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    Two Standouts from This Year’s L.A. Auto Show

    auto2If it’s November, then it’s time to cover the L.A. Auto Show. This year, there were two cars that stood out as having appeal to the LGBT community: the Honda Clarity Fuel Cell Sedan, and the Fiat 124 Spider.

    We LGBTers are known for embracing trends before the general populace, and so it would seem that the Honda Clarity Fuel Cell Sedan would be one to perk our ears. Honda has been working on hydrogen cars for 20 years. In fact, the city of San Francisco leased two of Honda’s stubby FCX hydrogen cars back in 2004, and so the Clarity is here to bring the zero-tailpipe emissions of pressurized gas into the mainstream.

    Toyota has also been working on hydrogen cars, and has already landed the first few of its Mirai hydrogen sedans into buyers’ driveways. As Honda and Toyota led the hybrid way with the Insight and Prius, so too are the two companies squaring off over this next green-car frontier.

    You can buy a Mirai for about $45K (after tax incentives), or lease one for $499 per month, and you’d expect the Clarity’s cost to be similar. Honda promises a 300-mile range. The fuel stack it devised is about the size of a V6 engine, so it fits under the Clarity’s hood. The Clarity will also form the basis for Honda’s next-generation hybrid sedan, so we’ll be seeing a lot of its platform on the roads around us.

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    Initial Clarity sales start in late 2016 and will be limited to the San Francisco Bay Area, Sacramento, Los Angeles and Orange County—the areas where the hydrogen refueling network can credibly support it. So, in addition to being fashion-first, we Bay Area LGBTers are living in the right place to jump on the hydrogen train.The Fiat 124 Spider, on the other hand, is a throwback version of our community’s automotive whipping boy, the Mazda MX-5 Miata. Once maligned as an obvious choice for effeminate gay men, the Miata’s redesign for 2015 gave it sharp styling and decisively agile performance. To create the 124 Spider, Fiat reshaped the Miata with styling cues that recall the lovely roadster with the Pininfarina lines that ended sales in the U.S. in the early 1980s.

    It’s also a benefit that besides the engine—Fiat installed its own 1.4-liter turbo engine—the 124 Spider will likely retain much of the Miata’s brick-like durability. I owned a 1979 124 Spider, and although I loved to drive it, the car it was an acute reliability disaster. I rarely got where I wanted to go without some roadside wrenching (or worse, pushing). Fiat’s new models are still landing at the bottom of the repair charts, so any injection of the Miata’s starch is a welcome one.In fact, a driveway hosting both the Clarity and the 124 Spider would be nearly perfect, with green commuting and carefree cruising. It would be just the ticket for those among us who keep looking forward while appreciating the past.

    Philip Ruth is a Castro-based automotive photojournalist and consultant at www.gaycarguy.com. Check out his automotive staging service at www.carstaging.com