Style” Mexican food. Yes, I just quoted a take-out menu, but after leafing through it Mama’s did seem to live up to the smell, on paper at least. 

Still, why did Ford want to be painted on the side of this particular establishment? I called up State of the Artist to see what they thought:

B= Brandon
N= Nate

B: Would you say the Fiesta has a certain Mexican flavor to it? 

N: No, the Fiesta talks to us with a British accent. 

B: Would you describe the Fiesta’s green color option as being somewhat guacamole? 

N: That’s risky. I would never eat guacamole that looks like that. But it’s sexy. It has little curves; it’s sleek but curvy… I would (comment removed). 

Hmmm. Versus probing any further, I swiped my debit card through a parking meter and paid for a half hour. Inside a tiny tattooed lady in her twenties seated me. After she left I promptly spilled complimentary salsa on my sweater. 

Should I be embarrassed? A pleasant looking man across from me was sharing a booth with a pitcher of fruity cocktail. It was 11:32AM. 

His presence said ‘this is not Azteca’. 

Above my table there was a framed two-page newspaper -clipping announcing the death of Elvis. Everywhere I looked Mama’s was decorated in such a fashion, as if a closet shrine of culture had exploded onto the walls.

Hmmm, clever move Ford. Mama’s was legitimately cool, especially with that mural outside. Mission numero uno appeared to be a roaring success for team Seattle. But of course there was more to come with a special twist to follow: 

SOTA informed me their next mission is top secret; even they don’t know what it is yet. 

Stay tuned. And go to Mama’s, their tacos are excellent. 

(To follow SOTA/Team Seattle, Text SeaCal to 44144)


Fiesta Movement: Test drive with State of the Artist


Parker’s driving, Nate’s riding shotgun, I’m in the back with a voice recorder that isn’t recording anything. We’re on a tour of the Capitol Hill neighborhood in State of the Artist’s Ford Fiesta. Soon it’s obvious we’re really just cruising around the guys’ neighborhood listening to their music and conversing loosely about what we’re supposed to be. This is business after all… sort of. 


It doesn’t take long for Nate to start talking about the smell of various things in the area while Parker navigates the streets and toggles through choice cuts on the car’s USB drive. As we pass a sports field Nate points to it and mentions his school gym class used to travel there in a van to play ultimate Frisbee. Vans are fun but he goes on to explain that the smells of a nearby Kentucky Fried Chicken and crematorium would combine to create a terrible aroma of fried food and burnt human bodies that drifted onto the field during class time. 

Weird. Gross. 

Parker decides we should take the Fiesta to a tight winding section of road in a nearby park where I’ll be able to experience the handling I’ve heard the automotive press ‘ooh’ and ‘ah’ about. 


There’s an art to driving a car too fast without going over the speed limit, especially on a tight snaking park road in Seattle where there’s nearly as many bikers and pedestrians around as there are ways to run them over. 

Parker was an ace at keeping it safe, never getting much higher than the bottom of third gear. The turbocharger would boost us up to a speed before a quick downshift to second set us up for the next turn. The repeat maneuver placed a lot of confidence in the Fiesta’s capability to hug the turns; if we broke it loose in such close quarters this blog would have been about the quality of Ford’s complimentary insurance.

But the Fiesta proved to be an astonishingly tight little thing in the curvies, much tighter than I first expected. During the first turn it took several moments for the apple slices to climb back up into my stomach after realizing Parker wasn’t driving over the car’s limits. Even more impressive was Parker’s multi-tasking behind the wheel. 

Somehow he managed to steer with his left hand, shift with his right and intermittently adjust the volume knob according to the speed of the car in conjunction with how stimulating the current topic of discussion was. 

With the Fiesta’s impressive handling established and no trace of applesauce on the upholstery, we headed back towards the coffee shop. But the fun wasn’t over. 

Nate dialed up one of their contacts with Ford on the car’s blue tooth speaker-phone dealy and the guys hashed out plans for an upcoming State of the Artist show. Nate half-jokingly tried to get Ford guy to tap out a beat with his finger on his end of the connection for the guys to freestyle over. It almost happened. 

Back at the coffee shop I was thoroughly impressed with the Fiesta and invited to SOTA’s album listening party for Seattlecalifragilisticextrahelladopeness. The event just happens to be a cleverly planned Fiesta Movement mission: 

Showcase a local artist. That’s the next chapter. Stay tuned.


Fiesta Movement: Meet Team Seattle

What am I doing eating apple slices in a coffee shop with Parker Reddington and Nate Fihn of the hip-hop group State of the Artist? There’s at least four stories here I could be covering:

1. The Ford Fiesta
2. The Fiesta Movement
3. State of the Artist 
4. My writer’s block 

That last one is tough to write about. Let’s start by putting the first three in a blender.

Why did Ford give two twenty-something artists a gas card, insurance and a Ford Fiesta to complete missions in? Obviously these young rascals had to be talented… 

“We just applied and weren’t even really thinking too much about it,” Parker said, “We were late in all the applications and stuff. We were just kind of like ‘yeah, sure here’s whatever.’ Then all of sudden they were like, ‘you’re in here,’ and we were like ‘what?’

Just like that, SOTA was in with Ford; America’s great blue automotive hope. But who was Ford in with? My inner Columbo was focusing his googely interrogation eye squarely… generally on Parker and Nate.

The guys explained State of the Artist is getting ready to release their first official album, entitled Seattlecalifragilisticextrahelladopeness. Read that again. 

Upon further inspection, the freshman release appears to be anything but. Really its an impressive list of collaborations with a who’s who of the Seattle hip-hop scene. Just to name a few: Champagne Champagne, Hella Dope, Fresh Espresso and Theesatisfaction. 

“It’s kind of crazy, Nate said, calmly applying cheese spread to an apple slice with a utility knife, “We’re team Seattle, we’re representing the entire city to the rest of the country. I didn’t think about that too much at heart at the start because I represent Seattle wherever I go, I love this city.”

“They haven’t tried to slap a Ford sticker on our back or anything like that,” he added, “they’ve been cool about it, its really grass roots.” 

With my writer’s block destroyed Tetris style, it was time to get to the Ford Fiesta itself. But before SOTA and I went for a ride around the city I couldn’t resist receding into a smart ass Q & A session: 

B= Brandon
P= Parker
N= Nate

B: Let’s do some word associations: Seattle.

P: Seattlecalifragilisticextrahelladopeness. 

N: Go get ‘em!

B: Ford.

P: Fiesta!

B: All right then, can you rhyme orange? 

P: Scoarnge. Scourge and Scrounge mixed together. 

B: Actually an orange flavored scone sounds pretty good…

SOTA agreed. We finished the apple and made our way downstairs to Ford’s black hatchback. It was time to see if this movement actually had a decent car behind it. 

More to come. 

(To follow SOTA/Team Seattle, Text SeaCal to 44144)


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About this blog

Brandon Seiler is a bonafide car guy, member of the Northwest Auto Press Association and proud Washingtonian. He covers the latest auto news, technology, and pretty much anything having to do with car culture. You don't have to like cars to read his blogs, you just have to be able to read.

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