Patterico's Pontifications


Just Another Car Company

Filed under: Government — DRJ @ 8:32 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Congress is preparing for the Toyota oversight hearings amid reports that federal prosecutors have initiated a criminal probe of Toyota’s safety problems:

“Federal prosecutors have launched a criminal investigation into Toyota’s safety troubles, the Japanese automaker confirmed Monday, as the company’s leadership braces for tough questions in congressional hearings this week about its recent spate of recalls.

Toyota officials said the company received a subpoena from a federal grand jury in New York on Feb. 8 requesting documents related to unintended acceleration of some Toyota vehicles and the braking system of its popular Prius hybrid.”

It’s “dark days” for Toyota and NHTSA’s chairman overseer, Secretary of Transportation (and Republican) Ray LaHood:

“It’s dark days for Toyota, for sure,” said John Heitmann, a University of Dayton professor who specializes in automotive history. “This won’t kill Toyota , but it will level them to a playing field they’re not used to: Being just another car company like everyone else.”

The committees also appear to have NHTSA in their crosshairs. Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., the House Energy and Commerce Committee chair, and House Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Bart Stupak , D-Mich., warned Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood in a letter Monday that he better be prepared to answer specific questions about NHTSA’s inadequacies at Tuesday’s hearing.

The letter states that NHTSA has received 2,600 complaints between 2000 and 2010 about sudden acceleration in Toyota vehicles but only opened “cursory investigation” in 2004.

Waxman also noted that “NHTSA appears to lack the technical expertise necessary to analyze whether incidents of sudden unintended acceleration are caused by defects in the cars’ electronics systems.”

Maybe this is what happens with an education system that likes to teach liberal arts instead of science, and a government that likes to hire JDs instead of engineers.


66 Responses to “Just Another Car Company”

  1. prediction: part of the proposed settlement will be for Toyota employee’s to have UAW representation, so they can be protected from the evil company.

    redc1c4 (fb8750)

  2. Criminal? Like how Martha Stewart was a criminal?

    What a fabulously gay little country we are become.

    happyfeet (713679)

  3. Thought experiment:

    Maybe there is absolutely nothing wrong with Toyota acceleration.

    1. The whole “unintended acceleration” problem a few years ago was old farts not knowing the difference between the pedals. Put on interlocks so you can’t start the car without a foot on brakes. Problem solved.

    2. Until publicity hit, Ford was getting about as many complaints as Toyota.

    3. Drive at 100 mph in a Toyota. Push on gas pedal and brake pedal at same time, car stops. Every time.

    4. They can’t find any other reason for the problem, and they have had good engineer look at it.

    If you are Toyota and you believe there is no problem, what do you do?

    TomHynes (2e563b)

  4. To be accurate, Ray LaHood is the Secretary of Transportation. David Strickland is the Administrator for the National Transportation Safety Administration.

    Dave N. (35017e)

  5. I do not like seeing my name in a post 😉

    Nothing like opening a criminal case against your competition.

    JD (f56a68)

  6. Even if they never fix this problem, I’ll still prefer a Toyota over a Chevy or Chrysler. IF there’s a problem with a Toyota it’s a malfunction, with Government Motors it’s the correctly functioning design.

    Kevin Murphy (d1559d)

  7. Good point, Ray N. I sort of fixed it.

    DRJ (6a8003)

  8. “Waxman also noted that “NHTSA appears to lack the technical expertise necessary to analyze whether incidents of sudden unintended acceleration are caused by defects in the cars’ electronics systems.””

    I never knew Waxman was an automotive engineer. I suspect that if every manufacturer was subject to the same scrutiny the acceleration problem would be comparable. Toyota ought to demand that GM and Chrysler be subject to similar scrutny.

    cubanbob (409ac2)

  9. Ford will be the target next. Strange things happen when the government is in the automobile business.

    daleyrocks (718861)

  10. “‘Waxman is a hack of the first order.’, he said, stating the obvious.”

    redc1c4 (fb8750)

  11. “3. Drive at 100 mph in a Toyota. Push on gas pedal and brake pedal at same time, car stops. Every time.”

    This isn’t how cars work. Your engine is simply more powerful than your brakes. I’m not saying anything about Toyota one way or the other, though I think their product is inferior to Toyotas of the past (thinned is the term).

    But if you push on your brakes and your accelerator, at speed or at a stop, your car will move. Go try it next time you rent a car. However, if your accelerator sticks, you should simply leave the drive gears. I guess they need to emphasize that in driver’s ed… I always thought it was obvious (I’ve had stuck accelerators several times because I buy Wal Mart floor mats and it’s never been a big deal).

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  12. The letter states that NHTSA has received

    2,600 complaints between 2000 and 2010

    about sudden acceleration in Toyota vehicles but only opened “cursory investigation” in 2004.

    My God… 260 A YEAR!!!

    The HUMANITY… That’s almost… What… *mutters* Assume that the “millions recalled” is EVERY Toyota car, and that “millions” means exactly 2,000,000… *muttersmutters*



    Scott Jacobs (d027b8)

  13. I have no doubt that factions within the Obama Admin want to smack down a superior competitor of Government Motors. I also have no doubt that for years, Toyota has benefited from its own government’s ‘largess’.

    What stuns me, however, is how many leftists think that prosecuting Toyota will, ipso facto, enrich GM (and all associated lackys). Would Pizza Hut gain market share if the government prosecuted Domino’s for substandard ingredients?

    bains (ea32b2)

  14. (I’ve had stuck accelerators several times because I buy Wal Mart floor mats and it’s never been a big deal).

    that was my favorite thing I read all day

    happyfeet (713679)

  15. git r dun

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  16. stuck accelerator?

    step on the clutch, if you’re smart enough to have a manual tranny, or put the auto in “N”.

    turn off the ignition, but don’t lock the steering wheel.

    hit the 4 way flashers and try to get out of the roadway.

    if your car won’t let you do these things, its your fault for buying a car with design deficiencies. cars need at least one driver per unit, but too many people are simply passengers in the left front seat.

    redc1c4 (fb8750)

  17. red, ain’t that the truth?

    I keep thinking about that poor family in the Lexus that crashed at high speed with a stuck accelerator. They had time to call 911, but never turned the car off or switched out of drive.

    Apparently, the button you click to turn the car on and off has to be held down for a few seconds to turn the car off at speed. I can understand not knowing the button works differently in emergencies. And the shifter does look ridiculous. It looks like N would be pretty easy to get to, but I can understand someone not figuring the thing out in a panic.

    I hope most folks would look at that shifter carefully for a few seconds before taking off with the family.

    I think that this car has some really stupid design choices, which are all form and no function, but the real problem was the driver, who paid for his mistake many times over. He was totally unfamiliar with how to deal with his car.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  18. “Waxman also noted that “NHTSA appears to lack the technical expertise necessary…”
    And they haven’t from the time Joan Claybrook was appointed by Jimmah Carter to lead it, and it became a political job, instead of a technical one.

    Comment by Dustin — 2/22/2010 @ 9:30 pm
    If engines are so much more powerful than brakes, why does it take more than twice as long to accellerate to a given speed, than it does to brake from that speed?

    AD - RtR/OS! (93f531)

  19. operator headspace and timing is the single most important maintenance check on any piece of equipment.

    redc1c4 (fb8750)

  20. AD – I didn’t think there was going to be math on this thread.

    I haven’t practiced my gazintas in a while.

    daleyrocks (718861)

  21. Scott – The letter states that NHTSA has received

    2,600 complaints between 2000 and 2010

    about sudden acceleration in Toyota vehicles but only opened “cursory investigation” in 2004.

    My God… 260 A YEAR!!!

    The HUMANITY… That’s almost… What… *mutters* Assume that the “millions recalled” is EVERY Toyota car, and that “millions” means exactly 2,000,000… *muttersmutters*



    In reality – you have a better chance of winning a #10M lottery than having sudden accelaration. (unless you are riding with my teenage son).

    the 200 pplus complaints a year are fairly consisent with complaints with all car manufacturers. Best described as piolot error.

    Joe _ Dallas (93323e)

  22. AD, I looked into it, and I think I’m simply mistaken.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  23. With a teenager, every acceleration is ususally sudden;
    I think the problem here is technically called “unintended acceleration”.

    AD - RtR/OS! (93f531)

  24. Comment by Dustin — 2/22/2010 @ 10:44 pm

    Yes, it happens.

    AD - RtR/OS! (93f531)

  25. Dustin, notice the cars they used for the test.
    Two German cars designed from the get-go for high-speed driving on the AutoBahns where you have to be able to stop, sometimes repeatedly from in excess of 120+mph.
    Then they tested two econoboxes, neither of which have the same degree of braking capability; but, in an emergency, all you usually have to do is stop once.

    AD - RtR/OS! (93f531)

  26. Yeah, that “stop once” is a pretty astute point, too, since my quote notes they drove a lap to let the brakes cool (because they were already heating the brakes up from other emergency stop tests before the one test where the car didn’t stop well). Probably not a very fair test.

    Most tests are saying that the brakes on these cars should have been able to stop the car. I wonder if the floormat was jammed under the brakes in that Lexus, and of course, just shifting into neutral is the obvious solution to this problem.

    I assume (perhaps I shouldn’t) that the driver of that Lexus was repeatedly slapping the ignition button instead of holding it down long enough to turn off the car. I think the car should shut off after a few rapid hits.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  27. It looks like N would be pretty easy to get to, but I can understand someone not figuring the thing out in a panic.

    Exactly… This is why I cheat, and just pop the stupid thing out of gear… I might read-line my transmission, but it’s better than slamming face-first into whatever is in-front of me…

    Scott Jacobs (d027b8)

  28. better the tranny than you red lining…..

    or is that flat lining? %-)

    redc1c4 (fb8750)

  29. Yes, I think the critical thing with the Lexus/CHP incident was that this was a loner car, and could have been a different model than the driver was used to, and there was a bit of panic since the first attempt didn’t work, and it just went downhill.

    AD - RtR/OS! (93f531)

  30. I wonder if the floormat was jammed under the brakes in that Lexus, and of course, just shifting into neutral is the obvious solution to this problem.

    Hell, if all else in the world fails, jam that thing into reverse… you will destroy your transmission (hell, you might leave it behind), but you will slow down like you wouldn’t believe…

    Car will be more-or-less ruined, but you didn’t hit anything…

    Scott Jacobs (d027b8)

  31. Not neccessarily.
    A sudden decel of the rear wheels could cause a spin, and at high-speed, that just might be uncontrollable, particularly with a jammed throttle.

    AD - RtR/OS! (93f531)

  32. yeah, and you can’t drop an auto into first, as it simply won’t let you….. neutral or bust!

    redc1c4 (fb8750)

  33. Bad news, Obama loving Americans. Toyota says Democrats not “industry friendly”

    You can’t stop me from driving Japanese cars, soon to be appointed “Foreign car safety Czar” – san.

    lee (cae7a3)

  34. We discussed this on an earlier thread, and my question about why they didn’t just shift the car out of D and strip the gears was countered by another person’s analysis that the car in question has the new “drive by wire” feature, meaning that the transmission will not disengage because you slam the shift into N or R. It’s operated via a computer chip, and it won’t necessarily respond in the same manner that an older car would.

    Dmac (799abd)

  35. Re: Comment by Dmac — 2/22/2010 @ 8:20 am: Apparently some of the auto transmission vehicles don’t have a positive shift mechanism. Another drive-by-wire system. Also, in the Lexus crash, it was a loaner car, so a lack of familiarity with the details would be given.

    I’d druther have a stick, but RCW wants an auto.

    I won’t go for a keyless ifnition car without a Big Red Switch, even if I have to install one myself.

    Comment by Red County Pete — 2/22/2010 @ 8:32 am

    Dmac (799abd)

  36. I am not a “car guy,” but I am a car owner. Detroit earned my distrust with shoddily-constructed heaps of metal that cracked, overheated, leaked, and stalled. You know things aren’t going to go well when the handle on your turn signal falls off within the first two years of your purchase.

    My everyday car now is a Toyota, and it has outlasted every American car I have ever owned. Given a choice of which company to go with now, I might choose Hyundai, which has emerged from its growing pains in the eighties to produce attractive, reliable cars. If I had to get an American car, the only one I would even consider is a Ford. Government Motors? It is to laugh. They don’t make Oldsmobiles any more, they make Obamamobiles.

    L.N. Smithee (0931d2)

  37. For a little bit of humor –

    The Toy Yoda recall from Hipster Douchebag at –

    Robert N. (b4f76a)

  38. Most Lexus’ have the manual on-the-fly capability, so he could have downshifted, were he familiar with the car.

    JD (a5a87b)

  39. dmac, I know I got the other issue wrong so I’m obviously not an authority on this, but owners of this Lexus say they can use the transmission to engine brake, shift out of gear, etc, without any trouble.

    I agree, though, that if it’s just a computer interpreting a signal, and you don’t actually have mechanical control of the transmission, that some kind of malfunction could take away the ability to go into neutral. If that’s what happened, these cars need to be pulled off the road. Drivers must have some kind of directly mechanical way of taking the car out of gear or otherwise cutting power, imo.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  40. Originally Posted by data2009 View Post
    I started using sport shifter lately, and I found if you try to downshift gears too fast, Lexus nanny will stop you, with a beep sound.
    if you are going at 40mph and try to shift down, and the car wont let you, it is not because you are shifting down too fast. it is because your RPMs would exceed the rev limiter if you for example were trying to shift to 1st gear.

    I guess the question is, does the car refuse to let you go into N if you would hit the Rev Limiter? If so, why are these cars on the road?

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  41. Actually, the rev-limiter only keeps the engine from exceeding a set rpm when the throttle calls for “more”. If you down-shift into a lower gear, the mechanical drive-train could spin the engine beyond its’ design limit, causing (usually) valve damage. So, to prevent this, a “shift-by-wire” system would prevent the gear-box from engaging that lower gear and damaging the engine.
    In racing, most engines today utilyze rev-limiters to help hold down the costs of frequent engine rebuilds, but do nothing for the budget when the driver engages the wrong gear, or misses a shift, and “buzzes” the engine. When those valves start floating they tend to get “up close and personal” with the tops of the pistons.

    AD - RtR/OS! (af3002)

  42. Where is Neutral on this thing?

    If you just put it in the second vertical column, is that neutral? Is this what people think is sporty or luxurious?

    I drive Ford and Honda and have no beef with Toyota, but this is an inferior product. It really does take a sec to determine how to shift into N. A second the driver should have taken before getting on the road, but still a design that I think is just dumb.

    Of course a rev limiter typically just cuts fuel when the RPMs get too high, making that rapid ba ba ba ba ba sound. sounds like there’s more to the RPM protection that that in this car.

    Just curious if dmac’s right that this car decides if you have permission to go into neutral or not when you put the lever in the right spot.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  43. “… a rev limiter typically just cuts fuel…”

    Somma do, & Somma don’t!…depends on how the system is designed.

    AD - RtR/OS! (af3002)

  44. Well, I’m the guy who thought brakes always overpower engines, so I don’t get to brag about my car knowledge.

    These cars are not marketed to me, that’s for sure. If the car gives an error beep when you try to downshift at high revs, then why did they even give you a gear selector? Give me a three on the tree and some cinderblocks in the truck bed.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  45. If you can afford it, the M-B with the 7-spd A/T is pretty unique, and efficient.
    When you take your foot off the accelerator, it automatically downshifts two gears from where it is, to increase “engine braking”, and to better position itself for the upcoming acceleration if needed. If you start to brake, it just continues down-shifting…it is a pretty smart trannie (or at least the computer programmers are).

    AD - RtR/OS! (af3002)

  46. I don’t know anything more than anyone else does about the car, Dustin – but I thought that Red County Pete’s response was new and important information regarding the mechanics of the model.

    Dmac (799abd)

  47. I had a 740i years ago that would shift down if I pushed a button behind the gas pedal. It really wasn’t necessary. I think there was a sport mode on the shifter, but I didn’t really use it. I will note that the damn shifter (an auto, sadly), was just a single line of selections, instead of the Lexus star trek method. My Honda Accord is faster than that car, and it cost $50,000 less, not adjusting for 14 years of inflation. Front wheel drive and torque steer keep it from being perfect, but the car is a lot easier to leave in a parking lot in Houston.

    nothing like that Benz 7 speed! I imagine that car is better than I am with a stick shift.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  48. dmac, you and me both. I know the media is hysterical and probably unfair to toyota these days, but I still want to know if your fears about that car are accurate (even if you’re just passing along someone else’s fears).

    Nothing wrong with cars with brains if they have some kind of fallback. I think a mechanical and reliable neutral selector is something all cars ought to have.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  49. My first husband became a millionaire repairing Toyotas, Datsuns, Bimmers and other imports in the 70s in San Francisco. Have never owned one and never will. So, guess you can say I have preconceived notions even while benefiting from their Piece 0 Sxxx designs. I have experimented with my two GM products and the Corvette’s a no brainer. It has a six-speed manual allowing one to pretty much do what needs to be done except over-rev the motor. And, may I just say, thank God for rev limiters. The Cadillac shifts easily into neutral while protecting reverse with a lock out. I keyed off the ignition in the driveway and don’t really recommend that if on a highway at highway speeds. Steering is important. Both owner’s manuals are fairly explicit about what one should and should not do in panic situations.

    Mazzuchelli (0be5b4)

  50. I know: Who reads manuals? Actually, I’d never cracked the Corvette manual because it’s a Z06 with very few and totally intuitive electronic distractions outside the head up display. The Cadillac manual is dog eared because of all the electronic toys which still have not been totally mastered. It was fun to code in a rude message to the better half on the navigation screen when he drives the car. He won’t read the manual so the message remains.

    Keep in mind re Toyota, the media has long annointed them as the model corporation and given them undeserved bys while burying the Big 3 in an avalanche of scorn. These recalls have occurred at all their manufacturing facilities around the world for some pretty serious failures beyond floor mats. Our media didn’t cover major recalls earlier this decade at the Japanese facilities. The Prius is currently under recall for a brake problem. Many Toyota owners are blaming American parts manufacturers. Put the kool-aid down.

    Mazzuchelli (0be5b4)

  51. Mazz, I read that almost exact same screed on Democratic Underground. Not saying you are from there, but I see this kind of argument and think it’s silly. They keep comparing 2010 GM cars to 1970s Japanese cars. I don’t know why that argument keeps coming up, but it’s kinda amusing because it reminds us of why GM is such a failure (a business that doesn’t make any money is a failure). you’re right, you benefit from Japanese car design, even if driving a GM, which I realize is a much better product now, albeit from a company that isn’t trustworthy the way Toyota is.

    Every Japanese car I’ve ever driven also shifts easily into neutral and protects reverse with a lockout. I thought that was simply the standard legal requirement for a car sold in the USA, and that’s why I am so curious about the speculation about the Lexus. I suspect that if the Lexus driver was as smart as you are (not being sarcastic) and had experimented with how to get out of gear in an emergency, he would be alive.

    If you’re a GM brand loyalist, then I don’t think you have a right to criticize any car company as a “piece of shit” design. Sure, they make decent cars now, because they had no choice after getting their asses kicked. If they could get away with a crappier product, they have no pride that would prevent that. I honestly don’t think BMW or Honda would willingly sell a crappy car. Toyota had better be careful if they don’t want to be the next GM, though. Any mistake they make will be scrutinized.

    But that’s because they have such a great reputation.

    [note: released from moderation. –Stashiu]

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  52. The early six-speeds in the ‘Vettes were interesting, and frustrating for experienced drivers, in that – for milage economy considerations – when shifting from 1st to 2nd at a moderate amount of acceleration, the gear-box would take you from 1st to 4th (thank goodness for all that small-block torque) by-passing 2nd and 3rd completely.
    Don’t know if they still do that, but wouldn’t doubt it – your benevolent government at work keeping the environment clean.

    Of course, I knew a guy with a Pantera who would, in driving in town, only use 1st, 3rd, and 5th.

    AD - RtR/OS! (af3002)

  53. Sorry to hog the thread but something has occurred to me re the floor mat thing. A few cars of the many owned had mats that would cause the accelerator to drag or catch but a quick snatch of the mat itself or a shoe under the pedal with a jerk back always resolved the siutation. Some of these problems are certainly IQ related similar to the Ford Explorer/Firestone tire fiasco a few years ago.

    Believe it was Road & Track who did a terrific test. They bought a used Explorer with factory Firestones. They did a panic stop at 30, 50, and I believe all the way to 70 MPH with the truck stopping straight as a rail. They then mounted a camera in the truck and had the driver slam on the brakes again at 70 while removing his hands from the wheel, same thing, straight as a rail. Lesson is, if you panic and jerk the wheel, bad things happen.

    Mazzuchelli (0be5b4)

  54. Both owner’s manuals are fairly explicit about what one should and should not do in panic situations.

    Reading of Owner’s Manuals is Un-American!

    AD - RtR/OS! (af3002)

  55. I’m sure Vettes do that single bank of 4 cylinders thing to save fuel. A vette that isn’t a stick or a flappy paddle is a waste, in my opinion.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  56. AD, yeah Corvettes still have that 1st to 3rd thing. You probably know that it doesn’t take long to shift a Vette almost without benefit of the clutch through just “feel”, sound etc. So, the 1st to 3rd block really throws off the driving enjoyment. What is offered these days is a microchip that the dealer will install that overrides the first to third situation. OR, as many fellow Corvette drivers know, just spool her out in 2nd a little beyond what you’d like and she’ll drop into 3rd no problem. Doesn’t help gas mileage but it’s another logical extension of the nanny state – diametric opposition to the intended result.
    Dustin, shhh. I had one of those Caddies when they were first invented in the ’80s. Yegads. Corvettes actually get phenomenal gas mileage just as they are. The ’03 Z06 is a little thirstier than the ’99 Coupe but it still gets 18 around town and 26 on the road. I don’t see that often with the foot buried in the accelerator but I know it’s an honest possibility. The gas mileage is the result of the fill up records I keep, not the car’s computer read out. My Z06 has the small block so the new Z06 may not do as well with the big bore engines. Still, regardless of the ongoing snark, GM products have always gotten remarkable gas mileage. And, you’re exactly correct re the transmissions. Corvettes with automatics are strictly for posers.

    Mazzuchelli (0be5b4)

  57. Mazz, you’re absolutely right about the IQ thing. Or really, simply the ‘don’t panic’ thing.

    I’m not trying to be rude to you, though I probably come across that way. I just think it’s strange that I keep hearing (I heard this in person today) about 1970s Datsuns or whatever.

    Fords are where it’s at, in my opinion. Corvettes are legitimately impressive cars that Japan doesn’t compete with (not even that GTR). I wouldn’t want one for a daily driver, but that’s a different issue.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  58. Dustin, rock-ribbed Republican here. No longer frequenting Kos or Huff to maintain blood pressure levels and life. I’m speaking from life, not from any kind of groupthink vehicular ideology. But you’re right, the last Toyota I had any real experience with was a co-worker’s in the early ’90s. We used it to commute between Omaha and St. Louis when our department was moved. My car was a two-seater and there were several of us running back and forth every weekend. Her car was black which is always unforgiving but doesn’t change the fact that the car had checks everywhere. Give me GM orange peel any day. It also had two plastic interior moldings that would pop off when we’d turn the air conditioning on. But it seemed to run okay. I’m sorry, like many of the Toyota cadre, experience counts with me. The auto writers at the Wall Street Journal call me a GM apologist. There are worse things in this world.

    Mazzuchelli (0be5b4)

  59. […] the original here: Just Another Car Company […]

    Just Another Car Company | Liberal Whoppers (d16888)

  60. Hey, if you know what you like, you know what you like.

    I think Japanese cars in the 90s were at their pinnacle and are much uglier today. Those little Toyotas were not something most Americans really enjoy, but they last forever.

    If you take care of a Buick or one of those pre-UAW era Saturns, they last about as long.

    I really really really want GM to fail. I’ll just be honest about it. I think, big picture, nationalization has to be discredited and loathed. I wish GM had shattered into a million pieces and IPs for investors to buy and attempt to profit from. Profit is one thing GM isn’t all that good at, no matter how fast those Vettes may be. I’m probably not going to give GM a fair shake because, to me, they represent something deeply wrong.

    [note: released from moderation. –Stashiu]

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  61. If you drove a new Corvette, Dustin, you’d change your mind re the daily driver. If there wasn’t extreme weather conditions around here, I’d drive mine every damned day. It isn’t like the old motorized key skates of old [owned a ’64 and a ’69 as well]. The regular coupes and convertibles are unbelievably smooth and relatively quiet. Under power, the stereo doesn’t have a chance but otherwise, they’re terrific. I will say, the run flats will set up a “bongo” effect on certain pavement that can be unnerving. The Z06s, on the other hand, are factory race cars so there’s little noise insulation and the titanium exhaust is very reminiscent of Sanderson headers in the decibel department. I’ve had the teeth clack together more than once a la the ’64 with an unexpected pavement joint. But if you buy one, you typically know what you’re in for. Test drive one now; thank me later.

    Mazzuchelli (0be5b4)

  62. You should sell cars, Mazzuchelli. I am jealous that my little Accord is my sportiest ride in years and obviously isn’t all that sporty.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  63. 1. Brakes — yes, they will stop a car in drive every time. Drag racers hold their cars on the line in drive with the brakes on. Against 600 or 1000 HP even. And yeah, neutral or switching off works. I wish the news stories that emote about this would tell people that.

    2. Clyburn, Waxman, LaHood can do all they can for their fellow government aid recipients (nearly erred and said “workers”), but I’ll still consider Toyotas before throwing money away on Government Motors vehicles. I have to suffer with them as rentals. Seriously, I’m replacing a truck this year and I won’t even look at Chevy or Dodge. I gave at the office to that undeserving charity.

    3. That said, I have owned a Corvette and it was a decent snow car — with the standard transmission and good tires. Most drivers who don’t drive them in the winter or in foul weather are simply pampering the cars. It did have all the usual problems with cheesy GM switchgear, but it was a supercar at a third of the price, so one can live with some Aveo-quality knobs and suicidal seat switches.

    4. Another Toyota vs. GM comment. Around the same time, my father and mother replaced two cars (Lincoln town car and Chrysler convertible) with whatever the big old man Cadillac is, and a Toyota Avalon. Avalon was about 75% the cost of the Cadillac. Three years later the Avalon is worth almost three times the value of the used Cadillac — even the Caddy dealer doesn’t want it as a trade. Dad’s getting another Avalon. It’s nicer inside, quieter, and more comfortable… and it doesn’t break down. On the other hand, Caddy roadside service is great. But they’ve used it three times, and don’t know if Toyota has roadside service.

    5. Driving is 90% the driver and only 10% the car, which is why these periodic car-safety jihads are futile. Ask any cop or EMT who sees the messes on the road, “What causes accidents?”, and “car design flaw” will not be on his or her list. Intoxication, immaturity, inattention, and infirmity will be.

    My family has gone from die-hard buy-American to a gang of Toyota, Subaru and Honda owners — most of ’em made by Americans, just not LaHood’s welfare cases. I have three American cars still. out of five (two classics I’m keeping, and the outgoing truck).

    Kevin R.C. O'Brien (82fba3)

  64. Yes, Kevin, they do okay in the snow. Which auto rag had the hilarious article about their 1K trip over Canadian gravel roads in a C5 Corvette? The tires are the trick. With the normal Goodyear racing compound, they turn into rocks below 30 degrees F and instead of smoking burn outs you’ll instead engender high-pitched hissing noises and likely free-spin the mo-mo. Still, my first Corvettes were used, inexpensive and driven 24/7/365. When I balked at driving in acid-rain, my first better half indicated that Corvettes are Chevies and Chevies are made to be driven. Still, I’m too working class to drive a $50K vehicle in the snow with the rock salt and river “sand” our efficient DOT frosts the roads with this time of year. Mine won’t see daylight probably now until April [sob].

    Mazzuchelli (0be5b4)

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