Weekly Roundup: The Green Machines Edition

It’s been a three-month process, but my custom Lairdframe is finally assembled and running. Compared to the Freed 21 that I built in February while I was waiting for this project to come together, it’s lighter, roomier, and vastly more expensive. I didn’t spare too much cost here; it has nearly a full pound’s worth of titanium components as well as the infamous six-pawl Profile Elite hubs.

To my immense annoyance, I’m not riding it nearly as well as I rode my slapped-together bargain-basement Freed. I had free reign to choose my geometry, tubing length, tubing diameter, and various other specs. Maybe I just chose poorly. We’ll see how it all comes together.

The third-best thing about the frame, after the custom “Kraken” seat stay brace and bottle-opener chain stay brace, is something that I did not expect, because I didn’t order it that way. I’d specified a Lamborghini lime green candy coat. Somehow the signals got crossed and I received “Emerald City”. As you’ll see in the photo below the jump, it’s really handsome. Click to see the bike and to catch up on last week’s contributions.


At R&T, I gloated a bit over the end of diesel passenger cars and suggested the return of the Rampage 2.2.

At TTAC, I reviewed a movie, discussed curated auto-show previews, considered the human cost of a manufacturing renaissance, and waxed nostalgic regarding two-seaters of the distant past.

Finally, I should mention Danger Girl’s debut as a rental-review writer. The first target of her critical pen? The Cadillac XTS.

This week I’m doing something that I haven’t done in nearly a year. No, I’m not talking about brushing my teeth. I do that ALL THE TIME. This is a tough crowd. If you must know, I’m attending a new-car press preview. It’s been so long that I’ve forgotten all the etiquette. If I knew it in the first place. Have a great weekend!

24 Replies to “Weekly Roundup: The Green Machines Edition”

  1. Sseigmund

    Another great week of writing, thank you very much! And props to Danger Girl on the XTS rental review. She touched on several of the common annoyances of life in a rental. I am curious about a couple of things, so I hope DG will comment here. The B&B over at TTAC can be a snake pit!

    I was hoping you could add some detail to the comment, “To me, they are still cars for retirees”. I think the ATS, not the “V” version is a very nicely styled car and it should handle extremely well. I don’t see that as car for retirees, but without an LT1 V8 it will never appeal to me either.

    You mentioned having become accustomed to the 300C and Challenger. Could you give us a rental review on those models sometime.

    Thanks!

  2. Sightline

    From the R&T article:

    It’s good news for automakers, bad news for the environment, good news for the economy, bad news for the owners.

    Broken Window Fallacy. Replacing perfectly “good” cars with new cars may boost the automakers but it’s basically net zero or negative for the economy (unless you believe that Britain is at the zero monetary bound and is over-saving, neither of which is true).

    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      I accept your chastening here. But in an era where money is printed at random, don’t some of the old rules go out the window?

      • Sightline

        There’s definitely an argument that very unconventional policy may be needed where fiscal and monetary breaks down…There’s also the view that nudging people towards a car purchase is a better use of their money rather than what they would blow it on…But I’m an Austrian and a crypto monetarist so I’m not really impressed with those. I would rather let people spend on what they want unless you’re in a crazy savings glut like Japan.

        • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

          An alternate theory: the citizens of Europe are better off dropping the money on locally produced cars than they are sending that same money to China for electronics or the United States for media/intellectual property.

          • Sightline

            Yup, that would definitely be an example of nudging. Who knows if it works.

            (Note. I was originally going to use the example of “It’s probably better to spend the money on cars than Thai pornography” after my favorite NY Times article – http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/01/arts/television/01stan.html – but then I realized I was writing this at my kid’s swim class in full view of everyone behind me)

    • Marcin Laszuk

      Seconded. Besides the obvious “broken windows fallacy” that Sightline pointed out, I fail to see how any form of a forced transfer of money from the taxpayers to the car manufacturers, (because that is all those “cash for clunkers”/”scrappage schemes” are; the environment is, as always, just an excuse) not dependent on market forces could benefit the economy.
      It gets better, though. At least in Europe, any time that car sales experience a slump a number of things happen: one government prepares its own version of C4C, another puts restrictions on imports of used cars, yet another hikes the registration costs/road tax for older cars. All of that for the sole purpose of making sure that the manufacturers get their (ever bigger) piece of the pie that they apparently deserve, market forces be damned.
      All the additional C4Cs do is make sure that the threshold for government intervention gets ever more aggressive, but car production should have no way to go but up, dontcha know?

  3. arbuckle

    Take a platform that already that nuked two vehicles for FCA, with a front clip from a market failure, to build a two-seat ONLY compact ute that didn’t sell great in the segment’s heyday under a badge that is ostensibly for muscle cars instead of your blue-collar brand.

    I don’t see how it could go wrong.

    Anyway, I like the idea of a “car”-based utility from FCA. However, I think it belongs under RAM and it shouldn’t require so many purity tests. What they do right now with the Strada in South America would be better than the Dartamino.

  4. hank chinaski

    I rented an XTS last week for a trip to coastal NorCal/S. Oregon. I was somewhat disappointed, wanting to try out the new Continental, but no joy at Avis. Although cliff dives, impacts with sundry logging trucks, RVs, towed campers, elk, redwoods and rockslides were avoided, I walked away unimpressed, and pining for my two seater.

  5. Athos

    Jack, diesel is not being killed by *dieselgate* or however other BS name people wants to call it. It is Euro VI or whatever Tier X Bin Y is currently used in the US, aka, incredibly tight emissions standards, specially regarding NOx. Meeting those requires easily ~$0.8-1K in aftertreatment equipment, plus a hit in the fuel economy of the engine. Just so you have an idea you would need: DPF (particulate), SCR (urea injection, for NOx) and a cat (CO) to clean it up, add to that the modifications needed on the engine: cooled EGR, throttle valve. It all ads up. The VW *fiasco* is just another nail in diesel’s coffin.

    Being said that, I can see diesel still going strong for heavy duty engines.

    Your beloved brodozers won’t go anywhere anytime soon. Expect other OEMs following Chrysler’s lead for light duty trucks (like they did for the heavier duty ones). You can thank CAFE for that.

    Due to the mixing process, GDi or GTDi to the table an issue not present with regular fuel injection: particulate matter. As we move into the future, more and more petrol engines will start featuring a GPF, which does the same function as the DPF.

    And you are hearing this here in advance, the engine downsizing trend will start to wind back now that the EU finally decided to ditch their fairy tale NEDC and implement more realistic fuel economy testing… like EPA did a long time ago.

    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      Didn’t I make that clear in the article, that Europe was clamping down on diesels because of smog-forming emissions and health impact? If I did not, I apologize.

      • Athos

        You did something better… point to the knee jerk reaction of the polies (diesel bans) after the whole scandal flared up

  6. CJinSD

    Time to be that guy. The Talbot Horizon reached production after the Plymouth Horizon and Dodge Omni. On top of that, it wasn’t the same car sold here. The Illinois cars were Rabbit clones in configuration, right down to using the same engines. They had conventional coil sprung MacPherson struts in front and a twist-beam on trailing arms in the back. The Poissy cars were essentially reskins of an aging platform with tiny pushrod engines and torsion bar suspensions left over from Chrysler Europe’s early influence on Simca design. If the French styled the bodies, good for them, but it was Chrysler’s torqueflite automatics and VW-Audi’s engines that made the cars a force in the malaise era.

    I think it was Tom Eaton who said that once all the pool cleaners had theirs, there was no more market for the Rampage and Scamp.

    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      The funny thing about Chrysler is that nobody ever agrees on the lineage of anything. There are people who will swear that the LX 300c is basically a reskin of the Eagle Premier and they have some measurements to back it up.

      I always thought of the Simca and Plymouth Horizons as two cars separated by a common idea, like the US and ROW 1981 Escorts.

  7. Robert

    Jack – who has more titanium, you or the bike?

    I like the way DG writes and publishes reviews better than the way (most of) the B&B doesn’t.

    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      The bike has MORE titanium than 2017-era me but LESS titanium than 1988-1992 era me. The femur nail that I had in for several years was eighteen inches long.

      • Robert

        Dang. Did they let you keep it? I have my two 4 inch stainless steel screws from 1988 to scare my children with. They still have little bits of bone in the threads.

        • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

          They fucking did not. They gave it to the intern who assisted with the surgery. I’m still angry twenty-five years later.

          • DirtRoads

            I have nothing that’s colored lime green (on purpose) and I’m not building anything out of metal. How about the desk I’m building for my wife, with the top made out of quartersawn 2 1/2″ white oak? Dovetailed drawers, red mahogany stain and clear Danish oil for a finish with a burgundy leather center for a good writing surface; it’s starting to look good. It’s a Gustav Stickley/Greene&Greene cross, design-wise, heavy wood with ebony accents.

            All I need to attach the heavy, sturdy top to the lower structure is one slightly used titanium nail, about 18 inches long or so. I know a guy who knows a guy…

          • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

            Man, I wish I still had mine so I could make furniture out of it.

            Ebony accents are where it’s at, both in fretboards and furniture.

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