Drives Me Up The Wall

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Some people are mad at GM (and Chrysler) over the bailout bucks. I’m not happy about that, either. But lately, I’m mad at Ford – which bequeathed unto us the idiot idea of pick-up truck bed walls so high you need a ladder to access what’s in the bed. mad 1

I’m well over six feet tall myself – but I feel ten years old (and about 5 feet 3 instead of 6 ft 3) whenever I have to deal with a late-model pickup. Not just Fords either. They’re all like this now. But Ford started it – adopting the Tough Dude Look that first graced its Super Duty 2500 and 3500 series F-trucks for all its trucks. Not to be outdone, GM and Chrysler Ford – and Toyota and Nissan, too –  aped the look – and now no one except an NBA forward can reach into the beds of these things without standing on a step ladder (which some of these trucks actually come with from the factory – no, really).

My neighbor has a brand-new Chevy Silverado 2500. He backed up into a brick retaining wall because he couldn’t see it over the slab-sided bed and tailgate of his truck. Three grand in damage. Now you know why most of these trucks – soon, all these trucks – come with closed-circuit back-up cameras.mad 2

Next item: I’d like to know why no one makes a hybrid or diesel-powered minivan. I just reviewed the ’13 Nissan Quest (see here) and vented about this at length. Can you think of a vehicle more ideally suited – both in terms of its layout (all that room for batteries/electric motors) and utilitarian mission? Most of these units are put to work schlepping kids back and forth from activities – or road-tripping families down the highway. The first type of driving (low speed, stop-and-go) is the hybrid’s ideal duty – the type of use where that layout is most efficient. The second type (steady-state highway cruising) is the diesel’s forte. But instead of hybrid-electric or diesel powered minivans that get 40 MPG we have gas-burning gas hog minivans that typically average high teens – worse than most current V-8 muscle cars. Really.

Meanwhile, you can buy a Porsche hybrid. A Lexus hybrid.  Yeah, that makes sense. People who spend $70k on a car (Cayenne hybrid) are really concerned about their gas mileage . . .  but family van buyers aren’t.

And they ask me why I drink.mad 3

Which brings me to … lawyered-up GPS/audio rigs. Say what you will about the poor fidelity of old-school car radios. At least when I take my ’76 TA out for a drive, I don’t have to wait an obligatory 30 seconds before I can punch (and that’s the right word) the “accept” button and actually use the damn thing.  My ancient dial-radio and 8 track turns on – and off – just like that. No LCD schtick; no shyster preambles advising me to “look out for safety” – yes, some of the them actually put it that way.

Good ol’ safety. Now, where’d he get to?

I am also bewildered by the impotent emergency brakes you’ll find in almost every new car – if it even has an emergency brake (many just have a parking brake  . . . which is exactly that; a parking brake. It doesn’t even pretend to be viable for stopping the car if it’s actually moving).mad 4

If you do get an emergency brake – the kind with a handle you can pull up to – theoretically – apply (and modulate) the brakes manually in the event the hydraulic system has failed – the tension is typically set so lax that even jerked hard and all the way to the end of its travel, only the feeblest force is applied. It’s just barely got enough holding power to keep the car from rolling once it’s already stopped. Which means it’s effectively useless as an emergency brake.   You know why, of course.


They don’t want any anti-social wheel lock-up. Forget bootleg turns. That’s so not acceptable in these fey days of saaaaaaaaafety first.  For two, someone narced me out. For years, I end-ran Daytime Running Lamps (DRLs), those always-on headlights, by pulling up the emergency brake ever-so-slightly, to the first detent. Not enough to actually engage the brakes – but enough to trick the DRLs and turn the damn things off so you could  drive down the road in the middle of the day without burning your headlights – which was something that, not all that long ago, only senile citizens and funeral processions did. Now, we all do. And you can’t defeat the damn DRLs using the emergency brake, either.mad last

It’s only going to get worse. I just got a brand-new 2014 Acura RLX to test out. Guess what it does? A huge flashing orange BRAKE! light manifests in the gauge cluster if the car thinks you haven’t done so when you ought to.  Which means, according to a completely Cloveritic uberly pre-emptive standard. Get within 20 yards of the car up ahead that’s in the process of turning left off the road and – safety first! – on comes the damn flashing light show. If you’re not ready for it, it’s the sort of thing that might startle a person.

Can’t be too safe, though.

Even if it means you drive the damn thing into a ditch.

Throw it in the Woods?


  1. You never can be too safe. I want condoms for my thoughtclouds to keep me safe. For graduation of junior high you should receive a brown participation ribbon and a bubble wrap suit with skateboard helmet, kneepads, jock strap, shin guards, water bottle protector/holder, package of breath mints, pink participation/award ribbon, led flashlight shaped like a dildo and a rainbow pancho with a Carl’s Jr. happy face on it. These items will help you to navigate the world safely.

  2. Eric, in your article you mentioned no longer being able to disable the DRLs. For what it’s worth, my 2013 Hyundai Azera has a “DRL off” setting on the light switch.

  3. I wish it was only $150.

    VW wants $300 for full function fob and $180 for valet key.

    Frelling bastards. A regular key is good enough for me. If I want more security I could get a removable kill circuit (or something similar)

  4. eric, “I’d like to know why no one makes a hybrid or diesel-powered minivan.”

    I accept that this might be a really dumb question but why are there no diesel motorcycles? I know diesel and acceleration are not good friends but should that alone preclude any reason why a motorcycle cannot have a diesel engine? I am thinking mileage and longevity for a commuter bike.

    • Hi Skunk,

      Not a dumb question at all – and there are diesel bikes. The military uses a diesel version of the Kawasaki KLR.

      So, why no civilian versions?

      I suspect because:

      * Cost. A brand-new gas KLR650 retails for about $6,200. A diesel version would probably retail for close to $10k – if not more – and would be a hard sell as a mass market bike for that reason.

      * Most bike buyers seem to prefer a high-revving/high-hp engine. While I agree a diesel engine would probably be a great powerplant for a big/heavy cruising/touring bike or dual sport, the low-rev character (and diesel sound) would probably be hard sell to the bike crowd for that reason, too.

      • lol—And here I am, relentlessly saving my pennies for a Honda CT-90/110 with the dual range transmission.

        I’m so old school…..

  5. I feel like the five star crash system has been nothing but a sliding scale. One automaker makes a bigger rig and it improves its crash performance. That then becomes the new standard. The others follow suit to meet the new standard. The cycle continues to repeat and the 5 star rating gets pushed to bigger and bigger vehicles. I can’t stand it. I drive a new Ford mustang in Texas and here everybody has a full size truck whether they need it or not and I can’t at all see past these things at intersections making things very dangerous for me. Luckily I have 420hp on tap so I can get into traffic in a hurry without fear of being rear-ended by oncoming traffic! **Except when I leave the traction control on and it chokes my power. Can’t spin those wheels! Safety!**
    I think as far all these new safety do-dads in the car, they are just innovating for innovation’s sake. Just to try and get a perceived edge on the competition.

  6. I read an article a long time ago (when The Hummer was popular) by a French guy who studied why some people buy such HUGE vehicles. His conclusion was that these people are sending a subliminal, aggressive message to others: “Get the hell out of my way or I will kill you!”

    He said people are governed by their ‘reptilian brains’ and make decisions from the lowest possible level, like an animal. It’s true of women as well as men. According to him, the reptilian brain ALWAYS wins in decision making. (It’s true in politics, too, and explains a lot…) For people who are aggressive by nature, a HUGE vehicle is VERY desirable.

    So, the HUGE pick up trucks today are probably just a reflection of the fact that people who want a truck in the first place are often the type who are going to want to send that aggressive message, as well.

    All the bells ‘n whistles are just a way to part you from your money since all that crap is constantly causing problems. That crap makes young people, who are hooked on technology, happy and it makes Clover (who needs security more than anything) FEEL safe and protected and warm and fuzzy, etc. Same reason Clover believes in “Going Green”, Global Climate Change, “The Children”, Big Government, welfare, communism, ObamaCare, Affirmative Action, “It Takes a Village”, etc., etc…

    • But our Clover turns that on its head… the usual over at clovercam is where I post a video of someone in a large vehicle shoving me in my little mazda out of the lane I was occupying. Basically someone in an SUV, pickup, whatever throwing their weight around. Clover will then post that I am the road-raging aggressor for having the tenacity for: not behaving submissively and immediately ceding right of way to the larger vehicle and for using the horn.

      I’ve also noticed how people behave towards my ’12 mustang which is my largest most powerful car compared to my other cars. They are much more respectful. They’ll do the timid make sure this guy isn’t willing to ruin shiny paint moves they won’t do with my dinged mazda but they don’t do the I’ll-push-that-guy-out-of-my-way moves. Maybe the so-called elite are correct on what most people are.

      • Yes, I suspect Clovers are VERY afraid of conflict at a VERY DEEP level and they see your reaction to the A-Hole in the BIG vehicle as scary because THEY would never push back. Pushing back threatens their security, which they value more than anything.

        As for the newer Mustang, maybe people have some respect and almost reverence for the Mustang for many emotional reasons (I know that I have strong positive emotions about Mustangs: 1st car, American Car, cool car, Bullitt, sporty, fast, etc.).

        But, I don’t understand what the so-called elite are correct about?

        • Being a mustang doesn’t help… the ’12 gets much different reactions than the ’97. Even when the ’97 was new.

          The so-called elite see people as animals. To be domesticated and well treated like farm animals.

          Our Clover won’t answer to the question why he finds holding one’s ground offensive. He only finds it so. I think it has to do with the submission training we start getting at a young age. clovers in general just don’t think it’s worth it. The trouble is, little things add up to what even clovers complain about. But instead of using their own power they then demand government make more laws become more intrusive etc…

      • Glad you’ve noticed this “respect” as well. I feel driving in a larger car would make my life better (Less stressful, less annoying, and yes, safer for me).
        Bigger does seem better.

    • “I read an article a long time ago (when The Hummer was popular) by a French guy who studied why some people buy such HUGE vehicles. “……….

      And then he ate some cheese and surrendered. 😉

      • Those weanies. They’ll never know our macho satisfaction of being taxed and caged by government strongmen unless we surrender all our lunch money to global military industrialists.

        Nothing gets me star spangled eyed more than swaggering around the crumbling ruins of my hometown knowing we’ve sacrificed everything to provide military and police thugs to 180 countries most of whose citizen’s are drunkenly lounging about on topless beaches and city parks and laughing at us.

        U S A ! ! U S A ! ! ! U S A ! ! ! ! U S A ! ! ! ! !

  7. Hi Eric, et al,

    Lots of people ask me why I don’t get rid of my 2002 Toyota Tacoma….Oh god, it has 175K miles on it. My answer is that I don’t want all the crap that comes with new pickups, including the extra weight, stupid “safety” features and absurd electronics legally required of new trucks. Companies now actively discourage repair of products, which I simply don’t buy into. Even at 5’6″, I can reach into my truck bed with ease. For radio, without commercial interruption, an aftermarket satellite radio has proved worth the purchase in spades. Due to the age of my vehicle, I had to use the cassette adapter but it works wonderfully. Aftermarket GPS is another great thing. Having all this stuff built in and not easily upgradable is a drawback IMO. Anyway, keep up the good work.

    • Ditto, Giuseppe –

      My ’98 and ’02 Frontiers have what I need – and other than the air bags – nothing I don’t want.

      Since such a truck is no longer manufactured, I will probably never buy anything newer than my ’02.

      Luckily, it only has 80,000 or so on the clock – hardly broken in, really. Should be fine for another 150k/10-12 years.

      When it finally does get tired, I will replace it with something along the lines of a’70s-era F-truck updated with a modern transmission and perhaps TBI.

      Throw air bags, stability control, belt-minder buzzers, EDRs and all the rest of it in the Woods!

      • “When it finally does get tired, I will replace it with something along the lines of a’70s-era F-truck updated with a modern transmission and perhaps TBI.”

        I bought a ’68 Ranger Camper Special for $800. It is a 3/4 ton with the 1 ton rated springs and rear end. I’m thinking of replacing the 360 V8 with a 300 six w/ EFI. The old carb needs constant rebuilding because of the ethanol in the gas available here, not to mention that the 360 needs heads with hardened valves for unleaded fuel.

        I can get the same torque, or better with a more modern 6 cylinder, but the automatic transmission is a good one that will pair up well with a 300. Parts for the rest of the truck are still available, more or less, and are cheap compared to parts for the more modern pickups.

        No more than I use a truck, it’s hard to justify spending $10,000+ for a more modern used one. The safety features are an annoyance that I can do without, as well.

  8. I can’t stand keyless ignitions. Who the hell thought of that idea? My girlfried is fascinated with the idea. I told her that as a guy, I don’t like them at all. Keys do not belong in your pants or in a cupholder. They belong in the damned ignition.

    The weight gain and visibility problems with todays cars is nearly universal. The latest round of side impact regulations started going into effect in 2009 and will be fully implemented next year. Some cars made prior to 2009 were 2014 compliant, but most weren’t.

    I find it interesting that 2012 was the first year that fatalities increased in US highways since 2005. I wonder if these regulations are having a positive effect on the number of accidents on the road? I will be tracking this assuming we can still afford gas over the next few years.

    • I hate keyless ignition/pushbutton start too.

      I see no real advantage – and numerous disadvantages.

      In my opinion, this stuff is just nothing more than an advertising/marketing ploy. A way to justify ever-higher prices.

      But the thing that really turns me off is that you can’t just got to Lowes or True Value and get a new key cut for $5 anymore.

      Instead, pay the dealer $150 for a new “fob.”

      I wonder how much the pushbutton start mechanism will cost to replace when it craps out….

        • Yep, Jean. These designs seem to be based on the idea that everyone must have a new car before the mortgage on their current one is paid off. Debt based currency systems worldwide depend on this.

          We must all be in debt constantly so that the grand system of digital money issuance can be sustained.

          Consumers MUST consume.

          We all have to be consumers, of course. If we aren’t consuming, we must be regarded as some new species of dung beetle, as Fred Reed would probably say.

      • eric, I remember all the pickups I drove growing up. They had a switch key and all it did was activate the electrics. After you turned the key you pushed a big button on the floor that went through the floorboard directly into the starter so it engaged the starter and starter drive(the button boss, the button). It was actually a boon for the deaf since they could feel when the engine was taking over and let off the starter. Hell, I’d go for one today, with a bit more sealing around the starter linkage. Back then you didn’t have to listen to that Ford solenoid clicking itself silly. It either started or it didn’t. Of course back then batteries sucked the big one. I had two on my ’55 Chevy Custom Cab with wrap-around rear window, 4 on the floor granny gearbox that replaced the 4 speed hydramatic, Blue Flame six….sweet.

    • swamprat, did you notice if total miles driven estimate is up as well? I was told a guy lost his keyfob for his new Dodge pickup, I believe the price was $345 but remember it definitely was well over $300.

      • The total miles driven is up, but the fatalities increased faster. Probably due to a combination of things – change in the driving mix (slight improvement in the economy), increased miles driven, and maybe the change in auto designs that have been taking place for the last 5 years or so.

  9. “I’m giving back everything I ever took from the river.”

    A kind of profound statement the clovers of the world cannot relate to. … Nor do they expect.

    [Insert image of Little House on the Prairie episode where they blew everything up rather than give it to The Bastards. Here x.]

    /End of rant.

    Welcome the mud.

  10. I watched the man at the dam get taken out by the ants.
    All he had to do was jump in the river.
    Why didn’t he jump in the river?

    .. Is the ‘river’ expatriation?

    That’s a hellofa metaphor.

  11. …You’re up against a monster twenty miles long and two miles wide, forty square miles of agonizing death, you can’t stop it!

    I can stop something no bigger than my thumb.

    They’re organized. They’re a trained army. They’re not individuals. They have generals, and they think!
    That’s the worst part of these ants, they actually think!

    … So do I…

    … I’m staying, if I can only hold enough ground to stand on.

    They won’t give you that much… not an inch! No one has ever stopped them! … And a lot of men have tried! ….

  12. The Naked Jungle:

    What is it?

    Matabuta [Fascism] solider ants.
    Billions and billions of them on the march.
    For generations they stay in their ant hills. Then, for no reason they start to move. Gathering up others as they go. Until they become a flood of destruction.

    How do you stop them?

    You don’t.
    Just get out of their way.

    They’re moving Southeast, towards my place….

    • Marabunta? Obama says Hakuna Matata – No Worries! You mean Uncle Scar the Lion King won’t take care of me? Poor me. A wee mo way a wee mo way…

      10 Tons of Cement Needed to Make a Mold of an Ant Village

      La Marabunta(scrum). The impressive scrum starts and destroys everything in its path
      [La impresionante marabunta se pone en marcha y arrasa con todo a su paso.]

      Ants – Natures Secret Power

      • I wish you’d preface the videos, I’m bandwidth limited and cannot watch them all.

        “You might as well see this […] He’s an advanced scout of some kind. [clover] Handsome devil isn’t he? I’ve been studying him all evening. The face of my enemy. Who knows? Perhaps he’s been studying me?

        Leave him alone, they look frightening.

        Eh, where they go, no life is left but their own.
        That’s what we’re up against.

        If I were a sensible man, Joanna, what would I do?
        Fight, or run?

        You have to fight. A man like you doesn’t run.
        In any case, you’re not s sensible man,… “

  13. “zombies throttle the girls. You look the other way. Or else…”

    Oh, mang, did you guys read this one?:

    Remember the $700 Billion Toxic Asset Bailout?
    Bill Bonner learns the truth about where the money went.

    No wonder people don’t notice the bad pickup trucks or the insane beeping of the door buzzers, if they noticed, they’d see. …and then they’d have to be one of us.

    Their whole life is structured around Not being one of us. Their whole lives would fall apart if they became one of us.

    Sooner or later, they’ll be forced to learn, either the easy way, or the hard way. Seems like most have decided on the hard way.

    I wish they would have chosen the easy way.

    …That’s all I have to say.

  14. It’s possible ute (Aussie slang for utility) sides are taller because door sides are now on just about every car, for saaaaaaafety – and so the lines match of course.

    • “door sides”

      I noticed almost no one puts their elbow out the window while driving these days. “door sides” being the reason. Captivated audience?

      • I noticed the super-high beltline several years ago when a friend bought a Jap performance coupe. I went with him on a mutual trip to a car scrap yard for parts. It was a rare day, not 105, pleasant even so I rolled down the windows, went to stick my elbow on the window sill, Gee, did they design it around a giant? I felt like a child. It was back up with the windows and good bye fresh air. I wanted to cruise and chill a bit. So much for that.

    • There have been numerous instances of the high belt line in automotive history, at least for cars. All but the most recent were outside the ‘safety’ era. The difference may be that the seats are lower and the belt lines high, but I don’t think it’s that much different than in other eras.

      Light trucks too have gone back and forth but a lot of the problem there now is how tall the things are on the suspension with the big wheels and tires. If they rode like the old trucks with regular sized rims and tires it wouldn’t be nearly as bad. High door sills were common in the 1930s. But the truck itself didn’t sit much higher than a passenger car of the same era. Also they would make the bed walls lower than the window belt line.

      • Brent, I can think of many examples of “cars” that sat higher than small pickups currently do, even sat as high as full size pickups of the 2WD variety. They mostly didn’t have fixed roofs but those that did were fairly tall. Those cars also commonly had 24″ and even taller wheels, much taller than wheel and tire combos are now. There was a design change from pre-WW11 to post WW11 that involved cars being much closer to the ground with much smaller wheels and tires. A great deal of the change came about by making cars for pavement instead of dirt roads with all the inherent problems contained in driving them. Even when I was a young man you would have had major problems in rural America driving many of the supercars we now see on streets. You won’t be getting one of the really low cars off the highway and through big dried up mud holes or ones that aren’t dried up. Even in the 70’s traveling down major highways such as US 80 in Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia you would have major problems with a ‘Vette. That hiway was known as Blood Alley in Alabama and wasn’t any better in Miss. There were countless places where the slabs were on such a disparate level with each other they would have taken the bottom right off many cars made now.

  15. That is why I drive an old army truck. I want a shiny new car though…probably going to be an early 60s restored CJ5 with the F head engine. Seems fitting for me as a more professional and less offensive looking vehicle

    • “an early 60s restored CJ5 with the F head engine” <- Won't those be outlawed soon?

      Then only outlaws will have CJ's?

      I like those a lot. Never owned one though.

      Will they come after them in a Cash-for-Clunkers manner, or do an end run with high insurance requirements? … Hmm, how would they do it in old Cuba?


      After reading this article I appreciate my older truck more than ever. Window cranks, rust and all.

      I had no idea the new trucks were so hard to get into the bed of. I stay away from those guys. …Seems ridiculous.
      And, a backup camera in a truck? That seems like mega-wimpification amplified times 10. I could understand if it could fly.

      I'm seriously regretting ever coming back from Mexico.

      "backed up into a brick retaining wall … Three grand in damage." There's something seriously wrong with the world today. The next thing you know the Pope will be blaming the problems of the world on the free-market instead of Fascism. … Oh, wait.

      • Church is now a part of the State.

        (And for what it’s worth, always WAS “the State” – Dark Ages comes to mind. Same sort of people, power- (control-)hungry)

      • I installed an aftermarket backup camera on my first gen tundra, and the new one came with the factory camera,

        I like it, makes hooking up to a trailer by yourself 1000 times easier. Instead of getting out of the truck 12 times to see if Im under the hitch, I just watch the camera screen thats in the rearview mirror,

        the aftermarket WIRELESS camera was less than $100, so Im guessing when GM and Toyota and Ford start installing them by the millions every year, the cost will be maybe $25 per vehicle.

        • Hi Justin,

          As always, I have no objection to this stuff (cameras, etc.) provided it’s not forced-fed to people.

          On the cost: Many of the factory systems are integrated with the rearview mirror, or the in-console LCD. I doubt either costs less than $25 to replace when it fails. As a parallel example: Many new cars have electronic side mirrors now. Ever price one of these things? They can cost $300 and up. They’re not generic, either – but specific to a given make/model/year. So no el cheapo aftermarket replacement. It’s either new factory replacement – or (if you can find one) a used part. Neither will be inexpensive. Just more and less so.

          And – because the back-up cameras are federally mandated “safety” devices, they must be maintained in working order – at least, in states that have mandatory “safety” inspections. Thus, you’ll have to pay to replace/repair when they fail.

          My eyeball, meanwhile, is paid for.

          • What makes mirror replacement expensive is the painting. A set black plastic power mirrors isn’t too bad.

            The mirrors on my ’97 are black plastic. No finish. Aftermarket replacements are ~%60 each.

            As to the mandates… we live in an era where anyone’s good idea can be forced upon everyone. Most everyone finds this acceptable thanks to the schools.

            • Hi Brent,

              No doubt, the need to color match (paint) is a factor, but the incorporation of – for example – blind spot warning systems and LEDs had made some of the new outside mirrors very pricey. It’s analogous to the way headlight assemblies have become in many cases preposterously expensive to replace.

          • And how many of those devices are available on 18 wheelers?

            hardly any of the nifty safety stuff thats on cars is available on the vehicle that could really get some use out of them

            the night vision, and blind spot warning, cameras, etc.

            and the heated and cooled seats,
            man those would have been great when I was a trucker.
            shoot most of the trucks still dont have a climate control temp adjustment in em, which is very handy in a vehicle that you sleep in.

            • One of the few over-the-top features I can dig is heated seats. And, one more: Massaging heated seats. I had a Jaguar XJ a few months back so equipped. Lawsee. I was hyp-no-tized!

  16. Here in Oz tradies buy these 4wd jap trucks, get a custom bed in place of the stock bed, and the tailgate is so high I can walk UNDER it and not bump my head. I’m 5.2 at a stretch. No wonder tradies pay high health insurance rates, and have so many probs with their backs. I see these trucks with heavy wheelbarrows and concrete mixers and wonder how the guys got the equipment up there. Not to mention controlling the ute in a high crosswind, plus the noise the knobby 4wd tires generate. Even fat people would have trouble loading goods into these trucks.

  17. The visibility in my 2011 F150 is poor, at best. This point is reinforced when I drive older Ford pickups that have fantastic visibility. Older Ford pickups being as new as a 1997 F250. Mine does drive really well though, for what it is. Tons of power and it doesn’t feel like it’s going to fall over at speeds greater than 70. The bed sides are ridiculous, of course. Company was paying for it anyway. Time to get rid of it now and get something enjoyable. I was thinking S2000…? I need to make test drives.

    • Hi Keith,


      On the S2000: Have you driven one yet? If not, be advised – they’re not much fun in the stop-and-go. Nil low-end torque. You have to spin that engine pretty fast just to keep up with traffic. It makes for a great ride when the road is open and you can really hustle – and get the engine on the cams. But for everyday use, I’d steer you in the direction of a Miata or BRZ/FR-S.

  18. The GPS/AM FM radio /LCD magic 8 ball atrocity built into vehicles is maddening; not only does the GPS give you routes to destinations that a blind man having a seizure wouldn’t send you on, tuning to your desired radio station is as about as easy as setting the clock on a VCR during a power outage. Where can I find a car manufacturer who realizes they’re not improving anything!

    • Hi Elm,

      Yup – and the worst part? The “Magic 8 ball” is becoming de facto standard equipment. Five years ago, you’d find the touch screen/mouse crap in higher-end cars only. But – and I state this as a guy who drives new cars every week and I’m on the 2014s now – virtually all of the latest stuff comes with the LCD screen… and the push-start keyless ignition…

      • I guess a key was too difficult for some.

        One thing I really do not like is the cost of these key-less systems and the unnecessary complexity.

    • tuning to your desired radio station is as about as easy as setting the clock on a VCR during a power outage. Where can I find a car manufacturer who realizes they’re not improving anything!

      Given the constant stream of repetitious crap that is now FM music radio, a trend that, sadly, even the satellite radio channels are now aping, I seldom ever even turn on my car radios anymore. And yes, the digital technology of the new generation of car radios is about the worst sort of thing you could ever install in a vehicle. That grossly misnamed thing called “‘common’ sense” SHOULD have told these people that making “knobology” cumbersome, distracting, and time-consuming for the operator of a moving vehicle is a sure-fire way to cause accidents, injury, and general mayhem. Then again, maybe that’s really the point. It’s hard to think of any other reason why most new technology, while cranked out in the name of saaaaaafety, actually on balance makes us obviously LESS SAFE.

  19. Yup, I drive a new Tundra, which is a great truck, used to drive a first gen Tundra, in the first gen I could reach over the side and grab a shovel or pipe wrench out of the bed, with the new ones I cant even see over the side,

    and the blind spot created by the huge A pillar and outside mirror is plenty large enough to hide a car at an intersection.

    they did get the steering wheel right though, you can palm it and spin the wheel lock to lock in parking lots, not possible with the new Fords or Chebbys, in them, the steering wheel it so thin and slippery its not possible to spin it with your palm.

  20. I can’t believe it myself. Today’s pickup trucks are the size of a Kenworth. You can’t see under or over the damned things. I never have been a truck guy, but some of today’s cars are smaller than yesterday’s pickups. The pickups of the 1970’s and 1980’s seem downright puny compared with these overstuffed behemoths.

    • I saw an older Tundra pull into the parking lot and couldn’t believe how small it is compared to it’s gigantic namesake today.

      • It’s demented. The size of these things.

        At 6ft 3 and about 200 pounds, I’m probably bigger than 80-90 percent of the (non-obese) adult male population. And it’s awkward for me to climb into and out of these things. The friend I mentioned who backed into the retaining wall in his new truck also owns a circa ’86 Chevy truck – also full-size. But it’s reasonably-sized. The cab/bed are not proportioned for the Jolly Green Giant, but for normal human-sized males.

        • It’s a shame that Ford started this trend. They’re the only domestic car maker that I have even a shred of respect for and their products are the only domestic ones I’ve ever owned that actually haven’t given me prolonged headaches. Despite the old “Found On Road Dead/Fix Or Repair Daily” jibe, my Fords were all relatively hassle free compared to their Big Three competition.

        • eric, it’s a good thing I have some upper body strength since I’m short legged and at 5’9″ I need that grab handle and could use another getting in my renters 3/4T4WD Dodge, always feel like I’ve pulled something after getting in and out several times. I had to get in the rear seat one day and thought I might have to call for help. I installed steps so my family could access my pickup and it’s very close to the ground compared with everything from say, 2000 and newer. I believe I could have set my short bed Nissan in the bed of it. On the other hand, if you have need of hauling a lot of weight they are great. I’m not sure how they define One Ton pickup any longer. I think mine showed a 3200-3600# hauling weight on the door sticker, don’t recall the trailer towing capacity. A few years back GM upped the size of the trailer receiver to 3″, probably a good idea.

        • eric, I realized several years ago vehicles(esp. truck based)are sized for that double double double cheeseburger, fries and gallon of coke crowd. I see people constantly having a hard time getting behind the wheel because of all that sticking out in front of them, hence, seat belt extenders coming standard in many of them. 200# you say? Small potatoes compared to the people who drive big stuff, the ride-a-cart when shopping bunch. I can remember when even the carts they ride weren’t so big but now they seem to have huge tires and are wide enough the wide bodies don’t stick too far out to the side. Thankfully, most are too big to turn around in an aisle now.

          • Hilarious eight but true. Of course best comedy is always based on true statements.

            I remember hearing my dad saying one of his bosses had the biggest hard helmet around. It true his head swam in it. One of his co-workers said it wasn’t big enough to fill his ego. But, I wonder maybe if the bigger is better crowd kinda loses proportionality is better. For example nothing wrong with being longer, and nothing wrong with being shorter stature. But when a short fat guy thinks round is the same as height as in bigger is better in all cases its just plain laugable. Big old smiley faces that lose all their distinct features. I don’t know how many fat guys think they are tough because of their pugy roundness. Well they got one half the momentum=mass-velocity right, but still missing the velocity part.

            Great article Eric and like always I have to reluctantly agree on all your conclusions. Again maybe the problem has something to do with American’s ego’s you know we are #1, the biggest, the best, and the brightest kind of thought. They are real dull thinking the sledgehammer makes the best tool for pounding a nail in the wall crowd. Again not that in a non egoist world would there shouldn’t be a need for big trucks, but I think its a bit excessive driving a Semi to the grocery store too.


  21. The new bells and whistles are useless crap! For me they have the opposite effect of what the manufacturer “supposedly” intended them for.

    • Dom,

      I agree with you. If one focuses on their driving, then most of these bells and whistles are at best unneeded and at worst distracting to the point of contributing to an accident.

      Safety sells even when it is not safe. Would would be against safety? I guess demanding that people are competent drivers before they qualify for a license is too hard. (Probably not profitable enough.)

      • Mithrandir, when I moved out here to Missour-ah, they required that I take their driving test. A Virginny liesinse ain’t good ‘nuff, you gotta prove you kin reed at th’ foth grade leval. So I as I’m sitting there taking this test, administered by two marginally female, scowling “uniformed officers” (they at least don’t let these thugs carry guns, thank heaven) I watched several people walk out with their heads hung. They had failed what is arguably a very easy test. And judging from the number of clovers I see on the highway here even the worst of the worst are issued driver’s licenses. But I passed with a 96 and the she-male in uniform, after she graded my test, glares at me as if to put me on notice that she “knows” that somehow I cheated.

        So savoring the moment I ask, “Which two questions did I miss?.” She replies, very officiously, that both of them had to do with penalties for drinking and driving. So I said “That’s not important.” She snapped back “That’s very important!” I pointed out the obvious “Not if you don’t drink and drive it isn’t.”

        Then this tax-feeder proceeds to tell me that my Class M Virginia license does not mean “motorcycle” (based on some paperback “law book” she had) when I asked her to make sure it transferred over. When I challenged her and finally offered to call the Virginia DMV to clarify it for her, she responds with an exasperated “Well I’ll just give it [a motorcycle endorsement] to you.” I replied “You aren’t ‘giving’ me anything. I went to the motorcycle safety course, I earned it and I’m paying for it.” The nerve of her. A public “servant” indeed.

        One of my friends went to take the license test. During the driving portion she pulled up to an intersection with no stop bar on the pavement, just a stop sign. So as the driver’s manual says, she stopped at the sign. Then she proceeded into the intersection. The “uniformed officer” told her “I’ll have to fail you for not stopping.” In his worldview she hadn’t “stopped” because she stopped back of the sign and then proceeded without stopping a second time. She had to explain to this state costumed buffoon that she had come to a complete stop, before she reached the sign, exactly as the manual states. According to her, our public servant’s response was “I’ll just give it to you.” I suppose it shouldn’t come as any surprise that the tax-feeding dumbass didn’t even know what constituted a legal “complete stop.” With high quality personnel like this conducting license tests one is forced to wonder how it is that we have so many licensed clovers running the roads…

        • I suspect that state departments everywhere have an IQ test for employees. Anyone who scores above room temperature can’t be hired.

          • Yep. Living as I do in a state where room-temperature IQs are the norm, where every other person you encounter in a private sector business is a mouth-breathing simi-moron, one can only imagine what kind of creature populates the ranks of state agencies. It’s pretty much that way everywhere, but in states that are –how shall I put this politely?– not exactly populated by Mensa members, it makes one wonder how these political subdivisions manage to function at all as civilizational units.

        • Boothe, I think it was ’84 my wife and I went to visit her sister recently moved to Missouri. Good interstate across the state, privately owned liquor stores, Cold beer and relatively cheap gas. I’m trying to remember other positives. Amazing differences in people but clerks at Wally were friendly. It was and had been raining and everybody looked like they’d trekked through the pasture. I was glad I took a good looking woman with me. It was different nearly 30 years ago, probably still is. Good Missouri joke: I was at a friends shop and two guys from Georgia who were returning from Ca. where they worked half a year each year stopped to get a new alternator. They saw my pit bull, a big pie-headed, mostly white dog in my pickup and asked if they could go look at him. I told them to look all they wanted since he didn’t mind being looked at as some dogs do. They came back in laughing, said my dog was from Missouri. I bit, how’s that? They said “His eyes don’t match” and began laughing all over again. They were right, he had a blue eye and a brown eye. They failed to see the humor in Missouri.

        • The government employees rarely use the written law I have learned. They become angry if confronted with the written law. If they don’t get angry they will use ridicule for your book learnin’. I’ve learned this by experience. And this isn’t from some place down south, this c(r)ook county illinois.

          What do they use? Word of mouth clover law. Passed down from their bosses, read in the newspaper, off the back of beer bottle, the tveee, ma and pa, or any other place the law is taught. But actually crack open the book or fire a computer and read the written law? Too much effort.

          Ever notice how ‘rules of the road’ booklets don’t really match the written law? Same problem. Ever take ‘traffic school’ when getting ticket? Notice it doesn’t match real law either? Back in the days of in-person traffic school I challenged an instructor who handed me the book. I used internet so it took me awhile to find the relevant passage, but find it I did. She didn’t appreciate it.

          Cops get angry with me when I cite written law. The last one, some years back called me an asshole. Well… the law is the law. I’ve gotten ridicule from judges… anger too. Sometimes I win, sometimes I lose, but the law was written for a reason, so it couldn’t be changed at whim. But that’s where we are now. Before the magna-carta. The law is what those with power say it is when they say it.

          • As a repeat offender I’ve been to so many DDC’s I lost count. The specifics change but the basic message stays the same. Having said that though, some of the info I’ve been thrown has actually been good advice, not just rote crap trying to copy law.

        • Boothe, “marginally female”! You owe me a laptop!
          To wit: spitting up alcoholic beverages onto sensitive computer equipment is harmful to same’s circuitry.

          • Skunkbear, my apologies. But I just call ’em like I see ’em. And in this case my spider sense told me that if these two tax feeders were carpenters they wouldn’t use nails. Everything they built would be…ahem…tongue in groove.

    • For me – trying to do a car write up – it’s like picking turds out of soup. I kind of like the soup… but am reluctant to eat another spoonful.

      • like picking turds out of soup

        PRICELESS. I’ll have to remember that one next time I do an analysis of some piece of information technology for my clients.


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