Monday, March 31, 2008


Check out this video in which writers at the Times Online pit a Toyota Prius against a diesel-powered BMW 520d. Now go buy a diesel.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Bell Tolls for Mercury

While Autoblog fairly recently posted that Ford is not ready to give up on Mercury, it seems the rumors of the brand's survival have been greatly exaggerated. In the very same post, AB laments the lack of future product headed to the showrooms of Ford's ugly stepchild brand. The truth is that Ford is likely just paying Mercury lip service to keep the dealers happy--no one wants to see the bottom fall out suddenly for Mercury stores before Ford can execute an exit strategy--while quietly phasing out all semblance of a product plan. 
I have it on pretty good authority that this phase-out will be complete after the 2011 or 2012 model year. 

It might have made sense for Ford to take my advice regarding the brand, and bring over Euro products as Saturn is doing. But this didn't work for Merkur, so Ford can be forgiven for declining this course of action. The fact is that even VW is planing to create a unique lineup to serve the lower-cost US market, and that's a brand that has spent years building its German-engineered rep. 

Saturn is still a grand experiment, and clearly by the time we find out whether it works, Mercury will be dead and buried. For now, let's just have a moment of silence for what might have been.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Stupid People --> Traffic

Well, there it is, folks. The traffic jam shockwave theory finally put to the test. The real cause of traffic jams is stupid people, AKA bad drivers. This is readily apparent when driving in and around the LA area. But maybe now we can finally start weeding these people off the road.

Monday, March 10, 2008

The Gauntlet

My car has 18" wheels wrapped in low-profile tires. Consequently potholes are not my friend. Take a look at the road I have to traverse to get to 7 Mile from my apartment. This is Silver Spring Rd. in Northville, a city which should be ashamed of itself. The road has gotten progressively worse over the winter, to the point where it is nearly impassible for a car like mine without using the other side of the road. 

There are many factors cited for the state of Michigan's inability to attract and retain citizens, which has contributed to its economic stagnation. For auto enthusiasts, though, it has to be the awful state of the roads in this area that makes this such an unattractive place to live...ironic considering the industry which singlehandedly supports most of the state economy. Come on, Michigan, let's get our act together...especially you, Northville.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Detroit Muscle

This video clip brought a tear to my eye. Representatives from all three domestic manufacturers came together to get a stuck semi out of a ditch. Just shows what this country (and its rednecks) can do when it puts its back into it.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

A Lost Cause

Most of the cars that I've gotten to drive while out in Cali have had navigation systems in them. I must say, none of these systems is worth a damn. The nav program on my phone, with its tiny little screen, is easier to use (albeit less reliable) than any of these car-based systems. For this reason--and the fact that you have to push that damn "accept" button on the screen every time you turn on the car, even if you're not using the nav system--I won't be buying a car with a nav system any time soon. 

I think it's about time that a major car magazine did a thorough comparison of nav systems by auto brand. Then, perhaps, we might decide on an established industry standard for the best navigation system that all other companies can try to take on. I think I'll write an email to all of them imploring them to take on this issue. 

A dozen years...1 mph

I was just watching a History Channel show on the fastest vehicles on earth. They started with cars, and progressed to trains, boats, etc. Anyway, I watched the first segment with rapt enthusiasm as they recounted the history of speed in cars, going from Karl Benz's first car at 13 mph, to Ford's Model T at around 45 mph, and on through cars that went successively up to 90, past 100, past 200 and finally to 240 mph for the McLaren F1 in 1995. 

The segment was highly focused on one car in particular, though, the Koenigsegg CCX. They covered its carbon fiber construction and what was claimed to be the most powerful production engine around, at 806 hp (hello, haven't they heard of the Bugatti Veyron, at 1001 hp?). And then they told of the amazing record-breaking speed run that the CCX made, in which the car rushed right up to 240 mph, and then "broke through" to a record-breaking...wait for it...241 mph!!! Are you kidding me? Why even bother? Koenigsegg's own website proclaims that the CCX is capable of exceeding 245 mph. If this was the case, why not do it for the show? What a letdown! I thought it was gonna hit 250 for sure. 

Well, I guess it's just a testament to the amazing ahead-of-their-time prowess of the McLaren team that built the F1.