Friday, January 28, 2005

What does fast look like?

The Lancer EVO and the Subaru WRX STi are certainly fast cars. Astonishingly fast cars. Cars that redefine fast as only four-wheel drive can. But they don't look particularly fast. They look peculiar. They look Japanese in an iconic way that is appealing in its oddity, like a Japanese love hotel used panty machine. Quirky but not badass. It doesn't look like a felony. The Renault R5 Turbo, that is a fast looking car. An SCCA racing Datsun 510. An early BMW 3-series with spoilers and fender flares. Trans-Am cars of the late '60s. Nothing looks faster than headlights covered with masking tape, functional spoilers and, most importantly, tires that extend beyond the traditional fender lines.

A few years ago I was invited to a market research effort on behalf of a big Detroit manufacturer. Admittedly, it was not my considerable automotive knowledge that drew the invitation, but rather that I was local and had recently bought a new car. I was thrilled to go. I had a lot to say. Instead, I sat in an Orange County industrial park and answered a browser-based questionaire that asked how much extra I would pay for a Tommy Hilfiger appearance package. Naturally, I was furious and kicked everybody in the shins on my way out.

A retainer and a piece of the back end means multinational corporations can spend a day in the Hooptyrides Shops to find out just how fast should look. So confident are we, the backend percentage is not as onerous as it sounds.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

While looking for vintage muscle cars to figure out why they looked so damn cool (and why the new GTO and Charger look so stupid), I found this terrific photograph of a backseat love den. I can only imagine the despair felt by somebody convinced to get in this automobile. Rear seat removed, green velvet, ridiculous 6v powered camping light, watching Archie Bunker on that little 2-13 television, coordinated yellow throw pillows to match the headliner... Coincidentally, there is a room at the Playboy Mansion that looks exactly like this.

One can only imagine that this car no longer exists due to the high likelyhood of a fire started by bong. Please contact us immediately if you know anything about this automobile. And, if you happen to be one of the individuals lured into this backseat, we would particularly like to hear from you and find out what the hell you were thinking.

Another Mystery Solved!

Luckily, Hamish sent this photo that does quite a bit to explain the dream tailgate mural. The irony is the stable of cars in the garage has not aged very well. Looks like a Ferrari Mondial ($24,000), a Porsche 928 ($4000), a Mercedes 500 SEL ($3500), a Corvette convertible with a horrible Zender body kit ($5000) and a BMW 328 convertible ($4000) brings us to a grand total of $40,500 or roughly the cost of a GMC Yukon. Perhaps this poster should be renamed Justification for Community College Education.

Thanks Hamish!

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

The Tiki Truck!

This classy truck reminds me of the fawning Motley Crue Uncensored documentary that featured the then svelte Vince Neil sitting in a limo jacuzzi, driving back and forth past Gazzari's, while his bikini clad jacuzzi mates would flash their tits with the slightest nudge from Mr. Neil. This fine Galpinized truck features a waterfall that drops into a jacuzzi, portable barbeque and a frozen drink machine all hidden by a teak deck cover.

Needlessly Anticipated GTO and Charger

These cars look like lame ass rental cars. Neither are going to sell for shit and they look like they were designed by committee. Who is really fooled by the stupid looking side plastic spoilers under the doors? I mean, it was cool when AMG was doing it in the 1980's to improve the aerodynamics of brutally fast, autobahn melting Mercedes but it hasn't been acceptable since Nissan tacked all that shit on the Maxima.

The Mister Jalopy Hooptyrides Organization now offers production advice for automobile manufacturers. For $25,000, Mister Jalopy will evaluate your product offering and save you from embarassing Pontiac Aztec caliber mistakes. Mister Jalopy understands how you can get a little close to a project, make economic concessions and end up with a bright shiny turd. For a mere $25,000 you can get a refreshingly honest opinion as to whether your newest auto should be put into production or if it should die on the drawing board.

Monday, January 17, 2005

This sentence no verb.

When I was a kid, I begged my mother to buy Metamagical Themas from the Quality Paperback Book Club. At that point in history, tying quality and paperback together in the title was a statement of proletariat intellectual snobbery. Though I have shaken the paperback mentality and have embraced the hardcover without reservation, readers will be glad to know that I am still a terrific snob.

Having suffered through the first chapter of Godel, Escher, Bach three times and understanding it less with each reading, Metamagical Themas was, comparitively, very 13 year old accessible. It was a bunch of Hofstadter articles from Scientific American with the killer early hook of the self-referential sentence - a sentence that refers to itself, maybe negates itself. Like the classic junior high school algebra class poster board sign hanging from the T-Bar acoustic ceiling by a piece of fishing line - "The statement on the other side of this card is false" and "The statement on the other side of this card is true."

I am still a sucker for self-referential and my favorite examples are the truck tailgate murals of Southern California. I have seen far less than a dozen in my life and have followed drivers miles out of the way to get a good look. The self-referential tailgate mural shows an ideal life which features the very truck that has the mural. The smaller truck in the painting has a scale version of the tailgate mural. And so on. Like a hall of mirrors.

In this mural, the garage features a dream car garage. From left, a yellow Ford truck, a Ford Mustang convertible, the actual mural toting Ford truck, a red Chevy Suburban and some sort of Jeep. In this example, the ideal is to live on a cliffside with a low voltage lighting path from the garage. The most common version of paradise that I have seen is a Mexican pastoral with goats and chickens, doing laundry by the river, a big party under a tree and garages loaded with Italian super cars. The unusual aspect of this particular mural is the Ford trucks mixed in with the Chevy Suburban. Sure, Ferrari's and Countach's are one thing, but mixing Ford and Chevy? Paradise represented in tailgate murals is rarely brand agnostic.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Grampa's Mercedes

Though it was a single wide trailer, it seemed plenty big to me as a kid. Railroad style with a pair of sidemount doors, I can still remember my grampa yelling to get inside before the mosquitos did - this despite the yellow bug bulb that cast such a sickly orange glow though seemed to deter the mosquitos not one bit. Though not rich, my grandparents had a Mercedes. This is actually their second Mercedes, as the first one was totalled in an accident and my grandmother was so impressed with the integrity of the automobile she declared she would never ride in anything but a Mercedes. For safety. I would love to make the same declaration but my broad love of automobiles precludes me from omitting any marquee - save a few Korean brands.

The fin, lauded by Cadillac, is the thorn in Mercedes' side. I bet I could sell my Curta and get a decent finback Mercedes and have enough left over for a set of Yosemite Sam floormats. Finback Mercedes fill California junkyards with rust free parts, are reasonably reliable and, if the performance is not bristling, it is respectable. I will be lucky if I don't own one by the end of the week.

I am going to start selling the complete automotive solution. A sensible stable of vehicles that will fill every transportation need. For a low monthly payment of $199.95, you will get:

1965 Mercedes 190 Finback Sedan, for fancy occasions. Presentable and will probably get you home.

1987 Toyota Pickup Truck, for effecting change. Honest and will definitely get you home.

1982 Mercedes 300D, for the environment. Biodiesel soybean and will get you home eventually.

1986 Alfa Romeo Spider, for sporting. Exciting, especially as it will never get you home.