Archive for Driver’s Seat

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.)

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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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Pieces of the action

So your car is a wreck. Wait until you see what else happens to you:

About twelve hours after you are the not-at-fault party in a car crash, no matter how minor, you will start getting calls from attorneys, body shops, and “official accident centers” that just happen to be affiliated with a local chiropractor. About thirty-six hours after the fact, you’ll start getting mail from various interested parties.

Ten days after a cheerful harmonica player and recreational marijuana enthusiast bopped his Mazda2 into my Accord, I’ve yet to hear from Liberty Mutual, the insurance company of said fellow. Well, that’s the way of the free market, ain’t it?

Afraid so. And where I live — I suspect it’s probably similar where you are — daytime television is loaded with advertising for those attorneys, ranging from blandly misinformative to borderline offensive:

Well, he isn’t bland.

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Land yachts at six o’clock

Those were the days, muses Joe Sherlock:

Almost every luxury vehicle manufacturer offers a top-of-the-line limousine-like sedan. Sixty years ago, people actually bought them in fair quantities. Today, not so much because the market has moved away from sedans to SUVs.

Into this shrinking mix is tossed the 2017 Cadillac CT6, which — inexplicably — comes standard with a four-cylinder engine. Timothy Cain recently tested one fitted with a more appropriate twin-turbo V6, making 404 horsepower and fitted to an eight-speed automatic. The Cadillac CT6 3.0TT Luxury model is priced north of $75,000. For that kind of money, it should have a better moniker than CT6.

Tell that to Johan de Nysschen, who screwed up Infiniti badges before starting on Cadillac’s. What would Joe Sherlock call this Caddy?

I would suggest something like “Outta my Way, Peasants”.

My late brother, who drove a baby-blue Sedan de Ville and visibly resented his lovely bride’s Nissan Altima, would have appreciated that.

Still, what the hell is wrong with “Fleetwood”?

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55 horses, no waiting

Renault sold its diminutive 5 in the States as “Le Car,” and perhaps the best thing it had going for it was the name:

Renault Le Car advertisement

Les Cars (why not?) were shipped here for fourteen years, and at least one of them ended up as a police cruiser in Ogunquit, Maine:

[M]ost of the police cars in town were still Plymouth Satellites, or 9C1-equipped Chevrolet Caprices … but it helps to understand that the summer resort town of Ogunquit is jammed with traffic every day from May to October. Parking violations make up the bulk of its crime profile, so a small car, good for darting in and out of traffic and parking almost anywhere, made all the sense in the world.

And one town in Washington State replaced two regular cruisers with three Le Cars. But in semi-stodgy New England?

For years, I tried to explain to people that I knew of a New England town where a Renault Le Car could’ve pulled you over for speeding. I was accused of peddling what would now be described as “alternative facts.”

A newspaper photo of said Renault did eventually turn up.

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The mostly-impossible dream

You have to have something to motivate you, I suppose:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: Are used Lamborghinis, Ferraris, Mclarens, etc. just as reliable as a new one?

He goes on:

I am only a teenager with a big dream for super cars. I obsess over them. I recently looked on used car sites and found super cars under $150k that are $200k+ new (These might be older models though). Will these be as reliable as new ones?

Admittedly, he is not alone in his obsession.

They certainly won’t be any less expensive to operate. Ask the Ferrari owner who spends $5 a mile maintaining his prancing pony. (Which doesn’t, by the way, include gas at maybe 10 mpg and insurance at God knows what.)

I firmly believe that any money an adolescent accumulates for Big Speed should be spent on a proper racing school; even the meanest commuter vehicle can, and occasionally should, be driven with verve.

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Shell and Jaguar, sitting in a tree

For now, with exclusivity:

The two companies partnered together to develop the system, which is part of 2018 model year updates to Jaguar XE, XF, F-Pace, and Land Rover models (when equipped with the InControl app system). It would seem F-Type and XJ owners do not need the benefit of in-car fuel purchases at this time.

Designed to simplify the life of the customer, the Shell payment system can also log trips and save receipts for those who use their Jaguar as a company vehicle.

It works by allowing the driver to drive up to the pump at a Shell station and use the vehicle’s touchscreen to select how much fuel they’d like to purchase. The transaction is conducted using PayPal or Apple Pay for the time being. Android Pay will be added as an option later in the year. Upon payment, the touchscreen will display the fuel receipt, and further send a copy to a driver’s email address.

A nice way to bypass sub rosa card scanners, anyway.

Still, given the price of a Jag these days, the system ought to actually pump the damn gas for you. Maybe next update.

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Let there be torque

Erin Palette, celebrating her tenth anniversary here in blogdom, is still plenty fast with a quip:

On a related note, I’d like be the first to announce that the transgender version of Uncle Tom is an Aunt Dorothy, and the transgender version of “House Negro” is “Performance Tranny.” I figure that if I’m going to be called names for going off-narrative, I might as well pick those names myself.

Oh, and before you ask, I’m a 4:11 final drive, with a 6-speed double-overdrive and a competition clutch.

May her throwout bearing never need to be thrown out.

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Captain Obvious has a sister

And she’s evidently not too handy around the house:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: My temporary tag for my new car is hard to unscrew. It requires a flathead screwdriver. How can I get it off?

To give her credit, she wasn’t at all rude about it; she apparently really wasn’t sure what she was doing. Still, how do you get to the age of eight, let alone eighteen, without a working knowledge of screwdrivers?

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Lada these were made

This unassuming five-door hatchback is the Lada VAZ-2109 by AutoVaz:

VAZ-2109 hatchback

The Russians managed to sell a bunch of these in Europe under the name “Lada Samara” between 1987 and 1997; production continued until 2011 for the home market and for Third World nations that couldn’t afford to be awfully picky.

The 2109 was sold only with front-wheel drive; a choice of three inline four-cylinder engines, none over a liter and a half; and a four-speed manual. If any of these found their way into the States, it was probably over the Canadian border.

(Via Vintage Everyday.)

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Nor will you be able to carpool

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has been promising that the upcoming new Dodge Challenger SRT Demon, the Hellcat of Hellcats as it were, would be at least 200 lb lighter than the original 707-hp Hellcat. How did they do this? In the most direct way possible:

[T]o shed as much weight as possible from the Challenger Hellcat’s considerable mass, the mysterious Demon [will] make do without many of the things we’ve come to associate with modern automobiles.

Including seats.

No, the driver won’t be required to bring his or her own milk crate, but they sure won’t find themselves engaged in stimulating discussion. That’s because they’ll be alone.

When Dodge finally brings its devilish creation to consumers, the model will boast a single seat. Gone are the front passenger seat and rear bench. This, along with other notable deletions (described in detail by Motor Authority), is FCA’s easy and fast route to shedding 215 pounds from the vehicle’s weight. The missing seats alone account for 113 pounds of weight loss.

When we say this vehicle is a stripper, we mean it in the real, junkyard sense of the word. The automaker plans to ditch all but two stereo speakers, leaving one in each door, while scrapping 18 pounds of sound insulation. Those speakers had better be loud. Also on the list of missing components are the spare tire and trunk liner.

If nothing else, it will discourage your friends from asking for a ride — eventually. (Does this mean that there’s no passenger-side airbag? And would the absence thereof save any weight?)

I suppose this regimen is intended to insure that this little darb is used strictly as a track toy. If so, it could have been done even more directly: the 1967-69 Corvette was offered with a 560-hp 427 engine as part of a package called L88, which was delivered with neither radio nor heater.

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Destination not permitted

In post-Soviet Russia, GPS stirs you wrong:

Moscow motorists, when not surviving serious collisions in subpar vehicles without a scratch, have noticed that their GPS device will suddenly re-position its location when driving near the Kremlin.

The closer to the Kremlin, the more likely the device will suddenly find an alternative location to exist. In every instance, the location is the same: Vnukovo Airport, 20 miles from the seat of government.

Local media had a field day with the news, with The Moscow Times running the headline, “The Kremlin Eats GPS for Breakfast.” Clearly, an unknown force, emitted from somewhere, is interfering with satellite signals and replacing pinpoint coordinates with a default location when people stray too near.

Official explanation? What do you think?

When asked, official channels returned no explanation. The Russian Federal Protection Service, tasked with Kremlin security, apparently has no interest in dashing across Red Square to provide the press with details on the mystery.

To me, this sounds like the old radar jammer, updated. It doesn’t actually jam; what it does is overwhelm the incoming signal with one of its own, thereby creating bogus readings.

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Daydream fail revisited

Remember this douchelet? Last week he was asking about buying a Lamborghini and claiming an absurd salary to justify himself. Well, he’s back, and he’s more specific this time:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: Which should i buy a 2009 ferrari 430 or a 2007 lamborghini murcielago?

He goes on (and on):

the ferrari cost 184k it has 2048 miles the murcielago lago cost 189k it has 8452 miles which has less cost of maintenance which is more reliable im gonna keep it forever not selling it again

Well, it’s certainly true that he’s not selling it, inasmuch as he can’t possibly buy it. Someone (not I) gave the little dink a stern lecture and this link:

You can buy two new Corollas for that kind of money.

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Rolled back into the parking lot

Walmart’s long game, so far as I can tell, is to sell everything to someone, and to sell something to everyone. Inevitably, I suppose, they would have had to test the car business:

Launching in April, Walmart’s CarSaver program will make it the perfect middleman for impulse car buyers and local dealerships. CarSaver is designed to allow shoppers to browse, select, finance, and insure a vehicle through its website or at kiosks positioned outside of the nail salons and vision centers of twenty-five Walmart Supercenters.

At launch, 16 AutoNation stores in Phoenix, Houston, and Dallas will be participating, said AutoNation Chief Marketing Officer Marc Cannon. All of the dealerships are within 15 miles of a Walmart CarSaver kiosk.

Oh, well, we don’t have any AutoNation stores here, so — wait, what?

The kiosks will also be available in Oklahoma City Supercenters, however, those will be unaffiliated with AutoNation.

This might be interesting. Maybe. I’m not in the market for a new car at the moment.

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Daydream fail

I mean, this character is delusional from the word Go:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: Can i be able to buy and keep a lamborghini huracan?

To justify this delusion:

i earn 140-170k per year
i average 8-11k per month

Um, no you don’t. That alleged maximum of $11k per month comes out to only $132k a year. If you made that kind of money, you’d either be able to figure that yourself, or perhaps hire a fourth-grader to do it for you.

Last I looked, base price was $203,295, though I suspect none are sold at anywhere near base price: most of them have $30,000 or more worth of options.

I suspect this guy won’t be getting out of his ’99 Corolla for a long time.

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Standard cab

I don’t quite believe this just yet, but the idea tickles me something fierce:

Checker pickup truck

If this looks to you like half an old Checker Marathon, the definitive 1960s taxi, with a truck bed attached, well, that’s kind of what it is:

Checker Motor Cars, based in Haverhill, Massachusetts, is the indirect descendant of the Kalamazoo, Michigan company that cranked out odd but iconic Marathons from 1961 until 1982. Those boxy vehicles, which looked old even when the model debuted, populated taxi fleets from coast to coast and earned the Marathon a cult following. The original company officially bit the dust in 2010 after leaving the auto manufacturing business in 1982. Now, a reborn Checker services and restores those earlier vehicles.

Yeah. So?

With fingers crossed, Checker plans to take advantage of the recent Low Volume Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Act and build two models — a two-door pickup version of its classic sedan (called the Sport Pickup Cross-over), and a six-door, 12-passenger version, similar to the old Aerobus airport hauler. The company says it’s making headway, with a host of suppliers lined up.

“Low volume” is defined in the law as 325 per year, and Checker doesn’t expect to bump up against that ceiling. The pick-em-up will be powered by a GM crate engine, which makes sense, inasmuch as the original Checker cars, after a few years with the same Continental inline-six that powered Kaiser/Frazer cars, were equipped with Chevrolet mills.

Production target date: sometime in late 2018.

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Bolts for dolts

The Bolt is Chevrolet’s Pure Electric Car: no gas engine and an estimated range of 238 miles on a full charge. When can you get one? Where do you live?

The first deliveries of the Bolt began right before 2016 came to a close, with 579 vehicles delivered — primarily in California. Oregon dealerships should receive their remaining cars later this month and a quick inventory search shows that some dealerships have Bolts already.

Following the model’s western launch, the next states to see the rollout are Massachusetts, Maryland, and Virginia. Those states should have the EV by the end February. By March and April we should see the Bolt cropping up in New York, New Jersey, and Washington.

Don’t expect to see one in sunny Soonerland until September; for the moment, Chevy is happily sending us Silverados, which do more for their bottom line but don’t attract the attention of the Media Machine.

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Two wheels good, four wheels better?

A member of TTAC’s Best and Brightest comments on the all-wheel drive craze:

In my experience, some (not all) people — the ones who generally don’t try to understand technology/machinery, but just listen to the buzz — treat AWD like “Monster cables”. It’s magically better, and I don’t have to know anything about it. Like my acquaintance who I was told drove like a maniac in his ’92 Jetta because “it has ABS — we can’t crash”. Most of those AWD people in the ditch, I’m guessing, fall into these groups:

1) inexperienced drivers, especially in snow

2) thought that they didn’t need snow tires, because AWD, or rented an AWD car that came with all-seasons (I’ve been there!)

3) don’t know anything about how their AWD works, and expected it to save them from their own insanity

4) thought that AWD magically improved braking capability in the snow compared to regular cars

My own take on this: AWD may indeed get you going. It isn’t worth much of a damn at bringing you to a stop, though.

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That whatever-it-is over there

Contemporary automobiles are largely indistinguishable, to the annoyance of the Z Man:

The root of this, I suspect, is the dominance of the Left in American culture. The neo-Puritan hags have been screeching at us about how form must always follow function for so long we have lost our sense of style. You see that in cars where the goal of designers is to make them more aerodynamic and pack them with useful functions. The result is a fleet of well-built cars that look like they came from East German film noir during the Cold War. Our cars are ugly because inside, we have become an ugly people.

If you doubt this, look at pics of parking lots from 40-50 years ago. They were a carnival of colors, shapes and sizes. A person’s taste in cars said something about him, a form of advertisement. A people embracing life and its potential were out buying all sorts of cars in all sorts of colors. We are now a people marching to the inevitable end of our miserable existences so we buy cars that are suited for the task. The top three car colors in America are black, grey and white, with dark gray the top interior choice.

Disclosure: My car is white, with a dark-grey interior.

And actually, I’m kind of used to this particular shade of cheese-mold grey, which I’ve had for two of my last three cars. (In between was a Mazda 626 in Mojave Beige Mica, a name I never quite understood; I’ve driven through the Mojave, and it ain’t beige. Its interior, rather than cheese-mold grey, was more of a butterscotch-pudding shade.) At least it’s relatively free of brightwork: there’s a chrome bezel on the clock at the top of the center stack, which occasionally passes on some glare, but that’s about it. The logo on the steering wheel is sort of intaglio; I suspect that in later models they cut out a chrome-y looking brand emblem and pressed it into the embossed shape.

Still, next time around, if there is a next time around, I’d like something a bit less funereal.

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I can’t see over this damn truck

In Ukraine, they’ve solved this problem:

Traffic lights from Ukraine

(From the Pics subreddit via TYWKIWDBI.)

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