2011 Chevrolet Volt

2011 Chevrolet Volt

2011 Chevrolet Volt

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What does it take to power an electric car? I know that sounds like a stupid question and I know the answer is electricity. The problem is on the week I drove the much anticipated Chevrolet Volt, I found electricity harder to find in Tyler, Texas than bi-partisanship in Washington, D.C.

Don’t get this wrong. I was impressed with the 2011 Chevrolet Volt. The styling was much better than it looked on paper. I would never have guessed it was an Electric Hybrid if I had to go off looks alone. But, as we all know Chevrolet wanted us to be far more impressed with the cars mileage performance than how it looks on the runway. And on that front the results were a bit of a letdown.

The Volt was delivered with a depleted battery. No problem there. It’s easy to do the math. The Volt has a 50 mile range on battery and since the car was delivered from Dallas, and Dallas is almost 100 miles from Tyler, there should be no life left in the battery at the end of the trip. This is where I began to experience a little frustration. As we all know Brookshire’s has opened a new store on the south-side of town. “Fresh” is the name and “Green” is the game. So in addition to one of the nicest food courts you’ll ever find, where you can buy beer no less, you will also find the one and only car charging station in Tyler. Problem is the only time the charging station was used was to charge this very car for the grand opening. After that it has remained idle until I tried to use it.

After several tries at swiping my credit card on the “electric pump” I could not get it to work. Some of the great employees at Fresh were very willing to help but, at the end of the day we all failed to charge the Volt. The first bummer of the week.

The second let down occurred at my house a little later in the day. I live in the Alezea District. My home was built in 1937. They knew how to build homes in those days and that’s why my wife and I love it. Only problem, in 1937 no one was thinking about adding charging stations for cars. So my antiquated electrical grid would not charge the Volt. Second bummer of the week.

The third and final blow came at my favorite watering hole, Breakers. The owner of Breakers, a 28 year-old greenie was thrilled to see the Volt. Now, understand I’ve brought some really cool cars there in the past, Vipers, Corvettes, GT500’s etc. Never has Brandon even asked to see one. Well, he flipped out on the Volt. (See Picture) When relayed the frustrating news of the day he offered to help. We plugged the Volt into his 110V outlet and continued our weekly meeting. After three and a half hours of charging on 110V the Volt was barley charged and offered little more than a trip home on battery. Officially the third bummer of the week.

Volt Happiness

Volt Happiness

The rest of the week I drove around on “generator” power. I averaged a little over 40 miles to the gallon. To me this seems disappointing.

The Volt isn’t cheap. I just wonder with the advancements in direct injection, turbo charging and start/stop technology do we really need to go electric at all. I know this will damage my “hippie” reputation but, we are not there yet.

I can’t wait to try it again. Maybe next year Tyler will have two charging stations and the president will mandate that I spend the three grand to upgrade my antiquated excuse for a home.

I’m Lonnie Johnson and this is this week’s review sponsored by Stewart’s Donnybrook Automotive. Stop by and see Gary today. I’m very proud to have them sponsor these reviews and hope you will give them a chance to earn your business. At the corner of Donnybrook and Troup Stewart’s Donnybrook Automotive offers what I think is the last full service station on the planet. You won’t find a more enhanced, enjoyable atmosphere anywhere in Tyler.

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2011 Nissan 370Z Roadster

2011 Nissan 370Z  Roadster

2011 Nissan 370Z Roadster

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There are two seats and over three hundred horse power in the all new Nissan 370Z. I would say just about anybody could have a blast with that configuration. What do you want from a sports car? I want power first, handling second and comfort last. The newest version of the Nissan sports car does not leave you wanting for more while really only giving you what you need.

That last sentence kind of describes good wives too. But, thankfully I don’t review wives. I review cars and when the 370Z showed up I have to admit I was ready with the critical pen. The past versions of the Z car had become too big and bloated for my taste. I was extremely pleased to find out that the Z car has gone on a diet. The 370Z is shorter and lighter than its predecessor. What Nissan took off in length, they added in width. Almost anyone who knows cars knows that wider cars handle better.

The Nissan 370Z is fun to leave in third gear. It’s got enough power to grunt it out from a standstill in second and limber enough to leave your road opponents on twisty roads. Sure, you can’t compare the Nissan 370Z to even a base Corvette but, you could buy almost two Z cars for the cost of a base vette.

What I compare it too is the Hyundai Genesis Coupe. One huge difference is the back seat. I like the fact that the Z is a two-seater. Driving always seems more fun with only one passenger complaining about my driving.

The interior is much improved over the old car. Instead of miles of tinny plastic there are now tons of brushed aluminum accents that draw your eye in. In my opinion the interior was one of the highlights of the car. One of the low points for me was vibration from the 3.7 liter in the higher RPM range. Also I thought the ride was a little clunky. I know, it’s a sports car and you do have choices on ride control but, it just felt rough to me.

370 Interior

370 Interior

What I did notice was the 370Z growing on me. Kind of like breaking a horse (I guess. I’ve never broken a horse) once you explain yourself to the Z and let it know you’re the boss it becomes even more fun to drive.
The thing that I will remember for some time though is how good the wheel and tire combination looked on the Z. Thick and deep would be my description.

The mileage was also pretty good. The stated mileage is 18/26 but I was able to coax more out of it in town. If you need a little more power Nissan offers the Z in a Nissmo trim with 350 ponies and a couple hundred more revs. But, that will take the price just north of $40,000. Then all the price comparisons go out the window.
Stand proud Nissan. Just don’t bring a suitcase.

I’m Lonnie Johnson and this is this week’s review sponsored by Stewart’s Donnybrook Automotive. Stop by and see Gary today. I’m very proud to have them sponsor these reviews and hope you will give them a chance to earn your business. At the corner of Donnybrook and Troup Stewart’s Donnybrook Automotive offers what I think is the last full service station on the planet. You won’t find a more enhanced, enjoyable atmosphere anywhere in Tyler.

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New Project Car

The car show has taken on another Project car. This time the owner of the car is paying the cost of parts for the restoration and all of us, Ken, David and I will try to make it work.

TR-6 Rebuild

TR-6 Rebuild

Here is the back story on the car, because after all no restoration is complete without a story.
When I was growing up I had a couple of Uncles that were a great help to me. One, my uncle Paul was one of those great guys that never drew attention to himself. He was active in his Church from a young age, married his high school sweetheart, joined the Air Force, graduated from The University of Texas with an Engineering degree on the G.I Bill and went to work. He and my aunt had two great kids one is a talented musician living in Nashville and the other is a graduate of the Air Force Academy. Paul (my uncle) took a job at Red River Army Depot as a Structural Engineer in 1979 and worked his way up, over a thirty year period to Deputy Commander of Red River Army Depot, a re-fitment base outside of Texarkana for war-time machines like Bradley’s and Hummers. He went on to receive the AUSA Citation for Exceptional Service. The award is presented to those who show exemplary service to the Army and the community. It was the first time that the award had been given posthumously.

A little over a year ago he went to visit his son and daughter in-law stationed in Guam to see his granddaughter for the first time. I’m sure it was one of his happiest days on the planet. He passed away on that trip, too early, a victim of an (ironically enough) enlarged heart. Because award winner or not Paul Addington was the kind of man we need more of. A happy man, who loved people and country and was generous with his time, knowledge and humor.
His son is currently a Captain in the Air Force serving in Iraq. He is the husband of a beautiful girl and the father of a very happy and just as beautiful daughter. Matt’s just one of those good guys, like his dad.

It would take too long to tell you how much my uncle meant to me in my younger years. He always seemed to be there to share good advice and be a good example. He also was a riot sometimes. I’m trying to pay him back for the many kind things he did for me.

Paul bought a Triumph TR6 (shown in the gallery) new in Georgia in 1974. I remember driving with him on trips from Austin to New Boston. I also remember working on that Triumph. Honestly my uncle was the one who gave me the car bug.
Paul’s son wanted to re-do the car…only faster (chip off the old block). So, we decided since we could make the straight six only achieve about 140-150HP we would just throw in a small block! Isn’t that the red-neck way. It was good enough for Carroll Shelby. It should work for us.

Ken and I have been working on the car for about two months. I will continue to add to the gallery as the build progresses and I’m sure it will be discussed on the show now and then.

You know what I love about cars? The relationships they make. With my involvement in the show I’ve added some great friends in David and Ken and could not do this without their help. Also, thanks to Ken’s friend (can’t say his name) for letting us use his shop.

We hope to make this TR-6 fast and mean. Follow along with us and enjoy the ride.
Thanks to all of you who continue to put up with whatever it is that David Ken and I throw out there each week on The Car Show. Without you there is no show and no build.

Ok, here’s the deal with the projected build:
It’s a garage kept 30 year-old British made Triumph TR-6. It came from the factory with a straight-six pushing out about 94HP and a couple of hundred foot-pounds of torque. Not bad when you consider it weighs in around 2400lbs. The brakes are front disc and rear drum. The frame is surprisingly strong.

So, being the thick necked brood that we are we decided to drop in a G.M. crate motor and Tremec five-speed transmission with a hydraulic clutch. The motor will put out just about three-hundred horse power and about the same torque (three times the power of the stocker).

The brakes will probably be Wilwood disc on all four corners. We will add a Hotchkis suspension and tires and wheels, but the owner wants to keep a stock look. We will replace the wiring harness and gauge set. Much more is planned but you can just follow along in pictures. You guys like pictures, right?

Lonnie

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2011 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport

2011 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport

2011 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport

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The 2011 Corvette Grand Sport is the best handling most precise automotive instrument I‘ve ever held in my hands. The ability to be in command of such a docile monster is simply addictive. Really, these guys should just take the week off from sending me cars the week after I take delivery of a new Grand Sport.

When compared to anything with wheels made since some guy carved out a circle, the 2011 Grand Sport will win 85% of those comparisons. Yea, that’s you Porsche GT2 or 911, whatever, you Ferrari guys, and you tricked out Camaro and Mustang guys, even you Corvette Z06 owners. The all-new Corvette GS will flat out kill on any type of track and take you home in total comfort logging almost 30 miles to the gallon in air conditioned comfort.

And let’s talk looks for a second. It always seems that the Vette’s I get are in one of the performance primary color schemes, red, black, yellow or, bright blue. Eye catching colors that scream look at me. I mean I love black cars and honestly, yellow looks great to me at times. To makes the Porsche Demo happy I’ll tell you my favorite car in yellow is the GT-3. But, as I age I tend to want less attention. The shade of blue called Supersonic Blue Metallic is far more subtle than the name implies. It absolutely takes the look at me scenario out of it. The Corvette could almost pass for an Aston Martin from far away. The color is that subtle. I actually had more people check the car out because it didn’t stand out until you wanted it to. And once it stands out there is no mistaking what it is, a fire breathing monster.

Inside, as with every C-6 I’ve ever driven, it is both comfortable and capable. The shifter can’t be more than a few inches from the steering wheel making the six-speed transmission a quick and easy application. It’s just really effortless. Whether you go from first to fourth gear or, from first to third which I prefer, it’s nice to have such a vast amount of torque on hand to make almost any gear a go-slow gear. Someone actually ask me why I was driving the Grand Sport like an old lady (not that there’s anything wrong with that). My reply was, because, I can. Some performance cars are geared to maximize the lack of power to weight. That’s ceases to be a problem for the 436HP 3,300lb Corvette GS. It just says, jump in and enjoy me.

I really don’t know what else to tell you. A new 2011 Corvette Grand Sport fully loaded will set you back seventy five large. So there it is. Sell everything you own and go buy one. If after you liquidate you still don’t have enough money, buy the 2010 GS. Tell your wife or husband you NEED a Grand Sport. Tell your boss to make that your yearly bonus. Whatever you have to do, do it. There is nothing like driving a car like this.

I took a former owner of a local Chevy dealership for a ride. The man has driven every Corvette made since the seventies. He sold the dealership in 2006 and the 2011 Grand Sport was the first corvette he’s driven since then. He was blown away by the feel of the car.

I’m Lonnie Johnson and this is this week’s review sponsored by Stewart’s Donnybrook Automotive. Stop by and see Gary today. I’m very proud to have them sponsor these reviews and hope you will give them a chance to earn your business. At the corner of Donnybrook and Troup Stewart’s Donnybrook Automotive offers what I think is the last full service station on the planet. You won’t find a more enhanced, enjoyable atmosphere anywhere in Tyler.

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