Our Mission

In all, we believe in the power of expression. We believe that inside of every human, there is a story that can capture the hearts of those who wish to read or listen. Magically, we can be taken to other times, places, and universes. We can become new and radically different people. We can conquer our greatest enemies, or stare our imperfections in the face to tell them: that deep down, we still dream. In those moments, where inspiration and influence overshadow doubt and fear, if just one word can propagate a ripple into the fabric of humanity and its history, imagine the power of thousands. 

Rigmarole: Unicorns of Nürburgring

The Numbers

Lets face it: performance metrics make the headlines.

How awesome could a car be if we don’t have proof of its awesomeness? It’s one of the key drivers of automotive passion, the fact that your favorite car can do something else slightly better than someone else’s.

So, Car A is one-tenth faster 0-60 MPH than Car B. In reality, this could equate to less than a half car-length between two competing vehicles duking it out—hardly a measurable difference until you speak with the guy that drove the car that won. Yeah, we’re guilty of it, especially when it comes to “magazine racing” where we pull up editorial test statistics and root our arguments in these sometimes hardly repeatable data points. 

Car & Driver, one of my personal favorite editorials at least has a sanctioned and well-documented test procedure that they subject every automobile to. Motor Trend, and plenty of others have their own versions as well. This is probably one of the most scientific ways that performance metrics can be extrapolated, yet here we are in an age where manufacturers have turned to lap time posts for bragging rights.

What a tough time to be a car fanatic.

The Problem

Alas, we reach the pivotal issue of the problem this creates:

No matter how awesome these vehicles truly are, we have a duty to uphold their creators to the auspices of truth and honesty. It is up to us to make sure that the performance quotes are real and independently verified, as we would never be satisfied with a refrigerator that barely kept the food cold. So, here I am, basking in the everlasting knowledge of the internet, when I stumble upon another breaking news headline divulging that a Honda Civic broke the front-wheel-drive lap record at the Nürburgring with a claimed time of 7:43.8.

I mean, color me impressed that this abysmally-styled, wrong-wheel-drive, teenager wet dream powerhouse proved to be well-adept at tackling the most grueling track on Earth, but I can’t help to call BS on the claim when I think in scales of advertising ethics. The lap time was apparently achieved using a “pre-production model” Honda apparently said “was technically representative of production specification.”

What?

The story sounds kind of familiar. You remember the crazy Lamborghini Huracan Performante fiasco, right?  In early March, they posted up a similarly wild claim that they took a heavily reworked Huracan, added some trick active aero bits, and demolished the “production car” lap record at the ‘Ring. Skeptics quickly pounced on the jumpy video footage and some of the oddities in the displayed speedometer over the breadth of the course, however Lamborghini finally posted “data” to “support” their claim (as if that would make it all go away).

Again, we wound up right where we are with the Civic Type-R, staring into the abyss in awe at a production vehicle that isn’t technically a production vehicle, blasting through records that were in serious race car territory just one decade ago. Once we get past the piles of fanboys and endless pictures of the fabled machine leaning heavily on its haunches whilst draped in camo, we start to uncover little tidbits that dial up the suspicion.

Wait, what was that? It had “semi-slick,” but still “street legal Trofeo R tires? Oh, the radio was missing, as well as the back seat? It was a “pre-production” model, “close to factory spec,” you say?

Well, here’s the thing, dammit. We’re tired of these loopholes! How can a manufacturer claim times that were set by non-production spec vehicles, frequently with tires, brake compounds, suspension setups, and engine tunes that are not at all indicative of a real showroom floor version of the same car? Even though Lamborghini eventually plopped down a pool of raw data to support their claim, we can still do a huge favor by not giving a damn because who else was there to verify it?

Though it bids huge amounts of confidence that the lap was legitimate (it most likely was), it still bears that question of whether or not this was truly the car in the production form that you and I would see upon purchase. Even Christian von Koenigsegg called BS on this, especially pointing out the oddities in video regarding tires that had a grip threshold rivaling the g-limiter on a F-16 Fighting Falcon. When news breaks that Pirelli pretty much made a custom tire for that specific car on that specific track, one has to doubt the legitimacy of this entire charade.

So, the tire is available to the public, but was that tire spec used during the lap? No one but a few engineers and technicians at Lamborghini knows this, and that is the point in this situation. Nissan did this with their 2015 GT-R NISMO with “track options,” or whatever they called it, and back with the original in 2008 that sent Porsche fuming.

The Solution

I’m one for a Car & Driver method, where we have a sanctioned set of test procedures that are enforced, verified, and checked upon every vehicle testing regiment. Calculations could be easily derived to ween out the differences between various environmental factors, probably by taking a baseline (or “control”) vehicle, the same driver, specifications, and running said vehicle through the same racing line through days with widely varying weather conditions. It sounds difficult, and would likely prove to be, but we already have autonomous race vehicles that can reduce the chances of human error.

Take a special robot car with an array of sensors and task it with setting the baseline for us measly humans.

Next, we have a sanctioning committee of some sort enforce these rules by checking every vehicle for compliance, even to the point where members of the committee visit a participating manufacturer’s production facility and randomly select a production-spec car from the line for testing. This would go a long way towards ensuring that no gimmickry has taken place, especially when the routine compliance checks are gone through.

The final task is having a team of drivers (potentially not as necessary as the prior rules) run every car through the testing regiment at least three times, only after each car has been verified to its original recommended factory specifications. The key here is to ensure that this reduces the aforementioned “unicorn lap time” syndrome that we’re experiencing, thereby forcing and holding manufactures to being representatives of honest data.

Jim Glickenhaus wants something like this, and so does Mr. Koenigsegg. I know I don’t have a single quality to measure up to those guys, but damn, they have a good point. Lets hit this problem with a little science, shall we?

Swan Song

Chrysler and Dodge are dying. It’s not hard to read the tea leaves. They are decades behind in hybrid/electric technology, their mainstays are built on decade plus old platforms and will be until at least 2022, and they are lead by a CEO that seems more interested in the US dealer networks of Chrysler and Dodge than the brands themselves. Dodge and Chrysler both experienced sales drops in 2016, with Chrysler total sales coming in a whopping 27% lower than in 2015. Ram trucks still sell, ranked third among full sized pickups in 2016, but they also aren’t Dodges anymore, a split that occurred fairly quietly 6 years ago. FCA also attempted to distance the Viper from the Dodge brand around the same time, placing it under the SRT moniker before reluctantly bringing it back into the fold a short time later and ultimately ending the production of one of America’s most interesting cars this year. Without a major change or capital infusion, we may be seeing the final years of the Dodge and Chrysler brands as we know them, and when the final bell rings for two iconic American auto makers it will be a mournful occasion, especially for the millions of Mopar fans across the US and the globe.

For now though, car enthusiasts around the world can rejoice because Dodge is giving us the greatest swan song in automotive history. A beautiful symphony of large displacement V10’s, whining superchargers, squealing tires, and raw, unapologetic horsepower. So enough of the doom and gloom, we’ve got a few seriously awesome vehicles to discuss.

 

2015: Year of the Hellcat

 

While the early 2010’s saw Chevrolet and Ford in the middle of a horsepower race with the Camaro and Mustang respectively, Dodge had remained quiet with it’s Challenger. The 580hp Camaro ZL1 had prompted Ford to drop an all new 5.8 liter supercharged V8 with 662 horsepower into the 2013 Mustang GT500. It was a wonderful time to have a mullet.

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(Via Motortrend)

 

When Dodge finally responded, it did so in a big way. Seven Hundred wonderful horsepower big. A 6.2 liter Hemi V8 with a 2.4 liter IHI supercharger force-feeding it over 11 lbs of boost. Final output? 707 horsepower, 650 pound-feet of torque, 0-60 in 3.6 seconds, and a quarter mile in 11.2 at 125mph. The best part? It wasn’t just going into the muscle car Challenger, oh no, we were getting a 700 horsepower, 200 mph, all American (unless you count the old German chassis) sedan. There was a new horsepower king, and its name was Hellcat.

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(Via DigitalTrends)

 

Hypercar, who?

The world’s first batch of hypercars started to light up the stat sheet and the race track in 2013. With hybrid-electric drivetrains, near as makes no difference 1,000 horsepower, and price tags north of one million dollars each, the Ferrari laFerrari (dumb name, but awesome car), Porsche 918 Spyder, and McLaren P1 took performance to an unheard of level. Lap records started to fall to these hybrid behemoths, and they appeared to usher in a new tier of performance that was only achievable with the same recipe of high power gas engines complemented by the instant torque of electric motors. For a couple of years it appeared they would continue to stand alone as the track thrashing elite, but then the Street and Racing Team (SRT) over at Dodge stepped in and gave us this:

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(Via DriveSRT)

 

The Dodge Viper ACR. And what did the ACR bring to battle? Hybrid tech? Nah. Turbocharging? Nope. All wheel drive? Don’t think so. Just the largest displacement engine on the market, an 8.4 liter, 645 horsepower V10, a six-speed manual transmission to deliver power to the rear wheels, a lowered and tightened suspension compared to the base Viper…oh and an aero package that can create a literal ton of downforce. 2000 pounds. The wing ain’t just for show, people. This simple combination lead to the Viper crushing lap records at 13 different tracks, including beating the Porsche 918 by over a second around Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, and came in at roughly a tenth of the price of those aforementioned hypercars. Cause who needs technology when you have brute force?

 

Not a Beast, a Demon.

 

The Dodge Hellcat is a beast. It retained its position as the highest horsepower engine fitted to a muscle car from its launch all the way up to April 11, 2017. On that day a Demon was unleashed. And demonic is a very apt way to describe the new Challenger SRT Demon. 840 horsepower, 770 foot-pounds of torque, factory drag radials, and lots of first-time-ever-in-a-production-car items to make all of it travel a quarter mile in 9.65 seconds at over 140mph. That’s holy shit fast. And it comes with a warranty. Some of those one of a kind items? A 100 octane button that changes the tune in the car to accept race gas in order to achieve the full 840hp. An air conditioning powered charged air cooling system that can drop intake temperatures by nearly 50 degrees fahrenheit. It also does wheelies. How unnecessarily great is that?

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(Via Freep)

 

There are more things to come from Dodge, the Hellcat powered Grand Cherokee Trackhawk for starters, but the SRT Demon is the crescendo of their Swan Song. The epic climax to a story built around defying progress and logic in favor of simplicity and pure power. I truly hope that I am wrong. I still ponder the what if’s of Pontiac and the potential of that lineup right before it was shut down for good. Dodge and Chrysler are on a completely different scale from that, and losing either would be a massive blow to the American automotive industry. If it comes to pass, however, at least we can say that they didn’t go quietly into the night.

Life Happens and Other Topics.

And We’re Back.

Hello, everyone! I’m a little further behind, but as Bryan mentioned previously, lots of things going on in the last few months. My wife and I welcomed a wonderful little baby boy at the end of August. What has followed since has been a blur of adjustments, learning, and no time, but a lot of fun. Little guy already loves rolling around in the GTI with dad. I think. He falls asleep immediately after the car starts moving, so I’m assuming he likes it a lot. And because I can’t possibly be busy enough, I’m starting graduate school in January. But enough about me, let’s talk about some of the happenings in the car world and otherwise (and my opinions on them) since my last foray into writing.

Absolutely, definitely, totally NOT Top Gear. We swear.

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(Courtesy of Autoweek)

Episode two of The Grand Tour went live last night on Amazon, and if you were, like me, left with a bad taste in your mouth after the revamped Top Gear flopped harder than every early 2000’s Chrysler product, you’re in luck. What Jeremy, Richard, and James did with GT is, well, take everything people loved about Top Gear…and call it The Grand Tour. And that’s not a bad thing. The trio seems refreshed after the debacle with the BBC, and the Chemistry from 20+ seasons together on Top Gear is ever present. Some may bemoan the cost of Amazon Prime, $99 for a year subscription in the US, but most that do are already paying $95.88 a year for Netflix or HULU ($7.99 times 12, math is great). Plus, the free 2 day shipping that Prime allows you for things bought through Amazon quickly pays the fee by itself. So subscribe, watch, enjoy.

Mazda makes beautiful vehicles, why won’t they make them faster?

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(Courtesy of Autoblog)

The LA Auto show happened. Unless you’re super stoked about the rice-tastic Civic Type-R’s still ricey and much slower little brother, the Si, the star of the show was the new Mazda CX-5. In the dull and boring world of Crossover SUV’s, the CX-5 looks stunning, and the great styling cues in the little CUV extend to the rest of the Mazda lineup. Only issue? Everything is slow. Even the fantastic new MX-5, which is simply a blast to drive, I’d recommend a test drive to anyone having a shit day/week cause the smiles per mile rate is quite high, still underwhelms in raw power. Where’s Mazdaspeed when you need it? What happened to the rumors of the new Mazdaspeed3 with 300 turbocharged horsepower and all-wheel drive? When will the rotary return in all of its triangle shaped glory (EPA regulations be damned)? Hopefully soon, but for now, keep killing it on the design front Mazda.

All jokes aside…

Civic Si Prototype

(Courtesy of Autoweek)

The new Honda Civic Si doesn’t look nearly as bad as the Type-R, and will probably be another sub-$30k performance bargain which is nothing to complain about. The sheer number of sporty cars that can be had for less than $30,000 is remarkable. And they come in all shapes, sizes, and configurations, from RWD coupes to FWD hatchbacks to AWD sedans. It’s a good time to be an enthusiast.

Post-baby, the MK7 GTI is still great.

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I’ve got an article in the works on my current vehicle, a 2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI, to give everyone a break from my friend Bryan’s constant mullet flaunting. It may not have a ‘Murican Five-point-oh liter vee-eight under the hood, or run a 12 second quarter mile (yet), but in terms of performance bang for the buck and everyday versatility, I’m not sure there’s a better new car on the market. And unlike the crowd clearing Mustang, I can comfortably fit a car seat in the GTI. (I know Bryan claims he can, but I’ve never seen it happen.) More on this subject at a later time.

More to come.

Now that things have normalized, expect more content with more regularity from Machscribe. That’s the plan, anyway. Life with a three month old can be a little hectic at times, but I will definitely be setting some time each week aside to write. It’s good for the soul. Also, wonderful readers, on behalf of myself and Bryan, hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

-Ryan

Project Ruby: Update 2

Abstract:

Cars are dirty machines.

The car, in my opinion, is one of humanity’s most brilliant inventions, but alas, they come with headaches. Like all of our machines, cars break down. They cost us money, which naturally points us toward the direction of which company makes the cars requiring the least amount of work, but that doesn’t always pan out. People with more exotic tastes buy extraordinarily unreliable cars like used Range Rovers or old Volkswagen/Audis. Every time I see this, I shed a tear for their wallet as well as their soul, but for the rest of the buying public, we tend to stick to cars with established pedigrees.

Think about your mother’s Honda Odyssey, or your dad’s Toyota Camry. Every once in a while, you’ll see a Nissan Sentra—you know, the boring and lifeless appliance cars.

They run like a well-maintained box fan from Sears, or a freshly unraveled Hoover vacuum cleaner primed to rid the carpet of lint and pet dander. For as much as we ask of our automobiles on a day to day basis (roughly 29.2 miles daily, or 10,658 miles yearly per the AAA), it would make perfect sense to just mosey along and provide them with merely the “recommended maintenance” that every manufacturer clearly spells out. Simple and easy, though the concept becomes warped in the illogical minds of enthusiasts.

We’re weird with this. We buy more “interesting” cars that aren’t as notorious for long-term reliability, but on top of that, we tend to take a perfectly good car and make it more unreliable by installing parts that it wasn’t designed for.

I’ll call this the “Money Pit Cycle,” which typically follows a 4-stage process:

[1] Enthusiast has a car, usually one with a higher price and substantially reduced practically versus the average car—mostly because said enthusiast won’t settle for “average”.

[2] Enthusiast loves the car for perhaps a few weeks, then the excitement wanes. Slowly, the enthusiast starts to find imperfections and a total lack of personal identification with said car. It becomes “boring” and average. Suddenly, the 420hp V8 isn’t powerful enough. The clutch sticks to the floor and shifting is labored. The enthusiast is triggered by these revelations.

It’s the end of the world, and potentially the end of the love affair, but alas, there is hope.

[3] Enthusiast does research to tackle a list of improvement goals for the car. Eventually, this list grows to consume thousands of dollars. The plan is to take apart a perfectly good automobile no logical reason. Together, the enthusiast teams up with friends and they tackle hours worth of arduous labor replacing parts that otherwise functioned exactly as intended but not as well as they could have.

[4] Enthusiast is initially satisfied by the results, but soon starts to realize that more parts are necessary to achieve the desired goal. The new long tube headers have a nasty exhaust leak at the mounting flanges. The Centerforce Dual Friction clutch hates traffic and has the modulation range of a paperclip. The car runs stronger, but not quite as strong as hoped.

The cycle restarts. . .

The Impractical Choice:

In the driveway awaits this 2013 Ford Mustang GT.

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It’s about as practical on a day to day basis as using a spoon to slice a wedding cake, but it’s quite a bit faster now. Yes, as you can see here, my adorable baby girl strapped into a Graco carseat (with the base too!) will actually fit, and you can still fit an adult in the passenger seat up front.

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On occasion, the Coyote can muster out 23mpg, but you can’t go over 80mph and expect that. Meanwhile, it unfortunately exceeded 50,000 miles on the odometer. I did buy it to drive it, I suppose.

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As detailed in the Project Ruby: Update 1 article, the fiasco that encompassed the two months of ownership was merely the start of what is working out to be a lovely journey. So far, I’ve set a few personal milestones with this thing. I described my quest for a 12 second quarter mile pass in detail in the Update 1, but the high temperatures and the finicky clutch seriously ailed my mid-summer attempts at glory.

It wasn’t until September 30th that the car finally broke the 13 second barrier with a best of 12.876@110.85mph. Looking at the data, it was about a stout as your typical stock 2011+ 5.0 Mustang. It was good, but not good enough. Triggered, I entered Stage 1 of the Money Pit Cycle.

The Absence of Logic:

I ordered the following parts:

[1] Centerforce Dual Friction clutch, which was equipped with counterweights to ensure that the car would actually shift at high RPM (thanks, Ford).

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[2] Barton Racing shifter bracket, which was designed to essentially get rid of the junk remote-mount shift setup (thanks, Ford) and turn it into a “top loader” like it should’ve been from jump street.

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[3] BBK x-pipe, so I could connect the BBK long tube headers to the stock exhaust.

The installation? Well, it was a royal pain in the ass. Luckily for me, I had a team of friends and fellow enthusiasts to help.

Meet Sam, an extremely knowledgeable, honest, and straightforward guy. He loves cars, specifically Fords, and he was apparently born with a gene that turned him into a car addict like the rest of us. Working on cars is literally his job, though this experience usually makes even the most daunting tasks a cake walk. Yeah, he’s that dude that can swap an engine in the time it takes for you to cut the grass.

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On October 9th,  Sam and his neighbor, Rocky, invited me over to use their facilities. It included an electric lift, which turned out to be a vital part of the major surgery considering that we’d have to take half of the damn car apart.

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Once again, my Ford Mustang found itself suspended on an automobile lift. (Hutch is pictured here, too).

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In short, these parts didn’t exactly go on in an easy fashion. The clutch installation required the removal of the driveshaft, shift linkage, and the entire transmission. The Barton Racing shifter bracket was installed on the reassembly journey. The headers, bless our souls, were the worst part of the entire endeavor. Due to the space constraints under the car and under the hood, we were forced to remove the steering shaft, both engine mounts, and of course the old headers, all of which took about three hours to do (not including stops to McDonalds).

Oh, and we forgot the tools at the Ford Dealership where Sam works, so instead of calling off the surgery, another buddy, Hutch (in the foreground), brought a set of basic tools from the trunk of his car. Derek (in the background munching on Taco Hell), has direct experience in the nightmare that is installing anything worthwhile on a Coyote, as he has a 2012 Mustang GT 5.0 that has run a best of 10.878@127mph. Together, this team of three formed quite the comedic overlay.

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We joked with each other, cursed at each other, and bullshat through scrapped knuckles, bruised knees, stuck bolts, and nonsensical designs. Sometimes, no matter how immature it is to an observer, this behavior is necessary to stay the course.

Near the end, we reached a moment of desperation. We had forgotten to install the top two bell housing bolts, and in a notion of defeat, we surmised that it would require unbolting pretty much everything in order to tip the engine back and free up the room—that is, unless we found someone with a wrist small enough to fit.

I consider this to be my niche, and I stepped up and did what any desperate enthusiast would do:

Yes, I climbed atop the engine and hand-threaded the bolts, torquing them down with a wrench all the while hoping that making love to the engine would somehow smooth over the awkwardness.

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In all, it wasn’t until about 8pm when we first fired the car up—only to discover a huge manifold flange exhaust leak—that the inevitable curse of modification is unavoidable.

We tried fixing it with mixed results. Both headers have a plaguing leak to this very day, though that didn’t seem to affect the car’s performance at first. I drove car all week to break in the clutch and drag raced the following Saturday to quell my anxiety for results.

I was disappointed, seeing that the car could do no better than a “measly” 12.7@113.8mph. It was an improvement, but not exactly what I expected.

I made excuses and loathed in self-pity for two weeks before I eventually sucked it up and decided to get rid of the ECU’s unknown and poorly performing tune. I reached into my wallet, grabbed $550 and contacted Lund Racing for their newest nGauge tuner and datalogger.

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Before today, I had been a staunch critic of mail order tunes, but the paranoia faded when I hook up the device to the OBDII port, flashed the tune, verified that it wasn’t going to destroy the car (via datalogging), and drove it.

Except that it didn’t feel any faster. Shit.

I returned to loathing in self-pity, at least until I blew the doors off of a 2010 Camaro SS on the way to work. Maybe I was wrong, and I would prove just that when I rolled up to the staging line at Edgewater Raceway on November 12th. Honestly, I didn’t expect the car to hook up with a damn in the 58 degree weather, but I hoped to see a trap speed higher than 115mph.

The first pass was a bit of a botched launch, but I still broke my personal record:

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Yes, that’s a solid 12.646 at nearly 116mph. I was overjoyed, and as I bathed in excitement and relief, I decided to take the car up for another pass to prove repeatability.

That time, it launched like it was strapped to a catapult, breaking through a 1.878 60 foot time (yes, on the 235 width Sumitomo all season tires at 35psi) to run a 12.260@116.5mph.

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Victory. Absolute victory.

Not only did the car perform this admirably with no extra preparation (I have a rule of running my cars exactly as they are setup for daily driving), no weight reduction, and no special fuel, but it did so in such a fashion that clearly put the Mustang in a new league of automobile.

I read a recent article of Car and Driver, and discovered that my car, a lowly Ford Mustang GT, is apparently just as fast as a brand new 2016 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport. Yes, I no longer have to fear a factory trim Corvette. My car was now just as fast, if not faster, than the AMG Mercedes-Benz models that I used to fantisize about in high school during the early to mid 2000s.

Let that sink in.

The stars aligned and I got the last bit of fair weather just before the racing season buttoned up to a close. The headers still leak, and the car is even more brashly unrefined than it was to begin with, but hell, at least we had some fun together this year. Now with the freezing temperatures settling in and snow around the corner, I’ll put Ruby back into the garage where she belongs and trickle back into Stage 1 of the Money Pit Cycle again.

Even now, I find myself searching for ways to make it even better, but this time I’ll focus on suspension and brakes.

After all, taking off perfectly good parts and replacing them is one of the most absurdly agonizing/gratifying things to do.

–Bryan

Life Hits: Where Have I Been?

Well, if you’re a regular viewer, we’d like to apologize.

It’s been a while since you’ve heard anything from us, but we’re ready again. A lot has happened since our last post on 8/3/16, where I delved into what I hoped to be Infiniti’s return to gloriousness. I have to say, the passion for automobiles is still there, but again. . . life has its challenges.

For me, it was yet another HUGE transition. Let me break this down for you:

 

The New Job (8/15/16)

 

It started with a job offer, one that paid me nearly $15,000/year more than my last job doing pretty much the exact same thing (Mechanical Engineering in Automotive Manufacturing). Sure, the new place was roughly an hour away from my house, but the money and opportunity alone made the the commute worthwhile on paper. I gave my previous employer three weeks worth of notice out of respect for the people I worked with, but the terribly odd part about that was the moment I submitted my resignation letter, I got a hard lesson of how cut throat the business world is.

They counter offered me $9,500 more than what I was already making, which was unusual considering that they could’ve paid me this salary to begin with and I likely would’ve never left, but I suppose that divine intervention had a different outlook. I was given one weekend to “think it over,” during which I proved through various hypothetical situations that the new job offer was still better. My old job was a dead end. The lower management was locked in, and though most of them were not qualified for their positions, it was clear that there wouldn’t be any room to move up within the next two decades. There were “engineers” with no engineering knowledge, education, or basic engineering skills. There were people in charge on the production floor that walked in the door as bottom scale operators just months prior. The Japanese upper management was hell bent on expansion with little to no increase in salary, and speaking of salary, the entire pay scale ladder was screwed up. There were people on the production floor that had been with the company less time, with far less responsibility, no higher education, and obviously lower capabilities making either an equivalent or superior salary.

The place was a shit show.

It was time to move on, and they rushed the ordeal. One week into my final three, I came to work on a Friday morning and was promptly notified that it was my last day. I drove my Mustang home and vented my anger silently, taking in the nice summer weather and sulking in sadness as I rubbed my wife’s pregnant belly. Our daughter was due to be induced in just weeks. My wife was on strict bedrest, and I was now without a job—at least until I called my job recruiter and explained the situation to her. By the end of the evening, she had my new job ready to start the following Wednesday.

The hour drive was rough, and in the Mustang averaging a measly 22.5MPG, the 112 mile daily round trip consumed 1/3 of the 16 gallon gas tank. I needed a daily driver, and though I wanted to wait, I took yet another risk and bought one of the best cheap cars that I could think of:

A 2003 Toyota Corolla LE.

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As much as this car represents the antithesis of what I normally believe a car should be, I grew to love it instantly because of what it offers: the ability to simply hop into the car and drive peacefully to your destination. I’ll write more about it in a Driver Mod section later, but I’ll tell you that the gas mileage and operating costs are substantially lower on a daily commute.

Kudos to gas mileage—even though the Service Engine Soon light illuminated days after purchase for a stupid evap control fault and has been on ever since. It’s also a swell family road trip car. Oh, and it’s much easier to buy a daily driver when you finally earn a reasonable salary. Thanks, new job.

Ryan’s A Father! (8/29/16)

Though I’m sure Ryan will have much more detail to add, I will never forget being at work the morning he informed me that his wife had gone into labor. A few hours later, he sent me a photo of their little boy, Isaac. Everyone’s life had changed from that point, and all for the better.

 

I’m A Father! (8/31/16)

This was the greatest day of my life. We woke up early and drove to the hospital, knowing that Ashley would be induced within the next few hours. We thought it would be a quick ordeal, but it wasn’t. Nearly twelve hours later, our daughter, Lila Faith Williams, was born at 6:36PM. My vision was blurry for the first five minutes of her life because I was crying so hard. She was tiny, but strong, willful, direct, and exactly as I had imagined.

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The very first night in the hospital, she kept us awake until 4AM because she wouldn’t stop crying. Parenting 101 began on 8/31/16 at 6:36:01PM, the very first second that she was in our hands. I had never taken a class on fatherhood, and my exposure to babies up until that point had been extremely limited, but hell, we figured it out together.

My friend and fellow Machscriber, Ryan, has largely done the same with his wife and son.

 

The Adjustment Period (9/1/16 to Present)

 

I soon realized that it cost $2,200 to change jobs in the USA when you have a small family. That, ladies and gentlemen, was the cost of COBRA health coverage after I discovered that the HR department of my previous job tried to charge me twice for health insurance. Ashley developed a uterus infection just days after we took Lila home, which required an ambulance ride back to the hospital where she was admitted for another two days. She is clearly the strongest person that I have ever seen. It was rough, but we made it.

The new job has its pros and cons, but it’s a better place than the old one. My biggest concern is that the hours aren’t necessarily steady, and dealing with the constant frustration of bureaucracies has been a major stressor. It pays the bills, I suppose.

Oh, and I finally ran a 12-second quarter mile, all before teaming up with some fellow enthusiasts to install a slew of modifications to the Mustang the following week. Going to the track to see and feel the difference is what drives me to continue on with this.

20161009_190541

I see people everyday on YouTube, Facebook, and other media sources working towards and working in their lifelong dreams. Chris Harris, my hero, has the world’s greatest job. There is a dude in SoCal named Spencer that has literally achieved everything that I’ve ever wanted to do with automobiles. He makes a load of money marketing, selling, a photographing automobiles of exotic origin.

This is why Machscribe is here. I hastily put it together in 2014 because I dreamed of making a reality out of my passion with cars, gadgetry, fiction, and news. My friend, Ryan, has similar ambitions, but we’ve long ago realized that it’s much harder than it looks.

One day, we’ll have podcasts, we’ll have live coverage of automotive events, shows, and news. We’ll test new and old automobiles objectively and evaluate them to the best of our abilities, connect with our fans, viewers, and readers, listen and grow with the guidance of their feedback, and push forward from there.

Sorry that we can be a bit spastic at times, but hey, when life hits, you have to regroup and hit it back.

machscribe-logo

–Bryan

Rigmarole Week 31: Infiniti Aloof?

Background:

 

The Japanese car giants’ expansion into the luxury market was an episodic tale.

As enthusiasts, we all know the basic strategy–the recognition of American desires for luxury marques (as most US buyers won’t pay premium prices without premium names) and the desire to fill that market’s demand. It was a hallmark moment for the auto industry as well as nearly being the final nail in the coffin for what was considered to be the OGs of the luxury marque game (Cadillac, Lincoln, Mercedes, BMW, etc.). In the 1980s, the American auto industry was in shambles after nearly two decades of producing bloated, underpowered, and poorly-designed cars. The days of the roaring 50s and 60s were replaced by the 70s and 80s, a time rightfully coined as the “Malaise Era” that I’ll just relegate to what I call the Dark Ages.

Wallowing in the comforts of complacency, the American Big Three practically handed the platter to their competitors, where Honda stepped into the arena with Acura, Toyota with Lexus, and Nissan with their Infiniti brand.

The Acura Legend won its share of awards and praise in the late 1980s, as did the Lexus LS400, but my personal favorite was the 1990 Infiniti Q45:

infiniti-q45_100497942_m

(Courtesy of Motor Authority)

Unlike the rather mundanely-styled competition, the Infiniti stepped into the arena with a sense of unconventionality. Uniqueness, when used properly, is something that stands out to a critic like me. I liked the aerodynamic look and the weirdness of the grille-less front fascia, but perhaps the public didn’t. The lack of advertising and feature commonality with its luxury peers was cited by many to be the reasons for its paltry sales, but others (like myself) agree that this car was the start of a revolution.

It was a festoon of Nissan’s most advanced technology of the time: a DOHC 32V 4.5 liter V8, an electronically controlled 4-speed automatic, a VLSD (viscous limited slip differential), FAS (full active suspension), and a four wheel steering system called HICAS. The car’s performance was admirable, but the public has never been known to flock to the best.

Sadly, the legend of the Q45 and the Infiniti brand nearly ended here. It was sold alongside an admittedly terrible 2-door GT coupe called an M30, which did little to help matters of money making when combined with their parent company’s financial issues. Seeing the humiliating loss against both Acura and Lexus’ more traditional sedans, Infiniti watered down the awesomeness of Q45 and turned it into an unattractive Japanese Lincoln Town Car:

1997 Q45 iihs

(Courtesy of IIHS)

Awful. They even reduced the engine displacement to 4.1 liters (I mean, who the hell reduces performance in a successive model?!), and largely watered down the performance that made the 1st generation model so amazing.

Despite the introduction of other models like the G20 (sort of awesome), the J30 (not awesome), the QX4 (not awesome), and the I30 (not awesome), Infiniti was forced to learn the lesson of puddling lackluster automobiles to consumers.

Rise to Power:

Nissan introduced itself to Carlos Ghosn and hired him as the new CEO. Under the “Nissan Revival Plan,” the guy came sat at his desk and started cleaning house. He cut out the muda (unnecessary models in the lineup) and pushed forward by emphasizing the creation of standout, well-built, and high-performing vehicles. This, ladies and gentlemen, marked the beginning of the Nissan and Infiniti of legend.

A bold and wonderful all-new Infiniti Q45 bowed in 2002, once again threatening to upstage the luxury car order. On top of this, we witnessed the birth of the new G35 sedan and coupe, which provided our first glimpse at a legitimate competitor to the archetype BMW lineup of the day.

The G:

Infiniti G35 Sport Coupe 2004

(Courtesy of Infiniti)

Isn’t it beautiful?

The body lines are timeless, the 3.5 liter VQ35DE was endowed with 280hp (in 6MT form), the steering tuned to be stiff and filled to the brim with feedback, the VLSD primed for cornering exits, and the Brembo brakes bolted on to provide an aid to a machine clearly designed to drive. Whether equipped in the more luxuriously-tuned base models, or the desirable “S” configurations, this vehicle represented the birth of what made the Infiniti brand a true force in the American luxury car market.

Sales grew exponentially. More excellent and crowd-awing models joined the lineup as well.

The FX:

Excellent powertrains, promising dynamics, and polarizing styling. The car pictured below is nearly 12 years old, yet it looks as if it could be released as a 2017 model without ail.

Courtesy of RoadFly

(Courtesy of RoadFly)

The M:

(Courtesy of lookatthecar.com)

(Courtesy of lookatthecar.com)

I chose to skip the initial Nissan Cedric-based model for a good reason. It kind of sucked, but the successor didn’t. It capitalized on the award-winning G35’s traits.

The QX:

(Courtesy of wikipedia)

(Courtesy of wikipedia)

Okay, this was kind of a body-kitted Nissan Armada with better leather seats and woodgrain, but it was a solid land yacht.

Stagnation:

Unfortunately, the happy ending story ground to a halt. After admiring and idolizing its wonderful automobiles for the better part of a decade, I was forced to watch the plug be pulled and the lifeline of the entire division drained by the root of all evil: stagnation.

For some reason, the fire beneath the boiling pot of majestic wizardry fizzled out. We’ve all seen the signs, the lack of new models, the refusal to invest in market expansion, the loss of brand identity, and Mr. De Nysschen bringing in his bullshit naming strategy (destroying 2.5 decades of public model recognition) are a few key identifiers.

Yes, I know that their US sales have somehow increased to nearly 134,000 (near the peak of 136,401 during the legacy years in 2006) under the wing of the JX (oops, I meant QX60), the QX56 (oops, I meant QX80), the FX (dammit, that’s the QX70), and the Q50 (it used to be the G37), but lets ponder this.

Infiniti used to be the “Japanese BMW” of the marketplace. I owned a 2008 G35S and it was quite frankly one of the most well-rounded vehicles that I have ever owned. To hear that the company has lost its way (much like Nissan has) from what defined its position in the marketplace to begin with is terribly sad. These cars used to be among the cutting edge of the Japanese luxury makers, and perhaps my bias shows cleanly here, but I’m not sorry if I don’t think that some gimmicky and largely useless Direct Adaptive Steering system helps things. Clouding the M37 and 56 (oops, I meant Q70L, or whatever) full of electronic nannies and diluting the dynamic prowess and relative simplicity that made its immediate predecessor so great was a mistake.

The failure to make any legitimate ultimate performance division out of the failed IPL (Infiniti Performance League?), which dawned its first trial by bolting fart cannons and a body kit on an otherwise stock G37S didn’t help either.

The biggest question of the matter is simple:

What the hell are they thinking?

Furthering:

I know that I’m no automotive executive, but I don’t understand why things like this are allowed to happen. If I was running the show and I read the reviews of our automobiles, I’d be worried about the possibility of a sinking ship. I’d fear that losing the core of what made my company great would render us obsolete and forgotten. I would read the history books about the American Big Three and learn a little.

The new alliance with Mercedes-Benz is a weird, but interesting ploy with an unknown future. Though the new QX30 looks quite alluring as well as its interior, I’ll hold my breath to see how well the Mercedes-Benz hardware and Infiniti image truly interact. I understand that using a proven chassis (the one that underpins the CLA and GLA) was a relatively cheap and effective way to burst into a rapidly budding marketplace, but couldn’t they have done this with Nissan’s own engines? I mean, come on, the stuff that Nissan produced in the 1980s and 90s were absolutely amazing testaments to their engineering prowess. Admitting that they can’t jazz up a nice version of the D-platform (Altima, Maxima, Murano) and enlarge a more refined version of the MRxxDDT turbo four cylinder is rather shocking. Oh, and call up Aisin and ditch the damn Xtronic CVT from the Infiniti lineup. It belongs in Nissan Muranos and Mallfinders (oops, I mean Pathfinders), not luxury performance vehicles. I’d imagine that a version of this hypothetical QX30 could be fitted with a badass HICAS system and some fancy ATTESA-ETS all-wheel-drive, but what do I know?

I don’t know the full extent of the Infiniti pocketbook.

I don’t know why they have left the FX, or QX70 to ride in the same configuration since 2009.

I don’t know why the M, or Q70L, has largely faced the same fate as the QX70.

What about the EX, oops, QX50, or whatever the hell they’re calling it now? Same story. Stagnation.

They are all beautiful, and I hope that seeing the new reveal of the Q60 coupe and its Q50 brother with one of the first seriously badass mainstream Nissan engines in years (the VR30DDTT) shows signs of hope that my beloved Infiniti will soon return. I won’t even get into the annoying fact that the Q50 3.0T Red Sport 400 no longer has an optional limited slip differential despite having 400hp.

I just want one. For the first time since 2009, I finally feel like there might be some of the legendary Infiniti life left somewhere in there.

(Courtesy of CNET)

(Courtesy of CNET)

See that? It says “V6 TWIN TURBO” on the damn cover.

(Courtesy of Autoguide)

(Courtesy of Autoguide)

The same thing it said on the engine placards of legends.

(Courtesy of ZCarBlog)

(Courtesy of ZCarBlog)

 

 

Don’t give, up Infinti.

Don’t let the legend die.

 

–Bryan

Listen Up: Festival Music Mix 2016

This is pretty simple, as I’ve always been an enormous fan of good EDM music.

Do yourself a favor and listen to this mix. If it doesn’t put you in a good mood, you might be a zombie.

Pure excellence brought to you by Asa & Tong Apollo.

 

Rigmarole Week 30: Setting Sun

In the early Nineties, while the American auto industry was still dragging it’s way out of the automotive cesspool that was the Seventies and Eighties, the Japanese were hard at work pumping out some of the greatest enthusiast cars ever. Skyline. Supra. RX7. Silvia. Evolution. STI. VR-4. Type-R. GT-Four. GSX. 300ZX. MR2. NSX. These words, letters, and numbers defined an era. A generation of power, performance, and style that could stand against any other in history. Honda, Toyota, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Mazda, and Subaru set the standard for performance in the Nineties. And the legacy of these cars spans well beyond the street. Subaru, Mitsubishi, and Toyota dominated rally racing. Honda won four F1 championships in a row. The Nissan Skyline GT-R owned touring car racing. The Mazda 787B? Well that just speaks for itself. These weren’t just cars, they were icons.

Today however, the Japanese auto industry sings a different tune. Most of those iconic models? Gone. Lost in the quest for the bottom line. Who needs a Supra when the new Prius is “faster than you think?” Want a true FD RX7 successor? How ‘bout a 150 horsepower Miata instead? There has been a paradigm shift across every lineup amongst the Japanese manufacturers. One after the other these mighty names of Nineties fame have fallen. This year brought another victim, the last flare of spirit left in the once great Mitsubishi lineup, the Lancer Evolution.

evos

So what happened? How did these brands go from making some of the best cars to ever put rubber to asphalt to having family sedans and bloated, lifted wagons as flagships? The reasons, I’m sure, are many and varied. So much can happen within an economy and culture, small events and shifts that ripple out well beyond what any would expect, but the best place to start looking for answers is the homeland.

Since the late 80’s, the “Land of the Rising Sun” has more accurately been the “Land of the Stagnant Economy and Aging Population.” Several periods of deflation and lack of GDP growth have haunted Japan for nearly three decades. In this time the culture has become very risk averse, saving rather than spending and always maximizing efficiency. At the same time the birth rates have fallen and the population has aged. Recent estimates put Japan’s over 60 demographic at 33 percent of the total, triple the global average. And as of 2011, the population has started to decline because of the low birth rate and the lack of willingness of the Japanese government to allow immigration. The enthusiasm and excitement that carried over from one of the fastest growing economies in the Eighties into the early Nineties has been replaced by skepticism and inflexibility. Who can blame them? In the early Nineties the Japanese GDP (Gross Domestic Product) was just over $4 trillion USD. Today? It’s just over $4 trillion USD. In the same time period the United States GDP more than doubled from roughly $7 trillion USD to nearly $18 trillion.

Ok, so economic mumbo jumbo aside, what does this mean for the auto industry? Well if you look closely, the pattern of exchanging performance for efficiency in cars has followed the cultural and economic patterns of the last two decades. Adventurous and costly projects like the Supra have been fazed out to make way for more vehicles that can be pumped out and sold by the tens of thousands (read: Camry), and in the case of Mitsubishi, bad financial decisions right before the recession, Daimler/Chrysler pulling out, and endless failures across the lineup for the last decade plus have left them a battered husk. Poor Mitsubishi may be beyond saving (barring a buyout and some serious capital investment), but what about the others? Is there redemption around the corner?

2016 nsx

Well, you have to at least give Honda credit for trying. The new Civic Type R is every Honda fanboy’s wet dream. Turbocharging, VTech, and a ridiculous body kit come together to make the fastest front wheel drive car ever! Only one minor issue, it’s trying to make it’s way in the “super hot hatch” segment with a bunch of All Wheel Drive competition. That makes the Type R a tough sell when you can get a Ford Focus RS for the same money. Then there’s the new NSX (Acura or Honda depending on where in the world you reside), which by all accounts is a great supercar, but it is an NSX in name only. The marvel of engineering, simplicity, and affordability (relatively) has been scrapped in favor of a powerful, expensive computer with wheels. Not a hint of the original left to be seen.

The others? Well, Subaru is running out a new STI with a decade old drivetrain, Nissan has an aging Z and quasi-supercar with a GT-R badge on it, Mazda teases a new rotary every year while supplying mainly 4 cylinder econoboxes (albeit good ones), Toyota refuses to give the GT-86 more power (I guess they’ve already got a “fast” Prius), and Mitsubishi…they’re dying a slow and painful death. Can any of these brands be returned to their former performance glory? Sure. Will they? That remains to be seen.

And what of those Japanese sports cars of the 90’s? Those glorious vehicles long past? Well, there’s a new crop. They’re not exactly the same, but carry the same spirit. High performance, affordability, great styling, the same recipe that gave our favorite JDM their iconic status can still be had today. The badges are just different. And, for the most part, they’re made in America.

-Ryan

ponycamchal

The Rigmarole Week 29: Dodge Viper

Unfortunately, for every automotive enthusiast, there comes a point where we must dedicate a moment of silence to a fallen icon.

Observe the beauty:

1989 Dodge Viper RT/10 Concept

1989 Dodge Viper RT/10 Concept

Nearing the middle of the Automotive Golden Era, ladies and gentlemen, we have to sadly say goodbye to our beloved Dodge (or SRT, or whatever) Viper. Most industry sources say that the current model can’t be modified to incorporate the SRS side curtain airbags that will soon be mandatory, though I have other ideas as to why the project wasn’t financially feasible for the troubled FCA.

Copyright FCA.

Copyright FCA.

To most, it was the poster car of their childhood. I personally had a large poster of the original RT/10 hanging on my wall from the age of six, mostly, because it was the embodiment of every child’s dream car. It was endowed with a monstrous V-10, far larger than any other engine of its time at 8.0 liters of displacement, plus, it looked like something Batman would drive if ordered in jet black. Frequently, I found myself daydreaming about piloting one of them as if I knew the first thing about what was required to drive a car–let alone this car.

dodgevipergts-l-e1d6b79e3a5ea220

Little did I know how much of a ravaging beast it was. Refinement was something entirely alien to this car, but it had never claimed to be any type of softie. It ignored safety, and dawned no airbags. Its frame was mostly tubular (no crumple zones), the engine weighed over 700 pounds, and there was no such thing as ABS. Honestly, the only reason that it had seat belts was due to a federal mandate. Everything else was scrapped.

Bob Lutz definitely had a founding hand in this legendary project.

C’mon, it was so guttural that the first “mass produced” version didn’t have windows. This, my friends, is what we refer to as the best of kind of car, the purist’s car. Its the car that is figuratively nothing more than a steering wheel, four tires, and (in this case) the biggest engine that fits. It is the kind that communicates every vibration, ripple, and road imperfection to your entire body. The thickly bolstered, but thinly padded seats are the kind that make the slipped disks in your back swell and food in your stomach grow bubbly. These are the cars we hang on the wall as children. They’re our saviors, our heroes, the automobiles that are here to stand against society’s crusade for blandness.

Think Lotus Elise.

Think Opel Speedster.

Think Alfa Romeo 4C (one of the greatest cars extant).

Think Ferrari F40 (the greatest car ever made).

Think Dodge Viper.

But, if anything, what these cars share in symbolic dissidence, they also share with growing troubles. Their time in the marketplace is often short and wrought with troublesome sales. Though they may touch our souls and our bridled interests, they suffer from their most prominent achilles heels:

[1] Low production volume.

[2] Low profitability due to low production volume.

[3] High cost due to low profitability and low production volume.

[4] Low practicality due to vehicle design, resulting in niche market viability only, which is both a good and bad thing simultaneously.

Here, we are left with some of the ways that our soon departed Dodge Viper could’ve been saved from oblivion early on. I’m aware that many of you won’t agree with some of these strategies, but that is why you are free to comment and debate. These are short and sweet, so let’s hit the main points.

How the hell could our lord, the Dodge Viper, have been saved?

[1 & 4] Fixing the low production volume and solving the niche market conundrum.

This was undoubtedly the Viper’s most compelling problem.

According to sources at theviperstore.com, there was a total of roughly 31,850 Vipers made since the initial 1992 model. That first model, mind you, consisted of a production run totaling less than 300 cars. The only model year in the first generation that exceeded the 3,000 mark was 1994. The second generation never saw a yearly total over 2,000, where its final tally of 10,422 cars seemed woeful in comparison to its rivals. The third and fourth generations fared even worse (8,190 and 2,427 respectively).

Though many of you would argue that the low production volume was one of the many things that made the Viper special (I can’t refute that), anyone with a business-oriented mindset could also argue that this was the nail in the coffin. Automobiles consume large swaths of money and manpower to develop as well to produce, and if a vehicle isn’t sold in large enough numbers, the bottom line (profit) largely suffers.

The purists will cringe at this, but maybe a better business model could’ve helped?

Imagine, if you will, a Dodge viper that shed its V10 and instead cruised up the road with a modified Magnum V-8 instead. Imagine a Viper with an automatic transmission, ABS, some sound deadening material, and traditional-exit exhaust. Yes, the fanboys would cry at the lost of their supercar-slaying demigod, but could Dodge have sold more this way?

Hypothetical Trims (relative price quotient):

Base ($$) = V8 powered, optional automatic.

  • Generations 1 & 1.5 (1992-2002) could’ve used a modified 5.9 Magnum with perhaps a Corvette-equaling 330-345hp (if that was even possible) and the junk 4-speed auto of the time as an option. At some point, they could’ve used their connections with Diamler to perhaps upgrade that junk transmission to one of the 5G-TRONIC units from the early AMGs.
  • Generation 2 & 2.5 (2003-2010) could’ve used the venerable 5.7 Hemi V8 and the same 5G-TRONIC. Throwing in the 6.1 Hemi for the 2.5 update seems plausible too.

Premium ($$ to $$$) = V8 power, optional automatic with more comfort features.

  • [[Here’s where the purists will definitely scream blasphemy!]]
  • Adding comfort features to the raging beast like, well, sound deadening, softer dampers and springs, along with power windows and locks would’ve been awesome. Later generations could’ve used nifty things like fancier sound systems, upgraded leather trim, etc.

RT-10 ($$$ to $$$$)= V10 power, perhaps no optional automatic, but the comfort features of the V8 Premium stick along.

  • The description is self explanatory. Here is where we start pleasing the purists again!

SRT-10 ($$$$) = V10 power, and all of the crude stuff that made the purist Viper legendary.

ACR ($$$$) = V10 power, basically the big kahuna it is in real life. Let this car and its SRT-10 lesser brother kick the asses of everyone and everything in their paths.

[2 & 3] Fixing the profitability issues.

Sure, the latter generations of the car improved heavily on the spartan first-generation model, but there was still a lot left on the table. Most of the routine safety features found in other automobiles were only added to the Viper by force through federal mandates. Airbags were eventually added in along the way, but standard ABS was absent until 2001. This addition, however, wasn’t due to a federal mandate, but likely in response to a slew of sports car comparison tests lost on account of its relatively punitive braking capabilities. Stability control nannies weren’t put into place until the last generation, where the inclusion of Electronic Stability Control (which relies on a native ABS system) was mandatory after September 1, 2011.

Until 2008, the car largely spent its life getting its ass kicked by the Corvette, which in most upper level trims could deliver 85-90% of the Viper’s performance while retaining its legendary everyday usability. This, in my opinion, is the only way that the Corvette has survived and will continue to survive. General Motors was smart in this regard, letting the lower models pay the bills due to their larger market potential, and then saving the dough for the GS, Z06, and ZR1 halo models. Unfortunately, it would require possibly millions of dollars to retool the factory for the higher production demand, but the ROI on something like that could pay off if the sales numbers increased. Hitting a total production target somewhere near that of the Corvette would be the goal.

While this would obviously have negative effects on the exclusivity of the Dodge Viper, placing a clear emphasis on differentiating trim levels could help to partially alleviate this. After all, isn’t a partially diluted Viper better than no Viper at all?

Conclusion.

Of course, I’m just a normal guy like you, doing his best to rationalize or accept the inevitable. Though I’m merely keyboard-yapping my way through a somewhat preposterous idea, I can’t help but to think that some kind of production and design strategy similar to what I’ve discussed would’ve helped the legend stay with us.

In the automotive world, there are always rumors about hypothetical continuations, resurrections, and unveilings of legendary automobiles. Though I’ve seen a few articles here and there that discuss the potential of a 4th generation Viper sometime in the future, seeing the current state of FCA’s business (hello, SEC investigation) and Sergio’s outright idiotic ramblings and decisions (how does this guy still have a job), the pessimist inside my head won’t count on it. If it did come back, seeing the steepening fines and regulations for CAFE might regulate a new Viper into having some kind of weird turbo four-cylinder hybrid system or something worse.

Until then, we’ll cherish the memories of trying to maintain control of these cars on a digital racetrack in Gran Turismo, reading about them in Motor Trend and Car & Driver, watching videos of heinously fast twin-turbocharged renditions on YouTube, all the while wishing so deeply in our souls that we could actually afford to own one.

If you’re one of the lucky few that can, please do us all a favor, go scoop one of these beasts up before they’re gone.

Rest in peace, our beloved Dodge Viper. Even though we will miss you, you will never be forgotten.

–Bryan

 

 

 

 

New Column: The Rigmarole

We’re all industry aficionados.

We all pay attention to what is happening in our cockamamie world bustling with technology and innovation, where these grand machines and devices that the majority of the population see as mere appliances somehow mean the world to us. They alone are the products of thousands of brilliant minds, engineers, artists, accountants, and executives.

It takes years to design and build a product from scratch.  Sometimes it requires budgets in the billions (or trillions) of dollars, and thousands of man hours–yet somehow, we still encounter countless stories of  companies run astray and ideas that are run into oblivion.

There is nothing worse than greatness gone wasted, where the talents of thoughtful souls find themselves run amok. Surely, anyone can criticize and down talk the work of another person, but can we provide reasonable and viable feedback to better the given situation? Can we be the outside voices here to help our industries and innovative cultures find their way once again?

That is the goal of this new Machscribe column.

Here, in the Rigmarole, we will open up a canvas of discussion where all of our readers can research with us, analyze with us, yearn with us, and together vent our frustrations. We may be mere plebeians, but after all, aren’t we the ones with the buying power?

We the people, let’s set them straight!

–devteam