That great American childhood consumer of recess, King of the Hill, has likely been banned on playgrounds these days. Heck, they’ve probably just banned all the hills. But some of us remember an age when you could pummel and wrestle your second grade classmates for a full 15 minutes until you were powdered like a donut with pea gravel dust, and your teachers were just glad you were burning off the energy from those sloppy joes you ate for lunch. And we remember that King of the Hill has one objective – knock off the guy on top.
It turns out that the hypercar business plays by the same rules. Continue reading
Earlier this month, the Ford Mustang turned 49. It’s no grand anniversary, but this time next year we’ll be so busy vocalizing our love and/or hate for the redesigned 2015 Mustang that we won’t have time for too many memories. So 49 is the new 50, and since we’ve already covered the great classics through the dark years and the Fox, it’s time to bring everyone up to date.
What that fuel crisis did for power in the ‘70s, the motivation crisis did for styling in the ‘90s. We wore, nay, bought jeans with gigantic holes already in place, we donned our wrinkled flannel and grew our hair longer than Joseph Gordon Levitt’s in 3rd Rock From the Sun. After the extreme design consciousness of the ‘80s, we stopped caring.
So like our poor midsections, our cars got flabby and bloated. Lines softened to the point that the 3rd gen Taurus looked like something that wouldn’t be uncomfortable to pass if accidentally swallowed, and “ergonomics” were the new cocaine.
Thankfully, the Mustang, though sporting far softer lines than the Fox-body, managed to keep itself together when it was restyled for the 1994 model year. The hatchback disappeared, and the short deck and long, sloping hood gave the new Mustang, on a chassis dubbed “SN-95,” a look of low-slung malice. Continue reading
Among Orthodox Jews, it’s a common practice while reciting the story of Esther that the audience accompany any mention of the villain, Haman, with a great clamor of dissent. They even have a special noisemaker for this called the gragger. If you’re having trouble grasping why, just think about what happens to your guts when you recall a Mustang II.
This week the Ford Flat Rock Assembly Plant outside Detroit produced its one millionth Ford Mustang. It was fitting, since yesterday the Mustang turned 49, having first been unveiled in its production form on April 18 at the 1964 New York World’s Fair. It’s been almost half a century and since then few American cars have captured our attention like the Ford’s sprinting horse. Twenty-two thousand Mustangs were ordered on the first day it was available.
But why are we celebrating the 49th anniversary? Why not the 50th? Because we have a feeling that we’ll be covering bigger news around this time next year, when Ford pulls the sheet off the 2015, 6th generation Mustang.
We haven’t seen that car yet, so we’ll just take a moment and trace its heroic lineage, starting with the first generation, widely remembered as the best.
Well, we had a good run, folks. But after 237 years of independence, it looks like Kim Jong Un is going to nuke us to Tuesday. Most of us will be instantly vaporized, but those of us with appropriate bunkers/caves/abandoned limestone mines (duh) will survive this to one day furtively glance out of our lead-lined hatches and see a ravaged and immolated America.
Obviously, the first thing to do will be to form up small, tight-knit communities and build sheet-metal castles around our surviving oil derricks to ward off the creepy gangs of sado-masochists who will inevitably show up to take them from us. And we’ll still need to run errands. So here are a few cars we’ve decided will be best for rolling around in after the fire falls.
As humans we share the general weakness of remembering things better than they were. Watch a movie you once loved as a child and you might be disappointed. You remember how good the burgers were at that diner, but did you forget that it smelled like an ashtray?
Or take classic muscle cars. They were beautiful, riotous examples of automotive pageantry, jammed with enough torque to pull the rug out from under your neighborhood and a thunderous exhaust to match. And most of them rode on leaf springs.
Yeah, steering was crap. Braking was crap. Safety was a laugh. Fuel economy meant walking. And starting up that carbureted engine on a cold morning proved a challenge on more than one occasion.
Almost every aspect of new cars is better than its equivalent in old cars. But so many new cars just lack soul. They don’t exhibit the same careless, beautiful vulgarity that we love so much about old cars. The gem about cars, though, is that they can be disassembled, mixed up, and reassembled with newer parts. And that’s what pro-touring and resto-modding are all about- taking great-looking old cars and giving them modern parts to improve their driveability. Continue reading
In a broad, sociological sense, thieves aren’t generally considered the worst villains among the criminal class. Robin Hood, Danny Ocean, and Charlie Croker are all portrayed as brilliant heroes, cooler than a Daniel Craig staredown and slick as an E-Type.
But then we get robbed. Someone makes off with our beloved cars, expensive car parts, or other, automatically less consequential, things, and we begin to realize that thieves are actually thoughtless, terrible children whose sole hobby is to spike our violent tendencies. I first encountered this a few years ago when some used needle kicked in our door and stole my roommate’s XBox (of all things). Then, on Saturday night last week, someone hacked the catalytic converter out from under his truck. It always sucks to work hard for something only to encounter someone who isn’t working hard and takes it from you.
But the worst is when they take something of far greater sentimental value than monetary value. On Wednesday night, someone stole Jalopnik writer Jason Torchinsky’s beloved ’73 VW Beetle. He’d owned it for about 20 years, drove it regularly, patched it up with pennies and love, and some degenerate coward lifted it from in front of his house for the few hundred bucks he’d get for chopping it.
No, I don’t have any sympathy for thieves. Therefore I’ve come up with a few nonlethal theft deterrents that don’t just deter an individual theft, but a whole career path.
Since the hybrid movement began almost 20 years ago, the vast majority of “green car” initiatives have surrounded power. Can we make a more efficient engine? Can we pair it with an electric motor? What about diesel, natural gas, or pure electrics?