Friday, August 31, 2012

1943 Schwimmwagen: Hitler's Crossover SUV

A commenter on another blog tipped me to this site about this vehicle, a 1943 "Schwimmwagen", an amphibious military vehicle built on the VW platform.

This looks like a great offroader even today. Note the folding propeller in the rear and the oar mounted on the side in case the Wehrmacht quartermasters shorted you on the petrol. In front of the oar they thoughtfully mounted a shovel for quick burial of whomever they dispatched with the gun mounted in front of the passenger door.

This was on sale for $150,000 but I would imagine that it was sold long ago while the inevitable "Hitler finds out his SUV was sold on Craigslist" video has duly been produced.

I would love to use the Schwimmwagen as a chase vehicle for that smug asshole balloonist in the Subaru commercial, especially with that side mounted gun.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Why I Just Can't Hate Jeremy Clarkson

Jeremy Clarkson; You can love him or hate him but you can't ignore him. I've cringed at his strong dislike of Americans, sadly agreed on his low opinion of what Detroit turns out, but also laughed at his jokes about us.

I cannot hate the man no matter how boorish he can be.


1. Anyone who punched out Piers Morgan in public can't be all bad.

2. He is an entertaining presenter and an interesting writer, several books and two weekly columns in the London Times, one automotive and another on news items.

3. He is blatantly politically incorrect and hates the nanny state

4. The man truly loves cars, lamenting the possible end of the great cars in this film on Top Gear.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Dodge Dart: Not Your Mad Trucker's Road Kill

Chrysler/Fiat is bringing back the Dodge Dart nameplate for 2013, a rebadged Fiat Viaggio (try keeping a straight face with THAT name). The base model has a 2.4 155 hp 4, or for a few thousand more you can gain 5 big horsies with a turbocharged 1.4. Certainly a bit flashier looking than the old insurance salesmen Slant 6's from the 60's and 70's, albeit with Fiat and Alfa Romeo's reliability. Which is not a GOOD thing

The old Dart that brought state administrators to work wasn't exactly a thing of beauty, although the late 60's Darts with some wheels and a 340 (5.6L) made for some pretty cool muscle back in the day. Most of them were bland compact sedans with the 226 Slant Six that while indestructable unfortunately came with a free Dart or Valiant to hold it.

This is the 1971 Dodge Dart, sister car to the 1971 Plymouth Valiant that Dennis Weaver drove in Steven Spielberg's "Duel".  Weaver's Valiant not only couldn't outrun a stone age Peterbuilt tractor-trailer, it couldn't outhandle it either. Steve McQueen would have floored his Mustang and taunted the road raged trucker for funsies, and Clint Eastwood just would have shot the bastard. But then again it would have been a pretty short movie.

Here's a clip from the fantastic and terrifying 1971 movie.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Unicorns Not Included

Am I an evil person for hoping that every hipster in the Subaru ads ends up being picked out of the grille of an oncoming semi? Don't get me wrong, Subaru makes decent cars and they have a loyal following, but the people who hog tables at Starbucks for the free wi-fi already buy the cars. Don't even get me started on the sappy soft folk indie tunes they use for background music.

Let's start with the arrogant 40ish hipster in his hot air balloon wandering about while his annoyed wife tries to find a road that'll pick his smug ass up from whatever cow pasture the wind takes him to. Never mind that they've pissed off every farmer in the county while she scares the horses off the pasture.

"Wherever the wind takes me" ....

I hope it takes him over an army artillery range or a mine field

Next there's the hipster who can't find his cool sunglasses and has his cute hipster wife drive him all over the the New Mexico desert to find them.

After a day of searching, he comes running out of a cave being chased by bats when suddenly the shades fall out of his hoodie. Cute wife smiles sarcastically, wonders if doofus can even dress himself in the morning.

Note to cute hipster wife; You're in the middle of nowhere, he's in a cave. By the time anybody finds his body it'll be so decomposed and covered in batshit that the cause of death will be hard to determine.

Then you have the sweet hipster couple who just got married and try to set up a wedding reception for two by pitching a flimsy tent in the middle of a cow pasture. While the breathy male emo metrosexual song plays, he says;

"We could have gone the more traditional route, but it wouldn't have been nearly as memorable" 

Or as cheap. Just as well since the cute hipster couple not only have 5 years of car payments coming, but like most hipsters they probably have student loan debt they'll be paying off till they're in a nursing home, especially if they can't find those self-fulfilling jobs with a dreamy nonprofit or hip web startup during a lingering recession. 

Even their non-hipster ads tempt me to go Elvis on the tv set

Take for instance the helicopter dad giving the keys to his 17 year old daughter. Sure, any parent ages 10 years as soon as their kids get behind the wheel, but this guy strikes me as creepy and anal. I have a hunch that while she's off to the mall in her new Subaru, he's searching her bedroom for evidence of birth control devices and rolling papers, then checking her Facebook page for naked in the bathroom mirror cell phone snapshots.

How about the whiny brat in the back seat who has daddy burning gas at 4 bucks a gallon to chase a rainbow. Oh shit, can you find anything sappier than that? Bet a weeks pay that Little Princess sulked the whole way home because daddy got there too late to get her a new pet unicorn.

Then there's the 20 something suburban guy who says he's nothing like his dad while you see them both with the same tics and habits. Maybe they both wipe boogers under the driver seat too, who knows. Pops gets out of a Legacy while Junior gets out of brand new Impreza at the McMansion of his parents, so it looks they have a mailing address in common too.

Well, one thing you don't have in common with pops. He has a job.

This one is playing all the time now and makes me run for the barf bag;

Leftist mommy takes her little prodigy to work at the hippie dirt farm and is so proud of herself for "sharing" her workload with her offspring. Hello, Child Labor Board? 

The kid looks miserable in the back seat at the end of the commercial, which is understandable because her play time was cancelled because mommy is too cheap to hire some help or hire a babysitter, then slaps sappy sanctimony over it to boot. 

Listen to the background song lyrics; "whenever I see you, I see me". Kind of says it all, doesn't it? I'm so special that if I can't clone myself I'm going to mold my kid to be super special just like me. If she doesn't like it, there's some cowshit that needs to be shoveled into the rows of zucchini plants

Dear ad agency with the Subaru contract,

If you're even thinking of a commercial with a hipster playing catch with his son just like his dad did back in 1985 next to the family Subaru, please be forewarned;



Monday, August 6, 2012

Cool Classic: 1963 Pontiac LeMans

In the early 60's, GM's A-Body platform was their think out of the box lineup. The rear engine Corvair, the 215 (3.5L) aluminum block V8 Buick, the 215 turbocharged Olds F-85, the V6 Buick and Olds, and the Pontiac Tempest/LeMans

Introduced for the 1961 model year, the Tempest featured either the 215 V8 or a 195 ci (3.2L) 4 cylinder which was actually the right half of a 389 V8.  Nicknamed "The Hay Baler" due to the nasty shaking if it was out of tune, nonetheless it came with options of a 120 HP low compression single barrel, or 4 barrel high compression version with an output of 155 hp and 210 ft pounds of torque. Not bad for a 4 banger with the technology of 50 years ago. The 215 was no slouch either, producing 215 hp, one for each cubic inch.

What made the Pontiac Tempest unique was its front engine, rear transmission layout, giving the car a 50/50 weight distribution, making it the best handling mass production American car not named Corvette.

For 1963, the LeMans dropped the 215 option due to lack of demand in all of GM's lines, and introduced the 326 (5.3L) V8, with 260 hp and 350 ft lbs of torque, numbers usually associated with tractor-trailer engines. Pontiac also replaced the dicey swing axle rear suspensions with a completely independent rear suspension. The weight distribution of the heavier 326 of course moved more to the front, but still had a very good 54/46 balance. After dropping the front engine rear transmission configuration in 1964, this setup would not be seen again in American cars until the 1996 C5 Vette.

Not only was the 1963 LeMans a muscle car that could corner, it also figured in the acquittal of Ralph Maccio's character in My Cousin Vinny.


Sunday, August 5, 2012

The Curiosity Has Landed!

Congratulations, NASA and the JPL team!

Now hopefully nobody locked the keys inside the thing

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Muscle in the Land Down Under

Down under in Oz, they love their muscle cars as much as we Yanks do, and I wish they could be sold here because they are cool Mad Max kind of machines. They always struck me as what American cars would look like on a parallel world, or some would say even the Bizarro World

They're built by the Australian subsidiaries of Detroit's Big 3, the Holden badge is GM's division. Ford and Chrysler kept their same names.

Nowadays, the Aussie cars have the same European derived designs that you see all over the world, so they're no different from their American cousins now other than right hand drive.

Actually, the muscle cars being sold by GM lately have been developed by the Aussies. The Pontiac GTO of 2004 to 2008, the G6's and G8's were all rebadged Holdens, and the fifth generation Camaro was designed by Holden and based on the Commodore platform

If you would like to add an Aussie Muscle car pic in comments, feel free to do so