Archive for Driver’s Seat

More dots to connect

According to legend, department-store mogul John Wanamaker was heard to complain: “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.” It is Google’s intention to pin that sucker down:

[I]n the age of highly targeted, algorithmic advertising, the landscape is completely different. The apps on your phone know what you looked at and when, and can tie that in to what you see on other devices you’re also logged into their services on (like your work computer).

Meanwhile, you’re leaving tracks out in the physical world — not only the location history of your phone, but also the trail of payments you leave behind you if you pay with a credit card, debit card, or app (as millions of us do).

Put A and B together, and suddenly you have a much clearer picture to share with advertisers: Why yes, John Smith did see four ads for your coffee drink online yesterday, before spending exactly what one of those drinks costs at a location of yours near his office. Congratulations, your ads work; spend more money advertising with us now, please.

How does that work, exactly?

Businesses that collect your email address to track your purchases and send you coupons can import their loyalty program data directly into their Google advertiser account, making it even easier to follow you around everywhere you go. For everyone else, Google says its third-party partnerships capture roughly 70% of all credit and debit card transactions in the U.S.

The data won’t have your name attached, Google makes sure to point out. It’s anonymized and then hashed over, so what advertisers see is that user 08a862b091c379fe9767615d10873 saw these ten ads in the morning, and spent $27.73 at a certain grocery store that afternoon.

Still, anyone who has the data can put two and two together and come up with you. Or me.

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Part happen, part stance

Said I some weeks back about the Dodge Challenger SRT Demon:

I’m honestly not really prepared to pony up $85,000 for this Dodge, even though (1) that’s still cheaper than the Viper, may it rest in peace, and (2) whatever the MSRP, most dealers will tack on ten grand more, and David Stanley fifteen grand.

Commenters, for some reason, took exception to that estimate. I stand by it for this reason:

Dodge announced pricing for the 2018 Challenger SRT Demon today — not that it matters, as dealers will do everything in their powers to not adhere to its MSRP. However, the starting point for their gouging occurs at $84,995, which includes the gas guzzler tax but not a $1,095 destination fee.

The easiest option package:

… one leather front passenger seat, a rear leather bench, a carpeted trunk, and a serialized “Demon Crate” tool chest valued at $6,140.

Price including those items but still not including the destination charge: $84,999.

Still cheaper than the Viper, may it rest in peace.


An Important Document

“You may have been pre-qualified for an auto loan up to $32,950,” says the back of this silly-ass document, billed as “Freedom Certificate of Finance — Preferred” on the front, along with a picture of Lady Liberty flanked by a couple of pieces of artillery. After all, what’s more American than recovering from a period of penury by going out and overspending on a frigging new car?

This is the very top of that front page:

Important Document from some car dealer

No document attempting to sell me stuff can possibly be “Important.”

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It’s Scary Scenario Time:

Been there, didn’t quite do that:

In 1985, a petroleum tanker making a left turn around a narrow corner didn’t see me and attempted, quite involuntarily, to prove the law of physics that says that two objects cannot occupy the same space at the same time; not only did I survive, but I was able to drive away from the carnage with less than a deductible’s worth of damage.

The tanker didn’t have one of these fancy side curtains, but it did have a spare-tire carrier, and that’s what I hit. Perhaps needless to say, I think these are a swell idea, but they will almost certainly increase costs for trucking companies, which of course will be passed on to the rest of us.

(Via The Truth About Cars.)

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Justify my ride

Francis W. Porretto waxes lyrical (it’s an artisanal version of Carnauba) on the subject of Joy, his newly-arrived C6 Corvette:

There’s nothing like the bellow of an American V8 engine with a performance-oriented exhaust system behind it. Just starting the engine is enough to increase any red-blooded man’s testosterone to the “Let’s hunt an endangered species to extinction and roast it over a bonfire of old-growth timber” level. And that, more than any other reason, is why I made this entirely unnecessary purchase.

Yes, it’s frivolous. Yes, it will anger tree huggers from coast to coast — and we do have a few here on the fabled Island of Long. And yes, what I spent on it would feed hundreds of illegal aliens for a whole year. I don’t care. It was my money and my decision.

If I regret anything about this purchase, it would be the requirement to pay the Vampire State’s Department of Motor Vehicles a king’s ransom in sales tax for the privilege of registering Joy for use on New York roads.

And sales tax apparently is just the beginning:

What fees and taxes do I need to pay to register and title a vehicle in New York State?

If this is the original registration (first time you register your vehicle), you must pay the

  • registration fee
  • vehicle plate fee
  • county use tax
  • sales tax (see sales tax information)
  • title certificate fee of $50.00
  • MCTD fee for the following 12 counties only: Bronx, Kings (Brooklyn), New York (Manhattan), Queens, Richmond (Staten Island), Dutchess, Nassau, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Suffolk, and Westchester

But those are mere annoyances:

I tell you, people, that you not forget: it’s all right to be happy. And if that’s all right, then it’s all right for anyone, once the necessities are dealt with, to buy a red Corvette convertible, lower the top, and cruise blissfully and for no good reason down the main drag of his burg with the sun on his shoulders and the wind in his hair. A nineteen year old blonde right-seat decoration is not required.

I am far too easily distracted for such, um, decorations.

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She will never overcharge you

I haven’t changed my own oil in several years. (Why should I? I write a check for $45, they lend me a car for the day, and they wash mine.) And my technique, I may as well admit, is no better than that of this presumably relatively-untried mechanic:

It’s the same oil I use: Mobil Super, guaranteed to contain dead dinosaurs. And while I’d be expected to dab some oil onto the filter gasket, apparently that’s no longer recommended on some newer cars.

What’s worse, she can also change ignition coils, which I can just barely comprehend at all.

(Via Fark.)

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I blame Mr. Slate

In Canada, just as it is here down south, the bureaucracy has the brains of a lump of Bedrock:

A 75-year-old Ontario woman has a pre-historic bone to pick with two of Bedrock’s most famous residents.

Documents show fictional characters Fred Flintstone and his daughter, Pebbles, have taken out very real liens against a Perth, Ont. woman’s van.

The woman, named Maureen, learned of the bizarre situation nine months ago, when the liens prevented her from selling her van to a car dealership. The sale cannot go through until the cartoon characters cancel the liens, or the government steps in.

Documents obtained by CTV Toronto show Fred and Pebbles Flintstone listed as debtors claiming liens against Maureen’s vehicle. Their address is listed at 9 Yellow Brick Road, Markham, Ont.

The registering agent is listed as “PPSR Test Data1,” which suggests the lien may have been created as part of a Service Ontario system test.

That address should have raised eyebrows:

The Flintstones had three addresses during the series’ six-season run. First: 222 Rocky Way. Second: 345 Stonecave Road. Third: 301 Cobblestone Way.

Not a yellow brick in the bunch.

Service Ontario will be cleaning up its act:

Tracy MacCharles, Ontario’s minister of government and consumer services, said she will look into the problem to ensure that no other real vehicle ID numbers were used in the test.

“To my knowledge this has not happened before and I’m making sure that it doesn’t happen again,” MacCharles told the Assembly.

[PC MPP Randy] Hillier called the whole situation “Looney Tunes,” and called for assurances that the next time this happens, it won’t take nine months to fix.

Although to be fair, such a problem would have taken much longer to resolve in the Flintstones era, when Service Bedrock employed dinosaurs and pelicans, not humans.

And it wasn’t Looney Tunes; it was Hanna-Barbera.

(Via Fark.)

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Despite all your rage

You can now drive a Faraday cage, kinda sorta:

Last week, Nissan’s European division proudly announced that it had developed a new feature for use in the Juke that effectively eliminates all cellular signals. In the release, the company praised its UK team for coming up with a 21st century application that uses Victorian-era technology, saying “the beauty of the design is its simplicity.”


Literally a Faraday cage, an invention dating back to the early 1800s, Nissan’s Signal Shield allows drivers to place their cell phone into a center console that eliminates all Bluetooth and Wi-Fi communications when closed. The brand believes its invention will save lives, citing statistics from Britain’s RAC Telematics that show a significant increase of in-car smartphone usage between 2014 and 2016.

“Our research shows that handheld phone use by drivers has reached epidemic proportions,” RAC road safety spokesman Pete Williams said. “As mobile phone technology has advanced significantly many people have become addicted to them. However, the use of a handheld phone when driving represents both a physical and mental distraction and it has been illegal since 2003.”

Okay, almost Victorian. Michael Faraday built his first cage in 1836; Victoria assumed the throne in 1837. Consider this nit adequately picked. Still: do you need this gadget?

While we’d like to credit Nissan for making the effort here, we just can’t. You can build your own miniature EMF shielding bag for next to nothing, or purchase one online for about ten bucks. But it’s still not an effective deterrent until you place your phone inside and toss the bag into the trunk. Meanwhile, Nissan’s solution has the object resting less than a foot away from your arm at all times. The entire concept is on par with someone securing a handgun under a couch and relying on their children’s good intentions not to play with it.

Or you can avoid this whole issue by not buying a Juke from a Nissan dealer in the United Kingdom. For most of us, this will be no sacrifice.

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In case you hadn’t had a Hummer lately

Who knew these things were still around?

Bob Lutz and Henrik Fisker’s feisty Michigan-based VLF Automotive is bringing the H1 back to the masses — provided they don’t reside in North America. Lutz has struck a deal with Humvee Export, a small collective of off-road enthusiasts and entrepreneurs in Saint Clair, Michigan to assemble the trucks using GM powertrains at VLF’s petite factory in Auburn Hills.

Even though General Motors abandoned the Hummer brand in 2010, and H1 assembly in 2006, AM General has continued production of the High Mobility Multi-Purpose Wheeled Vehicle for allied military use. It has also begun offering a C-Series kit to private citizens for $60,000 in 2013, which includes the HMMWV platform minus a powertrain. Seeing an opportunity, Humvee Export began ordering C-Series kits that same year — finishing them off for sale in Africa, Europe, and the Middle East. In 2017, they branched out to include export to China and are enlisting VLF in order to expand production.

The current-year production estimate is up to 100, largely because of the opening of the Chinese market:

Humvee plans to assemble up to 100 finished trucks by year’s end, with the majority going to wealthy buyers in China with a $150,000 starting price and loads of optional extras. The vehicles will be vintage Hummer in appearance and come in three trim levels: Bravo, Charlie, and Delta. Higher trims provide additional luxury, distancing the vehicle from the base model’s interior and its military roots.

Your guess is as good as mine, maybe better, about why they’re not selling an Alpha version.

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From the “Why would you do this?” files

Basic question:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: How does the keyless Push-To-Start button work in a car?

And then it gets fuzzy:

I plan on buying a new nissan maxima or altima in a few weeks. The reviews show that they are good cars and all but, I’m very concerned about the way you start the car. I know that all you do is like push the button and have the thingy with you in your pocket, but what if I dont want someone driving it. Like if I’m sitting in the passenger seat with someone else in the drivers seat that I don’t want driving. How would that work?

How would that even happen? What bizarre sort of circumstances would cause this situation? I mean, a carjacker is going to throw you out of the car, and he may or may not remember to search you for the fob.

Also, how would make a copy of that key like traditional keys because I sometimes tend to misplace them.

You write a very large check to a Nissan dealer.

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It’s not even Grand

Suzuki, back in the days when it was still trying to sell cars in the States, had a tiny SUV called the Vitara. It was small, but it was serious: rear- or four-wheel drive and some legitimate offroad capability. For a while, a Grand Vitara was offered, but there was some resistance to a motor vehicle with a name that could have been given to a Ferengi nobleman:

Rom: Why are we in such a rush today?

Quark: Because the Grand Vitara is coming down from Ferenginar. Now get your lobes in gear.

I note purely for amusement that Suzuki also produced a batch of these for Mazda under the “Proceed Levante,” a name that makes me grin every time I see the unrelated 2017 Levante, the first SUV offered by, um, Maserati.

That said, an original ’96 Vitara is being sold via this slightly unorthodox method:

A vehicle that can do all this — and I’m not saying it can — would cost you scores of strips of gold-pressed latinum.

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MSRP or bust

Last week we pondered the imponderable Dodge Demon and its 800-odd horsepower and its under-six-figures price. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles says it’s going to stop dealer gouging:

According to Motor Authority, FCA passenger vehicle head Tim Kuniskis says the brand doesn’t want anyone taken advantage of and is very aware of the exploitative pricing that occurred with the Hellcat. Kuniskis says that, since each Demon will have an individually numbered plaque on the dash with the owner’s name, dealers will be forced to order every car for a predetermined buyer. The same goes for the optional customized “Demon Crate” toolbox Dodge is offering.

If you’re wondering what’s stopping dealers from just buying models in advance and ordering those plaques from the manufacturer, Dodge is.

Kuniskis explained that the automaker will only add the plaque on the original vehicle at the factory. Dealers cannot change the plaque after they’ve ordered the car and, while they can order it blank and change it themselves, Dodge won’t associate the name with each car’s serialized number. It won’t be “official” and might look a little off — making the car far less desirable.

When asked if the subsequent owners of a Demon could contact FCA and order a new plaque with their name on it Kuniskis said, “Tough shit.”

I have my doubts about this. For example, the Complete Book of Collectible Cars 1940-1980 (New York: Beekman, 1982) recounts this sad tale of the 1978 Chevrolet Corvette Pace Car Replica:

A novel touch was that the identifying “Pace Car” decals were supplied separately so the owner could apply them if desired … Standard equipment included power windows, electric rear window defroster, air conditioning, sport mirrors, and other features, which boosted the Pace Car’s price over $4000 above that of a standard Corvette. Because of the announced limited production run, however, the Replicas fetched upwards of $28,000 as would-be collector’s items when new. This tempted some owners of standard ‘Vettes to paint their cars to match to pass them off as “factory” Pace Cars. All this created much anguish for dealers and buyers alike. In fact, it still does. More than with any other factory special, it will pay to make sure that a ’78 Corvette Pace Car is, in fact, the genuine article.

Although the General did leave a hint:

The clue is the seats: similar to, but not exactly the same as, the ones used in production ’79s.

Which were used in no other ’78s, not even in the Silver Anniversary Edition. And there’s always the VIN.

Incidentally, $28,000 in the fall of 1977 today would be, um, $111,180.

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Brand new, shiny red, super stock

Jack Baruth muses about the impact of the dreaded Dodge Demon. (You remember the 707-hp Hellcat? Add 133 horses, or about one Hyundai Elantra.) At some point, things become post-apocalyptic:

The press preview for the Demon will happen any day now. All the Demons will be started at once. The resulting CO2 emissions will cause the earth to hockey-stick into the Apocalypse. The ground will start catching on fire. A rough beast will arise from the ground and begin slouching towards Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, drawn by rumors of a Demon in stock with no additional dealer markup. Life will be first cheap, then worthless. There is really a Jurassic Park. The dinosaurs in it are being crushed into oil to feed the Demons. The seas will rise, then fall. The earth will halt its rotation. It is falling into the sun as we speak. Three minutes to impact. Your cell phone is ringing. It is your Dodge dealer. There is a chance of a Demon allocation for 2018. Are you in or out?

I’m honestly not really prepared to pony up $85,000 for this Dodge, even though (1) that’s still cheaper than the Viper, may it rest in peace, and (2) whatever the MSRP, most dealers will tack on ten grand more, and David Stanley fifteen grand. But this is the true counterargument:

The author would like to remind everyone that his Kawasaki ZX-14R is faster than a Demon.

So there. And you still have to contend with little old ladies.

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Whistles and bells

Peter Grant is not impressed with all these new automotive safety features:

Such advanced technologies may be desirable to some, but to those of us who’ve done without them all our lives, they don’t appear to be all that vital or necessary. I’ve been driving without them for the best part of half a century. I daresay I won’t feel deprived if I don’t have them tomorrow … and if that means I can pick up my next vehicle for half what I’d pay for it today, I’m fine with that.

My 17-year-old ride has four air bags, two more than I’ve had on any previous car, and anti-lock brakes, which I’d never had before. If I didn’t know better, and I’m pretty sure I don’t, I’d swear that any newer tweaks were motivated by the idea that newer drivers are even more inept than us older folks.

Still, this stance could get complicated:

There are those who argue that cities will make such features mandatory on vehicles wishing to use their roads. If we don’t have the latest safety technology, we won’t be allowed to drive there. My answer to that is simple. I have disposable income. I can spend it where I please. If cities, or suburbs, or areas make me unwelcome, I won’t spend my money there. I’ll take my business somewhere else. See how long their economy lasts when all of us in a similar position do likewise, and their sales tax revenues tank, and many of their stores close their doors due to lack of customers. No, if they want me to have the latest technology in my vehicle, they can damn well pay for it. I’m not going to waste my hard-earned dollars on it.

Then again, it’s not hard to predict how these things will be made mandatory, and it doesn’t involve the cities at all: it will be the usual Federal 90-degree blackmail. (“Either you enact this law, or we cut your funding.”) There are damned few municipalities, or counties, or states, willing to tell Washington to go jump a farging stump.

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From The Donald’s garage

A sports car once owned by Donald J. Trump has hit the auction block, with results that could reasonably be described as meh:

While Donald Trump seems to take a keen interest in the current state of the automotive industry, he doesn’t exactly come across as an car enthusiast. However, he is very rich and has had his share of obligatory Rolls, Benz, and Bentley-built vehicles over the years. And, like any exceptionally wealthy American male, he purchased a tomato red Ferrari, drove it infrequently, and then sold it off.

That car — a 2007 Ferrari F430 F1 Coupe — was auctioned by Sotheby’s over the weekend for a little less than one might expect. You would assume having the opportunity to say you owned “the president’s Ferrari” would add a substantial premium to the final sale price, but you’d be wrong.

For one thing, Trump disposed of the Ferrari several years ago, when he was just a guy with a fat wallet on TV. For another, there’s nothing particularly distinctive about it except for generic Ferraritude:

It may be a celebrity car, but it’s also a red Ferrari with a hardtop, tan interior, and semi-automatic gearbox. It doesn’t exude any of the man’s sensibilities or style and, with only 6,000 miles on the odometer, it probably wasn’t his favorite vehicle. Trump only put 2,400 of those miles on himself, before selling it in 2011 — and that extra degree of separation also didn’t do anything to help the final price.

Whereas another car once residing in Trump’s garage, a Lamborghini Diablo VT with all-wheel drive, brought in $460,000 on eBay last year, almost twice the final bid on this Ferrari. The Diablo, as it happens, is much rarer: maybe 400 were built. Ferrari recalled about 2000 F430s, a tiny fraction of overall production.

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Slogs of varying length

Those of us who don’t have to deal with Really Terrible Traffic on a regular basis might be considered spoiled. I know I swore a great deal yesterday when the 18-minute drive home, which lately has grown to 23 minutes because of construction along I-44, took a whole 29 minutes.

The I-85 incident reminded Tam of the days she had to drive through north Georgia:

One thing about Atlanta commutes is that they’re long. Mile-wise, the average Atlanta resident used to have a longer commute than any other major metro, although I don’t know if that’s changed.

When I worked third shift at the convenience store where Roswell Road crossed I-285, one of my morning regulars was a woman who was stopping to get coffee on her commute from Dahlonega to the Atlanta Airport. Go look at that on a map. When I worked at Lawrenceville Airport, one of our pilots commuted from his home just across the South Carolina state line. My own commute at the time, from home to gun store to airport to home, was 100 miles a day.

And yet I whine about 21.5 miles a day. Spoiled, I tell you.

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How dare you buy so little fuel!

The legislature is taking action against you miserable fuel-sipping bastards:

House Bill 1449 would implement a $30 annual fee on hybrid vehicles, which use a combination of electric and gasoline power. There would also be a $100 fee on every electric-drive motor vehicle registered in the state.

The bill’s author, state Sen. Stephanie Bice, said the money would replace lost motor fuel tax revenue that’s used for road and bridge repairs.

“Currently, these particular types of vehicles do not pay anything into the roads and bridges fund through the gas tax because they’re not using gasoline, or in the case of the hybrid, very little gasoline,” said Bice, R-Oklahoma City.

And there’s <drevil>One Million Dollars</drevil> at stake:

If the bill passes and becomes law, it won’t bring in much to state coffers, compared to other revenue sources. According to a fiscal analysis, the fee on electric vehicles would garner about $212,600 each year based on recent figures showing there are 2,126 plug-in vehicles in Oklahoma.

There are significantly more hybrid vehicles. The $30 fee on more than 26,000 hybrid cars would bring in $799,260.

Then again, we’ve been asking for this kind of treatment for years:

[T]he vast majority of voters agree: A 2016 poll showed 74 percent support increasing the state’s tobacco tax to fund health care.

This will, we are told, reduce the number of smokers. But they pretty much have to hope it doesn’t reduce the number so much that it jeopardizes all that new funding they want.

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Daewoo come and me want go home

A 2000 Daewoo Lanos is being offered locally on craigslist, and it sounds like a real creampuff:

Now this silver bullet only has 71,000 miles, so ladies and gentlemen, this girl just got broke in. With manual windows, you never have to worry about having faulty switches that can go bad and hold you back from getting drive through Chick-fil-a with your bae.

Now that’s handy, six days a week. But wait! There’s more!

Do you sometimes have to drive in the rain to get your significant other food while you’re in trouble for telling her that her sister looked hot at her family reunion and spilling mashed potatoes on her great grandpas urn which in turn gave her grandma a heart attack landing her in the hospital for 2 weeks? Then great! This puppy has 2 multi-speed windshield wipers in the front, and another one on the rear window so you can see your girlfriends dad chasing after you with a shotgun when you sneak her out of the house to go to that concert in Stillwater.

Try that with anything else near the price. (Oh, the price? $1400.)


The Knowledge, and how not to get it

If you’re going to drive a taxi in Greater London, you need The Knowledge:

All London taxi drivers are required to have a detailed knowledge of London within a 6 mile radius of Charing Cross. In order to obtain this candidates have to pass through the world renowned “Knowledge of London”.

The Knowledge requires candidates to learn a total of 320 routes that criss-cross London and are specifically designed to leave no gaps. Taxi drivers have to also remember all places of interest or note en route: embassies, colleges, buildings, municipal offices and all other public buildings, hotels, theatres, stations, hospitals, museums, restaurants — and the list goes on.

There are over 60,000 streets or roads within the 6 mile radius — with all of their one-way and restricted turn intricacies — plus over 100,000 places of note that the potential London cab driver has to learn.

“Big deal,” you say. “We have GPS now. That’s more than enough.”

You are wrong, Beckenham breath. You’re giving up quite a bit with navigation systems:

A new study suggests drivers who follow GPS directions regularly do not engage their hippocampus, highly limiting the development of an internal map and making them more dependent on navigation devices.

The University College London discovered the hippocampus (used for direction and memory) and the prefrontal cortex (used for decision-making) both saw elevated levels of activity whenever drivers turned down unfamiliar streets or had free-choice to follow along their route. However, those making use of navigational systems produced no additional activity in those areas whatsoever. Zero, zilch, nada.

The researchers’ experiment monitored the brains of 24 volunteers during driving simulations of central London, some with fixed routes to a destination and some without. Those without may have made it to their destinations on-time, but the extreme lack of mental energy exerted by those two areas was on par with someone watching an episode of The View.

Then again, there’s no need to watch The View unless you’re a fan of Jedediah Bila, and of course you should be.

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Other people’s readers

For almost a dozen years now, I’ve been vending this “strange search-engine queries” stuff, on the dubious basis that probably every site on the Internet receives similarly weird searches, and the least I can do is try to milk it for some yocks. Jack Baruth tried it once on the site he shares with brother Bark, and just when I thought he’d given up on the idea, he popped up a version based on searches at The Truth About Cars, and demonstrated once more that he grasps the Zeitgeist of the concept. One sample:

ford van boaterhome:  He was the fourteenth Baron of Saxony.

Okay, technically Saxony was a duchy — a TTAC commenter pointed that out — but still, it works.


Caddy remarks

General Motors has bestowed some of their finest engineering ever on Cadillac sedans, and yet sales continue to tank. Jack Baruth says that’s the whole problem:

Cadillac has been handed over to people who think you can engineer your way to excellence in the luxury-car market. You can’t. It has to be done with marketing.

And don’t you dare bring up Lexus as a counter-example. The original LS400 was a master class in cost-no-object engineering but nobody bought it for that reason. They bought it because it looked just like an S-Class, it based at $35,000 instead of $58,000, and the marketing emphasized that. Period, point blank. I want you to think back to the last time you saw the actual MSRP of a D-class luxury sedan in a television ad and I guarantee you it will be that first-gen LS400. The price was the whole point. The Infiniti Q45 was a better car to drive in day-to-day use — I know, I had access to both of them when they were brand new — and it didn’t sell worth a damn because the marketing was garbage. Instead of a picture of the car and the sticker price, they had rocks and trees. People already had rocks and trees. What they wanted was a discount S-Class.

Don Draper, line one, please:

So here’s my suggestion. Bring back the Mad Men. Find the most despicable, non-progressive, manipulative ad agency money can buy. Get the people who did the Lexus bows and tell them that the gloves are off. Starting tomorrow, everything will be done with marketing foremost in mind. No more Nürburgring times, no more class-leading lateral g. We’re gonna take the fight to Lexus with cars that are absurdly desirable. Cars that flaunt your prosperity to your neighbors. The Escalade is gonna be the bare minimum when it comes to excess displays of wealth. Buying a Cadillac should feel like putting on a red-velvet top hat and punching your boss in the face. It should be irrationally exuberant.

And it will have to be priced accordingly. A ’57 Eldorado Brougham with everything standard, including a set of matched tumblers (!), sold for the princely sum of $13,074, or about 4.9 Chevrolets. Inflation demands six-figure pricing today. And fercrissake, don’t do something stupid like call it “CT9.”

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Rivaling anything on your audio rack

Murilee Martin, who shoots the Junkyard Finds feature for The Truth About Cars, happened upon a 1990 Mitsubishi Sigma, basically a prettied-up Galant sedan, and snagged this shot:

Cassette player from 1990 Mitsubishi Sigma photographed by Murilee Martin

“[R]equired in Japanese pseudo-luxury sedans of the era,” said Martin, is “a very complex tape deck with nine-band graphic equalizer.” What baffles me is that PRO/PLAY button: I’m guessing you can program a tape that you’ve just inserted, and this toggles the programming mode — but I could be wrong. Certainly nothing like that appears on my cassette gear, and it’s pretty high-end.

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Large and quite charged

And really, I’d chuckle at this myself:

This is the P100D. I wonder if it has the Ludicrous Speed option.

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Honest about his intentions

At a dime a dozen, this guy’s worth about 0.8 cent:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: What will a resonated tip do to my exhaust sound?

But maybe I’ve underestimated him:

I’ve been looking around a lot and I can’t find a straight answer, I have a 94 ford explorer 4.0 5 speed, I have the rear catalytic converter punched out and an 8 inch glass pack. I wanna put a tip on my exhaust but I don’t know which I should go with a plain tip or resonated, I’m looking for a sort of a little louder sound it’s hard to explain it exactly but I sort of want to make it more obnoxious sounding

Not to worry. You explained it just fine.

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And 100,000 miles free

There was some flap a few years ago when owners of some Toyota cars saw their odometers freeze up at 299,999; you will never see the 300,000th mile, or 300,000th kilometer, on the face of the instrument.

What could be worse? How about an odometer that rolls over all the digits but the first? Apparently some mid-90s Ford trucks, once gotten to 399,999, reset to 300,000.

Far as I know, Nissans don’t have this particular issue. (Gwendolyn is showing 166,425, so I’m not likely to encounter any reasonable limit any time soon.)

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Infinite headroom

For some reason, these didn’t catch on:

Dodge Dakota Convertible

This is what you’re looking at:

In a have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too moment, Dodge decided the public wanted a convertible pickup truck for the 1989 model year. Based on the Dakota Sport, the convertible was modified by ASC in California with a manual folding roof. You could buy two- or four-wheel-drive variants, both powered initially by the 3.9-liter V6 and hooked to an automatic transmission. They were optioned up with air conditioning, velour seats and full gauge packages. In 1990, Dodge offered a lower spec SE model with the 2.5 hooked to a five-speed manual.

Not many bought into the idea in either configuration, and Dodge barely managed to fulfill its contract with ASC to produce them. In total, just shy of 4,000 were sold over the three model years they were available.

That 3.9, if I remember correctly, was a cut-down version of the trusty 318 (5.2-liter) V8.

The one and only person I know who owned any sort of Dakota Sport would probably have laughed at the very idea of this.


Cheap wheels at a price

The government would really like you to buy an electric car, and there are incentives in place. The result is something like this:

Fiat’s 500e can currently be had for roughly the same price as a decent pair of sneakers, continuing the trend of bargain basement pricing on small electric cars. At $69 per month for 36 months with no money down, it’s also a better deal than the shoes — which typically only manage a few hundred miles before becoming a tattered mess. With some evening reprieves to recharge, the Fiat can manage that in a week with only the slightest hint of tread-wear. However, this incredibly low leasing rate for the $33,000 EV isn’t even the best deal of the last few months.

On Black Friday Orange Coast Fiat in Costa Mesa, California, had the little electric listed at $49 per month with no money down — 20 dollars below the current unbelievable price.

Who could possibly object? FCA chair Sergio Marchionne, for one:

Why is the 500e going for so cheap? One big reason is that Fiat Chrysler never really intended to sell any. “I hope you don’t buy it because every time I sell one it costs me $14,000,” FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne said at the Brookings Institution of the 500e in 2014. “I’m honest enough to tell you that.”

The EV was developed by Fiat Chrysler specifically as a compliance car to satisfy emissions regulations in California and other states mandating the sale of zero-emission vehicles. The company never had any intent to make this vehicle a sales leader or profitable, it only exists to keep its other, less environmentally friendly, vehicles in those markets.

Still, if you’re in the right place and can deal with a maximum of about 87 miles range, this may be the around-town buggy for you.


The Audi from hell

Yeah, I remember when I was a whiny adolescent:

I’m not asking for a 2017 mustang or anything near that but I have a 2004 Audi A4 with 154,000 miles which has this thing it does where you’re driving and it bumps forward (almost made me hit a car once). I’m only 18 and work part time so I gotta smile and pretend like I like what’s literally been killing me inside. I wanna cry just looking at it. But “I am lucky” to have a car as I have been told. I could sell it for a reasonable price and put that down as down payment towards the car that I do want which is under 10k and is much nicer and in great condition(2012). My dad won’t listen like always and I really fantasize about driving it off a cliff that’s how sad this car makes me. I feel this pain in chest thinking about it. What should I do honestly? And stop all this “you’re spoiled thing” when you know you’re only saying that cause you are not in my situation.

Well, if it’s “literally killing” you inside, it doesn’t matter: you’re about to be very, very dead, which if nothing else should reduce your level of sadness.

And trust me on this: if you’re suicidal with Car A, you’re going to be suicidal with Cars B through Whatever.

Bottom line: Fix the goddamn Audi and shut the frack up.


Six digits, no waiting

Susannah, my ’66 Chevy II Nova, was acquired at the age of nine with about 94,000 miles; I remember the day the odometer rolled back to zero, because of course I do. The magic sixth digit before the decimal showed up on no dashboards of mine until a ’93 Mazda 626.

Gwendolyn, my 2000 Infiniti I30, currently shows 166,240 miles; she went over 100k during World Tour ’07. Of course, all cars these days allow for readings over a hundred thousand. Is this an acknowledgement by the industry that one can expect greater longevity these days? Probably not:

Today I took the instrument cluster out of my 1993 [Ford Mustang] coupe that I recently purchased. I took out to polish the lens and clean the dust out. I noticed that there was a sticker on the top of the cluster that said, “New York State Million Mile odometer” and it had a ford part number under it. Then I looked at the odometer and noticed that there was an extra digit which made it a million mile odometer.

I’ve never seen this before on a fox-body. Did this only come on 93 mustangs from NY??

Well, it’s 999,999, which might as well be a million. But apparently this was an edict from Albany:

Because NY said so. :)

Also, every car with the million mile odometer will have the RW defrost. That was also a requirement for NY.

New York also apparently specified 160-mph speedometers for police-package vehicles bought in the state, though it’s hard to imagine a Crown Victoria of that vintage crawling up to 160 mph.

It seems to me that the Canadians may have had some impact here: 100,000 km is not much over 60,000 miles, and it wouldn’t be much of a trick to switch a six-digit odo from kilometers to miles. Still, props to the Empire State for coming up with a Required Modification that did not actually negatively affect performance.

(Via The Truth About Cars.)


The parking spaces of dawn

TTAC commenter JimC2 offers the Three Laws of Self-Driving Cars, based on a possibly recognizable theme:

A self driving car may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.

A self driving car must obey the traffic laws given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.

A self driving car must keep right except to pass as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.

In other news, R. Daneel Olivaw apparently is not working for Uber.

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