Sunday, November 3, 2013

Zombie Cars

According to former GM CEO Bob Lutz, Obama told the company that even though they liked their Pontiac Division, they couldn't keep their Pontiac Division;

Lutz: "Feds said, 'we're giving you 60 billion dollars. Drop Pontiac or you won't get the cash.'

Pontiac had committed to producing a lineup of rear wheel drive high performance cars to compete with the Germans and Japanese. Unfortunately, it wasn't the government's idea of "cars people (politicians want them) to buy.

So bye-bye, G6, G8, Grand Am, Trans Am, GTO, and Fiero. After 2010, it became just a part of history, just like the old "Wide Track Pontiac" ads of the 60's. Pontiac lived on only as a zombie on the used car lots, Craigslist ads, and Sunday auctions.

R.I.P Pontiac - 1926-2010
Epitome of the 60s Muscle Car, the 1967 GTO
Pontiac wasn't the only casualty of the bailout, there was also Saturn, loved by its owners but detested by the unions who were the true beneficiaries of the bailout. An attempted sale to Penske fell through, sealing its doom

Saturn 1985-2010
Also consigned to nameplate heaven was the Saab brand owned by GM, loved by yuppies and Jerry Seinfeld

Not to mention that you can no longer get a Hummer

Arnold may be bahck, but for his Hummer it was hasta la vista, baybee

Before the bankruptcy and bailout of 2009, "Not Your Father's Oldsmobile" became Not Anybody's Oldsmobile after 2004, but not before a 1967 Olds Delta 88 killed Mary Jo Kopechne in July of 1969 along with Ted Kennedy's presedential ambitions. Olds also contributed the 442 to muscle car legend.

Before that, there was the short lived economy car GEO brand of the 90s

Here's a look at other brands and entire car companies that Pontiac joined after 2010;

Alan Jackson can buy him a Mercury or two, but no new ones after 2011

Ford's ill-fated Edsel was strangled in its cradle

1958 Edsel Corsair. Ugly car named after a cool WW II Marine fighter plane

Chrysler has escaped death's door many times, most notably with the 2009 bailout and sale to Fiat.. The previous brush with death was in 1980 when they were bailed out and revived by the K-Car and the Minivan. However, several brands did not survive the bean counter's Grim Reaper.

Plymouth went away after 2001

The Cuda lagged behind the Mustang & Camaro on the sales charts, but it held its own on the street

The Eagle was a rebadged Mitsubishi that Chrysler sold in the 90s

1998 Mitsubishi Eagle Talon

The Titanic of the street, the leviathan Imperial which served The Green Hornet well

1965 Imperial. Machine guns not included

The DeSoto, the finned cruiser that died after the 50s

1959 DeSoto Firedome

Finally, here's some entire companies that either were absorbed or went entirely out of business

AMC 1954-1987


AMC's Rambler nameplate - 1955-1968
1965 Rambler Marlin

Nash, 1917-1954
"The Little Nash Rambler blew his horn it went Beep Beep .."

Hudson 1909-1954
The very spacious back seats in the Hudson Hornet conceived many early Baby Boomers

Kaiser 1945-1953
The Kaiser Henry J. coupe. Stripped and basic. Not popular with families but its light weight made it a popular modified quarter miler for the low budget drag racers

Packard 1899-1958
1956 Packard Executive which the also defunct Soviet Union revived as the Chaika Gaz 13

Studebaker 1911-1967
"Honest dear, I read Playboy just for the Avani ads"

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Maybe That Tinfoil Car Isn't Such a Bad Idea

With the exposure in the UK Guardian this week that the American government though the NSA has been collecting data on every phone call in America and peaking at your emails and social media activities, the Tinfoil Cars I wrote of jokingly in the previous post aren't such a bad idea. You know the old saying; "Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean no one's after you"

The Verizon scandal kind of gives a new meaning to their "Share Everything" plan

Then there's the PRISM revelations, with Silicon Valley handing over the content of every Youtube cat video and every comment you made on Facebook, along with all your Google searches. They even monitor Skype calls and can watch you when you're not Skyping.

As for watching you in your living room, would serve the sneaks right if all they see are 300 pound Walmart shoppers sitting in their underwear eating a bag of Cheetoh's while watching Duck Dynasty.

Since it's been revealed that Obama not only admired Marxist economics but also Marxist surveillance, it's getting to be like the Cold War Era Soviet Union here. So let's take a somewhat nostalgic look through this Top Gear episode of the cars available to the Proletariat and the Glorious Workers of the old Soviet Union.

Needless to say, the years long wait for one of the Glorious Workers to get himself behind the wheel of an ostensibly new Lada wasn't exactly the thrill a kid out of law school gets when he buys his first Audi A6

Time Magazine once featured The Worst 50 Cars of All Time. I believe that they exempted the Russian cars since they would have filled the entire list and possibly even bumped out the Mustang II and the Yugo

We can laugh now, but at least the KGB had to follow you personally since the Lada didn't have GPS tracking and black box technology

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Car for the Paranoid in You

As a bonus, the sound system is permanently tuned to Coast to Coast Radio
They're everywhere out there, watching YOU! Let's face it, a tinfoil hat just isn't enough while you're tracking chemtrails, spotting UFO's at Area 51, or stalking the Illuminati. You need transportation and total invisibility from the tracking satellites keeping an eye on you PERSONALLY while you gather evidence of World Domination plots that only you and select group of online forums have knowlege of.

If you want to look more like a dazzling spy spoiler, you can get the all GOLD tinfoil Porsche 911, pedal powered to put frowns on the faces of those oil companies secretly withholding the 200 mpg engine and the Big 3 who killed the Electric Car

911? Hey, we're the ones who are JUST ASKING QUESTIONS!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Old Car Songs

There once was a time in America when Rock n Roll ruled the radio waves and America's youth hailed their cars in song, an era built on California living, girls in bikinis, surfing, cruising and racing. From the late 50's until the mid 60's the young celebrated their cars in song the same way Justin Bieber celebrates his hair today. The only contemporary reference to a car is probably Katy Perry's reference to getting laid in the back seat of an old boyfriend's Mustang.

The Beach Boys were considered the kings of the car songs with the ode to the early 60's Chevy Impala with the big block 409, The 1932 Ford Little Deuce Coupe, a drag race between a 1963 327 fuel injected Corvette Sting Ray and a race built Dodge with the 413 engine (Shut Down) but my favorite was Don't Worry Baby, the song about a girl assuring her boyfriend that he's probably not going to end up as an organ donor after a drag race.

In the same era there was Jan & Dean, with a similar style to The Beach Boys who even shared some of Brian Wilson's songs (Surf City). The duo had odes to the drag strip Drag City (before it meant a transvestite parade), a motorhead grandma terrorizing Colorado Blvd in Pasadena (no, it wasn't Sheldon's "mee-maw") and a narrative of a race between a Corvette and Jaguar XKE that ends in a fatal crash on the same curve on Sunset Blvd that killed James Dean;

The music industry cashed in with plenty of one hit wonders cranking out odes to their favorite machines like Little GTO by Ronnie & The Daytonas

The Beatles put out a pretty good car song too;

By 1966 the youth music scene had moved on from metal and horsepower to peace and love and it's pretty hard to write a catchy song about a VW Bus. But peace and love would later turn to ennui and disillusionment leading to the nostalgia era from 1972 to 1976 where Baby Boomers longed for a return to the lost innocence of the Elvis years. Old groups reunited to play to packed venues with songs of surfing and racing to forget about Vietnam, Watergate, runaway inflation, and the awful cars rusting in dealer lots in the dreadful 70s.

The 70s were the genesis also of the Rockabilly and country rock sounds featuring car heavy songs like Charlie Daniels' Uneasy Rider, Steve Earle's Copperhead Road, and Commander Cody's footstompin' Hot Rod Lincoln

Heavy Metal got into the act with Deep Purple's Highway Star and Molly Hatchet's Flirtin' With Disaster

In 1975, an act came on the national scene singing of cars not from the beaches of Southern California, but the boardwalks of the Jersey Shore. Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band entered the scene with an ode to drag racing on Highway 9 in Born to Run, laments of lost days of cruising and hanging out on a summer night in Jungleland and the young weekend drag racer and his wife 3 years later with Racing in the Street 

Unfortunately for gearheads, Bruce left the car songs behind to remold himself as a guido version of Woody Guthrie and it was the last hurrah of the true car song. Nevertheless, the internet is forever and Youtube is just a click away anytime we want to hear it in remastered digital dolby sound

"Tach it up, tach it up, buddy gonna shut you down!"

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Leno vs Fallon - Gearhead vs Dork

Jay with his '55 Buick Roadmaster. Ask Jimmy about the car
 and you'll get a lame imitation of Rain Man

By now you've probably heard the news that NBC is planning to push out Jay Leno as the host of the Tonight Show and replace him with uber-dork Jimmy Fallon, who currently hosts Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.

Proving that the suits at NBC learned nothing from the Conan O'Brien fiasco, they've managed to get into a very public war with Leno, who's done nothing but lead the 11:30 time slot for most of his 20 years on the job.

Supposedly the younger Fallon is supposed to bring in that coveted young hip viewer that advertisers supposedly want. I guess credit repair and Google ads to thousands of hipsters bring in more bucks than selling Viagra to millions, what do I know.

I do know that Fallon isn't funny. He comes across as a dorky nervous guy who's twitching on the stage on Open Mike Night at The Comedy Store. Fallon is somebody you'd ask to do a eulogy to insure that no one laughs during the funeral.

If someone does laugh at one of Fallon's jokes, odds are it's Jimmy Fallon

His humor might get some laughs in the break room at the office, but hosting the Tonight Show pays millions, and I can't figure out why Jimmy Fallon is the man for the job other than he has to be the biggest ass kisser in show business. I've heard that he's a nice guy and he seems nice enough most of the time, but then again most ass kissers are.

My hunch is that the suits at Comcast and NBC want someone who always follows orders and is a consumate Yes Man. Jay Leno has grown too rich and independent for their needs, even though he's worked hard and brought in the ratings cash.

OK, so what does this have to do with cars?

It's just that Jay Leno is probably the world's biggest gearhead and he has a warehouse loaded with a collection of classic cars of every kind that even automotive museums only dream of having.

Jay's collection is far too vast to cover here, but he does have a great web site of his collection called Jay Leno's Garage.

On his site, Jay has dozens of videos covering one of his favorite cars. Leno knows his way under the hood, and if he doesn't he brings on an expert who can elaborate on the car's specs and history. After a walkaround presentation of the car, Jay will take it for a ride around the streets of northern Burbank near his garage and occasionally onto a mountain road above the 210 Freeway. If Leno is testing a high performance ride, he'll treat you to a massive smoking burnout on the street leading to his place.

Here's Jay test driving the 2013 Mustang Boss 302;

Take a look around at Jay's Garage, and if you're a car lover like me, you'll spend hours going over his presentation videos and other interesting features

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Ace of Spades Tips For Long Distance Driving

During the early morning hours of March 6, Ace of Spades, one of the blogosphere's funniest men, fueled by lack of sleep and overdoses of caffeine, decided to share his experiences on Twitter on how to best negotiate long distance driving.

The hashtag #tipsforlongdistancedriving was then created by the mysterious Ewok

The hilarity is too voluminous to fully provide here, go to the hashtag for some demented and malevolent enjoyment. Here are a few of the highlights from Ace;

DepressiveBlogger69 @AceofSpadesHQ
Masturbating is a good way to kill 10, 15 minutes.
Ride-shares are great for gas money and interesting discussions like "Neither of us will survive this, you know"

 A Car is just a motel that moves real fast. just nap. That's what guardrails are for.

There's nothing like family touring. You can pick up at family at virtually any rest stop.

Pretend you're Knight Rider by recording KITT saying things like "Please slow down" and "You've hit a child"

Remember there are only two types of drivers: The Victim and The Menace. Don't be The Victim.

Others of course joined in with these gems;

When the policeman asks if you know why you were pulled over, ask him if there is blood leaking from your trunk

The 'Check Engine' light is just a suggestion. If the car is running, the engine is still there.

 FInd the truck stop that sells a 9 volt deep fryer

Flip off every "Welcome To..." sign and yell "Welcome To My Ass" out the window.

Including Yours Truly ...

 If the cop pulling you over has a high voice, saying both "sir" and "ma'am" will cover any gender confusion

If you're broken down at night, tow trucks may have a problem seeing you. Set your car on fire

you can see an intersection just as well under a red light as you can a green one

If you get into an accident, drive in reverse as fast as possible to turn back time

Many, many more as I said, enjoy. Add a few of your own if you have some funny ones to share

Remember the motto of  - "Please Be Evil"

Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Bird Was The Word

When Chevy came out with the Corvette in 1953 and upgraded the model in 1955, Ford responded with their own two seater in reply, and though the Thunderbird that was introduced was in response, Ford went for a different demographic than those who wanted an American version of European sports cars and roadsters.

The first generation T-Bird eschewed the European lines and stayed with the Detroit tailfinned styles of the 50's. It wasn't even marketed as a sports car, instead Ford called it "a personal luxury car". This was the car aimed not at the youth market, but the young lawyers and the young executives. With good but not fantastic power and upscale luxury options, this was the car that Ford made for Don Draper.  It worked too, as the T-Bird outsold the Corvette by more than 20 to 1 in 1955 and outsold the Vette every year through the 50s and 60s

The 1955 T-Bird was powered by a 292 cubic inch (4.8L) V8 that produced a modest 155 hp with either a 3 speed manual or 2 speed automatic transmission. An optional 312 cubic inch (5.1L) engine added for the 1956 model making 215 hp. For 1957, options for the 312 included dual quad carburetors and even a supercharger which could boost the 312 up to 340 hp. 

Although the muscular options were available, most of the Mad Men stayed with the sedate versions rather than challenge the young greasers at the stop lights. This was never the car of 50s youth, and even the Beach Boys reference to the T-Bird in "Fun Fun Fun" begins with "Well, she got her DADDY'S car and she cruised to the hamburger stand, now". 

The two seater T-Bird lasted only three years, as Ford CEO Robert McNamara felt that the two seater limited the car's market and thought it would be a good idea to redesign it for 1958 as a larger four seater (as JFK & LBJ's Secretary of Defense he also thought getting involved in Vietnam was a good idea). Unlike his military ideas, the redesign of the T-Bird turned out very well as the Mad Men and Ford loved it and the Thunderbird's sales numbers rose 60 percent each year in the late 50s even in the teeth of the 58-60 recession. 

The 3rd generation of the early sixties was redesigned with a bullet shape and a more powerful line of engines, but would follow the formula of the 2nd as would the 4th generation of the mid 60s most memorized as the 1966 convertible in Thelma & Louise

The T-Bird would take a new direction in the late 60s as it became a mid sized luxury car, then fattened to the underpowered behemoth pimpmobiles of the 70s. 

Like the rest of Detroit's models the early 80s T-Birds were downsized and squarish K-Car lookalikes, then redesigned in the mid 80s for with larger and sleaker lines, the smoothness that made it popular in NASCAR and made Bill Elliott one of the biggest winners of that era. 

The 90s continued the sleek coupes and were equipped with a turbocharged 3.8 V6 or a 4.9 V8, then in 1994 it came with Ford's new modular 4.6L V8 still in production today. The 10th generation also came with independent rear suspension which for some reason Ford didn't see fit to put into the Mustang. 

Ford finally dropped the Thunderbird line in 1997 but brought it back in 2002 with the "retro" look small two seater that attempted to lure the enthusiasts of the 1955 T-Bird. It never captured the enthusiasm of the 1st gen and Ford said "never mind" in 2005 and the T-Bird left the scene for good

T-Birds changed through the years, but to the gearheads and petrolheads of the world, the mind's eye will always picture Suzanne Somers cruising the boulevard and driving Richard Dreyfus to obsession in American Graffiti