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. 

Project Ruby: Update 1

imagejpe1

(Image courtesy of Razete Photography)

 

Abstract:

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.

Weird.

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.

 

20160203_143754

 

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.

20160219_190220

 

Design:

It’s such a good-looking car. I mean, c’mon, you can’t deny it.

imagejpe_0

(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.

imagejpe_2

(Courtesy of Razete Photography)

imagejpeg

(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.

20160422_155725-1

 

Driving Notes:

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:

MGW pic

 

Performance Numbers:

20160603_181723

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.

20160603_184535

In short, the best run was a 13.215@110.9mph.

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.

 

DA corrected 2

This leaves us with a relatively comfortable DA corrected time of:

12.855@113.428mph.

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.

Efficiency:

20160425_155701

It seems like this warning light illuminates every three days.

Right now, I’m getting a consistent average of:

18.44 mpg

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.

 

Conclusion:

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.

20160326_201028

 

–Bryan

The Eve of Completion

I know, I haven’t posted anything in months.

Yes, I’m still here.

Please, let me explain a little:

 

IMG 5

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.

IMG 4

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.

IMG1

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.

IMG2 R

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.

IMG3

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.

IMG3 R

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.

 

–Bryan

The Driver Mod Review: 2013 Ford Mustang GT

Abstract:

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.

Overview:

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:

SC1

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.

Design:

But, oh my, isn’t she pretty?

 

20160125_165832

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.

20160130_123926

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.

20160125_204127

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.

Dynamics:

20160126_170114

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.

Dammit.

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:

This ain’t no damn Lexus.

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.

Efficiency:

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.

Conclusion:

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.

–Bryan

 

20160130_123859

20160130_103746

20160125_191055

20160126_155045

Vehicle Details:

Categorization
Vehicle Class: Automobile
Style: 2-door coupe, grand touring
Manufacturer: Ford Motor Company
Designation: Mustang
Sub-designation: GT 5.0 Base
Specifications
Length: 188.5in
Width: 73.9in
Height: 55.8in
Wheelbase: 107.1in
Curb Weight: ~3,580lbs
Engine
Type: Continuously Reciprocating Internal Combustion
Layout: V8
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
Transmission
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
Gear Ratio(s):
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

Measured Performance:

Top Speed
145mph (speed governor)
Acceleration

Undetermined due to road conditions.


			

Lexus LC500: The best new car at NAIAS

Overview:

Luxury.

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?

Snip20160117_2

I quite like it. No, I seriously like it.

 

Taking Risks:

Risk.

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?

BEAN COUNTERS!

Snip20160117_3

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.

Elevated Status:

Let’s just take a look at this thing.

Snip20160121_4

Snip20160121_7

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. . .

Snip20160121_5

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.

Snip20160121_6

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.

Snip20160121_9
And in a grace of benevolence, the artistry of the exterior flows cleanly into the interior.

Snip20160121_11

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.

Snip20160121_13

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.

Bummer.

Snip20160121_18

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.

Snip20160121_17

Hopeful Dynamics:

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.

Snip20160121_21

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.

 

 

–Bryan

(images courtesy of Lexus and Car and Driver)

New Goals

To all,

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:

[1] 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.

[2] 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.

[3] 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.

–Bryan

Opinion: 2016 Acura NSX. Pass or Fail?

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.

(Gen 1 NSX) 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.

This:

6020556909_cd2386d9c6_o

(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):

6005600426_5bfbe804b7_o

6005600956_82b425bfa6_o

6005601030_210e77b56d_o

 

(Gen 2 NSX) Overview:

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:

10987404_10203985184205110_6132920755198282651_n

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.

NSX facebook

 

No. The tune did not change.

Immediately, I found three problems, and all of them stiffened my resolve to largely stand against it.

[1] 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?

The side profile is by far the best view of the car, but even still, why so many lines?!  2016-Acura-NSX-side-profile

And then you reach the front. Oh god, what happened to this thing?

2016-Acura-NSX-nose-on

 

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!

[2] 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.

[3] 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:

6005601030_210e77b56d_o

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.

Opinion Summary:

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?

 

FAIL

 

 

–Bryan

 

Major Lazer, MO, & DJ Snake? They Bring Happiness With “Lean On”

I love EDM. Seriously.

So, yeah, this video honestly makes me want to mystically travel the world and immerse myself into the beauty of other cultures. The song, no matter how simplistic and lyrically uncomplicated it is, makes me happy. It makes me want to dance, and I’m a guy that doesn’t dance—at all. Fortunately, neither can MO, but she doesn’t care. None of them do. Maybe I shouldn’t.

sc66

 

sc63

Hell, I can’t even write and blog on a regular basis, but uplifting music like this makes life a little easier to bear. For some reason, it reminds me about the things I have instead of the admittedly trivial things that I don’t. I have my partner in life to lean on, and that is what counts. Now, I sit here and watch the video, silently admiring how MO, the Major Lazer crew, and their friends in India have a good time.

sc64

I love the colors. I love the culture. I love the entire experience.

sc65

It makes me dream, and it takes my imagination back to where it was when I was a child. I could think of anything, and now that I feel empowered, maybe I’ll tackle a few lasting obstacles in my novels.

To me, in a society filled with negativity, the little things like this reassure the real depth of humanity. We have a universal language no matter our locale on the globe. A good time is a good time, and fun is fun, no matter where you are.

 

Be happy, my friends. We all need someone to lean on. Why not look to each other?

 

–Bryan

DM Review: 2012 Hyundai Genesis 5.0 R-Spec

 

The Driver Mod Review: Episode One

 

10968574_10203984157459442_672535734470639700_n

Written: 14 February 2015             Author: Bryan Williams

 

Abstract:

Luxury barges have always been an underlying piece of my automotive desire. Sure, wild sports cars, and purist machines will never fade from my psyche, but there is a particular poise wrapped within a high-performance luxury car that seals the deal. Life has been a continually evolving process for me, and though my love for cars has never abated, the income required to own truly nice vehicles was the number one limiting factor keeping me out of this automotive category.

The same can be said for vehicle manufacturers, as luxury cars require significant investments in engineering and development in order to be taken seriously in the market. Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Audi had their rankings in this arena for the better part of one century, but the newcomers from Toyota and their Lexus division proved that with significant ambition and determination, even the “underdogs” can push through the paradigm to scare the bigger children on the block. Sure, Honda and Nissan have played their hands with Acura and Infiniti, but those brands seem to lack coherent goals and design capstones to truly push them forward. To me, and many others, they are considered to be “secondary” luxury brands, often opting to simply rebrand their economy cars with some softer leather seats and fancy headlights before calling it a day. I can cut Nissan/Infiniti some slack here, where they have largely focused on platforms and drivetrains entirely different from their Nissan counterparts, but not Honda. Now in their darkest days, I find it sad that a loaded Honda Accord represents a much better luxury value than any of their Accord-based “luxury” vehicles (this being said without ranting about their hideousness).

Sometimes, the risk taken to expand into the luxury arena doesn’t work out as planned, yet and still, the newest player is not from Japan, but from South Korea. Yeah, they’ve tried a few lackluster attempts, with the old XG300/350, first generation Azera, and touted up old Sonatas, but the Genesis represented a new leap for the company. Out of nowhere, they had developed their own in-house V8 dubbed the “Tau” engine (a personal favorite name for me), which they installed inside of a new in-house sedan with rear-wheel-drive.

My mind was blown. I figured, that despite all they had done within one decade of advancement (has anyone seen a late 90s Elantra?), it would still be a junk heap and the brunt of everyone’s automotive jokes, but that wasn’t the case. Soon, I discovered that everyone would be proven wrong. When they were released in 2008, they were met with widespread acclaim. Being a huge fan of automotive editorials, I signed on to read every review. To my surprise, the quality was top-notch, the overall refinement was equal, and the value point (which Hyundai had always sold itself on) was undeniable. It won the 2009 North American Car of the Year award, and even the pretentious assholes at Consumer Reports ranked it as a “Top Rated Upscale Sedan” in the same year. This only covers two out of the many allocates given to the car, but the reception was overwhelmingly positive.

So it was an overall win, though the Genesis wasn’t without flaws.

Interestingly, though Hyundai had spent $533 million dollars to develop the car, it has—to this day—been steadfastly resistant to create an actual luxury brand. While it may not have been too much of a problem in its home market, in the United States, image caches are nearly as valuable as the car itself, and telling your friends that you drove a $50,000 Hyundai would queue quizzical stares—at least until you showed them the car, or let them drive it. Perhaps it was an element designed to attack Hyundai’s image qualities on two fronts, both in capability and in quality—so if that was really the case, it has largely worked. I honestly figured that they wouldn’t be able to sell these things, but I was wrong. There were apparently thousands of people who thought they represented a great value, and when the dealerships presented the option of getting the italicized ‘H’ replaced with the Genesis wing emblem, it made the proposition even more attractive. Car and Driver even tested one and piled 100,000 miles on it as a quality test—and it didn’t burn to the ground. The doors never fell off. The engine never threw its innards through the block.

Everyone was shocked.

Then, an onrush of enthusiasts like me took over the onslaught. Though it was marketed as a “luxury sports sedan,” many chided the car for not living up to the “sport” side of the offer, with its cushy and floaty suspension and lifeless steering. What made for a wonderful highway ride, did little justice on a curvy road. It was a clear shot across the bow of the Lexus frigate, and obviously not meant to scare anyone at BMW. Not a bad thing, mind you—since 95% of drivers never exceed the speed limit, especially on a curvy road—but still somewhat annoying for the 5% that considered the car’s value, yet wanted some performance to back it.

Hyundai figured 375hp 4.6 liter V8 had more than enough power for sporting intentions, but apparently the complaints of floatiness didn’t fall on deaf ears, as their response came in 2011 with the R-Spec. Marketed as a 2012 model, the R-Spec bowed in as a loaded top-notch Genesis with some suspension tuning, visual updates, ‘R-Spec’ badges, bigger wheels, and—most importantly, a bigger V8 that was good for 429bhp. So, I patiently awaited the reviews, and I read about how the fixes largely cleaned up the car’s faults, but it was no track star. Many felt that ‘R-Spec’ badging may have been too overzealous, as a simple sport package would’ve been more viable in such a situation.

Still, at $49,500 on the market, it represented an appalling value when cross shopping luxury sedans with comparable powertrains, layouts, and space. Hyundai shrugged its shoulders and kept selling cars. I quite frankly didn’t blame them, though I still largely dismissed the car as being a ‘good try’ instead of a true success.

Then, I did the unthinkable.

I bought one.

10523568_10203837548874319_4972335698618851768_n

Overview:

Okay, so it isn’t new, but it’s pretty close.

It was a one-owner, no accidents vehicle, meticulously serviced and maintained. My friend was actually looking at a Cadillac CTS-V (out of my price range) when I happened to notice the Hyundai parked next to it. Curiously, I drove the car, and I fell in love with it. As I covered before, luxury barges had chiseled a soft spot into my automotive soul, but I refused to contend with one unless it had enough to keep me satisfied as an only car. At the time, I had two vehicles, my beloved ‘racecar’ Pontiac GTO 5.7, and my ‘daily driver’ Mazda 6 V6. I stood firmly on the grounds of keeping both cars unless I could find a vehicle capable of legitimately replacing both.

And there it was, sitting in front of me, its Black Noir Pearl paint glistening in the winter sunset on a Sunday evening. I drove it and liked the sweet, but admittedly short experience, and sent a picture of the car to my wife. She actually liked it. Then I sat at home and figured out that I could actually afford the car, as its monthly payments wound up being equivalent to that of my two cars combined. Here, I found myself stuck in the purgatory of cardom—the point where both my primary and secondary vehicles were fighting old age, and losing, thus placing lasting holes into my pockets. I wasn’t rich. I was a dude simply trying to work his way through college while making his own living. I loved my racecar GTO so much that I wrote a series of books in which it starred as a main plot device—but I didn’t have the means and willpower to keep bolting replacement parts to the damn thing. My Mazda was a decent ride itself, but possessed the performance of a late model 4-cylinder Accord, with the fuel economy of the decade-old V6 that it was.

Negotiations ensued.

A ricer stopped me and offered to buy my car, ultimately resulting in hours of anxiety, lost sleep, and a teary-eyed departure from the dealership, where I, wait for it—drove home (well, actually to a terribly sad funeral) in a shiny black Hyundai.

9004_10203867244336687_7365640301747648690_n

 

It felt like I had sold my soul. There, in the mirror, was the last glimpse of my pride and joy, my GTO, the car that I promised to never sell. Most people wouldn’t understand such heartache, but it was definitely a trying moment for me. It was time to face the facts that things weren’t going to get any cheaper, and with repair bills piling up and my lust for expensive modifications continuously floundering my project budget, I reached a point where change was necessary.

I needed a car that could do everything that I wanted. It needed to be smooth. It needed to look good. It needed to be as powerful, or more powerful than the GTO, yet simultaneously offer similar fuel economy to the Mazda. In theory, such a vehicle would incur higher basic operating costs, but at the same time, I’d be less inclined to touch it, so I could focus on other things like saving for a house and travelling.

Options were slim, but the surprise came from Hyundai Motor Company.

Who would’ve guessed?

 

Design:

I’m a huge fan of understated cars, mostly because they tend to be more quietly appealing to the eyes and less offensive in most cases. Judging by my history of rather unassuming vehicles, I’d say that this has been a running trend since the beginning of time. I’ve always liked tasteful cars, ‘Q-ships’ as they call them, or ‘sleepers’ in ricer speak.

In regards to the Hyundai, the trend definitely continues. Looking at the car arouses no clear emotion of wondrous adoration, but at the same time, you don’t hate it. It’s not the sharpest looking car on the road, but then again, it’s pleasantly handsome. Usually, Hyundai has a bad habit of ‘overstyling’ their cars (cough, cough, Veloster and Genesis Coupe), but this one seems to be one of their most coherent designs. It looks like an actual luxury car and less of an imitation of such claims, with its cleanly applied chrome accents (I’m usually not a fan of chrome) that line the bottom of the doors, and accentuate the trunk and rear bumper—though the later parts represent a broken line of continuity with each other. The upgraded LED tail lamps are nothing too special, but they do the job, all while looking better than the previous units. The headlamps acquired their own, quite neat looking, blue LED wave construct spanning the width of the lens—giving it an appearance akin to blowing in the wind.

 

11204978_10204463065631847_2520101882243173659_n

A slightly different front bumper and more aggressive side skirts further compliment the package, and though the majority of these items were included on all Genesis models in the 2012 model year, I feel as if the enhancements look best with the R-Spec’s 19 inch wheels. Lesser models do with 17 and 18 inch versions that look rather out of place with the rest of the body, not too much unlike the situation with Lexus’ own LS series. Interestingly, there is no front badge on the car, as if Hyundai wanted people to look and beg for an answer. On a recent trip to Chicago, we proved this theory when an errant BMW X5 driver went out of his way to repeatedly check for a hood badge. Reverse psychology, anyone? The trunk contends with a wing emblem, and no, it looks nothing like a Chrysler equivalent, though many are quick to make the comparison (many manufacturers use similar badges: Mini, Bentley, Chrysler, etc.). The exhaust outlets are integrated into the bumper with their own chrome rings.

I’m not sure how I feel about them.

Overall, it brings the impression of expensive modesty—something that I don’t find to be a bad quality.

11150881_10204325106342951_8860777834534691937_n

The interior follows the same approach, with soft, lush smelling leather abound at your fingertips. Stylistically, it’s rather bland, but again tasteful all at once. Not wanting to overdo it with tacky fake wood (thank god), Hyundai instead gifted the car with a more subtle treatment of blackened plastic panels with glossy overlays. Despite sounding rather cheap, go take a look at the standard wood grain in a Lexus GS350 and tell me that it doesn’t share a resemblance to the fiberboard furniture available for $30 at Walmart. The dashboard is covered in one piece of leather strewn over the expanse, and I quite like it.

10369919_10203867798630544_6536045542531725122_n

The vents feel high quality, and so do their controllers. Aluminum panels pick up the remaining slack of accentuation, surrounding the ubiquitous in-dash infotainment screen, shifter, disc insert, and control console. Only the big panel on the center console brings questionable critiquing, while the rest more than does the job.

20150128_155313

 

20150421_183849

 

20150421_183832

20150128_155321

One of my friends expressed his distaste for the simplicity of the instrument panel—it is flanked purely by white LEDs—but I digress that it is simple, functional, and of sufficient quality to live up to its promises. In my opinion, basic luxury car buyers tend to want to know basic things like how fast their vehicle is traveling, how fast its engine is spinning, how much gasoline they have left, and whether or not their engine is overheating. They don’t need ricer graphics with animated cartoons running around on LCD screens—but a subtle ‘R-Spec’ badge wouldn’t have been out of place.

10440282_10204053393270294_4418521939023391704_n

Oh well.

Perhaps I have a bad bias considering my relative inexperience with luxury cars, but after coming from a 2006 Mazda, and a 2004 GTO, the inside of this car feels like I’m on another planet. This a huge win in my book, as it easily feels like I’m inside of what was originally a $50,000 vehicle. Though I haven’t spent much time with it, my biggest gripe is the stupid infotainment system. It’s honestly pretty intuitive for first-time users, but I won’t touch the navigation system with a ten-foot pole. Without the screen having touch functionality, I’m forced to use the twirling knob on the control panel, making address entries far more tedious than simply typing them into my phone. Google Maps wins this battle by far, but I sometimes put the GPS map on the screen—because luxury car.

The trunk is huge, which is perfect for my future road trip to Florida with my wife later this year. (Update: I wound up not taking the Genesis on this trip due to the fact that it had been crashed into and the vehicle wasn’t fixed in time)

Dynamics:

Here is where the difficult part of the equation arises. Have they done a good job with buttoning down the cloud-like sensations present in its non-tuned stable mates? Well, in short, and despite you not wanting to hear this—I don’t know. Why is that? Well, it’s largely to do with the current weather conditions among other factors. Lately, in southern Ohio’s late January, we’ve had a good amount of ‘nuisance’ precipitation, requiring hundreds of tons of salt treatment to be dumped onto the roads. The first noticeable thing about the car is that its OEM Continental tires aren’t privy to these conditions, as there seems to be more than adequate body control, yet very little real traction on the road surfaces.

The suspension is largely complaint, but it can get a bit grimy on certain patchy stretches of road that a Lexus or, say, a Bentley might dispose of without undue drama. With this said, the ride it still comfortably pleasant, with long highway stretches and around-town cruises happening with the gleeful gloom of tranquility—a trait that is both awesome and dreadful all at once. It’s part of the underlying magnificence of a true luxury sedan, the hidden factoid that reveals the ability to make your drive as quiet, smooth, and lifeless as possible. Leaving work after a stressful day has never been better, yet corner carving might be reserved to duties for a future racecar. Steering is accurate, though precariously weighted and numb in typical luxury barge fashion. It isn’t at all bad, but at the same time, it isn’t at all good.

Though I do hope that this opinion abates itself once road conditions improve, I will say that 6/10ths driving is excellent, but anything beyond 8/10ths results in a flashing ESC light, evidence of a nagging and overzealous stability control system that cannot be fully disabled, no matter how long the button is held. Sharp steering inputs are met with resolute understeer—and a blinking ESC light. Sharp throttle inputs at speeds lower than 60mph are met with wheel spin, tail-wagging, and you guessed it—a blinking ESC light. Sometimes, the intervention is so severe that it snaps your head with a blatant protest. Annoying. The Continental ContiSport Contact tires appear to be original equipment pieces with about 45% of their life left, making overall judgment purely subjective (Note: these have since been upgraded to Yokohama Advan Sport A/S tires) . Now that we’ve had a share of rather paralyzing winter storms, I’ve determined that this big sedan is largely useless in any major snowfall above two inches without winter tires.

(RECENT UPDATE: The handling of the car improved as the weather warmed up. A heart-pounding romp through Kentucky back roads revealed a car that overall wasn’t too horrible at dancing. The size and mass of the car are blatantly obvious however in anything over 8/10ths, though understeer fails to significantly register until the very upper edge of the limit. I wish that the steering ratio was a bit shorter, but that would make the sedan twitchy on the highway. Body control is still a little flabby at times, but again, this is a luxury sedan, not a BMW M5.)

So, with traction issues precluding any type of low speed acceleration measurements, it is relevant to point out that the V8 is awfully potent at highway speeds—and above. After growing used to the expansive midrange behavior pushrod V8 engines from General Motors exhibit, feeling the Hyundai’s engine pull strongly to the redline was something precariously absent in my old LS1. Either way, the technologically advanced DOHC V8 is absolutely velvety and a wrought joy to redline. It isn’t without recourse, however, as some oddities arise with enough experience. Cars with expansive electronic nannies are a new realm for me as an owner, but something feels a little off at times with this car. It’s as if there is some type of torque management programmed into the engine control logic, sometimes unleashing more power than it does at other times.

250342_10204165082662459_3424547222690735823_n

The biggest letdown is the eight-speed transmission. Despite having a hogwash ‘adaptive logic’ programmed into its brain, the unit is rather sluggish and dimwitted—especially if caught in ‘dead zones’ of the gearing. During passing situations, it wastes time by outright refusing to select lower gears until the last minute, a point where the car startlingly shoots forward, prompting wheel spin and the blinking ESC light all the while. Manual mode is rather slow, but it at least attempts to rev-match downshifts, though upshift prompts are delayed. It shifts automatically at redline, anyway, so any type of high speed joy riding could still be left to the computer. Unless furious back road rummaging is on the palate, leaving the transmission in ‘D’ is adequate. Sadly, there are no paddle shifters present. Eight gears are too many, might I also add, though a few select companies disagree and are actively preparing 10-speed units. Maybe if it chose gears better, my opinion would be different.

(RECENT UPDATE: In general, my personal experience with the car over the past few months has resulted in a ‘mixed-bag’ opinion on the drivetrain. At times, usually in cold temperatures, the transmission shifts with a jerk that can be clearly felt by a picky driver. It is usually prominent on the 1-2 shift, but still irregular enough to point to a mechanical mishap. Sometimes, downshifts are slurred and abrupt, but the unit never slips. It’s as if a bad calibration was programmed from the factory and has yet to be fully rectified—and the issue was so pronounced that the car was taken to a dealership and reflashed under warranty, largely reducing the frequency of the problem. Subsequent visits resulted in no concrete diagnosis, as the sloppy shifting is so irregular that the car put on its best act when in front of the service technician. The engine is smooth enough for its designation, but there are some slight hiccups that I feel Hyundai needs to address on a car in this class. Perhaps it has with the newest generation, but I have yet to drive one. Full throttle shifts in 1st and 2nd gears never touch the redline for some odd reason, meaning that the engine never makes 429bhp until the shift to 4th gear at 90mph. The torque limiter in 1st gear makes the car feel like it’s running at 3/4 throttle instead of 100%. Annoying.)

Excellent news comes from the braking system, where large 13.6inch diameter front rotors are clamped by a pair of 4-piston upsized rotors. Braking power is more than sufficient despite some muddiness in the first inch or so of pedal travel, and they remain fade free even during some slightly illegal situations where the car was required to slow down from 120mph—or more. An interesting note includes some apparent assistance from the transmission when slowing to stop, as the driver frequently experiences more braking force than requested—though it could be something computer related, for all I know.

 

Efficiency:

This topic is a mixed bag. With extensive cold start warm ups in Cincinnati’s -4 degree weather, fuel economy averages haven’t necessarily been pretty. Before the barrage of late winter snow was dumped upon us, however, there were three fill ups where the car happily average 19-20mpg in mixed driving. A highway trip to Chicago and back with four souls and their luggage on board  resulted in an average 22.8mpg. I expect to see a slightly better result during the two person trip to Florida, though this is heavily dependent on how many STIs or BMW M3s I see on the way down and back. To me, this is something that has to be largely forgiven, as this car is—after all—a large and lavish luxury sedan with a 5.0 liter V8 under the hood.

It’ll never be a Prius, but I will admit that the result seen thus far aren’t bad by any means. It’s a hair better than my old GTO, which itself would struggle to maintain an 18.0mpg average unless I was frugal with the throttle—a very difficult task considering the glorious noises made by its old-fashioned engine. Though Hyundai notes that the engine can run happily enough on 87 octane fuel, I’ve never tortured it enough to actually fill it with regular. It only drinks 93, because it’s a luxury car, and I figure that treating it that way will be beneficial in the long run.

(RECENT UPDATE: As the weather warmed and the long engine warm ups ceased, fuel economy leveled out at 19.7mpg mixed. During back road romps in the hills of NKY, I saw the number drop as low as 12.8. Yikes.)

 

Conclusion:

To me, the Genesis kind of feels like a mixed bag of delicious treats. It is a car that wholeheartedly gives a stellar effort to coddle and impress, and while the car largely succeeds in this area, there are a few let downs that are hard to get past. Perhaps my gearhead bias has clouded my judgement, but I feel as if the “R-Spec” nomenclature should’ve added more pizzazz to the vehicle than it does. It’s one of my biggest frustrations when it comes to automobiles—to see A-grade engineering and design get spoiled by a few knotty details—but I still like the car overall.

Sure, the transmission is sluggish and dimwitted when it comes to downshifting for passing maneuvers, but the majority of the owners don’t mind that. Would it help the car to give it some more life? Hell yes.

Sure, the engine is never allowed to produce full power until third gear, where it really begins to sing, but the majority of the owners don’t do standing start drag races. Would it help the car to unlock its full potential? Hell yes. Considering that it put down a 13.58 quarter mile with all of the electronic nannies still restricting it, I’d stretch to say that the car could at least do a high 12 second time if it was allowed to.

Sure, the suspension could be a little fancier, but sometimes simplicity reigns. In this case, it’s largely true. There is no overly complex electro-hydraulic or pneumatic system to worry about failing.

The car fulfills its purpose as a luxury grand touring sedan, with plenty of power from a smooth V8, loads of space, a handsome design, and enough curb appeal to pique the interests of bystanders that are curious to know exactly what it is.

Too bad when you respond, you have to casually admit: “It’s a Hyundai.”

They usually respond with: “Oh.”

Bummer. At least you feel rich while driving it.

 

10940583_10203881355489457_2713452264352666903_n

 

10959403_10203981716758426_3861007918797603333_n

 

 

Vehicle Details:

Categorization
Vehicle Class: Automobile
Style: 4-door saloon
Manufacturer: Hyundai Motor Company
Designation: Genesis
Sub-designation: 5.0 R-Spec
Specifications
Length: 196.3in
Width: 74.4in
Height: 58.3in
Wheelbase: 115.6in
Curb Weight: 4,334lbs
Engine
Type: Continuously Reciprocating Internal Combustion
Layout: V8
Valvetrain: DOHC, Dual-Continuous variable valve timing (D-CVVT)
Displacement: (bore x stroke): 5,038 cc (307.4 cu in) (96.0 mm × 87.0 mm (3.78 in × 3.43 in))
Compression Ratio: 11.5:1
Fuel Delivery: Electronic Gasoline Direct Injection
Horsepower: 429 hp @ 6,400rpm (320 kW)
Torque: 376 ft·lbf @ 5,000rpm (510 N·m)
Transmission
Type: Planetary Gear, multi-clutch
Control: Automatic, Electronic Control
Input: Automatically-locked torque convertor
Gears: 8 forward, 1 reverse
Driven Wheels: Rear
Differential Type: Helical Limited Slip
Gear Ratio(s):
First Gear (:1) : 3.80
Second Gear (:1) : 2.47
Third Gear (:1) : 1.61
Fourth Gear (:1) : 1.18
Fifth Gear (:1) : 1.00
Sixth Gear (:1) : 0.83
Seventh Gear (:1) : 0.65
Eighth Gear (:1) : 0.57
Final Drive Axle (:1) : 3.54

Measured Performance:

Top Speed
150mph (speed governor)

 

Acceleration

Time to Distance (seconds):

60ft – 2.13 
330ft – 5.85
660ft (1/8 mile) – 8.87 @ 82mph
1000ft – 11.41
1320ft (1/4 mile) – 13.58 @ 106mph
Time to Speed (seconds)
30mph – 1.8
40mph – 2.7
50mph – 3.7
60mph – 4.8
70mph – 6.2
80mph – 7.9
90mph -  9.7
100mph – 11.8

 

 

 

 

/drivermod episode 1

 

 

 

 

Lincoln Is Back?

Question:

 

What is the first thing that comes to mind when someone mentions the word “Lincoln”?

A city in Nebraska? No.

A famous US President that was shot and killed by some guy with the last name Booth? Likely.

In reflection, it’s a truly sad and tragic ending to what was one of the greatest Presidents in history, but it’s his history that reminds us of our progress and unity. Lincoln took the reigns at a time when the country literally split itself in half, nearly damning itself from existence over a set of key issues that seem trivial and outrageous today, but alas, times change.

People grow and move on. Society molds itself through this force of change, and with it, comes our hearts.

Abraham Lincoln will never be forgotten, though he’d likely be spotted rolling around in his grave if he took a look at his namesake automotive brand. Once seen as the staple of American luxury and performance, the Lincoln branch of the Ford Motor Company excelled in the production of high-end vehicles that were known to be monumentally and radically different from their competition. The K-series of the the 1930s pushed the brand forward into the niche playing field of wealth and overkill, but proof was found in the success of the Zephyr and its spawn, the famous Continental. It quickly became the most expensive vehicle produced in the United States, where it held this title with an honor of grace and wrought poise.

To me, the Continental Mark II of the late 1950s stands as one of the most beautifully designed American cars of all time.

bold ride continental markii

Beauty. Pure beauty, but as with any other auto company in the home of the brave, Lincoln soon found itself circling the drain of abyss. Stifled by the malaise-era, the brand lost its flair, and the flagship Continental lost its suicide doors, artsy design protocol, and craftsmanship.

It turned into a bloated and absolutely pathetic Ford Crown Victoria with a body-kit. As the Continental’s place was succeeded by the Town Car (which began as a version of the Continental), it wore away into this monstrosity, commonly spotted collecting dust in your grandmother’s garage:

1280px-1995-1997_Lincoln_Continental_--_11-26-2011

WTF. What is that thing? How the hell does something like that make it past conceptual form? How did the design team not get fired when they  presented the drawings?

Either way, it happened, and Lincoln nearly saw its death because of it. They tried to recover in the early 2000s with the admittedly somewhat-cool Lincoln LS, with its rear-wheel-drive and tiny V8 engine, but they canned that car and replaced it with more jazzed-up mainstream Fords with fancy paint.

The current MKS, Z, X, T, C, and whatever the hell else they’ve come up with are better left plummeting from a cargo plane into the ocean.

 

And then, as the resurgence of the American Automotive Consortium continues, we were given this:

2016 continental 1

2016 continental 2

2016 continental 3

2016 continental 4

2016 continental 5

2016 continental 6

 

Are you still thinking about the elderly souls solemnly puttering around American highways and residential roads–usually 10 to 20mph below the speed limit in their Town Cars?

STOP.

Just look at it. Look!

The LED flanking on the headlamps, the backlit Lincoln emblem, the detail work of the grille’s emboss, the electronically-tinted sunroof, the turbine wheels that look CNC-chiseled.

Details. The original versions were all about the details, and my god, have they nailed it once again.

The interior follows the same suit:

2016 continental 13

2016 continental 10

2016 continental 11

2016 continental 14

2016 continental 16

The chrome accenting on the dashboard looks like it was hand polished. The fold out tray for rear passengers looks like something out of a Star Trek movie. The form-fitting seats seem to be personally beckoning for my hind parts to grace their cushions. It looks so comfortable in there. It looks so outrageously gorgeous that I find it hard to praise it enough.

Who needs a Bentley when you can have a Lincoln? Okay, I won’t go TOO far, but you see where this is headed.

This is the first time in decades that we’ve seen a dashingly different and paradigm-shifting concept from Lincoln. Though this vehicle is still only a 90% kind of pre-production concept, I hope that the majority of this design will make it through the production ringer and bean counters.

But alas, there are letdowns:
While I hoped for a RWD, Coyote V8-powered luxury saloon, judging from the information that I’ve gathered, it appears to still be based upon one of the Ford’s ubiquitous FWD platforms (the CD4 to be specific). It’s safe to assume that the EcoBoost V6 engines will persist, too. Hell, they even put one of these puffed-up Taurus motors in the damn Ford GT. Hopefully, and I say that with the utmost sincerity that I can muster, they can get the dynamic aspect up to par.

The other gripe might be the price. As stated earlier in the back story of Lincoln and the Continental, in its prime during the late 1950s, it was the most expensive car produced in the United States. Though I don’t think it’ll take that crown this time around, I do hope that this flagship has a price point that is within reach of the people that can potentially pull the brand out of the sewer. If that proves difficult, Ford and Lincoln engineers should DEFINITELY get the ball rolling with the widespread incorporation of this design schema into the rest of their rather lackluster lineup.

Oh, and where the hell are the rear suicide doors!?! COME ON!

If this is the car that was created to save Lincoln, shall we say godspeed, lads?

 

–Bryan

(all images courtesy of Ford Motor Company)

Stay Tuned (lol, for real)

To all,

After taking a little time to regroup and reassess my ideas, I’ve reached the conclusion that this whole thing should stay simple. Before, I had a vision of expanding Machscribe into a massive media company, but the approach to getting there is by starting at the core:

Machscribe is, and always will be a medium for expression, both personal and public. With that noted, I will continue using it as a means of portfolio construction while simultaneously building a relationship with friends, fans, and partners.

Viewers will see lots of changes here with modified layouts and more content in the near future. I’ll be posting up snippets and prototypes of stories and novels in development as well as other artwork, CAD, or blog material pertaining to current events. I have a selection of hobbies, but you’ll definitely see automobiles and music take the lead.

I’m a pretty opinionated guy, but the point of this is to establish a connection with the world. If you have an opinion, or ANYTHING that you need to get off of your chest, feel free to post and let me (and others) know. Don’t be shy!

 

–Bryan