Posts Tagged ‘corvette’

The New Corvette is Shockingly Ugly

Posted: January 14, 2013 in Rants
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New-Corvette-StingrayI mean, really, really ugly.

I’ve always been a fan of the Corvette.  I’ve always thought that it offered an appealing combination of performance and price.  It’s the car all of us could one day afford if we worked hard and saved.  It’s one of my four automotive “icons” that I hold in awe as an example of relentless refinement and brand purity (Corvette, Wrangler, Miata, 911).

It’s always had its issues.  There are complaints of interior quality, or unrefined, primitive powertrains, but those have all been dealt with and put to rest.  Corvettes have always been attractive, stylish cars.  For every person like me who sees a performance bargain (0-60 in under 4 seconds, brakes from the C6 Grand Sport and 1.0 lateral g in the stock, base model) there are going to be 2 people who just want one because it looks cool and says “SPORTY!”

Except now, GM has gone and done it again.  They’ve pulled a Pontiac.  What have we here – parts bin body bits – tacked on vents, scoops, rakes, flares, and why not – let’s just get lazy and use the Camaro rear end.  Not to mention QUAD exhaust – how much do you want to bet those are just tips?  My 4 year old would love this car, because it looks like one of his Hot Wheels.  And if that’s what you’re into, then this car is for you.

Me, I prefer a little restraint and taste.  I learned about “attention” after driving a Pussy Magnet Yellow 911 on a daily basis.

And speaking of Pontiac – you know what my favorite design by them of all time was?


That’s right.  The GTO.  No flares.  No scoops.  No vents.  Just an anal suppository on wheels with a giant fucking V8 crammed in the hood and more torque than the tires could handle, sent through the two rear wheels.  Debadge this sucker (or rebadge it as a G6) and you’d have one hell of a sneaky car.

Of course, this car did not sell well as a Pontiac – the consumers wanted stupid vents and spoilers and other bits, and they got them at the end of 04 and through 06, when the car was killed and replaced with the G8 (also complete with spoilers and vents and other things that look like they were tacked on at the trailer park by a mulleted meth-head).

Anyways, what I’m saying is – GM, you done fucked up.  I’m sure you’ll sell a million of these cars, just not to me.


I Want a Corvette

Posted: August 26, 2012 in Rants
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Marcus, are you on drugs?  That’s what most people would ask me when I make this statement.

No, I’m not on drugs.  But I am experiencing a philosophical sea change with regard to cars.  I’m experiencing a loss of pretentions, a loss of posture so to speak – I no longer care about the “image” the car will project – I believe that my actions and personality should speak for themselves at this point (I think they mainly point towards “asshole”, but whatever).  Instead, I want to drive something that I ENJOY.

Most people hate on the Corvette for one of two reasons.  First, the image of the hairy chested, medalion wearing guido or the balding, mid life crisis loser.  Well, frankly, I drive a Firebird, so the image of the knuckledragger doesn’t bother me much.  Next, I currently drive the cousin mid life crisis car to the Corvette, the Porsche 911 – so I’m used to shocking onlookers when a handsome, strapping young man such as myself steps out of an old man’s car.  The image isn’t an issue to me.

The next argument is from the dash strokers.  People who claim the interior of a Corvette isn’t nice.  Again, I drive a 996.  Interiors don’t get much worse.  And, in driving my 996, I can’t remember the last time I felt for “soft touch materials” at 110 mph . . . . or any speed for that matter.  The interior isn’t an issue to me.

What is an issue to me is the bang for the buck.  A used C5 Corvette Z06 for $15,000 packs as much performance into it as a used 996 GT3, which can’t be had for less than $60,000.  I wonder which costs less to fix?

Both of these cars will rip the autobahn to pieces.  They will both tear up the track.  However, one of them costs a hell of a lot less.  Why?  Prestige?  Label?  History?

Frankly, I don’t give a shit.  I’m like that dude from the Viagra commercial, I’m at the age of knowing and doing.  But, let’s talk about history – both have been around forever.  Both have fanatical devotees.  They both have storied history doing battle on the racetracks around the world.  Both have astonishing club support.

And club support is one of the best things about owning a Porsche.  I love my local PCA.  It really is all about the people.  And that’s why, when I sell my 911 and pick up a Corvette, I’ll still go out and get another Porsche.  And that won’t be my last Porsche either.  But nobody ever said you couldn’t love them both.

Yesterday I decried that the 911 was quite possibly the worst car that Porsche makes.  I will not back down from this stance.  However, I do want to highlight what the 911 represents – an endless refinement of an ideal that very few car manufacturers adhere to.

In fact, only a handful of cars embody what the 911 is – a slavish devotion to the original concept that has been relentlessly honed over a variety of generations.  I’m talking about cars like the Chevrolet Corvette, Ford Mustang,  Jeep Wrangler, Mazda Miata, and of course, the Porsche 911.

Its very easy to get lost along the way.  Take Toyota, for example – Toyota used to make some of the most exciting cars known to man.  In fact, during one brief period of time, Toyota built three wonderful cars simultaneously – the MR-2 Turbo, the Supra Turbo, and the All-Trac.  These were not cars designed by committee, decontented by beancounters and presented to focus groups.  These were cars that Toyota decided to build to showcase their technology and please enthusiasts.

Since then, however, Toyota has thrown the enthusiast to the wayside.  There wasn’t any money there.  Instead, Toyota pumps out two of the best cars known to man – the Corolla and the Camry.  Yes, they’re great at being cars.  They’re not very good at entertaining the driver – but Americans simply want fuel efficient, reliable transportation appliances so that they can shut their brains off and arrive at their destination.

Toyota in fact repeated this process with Scion.  The original Scion cars were quirky, light, fun to drive, and as a result created a loyal following.  Since Toyota decided to pork up their cars and mainstream the Scions, the sales have plummeted.

So what is Toyota doing now?  They’re tarting up their cars in an attempt to appease the enthusiast.  Take the Lexus hybrid bimbo box that they’re peddling these days.

Tarting up a lackluster model is not the way to move the metal – just ask Chrysler.

I want to take this opportunity to call out some other companies that have betrayed their brand ideals.  Honda – you used to make wonderful, fun to drive little cars.  Your new Civic SI is coming out with an arguably worse engine (more displacement, lower performance head) and will probably weigh more.  Your supposed CRX replacement makes absolutely no sense – hybrid people don’t want a performance car.  Performance people don’t want a hybrid.  It didn’t work with your hopped up Accord hybrid, and it won’t work now.  Finally, you killed the NSX AND the S2000!

BMW – where do I even start.  I’m drafting a very special article for you in the back of my mind, but lets just say that your cars keep getting heavier, more complex, and you’re inventing market segments for questions that nobody asked, and problems that nobody had.  You can ask someone today “What is a BMW?” and nobody knows the damned answer, because they’re all over the board.

But this post is supposed to be positive – its supposed to be about the people who do it right.  So who has done it right?

Well, I’m going to say the Corvette has been done right.

Now, we all know I’m not really a Corvette fan.  The driving position doesn’t work for me and the image just isn’t what I want to project (I don’t own any gold medallions and I have all of my hair).  HOWEVER – the Corvette represents the same kind of development model that GM should have used for all of their cars – lets take a car, and lets make it better with each successive generation.  No matter what, each new Corvette must outperform the last car.  Each new Corvette must also outperform the competition while costing less money to purchase, maintain, and repair.  Every single Corvette has stayed faithful to this goal – I don’t even want to hear about how the REAL Corvette only had a straight 6 – nobody cares once those pushrods get a pushin.

Next up, the Ford Mustang.  Affordable pony car power for the masses.  What is a Mustang?  Easy – its a fun, sporty coupe that’s affordable, has some practicality, and can burn rubber.  Ford has done a great job with refining the Mustang over the years, even during the dark Fox body days.  What’s even better is that even after they went all retro on us, the new car has come and modernized itself somewhat.  And who can fault their drivetrain selections, at those prices?  You can get a 500+ hp Mustang for less than a Corvette today – that really is something and its staying with the value driven pony car performance that the original car delivered, which made it such a hit.  In fact, I have a friend who told me that when her father arrived in America from Iran, the first thing he wanted to do was buy a Ford Mustang – and he went out and got himself one once he made enough money.

Your Author is clearly a douchebag.

Jeep.  What does Jeep say to you?  It says, I’m going off road.  The brand lately has lost this concept as its churned out soft roader after soft roader intended to chauffeur the kiddies to soccer practice, replete with those little stick figure stickers on the back showing that yes, the driver did indeed find someone to tolerate her, and does indeed have a fertile womb.  How special.  In fact, Jeep even sells a car now that isn’t even trail rated!  Nonetheless, despite all of this, Jeep does still sell the Wrangler – and this car is serious.  I have no off road experience whatsoever, but even I was able to take the Wrangler off road and get to where I wanted to go.  On the highway, its miserable, but off road, its one of the best you can buy straight off the showroom floor and go wherever you want to go.  It has stayed faithful to its brand – one of an affordable, functional, versatile off roader that does not make concessions to on-road manners or sacrifice its offroad utility in order to more comfortably get its fat assed suburban owner to P.F. Chang’s at the mall.

Almost done, but we can’t forget the darling Mazda Miata.  I don’to care what the stigma is – this car is so true to its original intention that it must be discussed.  Originally designed to be like a British roadster, but reliable.  Its cheap too!  Not only that, but it really delivers a ton of performance at a small cost, and shows that you can have fun without big power.  From the original car to the current one, weight has been kept down, reliability has been impeccable, and fun has been the number one factor driving its development – the car just keeps getting better with each successive generation.

Which leads us to our final car, the basis behind this article- the Porsche 911.  As much shit as I give Porsche for their dedication to this car, and their refusal to give their “lesser” cars the big boy engines and proper gear ratios to let them run with this car, it represents the ultimate evolution of the ideal.  Admittedly, the ideal is pretty stupid – rear engine and what not – but the results speak for themselves.  All Porsche 911s exudes style.  They deliver performance.  They engage the driver.

They have been engineered again and again so that each successive car carries the styling, drivetrain layout and ideals of the original (ok, maybe not the turbo cars or the AWD sissy cars) while getting successively better with each generation – they’re more efficient, they’re faster, they handle better.  When someone gets into  911, they know where they are and they know what’s about to happen.

They’re not cheap either – and this is part of the brand in fact.  Almost anyone who works hard can one day afford a brand new Corvette, not so with the 911 – in fact, the Corvette has more power and costs significantly less, so in order to make the rational purchase to get a new 911 over a new Corvette, something has to draw the purchaser – and that is the fact that the car really is a total package with nearly 50 years of history and heritage.   These cars command such a premium because they get that ideal right, and the ideal – the fantasy – that’s what causes someone to lust after these cars and ultimately purchase them . . .

. . .  even if the Cayman is simply better all around.