The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

29 June 2006

VQ very much

I'd seen some pieces like this, and they'd always tripped the Hyperbole Alert: yeah, gearheads rave about engines, but that's what they're supposed to do. So I might not have noticed something along these lines:

How else to describe the VQ but pre-eminent? The inherent excellence of this design absolutely stunned us — and many of Nissan's competitors — when launched for the '95 model year, and the same basic engine today still stands out from a growing cadre of sophisticated V-6 engines.

The VQ's uncanny refinement and lack of vibration always seemed practically supernatural; its unrivaled noise, vibration and harshness characteristics are a large contributor to the VQ V-6's insouciant, exuberant power delivery.

I'd owned one V-6 prior to this year. It wore a blue oval, and was a nice little torque monster when it wasn't chewing on its head gaskets. Still, this was 1980s technology, and I'd had no experience with any contemporary bent six.

This afternoon I'm climbing onto one of this state's infamously-short onramps. Having mostly gotten out of the Sandy-era habit of flooring it and hanging on, I was doing a sedate fifty-five or so as the merge area began, when a truck (no trailer) which had been sandbagging it in the slow lane decided it was going too slow after all.

Two things I knew:

  • Diesels don't pick up speed all that fast;
  • But I'd still better get the lead out while I still can.

"What would Sandy do?" flashed into my head, and I gave the loud pedal a shove, though not quite enough of one to hit the floorboards. The expected noise burst didn't. I checked the left-side mirror for the truck — which wasn't there anymore.

And then it appeared behind me. Way behind me. Gauge check: revs, 5400 or so; speed, 85 mph. Elapsed time: seemingly hardly any.

I eased back on the pedal and slid into the left lane: 80, 75, 70, back to some semblance of normal; it was as though nothing had happened.

Sandy, bless her little four-cylinder heart, would have been winded but happy: "Let's do it again — later." Gwendolyn didn't even break into a sweat: "You need anything else while I'm up?"

If you're any good, and I was fairly decent at it, you can do some wondrous things with an underpowered car: it's simply a matter of knowing its limitations and being willing to work right up to the edge of them. While I've about figured Gwendolyn's chassis limits — she is a front-driver, after all, and there's no button on the dash to suspend the laws of physics — I suspect all that insouciance and exuberance comes at speeds inadvisable at rush hour.

There is, of course, plenty of time to get acquainted, but for now, I think we're going to get along just fine. A little serenity is good for the soul.

Posted at 7:16 PM to Driver's Seat


I know, everyone says "they don't make things like they used to," but cars are better. Oh yeah, I want to set dwell and timing again - every eight to ten thousand miles with new plugs. Yep, I want to sit in a freezing car, feathering the throttle to keep it running long enough to warm up. In the summer, I certainly don't want modern air conditioning - I want to sit on a squeaky vinyl bench seat with sweat soaking the back of my shirt.

I really don't expect to see very many of this era's cars still running fifty years from now - after all, they are disposable. The old machines have that over the new ones. But, things like engines that make power and mileage at the same time - a sixties honking V8 would have trouble keeping up with Gwendolyn at a third of the mileage. Even if it did keep up, all you'd have to do is step on the brakes and turn a corner, and the old warrior would be done for.

Yep, "These are the days" for cars, I'm thinking. Most run pretty quick, are equipped with options most luxury cars of a few years ago didn't even have available, and are more reliable on the whole. Go for 100k w/o a tuneup or change the antifreeze? Get outta here!

Don't get me wrong, I love older cars. I just sold a '79 Vette. I want an old muscle car. Just not for driving every day.

It's been fun reading about getting used to your new ride, and appreciating the extra amenities and tech goodies it has. The new shoes leap higher and faster than the older, but beloved pair. Have fun!

Posted by: Jeffro at 9:59 PM on 29 June 2006

Not to be sexist or anything, but your Gwendolyn sounds pretty muscular for a girl. Are you sure she isn't an Arnold? Glad you are happy with your new ride!

Posted by: Muttering In Manitoba at 10:16 PM on 29 June 2006

There's a scene in Untitled: A Love Story where the guy is just getting used to the idea that there's someone else at the breakfast table, even though he can't see her.

"I'm a chick," she points out helpfully, and then: "I'll kick your ass, though."

She then proceeds to beat him at arm-wrestling.

Posted by: CGHill at 7:09 AM on 30 June 2006