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After this paragraph, you’ll have the chance to read nearly 6,300 words about the fastest transcontinental drive in history. Most of the important stuff is near the top; the rest of it is a detail-oriented interview with Alex for the community of fans across the country who live and die for this sort of thing. A personal disclaimer: In my opinion, having the “transcontinental record” is an accomplishment roughly on the same level as having the most awesome fox suit at a furry convention. But TTAC isn’t a charity. It’s a business. And we need those sweet, sweet clicks. Integrity? What’s that? — jb

“I’ve always said I’d never do this again, but as a minor Bond villain put it, never say never.”

So says Alex Roy – the Doctor Evil of illegal long-distance driving events. According to Roy, women want him, and men want to be him. According to actual women, he’s got a great scarf collection, and according to actual men, he’s got…a scarf collection. He’s the same bald, fast-talking New Yorker with a fetish for German police uniforms he’s always been. He’s also former Chairman of The Moth, and winner of the 2005 reality show The Ultimate Playboy. Love him or hate him, respect him or loathe him, the self-proclaimed anti-hero was single-handedly responsible for rekindling interest in the Cannonball Run when, back in 2006, he and co-driver David Maher shattered the 23-year old transcontinental record in 31 hours and 4 minutes. That story was told in Roy’s 2007 book The Driver – which he wrote himself and I reviewed somewhat negatively – and the interviews Roy couldn’t stop giving until…

…used-Lamborghini salesman Ed Bolian and two other dudes strapped their bedpans to a raggedy old CL55 chock-full of leaking gasoline and bombed across the same route in 28 hours and 50 minutes.

For nine years, Roy had sworn that he’d let the record stand or fall as fate decreed — but like his spiritual guide Wotan, Alex was unwilling to let someone else sit upon the porcelain throne of Cannonball Valhalla. So he conceived of Projekt Panzernashorn (Rhinoceros), a cost-no-object plan to set the bar too high for even the most aggressively-catheterized to reach.

Along with a hand-picked group of journalists, hangers-on, and gold-digging New York actress/models, I was permitted to observe Alex as he basically pissed away the kind of money that would let you run for THREE YEARS IN THE TUDOR SERIES WHICH IS A REAL RACE in order to snatch the record back.

This is the story.

The History
Comprehending Roy’s Panzernashorn requires a clear understanding of the circuitous history and larger-than-life characters within this most controversial aspect of American automotive culture. The wiki page histories for the Cannonball Run, Roy, Bolian and other record claimants illuminates the misinformation and confusion around a “sport” for which there is no governing body.

Transcontinental runs can be traced back to 1933, when Erwin “Cannonball” Baker drove from New York to Los Angeles in 53 hours and 30 minutes before the construction of the interstate highway system. Baker went on to set 160+ more long-distance driving records, but will forever be remembered for lending his nickname to what would become both a catch-all noun and verb, signifying illegal cross-country racing events and high-speed driving on public roads.

Car & Driver’s Brock Yates immortalized Baker with the 1971 inaugural “Cannonball Baker Sea-To-Shining Sea Memorial Trophy Dash” – now known as the Cannonball Run – which was, according to Yates, a symbol of both “a challenge to be met“ and “a protest against speed limits.” Yates, who made it across in 35:54 with co-driver and Le Mans winner Dan Gurney, actually quotes Gandhi and Charles De Gaulle in his 1972 C&D editorial on the subject, the latter lamenting on his deathbed of being doomed to die “in an age of midgets.”

The Cannonball grew. And grew. Time ran a cover story in 1975. The event was praised by the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe. The Gumball Rally – still the most realistic fictional depiction of the Cannonball – came out in 1976. Forty-seven teams entered the final 1979 event, on which Dave Heinz and Dave Yarborough crossed the finish line in 32 hours and 51 minutes. More miraculous than their time was their choice of car – the notoriously unreliable Jaguar XJ-S.

The Cannonball Run was quickly succeeded by the secretive US Express, whose organizer, technologist Richard Doherty, chose to focus on secrecy, safety and professionalism. With a field of under a dozen highly-prepared drivers, times rapidly fell through 1983, when Doug Turner and David Diem crossed the finish line on the final Express in 32 hours 7 minutes. Their car? A Ferrari 308.

Their record stood for 23 years, until Roy and Maher’s 2006 run.

Yates declared the theoretical end of any such attempts in his 2002 book Cannonball, where he stated, “A 36-hour trip…is within the realm of possibility, but chopping off an extra six hours would border on the miraculous…30 hours borders on the impossible.”

The Interview

As I expected and feared, Roy had so much to say about the run, before, during (via phone) and after, that it took me the better part of an afternoon to chop it down to what you read below. Those of you who don’t find the below transcript sufficient, have no fear: we’ll be running additional articles about the car and the experience later on in the week, along with plenty of evidence.

The Car
“I’ll always love my E39 M5, but in light of the lessons of Bolian’s 2013 run, it was clear that technology had moved past 144A’s ability – regardless of modification – to break 28:50. Also, everyone knows the car, and I couldn’t risk it being recognized by a cop who reads Jalopnik or watches /Drive. A long search ensued. I called upon everyone I trusted to help analyze the performance and fuel economy of every appropriate car. To quote the wonderful intro monologue from the video game Homeworld, ‘the clans were united…[this] would demand new technologies…and new sacrifices.’ Bolian and Black had set an incredible time. An incredible car was needed. An utterly innocuous-looking car. A car that would become the ultimate Q-car for a new generation. And I found it in Polizei 144i: a highly modified 2014 Infiniti Q50, unquestionably the finest illegal cross-country race car ever constructed.”

“Clearly, anyone who knows me knows that, whatever I do, good, bad, home, work, in, out, I must go all the way. Since going sober (Roy entered a program two years ago and achieved sobriety, much to my relief and the relief of others) and finding my faith, I recommitted to setting a new bar. Adding a second steering position and GT-R driveline to the Q50, well, that was just the beginning.

A short but incomplete list of upgrades & extra equipment. Bold indicates first-use on a cross-country record run:

Driveline Swap-out w/2014 Nissan GT-R
654 Horsepower on Mild Tune, 850+ on Full Boost
55 Gallon Fuel Cell for Total 75 Gallon E85 Capacity w/Twin Feeds
Range: 1000-1200 miles
Duplicate Steering Wheel/Pedal Set in Front Passenger Seat For On-The-Fly Driver Swaps
Custom Ceiling-Mounted, Electrically-Actuated, Gyro-Stabilized Observation System w/Roof Pass-Through, including Helmet w/FLIR & LL Overlay to Optics For Rear Passenger
Custom Magnetorheological Self-Leveling Suspension System
Brembo Carbon Ceramic brakes
3x FLIR Night Vision cameras
4x Low-Light Video Cameras
2x Vertex Air-to-Ground Radios
1x Aircraft Proximity Warning System
3x Valentine 1 Radar/Laser Detectors
1x Custom-Built Laser Diffuser/Jammer System (Front/Rear)
5x Garmin GPS Units with XM Traffic
4x iPhone 6 Cradles & Chargers
2x iPad Air Cradles & Chargers
2x iPad Mini 3 Cradles & Chargers
3x Satellite Tracking Devices
2x Uniden Police Scanners w/External Antennas
2x Uniden CB Radio
2x Chemical Smoke Generators
Radar-Absorbent Paint
Anti-Laser Headlight Coating

“For the record, the car is owned, registered and insured through an offshore company in the Channel Islands whose shareholders must remain anonymous, for obvious reasons. It will, however, be on display at several auto shows this year, starting with the Greenwich Concours d’Elegance on May 30th. It will also be participating in the hill climb at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in late June. Maybe.”

The Second Steering Wheel & Driving Position
“I was always a fan of the six-wheeled Tyrell F1 car. I’m also a fan of the McLaren F1. In my dreams I had a vision of a third seating position dead center in the rear seat of the whatever car was to replace 144A. I also had a dream of installing TWO extra steering wheels, allowing for any one of the three team members to take over driving without having to stop the car. This required a car with both A LOT of extra room (i.e. width) for the third, rear-mounted driving position, and a full steering-by-wire system. Given the difficulty in finding a car with both, I settled on two driving positions. The only cars available with steering-by-wire were a Porsche 911 and the Infiniti. As soon as I learned that a GT-R drivetrain would fit in a Q50, the choice was clear. No one at Infiniti Japan believed me when AI Design, my Westchester-based installer, tried to buy the second steering system. I even got on the phone and tried to explain why we needed it. Sadly, my Japanese is limited, so I had to buy the system from a salvage car.”

The “Spy Hunter” Modification
“There was much internal debate about the wisdom of the smoke generator. My former therapist (to whom I’m engaged) brought key insight into the conversation: ‘Better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it.” I’ve always felt this way about firearms and was instantly convinced, and so ordered installation without informing my teammates. Upon their unhappy discovery of the device, we agreed upon a usage protocol that was satisfactory to all: We would only deploy the smoke dispenser to create a smoke screen if traffic behind us was at least a mile away, in daytime, and a police vehicle was in pursuit, such that we could slow the pursuit and make an escape. Three NORAD-style keyed safety switches were installed, one beside each team member. TWO such switches had to be enabled simultaneously in order to deploy the system.

“I budgeted for an oil slick dispenser, but this seemed to cross a moral line beyond even my low and flexible standards. In my mind we would only deploy the oil slick in the event NO civilian traffic was behind us for one mile AND a police vehicle was in pursuit, with no restriction for night-time use. My primary concern was that someone might be driving a Morgan 3-wheeler somewhere behind us. Or worse, a Polaris Slingshot.

“The smoke generator was only used once. Effectively.”

The Co-Drivers: David Maher & Greg Ledet
“Maher is a professional. Banker by day. Porsche SCCA track instructor on weekends. A man whose few words are in inverse correlation to his driving skill and determination. The first and last man in my life allowed to call me a coward to my face. When we’re doing track instruction, it’s true. I wouldn’t go cross-country without him.

“Greg Ledet was the newcomer. We’d been talking for two years before this run, but we met only once before last week. Once I came to accept Maher’s criticism of my focus on 31:04 on technology and caution, I knew I’d have to put my foot down on the next attempt. I needed a third driver whose expertise today surpassed my own in 2006, and whose experience and judgment was at least as good as my own. That man was Greg Ledet, the unheralded holder of the third fastest cross-country time ever – 31:17 – now the fourth fastest. Ledet, an effusive network engineering consultant from Columbus, Ohio, proved himself the right choice.”

On Having Three Drivers
“Numerous teams on both the Cannonball and Express events had three drivers. Our duplicate steering/pedal layout added additional convenience and time savings. Three drivers are safer at any speed, and especially at higher speeds. Anyone who questions this is a coward who doesn’t know his illegal cross-country racing history. To anyone who wants to discuss it, I say nyah, nyah nyah, nyah nyah, nyah. First has a place all its own. You are all cowards.”

On Having Three Spotter Planes
These were used primarily for shooting footage for my next documentary, First Has A Place All Its Own. Other than the footage shown privately, all information about the aircraft and their crews must remain confidential for at least ninety days.

26:28 By The Numbers
“In the spirit of avoiding any debate over distance and route, I very reluctantly agreed to Maher and Ledet’s demands that we duplicate the route used by Bolian and Black, with one minor change of less than a mile:

March 28-29, 2015
Departure: Red Ball Parking Garage – 142 East 31st Street, NY, NY 10016
Arrival: R10 Social House – 179 N Harbor Dr, Redondo Beach, CA 90277
13 states – NY, NJ, WV, PA, OH, IL, IN, MO, OK, TX, NM, AZ, CA
2811.5 miles in 26 hours, 28 minutes, 13 seconds
106.21 mph Overall Average

23 Minutes 17 Seconds Stopped
107.79 mph Moving Average
3 Fuel Stops: 8m13s, 11m29s and 3m35s

70 Gallons Fuel Capacity
~230 Gallons of E85 used
12.22 MPG

The Route
“Much ink and much breath has been wasted on the topic of routing, but in the spirit of remaining contrarian, I decided I wanted something to talk about with Bolian and Rawlings. Moving the finish line one mile from the traditional Portofino finish seemed like precisely the bait someone would take once we went public. That is, if someone wants to pretend a one mile difference at any speed other than stopped would change our position in the eyes of posterity. That’s a big if…most likely posed by a very, very insecure man. I look forward to some entertaining conversations. In the spirit of Austin Powers…allow myself to repeat myself. To anyone who wants to discuss it, I say nyah, nyah nyah, nyah nyah, nyah. First has a place all its own. You are all cowards.”

A New Support Team
“Whether or not you believe the Gumball 3000 is a race, (I fucking don’t — JB) there are people who treat it as such. The most important lesson of Team Polizei’s participation from 2003-2007 was that money does NOT get you everywhere. If people like you, they will help you. If people want to be part of something, they will show up. If you show gratitude, you will will earn their loyalty. Showing up in a fake police car, letting kids sit in it and giving away T-shirts and hats generated more support than the $100k some teams would burn on staff who couldn’t have cared less if their employer’s F50 burnt to the ground.”

“In 2007, on our last Gumball 3000, more off-duty police showed up to help Team Polizei than civilians. The police in the London gave us the numbers of their friends en route to the Chunnel, and then France, and Belgium. They were literally asking me if we needed help refueling, or an intersection temporarily blocked, or a competitor delayed, if not arrested.”

“I should have known then that treating law enforcement as enemies was a mistake. After Bolian’s run, I decided to test my new theory. Cops are people too. Most of them, at least. I gambled that if I could find just one cool cop in NYC, he’d know another in NJ, then PA, and on and on westward all the way to the Portofino. Given my reputation, I was able to convince more than one of the following: 1) I was going to go cross-country, 2) No one could stop me, 3) It’d be safer if they helped me, 4) if a set a record that was unbreakable, no one would follow in my wake. Miraculously, I was also able to convince nearly thirty, spread out between NY and California, each with the same goal. Help us avoid the cops who ‘didn’t get it.’’

“Logic would suggest that for every extra person added to an illegal act, the likelihood of a leak doubles. But, once again calling upon Saint-Shiftikus, the Patron Saint of Non-Violent and Unprofitable Automotive Crimes, I had a vision. My vision told me that if the volunteer is a young, off-duty cop who reads Jalopnik, the chance of a leak is in fact quartered.

“It sure pays being Alex Roy.”

“Only one other person was aware of the exact nature of our volunteers prior to the run: my attorney. Everyone else on the team believed I had merely gathered a large group of eager car guys who just so happened to have intimate knowledge of weather, traffic and police activity. They were also very helpful in staffing our refueling stops, which were both hilarious and terrifying, but that’s another story.”

The Weather
The weather was perfect. Literally. Perfect. The entire way.

The Run
“You don’t need to be Nostradamus to know that the first issue we were going to have was construction around Newark, NJ. Luckily, Team Polizei’s newest intern – who must go by his World of Warcraft character name, Prediktikus – happens to work for the NJ Turnpike Authority. Not coincidentally, this was the same job held by J.F. Musial in 2005/06. Once again, such intelligence was critical in deciding the date and time of our departure, allowing us to greatly exceed our driveplan.

Our first waypoint was 96 miles into the run, where I-78 merges with US-22 just outside Allentown, PA. We were hoping to make it there in under an hour, but with the construction and traffic, it took 1 hour and 5 minutes. Our western PA spotter car notified us of a stationary speed trap near Washington, PA, but – at the speed we were travelling – Ledet calculated on-the-fly that we’d be in West Virginia before the officer was capable of intercepting us.

Traversing West Virginia at speeds that would make Ed Bolian become an atheist, we approached the Ohio border. As Brock Yates said in 1981’s Cannonball Run:

“Think of the fact that there’s not one state in the 50 that has the death penalty for speeding… although I’m not so sure about Ohio.”

As in 2006, we sought to cross Ohio as quickly as possible. Indiana flew past in what appeared to be mere minutes, during which Maher joked that a new law might prevent me from using a bathroom anywhere in-state. We picked up the pace and hit Illinois, where we realized the 1200 mile range we hoped for was unrealistic.

Because the Infiniti was tuned to run on E85, we couldn’t stop at any standard gas station. We pre-positioned refueling crews along the route at approximately 1100 mile intervals. Each five-man crew was equipped with eight 12-gallon NASCAR-style dump cans. Although 144i could only carry 70 gallons of fuel, we had to ensure sufficient backup in case of spillage or the loss of one or more cans at (or prior) to a stop. Can drainage averaged 15 seconds, so to speed up refueling two crew handled fueling whilst two handled the 85lb cans in-series. The fifth crewmember checked fluids, washed the windows and cleaned the optics and sensors. The Barstow crew carried four dump cans rather than eight.

Our first fuel stop occurred 964 miles from the NYC, on the side of the road just west of St. Louis, MO, near the intersection of I-44 and I-270. The first stop took just over eight minutes, including slowing down and getting back to speed. The first leg’s 13 MPG was significantly lower than the 16-17 we’d planned for.

Our average speed to the Will Rogers Turnpike Tollbooth, the site of my M5 fuel pump failure in April of 2006, was 105.2 MPH.

The second fuel stop was in the vicinity of Tucumcari, NM, the second tank only getting us 850 miles. Fuel gauge problems had begun to manifest and we’d become unsure of our remaining fuel level. We contacted the Albuquerque refuel crew and had them drive back to meet us. The car was only getting 11 MPG, but our average speed was increasing.

The final “splash and dash” was in Barstow, CA. This was actually the only scheduled stop. Although we weren’t completely empty, we were relieved to pull over. Our average speed had taken a slight hit due to traffic and fatigue, so we took on just under two cans as a precaution.

Driver Swaps
The twin driving positions made for highly entertaining driver/rear passenger swaps. I began in the driver’s seat, Maher in the second seat, and Ledet in the observer position. Ledet and I traded positions three times during the drive, whilst Maher remained in the second driving position throughout the entire drive. (Yes, he actually says “whilst” — JB) As the fastest and most experienced driver among us, Maher was responsible for approximately 51% of the total drivetime. Ledet took on 23%, and I took on the remainder.

The Proof
“A famous man whose name I forgot once said “extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.’”

“We are in the business of committing crimes. In many states, felony crimes, which is why there has never been – and will never be – the equivalent of an FIA for such events. Were we driven solely by love of ‘the sport’, logic would suggest we inform no one of our activities. Like the Krell, we aspire to higher forms of existence through such rash acts, but, like the Krell, the id cannot be separated from the act itself. The id compels those making such attempts to seek not only validation but recognition, whether for money, fame, or worse, and it is in that compulsion that validation, recognition and doom are intertwined.

I am as guilty of this as anyone. Guiltier, probably. But once one has gone across, and especially once one has set a record, such calculations are rendered irrelevant before the need for recognition, which, when one has committed such a crime, is synonymous with boasting of the most despicable sort. In any case, I’m bored with the false modesty of the last nine years. (Oh yeah, it’s just been one modest day after another — JB)

And I don’t care. Hats off to Nero! The spectacle of the naysayers bowing before a gesture beyond the comprehension of their cowardly, small days is worth the post-run stench from my unwashed boxers. Maher’s? Not so much. Thank Wotan I used fabric softener last week.

If any of this is offensive or confusing, then you’re probably driving a car with too much horsepower, or you’re a hypocrite, or both. For the record, I’ve had no points on my license for almost ten years, and no more than a minor fender bender (albeit in a borrowed Lamborghini) since 2004.

To the issue of proof.

“Official” recognition of any runtime requires the existence of an objective governing body whose validation processes allow for the corroboration of multiple datapoints. The indisputable convergence of multiple datapoints is the only 100% accurate method of verifying a runtime, let alone a record. As no such governing body exists, no 100% accurate validation process exists, and therefore no “official” recognition is possible.

The closest thing to a governing body that ever existed in this ‘sport’ were the Cannonball Run and U.S. Express ‘entities’ – if they can even be called such – which were no more than temporary collectives comprising one or more principals (Yates, Doherty, etc.) their immediate non-participating volunteer staff, and the participating competitors. These entities therefore used five datapoints: start/finish punchcards, hard evidence such as fuel and toll receipts, and witnesses divided between volunteer staff, entrants and non-interested third parties such as journalists.

Let us call this five datapoint standard the Yates/Doherty Standard.

Based on Yates’ 2002 declaration of the difficulty of a sub-36 hour time, I didn’t think anyone would believe we’d gone at all unless we greatly exceeded Yates/Doherty.

In the absence of competitors and non-participating volunteers, this meant gathering: 1) start/finish punchcards, 2) hard evidence (fuel/toll receipts), 3) journalist witnesses, 4) third party witnesses such as prior participants/record holders, 5) still images, 6) video, and 7) GPS data logs.

I knew that any single piece of evidence could be faked. Perhaps even two. Or three. But not all of it. The preponderance of evidence had to be enough, if only I could convince one or more major media outlets before the fact to give their blessing to the evidence we would (hopefully) deliver afterward. I begged Ernst & Young, Anderson Consulting, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times to hear me out. Only the NYT returned my call, but they still didn’t want to actually witness the run, due to liability concerns.

Ultimately, our seven datapoints, whence delivered to Wired Magazine, The New York Times, William Morris and Harper Collins (publisher of The Driver), comprised the most comprehensive collection of evidence ever gathered for a single vehicle in any cross-country event. They had nearly 11 months to fact-check our materials. Not one shred was ever questioned.

Gathering proof for this run was easy. We duplicated all our prior methods, improved the gathering of near-seamless video footage with redundant onboard video systems, uploaded most of it, and added multiple real-time tracking devices. With seven overlapping datapoints, we set a higher standard of validation than has ever been achieved.

Although I have no doubt the Bolian/Black 28:50 run was real, I was always confused as to why Bolian – who had clearly done his research, read The Driver and contacted me multiple times prior to his run masquerading as a journalist – chose such a low standard of proof. Let’s analyze the Bolian standard: 1) Fuel/Toll receipts, 2) Still images, 3) GPS data logs. I am not the final arbiter on this, and I believe Bolian. He and Black clearly possess the intellect, skill, budget, psychology and demeanor of people who’ve made a successful run. But the Bolian standard falls short of the Yates/Doherty standard.

The History of Evidentiary Standards

7 Datapoints Alex “Der Panzernashorn” Roy
5 Datapoints Brock Yates/Rick Doherty
3 Datapoints Ed Bolian/David Black
0 Datapoints Richard Rawlings

Additionally, I was especially confused as to why Bolian didn’t gather full-time, uninterrupted video. The technology existed in 2013. But their lack of video is no longer relevant.

Richard Rawlings’ 31:59 Claim
“Rawlings reminds me of the guy on Discovery Channel who says ‘I don’t want to say it was aliens. But it was aliens.’ In this world, respect is given, not taken. Based on the Yates/Doherty standard, Rawlings never left the Red Ball. No one I know has ever seen any evidence of his run. He’s not a member of any of the private Cannonball-related Facebook groups to which I belong, which, after so many years, would be the logical place to convince others who’ve made the run to take him seriously. I’d like to see Bolian go on the record with his opinion, but Bolian is a gentleman.

“Rawlings has only one piece of evidence in my mind: his co-driver, Dennis Collins, is an honest man and a gentleman. Amusingly, Rawlings allegedly shot a segment with Jay Leno about his run, but the segment never aired. He’s also made some entertainingly defensive statements regarding the validity of 31:04. I’d prefer to let the evidence speak for itself. On a personal level, I love him. On a professional level, I love his show. Rawlings is a great guy. Maybe he lost the evidence? Maybe his dog ate it? I don’t want to say the Rawlings run was a hoax. So it must have been aliens.”

Announcing The Run vs. Releasing The Evidence: The Lesson of Afroduck
Afroduck is a fool. He posted evidence of his crimes before the statute of limitations had expired. He voluntarily handed over the raw video to police before being asked for it. He confessed his guilt, then plead not guilty. He fled the country during jury deliberations. I think he left his pregnant wife behind. Maybe she wasn’t pregnant. Either way, he left her behind. He buried himself in every interview. None of this is as bad as his real crime. He claimed in his defense that he was creating art. Claude Lelouch’s Rendezvous is art. No music. No effects. What Afroduck did was sport, and poor sport at that. Art? If one must add music to a poorly shot driving video, it should at least be good music.

Announcing The Run vs. Releasing The Evidence: The Lesson of Bolian
“Although I’ve long been a proponent of withholding any record run announcement(s) until all applicable statutes of limitations have expired, Bolian’s 28:50 press plan changed my thinking. It became clear that Bolian’s sharing of evidence with but two journalists (Jalopnik’s Matt Hardigree and Doug DeMuro) was sufficient – their ability to validate his evidence notwithstanding – for a semi ‘official’ stamp of validation and therefore publicity. Bolian’s incredible time and admission as to not having shot video was shocking to me. His refusal to share data with me, even privately, was even moreso. I kept my skepticism to myself until quite recently. It was only after he released his data and we spoke privately that I came to believe 28:50 was real. Whether or not it was, I’d long been planning another run, and I always knew I’d announce as soon as one or more media outlets had vetted the evidence. But I’m still going to hold to the one-year schedule before releasing data to the public.

Ed Bolian’s Record
“What is there to say? Massive respect to both Bolian and Dave Black. I’ve really enjoyed talking to Ed over the years, and have just started to chat with Black. I really admire them for taking the example Maher and I set, doing the research, and taking it to the next level far beyond even what I thought was possible. I always knew 30 hours was possible, but 28:50? Bless their little hearts and big stones. BIG stones. Ed was very respectful in multiple interviews in thanking me for inspiring his run. It’s only fair that I thank him in return. Without 28:50, I’d never have discovered my inner Yngwie, put him in a car, and started for California.”

Announcing The Run On April Fools Day
“An April 1st announcement was the obvious choice. Why? It’s the first press day of the New York Auto International Auto Show, allowing me easy access to automotive and general media for interviews.”

“More importantly, Ed Bolian demonstrated that only one automotive media outlet was necessary for evidentiary validation, after which the primary story would be widely republished both domestically and internationally. Withholding evidence had virtually no effect on cross-posting, and attending the NYAIS and camping out in the press room would accelerate such cross-posting.”

“April Fools Day is the perfect cover story for a real run. In the event any law-enforcement should come looking for me, I can always say ‘April Fool’s’! Who knows? It’ll probably work. I’m Alex Roy. Let the evidence speak for itself. I’ve got more of it than has ever been gathered. This false modesty thing I was running with on my book tour was a mistake. I’m thinking of having an Alex Roy’s Not In Jail Party Friday night. Bolian had one, and I own a club that has a live midget celebrity impersonator sex show and an enema demonstration. Google ‘The Box nightclub’ and see for yourself. I’ve ascended to the top of Maslow’s pyramid. I don’t care what anyone thinks of me.”

The Witnesses
“We’d already greatly surpassed the Yates/Doherty standard for witnesses on the 2006 run, so I knew exactly how to repeat this process. We invited six journalists from a variety of U.S and European publications, automotive and otherwise, but gave the exclusive breaking story option to The Truth About Cars. Everyone else was placed on a 24 hour embargo beyond TTAC’s publication date and time. Seventy additional third-party witnesses were invited, including multiple prior record holders. One called in sick with – unbelievably – a large black boil caused by the explosion of the subwoofer voicecoil in his gaming chair.”

The Video
“Video was shot on seven different cameras, four internal and three external, cached onboard and uploaded – bandwidth permitting – to a secure server. Video was observed by Jack Baruth and J.F. Musial & the /DRIVE staff in (thoroughly boring — JB) real-time, and will be released in its entirety online on April 2nd of 2016.”

Why Didn’t You Invite Ed Bolian?
“I like Bolian. God bless him for taking it to the next level. But he called me numerous times pretending to be a journalist, asking for information about 31:04, and then didn’t invite me to witness his run. I’ve always said 31:04 was breakable, and I always said I hoped anyone attempting a run would do so safely. If I ever thought someone was serious, safe, and qualified, I would have witnessed their departure and arrival at my own expense. I like Ed. I respect Ed. But Ed didn’t invite me, so I didn’t invite him.”

Why didn’t you invite Doug DeMuro?
“We would have, but he misspelled Cannonball Baker’s first name in his Jalopnik piece about Bolian. It’s Erwin Baker, not Edwin. He claimed Baker’s 53:30 time went unbeaten for 40 years. It was broken in 1971, which is actually 38 years. After Yates/Gurney set the 1971 record of 35:54, Demuro says “the record was slowly whittled down over the next decade.” The last Cannonball was in 1979, which is eight years. This type of story requires attention to detail. My teammates expect it of me. I expect it of them. My thoughts on Demuro? To quote Christian Bale when he was yelling at the guy on the set of Terminator Salvation…’you’re a nice guy, you’re a nice guy, but that don’t fucking cut it when you’re fucking around!’ Use Google, meine bisschen.”

On Faith
“I was so impressed by the power of Bolian’s faith – in himself, in co-driver Dave Black and assistant Dan Huang, in the weather, in an out-of-warranty Mercedes-Benz CL55’s reliability, in a higher power – that I decided to abandon the internal debate between atheism and agnosticism which had tormented me for so long. I decided to reopen my search for faith by quitting drinking and smoking, and devoting myself to the most recent printings of the holy books of all the major faiths. I then turned to – as they sometimes say in King’s Landing and often do upon the Wall – the old gods. The second and fourth books in the Song of Ice And Fire series are so enlightening. There’s much to be learned from polytheism, but there’s a lot more to be learned from pagan rituals. I prayed to everyone. I prayed to the god of Japanese manufacturing, the god of interstate road maintenance, the god of cellular tower hand-off. You name it. I’m also a child of the golden years of science fiction, fantasy and horror, which I strongly feel began with Telly Savalas’ 1972 epic Horror Express (which John Carpenter utterly ripped off in The Thing) and ended with Richard Stanley’s 1990 love-story-with-a-twist Hardware. The latter included a cameo by Fields of the Nephilim vocalist and gothic rock legend Carl McCoy, whose brief presence highlighted the importance of faith and love in the midst of adversity, much like Telly’s character in Horror Express.

“Cribbing a trick from myself – first used on the 2003 Gumball 3000 – I decided to hedge my bets by purchasing eight pocket editions of the Bible (King James Edition), the Torah and the Koran, for total of twenty-four holy books. One each for Ledet, Maher and myself, one to give away as a gesture of beneficence, and four of each holy book to use as wheel chocks in case of the failure of our emergency brake. This actually happened on both the 2003 and 2004 Gumball events. Also, in the event a police officer should arrive, we had only a one in three chance of offending him upon seeing the wheel chocks. Ultimately, I chose to put my final faith in Wotan. More commonly known as Odin, I – not being a fan of The Marvel Universe – prefer the Old High German nomenclature. I’ve taken a lot of grief from my Jewish relatives over the wheel chock Torahs and especially Wotan, but results matter. I asked for good weather. And Wotan answered, proving himself far more powerful than all the other deities. Bolian’s gonna have to move to Sweden if he wants to break my new time.”

On Heroes
“My hero is the greatest actor of the 20th century: Matthew McConaughey. His Oscar acceptance speech at the 2013 Academy Awards changed my life:

And to my hero. That’s who I chase. Now when I was 15 years old, I had a very important person in my life come to me and say ‘who’s your hero?’ And I said, ‘I don’t know, I gotta think about that. Give me a couple of weeks.’ I come back two weeks later, this person comes up and says ‘who’s your hero?’ I said, ‘I thought about it. You know who it is? It’s me in 10 years.’

“McConaughey is the absolute manifestation of the Randian philosophy that has guided me since I read The Fountainhead in 6th grade. I don’t remember it all, and I don’t even know if McConaughey has ever read a book, but that doesn’t matter. People read too much. Most of what people read is nonsense. Even if it isn’t, they usually don’t understand what they’re reading, or they infer the wrong lesson. Post-modernism should be taught before math. I was always inspired by the closing credits of Spinal Tap, when the drummer in the bathtub exclaims, ‘I believe almost everything I read, and I read quite a lot.’ Let’s take that lesson to driving cross-country. I’m constantly emailed and called by people who want to break my record, or Bolian’s, or just go across in a respectable time. Many of them have read my book, but not all of them. Even fewer have read Yates’ Cannonball. They all claim to be totally committed. Can you imagine a Westboro Baptist Church member who hasn’t read the Bible? Or an ISIS member who hasn’t read the Koran? I’ve got a trunk full of Holy Books. I’ve also got spare copies of Cannonball, and – since the hardcover’s out of print – signed copies of The Driver on my website for only $19.95. If you must read one book, read mine. Two? Read mine, and Cannonball. McConaughey will be remembered for a lot more than his acting. Mark my words. He’s the Italo Calvino of American letters. He’s the Herbert Spencer of American philosophy. He just hasn’t published anything yet.”

What’s Next?
I can’t speak for Maher and Ledet. I could say I’ll never do this again, but that’s what I said last time. Thirty hours was once considered the wall. Then Bolian summoned a higher power, and the wall became 28:50. Now it’s 26:28. Anything is possible, but not everything is necessary. Actually, everything is necessary. I used to think professionalism was enough. Maher said I was wrong, and Bolian proved it. Everything must be ready, and everything must go right. Preparation, weather and traffic merely provide the floor. That floor is now 30 hours. Add force and luck, and you’re at 29. Add more. 28. MORE. 27. Add stupidity. 26. Having said that, I may never drive again. Except a Morgan 3-wheeler.

Perhaps someone will come along, call out to Grabthar’s Hammer and do it in 24. It’s possible. It would be difficult. Very, very difficult. But not impossible. With clear weather, no traffic, the right car, five spotter planes, improved night vision, 30+ bait cars, color shifting paint, the enthusiastic collusion of enough law enforcement and the bribing of the rest, yes, 24.

If I was going again, I certainly wouldn’t say so here or now.

Sometimes it’s best to keep one’s mouth shut.
____________________________________________________________________

Alex Roy’s next book, You Are All Cowards, will be released Q4 2015.

His documentary on the 26:28 run, First Has A Place All Its Own, is expected Q1 2016.

Alex Roy can be contacted at adanielr@gmail.com
His Facebook is https://www.facebook.com/alexroy144
His Twitter handle is AlexRoy144
His Instagram is AlexRoy144
His Periscope is AlexRoy

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New York 2015: Volkswagen Golf SportWagen Alltrack http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/new-york-2015-volkswagen-golf-sportwagen-alltrack/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/new-york-2015-volkswagen-golf-sportwagen-alltrack/#comments Tue, 31 Mar 2015 23:00:27 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1033969   While we’re still waiting on powertrain specs for the Golf Alltrack, we know this – it will have AWD. The Haldex system and a 20mm raised ride height are they key specs we know right now. Jalopnik is claiming that a DSG will be mandatory but both gasoline and diesel engines will be offered. […]

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While we’re still waiting on powertrain specs for the Golf Alltrack, we know this – it will have AWD.

The Haldex system and a 20mm raised ride height are they key specs we know right now. Jalopnik is claiming that a DSG will be mandatory but both gasoline and diesel engines will be offered.

The base Sportwagen is a great car.  Now, is this better or worse than an Audi Allroad?

 

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New York 2015: Cadillac CT6 Revealed http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/new-york-2015-cadillac-ct6-revealed/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/new-york-2015-cadillac-ct6-revealed/#comments Tue, 31 Mar 2015 20:30:49 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1033897 Finally, our first look at Caddy’s new flagship. Full details tonight. H/T Carscoops

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Finally, our first look at Caddy’s new flagship. Full details tonight.

H/T Carscoops

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Mercedes-Benz Truck Will Be Based On Nissan Navara http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/mercedes-benz-truck-will-be-based-on-nissan-navara/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/mercedes-benz-truck-will-be-based-on-nissan-navara/#comments Tue, 31 Mar 2015 20:26:53 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1033881 A report in the Wall Street Journal is claiming that Mercedes-Benz’s newest pickup won’t be a home grown effort. The German auto maker is planning on expanding on its alliance with partner Renault-Nissan by using one of their existing pickups as the basis for the Benz. Per the WSJ The talks, which are at an advanced stage, […]

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A report in the Wall Street Journal is claiming that Mercedes-Benz’s newest pickup won’t be a home grown effort. The German auto maker is planning on expanding on its alliance with partner Renault-Nissan by using one of their existing pickups as the basis for the Benz.

Per the WSJ

The talks, which are at an advanced stage, involve using the basic architecture of Nissan’s Navara pickup truck for the new vehicle and producing it in Nissan factories, the people said. Nissan was not immediately available for comment. The Navara is called the Frontier in some markets.

“The details are still being worked out,” one of the people said.

Mercedes-Benz would use the Navara framework, but would provide “everything with which the customer comes in contact,” the person added. That would include the powertrain, the interior, the design and other elements.

While the Navara will provide the basis for the next Nissan Frontier, the two will *not* be similar vehicles. The Frontier, like the Toyota Tacoma, will be a specific vehicle for the NAFTA zone, while the Navara will be aimed at world markets. This further bolsters the notion that the Mercedes truck not only won’t make it to America, but is being built without the U.S. market in mind. Ex post facto regulatory hurdles, as well as the Chicken Tax would likely complicate any efforts to bring it to our market, to the point where it would be economically unfeasible.

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2015 Chevrolet Colorado: Reviewed! http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/2015-chevrolet-colorado-reviewed/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/2015-chevrolet-colorado-reviewed/#comments Tue, 31 Mar 2015 20:00:22 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1033177 The Chevrolet Colorado is a good little truck, certainly sturdy enough, leading me to believe that it is a capable enabler of various human endeavors that involve catapulting, hurtling, or generally straining one’s body across hill, dale, snow-capped extremity and Ace Hardware parking lot alike. But its obvious novelty—one that so enraptured a certain publication’s staff […]

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The Chevrolet Colorado is a good little truck, certainly sturdy enough, leading me to believe that it is a capable enabler of various human endeavors that involve catapulting, hurtling, or generally straining one’s body across hill, dale, snow-capped extremity and Ace Hardware parking lot alike.

But its obvious novelty—one that so enraptured a certain publication’s staff to bestow it a pair of calipers that will hardly strain the Colorado’s 1500lb-plus payload—lies in its rejection of the idea that every pickup truck must be the approximate size of a Normandy landing craft.

That’s right—our cars are creeping ever so bigger, ever so clumsier, and if all cars must expand then trucks must do so exponentially, until comes the day when a Silverado rear-ends a Ram, causing Santa Monica to fall into the ocean. But we can do good to admit, even against American exceptionalism, that not every man, woman, and child needs a full-sized truck. (Are those black helicopters I’m hearing?) Until the day that we stop believing in the weirdness of the front-drive mini-truck, a Southern Hemisphere vestige as bizarre as cuy chactao and the Plymouth Scamp, this conveyance in Red Rock Metallic is exactly what some of us deserve: a vehicle that can’t haul as much, can’t tow as much, can’t be ordered with High Country leather the color and texture of your grandfather’s elbows—but something so refreshing that it snaps us awake from thinking that every new pickup needs to be bigger, squarer, more chrome-laden, more ready for ramming than the last hulking beast it replaces.

And yet, the Colorado still manages to dwarf a jellybean F-150 from the Clinton administration—that tenth-generation F-150, has a 10-inch shorter wheelbase and length in its smallest configuration than even the shortest Colorado. Think about that.

Long truck is long.

Long truck is long.

Meanwhile the Colorado seems to defy spatial logic. It looks enormously long but feels small; it feels narrow but it’s hamstring stretching tall; it’s long and narrow and tall but it drives with surprising nimbleness. Yes, even this four-doored long-box. (Remember when such trucks only belonged to railroad companies?) Those coming out of a full-sized Silverado will find little culture shock within its cabin, which is scaled down, sure, narrower now, but never snug and never cramped.

I didn’t get a chance to take the Colorado off-road, or to Colorado, or even to the nearest Canyon. Instead, I drove it around Los Angeles, committing occasional errands, then a sprint up the 101 Highway to a stupendously lavish hotel where the valets asked excitedly not about what I would be driving but about what I was.

The 3.6-liter V6 is a stout little engine, usually relaxed—but ask it firmly and it’ll muster up 305 horsepower with enthusiasm and a nice noise. The six-speed automatic transmission takes some time and a lot of throttle to react, but when on the move it’s plenty smooth. Brakes are very controllable and very powerful, and the accurate and evenly weighted steering isn’t just pretty good, for a truck—it’s pretty good, period. Body motions are nicely reduced to the occasional rumble and jostling, reinforcing the feeling that it’s Like A Bob Seger Song.

Plenty of USB ports! Switchgear feels reassuringly imbued with quality.

Plenty of USB ports! Switchgear feels reassuringly imbued with quality.

Inside, it’s a quiet place to be. Nice and roomy. MyLink dominates the center console, same as in your Impala, y’know—all square buttons and sharp gradients, homely but effective. The flat, two-color gauges are easy to read but also gravely stark. Seats are firm like a doctor’s waiting room, while the rear bottom cushions flip up to stash various unmentionables, just like the Silverado’s. The leather-wrapped steering wheel is terrific to behold.

The rear benches flip up, but clearly not in this photo.

The rear benches flip up, but clearly not in this photo.

Praise to Corvette for its trick temperature gauges, an idea so neat it’s trickled down to every Chevy product, with a retrofit for the 1987 Celebrity Eurosport VR available sometime next Monday—evidently the same people who design showerheads figured out the Colorado’s automatic climate control, because the temperature swings wildly from the ass-freezing cold to Florida-esque mugginess within a single knob click.

The Colorado starts at a hair over $20,000. Which is good. Because the one I tested was nearly twice that—and for $38,870 you get sweet darkened five-spoke wheels ($1,000), leather seats ($950), MyLink ($495), lane departure and frontal collision warnings ($395, and remember, the life you save could be mine), and another thousand-dollar luxury package, which means the aforementioned touchy automatic controls and chrome bits. Humans love shiny things, and pick-em-up truckers even more so.

Sure is shiny!

Sure is shiny. And handsome. But also shiny.

Macho posturing aside, the Colorado is far more accessible than any full-sized truck out there—small enough for a city, even one with four-lane boulevards, yet big enough to trick you into seeming invincible. Chevrolet’s marketing department imagines armies of scruffy young men in artfully cuffed denim and Target Merona plaid shirts staining their pits as they heave entire REI storefronts into the back, giving hardly a worry to the optional factory spray-in bedliner, before cranking the Black Keys through the seven-speaker Bose audio system (a $495 option!) and setting off to reclaim their manliness in lofty and Walden-esque ways, or at least tubing at Mt. Baldy. I don’t disagree with any of that. I know I’ve certainly helped load plenty of tents into tiny pickups during my time with Boy Scout Troop 227 of Shrewsbury, Massachusetts, before heading off to summer camp and bounding down dirt roads at McRae-aping speeds while passing branches play drum solos off the A-pillars. Big trucks lumber, small trucks bound.

That would make a pretty good bumper sticker. Get me Chevrolet’s marketing department.

2015 Chevrolet Colorado front side 2

“The new Colorado: guaranteed to fit into 65% of Los Angeles parking garages!”

We imagine such possibilities of vehicles like the Chevrolet Colorado, the Nissan Frontier, the Toyota Tacoma—both of which are getting upgraded, soon enough—and, of course, it may be the nostalgia portion of my mind that remembers the 2001 Nissan Xterra of my childhood that enabled so many trips, so many adventures, so many ideas of taking the next off-ramp from the 101 and winding up thoroughly and wonderfully lost, so far away from water. Is it a truck, or a call to arms? The easy-access Colorado carries forth a go-get-‘em lifestyle that that sneakily guilts us into getting off our asses, to take up mountain biking or drywall installation.

Which makes sense—because pickup truck.

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Rental Review: 2015 Nissan Altima 2.5 CVT http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/rental-review-2015-nissan-altima/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/rental-review-2015-nissan-altima/#comments Tue, 31 Mar 2015 19:30:56 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1031561 Well, it’s well into 2015, and time for another Nissan Altima review. My Casamigos hampered research tells me TTAC has done a review of the Altima every year since 2006, except for 2011. Go ahead, search for Nissan Altima, I’ll wait. You are the B&B and you’ll probably find the review I missed. It looks […]

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Well, it’s well into 2015, and time for another Nissan Altima review. My Casamigos hampered research tells me TTAC has done a review of the Altima every year since 2006, except for 2011. Go ahead, search for Nissan Altima, I’ll wait. You are the B&B and you’ll probably find the review I missed.

It looks like I was the first one this year to lose rental car roulette.

I spent 2013 in the Middle East. My default vehicle was a capable and reliable Toyota Fortuner, but those in a lesser position were saddled with a CVT equipped Altima. On an outing where I didn’t drive because I was hammered, looking to enjoy local culture, we usually took a Nissan of questionable maintenance.

Out of the gate, I loathe this car. I know hormonal teenage One Direction fans amped on Diet Mountain Dew more capable of making a decision than the Nissan CVT transmission.

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This is my opening mindset before I spent an hour in line at the Dollar Counter at Houston’s William F. Hobby Airport to get my reserved full size car.

I was told I could take any car along line “M.” I surveyed my choices, a gray Nissan Altima, a black Nissan Altima and a white Nissan Altima. Apparently Dollar Rent A Car does not read TTAC or they would realize that it is a midsized car.

Dear reader, I share this with you to place you in my state of mind when I climbed into the Altima. Yes, I allowed emotions and previous experience to cloud my analysis of this car. My neutral journalistic aspirations could use some training, but my integrity is fully intact.

I left Dollar’s parking lot en route to my hotel in 20 miles away. My first observation is the lack of a USB port. Petty yes, but a Chevrolet Sonic rental comes with Bluetooth and USB.

Once in motion, the CVT transmission did not disappoint. It was the same rev-happy, indecisive collection of rubber bands I remembered. I took stock of the interior. The seats are terrible, flat and hard; I fiddled with the controls for most of the trip. I suspect that was mostly the mileage. I would bet there was more than one occasion that the window had been left open during a rainstorm.

At dinner, I parked in front of a Chevy Malibu. Visually, the dimensions aren’t that far off. The Malibu is marketed as a full-sized car in some rental fleets, so I may have been judgmental. My mood improved with some calories and on the return I tried the “S” setting on the transmission. Nissan should re-label this “T” for tolerable. It ‘s not sporty, but seems to be more agreeable.

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Interfaces aside, the stereo is not bad and capable of annoying the next car at a stoplight with a Foo Fighters tune.

Before dawn I was back in the Altima, in a better mindset. I knew the secret to the transmission was “S” and the seats were bad. Maybe I had been a bit harsh on the old gal.

Nope. I was still right. Not quite hormonal fans of One Direction, but certainty hormonal teenage level. Freeway on ramps are an absolute conflict of perception and reality. The engine is revving for all its worth giving indications of what should be a neck-snapping launch. The reality is more 80’s Hyundai speed for the on ramp and a “please have mercy on me” merger.

For all of its sound and fury, the Altima’s sensation of speed was like an 80’s VW diesel. The numbers tell me this car hits 60 a gnat’s hair under 8 seconds. That makes it quicker than a Camry base and places it on par with an entry level Accord. So I have to logically conclude this is my flawed perception, due in large part to the transmission and the noises from the engine. Which ads credence to this car being better than I will admit.

The obvious advantage of the CVT transmission is the fuel economy, for which I am ashamed to say I cannot give a solid observation. I was in Houston for a very rainy race and the racecar’s fuel consumption was half of what was planned, so my tank was filled at the track in an effort to empty the team’s transfer tank. Driving 20 miles from the airport to the hotel, then another 18 to the track barely moved the gas gauge. After the tank was overfilled, I drove over 20 miles to dinner, 20 back to the hotel,  then almost another 20 back to the rental car counter. This did not deviate the needle from the “F” on the gauge. So that was almost 60 miles, with a probably “sticky” fuel gauge, but at any rate, I cannot complain about the MPG. In fact, its pretty impressive.

So for all of my venom, I honestly cannot call this a bad car. As I get farther from my time with the Altima I am forced to judge it on merits rather than impressions and it stacks up better than I would have admitted last weekend. But there is a reason it was all that was left in Dollar’s lot. It is simply an uninspiring car, long in the tooth, due for a refresh and the folks at Nissan have gotten lazy with the needed upgrades to keep it competitive with Honda and Toyota.

If you are looking for a capable comfortable sedan, and your waistline has expanded a bit since you graduated, you’d be very happy in an Altima. If you spend a lot of time in rush hour traffic, the transmission would undoubtedly yield superior returns on MPG. It’s not expensive, but not cheap. My internet search produced consistant prices of $23,5 for the 2.5 base, but a limited selection at most dealers in the Atlanta metro.

But you are the B&B. You willingly operate old slant 6 Darts, and Ford Flex’s. You are discriminating consumers and deserve better. You know Kia and Hyundai offer a superior product for less and you enjoy vehicles with at least some impression of a personality and dare I say, soul. While I cannot call Altima a bad car, I am comfortable saying that if you have bothered to read this far, then the Nissan Altima not the car for you, and that includes as a rental.

Christian “Mental” Ward has owned over 70 cars and destroyed most of them. He is a graduate of Panoz Racing School, still loves cartoons and once exceeded the speed of sound. Married to the most patient woman in the world; he has three dogs, a Philosophy degree and an actual Yamaha Vino scooter, so this wasn’t his first CVT transmission. Follow him on Twiiter, Instagram and Vine at M3ntalward

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Honda Production Announcement Provides Best Indication For Imported Civic Hatchback http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/honda-production-announcement-provides-best-indication-imported-civic-hatchback/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/honda-production-announcement-provides-best-indication-imported-civic-hatchback/#comments Tue, 31 Mar 2015 18:47:42 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1033665 On the heels of an announcement that Honda’s Alliston, Ontario plant will be the lead plant for the next generation Honda Civic, the same plant will also be responsible for building the next-generation CR-V for the European market. According to the CBC, as many as 40,000 CR-Vs could be exported to Europe. While the CR-V […]

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On the heels of an announcement that Honda’s Alliston, Ontario plant will be the lead plant for the next generation Honda Civic, the same plant will also be responsible for building the next-generation CR-V for the European market.

According to the CBC, as many as 40,000 CR-Vs could be exported to Europe. While the CR-V is a hot seller in Canada and the USA, its success in Europe hasn’t quite matched the NAFTA zone. Nevertheless, the announcement is a boon for the Canadian auto industry, which sees most of its output go to Canada or the United States.

At the same time, Honda announced that the CR-V would leave its Swindon, UK plant to make way for the next-generation Civic hatchback. The Civic hatch is rumored to be coming to North America, and Honda’s own announcement states that “the Civic five door will be produced for the European market as well as being exported to key global markets.” So far, that’s the best hint we have about a 5-door hatch for North America.

Thanks to a pending but nearly completed free trade deal with the EU, production of the CR-V and imports of the Civic hatchback should result in minimal trade barriers for the Canadian market. In the United States, where such an agreement doesn’t exist, it might be a bit more complicated – but the low volume Si 3-door of the early 2000’s proves that it can be done.

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Question Of The Day: What Car Should I Buy? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/question-day-car-buy/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/question-day-car-buy/#comments Tue, 31 Mar 2015 18:12:06 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1033649 Reader Brian writes to us with a question about what car to buy next. Since he’s from the Big Apple, we’ll run this on the eve of the NY Auto Show. Hello, I’m not sure if i’m contacting through the right medium here. I’m a long time avid reader of this blog and thank you […]

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Reader Brian writes to us with a question about what car to buy next. Since he’s from the Big Apple, we’ll run this on the eve of the NY Auto Show.

Hello,

I’m not sure if i’m contacting through the right medium here. I’m a long time avid reader of this blog and thank you for all the content that has been put out. I’ve learned a lot about the automotive industry just from this site alone. Today i’m writing to you all with a question regarding what car i should get with a budget of approximately $15K-$17K (About what my car is worth at the moment). I currently have a 2010 Miata GT, PRHT, 6sp Manual and live in the NYC area. I’ve had it for a few years now and love the way it drives, but its starting to wear me down in terms of comfort and practicality. I just want something that is more comfortable and practical but still learns more towards the sporty side. I’ve been looking at everything from a 2010 G37X, 2011 Mustang V6 Premium, to a Fiesta/Focus ST. What do you guys think? What’s your personal opinions on those cars? Any input would be excellent! Looking forward to your response(s).

Have at it.

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Finally, See Spielberg’s “Duel” on the Big Screen (If You Can Get to Denver Monday) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/finally-see-spielbergs-duel-big-screen-can-get-denver-monday/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/finally-see-spielbergs-duel-big-screen-can-get-denver-monday/#comments Tue, 31 Mar 2015 14:30:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1033313 Because the power of the Murilee Martin Lifestyle Brand™ is so extreme, the Alamo Drafthouse Theater in Denver has fallen under my spell and allowed me to select and introduce four car films, to be shown each Monday during their “Alamo Takes the Wheel” month of April (actually, it was the endorsement of Repo Man […]

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DuelBecause the power of the Murilee Martin Lifestyle Brand™ is so extreme, the Alamo Drafthouse Theater in Denver has fallen under my spell and allowed me to select and introduce four car films, to be shown each Monday during their “Alamo Takes the Wheel” month of April (actually, it was the endorsement of Repo Man director Alex Cox, who teaches at the University of Colorado, that convinced the Alamo management that this idea wasn’t completely stupid). The first of those films is the amazing Duel, an all-time-great Malaise Era car movie that shouldn’t need any introduction for TTAC readers.
duel4In fact, my original plan for these Monday car movies involved having four triple features, including such must-see car films as The Junkman and Blue Collar, but the Alamo management just gave me the same funny look that people give me when I talk about putting an LZ9 engine into a Cadillac Cimarron. Anyway, so they picked four films from my twelve-film list, and they’ll be showing one on each Monday in April. Duel shows on April 6 at 7:30 PM, and moviegoers are strongly encouraged to bring their coolest, weirdest, and/or hooptiest vehicles to show off in the theater parking lot beforehand.

ep51-duel2Once Duel (which even I have never seen on the big screen) is done, we’ll have three more Monday movies selected and introduced by yours truly. These are:
Monday, April 13 at 7:30 PM: The Car
Monday, April 20 at 7:30 PM: Up In Smoke (Yes, this is actually one of the greatest car movies of all time, and you wastoids even get to see it on 4/20).
Monday, April 27 at 7:30 PM: Two-Lane Blacktop

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Bark’s Bites: The Good, The Not-As-Good, and The Ugly: Part Two http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/barks-bites-good-not-good-ugly-part-two/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/barks-bites-good-not-good-ugly-part-two/#comments Tue, 31 Mar 2015 14:00:27 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1033097 In our first installment, we focused on Daimler, Mazda, and the Volkswagen Group. Today, we’ll focus on BMW/Mini, Subaru, and Hyundai/Kia. But first, let me address a couple of the comments about the cars the B&B said I got wrong: I stand by my comments about the Golf. One commenter said the Golf was just […]

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In our first installment, we focused on Daimler, Mazda, and the Volkswagen Group. Today, we’ll focus on BMW/Mini, Subaru, and Hyundai/Kia. But first, let me address a couple of the comments about the cars the B&B said I got wrong:

  • I stand by my comments about the Golf. One commenter said the Golf was just the “GTI with less power, and less handling ability.” Well, duh. That’s like saying the Focus and Fiesta are the same cars as the FoST and the FiST, but with less power, and less handling ability. The power and the handling ability are what make the GTI special. Granted, the VW dealer network is wretched, so one can excuse the poor sales numbers of the Golf overall, but the Golf is actually outsold by the GTI. I can’t think of another example of a higher-cost, performance variant of a car outselling the base model—even the base Impreza, which I virtually never notice out in the wild, outsells the WRX and STI 2:1.
  • I don’t think the C-Class is a bad car at all—I just think it’s fighting an uphill battle against the 3-Series. That being said, I definitely need to get some seat time in the new C-Class, as Mercedes has yet to deliver a press vehicle to my front door. Any readers who have one and would like to have it reviewed, let us know and I’ll get to you.

That being said, I continue to welcome your comments and dissenting opinions. Now, let’s move on.

BMW/MINI

The Good:

Let me be clear: I’m not one of those who thinks that BMW has “lost it’s way.” You know who likes the “good old days?” Two kinds of people: People who forget what life was like before the Internet and young punks who want to seem ironically cool while they lament the loss of the E30 that they’ve never even seen, much less driven, on their Twitter feeds.

Newsflash to any twentysomethings pining for the days when BMW apparently had a roadmap out of Munich: the old days kinda sucked. Zero to sixty to less than eight seconds was considered “fast.” A “hot hatch” made 110 horsepower. Crash test ratings were horrific. Anything that was faster than a 2015 Subaru BRZ was so damned expensive that 90 percent of Americans couldn’t have afforded it. Trust me—you’re better off living through your windshield than your rear-view mirrors when it comes to cars.

As such, the M235i is proof that the boys in Bavaria still know exactly what they’re doing (although most readers here know me as a Ford fanboy, in the interest of full disclosure, let it be known that I once put down a $5K deposit on a 2008 135i, but that’s a story for another time). You think you want an E30 M3? No, you don’t. You want an M235i. It’s the spiritual successor to that legendary 192 horsepower machine, but in addition to being well-balanced, it can also break the five second barrier in the sixty miles per hour dash.

Speaking of the M3, the new M3/M4 combo is skull-crushingly fast.  Yes, it’s bigger and heavier than the E30 and E36 were. So? The new M3 is just flat-out better than any of its predecessors. Yes, it’s probably gotten too expensive—but we’ll talk more about that in a second.

I had the purely effervescent joy of driving the M6 Gran Coupe around Nelson Ledges before it’s official launch to the public. I drove my Boss 302 to the track that day from Kentucky, and before I got into the big Bimmer, I took a few laps around the circuit in the Mustang. Now, keep in mind—the Boss 302 is provably faster around most tracks in America than the E92 M3 was. The Boss was hitting the kink at about 128 MPH, which was downright ass-puckering. The M6 Gran Coupe—the big, fat, unwieldy M6—hit it at…wait for it…141. Even more impressive was the relative ease with which it did so—there was absolutely none of the drama that was associated with the 302. While some people might appreciate a bit of drama on a racetrack, I gotta tell you that when you’re driving somebody else’s $145K car, you appreciate a lack of it.

Meanwhile, you can complain about the turbo 4-bangers all you want (you can still get an inline six, you know). You can complain about the proliferation of models all you want (they still make a 335i sedan). I’m still gonna put the 3-Series in the “Good” category, if only because it’s still the standard bearer for the segment. You don’t like it? What would you rather have? An A4? A C-Class (based on yesterday, maybe)? An IS? A G? Nah. The 3-Series is still the king.

The Not-As-Good:

It’s hard to not appreciate the MINI Cooper Hardtop for what it is. I know that they have wretched reliability. But, damnit, I still find myself trolling Craigslist for well-loved early examples. In many ways, the proliferation of hot hatches available in the USA today has made the MINI Hardtop somewhat irrelevant—is there anybody who’d take a MINI over a GTI/FoST?—which is why I had to drop it down to Not-As-Good. But it’s a fine line.

Now, if you want to complain about the turbo 4 in the 5-Series? All right, I’ll listen to you. In fact, I agree with you. I can’t get behind a $50k+ car that rocks a four-cylinder. The Fiver has never felt like it was the right car for the segment, and this F10 generation is just…meh.

The Ugly:

Every MINI that isn’t the Hardtop. Seriously. Just stop all that nonsense.

The 7-Series has always felt like the big brother who has the little brother who’s the star athlete—it’s the Cooper of the Manning Family. There’s nothing wrong with the Siebener, per se—it’s just not the icon of the brand. The S-Class owns this segment, and it often feels like BMW has given up on competing.

Once there was a car that was so ugly, everybody died. I’m talking about those god-awful GT models. I just don’t get it. Maybe there’s a market segment that this car is filling, but I don’t know what it is.

Here’s the biggest ugly thing about the BMW brand in 2015—the sticker prices. I visit BMW dealers weekly, and I see prices on the window stickers that are just downright mindboggling. With reported lease numbers approaching seventy percent, the astronomical prices barely matter. As such, it’s not uncommon to see as many as three different prices on one car—just last week in Indiana, I saw a 328i in the showroom that had $43k on the sticker, $40k on the stand next to the car, and $37k on a tag hanging from the rearview mirror. Oh, and then it said $359 a month on the windshield. There’s a real push-and-pull between the desire to maintain an upscale brand, yet keep moving 100K 3/4 series a years.

Whew. Okay, let’s move on. Damn, I forgot the X5. Throw it up there in the “Good” for me, would ya? Thanks.

SUBARU

The Good:

The WRX/STI combo has made Subaru relevant to enthusiasts for over a decade, now. I remember driving my 2000 Hyundai Tiburon to a Subaru dealership in 2001, begging them to give me a decent trade value toward one of the original, bug-eyed WRXes. Even if they could have made the numbers work, there’s no way that I could have afforded the insurance. But everybody my age (I was 23) desperately wanted one. Almost fifteen years later, the WRX (and now, STI) are still limited to about 300 HP, so they’re no longer “fast” by today’s standards (which is kinda mind-boggling, if you think about it), but they’ve reinvented themselves as affordable alternatives to the pony car. As the Evo walks the plank, the WRX/STI keeps the Japanese rally car dream alive for kids playing Gran Turismo everywhere.

The Outback and Forester continue to sell in surprising numbers—in fact, if you combined the two of them (and who among the non-Subaru faithful can honestly tell the difference, anyway), they’d be the 8th best selling vehicle in America. You can’t help but love them when you drive them—there’s really nothing else like them. If you want an Outback or a Forester, you probably aren’t really shopping anything else.

The Not-As-Good:

The Legacy. You know, if Subaru could just build a competitive mid-sized sedan, they’d have a shot at some real market share. Unfortunately, they can’t. It’s not that there’s anything particularly wrong about the Legacy—there’s just nothing particularly right about it. The best they can hope to do is compete with the bottom tier of mid-sizers, like the 200 and the Malibu.

The Ugly:

The Emperor’s New Clothes are completely off at this point. The BRZ is selling in numbers that the Lincoln MKS scoffs at. Unfortunately, the BRZ/FR-S combo really are the spiritual successor to the RX-8—underpowered, overhyped, and dead in the water in four years. It’s hard to imagine anybody picking this car over any of its competitors. If you’re still waving the flag for this car, you’re simply delusional.

HYUNDAI/KIA

The Good:

The Hyundai Genesis sedan is remarkable. If you shop the V-6 against the similarly priced competition (Buick Lacrosse, Lincoln MKS, Ford Taurus, Chevy Impala), there’s really no case to be made for anything else. The real competition is the Chrysler 300C—and I would pick the Genesis every time. You can tell I really love a car when I make it the star of a Sunday Story.

The Kia Soul is one of my favorite cars, anywhere, period. I’d gladly roll down Hamsterdam Avenue in a Yellow Soul +. It obviously doesn’t have any sporting intent whatsoever, but who cares? The Soul picked up the ball right where the first-generation Scion xB dropped it, and they’ve been running with it ever since.

The Not-As-Good:

As far as looks go in the midsize category, the Kia Optima is the most attractive option. Unfortunately, at some point, you have to stop admiring it from the outside and actually get in and drive—and that’s where the Optima falls down a bit. The four-cylinder Optima is painfully slow in comparison to the similarly engined Accord or Mazda6. Braking from higher speeds is a bit of an adventure, too. However, the Optima is probably the smoothest riding of any of the midsizers on the market, and tech-savvy people who don’t care much for driving will like it. I can’t quite convince myself to call it “Good,” but neither is it “Bad.”

The 2015 Elantra GT is a decent car, and it’s much better than the 2001 Elantra sedan that Mrs. Bark once owned. I drove it from Grand Rapids, Michigan to Chicago last week, and I was neither inspired to hate it or love it. Which means that it probably belongs right here.

The Ugly:

Oh, Hyundai…what have you done with the Sonata? Four years ago, I used to search for the previous-gen Sonata on rental car row—now I avoid the new one like a crazy ex-girlfriend. It’s pokey. It’s ugly. It doesn’t turn. It costs too much. I hate it.

That’s it for today. I fully intended to get to Honda and Nissan, but here we are at 2000 words. Oh, well. We’ll get to them, and maybe Toyota, too, in our next installment.

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Tesla Commits To Localized Production In China Within Three Years http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/tesla-commits-localized-production-china-within-three-years/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/tesla-commits-localized-production-china-within-three-years/#comments Tue, 31 Mar 2015 14:00:12 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1033497 Aiming to build confidence among Chinese consumers, Tesla CEO Elon Musk has pledged his company will begin local production in China within three years. Xinhua reports that until then, imports from the United States will continue because the factory still has capacity left to grow into. Once that occurs, however, Musk says it would only […]

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2014 Tesla Model S in China

Aiming to build confidence among Chinese consumers, Tesla CEO Elon Musk has pledged his company will begin local production in China within three years.

Xinhua reports that until then, imports from the United States will continue because the factory still has capacity left to grow into. Once that occurs, however, Musk says it would only be sensible to “localize production in China for the Chinese market, in Europe for the European market.”

Though Musk and Tesla haven’t had the best time in China since importation began in mid-2013 — ranging from sales issues and speculators, to range anxiety and consumer preferences — the CEO is optimistic about the future of his company’s work in the market, taking the long-term view as the basis for said optimism.

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Junkyard Find: 1976 Buick Electra Limited Coupe http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/junkyard-find-1976-buick-electra-limited-coupe/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/junkyard-find-1976-buick-electra-limited-coupe/#comments Tue, 31 Mar 2015 13:00:50 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1031729 The General shrank the Buick Electra for the 1977 model year and then ditched the model entirely in 1990, so the ’76 was the last of the proper single-digit-fuel-economy Electras. These comfy gerontocrusiers used to be everywhere on American roads, even in the dark days after gas prices went crazy, and you still see them […]

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09 - 1976 Buick Electra Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe General shrank the Buick Electra for the 1977 model year and then ditched the model entirely in 1990, so the ’76 was the last of the proper single-digit-fuel-economy Electras. These comfy gerontocrusiers used to be everywhere on American roads, even in the dark days after gas prices went crazy, and you still see them in wrecking yards today, but for some reason I’ve photographed just one prior to today’s Junkyard Find.
15 - 1976 Buick Electra Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinSir Mix-a-Lot immortalized the beat-up Electra as the iconic hooptie 26 years ago (not long before I photographed this ’73 on a Stockton highway).
07 - 1976 Buick Electra Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe 455-cubic-inch V8 was down to a mere 205 horsepower in 1976 (27 more than the base four-cylinder engine in the 2015 Camry), but it still had (and needed) a fairly healthy 345 lb-ft of torque.
17 - 1976 Buick Electra Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinI have never seen one of these “digital” GM dash clocks with the scrolling seconds reel that worked, not even when they were new.
05 - 1976 Buick Electra Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinAM, FM, 8-track— just the thing for your Gary Wright tapes (although your typical Buick buyer in 1976 most likely listened to something more like this tape).
03 - 1976 Buick Electra Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinBuick stuck with the black-on-silver gauge schtick for quite a few years after this.

01 - 1976 Buick Electra Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1976 Buick Electra Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1976 Buick Electra Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1976 Buick Electra Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1976 Buick Electra Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1976 Buick Electra Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1976 Buick Electra Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1976 Buick Electra Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1976 Buick Electra Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1976 Buick Electra Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1976 Buick Electra Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1976 Buick Electra Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1976 Buick Electra Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - 1976 Buick Electra Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 17 - 1976 Buick Electra Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 19 - 1976 Buick Electra Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 20 - 1976 Buick Electra Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 21 - 1976 Buick Electra Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 22 - 1976 Buick Electra Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

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Top Gear Producer Bids Farewell, BBC Director Receives Death Threats http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/top-gear-producer-bids-farewell-bbc-director-receives-death-threats/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/top-gear-producer-bids-farewell-bbc-director-receives-death-threats/#comments Tue, 31 Mar 2015 13:00:11 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1033473 In the aftermath of “Top Gear” host Jeremy Clarkson’s firing, the show’s producer bids farewell, while the BBC’s director receives death threats. In an email leaked to Jalopnik, executive producer Andy Wilman confirmed his exit from Broadcasting House, proclaiming that he and his crew left everyone “wanting more.” Wilman went on to praise the show […]

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In the aftermath of “Top Gear” host Jeremy Clarkson’s firing, the show’s producer bids farewell, while the BBC’s director receives death threats.

In an email leaked to Jalopnik, executive producer Andy Wilman confirmed his exit from Broadcasting House, proclaiming that he and his crew left everyone “wanting more.” Wilman went on to praise the show as a whole, from the work ethic of the staff and the awards won, to the following “Top Gear” brought and the production values put into the show.

While Wilman has left the building, he did say the BBC will make certain that the show continues for anyone still interested in following suit, adding that he and the hosts “were only part of the show’s history, not the whole of it.”

Meanwhile, BBC Director-General Lord Tony Hall received security at his home in Oxfordshire after an alleged death threat was emailed to him from outside the United Kingdom, according to Scotland Yard. The threat came after the announcement of Jeremy Clarkson’s firing, a decision made after the investigation into the “fracas” between Clarkson and producer Oisin Tymon came to a close.

 

Edit: Looks like Wilman wasn’t actually leaving. Statement below.

Andy Wilman, Executive Producer, Top Gear, said:

 

“The email I wrote yesterday was not a resignation statement, and nor was it meant for public consumption. It was a private note of thanks to 113 people who have worked on the show over the years, but clearly one of those 113 is a bit of a tit, because they shared it with a website. I don’t get this modern obsession with sharing, linking, forwarding, re tweeting; whatever happened to a private moment? And if I were to resign, I wouldn’t do it publicly, I’d do it old school by handing in my, er, notice, to someone upstairs in HR. I work behind the camera and I wouldn’t presume for one moment  to think people are interested in what I do. Now, everyone back to work.”

 

A BBC spokesperson said:

 

“Andy’s email was intended as a heartfelt message to people who had worked with him and Jeremy, to recognise the fact that with Jeremy leaving it was the end of an era. It was not a farewell but a thank you to people who have been important to the show over the last 12 years. It was bringing down the curtain on the Clarkson era, not announcing his own departure.”

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While You Were Sleeping: March 31st, 2015 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/sleeping-march-31st-2015/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/sleeping-march-31st-2015/#comments Tue, 31 Mar 2015 12:50:25 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1033537 Holden is reviving the Sandman line of wagons and Utes. Harman is buying Bang & Olufsen’s car audio business. Tesla is showing off a new, non-automotive product at the end of April. Subaru issues a statement against Indiana’s new law that some say enables discrimination against LGBT people. Honda will export CR-Vs from Canada to […]

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NHTSA To Gain Broader Powers Upon Transportation Bill Approval http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/nhtsa-gain-broader-powers-upon-transportation-bill-approval/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/nhtsa-gain-broader-powers-upon-transportation-bill-approval/#comments Tue, 31 Mar 2015 12:00:09 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1033457 A transportation bill sent to Congress Monday would grant the NHTSA the authority to stop automakers from selling vehicles with dangerous safety problems. Automotive News reports the bill — the $478-billion, six-year Grow America Act penned by U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx — would give the agency “imminent hazard authority” to ground vehicles “in cases […]

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A transportation bill sent to Congress Monday would grant the NHTSA the authority to stop automakers from selling vehicles with dangerous safety problems.

Automotive News reports the bill — the $478-billion, six-year Grow America Act penned by U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx — would give the agency “imminent hazard authority” to ground vehicles “in cases where there is an imminent risk of injury or death,” which would be used before a determining a problem exists, and without input from the affected automaker or supplier.

The bill also triples the funding and doubles the staffing for the NHTSA, increases the fine it can levy from $35 million to $300 million; introduces a pilot program to improve the recall process on the owner’s end; requires dealers to check for recalls every time a vehicle comes in for servicing; and mandates that all used and rental vehicles with open recalls to be repaired before sale or rental.

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Toyota, Lexus Bring Low-Cost Automated Braking To Respective Ranges http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/toyota-lexus-bring-low-cost-automated-braking-to-respective-ranges/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/toyota-lexus-bring-low-cost-automated-braking-to-respective-ranges/#comments Tue, 31 Mar 2015 11:00:36 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1033393 When Toyota and Lexus reveal their respective crossovers at the 2015 New York Auto Show, both will come with low-cost automated braking safety packages. The all-new RAV4 Hybrid and fourth-gen RX will offer “new, multi-feature, integrated safety packages, each anchored by automated pre-collision braking and offered at a price dramatically below comparable systems across the […]

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TOYOYA_2015_PRECOLLISION_SYSTEM

When Toyota and Lexus reveal their respective crossovers at the 2015 New York Auto Show, both will come with low-cost automated braking safety packages.

The all-new RAV4 Hybrid and fourth-gen RX will offer “new, multi-feature, integrated safety packages, each anchored by automated pre-collision braking and offered at a price dramatically below comparable systems across the auto industry.” According to Toyota North America CEO Jim Lentz, the packages will then spread throughout both brands’ collections, with nearly every model to have the packages by 2017.

The packages — Toyota Safety Sense and Lexus Safety System+ — offer pre-collision, pedestrian pre-collision, lane departure, automatic high beam, and dynamic radar cruise control technologies, which are handled via millimeter-wave radar and cameras. The pre-collision systems help bring a vehicle down by 19 to 25 mph within an operational speed range of 7 to 50 mph, while the dynamic radar cruise control keeps an eye on the speed of surrounding vehicles, then adjusts its vehicle’s speed accordingly.

On the Toyota side, TSS will be offered in two packages: TSS C for compacts, and TSS P for midsize and premium models. Pricing for the duo begins at $300 and $500, respectively. Lexus’ LSS+ will be a single package for all models, with pricing to range between $500 and $635.

TSS C/P will first debut on the aforementioned RAV4 Hybrid, as well as the Avalon, with three more expected later this year; LSS+ will debut with the RX and four other models over the same period.

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Support For Automated Enforcement Only So-So Among Americans http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/support-automated-enforcement-among-americans/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/support-automated-enforcement-among-americans/#comments Tue, 31 Mar 2015 10:00:04 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1033377 While use of red-light and speed cameras are on the wane, support for automated enforcement depends upon where and who the constituent is. According to Autoblog, a study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found 70 municipalities have dropped red-light camera programs in their jurisdictions over the past 30 months. Said programs peaked at […]

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While use of red-light and speed cameras are on the wane, support for automated enforcement depends upon where and who the constituent is.

According to Autoblog, a study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found 70 municipalities have dropped red-light camera programs in their jurisdictions over the past 30 months. Said programs peaked at 540 communities in October 2012, now since fallen to 461, and while 112 to 140 programs speed camera programs were initiated in the same 30 months, those are now beginning to stumble.

While critics — and the studies that back their statements — have found red-light and speed cameras marginally improve safety at best and are thought to be nothing more than revenue generators, a survey by FindLaw.com found that 61 percent of women and 51 percent of men support red-light cameras, while 53 percent of women and 43 percent of men would support speed cameras, as well.

Geography plays into support as well: 62 percent of residents in the Northeastern United States support speed cameras, while 65 percent support red-light cameras. In comparison, only 33 percent of residents in the Midwest — where opposition to automated enforcement is highest — support the former, 49 percent support the latter.

That said, the voting booth may be the best indicator of support for the cameras: 31 out of 34 referendums in 25 years have shot down automated enforcement, including four ballot measures last November whose disapproval/approval ratio came to approximately 3:1 opposed.

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Another Teaser Photo Of The Cadillac CT6 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/another-leaked-photo-cadillac-ct6/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/another-leaked-photo-cadillac-ct6/#comments Tue, 31 Mar 2015 04:59:08 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1033577 The CT6 will be the first in an onslaught of Cadillac products, part of a $12 billion campaign to turn the brand around. Why Cadillac is showing a teaser is beyond me, since the car got its debut during a Super Bowl ad that plays constantly on major networks.

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The CT6 will be the first in an onslaught of Cadillac products, part of a $12 billion campaign to turn the brand around. Why Cadillac is showing a teaser is beyond me, since the car got its debut during a Super Bowl ad that plays constantly on major networks.

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Next Chevrolet Camaro Loses 200 Lbs In Time For Summer http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/next-chevrolet-camaro-loses-200-lbs-time-summer/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/next-chevrolet-camaro-loses-200-lbs-time-summer/#comments Mon, 30 Mar 2015 22:01:28 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1033121   The next Chevrolet Camaro is set to lose 200 lbs thanks to a variety of light weighting techniques. While a Chevrolet press release provided a number of granular details (ooh, a new dashboard support beam saves 9 lbs!!), the real savings likely come from a move to the newer, smaller and lighter Alpha platform […]

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2016-Camaro

 

The next Chevrolet Camaro is set to lose 200 lbs thanks to a variety of light weighting techniques.

While a Chevrolet press release provided a number of granular details (ooh, a new dashboard support beam saves 9 lbs!!), the real savings likely come from a move to the newer, smaller and lighter Alpha platform shared with the Cadillac ATS, rather than the Zeta platform meant for full-sized Holdens.

Based on current curb weights, the newest, lightest Camaro probably checks in at around 3,500 lbs. We’ll know the full story on may 16th when the new Camaro makes its debut.

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Honda S660, The Mid-Engine Honda We’ve Been Waiting For http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/honda-s660-mid-engine-honda-weve-waiting/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/honda-s660-mid-engine-honda-weve-waiting/#comments Mon, 30 Mar 2015 21:57:45 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1032785 While the whole world waited for the next Acura NSX, Honda quietly went about preparing an entirely different kind of mid-engine sports car for its home market. The S660 will be about the size of the original Beat, largely since it must confirm to Japanese regulations for kei-cars. This means that it’s going to be small. […]

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While the whole world waited for the next Acura NSX, Honda quietly went about preparing an entirely different kind of mid-engine sports car for its home market.

The S660 will be about the size of the original Beat, largely since it must confirm to Japanese regulations for kei-cars. This means that it’s going to be small. Not Miata small, but original Lotus Elan small.

Underneath, a 660cc turbocharged triple making 63 horsepower is as much as Honda can legally get away with while staying in bounds for kei-car status. A CVT or a 6-speed manual (with an S2000 style shift knob) are the transmission options. Since kei cars would never ever fly in North America, we’ll never seen one Stateside. But maybe in 15 years I’ll scoop one up.

 

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New York 2015: McLaren 570S Revealed http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/new-york-2015-mclaren-570s-revealed/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/new-york-2015-mclaren-570s-revealed/#comments Mon, 30 Mar 2015 19:50:20 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1033057 McLaren’s 570 horsepower rival to the Porsche 911 Turbo has made a pseudo-debut prior to the New York Auto Show. The 570S is slated to weight just under 2900 lbs and cost $180,000. It’s said to produce 40 percent more downforce than the old McLaren 12C. Stay tuned for more info.  

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McLaren’s 570 horsepower rival to the Porsche 911 Turbo has made a pseudo-debut prior to the New York Auto Show.

The 570S is slated to weight just under 2900 lbs and cost $180,000. It’s said to produce 40 percent more downforce than the old McLaren 12C. Stay tuned for more info.

 

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Generation Why: The Datsun Days Are Over http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/generation-datsun-days/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/generation-datsun-days/#comments Mon, 30 Mar 2015 16:00:49 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1032009 Here’s a riddle for you: what has a 1.6L engine making 106 horsepower, roll up windows, manual locks and cost $16,000? If your answer was “the Canada-only Nissan Micra” you’re wrong. The answer is, in fact, my Grandmother’s 1999 Honda Civic, which she traded in for a Honda Fit LX. Inflation adjusted, her Civic costs […]

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Here’s a riddle for you: what has a 1.6L engine making 106 horsepower, roll up windows, manual locks and cost $16,000? If your answer was “the Canada-only Nissan Micra” you’re wrong.

The answer is, in fact, my Grandmother’s 1999 Honda Civic, which she traded in for a Honda Fit LX. Inflation adjusted, her Civic costs about $21,676 in today’s Canadian dollars. Her Fit would have cost her $2,000 less back in 1999, or about what a Civic DX, which had no air conditioning or an automatic gearbox, would have commanded.

That same $14,000 is about twice the price of what a brand new, base model Nissan Micra would have cost back then. The Micra’s $9,998 sticker price today works out to just under $7,400. The same equipment, three more horsepower and much better crash safety (but a smaller car) now costs half of what it did right on the eve of the Y2K scare that never happened.

Even though Nissan insists that the Micra won’t make it to the States because the $9,999 Versa Sedan fills the same niche, there’s another factor looming beyond the PR messaging. The Micra drives the same as the EK Civic of 15 years ago. Getting in the Micra exposed me for the coddled, effete Millenial I am. I haven’t used a manual door lock since I sold my 1997 Miata, but knew that this was a car that did not have remote locks. Unfortunately, I then threw the keys in the cupholder and tried to poke an invisible starter button, thanks to the near ubiquity of “keyless start” systems.

The rest of the car feels like vintage Japan from two decades ago, from the driving position (low, steering wheel pointing straight out) to the plastics on the inside (about as good as an old Honda) to the NVH levels to the rubbery, long throw shifter to the coarse 4-cylinder engine. It’s a blast to drive in the same way that a Corona isn’t a very good beer, but is extremely satiating on a hot sunny day. In this bottle, the light weight and hilariously excessive bottle roll are the lime that provides a little extra fizz.

But it would never, ever fly in the United States, where merging onto freeways at 80 mph is a reality for many motorists, and parking spots were built for F-150s rather than built in the 1930s (as is the case in a few major metro areas up here). Half of all Micras are sold in Quebec, a market that is so influential that Canadian product planners make a special variant just for these skinflint buyers.

The Micra does not need to exist for American consumers. It may even be detrimental to Nissan’s aims for rapid expansion. If the Micra was introduced in America, it would be flayed, drawn and quartered worse than the Mitsubishi Mirage was. Because it’s forbidden fruit, it’s treated as a curiosity, “something we need in America” and “please Nissan, import it”.

To our first world tastes, the Micra feels like something you’d rent on vacation in some Caribbean country. To the locals, the Micra would be a pretty upscale car. Which is why Nissan is pushing so hard to re-introduce the Datsun brand pretty much everywhere but North America. After taxes, registration fees, import duties and other associated fees, a base Micra S like the one shown above could cost about $20,000 – or what I paid for my own Mazda3, which is literally twice the car in every qualitative measure.

That’s why Datsun is so important for Renault-Nissan. A truly basic vehicle at $5,000-$7,5000 is a big investment for many people in developing nations, but also a compelling alternative to walking, taking the bus, riding a moped with 7 other family members or an overpriced jalopy.  The hope is that one day, the Datsun customers will move up to something that shows that they’ve arrived. By purchasing a Micra. Small wonder that we’ll never see Datsun products on our shores. We wouldn’t want them anyways.

 

 

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Meanwhile, At Or Around The Portofino Inn… http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/meanwhile-around-portofino-inn/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/meanwhile-around-portofino-inn/#comments Mon, 30 Mar 2015 14:54:39 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1032729 It’s 10:33AM, Monday, 30 March 2015. I’m at an undisclosed but very pricey location in Greater Los Angeles. Three very tired and irritable men are watching me watch a very long and mostly mind-numbing video. And yes, we’re all wearing pants. Some time in the next 48 hours, I expect to be able to tell […]

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It’s 10:33AM, Monday, 30 March 2015. I’m at an undisclosed but very pricey location in Greater Los Angeles. Three very tired and irritable men are watching me watch a very long and mostly mind-numbing video.

And yes, we’re all wearing pants.


Some time in the next 48 hours, I expect to be able to tell the story of the newest feat in extra-legal American motoring. Unfortunately, before I can do that I have to watch a lot of video and look at a lot of evidence. The approximately eighty people involved have all agreed to a blackout period from social media and public presence while the story is assembled.

They’re also involved in an argument about what day to release the evidence, because April 1st is a mere 48 hours away.

So watch this space.

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2016 Mazda Miata Comes In At Under $25k http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/2016-mazda-miata-comes-25k/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/2016-mazda-miata-comes-25k/#comments Mon, 30 Mar 2015 14:43:00 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1032697 According to numerous media reports, Mazda has announced a base price of $24,950 for the next Mazda MX-5.   A current model MX-5 costs $23,970. Given that the new car is smaller, lighter and is only slightly down on power (not that it matters, thanks to the lower curb weight) and is a thoroughly modern […]

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According to numerous media reports, Mazda has announced a base price of $24,950 for the next Mazda MX-5.

 

A current model MX-5 costs $23,970. Given that the new car is smaller, lighter and is only slightly down on power (not that it matters, thanks to the lower curb weight) and is a thoroughly modern package inside and out, the $980 premium is a small price to pay. If anyone in Canada wants a gently used Mazda3 with very low lease payments, get in touch with me.

 

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Meanwhile In Japan, Toyota Reveals Corolla Wagon http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/meanwhile-japan-toyota-reveals-corolla-wagon/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/meanwhile-japan-toyota-reveals-corolla-wagon/#comments Mon, 30 Mar 2015 14:11:49 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1032673   Far away from the hubub of the New York Auto Show, Toyota has released a facelift for its station wagon version of the new Corolla. Of course, it’s not for us. The Toyota Corolla Fielder is a wagon variant of the JDM Corolla, which features different dimensions (namely, less width to make it easier to […]

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Far away from the hubub of the New York Auto Show, Toyota has released a facelift for its station wagon version of the new Corolla. Of course, it’s not for us.

The Toyota Corolla Fielder is a wagon variant of the JDM Corolla, which features different dimensions (namely, less width to make it easier to maneuver and less length to comply with Japanese tax regulations) and a different powertrain. A hybrid system is available as well. North America will soon get the Toyota Auris, a larger hatch that will be badged as the Scion iM. This Corolla though, might actually be more desirable.

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