Archive for Driver’s Seat

Another M dashed

From several summers ago:

BMW for many years has affixed the letter M to its highest-performance cars, and they probably didn’t pay much attention when Nissan’s Infiniti division begat M35 and M45 sedans: the Bimmers, after all, had labels like M5 and M6, and anyway Infiniti had had an M30 way back when, which no one would have confused with anything Bavarian. It was probably not a good idea, though, for Infiniti to refer to the M35/M45 collectively as the “M.” And then Infiniti came up with the idea of an M6 sport package for the Canadian-market G35, and BMW drew a line in the legal sand.

A Canadian court has now ruled that BMW owns the M mark.

And now all Infinitis are Qs of some sort. I can’t prove that Mercedes-Benz was listening through the door, but the M-Class is no more:

As part of its efforts to re-brand crossovers, the Mercedes-Benz ML is now the “GLE,” the X5 to the GLE Coupe’s X6.

Along with a diesel 4-cylinder and a gasoline V6 (with or without turbos), there is an AMG version, the GLE63 AMG and an “S” version.

The new GLE is essentially the same W166 Benz it’s been, albeit with a facelift to go with the new badge.

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Your attention, please

This is what happens in its absence:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: Incorrect and Misleading information on Car Finance documentation?

Well, let’s see:

I took a secrured [sic] car loan in Jan 2013 for a MINI Cooper S Turbo. This is the car on the finance documentation. I have realised since that I have actually got a base model MINI Cooper. The signed loan docs are wrong. Where do I stand legally? I was lied to at the dealership by both the Vehicle and Finance sales people into thinking I have the MINI COOPER S TURBO. Will I be entitled to a refund of the money paid so far?

It took you two fricking years to discover you didn’t have the turbo? It’s a darn good thing you’re in Jolly Old, Dickie-boy, because you’d be laughed out of an American court with a tall tale like that.

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Continuing uncoverage

General Motors is cutting back on some new-car warranties:

Instead of GM’s five-year or 100,000-mile powertrain coverage on Chevrolet and GMC vehicles, the company will now offer either five years or 60,000 [miles] starting with 2016 models, reports the Wall Street Journal.

GM’s two-year free maintenance program including oil changes and tire rotations on the house will now be limited to two service visits instead of four, with changes going into effect for 2016 model year Chevrolet, Buick and GMC vehicles.

The basic warranty — the one that covers most of your non-powertrain items — will apparently remain unchanged at three years/36,000 miles.

The General explains:

“We talked to our customers and learned that free scheduled maintenance and warranty coverage don’t rank high as a reason to purchase a vehicle among buyers of nonluxury brands,” the company said in a statement. “We will reinvest the savings we will realize into other retail programs that our customers have told us they value more than these.”

That giggling you hear is the reaction of your nearest Hyundai and/or Kia dealer.

GM’s ostensible luxury brand, Cadillac, has a four-year/50,000-mile basic warranty; the 5/100 package was changed to 6/70 starting in model year 2013.

For what it’s worth, the basic Bugatti Veyron warranty is for two years, though the Super Sport variant bumped it up to three. Not that it matters, of course, since the entire production run has now been sold, and I doubt any of the 450 buyers were overly concerned with warranty issues.

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Superfluous control

Once upon a time, you might have had a heater in your car. Today’s motor vehicles have ever-fancier climate-control systems, and most automakers try not to mess with your head when they design ’em. And then there’s BMW’s dual-zone system:

I have dual-zone automatic climate control. This is a hallmark feature of many upscale and wanna-be upscale vehicles. You set one side to 74. You set the other side to 69. You press “AUTO.” And then the air blows out at the perfect temperature to create a 74-degree experience on one side, and a 69-degree experience on the other side, and everyone is happy.

So far, so good. But then there’s this one useless control mounted just below the center vents:

It turns out that this has no effect on the actual air temperature. In order to affect the actual air temperature, you have to change the switch to BLUE or RED, depending on what type of air you want to be released from the vents, even after you’ve already set the temperature.

Now, here’s why this pisses me off: because this DEFEATS THE ENTIRE PURPOSE OF AUTOMATIC CLIMATE CONTROL. When I set my climate control in the first place, I’m telling the system exactly what temperature I want. So why is the entire climate control system at the mercy of some all-knowing switch that decides whether to blow hot air or cold air? Newsflash, climate control system: if I choose “84” for the climate control temperature, and it’s 2 degrees outside, I’m going to want HOT AIR, regardless of whether the freaking switch is on blue or red.

Even the goofball system Nissan invented for the second-generation I30 and its Maxima sister comprehends this logic: I leave it on 74 year-round, and the machine does whatever it thinks is necessary to create 74, even if its thinking seems inscrutable at times. So I never have to endure this:

Say it’s the middle of winter and somehow the switch accidentally gets turned to “BLUE,” which means cold. Here’s what happens: even though I have the temperature set at 75 degrees and automatic, the air that blows out isn’t warm. The air that comes out is cold, because that’s the random orientation of some STUPID SWITCH that completely overrides every single setting in my climate control system.

I am forced to conclude that the Germans simply think they’re smarter than us.

And that “switch”? It’s actually a knurled wheel, which in the grand scheme of things means — probably nothing.

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Noise and harshness, no vibration

Jack Baruth speculates as to the reason for the suspension of Top Gear’s Jeremy Clarkson:

The Minitrue report on Clarkson’s dismissal makes reference to a warning he received concerning “racist statements”. Those TTAC readers who are currently wearing an “I Can’t Breathe” shirt in the basements of their parents’ gated-community homes should be aware that “racist statement” means something different in the UK than it means in the US. Here in America, “racist statement” is a term used to refer to the kind of stuff that white kids at Oberlin do because all the actual racists in the area died of old age around the time that Gerald Ford fell down a set of airplane exit stairs.

And, occasionally, OU nasty boys. I don’t think the practice is quite dead just yet, more’s the pity.

In the UK, “racist statement” means “anything that doesn’t meet the principles of IngSoc,” up to and including having the temerity to rev the engine of your Lotus Esprit at a stoplight in the approximate presence of a Muslim immigrant. So it’s in no way plain that Clarkson called for the restoration of slavery or disrespected Haile Selassie I or anything like that. He might have revved an engine or looked in a certain direction or something like that.

Horrors! Off with his head! (He can borrow a helmet from The Stig, can’t he?)

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And still nobody rides for free

From this very space in 2011:

There was a pilot program conducted in Oregon several years ago, which was intended to determine whether it might be more useful, or more remunerative, or anyway more something, to drop the gas tax entirely and replace it with a per-mile fee. Not everyone was enthusiastic about having their every trip logged and reported via GPS, it turned out.

So no GPS in the new bill. Instead, someone will have to develop a gizmo that can read your odometer and report the details back to Salem — since they’re sure as hell not going to take your word for it.

It turns out that this wasn’t even its final form:

Automotive News reports the state will offer two options to its motorists: pay at the pump, or pay a 1.5-cent rate per mile traversed. The latter will be conducted through a device that plugs into a vehicle’s OBD port, then gathers mileage data to determine how much the motorist will pay in tax.

Right now, the program — set to begin July 1 — will be implemented by the Oregon DOT in partnership with Sanef ITS Technologies America and Intelligent Mechatronic Systems, the latter supplying the aforementioned OBD mileage reader.

I lean toward pay at the pump, though I must remind myself that there are no self-service pumps in Oregon.

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Four-cylinder butterface

Last month, we were treated to a three-quarter-rear look at the upcoming Infiniti QX30 crossover-wagon-thingie. At Geneva this week, they’re letting us see the front:

Infiniti QX30 concept at Geneva Auto Show 2015

I can see why they wanted you to see the back first.

(With thanks to Cameron Aubernon at TTAC.)

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Maybe you shouldn’t ask

Bark M. doesn’t have time to waste on stuff like Yahoo! Answers’ Cars & Transportation section, but he knows precisely what sort of questions are posed therein, because he gets hit with them himself, and they all boil down to this:

“Can you use your years of knowledge, experience, and expertise to give me an answer to a wildly uneducated, unrealistic, and ill-informed question that I will then entirely ignore and do what I wanted to do in the first place?”

Further, Bark reports that exactly one person, out of hundreds, has actually followed his advice. This is, I suspect, one better than I’ve done.

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There are no more

Not that you had all that much of a chance of getting one anyway, but Volkswagen’s Bugatti unit has sold the 450th and final Veyron 16-cylinder supercar to an unidentified buyer in the Middle East.

Around 100 Veyrons found their way to the States, at an average price of €2.3 million each; despite that lofty price tag, VW Group may have lost as much as €2 billion on the production run. Not to worry about Vee Dub, though: a few well-stuffed Porsche option packages would put a serious dent in any red ink from Bugatti.

The successor to the Veyron may appear as early as next year.

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Faint Saabing from the corner

Zombie Saab stirs a bit:

If we’ve learned one thing from watching The Walking Dead, it’s that the only way to terminate a walker is with a swift and brutal blow to the brain. Sadly, no one has come along that’s willing to do the gruesome deed to the stumbling shell that is Saab.

The company’s latest owner, National Electric Vehicle Sweden, is trying, yet again, to crawl its way out of bankruptcy with a “composition proposal in order to exit the reorganization.”

A bit from Nevs’ press release:

The current negotiations, together with two major OEMs, are mainly focused on two tracks that are complementing each other. One is to form a technical joint venture company in Trollhättan and the other is to introduce a new majority owner in Nevs, with the plan of making Saab cars a global premium product.

The weirdest thought occurred to me as I read those sentences, regarding that “new majority owner.” Could it possibly be … no, of course not, don’t be silly.

And then a commenter with the name Actionable Mango dared to utter it out loud: “Perhaps NEV Sweden is a front for Apple, lol.”

LOL, indeed.

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More wee wheels

This is apparently a glance at the future Infiniti QX30:

Teaser for Infiniti QX30

A cousin to the Mercedes-Benz GLA, this little wagonlet is supposed to slot in under the QX50, which used to be the EX35. I expect a turbo four, and maybe a diesel, instead of the V6s farther up the line. And I figure both this and the QX50 will be uncomfortably close to $40k once I start shopping again.

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iWheels

Yours truly, mid-2006:

[B]y now everybody knows the joke about how if Microsoft built cars, they would run only on MS-GAS, and they would crash twice a day for no apparent reason.

(We will not discuss Bill Gates’ desire to reinvent the toilet.)

Now, all of a sudden, everyone is talking Apple as carmaker, presumably as rival to Google, and this is the new joke:

Windows vs. Apple cars

At least you can replace the battery on the Windowsmobile.

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But no commute

Oh, my, here’s another appeal to one’s kindness gullibility:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: My mother and I need a new car, but can't afford one. How do we get a new car on a tight budget? (We don't trust used ones.)

Perhaps this may have occurred to you:

If so, be assured that they find your lack of sympathy disturbing:

My mother and I have health problems that make it hard to fulfill any commitments to a boss.

We’ve had people like that before. They didn’t stay long, for obvious reasons. And the bus stops right in front of the office, too.

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Gee, your car smells horrific

One actual Chinese automobile manufacturer — Guangzhou Automobile Group — showed actual Chinese automobiles at the North American International Show in Detroit, with greatest emphasis on the GS4, a wee SUV with questionable offroad capabilities. The last-generation-Kia looks weren’t too offputting, but oh, the stench!

Standing about 18-24 inches from the car, in the open doorway, the chemical odor was stronger than any “new car smell” I’ve ever experienced. If this is what it smelled like in the relatively cool concourse of Cobo Hall in January, one can only imagine how strong the offgassing would be on a hot summer day with the car sitting in the sun.

Still, I give GAC props for the “GS4″ name: it makes Cadillac’s upcoming “CT6″ sound just as callow and boring as it really is.

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We imperialists

This glorious land yacht has been James Lileks’ Bleat banner for this past week:

1961 Chrysler Imperial

This is almost certainly a 1961 model: the headlights are mounted on little stalks, one of Virgil Exner’s more precious ideas, and the Forward Look fins were carried over from the previous generation. (Mopars were finless starting in ’62.)

Imperial, it always seemed to me, was Chrysler’s red-headed stepchild, albeit with a perfect coif. Some years, such as ’61, Imperial was a separate make; before 1955 and after 1990, it was simply the top-line Chrysler. It never came close to upsetting Cadillac’s hold on the American luxoboat market in any of those years, though once or twice it did approach Lincolnesque numbers. In 1993, the brand was put to sleep, though Chrysler did paste an Imperial badge onto a 2007 concept car based on the 300, with a bling-to-horsepower ratio you wouldn’t want to calculate.

I don’t think they could sell a car called Imperial anymore, for fear someone would take the name as passive microaggression. Heck, I don’t remember seeing Imperial margarine lately. But this ’61 tank, fortified with Mopar’s 413 wedgehead V8, one of very few engines ever mentioned in a song, still has The Look.

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Dreammobiles considered

Charles Pergiel drops by the auto shop, spies a ’94 Lamborghini with 26,000 miles on the clock, and muses on the possibilities:

What do you do with a supercar? It’s not something you want to fetch groceries in. The pain of just getting in and out of the car is going to discourage that. Commuting to work in bumper to bumper traffic? That doesn’t sound like much fun. The whole point is to go a thousand miles an hour around hairpin corners, and where can you do that? There are lots of back roads in Oregon and once you get a hundred or so miles away from Portland and the I-5 corridor, traffic drops to nil.

There are a few folks who actually have daily drivers in this class, but most supercars, it seems to me, get trotted out as weekend toys, and the most logical reason for this, I think, comes from a California owner of a ’96 Ferrari F355 Berlinetta, interviewed for a Car and Driver feature in the March issue:

Set aside $5000 a year for maintenance and you should be fine. Some years you’ll skate by with $1500; other years it’s $6500.

The Ferrari guy, incidentally, has 23,800 miles on his F355. A thousand miles a year, and five bucks a mile to take care of it. If you’re that bucks-up, more power to you. If you’re not — say, if you’re a 14-year-old with gauzy dreams of speed — you might want to adjust your aspirations downward.

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How are the aerodynamics?

Aaron Robinson, in the March Car and Driver, on the Chevrolet Trax, a “wee SUV”:

The optional four-wheel drive is an electronically controlled system that engages clutch plates to add torque to the rear. It is not driver-lockable, just an automatic all-weather axle, there to straighten your path when the barometer nose-dives.

Or, you know, not. The lowest barometer reading in this town since ever — meaning, most likely, “since 1890″ — was 28.81 inches of mercury, on this very date in 1960. The high temperature that day was 75, which does not suggest a need for four-wheel drive. There were, however, F1-level tornadoes in the northeastern part of the state, and I don’t want to be driving in that kind of stuff no matter where the torque is allocated.

Maybe Robinson meant something other than “barometer.”

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Right-lane loafer

A sniveling letter to the editor of the Oklahoman:

Oklahoma City drivers need a refresher on what “yield” means. Every day, I experience drivers entering Interstate 44 and failing to yield to oncoming traffic. These drivers approach traffic almost at highway speeds while on the on-ramp and force themselves into highway traffic, causing drivers to brake suddenly or even stop, just to let a noncompliant driver in. One of the worst on-ramps is I-44 southbound at NW 10.

Inasmuch as an inordinate number of on-ramps in this town provide no way to see what’s approaching in the slow lane, the solution to this is simple: approach traffic at higher than highway speeds. (For those who might be wondering: this is what the top half of the tach is for.) If I’m going faster than you, obviously I’m not in your way, unless you’re that one cretin in a thousand who takes offense and tailgates for the next five miles, in which case dying in a fire might be the kindest fate I wish for you.

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Inelasticity

Somebody, I forget his name, said back in the Malaise Era that US energy policies were wacko, to the extent that if we had the last gallon of gasoline on earth, we’d probably sell it for 85 cents.

It would be more like two and a quarter today — with prices on the rise again, I got only one chance to fill Gwendolyn’s 70-liter tank with Shell V-Power at under two bucks a gallon — but while gasoline demand has been declining a bit, a reason for the previous price collapse that was popular among people who fear the wrath of Saudi Arabia, it hasn’t been declining that much, and current car buyers are paying even less attention to EPA fuel-economy estimates than usual. Demand, one might reasonably conclude, is relatively inelastic. And this is not the only commodity so affected:

What if it’s chocolate? What would people not pay for chocolate? The price elasticity for chocolate (whoops, now I’m going to make technical mistakes — beware) is negative. It might even be a Giffen good. In other words, you want it so badly that no matter what Hershey’s charges, you’re going to pay. With regard to the supply going tits up, Starbucks coffee drinkers will drink all of South America’s coffee plants bare. There will never be a point at which gasoline costs too much for us to not empty all the wells. We will eat all of the bluefin tuna sushi until there is no more in the sea, and the businesses between us and the raw materials of the earth will spin their flywheels until the whole enterprise crumbles. In other words, people will watch Robin Williams tell jokes until the day he dies, even if show business is killing him. And the day before his last show, there will be no indication by the price of the ticket that it is the very last ticket.

Consumers won’t know, because whatever it is, they can afford it. And then it’s a ghost town.

At the moment, I’m just grateful there exists no chocolate-covered gasoline — which would, of course, be premium-priced.

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It’s all just metal

Bark M. has a chat with the co-owner of a used-car dealership, and this bit of pragmatism pops up:

He told me about a beautiful 2013 E350 Sport 4Matic that he sold to a customer, and how finally getting rid of that car was going to enable him to go buy TWO used trucks at auction that week. “Those things we can really make some money on,” he excitedly shared with me. “People are still afraid of car payments in this economy. It’s much easier for me to move a few used trucks that I can get people into $210-220 payments on than these high-end cars. Those cars have two kinds of customers — over-educated pricks who come in here and tell me how much I paid for the car and how they don’t think I should be allowed to make any money on them, and then the people who don’t have any ability to actually pay for them.”

I certainly wouldn’t mind a 2013 E350 Sport 4Matic, but while I might be able to afford it (maybe), I’m not going in with the idea of intimidating dealer staff: they know more angles than I possibly can, and I pride myself on not being an overeducated prick.

Still, car payments, in many cases, are indeed something to be feared. There’s at least one person almost every single day on Yahoo! Answers who just bought a car in the last couple of months and is now, in that innocuous British phrase, being “made redundant”; invariably he wants to know if he can take it back to the dealership, the way he’d return a low-end power tool to Walmart. (No, he can’t.)

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Teenage dream marked for dashing

There’s one in every crowd:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: How to get enough money for a lamborghini 3 years?

Well, that depends on your earning potential, and whether you can come up with $70-100k a year for the next three years, and … wait, what?

Ok I’m 14 and my dream car is a Lamborghini. How can I get enough money for a Lamborghini in 3-4 years. Thank you so much.

Fourteen?

Estimated lifespan of a teenager whose first car is a Lamborghini: 30 minutes/60 miles, whichever comes first.

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Neither black nor ice

During the winter, you get lots of warnings about frozen zones on the road that you can’t see at night; you don’t get so many about unfrozen zones on the road that you don’t notice in broad daylight. One of the latter got me yesterday afternoon after a grocery run.

The scene: Eastbound on NW 36th at Portland. There’d been about a quarter-inch of rain, and everywhere the pavement is irregular, there’s likely to be a puddle of some sort. (And as anyone who drives 36th knows, there are lots of places where the pavement is irregular.) The light turned green; I gave Gwendolyn a light tap on the throttle, she moved forward a couple of inches, and suddenly we found ourselves separated from the pavement by a thin layer of either greasy water or watery grease. (There are two filling stations at that intersection, which may or may not be a factor.) The tach rose with vigor, topping out at about 5400 rpm, before the transmission felt compelled to shift and the tires started to bite again.

To the presumed delight of the folks in adjacent lanes, I did not spin; my progress out of the pond was straight and true, if a little nerve-wracking. (Traction control? Never heard of it.) As is typical with jackrabbit starts in this car, the 1-2 shift happens faster than the accumulator can accumulate, so there was a palpable thump. No harm, no foul; but I kept the speed down a bit for the rest of the trip home.

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Hey, defrost this

On the 25th of November, I went out to the garage and located my ice scraper. Amazingly, it was right where I’d left it back in March. Maybe someday I won’t have to do this sort of thing anymore:

Fed up with the dismal winter ritual of chiselling ice off their car windows, a group of engineering students from Waterloo, Ont. came up with a way to ensure they never have to scrape another windshield again.

What began as university project two-and-a-half years ago to solve a pet peeve has evolved into Neverfrost, a startup company that’s developed a transparent film for vehicle windows to prevent frost and deflect harsh elements like snow and freezing rain.

The concept has already grabbed the attention of the trucking industry and its founders are so confident in Neverfrost’s future that one of them brushed off a job at Facebook and another sidelined plans for grad school, to chase their dreams of making the ice scraper obsolete.

And this isn’t some crummy plastic like your neighbor’s kid has stuck on the inside of his windows so you can’t see him picking his nose at the wheel, either:

The film incorporates nano technology, or the manipulation of objects on a molecular level, to prevent the windshield surface from reaching the conditions necessary for condensation and temperatures low enough to freeze.

Neverfrost also claims to be resistant to the impact of stones and insulates the vehicle cabin from outside elements, which its founders say can lessen the scorching heat of the summer sun.

Heck, it’s too bad they can’t make a whole car out of the stuff.

(“The Nobel Prize is such a lock this year,” says the Fark submitter.)

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You’re new around here, aren’t you?

Our reporter is a transplant from California to eastern Washington state, which might as well be Idaho for all she knows:

Mark this down as a learning experience, and go on.

(Via Autoblog.)

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The thing about used cars

Some of them can be used for quite a long time, as Matt can testify:

I get a call from Rob Ferretti of Super Speeders, who is also the devil when it comes to fun ideas. He found a 1996 Lexus LS400 in Tampa, Florida, with 897,000 real, verified miles on it, and thought I would like it. Those who know me, or at least know my taste in cars, would agree: if it checked out, I had to have the car. You see, I don’t crave a Ferrari, or really any of your traditional choices in cars, because I’ve seen them all a million times before. I crave the obscure; the interesting; the weird; the story. And buying a 900,000-mile version of my first car for basically no money and taking that bitch to seven figures myself, well my friends, that’s a story.

I don’t think the odo will show that seventh digit, but no matter. It will obviously be a million, because nobody will believe two million, and it certainly isn’t new:

A reasonable amount of money changed hands, and I now own real, tangible evidence of the durability of what is possibly the most important vehicle of the late 20th century, as well as a much more interesting example of my first car. These photos are the actual car I’ve bought, and though it’s had a medium-quality respray, the shift knob looks like crap, and the driver’s seat leather has been replaced, the overall condition is staggeringly good. Every. Single. Accessory. Works. Air Con blows cold, heat blows hot.

Much more than that, you cannot ask. Still, Matt wants to see that million without having to drive a hundred thousand miles all by himself, which explains this:

For reasons that I will make plain to you as soon as they are plain to me, I’m driving a Lexus LS400 with 902,700 miles from Los Angeles to Columbus, OH. My co-driver is the infamous Alex Roy. Our plans to cover a thousand miles a day have been undone by closed interstates and worse travel conditions than anything I’ve ever experienced on the East Coast. Nevertheless the big Toyota is running strong and sure.

I’m starting to think I should look for one of these big Lexi when Gwendolyn (vintage 2000, 156,000 miles) decides to retire. Her shift knob, incidentally, looks great.

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Deform follows dysfunction

Or maybe it’s the other way around. A year or so ago, I tossed up some nonsense which was intended to verify that yes, the new Ford F-150 pickup has an aluminum body atop its steel frame, and down in the comments I noted:

In terms of automotive bodywork, steel is decidedly cheaper, if only because it’s easier to form — and, as the body shop will tell you, easier to repair.

You can work an F-150 up to about sixty grand if you try, a sum that will almost buy you the lowest-end Tesla Model S. How much does it cost to fix those little beauties? Let’s just say a helluva lot:

“Cost of repair crazy high” is how one Model S owner puts it in a thread on the Tesla Motor Club online owners forum.

He describes a minor front-end collision, from which he was able to drive away, that cost him $20,327 to repair.

Visible damage was limited to the front left fender, lights, and the corner of the hood. But the bill listed 92 hours of labor and almost $8,000 in parts, including a single self-piercing rivet billed at $35.

That $35 is about what you’d pay for a Tylenol at County Hospital.

Twenty thousand bucks will just about buy me a knee replacement, from which I won’t be able to walk away for some time.

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Warmth vs. intercoolers

This guy thinks he has a dilemma:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: If I have to buy a sports or super car like Maseratis, Porsches, Ferraris or Lamborghinis, should I sacrifice dating/marriage?

He goes on:

I’ve always wanted a nice european car and its been my dream for quite a while. I was told the car is financially cheaper than the woman. So if I wanted a nice super car like a Maserati GranTurismo MC Stradale, Porsche 911 Turbo S or a Audi R8 5.2 V10, maybe even a Lexus LFA. Should I sacrifice on women and children, get a good education and save as much as possible for 15 years before buying my dream car?

Not to worry. The process is automatic: once a woman finds out you’re more interested in a car than in her, she will scorch the pavement for a quarter-mile just to get away from you.

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Ludicrous speed

Tesla has brought out a P85D version of the Model S, with a smaller motor out back but an auxiliary motor up front for all-wheel-drive use. Apparently it also provides something of a performance boost, as suggested by this shot from the car’s touchscreen:

I don’t think I’d want both Insane and Slip Start pressed at the same time, though.

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But where are the holes?

Seldom do I ask myself “Wouldn’t you really rather have a Buick?” Once in a while, though, the Tri-Shield tempts me:

Buick Avenir concept

This is Avenir, a concept created by GM Holden in Australia, and this is what it’s like:

Designed to be a proper Buick of the traditional fashion, the large coupe-like four-door sedan has the same 5.2-metre-long dimensions as the current Holden Caprice, and utilises rear-wheel drive (note: the original press release stated all-wheel drive, which GM withdrew), a nine-speed automatic, adjustable dampers and a next-generation (unspecified size) direct-injected V6 engine with cylinder deactivation technology.

It’s not the next-generation Riviera or anything like that, and the rounded-off boat-tail rear may be a bit much, but it’s a compelling pitch.

(If you must have holes Cruiserline Ventiports in your Buick, well, there’s that vent in front of the door; it’s actually subdivided into three sections.)

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Not one mention of vodka

The derisive term “Safety Nazis” has yet to make any headway in Russia, but their regulators are even wackier than our regulators:

Russia has listed transsexual and transgender people among those who will no longer qualify for driving licences.

Fetishism, exhibitionism and voyeurism are also included as “mental disorders” now barring people from driving.

The government says it is tightening medical controls for drivers because Russia has too many road accidents.

I can see wanting to put the voyeurs and the exhibitionists on the bus — maybe even the same bus — but trans people? Are they mistranslating the term as “transit”?

“Pathological” gambling and compulsive stealing are also on the list. Russian psychiatrists and human rights lawyers have condemned the move.

In other news, there are psychiatrists and human rights lawyers in Russia.

(Via Jen Richards, who quips: “I have both the poor driving skills of a woman and the aggressive rage of a man. Please stop me from #drivingwhiletrans!”)

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