Fair Warning

Via Insty. I see the following announcement:

Mercedes-Benz and Nvidia are going to build a new software-defined computing architecture for automated vehicles based on the Nvidia DRIVE platform that will be installed across the fleet of next-generation Mercedes-Benz vehicles, starting in 2024.
“The entire fleet, every car from the entry A-classes to the S-classes, will have the highest-performance Nvidia AI supercomputer on board.”
Shapiro said that each of these new Mercedes vehicles will come with the full surround sensor suite installed and then, similar to how Tesla does things today, it will be up to owners to decide if they want to activate features, either when they purchase the car or after the fact with an over-the-air update. “There will be different business models, subscription service possibilities or one-time fees or things like that, depending on the region, that potentially turns the car into a fully upgradable, perpetually upgradable device, and there potentially could be be a Mercedes App Store,” he said.

Emphasis mine because Mercedes, being German, will make that particular feature disappear just as Porsche decided that drivers shouldn’t be allowed to change gears manually in their (Porsche’s) precious little Nazi pocket rockets.

My take on the above, therefore, rewords their announcement thus:

If you’re going to buy a Mercedes, buy one before the 2024 model year comes to market. 

Me being me, I’d rather buy a still-older (but rebuilt) Mercedes, like this one (for about the same end-price of a comparably-sized new Merc):


…or even this Mercedes (which has had all the rebuilding done — see the pic gallery):

No silly tech doodads that cause your car to stop because some sub-system software failed, or because some AI algorithm decided that you’d done enough driving for the day, or that would require the entire IT Department at Daimler-Benz to fix it.

Just good, honest driving pleasure in a car with proven reliability.  What Mercedes used to be renowned for.

My simple belief is this:  we wouldn’t accept this kind of software built into our guns, so why should we allow it in our cars?

Chick Cars

When Fiat announced its re-entry into the U.S. market with the teeny revamped 500 model a few years back, their ad campaign was unashamedly aimed at the female car buyer, the theme being:  “The Italians Are Coming!”  It was a brilliant piece of positioning, because the small car / indifferent performance / cute factor was never going to attract too many heterosexual or non-metrosexual men.  And it wasn’t the first time Fiat had gone down that road, so to speak:

…which led to this:

VW, of course, had used the same positioning with their relaunch of the revamped (and awful) Bug — less overtly, but with the standard accessory of that cutesy little single-stem flower holder on the dashboard, the target market was quite obvious.

Marketing aside, however, quite a few cars have always appeared to me to be perfect “ladies’ cars”, as much for their petite-ness as for anything else.  Here’s the Lancia Fulvia of the late 1960s:

Even the Mercedes 230 SL of the same era was, I think, positioned in the same niche:

Both had engines that were respectable enough — for sure, neither was underpowered — but the cars were definitely not hot rods, by any stretch of the imagination.  My mother always dreamed of having a “pagoda top” (never happened, sadly — she had to suffer with an Austin Healey 3000 instead), and even New Wife, on seeing a beautifully-restored 230 SL poodling around Plano, was impressed enough to comment.

The difference between the two eras, by the way, is that in the so-called “pre-feminist” era of the early 1960s, neither the Fulvia nor the 230 SL were ever overtly marketed at women.  Whether it was because, in those days, men made the car purchase decisions on behalf of their wives or daughters, or whether the car manufacturers’ marketing departments didn’t want to risk alienating potential male customers by positioning those models as “chick cars”, I have no idea.

Of course, the modern take on positioning your car in the female market reached its apogee when Subaru made their cars the choice of lesbians.   (Think about that if you’re considering a new Outback or Forester.)  And while the Mazda Miata became the fashion statement for West Coast homosexual men, it was never marketed as such.  (For those who want to find cars to avoid because they’re associated with lesbians and homos, this tongue-in-cheek [sic]  list will spell them out for you.)

I don’t have a problem with cars best driven by women.  I think a woman looks better in a Lancia Fulvia than in a Pontiac TransAm or Camaro, by the way.  But then again I’m a sucker for classy, feminine women, so take that anyway you want.  No prizes for guessing which one of these I think is more appealing:

As Mr. Free Market says:  I’m just too old-fashioned to live.

By the way, lest you think I was having a go at metrosexuals and the Fiat 500 in my earlier comment, note this British ad:

Uh huh.

Oh, and by the way, if we’re talking about then and now, here’s an old take on Fiat’s open-top:

…and their new one, by way of Gucci:

I should point out that the older Fiat 500 was originally marketed as a family car.  The modern one?  Not quite so much.

Two Out Of Ten Ain’t Bad

According to these guys, the top cars of the 1980s were (as listed):

  • 1983 Golf GTI
  • 1984 Ferrari Testarossa
  • 1985 Corvette
  • 1986 Porsche 959
  • 1987 Camaro IROC-Z
  • 1987 RUF CTR
  • 1987 Mustang 5.0
  • 1987 BMW M5
  • 1987 Ferrari F40
  • 1987 Buick Grand National/GNX

A couple of points come to mind.  The RUF and 959 Porsches aren’t really “production” cars in the true sense of the word — they’re essentially low-volume tweaked models.  The F40 is a wondercar — still is — but it wasn’t really a car for the general public back then, just as La Ferrari isn’t for today’s public.  As for the rest — and I’m trying not to compare this list to today’s cars in terms of performance — the only one I’d consider owning is the BMW M5, which I have driven, and it was fantastic — even with all the shit we know goes along with Beemer ownership.

And while the Ferrari Testa is the best-looking of all of them, in practice it’s a beast to drive — it once took me about a dozen tries to parallel-park it, to the amusement of many onlookers.

I’ve driven a couple of the others as well:  the Mustang and the Grand National were great, but butt-ugly.  I was nearly talked into buying a Buick, actually, but the purchase was nixed by Wife #2, who pointed out (quite reasonably) that a supercharged rear-wheel drive car with crap handling was not the optimal vehicle for Chicagoland’s icy and potholed streets.  The IROC-Z was really aimed at the street-dragster market, as was the Corvette (then and now), which leaves me out.  And all these cars drank gas quicker than you could toss out the window in 5-gallon cans.  Except for the Golf.

The Golf GTI needs a special mention, as it’s the only other car I’d take from the Hemmings list.  While its 90hp performance is risible by today’s standards, it wasn’t back then;  remember that the Porsche 356 only developed 95hp.  But the VW’s light weight made it truly quick, if not especially fast, and on city- and suburban streets it was a rocket.  And it handled better at speed than the Mustang, Camaro, or Buick.

Frankly, I think one of the 1980s’ best cars (and most glaring omission from the Hemmings list)  was Toyota’s 1986 MR2 model, but no doubt someone’s going to take issue with this.  I thought it was superb, especially when compared to its major competitor, the stupefyingly-bad Pontiac Fiero.

In fact, the Toyota’s only real competition came from Europe, in the form of the Lancia Delta Stradale:

…except of course that the “Mister 2” didn’t break down every quarter-mile, as the Lancia was prone to do.

Feel free, as always, to add your own ideas in Comments.

Burn, Baby, Burn

Let’s see if I’ve got this right.  The list of cities that are being besieged and set aflame by rioters includes the following:  New York, Washington D.C., Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Seattle, Portland and Minneapolis.

Quick:  what do these cities all have in common?

  • Their mayors are incompetent Leftist Democrats who have continued to go soft on crime, making petty theft the equivalent of jaywalking and encouraging the spread of homelessness on the streets;
  • They have a history of lawlessness, of hampering and undermining the police while coddling criminals;
  • They are “safe haven” cities for illegal immigrants;
  • They following social policies which create mini-welfare states;
  • They have terrible public school systems, entrenched by feral teachers’ unions;
  • They’re broke, and have no means of financial recovery other than handouts by their (mostly) near-bankrupt state governments or by the equally-insolvent federal government;
  • Even their wealthy citizens are neo-Socialists, and their middle-class hipsters support bullshit like anarchy, Black Lives Matter and anarchy;
  • Feel free to add your observations, if you think I’ve missed anything major.

In other words, these shithole cities embody absolutely everything that is un-American about modern society and government;  and yet we are supposed to feel some kind of sympathy or outrage that these cities are burning themselves to the ground?

Suck on it, assholes.  Reap that liberal / socialist whirlwind, good and hard.

And somebody let me know when the carpet-bombing begins, so I can get some popcorn supplies in beforehand.

Oh, and by the way:  this includes Dallas.  Just don’t come too far north of I-635, assholes.


To the purists, the subject of “remods” or “resto-mods” (taking an old car and improving — or sometimes “improving” it) generally causes pearl-clutching and mutters of “chucking away the heritage” or “losing all its value” or “can’t show it anymore” and “turned it into a bastard”.

As a rule, as all my Readers are aware, I am generally against fiddling with the past.  But not in this case.  Not with cars.

Because, as any fule kno, some old cars look fantastic, e.g. the 1964 Austin Healy 3000:

…or the 1970 Alfa Romeo Spider 1750:

…but are total shit to own because of their propensity to rust, overall mechanical unreliability, and our old friends

and its Euro-cousin .

So when Evil Reader Ken S. sent me this link about fixing up a Series I E-type Jag, I wasn’t mortally offended — especially when I consider some of the reservations about the E-type expressed in Comments to an earlier post.  And the resto-mod is pretty damn impressive, I admit… although I must say that replacing the Jag’s wonderful 3-liter powerhouse with a Ford V6 did cause a momentary catch in my throat.

Still, when I saw Jay Leno’s take on Ken Lee’s resto-mod of his Dino, I agreed with Jay completely:

This is the car that Ferrari should have made.”

…and even though Lee had dropped a more powerful engine into his Dino, at least it was a Ferrari F40 and not a Chrysler hemi.

And all that said, I have no problem with pairing reliable and cheap-to-fix American engines with (say) Italian styling, like Monteverdi, Iso Rivolta and Bizzarrini did, back in the 1960s.  Here’s the last-named’s P538 model:

The same can’t be said for the Jensen Interceptor, which paired the excellent Chrysler V6 with… British Leyland-style assembly.

If you wanted to do a resto-mod on this one, you’d probably have to ditch everything except the engine, and have a coachbuilder make you a replica body.  And keep Lucas Electrical away at gunpoint.

My secret hankering, by the way, is to get some smart coachbuilder to drop a Dino body onto a Porsche Cayman chassis and make all the stuff work.  The dimensions are almost perfect.

Yes, in Ferrari Yellow.  If you’re going to fuck up, fuck up at the top of your voice.


If this doesn’t make you proud to be American, go and live in Switzerland*:

The Cannonball Run record has been broken seven times over a five-week period after illegal road racers took to the empty streets during coronavirus lockdown to drive from New York City to Los Angeles.
The newest record holders, who have not been named, completed the 2,800-mile cross-country journey in less than 26 hours, beating last month’s record of 26 hours and 38 minutes.

That’s only a little less than twenty extra hours’ time spent flying from NYFC to LFA (taking into account the total time needed to get to the airport early, waiting around, boarding, taxiing to the takeoff point, and the flight itself, about six hours usually).

It’s also a whole lot more fun withal.

The rally has also become a lot easier to evade traffic cops, seeing as said fuzz are too busy ejecting families from parks, enforcing lockdowns on bars and florists, and all the other useless shit the various government entities are amusing themselves with.

All these new records — essentially breaking the law each time — make my chest swell with pride.  More, please.

*Switzerland, despite having some of the best roads in Europe, absolutely hates cars, and most of all fast driving.  Swiss speed limits are the lowest in Western Europe, and are savagely enforced with astronomical fines, confiscation and even imprisonment for transgressors.  Oh, and all motor racing is banned.  Fucking pissant wankers.