by Byron Hurd. Photographs courtesy of Volkswagen. *This article has been corrected. See note above feature list.*
A few months ago, while reading one of my favorite Web comics, I came across a bit of a gem. While commenting on the endless debate between competing game console services Xbox Live and PlayStation Network, Penny Arcade‘s Jerry “Tycho” Holkins wrote something that every auto journalist knows, whether they’ve consciously considered it or not.
“In order to appear reasonable it is sometimes necessary to say things which are untrue.”
Unfortunately, the rumors surrounding our friends over at 0-60 Magazine are true. The paper side of the operation has been officially dropped by parent company Harris Publications.
Word from 0-60 staff is that they plan to continue with the magazine’s online operation and blog/news format, which can be found (for the time being, at least) at http://www.0-60mag.com/. Keep an eye there for any announcements or changes.
It’s always a shame when a glossy closes up shop, especially when it’s one of the good ones. If you can get your hands on a back issue or two, I suggest doing so.
The pilot episode of “The Wire” opens with a scene between Baltimore City homicide detective Jimmy McNulty and a young eyewitness sitting on a stoop, overlooking a murder scene. The victim was shot after running away with the pot from a dice game. The witness explains that the victim, “Snot Boogie,” would come to the game every week and let the pot get thick, then pull a snatch and grab. Normally, the other players would chase him down and kick his ass for trying to make off with the cash, but this week somebody got tired of the routine and shot poor Snot Boogie dead. McNulty is puzzled, and asks the witness why they continued to allow Snot Boogie to play if he always ran off with the money. The witness looks at McNulty and then back at the body, then says, matter-of-factly, “You got to. This is America, man.”
Some of my regular readers have been inquiring as to my backlog of reviews. Fear not; they’ll be along shortly. I’m currently dealing with some logistical issues which have repercussions for the release of two of these pieces. Once that shakes out, we should be back to our regularly-scheduled programming. For now, enjoy some Volkswagen.
Friend and fellow SSL regular Jack once called the Volkswagen Phaeton “The best car in the world.” He should know, I suppose, as he had two of them. And it was quite good. In fact, it’s one of few cars I have ever known to be as satisfying from the back seat as it was from the driver’s. It was a wonderful piece of engineering that deserved all of the praise it received.
And now that Volkswagen appears to be back in the “on again” phase of what some of our esteemed colleagues depict as an ongoing deliberation as to the future of the Phaeton in America, I feel it’s appropriate to issue a gentle warning to our friends across the pond:
The Phaeton cannot and will not succeed in the United States.
Ray Wert, the Jalop of Jalops over at www.jalopnik.com, recently wrote a piece about the HEMI brand and the upcoming 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee. For those who aren’t scrutinizing the JGC’s launch on the same level as us know-it-alls, let me catch you up. Essentially, the 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee will no longer have a 5.7L HEMI engine. Instead, it will have a 5.7L OHV MDS V8 with Variable-valve Timing… and an engine cover emblazoned with enormous, embossed “HEMI” branding.
It’s okay if you’re confused, but it boils down to this: Jeep will no longer feature the HEMI branding within its vehicle lineup. The same engine will be branded as a HEMI in other Chrysler Group LLC products (as Jeep Brand Marketing Head Honcho Jim Morrison put it, they’ll be leaving it to “the Dodge and truck guys”), but not in a Jeep.
But why? Mr. Wert proposes that this is green-washing–an effort by Chrysler to minimize the enthusiast value of their vehicles in front of an ever-more-environmentally-focused media. It’s not a poor argument. Just look around at the rest of the industry. Ford’s twin-turbo, 350+ horsepower V6 monster is dubbed “EcoBoost,” for crying out loud. If that’s not green marketing, I don’t know what is. But in the context of Chrysler, I think Wert’s assessment, while not unreasonable, isn’t quite on the mark.
Earlier this week, the Chrysler Communications blog ran a piece that we all knew was coming, but few true enthusiasts wanted to see. The Dodge Viper SRT-10 Final Edition is here. It’s bittersweet, to be sure, the end of the line for the consummate American two-seater. Apologies to the boys and girls down in Bowling Green, but no other vehicle embodies the history of American sports car racing the way the Viper does–the biggest engine in the smallest car with the fewest frills. It’s a legacy that goes back to the days before closed circuits and seat belts.
And for the first time in nearly twenty years, the world will be without it.