Further Explanation Needed

In this little story, the question being asked is:  “How could this happen?”

“This” being this:

To me, the answer seems quite simple:  the Audi used the McLaren as a ramp — or a partial ramp, mounting it with only the right-hand wheels, which caused it to flip over onto its side.  (The low-profile front of the McLaren, by the way, seems to make for quite an effective ramp.)

The real question is:  what would make the Audi’s driver go so fast in a supermarket parking lot as to turn a simple collision into a flip-over?  Trying to get into the vacant spot next to the McLaren ahead of another car?  Hitting the throttle instead of the brake pedal?  Sexting on the iPhone?  All of the above?

Truly, some people should not be allowed to drive on public roads.

Why I Hate Jay Leno

It’s not the man, but his Garage.  OMG, almost every time I watch Jay Leno’s Garage, I want to own the car he’s featuring.  And I don’t mean, “Oh that’s a nice car;  I wouldn’t mind driving it.”


Case in point:  this  Citröen Traction Avant.

I have often featured this fabulous example of French luxury on these pages before, but here’s a little reminder:

To me, this car has just about everything I would want in a town runaround:  comfortable ride, plenty of indoor room, outstanding beauty… it is the complete package.

And having Jay Leno say, as he’s pootling along in his 1949 model (slightly paraphrased):  “I have lots of cars that go fast.  But this is the way to travel:  comfortable, with everything working just as it should.”

I defy anyone of approximately my vintage to watch that video linked above, and not think:  “Ya know…”

The only problem is, when you watch the next video, you’re going to feel exactly the same way.  As for the the one after that (which begins, “Still the one of the best-sounding engines ever”)…

And I’ll lay odds that if you go down into the Jay Leno’s Garage Matrix, kiss your day good-bye and be prepared for several episodes of Massive Car Lust.

Damn you, Leno, for doing this to me.


Yesterday, I posted a pic which made a tongue-in-cheek reference to a car’s size relative to the human who might drive it:

…and while this Alfa Berlina is not a small car, others of the era certainly are, even though if viewed without some perspective they might seem quite large.

Here’s an example of what I’m talking about.

I have always loved the concept of Bizzarrini cars:  their breathtaking design, their powerful (American) engines and of course, the astounding automotive engineering skill of Giotto Bizzarrini himself.

Here’s the 1967 Bizzarrini 5300 Strada model:

Now I think we can all agree that this is a gorgeous car, and the 400bhp Corvette engine under the hood doesn’t hurt its appeal, either.  The problem is that the long hood makes the car look quite big — “Corvette big”, even — but when put into perspective, the Strada is anything but:

Now that we’ve established the actual size of the thing, here’s a trio of different Bizzarini Strada models and colors:

…and its interior isn’t at all displeasing:

Finally, allow me to show you the Strada’s racing stablemate, the P538 (which won its class at Le Mans in 1965 and placed ninth overall):

It is not good for this old man’s heart to look upon such things.  I think the word is “palpitations”, and I got ’em.

The 1750

Most men like powerful cars (e.g. Jeremy Clarkson:  “POWWWWERRRRRR!”), and among the power-hungry there is a common thought nowadays that a 3-liter six-cylinder engine is the basic starting-point for any performance car, and four-cylinder engines are inferior (hence nicknames like “four-banger” and the like).

Not so.

Back in the late 1960s, Alfa Romeo came up with a four-cylinder engine of only 1,779 cubic centimeters (actually rounded down to the 1750 nomenclature, unlike the standard Italian exaggeration) which was an absolute screamer.  So efficient and racy was it that they used the same engine across all their “105” chassis models;  the GT Veloce:

…the Spyder:

…and even the Berlina sedan model (with a human figure, for scale):


I’ve driven all three, and not once did I ever say to myself, “Oh, if only this were a 3-liter six!”

The point was that all three models were lightweights, and the four-cylinder engine was perfectly adequate for the task — which in each model was to go fast, and they did.  And in normal Alfa Romeo fashion, they went through corners as though on rails, and the peppy little four-banger engine and five-speed short-throw gearbox made every trip an adventure.

Provided that they started, or didn’t lose non-essential parts like rearview mirrors, door handles and what-have-you along the way.  (I once had the experience of the interior mirror coming off in my hand as I was adjusting it.)

I also once drove a Marauder (Lotus 7 knock-off) equipped with the 1750 engine.  Now the Alfa GTV was no heavyweight, coming in at just around a ton, but the fiberglass-bodied Marauder could be lifted with ease by only two men, and carrying no weight at all, so to speak, the 1750 engine was a monster.  I actually lifted off the throttle at the end of the Kyalami racetrack straight, whereas with the GTV I’d always been able to keep the pedal to the floor to make the first right-hand corner.

Four-banger?  Sheesh.  (Of course, the main reason for a four-cylinder-engined car’s poor performance nowadays has nothing to do with the lack of powerpower, but with the extra weight that has to be added to all cars because of all the safety regulations that have been mandated by Nanny Gummint since the 1970s.  But I won’t discuss that topic further as I’ve just finished clearing up the wreckage from my last RCOB episode.)

I love the 105 Alfa Romeos and their 1800cc engines, all of them.  I would drive one today quite happily.

Vanishing Point

I have spoken often of my distaste for much of modern life, and here’s just one more thing to make me want to pack a picnic lunch and an assault rifle, and go find a tall building somewhere.

Sadly, the end of the manual transmission is near, and the unfortunate truth is few people will miss it. Most young adults don’t know how to drive a vehicle with a manual transmission, and they aren’t interested in learning. Many modern automatics offer better fuel efficiency and quicker acceleration than their manual counterparts. Porsche now delivers 75% of its 718 and 911 sports cars with automatic transmissions. The new C8 Corvette is only available with one. When the stick shift loses Porsche and Corvette buyers, you know it’s quickly heading for the rearview mirror.

But it gets worse.

In the future, cars won’t only be automatics; it appears they’ll increasingly be automated, electric vehicles. The satisfying throbbing of the exhaust and the pleasure of driving will also become victims of progress. Traveling in a personal vehicle will be as exciting as riding in an elevator with windows.

And this guy adds his take, talking about

the dystopian future in which you’ll sit passively in your computer-driven car with government-mandated speed limits and instantly-revocable travel permissions programmed in.

In the next year or so I’ll be needing to get a new car because the old Tiguan has north of 115,000 miles under its belt.  Don’t be surprised if I get something with a stick shift (assuming I can find one, and even if it does limit my choices), if for no other reason than to shake my fist at the Empire.


And just let some future asshole government mandate “smart” guns with chips embedded so that they can be “controlled” by some central source — essentially, the same principle as automated cars.

At that point, my prospective trip up to the rooftops won’t just be a joke anymore.