Sunday, November 3, 2013

Zombie Cars

According to former GM CEO Bob Lutz, Obama told the company that even though they liked their Pontiac Division, they couldn't keep their Pontiac Division;

Lutz: "Feds said, 'we're giving you 60 billion dollars. Drop Pontiac or you won't get the cash.'

Pontiac had committed to producing a lineup of rear wheel drive high performance cars to compete with the Germans and Japanese. Unfortunately, it wasn't the government's idea of "cars people (politicians want them) to buy.

So bye-bye, G6, G8, Grand Am, Trans Am, GTO, and Fiero. After 2010, it became just a part of history, just like the old "Wide Track Pontiac" ads of the 60's. Pontiac lived on only as a zombie on the used car lots, Craigslist ads, and Sunday auctions.

R.I.P Pontiac - 1926-2010
Epitome of the 60s Muscle Car, the 1967 GTO
Pontiac wasn't the only casualty of the bailout, there was also Saturn, loved by its owners but detested by the unions who were the true beneficiaries of the bailout. An attempted sale to Penske fell through, sealing its doom

Saturn 1985-2010
Also consigned to nameplate heaven was the Saab brand owned by GM, loved by yuppies and Jerry Seinfeld

Not to mention that you can no longer get a Hummer

Arnold may be bahck, but for his Hummer it was hasta la vista, baybee

Before the bankruptcy and bailout of 2009, "Not Your Father's Oldsmobile" became Not Anybody's Oldsmobile after 2004, but not before a 1967 Olds Delta 88 killed Mary Jo Kopechne in July of 1969 along with Ted Kennedy's presedential ambitions. Olds also contributed the 442 to muscle car legend.

Before that, there was the short lived economy car GEO brand of the 90s

Here's a look at other brands and entire car companies that Pontiac joined after 2010;

Alan Jackson can buy him a Mercury or two, but no new ones after 2011

Ford's ill-fated Edsel was strangled in its cradle

1958 Edsel Corsair. Ugly car named after a cool WW II Marine fighter plane

Chrysler has escaped death's door many times, most notably with the 2009 bailout and sale to Fiat.. The previous brush with death was in 1980 when they were bailed out and revived by the K-Car and the Minivan. However, several brands did not survive the bean counter's Grim Reaper.

Plymouth went away after 2001

The Cuda lagged behind the Mustang & Camaro on the sales charts, but it held its own on the street

The Eagle was a rebadged Mitsubishi that Chrysler sold in the 90s

1998 Mitsubishi Eagle Talon

The Titanic of the street, the leviathan Imperial which served The Green Hornet well

1965 Imperial. Machine guns not included

The DeSoto, the finned cruiser that died after the 50s

1959 DeSoto Firedome

Finally, here's some entire companies that either were absorbed or went entirely out of business

AMC 1954-1987


AMC's Rambler nameplate - 1955-1968
1965 Rambler Marlin

Nash, 1917-1954
"The Little Nash Rambler blew his horn it went Beep Beep .."

Hudson 1909-1954
The very spacious back seats in the Hudson Hornet conceived many early Baby Boomers

Kaiser 1945-1953
The Kaiser Henry J. coupe. Stripped and basic. Not popular with families but its light weight made it a popular modified quarter miler for the low budget drag racers

Packard 1899-1958
1956 Packard Executive which the also defunct Soviet Union revived as the Chaika Gaz 13

Studebaker 1911-1967
"Honest dear, I read Playboy just for the Avani ads"

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Maybe That Tinfoil Car Isn't Such a Bad Idea

With the exposure in the UK Guardian this week that the American government though the NSA has been collecting data on every phone call in America and peaking at your emails and social media activities, the Tinfoil Cars I wrote of jokingly in the previous post aren't such a bad idea. You know the old saying; "Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean no one's after you"

The Verizon scandal kind of gives a new meaning to their "Share Everything" plan

Then there's the PRISM revelations, with Silicon Valley handing over the content of every Youtube cat video and every comment you made on Facebook, along with all your Google searches. They even monitor Skype calls and can watch you when you're not Skyping.

As for watching you in your living room, would serve the sneaks right if all they see are 300 pound Walmart shoppers sitting in their underwear eating a bag of Cheetoh's while watching Duck Dynasty.

Since it's been revealed that Obama not only admired Marxist economics but also Marxist surveillance, it's getting to be like the Cold War Era Soviet Union here. So let's take a somewhat nostalgic look through this Top Gear episode of the cars available to the Proletariat and the Glorious Workers of the old Soviet Union.

Needless to say, the years long wait for one of the Glorious Workers to get himself behind the wheel of an ostensibly new Lada wasn't exactly the thrill a kid out of law school gets when he buys his first Audi A6

Time Magazine once featured The Worst 50 Cars of All Time. I believe that they exempted the Russian cars since they would have filled the entire list and possibly even bumped out the Mustang II and the Yugo

We can laugh now, but at least the KGB had to follow you personally since the Lada didn't have GPS tracking and black box technology

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Car for the Paranoid in You

As a bonus, the sound system is permanently tuned to Coast to Coast Radio
They're everywhere out there, watching YOU! Let's face it, a tinfoil hat just isn't enough while you're tracking chemtrails, spotting UFO's at Area 51, or stalking the Illuminati. You need transportation and total invisibility from the tracking satellites keeping an eye on you PERSONALLY while you gather evidence of World Domination plots that only you and select group of online forums have knowlege of.

If you want to look more like a dazzling spy spoiler, you can get the all GOLD tinfoil Porsche 911, pedal powered to put frowns on the faces of those oil companies secretly withholding the 200 mpg engine and the Big 3 who killed the Electric Car

911? Hey, we're the ones who are JUST ASKING QUESTIONS!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Old Car Songs

There once was a time in America when Rock n Roll ruled the radio waves and America's youth hailed their cars in song, an era built on California living, girls in bikinis, surfing, cruising and racing. From the late 50's until the mid 60's the young celebrated their cars in song the same way Justin Bieber celebrates his hair today. The only contemporary reference to a car is probably Katy Perry's reference to getting laid in the back seat of an old boyfriend's Mustang.

The Beach Boys were considered the kings of the car songs with the ode to the early 60's Chevy Impala with the big block 409, The 1932 Ford Little Deuce Coupe, a drag race between a 1963 327 fuel injected Corvette Sting Ray and a race built Dodge with the 413 engine (Shut Down) but my favorite was Don't Worry Baby, the song about a girl assuring her boyfriend that he's probably not going to end up as an organ donor after a drag race.

In the same era there was Jan & Dean, with a similar style to The Beach Boys who even shared some of Brian Wilson's songs (Surf City). The duo had odes to the drag strip Drag City (before it meant a transvestite parade), a motorhead grandma terrorizing Colorado Blvd in Pasadena (no, it wasn't Sheldon's "mee-maw") and a narrative of a race between a Corvette and Jaguar XKE that ends in a fatal crash on the same curve on Sunset Blvd that killed James Dean;

The music industry cashed in with plenty of one hit wonders cranking out odes to their favorite machines like Little GTO by Ronnie & The Daytonas

The Beatles put out a pretty good car song too;

By 1966 the youth music scene had moved on from metal and horsepower to peace and love and it's pretty hard to write a catchy song about a VW Bus. But peace and love would later turn to ennui and disillusionment leading to the nostalgia era from 1972 to 1976 where Baby Boomers longed for a return to the lost innocence of the Elvis years. Old groups reunited to play to packed venues with songs of surfing and racing to forget about Vietnam, Watergate, runaway inflation, and the awful cars rusting in dealer lots in the dreadful 70s.

The 70s were the genesis also of the Rockabilly and country rock sounds featuring car heavy songs like Charlie Daniels' Uneasy Rider, Steve Earle's Copperhead Road, and Commander Cody's footstompin' Hot Rod Lincoln

Heavy Metal got into the act with Deep Purple's Highway Star and Molly Hatchet's Flirtin' With Disaster

In 1975, an act came on the national scene singing of cars not from the beaches of Southern California, but the boardwalks of the Jersey Shore. Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band entered the scene with an ode to drag racing on Highway 9 in Born to Run, laments of lost days of cruising and hanging out on a summer night in Jungleland and the young weekend drag racer and his wife 3 years later with Racing in the Street 

Unfortunately for gearheads, Bruce left the car songs behind to remold himself as a guido version of Woody Guthrie and it was the last hurrah of the true car song. Nevertheless, the internet is forever and Youtube is just a click away anytime we want to hear it in remastered digital dolby sound

"Tach it up, tach it up, buddy gonna shut you down!"

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Leno vs Fallon - Gearhead vs Dork

Jay with his '55 Buick Roadmaster. Ask Jimmy about the car
 and you'll get a lame imitation of Rain Man

By now you've probably heard the news that NBC is planning to push out Jay Leno as the host of the Tonight Show and replace him with uber-dork Jimmy Fallon, who currently hosts Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.

Proving that the suits at NBC learned nothing from the Conan O'Brien fiasco, they've managed to get into a very public war with Leno, who's done nothing but lead the 11:30 time slot for most of his 20 years on the job.

Supposedly the younger Fallon is supposed to bring in that coveted young hip viewer that advertisers supposedly want. I guess credit repair and Google ads to thousands of hipsters bring in more bucks than selling Viagra to millions, what do I know.

I do know that Fallon isn't funny. He comes across as a dorky nervous guy who's twitching on the stage on Open Mike Night at The Comedy Store. Fallon is somebody you'd ask to do a eulogy to insure that no one laughs during the funeral.

If someone does laugh at one of Fallon's jokes, odds are it's Jimmy Fallon

His humor might get some laughs in the break room at the office, but hosting the Tonight Show pays millions, and I can't figure out why Jimmy Fallon is the man for the job other than he has to be the biggest ass kisser in show business. I've heard that he's a nice guy and he seems nice enough most of the time, but then again most ass kissers are.

My hunch is that the suits at Comcast and NBC want someone who always follows orders and is a consumate Yes Man. Jay Leno has grown too rich and independent for their needs, even though he's worked hard and brought in the ratings cash.

OK, so what does this have to do with cars?

It's just that Jay Leno is probably the world's biggest gearhead and he has a warehouse loaded with a collection of classic cars of every kind that even automotive museums only dream of having.

Jay's collection is far too vast to cover here, but he does have a great web site of his collection called Jay Leno's Garage.

On his site, Jay has dozens of videos covering one of his favorite cars. Leno knows his way under the hood, and if he doesn't he brings on an expert who can elaborate on the car's specs and history. After a walkaround presentation of the car, Jay will take it for a ride around the streets of northern Burbank near his garage and occasionally onto a mountain road above the 210 Freeway. If Leno is testing a high performance ride, he'll treat you to a massive smoking burnout on the street leading to his place.

Here's Jay test driving the 2013 Mustang Boss 302;

Take a look around at Jay's Garage, and if you're a car lover like me, you'll spend hours going over his presentation videos and other interesting features

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Ace of Spades Tips For Long Distance Driving

During the early morning hours of March 6, Ace of Spades, one of the blogosphere's funniest men, fueled by lack of sleep and overdoses of caffeine, decided to share his experiences on Twitter on how to best negotiate long distance driving.

The hashtag #tipsforlongdistancedriving was then created by the mysterious Ewok

The hilarity is too voluminous to fully provide here, go to the hashtag for some demented and malevolent enjoyment. Here are a few of the highlights from Ace;

DepressiveBlogger69 @AceofSpadesHQ
Masturbating is a good way to kill 10, 15 minutes.
Ride-shares are great for gas money and interesting discussions like "Neither of us will survive this, you know"

 A Car is just a motel that moves real fast. just nap. That's what guardrails are for.

There's nothing like family touring. You can pick up at family at virtually any rest stop.

Pretend you're Knight Rider by recording KITT saying things like "Please slow down" and "You've hit a child"

Remember there are only two types of drivers: The Victim and The Menace. Don't be The Victim.

Others of course joined in with these gems;

When the policeman asks if you know why you were pulled over, ask him if there is blood leaking from your trunk

The 'Check Engine' light is just a suggestion. If the car is running, the engine is still there.

 FInd the truck stop that sells a 9 volt deep fryer

Flip off every "Welcome To..." sign and yell "Welcome To My Ass" out the window.

Including Yours Truly ...

 If the cop pulling you over has a high voice, saying both "sir" and "ma'am" will cover any gender confusion

If you're broken down at night, tow trucks may have a problem seeing you. Set your car on fire

you can see an intersection just as well under a red light as you can a green one

If you get into an accident, drive in reverse as fast as possible to turn back time

Many, many more as I said, enjoy. Add a few of your own if you have some funny ones to share

Remember the motto of  - "Please Be Evil"

Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Bird Was The Word

When Chevy came out with the Corvette in 1953 and upgraded the model in 1955, Ford responded with their own two seater in reply, and though the Thunderbird that was introduced was in response, Ford went for a different demographic than those who wanted an American version of European sports cars and roadsters.

The first generation T-Bird eschewed the European lines and stayed with the Detroit tailfinned styles of the 50's. It wasn't even marketed as a sports car, instead Ford called it "a personal luxury car". This was the car aimed not at the youth market, but the young lawyers and the young executives. With good but not fantastic power and upscale luxury options, this was the car that Ford made for Don Draper.  It worked too, as the T-Bird outsold the Corvette by more than 20 to 1 in 1955 and outsold the Vette every year through the 50s and 60s

The 1955 T-Bird was powered by a 292 cubic inch (4.8L) V8 that produced a modest 155 hp with either a 3 speed manual or 2 speed automatic transmission. An optional 312 cubic inch (5.1L) engine added for the 1956 model making 215 hp. For 1957, options for the 312 included dual quad carburetors and even a supercharger which could boost the 312 up to 340 hp. 

Although the muscular options were available, most of the Mad Men stayed with the sedate versions rather than challenge the young greasers at the stop lights. This was never the car of 50s youth, and even the Beach Boys reference to the T-Bird in "Fun Fun Fun" begins with "Well, she got her DADDY'S car and she cruised to the hamburger stand, now". 

The two seater T-Bird lasted only three years, as Ford CEO Robert McNamara felt that the two seater limited the car's market and thought it would be a good idea to redesign it for 1958 as a larger four seater (as JFK & LBJ's Secretary of Defense he also thought getting involved in Vietnam was a good idea). Unlike his military ideas, the redesign of the T-Bird turned out very well as the Mad Men and Ford loved it and the Thunderbird's sales numbers rose 60 percent each year in the late 50s even in the teeth of the 58-60 recession. 

The 3rd generation of the early sixties was redesigned with a bullet shape and a more powerful line of engines, but would follow the formula of the 2nd as would the 4th generation of the mid 60s most memorized as the 1966 convertible in Thelma & Louise

The T-Bird would take a new direction in the late 60s as it became a mid sized luxury car, then fattened to the underpowered behemoth pimpmobiles of the 70s. 

Like the rest of Detroit's models the early 80s T-Birds were downsized and squarish K-Car lookalikes, then redesigned in the mid 80s for with larger and sleaker lines, the smoothness that made it popular in NASCAR and made Bill Elliott one of the biggest winners of that era. 

The 90s continued the sleek coupes and were equipped with a turbocharged 3.8 V6 or a 4.9 V8, then in 1994 it came with Ford's new modular 4.6L V8 still in production today. The 10th generation also came with independent rear suspension which for some reason Ford didn't see fit to put into the Mustang. 

Ford finally dropped the Thunderbird line in 1997 but brought it back in 2002 with the "retro" look small two seater that attempted to lure the enthusiasts of the 1955 T-Bird. It never captured the enthusiasm of the 1st gen and Ford said "never mind" in 2005 and the T-Bird left the scene for good

T-Birds changed through the years, but to the gearheads and petrolheads of the world, the mind's eye will always picture Suzanne Somers cruising the boulevard and driving Richard Dreyfus to obsession in American Graffiti 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Hail Britannia

Welcome to the first installment of G&G's World of Cars , recognizing the contributions each automaking nation has made.

First, we start off with the United Kingdom, creator of Top Gear, Monty Python, Harry Potter, the Spitfire, the Titanic, several Oscar winning actors and too many hit pop and rock artists to list here.

The sun may have set long ago on the British Empire and almost all the iconic cars that came from the UK are defunct,or owned by American, German, or Indian conglomerates, but the classics that originated there live on in legend

First, the godfather of the small roadster, the MG TA Midget

The Morgan Plus 4; the gold standard of wealthy collectors over the age of 60

Of course there's the Rolls Royce Phantom, the ride of Hollywood and Saudi royalty

The Mini; icon of 60's London hipness

One of the most beautiful examples of automotive design art, the Jaguar XKE

The Aston Martin, the car of choice for James Bond. This is the Aston Martin Vanquish driven by James May in the Nevada to Mexico trip on Top Gear's Series 19 Episode 2 which aired on February 10, 2013

The Bentley Continental, driven on the streets of London by John Lennon and into swimming pools by the the late legendary drummer Keith Moon

And of course the workhorse of BBC news and documentary crews around the world, the rugged though temperamental Land Rover

Last but not least, the Anglo-American collaboration, the AC Cobra. Yes, that's the car William Shatner and Kaley Cuoco drive in the Priceline commercial

For those of you who wonder if it's only the British who drive on the "wrong" side of the road, the left hand lane/right hand drive is the rule of the road in every nation of the Commonwealth except for Canada. Japan is the only nation not a Commonwealth member with left lane traffic.

Quite an impressive list of automotive excellence from the UK, but let's not forget that like all countries they had their share of vehicles in the Hall of Shame. Examples are the Morris Marina, Austin Allegro, Triumph Stag, Ford Cortina, Triumph TR-7, and numerous infamous models. British Leyland is a primary example of the fallacy of government run companies and all were wired by the infamous Lucas Electric, the butt of more jokes than the Yugo

When all is said and done though, well done mates!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

TV Car Quiz First and Final Grand Prize Round

Car Quiz Time folks, and to reward you the reader, winners will receive the coveted Gears and Gridirons "So You Won the Internet, Who Gives a Shit" Award

Note: Contest Kitteh is just a presenter and is NOT included
The rules are simple enough even for TMZ and Reality Show viewers;

Match the number corresponding to a car to the letter corresponding to a TV show. Answers must be in the form of an answer. Take your time, nobody cares if you're not doing your work because they're going to fire you anyway.

1.   1964 Volvo P-1800                           a. Supernatural
2.   1983 GMC Vandura                           b. Mr Bean
3.   1979 Dodge Power Wagon                c. Lost
4.   1982 Pontiac Trans Am                     d. The Green Hornet
5.   1975 Ford Gran Torino                     e. Baywatch
6.   1996 Saab 900S                                f.  The Saint
7.   1955 Pontiac Star Chief                    g. Columbo
8.   1972 Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser          h. Sanford & Son
9.   1977 Pontiac Firebird Esprit              i.  The Monkees
10. 1969 Dodge Charger                          j.  Nash Bridges
11. 1979 Ferrari 308 GTS                        k.  Seinfeld
12. 1967 Chevy Corvette Stingray            l.  Starsky & Hutch
13. 1976 Mini MK II                                  m.  Miami Vice
14. 1959 Peugeot 403                               n.  Knight Rider
15. 1988 Dodge Dynasty                          o.  Dukes of Hazzard
16. 1975 MG B Roadster                          p.  The Rockford Files
17. 1973 Chevy El Camino                      q.  Route 66
18. 1971 Plymouth Barracuda                  r.  That 70's Show
19. 1989 Toyota SR 5 Pickup                  s. The A-Team
20. 1968 VW T-2 Bus                             t. Cheers
21. 1966 Chrysler Crown Imperial         u. House M.D.
22. 1951 Ford F-1 Pickup                       v. Magnum P.I.
23. 1986 Ferrari Testarossa                    w. I Love Lucy
24. 1967 Chevy Impala                           x.  Friends
25. 1966 Pontiac GTO                            y. Simon & Simon
26. 1961 Corvette                                   z. My Name is Earl

If you're complaining "why are these a bunch of old shows my grandpa watched", it's because the tv producers aren't putting out shows lately with iconic cars, they seem to think it's a movie thing now. Bitch at them, not at me.

Answer Key;

1.  f  2. s  3. y  4. n  5. l  6. k  7. w  8. r  9. p  10. o  11. v  12. t  13. b  14. g

15. u  16. x  17. z  18. j  19. e  20. c  21. d  22. h  23. m  24. a  25. i  26. q

Saturday, January 19, 2013

2014 C-7 Corvette - Nice, But Not Unique

This past week, GM premiered the 2014 new generation C7 Chevrolet Corvette. While not a bad looking car except for the rear, there's something about it which at first I couldn't figure out why it didn't excite me. Then it occurred to me that it's like the newest Victoria's Secret model or the hot new actress; she looks good and you wouldn't turn down a date with her, but she doesn't take your breath away because she looks like dozens of hot new models you've seen before, there's no unique factor that stands in my mind. I've seen this car before, lots of times.

From the front, the C7 looks like the Dodge Viper with a little of the Ferrari Berlinetta;

The side profile has been seen before in the Ferrari 599 GTO and the Nissan GT-R;

The back end has the obvious look of the 5th generation Camaro. At least it doesn't appear to be made of what Jeremy Clarkson calls "plastic from a newsreader"

One constant complaint about the previous generations of Corvettes was the rental fleet cheapness of the interior, an afterthought of plastic pieces loosely screwed together. GM says they have heard your disgust and promise that the new interiors have geniune leather, aluminum, and carbon fiber. I still see what looks like lots of gray plastic, but it's certainly a big improvement. The A pillar seems to cut down on visibility though;

The old rounded lines of the Corvette have given way to sharp angles which look like the designers used a chisel on the mold rather than a rasp. For all the hype and anticipation built up by GM's friends in the automotive press and the return of the Sting Ray moniker, I was hoping for the retro look design that brought so much success to the Mustang, Challenger, and Camaro pony car revivals. A retro look 1963 Sting Ray Coupe would have been the sensation I would have hoped for.

When it comes to the composition of the body itself, the C7 does leap forward with an aluminum frame and carbon fiber panels blended with the iconic fiberglass. This should work wonders for the power-weight ratio, and it appears to have done so if the under 4 second 0-60 reports are accurate.

GM is spending billions of taxpayer largesse to develop a new 5.5 liter V8 with variable valve timing and other Teutonic tech, but for now the 2014 will use the holdover 6.2 liter pushrod but all aluminum casting and direct injection bringing 450 hp to the base model. The front engine/rear gearbox configuration continues which keeps the 50/50 weight distribution

The rear suspension has joined the 21st century, casting aside the transverse leaf spring upper arm for a double wishbone multi-link configuration.

Prices start at $50,000 for the base model, certainly within the ballpark for the legacy Corvette market, with engine packages and other options that top out at around $100,000.

Since I'm not a member of the automotive press, unfortunately I can't personally take one out for test drive on the track, nor will a local Chevy dealer let me take one out and open it up since I'm not in the income bracket to be a serious potential customer. I'll have to do it vicariously through the acid test of Top Gear and the acid tongue of Jeremy Clarkson to see if the new Vette can bring the excitement and fun.

The writers at Top Gear's web site seem to be quite impressed so far, but it's a report from the Detroit Car Show and not a performance review. The reporter is certainly not the tough judge that Clarkson, Hammond, May, and the Stig are. The commenters seem to be a bit tougher to please, especially this one whom I suspect may be Jezza himself commenting through a sockpuppet;

It's Frankenstein's monster. A parts bin nightmare. It's got the Viper's grill, Evora's profile and windows, the Ferrari's headlights, the Camaro's taillights, the Chrysler 300's dash and steering wheel, the McLaren MP4's parking break, the 458's cluster, etc, etc. It feels like one of those contests where you win a prize for guessing where all the pieces should go. And for God's sake - 106 horsepower LESS than the Camaro that costs less. Really? Awful to the power of ten.

Ouch! I won't be quite that harsh, but I will say that while the new Corvette does take quite a few steps forward as far as composition, interior, new technical features, power and suspension, they are catching up rather than leading the pack. I like the C7, but since I've seen it's like before it's just not new or different enough to separate it from the other GT's or sports cars in its class. If it were the Victoria's Secret model, I'd certainly take her on a date but I'm not induced to marry her.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Route 66 - Kerouac in a Corvette

For the 1961 television season, CBS expanded on the popularity of anthology series like The Twilight Zone and the road novels of Jack Kerouac with a new show about two young men with a lot of money and time on their hands who go on the road to see America and meet all sorts of folks. Every week, Tod (Martin Milner) and Buzz (George Maharis) would pull into town in their Corvette convertible and meet someone with interesting problems. The pair would help them resolve the problems before topping the tank off at the Esso station and doing it all again in another town somewhere in America, towns which for some strange reason everyone drove nothing but Chevys.

Besides beginning Martin Milner's television career niche of riding around in a car with another guy getting involved in other peoples' problems (Adam-12) , Route 66 also featured many then unknowns who would go on to stardom such as Lee Marvin, Walther Matthau, Robert Duvall, Darrin McGavin, Julie Newmar, Robert Redford, James Caan, and William Shatner.

Every season, Tod would dip into the trust fund (Chevy's product placement folks) to get himself a brand new Corvette, starting with the 1961 convertible in the picture at the top of this article. The 1961 and 1962 Vettes were the last of the 1st generation Vettes with the 283 cubic inch (4.6L) V8 and the solid axle rear. The 1st gen was far more a roadster than the muscle car/sports car it would become with the introduction of the Sting Ray in 1963. Think of it as an Austin-Healey with a bigger engine and better wiring.

In 1963, the Hollywood-Detroit axis would put Tod in the all new 2nd gen Vette, complete with the new beefier 327 (5.3L) with fuel injection small block V8, or the new big block 396 (6.5L) in 1964. The 2nd gen would also chuck the solid axle for rear independent suspension, graduating the roadster into a superior handling sports car and from touring car to race car.

Here's the memorable opening theme song and opening credits

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Nobody Ever Wears Luke Dukes

One of the cartoon shows as sitcoms we used to see back in the 80's was of course the half hour dirt road car chases we know as The Dukes of Hazzard. You knew it was on tv in the other room by the constant soundtrack of banjo and fiddle music, police sirens, and muscle car engine sounds.

It was fun entertainment that didn't try to make you think, although there are stories that many Walmart shoppers used to break up into discussion groups on Friday nights after each episode.

The star of the show obviously was The General Lee, the orange 1969 Dodge Charger R/T with the 440 six pack and four on the floor, Thrush glasspack mufflers, and the horn that played "Dixie". Almost every chase involved Bo and Luke escaping Roscoe and Enos by executing jumps over ponds, fishin' holes, and even Roscoe's police cruiser with a big "Yee-haaaahhh"

While the Charger got more fan mail than actors Tom Wopat and John Schneider, it wasn't my favorite car of the series. What caught my eye were the yellow 1973 Plymouth Road Runner and the 1980 Jeep CJ-7 that co-starred with The General.

The 1973 Road Runner on it's own was a relic of the underpowered junks that Detroit turned out in the 70s. The Jeep was the Golden Eagle version powered by an AMC 304 V8 with 210 hp, plenty to power the light Jeep but were most often seen wheels up in the ditches of countless rural secondary roads.

But look at the ACCESSORY that came with the Road Runner and the Jeep!

As show narrator Waylon Jennings would say; "Don't that beat all..."

The cars may be forgotten, but 30 years later the cutoff shorts worn by hot young women to this day are called "Daisy Dukes"

Here's some more eye candy provided by Daisy which kept the boys watching