In what I can only guess is an attempt to continue the stereotype that Americans are either too stupid, too removed from reality or both, Infinity has created this TV commercial featuring what, by all accounts, can only be described as “that guy who is the cause of every traffic accident, ever”.
The commercial shouldn’t include the disclaimer “professional on a closed course“, maybe more like “fucking idiot trying to kill everyone else on the road“.
Touting this car’s ability stop you from running soccer-mom-vans full of sticky-fingered children into a roadside creek is insulting and irresponsible. Congratulations Infinity, the only one-up to including anti-dumb ass technology in your cars is this commercial showing it off with captain-crash-a-lot.
In 2000 I bought an MR2 Spyder. I’ve written about it so frequently because it is probably the most reliable car I’ve owned. Especially when you consider that I drove it to work, 100 miles every day, and auto crossed on the weekends for over 130,000 miles. The only thing that ever broke on that car was the plastic thing that holds the hood prop when it is closed. I literally raced that little economy engine every weekend, at red line. I changed the oil and tires at almost the same rate, modified the holy hell out of the suspension, and that little bastard kept ticking with it’s little 138 hp smile.
Frequent readers know that I’ve owned two Nissan Z’s. Neither of them ever even saw a race track, auto cross, Dragon trip, or drag strip. Not even once. My first, the 350 Z was an 05 that ate through a clutch master cylinder ($350), front and rear rotors (before the 50k mark) ($400), a power window motor ($400), a rear-hatch strut ($80), and other various items. I was stuck on the side of the road with a broken 350Z a total of two times. After about 5 years of not learning my lesson, I picked up an 09 370Z which is my current (soon to be last) Nissan.
I purchased the second Z in 2011 with less than 20k on the clock, and by the end of 2012 I had already replaced the clutch master cylinder, the clutch, a bunch of transmission seals, and all of the transmission oil because of its decision to explode and hemorrhage fluid all over everything. This occurred somewhere in the 30-40k range, and manifested during my drive into work cruising down I-4 in regular traffic. Again, stranding me road-side waiting on a tow truck. In 2013 came the brake/rotor replacement that we’ve all come to expect from Z’s at about the 40,000 mark (all four rotors!). And later this year I was again blessed with another road-side, phone-a-friend, couldn’t-happen-at-a-worse-time incident when the security system fouled up while I was visiting my parents 150 miles away from home which cost me another $1600 plus a rental car, and two days of my time. Fast forward to this weekend (it’s like a gift, every year!) and ye hath received the holy trinity of Nissan Z-bullshit. As we were headed to dinner, the engine’s revs dropped dramatically and the engine moaned bloody murder as the fan belt drive on the AC compressor started its painful and audible slow death. My first reaction was to shut off the AC, which managed to get us to and from dinner and me to work the next day. But, as the serpentine belt’s screeching became more frequent, I knew it was time for another visit to the trusty dealership. I barely made it into the service garage with the 3.7 liter engine fighting with all its breath to overcome the inevitable full seizure of the accessory belt. After which, I was immediately thanked with a $1700 bill.
So far, this “reasonably priced sports car” has left me stranded, road-side, 3 times and cost me almost $6000 in repairs to systems that should not wear out on a car with less than 85k on the clock.
Anyway, if you’re looking for me this weekend, I’ll be test driving Subarus and trying to forget ever owning a Nissan.
I’ve had a Craftsman 3/8″ torque wrench for about a year and a half, maybe two years. It’s one of my favorite tools in the garage. In fact, take a look at the photo on the left and you’ll see me using it on my bike with a great big smile. Every semi-serious shade-tree mechanic needs a good torque wrench, and generally they last forever. And that’s a good thing, because you’ll rarely find a good one for less than $100.
I buy Craftsman tools because Sears stands behind its products (well, usually). Craftsman hand tools have a lifetime warranty, and I’ve personally returned more than a few. Suspension work frequently results in broken sockets and ratchets and Sears has always been great about returning them. But not all tools are created equally, and some of them, like torque wrenches, are only covered for a limited time.
Last week, I lent the wrench to a friend who managed (somehow) to break it. The grip became loose and the wrench’s torque set was stuck somewhere around 15 ft lbs. Now, I know that Sears only guarantees wrenches like this one for a year, but I figured what the hell and brought it down to my local store. I’ve read mixed reviews lately about returns, but my experience was nothing short of awesome. While standing in line, a sales associate and a guy in plain clothes approached me and asked if they could help.
When I explained the situation, the sales associate told me that the wrench was no longer covered. It was clear he recognized the older model and knew its age. I thanked them and said, “well, see if you can find a trash can to throw this into, then?” and handed over the wrench. That’s when the plain clothes guy stepped in and said “let’s see if we can figure out when you bought this wrench” and smiled at me. We walked to the nearest computer and he looked up the part number, and then asked me if I was a Craftsman Club member, which I am.
He never asked for my name, phone number, address or any other identifying information. He said to me, “so you bought this no more than a year ago”, without even waiting for my reply he looked at the sales associate and said, “swap him out, and make sure this one gets labeled as a return”. On my way out of the store, I stopped and shook the hand of the plain clothes man (it was clear now that he was a manager or supervisor of some kind). He smiled at me and said, “thanks for coming in, it was my pleasure”.
The price tag on the wrench was $69.99, and for a one-time investment, Craftsman has created a customer for life. I’ve spent thousands on tools, boxes, and benches over the years, and when Sears had the opportunity to do customer service right, they nailed it. Someone from Sears seriously needs to call someone at Kay’s.
Over the course of automotive history we’ve encountered some pretty creative technology including vacuum line powered filp-up headlights, dash-mounted 8-track players, and dozens of other terrible ideas. About 4 years ago, I purchased my most technologically advanced car yet. It’s a 2009 Nissan 370Z Touring with touch-screen satellite navigation, MP3 player that reads a Compact Flash card, power everything, and computer controlled vehicle dynamic stability control. In ’09 it was a technological marvel. Now it’s 2014 and already those techno-toys are becoming dated. Compact Flash has lost the portable media war, the iPhone 4 connector is useless, and my nav system relies on maps created five years ago.
If you’re a gear head like many of my readers, you probably have at least one “one day I’ll own one” car. You probably have three of them actually. I’ve been chasing the 1963 split-window Corvette and a late 60’s fastback Camaro for over a decade, but I sincerely doubt my 2009 370Z will end up on some dude’s auto wish list. In ten years, the power seats won’t work, the dynamic stability control will be replaced with cheaper, faster computer solutions, and you won’t even be able to find Compact Flash disks on ebay’s collector’s forum. Seems unlikely that Year One will start cranking out power window modules and hatchback struts for 2000’s Nissans, don’t you think? But when we consider the 40 year old technology that powers a 1968 Chevrolet… Well, people have been getting in line to order replacements since before I was born. Why? Because iron intake manifolds don’t plug into a USB port. If classic car collectors and parts manufacturers have taught us anything it is “the fewer moving parts the better”. The simple truth is: If you have to plug it in, power it up, or push more than one button, it’s probably already too complex.
So, this is usually the part of the blog post when the writer starts complaining about disappearing standard transmissions, the discontinued use of fuel-burning only engines to create super cars, and the great “death of the American muscle car”. Sorry to disappoint, but I’m not playing that card. Although I am unhappy about the majority of those topics, I actually believe we’re kind of lucky to be involved in the next evolutionary step of automobile technology. 30 years from now, new drivers will have no idea where their audio systems came from, how they work, or just how we got by with radios not connected to the global wireless network so you can access your music from anywhere (that is going to be freaking awesome). They’ll have no understanding of crankshafts, pistons, valves, turbos, or direct ignition systems once they’re replaced by the Apple iCombust (probably already patented).
But we will have that knowledge. Having lived through the grey area between evolution’s footprints, we will have the gift of perspective and respect that the next generation can never appreciate.
Wow, I just realized how much I sound like every gear head grandfather when I read that last sentence.
This could be it. Earlier this week, Ford released details that their new turbo-charged 4 cylinder Mustang could deliver over 300 HP! Now, your first reaction might be “What do you care, Frank? A Mustang? What gives?” And you’d be right. I’ve actually owned two Mustangs over the years, and they’ve both offered me the reliability of a Yugo.
But this isn’t about my experience with Fords. It’s about the auto industry’s penis contest.
Back in 2000, I was looking for a small performance car and ended up with an MR2 Spyer. Those of you who know me know that I spent the next 5 years (and $20,000 dollars) trying to build one only to fall short at the end, limited by the Eco-friendly engine in the car. This inevitably led me to a V6 for my next project. Even after the release of the WRX STI and the Lancer Evolution, 4-cylinders just weren’t putting out the power sports car enthusiasts expected, seemingly up against some invisible 300 HP wall. Is it an insurance issue? Perhaps reliability fears? Certainly we have the technology. I’m sure someone in the industry can answer with an educated guess, but who really cares? The fact is, now that someone has ventured outside the turbo-4-comfort-zone, my hope is that everyone else will follow.
Isn’t it about time for a 350 HP version of the STI? How about a 275 HP version of the new (and tragically underpowered) BRZ/FRS? Talk about a hot seller!
Come on auto industry! Stop telling me what I want, and making vehicles we want to buy!