GMC Terrain – Another Ugly Truck

May 24, 2010 at 11:19 pm (Cars & Trucks, General) (, , , , , , , , )

Greetings, fellow citizens and auto enthusiasts! I’m back to abuse GM’s styling department once again. (Yes, the very people who brought us the Pontiac Aztek.) Sorry, but it’s just the sort of hateful, bilious, unhappy little man that I am.

(And sorry about the lapse in posting. It’s been a bear of a month. E-mail me if you really must know more.)

OK! Let’s get on with the sneering, giggling and pointing, shall we? Today’s styling victim – the GMC Terrain.

I do have to give GMC some props – they did make the effort to create a vehicle that gets 32 mpg with its 4 cylinder engine, and they’ve included some nice comfort features. There’s even a rear-facing camera. And I’m sure, a plethora of cupholders. But for Pete’s sake! Why do automotive styling departments seem incapable of designing an SUV that doesn’t look like a smiling chimpanzee?

What is it with auto stylists these days, that makes them think that cars and trucks need to have a face?

Notable examples of this are the recent Acura and Mazda cars, and the new Chevy Camaro. For some reason, they seem to have stupid little grins pasted to their front ends. Why? Do focus groups really say that they like to have cars that smile at them? Or are the people in the focus groups just screwing with the auto makers?

So, what makes the Terrain look so ungainly? What’s the deal with the bulges around the wheel wells? Is that supposed to make the truck look “muscular”? Not even close. It looks like a fat chick stuffed into an undersized pair of sweat pants.

Sad, really. Sad that the guys that designed this wee beast don’t seem to have heard of Harley Earl. That’s a guy who really knew how to design a vehicle that looked great – sleek and well-proportioned. The Terrain suffers from a disproportionate design. The fender bulges are too pronounced, and look like an afterthought. The beltline is in the wrong place. It’s either too high, or not high enough. Wrong place! The front clip is bulky, bumpy, and fails to appeal – well, at least to me. The overall effect is of an upside-down bathtub on wheels.

These are pretty much the same complaints I have with the Jeep Compass. And I stand by my assessment. If need be, nose to nose with the lead designer. I’ll bring my pencil and sketchbook. But I realize it’s an uphill battle, trying to make a good-looking SUV. Better to swing and miss than not to swing at all.

(Gawd, I’m a bitch tonight! Bring on the insults, Terrain owners!)



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What Are They Thinking At GM?

October 8, 2009 at 2:16 am (Cars & Trucks, Damn funny, Die Rat Bastard, The Economy) (, , , , , , , )

Holy Zarquon’s Singing Fish. I just saw a commercial for the new 2010 Chevy Equinox SUV, and the hairs stood up on the back of my neck.  Whatever they are smoking in the styling department at Chevrolet, it must be pretty righteous shizzle.  Take a look:

2010_Chevy_Equinox_front

And now, take a look at the 2002 Pontiac Aztek, widely considered to be one of the ugliest cars ever made:

2002-05_pontiac_aztek

Wow.  Wow, wow, wow.  The more things change, the more they stay the same.  Can you imagine a more clear example that people don’t learn from history, and are therefore doomed to repeat it Is it any wonder that GM is about to pass into history like the Studebaker and the DeSoto?

There.  I feel a little better now.  See you all in a few days.

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2 Cars, 1 Town

September 15, 2009 at 11:43 am (Cars & Trucks, General) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Okay, kiddies.  Back to talkin’ about cars and stuff like that.

My home town of Vancouver Washington is not a place where you would normally expect to see exotic automobiles.  Nevertheless, one occasionally sees something unusual, expensive, and / or lightning fast.  Vancouver’s mean streets have played host to the new Challenger and Camaro, and I once even caught a ride in a vintage Rolls Royce when my plebian Mazda 626 broke down.

But this post is all about 2 black cars from opposite ends of the spectrum, both sighted in the last month or so, right here in “The ‘Couve“.

Latest sighting first… I was out being run around on Fourth Plain (my dear sweet Merkur XR4ti is temporarily benched), and up ahead I espied the cute little butt of a petite black roadster.  As we drew near, I saw it was sporting a removable hard top and BMW “M” badges.

06-uk-z4m-coupe-r3q-s

Aha! A BMW Z4 M convertible. Talk about quick and sexy!  Oh, honey.  Front and rear wheel arches widely flared, lots of fat tire under each corner of the beastie, and as we watched it launch from the next traffic light (with a throaty 4 cylinder roar), it made impressive use of all that power and all that rubber.  Nice.

Next upon the stand – something completely different.  Also black, also European, but from an entirely different “neighborhood”.

Several weeks ago, cruising along Mill Plain (east of I-205), my highly trained eye was caught by a black hatchback up ahead.  I tilted my head this way and that, trying to fit what I was seeing into my brain.  Is is a Nissan?  Is it a Fiat? Did someone jack up the back end of a 1989 Toyota Tercel?

No, dear friends! My wondering eyes were beholding a marvel of Russian engineering in the form of – a Lada Samara (I think it was a Samara – I’m sure it was a Lada).

123103

The young feller behind the wheel looked and sounded American born, and was very excited that I recognized the car, as we shouted back and forth and I favored him with a “thumbs up” for taking on the awesome responsibility of driving such a rare vehicle.  (Parts are easier to find these days, thanks to The Interwebz, but the FedEx charges will kill you.)

123102

Not a lot of Americans pay attention that closely, as I’m sure many of you have discovered.  Too bad, really.  There’s a lot going on out there in traffic – and in the world – and a lot can be learned if we merely pay a little attention.

Whenever I’m out and about, sitting at a light, I look around me, and most of the time, I see my fellow primates staring fixedly at the light, waiting for it to turn to green.  Hey you – WAKE UP! Life is going on while you’re marking time, thinking about where you believe you “need” to be next.  You’re gonna miss all the fun.

And all the cool cars, too, you dork.

(… not to mention, that hot chick over there in the crosswalk.)

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Attention, Alternative Energy Enthusiasts!

July 13, 2008 at 9:56 pm (Alternative Energy, Cars & Trucks, Cool Tech, General, Media, Politics, The Economy, The Environment) (, , , , )

Friends, neighbors, and fellow geeks – this is the most exciting news I’ve heard all year. The legendary oil man T. Boone Pickens has started an online effort to help get America off imported oil, and onto renewable domestic energy. You could have knocked me over with a feather. Quite a small one, in fact. Here’s a video that explains why the plan is needed:

So – go right now to his web site – it’s free to join. It’s a social / Web 2.0 sort of site, with all sorts of options for participation. I’ve only had time to explore a small part of the site, but I was so impressed and excited, I had to get to blogging about it.

Not to toot my own horn, but he’s saying some of the same things I have been trying to communicate for years. That there is no way to drill our way out of this mess. That we need to move on to other energy sources, and lose the petroleum habit.

National Geographic cover - Peak Oil

Pickens has also acknowledged that the peak of world oil production (known as peak oil) occurred in 2005, and from here on, it’s going to be more expensive and more scarce. For more information on peak oil, and the petroleum crisis, check out a film called Crude Impact. Ask me, and I can loan you my copy. It’s an important documentary, and extremely serious. I want as many people as possible to see it.

It’s kind of nice to be vindicated, to be sure. But it’s truly exciting to know that there are some smart, well-regarded people willing to stand up and put their names & fortunes on the line for a future where America isn’t sending all its money out of the country, impoverishing ourselves for no good reason.

Now – let’s do this. The stakes are too high to just sit back and wait for the hammer to fall, because when it does, it’s going to fall hard.

View my page on PickensPlan

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Well, I sure am shocked.

June 3, 2007 at 11:28 pm (Cars & Trucks, Die Rat Bastard, Politics, Rent Me, The Economy, The Environment)

Smokestacks in ChinaYou could knock me over with a feather off the butt of a Peking (Beijing?) duck. Turns out the Chinese intend to put economic development ahead of controlling their emissions of greenhouse gases. Can’t say as I’m a bit surprised. The G8 nations did exactly the same thing during the first 100 years of the Industrial Revolution. We didn’t begin to take note of the stinking air and dying lakes until the 1960’s. And now, just because we are aware of the damage that is being caused, we want the developing nations like China and India to make (apparent) sacrifices that we never did. To quote the BBC News article:

“In explaining the plan, the chairman of China’s National Development and Reform Commission, Ma Kai, said rich counties who have already industrialized would instead have to do more to tackle climate change.

“Mr Ma said they (emphasis added) were responsible for most of the greenhouse gases produced over the past century and had the money to tackle the problem.

“Mandatory emission caps ‘would hinder the development of developing countries and hamper their industrialization’, he added.”

Dammit, he’s got us red-handed. This is mostly our problem. (You hear that, Dubya?) The Chinese are going to feel like they are being punished for trying to create their own version of the American Dream. No matter that they are crapping in their own backyards to do it. They want the consumer society, no matter the cost to their air, water, land, and children.

Look into it, dear reader. The cost of oil, steel, concrete, and other raw materials has gone up since China (and the rest of Asia) entered the industrial economy. There’s only so much oil and steel to go around, and if more people are bidding for the same commodity, the price goes up. Econ 101.

So. The genie is out of the bottle, and the toothpaste is out of the tube and running down our collective wrist. What’s there to do about it? For one, we can stop competing for scarce resources, and use something else. Something local, like wind, geothermal, natural gas, solar… does this make any sense? Maybe stop shipping all our scrap to China, and recycle it here – cleanly?

Windmill SunriseI suppose I also ought to explain my parenthetical “apparent” above, when speaking about sacrifices. There is some recent data to indicate that being “green” is actually good for business, and may be more profitable, short and long term, than being a polluter.

We in the west have got a lot of work to do. We need to put our own economies back in shape, and not trash the air & water all over again in the process. Plus, we need to finish cleaning up the mess we’ve made, and show some leadership to the developing world. We as Americans must demand that our leaders actually lead in this direction, or get the hell out of the way.

UPDATE: January 26th, 2008

Here is the first of four videos from the UK’s Channel 5, entitled “Big Ideas That Changed The World – Consumerism“. It’s a wonderful and sobering look at the changes human need & greed have wrought upon the world.

Part two:

Part three:

And finally, part four:

Click here to see all the videos posted by this YouTube user. There are some excellent BBC documentaries here.

UPDATE: April 9th, 2008

I couldn’t resist this. The Urban Dictionary has selected “consumerican” as their Urban Word of the Day today. (Be advised – much of the content on UrbanDictionary.com is NOT safe for work.) “Consumerican” is defined as:

An individual suffering from the particularly American brand of consumerism.

You’d have to be a real consumerican to always think you need the newest, most expensive computer every two years.

I couldn’t agree more. Yes, it takes some time, effort, and a bit of knowledge to deal with today’s tools and technology, but it’s worth the effort to keep perfectly serviceable appliances, computers, and other manufactured goods out of the landfills. We throw away so much that is still usable. And yes, that’s been said before, by people more intelligent and notable than I.

But that’s because it’s true.

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They call this a Jeep?

May 22, 2007 at 10:48 pm (Cars & Trucks, Die Rat Bastard) (, , , , , , , )

Somehow or another, this vehicle got completely under my radar until I saw one in a local parking lot. The Jeep Compass.

Jeep Compass

Ugh. One horrified glance at this pompous rig and it becomes apparent why Daimler-Benz wants to sell their interest in Chrysler. Styled (if the word can be tortured into applying here) as if it were some sort of Transformers action toy, it has every chance to become a complete embarrassment to the Jeep heritage.

The original (Willys) Jeep has an honest charm that derives from its utilitarian design. It was made specifically to go anywhere, as a workhorse for the infantry of WWII.

Willys Jeep - WWII Era - and no damn cupholders

The Compass can make no such claim – it’s dishonestly ugly.

Jeep Compass

It looks as if it’s smuggling acorns in its cheeks, and was obviously engineered to appeal to suburban posers who will never take this atrocity more than a hundred feet off-road. And I mean the Trader Joe’s parking lot.

It’s really sad. Chrysler has shown that they can do chunky and retro properly, if they put their minds to it. Just look at the Chrysler 300. Nice. Oh, nice. Want one. Want it baaaaad.

300C

But the Compass? It looks as though, instead of making a clay model of the design, they carved it from a bar of soap. Bah. It’s bad enough that Chrysler is selling a damn ugly car, but to call it a Jeep is an affront to the intellect.

Yes, it looks like people will not quit designing ugly crap, and other people will not stop buying ugly crap, at least not within my lifetime. But I can speak out. And I can dream. I can dream.

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It continues to be a long strange trip.

May 9, 2007 at 12:50 am (Cars & Trucks, Die Rat Bastard, General, Politics)

Sorry to be so long to post, what with one thing and a few dozen others. Briefly:

  • Major leak in the water line to my house
  • Resultant digging in the yard (a lot)
  • Long time friendship disintegrated
  • Raiding the 401k
  • Lots of work and final deployment of ThoughtOffice web site
  • And many more little damn things too numerous to mention

Other than that, it’s been pretty good. My life is coming together in wonderful new ways, and I don’t regret walking away from Charter one tiny bit. Screw those incompetent corporate chimpanzees.ENRON DVD

Speaking of which, I finally watched ENRON: The Smartest Guys In The Room. Wow. This movie is a huge eye-opener. I keep saying the suits really don’t give a crap about any of us. This film backs up my contention with solid documentation. Everyone should watch it. Especially if you work for a large corporation. When the MBAs and accountants take charge at your company, run. Very fast.

It’s just a shame we can’t pry the gold out of Kenneth Lay’s teeth, or take away the assets he left behind. See, he died just after the verdict came in, but before sentencing. Because of his demise, the conviction was “vacated”. In other words, it’s just like he had never been convicted of the massive fraud that was perpetrated, and therefore his family gets to keep all the money that he stole from ENRON, which ENRON, in turn, had looted from its employees, shareholders, and customers. Keep your eyes open. It will happen again.

Minimum-Maximum [LIVE]Whew. Kind of grim, huh? Here’s something that may bring you pleasure, instead of dread. I have really been enjoying Kraftwerk’s Minimum-Maximum. The set was a gift last year from my Scottish buddy, Paul. The last several days, I have been playing the CDs in my 1986 Merkur XR4ti whilst I have been tooling about the area on my various errands. Sigh… listening to a live version of Autobahn while slinging my German-built Ford around corners. It’s the closest to heaven that I have been in quite some time. Even better since I found a cheap way to replace the rear speakers.

The OEM rear deck speakers in the Merkur were about 5″ round, and were – to be blunt – toast. I got the idea to raid the local Goodwill for a cheap boom box. I found a dusty old Sony unit (AM-FM-CD-cassette) for five bucks! I added some connectors from my junk box, and some Velcro (to hold the speakers in place) for $3. The sound is amazing, considering the price.

There was even an unexpected bonus to that trip to the Goodwill. I fell into conversation with a couple of other geezers like myself. The subject was – Portland radio. We had a great time talking about history, all the changes, the consolidation of the industry since deregulation… Is it just me, or does it also seem to you, dear reader, that whenever a lot of money gets involved in anything, it begins to seriously suck?

Go check out the movie, maybe some Kraftwerk, and enjoy your week, everyone. I’ll be back.

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Drive Different. (ly)

March 10, 2007 at 2:19 pm (Cars & Trucks, Cool Tech, The Environment)

To balance out my last post, I suppose I ought to point out that not all vehicles are ugly, tired rehashings of existing parts and concepts. There really is some good, new thought happening in the wide world of the automobile, and I will touch on some of the new coolness here. Now. Ready, set, go.

Vanguard concept - Animated GIFFirst, the Union of Concerned Scientists has come up with a really slick new vehicle specification that could reduce emissions and improve mileage by using existing technologies. It’s called the Vanguard, and you can read more about it by clicking here. Now this is the kind of thinking that has been lacking in Detroit. Take all the parts that make cars more efficient and stick them all together on all cars, and make them all work better. Hello! Who missed this?

OScar Designs - Animated GIFNext upon the show car stand, a group of car enthusiasts, engineers, and entrepreneurs has begun a project called OScar – the Open Source Car. It’s kind of like Linux, but for cars. The intention: create one or more “free” designs for cars that can be built anywhere in the world, without any advanced factories or huge assembly lines. The Big Three aren’t going to like that idea very much, either. To my eyes, OScar looks like a very cool concept, from some people who are just plain fed up with accepting the crappy cars that we are being told to buy; people who want a more democratic alternative that better meets their real needs for transportation.

Hummer O2 ConceptThe third item for your consideration today: a Green Hummer – The Hummer O2 concept vehicle, to be precise. Pretty nifty idea, this one. Powered by hydrogen fuel cells, collecting solar energy, giving off extra oxygen wherever it goes, and made of environmentally-friendly materials, this “opposite world” version of the existing Hummer is a far cry from the current crop of hulking, over-chromed mobile monuments to suburban excess.

Okay, after all that serious stuff, let’s have a little fun. There’s more than one approach to a Green Hummer out there, and I don’t mean the color. Here are some guys who are having a lot of fun with the idea of being green, and going in style. Check out their web site for more pictures and videos.

I have a soft spot in my heart for people who decide to get creative with steel tubing, welders, and old bike parts. Perhaps I will one day also build my own car – sleek, swoopy, efficient, and all mine. Until then, I will dream about Driving Different. Ly.

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Fugly then, fugly now.

February 24, 2007 at 9:39 pm (Cars & Trucks, General, The Economy)

It’s been a busy few weeks, but I was unstoppably moved to post an entry this evening. What, you may ask (I can hear you now, asking) would move you, Dave, to write a post tonight? It was simply the sighting of one of the fugliest cars ever made. The Subaru B9 Tribeca.

First, Tribeca is a lower Manhattan neighborhood. And it’s not even a real name, just a dumb contraction, not even an acronym. I wonder how many soccer moms here on the left coast know that, or even care. It’s a stupid name for an SUV, or any vehicle, for that matter. (And where does the “B9” come from? What the hell?)

Next, the styling on this urban assault vehicle is… well… off-putting. Barf making. One reviewer likened it to “Hannibal-Lecter-in-a-face-mask“. And if you know your automotive history, it’s been done. Almost 50 years ago, Ford made a legendary styling error known as – the Edsel.

Take a look. Both cars, side by side, both butt ugly.

Butt ugly then Butt ugly now

What’s still more hilarious, is that the resemblance doesn’t stop at the grille! Take a look at the rear views of the two vehicles:

edsel_rearview.jpg subaru_tribeca.jpg

Look at both the tail lights, and the shape of the roof line! (The “C-pillar“, for us car nuts.) The only thing that this grotesque Subaru lacks is a two-tone paint job and fender skirts. Dear old H. L. Mencken put his finger right on the nub: “Nobody ever went broke underestimating the taste of the American public.

Ford sold about 110,800 Edsels during 3 years of production. Subaru has apparently sold fewer than 36,000 of their fugly station-wagons-on-steroids since the model’s introduction in mid-2005. Wow. Looks like Subaru is out to prove H. L. Mencken wrong at last. Pity, really. The Tribeca is built in Lafayette, IN by American workers, and we can use all the manufacturing jobs we can get.

I blame management.

UPDATE: July 12, 2007

As I was a’sitting and a’watching the boob toob tonight, I was astonished to see this:

2008 Subaru Tribeca

That’s right, campers! You’re looking at the 2008 Tribeca. Finally! They yielded to good taste and lost that stupid Edsel horse-collar grille! The crowning glory was the voice-over in the commercial – “the ALL NEW Tribeca”! Snort. Not even. All new from the front wheels forward, maybe. Tail lights are the same, doors are the same, C pillar is the same… not only does Subaru think we have no aesthetics, they also seem to think we have no eyes and no brains. Lord help us.

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