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Behold, the Ferrari F12 Berlinetta. There’s not to much to say about it other than that I would have no qualm with murdering someone to get my hands on one.

A thing of Beauty

I have always been a fan of Lamborghini, but let’s be real; who isn’t. In the past, my favorite Lamborghini has perhaps been the Muira for its elegant lines. The Countach, while less reliable than a blind navigator seeking out a Whirling Dervish seminar (yes, that would be a Bab’ Aziz reference), was absolutely gorgeous with its aero-dynamic looking lines, brick-like aerodynamics and its mating to a thunderous V-12; as is typical Lambo fashion. The Raging Bulls of the 90’s and the new millennium, while amazing, really didn’t get my prostate fizzing like the Lamborghini’s of old did, but it seems all that’s changed.

Fizzle Fizzle

The New Lamborghini Aventador is, simply put, beautiful and at this point in this blog I am required to do two things at once, try to calm this strange sensation I am nursing and explain the greatness that has just graced this page.

691 horsepower and a 0-62 MPH time of 2.9 seconds does not even begin to explain this boner-waiting-to-happen. Lamborghini, at some point, decided that they no longer liked regular metal… or transmissions, so they decided to go ahead put the green light on revolution.

3472 pounds. That is how much this new Lamborghini weighs. Despite being nearly seven inches longer than the Murcielago, it is two hundred pounds lighter than its predecessor. This has everything to do with Lamborghini’s new dieting process. Wondering what’s on the menu? I’ll give you a hint. It consists heavily of carbon fiber (that was a shitty hint), which Lamborghini made a double order of. Actually, Lamborghini didn’t order too much. The tub of the car is made with a Lamborghini-developed process called Resin Transfer Molding. Essentially this layer of foam increases stiffness while at the same time dampening noise and vibrations that would be usually caused by carbon fiber structures. Because no supplier could give Lamborghini want it needed, the company went ahead and made a facility near its factory just for the purpose of molding the carbon fiber. The wholly carbon fiber passenger compartment is bolted to aluminum front and rear frames. According to Top Gear’s Jason Barlow, the structure is so stiff that it would take 26,000 pounds of torque just to twist it one degree.

The next thing Lamborghini looked at was the transmission. They needed something that would shift just as quickly as a double clutch, but without all the extra weight. What they came up with is a seven-speed, Independent Shifting Rod twin-plate single dry-clutch transmission. With this new type of transmission, you can shift gears in just 50 milliseconds while saving twenty six pounds.

Finally, we come to the engine.

Down, (insert penis name here). Down, boy.

When pumping out damn near 700 horses from a V-12 the engine weight typically doesn’t matter to the maker, but it did for Lambo. This new engine weighs fifty pounds less than its predecessor. On top of this, Lamborghini has decided to make this less of a point a shoot (more like point and shit) type of car and instead has tried to make it more turn-friendly by equaling out the weight distribution a bit. The new Aventador’s weight is 42/58 which is up from 43/57 percent in the Murcielago. Ok, so that is still pretty shitty weight distribution, but with the all-wheel drive pushing around 30 percent of the power to the front wheels and a race-inspired suspension, this Lambo should corner like none before (but… that really isn’t saying too much).

So what we have here is a faster, lighter, more agile successor of the Murcielago. Oh, and it gets better gas mileage too (21 if you’re really nice to it, but who the hell is going to pussy foot a Lambo?). So there you have it. While you scroll back up and once again gawk at the images on your screen I’m going to go and walk off this scenario that has presented itself in my pants.

Keep spinnin’ those wheels,

Lawson Mahoney

Rental Car Chronicles

I have had the great enjoyment of working for a rental car company for the past few months. I say great enjoyment because I get to test drive virtually every new commuter car (and a few premiums/SUVs) on the market and see how the different car companies stack up.

Being a (pretty hardcore) car enthusiast all of my life, I’ve always had predetermined assumptions about most car companies, hell, most car guys (and gals) do. I can honestly say that in just a few months with this company, these assumptions were completely and utterly blown out of the water.

Here’s the fact about car enthusiasts: Nearly everyone’s auto opinions are based off of predetermined assumptions, not necessarily what they have experienced first hand. There is a very small percentage of people on this planet that get access to a wide variety of cars. That being said, there is nothing wrong with making assumptions, it’s the only way to base opinions in many instances because the only jobs that allow such open access to a wide array of cars is typically car journalists and, apparently, car rental employees. The result has been eye opening.

Because of the large number of cars I’ve driven, I am only going to focus on cars that have left an impact on me. We’re going to talk about the great, the terrible, and the impressive (in a good, bad, or just terribly neutral sense).

Trust me, what I have to say about some of these cars has great importance to brand integrity, identity, and reliability. Many of these posts will be in reference to the Big 3, so it will hit home to many Americans.

Please know that I am, at heart, an American car enthusiast, so much of what I will say was hard for me to stomach at first because of the nature of my enthusiasm. I think every car company has at least one car that is absolutely worth consideration, but I also believe that there are some cars in nearly every lineup that should be avoided at all costs.

So let me start with the one that I believe should simply be taken off the market altogether.

The Chevy Sonic/Spark

Yes, these are two different cars, but they are nearly identical in interior makeup, construction, and while I haven’t researched their drive trains I have to assume they are similar to a (very big) fault.

Where to even begin?

Let’s start with my very first experience with one of these cars. I was moving a Sonic from one office to another. When I sat in the car and turned the key to start it, the starter cranked and cranked, but the engine didn’t fire and the starter wouldn’t stop after I fully pulled the key from the ignition. I was so shaken that I got out of the car, popped the hood (for literally no reason since I’m not authorized to work on the cars), put the hood back down, and repeatedly turned the car on and off to recreate the problem. It didn’t do it again.

I documented the problem, brought it to the attention of my manager and moved the car. At the time, I thought this was just a fluke, until just a few days later when I went downstairs to retrieve a Sonic from one of our cleaners.

When I walked downstairs, he had just finished spraying the soap suds off of the exterior of the running car. I walked up as he said “it’s all set” and handed me the keys. The car had a remoter start option, but when I asked him if he’d used it, the cleaner replied, “nope,” chuckled as he handed me the keys and said, “good luck with this one.”

Clearly, there is an ignition problem with these cars (and these were not recalled), but that wasn’t the only issue that I’ve had with these cars.

In some of these cars, the car will accelerate and shift smoothly, just like it should. In a large number of others, though (at least 25% of the one’s I’ve driven) have a very serious shifting problem; that problem being they just don’t shift at all.

When merging onto the highway I will commonly find a Spark running at 4500 RPM’s and refusing to shift. Sometimes the only way to make it shift is to let off the gas, let the RPM’s drop, and lightly accelerate again.

It’s infuriating.

For some of the cars, the problem seemed to go away after it is properly warmed up and run over five miles. For others, the problem seemed erratic.

Compared to it’s Toyota counterpart (Yaris), the Spark and Sonic are much better looking with much more comfortable interiors (though I absolutely hate the touch screen radios in the Chevy). The Yaris is bit more fun to sling into the corners, but it feels so incredibly cheap with its spartan interior that it wouldn’t be worth considering if it wasn’t for the Sonic and Spark’s consistent mechanical issues.

Many of our renters simply want to be put into the cheapest car on the lot. This means that oftentimes, they will be put into a Spark or Sonic, as they are compact cars. What this leads to is brand association with poorly made cars.

I can honestly tell you that the 2015 Impala and Malibu are absolutely amazing cars. People call specifically for the new Impala because it is so good looking and we rarely have problems with them. The Chevy Cruze is also a well-liked car, but not as admired like the new Impala. The problem is most renters never get into these cars. The cars constantly on rent are the Sonic and Spark because of their economical value.

By making such a poorly constructed car, Chevy is allowing potential customers and people that have never had personal contact with the brand to make assumptions about every car they make based on the poor quality of their rental. 

Chevy needs to reevaluate their quality/control sector and get back to the drawing board with the engineering practices executed on these cars. As far as compacts go, they are great looking cars with roomy, comfortable interiors, but I can honestly tell you from experience, people would prefer a horse drawn carriage to a car they fear will have constant problems.

When it comes to compacts, all you need is reliability. Aesthetic design should come last.

Lawson

My parents always always taught me the importance of good manners. It was always ‘yes, ma'am’ and 'yes, sir.’ We were to always get up and introduce ourselves when someone came to our house and the men at the table always stood with a lady if she were leaving or approaching the table. It’s just right.

It’s not taught in driving school, but there is definite road etiquette that, historically, people here in the US have adhered to. Stay out of the left lane unless you’re passing (Unless of course you’re a Californian, then you’re entitled to the whole damn highway, shit, go ahead and drive into oncoming traffic. You deserve it.), move over for those merging, slow down and move for someone on the side of the road, etc. Across the country, there is an unwritten book of etiquette for the driver and, if you break it, you are liable to be on the receiving end of some real road rage.

The most important piece of road etiquette, though, is the wave. The wave is just amazing because of its versatility. You can thank someone for moving aside for you, or slowing for you. You can wave to acknowledge someone in your driving niche (any classic car or Jeepers). Did you nearly kill someone with your awful depth perception? No, you don’t have to stop your car and craft a ten point apology to give to your near-victim. All you have to do is throw up a heart-felt wave and move on. 90% of the time it works every time.

Shit, just last week a line of cars had stopped in the cross-walk to allow me to cross the street and, in mid-cross, some dude in a Miata came rollin’ down the road unaware. He locked it up with me right in front of his hood, stopped, and gave a sheepish smile with a nice wave. Hell, he could’ve given me a nice kiss with his hood. If he had waved before he drove off, we still could’ve become friends after.

Every car should come with a 'remember to wave’ card hung on the steering wheel. I look for the wave. If I let you pull in front of me, there are two ways I will view you as a human being depending on how you react within those three to four seconds of your life. If you pull out and just ignore me, well I now want ram my bumper up your ass and watch you bleed out on the asphalt, but if you wave I now want to meet you, shake your hand and buy you a beer. There is no middle ground. I will either hate you or love you and it all comes down to the wave.

This might seem ridiculous, but it comes down to respect for your fellow driver. I think John Lennon got it nearly right when he said All You Need is Love. What he really should’ve said is 'All You Need To Do is Wave You Ungrateful Jackass.’

Mmm, that’s got a nice ring to it.

Lawson Mahoney

"Here Be Dragons."

Let’s cut right to the chase. This is a car blog. As an aspiring journalist I have been assigned to write things spanning from high school security to a special on boxing in which I literally got my ass (or, more literally, my nose) handed to me for three straight rounds.

Let’s jump right in.

Throughout my short life I have been mostly an American Muscle car fan. Some would call me a ‘Vette head, but more recently, things have been changing. In Motor Trend’s 2010 test of the new Camaro and the all-new Mustang, I was infuriated when they gave the Mustang a “close second place,” even though it was down nearly 100 horsepower from the Camaro and clearly, in my eye, much worse than the beautifully sculpted Camaro.

Then, in 2011 I pulled down the golden bow-tie in my room and up went the blue-oval. Mustang’s new power plants gave me a fizzing sensation equivalent to the one that James May feels behind his prostate when he becomes terribly excited. At first my focus went to the 6 cylinder, which, I admit, is usually devoted strictly to those who wanted only the looks of the Mustang, that being dominantly high school girls, but Ford cleared the table and showed a whole new hand with this new Mustang.

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Hey, uh, Sally? Yea… I think your foot is on the gas.

Boasting 31 MPG and 305 ponies under the hood, this car was nothing to scoff at. Springing to sixty in exactly five seconds flat put it at nearly half a second faster than the Camaro 6 cylinder and not a far cry from Chevy’s SS. On top of this Mustang actually made the exhaust sound good, or as Matt Farah, of the Smoking Tire put it, “like a Nissan Z.” Things only got better with the new 5 liter, which quickly grabbed my attention with Motor Trend’s article pitting the Mustang against the fabled M3 (which we will get to in just a minute). Motor Trend practically stopped comparing the Camaro to the Mustang because it was being so thoroughly walloped. In their initial test of the V-6, they had to throw the Hyundai Genesis into the Camaro-Challenger-Mustang mix, though it is a little bit more expensive than the Mustang ($22,145 vs. $26,750), because “the usual” competitors couldn’t stack up to the Mustang.

Motor Trend started a gigantic fan boy war when they compared the M3 to the GT Mustang in their October 2010 issue. Nearly matching the M3 in handling as well as putting more torque down in the turns, the Mustang matched the M3 on the track for half the price of its Bavarian counterpart… as of a year ago, I honestly would never have thought to call the Mustang the M3’s counterpart.

Unfortunately I have had a hard time arguing Mustang’s dominance because of the abomination that is the GT-500, but now there is something to replace it; the Boss 302. Lapping Laguna SECA faster than an Audi R8 and making the M3 look like a child’s play thing is definitely something to brag about, especially if you are in a “Rustang.” If I start going into how amazing this car is, you could be sitting at your computer desk until your hind parts rot, so I will just sum it up with a few short words: God himself had a hand in this project. If you don’t know anything about it, you need to check it out at either Motor Trend or Road and Track as it seems these are two of the few auto magazines that have proper drivers testing their cars, but there is one thing that I must fawn over with this car; the engine bay.

In the past the engine bay was a work of art. A giant V-8 was only topped by its equally shiny carburetor. In today’s world the only thing an engine lover is greeted with when the hood is popped is a giant mass of plastic. The Corvette ZR1 has a window on the hood… that looks in on a mass of plastic! Whoever thought up that idea should be strung up by his testicles and dangled over a pool of piranhas until he remaps the Corvette’s engine bay.

Hold on a tick… I’ve forgotten to include a picture.

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That feeling in your pants is you turning into a man.

Ford realized this terrible sin and refused to cover the beauty (or beast) that is the 302. When a gear head pops this hood to show off his muscle, it won’t be topped by a cover equivalent to the abomination known as Spanx (or as Jimmy Kimmel put it, hero tights).

Finally, someone has lit a fire underneath Ford’s ass as the Mustang is not the only innovative car Ford has come out with recently (as will surely be brought up in posts to come). It finally seems that there is an American brand I can be truly proud of. 

Keep Spinnin’ those wheels,

Lawson Mahoney