Dublin Saab

Cars, politics, sports and what not from my view. (Closed Sundays and Holidays)

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

USA Today should stick with the weather.

Main Entry: im·pact
Pronunciation: \im-ˈpakt\
Function: verb
Etymology: Latin impactus, past participle of impingere to push against — more at impinge
Date: 1601
transitive verb1 a: to fix firmly by or as if by packing or wedging b: to press together2 a: to have a direct effect or impact on : impinge on b: to strike forcefully; also : to cause to strike forcefully

It's hard to find people that can offer a sound defense of the USA Today newspaper publication, just as it's hard to find people who get their rocks off when someone drops a load in their mouth. Oh be sure they are out there, it just that you don't want to have anything to do with them. One of the great examples of bad journalism that runs through USA Today is their obsession with lists. Now normally I wouldn't even read one of the said lists but this one crosses the line into my world, that of automobiles.

Someone, who probably doesn't know a damn ting about cars, has at the direction of the editors, come up with a list of cars with the most impact (that's a nicely subjective term) in the last 25 years. Allow me a moment to Fisk this silly list.

First, why 25? On right, 25 in 25 years. I get it. It's cute and completely arbitrary and forces the writer to come up with 25 when perhaps the number of car that were truly impactful may be something wholly different than 25. Now, onto the list.

1) 1992 Toyota Camry - Huh? Impactful? Under what definition? I'll agree that it marked the beginning of Toyota's rise to become the #1 auto maker on Earth but it was an evolution not some sudden surprise that overtook the market... and it was outsold by the Ford Taurus. The 1997 Camry which took the #1 spot away from the Taurus would be a better choice but still weak considering that it was the horrible all new '96 Taurus that drove people away more than the Camry stole them, and still just another chain in the Camry evolution. Where's the impact?

2) 1991 Ford Explorer - Okay. This was the first SUV to have a softer ride and with the Eddie Bauer option came well appointed. While the SUV itself predated the Explorer by decades this was the first to sell in truly huge numbers and in doing so got the ball rolling.

3) 2001 Toyota Prius - No. Nope. No way. Hybrids, with the exception of the Hybrid-only Prius don't sell all that well and going into the '08 MY - 7 years after the Prius hit thew market - it's still the only Hybrid-Only car on the market. The Prius sells only because, as a Hybrid-only car, it is conspicuously green vs. say the Honda Accord hybrid (which Honda has dropped due to poor sales) which was privately green. I do not, at this time, see any great impact. It's had an impact on for Toyota's green credentials, in effect making gas guzzler's like the Tundra and Sequoia simply disappear but beyond that no impact on the US market.

4) 1984 Chrysler Minivans - Oh ya. It hit the market like a lightening strike and created an all new segment of vehicles that still represent a huge number of units each year.

5) 1986 Hyundai Excel - What are you smoking? The Excel was such a turd that Hyundai was contemplating leaving the US market altogether after having their reputation ruined by it. The only reason the Hyundai is still here is a gusty CEO who said offer a 100,000 mile warranty to hold over until quality could be improved. The car can not be given any impactfulness without rendering the concept of impact meaningless.

6) 1986 Ford Taurus - Yes! The jelly bean is a giant. I'd say the most impactful of the 1980's. It started the entire "organic" styling language and was the #1 seller for 10 years.

7) 1990 Lexus 400 - Well executed and more upmarket that Acura but still Toyota was beat to the punch by 4 years making Lexus a copy cat and not an impact maker.

8) 1990 Mazda Miata (MX5) - Absolutely! Single handedly revived the small British sports car genre of the 60's and 70's and lead to the creation of cars such as the Honda S2000, BMW Z3 and Pontiac Solstice.

9) 1986 Acura Legend - Showed that the Japaneses could make an up-market car and lead to the creation of Lexus, Infiniti and the failed Millennium (Mazda).

10) 1996 Toyota RAV4 - The first unibody, car based SUV, creating the "crossover" segment. Yes.

BREAK: Okay, so far USA Toady is playing .600 ball which is great in baseball but pretty shitty in definitive lists.

11) 1994 Ford Mustang - ... No. And how did it "save" Ford?

12) 1991 Saturn SL - Come on. You have to be kidding me. How many plastic body cars are on the market today including Saturn? ZERO! And the Aura?!? It's a rebadged Opel and not a Saturn. Saturn was a failure and had no impact at all. While Saturn may do well with the Aura and Astra (I'd like an Astra) they don't have a thing to do with the '91 SL.

13) 1997 Frod F-150 - The "first stylish modern pick-up"? This will come as news to owners of a 1994 Dodge Ram.

14) 2003 Hummer H2 - Grabbing headlines and being the anti-Christ for environmentalists does not equate to market impact. It's a niche player and after the failures of the Ford Excursion and Jeep Commander can not claim any real impact.

15) 2002 Mini Cooper - The Mini remains the only high end compact in the US market so again, where's the impact?

16) 1998 Lincoln Navigator - It beat the Escalade to the market as the first luxury giant ass SUV. While it's now a joke compared to the Caddy it was first and that counts for me.

17) 1986 Yugo - No. Don't even try.

18) 2001 Chrysler PT Cruiser - Sold like hotcakes and lead to the creation of the Chevy HHR so sure, but just.

19) 2001 Pontiac Aztek - Oh really? I don't see anyone else making overtly ugly SUV crossovers outside of the Chinese market so no.

20) 2001 Cadillac CTS - Yes. Marks the moment that Cadillac again became a serious luxury car.

BREAK: Now the USA Today is running .450 which sucks in baseball to.

21) 1986 Suzuki Samurai - How? This is a joke. Where are all the mini SUV's on the market today?

22) GM Impact - WTF? There was no car ever call the GM Impact. There was the GM EV1 but it was not, at any moment, called the Impact. This is a make believe car that shows just how astoundingly unqualified the writer is for this task. As for the EV1 since it's gone and on one else, not even the god of Greenies Toyota makes an electric car there is no impact... from the mythical Impact. Dork.

23) 1998 VW Beetle - Started the whole "reto" thing. That's an impact for me.

24) 2005 Scion Xb - Well how much impact could a car have in 2 years? Not much. Nissan might bring the Cube over from Japan to the US market but "maybes" don't count in my book.

25) 2002 BMW 7 Series - Well sure, I mean everyone is copying the Bangle butt and iDrive. Aren't they?

So now USA Today stands at an awful .400 for their stupid list. The only upside is that USA Today readers probably were only looking at the pictures.

Stuck on the NJ turnpike.

Some people wouldn't think of taking a 1,300 mile road trip in a 18 year old car with 144,000 miles on the clock but not me. See I try to maintain Mila in proper running condition so that she's ready to go anywhere, anytime.

The girls back together again!

However sometimes even the best maintained car will have something go wrong.

I choose the underpass so I could hide behind the bridge supports.

Mila had a hard coolant line crack (about 3/4 away around the circumference) and begin to leak out precious fluid. It would have been nice if the leaking coolant could have steamed off something and loudly announced that there was a problem but no and that's why we like temperature gauges and hate silly temperature idiot lights.

Anyway, I had to wait about 2 hours for a tow on the NJTP (you haven't really broke down until you've broke down on the NJTP during evening rush) and when I suggested being taken 55 miles back to Westchester the driver about choked on his chaw. The driver called into the office and they came back with $550 + tolls to take Mila home. He could have just said that they won't tow a car to that far instead off trying to see if I would buy them a new iPhone. So I ended up shelling out $110 (cash only my friend) for a 3 mile tow to the nearest parts store.

By then Mila had cooled off enough to get a good look at the failure point and the leak rate which was, with the engine cool, about a drop every 5 seconds. I decided to load up with 3 gallons of nasty green stuff and head home with all the cooling fans on and very slowly (no boost).

The offending part.

Can you see the crack? It's there, trust me.

Turns out the part that has failed is not available anywhere, for any price. The part simply isn't made. Some people suggested JB weld and others brazing but the crack seemed too large for me to trust either that JB stuff or my brazing skills. So I cut out the cracked area including the mounting bracket and slipped on a bit of fuel line.

Don't lose sleep Keith!

While not a proper fix it has held for 1,400 miles in some very hot, high boost driving and hopefully will keep going till I can find a replacement part.