Monday, October 20, 2008

The homemade Lamborghini

I know about crazy guys and cars. I've had the line of work for it. I've had the dad for it.

At one point in my early adolescence, my father held title on 18 cars, perhaps half of them running well enough to reliably complete a grocery store trip, and a third of them parked around the cul-de-sac adjacent to our house.

He's been trumped, and handily.

Now imagine a guy who saw The Cannonball Run—particularly the Lamborghini Countach featured therein—and decided "got to have one of those. I think I'll build it in my basement."

Behold: the from-scratch, TIG-welded, 10-years-in-the-making, blow-the-side-of-your-house-away-to-get-it-out Lamborghini Countach (click to follow for many more pictures):

That's just nuts. I have a big ol' man-crush on this guy.

Pause for a moment and love America with me.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Real men drive minivans

I've never liked SUVs much. I don't care for their ride, their handling, or their outward visibility, and they don't make good use of space. As far as I'm concerned, the price of gasoline is only another reason to dislike them. I sold GMC trucks for almost a year once upon a time, and I never sold a single Suburban. I'm sure it was because I didn't like them, and it came out in my presentation.

I should clarify. Anymore, the term SUV may mean the truck-based vehicle I describe above, or it may mean a tall car, built on car mechanicals. Many of those are better, but for many uses they're still inferior to the uncoolest vehicle on the road: the minivan.

Are you too cool for a minivan? I'm not. Lea's had a Honda Odyssey for four years, and I love it. It drives beautifully, whether around town or on the interstate, and it gets my entire family and all of their stuff to the beach in air-conditioned comfort, delivering a reliable 25 mpg at 77 mph.

No other kind of vehicle on the road will do that. Real men (and women) aren't afraid to select the right tool for the job, and for the best combination of efficiency, space, and comfort, you can't beat a minivan.

There are legitimate uses for big SUVs. Folks have horses, travel trailers, boats, or whatever, and a truck-based SUV buries a minivan for towing. If you tow and transport more than two other people at the same time, that Tahoe makes sense. Off-road and transporting folks? SUV again. Moving folks around construction sites and towing equipment? You'll kill a minivan in two months doing that. You need an SUV.

If you lack such a confluence of needs and still drive an SUV, it's an image thing. It has to be. It doesn't make practical sense. To be sure, $4 gasoline has caused many SUV owners to question just how important said image is, and that's a good thing.

There isn't a bad minivan on the market, though the aforementioned Odyssey, the Toyota Sienna, and the Chrysler offerings are the leaders. If you've been using an SUV as a light-duty family vehicle and now want out, take the minivan challenge.

Friday, August 1, 2008

GM loses $15.5 billion in the second quarter

General Motors announced a quarterly loss of $15.5 billion today. Folks, in the preceding 90 days, GM lost almost $2,000 per second.

I have them at 18 months—tops—before they file for bankruptcy.

The ongoing fracas with the UAW over retiree benefits may have ultimately forced Chapter 11 anyway. But it's $4 gasoline, and GM with a lineup full of huge trucks and few competitive fuel-efficient cars, that's hastening the demise.

While Toyota was figuring out how to make money on the Prius, and Honda was building and maintaining the most fuel-efficient lineup available, GM was riding five-digit per-unit profits on H2s and Escalades, and apparently looking all of two weeks down the calendar when determining long-term vision and goals.

Their environmentally friendly savior is the Volt, a hybrid sedan that will go 100 miles on electricity alone. It's two years away, and will likely top $40,000 when it finally arrives. Smell like a volume model to you?

It makes me sad to see an American icon like GM come to this, but hopefully they'll survive (and without a government bailout).