Archive for Driver’s Seat

Wrong on both counts

Colin Chapman, founder of Lotus Cars: “Simplify, then add lightness.” But he died in 1982, and I suspect he’s reached the redline right about now:

Lotus has finally revealed its new halo vehicle, the Evija, claiming it will become “the world’s most powerful production car.” However, due to the Evija’s extremely limited availability and 1.7 million-pound ($2.1 million) price, there’s a lot undercutting that claim. It also leads Lotus away from its role as a scrappy underdog, delivering stripped-down featherweights designed to embarrass similarly priced sporting vehicles with more luxurious amenities.

And to keep that price down, Lotus has been buying V6 engines from Toyota. Few complained, since Loti usually weighed several hundred pounds less than your garden-variety Camry. Well, forget that:

The Chino-British brand is promising output a skosh below 2,000 horsepower and a targeted curb weight of 3,704 pounds. That’s portly for a Lotus but a 70 kilowatt-hour battery pack (co-developed with Williams Advanced Engineering) is bound to add some undesirable heft. Oh, did we not mention it’s electric? It is.

“Chino-British”? Well, okay, if you say so.

More important is the top speed, which is said to be over 200 mph, and zero-to-60 time. Lotus said to expect 100kph (62 mph) to arrive in “under three seconds.” While that sounds good, we’re wondering how many times you can do it before seeking out a charger. With ludicrous power figures routed through four motors, the all-wheel drive Evija is likely to deplete its battery extremely quickly under enthusiastic driving conditions. Fortunately the brand said it can be fully recharged in about 18 minutes if you can find a 350-kW charging point.

I’m figuring the 130 buyers of this sled will have the bucks to pony up for their very own charging points. Still, charging points are like Star Trek transporters: one is neat, but at some point you need a second one.

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They’re all Oldsmobiles now

Conventional wisdom insists that your millennials and younger just aren’t interested in cars anymore, a statement laughed at by any parent of a kid one day short of getting his learner’s permit. Jack Baruth blames the cars, and the people who grudgingly make them:

[V]irtually every “affordable” car on the market today, from the Honda HR-V to the Ford EcoSport, feels like it was made for grandparents who are down on their luck. Surely no young man out there feels his heart beating faster at the sight of a Toyota C-HR, and no young woman dreams of driving A1A or Highway 1 in a Hyundai Tucson. It’s the Buick Encore’s world now. We’re all just living in it.

No doubt a few of my auto-industry insider friends have made it to this point in the column and are now sputtering, “B-b-b-b-but we are busting our tails to provide electric vehicles, and ride sharing, and mobility-solution sidewalk-trash scooters!”

To which I respond, “What does that have to do with making cars for young people? Who told you that young people don’t want cars? A focus group made up of Manhattan-based media people? A bunch of Chicago apartment denizens?”

The oh-so-predictable response to that is, “Young people can’t afford cars anyway!”

To which I say, “No, young people can’t afford $24,000 HR-V EX-L AWD automatic-transmission transportation pods with all the charm of pre-chewed gum. Why don’t you try making a car a young person would actually want to buy?”

They dare not, of course; to protect the “brand,” they’ll let the actual product go to hell, and the customers, by Gawd, can go with it:

“Well, we can’t risk a billion-dollar program on a product that young people might not want when it actually debuts.”

This would be laughable if it wasn’t pathetic. The same companies that think nothing of wasting nine-figure sums on electric boondoggles and bizarre social engineering projects all of a sudden have a case of the shorts when it comes to actually making a car? Why do you hate your buyers so much? Why will you spend money on scooters, glorified golf carts, ride shares, rental cars, historic buildings, political party funding — anything and everything BUT building the next Mustang or Celica or S-10?

I don’t know exactly when it became hip for car companies, razor companies, video game companies, and nearly every other kind of American industry to express obvious contempt for their own customers through their marketing, their PR, and their product choices, but I can tell you this: the first player to get off that particular brain-dead Ferris wheel will reap huge benefits.

“Get woke, go broke,” says the Instant Man. But no one’s going to read that book until it’s flung open to Chapter 11.

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Torqued on

This is perhaps too familiar a situation for some of us:

I didn’t realize I’d got the car in low gear (I can’t always feel that and I didn’t look) but when I tried to accelerate to 65 it complained badly and the tachometer spiked up and I momentarily panicked — was my car going bad? Was I going to be stranded in the heat? Luckily the road was largely empty so I hit the brakes and was able to upshift quickly and then things were OK but yeah.

Automatics are unforgiving at times, but so are manuals. About 1984 I was darting down I-40 west of downtown in a borrowed Saab. Now about the only thing I knew about Saabs was that the ignition switch is between the seats. Obviously I passed that test, but gawd, was that engine loud for a modest 55 mph.

Wrong-O, Buffalo Bob. I’d confused the tach and the speedo, and I was darting at 5500 rpm, somewhere on the wrong side of 80 mph. I got myself straightened out about a mile and a quarter from the nearest radar.

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Possibly triple or fourple

Dumbass doubles down: Defrauded in car loan, now I have to pay?

Long story short, my car was repo, and because I allegedly tampered with GPS, dealer wouldn’t reinstate loan, told me to pay of whole thing, which I couldn’t. Car went to auction, and sale went towards the bill, which I wasn’t going to pay because I don’t have the car anymore. Dealer sued, and judge or somebody gave them a judgement, and that I have to set up a payment plan or they garnish my wages? I don’t have the car any more! I thought that by them taking the car we were even, I didn’t even get my downpayment back! Also they say I owe way more than what the car sold at auction for, because even though the car was running, they ran the car as not running just because they had no key. They blame me for not giving them the key. They sent a notice asking for the key, but they took my car and gave me nothing, so I said I ain’t giving them nothing either, so I didn’t give them the key. They could of gotten a key and sold it as running, and sold it for more. This is fraud and misrepresentation. How do I sue?

The jerk did literally everything wrong, and he’s going to sue? It is to laugh.

There have been nimrods of late asking what happens to their debt if they skip the country. Most of them, I assume, can’t actually afford to go. I kinda hope this guy tries, though.

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Mostly uncovered

If this guy pleads poverty, they should shoot him:

An uninsured Lamborghini has been seized by police after the owner used it to pick up his other car — also confiscated for not being insured.

Greater Manchester Traffic Police tweeted the Lamborghini Aventador — worth more than £290,000 new — seized at Eccles police station was now “on its way to join his other car.”

It tweeted if you turn up to reclaim your car check “that the car you turn up in is covered on your policy first.”

It added the driver had been reported.

(Via Fark.)

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If you can find a better car guy

On second thought, never mind, you can’t:

Lee Iacocca didn’t design the K-car, but that’s OK; he didn’t design the Mustang either. He merely willed them both into existence, forced the appropriate decisions on executive teams with Michigan myopia and a profound disinterest in anything going on beyond their country clubs and wood-paneled executive suites. You’ll read a lot about the man today, both here and elsewhere, but what I want to emphasize for just a moment is the singularity, and the excellence, of Iacocca’s vision.

He was a “product guy,” like Bob Lutz and many others, but unlike many of those fellows he internalized the product desires of working fathers as easily as he understood what Frank Sinatra might want in an Imperial coupe. No other automotive executive can claim to have created two major segments of the American market; Lido did it with the Mustang and he did it again with the minivan. He also understood the importance of execution; from the very beginning, the K-car had higher quality than any of its Chrysler predecessors or, in the opinion of this writer at least, the FWD competition from General Motors and Ford.

The General’s X-cars — Chevy Citation and its kin — were pretty terrible, and it didn’t take all that long for the public to find out. At the time, I thought it might have been a hex: what were they thinking, borrowing the “Citation” nameplate from the top-of-the-line 1958 Edsel?

He had complete command of his relationships with both government and labor. He got the best terms possible for his bailout, then he turned around and worked with the UAW to keep the lights on. Then he paid the money back and kept his promises to the union. Look at today’s automotive CEOs. They kowtow to a coterie of international investors and slash American jobs like so much winter chaff even as they spend billions on creating suicide factories for poverty-wage, powerless minions in unregulated hellholes around the globe — all the while awarding themselves Floyd Mayweather-levels of deferred compensation, stock options, and seats on complementary boards. Mary Barra is earning $22 million a year to oversee GM’s slow slide into irrelevance; Lee Iacocca took a dollar’s worth of compensation to save the jobs of his countrymen and put Chrysler on a path to glory that would, unfortunately, end when it was all but given away to the Germans by his feckless and ignorant successors.

And the successors to those successors are busy killing off American-made cars, because the take is better on the trucks. (Ford and GM dumped their minivans long ago; only Chrysler bothers with the segment it invented.) Short-term thinking at its worst.

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Schemer exposed

Or maybe “dumbass” is enough of a description:

I was caught following dmv examiner on road test. He got off car, taking down my license plate … cant use this same car on my drive test?

This, um, individual should never be allowed behind the wheel under any conditions: whatever the situation, he thinks he can spin his way out of it. I see enough of those corksoaking iceholes five days a week.

In the meantime, I’m betting that come test time, the examiner picks a wholly different route, just to spite the little shit.

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Doesn’t sound Krafty to me

I think I drove under this very underpass about 15 years ago:

But this is the present. Forget the pasta.

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Spoiler alert

This guy apparently has been looking over his shoulder: Do the police care about undeclared cosmetic car mods?

Say you have car insurance but add a spoiler to the car, a different body kit etc, and dont inform the insurance is there any way the police would be bothered or interested in trying to find that out? or do they only pull cars over with illegal mods.

In general, the police aren’t responsible for notifying your insurance company that you’ve added some stuff to your car: that’s your job. And I can’t imagine any circumstances under which a cop will spot a spoiler that wasn’t there yesterday. So this doesn’t look like a reason for concern.

Then I saw this down among the answers:

..your heading for one of those 57 seaters ..you already have 8 points on your licence ..and you want to buy an RS model ?? you will be like a magnet to the cops ..they will know who you are and your licence details ..its all on their computer ..in their car ..probably 50%of car accidents are not your driving that causes accidents ….however only 5% of drivers are 17-24 ..yet cause 20% of fatal crashes …your next problem ..your too young for a bus pass!!

So noted, though I don’t pretend to know all the context.

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The kids would all sing, he would take the wrong key

And keys, at least automotive keys, are awfully pricey these days:

You know, when I traded my old pickup truck for an SUV last year, we ended up with an older Lexus with a then-luxe interior — including a cassette deck. It came with two keys; when we got into the car, I gave the key with the fob (lock/unlock/panic buttons) to my beautiful wife, put the key without the buttons on my keyring, put the key in the ignition, turned, and…

Nothing.

I could not start the vehicle, and after a few tries, I started to get angry. I thought about the lemon law, storming in and demanding my old truck back and whatnot, but she was really sold on the vehicle. The salesman came out with obviously artificial regret, but this particular vehicle only came with one key that could start the car — one with the integrated chip — and one that could unlock the doors, maybe. We could order another key with an integrated chip for a couple hundred dollars.

Gwendolyn, my stately Infiniti, came with three keys and two fobs. The two that look alike are actually alike; either will open the doors or the deck lid, or start the car. The one of those things that’s not like the other will only open the doors. It comes mounted on a card which suggests that you carry it separately and use it for unlocking when you’ve locked your “real” keys in the car. This is the sort of thing that seems appropriate for an automaker that leaves a note in the glovebox apologizing for the 0.7 miles on the odometer, but they had to drive it to the dock.

(Title swiped from the Who.)

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Too stupid to live, let alone drive

More evidence that the species is getting dumber: Can I get my car back if it was said to be abandoned and someone else now has ownership of it? If not what do I do about the finance company?

No clues in evidence anywhere:

I bought a car 3 months ago but never went back to pick it up until a few days ago but was told that it was considered abandoned and they filed the proper paperwork to take ownership and sold the car. They also claimed they made a repair on something for which I was supposed to pay for upon pick up. I never agreed to it because I had already ordered aftermarket headlights for the vehicle anyway that I was going to install myself. The bank that financed the car has still been taking payments out my account and the next scheduled payment in a few days is still going to be coming out. I’m in Texas. Should I stop further payments until I can get the car back and not have my credit affected? I called the finance company and they were less than helpful.

“Aftermarket headlights” is enough to dock him ten IQ points all by itself, but we still don’t know why it took him almost 90 days to pick up a damn car; it’s possible to travel around the whole world in 80. Given his record of poor judgment, I’m guessing he was in jail.

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Driving while brown

Apparently one does not do this in Florida:

Florida man arrested for no good reason

(From Bad Newspaper via Miss Cellania.)

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Twitchin’ Camaro

Haven’t you ever seen a deathbed before?

A report surfaced today from Muscle Cars and Trucks, suggesting that the Camaro will not live on to see a seventh generation. Having been sold continuously for the last 10 years, the iconic pony car is not planned to transition to the new A2XX platform. Current product plans forecast production to 2023, but nothing further.

The current sixth-generation Camaro is built on the Alpha platform that was utilized by the outgoing ATC and CTS. The new CT4 and CT5 models are built on an updated version of that platform, dubbed A2XX. While all 3 models will be built alongside each other at the Lansing Grand River Assembly Plant, the Camaro is not slated to receive a redesign to transition onto the newer chassis.

Development of a seventh-generation Camaro was under way but is reported to have been suspended indefinitely. Unless there is a revival of the program, the nameplate would fade away after 2023.

The General has tried to kill off the Camaro once before, in 2002. It was back seven years later, perhaps because GM suspected one of the reasons it wound up in the financial toilet was too many nameplates and not enough names worth keeping.

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Lack of stodge

These days, you recommend Toyota to someone, and you get this back: “BORRR-ing.” Then again, that’s been their stock in trade in North America for years: the ultimate automotive appliance.

Dial over to Japan, circa 1982, and you see the very antithesis of that premise:

A few of those actually sneaked into the States, bearing Tercel badges.

(Via Murilee Martin.)

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Crappy driver alert

Which does not mean that he’s in any way alert himself: Why is my 2016 Mustang so damn slow?!?

This is what he means:

It’s an Ecoboost, first and foremost. I put in supreme gas, but, I could not pull away from a 2017-19 Kia Rio! So, I decided that it was just bad gas. Today, I couldn’t pass a 2006-08 Dodge Ram diesel (the kind with the wide ***, not too sure what they’re called). I’m sure if he didn’t brake I would have passed him eventually. But, it was taking seconds for me to catch up.

“Bad gas,” my wide ***. If you really think there’s something wrong with it, you should be taking the car to the shop, rather than piss and moan about your inability to be the stud goose on your block.

Also, car websites where I can get advice and ask questions like these?

Are you prepared for a Ford expert to tell you to perform an unnatural (and uncomfortable) act? Because that’s what’s going to happen.

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From time immemorial

The disciples of the risen Christ were supposedly big Honda fans: according to Acts 2, at the time of the Pentecost, they were all in one Accord. (It would pretty well have to be a big Honda, am I right?) More recently, we have Jack Baruth:

I simply adore the Honda Accord, particularly in its most aggressive variants. This is not a passing fancy for me. Way back in 1989, a fellow BMX racer spent $500 on a ’77 five-speed Accord hatch that was half the color of raw sewage and half the color of iron oxide. The clutch slipped and the alignment was best described as “directionally challenged.” It smoked and stalled and the seats had long since turned to beige dust, but I loved it. It had more pure emotion baked into it than my Marquis Brougham coupe, the 200SX I drove to get my driver’s license, and the pair of stick-shift “eta”-motor BMW E30 coupes owned by my father. It was low-slung, with a visually absent hood and goldfish-bowl visibility.

I’m pretty sure it wasn’t a ’77, but otherwise this is exactly the Honda my daughter was driving after she was forced to retire Muff the Tragic Wagon, her Ford Escort that was held together by — well, nothing, actually. (The last time I saw it, the turn-signal lever was on the floor.) Somehow, she managed to blow a head gasket, and thereafter, about every other vehicle she had was tragic in its own way, the worst perhaps being an Oldsmobile Bravada with two (out of a possible four) doors apparently welded shut. Were it not for good old biology — she now has three children — she might have forestalled that Olds business with the Toyota Tacoma with which she picked me up at the airport and then whirled me back to her place at about 92 mph all the way, providing me with another data point for my ongoing theory to the effect that the presence of a lead foot makes nice legs look even nicer.

But that’s ancient history now. Last I looked, the family fleet included one of those ubiquitous Mopar minivans and, yes, another Accord.

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Hauling becomes electric

It started out as a perfectly ordinary Tesla Model 3. But then:

Elon Musk says that the official Tesla truck would be out by the end of the summer, barring catastrophe. Unfortunately, barring catastrophe is not one of Musk’s strong points.

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Yeah, but you can afford it

Some disbelieving Quoran wanted to know why an oil change on a Bugatti was so godawfully expensive. Not that anyone would be fool enough to take a two-million-dollar car to the Spee-D-Loob on the corner. But, condensed from 13 hours to 20 minutes, this is the process:

There are people who don’t believe I’d pay $50 for an oil change.

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At least it’s only theoretical

Because this just sounds impossible:

I am not a mechanic, or mechanically minded at all, but for a story I’m writing I need to know if it is possible to swap the automatic transmission from an Aston Martin Lagonda (1980s Series 2) for a manual one, and how easy/hard would it be for a character to do? If it is possible, what would be the best donor transmission for the swap. Thanks in advance.

In the absence of James Bond or Q, someone attempted to give it a try:

It’s possible, theoretically at least.

The automatic versions Had a 5.3 litre V8 mated to a Chrysler Torqueflite 3-speed “slush-box”. There was a 5-speed manual option available, but it was very rarely ordered.

Any transmission specialist shop could supply a suitably-rated 5-speed and the correct mechanical modifications to replace the automatic.

But it would be near-impossible on a practical level without extensive additional modifications to the vehicle interior and the instrumentation. Finding original pattern centre consoles and gearshift lever parts will be almost impossible without buying a complete manual Lagonda. Obtaining the correct electronic dashboard displays will be like trying to buy fresh dodo doodoos. Those parts especially were horrifically unreliable even from new and most surviving Lagondas of that type are now undriveable immobile showroom exhibits because of that.

Lose the digital displays and centre console and you destroy the entire point of the car.

Still, 007 has been known to drive a Citroën 2CV when he had to — see For Your Eyes Only — so I don’t really think this would ruin the story: in fact, a half-assed transmission swap makes for a reasonable plot complication all by itself.

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We want to sit up high

This is the argument for both real and faux sport-utility vehicles these days: everyone wants to be able to look down upon people in quotidian sedans. And really, this could be considered the natural order of things:

Bertha Benz aboard a Patent Motorwagen

This was Karl Benz’s Patent Motorwagen in 1886, with Mrs Benz herself on board and two sons standing by. A lot of serious technology went into this baby: a proper differential out back, rack-and-pinion steering in the front, and a 1-liter single-cylinder engine that delivered almost 1 hp. Mrs Benz herself suggested some improvements, most notably actual pads added to the brake surfaces.

(Via Pergelator.)

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Where do they find these people?

And why can’t they be rounded up and dropped into a Bessemer converter? Can you rent a car if your driver’s license is suspended but you have it in your possession?

Quora has a program called BNBR, which means something like “Be nice, be respectful.” I am thinking about developing a macro called 2S2L: “Too stupid to live.”

Same goes for this guy: How do you order things online with a stolen credit card without getting caught?

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The Mounties get their man

Okay, “man” might be stretching it for a 16-year-old:

Although Dave Schuler demurs ever so slightly:

Offhand I suspect he was probably worse off after having gone to the bathroom.

No, don’t go there.

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Wrong boom, your lordship

The Brits are apparently upset about Loud Motor Vehicles:

The United Kingdom’s Department for Transport will test noise-detecting cameras across the country over the next 7 months to see if it can adequately detect and identify vehicles modified to emit obnoxious levels of noise when the driver pins the accelerator. The systems are relatively new, though the government says it will recommend further development of the system for deployment across the UK.

As things currently stand, it’s illegal for any new vehicle to exceed 74 decibels in Europe. While your personal car can exceed those sound limits within UK borders, as there’s no formal limit to vehicle noise, it is illegal to modify your car’s exhaust system to make it louder. Sort of a Catch-22, because if your car exceeds 74 dbA, it probably means you’ve modified it.

If you need a reference point for loudness, California Vehicle Code 27151 stipulates that all vehicles under 6,000 pounds (other than motorcycles) must not exceed 95 dbA — roughly the same level as a belt sander or noisy blender. However, 74 dbA isn’t all that far away from your normal speaking voice, and would be akin to the ambient noise of most urban environments. With that in mind, we’re betting those acoustic cameras will be pretty active over the next few months.

Since bad ideas over there sooner or later end up over here, I must point out one minor detail in which the US differs from its cousins in the late, lamented Commonwealth. A slammed Civic with a fart-can exhaust is indeed annoying, but the driver thereof tends to leave a short noise burst and then disappears down the road. Meanwhile, the driver who wants to feel that deep, deep bass and wants everyone around to share it — every American city has many such — can’t possibly disappear quickly enough.

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Built like a tank

Because it’s, well, a tank:

“Pure evil,” they say. Well, at least it’s pure.

(Via Bayou Renaissance Man.)

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I never thought of that

Glenn Reynolds suggests the states get out of the driver’s-license business:

Instead, you should just have to show proof of insurance. The insurance companies have a better incentive to monitor your driving than the state does, since they have skin in the game. And they won’t be tempted — as legislatures constantly are — to revoke your driving privileges because of unrelated items like unpaid student loans or child support.

I just wonder how this would work in a place like Oklahoma where 25 percent of the drivers can’t be bothered to obtain insurance no matter how dire the penalties.

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A case of the Benz

I’ve driven a couple, ridden in a couple more, but I’ve never actually owned a Mercedes-Benz. And maybe that’s just as well:

I have mixed feelings about Mercedes. On one hand they have done some wonderful things with automobiles. On the other, they are ungodly expensive and relatively unreliable compared to Asian anything. The worst part, or maybe the best, depending on your point of view, is that they think they are better than everyone else. In many cases they are right. They are innovators, but sometimes being first just means you end up being different. Friend of mine bought a used Mercedes sedan of some sort and eventually it needed a wheel alignment. Turns out your average tire shop can’t handle this common service requirement. Only place you get an alignment done is at the Mercedes dealer. Likewise another friend of mine got a luxo Benz on a trade and it has some kind of quirky transmission problem and the only place that has the diagnostic tools to tackle is … you guessed it, the dealer. Of course, if you are one of the faithful, this isn’t going to be a problem. All other cars, dealers and shops are heathen barbarians and you wouldn’t want to deal with any of them anyway. Besides, that’s why god made you rich.

The nature of German engineering: you’re wrong and they’re right, and they’ll prove it to you once your check clears.

Then again, the pursuit of market share being an obsession in der Vaterland, it has long been possible to obtain a vehicle with the three-pointed star for Hyundai-ish money. And it’s hard to blame Daimler: they already build low-end cars for their domestic market, so why not mail a few to the States?

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Wheel funny, there

Maybe it’s time to set the keys aside. Tuesday morning, I heard a faint “BLAM” from the vicinity of the right-front tire — faint because I was blasting Golden Earring’s “Twilight Zone” in an effort to get myself more than 60 percent awake — and a succession of flappity-flap sounds I’d heard in that location before. I wondered just how much air I had in the spare as I coasted down the offramp and out of traffic.

“Are you hurt?” asked the patrolman. I shook my head: “I’m severely rattled, but then a flat tire will do that to me.”

“Um, you don’t have a flat tire.”

And I didn’t, either; the tire was a few pounds low, but nowhere near flat. He pointed under the bumper: “This piece of plastic was dragging the ground.” I tried my best not to look stupid, and didn’t come close to succeeding. He pushed it back into what he thought was its proper position.

“You’ll probably knock this loose again. Don’t let it scare you.”

I probably did not need this on the day when my insurance company, mindful of my advanced age and my recent less-than-sterling record after causing no grief for three decades, let me know that yes, they would continue my policy, but it would cost me about a third more than it used to. I’m still paying less than the average 16-year-old with a bitchin’ Camaro, but I never look forward to additional expense.

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We will control the horizontal

In this corner, the redoubtable Z Man, and in that corner, a rental-grade Korean sedan:

The rental car is Hyundai of some sort. It has all of the usual electronics, plus the collision avoidance stuff. Man, is that annoying. Every truck that passed too close set of the buzzer. At some point, the car decided I needed to take a break and started beeping, suggesting I pull over for coffee. No kidding. I politely told the car to go screw, but it kept making that suggestion every ten minutes.

I think one reason the word seems like it is going mad, is that it is increasingly becoming idiot proof or at least trying to be idiot proof. Our cars now treat us like children. To a normal person able to navigate the world without help, this is awful. To the dummies, it is manna from heaven, I’m guessing. Still, I’d like to get my hands on the engineer who came up with the idea for the car to recommend coffee breaks.

Most of the new safety gear is predicated on the notion that we have a hell of a lot of easily distracted, incredibly lazy drivers, and it’s considered bad form to let them earn their places in the competition for the Darwin Awards. It’s only a step or two from there to self-driving cars, which eventually will have to make some decisions Solomon in his wisdom would foist off on someone else.

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Not for my coffee table

In fact, the top version of this book costs more than my entire house:

Bentley’s celebrating its centenary this month, but rather than launch some dingus special edition, the automaker issued a promise that the all-new Flying Spur will redefine contemporary craftsmanship and luxury when it finally debuts. It’s also offering a limited run of extravagant books illustrating the brand’s history.

While the cheapest of these printed works will set you back £3,000 ($3,837), there will be a “100 Carat Edition” that costs £200,000 ($255,811) per copy. Weighing more than 66 pounds, the book comes laden with 100 carats of diamonds. At over 3 feet wide, and housing gatefolds that can double those dimensions, Bentley proudly proclaims the 800-page monstrosity as the “heaviest book ever produced” for an automotive brand.

Somehow I am minded of the remark Ettore Bugatti is alleged to have made about W. O. Bentley: “[He] makes the fastest trucks in Europe.”

Only seven copies of the hyperexpensive edition will be issued.

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Damp fools

There might be someone in this state who has never said “These jokers can’t drive in the rain,” but it’s no one I’ve ever met.

Well, children, the drizzle is settled:

Even in weather docile enough to simply dampen one’s hair, death stalks the roadways like a vulture seeking out scraps of rancid meat.

The study, published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society and first reported on by the Associated Press, shows precipitation of all types increases deadly crash risk by 24 percent. In reaching their conclusion, researchers at the North Carolina Institute for Climate Studies probed 125,012 fatal car crashes in the continental U.S. from 2006 to 2011.

This study went beyond the sometimes vague police reports, analyzing the exact precipitation rate at the place and time of the crash using weather radar. While most drivers cut their speed sharply when it starts raining heavily, sometimes just for visibility reasons, the team was surprised to see just how deadly light rain is.

Just driving in light rain — “We’re talking a drizzle, just at the point where you might consider taking an umbrella out,” according to study lead author Scott Stevens — increased the chance of a fatal crash by 27 percent.

It gets worse as it gets wetter:

Moderate rain, Stevens said, boosts the chance of a fatal crash by 73 percent. In heavy rain? It’s two-and-a-half times greater.

You don’t have to tell me twice.

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