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Wednesday
Mar182015

Top Fuel Drag Racing

First, its great that Larry Dixon is OK after such a spectacular crash.

All the safety equipement, and landing on the tires on the track side of the guardrail were fortunate.

NHRA shortened the quarter mile (1,320 feet) to 1,000 feet to lower the speeds. Its clear that with technology the Hemis are generating massive horsepower. While dragsters have flexible frames to improve traction.

Massive horsepower, massive torque, the wings in front and back, the frame flexes, then breaks.

Hopefully the folks at NHRA will take a "hard look" at what happened, and what caused the frame to break.

 

Tuesday
Mar172015

Paddle Shifter Revisited

We still wonder why many street vehicles have a paddle shifter. From one perspective it makes sense, some have gear selector buttons on the consolde or the dash, and no actual means to select a gear.

The paddle shifter becomes the gear selector.

It probably goes like this: "Here is the D button and these dainty plastic paddles behind the steering wheel will enable you to shift gears if you so desire".

Perhaps there is a longing for the H pattern shifter accompanied by a clutch pedal which is truly on its way to extinction.

Lets take a look at a few points:

In the early days of drag racing, when a torque converter was "slow" and a manual was slow to shift. Racers would resort to modifying the synchronizers in the manual transmission (crash box) to improve the power shifts that often led to clutch explosions.

The purest of manual transmission had spur cut gears and no synchronizers. Talk about driver engagement, double clutching, rev matching to upshift / downshift. Does it sound like what a paddle shifter car does it all by itself (aided by technology).

Those were also the days of race driver having callouses on the hand he was shifter gears with. Especially around the classic Nurburgring.

More recently Corvette Racing was losing a competitive advantage by having a shift lever to change gears on the XTrac transmission. A few milliseconds here and there at the end of a lap, and race it makes a difference.

In addition to making a driver's life easier: "Let's forget the clutch pedal except to start and put more wear and tear on the transmission". In a competition environment a paddle shifter is a requirement. For street use not so much.

Why do all these street vehicles have paddle shifters?

Watch and listen...Michael Schumacher (we wish the best) use a paddle shifter.

 

Monday
Mar162015

March Sales Update

Weekly payment amounts.Its mid month March, lets take a look at the auto sales front.

Since last week most if not all manufacturers are offering one deal or incentive piled up on top of another and it all ends on March 31, 2015. Every incentive promotion has a "marketing name" to heighten the awereness.

The end of the first quarter is only 2 weeks away, needless to mention that everyone is seeking to conquer sales along with everyone else.

Yes...the auto business is hyper competitive.

CMS (Citizen Main Street) is sitting back and watching this advertising frenzy in print, TV, radio, online.

Perhaps...getting confused by all the deals, promotions, incentives. Certainly conclcuding that its a case of dynamic pricing run amock.

Needles to mention that whoever had a strong start to 2015 is in a dramatically better position than the manufacturers seeking to conquer in the last 2 weeks of the month.

Before we forget, many dealers are piled up with new vehicle inventory, while others have vehicles temporarily stalled in snow at Autoport (Halifax).

Some indicators:

  • The "nothing down" deals are getting scarcer.
  • The loan terms are extending at a faster rate than last year.
  • The transaction price is higher than last year.

Although interest rates are marginally lower, the Canadian dollar is dramatically devalued (in the dumpster) compared to last year.

The manufacturers that waited till March to throttle up, are in a less favorable position that the one that did a "hole shot" in January.

Let's see what month end will bring.

 

 

Saturday
Mar142015

Recoil

Its an innovative car that was unveiled at SEMA last year. A comprehensive walk around with Jay Leno, and the Ring Brothers that built the car. Its fast...

 

 

 

Friday
Mar132015

Vroom Room

Good Morning,

Its Friday, its the Vroom Room, we had a Friday 13th last month, and now today. How often do we get a Friday 13 in two consecutive months? A question for Twitter later today?

An impressive photo gallery of the Geneva Auto Show.

Technology is enveloping everything that we do, in one fashion or another its a participant in our daily lives. When technology gets a little cranky our daily lives are partially turned around for one reason or another.

You have to wonder if its the same with technology in vehicles.

Centre Screen

Some center screens are intuitive and relaxing, some are indifferent, other are irritating. The differences are not as noticeable until you go from a vehicle with a reasonably intuitive screen, to a vehicle with an irritating screen.

From our perspective intuitive screens are relaxing, busy ill designed screens are irritating.

Adaptive Cruise Control

Cool feature for highway cruising, until the radar picks up the truck in the right hand lane in a curve on the road. While the vehicle concludes that you are just about to hit something.

Back Up Camera

One version will get you to hit something, the other will make you stop way ahead of the obstruction (car, wall, snow bank). When the lens is dirty the camera is dramatically less useful.

There should be a single standard for all back up cameras, we have been saying this for a while now.

Gear Selector

Remember the column shift, then the floor shift, now we have shift buttons all over the dash and console. Where is D where is R and where is P?

Paddle Shifter

In a race application the best thing that ever happened, in a street / track car it will help the driver on the track. On a street vehicle, especially a "utility" version with an 8 speed transmission, and paddles that have a mind of their own. It begs the question "how useful is a paddle shifter on a "street utility vehicle"?

To all manufacturers "Save the money, get rid of those useless, irritating paddles".

Turbo Motors

In theory they make a ton of sense. We saw turbo motors emerging several years ago. Put it this way a 4 cylinder with a turbo, is still a 4 cylinder, still sounds like a 4 cylinder, and has no business being under the hood of certain makes.

Fuel Economy

We are firm believers that it takes gas to make horsepower, and it takes horsepower to push air. Put a turbo motor in a utility vehicle and start pushing air on the highway.

The Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance is this week end.