Friday, April 27, 2012

Lunchtime News Briefs: A Hybrid you WILL Want, and that Greenpeace WILL Hate!

Ok so today's post is all about Ferraris. Why? Why not? Seriously though, I'm an Italian male, and the three most important things to any Italian male are, in order: 1) Jesus Christ, 2.) Our Mothers, 3.) Ferrari. And to be fair, the order often changes, depending on the day of the week. And this is my blog, so I'm gonna talk about what I like.

In all seriousness however, Ferraris are making news. Look below:



That is allegedly the new Ferrari F70 (take the picture with a grain of salt, there's over a dozen "official" F70 concept renderings). This is going to be the new Enzo. It follows a nearly three decades old trend now, to name the "halo" or baddest of the bad, Ferraris after anniversary's in the company's history. There were of course the F40and F50, and until the very end, the Enzo was referred to as the F60. This new replacement, barring another last minute name change, will be the F70.

While the design is still up in the air a bit, the drivetrain HAS been confirmed. Its a 7.3 litre V12 that will produce 800bhp! It is a further evolution of the beastly 6 litre (originally) V12 that powered the Enzo, the FXX, the FXX Evolutione, the 599 GTB, the 599 GTO, and the 599XX among others. But, are you ready for this? Its a hybrid! Ferrari has attached their KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System) hybrid drive, which was originally developed for F1, to the engine.

Short answer on how KERS works, as you break, heat and kinetic energy charges a battery that power an electric motor. On the drivers command, (AKA the push of a button) the electric motor activates, giving the gas engine more power. Basically, its electric nitrous, but it recharges itself! Ferrari have stated the F70's KERS will produce an additional 120bhp, so you have a 920bhp hybrid!!! It also has variable inlet/outley piping lengths and multiple spark combustions to help save gas. Overall its pretty trick and the best part is, Ferrari claim it gets 40% better mpg than a "comparable" gas engine. Double win.

This is huge folks. A halo Italian supercar has to have a V12, all the big ones did, the F50, the Enzo, the 250 GTO, the Miura, the Diablo, and more recently the FXX and Reventon. Not to mention the Zonda. (The F40 and 288 GTO did not posses V12s, but they were special exceptions) Trouble is, V12s are expensive to produce, and they GUZZLE fuel. They basically burn $100 bills out the back. Most governments are cracking down, and want them put out of business. Lambo has ditched their legendary V12, and Ferrari was focusing on V8s for a while, but this changes everything. A hybrid V12? OK go ahead and ban it, try to ban a hybrid, you can't do it. And while I doubt you'll qualify for the hybrid tax break (hell I'll bet a dub its the first hybrid ever hit with a gas-guzzler tax), it will allow the halo car to survive. And thank God for that.

Other facts: less than 500 will be built (who knows when), it will have all the F1 team goodies on it (Traction control, launch control, 7-speed double clutch gearbox, e-diff, KERS) and will probably be AT LEAST $1,000,000. It also will most likely not try to wrestle away the title of "worlds fastest production car" away from the Veryon SS, but damn I want one anyway.

And to kill the bright clouds of happiness I just posted, here's pictures of an abandoned, yes you read that right, Ferrari Enzo:



As you can see, its been sitting in an impound lot for over two years, and was to go to government auction. Where would such a crime against humanity such as this occur? Dubai, of course! Ah yes Dubai, where Supercars are so bloody common people ditch them, and the cops leave them UNCOVERED IN THE DESERT FOR TWO YEARS! Why? Because, yes they really aren't anything special down there. Seems a British playboy ditched the car after fleeing his traffic fines, and never came to get it. Sound strange? It is. Two days before the auction (where the car was expected to pick up over 1.2 mil for the Dubai government) INTERPOL seized it as being stolen. So know its sitting in some other lot somewhere. Hopefully they covered it........

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Liberty Tax and a OOGA horn

Hello Tuned followers Hollywood here!
I haven't posted in a while so here we go. Every year at this time the local Tax Company "Liberty Tax" has mascots out in full force to get customers into the office. With the unseasonal weather this year I brought out my 1989 Cadillac Deville never have I had the car out this early. The car has a mounted ooga horn behind the front bumper and a switch on the floor to trigger the horn.
Here is a quick intro to my car and the plan!

video

Here is Part 2!


video

As you see he was into it. His friend well wow!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Datsun is Back, and Other Stuff


Nissan has announced the relaunching of its Datsun Brand. The name had been discontinued since 1981 after Nissan felt "established" enough in the US to sell cars as well Nissan. Now Datsun was known for two things: the mildly decent and surprisingly fun 240/260/280Z sports car, building a bunch f other crap that fell apart while you watched. Happily for car enthusiasts, (but sadly for satirists like me) Datsun will not be coming back to the US. Rather Nissan is using its old trick of selling Datsuns in areas, that they aren't established yet, namely Russia, Indonesia, and India. Datsun is hopeful of selling nearly 300,000 cars a year in Indonesia alone. Ambious but doable. By 2020 expect the Datsun nameplate to die again. You heard it here first.

However, Nissan now officially has three brands, with Datsun taking the "cheap, good gas mileage entry-level spot" below Nissan proper and Infiniti. Nissan has not ruled out bring Datsuns over to the US if other cheap Japanese brands like Scion and Suzuki continue to sell well actually start to sell. So there's that to look forward to/laugh at.

Both the Viper and Corvette will be launching new models soon and I don't like either of 'em. The Corvette will be powered by a quad-cam, four valve 5.5 litre V8 (which now is going to be both NA and turbo'd apparently). Nice to see the mainstream car media reporting what this blog has known for over a year! The engine doesn't bother me, the split window and horrid front end do. We've posted pictures of the car on here before, and the design hasn't changed so take a look. We have until next year to hope for change, but it seems unlikely.

The new Viper just pisses me off. It will feature traction control, launch control, stability control, and Cruise control. So its another poseur mobile for old guys who can't get it up. Plus rumors of an automatic and entry level V8 persist! Worst yet, the price of real Vipers will now sky-rocket!

That's it for today, I'm depressed now. More later this week.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Rock Crawling Over Hell Itself AKA One Does Not Just Drive Into Mordor.... Unless You're Us.


No, that's not a picture out of the 2013 FJ Cruiser brochure (although it really should be). And no, I didn't take it. But I was there riding along as me, The Future Ex-Mrs.-Wallio, and two of our mates drove through the closest thing to hell itself on God's green Earth.

OK back story time. The Fontenovas have been my friends for a while. I started working with Amanda years ago in Scranton when I was a young pup trying to break into both the racing world, and the wonderful world of historians. Amazingly enough we work together again in the Valley, now that I'm dabbling with both of my careers (she knew me before I was the Unquestioned, Undisputed Holder of the Title of World's Fastest Historian). And Geoff, her husband, has been there every step of the way. Geoff and I hit it off right away. We of course share many interests (Cowboy Bebop and Nerdy chicks being just two), and are both quite Italian (different regions but still). However, I think we get along so well because Geoff (to me at least) is an older, more refined and sophisticated (and if ego's no object) more bad ass version of myself. I grow a scraggly mess of an attempt at a beard, Geoff rocks a perfectly trimmed and curled handlebar 'stach. I drink really any kind of beer, Geoff is a knowledgeable beer snob micro-brew enthusiast. You get the idea. One thing Geoff is that am not is an amazing photographer. He took the picture on top of the page, and a few others below (you'll see the difference, trust me because whereas I only take pictures to clue my bleary-eyed hungover self in as to where I was the night before, he's actually good at it and enjoys it). He's shot some of the awesome high speed shots featured on this blog before. Check out his blog: http://gacphotography.blogspot.com/ The fact that the Future Ex-Mrs.-Wallio likes them is icing on the cake. We're discussing more trips like these, and if that happens Geoff may very well become the fourth man here on Tuned, which means he'll have to pick a nickname.......(maybe just G, like the quiet bad ass from House of the Dead? The video games, not the movie, and shame on you for asking......)


Anyway, back on topic, long-drawn out and uncharacteristically soft back story over. While we mostly (OK entirely, so far) focus on racing and speed here on Tuned (well except Hollywood of course) there are many other awesome things you can do in a car. Road Trips and Rock Crawling are two of them. Road Trips are self-explanatory, and if their not, leave America right the hell now, as you make me weep. Rock Crawling, on the ther hand, is another matter. Basically you find the steepest, roughest terrain and go over it. Its called crawling for a reason, as speed isn't an issue. 0-60 times, skid pad numbers and horsepower are not important. Approach and break over is where its at. I don't have much experience crawling myself, as I'm a tarmac guy, but I know the basics. Geoff wanted to go down to Centralia (more on why later) and crawl around and asked me to be his spotter. Basically a spotter is like a rallye co-driver, telling the driver about shit that will ruin his day, and giving him advice on how to avoid it. While I had only limited experience spotting for an ex-gf and her CJ7, I never shut up (spotters have to give a constant stream of info to the driver), so I knew I was up to the challenge.

Our adventure started as all great road trips do: at a diner. Over egg sandwiches, ham hash, toast and the mandatory 6 gallons of coffee, we discussed our plan (we didn't have one, why would we?) and set off. After about an hour, we became lost, but none of us cared as we stumbled upon a windmill farm.





With no signs posted forbidding entry we wandered over mesmerized. While I'm certainly no windmill fan, these amazed even me. You never realize how big they truly are (that what's she said!) and how loud they are. Years at the race track have destroyed my hearing, but even I found the loud hum a little surreal. This video (poorly) captures it. Geoff has a better one on his blog.


After we stood gaped mouthed for awhile staring and taking pictures, we loaded up and headed for Centralia, But not before I took a quick picture of the ladies. Here you can see the Future Ex-Mrs.-Wallio looking stoned, and Amanda looking at her IPhone likes its a Star Trek scanner. Or maybe she had an epic game of Angry Birds going, I dunno.


We soon reached the Ghost Town of Centralia. Quick back story number 2: A raging mine fire has been burning under the town for nearly a century (and if you believe the EPA will burn for two centuries more!). Only 13 people still live there, and as they move out their houses are bulldozed immediately. Smoke, heatwaves and noxious fumes still come up from various places in the ground, and the earth is burned and jagged in places. The stench of sulfur hangs in the air, and random sinkholes opening up are not that uncommon. Besides the half a dozen houses, only 3 cemeteries still remain. Pretty crazy eh? Just like out of Dante's Inferno.


As that video shows, we easily went over the hill designed to keep cars off Old Route 61. Geoff's FJ is a Trail Teams Edition meaning its loaded with TRD goodies, like skidplates, locking diffs, a badass gauge cluster, and lower gears. While I don't like Japanese cars, Tojo always could make trucks, and this 4 litre beast was no exception. We entered Old 61, which to me looks like the Nurburgring, if it was left fallow for a few years. My dream would be to get a moderately fast car on there, as its a decent stretch of road, and could be made fun, especially in something AWD like a Lancer, but alas, far too many people have discovered this oddity so there was plenty of foot traffic. We were the only car though, which got us some surprised looks and envious stares (although to be fair plenty of quads and dirt bikes were out).


While my crappy photo doesn't do it justice, the crack in the last picture had some smoke coming out of it. As you can see, everything is rather scorched. The trend continued as we plowed on into Centralia itself.


This is my version of the "FJ advert" shot from above and it sucks, but it gives you an idea of how barren and desolate Centralia is.  This area here had fumes so thick it was hard to breathe. And a smoking hole (wow can't believe I just said that) as seen here:


(Obviously, Geoff took that one). This video should give you an idea about what we went through, or more accurately, over:



After visiting the cemeteries, having a picnic in Hell, and chatting up some other visitors (damn place really was like Grand Central Station) we left, but not before stopping to view what the mines had down to the local creek. See for yourself.


I like flavored water, but that's a bit much. We returned to the Fontenova compounded for an adult beverage and a book swap (The Godfather for Ron Jeremy's autobiography, one of the most epic trades of our time) where I was my usual self, commandeering the TV to watch the Gatornationals. We then did some bench racing until the Future Ex-Mrs.-Wallio got bored and it was time to retire. Geoff seems to want to work out the FJ again, and I'll keep spotting as long as he'll have me, so hopefully another trip will be a go soon. One thing is for sure, it will get good coverage on the interwebs. Until then what better way to hold you over than with this blooper/outtake? Cause if you don't have at least one or two, you ain't tryin hard enough!


Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Delta Wing is Here.........Ugh

That is an in-test shot of the Delta Wing (I refuse to call it the Nisan Delta Wing, you'll see why in a second). Now first off, this car sucks, lets just be frank about this. I wouldn't even waste my time, but the mainstream media is all over it. So I put my awesome post bout Team T & D rock crawling over hell on the back burner to give you a brief post on the DW (awesome rockcrawling post will be up by Monday).

The Delta Wing started off two years ago as an idea for an Indycar design. It was rejected. Team DW says it was rejected by narrow minded old men afraid of change. Fact is Delta Wing Inc. would not allow any changes to the design by the teams, ie, no one could make custom parts. Not a good way to make friends in racing. The ACO, who sanctions the 24 Hours of Le Mans, is allowing it to run as an experimental entry this year. As "Entry Zero" it cannot be classified, so no matter how well it does, it cannot win. However, it is being allowed to run to prove its theory.

The DW, in addition to looking like a penis, is an old Aston-Martin Lola AMR-1 chassis, with that long nose and huge rear end. The front tyres are only four inches wide. You read that right, theres only eight inches of rubber total touching the tarmac up front. Most of the cars the DW will race against have more than double that per tyre! It turns by a voodoo rear differential that splits the braking and torque among the rear wheels. I'd explain to you how it works, but I don't understand it, nobody does, not the drivers, the ACO, or even Ben Bowlby, the cars designer. (OK He might get it, but he ain't telling anyone).

The engine will be a Nissan 1.6 litre four cylinder turbo. Except it won't be. Its actually a Chevy engined rebaged as a Nissan. Nissan stepped in just last week and is only a sponsor, that's it (hence why I refuse to call it the Nissan Delta Wing). The team is actually run by Dan Gurney's All-American Racers team (another reason to hate Nissan, its seems unholy for those two to team up). The lump will produce a weak 300bhp. Mind you the DW will weigh half of what its competitors do, but still, most road cars have more than 300bhp these days. And the engine is very low tech, hell it isn't even a stressed member!

Now the ACO and the AAR Team expect it to run in the 3:32 lap bracket at Le Mans, faster than the LMP2 cars, but slower than the big boys. Could be interesting to see. Doubt it makes it a full 24 hours though.....

Below you will find three pics of the DW: First in Indycar trim, then in its initial sports car guise, and finally in Nissan form. Also, a video of Marino Francitti (Mrs. Ashley Judd's little brother) giving the car its initial shake down at Sebring this week. The motor sounds shitty and theres understeer aplenty, and honestly the lap doesn't appear that fast, but I'll cut them some slack, it was the first test, and nothing ever goes right at the first test. Le Mans is the goal, and June will be here before we know it.....






Saturday, March 10, 2012

Green Is So NOT The New Black, Shocking (HaHa) Facts About the Volt and Hybrids in General



The Volt is Dead, Long Live The........? Monday GM killed the Volt. Well sort of. They suspended manufacture of it, shutting down the plant and laying off 1,300 workers. GM wanted to sell 10,000+ Volts a year, and only managed to off-load roughly 7,600 over the course of 2011 (compare that to GM's sales of Cruzes: 265,000 and Aveos: 500,000, both rounded down). Worse still in February 2012 GM only shipped 600 to dealers, less than half of which have sold. Now GM has said they will begin building the Volt again once its surplus cars are sold. Considering nearly 7,000 Volts are sitting in Michigan, those UAW guys are gonna be waiting a long time to get called back.....

So why did the Volt fail, especially when GM during 2011, had one of its best years, not in recent history, but ever? Well a few things:

First: It cost $41,000, more than double a Prius (which by the way is pronounced "PRY-us" ) and 10K more than a Nissan Leaf, which are its two main rivals, while getting less mpg than the Prius. To be fair, it did beat the Leaf in that department.

Second: It cost $41,000.

Third: It had a crappy interior, a way too complex instrument cluster and it looked like a Mailbu melted and was frozen.

Fourth: IT COST $41,000!

Fifth: They caught fire, and on at least two occasions, reignited days after they were put out.

Sixth: Did I mention how much they cost? No? Oh well it was $41,000!

Seventh: The auto bailout was for the most part a fairly unpopular program, even with myself, Mr. Americana when it comes to cars. And rightly or wrongly the Volt came to symbolize the bailout. Partly because GM was forced to build it in order to get the bailout AND were forced to price it to make a profit, hence the massive sticker. The government then got caught covering up the fires, so the Volt has quite a stigma to it.

Seventh: Being named Car and Driver's Car of the Year certainly didn't help, its pretty much a curse anymore.

Oh well I thought, Americans simply cannot build a good eco car. Especially GM. It's the EV1 all over again right? Not so fast. What if I were to tell you hybrids in general don't sell, at least not here anyway. "Wallio, you're dreaming, there's Priuses everywhere!" I thought so too, but then I did some digging. It turns out that in all of automotive history (since 1844) only 2.2 million hybrids have sold in the US. Now to be fair hybrids only have been around in America since 2001. So in 11 years 2.2 million hybrids (all makes combined) sold in the US. Think that's impressive? In 2011 GM alone sold 2.2 million cars in nine months! While America is number 2 in the world in hybrid sales behind Japan, we're also number 1 in the world by a large margin in V8 sales. And hybrids make up only about 2% of all cars in America! So I guess green really isn't the new black huh? (More proof that Cheri Sundra is indeed the new black)

So why don't hybrids in general sell? Well some do. The Prius of course dominates with one out of every two hybrids sold . And the Leaf sold over 11,000 units in 2011 but for the most part hybrids have several problems:

1.) Looks. Most hybrids are ugly as sin, due to packaging those massive batteries and still having to be able to cut through the wind to save gas. Look at a Nssan Leaf without gagging, go ahead, I dare ya.

2.) Poor build quality. Let's face it: most hybrids are just crappy cars. And I'm not talking about from  performance standpoint. Interiors, wheels, and even nuts and bolts all suffer, in order to keep the car reasonably priced. Because of how expensive the batteries are, even the Japanese, the undisputed kings of car interiors, fill their hybrids with cheap grey plastic. Also the complicated electrics can only take so many recharges and rarely last even a decade. And that sucks. Oh and remember the stuck throttle recall? Affected the Priuses, and so did the ABS-Failure recall, and the steering recall........

3.) Cost. While not all hybrids start at $41k, most are overpriced. Especially when you can get a Korean eco-box for 10k that'll do just about the same stuff. This dooms hybrids that are eco-versions of normal cars, like the Fusion. Why pay 5-10k more? For what? 5mpg? Sure there's a tax break, and you will save a bit of gas, but it'll take a long time to recoup that extra dough.

4.) They're not really green. Most hybrids are all talk. Toyota claims well over 60mpg for the Prius. Good luck breaking 50, even if you drive like Hollywood. Also, a British study (which was ignored by the media) showed that with how brutal the batteries and electrics are to produce, a Prius will do more harm to the environment than a V8 Land Rover. And the most mpg you can get out of a car is 76, from the VW Polo Blue Motion, a "dirty" diesel. Which leads us to..........

5.) The rise of the diesels. Americans are finally waking up to what the rest of the world has always known. Diesels rock. Slowly but surely diesel cars are selling in the US, lead by the VW TDI revolution. Long story short, they get better gas mileage than a hybrid, and they don't suck!

6.) We're Americans. We don't drive eco-cars. We invented hot-roddingPrius. And yea you may get a few chicks, but they'll be the crazy PETA bitches. No one wants them.

So long story short, despite what the media and Toyota are telling us, hybrids don't sell. Why? Because people aren't stupid. The cars are overpriced, crappy, slow, ugly, and not very green or well put together. Now while the 90-mile and its dead Leaf is still selling (proving there really is one born every minute) if you want a car that screams "I'm cheap!" Buy a Kia. If you want a fun car that's good on gas, get a Cruze, or Imprezza, or Maxima, or Fusion. And if you want to be smart, get a diesel. Just don't buy a hybrid. Please. And judging by the numbers for the last 12 years, you're not. No one is.

And give GM credit, they tried. Uncle Sam forced their hand and it ended up pear shaped. So it goes.

Oh and if anyone questions my numbers from the first part, you can find them on Wikipedia, Consumer Reports, and HybridCars.com

Monday, March 5, 2012

Speed is Beauty, Beauty Is Speed

Hello all, Wallio back with a lesson on aesthetics. People buy cars for alot of reasons. Looks are one of them.  But what makes a car look good? Clean, smooth lines, nice paint, curves in all the right place. A lot like a woman actually (just kidding ladies). However, if a car is fast it is automatically beautiful.

This especially true of race cars. If they go fast, they look good. If they look good, they usually go fast. If something looks wrong, it probably is. This years F1 cars with their bump noses and this years Indycars with their "bumpers" look hideous. Or do they? If they fly all will be forgotten. Of course, even by comparison they aren't that bad. Check them out compared to past designs......

First in case you live under a rock here's this year's Ferrari, the F2012:


And this year's Lotus Indycar, The DW12:


I think we can all agree something about them just doesn't look right. However, check out these design trends....

Tea-Tray Front Wings 1970s


March made customer chassis in F1 for decades and caused a stir with their mid-70s monstrosity. People laughed it off as a "Tea-tray" and shook their heads. Until it started winning. Then several teams adopted their own. While the tea-tray revolution was over before the 1970s were, it sparked a trend of ugly cars that soon won't be forgotten.


The Eifelland

The car above you is a tea-tray March underneath believe it or not. Trouble was they had on staff a Swiss designer of pens who thought this one piece body was the way to go. It wasn't. By mid-season the car reverted to a normal March and ditched all that heavy bodywork. Except for that periscope, I mean rearview mirror. That stayed all year, and never caught on. Gee I wonder why.....

X-Wings (mid-90s)


Tyrell (white car above) was a poor team on its last legs. They needed a cheap way to go fast. They had lots of scrap pieces of carbon fiber laying around, and crafted these wings to create mid-chassis downforce. People were horrified, but they worked,  so much so. that by the end of the year, every team was using their own version.  TV stations begged F1 to ban them, but they couldn't find a reason, until they started catching on airlines in pitlane. Safety was cited, and the X-wings (named after the Star Wars fighter) were banned. But not before Arrows tried this at Monaco....


The car wasn't allowed to race like that sadly (driver vision was cited as the reason) but it was the next logical extension of the concept. Reminds me of the car Rebel and I saw at Giants Despair last year....


I snapped a picture of this in the pits and yeah......what can we say?

So There you go. By comparsion the F1 and Indycars this years rules have given us are supermodels. The Indycar especially, has lost some of its ugliness by being several seconds a lap faster than its predecessor already in testing. But if you ever think a car is ugly, compare it to the Delta wing. If its prettier (and it will be) its ok. If its not, well god have mercy on our souls. See below, if you don't have a weak stomach. Wallio out.


















Yup, gonna go vomit now......