Trucks, the bro kind. 

Bro trucks
Bro, your truck, it’s so big. It’s like one of those country singer trucks. 


So I get that some people love big things. In America everything is larger. Supersize meals, triple venti mocha pumpkin spice lattes, 140″ television screens for a 1000 square foot apartment. The list goes on and on. 


It’s not surprising that vehicles seem to constantly grow in size. Larger for most equals safer. Is that always true? Not really, but it doesn’t stop Johny from going over to Bobs big truck outlet and spending three times his yearly income on semi-reliable transportation. At least it looks cool…

Appearances are everything or so I am told. When it comes to trucks, appearances are paramount to good sales. Dodge picked up on that when they initially refreshed their Ram line of pickups. The new look was similar to a mini big rig. Large chrome grill, stepped hood line all that was missing was the vertical smoke stack exhausts. The baby semi truck was born and all other manufacturers rushed to catch up. 
So many different customization styles exist each with a strong following. These days though, they all seem to equally coexist. The one trend which bothers me most…the bro truck. 

What’s a bro truck? Typically it all begins with a small…idea. Yes, we’ll go with a small idea, with large goals. Usually wrought with wasted money and little actual utility added to the truck. Where do I begin? 

Let’s begin with ten inch suspension lifts and 34″ tires on 24″ wheels, chromed at that. Oh, let me clarify, if it’s not a f250 and above or Ram/Chevy 2500 or higher you’re doing it wrong. Next on the list is the led light bar. Like everything else, the bigger the better. The more blinding it is to opposing traffic the better.


Next is a power programmer and deleting a multitude of emissions equipment. Who needs to breath clean air anyways…maybe children? You can’t conquer the urban trails unless you roll more coal than Robert Murray (I’ll wait while you google that name or click here I promise it’s not porn). I get that you want your truck to look like a 1960s 18 wheeler spewing particulate matter like it’s going out of style but, my clean air. 


Don’t get me wrong I love diesel, it can be clean and very economical, but these few examples are making it hard to defend diesel from the Prius driving(always speeding excessively), tree hugging bunch. Anywho….
So let’s recap, suspension lift check, lack of emissions equipment check, large tire with low profile sidewall on huge chrome rims check, blinding led light bar, yep got it. What’s missing? 
COWCATCHER FRONT BUMPER and an ever present 1/2″ tow hitch!
Whoa! I almost forgot what’s better for plowing through traffic when you’re too busy updating your Instagram with a new flat brim hat selfie? Two hundred pounds of front bumper, that’s what. 
What really kills me, is that while some of these trucks do get dirty, most never leave the pavement. Ever. Why. If a Subaru driving, love everything, 20 something college coed gets her outback more dirty than your truck what does that say about you. 

I’ll finish with something I overheard when a bro truck parked in front of the coffee shop I was at. The passenger falls out and says to the driver “brah, you need to get a bigger dick so you can get a smaller truck”. 

F**k, Kill, Marry

 

If you’re an adult and live on planet earth there is a 67.667, repeating of course, chance you are aware of the game “Fuck, Kill, Marry.”

In the same vein of Cards Against Humanity, it is best played intoxicated and in large groups so that the revelations spouted from your foul, both figurative and literal, mouth are made aware to your friends… and their pets… and maybe their mother if your crowd is that rowdy. The premise is simple, the opposing party lists off three individuals. Said individuals are ugly, disgusting or horrible – maybe even a mix of all three – which you must then decide which one you will sleep with, you will kill and you mill marry.

For example, of the following three which one would you fuck, kill or marry:

Courtney Love, Lizzie Borden, Eva Braun

It never works out and often calls into question your moral ineptitude, but damn is it fun. But it doesn’t really count… ya know because you’re drunk.

I’d like to welcome you to our new Monday reoccurring feature: Hoon, Kill, Collect.

We give you three cars and you must choose which one you’d hoon, which one you’d destroy immediately and which one you are stuck with forever. Without further ado here is the first trio and I’ll make it easy. This time.

The Hamburger Pacer from Good Burger, a K-Car, The Stout Scarab

Comments… GO!

 

Do cars have spiritual successors?

Are cars alive? Do they have spiritually successors? When I was growing up I made a habit of gravitating toward the obscure. Well, more like I would gravitate toward things that my Dad and one brother didn’t like. It worked so well I ended up with a lifelong love of all things oddity, a concussion, and an eight-hour shift at a pretzel stand.

7060782129_c7dd6c0c66

Confused? Allow me to elaborate. It was the mid 90’s and as I’ve talked about before jelly bean was all the rage in the automotive design world. My Dad was a Pontiac guy so by law my brothers and I were as well. Now don’t get me wrong, I loved my 89 Grand Am and my 95 Bonneville but when something funky rolled out I was all about it. Enter the first-generation Hyundai Tiburon.

bodykitscom

Source: BodyKits.com

I still recall the commercials… “Tiburon, it’s something in another language for shark.”

Our local mall would host a rather large gala of local car dealerships, nestled in the heart of rural central PA, that would show off new cars they had in stock. This was my chance, I would get to sit in this funky little coupe and tout its awesome to all that would lend an ear. Being a Bonneville family I was unfamiliar with the concept of small cars. The last compact my family owned was my oldest brothers’ 78 VW Rabbit when I was 5 and I loved it. Why wouldn’t I love this?

rabbit.jpg

Because it gave me a fucking concussion.

OK27wINdQS5YQ.gif

As I swung open the door that clearly resembled melted plastic I was eager to board. The roofline, however, had other ideas. I smacked my head right along mid ear hard into the roof. Why was I in such a hurry? Who knows. Being central PA there no one else but myself wanted to sit in this car, but still I was committed.

The concussion stayed with me till the closing of my shift at Bavarian, that’s the other pretzel stand. No amount of Advil granted reprieve and the American public granted no reprieve to the malformed Tiburon. A car that my father once claimed “looks like a tapered turd.” Yes, he was right but I still respected its funkiness even if it did give me a traumatic brain injury.

That isn’t what this post is about. I started by talking about spiritually successors. When I saw the first-gen Tiburon it seemed so familiar and alien at the same time. It didn’t hit me until today while browsing the Book of Faces. I follow a page called “Obscure Cars for Sale” and a great many followers of said page would kill me for this assessment. But the Hyundai Tiburon… it’s the spiritual successor to the AMC Javelin.

Honestly, besides the story there isn’t much to this article… but just look at the pictures and tell me I’m wrong. They are both ungainly and unnecessarily curvy in all the wrong places.

Hideously glorious. Two cars that represent both the height and rock bottom of design style in their age.

When Automotive Obscurity Goes Mainstream

I spent the better part of high school, college and my initial years in the military regarded as a nerd. And that’s just fine… it’s who I am. Honestly my love of cars was probably the only thing that kept me one foot out of full-fledged nerdom. My vast collection of old game systems, knowledge of video game history and ability to quote almost any movie kept my other foot in. And I loved it.

One thing I follow other than cars is movie news. That’s where this article comes in… the movie Cars. While browsing IGN.com I came across an article talking about the level of darkness attributed to Cars 3 its subsequent trailers. About half way down the page, however, I cam across this gem… concept art.

conceptart

Source: IGN.com

Now apart from the typical 40’s Ford coupe and 50’s Dodge pickup what do you think the car on the far left is? Some would argue it is a Packard and judging by the paint scheme they’re probably right. But the cars universe obeys no laws and it may just be a Tucker 48. Now We’ve seen this car in movies before, specifically a little film by Franky Ford Coppola called Tucker: The Man and His Dream.

51JYWW7A9ZL._SY300_

Source: Amazon.com

I’m not going to go into the history of Tucker but you should look it up. Suffice to say the Tucker ’48 had only 51 examples produced but its heart (engine) was in the right place. The back.

1948_Tucker_Torpedo_8511815871.jpg

Source: Wikipedia

Part of me wishes Hollywood loved obscure cars more, but would that be a double-edged sword? The wonderment of an obscure auto is that not many people know of it and when you discover it the joy is just tremendous. Jason Torchinsky, of Jalopnik fame and my personal hero, has pretty much made a living uncovering obscure cars and writing about them. More importantly he and his cult of followers have uncovered some of the most random and rare VW anomalies of the aircooled era.

I’m pleased that Hollywood embraces the Tucker time and again. I’m more pleased that obscure car culture hasn’t ballooned like the nerd revolution in the wake of The Big Bang Theories’ success. I like operating in the world of kitsch. Society stole my nerdom and that’s alright. I do have to try harder to convince people I knew about E.T. on the Atari and its second life in a landfill long before the pop culture documentary. But it does make cool t-shirts easier to find.

maxresdefault

Source: BringATrailer.com

Lord help them if they take my obscure autos.

MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Source: Wikipedia

The Perfect Formula… and its Failure

When does the perfect formula fail to perform? In automotive history, I’d reckon its happened more than once. One of my favorite cars, all time, that isn’t a Volkswagen just so happens to be one of these. An almost near perfect fusion of American muscle and European style, a fuel-efficient engine with enough power for the road and the track, and finally the engine in the right place.

It was named Car and Driver’s Car of the Year and once heralded as the “American Porsche.” It also served as a scapegoat for a greedy lawyer to gain political stardom. Remember kids there are only two professions that always tell lies to gain appeal… lawyers and politicians… and this dude was both.

Corvair-1963-Spyder-CD-test_curbsideclassics

Source: CurbSideClassic.com

If you are a true gearhead you know what car I’m talking about. If not, it’s the Chevrolet Corvair.

Now here’s the deal. A good number, and I do mean a good number, of people hate the Corvair. This is due, mostly, thanks to the aforementioned lawyer, Ralph Nader. Is it true the Corvair had a quirky rearend that would spin out easier than the typical American front engine, rear drive car? Yes. Just like a classic Beetle, or any rear-engined Porsche a vehicle with the motor in the back has different handling characteristics. Why did they flip… because idiot mechanics and consumers overinflated the front tires, to the then standard 26 psi, instead of following the manufactures suggestion of 15 psi.

1960-1969-Chevrolet-Corvair-front-three-quarter-02_automobilemag.com

Source: Automobilemag.com

GM planned on axing the Corviar after 1967 and the claim that Nader put it out to pasture is false. If anything, he gave use three more years of this beauty. And I do mean beauty. The second generation, with its update exterior and rear suspension, was a downright stunner. If the 1960 Corvair was the near perfect fusion of American muscle and European style, the 1965 Corvair was perfect. It championed the now classic “Coke bottle” shape and brought the amped up turbo charger to the masses.

Source: American-Pi.com

So why did such a perfect fusion fail? It was way radical for the average American consumer. While they were receptive to oddities like the Beetle and the Porsche, they came from another land. Chevrolet’s gamble was admirable. Over 1,835,000 were sold… 26,700 in the first two days it was available. It all came to an abrupt end when used as a springboard for a “consumer advocate.”

Book_Front-cover_Nader_www.autolife.umd.umich.edu

Source: autolife.umd.umich.edu *Note how he put his picture on the cover*

But Nader didn’t just blight the Corvair. He robbed the American public of automotive innovation. His actions put an end to outside the box thinking in Detroit for almost three decades. Thanks Ralph. I’ll take my automotive advice from people who actually know about cars and how to drive, not a lawyer looking for a “cause.”

1101591005_400

Source: Time.com

Ironically the Corvair was featured on the cover of Time magazine in 1959 which claimed “its fresh engineering is hailed as the forerunner of a new age of innovation in Detroit.” Why is this ironic? In 2007 the crack team of editors for Time online wrote an article on the “50 Worst Cars of All Time” that included the Corvair.

Here’s a tip Time “so-called” magazine. In 1972 Texas A&M did an independent study that found that the Corvair “possessed no greater potential for loss of control than its contemporary competitors in extreme situations.”

 

 

 

We Need to Talk About Automotive Advertisements

In the past I’ve expressed my derision for the Liberty Mutual vehicle insurance advertisements. These “real people” telling stories of how they wrecked their car being imbecilic and somehow it is the insurance company that is “stupid” or “dumb” because they, as a consumer, fail to understand how things with cars work. Things like: everything, insurance and depreciation.

picture3

But Liberty Mutual isn’t the only company that’s at fault. Meaning they aren’t the only company that either thinks or has realized the average consumer has the smarts akin to Miley Cyrus’ inner monologue on decency. Although that isn’t what this article is about entirely, I want to talk about automotive advertising as a whole. Let’s Don Draper this shit.

Don Draper is actually relevant to vehicle advertising. Even though fictions, Mad Men, is based on actual historical advertising culture. One episode in particular featured a substantial conversation about Volkswagen’s early ad campaign that has since become the benchmark of not only automotive advertising but advertising in general. It was informative, quirky and got you talking.

60beetlead_visualnews

It seems most advertising, in reference to vehicles these days, can be broken down into one of five categories: pandering, appealing, informative, benign or quirky. Note the oxford comma. Naturally I find pandering to be the most offensive but there are times when the appeal approach get at my gag reflex.

Pandering. Hats off to you Chevrolet. I typically stick to Netflix or Amazon Video but since we recently “cut the cord” and I can no longer get my Curse of Oak Island on cable I’ve picked up some Hulu as well. And Hulu, my friends, well it has commercials. If I have to sit through one more “real people” façade from Chevrolet where a group of automotive automatons are introduced to vehicles via unnecessary opening doors, raising floors or spinning platforms that would make Houdini loose his lunch, I’m going to… well… be even more angry. I will find those people, and I will educate them with countless hours of Top Gear and Wheeler Dealer re-runs and I will kill them.

chevypeople

It’s a Chevrolet and if you mistake if for an Audi that’s your fault. The only reason you, or anyone else, would mistake that Malibu for an Audi is because Chevrolet copied design elements. This practice is not new, Hyundai did it for years with both their main brand as well as Kia. Surely if it looks like a premium automobile it is. Admiral Akbar would say “It’s a trap” and I would agree. Now I’m not saying that Hyundai and Kia don’t have their merits because they do. The Soul is fabulous and the less overstyled designs coming from Hyundai today are actually quite flattering. And, my god, that warranty is enough to make any premium German automaker wince in terror.

But listen, Chevrolet, all those years Hyundai spent copying other brands and building a repertoire, you spent making substandard products that looked like shit, handled like shit and populated the local Avis lot like bees in a hive. Yes, your cars now are substantially better but as a Volkswagenophile, stop comparing your cars to an Audi. You’d be lucky to have them mistaken for a Ford.

3

Oh and who or what is J.D. Power? What’s with the initial quality? This is where the pandering comes full circle. Well the wiki-machine tells us that J.D. Power and his rarely named associates are an “American-based global marketing information services company founded in 1968 by James David Power III. The company conducts surveys of customer satisfaction, product quality, and buyer behavior for industries ranging from cars to marketing and advertising firms.” Alright, so he… or it… or them is pretty much the Rand Corporation for consumers and one of the many things they test is initial quality. Now I looked on the interwebs and have yet to come across an actual award. J.D. Powers’ website does mention their initial quality study and, as outlined in a recent parody commercial, accounts for the first 90 days of a new vehicle. Now, I’m a sucker for quality, but I think I want my vehicle to be good for more than just the first 90 days. Yes, the walls keep opening and we see all of the vehicles that had good initial quality… maybe that’s because since the government buyout GM has been revamping all of their vehicles. A ton of new vehicles equals dominance in new quality awards. And they are better, they really are, but don’t rest your advertising laurels on a bullshit 90 day rating. Stop pandering and give us an enjoyable, informative commercial.

Now an appealing ad is one that hits your right in the feelers. That’s pretty straight forward. Or is it? There is good execution (Subaru) and poor execution (Toyota). Subaru has built itself on the loyalty of its consumer base and the “connection” people feel with their Foresters, Outbacks and nigh even their B9 Tribecas. Oh B9 Tribeca how you died before your time. Now I’m not a Subaru guy, I’ve only owned one WRX and I didn’t connect to it like I did my ’74 Beetle, but it did have its own samuri-ish personality.

598578bbc3eff9cd637b84ecead50f34

My wife’s Prius… well I had a connection with that too. “Comeon you sonofabitch, go! I don’t want to die.” Now, if I’m being candid, I did have an affection for that car. It was quirky and different, but unintentionally, like driving a spaceship missing two of the three engines and I liked that. But damn was it slow and unevenly paced; ironically much like Toyotas advertising. The quality of Toyotas commercials reminds me of something a dealer would put out but with more money behind it. Yes, local dealer commercials can be hilarious-especially when the feature Gary Busey, but when you are a major automaker and every commercial ends with the same bright white screen and late ‘90s animation of a spinning globe with a random pictures of cars it’s just lame. Everything about the situations are generic and the actors are flat and lack depth. Yes, Toyota makes good cars. Yes, some car-aficionados like Toyota. No, not all people who buy Toyota’s think vehicles are just everyday appliances. Yes, no matter what you do to a Camry it is, still in fact, a Camry. Don’t dress it up like something it’s not and stop trying to advertise it with appeal. It just comes off robotic and uninspired. Cash in on the reliability and move one. Everyone else has.

toyota

Informative. Do I really need to go into this? The commercial presents straight information. Each automaker dabbles in this area from time to time. Informative ads are the fallback and as long as that information isn’t “Initial Quality” they should be good.

Benign advertising. Most luxury automakers use this. Pretty much just “artistic” cuts of the vehicle with no substance. They bank on the reputation the marque and simply say, “here is our car” along with some artsy fartsy dialogue meant to invoke emotion. Sorry, but I can’t see past Matthew McConaughey as Wooderson just like Sean Penn will always be Jeff Spicoli no matter how much he Milks it. Get it? He was in a movie called Milk. Never mind.

lincoln.jpg

Quirky, now this category is my favorite. It is where Volkswagen succeeded so many years ago and sometimes hits with today. In my opinion, and if you’ve read this far you actually care about my opinion, this is the one that sells the most cars. This is the one that establishes soul. This is the one that gets people into the dealership. I won’t belabor the Volkswagen aspect, current day or historically, cause it’s often their niche. No I want to talk about a brand that most of you won’t expect. One that would win, if it existed, the JD Power award for Initial Poor Quality.

Fiat

Fiat is important. Why? Because, like Mini (who doesn’t really advertise at all), they represent a niche in the American market that hasn’t existed since the early days of Volkswagen. It’s something different. And we need something different. We’ve been begging for something different. In a landscape of small and large CUVs, Minivans, and pickup trucks there has to be something else. Fiat is now our something else. They know it, you know it, now you must accept it. This is where their advertising is key. Most of it focuses on Italian roots, the quirkiness of their vehicles, humor and sexiness. “Sex sells Gwen, sex sells.” Listen to VanWilder, he is both humorous and wise.

2017-fiat-bhp-hero-lineup-image-1920

When you see a Fiat advert (and the occasional humorous VW one) it is a breath of fresh air amongst the stale, flaccid attempts by other marques. Sure their quality is shit right now. Sure the vehicle is peculiar and oddly designed. But it’s Italian, you should’ve known that going in and that’s why you love it. That vehicle has a soul and that is something that starts with advertising. It’s what you should want when you walk into that showroom. Plus, they aren’t doing so hot, so I’m sure you could get an excellent deal on a new one. Just buy that extended warranty and make sure your insurance how rental car coverage.

Live damnit. Live!

fiat-500-pull-quote5b15d

 

 

Raging in California 

Remember, when it’s a race to work we all lose.It’s March 20th and I’m driving to work… again. This is a regular event for most people. Sometimes, it’s normal for me too but today, well today is different. I’m taking a count. A count of gravel trucks on this shit highway the state of California calls state route 65.

6am and I’m on the on ramp to 65 North. This is the best part of the drive. A nice long moderate curve that I can coax the Golf .:R into the top of 4th gear. I struggle to merge with traffic that is going faster than I am and refuses to let me in.


If there’s anything I’ve learned while living in California, I’m a native Texan, it’s that Californians will never let you on to a highway. The second thing I’ve learned, Californians will pace alongside you until they try to merge into the side of you. Back to the story at hand.

I finally get on SR65 and I’m going 75mph which means I’m barely keeping up with traffic. This is easily 10mph over the posted speed limit. Oh shit, what’s that closing in on me in my rearview mirror, am I getting pulled over? Nope, just a Toyota Prius going 90 plus mph. He flips me the eco-bird as he passes and subsequently cuts me off.

I hate this drive.

Finally I settle in at 70mph ready to zone out and complete this 36 mile drive. The first part is easy. It’s a two lane highway split with a 40 foot median that makes it relatively stress free. You only have to worry about roadkill and barn owls that are still on their nightly hunt.

Back to the drive. I approach the area where traffic merges from four (combined) to two lanes. I speed up to block out the dude in the Prius (took me at least 15 minutes and countless mph over the speed limit to catch him) go ahead and tail gate me I don’t care.

Anyways, here we go, begin gravel truck count. One, two…….thirteen on a two lane road! Oh look a shotgun blast of 1/2 inch gravel to the windshield, I’m glad my windshield isn’t toast. My mirrors are still attached, though pockmarked. Fuuuu….this road.

I’m almost there. Ten more miles to go. Oh look, a train. At least I’m the first in line at the gate. Then again if any of these rail cars were to derail I’d be done. Squashed beneath some important textile from Oregon. Something certified organic no doubt.

The train is done and the gates lift and there is Mr. Prius again. I passed him and now he’s back with a vengeance. Go, go around me at twenty over the limit. It’s fine with me, work will still be at my destination no matter how early I get there.

I finally arrive at my parking spot of choice, that one spot way the hell out there where any normal driver would avoid. I call this area paradise. Most call it the middle of nowhere. When I come back at lunch there will probably the rattiest piece of rusting Americana parked exactly two centimeters from my door. Whatever, I just wanna get back in and enjoy some traffic free roadway. Someday that will happen, not soon and definitely not today. Today was all about the daily commute.

Welcome to California, where road rules are made up and the speed limits don’t matter.