As our neighbours to the south head to the polls for the most important election in the world this November, it’s time again for members of the international community to think about who we might vote for, given the opportunity.
To help guide us in this very theoretical debate, CarEnvy has invited two proud American sedans that provide speed, luxury, and most importantly, exceptional value. Because other than childhood obesity and technological innovation, what’s more American that bang for your buck? We’ve matched each of the political candidates with their nearest automotive parallel to help shed some light on what is sure to be a nasty and narrowly won fight to the finish. Republican Candidate Mitt Romney will be represented by the 2012 Buick Regal GS and Democratic Candidate Barack Obama will be represented by the 2013 Ford Taurus SHO. It’s Romney GS vs. SHObama!
You have but one vote, dear friends, and the fate of the world depends on it.
In 2008, when the Canadian and United States governments announced a $17.4 billion USD bailout plan for their respective auto sectors, many people were furious. Why would the government provide handouts to help save companies who simply produce cars? Then, when the governments responded to the criticism their answer was annoyingly simple: “These companies are too big and too important to lose”. Well, that simple response got me thinking (albeit three years late) – “Just how big and important are these auto manufacturers?” After a bit of research, I found out.
In today’s lesson, we will learn about the lost art of “French Rallying”. French Rallying was the art of using mostly 4WD and AWD, turbocharged French vehicles to make one’s way around a gravel course in less time with more flair than the competitor. One famous place where French Rallying took place was Pikes Peak, which is in Colorado, USA. The Peugoet 405 T16 was a mid-engined, four-wheel-drive, rally banshee in the late 80′s and it was the king of French Rallying at the time. Enjoy this well-documented case of French Rallying because you just kind find this combination of driving at the limit with unreliable French cars anymore.
Those boys over at Top Gear America are mental brave. Seriously brave. They’ve decided to buy a 1981 Volkswagen Rabbit and swap out its engine for a newer VW TDI powerplant. Then they’re going to revise the gearing, give it low rolling resistance tires, and optimize with the aerodynamics. Why are they doing this? Because they are trying to build a $7,000 car that will get 70 (US) mpg while still getting from 0-60 mph in under 7 seconds. Sounds like a tall order but it probably isn’t much crazier than the stunts James, Jeremy, and Richard try to pull off every second show. So despite a rocky start for Top Gear America, our hats are off to them. The feature describing the ins and outs of the plan is available here.
Stay tuned to CarEnvy.ca because it won’t be long before we’re embarking on barking mad challenges like these.
Not funny “ha ha”, more funny as in “interesting”. I wrote an article for no one but myself in July of 2008 that is funny when I look back on it now, and I think you’ll agree. At the time, gas prices were exorbitant and people were fearful or $2.00/L gas. As a result, sales of small cars were up and truck/SUV sales plummeted, at least that’s what I heard from the news. Alberta seemed oddly immune. The situation everywhere but Alberta undoubtedly compounded the impact of the worsening economy on the Domestic 3, who were and are reliant on truck/SUV sales for a significant portion of their revenue.
This having been said, no one could have predicted the failure of so many banks, insurance companies, newspapers, and automobile manufacturers even just 6 months ago. Take a walk with me in my time machine back to July, 2008. My how times have changed.
I’ve just returned from Cuba with the kind of tan that an Albertan farmer would be proud to own. Cuba is a fascinating country that has had many of its road-going machines frozen in time for the last 50 years. It was fifty years ago that Che Guevera, Camilo Cienfuegos, Fidel Castro, Raul Castro and their revolutionaries declared victory over Fulgencio Batista’s oppressive, corrupt, and US-backed regime. Since then, what we would consider classic cars have been kept running for lack of a better alternative. A United States embargo, a restrictive communist government, and a lack of discretionary spending have necessitated that ’58 Bel-Airs, ’59 Cadillacs, and Fiat 600′s roam the streets of Havana as we speak.
Interestingly enough, the last few years have brought increased freedoms and foreign currency into the island nation. This has resulted in the ability of residents to buy new cars (that aren’t decrepit Russian Ladas) for the first time in their lives. For most people, this means the choice between a Peugeot 206 and a Hyundai Elantra, as these are the only two new cars the average person can buy. To get your hands on something else, you have to be either very wealthy, a foreign ambassador, or a very good smuggler.
If you get the chance to visit Cuba, and manage to get away from your lush resort, you’ll find that there are also a fair few horse-drawn carriages. These became more popular after oil became tough to obtain subsequent to the instant collapse to the USSR, Cuba’s preferred trading partner for, well, everything.
I’ve included a mega-gallery after the jump, to share with you what I’ve seen.
So you might think that an American auto company, in an effort to boost slumping sales, would be hiring Italian designers and design firms like mad. But that’s normal 2007 thinking! You need to put on your crazy, crazy 2008 thinking-cap! An American-born designer, Jason Castriota (pictured above), has just been hired by renowned Italian design firm Bertone to be the new design director. Now pick your jaw up off the floor.
Shocking as this appointment may seem, Castriota has been with Pininfarina for the past 8 years so he certainly knows his way around an Italian carrozziere (coachbuilder). You might be asking yourself, have I ever seen any of this American dude’s designs? Well the Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano that Castriota is pictured with above is just one of them. Others include the Maserati GranTurismo, James Glickenhaus’ bespoke Ferrari P4/5, The one-off Rolls Royce Hyperion, and the Maserati Birdcage concept. Not too shabby by my standards.
But the whole reason for this post is a very interesting article with Mr. Jason Castriota and a Top Gear interviewer I’ve never heard of. I highly recommend reading it.
Follow the jump for some eye-wateringly gorgeous pictures of Jason Castriota’s finest work.