Auto Rant for Jan. 16

There is no auto news that can’t wait until Monday so indulge me for some observations.

Here we are just 16 days into the New Year and I already I have my OMG moment!

I was driving through a new shopping area yesterday, in front of the overpriced steak house that will easily charge you three plus figures for dinner. They are so snobby they opened a new outlet with valet parking without so much as taking out an ad. Three figures for dinner always struck me as a bit much considering that with any luck you will flush it down the toilet the next day, but I digress.

Ahead of me at the intersection was a fine Porsche 911 Carrera, clearly just out of the showroom. The car gave a short lurch and died. This occurred three more times and  OMG, it occurred to me that this fellow went out and laid down possibly six figures for a car and DOESN’T KNOW HOW TO DRIVE A STICK! Lurch, die twice more and his right arm goes up as if to signal that he knows there is someone behind him who writes about cars and he WILL get the hang of this.

Lurch, die. Then the light dawns, and he remembers that one must give it a little gas to successfully get through the intersection before Congress and the White House agree on something. Or it snows again. The Porsche snorts and a bit of smoke comes out of the exhaust in a display of indignation, I thought.

Yet, we did succeed in making it through the intersection, and while he may have been heading for the overpriced yet popular coffee shop, he makes a hasty exit out of the shopping area and by now is probably hiding in Arizona. Well … maybe only Virginia where a dealer is installing a new clutch. Porsche makes a very fine 7-speed twin clutch automatic tranny and one wonders why in holy schnitzel he didn’t opt for it.

I opted for the overpriced coffee shop, (they know who they are since their name ends in bucks) using up a portion of a Christmas gift card. While waiting for my selection I noticed they had a sales pitch for even higher priced beans all presumably crafted in a tiny mountain village under ideal conditions in South or Central America and handpicked only after 2 pm by the grandson of Juan Valdez who washes his hands at least twice a day.

As I left, parked next to me was a BMW i3 – probably the ugliest car on the road today. Even Mrs. Auto Writer agrees. “What is that” she asked when seeing her first one on the road in a tone that clearly indicated disapproval. Despite its technical advantages, and especially when viewed from the rear, it looks like the product of German designers who suffered from too much time at the Oktoberfest.

A shame since the i8 is such a spectacular automotive feat.

To go with the overpriced java, I headed to that dying breed called a book store where I shelled out $11.50 before taxes for Top Gear’s “Massive Shiny Awards Issue.” It is one wonderful read and the graphics and art work are far ahead of the car mags produced here. Beyond the overpriced watches, some which actually tell time, and the Uniglo selvedge jeans, is an eye popping night picture of the interior of the Porsche challenging Mercedes-AMG GT S. It is like you are right in the car with the driver! 0-100km in just 3.8 seconds and a top speed of 193 mph.

And they had the sand, as the British would say, to name the Citroen Cactus as Hatchback of the Year. Jolly good I say.

Moving on past the Egg Dosso sign, there is the excellent choice of the new Audi TT as Coupe of the Year, and the Ferrari 458 Speciale Aperta as Cabriolet of the Year. Oh Lord, what will happen to that company with the ouster of the man who knew what the prancing stallion was all about, Luca di Montezemolo.

That brings us to the overall Car of the Year, the above mentioned BMW i8 that demonstrates what some of the great minds of the auto industry can do when they are set free. If this is the future, bring it on. 1.5 liters that can keep up with the 911! No kidding.

Next week is the auto show here in Washington that usually makes little news. But this year they are having a day long talk fest on Capitol Hill and displaying lots of cars made in this country outside the still being repaired dome.  Now I don’t know about you, but why would one stand around in predicted 38 degree weather to see a bunch of cars when the very next day one can see them in the warmth of the convention center?

Inside, earthy topics such as “Understanding why we aren’t driving more vehicles powered by natural gas” will be discussed. I will leave the connection between that energy form and Capitol Hill to you, but the simple answer is there are NO refueling stations.

One that should really pack them in is “Why the historic vehicle register was created with the Library of Congress”

And Cadillac’s Johan de Nysschen will tell us his plans for the ailing luxury automaker and how much he hates the press.

Should be fun.

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