Car of the Day Opining on Automotive Opinion Wed, 10 Mar 2010 03:12:46 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Toyotas Make People Worse Drivers Wed, 10 Mar 2010 03:12:46 +0000 I’ve oft lamented the complete appliance-like nature of Toyota’s.  Their cars are boring and not fun to drive.  The recent recalls and problems are highlighting the dumbing-down of Toyota drivers all over country.

People who don’t understand to use the emergency brakes.  People who don’t think to turn off the ignition because the car is accelerating to high double digit speeds.  People who never realized that moving the transmission to neutral would let the car decelerate and the brakes to work again.

The guys at Jalopnik have summarized this nicely as “Beige Bites Back”.

It is such a great write up that I had to bring my blog out of retirement to share this bit of insight into the problems of bland cars and the blander drivers it creates.

527 – Rear Wheel Horsepower Sat, 31 Oct 2009 01:10:00 +0000 This fall I took the plunge and supercharged my GTO.  It is incredible!

Here’s the video of the car.

A big thanks to East Texas Muscle Cars for the great build.

The car now has 620hp measured at the crank if you factor in a 15% drivetrain loss.

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East Texas Muscle Cars on Autoblog Thu, 03 Sep 2009 03:17:28 +0000 East Texas Muscle Cars one of Texas’s premier GTO tuning shops has raised a bit of ruckus in the automotive world.  ETMC has decided to a V6 Camaro and challenge the almighty Nissan GT-R’s Nurburgring record.

Good luck to Steve and the crew at East Texas Muscle Cars on taking down Godzilla.

Read the full article at Autoblog here.

This is an important development in the world of muscle cars.  With new MPG standards coming from the new government all the speed freaks out there are going to need to find ways to squeeze more power out of less engine.  The Japanese and the Europeans are used to this mentality, its good to see that there is an American Muscle car future post V8 popularity.  There will still be V8s, just a lot less of them.  ETMC is bringing back the tradition of Buick GNX.  A hi-powered, turbo-charged, RWD muscle car is just what we need.

My Wife Likes Driving Around Topless Mon, 24 Aug 2009 01:52:41 +0000 has been dormant for a little while, mainly because I don’t want another car everyday.  I’m a satisfied GTO driver.

This weekend another car joined the official “” stables.  (my garage)

My wife is the proud owner of a Mercedes 2006 SLK 55 AMG.  She has long been a fan of roadsters, especially the ones from Germany.  I have been a long time fine of performance vehicles, stick a “M”, “S” or an “AMG” badge on my car and I’m instantly more interested.

In 2005 Mercedes sent their smallest car on a quest for larger engine.  In the great tradition of the GTO, Mercedes found a V8 that would fit bit.  The nice thing about the German engineers is they didn’t stop at just simply putting a 355hp 5.4 liter V-8 under the hood, no they gave the car the full-tilt treatment.

Suspension, brakes, wheels, transmission, interior and exterior tweaks all set this car apart from the normal SLKs.  The SLK in any flavor is a fun little roadster.  An SLK tuned by AMG is a legitimate sports car and it has the tire-smoking power to prove it.  It’s V8 produces it peak torque rating of 376lb-ft at 4000 rpm. So this isn’t just some high revving engine with anemic torque numbers, it can lay a rubber signature on the road faster than you can say “blitzkrieg”.

In 2006 only a little over 1200 of the SLKs made got the AMG treatment.  So if you see little SLK roadster, watch out for the ones with quad tailpipes and the staggered wheels because those little cars can get to 60 in under 5 seconds.

Oh and it’s also a convertible.

The Cure for Car of the Day Mon, 11 May 2009 00:52:09 +0000 First let me apologize to any readers of COTD there may have been, it has been nearly 6 months since my last post and I don’t see a lot more posts in my future.

“Car of the Day” has been a problem I have had for years.  A problem that caused me to obsess over cars.  Obsess over all kinds of cars.  Last year I purchased one of my frequent obsessions.

The car was a 2006 Pontiac GTO.  The GTO really embodies everything I was looking for in my next car.  I wanted power.  The 400hp LS2 V8 meets that requirement easily.  Comfort and style were some other requirements.  While the 2006 GTO may not be quite the looker of the new Camaro, I do like the exterior upgrades made to the LS2 GTOs.  The other key trait of the GTO is value.  If you want power and value do some searching on and you won’t be disappointed with the bang to value that the GTO can give you.

However, one car can’t cure a real case of COTD syndrome.  A syndrome where you obsess over the entirety of automobiledom.  The trick for me has been to have a daily driver.  The trick is to keep the GTO as the fun car.  I only the drive the GTO when I want to really “drive” a car.  I don’t sludge through my daily commute in my dream car.  My dream car can sit in the garage on the days I’m just “going through the motions.”

This keeps the miles off my GTO and more importantly it keeps me from taking the GTO for granted.  Driving a car every day takes the magic away, it causes one to become too familiar with all the great traits that made one want the car in the first place.

So if you are looking for a cure for COTD syndrome, it’s not easy.  First you have to find the right car and second you need a daily driver to get you from place to place, day in and day out.

By parking my GTO in the garage I will be a satisfied GTO owner for a much longer period of time than I originally thought.  So while Pontiac may be done, they’ve built some great cars and I’m planning on enjoying my GTO for a long time.

The Nissan GTO? Sun, 07 Dec 2008 21:49:07 +0000 Regular readers of Car of the Day know that we at COTD are great fans of the new Pontiac GTO.  I’ve written plenty of info on the GTO.  One of the great things about the GTO was the amount of performance and quality that you get for the price.  

Nissan has done a pretty impressive job of combining these same factors with their new 370Z.  


The new 370Z can be had for less than $30k.  For your 30 grand you get a stylish 2 seater with 332hp and 270 lb-ft of torque.  That much horsepower in a 3,359 lb car gets you 60mph in 5 seconds and a 13.4 quarter mile.   

Those numbers are very similar to stats the magazines were reporting on the 400hp GTO.  The 350Z that was being sold at the same time as the GTO wasn’t really competitive with GTO in terms of straight-line performance.  In fact, in GTO circles there is a saying that goes something like this — “350Z kills are kinda like belly buttons, everybody’s got one.”  That won’t be true for the 370Z.  

 If you only need 2 seats and you want a new car and you don’t care for the “Bland Am” styling of the GTO check out the 370Z.  You can read more and watch some videos at Inside Line.

The Lesser GTO? Mon, 17 Nov 2008 02:49:31 +0000 In 2004 GM imported an Australian muscle car and sold it to the US as the Pontiac GTO.  It was 40 years after the original GTO was first introduced to the world.  The GTO may not have been the retro-mobile along the lines of the upcoming Camaro or the new Challenger, but it was true to the GTO formula.  Take a small coupe, stuff the biggest engine in it and let the tires smoke!

The 2004 GTO was powered by the infamous LS1 and was putting out 350hp and 365lb-ft of torque.  The 2004 received high marks for speed and comfort, but was much aligned for being a “Bland Am”.  In 2005 and 2006 the GTO was updated with 50 more horsepower and 35lb-ft of torque.  The newer GTOs also got a little more physical appearance improvements with some hood scoops and split dual exhaust.  

In the GTO community what really separates the 2004 vs the 2005/6 GTOs is simply the engine.  Under the plain hood of the 2004 pumps the 350hp LS1 and beneath the hood scoops of the newer models is the 400hp LS2.

Both versions of the GTO enjoy a large aftermarket of go-fast goodies and tuning opportunities for the GTO driver who wants to go faster.  An interesting tidbit about the LS1 is that given the same mods it tends to respond with more horsepower.  

SLP makes a “421HP Bobcat” package for the 2004 GTO that gives the LS1 a 71hp boost for $3405.  SLP makes an identical Performance Pac for the 2005/6 GTO called the “455HP Bobcat” sold for $3868.  That gives the 2005/6 GTOs merely a 55hp gain.

If you study those numbers you wil realize that LS1 produces 16 more hp for 463 less dollars.  Of course if an ’04 GTO owner and an ’06 GTO owner were to both purchase the same Performance Pacs the ’06 GTO would still have 34 more horsepower.  

All these factors have made the 2005/6 GTOs slightly more desirable than the 2004 GTOs.  For the thinking muscle car fan, a good case can be made for the rarer slightly less powerful 2004 GTO.  However, a slightly less powerful 2004 GTO is just a few mods away from being faster than a stock LS2 GTO.

Oh and you should have some money left over for mods because the 2004 GTOs are being sold less than $15k.  

So is it the 2004 the “Lesser GTO”?  Well it has less horsepower, less appearance modifications, mods cost less and the selling price is less.  So yes the LS1 GTO is the lesser GTO, but sometimes less is more.   

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James Bond’s Car Fri, 14 Nov 2008 13:56:45 +0000 Today, Quantum of Solace, the latest James Bond film is released.  With the rebooting of the 007 franchise, Bond is back in a car from Britain, the way it is supposed to be.  Ian Flemming meant for his English secret agent to drive English cars.  For most of the franchise James Bond drove Aston Martins and Lotuses.  There was an occasional deviation, but that was sometimes a result of the location and the story.  Bond’s official car has been from the UK.  

In the 90s there was major automotive news and 007 news when James Bond drove several BMWs in multiple movies.  The cars made by Q for Bond were from Germany.  To some it was blasphemy to others it was a major marketing coup for BMW.  

With the recent reboot of the Bond franchise my favorite secret agent is back in an Aston Martin.

The guys at Inside Line have a great write up about driving the car Bond drove in the newest movie, Quantum of Solace.

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Trailblazer SS Fri, 31 Oct 2008 14:42:30 +0000 If you want nearly 400hp.  If you want 4 doors.  If you want it all for less than $20k, then the Trailblazer SS is for you.  

With the bottom falling out of the SUV and truck market the Trailblazer SS has become the cheapest way to your hands on a LS2 powered vehicle.  

These SUVs are only a cold-air intake and a tune away from running in the mid 8s in the 1/8th of a mile, which is good enough for a sub 5 second 0-60 run.

The Trailblazer SS also is the most configurable transport option with a Corvette engine under the hood.  You can get your Trailblazer however you want it.  You can go fully loaded with all the normal luxury SUV options, including power everything, 4WD, leather everything, dual zone climate control, and all the other goodies. And if you want the cheapest, lightest option for your Trailblazer SS then you can pick up a 2WD SS with cloth seats.  

2WD vs 4WD is an interesting choice, because with the 4WD you can kiss good-bye to wheel-spin and problems launching.  With 2WD you get the lighter vehicle that allows for some tail out fun and with the right tires superior 1/4 mile times.   

Either way you up with one very well rounded SUV: fast, practical, spacious and economical.

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Toyota’s Lame Names Wed, 29 Oct 2008 13:57:28 +0000 Well it should be no surprise that lame cars come with lame names.  I’ve documented on this site before the lame-ness of the Camry and even pointed you to the great Anti-Camry Blog.

Autoblog has taken a little bit of time to produce the Top Ten Gibberish Car Names and I’m happy to report that the Camry has made the list. 

The list would be perfect if the included the Solara.