Category Archives: Industry Cranks

Exceptions to the Rules

1.  No front wheel drive.
2.  No four cylinder motors without factory forced induction.
3.  No less than 250 crank horsepower.
4.  No boring or gimmicky looks.
5.  Must be fun to drive.

These are the rules.  There are many sets of rules, but these are mine.  These are my Deal Breakers, the five rules that cannot be violated or else a car is a no go for me.  If any of these rules are broken, the car doesn’t make the buy list, let alone the short list.  Or does it?  There are always exceptions to the rules, loop holes or caveats that let you get away from the established criteria.  On Tuesday, we looked at some of the established rules and talked about your rules.  Click more to take a look at the exceptions.

Deal Breakers

What you see below is the 2007 Acura TL Type S.  I will in no way deny that it is an attractive car.  It is also fairly quick, coming from the factory with a 3.5L V6 cranking out two hundred and eighty six horsepower through a five speed automatic or a six speed manual transmission.  While I don’t think it sounds as good as my VQ, it has a nice, adult tone that can be controlled with your right foot and a bit of maturity.  It’s a tone that has that classic Honda induction sound reminiscent of the NSX.  Acura’s angled design language creates a menacing look without being over the top like a WS.6 Trans Am, but stays away from the beige jellybean shape of other offerings from the Land of the Rising sun.  Like most Acuras, it is loaded with all the good technology bits.  It rides on what are, in my opinion, some of the best looking stock wheels you can get, and from the factory they are wrapped in Bridgestone Potenzas.  All in all, the TL Type S is a very capable vehicle, strong and reliable in an attractive wrapping.  And I wouldn’t spend a single penny on one.

If you drive it backwards all the time...

Car Porn – Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder Edition

In my dream world, I live in Hawaii on a boat, preferably something like an Fellows and Stewart Air Sea Recovery Boat or a restored Elco PT boat.  My dream garage is a climate controlled hanger not too far from the marina where I keep the boat, and is fully equipped with tools, a lift, a fair set of extra parts for the cars, and of course the cars themselves.  But this is not the only place I live in my dream world, as I also have a country estate in England, which is only reached by taking a flight from Heathrow in my personal Hawker Hurricane MK IV(I like it more than the Spitfire, bite me), land on the lawn of said estate, and hop into one of these for a drive:

I'll take mine in BRG as well...

Defining the Indefinable

So I changed my mind.  Today at work, I was approached by a coworker who is in the market for a new vehicle, and knowing my proclivity for cars, asked which of his choices I thought to be better.  Of course, I had my opinion on his two choices, but truthfully I stood there at a loss.  Instantly, I thought back to Steve’s article earlier this week and found myself trying to honestly answer the question of what better actually means.  In theory, Steve was right: there are no ties in comparisons; one must be greater than the rest.  Yet that begs the question of how to honestly derive which vehicle in a given comparison is better?  What does better mean?  How do we define which is greater than the other in any given comparison.  What I am about to do is show you that any easy answer you come up with is wrong.

What’s in a name?

Challenger, Supra, GTO, Skyline…all car names that bring back fond memories for gear heads. It’s not the badge that made the model significant, but rather the car itself. But as time marches on it’s the name that sticks with us and not the vehicle. Truth be told, I’ve never even driven any of the previously mentioned automotive deities. I drove a Supra once but it was a non turbo so it doesn’t really count. Yet for most people the names have, attached to it, all kinds of feelings and preconceived ideas regarding performance and beauty due to a phenomenon we refer to as nostalgia. There’s a synonym manufacturers use to describe it; brand equity.

Hey baby...what's YOUR name?

Deal of the Week – Fire Sale Edition

As some of our readers know, I used to be employed by that fine organization known as General Motors.  What I did for The General isn’t really important, as by the Fall of 2009 they had declared bankruptcy and had decided that I, along with a large percentage of their workforce, was no longer a valuable asset.  I’m not going to say that being in the minority of the company in saying “the bailout is a bad idea” contributed to my demise, but I wouldn’t be surprised.  Also declared to be bad assets were the two smaller divisions of the company – Pontiac and Saturn.  Now, while I’d be glad to outline for you where I feel they went horribly awry, this is not the time nor place.  See, while I feel GM has made numerous horrible choices that have brought them to be what is basically a second tier car manufacturer, they did have a few bright, shining moments.  Oddly, most came from the secondary brands to the leaders (Chevrolet, GMC, Cadillac).  This was one of those moments.

In light of Steve’s post, I decided to forgo my original plan of finding some awesome European proper sports car for a steal, and instead found this – a European proper sports car for a steal.  The Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky were based on the Vauxhall VX220.  Vauxhall asked Lotus (yes, that Lotus) to build them a proper sports car, which was basically an Elise (yes, that Elise) with a GM motor instead of a Rover or Toyota motor in the middle.  The Vauxhall VX220 was built on the same production line as the Series 2 Lotus Elise, on the same chassis, and shares a decent percentage of parts compatibility.  GM then modified the platform (because why leave a good thing good?) by sticking the motor up front, renamed it the Kappa Platform, and born from that was the Opel GT, the Pontiac Solstice, and the Saturn Sky.  Like most late Pontiacs and Saturns, these were GM European cars brought over because both brands had been so badly managed by GM that it was easier just to use the Indian Head brand and former Toyota partnership as a front for importing Vauxhalls and Opels to the States.  Sales were low, but it was a surprisingly good move for us.

The Sky, and its horribly ugly kissing cousin the Pontiac Solstice were brought over with two engine choices.  The first was a gutless naturally aspirated four banger that was marketed towards teenage girls and secretaries.  Those of you with more than two braincells, or more concerns with who Billy was kissing, picked up the Solstice GXP or Sky Red Line.  Those with more than three braincells obviously picked the much, much better looking Redline.  The Redline was powered by a 260 horsepower turbocharged Ecotec motor, the same out of the Cobalt SS Turbo.  A five speed manual sent power to the rear wheels through a limited slip differential.  It is a roadster, yes, but a good looking one and one of few that looks equally good with the top up or down.  This example out in Olive Branch, Mississippi shows a whooping nine thousand miles on the clock.  In other words, it was broken in last week and is basically brand new.  It comes in just under KBB, but on cars like this, it is hard to trust the KBB value.  Considering this thing was hardly driven and is being sold for about $10k under what they sold in the real world, it is a true steal.

True, there is no longer a dealer support network for Saturn, but its a GM product so any problems that can’t be fixed with a basic SAE ratchet set, some duct tape, and hitting it with a hammer are problems not meant to be fixed.  The turbo is set perfectly for a swap for more power, and if you are a torque monster kind of guy, yes, the LS1 will fit.  Its a clean car, and a good deal, and you’ll make Steve happy by getting a sports car that doesn’t weigh 3500 pounds. Click here to go to the AutoTrader listing, and enjoy the ride.

Gas Prices: What really matters?

Gas station run by zombies...

Recently gas prices in my area dipped below $3 a gallon. I was pretty stoked to see this. More recently still, gas prices jumped about 15cents backs to where they were before the dip…damn. It’s no secret that my truck doesn’t get the greatest gas mileage and considering I drive a fair amount, I fill up frequently. More than likely it’s because my truck is shaped like a four wheel drive house and wind resistance is a force most unkind. Regardless, I find myself at the fill station on a regular basis.  But you’ll never hear me complain about the price of gas. It’s not that I don’t observe the price trends or look for competitively priced gasoline; because I absolutely do. I mean come on, we all have our local go-to fill station that we claim has the area’s cheapest gas.

But the question remains, should I really care so much about the price?

Musings on Mentality – Wood Trim

Why does everyone instantly associate wood trim with luxury?  I don’t get it.  Half the cars I’m looking at getting, even the sporty ones, have wood trim.  Its as if people are convinced that by adding heavily laqured tacky looking plastic that is painted to look like wood makes a car worth more.  Seriously, I’m at the point that I think that the Europeans and Japanese are convinced that Americans think that in order for a car to be a luxury or luxury sport car, the interior must be trimmed like a 1978 Jaguar sedan.  Forget that.  Give me brushed aluminum, carbon fiber, carbon fiber look leather, or titanium.  Body color molding would work just as well.  Lets just put an end to the nonsense that is wood trim.

E85 – The Enthusiast’s Double Edge Sword

I like corn.  I find corn to be both tasty and nutritious.   I enjoy corn on the cob.  I find pop corn to be an excellent snack when not drowned in butter as the fiancé is wanting to do.  I like it creamed from time to time, and quite often I feel as though I cannot live without corn bread.  They call it corn soufflé at the grocery store near my apartment, and I scream at them I don’t care, I just want the corn based bread like product.  My two race cats, Dakar and Laguna, also like corn, as it is in their food.  As a food product, I like corn.  Corn is wonderful, because it is a self contained food product.  You don’t need to do anything special to produce it, you just cook it then hand it to someone, tell them not to be a pansy and eat it.  If they made corn juice, I’m pretty sure I would drink it.  Except they do make corn juice, and no, I don’t drink it.

These will both end up in your fuel tank. The pictured ratio is E - holy hell its a velociraptor, flee!!!!

Buuuurn Baby Burn: Volt Fiasco Inferno

The Chevy Volt is an interesting vehicle. The idea is positively brilliant. Execution could probably have been better, but that’s neither here nor there. Chevy knew that battery technology had yet to yield fruit ripe enough for a proper electric vehicle. This was a problem they decided to work around. But were some things overlooked? Now, I love a good car fire as much as the next guy, but it’s a very serious situation for sure. Wait…..what did he say? Yeah, I said CAR FIRE. As in, “Holy shit, get the jaws of life!”

 Have I piqued your interest yet?

More cowbell shan't fix this...