(Double) Weekly Roundup: The Green Heck Edition

It’s been a long time / I shouldn’t have left you

Scratch that, I’m happy to have left pretty much everybody in the United States behind for eight great days overseas in Europe. I drove a one-off green Lotus Evora Sport 410 at Spa, the Burgerkingring, and the Lotus test track near Hethel. (That’s the only one where I managed to get the nose of the car dirty, by the way.) As vacations go, I can’t think of anything I’d rather do… but the good news is that it was actually a working trip for me, because I was actually there to cover a new joint project between Ross Bentley and Ron Simons (of RSR Nurburg and 75 Experience fame) and to watch fifteen Americans experience the Nuburgring in hardware ranging from a Megane RS265 to a Maserati MC12 Corsa.

The funny thing is that Bark was doing something even more cool: driving the Acura NSX GT3 at Gingerman Raceway. We will see if he comes back with a report on that.

Let’s catch up on two weeks’ worth of missing contributions right quick.

For R&T, I wrote about the European idea of big trucks and small cars.

I found a school where they teach kids how to build race cars and shared my concern about the closing of a school where they teach people to drive race cars.

At TTAC, I told the story of a girl and her race(-winning) car. I considered manufacturer quality issues. There was a Nissan Pathfinder review. We had two “Ask Jack” columns about Porsches: one about the 911 and one concerning the Cayman
. Finally, we have QOTD 1 and QOTD 2, you’ll be amazed all the things they can do!

This week I will have actual content on this site, so please stop by before Friday. Thank you for your patience!

33 Replies to “(Double) Weekly Roundup: The Green Heck Edition”

  1. Nick D

    That trip sounded simply awesome.

    On an off-topic note, I took your advice and took my 6-year old to New Castle Motorsports Park for driving school. Now he’s hooked and will be waived into the “sportsman” class.

    Damnit. I really wanted to buy a Weiss Cal. 1003, but it looks like I’ll buying stinking 2-stroke karts for a while and enjoying the ‘Lingchi’ of related expenses. The Stow & Go seats are going to get even more use as I put the ‘truck’ in family truckster. Hopefully mom won’t mind if the van has a permanent (petroleum) gas odor.

    I did get a US-made Bulova Accutron on ebay, however. Pretty neat piece of history and satiates my desire for a smoothly-sweeping second hand without spending Spring-drive levels of cash.

    Reply
    • Ronnie Schreiber

      I’m looking at my late father’s dual crown Accutron Deep Sea. I should get it cleaned and serviced. Chunky enough to be fashionable these days but not huge. I found a Helbros of his while organizing today. Whenever I wear his Hamilton Automatic I get compliments.

      Do they even teach kids how to tell time on a clock or watch these days? Our host here likes pens and watches. I’m old enough to have learned how to write cursive with a fountain pen.

      Salena Zito wrote a nice piece on Fort Madison, Iowa, where the biggest employer used to be Sheaffer Pens. http://www.twincities.com/2017/06/01/salena-zito-snapshots-from-a-town-less-great-than-it-was/
      It inspired me to look up some history. The Sheaffer family, which seems to have been fairly paternalistic towards its employees, sold out to Textron in 1966. Then there was a period of labor strife with the UAW, with the company changing hands once before being sold to Bic, which eventually moved all production out of Fort Madison, where Sheaffer had once employed about 20% of the town’s population.

      Reply
      • Nick D

        The Deepsea is a very nice looking piece. There’s apparently an Australian in Thailand who works magic with old Accutrons and is supposedly excellent to work with. I’m going to send mine out shortly and will let you know how it goes.

        They do teach kids how to read clocks as well.

        Very interesting story on Sheaffer pens.

        Reply
  2. Duong Nguyen

    This Lotus and Acura drives are really stepping a wee bit close to the journasar buffet line for my taste… I mean Bark is mentioning Acura PR flacks in his instagram posts and Jack gets a free ride in a one off Lotus painted in his favorite car color? I just don’t see how these things don’t influence what gets written.

    I’ll still keep reading, just wanted to point this out. I know there’s not really an ideal way around it.

    Reply
    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      I can’t speak for Bark but regarding my trip:

      * travel and lodging came out of my budget or Hearst’s budget;
      * I flew economy class;
      * I never ate any place better than a Pizza Hut. Lotus paid for my lunch at Hethel and the other 23 meals were on my dime.

      Reply
    • VoGo

      I think it’s a bit much to accuse Lotus of specially painting a car to match Jack’s tastes from a decade ago and to accuse Jack of falling for the ruse so easily. Although, if that is what happened, I imagine the conversation between the 2 Lotus PR flacks went like this:

      Flack 1: Hey, did you get the new 410 painted in green for Jack Baruth’s visit?
      Flack 2: Yup, traditional Lotus livery colors
      Flack 1: No, No, No, you fool! I told you, we need to exactly replicate the color he got on his Audi coupe 10 years ago, which itself it s copy of some obscure Porsche from 2 decades earlier. You may be the worst unpaid intern we’ve had in years!
      Flack 2: And I would know this because we have been stalking every internet auto journalist for the last 2 decades?
      Flack 1: Exactly. It’s all in his file.
      Flack 2: I’ll get right on repainting it, sir!
      Flack 1: What about the gift watch for his pillow at the finest hotel in all of Great Britain (a Trump property, of course)?
      Flack 2: All set. I found a really rare Rolex from 1963, one of three that was built in America of 100% American parts.
      Flack 1: Really?
      Flack 2: Oh yes. And you can barely see where I rubbed off the ‘TIM’ and replaced it with ‘ROL’
      Flack 1: Excellent. And where are we on the bevy of bodacious babes?
      Flack 2: All set. 3 prostitutes procured proficiently
      Flack 1: Ah ha ha. Funny stuff. Latina, right?
      Flack 2: Duh. Of course.
      Flack 1: OK, you’ve done well. Just get the 410 repainted and have our mechanics de-tune the 911. He won’t notice.

      Reply
      • Nick D

        Matt Farah addressed the Lotus at the tail end of this week’s podcast. It’s just a press car in a nice color.

        Reply
        • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

          For the record, I asked to buy it but it was completed before USA type approval for the 410.

          Reply
    • Ronnie Schreiber

      I happen to own a Lotus Elan that was painted in Pistachio Lime Green when I got it. That was a Lotus factory color in the early 1970s, so while the folks at Hethel might have been schmaltzing Jack with the green Evora, the hue is part of company history. Krypton Green is a factory color for the Exige and Elise.

      http://images.lotuselan.net/lel/25892/0/image.jpg

      http://www.lotustalk.com/forums/attachment.php?attachmentid=94998&stc=1&d=1223291462

      Reply
        • Ronnie Schreiber

          Ron Hickman drew the original Elan, the only car he designed as far as I know. A nice enough design that Tom Matano copied it for the Miata. BTW, another iconic Japanese sports car, the Toyota 2000GT, was a mechanical copy of the Elan under the skin (except it had a DOHC inline six instead of a four).

          Hickman went on to cobble together some front wishbones into a clamping device, patented it and made something like $47 million from Black & Decker who marketed it as the Workmate workbench gizmo.

          I enjoy dreaming about putting my Elan together. Last year I started some work on it, and took the block and crank in to start on rebuilding the engine (the head is ready to go from decades ago), but then got neck deep in the Harmonicaster project and haven’t had the spare $ to move forward on the Elan. The crank needs to be welded/reground and that’s $45 a journal X four cylinders + five mains. I’ve done the math and I figure I can’t be upside down on the engine for what it’d be worth when done and what’d cost me to finish. The same is probably true for the rest of the car, depending on how much fiberglass work I get done.

          If I had the financing, I’d start up a business building Elan replicas under the new law. Miles Wilkins still makes licensed bodies and Spyder makes a very nice tube based frame with chassis upgrades that will take a modern Ford drivetrain. Almost everything needed can already be bought.

          Reply
  3. Ark-med

    “… maybe they’re just not buying Caymans and Cayennes at the moment because they are spending all their money on subsidizing all those nice young fellows arriving from parts unknown.”
    Children! They’re children! Somewhat precocious children! Some ethnicities have more facial hair than others! It’s not “parts unknown”, and before you venture “middle-eastern”, know that the only acceptable geographical identifier is the obfuscatory “Mediterranean”.

    Reply
  4. -Nate-Nate

    I’M one of those old Baby Boomers whom you made fun of for thinking the Nuburgring is an end all be all track, then you post this video that supports my view….
    .
    I’m insanely jealous you got to go and I never will .
    .
    -Nate

    Reply
    • hank chinaski

      Damn. I was half expecting cut scenes to McQueen’s (Steve, not Lightning) helmeted face. Looks like a blast.

      Reply
  5. link3721

    Lots of great stuff, Jack. I completely agree with you on the trucker rules. I think there’d be a lot of pushback for a while till the truckers realized the advantages.

    On the size of cars, the US mindset of “capability” is way too ingrained. Most people can’t help but think there may be one circumstance in the future where they’ll have to pack their car completely full of cargo and they want their car to have that capability.

    Side note, if I’d have known you were in the High Point area I would’ve offered you dinner or something.

    Reply
    • Texn3

      My wife is one of those people. Granted, we live in Idaho and the Accord only gets us so far.

      I think a 4Runner would be perfect, she thinks we ought to go full size. So, we just rent one when we need it for a cheap corp. rate.

      Reply
  6. Charlie

    Skip barber racing school killed itself through mismanagement. There are other alternatives, and schools like the Lucas Oil Racing School is filling in the gap left behind, even at some of the same tracks.

    Reply
  7. jz78817

    totally with you on the truck thing. The worst part of driving through Detroit on I-94 is all of the goddamn trucks. it’s only two lanes as it is, and both right ones will usually be truck filled. and when you approach the set of downtown intersections (I-75, M-10, I-96) they’ll be in all three lanes since the off ramp to M-10 South exits from the left lane. But grouse about it, and they get all indignant and snort “well, I hope you don’t buy anything ever because it all moves by truck!”

    Great. Now the truck drivers want hero worship.

    Reply
    • Manic King of Corinthia

      Reading Jack’s truck story I started thinking that he didn’t mention at all the possibility and everyday occurrence of truck or bus breaking out of that wall of steel to overtake some slower truck or bus. There’s 3 lanes and it can be on 2 of these are trucks. Not sure what kind of angry response there has been already from truckers but maybe they think trucks are only legally restricted to right lane in Europe’s highways.

      As for the car owners in Europe, we have tribe I call ‘wannabe cowboys’, these are people who’s got Stetson and boots and buy US pickups and SUVs in Europe (and Vettes & pony cars but that’s OK), maybe add nat.gas system to keep the costs down and then proceed to use their overly big and obnoxious trucks in narrow town centers, driving around, trying to find parking space big enough. It just seems so loud, flashy and pointless in this setting.

      Reply
    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      It’s funny because it’s true!

      To be fair, after that crank of a hit at Laguna Seca I couldn’t even carry a tune…

      Reply
  8. yamahog

    I saw your article about addressing quality blind spots.

    I know you don’t have the space to make nuanced points but it seems like two of your points are somewhat contradictory:

    If I can attempt to ‘steel man’ them:
    1. Most modern cars are very reliable by historical definitions – if we compared a run of the mill new car against an exceptional older car, we’d realize how unusually good a common new car is

    2. It has become more and more common for technology to go out the door unfinished – shrinking lead times, tighter budgets, ect. contribute to technology reaching the mass market in less mature states than it has in the past.

    Perhaps most new cars are as reliable as a 1991 Camry (at least for the first 150k miles) especially if you only consider the features that were available on 1991 Camrys.

    But vehicles have more features and each feature adds a new point of failure. And it doesn’t have to be this way but it is this way because of constraints and different manufacturers roll the dice different ways.

    Ford risks reliability to introduce technology into their vehicles. And Toyota risks technology leadership to keep their reliability.

    There’s still a quality gradient, Lexus manages to come out ahead of Fiat on every major quality ranking. That’s probably not a fluke or a methodology issue.

    And you point towards your Town Car and Tahoe as vehicles that have held together well, but I don’t think many reasonable people accuse them of being DNF-mobiles – if anything they’re closer to the high watermark of American car reliability. But the used car market seems to think less of Tahoes than Land Cruisers and less of Town Cars than Lexus LSs so maybe there’s a signal.

    We’ll see how many Fiestas / Focuses go the distance, my bet is ‘fewer than comparable Yaris/Corollas’ but the issue is two fold – if Corollas are worth more, they’re more likely to be repaired than junked, and there might be a quality gradient between them.

    This “everyone is a winner” might be true in some sense – every olympian in 2016 would have been a contender in 1906. However, the bar has moved on. Maybe we won’t see another 1992 Camry but I’d bet a 2017 ES300h would give a Camry a run for its money. And if people want to minimize their chances of visiting the shop, the answer is roughly the same as its always been – made in Japan by Toyota.

    Reply
  9. Bruno Balestra

    Regarding the QOTD about the Toy trucks,having ridden in both but driven neither, I can attest to ever so slightly more wind and road noise in the Tacoma. Here in Brazil, both Toyota and Honda are seen as entry luxury brands and the Corolla/Civic duo has the same status as the Lexus ES350 has in the USA, meaning you have to have had some success in life to afford to buy one. They do hold their values as used cars though. That status means a Hilux starts way past R$125.000 and tops at close to R$200.000. The SW4? That can touch a quarter million Brazilian bucks. A direct money conversion is silly, but consider that the minimum wage in Brazil is just reaching R$1.000,00 and the average person makes way less than 5K and you see why the pseudo-oriental is a luxury item, specially where I live.

    Reply
  10. Athos

    Spot on on the 1st gen Twingo. The car is just genius. One of my friends owned one and it was very comfy inside. I used to love the colourful cloth in the seats and the FisherPrice like hazzard button crowning the dash. Unfortunately, they are unobtanium down here as no RHD versions were produced.

    Americans will probably forever differ with you on that regard

    You got the best comment right from the get go on the Taco VS Hilux QOTD. The guy knows his Toyotas quite well. End of the day, it depends on what you want from the truck. I think Toyota and GM have done a great job Americanizing their overseas “compact” trucks. The hardest step is federalizing the things as FMVSS is a tough nut to crack for a car built to meet UNECE standards.

    With that in mind and in the context of your question, for everyday driving and despite preferring the Hilux’s look, I’d take the Taco… provided it can dodge the SORB test. If there’s real work to do, my choice would be the Hilux.

    Reply

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