Feb 25, 2003

Untitled Document

In the news today:

- Oldest
American man, 113, dies Febuary 25th 2003

Said his 35-year-old great-grandaughter,
"He smoked cigars, drank beer and ate greasy food. He was an amazing man."

does it say about our society that all one need to do to be qualified
as "amazing" is eat crap and pollute ones body for a lifetime and live to
113 years old? Whatever. It sounded better in my head. But, this is
kind of
stream of consciousness stuff here so I'll leave it in.

Another tirade
on meaningless minutia:

The new Pontiac GTO concept
car is hitting the car show circuit this year. I have been following it's
journey from artist's sketch to production because I'm interested in that
kind of thing. I'm not really a Pontiac guy, I personally drive a 1964 Buick
Skylark although my Grandmother had a 67 Pontiac Firebird that I drooled
over as a kid (still do for that matter). However, I think every car guy
has a place in his heart for some year of the GTO, if not all.

It was an awesome car.
A muscle car. Some would say, the definition of the muscle car. I would argue
that the 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle would be that car, but I digress. Pontiac
announced that it was bringing back the GTO. With the dissappearance of the
Firebird in 2001, this was welcome news. Especially since the new GTO would
be based on the Australian Holden Monaro. A modern muscle car in it's own
right, the Monaro has been on the wish list of stateside auto enthusiasts
for quite some time. With a Corvette derived LS1 V8 and rear-wheel drive
it fills a void that has been filled with too many watered-down front-wheel
drive V6 cars that I care to think of.

This trend toward reviving
the past has been around for awhile. It started with the genius Volkswagen
New Beetle and the Dodge Viper. It has continued with the Mini Cooper, the
Ford Thunderbird. And there are more to come. Ford plans on reviving the
fastback Mustang styling. Overall, automotive design has taken a decidely
post-modern hair-pin turn much to the delight of people like myself.

I don't drive my '64 Skylark
because it is the fastest, most efficient, most comfortable or most capable.
I drive it for the feeling I get when I drive it. The combination of history,
power and it's unique style provide me with a driving experience like no
other. However, that's not to say I don't wish for a new car now and then.
A Mini very nearly ended up in my driveway, and still might. The Subaru WRX
is an incredible car and an amazing value. If weren't so bland, II might
be tempted to shred some corners with one. And I love BMWs. All of them.
I was hoping the GTO would be that perfect combination of performance and
style I was looking for.

It isn't. Its a bland excersise
of GM's unwillingness to take risks. Although GM is a very successful automaker,
it trails behind it's compettitors because of this weakness. But, even for
GM, the GTO is dissapointing. Although GM has never attempted to push the
envelope of automotive design (at least successfully), it has always been
quick to follow up it's compettitors with a slightly cheaper, more bland
counterpart. 1964, Ford unveils the Mustang. 1967, Chevy unveils the Camaro.
Of course, we know how that one ends: Camaro sales never top Mustang sales,
although the Camaro is often the faster, cheaper choice.

The GTO is a featureless,
lump of tapioca pudding of a car. It has no history. It's cookie-cutter Pontiac
styling betrays it's wild heart. I don't see the GTO in any one of
it's Sunfire-esque curves or the Grand-am, Grand-Prix, Bonnevile, et al grill.
I wonder if the designers at GM have ever seen a GTO. The marketing people
have for sure, but even they seem to have just merely glanced at one. The
feeling isn't there. The essence. The new Mini evokes memories of the original
not just with steel and polymer, but with attitude and the entire driving

The designers (or the commitee
that designs the cars) seem to think that the twin-kidney grill is all you
need to make a GTO. First of all, is the twin-kidney grill really a pure
Pontiac styling cue? If you look at classic Pontiacs, that twin-kidney is
more like a twin mouth, stretching accross the whole grill. In the 80s somewhere,
the smaller grills were introduced, maybe because they looked an awful lot
like the real twin-kidney grill of the BMWs.

In the end, I hope GM sees
the light. I'm sure writing this long, boring haraunge will wake them up.
I'm certain they read these things. Just something I thought while driving
down the road. Hopefully I can come up with something more interesting next


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