Each year, Jeep builds a few concept vehicles and takes to the Easter Jeep Safari through off-road trails in Moab, Utah. Jeep uses the nine day trek to show off the off-road capabilities of its vehicles while celebrating its storied past. Maybe our invitation was lost in the mail.
Fortunately, Jeep did invite us to a different Jeep Safari, which took place during the week of Metro Detroit’s Dream Cruise. All the vehicles involved in this event have completed the Jeep Easter Safari in Moab. The Detroit Jeep Safari route may have been be a much shorter and less treacherous than Moab’s trails, but electronic locking differentials are helpful traversing the craters Detroiters refer to as roads.
I have a friend and colleague, for the purposes of this post we’ll name him Jack, that races cars and has an active social life with attractive women. It’s not likely that he’d be jealous of a decrepit grandfather like me, but indeed his envy was as green as his old Audi S5 when I recently got to tour the Conner Avenue Assembly Plant where FCA assembles the Viper.
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It seems that most of the media coverage of automotive startup Elio Motors and their proposed $6,800, 84 mpg reverse trike can be sorted into two groups: general media outlets that have taken a bit of a credulous gee whiz attitude, and automotive folks who have cast a more skeptical eye on the enterprise. I’m as skeptical and as cynical as the next guy but unlike many in the automotive community I actually think that Paul Elio and his team have a decent chance of at least getting their vehicle to production. Also unlike most of the critics, I’ve actually taken the time to talk with members of Elio managment along with one of their major backers and I’ve spent time with their prototypes. Perhaps because I’ve tried to give the project an even break the people at Elio have been pretty forthcoming with me and now they’ve let TTAC be the first automotive publication to have an extended and unsupervised test drive of their latest prototype. They figuratively tossed me the keys and literally said, “bring it back when you’re done.” That takes some confidence.
Let’s start this off with a caveat. I make no pretensions to being a photographer. At best I can compose and frame a decent snapshot. Years ago I realized that if I wanted to get more serious about photography I’d have to start learning a bunch of technical things like depth of field and f-stops and I already had enough hobbies. As a result, I have a great deal of respect for professional and serious amateur photographers and cinematographers. That respect has grown since I started writing about cars, as that gig often requires taking photographs to accompany my words.
Last Wednesday, Derek Kreindler and I worked together to make sure that The Truth About Cars had someone to cover the Dodge Charger Hellcat reveal on-site at the event, which wrapped up around noon. We managed to get almost 100 high definition color photographs of the event and the car picked out, cropped and up on this site by mid-afternoon. We also decided that the reveal, and subsequent Woodward Dream Cruise, would be a great opportunity to show you how long you would have had to wait to see color photos of an event back in the pre-digital era.
One of the reasons why I started writing for TTAC was that, as a lifelong resident of the Detroit area I was tired of watching people with little direct knowledge of this region using stereotypes and caricatures to demean my neighbors. Typically people outside the region will describe Southeastern Michigan as a place of unemployment, indifferent workers, crime and racial disharmony. As with most prevarication, there’s an element of truth to those stereotypes, but it’s not the whole truth.
I can understand finding that kind of behavior in comment threads online, but it’s distressing when what is generally considered the leading newspaper in the country, the New York Times, lazily relies on a ‘usual Detroit template’ when covering an event in this area.
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- ToolGuy If I had some space I would offer $800 and let the vehicle sit at my place as is. Then when anyone ever asked me, "Have you ever considered owning a VW?" I would say "Yes."
- ToolGuy In the example in the linked article an automated parking spot costs roughly 3% of the purchase price of the property. If I were buying such a property, I would likely purchase two parking spots to go with it, and I'm being completely serious.(Speaking of ownership vs. subscription, the $150 monthly maintenance fee would torque me off a lot more than the initial acquisition cost.)
- ToolGuy "which will be returned as refunds to citizens of the state" - kind of like the Alaska Permanent Fund? Make the amount high enough and I will gladly move to California to take advantage (my family came close to moving there when I was a teen, and oodles of people have moved from CA to my state, so I'm happy to return the favor).Note to California: You probably do not want me as a citizen.
- ToolGuy Nice torque figure.
- ToolGuy Pretty cool.