Category: Avoidable Contact

By on November 27, 2013

porsche4

“When,” I asked her, “did you realize that you, were, well, you know, an actual prostitute?”

“Well,” she said, rubbing her cigarette out in the waffle-patterned wrought-iron table, shielding her eyes against the sun as it set in the distance, “I’d been dancing for a while, and there was kind of a grey area there, you’d date a guy and he’d toss you some money to stay home from the club some nights, and then I started being less picky about the guys I’d let cash me out, if a guy was decent-looking he didn’t have to necessarily be my boyfriend. And then I had a friend who did a few parties from time to time, bachelor parties and stuff, and I went with her, and it was good money. And you get used to the idea that you can make five hundred or a thousand bucks really easy. So I stopped dancing because that was getting in the way of my ability to do parties.”

“And…”

And, I started taking calls to hotels in Beverly Hills. And one night I was on my way back from one of those and a guy in a nice car pulled up and offered me three hundred bucks for a quick date. It was bonus money, so I took it. Well, I went back to that street on a night when I wasn’t going to a hotel.” She frowns and looks down at the table for a moment before continuing. “So I’m out on the street, and I’m talking to a guy, and all of a sudden there’s a cop car there and they’re cuffing me, and I’m asking what’s going on, and they say I was soliciting, and I asked what they meant, and they said streetwalking, and I’m all, like, you have me confused with somebody else, I’m not a whore, I’m not a hooker, you know?”

Her hands flutter and she takes a sip of her soda, then she looks me square in the eye, level, expressionless. “Except, it turns out that I was.”
Read More >

By on November 15, 2013

angrybirds

Saturday morning, I’m at Ki’s with the fellow who hired me at my day job a couple of years ago. He’s in his early fifties, considerably taller and wider than I am, cheerful in his aggressive tan and studiously thrown-together beach-bum ensemble, yet menacing enough that when he veers in the direction of a particular table on the sunporch the other two groups of people who are also heading for the table magically decide to just stand and wait for the next one instead. We don’t work together any more; he hired me to turn an idea of his into aluminum-and-silicon reality then he departed for the next idea. The future is as real to him as the present; perhaps more so. He earns between three and four hundred dollars an hour as a consultant, imagining what technology might be able to do for medicine in the future.

“You do this car thing,” he barks. “Something I’ve wondered. Bought that Rubicon outside. They wanted two thousand dollars for navigation. Now that’s a (bleep)ing waste of money. Utterly insane. Why not offer full Bluetooth integration into what my phone already does, extend the screen and the touch facility to a dash display. Cost two hundred bucks if you talk to —” And he rattles off the names of a couple of Taiwanese OEMs who could, no doubt, handle it. “Why isn’t that happening?”

“Yeah,” I agree, “that’s crazy alright.”

“I,” he growls in response, leaning back in his chair and fixing me with his eye, “was asking you a question, actually.”
Read More >

By on October 9, 2013

528i

Yes, that’s right: it’s now easily possible to blow seventy thousand dollars or more on a two-liter, four-cylinder BMW sedan. The image you see above is not an attempt to make the most expensive 528i possible; it’s simply a car with most of the options. The ones you’d want, like the best sound system and the heated/cooled seats.

Of course, most of the cheapo Funfers you’ll see on the street won’t be loaded like this; they’ll be $53,000 Premium-Packaged specials designed to lease for $600 a month including tax. In other words, they’re base Delta 88s, and the one above is a Delta 88 Royale Brougham. BMW has become Oldsmobile circa 1973, the same way Mercedes-Benz has become Cadillac circa 1973. Were you alive for the Seventies? Did you enjoy the era? I hope you did, because it’s returning. Brougham is back, baby. With a vengeance.
Read More >

By on April 3, 2013

Why, why, why the hell is the new BMW 328d called the 328d? It’s a 3-Series, so that part’s legitimate, even if today’s 3er dwarfs the old Bavaria. It’s also a diesel, so the “d” seems appropriate, even if the absence of a “t” rankles a bit among those of us who remember the 524td. Not that “t” always meant “turbo” in BMW-land; sometimes it meant “touring” like fast, sometimes it meant “touring” like station wagon.

The problem is this: the “28″ in 328d suggests a 2.8-liter engine. Just like the 528e had. Well, actually, that was a 2.7-liter engine. The same engine appeared in the 325e, where it was also 2.7 liters. Still, those are relatively white decklid lies compared to the effrontery of putting a two-liter engine in a car and badging it as a 2.8, right? There has to be a rhyme and reason here somewhere, surely. And it there isn’t, then surely there’s a way to put some sense and sensibility back into the German-car game, right?

Good news: I, your humble author, have a solution.

Read More >

By on March 29, 2013

Earlier this week, I wrote about the General Motors XP-75 Eagle and the idea that GM might have engaged in a relatively small bit of realpolitik during said plane’s conception and gestation. I’ve been writing for TTAC long enough to have a fairly accurate sense of how the B&B as a whole will regard whatever I write, but in the case of this article my guesses about what I’d find in the comments section were completely and thoroughly mistaken. I’d like to address them as part of larger concerns I have about the future of writing and criticism on the Internet, and I will do so in what you’re about to read.

But first, let’s talk about the way the Japanese treated prisoners during World War II, shall we?

Read More >

By on March 8, 2013

 

Full disclosure: While my business-class compatriots were living it up in Geneva, I was sitting at home in Ohio, waiting anxiously for the Fed-Ex-mishap-delayed arrival of something called a “Modern Eagle NOS Brazilian” and letting my three-year-old son watch The Lost World in HD. I’d forgotten that there was a part where the T. Rex bites a hapless civilian in half. “There’s meat inside people, if you’re a hungry dinosaur and you can’t find a ‘ceratops to eat,” the boy opined upon seeing the scene. Oh, well. Nature, red in tooth and claw, and all that.

It’s reasonable, therefore, that I might be personally bitter about the latest auto show and my failure to snag a seat on a charter flight to same. No surprise there. What is surprising is this: the people who went weren’t excited about the product either. Sure, they took Facebook pictures of their triple-seven sleeping pods and eighty-euro mystery dinners, but when it came to the actual rolling stock, the lack of enthusiasm among the professional enthusiasts could be viewed from space. Assuming, of course, you have an Internet connection in space and are willing to use it to read auto blogs. The closest thing to a universally acclaimed car at the show was a diesel version of a sporty hatchback. That’s like getting worked up over Diet Dr. Pepper.

The responsibility for this dismal state of affairs can be clearly laid at the feet of three companies. Porsche, Ferrari, and Lamborghini were given a chance to render automotive equivalents of Miss Alex Morgan in steel, aluminum, and carbon fiber. Instead, they chose to give us Honey Boo-Boo’s mother, Snooki, and Janet Reno in a Predator mask, respectively.

Read More >

By on January 29, 2013

According to the nice entertainers at Top Gear the “Sub-Zero Fridge Coolest Car” at the moment is an Aston DB9. That makes perfect sense because the display on my Sub-Zero at home keeps going out and I anticipate the same fate is likely to strike every display screen on the DB9 much more quickly than the nine years it took my Sub-Z to start showing the freezer temperature as “88″ all the time. When the speedometer on the DB9 gets to 88, you’re going to see some serious shit, man. Like a $3000 repair bill.

I’m willing to accept TG‘s verdict on car coolness because I have no idea what makes a car truly “cool”. I do, however, have some opinions about what the most uncool car on the market might be. I’m thinking the Toyota Venza is certainly among the podium finishers there and possibly worthy of the top (bottom?) spot. Why is it uncool? Well, it’s a Toyota, and Toyotas are the vehicles of choice for uncool people around the world. Along with the Avalon, it’s one of the Toyotas most obviously aimed at old people, and old people are rarely cool unless they are murderers turned blues musicians. It’s a jacked-up fake-SUV station wagon that replaced the very cool Camry real station wagon. It’s the most forgettable-looking vehicle on the road, which makes it less cool than the rolling freakshow competitor known as the Honda Crosstour. It has a standard four-cylinder engine and front-wheel-drive. I can’t think of any way in which the Venza could suck it harder than it does right now. It’s the most cynical, depressing, worthless entry on the market.

Uncool, brother. But the DB9 and the Venza, eternal opposites on the cool scale, have one fairly uncool thing in common, don’t they?

Read More >

By on January 21, 2013

I want to tell you this, although I know many of you will not believe. I want you to close your eyes and give me the gift of your trust for a few minutes, to travel through memory and dream and ambition with me. I want you to experience the “theater dim” of the interior lights. To open the throttle on the Bose-by-Nissan stereo. To feel the perfect response from the small sedan’s leather-wrapped steering wheel, to catch a slide as the four-wheel-steering kicks in at the most bizarre time during an irresponsible freeway maneuver. To pose Yakuza-style in the baddest sedan on the block, B-pillars swimming barely seen beneath the glass. To feel the 276-horsepower, quad-cam V-8 punch you back into the impeccably tasteful interior.

Then, and only then, if you can dream with me, if you can believe what I believe, then you might be able to look through the stupid Q-names and the dumb-assed rocks-and-trees marketing and the aftermarket Skyline badges and the unfocused-looking Pathfinder rebadge and the Jersey shore types crowding each owner’s meet and just hold this idea in your head:

Infiniti didn’t always suck.

Read More >

By on January 7, 2013

When Joni Mitchell finally agreed to release a Hits album, she did so with the stipulation that the label also release a Misses album full of music that she was happy to have made even if the critics and buyers didn’t dig it.

So. What follows is five bona-fide, hit-counter-spinning hits, and five how-dare-you-turn-your-nose-up-at-my-talent misses. Let the second-guessing begin!

Read More >

By on November 27, 2012

When he make it drip drip, kiss him on the lip, lip. Picture courtesy the author.

Halfway across the stream, there was a crunch and a GRRRRRRIND and my little Freelander came to a halt, steering wheel frozen in place by a log or a rut or the Kraken or something. Immediately I heard advice from both sides of the water. “Go forward! Harder!”

“No, wait! Backwards!”

“We’ll strap you up, hold on!”

“No time for that! You’ll stall the motor! Just DO SOMETHING!” The water in the passenger compartment was three inches high and rising. I was more than ten miles from the nearest trailhead in any direction and more than two hundred miles from home. The recovery would be long, difficult, and expensive. I chose to briefly slam the transmission into reverse and give the miniature V-6 a brief moment of full-throttle before selecting low gear and driving forward into whatever had stopped me before with twice the momentum I’d had previously. Thankfully, this time the obstacle gave way and moments later I was four-wheel-scrabbling for grip up the streambank. A narrow escape. Who’s stupid enough to take a unibody CUV hardcore off-roading? This guy.

Read More >

By on October 1, 2012

In a former life as an occasional participant on the fringes of the ol’ illegal street racing, I was a member of an “underground message board” where matches were set up, smack was talked, grammar was tortured, you know the deal, right? The board was well-known for being completely cop/narc-free, largely because the cops didn’t care about two community-college dropouts racing 15-second Hondas behind a grocery store in the sticks at two in the morning and then creating twenty-eight-page forum threads detailing their particular excuses for losing. In fact, until some GTO-driving halfwit managed to kill himself and cripple an innocent woman traveling the other way on the freeway, it was pretty much open season for 40-rolls on the freeways of Columbus, Ohio. Read More >

By on July 17, 2012

I don’t think anybody else in automotive journalism can make this claim: I’ve put in nearly 37,000 miles behind the wheel of a Bentley Continental GT, in places as disparate as New York City’s West 48th Street (home of Rudy’s Music), the rural roads of northern Kentucky, and the Climbing Esses at Virginia International Raceway. Forget a lead-follow press event or the rich-for-a-week-wannabe experience of a loaner car: every mile I spent behind the Bentley’s wheel was at my own expense.

Of course, I’m speaking literally here: I’d actually purchased the piano-black-wood-rimmed steering wheel from a Continental GT and installed it, along with a set of Bentley paddle shifters, into my 2006 VW Phaeton V8. When I finally got around to driving the real thing, I couldn’t believe how close the driving experience of the $190,000-plus Bentley was to that of the $68,000 Volkswagen. “This car,” I thought at the time, “is a Phaeton for idiots, which is really saying something.”

Five years later, the Continental GT is still a Phaeton for idiots, except now it’s an old Phaeton for idiots. Old, tired, and showing no signs of life despite a twin-turbo-V-8 heart transplant. It’s time to pull the plug on a car that never even deserved to be called a Bentley in the first place.

Read More >

By on July 9, 2012

Two Chevrolets in a rental lot
And sorry I could not thrash ‘em both
And be one reviewer, but I got
The Cruze first, figuring I could not
Fail, given Impala fleet sale growth

To find one at another time and
Compare them, though GM liked it not,
Face to face and back to back and then
Perhaps a fleshly, fantastic end
To turn the stomach or stir the pot,

The Cruze I rented for four fab days,
The Impala I stretched out to five.
I raced in LeMons north of L.A.,
And stayed with my friend Melisa Mae,
Then to Quebec for a B-Spec drive.

That was getting a bit painful, but you get the idea, right? Read More >

By on June 22, 2012

“It’s just sooooo much better on coke, you just wouldn’t believe it, that’s how I prefer it, really, it’s so much better it almost isn’t worth doing it sober.” Though I remained professionally impassive behind my Prodesign 4360 eyeglasses, I was simply amazed at the story that my old high-school classmate was telling me over a few drinks. Back in 1986, she’d been just another quiet, reasonably pretty girl, and in the present day she’s a suburban housewife with the requisite $70,000 Toyota and the mandatory country club memberships. In between, however, she’d apparently done some pretty crazy stuff, including a couple of cocaine-laced three-way weekend throwdowns in Las Vegas. “You go to Vegas for your car thingies, don’t you?” she inquired, her nostrils flaring in Proustian sympathy.

“Er, not any more I don’t,” I hastily replied. Twenty minutes later I was quite deliberately out the door, heading home on my little Honda motorcycle, and feeling quite square. Not my kind, dear. I’ve never done cocaine. Never plan to. But it seems like every woman I meet nowadays has climbed a veritable Everest of the stuff. Was I missing something? To find out, I decided to ask my resident expert on kink, drugs, department-store clothes-shopping, and all other things vaguely disreputable.

“I suppose sex might be better on cocaine the first few times,” the infamous Vodka McBigbra told me as I knelt in my driveway, scrubbing bugs off my Boxster’s smudged 3M nose shield, “but every guy I ever saw who used coke to enhance sex ended up giving up the sex in order to focus more intently on the coke, you know? There’s just never enough of it, you understand? There are these great hits, but then there just isn’t enough. I don’t think you understand.”

Oh, sweetheart, but I do understand. After all, I’m an automotive journalist.

Read More >

By on April 10, 2012

I come to not to bury the W-body Impala, but to praise it.

With the NYIAS introduction of its replacement, we can now legitimately call Chevrolet’s pocket battleship of a full-sizer the “old model”, although if we are speaking truthfully, it virtually qualified as the “old Impala” when it was introduced thirteen years ago. At the time, it seemed like more woeful evidence of General Motors’ ineptitude, a quick mash-up of a Lumina with powerplants so ancient there are probably cave paintings somewhere in Altamira documenting an early TSB campaign for them, complete with pictograms of how to use a wooly mammoth to power an engine hoist.

A funny thing happened along the way, though: the Impala started to find things. First it found a place. Next, it found character. Finally, and not everyone will agree, it found redemption.

Read More >

Recent Comments

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Authors

  • Brendan McAleer, Canada
  • Marcelo De Vasconcellos, Brazil
  • Matthias Gasnier, Australia
  • J & J Sutherland, Canada
  • Tycho de Feyter, China
  • W. Christian 'Mental' Ward, Abu Dhabi
  • Mark Stevenson, Canada
  • Faisal Ali Khan, India