All Out War

October 31, 2011

The other day, after we were discussing reviving The Porch, I decided to start by first rereading some of the original posts to look back at what was on our minds and going on in our lives. It was interesting to read back through the time we have known each other—reading through the ideas we’ve shared, the stories we’ve told and the events we’ve experienced together. Remember the one man dance party and how it caused the driver/dancer to abandon, in dance, a moving car full of roommates.

It was also interesting to see how time has developed some of our stories: the post discussing Farve’s first retirement as though it would be his last, the post congratulating Jameson and Blaze’s engagement, and the post anxiously awaiting the Camaro’s arrival.  Also, Hatfield Buick was saved from government take over. Things change, and yet Bob Dylan, now at 70, still shows no signs of slowing.

One revisited post that got me particularly excited was the post which anticipated the coming of a new horsepower war among the American auto makers.  We are now in the heated midst of that once anticipated horsepower war.  The Camaro now roams the streets battling Mustangs on the weekends.

I remember the month the Camaro was arriving at local dealerships.  The front rows of the local Ford dealerships, which have mostly recently been filled with small economy cars and family sedans (gas prices were up), were now packed with mobilizing Mustangs. There was a battle of the V-6s when the Camaro first came out. The Camaro was introduced with a base 304hp V-6 outdoing Ford’s dated 210hp V-6.  Ford designed a completely new and very exciting V-6 for the Mustang getting 305hp.  It was at this time that Chevy revealed that their V-6 really gets 312hp–always did, they just underrated it.

Now, Camaro has remained mostly unchanged since introduction, and Mustang has gained the upper hand in the top performance V-8 battle with the impressive update of the Shelby GT500 and the revival of the aggressively beautiful Boss 302.  The GT500 originally had 540hp but in 2011 Chevy announced the much rumored Z28 would actually be a supercharged ZL1 with an estimated 550hp. So, Shelby bumped output to 550hp. Chevy then announced the ZL1 will be ready early 2012 and it was dyno tested at 580hp; surprise! It appears Chevy will soon gain the upper hand in dramatic fashion. What an exciting time to live in—it’s beginning to rival the horsepower wars of the sixties, as anticipated in the previously mentioned post.

I should also mention the Cadillac V-Series which has been battling overseas villains and is really pushing luxury performance to places few other makers are willing to venture.  Take the CTS-V wagon for example: it’s a supercharged V-8 station wagon with 556hp and a six-speed manual! It’s a station wagon with all the comforts of a Cadillac (you could throw a couple tubas in the back), and it goes 0-60 in 4 seconds! And it looks good doing it. Speaking of drop dead gorgeous, have you seen the CTS-V Coupe? It also gets 556hp, but it does 0-60 in 3.9 seconds.

And the Corvette ZR1 remains king.

Also, when I revisited My Top Black and Whites I made some changes as I have since become a big Lillian Gish fan and a couple of her movies are now favorites of mine.

The Michelin Man knows what's up.

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A few great car commercials

March 16, 2011

Recently there have been some great car commercials on television and I wanted to look back at some of my favorites listed here. I am not  interested in clever sales pitches, stunning visuals or feasts of strength (so common in truck and luxury car commercials). I am more interested in how the soul of the car is portrayed and in the relationships and experiences people have with their cars. (It also helps to be about an exciting car.)

I love the physical comedy/silent film style acting in this ad made great with the STAR WARS theme.

Just a fun commercial with a beautiful car.  Also, RIP Crown Victoria.

Possibly my favorite. This one brought me to my feet the first time I saw it.  It’s in homage to the Steve McQueen film Bullitt, probably the greatest car chase movie.  The 1968 Mustang GT McQueen used to chase two hitmen in a  1968 Charger R/T 440 to their fiery death was the inspiration for the Mustang’s new design. A special Bullitt Edition was later offered. McQueen’s image was taken from the movie chase which can be seen here.

And this is when the V-Series was just getting started. Check out the CTS-V coupe.

Another great. This Corvette commercial was pulled from television for its “dangerous” portrayal of children driving irresponsibly.  I believe that’s what makes it great. Children dream of driving passionate cars. (And always manuals- children don’t pretend to drive an automatic.)  This ad is so true to  the ideal driver-car relationship. Ford later made a similar ad with adult drivers- it was much less.

A car’s life flashes before its windshield and its the lives of its owners.

What ever happened to style? It’s a question I’ve asked myself many times. There was a time when style was just about everything in automotive design. I love the shots of the Chrysler Building which was designed using the automotive Art Deco style of the times.


Hatfield Buick part of Redlands culture

June 11, 2009

When I first heard of the economic troubles some of the major American automotive companies were having my first fear was the possibility of an America without those companies and their cars, each so vital to the American culture.  Now, following the filing of bankruptcy of GM those fears are being realized. 

Newspapers report GM is soon to be government owned, and will be reduced to just four companies (Chevy, Cadillac, Buick and GMC).  Also, dealerships all across the nation will not have their franchise agreements renewed for the next year affecting towns all across the U.S. 

Again one of my first fears concerning GM’s troubles has been realized. The Hatfield Buick dealership of my hometown Redlands, CA will not have its agreement renewed after 100 years of selling cars. It joined Buick in 1913 after Hatfield had been selling cars since 1909.  It’s the oldest Buick dealer in the U.S., probably the world.

1913 Buick

1913 Buick

Currently owned by the original Hatfield’s grandson, the dealership is trying to petition to GM for the renewal of the contract and the continued life of an important center to the city’s heritage and culture. If this fight is lost it will not only mean the loss of a place to buy a car and the cars themselves, but the city of Redlands (with its people) will lose a piece of itself.

1913 Buick

 For more information visit these links and savehatfieldbuick.com (to show your support).

ABC7 News

Redlands Daily Facts


How your tv works. How your conductor doesn’t.

February 25, 2009

HT: Gizmodo


The Beginning of the End

January 30, 2009

Apparently, scientists have never seen any Sci-Fi movie…ever.


Look ma’… no hands!

April 3, 2008

Human ingenuity, or rather… A.I. ingenuity.

I just found, what might seem rather boring for most, a video from NASA that shows the Jules Verne Ecliptic Sunfighter Spaceship (ok. sounds way better than Automated Space Transfer Vessel, huh?!) The cool part is that the vessel is unmanned. No driver… why is that cool? This caught my attention, quoted from Gizmodo.com:

anything with an automated system that can track down an object that is moving at 16,777 miles per hour and attach itself with just a 2-centimeter leeway, is pretty damn awesome in Giz’s book.

Just reminds us what’s coming in the years ahead. The last part of the video has the mission control people announcing the vessel docking to the Internation Space Station. What an age we’re in now,… the video almost has an uncanny regularity to it, no?

The risk taken by these visionaries, engineers, and control room technicians alike… could have failed. What happens if it had missed the mark just outside of the 2-centimeter target? Bumped it the wrong way? Rolled out of its trajectory with a crucial 3.5 ton payload? But no, the risk is taken, committed to. I can see it now. Practical space travel progressing leaps and bounds from this little, but successful accomplishment.

Ok, maybe not, but at least if an Imperial Star Destroyer ever does a fly-by, we’ll know how to take on a little tractor-beam interception, and do it well.


Anxious anticipation

February 28, 2008

American automotive enthusiasts and especially Chevy enthusiasts are living exciting and anxious times.  For five years we have been without the Camaro, without Chevy Muscle.  It has been trying times.  But in recent years we have seen glimmers of hope: MUSCLE IS BACK! 

            Almost since the Camaro’s discontinuation in 2002 there has been speculation, rumors and prayers for its return.  When the Camaro was discontinued it was vastly out performing everything in its class and price range.  It was a hard loss.  

            Then Chevy lifted our spirits when they announced their intention to revive the Camaro and revealed its concept which blew everyone away.  That all seems so long ago.  We have been anxiously waiting for years.  We have seen the car and our mouths are watering, our hearts are yearning and people have begun saving for the day it arrives at the dealers.  There is even a countdown to the beginning of production of the Camaros.  As the time draws nearer the more anxious I get. 

            This whole thing reminds me of the stories I have heard about the secrecy and pride in the unveiling of the original classic cars such as when Chevy unveiled its new design and engine (the small-block that changed the world) in 1955.  It set a date, closed the curtains of the showroom and kept the cars covered until that date.  The car was highly anticipated and it proved well worth it.

            This new Camaro is now also highly anticipated and it appears it will be well worth the wait.  In the midst of the anticipation every enthusiast is scrounging for any and all information, photographs and videos of the testing models of the car.  Magazines and web sites have spies searching and chasing its development.  Citizens are reporting sightings.  And now magazines are calling for the citizens to keep their eyes pealed in search of an opportunity to photograph the Camaro (if you have the opportunity be sure to take those photos).  Some of the latest photos came when someone one the street spotted a Camaro in camouflage being transported on the back of a diesel.  It was on its way north to Alaska for cold weather testing (from what I heard).

            Recently official photos have been released (without the camouflage) to provide a better look.  It is gorgeous in white. Check out this link

            Part of the speculation surrounding the Camaro is: why is it taking so long to go into production.  Part of the answer is that it is a completely new car (unlike the new Mustang or Challenger which are built upon previously existing designs).  Also, its performance is being vigorously tested and tuned.  Also, Chevy is working to keep the Camaro in the hands the everyday people and your average car guy.  An example of this is that they are working to get a five star safety rating in  order to keep insurance costs down.

            As the wait continues we must remember that when the first Camaro came out in 1967 it was three years after most of the other muscle cars hit the streets (the 4-4-2, the GTO and the Mustang), and still was able to astonish and compete.