I doubt that very many of you have seen Robb Holland’s series over on Jalopnik about turning a salvage-title Z06 into a Pikes Peak car. That’s okay; unless you’re a particular fan of Corvettes or of Robb Holland you aren’t missing much.
At the heart of it, the series is a fairly typical exercise in what I call “Journalist Stone Soup Motorsports” — you call everybody in the world to get as much free stuff as you can and then you offer to mention them on your website. Some people are much better at this than others; Mr. Holland’s vehicular opus looks like it consumed about a thousand man-hours of free labor and maybe fifty grand worth of free stuff. Feel free to compare that to the incompetent promotional efforts of your humble author, who won an AER race last month with uh, um… some year-old, half-worn tires courtesy of Dunlop. (Thank you, Dunlop!) This is no doubt due to the fact that Robb is a handsome, well-liked television personality, whereas I’m primarily notable for being kicked out of NASA Performance Touring twice in four seasons.
There is, however, something of value in Robb’s most recent article. In the process of excusing the Corvette Z06 from overheating shenanigans (hmm… why does this sound familiar?), he asks, “Personally, I think the whole [overheating] thing is load of crap… First, how long should a street car be able to run on track before having to stop? One minute, five minutes, 100 minutes? Twenty-four hours? What’s the benchmark? A race track is a very different environment than the street. You can’t design a car to work well in both.”
It’s easy to dismiss this by pointing out all the cars that can complete SCCA and NASA sprint races with bone-stock drivetrains, but if the question isn’t relevant now, it’s about to be extremely relevant. The electric car is coming, and it’s not going to handle racing terribly well. In fact, it’s not even going to handle hot weather or off-track high speeds terribly well. So what does it need to be able to do?
How did you celebrate Warren Brown Day? What? You didn’t know about Warren Brown Day? Well, my friend, allow me to fill you in. If you are a subject of the Washington, DC metro area, then June 15th was officially Warren Brown Day for you. The day celebrates Warren Brown’s contributions to automotive journalism. This came as a great surprise to me; as far as I knew, Mr. Brown’s primary contribution to automotive journalism was finding a way to get around the Washington Post‘s policy on accepting luxury travel.
It occurred to me that maybe the city was honoring a different Warren Brown, so I went back and checked the original article in American Journalism Review to make sure that I had the right guy. Once I started re-reading it, however, I quickly forgot all about Mr. Brown and his Italian vacation, because the most important story Frank Greves tells in his overview of automotive journalism has nothing whatsoever to do with the perks of the business.
Many industry reporters and enthusiasts attached stigma to early mass market hybrids because of the unknown reliability of their batteries. Potential owners worried that a failed battery would stick them with an expensive, out-of-warranty repair bill.
The first generation of hybrid vehicles hit the streets right around the turn of the century, right at the same time the domestic market was in love with SUVs. Anecdotes abounded about how dangerous and expensive hybrids would be to fix and maintain. Now that they’ve been on the road for over a decade, data shows — for the most part — there was no reason to fear these electrified fuel sippers.
Forgive me father, for not only have I sinned (at least for right now), but I’m going to make a sordid confession about my daily work life that will tick off 99 percent of the people here.
I find that auto enthusiasts — that’s you — are completely irrational. In fact, sometimes you’re just plain nuts.
It has nothing to do with conspiracy theories, the federal government, or the fact that every manufacturer wants us enthusiasts to become mindless traders and renters instead of long-term keepers. What it really comes down to is that most auto enthusiasts I know simply act like emotional fools.
Greetings, editors. I love your website. It has taught me a tremendous amount about cars and the industry. This is my first time writing. I would love to see a piece about auto reliability, perhaps from an insider engineering perspective. What I’d like to see addressed is the question of why some cars and makes are more reliable than others.
I know these issues often result in pissing contests between:
1) those who claim to be “real auto enthusiasts” and would drive nothing less than a German sports car with a stick, despite the verifiable quality control issues that afflicts all the German manufacturers, and,
2) those who value reliability, fewer headaches, fewer trips to the mechanic, and more money saved in the long run, perhaps at the expense of an “emotional” engagement with their car.
There are few traditions at TTAC as hallowed as that of the “low-quality point-and-shoot photo used as centerpiece of article”. The undisputed master of this genre, the Mapplethorpe of the grainy tree-growing-mysteriously-out-of-a-car’s-trunk-just-above-the-glowing-date-stamped-on-the-shot, was TrueDelta’s Michael “TrueDelta” Karesh, of TrueDelta. Some of his work was so bad it approached the status of art. If I had space on my walls at home, I’d enlarge and frame some of the shots, and give them names, like Silver Hump On Equally Silver Car, In Shadow. Then I would sell them to wealthy Russian immigrants and become rich enough to fund my long-awaited Lifetime autobiographical movie in which Colin Farrell would get fat just so he could play me in my forties.
So as you look at the Zaxxon-esque pixelation of the above photo, try to think of it less as “Jack doesn’t own an actual camera” and more like “Jack is honoring the spirits of all who have gone before under the red-and-white masthead”. Or something like that. And before you waste too much time trying to figure out what the photo actually shows, I’ll tell you: it’s the door hinge on a nearly new RAM ProMaster cargo van, and it is rusting.
My wife is interested in upgrading from her Subaru Legacy to a more luxurious make. Nothing crazy, we’re talking BMW 428 or Audi A5 range. Her requirements include automatic transmission and the usual ‘winter package’: AWD, remote start, heated seats (and steering wheel, ideally), etc… She wants something mid-sized with a comfortable ride. Enough punch to feel fast without needing to actually be fast.
TTAC commentator 1trikpny writes:
Hi, I’ve got a 2005 Mustang GT Deluxe,5spd, no Leather, no options. Black with 18″ chrome wheels, 285/35 Sumitomo HRT-Z 3’s, I’m the second adult owner.The previous owner bought it new, and at 40,000 miles installed a Saleen Supercharger with a Brenspeed Stage 3 tune. 500 hp at the crank. Currently at 63000 miles. I’ve added BMR LCA’s, Relocation brackets, and Panhard bar. this car has been very well maintained all of it’s life. No smoke, no noises, everything is just right.
So what’s the problem?
TTAC commentator AMC_CJ writes:
My retired mother has come to the conclusion that she needs a 2nd car. Currently she has a 06′ Trailblazer that she keeps in mint condition, and despite having issues with the headlights going out automatically, and a lengthy dealing with GM, it’s been a good vehicle (and to GM’s credit, we think they finally found and fixed the problem with little expense to her). She loves her Trailblazer and it’s perfect for running up to our homestead in WV. But it’s the only car she has, and when it was in the shop recently it left her with a sub-par loaner she couldn’t drive very far. When I lived at home, I lent my parents a vehicle out of my own fleet when they needed.
So I found a 2011 Saab 9-5 that I just love. I have never owned a Saab. Do they break a lot? I don’t want to spend thousands on car repairs. Been there done that. Please let me know what your honest opinion is on whether I should buy this car or not. Thanks for your time.
The late Gore Vidal was fond of saying, “Gratitude can be a complicated thing.”
He was right. Whether you are a hater, or simply a chronic critic, the act of complimenting those who follow the beat of a different drummer is usually not within the tip of the human tongue.
We want things our way… and sometimes we’re just plain wrong.
Tauruses are the kudzu of cars here in the South.
You find them everywhere to the point that you never ever notice em’. At the Waffle House. At the Coke Museum. At Braves games, and most definitely at the heavily suburbanized neighborhoods of metro-Atlanta.
To be perfectly frank about it, Atlanta has always seemed to be a Taurus-tee type of place. Popular, affordable, a little bland, and just plain functional. Tough to hate. Tough to love. Such is the case of the Taurus.
So here’s the least sexy question of the year. For those of us with the need for six seats (and climbing over the middle row of an SUV is unacceptable) what is your take on the reasonable lifespan of the current minivan lineup? I’m curious what you can expect to be a reasonable number of miles on a Caravan, Oddessy or Sienna if you were to be traveling 900 miles on Christmas Eve or New Years Day? Breakdowns with a family of six in this situation can get very expensive fast, so replacing the vehicle before it breaks can make financial sense. How far would you recommend pushing it?
Assumptions; minivans are purchased new and all regular maintenance is done. Do you have any thoughts on the various models and do any of them have timebombs under the hood?
Unlike a lot of those seeking your sage advice, I’m not going to ask you whether or not I should buy a different car. I know I am buying a different car. My mind is made up, so don’t take any of my words as a question about soldiering on with what I have. My summer car is a mint, nicely upgraded 1994 Chevrolet Camaro Z28 (full Spohn/Strano suspension, hopped up LT1, Corvette brakes, etc) with 60K miles and it is not going anywhere. What I need is a new winter/utility vehicle…