Tag archives for Cocktail Chatter

Cocktail Chatter: April 12, 2013 – Rumor Central

Cocktail Chatter: April 12, 2013

What cocktails go best with all this car chatter? Automobilemag.com is here to help with weekly recipes. Remember, this is for talking about cars, not driving — always designate a driver. With the arrival of warmer weather in most of the country, we’re celebrating the spring-like weather with associate web editor Donny Nordlicht’s favorite drink: the sky-blue-colored Aviation. Combine two ounces of gin with half an ounce each of lemon juice and maraschino liqueur and a quarter ounce of crème de violette in a shaker filled with ice. Shake well, strain into a cocktail glass, and garnish with a cherry.

Not Gonna Happen: You might scoff if I told you I expected to earn eight times my current salary by 2015. Even if I told you I was starting two extra jobs, you would probably think it overly optimistic to expect to increase my salary by such a large amount in just two years. Imagine my skepticism, then, when Maserati says it will sell 50,000 cars worldwide by 2015. For reference, the Italian brand delivered just 6307 new cars in all of 2012, an eighth of what it plans to shift by mid-decade.

Maserati believes it can octuple its annual sales volume by adding the Ghibli (aka a baby Quattroporte) and the Levante SUV to the just-released Quattroporte. But given that the Ghibli doesn’t go on sale until later this year, and the Levante might not reach showrooms until next year or later, it’s hard to believe Maserati can pick up 43,693 extra sales so quickly. Even once the Ghibli and Levante launch, is there really such a large market for Italian luxury cars? Only if hordes of buyers ditch their Audis, BMWs, Jaguars, and Mercedes-Benzes for the new Maseratis — and that isn’t likely to happen on such a short timetable.

Jake Holmes, Associate Web Editor

Racing Roadtrip: Between last weekend’s final rounds of NCAA basketball, what could have been better than putting 750 miles on a 2014 Mazda CX-5? As long as I had one to sample, I decided to dash from Southern California to St. George, Utah, and pick up a rug stored for me there. I left before Sunday’s dawn. In the next 370 Ahrens CC CX 5 300x200 imagemiles I found the CX-5 to be the friendliest and most agreeable creature since Snowy the terrier in The Adventures of Tintin. Mine was the Touring model equipped with the 2.5-liter four-cylinder that growled playfully when started and proved to have plenty of midrange while barreling up mountainsides. Meanwhile, the vehicle’s solidity and composure yielded delights in every mile.

Supplemental entertainment came from listening to The Art of Racing in the Rain. This touching novel by Garth Stein made the hours vanish. I found myself quibbling with canine narrator Enzo’s ranking of Steve McQueen among his very favorite actors but cheering on when, with gastric revenge in mind, he accepted a bottled pepper from the story’s villain and defiled an area of rich Berber carpeting. The narration ended too soon–just as I’d cleared Sin City on the return leg. I-15 was clogged with traffic from the casinos and Las Vegas Motor Speedway, which had hosted the NHRA. If John Force was in our midst, he was often going 3 mph rather than 300 mph. But the CX-5 was still a delight.

Ronald Ahrens, Contributor

Small World: I’d never driven a 65-series AMG model before, so when handed the keys to a matte grey Mercedes-Benz CL65 AMG on Tuesday, I made sure to chronicle the occasion in photos. The next day, I stumbled on the Twitter and Instagram accounts for one Michael Kubler. (@F1Mike28). Kubler works at AMG in Affalterbach, Germany, where he hand-builds engines — V-12 engines, to be exact. I turned to the photos, and sure enough — Kubler had built the twin-turbocharged, 6.0-liter twelve-cylinder I fell in love with the night prior.

Go figure. Thank you, Michael, for building one of the most amazing engines I’ve ever had the opportunity to sample in a road-going automobile.

Forget-Me-Nots

A night with the CL65 was amazing, but it wasn’t the high point of the week. That might go to finally having the chance to drive a friend’s 1991 Isuzu Impulse RS, one of roughly 1402 imported to North America before Isuzu stopped building cars outright. Pity all Isuzu’s car products didn’t boast the RS’ turbocharged 16-valve four-banger or its rear-biased AWD system.

As a lover of quirky cars, I’m glad this Impulse still exists — but I’m happier yet that there are still people who care for and about cars like this. I can’t help but feel that many self-professed “car guys” can’t appreciate cars outside of a few select “exotic” or “premiere” brands. Pity, because there are so many other interesting — and, gasp, enjoyable cars — in the automotive spectrum. Ignore, dismiss, or crush them, and you’re destroying history. Need proof? Of those 1402 Impuse RS models shipped to North America, no more than 150 are still on the road today.

Evan McCausland, Associate Web Editor

Cherokee and Highlander kinks 300x187 imageGetting Kinky: I recently noticed a trend in recent automotive design: the front window kink. This is a little dip in the daylight opening just aft of the A-pillar, often near to the side-view mirror. I first noticed it on the 2014 Cherokee, and began noticing it on the current Toyota Camry and 2014 Highlander, and on the outgoing Kia Forte, among others. Although I generally find the detail to look out of place in every application, if it means the end of slab-sided designs and gun-slit windows, I’ll take it.

Donny Nordlicht, Associate Web Editor

Patrolling in Style: The 5-0 in Dubai just got an upgrade to its fleet — a major upgrade. The Dubai Police recently added a $450,000 Lamborghini Aventador to cruise the streets for crooks. Sure, it’s fast (0 to 60 mph in three seconds), but the article raises the question of practicality: how does one fit a suspect into the backseat?

John Kalmar, Graphic Designer

Give Me Affectation: The Automobile Magazine staff is still arguing over the Camaro Z/28‘s bare-bones interior. To some of us, the lack of a radio and optional air-conditioning delete says, “serious sports car.” Others in this office have, not wrongly, pointed out that such savings cannot possibly make much of a difference in a 3800-pound, 500-hp car and thus amount to little more than pointless posturing.

This got me thinking: how much of what we love about sports cars is mere affectation? It’s easy to make fun of huge spoilers and fake carbon fiber, but how about the manual transmission? It’s almost always slower than a modern dual-clutch automatic, a fact Porsche drove home by kicking the stick-shift out of its hardcore 911 GT3. But while we’re talking about Porsche, what’s the point anymore of the left-hand ignition? Drivers don’t run to their cars at the starting line anymore, and most expensive passenger cars have keyless fobs anyway.

Angry yet? You should be. Race cars are meant to go as fast as possible, and thus must mercilessly dispense with outmoded technology and conventions. But sports cars are not race cars. Sports cars are meant to evoke emotion. So, give me a stick-shift. Give me thousands of gauges that I don’t really need (so long as the important ones are in my direct line of sight). Don’t give me A/C. I’ll sweat it out with a grin on my face.

David Zenlea, Associate Editor

DeMatio CC F Type 300x225 imageRough Day: I’m having a rough day, as you can see by this picture. I’m in northeastern Spain driving the new Jaguar F-Type roadster, which goes on sale this spring starting at $69,000. The model pictured here is the F-Type S, which has a 375-hp version of Jaguar’s supercharged 3.0-liter V-6 that’s good for a 4.8-second 0-to-60-mph time and a top speed of 171 mph. It starts at $81,000, while the F-Type V8 S, with 488 hp, will cost $92,000. Jaguar points out that each model of the F-Type is about 25% cheaper than comparable Porsche 911 models. The automaker has high hopes for the F-Type and expects about half of worldwide sales to come from the United States. I’m not allowed to share my driving impressions of the F-Type just yet; check back at Automobilemag.com on Tuesday evening, April 17, when the embargo lifts, for my story.

Joe DeMatio, Deputy Editor

Right Road, Wrong Car: I sampled the 2014 Kia Cadenza this week. The drive route was fantastic leaving the Presidio in San Francisco, crossing the Golden Gate Bridge, and continuing up the lovely Pacific Coast Highway. Although the big sedan handled the tight road better than I had expected, I kept wishing I were on this exact route in my 1992 Miata. Even the Cadenza’s 293 hp was far too much for the slow-moving dump trucks and sedans on the road. My little Miata would have been perfect. Sadly it was 2000 miles away in my garage. Oh well, it looks like Spring might finally be coming to Michigan and I’ll soon be able to enjoy my little roadster on a more regular basis.

Phil Floraday, Senior Web Editor

****tail Chatter: Somebody painted one whale of a willy on the Nürburgring this past weekend. No one has taken responsibility for the novelty-sized phallus, but I’d like to virtually high-five the mystery vandal here and now. Well done, bud(s).

Chris Nelson, Road Test Editor

Charlie Horse: I like the Fiat 500 Abarth but because it’s probably the craziest car you can buy for $25,000. It has a relatively small engine, it makes a lot of noise, and it’s a handful on the track without being outwardly deadly.

While I’m not sure adding an automatic transmission to the Abarth is a good idea–the softer Turbo model is a much better model for a two-pedal setup–I’m sure it should earn a few sales with people who like crazy cars but never learned how to use a clutch. But to say that these tweaks will help the Abarth appeal to more women is suspect. I’m not saying that Fiat North America president Tim Kuniskis is misogynist, but maybe a little shortsighted: the Abarth might not appeal to women as much because it’s marketed either by a topless/blatantly flirtatious Catrinel Menghia or by Charlie Sheen and his questionable ethics. Perhaps it’s time to consider making your Abarth ads a tad more feminist, before retooling your factories?

Ben Timmins, Associate Web Editor

The Politics of Green Cars: Fisker has laid off 75 percent of its workforce with the remaining employees apparently sticking around just to sell off assets and take the company through bankruptcy. Tesla’s Elon Musk appeared before the Texas state legislature this week to argue against the need for franchising his dealerships. Musk, whose Tesla Model S is our 2013 Automobile of the Year, also won a ruling in New York Supreme Court case that allows him to continue selling cars in company owned dealerships (kind of like Apple stores). Judge Raymond J. Elliott III ruled that dealers can’t use the Franchised Dealer Act to sue competitors, and their attempt to do so proves Tesla has value in the open market. Tesla also is paying off its Department of Energy loans ahead of schedule. Fisker, obviously, is not, and we’ll end up about $192 million short thanks to Henrik Fisker’s ill-conceived business plan and poorly built cars. One might say the DOE under President Obama isn’t picking winners and losers; it’s picking both. That hasn’t prevented the Fox News juggernaut from confusing Tesla and Fisker. In a “report” that mentioned Fisker, Bill O’Reilly says “Tesla had $523 million in losses…” not true. And Musk said this week he’s “hurt” that former vice presidential candidate and former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin lumped Tesla in with Fisker. Don’t you wonder how easily O’Reilly and Palin get this confused?

Todd Lassa, Executive Editor

By Automobile Staff

Cocktail Chatter: February 22, 2013 – Rumor Central

Cocktail Chatter: February 22, 2013

What cocktails go best with all this car chatter? Automobilemag.com is here to help with weekly recipes. Remember, this is for talking about cars, not driving — always designate a driver. This week’s cocktail comes by way of Automobile Magazine contributor Bob Merlis, who served The Christie at his Palm Springs pool party this past week. The Christie is made my mixing vodka and fresh grapefruit juice (Merlis recommends plucking a grapefruit from a tree and giving it a squeeze, since they grow all over Palm Springs); the proportions between juice and liquor and use of ice are up to the drinker’s discretion. Top with sparkling water, a splash of pomegranate juice, and a squeeze of lime. Read more about Merlis’ party below.

Ready for Bed: It actually has lights! Who wouldn’t want to tuck their kids in this Corvette bed? Now if only they made it an adult-size.

Tom Hang, Graphic Designer

BaT Hits the Big Time: We’ve long been fans of Bring A Trailer, the daily email with picks of the most interesting vintage cars for sale. We’ve even interviewed its founder, Randy Nonnenberg. Recently, BaT received the endorsement of bona fide celebrity car guy Jerry Seinfeld, in his recent appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman.

Seinfeld suggests that BaT might be the place to find a vintage ride for Dave, for Seinfeld’s web series, “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.” The question is, what would be the right car for Letterman?

Joe Lorio, Senior Editor

Review Sparks Outrage: John Broder’s review in The New York Times of the Tesla Model S, our Automobile of the Year, drew nasty tweets from the automaker’s chief, Elon Musk. Public reaction seems to favor Musk and his electric car, though I have no doubt that Broder followed Tesla’s instructions in his test of the company’s East Coast Supercharger network, resulting in a dead car. The Model S is a high-tech wonder, with an impressive electric-car range. It’s not for the uninformed, uninvolved customer, even the rich ones, who plans to drive it every day, in all conditions. Musk may be a visionary, but he’s a thin-skinned one, used to sycophantic press clips from an adoring Silicon Valley press corps. Buck up, Elon; new car reviews, like the car business, aren’t easy.

Todd Lassa, Executive Editor

German NASCAR: We got fired up for the sports car racing season last week at Daytona Int’l Speedway as BMW introduced its new car for the American Le Mans Series (ALMS), the BMW Z4 GTE. It looks like the snakiest Z4 in captivity with its unique, wide-body aero bodywork for the U.S., plus it has a 480-hp version of the latest 4.4-liter BMW V-8. Compared to the former M3 GT’s V-8 with its 180-degree crankshaft, this new BMW V-8, with its even-fire crankshaft, sounds like a NASCAR engine. In fact, NASCAR exec Mike Helton made a brief appearance in pit 1961 cadillac coupedeville r34 224x300 imagelane to see the program, and as the BMW Z4 GTE roared past on the banking, he said, “Now that sounds like a proper racing car.”

Mid-Century Magnificence: This weekend Palm Springs wraps up Modernism Week, which is the annual celebration of Mid-Century Modern design in the resort town in the California desert. Last Monday the Modernism Week car show took place in front of the convention center, a modest event of about 60 cars. Contributor Bob Merlis was predictably one of the ringleaders, as he knows everyone in Palm Springs who owns a cool car from the 1950s and 1960s. Merlis and his wife even hosted a pool party where Modernism Week performer Lou Christie – famous for his three-octave singing in the early 1960s — was the honored guest. Now that it’s cool to own a car that you might see in Mad Men, our Connecticut-bred Merlis wears a 1950s porkpie hat like he was born to it.

All in the Family: Contributor Ronald Ahrens was at Daytona Int’l Speedway last weekend as the 2014 Chevrolet SS was presented to the public. It made sense, since the rear-wheel-drive SS is the template for Chevrolet’s new-generation NASCAR racer that will appear in the Daytona 500 on Sunday. GM North America president Mark Reuss was the key spokesman, which seems only fair, since he was the general manager of Holden in Australia when the platform beneath the SS was first developed for the Pontiac G8. Some noticed that many wore a T-shirt emblazoned, “L. Reuss Garage: Excellent Used Cars, Darmstadt, Ill.”  This is the car lot owned by Reuss’s grandfather, and Reuss’s father grew up there to become first an important GM engineer and then president of the whole corporation. This might seem like vanity move by Mark Reuss, but today Detroit feels like a family enterprise more than ever, because every person on every street depends on the car business for a livelihood and lives and dies with its successes and failures more than ever. Grandsons on the assembly line and daughters in the engineering office – everyone. It’s no longer fashionable at Chrysler, Ford and GM to be a Wall Street bagman and pretend it’s all just about business. In Detroit, it’s not just business. It’s personal.

Michael Jordan, Senior Editor

The End of Road Rage?: After I stumbled upon some illustrations of hovering cars the other week, I’m just now reading about Google’s new driverless car and the impacts it could have on roads, legislation and, really, how we live our everyday lives. The advent of these cars raises an important question: what happens when a driverless car is in an accident that might normally provoke road rage? It’s easy enough to get angry with the driver of a fellow car, but when it’s actually the car and not the driver that’s responsible for the accident, do you instead unleash your furry on an inanimate object?

John Kalmar, Graphic Designer

AWD AMG: Realizing that its E-Class needed major work, Mercedes-Benz implemented some serious changes for the mid-cycle face-lift of its high-volume mid-size car. The change that strikes me most is the move to standard all-wheel drive (sorry, 4Matic) for the AMG performance edition. Mercedes-AMG will soon go from offering zero all-wheel-drive cars to four (E63, CLS63, A45, and CLA45), in addition to the quartet of all-wheel drive SUVs already for sale. Is this a good thing? That depends on whether you’d rather get superb lap times on track days or perform sensational powerslides for magazine covers. BMW says that its M cars will remain rear-wheel drive, but German car companies often behave like lemmings, so I wouldn’t be surprised if BMW follows Mercedes, which followed Audi anyway.

Rusty Blackwell, Copy Editor

Million Dollar Rides: It turns out that Will.i.am from The Black Eyed Peas is the owner of that crazy $900,000 Dick Tracy from the future car. Yeesh.

Kelly Murphy, Creative Director

Marketing Madness: Driving a Chrysler 300 Glacier Edition, I couldn’t help but to wonder why someone would buy one of these over the 300 S. The Glacier is based on the S, but eschews things like full leather seats and 19-inch wheels, while adding little more than one unique paint color, special floormats, and not-even-trying-to-look real carbon fiber interior trim. Unless you’re jones-ing for a 300 painted in Glacier Blue Pearl with 17-inch wheels, there’s little reason to opt for the special-edition car over the 300 S. We get it Chrysler – you’re trying to remind us that you have an all-wheel drive sedan in your dealerships, but I think your marketing money might be better spent just reminding people that the 300 is quite a good car, no special edition needed.

Donny Nordlicht, Associate Web Editor

Navigation Niggles: I spent Monday and Tuesday driving a Bentley Continental GT Speed Convertible from Las Vegas to San Francisco. It was a spectacular car that handled Death Valley as well as it did a blizzard (thanks to the snow tires). But the navigation system is severely lacking. The Hyundai Azera I’m driving around Los Angeles has a faster, more logical navigation system. Then again, I suppose anyone driving a Bentley has already arrived.

Phil Floraday, Senior Web Editor

CDs? What are Those? I’m generally a fan of services like Rdio and Pandora to stream music, but I was recently reminded how good CDs—derided as relics of a bygone era—still are. I purchased Alicia Keys’ “Girl on Fire” with my Sunday morning Starbucks and popped it into the Buick Regal GS’ optional Harmon/Kardon stereo; the combination of high-quality audio, surround sound algorithms, and about 500 watts of power turned “When It’s All Over” (one of the album’s most adventurous, and most satisfying, tracks) into an aural masterpiece. I’m sure that I could have replicated the experience in some cars with Bluetooth, or HD Radio, but CDs remain the most consistently awesome medium for listening to high-quality tunes.

Ben Timmins, Associate Web Editor

World’s Worst Drivers? There was no shortage of video footage of the asteroid that hit Russia last week thanks to the fact that so many drivers in that country have dash-mounted video cameras in their cars. Curious as to why this is so, The Washington Post  looked into it and reports that the dash cams are there as a reaction to Russia’s high incidence of hit-and-run crashes and false accident-liability claims. One result of all those dash cams is that the internet is chockfull of compilations of Russian traffic accidents. Go to YouTube or Google and type in “Russian car crash” and you’ll find scores of video compilations of Russian traffic accidents. You’ll be alternately entertained by the crazy driving maneuvers and the fender benders that result and dismayed by the widespread disregard for public safety. But once you start watching, you might not be able to stop. It is, literally, like watching a train wreck – er, make that a car crash.

Amy Skogstrom, Managing Editor

Bling Bling: If that spiffy new 2013 GL in your driveway lacks a certain something, Mercedes-Benz has something that might literally light up your life. The automaker’s accessories wing is now selling kits that illuminate the gigantic three-pointed star grille emblem with LEDs at night. Pricing remains unknown, as does the illuma-star’s compliance with federal safety standards. Part of me kind of hopes Mercedes-Benz develops this for its European Actros semi truck, as that emblem is about the size of an extra-large pizza.

Evan McCausland, Associate Web Editor

Mulling Over Mercedes: Mercedes-Benz USA product planners and PR reps visited this week and gave me a few things to think about:

They talked more about the upcoming CLA250, the so-called baby CLS four-door coupe that will have a price point just below $30K (before destination charge) when it goes on sale later this year, thus undercutting the current least expensive Mercedes-Benz, the C-class sedan, by some five or six thousand dollars. The CLA appears to be a beautiful car (I’ve seen it only in photos), and I don’t think the target buyers in the United States will give a fig that it’s built on a front-wheel-drive platform rather than rear-wheel drive. (All-wheel drive will arrive early in 2014.) But it got me thinking about this difficult business of premium brands reaching down the price scale. I thought about the BMW 318 hatchback of the mid-90s, which started in the low to mid $20,000s. I thought about the early-2000s C-Class, which was heavily advertised as being a Mercedes for less than $30,000. Neither one of those cars really did much for their brands. I think the jury is still out on whether a premium brand like Mercedes can dip this low in the American market without losing its cachet.

Mercedes-Benz USA’s head of product planning, when asked about the recent announcements of a Chevrolet Cruze diesel and a Mazda 6 diesel, was ecstatic, telling us that nothing can be better for acceptance of diesel automobiles in America than affordable, mass-market diesel sedans. Mercedes, which has been selling BlueTec versions of its E-Class and S-Class sedans and its M-Class and GL-Class SUVs, has done everything it can to educate Americans that modern diesel engines are smooth, powerful, reliable, and efficient, but they’ve had a very difficult time spreading the message beyond a core group of true believers. So it was interesting to me to see a representative of a premium brand so excited about what’s going on at two mass-market brands.

Joe DeMatio, Deputy Editor

XL1ent: The news that Volkswagen will put its XL1 into limited production is great for the auto industry. Sure, the teensy, slow, and likely very expensive car is nowhere near as thrilling as the latest supercar from Europe — but it involves just as much clever engineering. The challenges needed to build a car that can drive 261 miles on a single gallon of diesel fuel are just as (or perhaps more) interesting than those needed to build a 900-horsepower supercar. Just like a supercar, the Volkswagen XL1 will be somewhat expensive and thus will have limited appeal, but also like a supercar, lessons learned from the XL1 will eventually trickle down to other models. This car is the future — and I would love to drive it.

Jake Holmes, Associate Web Editor

88 MPH: Universal Studios recently announced that a crack team of geeks restored a DeLorean from the Back to the Future franchise. This “Time Machine Restoration Team” reminds me of when a Midwestern DeLorean club visited my high school.

I woke up early on a Saturday morning and drove to our garage to clean and paint suspension components for a 1965 Ford Mustang. About an hour after I arrived, the first one pulled up. Then the next one. Then the next. The stainless-steel locusts filled the lot adjacent to the garage. I studied the cars only until I saw their owners. “88 MPH” t-shirts tucked into the elastic waistbands of 99-cent sweatpants. One guy silently walked around with a clipboard. One guy put his car up on a two-post lift, looked at its underside for a few minutes, then decided to cut a line that subsequently spilled transmission fluid all over the floor. One guy enthusiastically gloated that he’d installed a clear, neon-lit steering wheel in his car.

I’ve seen my hell, and it’s full of aspiring “Time Machine Restoration Team” members.

Chris Nelson, Road Test Editor

Extreme Makeover: Lots of new cars have claustrophobic interiors. In some cases, like that of the Chevrolet Camaro, this is driven by conscious (if not quite wise) design. But even family cars like the Chevy Malibu and Ford Fusion—vehicles put on earth to haul people and things—seem to have oppressively big dashboards, door panels, and roof pillars. The real culprit is all the stuff that’s found its way into our cars in the last few decades—airbags, touchscreens, multi-zone climate control, super-strong roof pillars. No wonder people think they need big crossovers.

Enter the Visteon e-Bee concept. The supplier essentially gutted a Nissan Leaf and rebuilt it with some new components and new thinking. The climate control hardware is smaller and has been relocated from under the dashboard to the nose of the car. The front airbags move into the ceiling.

All this obviates the need for a big dashboard, which as one Visteon designer reminded me, exists solely to hide ugly parts like the A/C blower motor. This opens up space for the front passenger. That passenger, in turn, sits on a fixed seat, saving the weight and cost of rails. Capacitive screens replace just about every physical control, something we’re already seeing on production cars with mixed results. Here, two small screens are placed on either side of the steering wheel, almost like shift paddles. This placement theoretically reduces the hands-off-wheel time and replaces the bulky center stack. Visteon is also working on software that “learns” a driver’s climate and media preferences, so one wouldn’t constantly need to dig through menus to flip on seat heaters and tune to a favorite radio station.

Some of Visteon’s ideas are a bit radical. I don’t think, for instance, most American buyers would give up floor carpeting (saves weight) or a rear window (ditto). But the general direction is brilliant. Car interiors cannot continue to look exactly like they did twenty years ago, only with more stuff, because the stuff is crowding out the passengers.

David Zenlea, Associate Editor

By Automobile Staff

Cocktail Chatter: May 10, 2013 – Rumor Central

Cocktail Chatter: May 10, 2013

What cocktails go best with all this car chatter? Automobilemag.com is here to help with weekly recipes. Remember, this is for talking about cars, not driving — always designate a driver. We’re ready to hit the beach this weekend and take a pitcher of pineapple margaritas with us. Mix together two cups of silver tequila, Tuaca vanilla citrus liqueur, and fresh lime juice with two and a half cups of pineapple juice in a pitcher with ice. Server over ice and garnish with a pineapple slice, and let the sun shine!

Brand Mismatch: I was in San Antonio, Texas, this past Sunday when Chevrolet revealed the 2014 Silverado High Country, its attempt to carve a slice of the premium pickup truck pie currently dominated by the Ford F-150 King Ranch. Texas is certainly a fitting place to launch such a vehicle, but I found the choice in hotel used to launch the truck was a little ironic. A sign on the exterior indicated the architecture was “inspired by [a house on] the King Ranch.” Hey, that’s funny; so is this trim level…

Evan McCausland, Associate Web Editor 

Look Twice, Save A Life: May is motorcycle awareness month. Although I sold my bike a few years ago, I always consider buying another bike this time of year. I don’t end up pulling the trigger because there are far too many people behind the wheel of a car with no interest in driving. It’s annoying to be rear-ended in a car while waiting at a red light, but it’s even worse when you’re on two wheels and the person behind you is more concerned with dashing off an “LOL!” text than watching for stopped traffic. Triple-check those blind spots before changing lanes, put down the damned phone, and be aware of your surroundings. Not all motorcyclists are textbook examples of responsible adults, but they still deserve respect from other motorists. By the way, all this applies to bicyclists, runners, and walkers who are legally using the roads, too. Don’t let a stupid decision on your part permanently alter (or end) another person’s life. And don’t stop paying attention in June.

Phil Floraday, Senior Web Editor

Driving on Autopilot: Autonomous cars became this week’s hot topic, first with Elon Musk telling Bloomberg he wants Google’s technology in his Tesla electric cars as soon as possible, then with the Automotive Press Association’s annual Michelin Automotive Design Panel in Detroit on Thursday, entitled “Driven/Undriven: The Duality of Tomorrow’s Automobile.” Automotive News’ Jason Stein hosted a panel consisting of Jim Hall, of 2953 Analytics, ex-GM futurist Chris Borroni-Bird, now strategic development veep at Qualcomm, and Stewart Reed, chair of the Art Center College of Design’s transportation design department. “Enthusiasts can’t imagine autonomous cars, until you tell them how it could help on congested freeways,” Reed said. Hall noted that most young people would rather text or surf the web than drive, while Borroni-Bird said, “the driver still controls the vehicle, but the car enhances his skills.” When Stein asked whether Google will build its own car, Hall replied, “not if they have a brain in their head.” Hall struck a chord, though, with most APA members in attendance when he said, “I hate the idea of autonomous cars … I’m only happy that the majority of them will come after I’m dead.” Me too.

Todd Lassa, Executive Editor

99 Luftspeedlimits: Bad news, car enthusiasts: Germany may impose a blanket speed limit of 120 km/h (75 mph) on the nation’s famous autobahns, ending the long-standing and famous derestricted stretches that have no limit at all. Several politicians running against German chancellor Angela Merkel have apparently endorsed enacting the nationwide speed limit to help improve road safety. Of course, many parts of the autobahn already have a speed limit of 130 km/h (about 81 mph), and for now the speed limit proposition may be nothing more than political posturing. Nonetheless, it would be a sad day indeed if speed limit-free autobahns vanished altogether.

Jake Holmes, Associate Web Editor

Being Bear Aware: Notice to Toyota owners: Bear-proof your cars. A bear in rural Florida entered into a woman’s Toyota Matrix and then proceeded to inflict $17,000 in damage to the vehicle. Among the carnage: a chewed off driver’s seat, bite and claw marks on the door panels, exposed interior roof insulation, and other consoles being ripped apart from within. The woman didn’t think that there was anything such as leftover food to attract the bear, nor were her doors left open. A family in California had a similar bear-in-car episode in 2011 with its Toyota Prius, which left the vehicle with ripped up seats, steering wheel, and glove box. Despite these two separate incidents, no direct correlation can be made between bear attacks and Toyotas.

John Kalmar, Graphic Designer

Going Down, Down, Baby: I had the pleasure of driving a new Range Rover this week, which wasn’t long enough for a full Editor’s Notebook but long enough to net this photo. While I’m a little sad that the Rangie’s classic boxiness has been rounded here and sanded-down there, the good thing to report is that driving a Range Rover makes you feel just as exorbitant, just as accomplished, and just as awesome as ever. It might not draw a crowd—that’s what a Jaguar sports car is for—and it might not even beat the Mercedes-Benz GL in terms of handling, but the truck still stands at the intersection of practicality, style, and luxury. Kids at home: it’s just as good as it looks, I promise.

Ben Timmins, Associate Web Editor

Ferrari kid driving suit 224x300 imageShop ’til you Drop: I recently attended the opening of the brand-new Ferrari store at the company’s headquarters in Maranello. Once a small outpost (just over 2000 square feet when it first opened in 2002), the new building is more than three times larger, at nearly 7000 square feet. The new retail emporium has all the markings of a post specialty shop, except that there’s an F1 car and a bright yellow 275GTB parked among the shoes, handbags, shirts, and leather goods. A surprising amount of the space is dedicated to the littlest Ferraristi, with the goal apparently to hook them from birth.

Ferrari says the store was “created to give customers an experience of the Ferrari world and, though making a purchase, to be a part of it.” For those who aren’t planning a trip to Maranello but still want to be a part of that world, there are now more than 50 Ferrari stores worldwide. Beyond that, there is the online shopping portal, www.store.ferrari.com. All told, 95 Ferrari-branded items are sold every minute.

Joe Lorio, Senior Editor

Color Me Boring: About four years ago, this magazine had a Four Seasons 2008 Lexus IS-F painted an eye-catching bright blue. A couple of weeks ago, I tested a 2013 model of the same (now soon to be discontinued) model, this time painted regular old silver. What a difference paint can make. Late one night, while walking on a residential Ann Arbor sidewalk, I looked right at the IS-F and thought to myself, “Huh, that Corolla has some pretty cool dark wheels.” Only several steps later did I realize that I had the keys to that rear-wheel-drive, 416-hp, AMG-fighting “Corolla.” Ultimate sleeper or failed supersedan?

Rusty Blackwell, Copy Editor

Approval from the Appliance People: This week, Tesla’s Model S electric sedan earned a score of 99 out of 100 in Consumer Reports’ testing. The Model S is only the second-ever car to get that top score (the 2007 Lexus LS 460L was the first), and, to many buyers, this is the ultimate seal of approval. What was most amazing to CR – and to us when we named the Model S our 2013 Automobile of the Year – was the fact that the all-electric managed to either match the best competition from Germany, America, and Japan despite the fact that Tesla is a small California start-up that’s only just started to make cars. Kudos to you, Tesla; keep up the good work.

Donny Nordlicht, Associate Web Editor 

No Car is an Island: According to ChinaDaily.com, after attempting for more than a week to contact the owner of a vehicle parked in a lot due to be demolished, the local government in Taiyuan, China decided—rather than simply towing the vehicle to a different location—to continue their construction project around the car. The result makes for a great picture but the question is, how do they move it now or alternatively, how are they going to build a road around it? And lastly, um, do they not have tow trucks in China?

Jennifer Misaros, Managing Editor of Digital Platforms

Badass Beetle: As I made my way across Michigan in our new, long-term Volkswagen Beetle Turbo convertible, I daydreamed that someone like Sheri Moon Zombie, the extremely attractive wife of musician/director Rob Zombie, would fit well in the spooled bug. Our Beetle Turbo convertible has soft suspension and a clean-cut, cute interior, but it also has a powerful powertrain, a masculine exterior, and a good audio system. I imagine the blonde driver, dreadlocks blowing about in the wind, listening to MC5 as she speeds along in the triple digits. It’s a great image, and one that perfectly suits this Beetle. Calling it a “chick car” is a compliment. At least it is in my Sheri-Moon-filled mind.

Chris Nelson, Road Test Editor

By Automobile Staff