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How We Used to Fight DWI

I have never driven under the influence one time in my entire life. What, you may ask, is the secret to my perfect success in this area, when others not only imbibe and drive, but do so often enough to be troubled by the authorities?

The reason I don't drink and drive is not due to my strict religious observance; I am sadly remiss in that area. Nor is it my iron will and discipline (just ask my cardiologist and endocrinologist). I am not a temperate, stoic man, nor a regimented and careful one (as friends and other columns of mine will attest). I can only attribute my caution in this area to two things:

My father made me a promise... and a threat.

Growing up, my old man only gave me two hard and fast rules: don't get caught and don't ever drink anything and drive a car, or I will kill you if you don't kill yourself. And he wasn't talking about being at .099, back when .10 used to be the legal limit. He meant one swallow of beer.

He was dead serious about it, and he is almost never serious about ANYTHING, including God, physics, work, my mother's cooking, or his attire: I took him seriously.

So I developed a few strategies. First, I didn't really drink that often, but when I did I started early. I was the guy at the party groping guests and throwing food around 7:00 PM. But then I stopped. By the time I was shown the door or it was time to go I was as sober as a judge. Bonus, I've almost never had a hangover.

Second, I would take a taxi or bus to an event where alcohol would be flowing freely (especially if it would be freely flowing freely, as I am cheep as hell). High-school reunion in Pat O'Brien's (look it up) with an open bar? Taxi. Don't remember getting back, but my car was still neatly parked in the garage.

My dad also made me this promise: "If you're ever drunk and you need to get home, call me and I'll pick you up. No problems."

I only took him up on it twice, but he came through. I didn't even hear about it the next day.

The first time, I was back home from college and I went out to Snug Harbor to listen to my old teacher, Ellis Marsalis, and have some dinner and it turned out a few drinks. Lets be clear, 90% of you would have just jumped into the Santa Fe Blue Dodge Omni GLH Turbo and zoomed home. I was not stumbling drunk, possibly not even legally intoxicated. But I was definitely impaired. Mom and dad showed up a little while later and mom drove my car home. (My mom can drive a stick shift. Can yours?)

The second time I was at college. Things had been rough: a break-up with my high-school girlfriend, a friend had killed himself. For some reason I didn't go to the bar that was a block away from LSU, but instead drove to one about 5 miles away. I started out slowly, probably figuring I would finish early and hang out. But as I got more and more sloshed, I just kept pulling out my newly minted bank card (we didn't call them debit cards, yet). I lost count at eleven boilermakers, or I thought I did who knows, I may have had 3 or 23. At some point I realized, there is no way I'd be near sober enough to drive home. At this point, when judgment would tell a person to take a taxi or hitch a ride, with my judgment smashed, I called my dad. In New Orleans East. 93 miles away. At 12:30 AM.

At some point, the bartender found me and shook me, telling me my dad was there. Dad collected me and brought me back to the dorm. The next day, late in the day, I got a ride back to the bar to collect my car. I went into the bar to collect my missing bank card and settle my tab (it was impressive). It was so late in the day that not only was the bar open, but the same bartender was back on duty. He said it was cool that my dad picked me up and didn't hassle me. Then I told him that my dad came from New Orleans and the bartender went pale. "But, I gave him directions to the bar on the payphone. It was 12:30. Dude, he picked you up at 1:15. We weren't even ready to close, yet." I just shrugged my shoulders. My head still hurt too much to explain that relativistic speeds aren't troubling to a physicist from the Ninth Ward that taught himself calculus at 16 so he could get race camshafts ground.

My dad never even brought it up. Like driving 120 MPH to Baton Rouge at 1:00 AM didn't warrant a mention, let alone a lecture.

That night others' smashed judgment would have dictated that they could drive back if they were careful enough, or maybe after a short nap drive home just fine when they weren't.

Maybe instead of lowering the legal limit to .08 and setting up Constitutionally suspect checkpoints and buying billboards, we could reduce DWI deaths by simply making a threat to our children and a promise. At least make a promise... and keep it.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

12 Most Crazy Rebadged Cars

The 12 Most Crazy Rebadged Cars.

Most everyone is familiar with rebadged cars: a car manufacturer has extra capacity to make one of its vehicles and another doesn't have a car in that category, so manufacturer A slaps a new badge on its car and sells it to manufacturer B to sell through its dealer network. Some of these are naturals, like the new Scion xA is a rebadged Mazda2 sedan (we don't see the Mazda2 sedan here in the US). Others are a little strange, and some are outright crazy.

1. Buick Opel GT

Buick Opel GT What could be less suited for the staid, semi-luxury Buick brand? Try a mini-compact two-seater sports car from Europe. With a 67 horsepower four-cylinder engine or an optional 102 horsepower engine (later strangled down by emissions control to 83 horsepower), this was not a Corvette performer as much as it was penned to look like a 1968 Stingray. To add the final insult, General Motors didn't even change the name. It started as an Opel GT in Europe and was sold as a Buick Opel GT. Sold from 1968 to 1973.

2. Saab 9-7X

2005 Saab 9-7X What could be less Saab-like than a body-on-frame large sport utility? How about an optional pushrod V8 engine? The Saab 9-7X started out as a Chevrolet Trailblazer sport utility. Base models had a GM inline six cylinder all the way up to Aero models which got a Corvette-sourced 6.0 liter V8 with 390 horsepower. All 9-7X models had standard all-wheel-drive, otherwise this anti-Saab also would have featured rear-wheel-drive, something no Saab ever had. Of course it wasn't made in Sweden, but came from the same factory as its brother Buicks, Oldsmobiles, GMCs and Chevrolets. It was also the only seven-passenger vehicle Saab ever made sold. Sold from 2005 to 2009 in the United States and various other markets, including Bulgaria, Chile, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Jordan, Kuwait, Latvia, Lebanon, Netherlands, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and the United Arab Emirates.

3. Toyota Cavalier

Toyota Cavalier What? Yes, GM and Toyota conspired to badge engineer a lowly Chevrolet Cavalier and sell it as a Toyota. "But, why have I never seen one?" you ask? That's because Toyota and GM actually had the audacity to sell this weird rebadging in Japan. Both two-door and four-door models were sold only with the 2.4-liter four cylinder engine that was the highest option back in the States. The Toyota Cavalier was equipped with right hand drive for the Japanese market as well as a few other tweaks. Sold in Japan from 1995 - 2000.

 4. Cadillac Cimarron

1988 Cadillac Cimarron Speaking of Cavaliers, is it more conceivable that one was rebadged as a Toyota or a Cadillac? Unlike most tragic badge-engineering jobs, the Cadillac Cimarron was planned from the beginning as a sibling to the new 1981 Chevrolet Cavalier. It was supposed to wait until it was fully baked but it was decided to rush it into production for the 1982 model year. It initially came with a four-cylinder engine, and a V6 wasn't offered until the 1985 model year. The sad failure that was the Cimarron ended with the 1988 model year. Fun fact: the Cimarron was the first Cadillac to offer a manual transmission in a Cadillac since 1953, and the last one until the CTS-V hot rod came out in 2004. Cimarron was the first Cadillac 4-cylinder since 1914 and would be the last until the 2013 ATS.

5. Pontiac LeMans

1988 Pontiac LeMans Pontiac LeMans, a car from a performance division of General Motors named after a famous race track. The LeMans everyone remembers was a corporate twin to the Chevrolet Chevelle and the basis for the GTO, the first muscle car. This LeMans is a Korean subcompact from Daewoo Motors, a company that GM would later buy when it was in financial trouble. Its largest engine, a 2.0-liter four-cylinder it shared with the Pontiac Sunbird, only made 96 horsepower. Sold in the U.S. from 1988 until 1993 when poor quality killed it.

6. Mitsubishi Raider

Mitsubishi Raider Crew Cab A car is usually rebadged for another entity because the manufacturer has extra capacity and the seller has a hole in their lineup. In the case of the Mitsubishi Raider, Dodge had a lot of extra capacity for the Dakota and Mitsubishi had no small pickup after its Mighty Max was no longer able to be imported due to high truck import taxes and its inability to meet newer U.S. crash regulations after 1996. Sadly for both, the Dakota had extra capacity available because DaimlerChrysler had turned it into a bloated, heavy fuel hog with no extra useable space than the original light, perfectly sized original. Sold from 2005 to 2009, this model sold very poorly (2935 sold in all of 2008). The overall history of the Raider is so convoluted it is easily one of the craziest rebadges in history: From 1979 to 1994 Dodge sold a truck made by Mitsubishi, called the D50. This was a rebadged Mitsubishi Triton/Mighty Max compact pickup. From 1987 to 1989 Dodge sold a small two-door sport utility called the Dodge Raider. This was a rebadged Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero. Finally the Mitsubishi Raider comes in 2005, a rebadged Dodge pickup with the name of a rebadged Mitsubishi spot utility sold as a Dodge, a company that once rebadged a Mitsubishi pickup as a Dodge. (whew!)

7. Acura SLX

1998 Acura SLX What Acura had in 1996 was a reputation for sterling (who gets this pun?) quality and reliability. What they did not have was a sport utility. So, they traded one for the other by rebadging an Isuzu Trooper and calling it the Acura SLX. Sold from model year 1996 until 1999. Besides poor reliability, they were rated "Not Acceptable" by Consumer Reports, who accused them of rolling over easily.

8. Honda Passport

Honda Passport Soichiro Honda didn't like trucks. Honda's founder got started into business making piston rings for Toyota. After the war he began manufacturing motorcycles. It is interesting to note that Honda waited until after Yoichiro died to start badging Isuzu Rodeo compact sport utilities as Honda Passports. Like the Acura SLX, the Passport was the least reliable vehicle to wear a Honda badge at the time.

9. Infiniti Q30/QX30

2017 Infiniti Q30 Nissan and Mercedes are now sharing stuff. Okay. This sporty compact hatchback is really a Mercedes GLA, itself based on the CLA, itself based on the A-Class which is only sold in the United States with an all-electric powertrain. Nissan completely supplied the sheet metal and most of the interior. The stalks for turn signals, cruise control and wipers are all pure MB. What's weirder than Infiniti borrowing a Mercedes model? It's front-wheel-drive.

10. GMC Caballero/Sprint

?1975 GMC Sprint Okay, this one is just here because Caballero is a ridiculous name. I can just see that meeting: "GMC dealer council demands a version of the Chevy El Camino! It's a truck and we want it!" "What shall we call it?" "Don't care, just send it over!" Of course the El Camino was the first crossover. It was based on a car chassis, the Chevelle/Malibu and later the Caprice; they even shared the same grille, making a GMC version even more ridiculous. Its previous name, "Sprint," wasn't much better.

11. Lincoln Blackwood

2002 Lincoln Blackwood The Blackwood was just plain ridiculous: a luxury truck with a bed lined in carpet and stainless steel that would scratch or stain if you put anything in it. Unlike the Cadillac Escalade EXT it competed with it didn't offer all-wheel-drive, making it worthless in Northern climates. Its 41 cubic foot bed was so tiny it was smaller than a Dodge Dakota long bed. It could only carry four passengers with its front and rear captains chairs. And of course, a Ford F-150 was thousands of dollars less. It was only offered in the United States for the 2002 model year.

12. Dodge Monaco

Monaco Cop Car

No, not this one. 1990 Dodge Monaco This one. A horrible remnant forced on Chrysler by a contract between AMC and Renault before Chrysler bought the former required this joint venture to be built in Canada. Using a Peugeot, Renault, Volvo V6 engine which none of those three companies wanted, this ungainly, unreliable, unattractive car was sold as an Eagle Premier through previous AMC dealerships, but realizing they would never sell enough to fulfill their contract, Chrysler rebadged them as Dodges, giving them one of the brands most venerable nameplates: Monaco. At one point Dodge dealerships were offered $6000 in incentives to put these in unsuspecting people's driveways. Sold for the 1990 - 1992 model years. Interesting note: the first generation LH cars (Dodge Intrepid, Chrysler Concorde, Eagle Vision) inherited this cars unusual longitudinal front-wheel-drive powertrain and its hood release on the driver's side floor to save money in retooling the Canadian factory that they inherited from AMC.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Why Did VW Cheat on EPA Tests for Diesels?

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Volkswagon EPA - Copy

How exactly did they cheat?

VW had installed a 'Defeat Device' in their diesel cars that would detect if there was an emissions test going on. The computer would realize this because the EPA tests are stationary and very standardized. When the device detected any of these standard tests, it would raise the amount of fuel going into the engine, resulting in lower performance, but a better emissions test. When the tests were not in place, the device would let the engine run leaner, resulting in more power and better fuel mileage. So VW had a clean car that also performed like an emissions-less monster. On paper, anyway.2016 Volkswagen Beetle

How were they caught?

It all started when an independent group from West Virginia University tested a few diesel cars. The  cars included a a 2013 VW Passat, a BMW X5, and a 2012 VW Jetta. The testers expected them to all have better emissions than the European counterparts, but thought they had made a mistake because the VW emissions were 40 times the amount of NOx than allowed by law. It took more tests and a whole year of smaller investigations to get the truth out. On August 20th of 2015, an official from VW refused to answer technical questions, and later admitted to using the 'Defeat Device' to cheat on emissions tests.

How do they plan to fix it?

In short, we don't know. VW is going to be holding a conference on Friday. Concerns about the fuel economy and performance are a main concern for everyone. Will the VW diesel line be a slow terrible line of cars? Or will the magic of politics and recalls keep the performance and mileage the same? When the conference happens, we'll keep you updated.

Why did they cheat?

Preliminary information supplied by Bosch, a supplier to Volkswagen, indicates Volkswagen saved less than $400 per car by using the defeat device. Potential fines of $37,000 per car may make it a pretty bad choice.

What does this mean for other Diesels?

While other manufacturers like BMW, Mercedes and GM are not cheating on the tests, it has certainly left the general public with a bad taste in their mouths concerning diesels. Diesel cars were already on the decline due to fuel prices, and with VW's latest stunt, diesels will most certainly see a decline in sales and public interest.     Automotive News

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Alpha Numeric Soup with Mercedes-Balls

Soup Last year Infiniti up-ended its naming scheme, insuring that for years valets, auto journalists and their owners have no idea which Infiniti is which. Called by some Q-fusion (okay, that would be me), the scheme involved making everything start with "Q," a plan which would have been moronic even if Audi didn't already have a bunch of QUV's. (Q3, Q5, Q7) Now it's Mercedes-Benz's turn to stir the alphabet soup. Starting in 2015, the one to three-letter names will become more standardized: Roadsters will always start with "SL," sport utilities with "GL." "Four-door coupe" will start with "CL." (The Gelandawagen is the exception, still going just by "G." The "SL" will just remain the "SL," without a size letter added.) Coupes, Convertibles, hatchbacks and traditional sedans will remain one-lettered with body descriptions if needed: A-Class, B-Class, C-Class Coupe, E-Class Cabriolet, S-Class Sedan... The core sizes of vehicles will determine the final letter: A, B, C, E, S. In standard sedans, coupes, convertibles and hatchbacks, they will stand on their own, only being supplemented by engine designations. Thus, smallest SUV = GLA-Class (already named and in place.) Compact SUV = GLC-Class (Previously the GLK.) Medium SUV = GLE-Class (Previously the ML-Class.) Large SUV = GLS-Class (Previously the GL-Class) New Mercedes Model Nomenclature CY2015 and onward Now add some numbers for engine: GLA250, gives us the 2.0 liter turbocharged 208 horsepower 4-cylinder gasoline engine. The BlueTEC scramble of labels is going away, replaced with a simple regiment of lowercase letters for non-gasoline engines: c (natural gas), d (diesel), h (hybrid), e (plug-in hybrid or battery electric), and f (hydrogen fuel cell). New Mercedes Powertrain Designations CY2015 and onward 4MATIC will remain the indicator of all-wheel traction. Overall, not too different or confusing. And not a f^%$#$%ing "Q" in sight. Mercedes-Benz claims it has to make this change because it will be launching 11 completely new vehicles with no predecessors by 2020, and a standardized naming convention will help consumers understand where those models sit. With the system in place, we could assume that a new mid-sized four-door coupe would become the "CLE-Class," or a huge roadster would be the "SLS-Class." (Okay, some names would overlap with past cars.) In the present, the ML350 BLueTEC would become the GLE350d. Enjoy the soup!

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Ford Revises some Fuel Mileage Downward

Here We Go, Again

We told you when Hyundai and Kia downgraded their EPA mileage in November 2012 "Your Mileage May Vary", Nov. 2012. Now, not too surprisingly, it's Ford's turn, again. Unlike the blanket mess that was the Hyundai/Kia fiasco, Ford is downgrading only Fusion, C-Max and Fiesta models while Lincoln is downgrading MKZ Hybrids, only.

  Old New Change
2013-14 Ford C-Max Energi 44 city/41 hwy 40 city/36 hwy -4 city/-5 hwy
2013-14 Ford C-Max Energi (battery) 100 MPGe 88 MPGe -12 MPGe
2013-14 Ford C-Max Hybrid 45 city/40 hwy 42 city/37 hwy -3 city/-3 hwy
2014 Ford Fiesta 1.6 Manual 27 city/38 hwy 28 city/36 hwy +1 city/-2 hwy
2014 Ford Fiesta 1.0 3 cyl. SFE Manual 32 city/45 hwy 31 city/43 hwy -1 city/-2 hwy
2014 Ford Fiesta 1.6 Auto 29 city/39 hwy 27 city/37 hwy -2 city/-2 hwy
2014 Ford Fiesta 1.6 SFE Auto 30 city/41 hwy 28 city/38 hwy -2 city/-3 hwy
2013-14 Ford Fusion Energi 44 city/41 hwy 40 city/36 hwy -4 city/-5 hwy
2013-14 Ford Fusion Energi (battery) 100 MPGe 88 MPGe -12 MPGe
2013-14 Ford Fusion Hybrid 47 city/47 hwy 44 city/41 hwy -3 city/-6 hwy
2013-14 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid 45 city/45 hwy 38 city/37 hwy -7 city/-8 hwy

Previously, the 2013 C-Max Hybrid had been rated at 47 city/47 highway, the same as the 2013 Fusion Hybrid. It was allowed to use the same rating by EPA rules since the two cars shared a platform, but there was such a large discrepancy between the two that Ford voluntarily changed its rating to 45 city/40 hwy in August 2013. This latest change overrides that one (see chart above, line 3).   Therefore, the C-Max Hybrid has changed from its original rating by 5 city and 10 highway MPG overall.

What is Ford Doing for Owners?

Ford is offering good will payments, via its website to owners and leasers of the vehicles that have had their EPA fuel mileage ratings adjusted. Payments range from $125 to $525 for leasers and $200 to $850 for owners. (Check here.) 2013-2014 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid owner’s can get $1050, while leasers can get $625. (Check here.) People with these cars don’t have to make any claim: Ford will automatically send a letter to them along with a payment.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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