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.
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.
Unfortunately, for every automotive enthusiast, there comes a point where we must dedicate a moment of silence to a fallen icon.
Observe the beauty:
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.
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.
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:
 Low production volume.
 Low profitability due to low production volume.
 High cost due to low profitability and low production volume.
 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?
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 ($$) = V8 powered, optional automatic.
Premium ($$ to $$$) = V8 power, optional automatic with more comfort features.
RT-10 ($$$ to $$$$)= V10 power, perhaps no optional automatic, but the comfort features of the V8 Premium stick along.
SRT-10 ($$$$) = V10 power, and all of the crude stuff that made the purist Viper legendary.
ACR ($$$$) = 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.
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?
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.
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!
(Image courtesy of Razete Photography)
February 3rd, 2016 was a bad day.
Sadly, the love affair between Ruby and I was extremely short lived.
Nine days elapsed from the time of purchase to the time that I found myself stranded on the side of a public highway, tears in my eyes and regret bubbling within my bowels.
Why the hell did I buy this stupid thing when I already had what was arguably the perfect car? In all of the time that I had spent nearly perfecting a system of yearly tradeoffs, I had defied a plan that I had stuck with for years when I sold my GTO. Oh, no, my lord, what have I done? How did I give up a nearly paid off and wonderful V8 grand touring car as well as a relatively inexpensive daily driver, all for the promise of having something new?
The downward spiral of my car fetish began on January 24, 2015.
I picked up a Hyundai Genesis 5.0 R-spec, and began to want more. When it got hit on Interstate 75, the panic ensued. The years of carrying thousands of dollars of positive equity in my automobiles was destroyed, all because I let my emotions control my automobile purchasing decisions. The accident wiped out nearly six grand worth of equity, proving to make selling what was already a niche-market car even more difficult just to break even. In a rush to purchase its follow-up vehicle, I sold the car under a clause of -$400.
Yes, I paid $400 to sell my damn Hyundai Genesis.
Then, I picked up a 2008 Infiniti G35S. It was literally the perfect car: a wonderful blend of luxury, admirable poise and balance, dashing looks, and surprising speed. Plus, the damn thing only cost $16,000 coupled with the fact that it had a mere 55,000 original miles. Yeah, it was heavenly, but this one day, I got the idea in my head that I needed another race car.
Ruby, my 2013 Ford Mustang GT 5.0, will forever be the best car that I never should’ve bought.
Those were the thoughts that tumbled through my head as I limped the car to my apartment and immediately phoned my boss—who was the only person available to give me a ride back to work. Somehow, during my hooliganism that included a joyful 75% throttle run up Bypass 4, I pushed the clutch pedal, and shifted into 3rd gear, or so I thought. When I released the clutch pedal, the car bucked violently and revved back to 6,000rpm. I freaked, pushed the clutch pedal to the floor, and attempted to abort the run by putting the shifter in neutral gate to regain my composure—only the shifter seemed jammed.
I pulled over into the emergency lane. Nothing I tried was able to free the shifter, necessitating a slow drive home in second gear. To my chagrin, I was now faced with a car that had a broken transmission and a questionable warranty. Awesome.
I’ll save my dealings with the dealership that I purchased the car from, the International Auto Outlet, for a later post. For now, I’ll just summarize by noting that my very expensive, low mileage, bright red 2013 Ford Mustang GT 5.0 was gone for two months. . .
Had it not been for my repeated intervention, it would likely still be sitting in a garage with the transmission still in pieces.
It’s such a good-looking car. I mean, c’mon, you can’t deny it.
(Image courtesy of Razete Photography)
They say that a truly good car is one that you can’t walk from without looking back, and this (like most of my other cars) hits the spot dead center. Versus the archrival Camaro, I have always claimed that this generation Mustang is victorious in the execution of every stylistic detail abound on its body. Regarding the 2013 refresh, I’ll have to say that the taillights are my favorite part.
(Courtesy of Razete Photography)
(Courtesy of Razete Photography)
My only wish it that I had the GT Premium, if only because the package comes with the better looking 19 inch wheels that fill the wheel wells more aggressively than the base 18s. Oh, and please don’t mind my shoddy plastidip job. I plan on correcting it as soon as possible.
Shortly after I got Ruby back from its long stay at the clusterf*ck of dealership doom, someone parked next to me at work wasn’t paying attention and swung their front bumper across mine. I wasn’t there to catch the act in progress, and the security cameras were too grainy to pinpoint key details about the culprit like license plate numbers.
All I know is that the car was some heap of shit Dodge Stratus Coupe that was driven by someone that is no longer employed at my facility. Bummer, but at least it didn’t actually damage the fender. Luckily, the majority of the scuffs came out with some Meguiar’s rubbing compound.
Enough with my sob story of automotive anguish.
You want to hear about the elephant in the room, well, the bright red blocky looking elephant.
In short, it’s been a trying experience, but again, what good is a racecar if it doesn’t test your patience and your boundaries? Didn’t I want a car with more emotion and “soul” versus the largely soulless Hyundai Genesis? I sometimes complain about how it is essentially a base model with zero sound deadening, a cheaply strewn dashboard, and hard plastics galore but—its still a glorious automobile.
So, perhaps I’ve finally found my match made in heaven.
I get in by swinging open a door that weighs every bit of 300 pounds. Parking on a hill worries me because I fear that the hinges might snap at any moment, but closer inspection proves that the steel gage is nearly six to seven millimeters thick, even on the folds. These hinges are truly mighty, but once you realize that shutting the door is equivalent to 10 reps on an exercise machine, it becomes imperative to make sure that all extremities are inside. Yes, I shut the door on my leg once. Yes, I cried.
Then, I fire up the engine. There are no fancy buttons, key fobs, or retina scans here. Ruby, by the blessings of the automotive gods, is endowed with what we old-timers call a key.
Oh, and mine is kind of broken (the lock button doesn’t work, and the unlock counterpart barely works).
Insert the key and crank it. The Coyote V8 is eagerly spun to life with a starter that apparently has the enthusiasm to turn over an aircraft carrier’s steam turbine. Every time it engages, I smile, knowing that there is just something different about this machine. The V8 gurgles and churns more so than my old LS1. The pulses of its firing order shower the thinly insulated cabin with vibrations that make me cringe as it settles down from the cold idle. I watch the tachometer sift below 2500rpm as the dashboard and the entire center console come alive with resonance.
For a moment, I wonder if the car will explode, but alas, it doesn’t.
Ladies and gentlemen, this is how a car is supposed to start.
It isn’t one of those cars that you turn on and forget that you’ve left the engine running. It’ll never try to coddle you and hide its purpose. Plainly put, this is a muscle car, and there is never a waking moment where you catch it lying. The car for the most part is juvenile and rough, and despite a major rebuild, the transmission still sounds as if it’s filled with gravel if lugged at low RPM. The stock shifter is, well, awful, but I was warned. Some genius in Ford’s engineering management was given the task of reducing driveline NVH, so he endowed a poor sap with the task of designing a remote mount shifter, likely with a budget of $75. The result is what is connected to the MT-82—itself known to be troublesome—resembling what is best described as a gear selection rod attached to piano cables. When it is moved, I only feel a vague resemblance of mechanical feedback, and that sensation only grows worse the more aggressively I drive the car.
The problem could be fixed with a $475 MGW shifter, but that leads to another issue.
Well, I tend to find myself entirely unable to drive a car for any period of time without messing with it. No matter what it is, or who makes it, each automobile has its own quirks and weaknesses. As a self-declared enthusiast, my predilection to modify whatever I’m driving eats away at my soul little by little until it caves. I have a lot on my plate right now, so I’m inclined to say no to modifications due to their obvious monetary burden, but I’m sure I’ll find a way to work something in the plans.
Add it to my wishlist:
So, I’ll start this by admitting my partial defeat. See, Mustangs are usually very happy being piloted in straight lines and Ruby is no different. Unfortunately for both of us, the clutch hydraulic system seemed to disagree.
Since my last semester of college chewed up every chilly Friday night of this year’s racing season, I was finally able to worm my way to the drag strip on June 3rd, where I was pleasantly greeted with balmy humidity and 94 degree track temperatures. Noting that I had been having issues with the Mustang’s clutch at high rpm, I had made a few notes on how to contend with these issues while still managing to achieve my goal of a high 12-second 1/4 mile time. According to many sources, this should’ve been perfectly doable with the mostly stock setup.
Oh yeah, getting the transmission repaired under warranty required hard negotiations with International Auto Outlet to remove the majority of performance-enhancing parts like the BBK long tube headers, BBK catless x-pipe, tune, etc. The car is now considerably slower than it was when I bought it, but this is all speaking in relative terms. In short, the engine is still an absolute charm.
However, it enjoys to rev, and because of its relatively low displacement, it needs to rev in order to make its power. With the redline set firmly at 7,000rpm, it is notable of this engine to produce the bulk of its peak power figures in the upper reaches of the rev band. It sounds absolutely glorious up this high, but there’s this one nagging problem where the clutch pedal decides to go on strike, thus setting me up for a chapter of public Mustang embarrassment.
No, I didn’t swerve violently and wreck into a crowd or another automobile, but I did in fact manage to miss shifts in 3 out of the 5 runs that I performed that night. To make matters worse, it seemed at is if every joule of heat that the pressure plate absorbed worsened its ability to even function in a basic sense. I quickly learned that launch rpm was limited to 1,500, or basically what you use for a typical stop light cruise. After bogging the engine, I was forced to wait for it to rev to 6,200rpm (800 short of the redline) before slowly and very carefully selecting the next gear. Considering that the Coyote doesn’t make peak power until 6,500rpm, quite a bit of power was left on the table through each consecutive shift.
In short, the best run was a firstname.lastname@example.org.
For comparison sake, Machscribe, like most other automotive journalists, uses Density Altitude correction as a factor for acceleration times. Considering that every car cannot be tested in the same environment, this calculation is important for determining a baseline.
This leaves us with a relatively comfortable DA corrected time of:
I can live with that, and I’m especially impressed considering the shifting handicap. Now, I have started my research into my line of modifications designed to solve the problem. I started with an American Muscle braided stainless steel clutch hydraulic line, and I will install it next weekend (hopefully) to see if it clears up some of the slop. Also, per the recommendation of my fellow enthusiasts, I will also drop some legitimate DOT4 fluid into the reservoir.
It seems like this warning light illuminates every three days.
Right now, I’m getting a consistent average of:
Like I said in the initial review, it isn’t a Prius, though my stance on the 16 gallon gas tank being too damn small still holds firmly.
At times, I’m torn on what to think about this thing. I notice how impractical, loud, and raucous it is and I pause to reflect on its purpose. Honestly, this is the only way to rationalize what is widely known to be an irrational car.
A Ford Mustang GT 5.0 isn’t the car that makes sense to buy. As originally penned from A Faster Horse, I will definitely agree with the following statement:
You don’t make a rational decision to buy a Mustang, because it is not a rational car. It is, however, a car designed to pry at the heart, thus making the purchase of one based purely on human emotion.
I love it. Through its quirks, and its crudeness, beneath the bodacious curves lies a car that has a soul begging to be driven. I feel as if the car wants me to explore it, to heal it, and to enhance it. Considering that this is just the dawn of a burgeoning long term relationship, I think Ruby and I will have plenty of time to become more acquainted.
Until next time, she’ll sit quietly and soundly in her garage.
At the conclusion of this year’s first semester, I began by noting that “personal reflection, at the core, is one of the most important mental tools for professionals in any industry. It allows us to take a step back and observe our actions, our successes, and our failures—all in the grand effort for self-improvement.” Though this may seem rather cliché and perhaps rudimentary, completing our Miami University Senior Design project has reaffirmed that the basis of this statement holds true to the core.
Group work can be incredibly difficult at times, but its effectiveness can be tailored with proper scheduling and tasking. To me, this was one of the difficult aspects of the project, as we had juggle through our busy schedules (two of the group members work full-time, while we all attend school full-time) as well as find time to utilize the laboratories at Bilstein in order to design and manufacture our prototypes. Admittedly, this project would’ve worked much better if we didn’t have jobs outside of school, but I believe that this aspect of our group dynamic allowed us to walk away from the completed goal as stronger individuals and teammates.
Educationally, as I covered in the first essay, I believe that the majority of our understanding of general engineering concepts has arisen directly from our studies. Though we all share similar stories of how we felt “drawn” to engineering as children, it is very obvious that none of this passion can be effectively used without the proper training and knowledge. This is where the engineering curriculum sheds its light on both our project, and our futures as engineers.
Being able to work beside my teammates Roger Mills and Andrew Hackney, as well as the extremely helpful Bilstein engineers (Nick Holt, specifically) is what carried me through. Eventually, we all used our individual strengths to allow our talents to collectively conquer the goals, though the pains of procrastination and underestimation haunted us along the way. As discussed in the previously, the bulk of the project fell into five major zones of progress: Planning, Mapping, Constructing, Testing, Refining. Considering that each zone played a pivotal piece in the project’s transition into the next, I found it quite predictable that we would find ourselves stuck within the Constructing Zone longer than we thought.
This is where a few of my own personal demons arose, where procrastination and simply underestimating the work required came into play. Though this affected all of us to an extent, I found myself rather relaxed coming out of Winter Break, only to find the stress piling on once we discovered that making these dampers and getting them to fit would be far more difficult than we originally forecast. The last four to five weeks of the project is when everything truly came together, where our already limited free time was used more productively and we entered each team meeting with clear goals and plans to reach them. Seeing my friend Andrew Hackney develop his own ride data testing device was quite amazing (instead of us paying $20,000 to get a Racelogic Vbox), as well as Roger’s management skills and overall knowledge of the processes required to get our dampers into reality.
Without the help of these two, I believe that there is little chance that I could have successfully completed this project alone. My specialties in design and CAD also proved to be highly valuable, as the CAD and FEA models helped us design parts that we realized were critical in a short amount of time with low overhead. Having learned these programs throughout my career in both the job arena and academia, this project—and the haste it required—once again proved that these tools are more than relevant in the real world, especially when time is critical. The other personal faults that I have recognized myself (such as crumbling under stress, procrastination, etc.) owe their deeds to the core of what it is to be human.
More importantly, I find that accepting this aspect of humanness is what enables us to learn, grow, and push forward with our goals. With this said, I would once again like to shower my teammates with every accolade I can offer as well as an insurmountable token of respect. I know, without a doubt, that if I had to do this all over again, there are no two people that I would rather choose as partners.
In my first essay, I closed with the following statement:
“In all, I think we’ve come a long way since the very beginning of our journey in the Mechanical Engineering Technology program at Miami University. With the goals that we’ve set, and the performance that we have displayed thus far, I am very confident that we will be able to achieve our final goal in May.”
Now, standing here ready to complete my collegiate journey and begin a new phase of my life, I’m am nearly without words to explain how proud I am of myself, and everyone taking part in what used to seem like a never-ending struggle to reach the end of the tunnel.
After all that I’ve endured, I realize that I’ve grown so much.
Seeing my colleagues standing beside me with an identical realization suddenly makes the past six years of my life far more worth the scars.
I have but two more weeks to struggle through, and I promise that I’ll make it, but after that. I’m done.
May 14, 2016. 1:30PM.
Okay, I’ll admit it: I go through too many cars.
Though I’ll have to say that my infatuation with the automobile is long-lived and a permanent part of my psyche, I’d have to say that this recent purchase was a little impulsive. I have always had a “thing” for V8 muscle cars, likely due to their obvious endowments of power and glorious rumbling noises, but since the departure with my beloved GTO, my soul has longed for another.
The Genesis, despite its other niceties, simply didn’t measure up. Aside from its expensive looks, feel, and posture, it never stung will with my soul. Obviously, my best bet would’ve been keeping the GTO (which was nearly paid off by then) and driving my old Mazda on a daily basis. Instead, I wanted something new. I wanted something that I wouldn’t spend my money on. I tried to kick the habit, my habit of consistently wanting more from my automobiles than what they are capable of as factory vehicles.
It didn’t last. Though the Genesis went through its trials and tribulations at the hands of an incompetent driver that rear ended it and another car, it served well enough. It was my “top of the world” car. The one that made me feel rich and successful, but then I determined that excess wasn’t needed for this. Touching base with my family and my life, I knew that appearances only went so far. I sold the car and picked up the Infiniti, and though this otherwise excellent automobile served extremely well during its brief stay, I once again dumped it for another affair.
This one, and we’ll call her “Ruby” for the sake of reference, is here to stay for a while. I have run out of “free passes” of equity and I wanted another race car so bad, that I saw one and bought it. This car represents the involuntary end of the struggle. Unless I want to make a bad financial decision, this car is it.
I mean, hot damn, I’ve always been a fan of these things. Back in 2013, I posted this on Facebook:
No, I wasn’t lying. I have always loved these cars. Though I drool and fawn over high-priced exotics like any other schoolboy, the adult version of me has always sought out more attainable rides. Considering that we’re living in the golden age of the automobile, I figured the high-powered muscle cars of the early 2010s were a good choice once their prices dropped from the 30k range. They took everything my GTO represented and simply expanded upon it. So, for a while, my dream car was a 2013 Mustang GT 5.0 with the track pack.
In fact, I actually drove to Dayton with my wife to look at one exactly like the one pictured above, but the dealership was filled with assholes. I have great credit, and my income is definitely sufficient, but that appears to not be enough to deter nonsense. Doing the stealership double-talk isn’t productive, so I drove back to Cincinnati and bought a red one.
I stumbled upon this 2013 example via the internet. I talked to the dealership and negotiated a deal by the following afternoon. Yes, I traded in a car. Yes, I know that is frowned upon. Yes, it is the last time that I ever do that. I drove home in a red Mustang GT 5.0.
Well, a very red one.
But, oh my, isn’t she pretty?
The haunches are pulled tightly into molded creases that exude power. Though the belt line is high, visibility doesn’t suffer nearly as much as its Camaro and Challenger rivals. Luckily, the gigantic A-pillar mirrors include Ford’s nifty blind spot mini-mirrors. If all else fails and the area ahead is clear, just drop to fourth gear and hammer the gas pedal. Within moments, the Mustang is front of anything that was beside it. The base wheels are a bit tiny, and these plastidipped examples will definitely receive a legitimate powdercoat of paint.
To me, I prefer the exterior updates of the 2013 versus the prior version. Mostly, the front a rear views come to mind with the refresh, where standard HID headlamps were applied as well as LED running lamps. The taillights look amazing, and the 1-2-3 sequential turn signal thing is pretty cool, too.
The interior belies nothing at all to write home about. My particular car is a base GT, with little more than basic equipment like cruise control, power windows and locks, as well as the Gen1 Ford SYNC system. The seats are cloth, but they are surprisingly comfortable. I wish I had taken more photos of it for the sake of this post, but I was too enraptured with the exterior.
Who cares about the interior, anyways? This is a racecar.
Yeah, the engine. That’s the primary focus in this section. Everything else kind of wraps around it.
Overall refinement is lacking.
The first thing that hit was me was how crude this car felt versus my previous two.
I hear all kinds of whines, bumps, shivers, and gears. It sounds like a proper basic trim racecar. The engine, a lusty and extremely powerful 5.0 liter 32 valve V8, seems to run with extremely deliberate cylinder pulses at idle and at low load. I mean, seriously, it seems like you can hear and feel the individual cylinders firing in their concert. The Getrag MT-82 is, well, more fitting for a delivery truck than it is in this car. I had gotten a few recommendations for the automatic version, but my compulsive car buying itch wouldn’t allow for any type of patience required to find one. The transmission is clunky and loud, but the gears seem well-matched to the engine’s powerband. Still, I wonder why Ford didn’t use the tried and true Tremec T56 or TR6060.
I’ll swap one in in the near future.
Anyway, this car, with a reasonable 41,000 miles on the odometer, runs like a rocket ship. Paying mind that the tires are the Pirelli PZero Nero A/S that originally came with the car 2 years ago when it was manufactured, I must say that it is extremely difficult to find sufficient traction on the cold and salted pavement. First and second gears are unusable above 50% throttle. Third spins for a few moments until the poor old tires finally get a bite. The clutch provides a leg workout each time it is disengaged, oh, and the pedal sticks to the floor at high RPM.
Still, aside from the traction issues, this car is clearly the fastest car that I’ve ever owned. Unlike my old LS1, the Coyote doesn’t necessarily overwhelm me with low end power due to the obvious displacement difference, but it more than makes up for this with the prominence of its top end. Though I had sworn to the LS series of GM single-cam small blocks, this Ford Coyote engine has made me as giddy as a joyful child with one kick of the tail end and one hearty shove in the back. Oh, and I’m aware that nearly every automotive journalist talks about how a car pulls, but any doubters should be signed up to witness this thing.
I knew the motors were strong, but not this strong. Also, with the plethora of aftermarket modifications, I know that the fun has only begun. Point blank, in terms of straight line performance, I’m sure that this car is more than capable of a quarter mile in the 12 second range. We’ll see when the track opens.
Curvy road evaluation suffered from the same issues that the Genesis did last year. The salted roads and cold pavement play hell on worn out tires, though I can say the body roll is kept surprisingly in check for such a crude brute of a car. The steering (at least after we fixed it at the Ford dealership) is also surprisingly and excellently weighted and communicative. I knew this was when Ford began expressing its ability to make its vehicles handle with poise, but experiencing such an adept control of body motion in a base trim GT was satisfying. Keep in mind that this was purely 6 to 7/10ths driving, mostly because Ruby grew frightening when I pushed her to 8/10ths. Suddenly, the car devolved into terminal and alarmingly severe understeer.
Once I had crossed the double yellow line, AdvanceTrac engaged and attempted to save the day. Honestly, I believe it was more of my driving skill that righted the vehicle course more than the computer, and speaking of the nanny, it’s largely absent. I know that the car encourages the art of hooliganism, but this stability control system is scarily lenient. The driver can practically spin the car 90 degrees before any intervention occurs, and because of this, I have refrained from being an idiot. Fortunately, this allows for rather aggressive driving with the system still on. Usually, I complain about the over-intrusiveness of such systems (like in the Genesis), but this time I’ll verge on saying the opposite.
Suspension wise, it rides like a truck, probably because the rear axle is very similar to one from a truck. Before you dismiss this as a ridiculous complaint, I’ll go ahead and say it:
Brake pedal feel and performance is quite well despite the absence of the Brembo package. Though I would’ve gladly taken one with the upgraded wheels and brakes, I’m definitely sure that this car will more than suffice.
Yeah, it’s not a Prius either. Over the week that I’ve owned the car, I’ve driven it at least 1,100 miles while managing to average roughly 18.0 mpg. This isn’t anything spectacular, but hell, it’s a damn V8 muscle car. Considering the fact that I usually baby it and meander through the streets, I won’t complain too much.
If anything, I just hate that the damn gas tank is so small. 16 gallons is far short of what is needed for a decent cruising range. I filled the car up twice in 48 hours. Oh, and by Sunday night, I used another 1/4 tank.
So far, this car is a hoot. I enjoy the attention it receives (well, not from the police), and the way that it makes me giggle with joy in second gear when it kicks sideways. I never thought of myself as a Mustang owner, but this generation was the one that finally did me in. Considering that this car will sticking around for a while, you’ll read more and more updates regarding my travels and events as time progresses.
All hail the racecar.
Vehicle Class: Automobile
Style: 2-door coupe, grand touring
Manufacturer: Ford Motor Company
Sub-designation: GT 5.0 Base
Curb Weight: ~3,580lbs
Type: Continuously Reciprocating Internal Combustion
Valvetrain: DOHC, Dual & Continuous Cam Phasing (TiVCT)
Displacement: (bore x stroke): 4,951 cc (302 cu in) (92.202 mm × 92.71 mm (3.63 in × 3.65 in))
Compression Ratio: 11.0:1
Fuel Delivery: Electronic Gasoline Port Injection
Horsepower: 420** hp @ 6,500rpm (313 kW) **in stock trim
Torque: 390 ft·lbf @ 4,250rpm (528 N·m) **in stock trim
Type: Constant mesh, single-clutch
Control: Manual, human Control
Input: Single plate dry clutch
Gears: 6 forward, 1 reverse
Driven Wheels: Rear
Differential Type: Helical Limited Slip
First Gear (:1) : 3.66
Second Gear (:1) : 2.43
Third Gear (:1) : 1.69
Fourth Gear (:1) : 1.32
Fifth Gear (:1) : 1.00
Sixth Gear (:1) : 0.65
Final Drive Axle (:1) : 3.31
145mph (speed governor)
Undetermined due to road conditions.
Yes, this is the term that has been overused beyond the point of obsolescence, yet it still has a distinctive ring in our heads. It symbolizes an exuberance of materialistic addition to something that is usually considered commonplace. A house is merely a dwelling suitable for residence, yet a mansion is its luxurious counterpart. No one needs expansive burled hardwood flooring when there are cheaper, more durable, and more easily produced vinyl floor overlays. No one needs a $10,000 chandelier hanging above the dinner table, yet it looks a hell of a lot better than a $25 unit from Walmart.
The idea of having something of a higher class than necessary is a staple point of human existence. In all that we’ve aspired to, and in all that we’ve achieved, it seems as if the human brain is wired to always ask one simple question, “I wonder if I can have more?”
Thus, we finally reach our focus point: the luxury automobile. I imagine that one day, shortly after the unveiling of the Patent Motorwagen in 1886, someone considered throwing in a cushier leather seat, or perhaps, a roof. When the awesome Bertha Benz took it on the world’s first automotive road trip, she installed a slew of upgrades along the way. By the time the Velo and its slew of newly arisen competition rolled around, the thought of a luxury car was well in the works. They had more pizzaz, curb appeal, and features as the technology developed.
An automotive company’s ability to produce a truly desirable luxury car is largely considered to be a staple point of capability. It’s a testament of a firm’s engineering and creative talent, a halo of sorts that tells a story of exuberance and purpose, even if they aren’t cost effective and widely produced. People should be able to immediately identify and assess what the brand is capable of. The point, short of complicated terminology, is to show off.
With that noted, how do you feel about this kind of showing off?
I quite like it. No, I seriously like it.
Luxury cars generally embody this term due to their outrageous expense. In order to develop a halo car that is worthy of the halo prestige, the number one rule is that money must be spent. Most car companies have their comfort zones, where big wigs at the top of the corporate ladder check out Excel spreadsheets and graft their happiness from lofty profit numbers. Plain, cookie cutting econoboxes drive the profits higher due to basic economies of scale, where consumers find themselves coddled just enough for their liking in a car that they can actually afford. Building for the masses makes sense in practically every aspect, as the economies of scale mentioned earlier, generally makes it cheaper for any company to produce a vehicle per unit when more of them are manufactured.
It’s a win-win situation for both the consumer and the manufacturer, which brings us to the point of the luxury car, which is usually manufactured on a far smaller scale due to obvious reasons. Taking a look at the general populace can easily display that it is far easier for the majority to afford a car with a $20,000 MSRP versus one costing $100,000.
Economically speaking, small scale, low volume luxury cars are a huge risk. They don’t sell in large numbers, while they cost an enormous amount of money to develop. Bean counters and bureaucratic mongoloids hate them. Why do you think Cadillac sucked for decades under the notorious pre-bailout GM?
So, we reach Lexus, the ubiquitous high-end arm of Toyota. Birthed in the late 1980s, it quickly became synonymous with “serenity” and “blandness.” Someone in the party of big wigs found this to be a very welcoming and prestigious quality, and they probably weren’t incorrect, but that so happens to depend solely on perspective. I mean, I’m all about reliability, solid structure, serenity, and value, but the “blandness” part falls into the huge grey area of my psyche.
My parents owned a few Lexus vehicles when I was younger, namely a XV20 ES300 and a XV30.5 ES330. Both of them were built with an astonishing amount of quality, plus saying that my parents owned a Lexus was plenty cool, at least until I finally got around to driving the thing. I was merely a half mile in route to my prom date’s house when I nearly fell asleep at the wheel from boredom. Seriously, the car felt like a rolling precision built GE appliance. The seats were comfortable, the woodgrain on the dashboard was real and rich looking, and the Mark Levinson sound system was incredible at playing classical music, but any type of excitement was sternly frowned upon. The drivetrain responded to throttle commands as if there was a line of calm old ladies passing notes to the transmission for a request to downshift. Yes, you read that correctly. In that car, when you pressed the throttle, you made a request to the onboard computer to speed up. Depending on what mood the computer was in at the moment that you filed the request, you either got a response, or nothing happened.
It was the epitome of a boring driving experience. Essentially, a Lexus driver was merely a pawn that piloted a bank vault on wheels. Thousands of people went for that kind of thing, but it appeared to be on the way towards fizzling out. As Lexus’ competitors pressed forward with more daunting and daring design languages, the buyers shifted towards them. In the early 2000s, we were sure that Lexus had all but placed the last nail in the coffin of its German competition. Now, though they are not struggling for sales by any means, Lexus finds itself circling the drain of “has beens.”
Much to the chagrin of the sane souls running the place, they’ve devised a plan to get their workload back on the map of effectiveness.
What’s the first step? Dynamic improvement while maintaining the excellent Lexus quality and reliability.
What’s the second step? A new design language. Lexus introduced the love-it-or-hate-it grille. They obviously became obsessed with polygons. Effectively, they’ve split the automotive fandom population in half regarding these changes. I sit firmly in the half that absolutely loves everything about it.
I like this new vision of Lexus, mostly because they spent the majority of their existence muddling in the utter refusal to take any type of risk whatsoever. They were so placated in the guise of making serene and mundane automobiles, that they were never allowed to tap into their full potential. They were never permitted to delve deeper into the engineering expertise that provided them with their untarnished legacy.
Finally, they see the light, and to show that off to the world, they’ve provided us with a proper flagship.
Let’s just take a look at this thing.
It sits perched on wheels that appear to present an insanely large diameter. Though I am not a resolute fan of the polished “chrome” look, I can appreciate the way that they they are clearly designed to complement the haunches of the body.
And, oh, what a body. . .
Somehow, they’ve managed to undo the sins of the admittedly funky looking Lexus IS series, and the slightly “overweight” looking RC coupes (The RC-F and RC350 F-Sport are quite awesome looking in comparison). I’ve read that great hurdles were overcome during the design phase of this car. The engineers managed to maintain the overall profile of the lowly-slug LFA, you remember, the $375,000 alpha car that finally saw the light of day. . . only after resting dormant for years in stagnation? The fact that they were able to make the LF-FC concept car, and finally produce a production version that is nearly indistinguishable from it speaks wonders.
There are no overtly awkward proportions here. To me, this is a proper Grand Touring coupe, fitted with the necessary elements to beget its proposed $100,000 price tag. Normally, I’d decry such a declaration, but upon closer examination of the sheer detail, craftsmanship, and technology packed into this vehicle, I’ll say “have at it” without hesitation.
It looks like nothing else on the road, and in fact, my excitement upon its release was reminiscent of the days in elementary school where my parents would purchase folders with wild concept cars drawn on the covers. Back then, they were merely figments of some dreaming designer’s imagination. Whenever I asked about the concepts, I was always told that they weren’t real.
The auto companies couldn’t make them. They were only concepts.
Well, now, I have the concept car of my boyhood dreams right in front of me. This.
And in a grace of benevolence, the artistry of the exterior flows cleanly into the interior.
Gone are the typical Lexus signatories from yesteryear. There is no abundance of woodgrain on the dashboard, no pillowy soft seating surfaces, no cassette tape player, and hopefully no scented cabin filter specifically designed to remind you of a dentist office. Here, we have a glimpse of the future, where the only problem I can detest is the random grab handle fixture jutting from the center console and into the dashboard. If I was forced to live with it, I could.
Yet, the gauges have their obviously sporting intentions displayed to us all. The tachometer gets the brunt of the dial gauge duty, yet their fashion is similar to the current designs seen on the IS and RC models. My only quip is that they are fully digital on the LC500.
Something about the mechanically articulating gauges of the IS made my blood boil with admiration. It’s sad to see this absent on the flagship.
Check out that steering wheel. Observe the contours clearly molded to encourage the proper grasp of the wheel during, well, particularly aggressive driving. Lovely shift paddles adorn the sides. I hope they actually command the 10 speed (cringe) automatic transmission to shift, rather than file a request to do so. I still think that 10 gears is way too many, but I’m led to assume that the Lexus powertrain engineers are a bit wiser than I am.
If there is just one faint and sadly unconfirmed hope of mine, it’s that this vehicle will find the success that Lexus needs. As discussed in-depth above, a flagship’s point isn’t to increase profitability through sales. The Germans and Italians know this. Instead, the point is to promote the future of a particular brand, to show the people what it is capable of.
The LFA, no matter how beautiful and audacious that it was, faded into the abyss. Fortunately, it did open up a new era of Lexus ingenuity and passion. The extremely limited numbers did little to elevate industry exposure, but it did prove that Lexus was finally capable of freeing itself from the safety bubble placed by management.
I sincerely hope that the LC500 drives as good as it looks, though it appears to be forthcoming. By the reviews that I’ve read from Motor Trend and their professional driver, Randy Probst, I have reason to believe that my ultimate Lexus fantasy is about to come true.
Ladies and gentlemen, our dear friends at Lexus have finally given us a proper flagship automobile that is truly and absolutely desirable beyond measure. This is the car that we’ve been begging for.
Now, I just hope that this arguably lusty 5.0 liter V8 is sufficiently endowed to push this car into the hearts of those wealthy enough to purchase one.
467bhp sounds awfully tempting, but there is plenty of worry in the automotive community regarding the rather “paltry” 369lb-ft of torque. Either way, if they keep the mass down (which they have so far claimed), it looks like their claims of “sub 4.5 second 0-60mph runs might hold true.
That, my friends, is damn good for a proper luxury car, and a proper flagship.
Long live Lexus, and bravo for unveiling the best car of the NAIAS.
(images courtesy of Lexus and Car and Driver)
Okay, I know it’s been quite some time, and I know that I’ve made some grand promises about this blog.
I’ve failed on pretty much every promise, but I’ll start making excuses now:
 Life is hard.
Yes, it is. I mean, people tell you that over and over again when you’re younger, but you never really understand it until you’re actually head-first and somehow still waist-deep into the muck. Granted, my life isn’t horrible by any stretch, but it’s stressful. Maintaining a decent standard of living, while working full time and going to Engineering School full time is quite the daunting challenge, but I’ve made it work. Sometimes, I just find myself overwhelmed with the desire to sit down and do nothing. During the winter break, I made a slew of plans to get my writing hobby on track, but I’m just going to take this little-by-little.
Plainly, I’m going to man up and take a few minutes out of my day to keep trying at this.
 2015 was the worst year of my life.
It’s pretty self-explanatory. So much happened in 2015 that I can’t even fathom any theory regarding how I made it through, other than the everlasting support of my wife, Ashley. Seriously, I went from feeling like I was on top of the world with my shiny new (well, “new” to me) luxury car cruising to Chicago in February, to standing over the grave of my infant son, who tragically passed away one day after my wife’s birthday. Summarizing the slew of feelings that arose from this event would be like trying to walk on the surface of the sun (which has no surface, and is really hot, anyway). All I can say is that it essentially left us barely hanging onto any type of motivation.
Somehow, we managed to pull ourselves, and each other, through the grief and continue to rather academically outstanding semesters. The brief victory was great, but still, it is safe to say that there is a huge chunk of our souls missing after we lost our boy.
 I’m scared.
Plainly, I’m just terrified. I don’t necessarily know what I’m doing, but I’m just yapping–which is what I assume bloggers and journalists do in regards to their passions. I don’t have any employees, yet, so I’ll continue on by myself for now. Eventually, I’ll conjure up a business model and get the ball rolling, but coming down from the cloud of ambition was a very trying moment for me, too. I’ve always dreamed about having a business where I could sit in a room with some of my dearest colleagues and do what I love, but once I realized how hard it was, I kind of fell off of a cliff. Seeing places like Jalopnik and Buzzfeed are as inspiring and as they are daunting, yet I am well aware that the road to success kind of resembles driving through the caldera of an active volcano in a Fiat 500.
Oh well. I’m not the first person who had a dream of doing what he or she loved. I know that, and I can only sit back and follow by the example of my predecessors that managed to make it happen. If I could only keep my confidence in my writing and creative abilities at a steady level, I presume that this would be a much easier and straight forward task, but alas, I am merely a human being.
It’s all about the struggle to get ahead, right? Right. Since that realization, I’ve discovered that the biggest enemy I have, is my myself. The doubt. The lingering voice that tells me that “no one cares” about what I have to say or write about is the main factor of my dissidence. Don’t worry though, because I’ll continue fighting it. Today is a good day, and as long as I have my confidence, my talent, my family, and my readers, everything will be okay.
Someday at Machscribe, we’ll have people like Chris Harris flying out to Spain to drive new Ferrari models, while simultaneously, we’ll have journalists covering the elections.
Hold me to this new promise:
At least one post per week, starting today, January 17, 2016.
Thanks for listening, and thank you for the support.
Okay, so we’ve heard this debate thousands of times by now, and yet you’re going to hear another one.
Opinions are like assholes, right? We all have them, but that’s what makes us individuals. I won’t shy away from it, and neither should you, dear readers!
For today’s discussion, I’ll start by talking about the “new” 2016 Acura NSX, but before that, I’d like to cover a brief history lesson.
The nameplate, for the majority of my automotive brethren, is sacred. The acronym NSX–”New Sportscar Experimental”–is to the automotive kingdom what the iPhone is to the foundation of modern mobile communication. It symbolizes something far greater than just any plain, off-the-shelf sports car cooked up with a firm’s leftover parts and crazed, if not drunken engineers. This name doesn’t represent something that was half-assed or chopped down by corporate bean cutters, rather it reminds us of what is capable when shear rationality and passion are injected into the core function of a project.
For Honda, this is what the original NSX was. It was their ability to change the way the world viewed high performance sports cars. Thumbing your nose at high-end marques like Ferrari and Lotus was no easy feat, yet it was made so by the one car that nearly defeated them.
(photo courtesy of Jason Tang)
This car was a working embellishment of simplicity and prime engineering, where automotive passion and gumption ruled clearly over all other opposing variables. Considering that the legendary Ayrton Senna played a major role in its chassis development, there is no wonder regarding the lengths that Honda went to in order to achieve their goal. In all, to me–and to a slew of others–this car stands as one of the most sharply identifiable outcomes of what can be done if the determination and willpower run continuously in sync.
To take note that the car was originally designed to target the Ferrari 328–and later 348, all while achieving far superior comfort, reliability, and lower cost, it pales to declare that a simple “mission accomplished” banner be affixed to the peak of its reign as king.
I know, I know, the car was met with widespread acclaim following its release in 1990, where it proceeded to quickly kick the ass of anything within its competitive range. It slayed Corvettes, slaughtered Porsches, downed Ferraris, and practically spelled an end to Lotus. The scope of this car’s influence was a direct result of no one component or performance characteristic, but rather a composition of its entirety as an absolutely wonderful no-frills car.
It shifted an entire paradigm, out of nowhere! Within months of its launch, it became the target of every enemy that still had the power left to fight. This car taught us that we should expect far more from our automobiles than just excellence at once key category. Before this, a car could either go fast, turn well, be comfortable, sip gasoline, or not burden its owner with frequent calls to a tow truck–but a car that could do more than two or three of things at once was considered a unicorn.
Just think about it: at one time, there was a firm a ideology that a car was only capable of doing perhaps a few things greatly. This car changed all of that.
Today, we take advantage of the fact that an average plebian vehicle can be astoundingly dependable, efficient, spacious, comfortable, and good looking–yet at the same time, we can hop into its driver’s seat and post numbers that would flat-out embarrass practically anything just 20 to 30 years ago. This is the world we live in, and while a good majority of you will likely hop into the pedestal and downplay the original NSX for its paltry 270 horsepower 3.0 liter V6 engine, or dinky wheels and tires, or the fact that Honda opted to let the car slowly wither away into obsolescence once its competitors adapted and returned to the ring swinging with new punches–lest we not forget how everything that we have in today’s performance automobiles is a likely a result of the hard lesson learned when the 1990 Honda NSX rolled through the lobby of the Automotive Kingdom, and laid waste to everyone simultaneously.
You guys and gals should really rethink your appreciation for this car, because were it not for Ken Okuyama, Masata Nakano, Sigeru Uehara, Aryton Senna, and the entire development team–your lovely and seemingly all capable sports car, or family sports sedan would likely still be something very similar to the pathetic malaise-era cruisers of yore.
Just take a look (photos courtesy of Jason Tang):
Okay, so I’m done spewing out my obvious opinion that the 1st generation car should very rightfully be exalted into automotive god-status. We all know this, or at least we all should. It’s simply a fact of automotive history, whether you like it it not–which precisely leads me into the following criticisms of the upcoming 2016 model.
Yeah, this thing:
The same car I casually glanced at as I strolled through the fawning crowds at the McCormick Place on Valentine’s Day 2015 during the Chicago Auto Show. Compared to other vehicles recently released at the show, I found the crowd around this thing to be particularly indifferent. Sure, there were the obligatory group of gawking 14-year-old boys anxious to pilot one in a forthcoming edition of Forza Motorsport, but I stood there with a frown on my face–unperturbed by the spec sheet.
I’ll try my best to not even get into the fact that the car (and its current overall design) has been teased to the public since 2008. Yeah, Tony Stark drove one, but I probably shouldn’t mention that I loathed The Avengers.
So, I finally stood in front of the 2016 NSX, in the flesh.
One of my car buddies seemed anxious to see if it changed my opinion to see the car in person.
No. The tune did not change.
Immediately, I found three problems, and all of them stiffened my resolve to largely stand against it.
 It’s ugly.
Yes, I said it. The new NSX is yet another poor victim slain by Honda’s atrocious design bureau that thinks that “beauty” appears to be nothing more than drawing a bunch of lines that randomly intersect each other and otherwise share no common design schema. I know that beauty is purely subjective, but come on!
What happened to the sophisticated, but tasteful styling repertoire that the Gen 1 model used to capture the adoration of everyone?
And then you reach the front. Oh god, what happened to this thing?
It’s like a bad dream that haunts me incessantly. I simply cannot stomach the fact that they took what is arguably one of the best cars in the history of the automobile, used its name and everything that stands behind the name, and somehow came up with this.
There are grilles in random places as well unusual gaps between them, and a weird black panel flanking what I guess is the “main grille” feature of the front. Straddling this geometry on both sides are the characteristically unusual–but steadfastly recognizable headlights that seem to adorn every Acura product that has been hit with the same ugly stick. The designers even included the infamous “duckbill” chrome platypus contraption on the breadth of the snout. Ladies and gentlemen, this is what happens when you actively seek out the ruination of every single good looking car that you once produced. The TL? Done. The TSX? Obliterated. The RL? Destroyed.
Every single Acura car has been ruined by the chrome duckbill. Every. Single. Car.
Oh, the travesty!
 Skynet Syndrome.
So, I read through the features and highlights and tried my best to not fall asleep. Before the car was even released to the hands of the automotive press, I already knew how this thing would turn out. It would be a rolling video game that would feel like a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet with a well-programmed macro–spitting out big numbers as its computers piped in exhaust noise and faked brake feel in an effort to convince you that you were driving something special.
What the hell is this? The original NSX stood by a principle of simplicity. It was, point blank, a sports car that spared no dollar of development to excel at its title. Everything connected to the vehicle’s dynamic controls was honed to a point that every microcosm in the road could be felt through the trembling thick-rimmed steering well, and every gear selection could damn near telegraph the individual teeth of the synchronizers to the hand of a driver choosing 3rd gear from 2nd. In the new one, they’re piping in virtual engine noise to your ears.
How have we fallen this far?
The front wheels have an interesting torque-vectoring system that looks great on a Powerpoint and it without a doubt will likely post up good numbers around Laguna Seca, but I’ve heard that it required the engineers to use the electric motors to dampen the steering from its feedback–or the feedback of anything for that matter–to the point where it feels like you’re driving a Honda Ridgeline. See, if there is one thing that is astutely important about true sports car, it’s the steering. If you can’t feel what’s going on in front of you, what’s the point? Where’s the engagement? Where’s the visceral spine-tingling excitement of wrestling your supercar through a mountain road?
The brake pedal reportedly has no direct connection to the actual system. Instead, a computer pipes in some feedback against your foot. Lame.
Oh, and before I waste time going through driving modes, just know that there is literally a “Quiet Mode” for this car. What the hell?
In short, everything about the driving experience is maintained by the car’s software, which is by no means anything short of a majestic feat–kudos to the developers–but is that really the point here? Everyone has already complained about the Nissan GTR assuming the function of what is essentially a roving arcade game despite its wondrous numbers, but now we have another. Are we watching the beginning of the sport car’s ultimate fate?
Skynet Syndrome is a rapidly growing infection.
 The Powertrain.
A lot like the previously mentioned Skynet Syndrome-afflicted Nissan GTR, the engineers at Honda have decided to equip the new NSX with a twin-turbocharged V6. I mean, I won’t necessarily complain about this, considering that engine itself makes roughly 500bhp without the aid of the electric motors, but the turbo engines that have been released lately seem to be a little lacking of “pizzazz” in the feel department. Sure, you get a nice and broad torque range as you rev it, and you likely see a huge increase of efficiency over something comparable, but this is a damn sports car. It’s about how it feels!
By now, we’ve all watched a slew of videos that allow us to listen to this car as it flies down the road, or track, and it is here that we are left disappointed once again.
Honestly, the car sounds like a Honda Accord V6. Seriously, I used to own one. This is much like how a stock Nissan GTR sounds like a really fast Nissan Maxima. Nothing to truly complain about, yet nothing to really brag about either. My love affair with the new Ford GT ends on the same note, considering that they chose to forego a wonderful Coyote V8 for a Ford Taurus engine.
If you want an example of a high-performance car engine done correctly, see the Shelby GT350 and its flat-plane V8.
The old NSX had one of these things in it:
Yeah, a V6 that revved to 8,000rpm and sounded glorious while doing so.
I know that you get the whole hybrid boost thing in the new one, but I still can’t help but think that Ken Okuyama would’ve done a far better job.
Really, I sit back and try my best to like this car. I truly do. While I’m sure that I would happily drive and keep one for any length of time if given the opportunity, I’m just not sold on the entire package thus far.
It seems too dull to carry on the legacy of what is the NSX nameplate. Though we now find ourselves right within the depths of the Golden Era of the automobile, I can’t help but to grow anxious with the feeling that total automation is quickly encroaching on what used to be the wrought joy of driving. As Skynet Syndrome continues to take more and more mechanical feel away from us enthusiasts, it looks like we can only sit back and watch the onslaught.
As for the NSX, it isn’t what it once was, yet neither is Honda itself. It used to be a company that stood for simplistic innovation that powered the brand past its competitors, yet now it stands as a bloated and confused rendition of its past.
My opinion on the 2016 Acura NSX?