Archive | May, 2010

Video – 2011 Ford Mustang GT In Jay Leno’s Garage

Jay recently had a new 2011 Ford Mustang GT in his garage.  He compares it to his favorite 1965 Mustang GT350 that sits next to it in the video.  Jay even teaches us what a monte carlo bar is.  So sit back, grab a bag of mini popcorn and watch this video as Jay dazzles us with the new Mustang GT.

It’s Not a Party Until a Tree Falls on an Aston Martin Rapide

As many of you know I am at the MAMA spring rally today and tomorrow.  Tonight right before dinner a storm rolled through and hard rain followed by hail and large gusts of wind huffed and puffed and blew this tree down.  Sadly the Aston Martin Rapide that is here at the event happened to be under where the tree landed.  Sitting next to it?  A Bentley Continental Supersports.  Luckily the Bentley was unharmed.  The Aston?  Not so much.  Smashed windshield, the passenger side mirror is a goner and the hood has an nice dent. That is all we could tell immediately.  The transporter is already en route and this fair lady will be out of here tomorrow.  Sad day indeed.

The Windshield

AutoBird Podcast – Esp 27: “Rebirth Episode”

Episode 27 starts in the garage where we talk about the 2010 Dodge Challenger SRT8 I was in for the past week.  We quickly discuss MAMA as I am now part of this group and will be attending the spring rally this week.  We then move along to the major news of the week segment.  This week included-

Next came our main topics which we have a discussion about the Toyota and Tesla tie up and the GM & Chrysler’s potential IPO.

Last we plug our respective blogs, Cheers and Gears,  AutoBird Blog and Accelerate Mpls.

Download this episode (right click and save)Download this episode (right click and save)

MAMA Spring Rally – See You There

Earlier this spring I was accepted into MAMA (Midwest Automotive Media Association).  This is a non-profit group that brings automotive journalists and public relations people together.  I will be attending the spring rally tomorrow (Wednesday) and Thursday at Road America Raceway in Elkhart, Wisconsin.  Wednesday we will have the opportunity to wring out quite a few cars on the track.  Thursday morning we will do some off roading with a Jeep Wrangler Rubicon, new Ram Power Wagon and whatever else is brought for some fun.  Last but not least, we will road test on nearby roads around the Road America track.  This will provide some real world insight to how these cars handle the roadways.  I will be tweeting on and off along with taking video and pictures to post later.

Review – 2010 Chevrolet Malibu LTZ

Lets be frank, the last two generations of the Chevrolet Malibu were underwhelming to say the least.  That is actually probably being nice.  Were they transportation?  Sure, that does not mean that they would have been on my list of recommended cars.  That is all changed with this latest generation Malibu.  Chevrolet has taken this seriously and really wanted to show something with this car.  They wanted to show they could really build a good car.  This was one of the cars that started this new wave of good product.  So how good is it really?  Is this top of its class or back at the end of the line again?  Lets find out.


The exterior of this car is terrific.  I like the lines, the design, the greenhouse, the front, the rear, ok you are getting the picture.  I personally really like it.  I have heard some say the rear looks truncated and too short.  I like it.  The rear C-pillar is great.  The A-pillars are not ridiculously oversized like some of the newer General Motors cars.  The rear taillights on the LTZ model I had featured LED lighting and I personally think they are much better looking then the plain unit found on the lower trim models.  The headlights have a great design to them and the dual port Chevrolet grille works well on the front end.  The panel gaps are all ridiculously tight!  I do wish the four-cylinder model would get dual exhaust like the V6, especially in LTZ trim.  Overall the exterior is a win.


Like the exterior the interior is sharp looking.  The particular Malibu I had was a loaded up LTZ model which featured a two-tone brown and cream color scheme.  The leather seats looked great and were supportive.  The fit and finish was terrific just like the exterior.  The top of the dash has soft touch material (lesser trim models do not feature soft touch material).  The wood is definitely fake.  The upgraded Bose branded sound system sounded fine but not mind blowing.  A USB port was on the head unit and connected to my iPhone quickly without an issue.  The front seat backs are scooped out to increase rear seat leg/knee room.  The automatic climate control is simple to use and the radio is the General Motors black tie unit.  Overall the interior looked nice but I know the materials fall slightly in the lower trim models.

Powertrain/Driving Dynamics-

The Malibu I was in was equipped with a 2.4 liter inline four pumping out 169 hp and 160 ft-lb to the front wheels.  This power is channeled through a six speed automatic transmission with no manual transmission as an option.  I wanted to note the base trim Malibu (LS) is equipped with a four speed automatic transmission while all over trim levels have the six speed.  The loaded Malibu LTZ I was in had paddle shifters.  I have to ask the question (you know you are thinking it) of why?  I have no real answer.  The four-cylinder model has electric power steering instead of a hydraulic set up.  I will say it never feels ridiculously over boosted at parking lot speeds and has decent on center feel on the highway.  Mileage is rated at 22/33 MPG, which are decent ratings though no longer class leading.  I came close on the city rating averaging 21.2 mpg but on the highway I could only eek out an average of 27.2 mpg.  It is worth noting that my highway average was cruising at 75 mph, which leads me to believe that if I was cruising at 65 mph I would have come closer to the rated 33 mpg average.

Ok now for some gripes.  First and foremost this car has a bad combination.  I know you are thinking what could it be.  It is simple; this is one of the heaviest and one of the least powerful cars out of its direct competitor set.  This is not a great combination to have.  This is most reflected in passing power on the highway.  Also you cannot—in any trim level or options package—get dual climate control.  The closest you will come to navigation is your iPhone or OnStar.  While such things did not matter as much a few years ago when this generation Malibu made its debut, it matters now.

Final Thoughts-

The original question was, is this car best in class or back at the end of the line again?  After a week with the car I can whole-heartedly say it is a good car.  With that said, it has flaws and that holds it back from being best in class.  That is not to say it is back at the end of the line again.  This is a good car.  Quite possibly the Malibu is the tightest screwed together car Chevrolet produces.  The panel gaps are insane, and the interior is good.  The car is showing its age as the competition has upped the ante in the powertrain, technology and feature department.  This Malibu is a good car, but the competition has stepped up their game and that is what keeps this car from being great.

Side Note-

I have seen the next generation Malibu that will be a 2012 model year vehicle.  It should go on sale hopefully in the summer of 2011.  It looks terrific. I do not know what powertrain will be used, but I can naturally assume some of my complaints with the current car will be remedied while keeping the quality I saw in this one.

Full Disclosure- The review vehicle was provided by General Motors

Open Line Show with Miss MotorMouth: All Your Mondays Belong to Us

Once again it is Monday and that means the one and only semi famous Michelle Naranjo, aka Miss Motor Mouth, as she hosts her new show “Open Line.”  Everyone from automotive celebrities such as Jack Baruth to the “wishing they were famous but only really in their heads” Craig Cole made appearances last week at some point.  These are just some of the personalities that crawl out and join the chat but I assure you many more call in.  Heck I even call in just to cause trouble.

“Open Line” is our new free-for-all chat show where anyone can call in and be part of the show. What’s the agenda? It’s up to the audience. They can call in to our open phone line, jump in the chat or just listen to the webcast. We don’t record the show, so you have to be there Live to be part of the fun.

New artwork is available below. A simplified embed code is also available. Let me know if you would like it. As always, if you decide you would like to embed the webcast on your site, give us a heads up and we’ll make sure you get a link on our page and a thank you on the air.

Live Video streaming by Ustream

This is “Open Line”, our weekly chat session where you make the rules! Join us every Monday at 8PM ET / 5PM PT and call the Phone number and PIN displayed on the screen. You can Skype in too! Just follow the instructions below the chat box.

When calling in, please be sure to mute your computer audio so we don’t get an echo.

This Week’s Info:
Phone – 1-218-936-6581
PIN – 25681

This chat is unmoderated. Please keep it clean so it can stay that way!
[Pop-Out Chat Window]

Skype Instructions: call in to the show, toll-free!

1. Download Skype here.

2. Add “CalliflowerSkype” to your contacts.

3. Call CalliflowerSkype and when prompted, enter the PIN for tonight’s show followed by the # sign using your keyboard. Or, use the on-screen keypad provided by Skype.

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Video – New Dodge Challenger Commercial – People That Really Love Cars

TT No Go Home – Parking Fail

Leaving work this week I spotted a very large parking fail.  Essentially the Audi TT is for lack of better words, screwed.  The Pontiac Grand Prix and Dodge Stratus boxed him in really good.  The Grand Prix is actually touching the rear bumper while the Stratus at least is not touching though is very close.  Talk about a huge parking fail.  I would be irate if I owned this TT.  I have yet to figure out how some people can be so bad at parking.

First Drive – EVOMS Porsche 997.2 Twin Turbo

Recently I had the pleasure of meeting the great folks of Evolution Motorsports.  The crew, led by fearless founder and owner Todd Zuccone, came into town to tune a monster Porsche GT2 for a customer.  They got to work quickly and set up shop at Imola Motorsports with Kevin and his crew for the week.

You know the saying all work and no play makes a something something something?  Well, to avoid that scenario Todd and the crew brought along their latest creation, which they call the “PDK Car.”  This is a 2010 Porsche 997.2 Twin Turbo equipped with the new PDK (Porsche Doppelkupplungsgetriebe, good luck saying that if you aren’t German) dual clutch transmission, which since this is a 201o model, it has the proper paddle shifters, not those dumb buttons on the steering wheel.

After spending some time talking with Todd, it became very clear why they are one of the leaders in this industry.  When I asked about his company versus the competition, he was very professional.  His responses consisted of statements like “the work speaks for itself” and “really it is about experience”.  After a nice chat, he tossed me the keys to the PDK car.  Of course I had a big stupid grin on my face – because someone just tossed me keys to a 650 hp Porsche.

Below was the set up on the 997.2 TT I drove-

Evolution MotorSports EVT.2 650 HP Performance System
EVOMSit SDI3 ECU Calibration (
EVOMS 65mm Billet VTG Turbochargers
EVOMS ClubSport Headers
EVOMS / Fabspeed 70mm Sport Exhaust w/ GT2 Style Tips
HJS Motorsport 200 Cell Catalysts
EVOMS Billet Boost Diverter Valves

Alright, so I know the real question is what was it like?  Well two things, one I was in the middle of the city and did not have a long time with the car.  Thus I did not have track access.  Secondly, it was rush hour (note to self, plan better for these things).  Regardless the car takes off like a you are being shot out of a rocket.  Keep in mind the turbo 911’s have all wheel drive.  Thus this car was clawing at the pavement from all four corners.  This really made a huge impression with me when launching or even just hitting the gas.  Todd had warned me that the tuning in the software for the PDK downshifts was not 100%.  He was right, it is a little slow on the downshift.  If you pull the left paddle (for a downshift) it has a slight delay and then drops down a gear.  Upshifts are lightning fast and you can feel the shift under hard acceleration.  When I say feel, it feels like a hard fast thud.  Not a sound that makes you cringe however, because it does not sound like it is breaking.  The sound is more of a clean quick shift made at lightning fast speed.  The steering was terrific just like any other Porsche 997.2 TT.  The exhaust sounded great with a strong braaap braaap noise coming with each shift.

The interior was mostly stock, though the seats were not stock – rather they were thin and covered in leather with center inserts to keep you from moving.  They were very tight and you were not going to be moving during an aggressive track session.  The seats also had a harnesses for track days and a fire extinguisher was bolted to the floor directly in front of the passenger seat.  The particular car I was in had a factory navigation and sound system, along with automatic climate control.  That was all fine and dandy, but I turned off the radio and the air conditioning, rolled down the windows and listened to the sweet sound of the tuned 3.8 liter pumping out 650 hp to all four wheels.

They took the car to this past months local Cars & Café , and after that headed over to the track to run some quarter mile figures.  It ran consistent mid 10’s pushing 130 mph.  This was achieved by someone that had never even been in the car.  That in itself is a testament to the ease in which someone who has never gotten into the car can drive it consistently and pull great numbers.

Overall the “PDK car” was a beast.  It was not twitchy or hard to drive, yet it had terrific power delivery.  This is a car that could be tracked on Saturday and still drive to work on Monday.  I already know they are working on a R8 Twin Turbo among other things.  I can only expect to see greater things to come from EVOMS in the near future, and I for one look forward to that.

Full Disclosure- The review vehicle was provided by Evolution Motorsports

Journalists Son Crashes $180k Porsche Press Car

Peter Cheney just lived every auto journalists and auto bloggers worst nightmare, a press car crash.  Only this was not just any crash.  This happened to be a $180k Porsche 911 Turbo.  His son accidentally launched the car through the garage door when showing the car to his friend in the garage.  Not knowing how to operate a manual transmission car he pushed the clutch to start the car.  At this point he let off the clutch and the car launched through the garage door building a large amount of force in a mere four feet.  The son apparently turned on the car to show his friend the infotainment system.  Mr. Bye the Porsche rep apparently quietly surveyed the scene and then told the son, “Stuff happens,” he said. “We’re glad you’re okay. This is only a car. You don’t need a lecture. You already know.”  Pretty impressive stuff.  He is right, it is only a car, a mere $180k car.  That said, Mr. Bye is correct, the most important thing is the son is fine and no one was hurt except the car and the garage door.

Source- Globe Drive