RoundAboutShow #16 The Craigslist Episode

Every week like grieving families cleaning out a grandparent’s house after their passing, we find all kinds of old canned goods, birc-a-brac and maybe even a cohesive, Zen-like theme. Sure, some of what we discover is worth keeping, but the rest of it we have no use for, so we’ll post it on Craigslist! After all, we’re too guilty to throw it away. How else are can you get rid of granddad’s clothes, his collection of VHS tapes and portable dialysis machine? And how else can you make money doing it? Now, if we could only wash the smell of old-people and shame from our souls.

That’s right, this is the Craigslist episode that our panel has been performing–albeit informally–before each recording for the last 15 episodes. We’re so enamored with both the awful and wonderful finds that show up on the Internet’s classified free-for-all that we decided to make an entire episode out of it. Among our many gems, you’ll find a Fiat Abarth 850TC (replica), a ’66 Thunderbird Convertible, and a Jeep Comanche that brings back memories for one Jeffrey Ross.

 

 

 

 


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Reviewed: 2010 Cadillac CTS Wagon

America has had an aversion to station wagons for the better part of the last 30 years.  The early 70’s were the last of the glory days for wagons.  But those five thousand pound land yachts with their fake wood paneling on their flanks turned off an entire generation to these vehicles.  Yet when the time came for the generation that scorned wagons, for hauling kids, and all the gear that’s required these days to move kids around, they too bought wagons, though these were four wheel  drive wagons with eight inches of ground clearance.  Because these were aggressive off road vehicles, and the extent of their off road achievements were mall curbs and the occasional groomed dirt road, it was OK, because they weren’t the station wagons of their youth.

This was fine in a world of sub two dollar gas.  Even when gas went to three dollars it was tolerable,  But once gas went north of three dollars, the jig was up.  SUV’s overnight became as acceptable as a telemarketer calling at 6AM on a Sunday, and in some circles that might have been less objectionable!  The CUV’s or “Crossovers” are essentially the same thing, just on a unibody car platform rather than a full frame truck chassis.  For those that had no need for for big SUV’s or CUV’s but needed to haul “things” the choices were very limited in the wagon segment.  You could get a Jetta Wagon out of VW without going bankrupt, or you could take out that third home equity loan and get a wagon from BMW or Mercedes.  


In Europe wagons, or estates as they refer to them, are quite popular.  The market for SUV’s in Europe is fairly limited to do the prices of fuel and the size of the roads.  Many in the US have long wanted a quality wagon to call their own here.  Well it’s not inexpensive, at all, but Cadillac has taken their acclaimed new CTS and created a wagon version for the North American market.

As we said the CTS has been widely acclaimed by almost everyone as a world class car capable of competing with the best in the world, and we were excited to see just how far Cadillac had come.  Our last experience with the CTS was with one of the first production models of the first generation years ago.  Back then, we liked the car, though we saw quite a number of things that needed to be worked on.

The styling direction of Cadillac with the art and science direction has people in two camps, you like it or you don’t, almost no one is ambivalent about it.  When it debuted  it was controversial, now, while not common, it’s not the shock it once was.  The latest version of the CTS takes this styling to another level.  Where the first generation was just about angles, this evolution is about angles having an elegance and a purpose.  With the wagon all these surfaces have more length to come to natural conclusions in the tail.  One thing that struck us at the tail section of the wagon, was a stubble hint at Cadillac’s or yore.  We aren’t sure if it’s on purpose, but their are hints tail fins!  Overall the wagon is bold and elegant without being so overtly masculine as to turn off women.

  

But while the styling of a car is what draws you in, it’s the interior and the driving experience that keep you coming back.  The funny thing is that our first impressions were pretty MEH!  The first day or two we wondered what all the fuss was about, but the more time we spent with the car, the more we were drawn to it.  There are a few things about the interior that we still have some issues with, and we’ll get to that shortly, but it was the driving experience that made the car grow on us.  For better or worse our first reaction to, well, just about everything is usually the correct one.  Experience has taught us that if you have to be talked into liking something, or it doesn’t strike you right away, then you should move on.  The CTS Wagon is the exception that proves the rule.  After our first day with it, we were prepared to really knock this thing.  By the end we were trying to bribe people to let us keep the Caddy as a long term tester.  

The CTS Wagon is no autocross champion, but it’s not the land yacht of days past either.  It’s sporty and firm without being harsh, even on the bomb craters that we call roads in South East Michigan.  It will roll down the boulevard, play in stop and go traffic and eat up the miles on the highway.  The best part of it is that this wagon drives and feels like a sedan, yet swallows most things with ease.  As you will see, it will haul a Christmas tree, and though she didn’t fix exactly, an English Mastiff!

On the inside the car is nice, it has a good driving position, and good room, but I have questions about some of the materials used.  I’m not expecting Connolly Leather, wool carpeting and burl walnut when I get in, but the materials that were in the Buick LaCrosse that we had a couple weeks later weren’t very different.  There are soft touch surfaces, but they were barely soft touch.  The “aluminum” and “wood trim” in the car are plastic that have been treated to appear as aluminum and wood.  I know this because a friend of ours works for the company that developed the process, and immediately said, “hey, this is out product”.  Cadillac has made great strides in the last five to seven years, but I will maintain that American cars need to exceed expectations, not just have a level that is “good enough” or “about what you would expect”  

The pop up nav and entertainment is nice and works well.  The picture quality when watching a DVD was good, as you can see here in the opening scene in LeMans.  The hands free for the phone and the entertainment system work well too.  One thing I would like to see, and this is not exclusive to GM is that when it’s cold outside and you remote start the car to bring it up to temperature, it would be nice if the seat heat would stay on a setting that you left it.  Nothing will wake you more on a cold morning that plopping down on to an ice cold leather seat!  It’s even more noticeable if the car has been warming up and the heat has come on in the car and begins to warm up the cabin, yet the seat remains ice cold.

The 3.6 liter, 304 horsepower V6 has a nice spread of power.  While the torque peak is a bit higher that you might want, the torque curve feels fairly broad.  Acceleration is brisk and while we can’t wait for the V Series  to come out, we could be quite happy with this motor.




And that brings us to the final point.  Even with the negatives we pointed out this is a car that we were sad to see go.  It’s nice to see Cadillac have solid execution on this car.  Sadly many of the people coming into the show room will walk right past the Wagon and jump right into the SRX Crossover without trying the Wagon.  90% of the people that buy the SRX would be just as well served in the Wagon while enjoying better fuel mileage, and a better driving experience, but, most of those same people care little about the driving experience or what servers them best, just what they think they should be scene in.  Our first impressions of the car weren’t the ones we left with and that’s a huge positive for Cadillac.  This CTS Wagon is a car that will provide enjoyment for those smart enough and brave enough to buy it with years of happiness.

The New 2011 Mustang Five Liter Motor

The information on this has been leaking out since the day of the press event.  There are many well known websites that broke the embargo, we chose not to jump on board with that and just wait till the agreed upon time.  I know, this is a shocking turn of events in the web world of FIRST and GOTCHYA.

Here are the detail highlights of the new motor.

412 HP @6500 RPM  390TQ @4250 RPM on PREMIUM FUEL.  Horsepower drops to 402 on 87 Octane fuel.

7000RPM Redline

11:1 Comperession

83HP/Liter

Twin Independent Variable Cam Timing (Both intake and exhaust are independent and variable)

Aluminium Four Bolt main with Two Cross Bolts per main 11mm & 9mm bolts

Nodular Iron main caps

Forged Steel crank with full counterweights

Hypereutectic Pistons

Forged powder metal “I” beam rods with floating pins

Composite Intake Manifold

Crossflow cooling with intake manifold cooled first

80mm Throttle Body

34lb/hr Injectors

Main chain drives outboard cam, secondary cam drives inboard cam

5% better head flow than GT500 heads

10 pounds heavier than outgoing 4.6 3V motor.

Wide band airflow management with active knock and tip in management






Also announced was the Boss 302R:

Ford Racing is introducing the BOSS 302R, a factory-built race car ready for track days and road racing in a number of Grand-Am, SCCA and NASA classes. Each base model of the Mustang BOSS 302R will come with a 5.0-liter four-valve engine, six-speed manual transmission, a roll cage, race seats, safety harness, data acquisition and race dampers/springs, and a Brembo brake and tire package.  Price will be $79,000

Happy Holidays

We are headed out of town for a few days to visit with family over Christmas.  Enjoy this video shot on Canon’s latest, greatest DSLR camera in Praque.  If you have the bandwidth and the computer horsepower, make sure you view this in full screen.  I’m sure it would be STUNNING on a 50″+ Plasma TV

Have a safe and happy holiday season. 

RoundAboutShow #15 The Holiday Wishlist

Every week we hit-up the discount travel sites in search of the cheapest airfare around. During the hunt, we find a wide range of ticket prices and airlines, and maybe even a cohesive, Zen-like theme. All we want is to make it home for the holidays, and find a few off-putting news bites to fit the theme, but our flight was canceled due to bad weather and we’re stuck in the Minneapolis airport eating stale Cinnabons and sleeping on the floor. Meanwhile, visions of Spykers and Audis dance in our heads.

This week, with a few short buying days left in the holiday season, our esteemed panel assembles its holiday wishlist. Eric yearns for a Tag Heuer watch. Zach has a soft spot for an NSX. Craig asks that we donate to the Focus Fund. And Ben just wants a way to operate his iPhone’s GPS without freezing his fingers off. Plus, ourBlind Spot story, the Lincoln MKT is In the Garage and an atrociously styled G6 inthis week’s Highway Hearsay.


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Rally Car Orgasm

As we have said before, we are fans of old school Group B and Group A cars, we thought we’d give you a bit of a treat as we approach Christmas three video’s where you will need to crank the sound up as loud as you can.

We will start with the 1977 Lombard Rally, go to the “Group B Monsters” and finish off with a tribute to Colin McRae, who was recently voted by Motorsports News as the “Greatest Motorsport Hero of all time

Thanks to amjayes‘s YouTube Channel for some of this great content.