No. 807,
July 29, 2015

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Editors' Note: If you have a comment, please include your name or initials (AND YOUR HOMETOWN TOO, PLEASE). We do not print email addresses. If you want to read previous issues, click on "Next Entry" on the bottom of each section. Thank you.


The Essence of Everything.

Your column was a beyond spectacular story. Thanks for sharing. I think you failed to realize just how much you nailed it my friend. You can distill decades of your writings down to just this one single sentence. You said “..never forget the essence of the machine, and what makes it a living, breathing mechanical conduit of our hopes and dreams." …so I'll add what you were likely thinking right after that... which is "and everything else is pure unadulterated bullshit”.

Steve H.
Windsor, Ontario, Canada

Slow-rolling with Sergio's Homies.

Interesting to note that this FCA recall includes a buy back. I predict that FCA will slow-roll and mismanage this until the lawyers start advertising on TV.

Russ McLean
(AE Reader No. 1)
Hereford, Arizona


Kim Dan-Ak!

Maybe now we see a (the?) real reason Marchionne was so hot and bothered to merge FCA with someone else. Making an impending shitstorm Somebody Else's Problem is right out of Kim Dan-Ak's Unctuous Prick Playbook.

Jim Z.
Detroit, Michigan

Not so far away.

Witch Hunt is a great read. Finished it for the second time. You made me understand that it was necessary to save the Auto industry with the bailouts. What bothered me then and a lot of other people was the government was taking Control. Anyone that has been around a while knows that the Government can't even run it's own programs right, and yet give them control of the auto industry? We are lucky we're not ALL driving Smart Car size vehicles. Although with the EPA and Cafe Regulations, that may may not be far away.

D. Smith
Kunkletown, Pennsylvania

Driving the True Believers c-r-a-z-y.

The Best Car that no one is buying: The Chevy SS. Peter, your quick take on the SS made me wonder what the hell is going on at the silver silos. Nothing, clearly. Here we have an AMAZING vehicle that nobody is buying, because nobody knows anything about it! FCA is pushing the Charger and Challenger, with some deserved success, but screw the Hellcat, this baby is the much better car. Hellcat or no, frankly, once you get close to 500 hp, who's counting? Ford has nothing that comes close to this. OK, the market for a car like this is not huge, but there is a market, and an M5 is double the price. It just confirms your point that GM marketing is nowhere, and it must be driving the True Believers nuts. This cannot go on.

Toronto, Ontario, Canada


Super MalImpaIabu.

I am one of the few and proud SS owners. This car is certainly rare and under appreciated. Mine is an automatic because it's my daily driver but I have driven the manual and liked it a lot. As always, you hit the nail on the head. Great car, no support and few sold. Makes me a rarity on the road and happy to show others that my MalImpalabu can go like stink! There is a lively crowd of owners at Folks interested in this car should go there for awesome information and discussion.

E. Gillman
Budd Lake, New Jersey


NASCAR: Would you miss it?

My family mostly bleeds blue so I've always viewed GM products with a vary eye… but giving credit where due, the SS is a superb car saddled with an uninspired moniker (oh, gee, what malaise-era Chevy's haven't had an “SS” slapped on them either by suits, dealers, or mullets?). As the stealth sequel to the often lamentably missed Pontiac G8, it commands respect. And as others have said (and I begrudgingly admit), Ford's got nothing on it.

But as for GM not marketing it? Oh but they are, and so I think the issue is far more interesting. A NASCAR program isn't cheap. In fact I'd say messers Childress, Hendrick, Stewart, Gordon, Johnson, et al both comprise and benefit from a substantial marketing war chest on behalf of the SS.

That such princely sums of money, effort, and celebrity are so soundly upstaged by cheap Joe Meathead YouTube clips and “dead media” reviews of Mopar Hellmobiles, proves more about the folly and ineffectiveness of NASCAR marketing than anyone could have guessed. You'll note Dodge pulled out of NASCAR a few years ago… granted, fans profess their loyalty in the stands but who's having the last laugh by “selling (out!) on Monday?”

Strange times we're living, indeed.

Tony Lucio
Frankfort, Kentucky

True, but they've been calling the shots for a while now.

Far be it from me to defend the indefensible, but the dreaded death wobble issue has been around and ignored at Mopar since long before my paesani arrived on the scene.

Wickenburg, Arizona

Do not pass "go."

My advice to anyone thinking about buying a 2015 Chevrolet SS is do it. I was on the fence in 1996 when the last version was going to be discontinued, but my wife convinced me to buy it. Now I'm glad I did, it is a car that even here in California there are very few seen on the road. Being a Chevy even all these years later most repair parts are still readily available.

Chris Cuzynski
Alta Loma, California

How it's done.

Recalls are the results of companies with structural flaws in their own issue resolution process during both preproduction and production vehicle development.. Safety issues shouldn't be swept under the rug. GM knows that all too well after the ignition switch debacle. The systems can be complex. Games are played on the teams at many levels. Green engineers don't always know the effects of failure modes. Middle managers sometimes tend to down play issues or hide them all together to get off the radar. There's a fear of getting beat up by upper management and that could affect a performance review or next promotion. So upper management can sometimes be left out of the loop. Quality & Reliability is the result of a real Team with good process and good decisions when issues are discovered.

Frank S.
Rochester, Michigan


Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!

Not that it makes me proud, but Mr. Marchionne is actually Italian-Canadian. Born in Abruzzo, he moved to Toronto with his family when he was 14. He is Canadian educated (with a MBA, natch, can't destroy a company without one). What's my point? He is North American. Or to put it another way, he understands the US and Canada with the perspective you get growing up in Canada, especially growing up in Toronto (which had 13 US and Canadian TV channels even before cable plus full access to all other American media). He really should know better than to behave the way he does. Or maybe I'm wrong. His background has taught him how to work the European, Canadian and US systems perfectly. Still, all cons need an exit strategy. His is to get someone to buy out FCA out before someone looks behind the curtain. Mr. Marchionne's problem is his potential marks are all on to him. So how will this all end?

Mark M.
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada


Bah Humbug!

So you took a 911 fast from one place to another and almost ran over the toes of some moron who should have known better than to hitch hike standing on an apex. Big deal!

Try taking a Honda Odyssey minivan, put some good tires, stick an OEM “Type R” sticker on it and then take the cloverleaf connector road to the Southbound Santa Ana Fwy by Disneyland in a lurid, but controllable, four wheel drift with some opposite lock. Do this with four kids… "OK, kids… lean right... NOW"… Four giggling kids. Every other Saturday. Passing every other car (including that Suburban that tried to keep up and I thought he was gonna flip).

Yeah, anyone can take a 911 in a highway and hope the cops won't catch you. Try to take an OTR in Suburbia and double the average speed for Minivans in the area.

Now THAT'S hard.

“The guy who was doing slaloms on the Disneyland parking lot in an OTR… quite a few times…”
Still Crazy in Irvine, California



I really enjoyed the article on Bill Mitchell. I had a long visit with your brother, Tony, during the 2014 Bloomington Gold event and during the reception, he told the story about the Mickey Thompson-powered Pontiac and its excessive thirst for motor oil. Rick Hendrick, whom I have been associated with since I retired as General Manager of Chevrolet in 1996, acquired the Owens Corning Corvette which Tony and his crew made quite famous as being the winningest Corvete in history. Subsequent to Rick's acquiring the car, I contacted Tony and we managed to get together the original group that campaigned the car for a reunion at Sebring. Americarna filmed the reunion and it aired during the second season of Americarna on the Velocity channel. It is an awesome story and a testament to the Mitchelle-sque passion you articulated in your article. Thanks for a great story about an extraordinary man...

Jim Perkins
Waco, Texas

Editor-In-Chief's Note: Jim was one of the most successful General Managers in Chevrolet history. - PMD

He was there.

The Mitchell piece was wonderful. I’m meeting Roy Lonberger at Pebble Beach this year. I am looking forward to his book. The more I look back the more I realize what an exceptional experience it was to work for Bill Mitchell. Your two favorites , the XP87 and the red SS Corvair Monza coupe are my two favorites as well. Tony Lapine and Larry Shinoda did that coupe. But, I gotta say, if I had to have one great Mitchell design to drive everyday it would be Rybicki’s ’66 Riv’.    

Peter Brock
Henderson, Nevada

Editor-In-Chief's Note: You must read Peter's book, "Corvette Sting Ray Genesis of an American Icon" and get the whole story. Awarded "Book of the Year" by the highly respected Motor Press Guild and winner of the Dean Batchelor Award for best Motorsports Journalism of 2013, Brock's book reveals the elaborate and complicated history and secret origins of the legendary "split window" 1963 Corvette Sting Ray. It is a fascinating read. And I agree with Peter about the '66 Riviera too. It is one of the all-time great designs in automotive history. -PMD