Can you define “fun to drive”? I can. It’s a driving experience that involves most of your senses but not all of your attention. Very fast cars are enjoyable and exciting, However, at times, they require more attention than the average bear intends to give to the driving experience. At any moment, under WOT (wide open throttle), a very fast car can go sideways into a curb or offer too much power for most drivers to control. This usually results in mechanical and body repairs. Check out how many rear-wheel drive muscle cars wind up with broken wheels from inexperienced drivers going a little too nuts.
There should be at all times a heavy supply of “trainer” cars for the speed enthusiasts. Cars that are quick and fun but very manageable under hard acceleration or cornering are a blast to drive. I’ve said for years now on the show that I feel if you purchase a car that weighs under 3500lbs. and has more than 400 bhp you should be required to attend a training course or driving school. There is just too much power for most people to control in a Mustang GT500, Chevrolet Camaro Z28, or any Viper or SRT product for most people to manage responsibly.
Enter the all new Camaro RS with a 305hp V-6 and equipped for the first time in years with a six-speed transmission. I fell in love with this car. I actually prefer it to the SS with the nasty V-8 under the hood. If you listen to the show or read this blog, you know I appreciate performance in many differ forms. The Camaro RS six-speed is in the top three of fun to drive cars on my list. Subaru STI, Saturn Redline and the RS. Those are my three. They all share completely different drive trains and offer driver feedback that is more varied than Tiger’s mistresses. In the end game, however, they are all easy to re-gain control once you’ve made a bad driving decision.
At this year’s Crisis Center Show, the RS was placed near an SS that was the same very attractive “Inferno Orange” with SS striping and twenty-inch wheels. There is almost no difference in appearance in the two. So, you would still get all of the looks going down the road. It just cost you about ten grand less for the RS. That’s ten grand a person could use for college or an aftermarket turbo system.
The 2010 Camaro RS also boasts almost 30mpg on the highway. With the six-speed, the engine purrs around 1800rpm at 70mph. That’s an extremely easy gait.
Here are my gripes. The dash still looks goofy to me. I’m just not a fan of the instrument cluster’s retro look or those way oversized climate control buttons in the center of the dash. Looks like Pamela Anderson is sitting on the console. But, that’s it. I love every other thing about the 2010 Chevrolet Camaro RS-LT six-speed.
An exhilarating ride that keeps your heart beating responsibly, the all new RS-LT can be had for a song, if that song starts out at $24,000.00. I’m not sure there is a better “performance value” out there.
Visit the Peltier Showroom today and test drive one for yourself. Just don’t curb it!
A few pictures from the eventRead More
Efficiency, we all say we want it. Our Bosses want it. Mine does. We require it of our cars, home heaters and firearms. But what is the human opportunity cost for task-efficiency? I’ll tell you, it’s southern hospitality. Yeah, I said it, southern hospitality and customer service in a high volume atmosphere do not always co-exist well. Sometimes you can be too busy to take the time to haunch over the counter and friendly-up to everyone in the room.
I’ve been a Seinfeld fan forever and could be the biggest “Curb Your Enthusiasm” fan you’ll ever meet. Both of those shows are set in big metro settings. Seinfeld, in the hard and cold city of New York and “Curb” set in Los Angeles, where the plastic is far more than skin deep. Both locales offer people forged by their environment. Tough and unimpressed.
Not so much in our little town of Tyler. Here you can soak up some serious southern hospitality. I bet Mrs. Palin gets a load of it. Seems fair, she’ll certainly be leaving a load of it. Like it or not, being overly nice is here to stay. Really, I don’t have a problem with it. Actually, it’s pretty cool. After moving from Dallas I found it kind of soothing to walk in Brookshire’s and hear the ever present “thank you”.
But, here’s the deal. If you want to get your car inspected and time is of the essence then drop on by “The Inspection Nazi”. Remember the “Soup Nazi” made famous by Jerry? “No soup for you”. Well his southern equivalent is inspecting cars and trucks in Tyler, Texas.
When you enter the inspection station there is calm. You hear various country artist playing at a low volume in the background. There are four chairs sat in a row for your comfort. They line the front wall. They are for sitting. Wait for your turn and have your insurance card ready. I hope you parked in the assigned parking spots before you came in. Come on, really, there was a sign clearly marking this area. NO INSPECTION FOR YOU! Just kidding, but, expect the owner to make you feel like the unobservant moron that you are. He will. You won’t do it again. I haven’t, not in five years.
What endeared me to this place the first time I dropped by was something I’d never seen in my Forty-three years of life. Ready? You sure? I saw a middle age normal dude treat a twenty something collegiate hottie no different than torn up old me. Or, for that matter the grandmother next to me. In case your keeping score on how often that happens in normal life you can use the same pen to write the score for the rest of your life, because it NEVER HAPPENS. The young girl walked up to the counter looking completely entitled and left completely humbled. It was a beautiful thing to witness.
Here’s the best part though. In the time it’s taken you to read this, your car could have been inspected. Depending on your literacy level. The actual time is usually ten minutes or less. Ten calm minutes.
Don’t expect to be coddled. If you’re getting a car inspected you are old enough to take direction and read signs. Right? God, I hope so.
The owner is not going to advertise with me. Hell, he, like a lot of people, might not be a fan of the show. Point is, I really don’t care. I just like getting my car and truck inspected at Rusty’s 10 Minute Inspection, located at the corner of Troup and the Loop. Rock on Rusty.Read More
Toyota’s powerful friends in Washington
For example, Senate investigator says he felt he was on automaker’s ‘team’
The Associated Press
updated 9:29 a.m. CT, Mon., Feb. 8, 2010
WASHINGTON – The lawmakers now investigating Toyota’s recall include a senator who was so eager to lure the Japanese automaker to his state that he tramped along through fields as its executives scouted plant sites, and a congresswoman who owes much of her wealth to a Toyota supplier.
They and others on the congressional committees investigating Toyota’s massive recall represent states where Toyota has factories and the coveted well-paying manufacturing jobs they bring.
Some members of Congress have been such cheerleaders for Toyota that the public may wonder how they can act objectively as government watchdogs for auto safety and oversight. The company’s executives include a former employee of the federal agency that is supposed to oversee the automaker.
Toyota has sought to sow good will and win allies with lobbying, charitable giving, racing in the American-as-apple pie NASCAR series and, perhaps most important, creating jobs. Will those connections pay off as it tries to minimize fallout from its problems?
The Senate’s lead Toyota investigator, West Virginia Democrat Jay Rockefeller, credits himself with lobbying Toyota to build a factory in his state. A member of a House investigating panel, California Rep. Jane Harman, represents the district of Toyota’s U.S. headquarters and has financial ties to the company.
Rockefeller, chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, has known Toyota’s founding family since the 1960s. He was so closely involved with Toyota’s selection of Buffalo, W.Va., for a factory that he slogged through cornfields with Toyota executives scouting locations and still mentions his role in the 1990s deal to this day.
“By the time Toyota decided to make Buffalo its new home,” Rockefeller said in 2006 during the plant’s 10th anniversary, “I felt like a full-fledged member of that site selection team.”
Rockefeller’s committee is expected to review whether the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration acted aggressively enough toward Toyota. The agency’s new chief, David L. Strickland, worked for eight years on Rockefeller’s committee as a lawyer and senior staffer.
Strickland has such close relationships with Rockefeller and other senators that Republican Sen. George LeMieux of Florida asked Strickland at his confirmation hearing two months ago whether he could disagree with Rockefeller, his former boss: “The oversight for you in your role will be from the committee that you once served on,” LeMieux told him.
“I will be honest with you, sir,” Strickland answered. “I’ve had disagreements with the chairman personally. But he signs the paycheck, and he wins. But I will have no problem with that all, sir.”
Rockefeller sees no reason to step aside from his committee’s investigation. Consumer protection is a cornerstone of his work as chairman and that is reflected in the steps he and the committee are taking, including NHTSA briefings and plans to hold hearings and seek recall-related documents, Rockefeller spokeswoman Jamie Smith said.
“While this important work proceeds, Senator Rockefeller is encouraged that Toyota is making every effort to minimize the impact on its U.S. work force, especially during these difficult economic times,” Smith said. “He hopes and expects that Toyota will remain a strong company and is capable of getting back on the right track with safety and consumer confidence.”
Toyota’s U.S. operations are based in Torrance, Calif., in Harman’s district. She serves on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which is investigating Toyota’s recall.
Harman and her husband, Sidney, held at least $115,000 in Toyota stock as of her most recent financial disclosure report. The company to which the couple owes much of their multimillion-dollar fortune, Harman International Industries, founded by Sidney Harman, sells vehicle audio and entertainment systems to Toyota. The two companies teamed up on a charitable education project in 2003, when Sidney Harman was Harman International’s executive chairman. He retired from the Harman board in December 2008.
When leading Toyota engineer David Hermance died in a 2006 plane crash in California, Rep. Harman took to the floor to pay tribute, calling Hermance the “Father of the American Prius.”
“It was David’s passionate approach and commitment to the environment that helped persuade a skeptical industry and auto-buying public to appreciate the enormous potential of his work,” Harman said at the time. “In fact, Madam Speaker, my family drives two hybrid vehicles — one in California and the other in Washington, D.C.”
Harman didn’t respond to The Associated Press’ request for comment.
Several other lawmakers on investigating committees also represent states with Toyota factories, including Missouri, Texas, Mississippi, Michigan, Indiana and Kentucky. Toyota says it employs nearly 36,000 people in the U.S. and indirectly employs about 166,000 people at dealerships and suppliers.
Republicans also have spoken of Toyota’s importance to their states. “Kentucky is still reaping the rewards of its 20-year partnership with Toyota, and we hope to continue to do so for years to come,” Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said in marking the 2006 anniversary of a Toyota plant there.
Still, Toyota has a long way to go to win the wholesale affection of Congress. Democrats criticize it for nonunion shops. Some lawmakers suggest it benefits from unfair Japanese trade policies at the expense of automakers they consider American, such as Ford and General Motors.
Toyota has tried hard to be thought of as an American brand. Its efforts include trying to become part of the nation’s car culture.
In recent years it broke into the highest ranks of the beloved U.S. sport of auto racing, fielding cars in NASCAR races in front of millions of die-hard fans. Popular driver Rusty Wallace announced in November that his team would race in Toyotas starting with the 2010 season.
Its U.S. charity doles out millions each year, sometimes in photo opportunities with politicians. It gave $5.6 million to charitable causes from mid-2007 to mid-2008, much of it focused on education and the environment, according to its most recent report. Toyota promised former President Bill Clinton’s charity that it would spend $496,000 to sustain forests in the southern United States.
“Words cannot express the generosity that Toyota has shown Kentucky through industry job opportunities and community service,” Sen. Jim Bunning, R-Ky., said in a 2006 Senate speech.
Toyota’s lobbying spending in Washington has risen as its U.S. sales have. Toyota spent $5 million last year lobbying on such issues as industry regulation, energy, labor laws, patents, trade, taxes and government contracting. That’s more than five times what it spent a decade earlier, when one of its lobbying reports acknowledged that its mission included “reducing unnecessary regulations.” It is active in several trade associations that lobby, including the National Association of Manufacturers.
Its Washington team is well-connected.
Its main liaison to the federal government on vehicle safety issues is Christopher Tinto, who worked for several years in NHTSA’s Office of Defects Investigation as a vehicle defect investigator and in its Office of Vehicle Safety Standards, where he mostly worked on heavy-truck braking standards.
Among its lobbyists is Josephine Cooper, who was chief executive of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, an industry coalition to which Toyota belongs, and who also worked at the Environmental Protection Agency and as an aide to former Vice President Dick Cheney when he was in Congress.
Its lobbyists also include Tom Lehner, who was an aide to five senators and was the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee’s treasurer. Another lobbyist, Robert Chiappetta, organizes an annual event in which Toyota sends employees to Washington to lobby Congress and he was a delegate for then-presidential candidate Barack Obama at the 2008 Virginia Democratic Party Convention.Toyota recently retained Quinn Gillespie & Associates, a well-connected, bipartisan lobbying and public affairs firm that will help Toyota try to contain the damage in Washington, the AP has learned. On its Web site, the firm promises to “limit damage to reputation.” The AP also has learned that Toyota has retained The Glover Park Group, a Democratic public affairs-lobbying firm, for crisis management.
Toyota has a diversity advisory board that includes Federico Pena, a Clinton administration Cabinet secretary, national co-chairman of Obama’s presidential campaign and a member of Obama’s transition team; Clinton administration Labor Secretary Alexis Herman; former Republican Rep. Susan Molinari, now a lobbyist working with former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani; and Gilbert Casellas, former chairman of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, former general counsel of the Air Force and former co-chairman of the U.S. Census Monitoring Board.
One of Toyota’s executives, Tom Stricker, serves on the EPA’s Clean Air Act Advisory Committee, and a former executive, Thomas Zawacki, is commissioner of Kentucky’s Vehicle Regulation Department.
Toyota also is a federal contractor. Its contracts in the 2008 budget year included at least $3.8 million in business providing the State Department with motor vehicles and trailers, according to figures compiled by OMB Watch, a nonpartisan group that tracks government spending.
Toyota has not been a big player in U.S. campaigns. Its U.S. employees contributed roughly $30,000 to federal candidates in 2007-08, compared with about $880,000 from Ford Motor Co. employees and about $799,000 from GM workers.
Unlike rivals Ford and GM, Toyota doesn’t have a political action committee to dole out campaign contributions. Toyota’s PAC would have difficulty distinguishing itself from Toyota’s Japanese management to the degree needed to be legal under U.S. campaign finance laws.
That makes Toyota an unwitting example of an issue that has become a hot topic in Washington in recent days: foreign companies with U.S. subsidiaries and their involvement in U.S. elections. The Supreme Court ruled last month that U.S. corporations and unions can spend treasury money on election ads attacking federal candidates. Some Democrats including President Obama argue the ruling would let foreign corporations with U.S. subsidiaries sneak into U.S. election activities, and they plan legislation to close such a loophole.Read More
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David wins! That’s right, the smallest of the big three just a few years ago is slaying giants at an incredible clip. Wasn’t it just a few short years ago that the buzzards were circling Deerborne? Doomed to fail, Ford made too many trucks and not enough good small cars. Out of touch with the time, they said. Well, redemption has finally arrived. Don’t misunderstand, it started a few years ago with the first car ever built totally on a computer, the all-new at the time Ford Fusion. This platform was going to save FoMoCo, and it has.
The car that started the amazing recovery for Ford has again changed the game. The 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid is the game changer. The ‘95 Dallas Cowboys, Jimmy Hendrix, Pearl Jam, hand sanitizer and Billy Mays are just a few things that changed our lives for the better. All contributed new ideas that benefited us for years to come. What Ford has done is focus on the future. Focus on what matters…quality. Let’s face it, fuel cost won’t always be two and a half bucks a gallon. If you believe this, then, you are sticking your head in the sand much like the auto industry did in the late nineties and early in the new millennium.
With the continued destabilization of the middle-east and the eco-whacko’s pressuring our government not to drill off-shore,, oil prices will rise again. Oil prices will rise again and when they do it might well be for good this time. The 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid puts you in the driver’s seat.
During my time with the Fusion Hybrid, I averaged 37.6 mpg. That’s almost twice what my 2008 very well maintained Fusion gets. With numbers like 633 miles to the tank, you can almost go anywhere in the state of Texas on a tank of gas, and all the while, basking in the comfort of leather seats and sunroofs. The truth is other than the leaf graphics on the instrument cluster alerting you of your “green” level, you wouldn’t know you were driving a hybrid. The transfer of responsibility for power is flawless. The Fusion Hybrid switches from internal combustion to electric constantly. But, you would never know. While you are enjoying your Ford Sync options, the Fusion Hybrid is hard at work getting you to and from work, home and school with a very small carbon footprint.
What else I loved about the Fusion Hybrid is that you don’t have to wait to stop for the internal engine to turn itself off. At speeds under 40-45 mph, down hills, or, under mild acceleration the electric motor handles the propulsion with ease. It’s just amazing.
But, here is the kicker. The Ford Fusion Hybrid makes a game out of being green. If you are competitive at all, you will be challenged to hyper-mile this car. You just can’t resist. The instrument cluster lets you know in real time how well you’re doing. I found myself driving responsibly. That’s just abnormal for me. You see, I don’t do well with authority, except when I respect the authority. Am I the only one thinking of Eric Cartman right now?
If a car can make someone like me want to drive better, then, imagine what it could do for the normal people of the world. Who knows, maybe in a few years, we will all come around. Maybe we just need the right cars.
The Ford Fusion Hybrid’s base price is just over $27,000.00 and you can get one completely optioned out for just over $30,000.00. That’s a great value. The Ford Fusion Hybrid is a world beater. Don’t believe me, go drive one. I bet I can get better mpg than you can.Read More