Archive for September 2009
When a man’s drinking hard liquor in his car, he likes to have a shotgun handy just in case he gets the urge to hunt something. Range Rover understands, and teamed with gun maker Holland & Holland to produce a custom booze infused gun mobile for the upper class gentleman.
The Rangie comes with a blown 503hp gasoline V8 or the diesel TDV8. Cutting to the point, it comes equipped with an integrated gun cabinet to compliment Holland guns, a console/fridge and a liquor cabinet packed full of fine champagne, single malt whiskey, small-batch gin and luxury vodka. Making the $175,000 price tag more bearable, the spirits are “self-replenishing.” From the press release:
“During the first year regular refills will be dispatched to the owners of the car to make sure that its passengers don't go thirsty.” (1)
How do they get away with this? In addition to the alcohol and gun cabinet, the package goes so far as to throw in Holland & Holland crystal tumblers and champagne flutes, as if there wasn’t enough incentive to drink and fire off guns in and around the vehicle already. Still, it would be safest to let the press release speak for itself on the matter:
“The Holland & Holland Range Rover was conceived with a single intention: to create the ultimate all purpose, all season, luxury supercar for the discerning few.”(1)
Well then. Only 100 Holland & Holland Range Rovers will be built, here’s hoping the good folks who buy them stay as classy as their ride.
Masturbating, high-on-drugs and driving a tractor-trailer to Gothenburg, Sweden, at around 4am, a Dutch trucker was living the dream before he lost control and flipped his rig, blocking multiple lanes of traffic. Undeterred, he was still pleasuring himself when the cops found him in the wreck and continued to do so at the police station.
“He was masturbating while the police interrogated him,” police prosecutor Åsa Askenbäck told the local Borås Tidning newspaper.
“He has admitted that he was not paying full attention at the time of the accident. He was playing with himself instead of focusing on the road.”
The dirty man is now also suspected to have committed sexual molestation. Imagine that. He has admitted to all of the charges directed against him.
One of the main gripes with the 2010 Camaro SS is its gutless lack of power. 425hp? Why not just pull it with a team of sickly cats? Untie the twist in your acid-washed jeans, according to Ed Welburn, GM’s vice president for global design, a 550hp Z28 package is back in the works, for reals this time.
All that oomph comes from a 6.2-liter supercharged V8, normally seen in the Cadillac CTS-V, a luxury hunk of Detroit pride that churns out 556hp. It would be safe to assume that when GM crams the caddy engine between the Camaro’s front wheels, it wont be detuned, because that would be stupid. Welburn says that the Z28’s modified body is done, but there is still calibration work to be sorted out on the powertrain. From Edmunds:
“The Z28 will come with a specific body kit with a slightly raised hood to accommodate the top-mounted intercooler/supercharger unit and a tall rear spoiler. Specific wheel design and suspension tune will surely be part of the package. Wider rear rubber might prove necessary, too, we'd think.” (1)
Nice. Expect to see the Z28 make a triumphant return in about a year for a throw down with the Ford Mustang GT-500. Bets? Wagers?
In highly related good news, BR Racing is building a 2010 Camaro SS drift machine to be driven by Conrad Grunewald in next year’s Formula DRIFT Championship competition. Believe it. BR will be squeezing the same Cadillac CTS-V engine mentioned above into their SS drifter with added tweaking that will push 600hp at the rear wheels and presumably about 700hp at the crank. (2)
Look for the slip slidin’ Camaro at the 2009 SEMA show, and at those crazy drift races.
Thankfully, your convenience store sells the cheapest fuel near my home. It’s my fault you were hosed with it, and I am sorry. You see, when I stumbled into your store at 6:43 in the AM and splurged for $20 worth of gas instead of my usual $10 desperation squirt, you threw in a cup of “Jitterbug” coffee for free. We both know that I usually purchase the less expensive, less potent “Morning Blend” with a handful of linty coins. To be gifted your java equivalent to crack-cocaine meant a lot to me, which brings me to this:
There is a reason I tore the gas hose from your #2 pump with my Dodge Dynasty.
Simply put, I’m fairly incompetent for the first three hours of my day. More to the point, I am a bumbling, blurry-eyed enigma whose boobery can only be considered humorous by those fortunate enough to avoid being afflicted by it. Unfortunately you added crack-coffee to this deplorable state and entered the dragon. Just saying, we both have some gas on our hands here.
Swilling another gulp of sweet Jitterbug, I failed to notice the pump was still lodged in my gas tank, focusing instead on locating my favorite rockabilly radio station as I pulled away.
To my credit, you should know I attempted to reattach the hose myself before you ever had the chance to discover where the terrible noise came from. Using my man instinct, I wrestled the hose back to the scene of the accident, hoisted the heavy plastic fastener to the female end several feet above my head and shoved them back together like a randy stallion. My attention then moved to my strong, capable hands – they were lathered with fuel and grime - it stunk like car love, but your complimentary hand sanitizer blended the stench into a mystifying aroma of bathroom cleaning product and mechanic’s knuckles.
During the laborious mental formation of this analogy, the fastener swung down from the heavens and bludgeoned the aviators from my face, spackling me with the petroleum-based saliva of instant karma. Then, like a gazelle, you sprung from behind the greasy vanity window of the weenie-roaster to help me.
“Oh, did it fall down again?” you asked.
“…Yes,” I replied, “…Yes.”
Without the slightest hesitation, you moved swiftly to the fallen hose and reinserted it, just as I did.
“There, that did it,” you said proudly, wiping your hands and smiling at me.
A piece of my heart broke as the fastener came loose like a stopper from a giant jug, douching your noble head with fuel. Only slightly perturbed, you ran valiantly back inside to get your gloves and complete the job.
I waited. And waited. And finally decided to move my car into a proper parking space. Alas, this is where the true misunderstanding took place: Just as I was wheeling the Dynasty around, Jitterbug in sexy hand, you reemerged from the mini-mart with your gloves and that creepy guy who hangs out at the tables next to the coffee pots and always smiles at me in an unsettling way.
From your perspective (and his) it must have appeared that I was attempting to escape the scene of the accident in my trashy car without offering to help remedy the situation. I leaned out the window to explain I was only parking the Dynasty, but before the words could escape my mouth a look of hurt and abandonment swept across your face.
“Oh no, we can handle it,” you said.
“Are you sure, I was just-”
“No, no, you go on, we can fix it.”
Creepy guy glared at me like an angry toy dog… I did have to be at work soon…
I’m sorry mini-mart guy. This wasn’t the first time I’ve torn a gas hose from a pump with my car, but it’s the first time I’ve ever felt bad for leaving.
One of the main reasons we haven't seen Chrysler and General Motors completely disbanded is because the federal government has decided that it's in the best interest of our country to keep our giants of industry from toppling like Dominoes.
With the feds taking a 60 percent stake in the new GM and calling many of the shots with Chrysler's restructuring process the quips are already coming in that President Obama is “A full-time president and a part-time auto analyst.” Others are going so far as to scream socialist and stock up on firearms, perhaps fearing what Reagan jokingly called the nine most frightening words in the English language:
“I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.”
For many Americans these days, Reagan’s joke is proving to be more prophetic than funny. Especially when considered alongside 11 historic words spoken March 30th of this year by our current president:
“Starting today, the United States government will stand behind your warranty.” (1)
It worked. It worked like a magical charm! Give me a moment, I’m tearing up here…First and foremost, big thanks to the salesmen at Ford of Kirkland for letting MotorSpaceNW take a spin in the 2010 Mustang GT. That's one small step for bloggers and one giant leap for MotorSpace.
“Do you have a card?” the Sales Guy asked. I reminded him of the blogger title and he asked for a driver’s license and proof of insurance instead. I handed them over thinking that my three year-old bearded ID picture would be enough to queer the deal, but instead he tossed me the keys to the Mustang GT on display at the dealership’s main entrance and told me to start her up while he checked my credentials.
I felt like I was robbing a bank, naked, and getting away with it.
Good news for Dodge Viper fans? Maybe. Chrysler Group LLC has reopened the Detroit plant that manufactures the beastly two-seater after halting production during its bankruptcy.
“The company (Viper) will continue to monitor economic indicators as it develops its future operating schedule and will announce plans accordingly,” said Chrysler spokeswoman Dianna Gutierrez. (1)
Gutierrez’s statement doesn’t clear much up in regards to Viper’s questionable future as the business has been for sale since August of this year. Sales are down 44 percent since last May. Amidst efforts to sell the struggling high-performance brand prior to declaring bankruptcy, Chrysler CEO Bob Nardelli claimed that they had not received any bids to purchase Viper.
Details later surfaced that Chrysler did in fact receive offers to purchase the business, but refused to accept any of them.
This is what happens when Italian automaker Fornasari decides to make a dune buggy: 610 horsepower, 552 lb-ft of torque and 0-60 in under 3.8 seconds using a modified 7.0L Corvette engine. That’s as fast off the line as a Corvette ZR-1. Fornasari calls it the ‘Racing Buggy,’ and says that it was designed “for everyday use.”
With prices starting at just under $112,000, the five-passenger crossover could indeed be the daily grocery-getter for anyone with the funds to pick one up. With a top speed limited to 174mph, there’s better chance the milk will explode upon impact with the headliner than go sour before making it back to your house in the middle of the…Italian… desert.
To keep all that power in line, more General Motors parts are thrown into the mix with an optional GM Hydra-matic six-speed automatic or Borg-Warner six-speed manual. Helping to hook up even more speed, the all-wheel drive system uses a central viscous coupling and a Dana limited-slip rear differential.
If that weren’t enough to scare most VW Beetle-Buggy conversions out of their shells, the Racing Buggy is17ft long, 7ft wide and 6ft tall. All that adds up to 4,079lb, which is still 700 pounds lighter than a Porsche Cayenne. Fornasari says they will offer two different versions of the vehicle and are hoping for another Mad Max sequel.
Welcome back. To quote Samuel L. Jackson, “Hold on to your butts.” I’m primed to ask Ford CEO Alan Mulally a question and I intend to grill him like a whopper.
“So who’s your favorite literary character?”
“The cowboy from ‘Indian in the Cupboard.’”
That never happened. I asked how long it would be before Ford could significantly reduce the cost of all-electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles.
“It will start to pick up,” Alan said, “But clearly it’s going to take four, five, six, seven, eight years to get that kind of scale, because that’s a huge job.
Fair enough. Running short on time, Alan moved to field the next question, causing a man in the amorphous blur of my peripheral vision to reveal his true identity.
“Hi, New York Vinnie from KOMO radio and drivetime.com and drive time radio,” a familiar voice rang out.
Whaaaatttt? For those of you who don’t know, New York Vinnie is a robust, much-loved sports personality of North West fans whose signature New York banter could probably pass as legal identification. He’s been Q-13’s weekend sports anchor on the ten o’clock news and co-hosted Q-13’s “Mariners Game Day” and Seahawks Game Day. In 2000 the Mariners rubbed his belly for good luck as they swept the White Sox and took the Yankees to game 6 in the American League Championship Series. Apparently he had been sitting next to me for the entire brunch and now has his own auto review website/radio show.
BEGIN EUPHORIC ART HOUSE ADVENTURE
The Q & A session has commenced. I’m standing outside, ogling the 2010 Ford Taurus and Taurus SHO. Rapt. Engrossed. Thesaurus. My handy pamphlet informs me the styling was inspired by the curves of a muscular human Torso, in contrast to the “A Big Mac a day settles the Budweiser down” version. Weep quietly tonight Mississippi.
New York Vinnie trains a mini-camera on the well-defined sedan, enters the frame and rips off a perfect introductory clip for his website, ending with, “C’mon, let’s go for a ride.”
Vinnie and I… go for a ride. He as the passenger, I as the driver. We have the 365hp SHO to ourselves, heralded only by our whimsy. We become shoehorned between the other 2010 Taurus and a parked Lincoln Navigator - Vinnie thinks we can make it. A suit runs anxiously to the passenger window and half-jokingly warns:
“If you knick it, I’ll have to write you up.”
We back away from the expensive sandwich and exit through the entrance. Right away I’m impressed with the SHO. It certainly does look, feel and drive like a top of the line sedan. Has Ford redefined all-American swagger?
The throttle response is precise and willing, the power - nearly instant with little to no turbo-lag. She handles sharply with a sport-tuned suspension but doesn’t rattle my sticker nametag off. Color me smitten, and I'm still circling the parking lot trying to find the exit.
Vinnie isn’t bothered, I don’t think.
Freed from the constraints of the valet pen, Vinnie calls the turns while I power through the gears. This car has balls, a beautiful exhaust note. There’s serious pull just about everywhere on the power-band. On the Fremont Bridge, a Mercedes cuts me off just as we pass over the troll’s lair. Vinnie mentions the rascal car has New York plates. I make a mental note to include this in my blog.
A Faux Pas: I inform Vinnie that the new Dodge Challenger SRT8 is a blast, but misses the thoroughbred muscle car mark. He politely disagrees. I find this odd. Later I find he has the Challenger listed as his 2008 car of the year on his website. Moving on.
Vinnie takes the wheel at the halfway point and wastes no time in putting the SHO through its paces. He can drive. Thank god these brakes are sharp. We cruise past the Joseph Stalin statue in Fremont. Vinnie and I agree that it really adds something to the feel of the area. We point out several spots where we like to get sandwiches.
Out on the open streets he lets her have it again. Vinnie agrees to say a quick hello to MotorspaceNW on my digital camera, but the batteries die several seconds later. It’s too appropriate to make me angry. Vinnie hands me his portable camera. I film him as he switches into broadcast mode and nails another professional clip for his website. This will add some truth to the 'experience with professional broadcast equipment' bullet point on the 'specialized skills' portion of my resume.
Pulling back into Daniel’s, I notice a Hooters next door - odd, but appropriate. Vinnie snaps a few more shots of the cars, shakes my hand and wishes me luck. It starts to rain. I’m drenched by the time I reach the Dodge Dynasty, but couldn’t be happier.
END EUPHORIC ARTHOUSE ADVENTURE
On the six o’clock news that night, there was a shot of me sitting just in frame during a segment where Alan answered a question about Boeing. There was also a clip of me driving the Taurus out of the parking lot at a prudent 3mph.
As for the Taurus, if it was Ford’s intention to set the same kind of precedent they did with the original, the latest edition is handily equipped to do the trick. Take the SHO for a drive if you have the chance; it’s hard not to have a good time.
It’s a bittersweet feeling to know that my career as an automotive blogger most likely reached its pinnacle this week at the tender age of 24. “Do you own a Mustang yet?” Ford CEO Alan Mulally asked me as he shook my hand. “Not yet,” I replied. He laughed warmly and moved on to greet another guest. The wake of his charm tossed me into a platter of breakfast croissants.
I’ve met the Dalai Lama through a family connection and I can honestly say that Alan is taller, has a lush head of hair and a much firmer grasp of the English language. Meeting with him was a thrill, but little did I know before the day was over I would find myself alone in a Ford Taurus SHO with New York Vinnie, filming him from the passenger seat as he blasted us over the Fremont Troll and past a statue of Joseph Stalin, nor that I would be making two appearances on the local news that night.
The first came in a private meeting room at Daniel’s Broiler in Seattle where a choice selection of local automotive media sat in true roundtable fashion awaiting Alan’s only appearance on the Summer of Taurus 100 city tour. With Ford poised to emerge from the great car debacle leading the domestic auto industry, being invited to share a cup of orange juice with their CEO at an exclusive press event was quite the honor…especially considering I was the youngest guest of the bunch by what appeared to be at least seven years.
I hit the coffee hard. Alan took his seat at the circles’ 12 o’clock position, the wave of caffeine hit, the cameras powered up and:
“Tonight at six, an infantile hack journalist projectile vomits onto Alan Mulally’s lucky sweater.”
Luckily I was positioned at the 10:45 position and the questions were started one at a time, one per person in a clockwise rotation from high noon (Alan), buying me time to traverse the cresting waves of paranoid dementia. The following are the points of interest captured by my trusty RCA voice recorder before the red hand of destiny came to point at me. I’ve sprinkled in some paraphrasing and background info for good measure:
“I’ve driven them all and there’s no better car in the world than that Taurus,” Alan said.
Ford is researching and further developing alternative fuel, hybrid and battery technologies, but Alan believes that:
“The first thing we can do is to keep improving the internal combustion engines. What you see out here in the Taurus is the latest result of that.”
Ford plans on making their new EcoBoost engine found in the 2010 Taurus SHO available in 90% of their vehicle lineup. Using direct injection and two turbochargers, the SHO makes 365 hp but can still return 17mpg city/25mpg highway. That’s V8 power with V6 fuel economy. Alan said that they intend to continuously improve their vehicles no matter what the size and we can expect fuel efficiency to increase every year going forward.
All-electric vehicles are definitely in the works at Ford, such as an electric version of the Transit Connect, a passenger/cargo van that could potentially replace the E-Series and is set for release next year. An all-electric Focus will make its debut a year later.
If Ford or any other car maker can bring electric vehicles to the mainstream, Alan believes that creating the infrastructure for charging them is the most important step, but that it's essential we use clean methods to generate the electricity.
“We’re not going to work CO2 reduction and sustainability if we keep creating the energy dirty (while the car uses it clean)” he said.
Ford is working to build such an infrastructure in the US, but also overseas in countries with large populations and accelerating economies that Alan said have the chance to “leap frog the internal combustion engine,” because they are still creating their infrastructures.
“We have really partnered with all the U.S. electric companies, we’re doing the same thing in India, the same thing in China, with the government, because this is a system solution that needs to occur, and Ford is going to continue to be absolutely on the leading edge of being part of figuring out that solution.”
On the car side, he added that we’re going to see more focus on how to reduce electric car and hybrid battery weight and that the batteries may or may not turn out to be lithium-ion. The goal is to fit them into smaller packages, improve their capacities, their functionality in variable temperatures and be safe.
Alan also spoke of Hydrogen power, but said that to see it come about in a big way we would have to see a tremendous infrastructure created around the US that would involve making new batteries, cost-effective fuel cells and partnering with the government and industry worldwide.
“Hydrogen is very compelling,” he said, “Because if you have a fuel cell and hydrogen, you send the hydrogen to the fuel cell and you combine it with platinum, out comes electricity, it goes to the battery, and out of the tailpipe comes water. So this is the ultimate in sustainability where you’re not generating any C02.”
And then an eerie dead spot falls upon the RCA’s recording, it was my turn to ask a question. All I could think to say was…
Oh! And it looks like we’re out of time on this episode. What question did I ask Alan? Where did the local news spot me (Twice)? What happened on my crazy adventure with New York Vinnie? And what about this new Taurus? The answers to these pressing queries and more on Part 2 of “Brunch with Alan Mulally.”
You know you’ve had too much when: Throwing a drained keg out the window of your vehicle seems like a good way to improve the situation whilst being chased by police. But that’s what twenty-one year-old Kevin Schleicher did in Cassel, Wisconsin. He was arrested on a charge of recklessly endangering safety for tossing the giant barrel out the window during a three-mile car chase that reached speeds of up to 120mph.
A sheriff's deputy attempted to stop the car full of young lads for defective rear lights and erratic driving at about 3:30 am, but it didn’t work. When the dust (and keg) had settled, the driver, Kolton Kafka, 19, was arrested on charges of first-offense drunken driving and knowingly fleeing an officer. Two other passengers, Benjamin Theisen, 20, and Micah Ehrike, 18, were cited for underage drinking. Kafka and Schleicher are going to stay in jail until court Tuesday. (1)
It’s about time. The 2011 Ford Mustang will be getting the extra punch it needs to duke it out with the new Chevrolet Camaro SS, Dodge Challenger SRT8 and their V6 counterparts. For the 2011 model year, new engine options for the Mustang will include a 400 HP 5.0L “Coyote” V8 and a 315 HP 3.7L V6 that will outperform the six-shooter in the new Camaro.
Also on the docket for the Stang are a six-speed gearbox and a Boss special edition in 2012. This juicy info was leaked from The Mustang Source. Here’s the main clip with all the goodies attached:
“3.7L V6 to be rated at 315 horsepower: Same as 2010 GT; 15 hp more than Camaro V6
No immediate plans for EcoBoost V6 Mustang due to small horsepower gap between EcoBoost and 5.0L V8 (365 vs 400)
2011 Mustang GT to be rated at 400 horsepower, will get increase in 2012
2011 Mustang GT to get 6-speed transmission and variable valve timing
2011 Mustang GT Track Pack to include Brembo brakes
2011 Mustang GT 5.0L V8, 6-speed, track pack, Brembo brakes ran even with 414-hp BMW M3, which is 200 lbs lighter, at GingerMan Raceway in South Haven, Michigan
2011 Shelby GT500 to get Aluminum Block
Next special edition: 2012 Boss”
Every so often, just before a blogger kicks the chair out from under themselves, something wonderful happens to justify their existence. This week I was invited to the Summer of Taurus 100-City Tour for a media roundtable with Alan Mulally. Yours truly and a dozen or so members of the press will be sharing an intimate brunch with Alan - - we're on a first name basis, and we hang out sometimes.
Afterwards we’ll be treated to test drives in the new 2010 Ford Taurus with product specialists on hand to answer our questions and distribute the weight more evenly on the passenger side of the car.
So. What do you guys want me to ask Alan? What about the new Ford Taurus are you dying to know? To help guide your thought process, these would be considered inappropriate questions:
“Alan, what do you hate most about Chevrolet?” Or “Alan, do you have the beer farts? Because that certainly isn’t me.”
Try to show some respect; as far as Ford’s all-American success stories go, the Taurus is up there with the Mustang, Escort, F-150 and Model T. From 1992 to 1996 the Taurus was the best-selling car in the United States and has sold close to 7.5 million units to date since its introduction way back in 1986. It was a landmark mid-size sedan for Ford and the entire automotive industry that endured the test of time until certain unpleasantries caused its eventual discontinuation in 2006 (Imports, the SUV bubble, etc). (1) (2)
Pop! Now the Taurus is back in 2010 and poised to reclaim its footing in a car market that nearly imploded during its absence. It’s like an action hero being called out of retirement for one final mission, to Daniel’s Broiler, in Seattle. Speaking of which, I really hope they comp my meal or have a predatory lender on hand to help me take out a loan against the Dynasty – Daniel’s is one spendy joint.
So. What do you guys want to know? This blog is for your enjoyment after all. Leave your questions for Alan and/or the Taurus aficionados who’ll be attending the event on the comment board and they shall be dutifully asked… Well, the good ones at least.
We’re scheduled to meet on the 7th (Labor Day) so don’t dawdle.