Archive for Driver’s Seat

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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Old tech

Gwendolyn, my traveling companion for the last 13 years, will reach her 20th birthday soon. The door-jamb sticker, placed for aesthetic reasons I suppose on the underside of the console lid, advises that she was assembled in beautiful downtown Yokosuka in September 1999. She’s picked up a few noises here and there, and more than once she’s had to have her sheetmetal ironed out a bit, but her consumption of fuelstuffs is no greater now than it was when we were getting acquainted, and, perhaps of greater interest in these digital days, she knows her place: the man with the key is in charge. Cars half her age seem to have forgotten this minor detail:

The 2009 Corvette was made entirely “drive by wire,” just like the Space Shuttle. You remember the Space Shuttle, don’t you? Before NASA retired that design and all its instantiations, it managed to kill fourteen astronauts. Couldn’t keep the heat-ablation tiles attached to the fuselage, but there were computers everywhere. Great design.

Not to go too far afield … I was on my way back from Mass yesterday morning when I stopped at a local convenience store for a half-gallon of milk. You remember milk, don’t you? The perfect food! Makes ice cream possible and cold breakfast cereals scrumptious! It’s also arguably responsible for the radical reduction in infant mortality in the early decades of the Twentieth Century. Never mind about your “lactose intolerance.” Ignore the cows lowing about how we should “eat mor chikin;” they’re always cranky at this hour of the morning.

Whoops, there I go again … To return to the main drama, I paid for my milk, got into Joy, closed the driver’s side door snugly behind me, fastened my seat belt — always fasten your seat belt before burning rubber out of a convenience store parking lot — and pressed the Start button. Nothing happened. Not even a click to indicate the engagement of the starter motor. I tried again. Same result.

I muttered an oath, released myself from the embrace of the seat belt, and let myself out of the car. That is, I tried to let myself out of the car by pressing the button that releases the door latch. Nothing happened. I tried again, and again, and again. No dice.

The doors are “drive by wire” too. Whatever had failed had operated just long enough to let me into the car before it crapped out. My Corvette had imprisoned me.

The fix, once identified as the fix, cost little in coin of the realm, but a great deal in aggravation and in the revival of some Anglo-Saxon unpleasantries. I think I shall not gripe again about Gwendolyn’s most egregious feature: electronically-controlled engine mounts.

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Not even ready for fringe time

I am increasingly persuaded that the entire market for self-driving cars consists of two groups whose overlap is unknown:

  • Gadget freaks;
  • Lazy bastards.

Since I have little regard for the first group, and absolutely none for the second, I am always delighted when this Wonderful Technology fails:

Automated vehicles trialled on Brisbane motorways unintentionally drove into emergency stopping bays and were confused by scuff marks on the roads.

The findings of a two-month trial of the technology means it could be years before the city’s drivers can take their hands off the wheel.

Road operator Transurban launched a trial in October last year that put automated vehicle technology on Brisbane’s arterial motorways.

The trial was designed to test seven vehicles with automated technology and how they reacted to Brisbane’s road markings, street signs and other infrastructure — with some findings suggesting the technology had a way to go.

I’ve never been to Australia, which is perhaps a shame. But I’d be willing to bet that Brisbane, and Queensland as a whole, maintains its roads at a higher level than at least half of the United States.

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Approved by the burglars’ union

An actual change.org petition:

We care about this issue because it is slowly destroying YouTube. What is happening is YouTube is wrongfully demonetizing its creators. This is causing them to not make any money, which is practically forcing them to quit. It is causing some YouTube channels to get deleted as well. They are trying to make their entire app “kid friendly” when they have an app that is built for just children. We need to help stand up for the creators, so they can reclaim their freedom to create. So, to help bring YouTube back to a state where people could create content without having to worry about getting their videos or channel removed, sign this petition and let’s fix this broken state of YouTube!

“Creators,” he says. A rather sizable percentage of YouTubers whose place at the trough was taken away managed to achieve that unhappy state by swiping stuff created by others. But you’re not supposed to think about that; instead, you’re supposed to bewail the loss of non-kid-friendly material, whatever the fark that is.

And really, this is right in the change.org wheelhouse: I haven’t actually seen a petition to exhume Elvis and put his remains on display at the Smithsonian, but I figure it’s just a matter of time.

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Not coming to the States

Fiat Fastback pickup

This is kinda cute, though the huge fender-well opening, given those dinky-looking wheels, probably has room, not only for the family cat, but for her kittens you haven’t found yet. Which presemts no real problem for you or me, since this trucklet isn’t even going to be sold in Europe anymore, let alone North America:

Perhaps to its misfortune, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles does not sell a midsize pickup in the world’s biggest truck market, but buyers in certain overseas markets were able to get into a four-door, body-on-frame midsizer carrying the Fiat badge — the Fullback, more properly described as a rebadged Mitsubishi Triton/L200.

Note the word “were.” The Fiat Fullback is no more, according to FCA’s light commercial vehicles division. The discontinuation stems from the same problem Fiat faces in America: really bad sales.

Hopes were high at first, of course:

The Mitsubishi-based Fullback went on sale in 2016 in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East, positioned as a hasty competitor to popular midsizers like Ford’s Ranger and Nissan’s Navara. At the time, the midsize pickup segment was, like it is in the U.S., on the march, and the newcomers were all based on other existing pickups.

The Ranger is only just arriving here, but Nissan isn’t sending us any Navaras, perhaps because both Renault (!) and Mercedes-Benz (!!) are eating up all their extra Navara capacity.

And it’s not like FCA’s Dodge brand was too proud to slap its name on a Mitsubishi truck. Ram, I’m not sure.

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Near the bottom of the barrel

One staffer at 42nd and Treadmill drives, quite unapologetically, a fresh-out-of-wherever Mitsubishi Mirage, generally regarded as the very lowest low-end vehicle sold in the States, complete with a three-cylinder engine, 14-inch (!) wheels, and a CVT. She’s unconcerned with the car’s beater image; it’s new, it’s under warranty, and she’s gonna drive it with as much joie de vivre as she pleases.

Still, the little Mitsu runs about fifteen grand, and you’re not going to find too much on the new-car lots for less than that. And this is the way of the future, says Jack Baruth:

[I]f you’re reading this on an iPhone, you are already intimately familiar with a business model where the raw cost of the product is a minor component and the bulk of profits go to relatively intangible activities like marketing, advertising, and social media.

That “Apple model” is the envy of every industry on the planet. American-branded automakers, in particular, are unrepentant about their desire for a future where they spend most of their effort doing marketing while the (dielectric) greasy bits are assembled in mysterious Far Eastern factories out of both sight and mind. I guarantee you that at no point in these wistful discussions does anyone at the table suggest that the price of four-wheel transportation be lowered. Cars are a luxury item now. If you can’t afford one, then feel free to eat cake, or at least to pay a dollar a minute for a rental scooter with a wholesale price of $165. We call that a “mobility solution.”

The Mirage, it turns out, is built in the Philippines or in Thailand, and about twenty thousand of them are sold yearly in the Big PX.

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Crate expectations

As of 4/26. this big bruiser is added to the catalog:

Appropriately, Fiat Chrysler waited for choose this calendar date to open pre-orders for its monstrous “Hellephant” 426 crate engine, a 1,000-horsepower, 950 lb-ft beast of an powerplant designed to turn your pre-1976 Mopar into an object of fear and testosterone-fueled lust. It now has a price tag.

Officially named the Mopar “Hellephant” 426 Supercharged Crate HEMI Engine, the retro-themed tribute mill can be had for $29,995, which happens to be just five dollars more than the pre-destination price of an electric Nissan Leaf S.

Oddly, just last night a friend was mulling the feasibility of shoehorning an 8.0-liter Magnum V10 into a Leaf out of spite for the green crowd.

And for the time being, purchase of a Leaf may qualify for a Federal tax credit. You drop this beast into your old Plymouth, and Scott Pruitt will call you and ask you for a ride.

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It’s my time to take

This may come as a shock to you, Bunkie, but the fact that I’m in front of you means that I was here first.

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Snark plug

Fifty-five years ago, the Ford Mustang was born. (And let no one shoot off his mouth about the alleged “1964½” models; every last one of them in that extended first model year was titled as a 1965.) Shall we celebrate that birthday? Chevrolet will:

Your turn, Dodge.

(Via The Truth About Cars.)

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Going like eighty

At least some of the time, anyway:

Don’t hold your breath waiting:

Gov. Kevin Stitt on Tuesday signed a bill that would allow the governing bodies of the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority and Oklahoma Department of Transportation to increase speeds on some roadways.

The Transportation Commission could increase maximum speeds to 75 mph from 70 mph after a traffic or engineering study, according to House Bill 1071, by Rep. Daniel Pae, R-Lawton. The measure applies to rural segments of the interstate highway system.

The measure would allow the Turnpike Authority to raise maximum speeds to 80 mph from 75 mph.

“No matter what, you are not going to see 80 mile per hour speed limit signs tomorrow,” said Jack Damrill, Turnpike Authority spokesman.

When the signs do go up, the motorists who were already doing 85 will start pushing 90.

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Future unemployed dumbass

No way this can possibly end well: Ok please help ASAP. Ok i just made a bet with my boss but no one told me he had an F150 Ford Lightning with a 351 Cleveland kit and a blower?

The Sympathy Office is closed:

I have 370z its quite fast i even beat my co workers car who also has a 370z and i beat em about 2-3 car lengths we bet for 400$$ and a day off and if i lose i pay him 400$ and gotta come in on both my off days. Please dont talk ****. Me and my boss rlly dont like eachother and if I win itll be a huge slap in his face. Maybe a link or 2 on how to race quickly?? I kno how to go fast but haha maybe faster??

What are the chances these two jerks are actually going to a proper track to have their childish little race?

Yeah, that’s what I thought.

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But I want it now

Patience is a virtue. This person doesn’t have it: For me to get a driver’s license do I bring the documents and the fee and then do I get the driver’s license immediately within seconds?

“Immediately within seconds”?

What’s the over/under on how fast this little brat ends up in a road-rage incident? I’m betting he doesn’t make it home from the Department of Motor Vehicles.

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Obviously a child

And an ill-informed one, at that: Why do people say the 1966 Mustang Fast back was the best Mustang ever made?

Here’s where the serious dumbassery comes in:

everyone keeps saying that, but I look at it, it did not have a backup camera, or did it have a turbo charged engine, so how can it be the best ever made to date?

Clearly you should not be allowed to look at it.

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Duly booted

The reason, or so I was told, is that the new kid (who is about a year older than I am) needs to get used to flying solo. It might even be true. And so for the seven months or so before I formally retire, I’m being pushed off into a corner somewhere. It beats the hell out of being sacked, I suppose, but if the kid runs into any difficulty, he’s going to have to rely on his own resources to get out of it. Fortunately, he’s fairly bright. Short-term memory, however, is not his strong suit.

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Free for thee

Toyota sells, if not the lion’s share of hybrid cars — if you know lions, you know they tend to keep it to themselves — then certainly the honey badger’s. But unlike either of those critters, Toyota apparently figures that the best way to keep their hybrid technologies viable is to make them available to competitors:

On Wednesday, Toyota announced plans to offer royalty-free access to its cache of hybrid technology patents. While the automaker already licenses aspects of its Hybrid Synergy Drive to other automakers, the new strategy seeks to drastically expand the use of its systems as the world gears up for widespread electrification.

Toyota, cautious as ever, has been understandably hesitant to throw itself headlong into costly BEV development programs. It did have the foresight, however, to jump into hybrid technology earlier than most other manufacturers, and doesn’t want to see that edge lost as battery-only vehicles grow in popularity. Providing open access to the nearly 24,000 patents on hardware used in the Prius and Mirai could help the company stack the deck in its favor.

And I have to figure that certain Detroit automakers, having committed themselves to bigger and badder vehicles for the foreseeable future, are going to find it easier to prop up those vehicles’ indifferent-at-best fuel economy with Toyota hybrid drive than trying to cram all the available space with battery packs.

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