Vroom-vroom-vroom-zoom! Ferrari’s newest car: a hatchback!

This post is dedicated to the recently deceased editor-in-chief of Car and Driver, David E. Davis Jr.  I heard of the news when I received my June 2011 issue of Car and Driver.  David E. Davis Jr. died while recuperating from cancer surgery on March 27, 2011. 

What’s next from Ferrari?  A minivan with a V12? Most likely, no.  Darn! (It would look awesome though!)  If I worked at Ferrari, then I would design a Ferrari mini-van and get one for my mom!   

Ferrari’s newest kid on the block will probably be a target for the big competitors on the grand touring car block.  I can tell you one thing: it certainly isn’t an ugly duckling (or a slow one for that).  It will outrun many competitors, and out power them, too.  The new kid is named the Ferrari FF, which stands for Ferrari Ferrari Four!  The FF is the first Ferrari with four-wheel-drive!  If you can afford one, then you can go up to the ski resort, without having to buy a Jeep! Another cool gadget is an additional tachometer and speedometer.  As with all other Ferrari’s, the FF has a mannetino switch, which controls the stability and traction control systems.  The FF gets 25% better fuel economy than its predecessor, the 612 Scaglietti.  If you think that the engine may look like a double-headed vacuum cleaner, then think again, it doesn’t sound like one!  Sadly, all this awesomeness is held back by a Chrysler navigation system.  YUCK!  You can compare the FF with the Porsche Panamera, but that is kind of pointless.  The FF nearly matches the Panamera’s utility and passenger space.  Even with AWD, the FF is only eleven pounds heavier than the 612.  The FF’s cost is nearly double that of a very-well optioned Panamera Turbo.  If you want one, then you will have to wait for a bit, as the first year of production is sold out.  The FF succeeds in its mission to be one of the coolest-ever grand touring cars ever. 

I am attaching the link for the FF from Car and Driver’s website.  http://www.caranddriver.com/reviews/car/11q1/2012_ferrari_ff-first_drive_review

Pick your poison: The Volkswagen Golf, the Volkswagen GTI or the now-defunct, but still lethal Rabbit.

Before we delve into the German compact car world, I promised you on Friday that I would reveal the answers for the metaphors and similes.  Here are the answers:

Jaguars are sleek, fast and agile: just like the jungle cat.  That sentence is a simile. 

The Shelby Cobra spits glorious thunder and lightning as thunderstorms inject fear into the hearts of dogs.  That sentence is  metaphor. 

The roaring semi pants up the grade.  That sentence is a metaphor.

The internal combustion engine is the roaring belly of the car.        That sentence is a metaphor.

If you don’t know what I am talking about, then look at my previous post, English Period.

Now, let’s transition our transmission to the history of Volkswagen’s compact hatchbacks (excluding the Beetle).

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The Golf/Rabbit/GTI

In German, Volkswagen means “the people’s car”.  Volkswagen was part of the Auto Unions’ from the 1920’s and ‘30’s.  They also made Jeep-like vehicles for the Nazi regime.  During the 1930’s, they started making the Beetle, an affordable car.  Adolf Hitler commissioned Ferdinand Porsche, the father of Porsche and Volkswagen, to build a “Volkswagen-the people’s car”.  The Beetle was meant to be the German Ford Model T, but better.  The prototype Beetle’s were built in Porsche’s garage.  Sadly, only a few Beetle’s from the 1930’s and 1940’s remain today.  The ones that do remain, however, are the most sought after German cars of that era.

I picked the Golf/Rabbit/GTI trio to be a post, because they are: safe, fairly reliable, fun to drive, fuel efficient, and are a versatile platform.   It is amazing what Volkswagen has done with a simple platform.  Plus, the car is cheap!  VW’s reliability is improving with every generation.  VW’s have always been very unreliable, and they are a welcome change.  The Golf/Rabbit/GTI that I would choose would be a 2010 GTI two-door with the optional DSG transmission. 

In May of 1974, Volkswagen introduced a new car: the Golf/Rabbit.  The Golf name was for Europe and markets other than theU.S.  The Rabbit name was for theU.S.and Canadian markets.  The new cars proved to be an instant hit, with many cars sold within the first few months.  Two years later, Volkswagen decided to add a “sportified” version of the Golf/Rabbit to the existing line-up.  The more potent GTI hatchback was added to the Golf/Rabbit line-up and was a hit (it still is today).  The GTI has a four-banger (cylinder) with a turbocharger on it.  Many variations of the Golf have been produced, such as the Volkswagen Caddy, Volkswagen Pup and the Golf Cabriolet (German for convertible).  The first generation Golf/Rabbit was produced from May 1974-August 1984 (with variations).  In 1979, a Jetta sedan was put into production.  The Jetta was a four-door Golf/Rabbit/GTI without the rear hatch. 

The second generation was produced alongside its older brother for almost a year, before the factory was a dedicated Golf/Rabbit/GTI factory.  In 1985, the first all-wheel-drive Golf/Rabbit’s went on sale, as the Golf/Rabbit Country.  When ABS was federally mandated for all new cars in theU.S., the Golf/Rabbit was no exception. 

The third-generation Golf/Rabbit/GTI debuted in 1991 inEurope.  Two new engines debuted with it: VW’s now tried and true VR6 narrow-angle V6, and a Turbocharged Direct Injection (TDI) Diesel engine.  Both engines are used extensively throughout the current Volkswagen/Audi/Porsche model range.  The Jetta III was also introduced as the Volkswagen Vento in the South American market.  The Golf Mk3 (internal model design number) won the award of 1992 European Car of the Year. 

The Golf Mk4 was introduced to the VW line up in August 1997.  As of 2009, there were some Golf’s still in production in South America and parts ofAfrica, because of their cheap cost.  Production ended in December of 2006. 

Even though production started in mid-2003, the Golf Mk5 reached our shores in 2006.  Yet again, the Jetta was just a Golf without the hatchback style.  A Rabbit (it was still called the Rabbit in theUS) won a Car & Driver comparison because of its interior levels and driving enjoyment.  For the first time, VW’s DSG (Dual-Sport-Transmission) was available.  The DSG is a dual-clutch design similar to Porsche’s PDK (I won’t even bother trying to spell PDK in German!).

The Golf Mk6 started production in January 2009, and is basically a face-lifted Golf Mk5.  The 2011 Jetta rides on an all-new platform that will be used for the Golf Mk7. 

Variations of the Golf ______________________________________________________

Volkswagen been on the hunt for fuel efficient cars and engines.  They have been using diesel engines for years, and trying out electric cars.

There was a Golf CityStromer in the 1970’s that was an experimental Golf converted to electric power, using lead-acid battery packs.  Unfortunately, it never made it to production.

Awards and Titles:

1992: European Car of the Year

2006: 1st place in a Car & Driver economy car comparison

2010: Kelley Blue Book’s #3 out of 10 green cars of 2010.

English period!

Okay, everybody, today we are learning about metaphors and similes.  I see your hands coming up.  Yes, I’ll answer your questions right now.

A metaphor is implied, not introduced by the words ‘like or as.’ 

For example: “The Ford Mustang gallops through the winding country road.”

A simile is a comparison that takes two dissimilar things and finds common ground between the two things.  Similes often use the words ‘like or as’ to announce it.  For example: “Hummer’s chug gas like drunks do whiskey.”

See if you can tell which of the following are metaphors or similes:  

Jaguars are sleek, fast and agile: just like the jungle cat.  

The Shelby Cobra spits glorious thunder and lightning as thunderstorms inject fear into the hearts of dogs.

 The roaring semi pants up the grade.

 The internal combustion engine is the growling belly of the car.

 Look for the answers on Tuesday. 

 These are Swiftyisms.

 “The tire is punctured!” my dad said flatly. 

“The car is out of gas” my mom said emptily. 

“The car needs oil” the mechanic said greasily.

“The battery is dead” my mom said negatively.  “I can charge it” the tow-truck driver said positively.

“That driver is speeding” my mom said quickly.

“This is a great new road” my dad said smoothly.

“Check out my new Rolls-Royce” the owner said luxuriously.

“The paint job on my Mustang has faded” the owner said dully. 

Those sentences are called “Tom Swiftys”.  They are attributed to the children’s series of Tom Swift novels.  The books were produced from 1910-1993.  The fun of the sentences was that they were supported with puns. 

Share your Tom Swiftys, metaphors and similes with me in the comments.

Vroom-Vroom-Zoom-Zoom, Off We Go!

Wicked (epic) Weekend Fun!  It was a dream come true, a ride in a Porsche 911 Carrera (with a former race car driver)!  Early Sunday morning, I went for a ride on the back-roads ofNorthernCalwith Jerry Gladstone (check my post “A Racer’s Life”).  About twenty minutes into the ride, we encountered some curves that challenged the car.  From then on, you can guess what fun I had!  When it got a bit chilly out, Jerry turned on the “Grand Old Porsche Heater smell”.  The heater coolant smell comes in to the cabin and makes it smell! PU!

After a while, we started to share some funny stories.  His first car was given to him by his dad.  Something broke in the transmission and he couldn’t afford to fix it, so he sold it and bought an MG TC!  He has had an: MG TC, Mazda Miata, Porsche 912, and three other Porsches.  The Porsche that I rode in with him is his fifth! It is a 1997 993 Series 911 Carrera.  It is the quietest 911 that he has owned! The Flat-Six makes about 300 horsepower and makes a great howl/scream!  Jerry says that the six-speed manual is precise and easy to shift.  He can’t use 6th gear, as the car will pick up speed until it reaches its 171 mph top speed! VROOM! The 993 was the last air-cooled 911 generation to be produced.  The Recaro sport seats grab you like crab’s pinchers and hold you firmly.  There is a small switch that may look like nothing, but it controls how much down force is going to the rear wing, which pops out.  At one point, there was a small dip in the road that we simply flew over.  It was just like in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” when the parking attendants drove the Ferrari.

Zooming through country roads at high speeds, we quite often got the thumbs up from bicyclists going very slowly.  When we were at a stoplight because of road construction, Jerry put the Porsche in neutral and revved the engine to 7000 RPM! Somebody in a BMW Z4 held his hands over his ears!  That got Jerry and I laughing like maniacs!

The hand-brake, he calls “the stick”!  It looks like a small black stick with grooves in it!  When we got out and went into the garage, he told me “inhale the grand old Porsche smell!” The smell can only be related to leaked oil and radiator fluid!  It smells almost as good as food to me!

Thanks for the fun ride Jerry! I talked about it so much that my mom and dad finally told me “We’ve already heard about it ten times!”  Maybe Jerry will let me drive his Porsche when I am old enough…

Stories from the land of BOOYAH!

This post is dedicated to my Uncle Bob, who needs some attention.

Uncle Bob has always loved cars (not as much as me, but a lot).  Today, I start the Bobby Chronicles! BA-BAM-BA-BA!  Can’t you just hear the horns playing?  From the beginning, Uncle Bob has always loved cars and had some funny relationships with them…

When Uncle Bob was a young child, he, my dad and my Grandma and his two other brothers were driving along.  So far, this is just a normal day in the life of Uncle Bob.  You need to know that all the boys were sucking on HUGE Jawbreakers.  This being Uncle Bob, the Jawbreaker happened to get stuck and he started to choke.  Grandma yelled at them to “stop horsing around!”  It kept going on, and my dad said “mom, Bobby’s choking!” Grandma pulled over on the side of the freeway to help Uncle Bob.  Cars zooming by, she got out and stuck her finger in his mouth, pulling it out! (She also made my dad and two other Uncles spit their Jawbreakers out!)  Go, Granny, Go!

About a year later, their cousin was babysitting them.  They all went to the local 7/11 to get big slurpies.  On the way home, their cousin was driving wildly for fun.  There was a street sign that said “Speeding?”

“See, they’re telling us that we have to be speeding! We’re going to fly to the moon” their cousin gleefully informed them.

There was a very steep hill that they were going to “launch from”.  When they crested the hill at high speed, Uncle Bob threw up all over the backseat of Grandma’s station wagon.  I guess that’s where he started saying “BOOYAH!!”

Not long after that, Uncle Bob, Grandma, my dad, and his brother were going toPalm Springs, through a place called “WindyPass”.  The car went off the embankment and barrel-rolled about 8 times.  Yikes! Uncle Bob either flew out of the car if the door opened or he jumped out.  He’s always wanted his pilots’ license!

When Uncle Bob turned 16, his first car was a 1973 Chevrolet Blazer with a big propane tank instead of a gas tank.  He put a four inch lift kit on it, thinking that it would attract girls! I don’t know if that worked…  He also put on glass headers, which made it be about as loud as a Harley-Davidson without a muffler!  One of the neighbors across the street complained about the noise, which made “mild-mannered Bobby” rev the engine even higher in the mornings!

When Uncle Bob and my dad went up toLake Tahoe to go skiing, they took the Blazer (her name was Betty!).  They were on Donner Pass during a snowstorm.  Open up your history books, as we all know that snowstorms on Donner Pass don’t end well!  The CHP came up to them and told them that they could go through.  The problem, at this point, was that there was too much snow on the windshield.  Uncle Bob, being the bigger brother, made my dad get out and wipe the windshield.  When my dad was about to get in, he slipped on a patch of ice and fell.  He slid past something like 20 cars before he grabbed a tire. 

Once they were in Tahoe, they were at a “T” intersection.  Uncle Bob could only afford to buy two snow tires, so he put them on the rear.  When they got to the intersection, he wanted to turn right.  Except (this is a big except), the front road tires couldn’t get traction, so they spun and he went into a snowdrift.  He then made my dad get out and push him out of the snowdrift.  My dad had to get out in waist-deep snow and push! BRRRRR!

The last, and possibly, funniest story happened when Uncle Bob was about 17.  He was driving my Grandpa’s Porsche 924 on the 405 Freeway.  (Now that car would impress girls more than Betty Blazer!) He went to shift, but the whole shaft for the stick-shift came out in his hand! He was in third gear and came home at a very high speed!  He’s always wanted to be a NASCAR driver!

Uncle Bob is a very good driver, but he likes to think that he is driving like Dale Earnhardt Jr.  He is  lead foot and that equals, yep, you guessed it! Tickets…  I can share some of his ticket stories another time…

Thanks for letting me embarrass you, Shmooey! You’re a great Uncle, just don’t forget to check your speedometer!  Don’t worry about me, I’ll be a perfect driver!

Battery Electric Vehicles: The Cars of The Future

Everybody is saying that BEV’s are the Cars of the Future. Are they? Well, let’s see! They produce zero emissions and cost less to run per mile than a non-electric car. There is a small infrastructure currently in place to support re-charging. Electricity can come from renewable resources. These cars provide immediate torque and high redlines.

What cars run on electric power?  Starting with the luxury auto-makers; Mercedes-Benz is soon going to do an electric version of its SLS AMG, which would be called the SLS AMG E- Drive. There is a small Californian car maker, Tesla, who makes an electric roadster with quick acceleration, lots of torque (up to 70 mph), and a top speed of 125 mph, all for $109,000.  I just went to a talk about a Tesla!  The other luxury car maker that is going to have an upcoming Electric car is Audi. The new Audi will use the R8 supercar’s components to have an electric version called the E-Tron.  Other automakers that have Electric cars are: Chevrolet, Ford, Nissan, Fisker, Mitsubishi and ZAP.  There is also the Chevrolet Volt, which is the 2011 Motor Trend Car of The Year.  One of the comments from the editors of Motor Trend is “Moonshot, game changer! This car is truly one of a kind.”  It’s direct competitors are the: Ford Focus Electric and the Nissan Leaf.  The Ford Focus Electric is due to come into your local Ford dealer sometime this summer.  The Nissan Leaf is distinctively styled and starts at $33,500 before a Federal Tax Break comes in and takes $7500 of the sticker price.  Toyota will soon offer an electric RAV-4 that is a result of a small merger with Tesla.  There is also the Prius Plug-In, which will be available for a lease next year.  The one vehicle that every American needs is the SmartFor2 E-Drive, which is already on our shores.  Oh! I almost forgot! I am sure that you have seen those teeny little cars driving around your town. In my town, I see a few driving around the downtown part of the city. They are called ZAP cars. They are made by the same company that makes the ZAPPY scooters!  

Problems with electric cars include a long recharging time. The cars have a small range and batteries are expensive. Electricity production in most of the U.S. requires coal, which is a very unclean burning substance.  In the 1990’s GM made 800 EV1 electric cars, which were leased out to Californians and Arizona people alike.

A Good Book

Dogs, racing and cars!  What’s not to like?  Woof and Zoomvroom!  The Art of Racing in The Rain by Garth Stein, is an exciting, fast-paced novel meant for both young adults and adults.  There are a lot of cuss words, and a scene between one of the main characters and a much younger woman.   

On the night of his death, Enzo, a dog, recalls his entire life from puppy-hood up.  He remembers meeting his owner, Denny, Denny’s meeting his wife, Eve, and the unexpected loss of Eve, and the hard times following it.  He also remembers Denny’s daughter, Zoe, and the lawsuits following Zoe’s custody battle.  He has fond memories of the weekend rides in Denny’s BMW, and the race-cars that Denny drove.  Enzo frequently hung out in the pits or bleachers at the track.  Enzo has always wanted to be a race-car driver, so he could race against Denny.  But, being a dog, he couldn’t.  Enzo has always felt that he was almost human, and had an obsession with opposable thumbs and knows that when he is reincarnated, he will be a human. 

Enzo said “when somebody is in pain, only their pet can understand how much it hurts along with them.”  There is a lot of pathos (arousing passion and sadness) in the story.  When Denny is arrested because of criminal charges, he is bailed out and helped by friends.  Enzo said “Always remember that your friends will be there to help you.”  Enzo and Denny were inseparable and stayed with each other through thick and thin. 

I really enjoyed reading The Art of Racing in The Rain.  The book describes how to drive a fast car in the rain, and constantly mentions many exotic cars.  I like the story because it has themes on friendships and cars.