…was the caption to this photo, spotted on Reddit and presumably somewhere else before that.
Couldn’t resist sharing. If he built that with what I imagine were limited materials, I admire the guy’s tenacity. Can anyone tell what this car started life as by the wheels?
Did you forget this website existed?
So did I… having somewhat regrettably focused my time on more apparently profitable pursuits for the past several weeks (months?). But no longer. Come Friday I’m pulling the plug on my year-standing consulting contract and returning to a more complete state of free agency. Whether or not that plays out favorably remains to be seen, but the decision has been made.
To celebrate, my girlfriend suggested (true story) we take in the sixth installment of the Fast & Furious franchise- ever dear to my proverbially petrol-powered heart.
I was giddy with excitement as the curtain raised to reveal a highly-CGI’ed duel between the decidedly un-dynamic duo Paul Walker in a GT-R and Vin Diesel in Dodge’s reprised Challenger.
Expecting cringey-bad dialogue I was not disappointed when the actors opened their mouths to recite not a script, but what I imagine to be a book called “Film Clichés: 1990 To Present”.
I was disappointed when this pointless buildup lasted long enough for me to suggest walking out of the movie theatre. But my lady, bless her heart, thought I was kidding and reassured me she was content to endure the remainder of the film.
Endure we did.
Despite rapper/actors Tyrese and Ludacris attempting to salvage the slow scenes with some racial-stereotype humor, watching most of this movie was about as exciting as sitting at a red light. Sure, a cool car might drive in front of you. But you’re pretty much just waiting for it to be over so you can leave.
Speaking of cars… the choices were out there to be sure. Getting the most screen time was a fleet of E90 M5′s. The villans get two steampunky-F1 cars, a few Land Rovers, and a late-model Aston coupe. And a tank. And a giant airplane.
Michele Rodrigues, who is back despite a death in one of the previous movies, has far and away the coolest ride- a Jensen Intercepter III with a side-exit exhaust and presumably an engine swap (though they couldn’t resist cutscenes of her shifting the slushbox between “Drive” and “Park” two or three times). Second most fun to watch would be Paul Walker’s early 70′s Ford Escort.
Vin Diesel drives a Plymouth Superbird, of all things.
The “street racing” scene, which was brief and lame; featured quick cuts of supercars (new Ferraris, SLS, C8… and a flock of Koenigseggs) and a few gratuitous/arbitrary gogo girls performing on the sidewalk. If scenes like that are why you want to see this movie, and that should be the only reason, save yourself the twelve bucks and YouTube it.
Also this happens:
In summary; Paul Walker’s teeth and Vin Diesel’s muscle shirts are whiter than ever, they still can’t act, and the film is a far cry from the riotously reciteable 2001 original.
The “clay bar” is a tool among an automobile-detailer’s paraphernalia generally reserved for those with an “above average” commitment to their vehicle’s presentation.
I hadn’t even heard of one until I Googled “removal of paint overspray from auto parts”.
Short story long- I purchased my Acura with a badly pockmarked front bumper, purely a result of having traveled over 150,000 high-speed miles, and an auto dealer with which I have a good personal relationship offered to respray it in factory silver for the price of “on the house”.
When I got the car back there was minor overspray on the engine bay’s soundproofing trim and, most tragically, on my beautiful HID headlamps.
But due to my friend having done several hundred dollars worth of work gratis, I really wasn’t in a position to complain about his execution.
At any rate, the issue had pestered me for months until I finally got around to rectifying it this evening. According to various forums a clay bar was an excellent tool for the job removing overspray from car parts, including headlights. And conveniently they were available at a standard AutoZone-type basic car parts place. I say “basic” because if you’re like me and you almost exclusively involve yourself with old, foreign, and generally obscure vehicles , you don’t get much satisfaction when you “Get In The ‘Zone” as their marketing would have you believe.
But I digress.
Tonight I got the clay bar, read the instructions, and executed as described. Headlights only, since I had other tasks occupying my time for the evening and wasn’t yet convinced a bar of clay was going to have a satisfactory effect in removing pneumatically sprayed paint.
But how wrong I was to have doubted the power of the clay bar.
The bar, resembling a slightly flaccid cake of body soap, managed to almost completely remove the overspray as well as hundreds of miles of road grime. As a bonus, the application process was simple;
“Spray the liquid ‘Quik Detailer’ onto surface desired to be cleaned. Knead clay bar into a disc and rub on lubricated surface. Re-knead as needed when it gets all nasty. Wipe clean with microfiber towel.”
I purchased a kit from Meguiar’s described as simply “Smooth Surface Clay Kit” on the box. All required pieces were included, along with “’60% MORE CLAY!” as proudly declared in gleaming letters on the box. 60% more than what, I couldn’t tell you… you could tell the marketing message was geared toward the limp bizkit, Mountain Dew side of your brain. Oh yes, don’t try and deny you’ve got one of those.
Regardless of what street cred the box may or may not have had, I performed the afore mentioned actions and was extremely pleased with the result.
See below for “clayed” and “nonclayed” photos of the starboard and port side headlights, respectively.
I think the difference is astonishing. The “cloudiness” look that had vexed me is all but eliminated. But I’d be curious to hear what other OCD detailers and also those with a less “discerning” eye see when they compare these two photos.
I’m going to leave one done and the other undone so I can see if the difference is more, less, or as dramatic in the daylight.
Ah, another day soaking up the oppressive ambiance of a used car liquidation facility.
The edifice that is the Massachusetts Correctional Institution for female offenders looms behind an ominous blockade of barbed wire and steel.
Crammed in the middle is this week’s batch of offerings at ADESA Boston‘s weekly used car auction. This looks like a crop from General Motors just coming off-lease.
On Friday, like every Friday, these gates will open for Boston-area auto dealers to pick over cars and play the time-honored game of “Saints and Scumbags” as they navigate the tumultuous social waters of used car negotiations.
When a big brand drops a particularly outlandish offering on the public, we’re always treated to a bombastic release in the blogosphere.
Mercedes-Benz, however, has taken presentation-drama to a whole new level with the psych-up video they’be just dropped, featuring the new G63 AMG 6X6, which I actually caught on the YouTube channel of Russian car site “AutoReview.ru“.
No, “6×6″ doesn’t refer to the size of the ute-style cargo bed. Though that feature alone would have been enough to render this one of the coolest things to ever leave Mr. Källenius‘s island of Misfit Mercs.
It has tons of power, tons of weight (Four. Four tons.) and five locking differentials. That’s like… way more than the usual (one or two).
If you really want to know how pathetic it makes your 4Runner look, the MSN Auto story is actually quite informative.
If you just want to see this monster guzzle fuel like Early Times whiskey and make a proper ruckus in Sheikh Mohammed’s backyard, you need only scroll down and click play:
My favorite scenes were 1:14, 2:16, and 3:12. But you’re probably going to want to bookmark it right now. In that folder you keep hidden from your wife.
Can’t get enough?
Here’s a quick clip of the military version traversing Australia with some more familiar four-wheeled friends.
Few adore their means of conveyance the way I do.
Most people don’t lovingly detail their car’s interior every week, powerwash road salt off their undercarriage all winter, or require maintenance only be completed by themselves or overpriced brand-specific specialists.
That’s because while I treat my cars, trucks, and motorcycles like pets, others chose to treat them like appliances. Even a step further; appliances they hate.
I offer an anonymous “local mom” as an example… and I bet yours is pretty similar; She fastidiously maintains her wardrobe, expresses substantial annoyance when people track mud into her house, and is generally proactive at maintaining her belongings.
But with her car, it’s a completely different story. This mum allows the carpet and surfaces to become absolutely filthy. Shrugs off minor exterior damage. And definitely has no idea what a ”service interval” is.
She glares at her gauges with contempt when they display a warning as simple as “service required” or “low tire pressure”.
Or my personal favorite; “that weird green light in the shape of a skateboard on a train track” -which is an actual quote from someone describing the “Cruise Control” light of a late 90′s Land Rover. To be fair, that light is pretty unintuitive to someone who’s never been on a highway in the UK.
And I don’t mean to be sexist by calling out a mom here, because plenty of dads and dudes are guilty of this as well.
But I digress…
My point being I never understood why perfectly intelligent people treated their cars, often one of the biggest financial commitments in their life, like disposable toys.
That is, until I had to borrow somebody’s 2008 Toyota Camry LE.
How’d I end up in what sounds like a very mild-mannered motorcar you might ask?
It’s pretty standard, really; I crashed my beloved UA6 into my house the other week (don’t worry about it) so I had to leave it somewhere for a minor respray. While getting routine service at Acura of Boston, I asked for a damage appraisal- they wanted $1,000 to set my car back to beautiful.
After I finished crying, I grabbed another two cups of free waiting-room coffee and hauled ass to one of the local car dealers I have a professional relationship with.
He “knew a guy”, obviously, and said I could borrow something out of his inventory while my car was being “meticulously” resprayed by “qualified professionals” behind a tarp in some Metro North back yard. I was a little wary of those quotation marks… but when I was told the price would be “on the house” I threw caution to the wind and figured it couldn’t possibly come back looking worse.
When the time came to grab a loaner, my eyes gravitated toward a 2004 Escalade- in gleaming white with a chrome nosejob and 22′s. Would you be surprised to learn it had found its way onto that lot after being repossessed for the second time?
I wasn’t too keen to imagine the fuel bill on that monster… but I did rather like the idea of throwing a J. Crew sweater over my shoulders and driving it to see my lady in Brooklyn where I could finally realize my #HipsterDreams and be the most ironic person on her block.
But when my associate returned from his office, he had the key to his “regular loaner”; the 08 Camry I described above.
Well, I didn’t really describe it. That’s because there’s not much to describe… exactly why I didn’t like it, and why I now completely understand the general apathy toward autos of the non-car-enthusiast public.
Some people just haven’t driven proper cars!
Cars need personality. Feeling. Characteristics that make you love and hate them. The Camry had none of these.
From the outside, fine, it’s a forgettable design but it’s tidy enough. Inside, it’s beige and baby blue.
Beige. And baby blue. Two colors scientifically proven to make you feel like
a real winner you’re trapped in a dentist office waiting room.
The seats didn’t do much to improve my general outlook on life either. The squishy unpatterned-cloth reminded me of the couch my buddy Jeff used to have in his basement. That analogy applies to both the styling and ability to absorb a human at an alarming rate.
Unlike said couch, at least the Camry didn’t reek of mold and grease from from pizza and bicycles. Ah, childhood.
To the Camry’s further credit, it also started in a timely manner, even propelled itself forward with the transmission in “D” and throttle pedal applied. But driving the car… no, that didn’t even happen. ”Moving” the car would be a more accurate description of the vehicle’s road manners.
Commanding the Camry was like curling. Not pumping iron, I mean that Canadian olympic game everyone loves to love.
You rapidly jiggle your arms and hope you’re able to direct the vehicle where you want it to go. The car then responds with alacrity of an octogenarian and the nimbleness of an ice floe.
Edmunds.com called it “pleasant to drive“. No way. It’s a chore.
If this was the only experience I had ever had with cars, I wouldn’t like them at all. I’d get grumpy and not understand why they demanded more money from me every three-to-five thousand miles. I definitely wouldn’t be writing this blog.
Maybe I’d be traveling the world in search of the coolest laundromats to wash my black t-shirts in.
Is this an editorialized review? Yah. If you can call it a review, call it a review of an experience rather than an automobile. If you want to compare this car’s fuel consumption/safety rating against the others in it’s class go elsewhere. If you’re ready to take the plunge and join the ranks of the road rovers and petrosexuals, get behind the wheel of something else.
Something with character. With personality. What the French call a certain… I don’t know what.
Find it and trust me- you’ll never go back to driving that rolling dentist’s office.
I raised an eyebrow in suspicion as I scrolled through the rental car options for a Gulf Coast SCUBA expedition I was planning for Christmas 2012.
You had to be 30 to qualify for the 911 and the Mustang Convertible could only be had in a V6, so I was left with no logical option but to go most-cost-effective.
There, on the bottom of the list (who can resist looking at cars by “Most Expensive” first?) was the heading “ECONOMY”
“Nissan Versa or similar.”
I ran through alternatives in my head. There had to be something cooler I could drive for the week.
Could we get on with a scooter? One of those two-person bicycles I’ve seen in P-Town? Perhaps even some alternative means of conveyance?
But none of those ideas landed with Sydney, my dive buddy, so a supermini from Alamo Rent-A-Car it was.
Carrying on with the theme of “cheapest-possible-transport” we touched down in Tampa, FL at something like two in the morning.
While my sidekick sought our luggage, I was charged with getting us mobilized. Alamo’s desk was closed and I was greeted with this sign:
Seems logical enough I guess… though it didn’t at the time, I’ll confess to at least one “bonus lap” around the garage looking for the location this sign was describing.
Finally reaching the desk I was met with the exact scenario I had been bracing myself for- a line, complete with disgruntled employee, disgruntled customer ahead of me, and flat-out furious five-month-old screaming at the top of his/her (its?) lungs.
The decision on which human to engage was easy enough. I nodded at the baby and offered what comfort I could;
“I hear ya, bro. Florida airport at 2am? Fahgetaboutit.”
I figured I could get away with a Seinfeld-era New Yorkism in Tampa… they couldn’t possibly have advanced past 1998 yet, right? At any rate the child’s mother was not amused. I pretended to ignore her by trying to think of some witty Facebook Check-In to peck into my phone.
What felt like ninety minutes later the one person in line ahead of me was allowed to leave the glass prison we were occupying and I was meant to approach the bench.
The first stage of negotiation began almost immediately; ”You need to have a return flight to rent through this policy” grumbled the car tender.
“Right, I’ve got one. Here” I replied, producing a document with both directions of flights, booking numbers and confirmation numbers like it was Dr. Who’s psychic paper.
Of course, the desired effect was not reached. She didn’t believe me until I read the ticket to her out loud… perhaps she couldn’t read, but I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt and assume she just forgot her glasses that night.
She then had somebody fetch the car, which was not a Nissan Versa at all.
To my pleasant surprise, the vehicle I’d be entrusted with by the Alamo rental company was a 2013 Ford Focus SE hatchback. Fresh Continental tires on aluminum rims and just shy of three thousand miles on the clock.
“Would you like insurance to cover any damage you may inflict upon the vehicle during your rental?”
I looked back to size up the Focus once again. Not an ST (performance variant) model, not a proper three-pedal, but I liked the look right away and reckoned we could have some fun together.
“Insurance? Ho yah.”
Paperwork signed; I was finally free to retrieve my special lady and the luggage she had presumably recovered.
As I buckled in I prepared myself to adhere to the standard rental car credo; WWJD.
What Would Jason Statham Do?
Everyone knows being behind the wheel of a vehicle not owned by you or anyone you’ve ever met is free license to behave like an absolute imbecile on the road with complete disregard for the safety of yourself and others.
Without so much as a glance in the rearview mirrors I mashed the accelerator into the carpet and felt the front wheels tug and chirp as I began barreling toward a concrete wall. A ninety degree left turn was negotiated easily by dropping the wheel and snapping the handbrake with a quick countersteer. Unable to find the headlamp switch with everything ablur, I plunged through the Tampa Airport terminal parking lot at full noise in total darkness. Using my bat-like sonar sense I measured my distance from the walls by the volume of the echoing tire wails, pinning the tachometer to the rev limiter as the car corkscrewed down the garage-exit ramp. With the terminal in sight, I charged ahead before getting back on the handbrake. The car squealed to a halt through a 450O spin, pointing the tailgate, which began opening as the car came to rest, toward Sydney who was waiting on the curb.
And I’m pretty sure if any of that had actually happened she would have torn her clothes off right there and jumped in my lap. At least, that’s how it seems to work out for the other guy.
Since Sydney and I had travelled to Florida specifically for the purpose of SCUBA diving, the bulk of our time there had been allocated to that activity. When wind proved too severe for our boats to disembark (both days!) we were left with more time to experience the pleasures of Gulf Coast Florida; grain-alcohol daiquiris, line dancing, and in our case the 2013 Focus SE.
Let me disclose that I haven’t spent much of my automotive career as a fan of domestic vehicles. First building cars in earnest around 2004, the American cars my friends and I could afford (things from the 80′s and 90′s) just felt so much “cheaper” than their European or even Japanese counterparts.
And, yes, a certain California couple may have had more influence then I’d like to admit on my penchant for Hondas and Mazdas as I entered the world of tuning.
But since then, things have changed. Starting with the 2006 renaissance of the Mustang, Ford in particular has been on the up-and-up for the last few years in terms of style, performance, and overall value.
When the first Fusion came out, both my father and I had an opportunity to drive a few variants and were pleasantly surprised with every aspect of the car. Now, the thing looks as lovely as an Aston Martin for christsake.
The Focus, while not quite as striking in appearance, is very tidy for a supermini. And more significantly, leagues ahead of what domestic cars in this size and price point were ten years ago.
The car we had, wearing white paint befitting of its Floridian backdrop, featured a nice balance of chiseled lines and swoops. It’s not at all ostentatious, but really looks like it was designed with care. The back compliments the front, the sides tie the tip and tail together, and the whole car just looks correct.
We paused by a causeway in Sarasota for a quick photo shoot, give yourself a virtual walkabout;
Being a rental car, our Focus was equipped with minimal frills and options. But the Ford factory infotainment setup; a Microsoft-based system called “SYNC”, had an aesthetically pleasing layout and was easy enough to operate. You get two little screens; one featuring driver/vehicle focused information that’s logically located between the clocks, and another keystoning the center console for audio, ect. I didn’t bother trying to pair my phone to test the Bluetooth functionality, but the option was there as was an auxiliary audio input. Come to think of it, I didn’t test that either. What the hell was I doing all week?
Well, I did get to road test the vehicle a fair amount due to the fact that our scheduled engagements were cancelled for the week. The first thing I had to conquer was my discomfort with an automatic transmission. Having never owned an ATX, it always takes me a few miles to re-acquaint with a two pedal layout. The Focus made this pretty easy though; the car’s automatic shifted smoothly and didn’t feel awkwardly “between gears” at any speed, unlike some auto’s I’ve piloted recently.
Acceleration to highway speeds was more than adequate if not exactly up to Statham-Standard, and the car an cruise comfortably with Florida’s fast ‘n furious freeway traffic.
That is actually not a joke- I was amazed at the pace I was being overtaken at by petrol pickups with local license plates. Floridians got places to go.
Sydney was a fan as well, and gave me a chance to clamber about the cabin while she took the helm. The rear seat is comfortable for 6′ adults, and since the cargo bay easily swallowed our gear I’d say this vehicle would be able to accomodate twice and many people and travel-paraphernalia as we taxed it with.
With about 600 miles of driving, a lot of that in urban traffic, we averaged just under 32 MPG. At least according to the car’s computer. We only refueled once- right before returning the vehicle to avoid the surcharge. It was then that I discovered the funky “capless” fuel filler. Idiot proof, I love it!
So, what more is there to say about this reasonable little compact car I lived with for a week? It’s competent, cute, not too expensive, and seems like it’ll hold together well enough. Not a riveting driving experience, not an asphalt-eater or a rock-crushing off-roader. But as an urban runabout, its intended disposition, it’s most agreeable indeed.
It’s a lot more pleasant, in my opinion, than comparable Toyotas and Nissans. Though I think I’m a little too much of a Honda fanboy to completely sell this against a Civic. But if you passed up the latter in favor of a Focus at a great price, I wouldn’t hold it against you.
Looks like a Focus comparably-equipped to the one we had cashes out at about nineteen grand. Check out Ford’s site yourself for a more complete spec-list, and of course an always-fun “Build Your Own” app.
…that I could never think of one to adequately surmise my reaction to this hunting-camo’ed Jeep Grand Cherokee.
I spotted this monstah at an auto auction over the Summer and completely forgot to share it with the world. Thank god I came across the photos while deleting the “old junk” out of my phone’s camera roll, this treasure might have remained hidden from you forever!
Here in Metro Boston we see a few “TERRORIST HUNTER” permits on the backs of F-150′s, “Ducks Unlimited” stickers on lifted Sierras, even the occasional pair of prosthetic testicles hanging from trailer hitches.
But I frankly, I thought I’d have to travel well into the depths of northern New Hampshire to find something like this. Or, at least to some of the wackier full-sized dioramas they put in the L.L. Bean Outlet Store.
I’ve got to give this guy credit- that paint job is extremely well done. And the “faux-rock” bumper panels? I mean, this car has cooler landscaping than some minigolf courses. Though he made a surprising choice for a vehicle that was obviously built for dedicated off-roading. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a ZJ (first-gen Grand Cherokee) on a trail. Ever.
But hey, maybe that’s because the camo’ paint job was so damn good!
Since this truck was at a dealer auction, it’s likely the bloke who built it traded it in to another dealer for a newer vehicle. Can you imagine the look on the salesman’s face when I saw (or didn’t see) this thing?
I hope whatever he bought next is just as committed to whatever his new hobby is. Former owner, if you read this, please email me pictures of your new project.
…and hundreds of ancillary questions popped into my head when I saw this 1985 Toyota Corolla, in what appears to be damn good condition, sitting on an auction lot with less than fifty thousand miles on the clock.
Yes, it started and ran just fine. Though the engine block was coated in a thick layer of oil, indicative of a blown head gasket (at least at one point).
Would you believe it sold for about $1,500? Hopefully to a museum owner. Otherwise somebody is going to quickly realize how annoying it is to have a car for which nobody can supply tires.
People in Boston love to complain about winter driving. In preparation of fording foul weather they buy 4WD and AWD cars in droves, touting their dependability when they have to brave school-canceling conditions to get to Blockbuster or the grocery store.
But let’s be real guys, were the streets of the greater Boston area ever so gnarly, for so long, that you could justify guzzling fuel all year with a center differential adding drag to your station wagon?
Alas, who am I kidding… the people I’m concerned with don’t know what a center differential is.
I’m not going to stand by this claim for those living north of the MA border, but for drivers keeping most of their motoring within 50 miles of downtown beantown- you’d get on just fine with RWD and a few hours reading on how to drive in the snow.
Now if you’re reading this and calling me an idiot, here’s your chance to laugh like Dr. Evil.
I keep sport tires on my Acura all year because 1- I think I’m man enough to master the snow without studs and 2- that’s what the car was wearing when I bought it and I’m too poor to afford a second set of wheels.
This year, the weekend after Christmas placed me in upstate New York with the easy task of driving twenty-something miles from my grandmother’s house to the farm on the other side of the Hudson where my special lady was staying. Under normal conditions, the trip would forty-something minutes and be quite scenic.
On this day, the skies decided to open up like a broken saltshaker and start dumping champagne powder about an hour before I powered up my engine.
By the time I reached the highway visibility was down to a hundred meters, the breakdown lanes were littered with the carnage of rear-endings and spinouts, and state police had cut the speed limit in half.
This of course was also the time I remembered I had meant to replace my windshield wipers the last twenty times I visited AutoZone. The pathetic ribbons of rubber, all that remained of the once-glorious Bosch range toppers the previous owner had splurged on, groaned in protest with each stretch across the glass as salt and slurry were smearing all over my field of vision.
Dear mum was blowing up my comm system from back at grandma’s, delighting in acting out a cliché of panic as usual.
But bless the great state of New York, as they had been quick enough in dispatching rescue vehicles and warning lights that I was able to draft amber strobe lights all the way across US-84 eastbound.
West of the Hudson, I was on my own.
Risked a concentration lapse for an illustrative photo; that’d be a “winding road” warning off to the right as seen through the poorly-cleaned windshield of my TL.
Veering off the highway I quite literally skidded under the shelter of a fuel station in hopes that I might kick some snow off my undercarriage and clear my windshield with my sleeve before braving the winding secondary roads that lead into my destination in the Catskills.
My tires were caked with crud, taking the form of Flintstone-style steamroller wheels. I pawed a few lumps of ice melting salt from the barrel between petrol bowsers and rubbed it all over each tire.
That’s correct. I knowingly, willingly, and even intentionally increased the exposure of my vehicle to the insatiable metal-eating appetite of road salt in the interest of traction.
I could only justify it by telling myself the car would stand a better chance against the slow torture of corrosion than the alternative- a virtually inevitable impact with an obstacle.
Climbing back into the cockpit I made ready for the remainder of the journey.
Ten miles of winding, slippery road wrought with danger and idiots in Outbacks lied between me and the welcoming arms of a gracious hostess.
I accepted the challenge and nosed out from under the awning. The car bucked and yawed in protest for almost the entirety of the trip, but a combination of light throttle pressure and traction control made the journey a successful one. Albeit ninety minutes longer than I had anticipated.
With the destination visible on my GPS screen, just when I thought I was in the clear, I came up on this:
The car stuttered in protest.
Could those planks of timber support the sedan I was piloting? Because that “bridge” looked like it was built out of tree bark by the animals that helped Cinderella get dressed.
I rang to confirm I was in the right place. Yes, my headlights were visible from the house window. And if my car had eyebrows, one would definitely have been visible as well- raised in disbelief.
Sure, I’d crossed sketchier bridges in heavier trucks. But those were Australian diesels- just as happy to splash in the river of which the bridge spanned as to stay dry on the road above.
And yet- that bridge marked the last barrier between myself and the company for which I had been pining all week. I crept over in safety and breathed a deep sigh of relief as my tires escaped unscathed by splinters. On the other side, trip proved well worth the trouble.
So, yes, there was this one time I wish I had sprung for snow tires.
Until the CTS Coupe arrived a few years ago, Cadillac products from the late 70′s to present day carried little to no cache with most auto enthusiasts.
You don’t see anybody modifying Cateras, and there’s nothing collectable about an Escalade.
And yet their angular early 00′s crossover known as the SRX has caught my fancy and I dare to say I like it.
My interest was piqued when I realized they could be had with a lovely panoramic sunroof that is almost completely retractable. With the glass in place, excellent interior lighting and ambiance is created. But best of all, the window is so massive that once the glass is retracted you’ve effectively got yourself a targa top.
As long as you could resist installing a ski rack, you’d have yourself a very pleasant summer driving experience in this car.
I’m even feeling the styling just a little. Angular, aggressive, albiet little… like a terrier with a mean streak.
I’m imagining one of these setup like an SRT Grand Cherokee; massive brakes and an even bigger engine roaring out of a center-exit exhaust. Some ostentatious interior-stitching and it could be great fun to mix it up with Range Rovers other luxury barges peacocking in the drop-off area at ski resorts and beaches alike.
The new bodystyle is even sexier, and I imagine a lot more polished inside.
Maybe I’ll go ahead and pitch this idea to Cadillac and see if I can get my hands on a press loaner…
At the end of last fall, I was lucky enough to get some seat time in one of those pokey little Toyotas everyone got so excited about when they arrived on the public stage twelve months ago.
Why didn’t I write it up then, like a real journalist? I think that question just answered itself.
At any rate being a real enthusiast at least, I was not short on excitement to have a go at the helm of an FR-S.
A Boston-based nightlife event operator named Ed had taken delivery of one of the few RWD Scions to be sold in New England, and was kind enough to show me around it one night outside his office.
I’m going to make the claim that this car looks much nicer in person than it does in photos. Long nose (relatively speaking), squat rear fenders, and a sly expression in the headlights makes for a pretty appealing appearance on your screen here. In reality, all those great features are there… and the whole package looks a lot less cartoon-like. In a sedate color like a dark silver or blue, I could imagine one of these sneaking through the city relatively undetected.
The rear quarters and taillight section (not pictured, obviously) remind me a bit of a new Z4 hardtop, while the long-nose (keep in mind, I say that “relatively” speaking) I’d like to think pays homage to the Toyota 2000GT.
On second thought, that comparison feels like a reach. What kind of family resemblance are you seeing here?
The inside of this car is tiny. After getting used to the stateroom spaciousness of my TL’s interior, climbing into a coupe of any kind can feel a bit claustrophobic. But wedging oneself behind the little wheel of an FR-S would make a Civic feel like a flagship.
That’s not a bad thing, it’s all part of the experience. Some people like little.
It’s hard to argue with the gauge setup. From a performance-standpoint, centermount tach is huge (literally). The focus on engine speed with the speedo tucked below like an afterthought lets you pretend you’re playing Gran Turismo as soon as you crank the ignition.
Or, as many of my internet-using automotive accomplices would eloquently put it:
The rest of the interior is typical Scion construction quality; you get what you pay for in this department.
And of course… The Drive
Now was the chance to figure out if all the drama insinuated by that full-moon tachometer was for real or if this was an xA in a Tiburon’s clothing.
Being on public roads, in somebody’s brand-new personal car, there was only so much “testing” I was able to accomplish. And I can’t contain the disappointment I experienced when I put my left foot down for a clutch, only to be met with a giant brake pedal.
Powering up and powering on the engine didn’t yield the kind of voracious roar I had been spoiled by spending a few summer days in a friend’s DB9, but it did remind me how fuel efficient this vehicle must be.
Nonetheless, I can report that the little machine can indeed go zero-to-the-speed-limit in fairly short order, and is delightfully willing to navigate between parking lot lampposts at significantly stronger clip than most cars over two meters in length.
Could this ATX four-banger catch my six-speed TL on an on-ramp merge? No. Could it beat me on a gymkhana course? Probably. Could it beat my full-size sedan in a race around the isles and obstacles of a Toys “R” Us store? For sure.
Then what’s the verdict on this little rascal? Clarkson loved it. The forum following is cult-like. I was almost able to get over my phobia of all-motors-modern enough to enjoy it. But like almost everything in the “affordable sport” market- I can’t really make the case for a new one of these over a well-used M3. And secondhand, you’re going to be hard-pressed to find one that hasn’t been thrashed.
But for the lucky few who are able to pick one up from a careful owner in the next couple years, this will be a reasonable motor. Perhaps even collectable, if anyone can keep theirs clean enough.
Aston Martin has revived what may be one of the coolest pieces of nomenclature to exist in the world of automobilia.
Yes, the Vanquish has returned to AM’s lineup.
“Vanquish” …a word at once elegant and aggressive. Exactly what Aston’s team was going for when they slapped the badge on this coupe; a vehicle they’re billing as a “Super Grand Tourer”.
Hey, Aston Martin marketing department, I’ll give you that one for free. Lend me a car already?
Well, they wouldn’t. But they did let me sit in one.
Alright, fine, not even.
A friend who owns a DB9 is at Aston Martin New England all the time for repairs (haha, sorry couldn’t resist), and as a result is on their mailing list. He forwarded me his invitation to see one fo the first new Vanquishes here in the US which was being touted around highline dealerships all over the region.
Yeah… scraping the credibility barrel here. But when it comes to Astons, an anglophile like myself has no shame.
I stole away to the Waltham, MA Aston/Lotus store around lunchtime to have a look. Nestled in the center of the showroom, completely devoid of fanfare, sat the 2013 Vanquish.
My first impression? Nothing short of what I expected: It is a tremendously exquisite machine to behold.
Even with the engine disengaged the car lept off the pavement (floor?) and into my face. Swooping lines of white, bristling with chunks of exposed carbon fiber, encasing a crisp quilt-stitched interior the exact same red as a cherry-dipped-kiddy cone at Dairy Queen. So perfect you’d think you were watching TV.
Moving into the cockpit the interior didn’t blow me away as much as the bodywork, but I was a huge fan of the wacky flat-tire shaped steering wheel. I’m pretty sure that’s illegal in this state, but surely the gentleman scholar who will buy this car won’t concern himself with such things as “passing inspection”.
The rear seat, which is actually an option, is reserved for Hobbits. Since the likelyhood of one of them finding their way into an Aston Martin is low, my money’s on the back seats never getting used ever.
The car is powered by a 6 liter high-compression V12 that burps out 565 horsepower and just shy of 460 lb/ft of torque. That, mated to a six-speed “touchtronic” automatic, lets the car leave a light to 62 MPH in 4.1 seconds and top out at just over 180 MPH. Fuel economy is surprisingly reasonable at 19.6 in combined driving.
It breaks my heart to report that while the engine did indeed look glorious with imposing symmetrical intake manifolds ever so slightly eclipsed by a beastly swaybar, I was not permitted to start it. So my review of the Vanquish has to end… here.
There were many other exciting distractions at the Aston store though, including a Rapide (that funky four-door) which I learned has a terribly uncomfortable back seat, and an exceptionally tidy V12 Vantage. Finished in a glossy interpretation of British Racing Green with just enough carbon trim, suede headliner and a proper three-pedal six speed, this would have been my dance partner of choice.
The service bay, which was visible through a large glass internal window behind the Vanquish, was quite literally a treasure trove of many cars I lust after on a daily basis.
A near-perfect widebody 911 eclipsed a Mercedes 300SL and deep in the garage I spotted a Lamborghini Miura; the only one I can ever remember seeing… ever.
I made a note to come back the next time this dealership was on my way someplace. Maybe I’ll be able to sweet talk my way into a test drive after this favorable review.
Merc’s internationally-prevalent off roader known as the G-Class, G-Wagen, or “Geländewagen” to traditionalists has carried pretty much the same look since it’s design was suggested to Mercedes by the Shah of Iran in 1979.
Oh yes, I had to cross-check that Wikipedia entry with the boys over at TopGear.com… but I have verified that is indeed the true origin of this riotously aggressive looking 4×4.
In most of the world, the G-Class can be found in several engine/wheelbase/appointment levels. If you don’t mind an older one with cloth seats and a smaller powerplant, a ‘wagen can be a legitimate option for those needing a dependable and capable 4×4.
Here in the US, Mercedes would have us believe that only the 500+ and AMG levels exist. Combine that with limited shipment counts and you’ll be able to work out why many of us seeking luxury off-roaders have to stick with Land Rovers, which are much cheaper and easier to find.
I’ve sat in brand-new G55′s at the Mercedes store before, but when I saw this 2002 model waiting in line to be auctioned off I saw a unique opportunity to explore a G-Class that had actually been lived in.
This blue breadbox had over a hundred k on the clock, gnarly-soggy carpeting in the cargo area, and a host of MILs on the dash, but the interior and exterior were in fairly good knick.
Sitting at the helm and pushing all the buttons, moving the truck around a bit in the lane, and catching myself in the mirror, I could definitely see myself importing an old diesel G-Wagen and outfitting it as my vehicle of choice for long range expeditions. For a diehard Land Rover fan that’s saying a lot, but this Benz ticked all the boxes.
It’s got an imposing exterior presence, excellent visibility from the cockpit, ample cargo room and a rough-n-tumble military surplus shape.
Plus the three-pointed-star in the grille says “Pardon me, peasant” almost as well as the raised-letter RANGE ROVER stamp on that vehicle’s bonnet. Main difference being… the Mercedes might actually, you know. Work.
Time to hit eBay…
Seeing a pattern here?
If you put my sticker on your car, of course I’m going to give you a shout out!
Matt Weaver is flying the flag on Bootleg Racing’s MINI Cooper S, pictured here somewhere on the Kangamangus Highway. I like this decal placement, looks tidy and matches up with the center-exit exhaust nicely.
Mr. Weaver was styling pretty hard himself at this photoshoot…
This look has me thinking; Kenny Powers meets Austin Powers, with a touch of “early-90′s Jeremy Clarkson”
Undoubtedly innovative. Keep roving, my friend.
If anybody else wants a sticker for their ride, shoot me an email and maybe we’ll make some more!
That tired old Series II sitting in SoNH languishes on, “For Sale” sign still proudly (desperately?) on display in the windshield.
I made a side trip to visit it on an excursion to Portsmouth the other night. My TL glared at it with a raised eyebrow and perfectly-focused HIDs, no doubt wondering why the hell anybody would want such a primitive pile of parts.
And yet, looking at this rig makes me feel the way I imagine my sister feels when she sees helpless puppies at her animal shelter. For some reason exceeding economic logic, it deserves to be rescued.
If this rusty beast hasn’t returned to the Earth when the snow melts this spring, I reckon I’ll just have to bring it home and nurse it back to its former glory. By which I mean tack-weld the floors back in, dump Seafoam in the fuel tank and bribe the Arabian guy down the street to give it an inspection sticker.
Which reminds me, found this in an ’04 Discovery the other day…
Only Land Rover would be so pompous as to describe their service schedules “responsibilities”… as though owing one is like caring for a rare bird.
Which of course, it is. Why do we keep buying this ridiculous things?
When a buddy of mine directed me to the image forum 4Chan this morning to check out pictures of his girlfriend, I immediately re-prioritized when I realized they had heaps of threads with high-res images of way cooler stuff.
I was/am particularly enthralled with this M5 ripping donuts on what looks like a salt flat. Utah, perhaps? Aside from the thick layer of dust the car looks unbelievably clean, paradoxical as that may sound. The bumper isn’t even drilled for a front plate and just look at those headlights; perfect!
I love the way the light shines just enough on the starboard fender to confuse us as to the car’s color; Is it black or blue?
A little research revealed the photo as having been taken by LA photographer Nate Napierala… Nate, if you read this, perhaps I can convince you to shoot my next Land Rover out west.
Anyway, this image makes great computer wallpaper. Just sayin’.
The 1994 to 2002 Range Rover (Chassis Code: P38) is generally considered one of the weakest, least reliable 4x4s to ship out of Solihull… ever. Well, maybe Freelander notwithstanding.
Which is exactly why I was so astonished to see this example, running, with over 200,000 miles on the odometer.
And not just running- the suspension was dialed in to factory specs, all eight cylinders were singing in symphony, but best of all- the vehicle was so clean, it would have been welcome even in my own stable.
Crisp, sumptuous tan leather accentuated by dark piping covered the seats, and not a crack in sight. The dash was flawless as well, and the factory fitted in-dash GPS unit was functioning perfectly.
Whoever drove to the moon with this vehicle did so with the upmost care, such as befitting of a finicky motor from the Anglo Isle.
Frankly, it would have been worth so little as a trade that I’m surprised they didn’t just keep it. Then again, not many people want to designate their lawn as an automotive museum.
Only negs were a crack in the starboard fog light, and the decidedly unglamorous color of the exterior. Had it been a dark sage green, it’s unlikely I would have been able to resist placing a bid.
Someone picked it up at auction for $1,000. I’d have bought it myself for twice that. In fact, looking at these photos now I’m bloody regretting letting it go.
One of my all-time favorites, an E39 M5, was represented at a wholesale auction near New Hampshire last week.
Upon seeing the vehicle on the offerings list, and in the Avus Blue color I have a strong preference for, I was obviously jacked to check it out.
Heartbreakingly, close inspection revealed that neglect had reduced the car to a piece of garbage. Albiet, a very pretty one.
Rough idle, dash alight with malfunction inductors, and that Remus exhaust wasn’t doing anything for me either.
Somebody picked it up for around $11,000… reasonable money for the mileage, but they’re going to be in for some serious time on the tools to get this thing sorted.
The E39 M5, build between 1999 and 2003, was the first to be built alongside its “standard 5-Series” cousins, unlike the prior two generations which had been built completely on their own.
That commitment to standardization on BMW’s part may have contributed to the car’s success- this third iteration of the M5 was/is widely held as the gold standard of sport sedans for many automotive journalists and enthusiasts, myself included.
It had the toys; in-dash nav, a color-coded tachometer that illuminated in accordance with the engine’s temperature (a highly underrated BMW M feature), and so forth… plus the flash everyone who drops more than $50k on a car wants. Huge rims, quad-exit exhaust (at this point indicative of “M” status on BMWs), and a very sexy two-tone interior.
To shut down the haters, BMW sent owners home with a 4.9 liter V8 known as the S62 featuring a variable-timing system and 400 hungry horsepowers.
Paired with a beefed-up Getrag Type-D six-speed from the 540i, this M5 could go from stopped-to-sixty in under five seconds and charge on to a top speed of around 180… once the 155 MPH computer cap is removed.
All this in a somewhat-subtle sedan. What’s not to love? Aside from mediocre fuel economy, breathtakingly high cost of ownership and inevitable speeding fines…
Nonetheless, I’ll be keeping my eyes out for a stock standard Avus Blue example, make mine with a caramel interior and factory exhaust please.
I can’t see an 8-Series and not get psyched. BMW’s E31-coded car might not have been exceptionally economical, collectible, or even fast, but it sure was funky.
The now two-decade+ old shape has aged gracefully, enduring its entire production life (’89 to ’99) without a facelift. I think it still looks pretty sleek, though I must confess a bias to the “sport-wedge” style that was so popular in the supercars of my formative years.
This particular 850, spotted at the Adesa Auto Auction in Framingham, and was wearing Schnitzer-style wheels and a handicapped parking pass. The driver might not be able to walk, but seated behind this V12 he sure can fly… up to the electronically-capped top speed of 155 at least.
So I missed the Paris Auto Show this year. I totally got invited, but I was like, really busy. Besides, I had already scheduled a relaxing trip to New York that weekend.
But after seeing photos from around the blogosphere I bloody well wish I hadn’t, because there were some seriously epic reveals in the land of wine, and cheese, and Johnny Depp.
Look upon these photos screen-scraped from around the internet, bask in their glory, and join me in wishing I had caught this action live.
Production Status: Concept
A few years ago I would have called bullshit on this Lexus design coming anywhere near production. But since the LFA was built, powered, and sent down public roadways for all to see, I think elements of this concept car will very likely make their way into the next iteration of the IS. Obviously the lighting, grille and gigantic front airscoops will be dialed back… but Lexus is committing to that spindle-shaped grille, and that sculpted rear-quarter accentuating the rear wheels has apparently been green-lit by Toyota brass.
I could live without the fully-digital interior but I do hope the hood scoops make it to production; as well as the coupe bodystyle.
Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Electric Drive
Production Status: Ready
Alright we all know what an SLS looks like and we’ve been hearing about the electric version for over a year, but Mercedes is now proud to report that this thing is ready to rock-and-roll (ever so silently) around a track near you. Or, as it will more likely be used, on “the scenic route” between very nice houses and even nicer office buildings downtown.
The 60kWh liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery pack can go about 150 miles before returning to a power supply or Starbucks.
The strangely-colored beast (that’s Electricbeam Magno Matte-Metallic, if your daughter wants her bedroom painted) is now very real and can crush the 0-62 MPH sprint in under four seconds. Luckily it’s electronically limited to a top speed 155 MPH, so I can still scream past it on my Hayabusa and make the smug prick driving it smell my unfiltered exhaust.
What a beauty and a fantastic idea, I’ll go nuts if I see one of these things in person.
Production Status: Ready
Journalists are hailing the new F-Type like some kind of motoring godsend; a “return to roots” for the marque and a reprieve from the blandness of modern motor vehicles.
High praise indeed, and I won’t be the one to say otherwise. The design is truly lovely and as a automotive anglophile, I find the idea of Jaguar returning from its years of waywardness (XK8?) most agreeable indeed.
With a V6 variant for the midlife crisis guys and a supercharged V8 for the over-compensators, it looks like the F-Type will have something for everyone.
Personally, I’ll wait until Summer 2013 to hit the Jaguar shop… when the hardtop is released.
McLaren P1 Design Study
Production Status: Seriously?
McLaren has been bossing the racing car world quite some time… just shy of fifty years, to be less-than-exact. They’re celebrating by dropping another hypercar on us to coincide with the golden anniversary… and what a car.
Granted, this “design study” does not represent a full commitment to what the final car will look like, but who cares- we’ll probably never get to drive either of them anyway.
But whether your have to admire it from afar or are lucky enough to climb inside the cockpit, this concept vehicle is truly a thing of paralyzing beauty.
Living up to the ridiculously high standards McLaren has set with the F1 and MP4-12C, this promises to be a machine that will occupy that stratospheric realm of automobilia that just wouldn’t look right on a road, but rather would be more at home in the heavens. Or a race track (which of course, for a gearhead, would be the same place).
With last week’s weather subsided, residents of the northeast are ready to forgetaboutit and get back on the road.
Sadly, that’s not going happen quite as quickly as anybody wants- hundreds of yellow cabs drowned in the disaster, and since I don’t think Ford made a “Crown Victory diesel” ever, the entire contents of lots like this are now destined to become rusty decorations in giant aquariums.
In case you’re not aware gasoline engines rarely survive submersion (even with an intake snorkel) because there are so many little breathers through which a water ingress could occur. And as I’m sure you are aware, water puts out fire… which a car needs to run.
The cabs in this Getty Images photo (displayed here via NYT) seem to all have their entire engine bays under water, and will probably be too soggy to turn over. The fact that this is salt water makes the prognosis far worse- even if Jeff Hattabaugh himself gets down there and coaxes these engines back to life one car at a time, they’ll be consumed by rust in short order.
But while the death of these cabs will make for inconvenienced New Yorkers, far great tragedies have occurred in the autosphere-
A shipment of Fisker Karma electric luxury vehicles was destroyed (you know, those funky fish-shaped things? Justin Beiber has one?) having apparently caught fire in a Newark storage yard.
Fisker execs made some spiel about batteries superheating as water caused electrical shorting… either way, it’s a damn shame- the Karma is a very cool machine and I’m sure the buyers on the waiting list will be none too pleased to see these images.
Hagerty Inc, a top insurer of collector cars, is reporting record “Total Loss” claims on $100,000+ vehicles. Hagerty insures many exceptional and rare vehicles in the northeast, and will now be charged with the task of visiting many of them to find out just how much cash they’ll be expected to pay out. Such a large-scale drain on their reserves could have major implications on their business, which could shake things up in the collector car world.
Finally, an image I found particularly painful…
Surely this Siberian Silver Metallic LR4 thought it would have no trouble surviving an “adventure” on this city side-street, but alas… not even a stainless roll cage would have protected the vehicle from its doom. Though it would seem parking ten feet forward or back would have. I can just picture that Lexus RX up ahead laughing maniacally. Maybe pay up for the garage next time?
Who doesn’t love a good hurricane? Exciting b-roll for The Weather Channel, potential school/work cancelations, and more people home on the internet to look at my site!
Sadly though, most people do have to go to work and will be extra miserable about it. Unless your work involves driving one of those kickass “disaster scenario” trucks.
Cops complain on TV about how concerned they are with the safety of their town’s residents and whathaveyou… but how can they not allow themselves just a little excitement- knowing they finally get to fire up that armored Unimog or ARC Wolverine or SWAT-H truck that’s been collecting dust since it was purchased in the bygone era of cash-surplus.
These spectacular land leviathans are usually forced to sulk in the corner of some National Guard motorpool, panned by libertarians and hippies as embodiments of martial law and wastes of taxpayer money.
While there’s some truth to those complaints, let’s focus on the more important truth- armored vehicles are wicked cool.
Whether it’s getting supplies to people stranded in compromised locations, trying to navigate the Market Basket parking lot, or forming a perimeter around Dunkin’ Donuts, our peacekeepers will always find some need to storm around town in a ten-ton war machine bristling with strobe lights.
Here are five of my favorites…
Old-school Inspector Gadget fans will dig this sports-vehicle-to-hauler combo, everyone else will wonder what the hell I’m on about. In any case the idea behind this contraption is that it could drop off a box of food in a famine, medicine in a plague, or porn in a dry spell and hustle off unencumbered by the weight of the cargo. Not sure how that’s much different than a regular flatbed other than the fact that this one looks way, way cooler. But I don’t think we’ll have to worry much about that as I’m sure the budget to build these is never going to exist.
From defense-vehicle modifier Heat Armor comes the SWAT-H, presumably designed to get a rescue or assault team into a place nobody wants to go. Not sure what those thundersticks on the port fender are, but check out the size of that hitch receiver on the front bumper- solid setup for pulling debris out of the way to clear road when a plow isn’t available. I also noticed Heat Armor cut their logo out of the headlight protection grilles, nice touch.
Why waste time erecting fences when you can just… put your truck in park?
This Mercedes-Benz Unimog prepared by Carat Defense can plod along unimpeded as trees, street signs and bystandards are blown into its path. I imagine a line of these moving abreast down I-90 toward the city would be an ominous sight indeed.
When Carat clients complained that those Unimogs were unable to proceed through herds of bovine zombies, the company responded with this. I’m not sure what it’s based on or what those weapons are mounted on top, but it looks like it gets terrible fuel economy. For scale reference, the top of that plow is probably around the door handles on a sports car. Are those front wheels literally steamrollers?
Finally my personal favorite… This massive armored personel carrier was spotted by a fellow blogger in Quito, Ecuador during some kind of public disgruntlement in 2006. South American “vida loca” notwithstanding, I don’t think that splatter-paint colorscheme was applied at the factory. If it’s not blood from zombies, I’d have to guess one of the boys at the station borrowed it to scare the living shit out of his colleagues during the Annual Quito PD Paintball Tournament. Check out that turret and beast plow.
Having managed to rack up around 5,000 miles on my UA6 since it joined my squadron this summer, I’m ready to drop a deep report on it’s real-world performance.
Honda’s UA6 (Acura TL) is a tidy, unassuming sport sedan. That’s right, I said sport sedan. FWD or no, LSD and big-ass Brembos take this car from mild to… well… let’s say “moderate”. Anyway, the thing’s got enough gadgets, LEDs, and carbon fiber (albeit, faux) to allow you convince yourself you’re in an M car if you squint hard enough. Which you should never do while driving.
Whatever your thoughts on car branding, the third-gen TL has a niceness-to-affordability ratio that anyone can get behind; fuel efficient as an Accord and quick enough to keep up with your friend’s M3… as long as you’re both stuck in Newbury Street traffic.
What can I say, it’s the first thing you notice. And on this car that’s a good thing. Honda has a great track record of designing handsome vehicles that compliment their overall product, and this might be one of the marquee’s most elegant to date. Those sharp angles give it the chisled face of a Spartan warrior, while the smooth creases across the back put a suit on him. The A-Spec body kit on mine give it just enough sass to appeal to my inner Paul Walker, but are subtle enough to remain cool long after those F&F style wings have fallen out of fashion. As for the wheels, you really can’t argue with the OEM stocky five’s. Though the gunmetal-colored BBS-style rims featured on the TL Type-S are hot enough to melt tires; even before they start rolling.
Comfort & Convenience
This is where it becomes obvious how poor I am… as I’m blown away by seven-year-old ergonomic technology. One-touch control for both front windows and the sunroof, not to mention rear windows that go all the way down, was enough for me to brag about to my racecar-driving friends for the first couple weeks. But then I discovered the voice-command button on the left side of the steering wheel.
Push this button, say something like; “set temperature; sixty nine degrees” and not only does car perform the task, but it repeats the command in a sultry-lady-computer voice. Which is far and away the coolest part.
The gigantic touch-screen navigation/infotainment screen seemed a little less impressive since my phone is about twice as advanced and ten times more accurate, but it is worth noting that the Acura deck (made by Alpine) absolutely crushes the diminutive interface in my grandfather’s 05 E-Class. The comparable-era Mercedes-Benz nav screen is much smaller, is not touch screen, and does not have nearly as sexy a voice for driving directions.
The TL’s seating arrangement is more than acceptable, though I have to admit this is one department where the Japanese brands generally fall short of the Germans. Front seats are heated, easy to adjust and quite aggressive looking. Back seats have ample room for sex or fatter passengers (hey you want both, get an SUV).
Why, was there something else you needed a back seat for?
As far as road noise and suspension, I’m amazed to report that the shocks and bushings on this 160,000 mile car are more solid than those on my mum’s one-year-old cute ‘ute.
On my last trip to the wildlands of North New England I had an opportunity to get a second opinion on the vehicle’s straight-line stability, so while my friend and I made our way down US-91 I walked the car deep into the third quarter of the big clock and pinned it for about five minutes. Not only did my passenger not an eyebrow… but she was surprised at our pace when I disclosed it later.
Drag racer? No. Canyon carver? Neither.
While the TL is extremely light for a vehicle in the E-Class/5-Series/A6 size strata (just 3,500 pounds) it’s still massive, and it’s still front-wheel drive. This is a dangerous pairing when trying to hustle a vehicle off the line or through hairpins.
Mashing the gas off a stoplight quickly overwhelms the tires, and once the rubber finally does hook up; oversteer rears its ugly head and the car tries to put itself into the curb.
Of course, that’s wearing “okay” Nankang tires, and usually wet conditions.
In aggressive cornering this Acura is rigid enough to inspire confidence (with front and rear strut braces, it should be) but the FWD layout lets it down once again. With the front wheels doing the pulling and steering, it’s difficult to find that prime float-speed at which the weight of the car is exactly where you want it.
Where a skilled pilot could lay out a beautiful and pants-shitting yaw in a BMW, or a razor-sharp assault of the apex in an Audi, the TL just has to back off. This problem is significantly more apparent on a wet road.
The möbius-strip of nonsense that encircles the Boston Sand & Gravel facility is great for finding the limits of a car’s cornering speed …so I’m told… and apparently the tail of this era of TL only starts to wash out a little shy of twice the speed limit. Right around the time all but the least squeamish passengers will start to verbalize their terror.
This car comes into its own on the highway, and can be driven extremely aggressively from 2nd through 5th gear with smile-widening results. Hold VTEC open a little above four-and-a-half grand and the TL can surge through tiny cracks of traffic, or blast your ass into the back of the heated seat in a clear merge situation.
Acura claims the car’s good for up to 150 MPH, which is righteous, though I wouldn’t attempt it with anything less than exceptional tires and fresh brake pads.
FWD finally starts to redeem itself with weight savings, and as a result fuel economy. I track my MPG everyday, and on a normal first-on to last-off (about 3.5 hours on the road, averaging speeds in the mid 30’s) I see between 25 and 28 depending on how many Bimmers I’ve antagonized on the Pike.
The TL may get left looking at taillights in dogfights with the German Armada, but for the difference in ownership costs and real-world useable performance, the Acura decidedly earns its seat at the table of premium sport sedans. And when you consider how many times an M5 would get keyed in my neighborhood, this Japanese four-slammer is really the only viable option in this market.
When I can afford a few garage bays in Belmont I may switch my DD to something a little more pretentious, overpriced, and RWD. Until then, it’s Acura all the way.