RANGER AGAINST WAR: Firing on All Cylinders <

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Firing on All Cylinders

Jesus built my car
it's a love affair

mainly Jesus and my hot rod

--Jesus Built my Hotrod
, Ministry

As I was motivatin' over the hill

I saw Maybelline in a Coupe de Ville

Cadillac rollin' on an open road

But nothin' outrun my V8 Ford

, Jerry Lee Lewis

When I take her to the track she really shines

(Giddy up giddy up 409)

She always turns in the fastest times

(Giddy up giddy up 409)

My four speed dual quad posi-traction 409

, Beach Boys

I got me a car, it's as big as a whale

and we're headin' on down

To the Love Shack

I got me a Chrysler, it seats about 20

--Love Shack, B-52's

I have a great love and respect for religion,
great love and respect for atheism.
What I hate is agnosticism,
people who do not choose
--Orson Welles


America has always had a great love affair with its cars. The dismal state of auto manufacturing in the U.S. today has caused Ranger's brain to hum like the fine-tuned Cleveland-built engines of yore.

As a young man, we ran in GTO's, Chevy 409's, 389 cubic inch Pontiacs, 327 Hi-performance, and we worked in factories. We both produced the machines, and rode them hard. We were firing on 8-cylinders, big, powerful and fast.

Today, U.S. and Japanese manufacturers produce variable computer-controlled 6- and 8-cylinder vehicles which can be run on as few as three cylinders for fuel efficiency's sake. What it boils down to
is, we pay for 8 cylinders because we want access to the power, but choose to shut down five to save gas. Here we are in 2010, and we can't even decide whether we want power or efficiency.

What is the point of financing a a bigger engine's manufacturing and maintenance if it's power isn't being used? We waffle, and suffer in the purgatorio of indecision.

Ranger drives a 116-hp Mini Cooper, 35 daily mpg. The other vehicle is a Cooper S, 174-hp, which gets 24 mpg on a good day, and if real gas is imbibed rather than crummy ass 10%+ ethanol. Both Coopers top out at 130 mph. So, why are fuel-efficient vehicles like the Cooper even 116-hp at 1596 cc? Why not 90-hp, at 1200 cc, or even 75-hp, with corresponding gas savings?

Why do we need the 175+-hp monsters we drive daily? Even the Hondas, Toyotas and Volvos exceed the requirements. The problem isn't Detroit; we are the problem. We demand power, even though it is not used or needed.

Yes, it's good to see the arrogant day of the Hummer gone, but there is so much more that could be done. Why isn't it?

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Anonymous mrmike said...

The myth of American Freedom being tied to our cars was fed to us long ago by the marketing folks at the Big 3. And we swallowed it, digested it and made it part of the zeitgeist. You are what you drive.

American men in particular are too insecure as a whole to drive "wimpy" "plasticy" cars. Your Minis at least have a rough-and-tumble rallye heritage behind them to boost them a little in the male mind. The Miata is still a "chick car" to a lot of red-blooded American males despite the number of trophies it's racked up in SCCA and the like.

It's part and parcel of the culture that encourages us to go with our gut feelings instead of approaching decisions thoughtfully.

I'll be honest. I bought the limited edition ~300HP twin-turbo V6 version of my car instead of the much less thirsty turbo 4-banger. But I clock less than 6K a year on it. I putter about in my British ragtop (when it's running) in the warm months for another couple of K.

I figure I'm loading the planet more than I should be but much less than if I had the 40+ minute commute that most of my co-workers do. Plus every once in a while I can lean on the loud pedal and have some stonking great fun.

Thursday, February 4, 2010 at 11:18:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ranger, just wondering original or are the Minis the new version?

Thursday, February 4, 2010 at 11:31:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...


I confess, I love the burbling of the exhaust -- makes me feel kind of bad amongst all these polite, quiet cars (except for the jacked up, redneck cherry bomb mufflers, and those who couldn't pass inspection, if we had one...)

But I would gladly drive a quieter, more economical vehicle. I'd even do 3-cyl. It is such a privilege just to own a car, and really kind of profligate, but so few cities have a viable mass transit system.

And hey, once you're driven the burbler, you've ticked off another notch on the belt ... ;) Been there, done that.

Thursday, February 4, 2010 at 11:42:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

Your answer is in the blog. Read carefully.

Thursday, February 4, 2010 at 3:21:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

I'd buy a Miata , but I physically can't get in the cockpit. I'm 6ft 3.

Thursday, February 4, 2010 at 3:23:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm Anon
I guess you are in an original, I remember a 997, 1076, and 1275 and I have no idea what the new ones are about. When I was17 a friend of Pops let me drive a right hand drive 1275s lots of fun would’ve like to have bought it but insurance was cheaper on the 2 door 57 Biscayne with a Arkus-Duntov 327/365hp set up then like Grand National road racer. I grew up around all English brands and Porsche. Mom drove a Jag XK-150 and then a 65 Porsche C Cab and Pop had one of these for Autocrossing/Hillclimbing and did get to drive them but mostly I worked on them very simple cars. I take my Ford Ranger truck to the shop for anything it needs now.

Thursday, February 4, 2010 at 7:32:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

a drive a first generation monte carlo as my daily with the original 350. it's obviously the greatest vehicle ever created and i've convinced myself that, although it sucks up gas, it's helped keep other cars from being manufactured, which I believe accounts for 30% of a car's carbon footprint. so i tell myself. never been to cuba. is it really smoggy there?

Thursday, February 4, 2010 at 9:03:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Terrible said...

I've wondered often why we waste gas for power that is rarely if ever used too.

I well remember my first ride in a Mini. It was when I arrived at the Hanau train station from Frankfurt for my first permanent duty post. On a Saturday and the 2 sergeants that picked me up were in civilian dress. I took a chance and went with them anyway since they spoke passable American. But seriously thought they were joking when they walked up to this tiny car and said that's what we were riding in. Nice cars though. I've always wanted one since then. Oh and the sweet thing was that it was company picnic that day and I got to dunk the CO Major in a dunking booth!!

Thursday, February 4, 2010 at 9:24:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

Well jo6pac, why don't you tell me who you are , that'll make me friendlier-if that's possible.
Lisa covers that base for the blog.
My mini S is a 03 and my Clubsman is an 08.
I have a new non S on order.Will prob sell the 03.

Friday, February 5, 2010 at 11:41:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...


That's quite a jaunty little car.

Friday, February 5, 2010 at 9:55:00 PM GMT-5  

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