Saturday, December 29, 2012

Week of December 17 through the end of the year

It's the holidays, which means lazy car salesmen have given up for the year and I'm lucky if I even get called in for a full day of work. It's OK, I have a new arrangement with my Mortgage company that I can start paying in good intentions.


  • 2010 Subaru Forester: Steering is light and drifty on center so don't look away from the road on the freeway. Overall good feel and as usual great low center of gravity like all Subaru.
  • 2006 Lexus IS-250 Sedan: Good dynamics, but it just feels too small above the belt line and especially in the foot wells, How big is that transmission?
  • 2009 Saturn Outlook XE: Solid CUV feel. Ending Saturn was a bad choice.


  • Work? Hah nobody needs cars. 


  • 2009 Volkswagen CC Turbo 6spd (long trip): Great powertrain, good turn in, but controls are numb and pedals are skewed too far to the right. Great shiftier feel.


  • 2006 Dodge Ram 2500 w/Plow: Plows on the freeway are a pain. Overheating, horrible mileage  and boy do big bumps have new meaning when there's that much weight forward of the front bumper and nothing in the back.


  • 2010 Jeep Patriot: Too tight inside, brakes are needlessly stiff. This is just too primitive for its price.
  • 2000 Ford F-350 Lariat V10: This isn't a truck, it's a land borne tug boat!
  • 2006 Volkswagen Jetta 2.5: This is a really great simple small sedan. Get it as a stick and just drive it.


  • 2007 Toyota FJ Cruiser: The novelty of these just doesn't seem to wear off. 
  • 2006 BMW X5 4.4i: It's big outside, but small inside. Not super great as far as AWD traction goes. Too reliant on the traction control to fake it.
Also just say no to soft touch plastic. Sure it looks nice in the show room, but it just doesn't hold up.


  • 2008 Chevy HHR: Great little hatchback. Doesn't try to be "retro" too much. Drives very well. If this is what Chevy needed to to do in order to make a nice 5 door then so be it. WAY better than the PT cruiser was.
  • 2009 Kia Borrego V6: A GREAT full size SUV that looks like, but isn't, a crossover. Stylish and comfortable, but not trying to be "Luxury" Kind of like what BMW used to do. If you can't bear to just get a great minivan, this is a good choice. Sadly it was sold here for only one year before being replaced with a CUV.


  • 2010 Ford Fusion SE: Fantastic sedan, comfortable, roomy, dynamic, the layout and interior design is top notch for it's class. Soft surfaces wherever your legs/arms rest. Sync controls are logical and smart. The steering wheel especially is well done, with radio/infotainment controls on the right (same hand you reach to the radio with.) and Cruse and dash info controls on the left. Also AUTOSTICK is the RIGHT WAY AROUND!!!! (Forward to Downshift, Back to Upshift, as Racing God intended.) More people need to love sport cloth seats; grabby, warm, and tough! And you don't need to feed them like leather.
  • 2009 Kia Borrego V6: Yes sometimes they sell that fast. When they are good,
  • 2009 Mazda CX-9: Responsive and well appointed, but still too tall, Autostick is the right way round.
  • 2005 Chevy Equinox LT: Sits tall, compromises interior quality to pay for the extra sheet metal, but hey, you aren't driving a wagon right......

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Week of December 10th


  • 2010 Ford Edge SEL: This thing is horrible, hard echoey interior, cheap seats, hideous seating position, tippy feeling. And it's big, yet my hair still hits the headliner, I can't believe they were making stuff like this up through 2010!
  • 2010 Ford Edge SEL AWD: Mielage is terrible at ~21MPG on the highway! For the price of this vehicle everyone involved should be ashamed. 


  • 2004 Jeep Liberty 3.7L: Very Jeep like. Feels offroader-ey, but still manageable on the road; as opposed to the wrangler.
  • 2007 Lincoln MKX: More money, but same crap fest as the EDGE.
  • 2004 Suazuki XL7 V6: Still a stout little frame on body truck. Aside from a half hearted attempt in the interior it isn't trying to be anything but a little offroader.
  • 2008 Chrysler Aspen: This tarted up Durango just makes no sense, it's still Dodge cheap inside.
  • 2004 Ford Taurus: Average, average power, average breaks, average handling for a family sedan. Just average. C-.


  • 2002 Nisan Maxima: These age out great and are really fun to drive. Great power, good steering response, but man they do not fit big Americans so great.

12/13 - 12/16

I abandon my day job to jump in the GMC 2500 and roll out to Colorado to go get a friend's new racecar. 

Cleveland to Denver is 1,331 miles, over all, the trip with stops would take about 24 hrs. So it's up real early to get on the road.

Sadly due to weather concerns we took the open trailer. The land whale will be used soon enough. Crew Chief is ready and I'm ready!

Our first stop for the night was in Keamey Nebraska, I'd like to have something to say about it, but we got in at night and left early. 

Somewhere along the way I came along a vending machine that sells obvious.

Yea I fricking hope so! Your'e the Vend-it-HOT. Items should DEFIANTLY be HOT.
That possibly hot mess behind us, we continue on through out the day entering the dry scrub of western Nebraska and then south west into Colorado. Then something magic begins to happen. 

 Off in the distance the horizon begins separating from the clouds.

 Now almost two days into the trip, the Rocky Mountains loom into view.

By the time you get into the Denver suburbs you can see the snow caps and the sheer size of them starts to become apparent. Also by this time you are at over 5000' above sea level. the air is so delightfully crisp and thin, just like being in a plane.

We hit the hotel in town to dump our stuff then it's off to load the car.

It's name is now "Cheddar" because well, it looked more yellow in the pictures.
It's a First Generation RX-7 running SCCA E-Production. This is one of the top of the heap for full amateur closed wheel. Beyond this is GT category and the Pros.

That engine may look small, but it's a 2100 pound car and that Wankel Rotor engine puts out over 200hp with no turbos. 
You need a lot of Tach for a Rotor engine, they technically don't have a redline so much as a point at which the flame front can't complete the burn before it ends up kicked out the exhaust port.  Also note the dual EGT gauges, because these beasts make close to 1800 degrees in the exhaust. and it's a fine line between peak mixture and destructively lean.
Once the garage is emptied and the seller has his check we head out for some visiting with the chief's friends (the seller was one of them), and then it's well past time for bed.

In the morning there's a surprise out the window. The dark mountains that blocked out the sun so early the evening before are now glowing with golden hour morning sunlight.

Good morning massive mountain range!
After breakfast we check that we still have a racecar and then it's back on the road home.

Still there, Still, Cheese Colored.
We quickly rock through Nebraska and Iowa (75 MPH speed limit!) but by around Midnight it's time to stop and we end up in Davenport RIGHT on the Mississippi river. 

Did I mention it was RIGHT ON THE RIVER? 
The Blue arrow is where we stayed. the parking lot is maybe 12 feet above the river surface. The red arrow indicates the down hill road we had to use to get to the hotel, In the dark, late at night, after driving all day. We really hoped the brakes were in the mood to work.

Giant river tank with Giant local Mississippi river fish monsters. 
All the places we stayed were great, but the Holiday Inn Express here in Davenport was the nicest with some great folks at the counter, also it was like $75 for a double queen on no notice. SCORE!

Oh yea and they had a machine that poops pancakes.

After eating robot feces pancakes we check the car again and then it's off on the final run back to Ohio.

Lucky Old Man River didn't have a taste for cheese in the night. 

It goes all the way from up there, to down there.
At 7pm on Sunday we end up finally back in Cleveland to unload a shiny new present a week early. Four days, 2, 662 miles, way too much junk food, one actual meal, and back to work on Monday!

It's wet, but it's here!
Next step is to get it in a shop and get to work!!! 

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Week of December 3rd


  • 2006 Mercedes-Benz E350: Smooth and luxurious. Overall an ideal competent car. The only issue is the brake by wire system needs a very gentile foot.
  • 2011 Lexus RX 350: Big and soft, I can't compliment the style and materials of the interior more, but it can't hide that it's just a Toyota CUV.
  • 2009 Lexus ES 350: Aside from the interior there is NOTHING that makes this car stand out as worth the price premium over a Toyota or Honda.
  • 2002 Chevy Avalanche: If you need to tow, but don't want a Suburban or a Pickup, it's sorta there for you.
  • 2008 Toyota Sienna: Real good utility, and lots of space.


  • 2002 GMC 2500HD with a 36' race trailer: seats make it about 8 hours but after that they just loose all their support. BIG 454 V-8 doesn't even notice a 5000+ Pound trailer. Allison transmission is a MUST for towing. 24 hour round trip run, no problem, and only used 2 1/2 tanks!
WATCH out for the overhang swing!


  • 2003 Mercedes-Benz E500 Sport: This feels more CAR than other cars. M-B has been making cars longer than anyone else, so it figures. Sport trim however seems to be a relative term.


  • 2012 Honda Pilot: This feels like a really nice and useful SUV. Generally feels good and sturdy.
  • 2011 Mitsubishi Galant: It's ok, but it doesn't stand out at all. For '11 no drive off door locks or a locking fuel door.
  • 2006 Lexus RX 400h: This sits just way too high.
  • 2004 Mazda 6 5Door V6: Tight and responsive, nice interior, fun to drive, auto stick goes the right way around. back to upshif, forward to downshift.


  • 2003 Ford F-150 5sp: No A/C, no tach, 5-speed. Pure Basic TRUCK. It's refreshing to be reminded what cars were like before the standard option list exploded.
  • 2009 Ford Flex Limited: Big and solid, tonnes of space, but you feel like a little kid sitting in it. It's just TOO big.
  • 2007 Kia Rio LX: Great simple ride, comes bone stock empty. But, it feels better than some more expensive cars in its segment.
  • 2004 Jeep Liberty: Stout and tough feeling. It does feel a bit crude however.
  • 2008 Chevy Equinox Sport: HAH! "Sport"

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Week of November 26th

It's late I Know! I'll explain why later.


  • 1998 Ford Mustang V6: Drives so old school. The simplicity is kind of nice.
  • 2004 Dodge Ram 1500: I swear they make these tall just for the sake of being tall. 
  • 2002 Acura TL 3.2: Nice ride, I'd take this over an Accord. 


  • 2009 Chevy Impala SS: This car has way too much engine for its front wheel drive suspension. Overall good build quality, but the seats are unsupportive.
  • 2010 Acura RDX Turbo: Great throttle response with the turbo. This CUV has a nice low center of gravity feel to it. 
  • 2012 Honda Pilot: Things learned by Honda in the Ridgeline can be felt in this. Overall it feels more sturdy and less like a bloated car than most Large CUV's. Defiantly get this over the up-badged Acura MDX which just feels gaudy.


  • 2011 Hyundai Sonata Limited: This car is Fantastic! Smooth autostick gearbox, great middle of the road power (not weak but not overpowering the front wheels), Awesome powertrain warranty! Overall fit and finish is on par with new Fords. GIVE THIS A LOOK!
  • 2009 Nissan Altima 2.5 S: The 2.5 S has too much of an option spread, this one had nearly nothing where as previous Altima 2.5 S was really nicely equipped. But still it has a great engine, and a nice smooth CVT.
  • 2009 Ford Escape XLT: Comfortable and still un-apologetically truck like, but small truck like. Like a Pony or something.
  • 2008 Toyota FJ Cruser: SO FUN! It's almost a Pantomime of a truck. It has all exaggerated "truckey" characteristics and style cues. It just screams "Lets go Play In the Mud!". I mean it has three tiny front wiper blades, why? because why not?
1,2,3, The shifter looks like a marital aid!!!
  • 2008 Toyota Solara SE Convertible: Soft and floppy like a Camry which isn't particularly sporty, it's the car that signaled the end of the cool Toyotas like the MR2, Supra, and Celica. None of these problems matter too much though when you put the top down!
Yeup that says 37° F. I'm that stupid.


  • 2003 Dodge Neon SXT: Direct, Immediate steering responce. I know it was not the best car in its class, but I understand why it does so well in 24 Hours of LeMons.
  • 2007 Nissan Murano S AWD: Older Murano's like this are way more fun. Funky interior, sport setting on the CVT. Weird how it runs in sport mode @ 3500 RPM, but it's dead in the center of the Torque peak. 
  • 2005 BMW 545i Sport: Great power and Throttle responce. Sport suspension and seats really make this car special on an already great chassis.
Just watch out for that right front corner, DERP!
  • 2007 GMC Yukon: Great Interior, perhaps the Escalade IS Overrated.
  • 2004 Toyota 4-Runner: HVAC needed too much time to interpret. Good, low, legs forward seating position. It's the Quintessential Japanese Truck style SUV.
  • 2005 Ford Focus: It may look new, but it's still the same as the old '90's Escort deep inside. The new stuff is way better.


  • 2011 BMW 335i X-Drive: Astronomical launch with the turbo engine and AWD!
  • 2004 Suzuki XL-7: Great little body on frame trucklet. Feels very '80's you can tell not much has been done to modernize the chassis really. Should not have tried to be upscale though, the interior is mismatched to the overall truck. It should be utilitarian, not fake wood and such. Also, all Toyota switch gear.
  • 2008 BMW 328xi: This car just has such a confident, solid feel. The "28" engine (the N52 Inline 6) is the right amount of power to keep you out of too much trouble, but still have fun.
  • 2005 Chevy Cobalt: Like yesterday's '05 Focus, this feels just like the old 80's-90's car it still basically is under its body. Expect an old Chevy Caviler not a modern car.
Or if you want to be a Dandy, Picture the Cadillac Cimarron. A Turd by any other name would smell as foul.