Archive for October 2009
Below is the list of nine current vehicles The Wall Street Journal reports are soon to be killed by Fiat and three Alfa Romeos that will be joining the party. Dodge and Jeep sustained the biggest losses but muscle car fans will be happy to know that at this point the Challenger/Charger are still alive and well. PT Cruiser-haters should also be relieved. Here’s the list:
*PT Cruiser (DEAD)
*Town and Country
*300: Redesign in 2011
*Fiat 500: 2011
*Grand Caravan (DEAD)
*Charger: Redesign in 2011
*Ram trucks (separate brand?)
*Grand Cherokee: Redesign in 2010
*Milano (replacing 147)
*New Mid-Size Sedan
“Extra Fiat, hold the Chrysler,” is the basis of the product roadmap expected to be announced Nov. 4, by Chrysler Group. Or should we say, Fiat-Chrysler? To keep the struggling auto union around long enough to bring a wave of Fiats to the United States in 2012, Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne plans to kill many of Chrysler’s current models, particularly Dodge cars. (1)
“Christ! What about the Challenger?”
If this was your first thought on the matter, consider this excerpt from MSN money:
“Marchionne, who successfully revamped Fiat, appears to be creating a vehicle lineup that stays true to Chrysler's blue-collar muscle-car and pickup roots while adding European-style vehicles to attract a new, more white-collar customer.”
For the white collars guys, the plan includes bringing Fiat’s premium, sporty Alfa Romeo back to the U.S by 2012, while Chrysler is set to bring the Lil’ Fiat 500 stateside under the Chrysler nameplate.
In the gap left by Dodge’s ousted cars, Fiat and Chrysler are working to produce several new cars infused with Fiat Technology for U.S. release, including a midsize Chrysler sedan for 2012.
Aha! There you are. Bored by those other zodiac weirdos, you’ve stumbled back into my cosmic grip in search of automotive parallels lassoed down from the heavens by an Ethernet cord. Part three awaits, if you can handle the squeeze.
(November 22-December 21)
Coursing with the wisdom of Jupiter, Sagittarians are spiritually geared to concoct their own unique philosophies on life, but can be completely tactless in their pursuit of enlightenment. In the stars their conflict is represented by the Centaur, a half-human, half-beast.
On Earth, they're best suited to another ancient cross over: the El Camino. Although officially dubbed a truck in North America by Chevrolet, all five generations of the thing were arguably just a series of Chevy cars with truck beds where the back seat would normally go.
Obnoxiously tacky? To the general public perhaps.
To a Sagittarius, the El Camino is an expression of self-identity that flies in the face of rigid boundaries and traditional beauty, like a Marlboro Red burning beneath a patchy mustache, drenched in neon bar light. When a Sagittarius sets eyes on a partner who understands their appreciation of such things, they’re known for being one of the Zodiac’s most loving, fun and generous signs. The El Camino completes them.
(May 21-June 20)
1982 Delorean DMC-12
Gemini’s deal cocaine out of their Deloreans. Ever since John Delorean was found not guilty of trafficking the drug due to entrapment in 1984, the heat died down and the DMC-12 became better known for transporting Michael J. Fox back to the fifties than blow to members-only clubs. Consequently it became the no-brainer guise for the average Gemini of the day. Just look at the clues to their drug dealing characteristics from psychicguild.com:
“In ancient Greek mythology, Gemini's ruler - Mercury, was the light-footed messenger of the gods who darted back and forth across the heavens delivering news…”
(He’s the one they called Dr. Feel Good)
“Many Geminis are involved in international financial wheeling and dealing.”
“In Astrology, Gemini’s have also gained the reputation of being the incessant talkers of the zodiac.”
(“So I settled on the blue seat covers instead of the beige ones which is weird because my dog has beige hair but his name is Blue and he loves this car, geech!)
See the pattern? Fortunately for white-collar school zones, Delorean went under in 1982 with less than 10,000 DMC-12’s ever being produced and in1986 President Ronald Reagan budgeted $1.7Billion to fund the war on drugs. Little did Mr. Trickle know the ride was already over for the Gemini.
(February 19-March 20)
Oh Pisces, where has your car gone? On a good day your sign is known to be psychic, visionary, a philosopher and trendsetter of fashion and art. But on days such as this when you fail to take care of yourself it becomes crushingly obvious that you are the zodiac’s most sensitive and oftentimes confused sign.
What is this great chasm of echoes and dark corners? Who are these strange entities with their honking horns and angry voices? In the murky depths of an obsessive and disoriented state you wander a parking garage in search of your car.
Maybe you drive a late-model Toyota, maybe not. It’s been six hours since the movie ended. You’re wearing Kleenex boxes for shoes. When it grows cold you lay beneath an old Buick to bask in the warmth of its oil drip before the engine cools and the seals shore up. You slip into a dream and enter into a vision: the number of your parking stall is G-
The Buick is running you over. You deduce the Buick is most likely not your car. Not to worry. Despite their vulnerabilities Pisceans are incredibly resilient. Is that your bus pass stuck to the LeSabre’s tire?
*We have but one installment of truth left to be written here before our astrological bank account reaches dollar status. Come again; the Zodiac cannot lie.
I’m guessing most of us probably wouldn’t shell out $1.6 million to ride around on whale penis, even if we had the money, but I could very well be wrong. For those who are interested, Russian armored car builder Dartz, manufactures the Prombron Monaco Red Diamond Edition with leather seats made from “whale-penis leather”.
Dartz claims the Prombron is the world’s most expensive SUV, but not just because of the mammalian delicacies. Options on the rig are indubitably suited to a wealthy individual who prefers to be swaddled in the aquatic crotch of luxury during their travels, yet still fears being blown to bits via grenade launcher, machinegun and the like.
The Prombron meets their diverse needs with features that include bulletproof gold-plated windows, exhaust made of tungsten, diamond and ruby encrusted gauges, exterior Kevlar coating, and of course, “whale-penis leather”.
Weighing roughly 4 tons, the Prombron powers away from would-be assassins with a V8 engine that puts out between 400-500hp. In the unfortunate event an attack should occur, the vehicle is “rocket grenade-proof” according to the website.
The hefty sticker price also includes three bottles of the world’s most expensive Vodka, which should come in handy if you have to make use of the armor. But Dartz does not promote drinking and driving.
*”Save the whales” people might be less pissed to know that the Blue Whale penis can grow over six feet long, significantly reducing the number needed to wrap a Prombron seat.
Hello again and welcome to the halfway point of our half-baked Zodiac road trip. If you’re an Aquarius or Cancer, please forgive me; I am but a conduit through which the star energy flows.
(June 21-July 22)
Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid
Cancers are stricken with a similar plight as their astrological symbol – the Crab. Beneath their hard and crusty exterior lies a soft and flavorful sensitivity, but you never know which one you’re going to get with their bat s*** mood swings. Unsurprisingly, Crab people have an affinity for another blunderful contradiction: The Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid.
Around town the half-green behemoth utilizes its fuel saving technologies to maintain a dainty 21mpg, up impressively from 14mpg on the non-hybrid model. But out on the highway, the open faced English muffin gets tossed to the kiddy table as the 6.0L V8 straps on a bib, picks up a dirty hammer and smashes into the petrol like there’s five minutes to close at Red Lobster. The result is 22mpg, an insulting 2mpg improvement over its gasoholic cousin. Cancers find the schizophrenic fuel economy to be quite endearing.. half the time.
(Jan. 20-Feb. 18)
Richard M. Nixon’s 1950 California Senate Campaign Station Wagon
There are more Aquarians in mental institutions and the American Hall of Fame than any other sign. It doesn’t matter how an Aquarius managed to track down and acquire Nixon’s yellow, 60 year-old campaign-mobile, the point is they now have access to its broadcast system and are using it to shout the words painted on the doors through the roof-mounted loud speaker as they roll through your neighborhood at three in the morning:
“NIXON FOR US SENATOR!! NIXON FOR US SENATOR!!”
Don’t be too quick to judge. The new millennium ushered in the Dawn of the Age of Aquarius, meaning that Aquarians are now regarded as the Zodiac’s leader and main trendsetter for the future. That’s a lot of sudden astrological pressure for a person already on the brink of mental collapse.
Also try to keep this in mind when a hail of pebble-sized objects rains against your bedroom window; they’re actually handfuls of campaign thimbles, originally distributed by Nixon’s wife, Pat as the station wagon crisscrossed the state with Tricky Dick at the wheel.
Apparently there were some leftovers in the glove box. Look closely and you’ll find the little treasures carry the slogan “Safeguard the American Home”. Despite the mind-bending millennial changes, Aquarians remain a fervently patriotic sign.
(July 23-August 22)
1991 Dodge Dynasty, white
Leo’s are widely known as highly successful, well-endowed sex cats with firm handshakes and winning smiles. They truly take the Lion’s share of all that is good and overpoweringly sexual in life, waking each dawn on a heaping pile of money with many beautiful women, smelling of each.
With their masculinity firmly secured, a Leo feels little need to purchase a flashy new car. Most opt to hang on to their 1991 Dodge Dynasty, white. As a Leo myself, I find the Dynasty truly meets my star sign's needs.
Standard options on the ’91 Dynasty Leo Edition include:
1/1 ashtray to door ratio, cloud nine waterbed suspension, the haunting essence of blueberry Swisher wrap, and a velvety purple interior that lights up like a phosphorescent Jackson Pollock painting under a black light.
*My Hot Pocket is done, but our mission is far from over, fellow star trippers. Check back next time as we push towards Pisces, and beyond!
Zodiac signs are a lot like the PT Cruiser; neither makes much sense, but each remains defiantly popular nonetheless. To discover why, let’s jump down the non-sequitur rabbit hole and fashion an astrological link between the cars people drive and their lives in the stars.
(March 21-April 19)
Aries are adventurous and will travel the world to avoid being held down by any kind of possessive relationship, such as with a driveway or mailbox.
The Winnebago is the perfect vehicle for an Aries, albeit a dangerous one: Children at heart, Aries’ sense of wonderment are confounded by being one of the most naïve signs. Often tormented by a confliction of strong masculine and feminine traits, they’re prone to wander trustingly into the lion’s den. It isn’t unusual to see a Winnebago barreling towards the front gates of the Neverland Ranch like a fly to an unplugged light trap; with an Aries behind the wheel, family vacations are likely to take a few wrong turns.
(Dec. 22-Jan. 19)
Capricorns bear the ancient emblem of the sea-goat — a half goat, half fish, 100% fugly crossover, just like their vehicle of choice. Like a fish, the Aztek flopped hard. Like a goat, it was sacrificed in 2005, several years ahead of the entire Pontiac nameplate.
This isn’t to say that all Capricorns are ugly, but they do tend to have a false sense of pride that can make it next to impossible for them to admit when they’re wrong, especially while car shopping. During these cantankerous states, the mystic power of the stars outfits the Capricorn’s eyes with car goggles, or the equivalent of being nine Schlitz's deep. Through the sudsy lenses the Aztek appears far more appealing than a four-thousand-pound goatfish at the end of the bar normally would.
Tipping the scales to a regrettable purchase, Capricorns have the strongest and most sympathetic pair of shoulders in the zodiac (the goat half). Don’t tell them their Aztek is ugly; it’s in their circle and needs just as much lovin' as a hot little Solstice.
(April 20-May 20)
-1996 Buick Roadmaster Station Wagon
Taureans keep their true selves hidden from others behind day-to-day rituals until they’re ready to open up and let their true colors shine. Often they shine brighter than most people would ever expect. In turn, Taurus’ are often mistaken for being snobby and even depressed, as might the driver of a ’96 Roadmaster Station Wagon.
For those who don’t know this wagon personally, it may appear to be nothing more than a gutless, wood-paneled yield-mobile best suited to haul the kids back and forth from school.
Au contraire. When a Taurean dad drops the hammer on this sleeper rocket-wagon, juice boxes hit the rear window. Despite the reserved appearance, ’96 Roadmasters are 2-ton bulls equipped with Corvette V-8 engines and seating for half the soccer team. Some would argue Erick Forman was but a confused young Taurean seduced by a Vista Cruiser.
*That’s all for this spacy installment. If it's in the stars (ratings), we’ll make our way through all 12 signs of the Zodiac and assign a car to each.
This month’s award for questionable balls-to-brains ratio goes to former F1 driver, David Coulthard. Before a demonstration run of the Red Bull Renault in Mumbai, he told the Press Trust of India:
“Apparently there is a speed limit, but I don't intend to drive in India again. So instead I plan to go flat out…” (1)
Coulthard proceeded to give a crowd estimated at 50,000 more high-octane action than a hunger strike could ever provide, hitting speeds of up to 162mph, or five times the speed limit on the new Rajiv Gandhi Sea Link. Following the run, Coulthard performed donuts and waved the Indian flag to the fans.
Entertaining as the show must have been, the event organizers will now have to forfeit their $30,000 deposit and legal proceedings could be in the works as well.
“I have asked my officers to submit a report on the event,” stated Road Development Corporation MD Satish Gavai. “Action will be considered only after it is established that the vehicle went beyond permissible speed limits on the sea link.”
In his defense, Coulthard pointed out that the Red Bull Renault is not equipped with a speedometer, and thus, he wasn’t able to accurately discern how fast he was going.
The team was promoting F1 in India, where the grand prix is scheduled to be held in 2011. It remains to be seen what sort of impact Coulthard’s badass showmanship will have on the sport's middle eastern popularity in the future.
We’ve all been arrested for public drunkenness and carted off to the drunk tank in a paddy wagon, but not many of us can say we managed to get busy with our significant other whilst en route to the station. Hats off to an unnamed couple in Darwin, Australia, for doing just that.
“It was a red light and I had to sit behind the paddy wagon for a few minutes,” said 18-year-old Hannah Walker. “I couldn't believe it when I saw them just going for it.” (1)
While poor Hannah was most likely permanently traumatized by the incident, police did not confirm everything she saw. However they did admit that officers in the front of the love wagon can’t see everything going down in the back. Senior Sgt. Daniel Shean has launched a probing investigation with the officers in question.
“They said they did see the couple kissing but did not see any nudity or anything to indicate they were having sex,” he said. (1)
To quote Samuel L. Jackson, “Hold on to your butts,” we could be looking at the beginning of a new era for Detroit muscle. Both Ford and Chevrolet are expected to shove even more power between the front rubbers of their iconic ground-pounders. This week, Motor Authority reported that a twin-turbocharged version of Ford’s 5.0-liter Coyote V-8 could see action in the 2012 Mustang GT500. The new “Road Runner” V-8 is expected to churn out 600hp or more, depending on how far Ford wants to tweak it. (1)
Across the street, after waffling with plans to resurrect the Camaro Z28, GM’s Vice President for global design, Ed Welburn, said the Z28 performance badge is now back in the product plan and set for production in at least a year. It’s likely the next-generation mullet-burner will come equipped with the supercharged 6.2-liter, 556hp LSA V-8 found in the Cadillac CTS-V, and will be mated to a six-speed manual or optional automatic. From Motor Authority:
“In the 4,300lb CTS-V, this combination is good for a 0-60 mph sprint of just 4.1 seconds and a 12.3 second quarter mile time. Factor in the Camaro’s 200 to 300lb lighter kerb weight and the Z28 would likely be completing the 0-60 mph benchmark in less than four seconds and passing the quarter in the very low 12 second bracket.” (2)
Sounds like a stab at the 2012 GT500, but Ford has more than just the Road Runner up their sleeve. Engines that are also rumored to be on the way for the Mustang beginning in 2011 are the standard 400hp 5.0-liter Coyote V-8 and a new 3.7-liter Duratec V-6 producing 315hp. It’s hard to say how Chevy will respond to these new blue oval ponies, but if the funding is there, I’d bet my saddle there'll be new contenders set loose from the bowtie corral before much longer. Cowboy analogies.
Cool beans, but where’s Chrysler in all this madness? Shouldn’t we be hearing of a beefed up Hemi option for the Challenger SRT8? Unfortunately kids, Chrysler is up Fiat creek and probably more inclined to invest in a boatload of snorkels than dump money into a muscle car war. Word on the corner and most other places is that Chrysler is dead on its feet. From MSN Money:
“Chrysler sales are now running at the rate of 750,000 a year. It probably does not have the capital to wait through another year of low US car sales with a market share that is almost certainly to stay below 8%. It does not have models tailored to the current market tastes. Chrysler is going out of business. The company just hasn’t made official.” (3)
Yikes! For all the Mopar guys out there, it might be time to make a donation to your favorite car company; it would be a sad battle if only two-thirds of the big three were around to duke it out in the next chapter of the muscle car saga. On the bright side, cheers to ridiculous American horsepower and tiny back seats – there should still be plenty more on the way.