Tag Archives: Cars

The Challenger

The Dodge Challenger is an interesting car.  It’s a big car that can go fast.  Fundamentally, that makes it scary.  It’s a Muscle Car at heart.  I’m not going to bring up the original Challengers because they have nothing to do with the new ones other than some subtle character lines on the outside.

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This is the Challenger RT “Classic Package”.  Really the only thing classic about it are the throwback style wheels that remind me of all my favorite HotWheels as a kid… I have to say, I really like the look of this car.  Blood Red, with those wheels… It hits a spot with me.  Unfortunately, this car would attract way too much Cop Eye for me to ever have any fun in.    And really that “HEY LOOK AT ME!” color is just not me.  It’s not as bad as the bright Orange and Yellow Challengers, but still…. it’s pretty bad in the grand scheme of things.  I do like the look though.  Just on someone else’s car.

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Then I test drove this one.  I had driven a Challenger before, but it was a base model, with a V-6.  That car felt huge and ponderous and it didn’t feel all that great.  That hood really felt like it was way out there, and it just felt like I was piloting a barge.   This model though, was different.  The Hemi V-8 really makes this a different car.  And it was a Manual.  This one was better.  This one was the RT Shaker edition.  The Shaker as in the Hood Scoop that would shake in the originals… But it doesn’t do that on this one as the hood scoop is basically only a cold air intake.  Which is good.  But not giving you the ram air effect of the original.  So for the most part all it is about is the look.  And it looks good.  The hood scoop is very visible when you are driving.  But not really getting in the way.

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Where Pontiac went wrong.

I’ve seen a lot of classic old cars lately.  One in particular stood out to me.  A GTO.  Everything good about Pontiac started out here.

GTO

Small car, simple, reliable, clean lines, and a nice big fat powerful engine.  This is a winning formula.  But Pontiac drank the Koolaid of their own greatness, bowed to the pressures of Parent Company GM who force fed them crap like they were Tail End Charlie in The Human Centipede.   But Pontiac used to be good… and at times along the way, shown absolute brilliance.

Pontiac’s catch phrase was “We build excitement”, and after that was “Wider is Better”.  Unfortunately “Excitement” meant that they took something totally coma-inducingly boring, and threw on some plastic body cladding to make it wider.  This was utter failure on every level.  At no point now one had the guts to tell upper management that they were all complete idiots.  The G8 GXP was absolutely awesome.  But it came too late.  The 2004 GTO was the first time since 1967 that the Brand really looked at it’s self and said that they needed to get serious again.  Shortly there after, they brought out the Solstice.  Which was great, but was a close miss.  It was almost there.  The Solstice was also run as the Saturn Sky… Which was a solid hit.  Can you see the difference?  The Solstice looks like it was swollen from a food allergy, where the Sky looked lean and mean.  This small, light, efficient sports car may not have sold all that well, but they did sell to those that appreciated the concept.  The Sky’s are demanding a premium price still, where several of the Solistici that I’ve seen have been selling for a deeper discount.
But where did Pontiac go wrong?  What happened to that Excitement?  2001 happened.  Pontiac released the Aztek.  Worse yet, the Design Team of the Aztek was not abducted and executed by firing squad as a sacrifice to the Gear-Headed Gods of Horsepower and Torque.  Pontiac keep pushing the Aztek through 2005.  Which means they kept backing it and hoping that it would take off with a sudden appreciation for it and Dan Colen paintings.  I had a friend that was a Pontiac Salesman at a Dealership.  I asked him what the hell was wrong with Pontiac.  He just shook his head and quit the next day.  This was about 4 months after the Aztek had come out and landed at his dealership.  He had worked there for 12 years.

Another guy that left Pontiac –  John DeLorean.  He’s the guy that gave us the Pontiac GTO and tried to do many other awesome things at Pontiac until 1969, when he was sent to Chevy.  But when LeLorean left, that was the death knell for Pontiac since no one after him had enough balls to keep the brand alive.  Look what happened to Pontiac after he left… The Firefly, the 6000, the Sunburst, the Wave, the 3rd Gen “Tempest”… don’t even get me started on the Montana. And then that Aztek.  

None of them had the Excitement that the Pontiac Badge tried to sell.
So where did Pontiac go wrong?  They didn’t find the next John DeLorean.  John went on to bigger and better things… He build the 1.21 Gigawatt Time Machines (that only produced a measly 130 horsepower at the wheels) and then he went and originated the Breaking Bad concept.
Pontiac needed a Rockstar Lead Singer… but never found another.  They were Guns and Roses after Axle left.  They were David Lee Roth after Van Halen left.  Pontiac was doomed.

GM should have set Pontiac apart from the rest… made them their performance marquee brand.  They really had something special and they crushed the life out of it, slowly, cruelly, like keeping an unloved child locked in a basement all it’s life, until it dies and gets buried in the back yard in the middle of the night.  Shame on you, GM.  Shame on you.

Top 10 New Cars I’d kill to Own

Since the NSA is reading everything I write, this is The List.  If our Government needs someone wacked, buy me a Warehouse, someplace secluded, near Wilmington, NC, and park one of Each in it for me.  Licensed and Insured for Life, and I’ll go Terminator on any target in any country:

10.  Porsche Cayman S.   Probably Porsche’s best sports car they have ever made.

9.  Cadillac CTS-V.  Cadillac’s middle finger to BMW.  It’s beautiful, powerful, handles like a tactical weapon, and the only downsides according to Top Gear is that it’s not British.

8.  Ford F-150 4 Door RAPTOR.  Because brute force needs to be all terrain sometimes.

7.  Mazda  Mazdaspeed3.  The 2.5 Liter version, with a manual.  I like the Hot Hatch category of cars, and remember with fondness the VW GTI I once had. However the new Golf GTI’s are sad and don’t have that edgy seat of the pants feel.  The Mazdaspeed3 does.  I think it’s the best looking of the hot hatch bunch too.

6.  Land Rover’s Range Rover Sport, with a Supercharged 510-hp 5.0-liter V-8.   It does everything very well, it’s fast, and it looks down it’s nose at all other SUV’s.  And it’s one of the coolest looking SUV’s I’ve ever seen.

5.  Audi RS7.  The straight up pissed off version of the A7.  Twin Turbo, V-8 in the most powerful sedan Audi will let us Americans buy.  And it’s the best looking Audi I’ve ever seen.  I saw one in Wilmington and it was like a vision of power and glory.  It slid past me on the highway like it was a shark on land.

4.  Ford Mustang GT500.  Part of me has always loved the Mustang’s looks.  I find faults with them as well, some faults I’ve not been able to overcome, but the latest GT500 cross the line and it’s become one of those cars that has to go on this list.  Steven McQueen would have this car.

3.   Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT.  Because Hemi.  It’s a Hot Rod.  Its fast and angry and sexy as hell and apologetically so.

2.  Subaru BRZ.  One of the most True Sports Cars ever made.  I would have to have an extra 10 grand for upgrades, because it has a lot of potential that is waiting to be tapped.

1.  The Corvette Stingray.  I’ve always disliked the Corvettes for one reason or another.  But the latest Stingray just does everything so Spot On.  It’s performance and styling are on point, but more than any other Vette, the interior is done right now too.  If you could image sitting in a Space Fighter – that’s the Vette.  The dream of the Flying Cars in the 50′s is realized in the Stingray.

It’s really hard to do JUST a Top 10.  So I’m going to add a couple that are default and not negotiable.  

Chevy SS.  Basically an imported Holden from Oz.  Nothing wrong with that is the formula works.  Simple car, huge engine.  This is the modern iteration of the classic Muscle Car, done well.  I love the new 2014 Impala, but it lacks the vigor that the name plate should have.  This however, has some of the same styling touches that I liked about the Impala, used those and then stuffed it with power, insanity, and malice.  This car should be a Police Car is about 4 months from now… It has more room than the popular Chargers which actually make for very poor police cars due to the lack of room inside.  Ford’s SHO is nice, but it’s front wheel drive.  The SS just might be the last of the big american V-8 up front, turning the wheels at the back… The last of the American Muscle Cars.

A Unimog.  In a 4 Door van configuration.  Like this, for example.  This would probably be my Zombi Apocalypse rig.  Able to roll over and through just about anything out there. Just the big “frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn” approach to any situation that doesn’t require going fast.  It’s available in just about any configuration, for any job that has you going away from pavement.  Or rational thought.  It’s the AK-47 of Trucks.

 

The 2015 Ford Mustang

I’ve read the lamentations of the Ford Fans that the next Mustang is completely ditching it’s Retro styling.  At first I was myself concerned that Ford had lost it’s mind.  But then I watched a new Mustang roll past (I was sitting in a Wendy’s at the time) and I thought that it had very little Retro look to it anyways.   So not much is lost.  The new Mustangs don’t look like Mustangs and they sound like Honda Accords, so I’m not bothered by Ford chucking it and starting over.  This is ultimately going to be a very good thing for Ford.  The new 2015 Mustang looks sharp.  It looks like a performance car.  It looks like an Aston Martin, but that’s not a bad thing.   I have some optimism about the new Stang… with Ford’s new Engines, some new looks, I see a winner coming.  Especially since Ford has hinted at something the Mustang has always needed.  An Updated Suspension.   There is Hope For America!

All we need now is for Chevy to make the Vette a Mid-Engine car.

Favorite Carmageddon Moment.

I’ve posted about favorite car movies and chase scenes… But I’ve never brought up this one.

Now, I am not a huge fan of George Looney Clooney, but he does a great job in this film  “The Peacemaker”.  In this scene, we have a car chase up to the point that Clooney says “Screw This” and turns the table.  He stops running and then uses his big Merc as a warhammer and demolishes the two little Bimmers that are chasing him.  You almost feel sorry for the little guys.  Almost.

 

Nicole Kidman spends a lot of time showing off how good her bottom looks in slacks. Eh, pretty good actually. The rest of the movie is fun, but not to be taken seriously. Nicole’s character is the least believable out of all of them. Oh, I also like the scene when Clooney jumps from chopper into the truck. That’s good stuff.
So, what is your favorite Carmageddon Moment?

Cars I want:

If I had the means to build an automotive collection that rivals my gun collection… I’d have a few cars that I don’t think most fellows would expect.
A Jeep Rubicon, and a classic full sized Wagoneer.
Mazda Miata.
BMW M3, and a 2002.
Porsche 944S2, and a Cayman.
Toyota Tacoma 4 door, and an FJ.
A Ford Police Interceptor.

There would be some others as well, such as an Alfa Brera, and a tweaked 84 VW Rabbit GTI (again) … but the above list would be the first vehicles I’d go for.  The one car on the list that has surprised those that have first heard it, is the little Miata.  My wife’s extended family has a fellow that actually races them.  The suspension with some tweaking and the engine, with some tweaking produces a machine that is just incredible.  The balance and quick handling is astonishing… it is one of the last of the true sports cars.   To many people confuse a Sports Car for a GT car.  Two very different things.

 

Utter shame… I hang my head low…

I am what I have hated.  Years ago when I was more involved in the pursuit of Going Faster, I would scold and criticize and ridicule people for this sin… and I am now one of those sinners.  Years of driving trucks has ruined me… made me grow soft.  I hated being behind those people… and I am now one of them.

I am…

An Early Apexer.

I need to return to a School of Fast and retrain my Line.

The Police Car

The Police Car subset of the Auto Industry is a fairly boring segment for a narrow nitch market. Yet the money is well worth a car company to pursue that nitch. I drove a Chevy Caprice cruiser. It was a great car. Smooth, roomy. Very comfortable. Fast flat out, but not quick. It handled like a barge. It was stable when parked, or just going straight. Taking a curve caused a massive weight shift that if one didn’t expect it or were otherwise ready for it, could cause one to visit the ditch. However, if you learned to handle it, a good driver to really work the Caprice’s strengths. In it’s day, the Chevy Caprice was the Cop Car of choice all across the country. This became even more matter of fact when Chevy revamped the Caprice into what was affectionately called the “Turtleback”. The police turtlebacks were powered with a detuned LT-1 engine, giving the large and heavy car some good performance.

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