Editor-in-Chief's Note: The new phone books are here! The new phone books are here! Or something like that. FCA has awarded 86 dealers in the U.S. and Canada Alfa Romeo franchises. And the huzzahs! could be heard throughout the land, as dealers praised The Great Sergio for anointing them as being worthy of selling Alfas, and hastily began making plans to erect statues of Sergio at their dealerships. The reality, of course, is that no more than 1,500 of the new Alfa Romeo 4C sports car will be sold here in any given year, and they will start trickling in - sort of - in a few months. And then Marchionne is going to flip a giant switch and dealers will start getting more mainstream Alfa product at the end of 2016, and then they'll be swimming in new Alfas by 2018. And then the customers will race in! The money will flow! Alfa will be the new Audi! And they'll all live happily ever after! Right. And it's pure fiction too. Nobody does "delusions of grandeur" like Sergio Marchionne and his worshipping acolytes. - PMD
Editor-in-Chief's Note: GM CEO Mary Barra says that GM employees are "owning" the Valukas report. What does that mean exactly? Taking it to heart? Ritual self-flagellation? Or just wondering out loud WTF is going on out there? The Queen can say what she wants - although it's probably a good time for her to stop talking - but the GM men and women I talk to aren't owning this classic screw-up, they're just wishing they were anywhere but here. - PMD
Editor Note: From the "We'll Be Damned If We Become Just Another Car Company" File comes this excerpt from the latest print ad from Porsche:
"To this day, nothing can replicate the feeling you get when driving a Porsche. No other combination of sound, feel, sight and soul will connect in quite the same way. Nothing else is simultaneously as recognizable and breathtakingly novel.
Keeping it this way requires vigilance. So we remember to honor the past but charge fearlessly into the future. We cast a skeptical eye at the word "impossible." And we fiercely resist dilution at every step.
Otherwise, a Porsche could become interchangeable with, dare we say it, some other car. Which is the moment a Porsche ceases to be Porsche."
Sounds like they've been studying Autoextremist.com - WG
(GM/newspressUSA, illustration by David Kimble)
It's not all bad news coming out of General Motors. The all-new 2015 Corvette Z06 is the most powerful production car ever from GM and one of a few production cars available in the United States that delivers more than 600 horsepower. The supercharged, 6.2L, LT4 V-8 engine in the new Z06 is SAE-certified at 650 horsepower (485 kW) at 6,400 rpm and 650 lb-ft of torque (881 Nm) at 3,600 rpm. “Torque is the pulling power of an engine and the LT4’s abundance of it at every rpm in the engine’s speed range helps the 2015 Corvette Z06 accelerate quicker and respond nearly instantaneously,” said Jordan Lee, chief engineer for Small Block engines. “It’s the very definition of power on demand.” “It’s also worth mentioning that the LT4’s supercar performance numbers are achieved with an engine that is nearly the same size as the very compact LT1 engine introduced in the 2014 Corvette Stingray,” Lee said. “The power density of the LT4 makes it one of the smallest and lightest 650-hp engines in the industry.”
Compared with other supercar engines, the LT4 produces 457 lb-ft (619 Nm) just off idle and 625 lb-ft (847 Nm) by only 2,800 rpm, in other words, it kicks some serious ass. The V-12-powered Ferrari F12 Berlinetta produces about 28 percent less torque than the Z06, despite offering about 12 percent more horsepower – and its peak torque isn’t achieved until 6,000 rpm. The LT4 maintains 90 percent of its peak torque, or 592 lb-ft (802 Nm), from 2,500 to 5,400 rpm. The new LT4 engine blows by the Porsche 911 Turbo S engine’s peak power levels by 90 horsepower (67 kW) and 134 lb-ft of torque (182 Nm). “Torque is the pulling power of an engine and the LT4’s abundance of it at every rpm in the engine’s speed range helps the 2015 Corvette Z06 accelerate quicker and respond nearly instantaneously,” said Jordan Lee, chief engineer for Small Block engines. “It’s the very definition of power on demand.” Indeed.
The new Z06 engine produces 40 percent more peak torque (180 lb-ft / 244 Nm) than the previous-generation’s 7.0L LS7 engine – and 7.5 percent more than the supercharged 2013 Corvette ZR1’s 604 lb-ft (819 Nm). At 3,200 rpm, the new LT4 surpasses the LS7 by 208 lb-ft of torque (252 Nm). On the horsepower side of the graph, the LT4’s 650-hp rating is 29 percent greater than the LS7’s 505 horsepower (376 kW), and 12 horses more than the ZR1’s LS9 engine.
Haters gonna hate.
By Janice J. Putman
In what has now become a rite of spring, the latest article proclaiming the demise of car culture has appeared. Posted on May 31 by AP national writer Adam Geller, "Americans and Their Cars: A Love Affair on Fumes?" cites research from the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute that would seem to sound the death-knell for the automobile. Among the statistical nuggets, "after rising almost continuously since World War II, driving by U.S. households has declined nearly 10 percent since 2004....The average American household now owns fewer than two cars....Less than 70 percent of 19-year-olds now have (a driver's license), down from 87 percent two decades ago." Now, I love statistics as much as the next guy - well, maybe not as much as Big Data his ownself - but they very seldom tell the whole story. (Plus, we all know you can design research questions and manipulate data to skew the responses, but that's a whole 'nother issue.) I'm just exasperated by the seemingly endless barrage of attempts to dismiss the car as some non-essential part of our lives and furthermore to trivialize what it represents.
Geller asserts that maybe we are "rethinking the paradigm of vehicle ownership," but to back up the claim that more and more people are seeking to drive less, he cites a guy who used to work as a driver for a package deliver company, who now likes to walk or bike to where he needs to go. (Gee, could you find someone even more burned out by driving? I probably wouldn't even want see a picture of anything with wheels if I had spent years driving a delivery truck.)
To be fair, it's true that most of the time the car represents our daily slog to work or running errands or taking us to and from any number of the tedious activities that seem to totally consume our lives and sap the spirit out of even the most hard-core car enthusiast. It's not often we get to slide behind the wheel, roll the windows down and go for a ride, simply for the pure unbridled fun of it. But maybe it's time to reconsider doing just that. Maybe it's time to reconnect with that fundamental part of what makes us human: There is something truly magical about moving a body through space, and something fundamentally human about the desire to transport ourselves. The car lets us travel - both literally and figuratively - in a way that an iPad or iPhone simply cannot. The Internet and our ability to connect anytime, anywhere and access anything is nothing short of miraculous. But equally - no, make that more - miraculous is the world that lies beyond those devices - yes, the world, in all its beauty and messiness and frustration and possibility. And that's where the car comes in.
(A quick thought experiment: Imagine taking any of our ancestors, anyone from anywhere in the world, taking them for a ride in a car - and asking them, "Do you want one of these?" I am fairly confident that the answer would be "Hell, yes!")
But as surely as the sun rises in the east, when it comes to the car and the idea that it might actually have a place in our culture, haters gonna hate. I say they are the ones missing out. If you have no special car memory, no car story or car moment, I truly feel sorry for you. There's "the one that got away" as in, the car you didn't buy or sold too soon (or, ahem, sold to your boyfriend because you thought that would make him like you more, but then he ended up trashing it and breaking up with you and then you were out both a guy and a car...but I digress). There's the one you're lusting after, saving for, taking yourself into. Or maybe it's the one in your garage right now, that's your perfect car, your haven, your private. It doesn't matter. What matters is that you know what it means to have a car actually move you, make you feel alive.
As for Autoextremist and this 15th anniversary thing, all I can say is, Wow. As in, Wow, we really made it happen and it's still going strong. It's been the best of times; it's been the worst of times. I've read some of the nastiest, most vitriolic comments imaginable in our reader mail over the past decade and a half. But I've also read some of the most moving and most passionate tributes to this whole "car thing" as well. There is no shortage of Autoextremists in the world and for that I am grateful. -WG
(Photos Courtesy of Goodguys)
Tony Lombardi’s supercharged 1930 Model A Ford - “Little Miss Che-Vious” - from Niles, Ohio, won the Goodguys 2014 Tank’s Hot Rod of the Year award last weekend at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. The criteria are unique in that it’s the only major Goodguys Top 12 award that requires participants to drive on a 100-mile reliability run as well as an 1/8th mile blast down the drag strip. Lombardi’s A-Bone, built by Hilton’s Hot Rods, blasted down Lucas Oil Raceway @ Indianapolis with an elapsed time of 9.316 seconds – the third-fastest ET of the day.
Lombardi's Model A Ford is painted PPG Manderin Maroon with black steel wheels, ’40 Ford hubcaps, finned drums and a healthy dropped axle rake. The 4 ½-inch chopped steel body looks right at home sitting atop a ’32 Ford frame.
Powered by a 371c.i. Oldsmobile Rocket 88 engine built in-house by Lombardi’s Ross Racing engines, the machine boasts a Dyer’s 4-71 blower atop a Cragar intake with 94-series carbs. A Tremec T-5 transmission and Winter’s quick change rear end are also part of the winning package.
Interior details include a black leather custom bench seat stitched by Mike Sholly. The dash is out of a Pierce Arrow and neatly houses the Stewart Warner gauges. A Hurst shifter and Schroeder steering wheel finish the look. Lombardi named the car “Little Miss Che-Vious” after his 15-year-old daughter Julia, a straight-A student. She was his trusty passenger on the car’s 3,000-mile maiden voyage earlier this spring, when they drove it from Ohio to Texas. For winning the Hot Rod of the Year award, not only does Lombardi get yearly bragging rights, his machine will be one of the Top 12 featured cars of the Goodguys event season. Lombardi will receive a custom toolbox from Snap-on as well as travel accommodations to the season-ending Goodguys 17th Southwest Nationals November 14-16 at Westworld, in Scottsdale, Arizona.