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Man, does she pull in 2nd gear

by David Cipolloni
Tuesday, April 17, 2007

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My girlfriend is now looking at me like I’m some kind of nut, something I have never tried to dispute. She does not understand my passion for automobiles, as like so many others she considers vehicles to be just big appliances.

Here I am sprinting around an exit ramp when I notice a young lady closing the gap behind me. She’s driving a new Cadillac CTS in that navy blue color, I think Cadillac calls it Blue Chip, a name I feel is a bit untimely.

Anyway, the driver looks a bit unhappy, and I wonder what could be motivating this young vixen to be so angry, or, at least she appeared that way. Well, I’m not sticking around to find out, and have already downshifted into second as the decreasing radius of the turn makes the Continentals start to squeal. I’m ready to exit this tight turn with the engine in its sweet spot, pour on the coal, and leave this Caddy in the dust.

Just as I pass 5500 rpm’s the strangest thing happened, she was gone, not to be found in the rear view mirror at all. Where the heck did she disappear to so fast?

Out of the corner of my eye I catch a glimpse of the snout on that Cadillac, it’s pulling alongside. That’s not going to do now is it, and in response I snap the car into third with the engine growling with every inch of its internal combustion might. This should do the trick I think, but, oh no, the vixen has matched my speed and then some. As the power band of my little engine nears its limit I go for fourth, I hope this will bring the desired result of putting the Cadillac behind me.

It’s no use, the vixen now has 3 car lengths on me, and my little German engine can’t match the power of the Caddy. I ease the car into overdrive and allow my speed to fall off as I let up on the throttle. My girlfriend is now looking at me like I’m some kind of nut, something I have never tried to dispute. She does not understand my passion for automobiles, as like so many others she considers vehicles to be just big appliances.

As we cruise along in the right (slow) lane I ponder the loss to the Cadillac. The young vixen simply used the strength in her right foot, and her ability to drive in a straight line, to outrun my little Volkswagen. My 100 or so horsepower was no match for the vixen’s CTS. And, if she had any idea I was trying to race her it would have been embarrassing. I’m not sure if she was drinking a cappuccino, or talking on the phone while putting on mascara, but, it would not have surprised me.

Each day I look forward to driving my little German car, not because it’s a performance car, but because it is not. For starters the little car saves gas, and that’s something that should be important to all of us. I have owned some serious speed machines, and even have a few in the garage at this time.

I don’t drive them too often, and when I do I often find myself traveling at speeds that should be left to the racetrack, autobahn, or autostrada. You see, those cars are just no fun going slow, they perform at their best when run hard and driven well. This means high speeds that require a bit of open space, or in the company of skilled drivers. Not something you find on the road too often these days.

My little VW performs at its best when just motoring along, and can get rather upset when pushed to the limit. The good part is that the limit is not too far away. This allows me to toss the car around, run it through the gears, and lay heavy on the brakes. I don’t attract all that much attention if I do these things properly, and law enforcement rarely takes notice.

I took one of my Saleen Mustangs out for a spin a few weeks ago, and stopped at the local mall for a quick run to the Sears tool department. When I got back into the car I did not immediately buckle my seatbelt, and after traveling about 50 yards in the mall parking lot I was promptly stopped by the local police (not the rent-a-cop).

After a check of my papers the officer explained that I was stopped because I was not wearing my seatbelt. I was given a verbal warning, my papers were returned, and I was free to go. If I were driving the V-Dub I am confident this stop would not have taken place. You see, driving a performance car, or at least something that looks like a performance car is bait for law enforcement. It’s like blood in the water to sharks.

You wouldn’t throw chum in the water before going for a swim in the ocean would you? Going out into the sea of automobiles with a certain type of car, or one that has had obvious visual performance modifications, is like putting bait on the hook. Use the right bait and you can acquire quite the harvest of violations from your local authority. It’s kind of like the guilt through association thing. The trick is to be inconspicuous, try to blend in, not attract attention, then, when nobody is the wiser, let’er rip.

All we need are some cars that get great fuel mileage, AND are fun to drive. That shouldn’t be too hard now should it? Honda does it with great free revving engines and matching gear ratios properly. VW does it with solid chassis design and great driving dynamics. Why doesn’t somebody match these qualities to a high tech small turbo diesel and give us a car that gets 60 mpg. This is very doable, and something our country needs. The Big 2 better wake up before somebody beats them to the punch.

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