Posts by Ezra Dyer
- Ezra Dyer at Motoramic13 days ago
By now you’ve probably heard of GM’signition-recall debacle regardless of whether you drive a GM car. At this point, GM’s recalled 1,367,146 cars that might’ve had a faulty ignition, plus another 824,000 newer cars that could’ve received the bogus part during a repair. The company acknowledges that the problem is linked to 31 crashes and at least 13 fatalities. So if you drive one of those 2.2 million cars awaiting a new ignition, the obvious question becomes: Is my car a deathtrap? I decided to find out by testing one of the afflicted models, a 2007 Saturn Sky Red Line.
The ignition recall involves GM’s small cars — Chevy Cobalt, Chevy HHR, Saturn Sky, Saturn Ion and any Pontiac versions thereof. If you drive one of these cars, you probably have one that’s subject to the recall. GM’s claim is that not all of the ignition switches are bad, but since it’d be infeasible to find the bum ones amongst 2.2 million cars, they’re just replacing them all.
- Ezra Dyer at Motoramic23 days ago
For most of us, competitive driving is a spectator sport. It’s a separate world inhabited by people who started racing karts at age five and had parents who burned summer vacations at European road courses. Pursuing a race career requires talent, huge money and very often a birthright (try to count how many NASCAR drivers are related to other NASCAR drivers). You can’t just show up and enter the Indy 500.
But you can do exactly that with the famed Mint 400 desert race outside of Las Vegas. And this year, I did.
Thanks to a class called “arrive and drive,” anyone with $17,500 can procure a Zero One Odysseys race buggy and full support crew to run the Mint. That might sound like a lot of dough, but divide it among multiple drivers and it starts to look like a bargain bucket-list life experience. This year Red Bull formed a Zero One team that included action-sports TV host Sal Masekela, Denver Broncos linebacker DeMarcus Ware and me. Since the Zero One cars run in a class that does 300 miles rather than the namesake 400, each of us will have 100 miles of punishment in store. The night before the race, I meet legendary racer Parnelli Jones and tell him I’ll be driving a lap.
- Motoramic1 mth ago
With the right tires, you can do anything. You can make a Miata hang with a Porsche, build a truck that can climb a wall, or, perhaps most amusingly, outfit a 565-hp Aston Martin that’ll run laps around an ice-covered pasture in Colorado. Which is what we did at Aston Martin On Ice, an event that put a fleet of British supercars on a road course made entirely of ice and snow.
While normally an event like this would be organized for a specific reason — say, to show off a new all-wheel-drive system — Astons on Ice seemed to exist for the simple reason that it’s exceedingly excellent to drift a bunch of Astons around a plowed field outside Crested Butte. Which is reason enough for me.
- Motoramic1 mth ago
You heard it here first: Volvo is the best Chinese car you can buy in America. OK, fine, the best Swedish car funded by the Chinese. But without Chinese carmaker Geely stepping up back in 2010, Volvo could very well have gone the way of Saab — which is to say, fondly rememberedbut no longer with us. Perhaps worse, it could’ve been swallowed by car-clueless investors who lack the means to develop new product, leading to years of Zombie Volvos. Geely, though, has the money and willpower to accomplish what Ford never did—a wholesale overhaul of Volvo’s entire strategy.
Two words: four cylinders. Going forward, every Volvo will have a four-banger under the hood. The idea is to deliver small-bore economy along with big-motor performance. That promise has been hitched to plenty of other powertrains, from hybrids to turbocharged V-6s, and usually only half of the equation proves true. The Volvo S60 T6 Drive-E, though, churns out a 28 mpg EPA combined rating along with its 302 hp. That’s an unusual combination, especially for a non-hybrid.
- Motoramic2 mths ago
Sometimes the secret to success is being just dumb enough to attempt the impossible. For instance, trying to tow a snowbound UPS truck up a steep hill with a small Subaru. That doesn’t seem like a feasible idea, does it? But you’ve got nothing to lose by trying, which is how I find myself dragging a UPS truck up a hill with a Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid.
The day before the latest crippling Southern snowstorm, I’m in possession of a bright green Subaru and a head full of bad ideas. I visit Lowe’s and buy a forged steel hook, which I shackle to the Subaru’s tow eye to create a beefy attachment point for my tow strap. I figure that when the storm hits, I’ll just cruise around in the all-wheel-drive Subaru and rescue the non-Subaru-having motorists. I get more action than I bargained for.
First there’s the Infiniti G37 coupe by the side of the road. The owner says she’s planning to just leave it there and she has a good point — even if I dragged her onto the pavement, she’d be right back in the ditch within 20 feet.
- Motoramic2 mths ago
I’m hurtling toward the desert scrub brush at 176 mph, 16 cylinders behind me and very little runway ahead. That’s OK, because I’m about to call upon 2 Gs of deceleration from the rear air brake and carbon rotors the size of crop circles. This is not a usual dealership test drive. This is what it’s like to be courted by Bugatti. If you’re lucky enough to have a Veyron-sized hole in your car budget, Bugatti would like to talk to you about its Dynamic Drive Program. There are 40 or so open-top Veyrons left to build, which is to say that Bugatti still has about $100 million worth of cars to sell. So it’s offering potential buyers a sort of super-deluxe test drive that incorporates both street driving and a few full-throttle blasts down a private runway. At no point are you pressured to buy undercoating or insurance for your insurance. How do you land an invitation to such an event? Well, if you’re a likely candidate, they know how to get in touch. Their people talk to your people, and the next thing you know you’ve got 1,200 hp beneath your right foot. And possibly, after that, a slightly depleted bank account and the title to a Veyron Grand Sport Vitesse. I say that if you can go full-throttle in a Veyron for 15 seconds and not deeply want one, you’re truly the embodiment of money not buying happiness.
- ezradyer at Motoramic4 mths ago
Ah, the life of a supercar. Take a look around high-roller enclaves like Miami Beach or Malibu and you’ll surely see plenty of brightly colored mid-engine lust buckets idling their way through traffic en route to the restaurant valet stand. It’s a shame, but the cars most capable of astounding feats of speed are the ones most likely to spend their days in traffic purgatory, 95 percent of their performance left in the envelope. I like to sneak the keys to cars like that and break them out of jail, put them to the glorious use that their engineers intended.
And that’s how I find myself sliding sideways up an unplowed mountain road in an Audi R8 V10 Spyder. We are at the O’Neil Rally School in New Hampshire, home to a 600-acre driving playground, a fleet of rally cars and no valets.
- jhyde1 at Motoramic5 mths ago
Audi’s S-cars are great. They’re fast, they handle well, they’ve got exquisite interiors. But any given Audi S is a subdued creature compared to the full-bore speed monsters from the likes of BMW’s M division, Mercedes-Benz’s AMG or Cadillac’s V-Series. For the really over-the-top Audis, you now need to look at the RS models. The latest of which is the 2014 Audi RS7, which mates the A7’s sleek shape with a powerplant that would adequately propel a small naval attack ship. Audi debuted the RS7 in Las Vegas, or more accurately, the desolate roads far, far, outside of Vegas. This is a car that needs room to roam.
For $105,795—about $25,000 or so beyond the price of an S7—you get a seriously overhauled car. Horsepower leaps from 420 to 560 and the 0-60 time drops to 3.7 seconds, from a leisurely 4.5. And while the S7 and RS7 both use Audi’s stupendous 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8, you do not add 140 hp simply by turning up the boost and ordering some schintzel. The RS7 gets different turbos, a whole new bottom end, a unique anti-lag system, beefed-up cooling and a different transmission.
- ezradyer at Motoramic5 mths ago
Each fall, Motor Trend anoints a winner in its annual Car of the Year competition. And then, about one second after the announcement, loyalists of various car brands begin quarreling with the selection. Why didn’t the Ferrari 458 Italia win? What about the Camaro? Did these guys even drive any cars?
Yes, in fact, they did. But, contrary to the expectations of many a passionate commenter or letter-writer, not all cars are eligible for Car of the Year. First of all, a vehicle has to be all new or significantly revised to warrant consideration. Second, price is a factor. The cap was once $100,000 but has crept up toward $120,000 thanks to inflation. If you can afford a McLaren 12C, feel free to consider it the Car of the Year.
- ezradyer at Motoramic6 mths ago
There are two problems with kit cars: tracking down all the necessary parts can be a pain, and the all-in cost can become prohibitively expensive, once you factor in paint and oddball parts. The solution, the holy grail of do-it-yourself car-building, is the “single donor” approach. With a single-donor project, you buy the kit plus a complete used donor car, then spend some quality time in the garage fusing the two of them into something new and wonderful—no further parts-sleuthing required. That’s the ideal. And that’s the premise behind the Factory Five 818.