Posts By: Jonny Lieberman

By on January 9, 2009

I don’t even know where the 0-60 mph metric came from. Sounds like it was something Brock Yates would’va dreamed up after the Federal double knickle went into effect. But, it’s older than that. Anyhow, I bring this up because I relied on that chestnut pretty heavily for my WRX review. Why? Well, if I had to encapsulate the 2009 WRX into a single sentence it would go like this, “Everything’s worse than the 2005-2007 WRX, except that it’s so damn fast I love it.” But you know, when Farago says 800 words, he means 800 words. But I want you to understand my point. The good thing about the WRX is how freakishly it accelerates. No one records 0-75 mph times. But, we have an endless supply of 0-60 mph data for every car ever built ever (basically). So my choice was to either compare it to other fast cars you’re (hopefully) familiar with, or dig into the old metaphor bucket (Faster than Marion Jones on fresh dope. Faster than a speed freak on a roller coaster where both the speed freak and the roller coaster are on speed.). I chose the former, and man are y’all hammering me! And I can take it. Thick skin, broad shoulders, decent bench press at one point, etc. In fact, the barbs provide fodder for my QOTD, so I thank you. And so yeah, that’s my question. Is 0-60 mph a useful metric when reviewing cars. I say yes because who the hell gets to ever run a car flat out for a quarter of a mile? On public roads? But up to 60 mph? No prob. You?

By on January 9, 2009

In 2005, Toyota bought around half of GM’s stake in Subaru. As ToMoCo never bought Saab, they never bothered with a Saabaru. Instead, Toyota decided to go for a return on their investment. How? By broadening the WRX’s appeal. That’s right, the WRX, Subaru’s de facto all-wheel drive, turbocharged, deformed-looking halo vehicle was going to bring home the bacon by appealing to moms. Ha ha ha. As such, the 2008 WRX was an abject failure. There’s no better proof/pudding than the fact that I spent a week with an all new 2009 WRX. Not since the 1950s has a redesign happened so fast. But big questions remain. Like just how much better is this new-for-‘09 Rex?

By on January 8, 2009

Yesterday we posed the question, “Which uber sedan would you buy?” And while the responses were (predictably) great, they were all over the map. And that’s OK, as I couldn’t even decide on a car in the question. Though in fairness, I think I’d have to go with the Pontiac G8 GXP. It’s got all the power and the right color collar for my druthers. But you know… a Phaeton may also be the car for me. But today we’re talking convertibles. Well, not just regular convertibles (sorry Sebring), but SUPER CONVERTIBLES! Though I’m sure one of you is going to say that his Toyota Solara is the best damn convertible ever and that’s fine. We’re just not going to listen. Are there rules? Like, would a Corvette Convertible qualify as super? Can it go 0-60 mph in 4.3 seconds? Yes? Than yes, it’s super. What about a Lexus SC430? No, that’s not super. Why? Because I say so. Not sure if the droptop you have in mind qualifies? I’ll let you know. Moving on — uber-vert would I choose? Hmmm. Well, the first car that pops to mind is a DB9 Volante (that’s rich person talk for “no roof”). But… no. I said uber! Right, so that has to mean that I mean the Mercedes-McLaren SLR 722 Speedster. No top, no windscreen, 650 hp and 200+ mph top speed. That’s mega double uber, right? But then I’d be that guy. The guy that bought a McMerc SLR with no windshield for half a million dollars. So, no. Oh, I got it — and really the only correct answer. And that answer is a Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4 Spider. Yup that’s the one… as long as you don’t mention the Murcielago Convertible. Crap, this is hard. But definitely a Lambo. I think. You?

By on January 7, 2009

First of all, hats off to RF for both returning to car reviewing and getting it so right with his Lexus IS-F review . It’s really a world class car and one I would happily own. Even with the 8-speed paddle shifter, which, oddly, works real well on the freeway and allows the 0-60 mph in 4.2 second car to get over 20 mpg at 80 mph. That’s tall gearing for you. Long story short — LS-F equals awesome. But what about the cars it competes with. Some of you know how I feel about the Audi RS4. In a word, hot sex. I’ve been lucky enough to drive tons of killer metal and that hopped up Audi still holds a special place in my heart even if it only gets 11 mpg. But, ignoring Robert’s plea, we just can’t forget about the new BMW M3. By all accounts it’s the best car in the world. And if it isn’t, it’s in the top 5. But even with it’s 414 hp V8, the Mercedes C63 AMG eats the little Bimmer’s heart. 450 horse and 443 torques mean that the Merc can outrun just about anything. Except the Cadillac CTS-V (I said “just about”). With a totally ludicrous supercharged heart pumping out 556 hp and a rubber-roasting 551 lb-ft of twist, no car with 4-doors competes speed wise. And certainly not any under the $100,000 ceiling. But you know what? The 416 hp IS-F comes close. As does the 420 hp RS4. Oy vey. For the sake of consistency, I’ll go with the new RS4 which hasn’t been released yet. Nya-nya. You?

By on January 6, 2009

Pop top worm can time. Yesterday’s QOTD (essentially) poised the question how a big a boot in Detroit’s ass will it take to get American back to building the best cars in the world? And your answer was (for the most part) that we never built the best cars in the world. Insert sound of car screeching to a halt here! Say what? Are you telling me my childhood was a lie? All my old man’s stories about his dad’s Buick Roadmasters and Cadillac Eldorados — they were fibs? That article about Zora Arkus-Duntov and the Corvette Gran Sports that all of us have read in one form another ninety billion times — it’s a lie? Hell, the articles I’ve written about Shelby’s Cobras — not true? And, am I blind? Cause I got Ken Steacy’s book Brightwork about classic American car ornamentation as a Hanukkah gift and I realized that more thought used to go into a single hood ornament than Buick has put into its entire lineup over the past twenty years. See, Alfred Sloane had the formula figured out — Post-War Americans only wanted three things when it came to cars. 1) Styling 2) Automatic transmissions 3) High compression, high output engines (aka POWA!). Obviously GM had no trouble with two and three, and Sloan brought in coach builder Harley Earl to address number one. And he was, to a very large extent, right. Go ahead, look at a 1954 Pontiac Star Chief and tell me I’m wrong.

By on January 5, 2009

You’ve all heard that the Domestics might go belly up, right? I think Autoblog might have mentioned it at some point. Anyhow, over on Autofiends we’ve been working on a new little featurette called “Domestic Bliss.” What is it you ask? Well, it’s a look back at when the domestics were totally killer cool. When a Caddy was a mofo’n Caddy. And, to quote Ice-T’s old band Body Count, “Shit Ain’t Like That!!!!” But just maybe… You seen Fight Club? You know, the Brad Pitt, Ed Norton post-punk, post-slacker flick about the sexiest case of delusional schizophrenia ever? Well, one of my favorite parts is the very end when Mr. Durden and Marla Singer are standing hand in hand as the TRW building and all the other credit bureaus are blown up, sending everybody “back to zero” as the Pixies’ “Where is My Mind” blares over it all. Quite nice. I’m bringing this up because it would take the equivalent of a terrorist attack for GM to build anything like the Corvair in 2009. What a lateral move. My question? If Chapter 11 and the Great Depression 2.0 smashes Detroit, could America once again build the best cars in the world?

By on December 24, 2008

As some of you have no doubt read, my pal Jack Baruth is now dishing it out here at TTAC. And his Naughty and Nice Editorial got me thinking. Let’s close our eyes for a moment and pretend we’re four-years-old. Time to ask Santa for a present. Even if you’re a Jehovah’s Witness, Hindu, or like me (Jewish, but raised by a militant atheist father who would light a big fire every Chrstimas Eve to “keep the nonsense out”), it’s not going to hurt you to believe in Santa for 45 seconds. You’ve been good enough. Santa owes you. So, let’s hear it. What do you want and deserve? Me? Anything with massaging front seats (threw my back out bowling). So I’ll just go ahead and say an AMG S65. Hard to go wrong with 12 cylinders and two turbochargers. And like seriously, why not? You?

By on December 23, 2008

Oy, so many to choose from. There was that time just after high school where we drove from Los Angeles to San Francisco and then turned around and drove back. Probably drug related but who can remember that far back? Or there was the time we went from Seattle to Los Angeles (that same summer) in 22 hours. Maybe that doesn’t sound impressive, but the Chevy S10 couldn’t go much over 60 mph. Or there was the time we went from Sonoma County to Malibu in a 1961 Buick in 3 hours 45 minutes. Yes, that’s about 450 miles. And no, I have no clue how fast we were going because the speedo only went to 85 mph. But we did have to stop three times for gas. Pedal to metal, etc. Though, I’m thinking this Xmas might be my nuttiest drive. Because I’m flying back from Philly to LA, jumping in the WRX and driving straight through the night to Willows, CA for Arse-Freeze-Apalooza, the latest iteration of the 24 Hours of LeMons. That’s about nine hours of driving And if my calculations are correct, I get to start judging the cheatin’ bastids about 1 hour after I arrive. Joy. You?

By on December 22, 2008

Greetings from Pennsylvania! That’s right, I’ve left the warm (enough) confines of Southern California and journeyed east to meet the fiancee’s parents. It’s going fantastic, thanks for asking. Only thing is, they aren’t exactly what I’d call “car people.” Well, my future father in law’s OK enough. 2002 Jetta with a stick. Not a GLI with the VR6 but salty. Decent. Respectable. Her stepmother, however… Picture it: downtown Philadelphia, six people in the car. Me at the wheel because, “You drive cars (hic) for a living — you drive!” And after half a mile everyone starts noticing how poorly the car is riding. “These old streets are lousy in the winter.” Then it gets worse. “Well,” I say, “The Chevy Venture is one of the reasons why GM is circling the drain.” And when I park — yup — it’s a flat tire. And it’s 26 degrees out. And windy. And it takes 20 minutes to get the jack unstuck. So now there’s a mini-spare donut on the right front corner and the dash reads “AWD Disable.” But, we make it back, no sweat. The next morning (today!) we need to be in Quakertown and it’s 14 degrees and icy and the one tire shop has a “two hour plus” wait. We need to go, so we schlep 40 frosty miles in a hobbled minivan on one pretty alright tire. We live, but not my finest automotive hour. You?

By on December 18, 2008

Ah ha ha ha — I’m still having a ball. I love these X vs. Y QOTDs. Maybe it’s time for a new feature? Hmmm… Anyhow, there are a lot of people (er, were a lot of people) that purchase two-door sports coupes. So many in fact that Nissan’s on their 6th iteration of the Z and Ford’s Mustang is older than most people. Last week through, uh, fate, I was able to drive the 2010 versions of each car (Mustang review here ,370Z here). And as different as they are, man, are they the same. The Z makes do with “just” six cylinders yet weighs about 200 pounds less than the more powerful V8 ‘Stang. Therefore performance is nearly identical. In fact, so close that it just doesn’t matter. But surely the IRS Nissan has the edge over the live axle Mustang in the handling department, right? The 370Z might be able to provide flashier numbers on a skid pad, but on the street? The two cars feel equally capable. Looks? Take your pick — both cars are muscular, handsome, loaded with retro cues yet modern. Hamburger vs. Sushi? Depends on my mood — one has no inherent advantage over the other. 5-speed vs. 6-speed? I prefer 4-speeds. Interiors? Both are good, not great. So, how then? Here’s the thing — Nissan swore up and down that when they were developing the 370Z they didn’t bother to benchmark the Mustang. Porsche Cayman? Yes. BMW Z4? Yes. Audi TT? Yes. But while they were playing footsies with the Germans, Ford went ahead and developed the Bullitt, one of the greatest cars of the last 10 years. And the 2010 Mustang GT is a better Bullitt. So yeah, Mustang for me. You?

By on December 17, 2008

Question: How do you age a car ten years in seven? Answer: release the world beating GT-R. Sure, cars have advanced considerably since the 350Z debuted in 2002, but after riding around in one a coupe months back the truth became self-evident: this dog no longer hunts. In fact, it felt like a 4th Gen Camaro — all engine and odd squeaks. No one saw the writing on the wall as clearly as Nissan. Hence the brand spanking nouveau 370Z. But is it any good?

By on December 16, 2008

Yesterday was fun. For me at least. Seriously, as someone who thinks about cars all the live long day it is always fascinating to get inside other peoples’ heads and see how they perceive those lovable hunks of steel, cloth and plastic. So, doing Crown Vic vs. Camry was actually interesting and informative, not just petty and vindictive. Today we’re going to focus on two other cars that don’t interest me in the slightest. The first is the very worst new car I’ve ever driven and the second is by far and away the most boring. I ain’t kidding around here people — when Chrysler’s obituary is written, the Sebring should take center stage. Remember, it’s the car they released after the smash success of the 300C. Sad times. But at least the Sebring has a (optional) motor with some guts. The Corolla is like driving chloroform. Snore says I, big time snore. And so if I was forced to choose, I’d actually pick the Chrysler. While holding my nose, of course. You?

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