Blog King Instapundit has already written about our joint, ill-fated attempt to comparison drive a new Nissan 350Z against its much-ballyhooed sister vehicle, the Infiniti G35 Coupe. He's even got a highly embarrassing photo. Suffice it to say that the Nissan salespeople in Knoxville, Tenn., wouldn't let us move the "Z" -- they wanted to deliver a virginal car to the buyer who'd ordered it. The neighboring Infiniti dealer was far friendlier, letting us drive off in a G35 Coupe by ourselves. (The Infiniti, while gorgeous, seemed a bit insubstantial for a $30,000 car.) But the telling moment came at the end of our visit, when someone pulled up to the dealership in a 1964 Pontiac GTO convertible. Suddenly, all the expensive modern cars in the showroom -- and this dealer also sold Porsches and Audis -- seemed like so much overpriced dross. As we left, we looked back and noticed that about seven or eight of the salesmen whose job it was to tout new $40,000-$100,000 luxury vehicles had gathered around the 38-year-old Goat to ogle and comment. I wish Instapundit had taken a photo of that. ... Moral: If you want to get maximum style and sex appeal for your money, you're much better off buying a 60s-era American classic than even a stylish new car. By far the best car I've ever driven, in terms of impressing people, was a $1,500 1965 Buick Skylark convertible. ... And what does it say about contemporary car design that when the producers of last summer's Vin Diesel thriller XXX were looking for a cool vehicle to have their hero drive, they couldn't do any better than ... another 1960s-era GTO. ... (The Diesel character actually deals in modern black market Ferraris, which are treated as disposable.) ...
Bangle Update: It's worth looking at some of the comments made by those who have signed the "Stop Chris Bangle" petition. I'm not sure exactly what
"Jagt Chris Bangle endlich zum Teufel!"
means, but it doesn't sound good. ... Meanwhile, the LAT delivers a positive Z4 road test that glosses over the big BMW styling story. ... P.S.: I should have made it clearer that I like the controversial styling of the expensive 7 Series sedan, including its menacing battleship trunk. But the 7 Series doesn't feature much of Bangle's contrived "flame surfacing." ...
Monday, December 16, 2002
American Anti-BMWs: A friend of mine once seduced his girlfriend in high school by telling her that what they were doing wasn't actual sex – sex was something much more elaborate and profound that adults did. I had an idea for a road test that was similar. It was this:
All the car magazines -- and hundreds of thousands of highly educated and informed young professionals -- say the BMW 3 Series sedan is the greatest semi-affordable car going. (The November Automobile seems to declare that the new Infiniti G-35 coupe is better, but if you read it closely that's not what it says.) I've never driven a 3 Series -- or the more expensive 5 Series, for that matter -- which must make me uniquely virginal among automotive journalists, or those who play them on the Web. I figured this also made me the perfect man to drive the Detroit-made imitators of the BMW – the Lincoln LS and Cadillac CTS -- without doing the obvious and comparing them to their bogey. Judge them on their own merits! You couldn't give them a fairer shake than that. Can they show a good time to someone who doesn't know what a real good time is?
I know, the sex analogy breaks down if you really think about it. (My friend actually had sex, whereas I … [stop –ed.]) The road test didn't quite work out as planned either. But it wound up teaching a lesson about something else.
Lincoln LS: The first thing I need to tell you about the Lincoln LS is that it drives beautifully. Steers precisely, shifts direction easily, with an easy, disciplined ride that calls for the auto reviewer's #1 adjective, "supple." I drove the V-8 version, which is comfortably powerful. There's a bit too much jounce (or is it rebound?) when you encounter a bump entering a fast corner, but for all practical purposes the Lincoln behaves the way the magazines have been telling Detroit its cars should behave for decades -- it drives like a Jaguar. That's probably because it is a Jaguar. (It shares its chassis with Ford's Jaguar S-Type, which costs about $10,000 more.)