Tag: QOTD

By on May 8, 2017

MissingPiston-1280px-4

Ever been in a situation where you desperately need to change the topic? Y’know, when Uncle Ray starts in on his political views at the family reunion or Aunt Madge decides to dunk her false teeth in a glass during the wedding rehearsal. Whatever the rock and hard place, it’s always handy to have a harmless question guaranteed to simmer down the dialogue.

Here’s a sure-fire question to get the conversation back on track, especially if you’re amongst a group of gearheads: How many cylinders do you own?

(Read More…)

By on May 5, 2017

Uber (freestocks.org/Flickr)

Don’t look now, but the ride-sharing company everybody loves to hate is in trouble yet again. The Justice Department is reportedly opening an investigation into Uber’s not-so-secret “Greyball” tools, which can be used to circumvent law enforcement attempts to interfere with Uber’s business operations.

According to sources inside Uber, “Greyball” was originally developed to help protect Uber drivers from potential threats to their safety, such as unionized taxi drivers and other people who expressed their displeasure with Uber’s service in violent terms. The company soon realized Greyball could also be enhanced to help prevent “sting” operations in areas where ride-sharing services are illegal and/or heavily regulated.

I have no idea whether or not Uber will survive this unwanted federal attention; I’m reminded of the phrase used in the book Dune regarding “fools who put themselves in the way of the Harkonnen fist.” More interesting to me than that is the comment in the NYT article that some Uber employees had concerns about whether “Greyball” was “ethical.” That, I think, is the fascinating question.

(Read More…)

By on May 4, 2017

BMW M5 E39 - Image: M5_E39_Terabass

The BMW M5, generation E39 from 1999-2003, continues to stand as one of my top five favorite cars of all time.

Yours too.

But the BMW of today is not the BMW that designed the 394-horsepower M5 nearly two decades ago. BMW now produces nearly half of its sales from utility vehicles and sells only a handful of sports cars each month. Setting aside classic sedan styling, the BMW of today will sell you ungainly X4s and X6s, plus bulbous hatchback versions of the 5 Series and 3 Series. Moreover, BMW’s core models — the 3 Series/4 Series — are distinctly less popular in the United States than they were a decade ago, when the market was smaller and the 3 Series lineup wasn’t as broad.

BMW is incentivizing its products heavily in early 2017 just to keep sales roughly where they were a year ago, a year in which BMW’s U.S. volume fell 9 percent compared with the 2015 peak.

Something’s not quite right. So do you, lover of the 1999 M5 and the BMW 2002 tii and the BMW 507 and the BMW Z8, still want a BMW? (Read More…)

By on May 3, 2017

1996 Dodge Ram 1500 Indy 500 Special Edition, Image: Chrysler

Yesterday’s post about the excellent Bill Blass Lincoln Continental Mark V got me thinking: Maybe I could wear a white, double-breasted suit with gold buttons to work inquire about the multitude of other special editions for the Question of the Day today.

Like Mr. Casey mentions, Lincoln used special editions from the ’70s through the ’90s, which is about the same time (give or take) other manufacturers were doing the same thing.

So tell me, what’s your favorite special edition?

(Read More…)

By on May 2, 2017

1960 Mercury Marauder

As the heady 1950s horsepower race transitioned into the far-out 1960s pony and muscle car wars, buyers were able to gorge themselves on a buffet of choices. The only question needing an answer was: how wild do you want it?

If there’s money in your pocket, well, step right up to more horsepower and brawn than you can ever hope to handle, young man.

Seemingly overnight, Detroit felt the urgent need to muscle car all the things. Compact economy car? Better drop a 340 or 383 cubic incher in that light, skinny-tired sucker. Plush, gargantuan family sedan with soft springs? Meh, that thing can probably be made to haul ass. Add some cubes!

Budding environmentalists clutched their chests and reached for their puffers. Still, amid the smorgasbord of tire-shredding excess, some models made you wonder: was this really necessary? (Read More…)

By on May 1, 2017

Too Many Dodges

Early last week, I brought the Charger into our local dealer to sort out a passel of recalls, not the least of which was a computer reflash to bestow Auto Park capabilities on my ZF-equipped Dodge.

This new programming, it must be noted, not only added the Auto Park feature (which actually works so seamlessly it beggars belief that Dodge engineers didn’t include it from the get-go to save themselves a world of bad PR) but also changed the font in the dashboard EVIC. I now look upon my digital speed readout with a level of disdain formerly reserved for soiled copies of the National Enquirer. Comic Sans would’ve been a better option.

Anyway, the car was also due for an oil change, so I scheduled that service for the same visit. Arriving at the desk, the mental fog cleared long enough to bestow upon me the presence of mind to inquire the cost of a dealer oil change for my Pentastar-equipped Charger.

“Uhhhh … justamomentlemmelook.”

Pokes at computer

“It was around eighty-four dollars last time. Soooo …. about the same again?”

Needless to say, I canceled the oil change, proceeded with the recall work, and broke out my tools when I got home.

(Read More…)

By on April 27, 2017

2017 GMC Canyon - Image: © Timothy Cain

We drove in and around the city in a 2017 GMC Canyon Duramax Diesel for 120 miles, then took a 180-mile journey to Prince Edward Island, and have since driven around that island 120 miles.

The result: 30.2 miles per gallon on the U.S. scale, a miserly 7.8 litres per 100 kilometres. It doesn’t hurt that, around these parts at the moment, diesel costs roughly $0.25 USD less per gallon versus regular.

The 2.8-liter four-cylinder under the hood of this GMC Canyon, with a paltry 181 horsepower but a stump-pulling 369 lb-ft of torque at just 2,000 rpm, is one of a handful of diesels General Motors has installed in U.S. market vehicles. The 6.6-liter Duramax V8 in heavy-duty pickup trucks is the one you hear rumble most often. But GM is also inserting the Cruze’s 240-lb-ft 1.6-liter turbodiesel into the third-gen Chevrolet Equinox and second-gen GMC Terrain.

With diesel engine offerings in two pickup truck lines, a compact car, and a pair of small SUVs, can General Motors — not Mazda, not Mercedes-Benz, not Skoda — be the North American diesel-lover’s answer now that Volkswagen committed its unclean diesel transgressions? (Read More…)

By on April 26, 2017

Image: Chevrolet Celebrity Eurosport VR

Last week, I asked you to think back to your formative years and your driving experiences therein. Many of you responded with tales of when your nervous fingers first gripped the wheel, and the happy experiences (sometimes dangerous if you’re Chris Tonn) you had in whatever vintage automobile you piloted that first time.

Now it’s time to talk about even further back. Knowing how old most of you are though, hopefully we can keep the stories of Conestoga wagons to a minimum today. What vehicle brought you home from the hospital, your first-ever actual ride in a car?

(Read More…)

By on April 25, 2017

[Image: IMCDB]

Never mind muscle cars and sexy Italian exotics. Nothing sparks atrial fibrillation in the hearts of motorists like seeing a black-and-white Ford Interceptor, Dodge Charger or Chevrolet Tahoe parked by the roadside up ahead.

Your chest tightens. Your eyes dart to the speedometer in the hopes of finding a reading that’s somewhere in the neighborhood of “sedate.” More often than not, you suddenly find yourself as the commanding officer in charge of Operation Slow Down Without Brake Lights or Nosedive.

When outfitted with heavy duty components, hidden armament and a healthy does of The Law, a normal sedan you’d never look twice at in the Ponderosa parking lot transforms into the most menacing vehicle on the road. Some do it better than others. (Read More…)

By on April 24, 2017

Dildo, NL Road Sign, Image: shankar s./Flickr

Mercifully, at least to those of us living in the Snow Belt or in the Great White North, the official start of summer is only 57 days away. You know what that means: swimming pools, grilling meat, and — for gearheads — road trips.

I’m of firm belief the journey is half the fun, especially if you’re taking the Queen Family Truckster somewhere new. The countries on either side of the 49th parallel are filled with random and bizarre roadside bric-a-brac, some of it fit for discussion on this website, some of it — as we shall see — is straight from Hugh Hefner’s imagination.

(Read More…)

By on April 20, 2017

Pontiac Aztek - Image courtey Doug Demuro

The Pontiac Aztek was widely regarded upon its 2000 debut as one of the ugliest new vehicles to ever set wheel on pavement. Between 2000 and the last sales trickle in 2007, General Motors sold just under 120,000 Azteks in the United States.

Americans were admittedly gung-ho for SUVs in the early part of this century, but not to the extent they are now. In 2002, for instance, when Aztek sales peaked, passenger cars still accounted for nearly half of all new vehicle sales. They account for just 37 percent now.

2017, not 2002, is the time for SUVs and crossovers. And while we’re not advocating for the return of the Pontiac Aztek, we wonder whether the Aztek would be far more successful now than it was then, and not just because everybody and their dog is now choosing an SUV/crossover instead of a car.

No, we wonder whether the Aztek would succeed in 2017 because, to be frank, there are already a wide variety of decidedly unattractive SUVs selling rather well today.  (Read More…)

By on April 19, 2017

04 - 1985 Chrysler New Yorker Fifty Avenue Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin

Think back in time, and then back a little further. Think about when you were between maybe 14 and 18 years of age; when the Kool-Aid was sweet, the lawn darts were shiny, and your personal tablet was an Etch-A-Sketch. It was then you had your first formative driving experiences, whether it was with a driving instructor, or perhaps a relative who reluctantly handed you the keys to their Electra 225.

Today, it’s story time.

(Read More…)

By on April 18, 2017

{Image: Wikimedia Commons]

Most of us are slaves to convenience, but there’s a good number of motorists who long to relive a nostalgic chapter from their younger days; back when cars were less sterile (externally, anyways), and less overburdened with all-thinking, all-knowing technology.

“Those were good days,” they think, their minds drifting back to a warm, hazy period washed clean of all the bad things they’d prefer not to remember. “Cigarettes were ten cents a pack. I didn’t have the government choking things up between my carburetor and tailpipe.”

There’s no going back to the days before seatbelts and airbags, nor would anyone want a return of car bodies that fold like wet cardboard during a crash, but there are some extinct features we’d like to see again — even if it’s just to satisfy a tiny, memory-filled recess of our overburdened brains. (Read More…)

By on April 17, 2017

Cars & Coffee; St. Pete, Florida

Ever since I was a lad, growing up maturing getting older in a community of about 1,200 souls and 90 minutes from any sort of car dealership, I’ve been fascinated by cars. Grasping every copy of a car magazine that found its way into our rural mailbox with my grubby little hands, I’d read each one cover to cover until the pages fell out. I knew what each person in our town drove; when someone showed up with new wheels, I’d invariably appear in their driveway asking if I could look at it. That wouldn’t fly today. Good thing everyone knew each other.

Thanks to this dearth of youthful car-related entertainment, 30 years later I now find myself checking out every single car show I happen to find, quenching a long simmering thirst for cool wheels.

(Read More…)

By on April 13, 2017

2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon - Image: FCAThe 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon produces 808 horsepower; 840 if you find some racing fuel.

I don’t care.

Don’t get me wrong. I like fast cars. I like fast SUVs. I like fast minivans. I like quick acceleration, high top speeds, rapid shifts, prodigious tire smoke, and burbly exhaust.

But outrageous horsepower numbers are almost becoming boring. They’re so common. So ordinary. So…

Easy.

Anybody can throw a few hundred extra horsepower at a decade-old muscle coupe. But what else can you do to impress me? (Read More…)

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