When Bertel Schmitt launched TTAC’s Behind The Scenes series with an exclusive and in depth look at Toyota’s high-tech LFA Works, I thought to myself, “Self, you live in Detroit. Lots of automotive scenes to get behind in and around this area.” So, following up on Bertel’s idea to use the access TTAC affords us to give you a look at things you might otherwise not experience, I sent an email to someone in communications at GM about their Performance Build Center in Wixom, MI.
The first generation Insight was a commercial failure. Eight years yielded fewer than 20,000 unit sold and a lingering doubt about the genuine interest in two seat commuter cars.
Honda tried again with the CR-Z, and apparently George Orwell’s early Animal Farm analogy about ‘four being better than two’ may be all too true for the American automotive marketplace.
Nobody wants an uber-frugal commuter car with two seats. It’s either four or no sale.
Neil Armstrong died on August 25th of this year and the nation mourned, doubly so. First for the man, and second for what he stood for: hero, explorer, icon of a time when all that was best in America rose up on a pillar of smoke and flame to dance among the heavens.
The astronauts, of course, all drove Corvettes. GM gave a white ’62 to first-flyer Alan Shepard upon his return to Earth, then a Florida dealership provided subsequent one-year leasing deals to put astronauts behind the wheel of the latest models – clever PR for sure, and yet it seemed a perfect fit. While the very first ‘Vettes were more Piper Cub than Bell X-1, those that would be piloted by the likes of Gus Grissom and Alan Bean had the Right Stuff; the fastest and best machines America could produce.
Sixty years after GM built the first Corvette (and about fifty-six since they got the recipe right), here we are with an explorer on Mars, and it’s a robot with a sarcastic twitter feed. Heroes are scarce; the cult of celebrity now shines a spotlight on the kind of people you’d cross the street to avoid. And as for the Corvette? (Read More…)
The Fourth of July is upon those of us who wave Old Glory while eating some grilled chicken marinated in Ale-8-One, drinking some fine Kentucky bourbon (straight or as a mint julep), doing a burnout in our Corvettes, and setting off a bunch of firecrackers, sparklers and cherry bombs for our amusement.
Oh, and celebrating freedom from the British, too.
Did you miss “HyperFest” this past weekend? If you did, then you missed out on what is turning out to be a genuinely American tradition: road racing, drifting, beer, open lapping, brawling, bikini contests, and general debauchery, all held at Summit Point’s outstanding Main Course.
The video above shows an incident that had everybody talking: a high-speed meeting with Bambi on the front straight. But wait, as the AutoBiWeek people say, there’s more.
In his uneven but interesting book Guitar: An American Life, Tim Brookes notes that acoustic players “pick up a guitar in order to meet college girls but wind up talking to other middle-aged men about their fingernails.” I started racing so I could put my merciless, Edward-Green-shod foot on the neck of other competitors in the twilight zone that separates victory from certain death, but I’ve wound up spending my weekends telling other middle-aged men to unwind their steering wheels at corner exit.
This past weekend at Summit Point’s Shenandoah course, I preached long sermons from the Book of Corner Exit to three of those middle-aged men: a novice in a Panamera Turbo, a prodigy in a C6 Vette, and my own crumbling self, piloting a Coyote-powered Mustang GT in an ultimately futile attempt to outpace a colleague in a new 991 Carrera S. Together we pursued the discipline of the Quality Exit, with varying results. To misquote the poet: “O you who turn the wheel and look to chiclets, Gentile or Jew, click the jump to find out how we did.”
This is a test of TTAC’s Corvette ZR1 purchased with 0% financing. Better late than never, as I’ve marinated over both new and old ZR-goodness several times in my brother’s garage. No doubt, the Viper killing, LS9-FTW motivated Corvette is a worthy successor to the original, with the power-to-weight ratio to eat 458 Italias and cream GT-Rs…at least when AWD is a handicap. But almost two years later, the “King of The Hill” lacks the limelight it deserves. Does the average sports car buyer know the differences between Grand Sport, Z06, Z06 Carbon and ZR1? (Read More…)
Hi Sajeev and Steve,
I’m a longtime TTAC reader and I was hoping you guys could give me a bit of advice about an upcoming car purchase. I recently graduated college, and with no debt to pay off and a fairly good income I’m looking to get myself a second car. My current car is a 2000 Mercury Grand Marquis in incredible shape with around 130k miles on it, It currently has some minor powertrain and suspension mods as well. I have no plan on getting rid of this car, as it has quite a bit of useful life left in it and is extremely practical. I’d like to keep it as a winter car/possible project car, and the residual value of it (~3kish) is low enough that it doesn’t make sense to trade in. However, having wanted a sports car since I started driving, I’d like to go ahead and get one now that I’m in a position to do so.
My (possibly strange) requirements are as follows:
1. It must be fun and engaging to drive
2. It must be blue
3. It should be a convertible, preferably a 2 seater (I’m open to a fixed roof car as well, but would prefer a convertible)
4. Must be either a manual transmission or a dual clutch
5. I would prefer that it be a rear wheel drive vehicle
6. Fuel economy is a non-issue so long as it gets above 20 mpg highway
7. I don’t mind some maintainance, but I would like something thats fairly reliable and not TOO expensive to maintain (I don’t expect panther-like reliability but, for example, $1500 spark plug changes on a Boxster would be a bit much)
I can spend a max of $30-32k on it, but ideally I’d like to keep it ~$25k. I’ve looked at a new Miata, Mustang GT (Convertible is rather pricey), and the Genesis coupe (it’s not a convertible but I liked the looks and interior enough that I’d consider it). I’ve also given some thought to the following (newer, low mileage) used cars: Honda S2000 , Mazda Miata, Porsche boxster(mentioned above), BMW Z4, and a co-worker of mine also mentioned that I might consider a C5 corvette as well. I think they’re all great cars, and each has its own strong/weak points. The S2000 and the Miata are probably the most serious contenders, but I’m trying to keep my eyes open. I’m torn as to what I should get, and I’m also wondering if there’s any cars that I missed that are worth looking at.
Please let me know what you guys think, I’d love to hear back from you on this.
Sajeev answers: (Read More…)
Dear Sajeev and Steve,
My grandfather was a big rally- and ice-racing fanatic during the 1950s and 1960s, running everything from a Renault Dauphine to a Corvair in every Minnesota race he could find. Eventually, he picked up a Corvette, which he loved almost as much as his Saab 93, and the trophies started to pile up. On my trip to the Midwest last month, I managed to talk him into letting me have this one for my office. (Read More…)
Dear Steve and that other Dude,
As you well know, I am a little hooked on old-school American iron, preferably of the V8, high performance wannabe-GT cum Land Yacht variety. Problem is, they are letting me down in terms of basic transportation to work. Not that my Cougar and Mark VIII are complete turds, that guy with that Piston Slap column would have my ass if it came to that. But the occasional part needs replacement, and every recent modification (defective hi-flow fuel pumps, limited slip differentials assembled rather poorly) left me stranded and car-less for many days…and, well, you see my point.
I have a working budget of anywhere from 20-40k for a vehicle that’s new or lightly used. The ideal vehicle should be well proportioned with good visibility (no buffalo butts, I didn’t go to Industrial Design school for that crap), be RWD and not be a stereotypical European money pit that’s nearly impossible to repair in my garage. The ability to tune/tweak would be a plus and being more practical than my two coupes wouldn’t hurt, either. Not that I want another tuner car that’ll leave me stranded for one reason or another. Oh, and a stick would be nice.
PS: I am not interested in Panther Love. I wish you people would stop pushing these damn things on your readers. The only ones I’d consider are the “fat panthers” from the mid-90s with all the good stuff inside. I am not interested in taking a new, reliable “skinny” one and making it fat with parts from the junkyard. Been there, done that and already won the Fox Body trophies.
I own a 2001 Nissan Maxima and a 2006 Corvette, both purchased new w/cash. I know the Maxima with 105,000+ miles has had two ATF services, which included the “dreaded ATF Flush”. So far the thing keeps running, only issue (unrelated) was a Cat replacement (99,000) and 3 O2 sensors around the same time.
The 2006 Corvette at 5 years and 42,600 miles is due for a coolant service and I see that the ATF service is 50,000 (harsh) or 100,000 (normal). So far expenses have been limited to gas, once a year oil changes and a set of tires at 26,000 due to some aggressive driving, aggressive factory camber settings and a shard of metal. It’s been spotless so far besides a squeaky roof panel which has been solved by periodic application of Super Lube to some contact points. Should I do an ATF flush for the vette? It would be a BG machine. It’s a warm weather commuter for me (42 miles round trip per day of which 26 is highway miles on which avg. speed 75 mph which is just 3 days a week).
I have taken it on 6 long trips over the years as well as weekend cruises. I do use the paddles about 30% of the time, but do not really hoon it so much the past 2 years after getting 3 speeding tickets in 6 month period…which I fought and is another subject. So please advise.
Hi Sajeev and Steve,
I’d like your take on a replacement form my 2003 Honda Accord coupe. It has a 4 cylinder and a 5 speed and has been a pretty good car. But I miss rear wheel drive. In my younger days, I’ll be 60 next year, I had a Porsche 912, a Cortina GT, various Volvos and VWs before I ended up with pick up trucks before the current Honda.
I like the Honda, I just wish it was a bit lighter and rear wheel drive. What are my options these days for a RWD car that doesn’t break the bank, gets decent fuel mileage and is dependable? I’ve been thinking a used Miata or S2000, but would prefer a coupe. I’m not really into BMW’s for various reasons. What do you two think?
As a replacement for the Honda I’d spend $15,000 to $25,000.
Truth seeking is difficult considering the controversy, misinformation and flat-out lies surrounding the Chevrolet Volt. But this is a product with set attributes, some are better or worse than our collective expectations. The performance reminds me of live music: everyone has an opinion as to how much it rocked. And the Chevrolet Volt is Jimi Hendrix on wheels: an American likely to influence popular culture for decades after leaving the limelight. But more importantly, like the influences of jazz and blues in Jimi’s work, the Volt combines Detroit’s future with memorable elements of the past. It’s true.
Apparently possessing the institutional memory of sperm, the auto media is once again trotting out the 50-year-old rumor that will never die: OMG, the new Corvette is going to be mid-engined! Or, as we are so fond of saying around here, not. The madness started earlier this week, when GM North America boss Mark Reuss blew his dog whistle by hinting that the C7 Corvette would be “completely different.” The media needed no further encouragement to trot out the mid-engine rumor once again. As Paul Niedermeyer has pointed out, the mid-engined ‘vette speculation has been an industry institution since Zora Arkus Duntov posed proudly with his CERV I concept in 1959. Besides, Corvette engineers have been emphasizing the C7′s evolutionary nature for some time. Reuss’s hints could be about something as mundane and pre-signaled as a split rear window, or as out-there as Two-Mode hybrid option. Hoping for more is, I fear, would amount to a failure to learn the lessons of history.