So, BMW develops a flex fuel gas/hydrogen powered vehicle and we're supposed to give them tree-hugging props? I don't think so. I give them far more credit for perfecting and selling the diesel engines in their European sedans; cars that are are clean-running, quiet, efficient and powerful. While pistonheads are generally considered selfish bastards whose love of speed, comfort and style is a luxury our country– indeed the entire world– can no longer afford, I say bollocks to that. There is no reason why this country can't develop its own sources of energy– so we can burn it as we will in our choice of automobile. Anyway, that's my warm-up for my September 11th column on America's national energy policy as it relates to your car or cars. If you have any thoughts on the matter, you can help me out by dropping them here. Meanwhile, enjoy the pre-rant precast. Mike Spinelli: …ok…Robert Farago: I swear we can do this. Are you ready?MS: … [Read more...] about Precast: Hydrogen-Powered 7-Series, Drop-Top 300C, New G35, Fiero Redux?
I suppose I should get myself into a lather about the fact that GM has lured collegiate journalists to Las Vegas for some major junket action. As listeners to this podcast will discover, I just can't get it up, self-righteous indignation-wise. First, my main beef with junkets is non-disclosure (e.g. The Car Connection's report on the new Jeep Wrangler from Zambia arriving without a tip-of-the-hat to DCX PR). Second, there's no blanket ban on junketeering hereabouts. Third, who says college kids can be co-opted so easily? Biz class airline seats, a nice room on The Strip, free booze, a stake at the tables, a spin on Autotainment– Entourage-watching gen Zeta will take it all in their post-modern stride. Besides, when you don't have a job to protect or a family to support, why not bite the hand that feeds? In fact, if one of these college car hacks would like to describe their GM-sponsored Vegas vacation, I'd be delighted to provide the e-space, subject to the usual editing process … [Read more...] about Precast: V12 Diesel Audi, Hornet no VeeDub, Baby Junketeers
Limos blow. They're unsightly, often comical beasts that exchange comfort for size (well, length) and offer all the tactile pleasure of a mid-market motel (pleather chairs, paper napkins, five pound champagne glasses, etc.). I've yet to ride in a limo that didn't assault my olfactory organ with a whiff of amonia. Yeah, you know what I'm talking about. In fact, I reckon more than a few of you took my opening sentence at face value (so to speak) and pornoed the second. That's limos for you. In fact, if rock stars had never snorted coke and screwed groupies in the back of their limo, you wouldn't have high school boys crowding into them on prom night wishing, hoping, dreaming of doing the same. Nor would observers crane their necks to see what's going on inside these bizarre vehicles or whether or not the person emerging will fall down. I'd rather ride in the back of a comfortable sedan with a fresh newspaper and an old cigar. Home James. … [Read more...] about Precast: Limo Love, Gord, Toyota Brands Earth, Miatamino, Endo
You may have noticed that I haven't posted a precast in a couple of days. Truth to tell, TTAC contributor and former Car and Driver editor Stephan Wilkinson knocked the wind out of my sails with an email that asked why in God's name anyone would want to listen to a couple of "car dorks." As someone who's never had trouble getting laid (current status: happily married), I've never really thought of myself as a dork. Strange, sure. Over-educated, definitely. But dorky? I don't think so. At least I didn't think so until Wilkinson sent his email. Now I'm left wondering if my single-minded dedication to all things automotive, and the thousands of hours spent tapping the plastic in my e-garret about same, has rendered me a car nerd. (Webster's on-line dictionary makes no distinction between dork and nerd.) For sure, I know too much about some pretty obscure car-related things. But I console myself that you gentle reader know equally as much, and, in most cases, far more than I in this field. … [Read more...] about Precast: Hammond Injured, Veracruz Taillight, Crossover and Out or Justin Time?
Jaguar is one heck of a brand. The company took the automotive world by storm, not once, but twice. The first revelation arrived just after WWII. England entered the conflict with an Empire and emerged an impoverished island nation in the North Sea with a few colonies and an Indian subcontinent to its name. Straight into Britannia's shell-shocked and austere enconomy came the Jaguar XK120. Jag's suprisingly inexpensive supercar looked like sin (and a German BMW) and went like Hell (out-performing Aston). The company's– and the nation's– future suddenly had a spring in its step. And then, eh. Until the sixties swung, and out popped another gestalt-capturing blockbuster: the E-type. Yeah baby! For those of us looking for a four-wheeled Hail Mary pass to save Ford's damaged brand, it's worth noting that both of these machines were sexier-than-Jill-Wagner-in-lingerie sports cars powered by superb six cylinder engines. And they were both reasonably affordable. What I'm trying to … [Read more...] about Precast: Medusa S-Type, PAG Knock-offs, Hammond Better, DP
It’s been a while since my description of the Subaru B9 Tribeca’s front end as a “flying vagina” got TTAC banned from… BMW’s press fleet. At the time, the German company’s PR flack promised/threatened to monitor the site and “get back in touch;” you know, when he’d decided that we’d been good little boys. Yeah right. There’s a higher likelihood that Godot will hang with Vladimir and Estragon than a Bimmer flackling calling TTAC to welcome us back into the fold. Still, we’ve managed to end run the embargo. And we’ve shown no animus or (Godot forbid) favoritism in our reviews of their products (e.g. Jay Shoemaker recently declared the 335i one of the millennia’s best motors). So I can once again state without fear or favor that BMW’s SMG gearbox is the worst gearbox on planet earth, by a large margin. Now, thanks to a generous reader, we’ve learned that BMW has bought Borg Warner’s … [Read more...] about Podcast: Maybach Jr., Aston’s Alphanumerological Excess, Midas Muffler, Alpha Ferrari, DCT Uber Alles
A four wheel-drive Ferrari? On one hand, it sounds like a bald-faced betrayal of Ferrari's brand proposition: extreme rear wheel-drive performance cars prone to lurid oversteer slides into solid objects and/or mid-engined marvels that snap into gyroscopic spins that scrub off a bit of speed before sliding into a solid object. Ferrari claims their new system won't detract from their products' traditional balls-out driving dynamics. But one wonders if Ferrari buyers will soon be talking about "the good old days," when you had to be a "real man" to drive a Ferrari at speed. Remember: it took Porschehiles years to get over the fact that their ass-engined 911's were no longer magnetically attracted to the scenery. Still, as I pointed out to Mr. Spinelli in today's talkfest, it's in Ferrari's best interest to keep their customers alive. Besides, Vee Dub's Bugatti Veyron proved that putting power to all four wheels is an excellent way to make a 1000hp car go in the direction its driver … [Read more...] about Precast: Ferrari Four Wheelin’, i and i, Steering Clear of the M6, Bangle RIP?
I'm of two minds on this whole hoonage business. One one hand, it's entirely possible to hoon about in a high speed car at significant velocities without endangering anyone save yourself and/or your insurance premiums. I'm thinking here of hormone-crazed kids burning rubber in parking lots, or more mature pistonheads practicing a little tail out action on a familiar and appropriately deserted stretch of road. But there are limits, even if they're not posted. As someone who's been fortunate enough to mash the gas on an Enzo, Zonda and Carrera GT, I can tell you there's a moment in the accelerative process when anyone other than a professional race driver is just hanging on. It's a kick-ass Zen sort of thing, and it accounts for the war whoop issued by the pilot of Heffner's twin-turbo Lamborghini Gallardo . But it's not what I would call safe. In short bursts, maybe. Through traffic, no. While I'm reasonably sure the Heffner folk know the limits of car and driver, common sense suggests … [Read more...] about Precast: Occam’s Edge, Two-for-One Pagitude, Hoons R Us, Eleanor Rows So Svelte, OTT $$?
For many years, US President Abraham Lincoln thought that deporting slaves was the only workable solution to an intractable political issue. In 1861, a “colony” was established off the coast of Haiti for this purpose. Black families with no common language suddenly found themselves living together. The former slaves created their own language, complete with unwritten (but rigid) rules of grammar, tense, appellation, the lot. Semanticists have used this example to suggest that our brains are hard-wired to create shared linguistic constructs. I would suggest that the same genetic predisposition applies to tuner cars. Something new and wacky appears on the automotive scene, like low-riders, donks or VIP style. The next thing you know, a growing number of participants exert their collective unconscious on the movement, creating unwritten (but rigid) rules for what’s acceptable, what unacceptable and what’s da bomb. Strangely enough, the same process applies to … [Read more...] about Precast: Audis on Parade, VIP vs. Bling
So Jonny tells me that he's returned from a first class junket to The City by the Bay and by the way his new best bud ace auto scribe Dan Neil's coming over to his for a poker night. Suddenly I'm feeling like I'm on the outside of the carniverse looking in. Then Andrew Dederer submits a rant condemning The Big Two Point Five for insularity that makes Rhode Island seem like it won the genetic sweepstakes– instead of earning itself the ancient and not-so-venerable nickname "Toad Island." I suppose commentator Humourless is more than a little right: the internet subordinates physical geography to psychological geography. But that does not make me feel 100% clued-in, nor does it excuse The Big Two Point Five for their bunkering. Ever, since I began the GM Death Watch, I've tried to get The General to write a rebuttal. To say my requests have fallen on deaf ears is like saying that TTAC's scribes won't get access to the GM press fleet until cold fusion (the nuclear event, not the … [Read more...] about Podcast: Lieberman’s Got Edge