MMR Blog

My Word: BMW i8

Posted on October 30, 2014 Comments (1)

“This is the best car that has ever come to Walmart.”

BMW i8

Larry assured me the young Walmart employee was as sincere as brown shoes. And likely correct in his judgment. My press car for the week was a BMW i8. As advanced technologically as any BMW I could recall and as special to look upon as anything Bavarian not meant to be eaten.

BMW i8

Larry Bruch is my rent-a-nerd who keeps my computers functional and is also an assistant when it comes to assessing the cars I am sent to assess. He uses cars in a different way than I do and it's useful to me to hear about that difference.

This time, given the extreme zones which this BMW has claimed, I asked Larry to expose the i8 to unique situations and report on reactions he noticed. As well as giving me his personal take. “This car gets more attention from more different people than any car I have ever been in.” he said. And that’s from kids, adults, men, women—Demographics gone wild. “Young women taking pictures like never before from that group.”

BMW i8

Larry cajoled his rabbi into taking time for a short ride. That experience elicited from the cleric overt laughter, which was uncharacteristic for Larry’s rabbi, but not for passengers in general. “Everybody laughs.” Larry reported. It’s the quickness of the acceleration, the unique interior in which they are ensconced, the eager willingness of the car to move. Passengers all laughed with open glee. “This is one happy-making car” he said.

BMW i8

BMW i8 backseat

The Tuesday Car Table folks could easily be blasé about odd and awesome rolling stock. After all our lunch regulars have over time brought on any given Tuesday at noon some impressive vehicles of their own to The Santa Fe Bar and Grill (all visitors welcome). Assorted McLarens, hot-rodded Audi R8s, a Ferrari Enzo, Bentleys, a Porsche 918. But real car guys never get jaded. They want to see, touch, ask about. They were all over the i8. Even trying out the back seat.

So this plug-in hybrid from Bavaria’s motor works, made of carbon fibre with a 1.5 liter 3 cylinder engine and a couple of electric motors at the wheels. All work willingly and seamlessly and appropriately in concert or on private missions.

BMW i8 wall charger

Performance is never slighted in this car having those particular initials writ large upon it. But then it’s as green as a St. Pat’s Day parade as well. Its economy is astonishing.

But what really blew the minds of curious Car Table folk was their inability to open the hood. They called BMW and were told don't even try. “You could invalidate the warranty.”

What? Laughter here, too. Yep. Stay out. This isn’t a car, this is a personal mobility device with ways of doing things you don’t need to know about. 

BMW i8 grill

BMW—truth telling—is not my fave among Teutonic road goers. However I have been amused and impressed by the marque’s insistence on building the best of normally-aspirated engines rather than taking an easier route to power with turbos like everyone else did. Until. Whap. OK—turbos! 

And at that, such good ones. And then BMW’s diesel—wow . Fine, fine diesel.

BMW i8 interior

And now this clear move into of all things a delightful advanced path toward tomorrow with comforting news for car buffs. Thus: Socially responsible driving need not be dull. Save the planet and your zest for driving at the same time. This is a light-hearted, bright-minded way to approach the matter of four-wheeled transport in time of transition. Out of character for BMW? Well, no. A deft change of character perhaps. Read the many reviews on the web and enjoy deciding for yourself.

A negative matter here. Larry with the i8 was approached by a man not feeling kindly toward BMW dealers. “I went to buy one of those”, he said. “The dealer laughed at him. He was only getting two. So his wife was getting one of them and a friend the other. And his friend was paying him $30,000 more than sticker price.” Simple as that. The man told Larry: “It's unlikely many i8s will get to the general public. Dealers will see to that. And to their own pocket.”

Ah the motor trade. As the Brits call them. Greedy. Finagling. Too bad if the BMW dealers choose to play that way. It's unbecoming. But never mind. BMW, the magicians of Munich, have nonetheless made a point. We know how to change the scene and make the future look delightful. And everyone else seems a little off gait. 

Laughter.


My Word: Tread Lightly

Posted on October 22, 2014 Comments (1)

The Great Divide Expedition

Recently I wrote in these environs about Range Rover’s Great Divide Expedition reenactment. The original was 25 years ago and involved a Bill Baker inspired event for motoring journalists taking part in a criss-crossing trip down the spine of the Continental Divide in Colorado.

There were several waves of us taking part in different sections of the route laid out by off-road expert Tom Collins, a.k.a. T.C. He’s still working for Land Rover and furthering that company’s programs of using their capable vehicles to open up back-country adventures for owners and prospective buyers.

Welcome to Tin Cup

On the original Great Divide trip in 1989 I was in the wave that crossed what is called variously St. Elmo or Tin Cup Pass depending on the direction you are headed. The story is just a click away here if you missed what I wrote about my family’s personal connection to the ghost town of Tin Cup (or Tincup) in Colorado. I had not known at the time I sent Peter the story whether or not the reenactment leg I was on in 2014 would include that Taylor Park town.

As it turned out it did not. Our group began in Denver, crawled over the rockiness of Red Cone Pass and the 13,188-foot Mosquito Pass and thence to Aspen with an intervening overnight in Breckenridge. (My story about the trip will be in AutoWeek soon. A link will be provided here.)

Red Cone Pass

Off Road Quad

Why no Tin Cup? The Land Rover instructors, one to each of the posh 2014 Range Rovers in which we drove the splendor of Colorado’s above-timber-line trails, told us that some of the old route for the Great Divide was now unusable. On one section a tunnel had collapsed, on others overuse by the new mosquitos of the off-road—the 4x4 ATVs variously called quads or side-by-sides—have altered some roads through overuse making them more trouble than they are worth.

These ATVs are small, capable and relatively inexpensive. They have made the back-country more accessible to more people, which cannot be bad unto itself. However a goodly number of the newcomers either never heard of “Tread Lightly” or have no respect for the program that Land Rover has championed with the Forest Service for a quarter century.

Tread Lightly

Tread Lightly is a general agreement that vehicles will stay on the existing roads and trails, not enlarging them or—heaven forfend—not ignoring them and striking off across virgin country. And that visitors will leave nothing behind and take only pictures with them. It’s a kindness attitude toward the environment that enough of the new folk either can’t do or won’t try. And, truth be told, the large-huge-wheeled, knobby tired, short-wheel-based, powerful machines just naturally have a different effect on the surface of the earth than an SUV.

In my AutoWeek story I likened the antagonistic mix of users of old roads and trails to that which arose some seasons ago on the ski slopes. Mogul fields were made unusable to the users of long skis when a new lot on short skis took to skiing them. It’s not the intent that changes the terrain, just the way the beast is built. Short-ski skiers recut the moguls and long-ski skiers were out of luck.

Anyway, Land Rover saw fit to eliminate the Tin Cup part of the route which came after the section I was scheduled for anyway. I was told that Tin Cup is as heavily trafficked as Times Square on summer weekends these days. ATVs are everywhere and there is even a traffic light.

Nonetheless my interest in seeing the spot again has been stirred. I want to go back and see for myself. That will not be possible this fall because snow—already fallen in some serious amounts—can make the interesting routes impassible. But there’s another reason: I go in this week for some more reworking of my aging suspension system. Winter looms too large and so I’m thinking early summer of 2015 when the old roads start browning and creeks a-gurgling and the sun climbs higher in the sky.

Log House Tin Cup

The thought struck me, maybe some of you guys with under-exercised SUVS or who haven’t seen Colorado at its height might like to join me/us. Say start here in Santa Fe or maybe Denver or the Springs and join up en route. I’ll get suggestions for likely passes from T.C. at Land Rover. He has at least a nodding acquaintance with every important rock in the Rockies. We’ll find some good passages and we’ll advance on Tin Cup. We’ll find Uncle Will’s log house and my Great Grandmother’s grave and see what ghost towns look like when engines have awakened them.

If you have any interest in such a plan, send me an email. Subject: Tin Cup Trek. We’ll keep you informed. Maybe something will come of it. Anyway we’ve got more ideas on trips—some more for sportive cars—you might like to try. We’ll keep you up on those as well. (One particularly will blow your mind.)

Cars are meant to be driven; hills are meant to be climbed; local cafes are meant to be tried. And I suspect there’s something special beyond that next bend.


My Word: Slade

Posted on October 2, 2014 Comments (4)

by Denise McCluggage

Way 2 Cool

My friend Ribeye, whom I first encountered skiing at Taos where he was an instructor and then met again sometime later when he was making Way 2 Cool root beer in Santa Fe, was the one who told me this story. He had since returned to California where he was an electrician. Licensed yet. But then a grower of medical marijuana, as intricate and careful an enterprise as making perfect root beer, which Way 2 Cool was. (Ribeye said it was the Madagascar vanilla that mattered most. To Way 2 Cool, anyway.)

All of the above I present as background so you know that Ribeye had a background diverse enough to truly appreciate the scene he described to me. After I tell you about that I will meander off in the fashion writing for websites makes possible and I have come to enjoy. I’ve been at typewriters and keyboards for a long time so I can do precise-word-count and stick-to-the-point journalism. But it’s more fun to amble and ramble… So that’s the route I’ll take. Follow along if you like.

I don’t know what Ribeye was doing sitting on a bench at a bus stop in East Oakland, but he was. To fix the time I’ll say this was the year that Cadillac first built the Escalade. This in answer to dealers who kept whining for an SUV. General Motors didn’t want to build one insisting that the Grabowski branch of the family served that function nicely without involving Cadillac.

Here I am adding to your trivia closet so that you might at some point astound friends and colleagues or maybe even score yourself a beer. So maybe you thought GMC—that branch of the Detroit automaking group who claim to be professional grade and are producers of the Sierra pickup and a string of crossovers and SUVs—stood for General Motors Corporation or some such. Nope. The previous paragraph has the answer. GMC stands for Grabowski Motor Company. Isn’t that cool? Goes back 102 years so you’re forgiven if you didn’t remember.

Cadillac Escalade

Anyway the Escalade was on the market and not doing all that well. Until. Until the black community in Detroit and then elsewhere began picking up on it. And it became a most welcome financial success.

So Ribeye is on this bench in East Oakland, a neighborhood rather reminiscent of many Detroit neighborhoods. Seated next to him waiting for a bus was an East Oakland resident. And down the street approaching them came another resident. Rather more resplendent than the bench-sitter he wore a bright suit just a glimmer on the shiny side and what might have been a diamond chip gleamed from an incisor. He was clearly well-placed on the world’s surface. He greeted Ribeye’s bench companion. “Hey, man,” he said, “J’see my new Slade?” The man on the bench sat quietly, looking straight ahead. Two beats of silence then he said: “Ah seen it.”

Ribeye nearly choked trying not to laugh at the perfection of it. The shiny guy went on his Bo Diddley way and a bus came.

A few weeks ago I was delivered a press test car—the long, black enormousness of a new Escalade stood in my driveway. I walked around it, opened the door and watched as a full-size running board slide out. A Sir Walter Raleigh gesture that really meant something. A full-sized foot could actually stand on it. No slippy-slidey token little step for this appearing-disappearing act. Close the door, open the door. Come, go.

Cadillac Escalade interior

The black and brown leather interior was as rich as Belgian chocolate. The dash expansive and appealing. GM has so often mistaken glitz for elegance. Hey, they relaxed into it this time. Ah-h-h.

Oh, the space. Useful, accessible. A long slightly sloping but one plane storage area could sleep a small family. With maybe a pony. This is one commodious vehicle. And if that is what you need there is no reason it cannot also be elegant, LED-lighted, comfortable, eye-catching and thoughtful. It is.

adjustable pedals

Driving it I found to be pleasurable as well. I like big cars that drive small. The Slade steering is easy and precise. And guess what? There’s a button to adjust pedal altitude to fit the driver. Like a big rig has. (Though I’d like a little more height on the seat adjustment.)

There are detailed driving impressions on car test sites for you to pore over. Go pore. Or better yet go try on an Escalade. If your life has a lot of dogs and kids and stuff that requires lugging in it they’ve been thinking about you at Cadillac.

I spent some more time after a short drive just feeling and looking and admiring. As I took a last three-quarters stare at the Cadillac Escalade’s long, black presence in my dimming driveway a long-ago story popped to mind. I laughed. Said softly: “Ah seen it.” And went in the house.


My Word: The Re-Discovery of Tin Cup

Posted on September 3, 2014 Comments (3)

By Denise McCluggage

Welcome to Historic Tin Cup

Car companies have gone through several stages in how they introduce the press to their new vehicles. And thus to readers of the publications represented. There was a time when the car makers spent lavishly. One might say even foolishly. The P.R. or marketing folks handed out first class plane tickets to deliver the writers to the posh resorts where the new vehicles were met with and driven. Just to prove that was foolish some of my colleagues would swap the single first class passage for two economy tickets (it was easier and fee-free in those days) and their wives were miraculously whisked to the same seaside or mountain spot.

On the q.t. (all hoped) and housed in a lesser hostelry. When his time at the “Ride and Drive” of the car company ended the writer would transfer to those more modest digs and stay on a few days. (Departure changes were free then, too.) The couple had a pleasant few days with no transportation cost to them.

One fellow journalist stretched his first-class tickets into as many miles as possible even if such a ruse involved more stops. He was compulsive about frequent flyer miles and could probably take every cousin he had around the world. My suggestion that maybe the host car company paid for first class seats so that the writers would be rested when they arrived met with a return suggestion that I mind my own business.

What the hospitality trade calls “room gifts” were equally lavish at that time. Pieces of superior luggage maybe. Almost always a racing jacket with the company logo. Wine. A welter of electronics. The European press really expected high-ticket items, even more than Americans. An oft-told story was a car introduction in which an American company was hosting a collection of European reporters. The gift was something like an iPod with a small note of “hope you enjoy this” or some such. In some rooms this was apparently left on the TV set.

Yep, you guessed it. At checkout time a few of the European journalists came off the elevators lugging a great armful of TV. Hearing of this we Americans tried to imagine embarrassed P.R. types struggling to deal with this cross-cultural misunderstanding.

All the excesses of hospitality faded even before the economy stumbled and car companies cut back to what was after all the essentials of getting a new model car into our hands in a pleasant setting with knowledgeable executives nearby to answer questions about the vehicle, its design and performance and a description of the marketing plans laid out for it. That’s what a public relations department was supposed to do.

Range Rover

The thing is some did it with more class, style and originality than others. And Louis Vuitton garment bags had nothing to do with it. The programs themselves were the draw. Bill Baker, a prince among P.R. people, ran such programs for Land Rover. Everyone wanted to be on a Bill Baker trip because his trips were always germane to the vehicle involved, always well organized and well-realized. And always great fun.

Great Divide Expedition

This week I will be in Colorado’s Rockies to celebrate the 25th anniversary of one of Bill Baker’s programs for Land Rover. The reunion is called the Great Divide Expedition. The original 25 years ago wended its way—working north to south, heading eastward now westward—over trails and passes that crossed that incredible line that split the country into watersheds, east or west. This trickle of melt from summit snowfall will find its way on this side of that pebble then farther on that side of that boulder, joining more glinting run offs, growing larger, more intentional. And quite obviously gaining a destination as these streamlets become creeks and rivers.

It’s the Atlantic ocean for one part of that tiny streamlet; the Pacific for another. That’s the drama of the Continental Divide. You see a drop join another drop, separate from another and a watershed is created before your eyes. Push down here and you’ve altered a destiny for a sun-melted Rocky Mountain snowflake.

Hey, that gets to me.

The Great Divide Expedition

When Bill Baker chose criss-crossing the Great Divide to show off Land Rover’s adept ways with steeps and deeps and rocks and ravines he did not know my family had a history with one of those passes. One called either Tin Cup Pass or St. Elmo’s depending on which way you’re heading. (Tin Cup is on the western slope.) My Daddy at seven or eight—a Kansas farm boy then—had been on a horse-drawn wagon from St. Elmo with his mother to visit his Uncle Will in Tin Cup, an active mining town as the 1800s tumbled toward the 20th Century.

Tin Cup Log Cabinc

In Tin Cup Daddy’s Uncle Will had a sturdy log house that stands to this day and had a store that succumbed to a downtown-devouring fire. The next year the other half of the downtown burned. By the 1930s Tin Cup had one year-round resident—a young man named, if I recall across the years, Ross Seton. He stayed through the snowed-in winter to keep an eye on his gold mine.

I was there in the ‘30s when I was just a few years older than Daddy had been his first visit. Memories pulled my Daddy back to the Colorado ghost town which his mother had not liked. She kept whispering promises of watermelon if he would say he wanted to go home to Kansas. Or so he would tell us as the sun, which oddly seemed to set in the East in Tin Cup, turned the mountain opposite a rosy pink every night.

Daddy’s grandmother is buried in Tin Cup in one of those mountain cemeteries with oddly elevated wooden fences around each grave. We found it on the Land Rover expedition when we went through Tin Cup on the way over the Continental Divide yet again. To St. Elmo. Hey, my kinfolk are in that rugged outpost that Bill Baker had sent a collection of Land Rovers through. And new Land Rovers will do the same this week with old people to drive them.

Tincup PAss Continental Divide

I don’t know if the anniversary visit to the Great Divide will visit either Tin Cup or St. Elmo this time. I’d rather just find out than ask. I’ll have memories stirred either way. There will be some of the original expedition drivers on this return. And Bill Baker will be among them which will represent a strong will and a stalwart spirit. He has spent much of his recent life in a battle with cancer and is recovering with effort.

As for me, I’ll be returning with a right hip and a right knee that are not original equipment. And a left hip soon to be discarded in similar fashion. I’m a lot older than my Daddy ever got to be. I haven’t been to Tin Cup since that first Land Rover trip. No matter what it will be a memorable weekend.

I wonder if the mountain is still pink as the sun drops into a mysterious East.

I know there will be no one lugging TV sets out of any hotel. And I’ve got an iPod, thanks.


My Word: Serial Collecting

Posted on August 21, 2014 Comments (1)

by Denise McCluggage

It seemed to Joe Marchetti it was about time to get the Breadvan back. Joe, who died way too early at 68 in 2002, ran the Como Inn—a huge Chicago eatery—as well as more intimate restaurants. He also set up some terrific car events at Elkhart Lake because he probably liked cars as much as food and he knew how to celebrate both.

Como Inn Restaurant

As for the Breadvan, it was a Kamm-backed special Ferrari based on a 250 SWB Ferrari and was a GTO beater in some circumstances. Joe ha­­d maybe owned it a couple of times by then because that’s the way people collected cars in those days; they’d have a handful of interesting cars at any one time and sell them to each other for a few years while they experienced other fare. They’d buy them and drive them until someone else expressed an interest in them or they had a yearning for one they’d owned back when and want another go at it and let the word out.

Ferrari Breadvan

It was a sensible way to experience an assortment of entertaining vehicles and I was fascinated to hear Joe tell about the time when such serial collecting was the way to go. Amassing more permanent collections required more space to keep the cars, more commitment for long-term care and certainly tied up more money. Serial collection done in the pass-it-on mode also offered more flexibility and variety in rolling stock. A good thing for people who liked to experience what they owned, not just list it to impress others.

But the change in collector style inevitably came. When Joe went looking for the Breadvan he’d discovered what seemed like downright treachery. The latest owner instead of enquiring around to see who might want it next had quietly sold it for a goodly sum to a Japanese collector who in turn had swept it off to his home country. The unlikelihood of it ever returning to the US darkened the sky.

The Japanese, heady with a booming economy, were buying everything then—ski areas, Rockefeller Plaza. But those more fixed-in-place purchases didn’t bother car people as much as the portable collectibles did. Cars just disappeared into ship holds without a beep. Prices soared. And that ended the friendly turns-taking approach to collecting. The temptation to literally sell out was hard to resist. Money doesn’t talk; it sidles up to whisper sweet everythings in your ear.

Actually, many of the cars swallowed by Japan at that time found their way back to the US as fortunes changed and the Japanese economy weakened. But I don’t think Joe ever had another crack at the Breadvan before his untimely death.

Not that I had started out in these ramblings to write about the Breadvan and Joe Marchetti’s serial ownership of some appealing Italian machinery. What I had intended to do was write about how you could tell the year that bidders at car auctions had been in high school by the cars they bid on. But did anything up to now even hint I was heading there? No.

But starting now I’ll write about Muscle Cars and how popular they suddenly were on the auction circuit, lighting up the eyes of ball-cap wearers in easy-seat jeans and marking up record prices. And how I never liked the damned things. As a driver I had grown fond of brakes with stopping power. And I admired cars that took to cornering with a pleasing kinesthetic feedback. I found Muscle Cars awkward. Even brutish. You might say their power was a guy thing but I thought it simply loutish.

Yes, going fast in a straight line has its appeal but that quickly fades when you get used to the speed and fast doesn’t feel fast anymore. Phil Hill called that becoming “velocitized” in stories he told me about the Mexican Road Race and how he relied on his tach when going through villages so he knew his actual speed and not how fast he felt he was going. That kept him out of village plazas at the end of long black skid marks. He did go off the road rather dramatically once but everyone was exiting there because on-lookers had taken to removing signs from the highway, especially those warning of sudden road changes. He soon learned to use the size of a collected crowd (and its visible anticipation) at any given spot along the road as an indication of the risk involved. As good a marker as sign posts with sharply bent arrows or exclamation marks.

I think I’m meandering again so let me say that I’ve always preferred “quick” to “fast.” Quick is an esthetic without numbers. You’re not fooled by it, just pleased. Fast can suck you into trouble and wrap you around trees. Quick works with you if you let it. And it has that collected canter feel. Quick is rarely a characteristic of anything called “Muscle”.

When muscle cars at auction started pulling such large numbers some participants in Keith Martin’s client sessions at the auctions started asking questions. Will this surge in prices for these cars hold up? Keith is my favorite expert on values of collector cars. He’s been putting out “Sport’s Car Market” magazine since it was a typed newsletter. He knows the field and I admire his integrity. Living up to that he told his group a simple “no”. He said that the blossoming of muscle car values was the product of guys who cherished the cars when they first appeared and the guys were in high school. They craved them but couldn’t buy them. Now they’re older and richer and can pay anything to realize their high school dreams. And do.

As powerful as such whims can be (especially when you can now afford to be the coolest guy ever if you were still in high school) such whims are not makers of sustainable value. And that’s what Keith in effect told his students. The boom won’t last. But that’s not at all what the auction guys—rubbing palms together—wanted known. Hey, moneeee is involved here. The auction guys, making a lot are ready to make more.

Someone overheard Keith’s questioning the endurance of the muscle car’s popularity and told the auction guys. The auction guys then ordered Keith to leave the building. (Yep. Leave.) And in effect “shut up”. And that after all the good he had done for what is known as “the collector-car hobby”. Thank you from the auction houses. Greed is a powerful whatever.

But all that was several years ago. Both Keith and the auction guys may be okay again. I don’t know. But Keith was right about muscle cars and their bubble of extreme popularity. Didn’t last. Golly, what power high school wields, even in memory.

But what got me thinking about muscle cars in the first place is their return – not as vintage cars but new ones. Will the return bring on a new boom in auction prices when today’s high school kids get rich and nostalgic down the line? No. Because cars don’t seem to matter as much to today’s high school kids. Or the kids today have the ability to get what they want at the time they want it and thus forget the forgettable. It’s only our unresolved yearning that power memories.

Anyway, the new muscle cars are certainly better cars than the old ones. But then all cars are better in that they stop better, take corners more neatly and still go as fast in a straight line as the current culture allows. Old or new muscle cars, I still don’t like them much. Most are still more crude than I like a car to be. Except for one instance which I’ll be getting to after circling the barn another time. A well-mannered but manifestly muscular Muscle Car.

Shoot, I might as well jump right in: 2015 Chrysler Challenger SRT Hellcat.

Hellcat

I’ll let you Google it and note all that appeals to you. Basics: It’s fired by a Hemi 6.2 liter V8 and Chrysler says it is the most powerful production car ever. Doubt them if you like but it does have this: 707 (707!) HP and 650 pound-feet of torque. You can have a six-speed manual or an 8-speed automatic. And a lot of clever engineering.

I find all that quite amusing because what I said to the Chrysler people was “What a sweet car!” And I meant it. Never thought ‘til later they might be insulted that their hairy new beast, their halo car, should be called “sweet”.

I like the 707 HP. It says “flight” right off the bat and it does move instantly and rapidly. I’m more an admirer of torque than horsepower (and why don’t they simply list power-to-weight ratio?). This Challenger has the ability to wreathe the departure zone in billows of smoke and shorten your tire life if you wish, but there are controls that allow you to simply reduce the world as seen in your rear-view mirror at an impressive pace without a lot of showing off.

I put that in the sweet column.

It also is simply a handsome vehicle. Inside and out. Simple. Larger than I like but it is a Challenger and needs some presence for those with memories. Actually it drives small. Neat turning circle which matters to me. (I’m a fan of four-wheel steering, you know.) This is not a show-off hey-watch-me car. It simply performs. Results without visible effort. Now, by damn that is Sweet!

The Challenger comes it two lesser levels of performance but for highway dot to dotting quite adequate. For similar duties the Hellcat can be a slit-eyed pussy too at a sun-bathed purr. That’s another sweet attribute. You rumble when you want. Blast when you wish. The capability is there but you summon it quietly as desired or needed. That’s a trait I found “sweet” in two other vehicles—the GT-R (hoping the Infiniti Eau Rouge follows) and the 1001 HP version of the Bugatti Veyron. Ultra capable non show-off cars.

So that’s my view of muscle cars. Come to think of it there was one I rather liked in that original go-round of the breed—a Barracuda. I can claim a little consistency here. But I’m not sure what all this has to do with Joe Marchetti and his Breadvan.