Thursday, 12 September 2013

The Porsche 918 Spyder Sets a Nurburgring Track Record!

Photograph courtesy of Porsche

The Nurburgring in Germany is a notorious racetrack. It is a place many automakers go to test their vehicles since the track will push a car to its limits, exposing performance weaknesses. It is also a track where a vehicle that turns out a good lap time automatically garners some huge bragging rights.

The latest car to score big on the 'Ring is the new Porsche 918 Spyder. The hybrid supercar set a record with a lightning fast lap of just six minutes and fifty-seven seconds. That is a new record for any street-legal vehicle, beating out times logged by some pretty impressive cars. Anyone who doubted how much of a performance machine the 918 Spyder is should be a believer by now. Porsche definitely did not build another Prius!

Check out the on-board video of the record-setting lap:

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

It's too damn hot

When I get into my car at the end of a work day and the temp reads 100, it's too damn hot.

Tonight will be terrific thunderstorms and then maybe it will cool down.

Why Are Manuals Dying? Is it Because of Software Difficulties?

I ran across this interesting article on Jalopnik, which starts off trying to make the case that manual transmissions are dying because they do not behave well with software used in cars' various systems. Read the article by clicking here if you want to see all the nitty gritty details.

Basically what it came down to was a reader who worked for an OEM said that the real problem is that it's too expensive to produce software that works well with both manual and automatic transmissions if very few buyers opt for the manual transmission. In other words, its about the price of investment versus the derived benefit from that investment. Automakers aren't running charities (actually they all run charities, but that's another discussion for another day). They are in the market to make money, so they produce what they believe will be profitable.

The sad truth is manual transmissions are not dying outside of the United States. If you go car shopping in Europe you will find that many models can still be had with a manual transmission. Americans like a computer to do the shifting for them, despite issues like gear-seeking and a general lack of control. Sadly, I have to admit that right now I do not own a car with a manual transmission and have not for a while. Do I like that? No! If I had the extra cash right now I would buy something with a manual transmission just so I can feel the exhilaration of letting the RPMs climb before throwing the car in the next gear or of dumping it into a lower gear and feeling the car rocket forward.

And that's exactly what we as driving enthusiast Americans (if you are American, like me) need to do. We need to get out there and buy models with manual transmissions! If nobody buys them they will go away. You can get them on a number of vehicles still, so go find a vehicle that works for you and have at it. Now for me to figure out how to afford a new BRZ with a manual transmission so I can support the effort...

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Toyota Finally Shows Signs of Life, Yet Haters Gonna Hate

Images courtesy of  Toyota
In the past I have argued that Toyota has killed off its soul as an automaker because it stopped producing exciting models like the Supra, MR2 and Celica and instead has been pumping out quite a few uninspiring vehicles in bland colors. This is why I was shocked when Toyota revealed it was co-developing the Scion FR-S (or Toyota GT) with Subaru. The Lexus LFA was another surprising move by a company known for its body rolls and numb steering.

It now seems that Toyota is not finished with its attempts to produce more exciting vehicles, even if it continues to produce massive amounts of Camrys for people who do not want to feel like they are driving when they are driving. And of course there are quite a few irrational haters out there who will continue to hate Toyota even as the automaker starts to break away from the thing these people supposedly hate it for.

One huge surprise was the recent reveal of the Toyota Hybrid-R, a high-powered and more aggressive-looking Yaris that is outfitted with a hybrid powertrain. I saw quite a few people gagging that Toyota used a Yaris for a performance concept as they complained that the Yaris is gutless or "too small." The gutless argument is irrelevant considering the car's powertrain has been swapped out. As for the "too small" argument, I'm sure plenty of these people would not have any qualms about getting behind the wheel of an MR2, Pontiac Fiero or something like that, which was a completely tiny car.

There were even some who still accused Toyota of being "boring" because their performance car was a hybrid and, as all of us who did not even get our GED know, hybrids are automatically slow, boring cars that are driven by "tree huggers" who care about not breathing in a bunch of carcinogens. These people irrationally fight against progress in the automotive industry and likely were on the forefront of letting everyone know why electronic fuel injection was ruining cars back in the day.

So what's to hate about the Toyota Hybrid-R Concept? It's styling is a little wild, but it's a concept vehicle. I'm not a huge fan of the look of the Yaris, but the big gaping air intake in the front fascia, larger wheels and side skirts actually make it look better. But the real exciting thing is Toyota has produced a hybrid vehicle that could spank the hell out of most pure gasoline-powered vehicles. The Hybrid-R's powertrain pumps out an impressive 414 horsepower. The car is outfitted with a motor that will send power to the rear wheels as needed so slippage does not occur during hard cornering maneuvers.

I would think people would welcome a Toyota hybrid that can whip around a track, instead of yet another version of the Prius. Maybe some people are, but there are plenty of whiny little fanboy racers who are taking to social media to roast Toyota when the company finally is showing some signs of life once again. Because haters are gonna hate irrationally no matter what.

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Nucky's Back

Not the right era but the oldest cars at the Village Fest today. More car pictures to come.

Yes, this Sunday, tomorrow or today depending on how you read this, Nucky is back and Boardwalk Empire is now saving my Sunday nights and the whole week of TV. One show to watch and I can forgive all the rest of the stale garbage that is offered.

Will that stupid woman return to Nucky? I have forgotten her name. Will the black guy get a venue on the boardwalk? I have forgotten his name. Will that crazy gangster from Chicago go berserk? I had almost forgotten his name until Capone jumped into my head.

Oh and the mask guy, he is acting wacky in the trailer (click on HBO to see the trailer).

I cannot wait.

Saturday, 7 September 2013

You ain't heard nothin' til you heard the Slavs sing

Rememer the Art Deco style gas station they were turning into an eatery that I posted a photo of last October? No? Well, anyways this is the restaurant open for business. They saved the Standard Oil lettering on the front of the building.  It has been open for a few months, we are just slow. The Red Crown in Grosse Pointe Park. We have yet to eat there, schedules just don't work out. I hear it is open for lunch now, so maybe some Saturday.

Well, I still ain't heard nothin' because I went to bed too early. Big Daddy however reports the Slavs are all back safe and sound. He knows this because they had a concert on their deck last night. Well after the moment- he remembers he could have recorded this on his hi-tech fancy phone. It would have been great.

I was on call this Saturday as the plant ran, that is an automotive term, the plant ran-the plant is running-the plant is down, but thank all of the holiest I did not get called in. However I found an email this morning from a man I did not know, saying I had a problem with a part I do not supply, and he left no phone number. How odd. Monday we start building pilots again and it is sure to be fraught with emotion and tension, hooboy I can hardly wait.

My hair is just not right after this latest haircut. I am starting to wonder if she is just tired of me and my hair.

The kids are loving Portland. All is well.

Friday, 6 September 2013

Free day

Every once in a while something goes wrong at the plant. Today something broke in the chain system and shut the whole plant down. I screwed around until 1 o'clock break and then I took off. Nothing to do and nothing to see.

Punkin Head sent me a text, they were in Idaho and pushing forward, this is supposed to be the last day of driving and I hope they make it without harm or injury.

Saturday is haircut day and I cannot wait to see what we are going to do with this mop of crap hair. I just picture myself growing this out for years and years and years.