Friday, August 19, 2011

Who's the Boss?

There is a breed of sales wank that believes consumers who inquire about a product that isn't available are best served with an answer about completely different products that are available, preferably without any further reference to the product that isn't available.

This wholly-innocent forgetfulness is accomplished with doe eyes in-person, as with the Pontiac salesman who once offered to sell your's truly an available Pontiac Grand Am for the same price as the 5k-more-and-then-currently-unavailable sibling Grand Prix GTP. (Your UnHumble Car Czar countered by offering to purchase a 5k-more-and-then-currently-available Bonneville SSE for the same price as the GTP, a mocking retort met with apparent confusion by the sales punk).

This wholly-innocent forgetfulness is accomplished with polite tones over the telephone, as with the so-called Verizon Wireless tech support guy who turned into an attempted salesman at the conclusion of a recent support ticket, responding to a question about the carrier's delayed Blackberry 9930 with an incredible offer for a Droid. Not a peep about the Blackberry escaped the fellow's lips ... almost as if the question had never been asked (or maybe it was simply another Verizon call clarity issue)?

And this wholly-innocent forgetfulness is accomplished per the above screenshot on the FoMoCo's website, where you finish building yourself a Ford Mustang Boss 302 and find that there are 13 in inventory -- which turn out to be an "inventory" of not 2012 Boss 302s with screaming five-liter V-8s, but leftover 2011 V6s.

You might as well let your brilliant web app find us stray cats, Ford.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Enough About Mid-Engine Corvettes, Already

Enough about mid-engine Corvettes, ladies and gentlemen.

In every Vette redesign since the Zora Arkus-Duntov days mid-engine Corvette rumors waft through the air like vaporized Goodyears. Look at the comment sections on any car blog and reliably find three or four "everybody knows that mid-engine layout is the best" missives.

So, OK ... all open-wheel racers are mid-engine, so sure ... it's the best handling layout. For a race car rocking a few hundred pounds of downforce and tires that are stickier than Gummy Worms left out on the sidewalk in mid July.

But street cars don't play by the same rules as open-wheel racers. Torque and traction and precious-little speed-induced downforce are the order of the day on the public roadways, which is why you rarely find mid-engine designs dominating the performance spec panels of the car mags. Road and Track, for instance, has the piggish Mustang Boss 302 LS out-slaloming both the Ferrari 458 Italia and even the celebrated Enzo. Positively dumpy front-engined beasts like the Nissan GTR and lump-of-iron-hanging-out-over-the-rear-axle 911 Turbo S regularly spank Ferraris, Lambos, Boxsters, and Loti around test tracks.

Race tracks? Anybody who watches the GT class in the LeMans series knows that the dominance of any one team is related to driver and crew talent, not engine layout. As cool as those shrieking Ferrari engines are, it's the well-prepared, well-driven Chevrolet C6.R Vettes, BMW M3s and Porsche 911s that dominate the race results year after year.

And speaking of Vettes, which we started speaking of at the beginning of this entry, there's nothing cooler than listening to the banshee soprano wail of a big-buck Ferrari being overhauled at Road America by the all-balls bass bellow of a get-er-done Corvette using the wrong engine layout and overhead valve technology straight out of 1955, give or take a few sodium-filled valves. It's like watching that dull American lug John McClain outwitting his smarter, more sophisticated Euro-foes lap after lap.

Enough about mid-engined Corvettes, ladies and gentlemen.