Having recently moved back to the United States, from Germany, I’ve been confronted with the reality that Americans are a truly idiotic lot, with regard to their driving habits. These habits include, but are not limited to, failure to properly signal, failure to merge without impeding the flow of traffic and driving in the fast-lane with no one to their right. All of which piss me off, cause me to use gratuitous amounts of profanity and make me wish I were still in a country where drivers have some sense. ….sigh, I miss Germany.
Failure to signal is something that is commonly accompanied with slow, maneuvers that leave me wondering if the driver is drunk or falling asleep. They often occur in busy locations and often result in an abrupt tap of the brakes, some furious flashing of my high-beams and profanity. I’ve seen a number of close calls within hours of each other, all due to some idiot failing to signal.
Failing to merge… Now this is where I completely disagree with American driving etiquette. I recall in school, being taught that it’s common courtesy to give the right of way to merging traffic, by changing lanes. This is completely wrong and any of you who still subscribe to this are lacking in sense. Germans have it right. German drivers are taught it’s the merging driver’s responsibility to enter the flow of traffic, so as not to impede the traffic flow. Driver’s only change lanes for merging traffic, in the event that the merging automobile has fully entered the Autobahn and is still moving at a slower rate of speed. Drivers do not senselessly move to the left, if the merging auto is still on the entrance road. Again, it’s the driver’s responsibility to merge safely without impeding the flow of traffic. Germans do it right, as this simple rule supports my next gripe of American drivers.
Americans LOVE to travel in the fast-lane. American drivers will stay in the fast-lane and middle lanes with complete disregard for faster cars approaching from behind them. Raise your hand if this pisses you off to no end. I’ve been spoiled. For the last four years, I’ve lived in a country where, if you were to do this, you would likely kill someone or cause a catastrophic accident. It’s law in Germany to stay to the right and there, drivers actually obey it. So much so, that if you even try to pass someone on the right, they will honk their horn at you and speed up just so they can get into the right lane so you can properly pass them. Their anal about it. Yes, I understand that in America, there are no unrestricted zones, so it’s not so crucial as it is in Germany. However, when it comes to the flow of traffic, failing to stay to the far right causes a majority of the gridlock in America.
So, I hate driving in America. I barely scratched the surface of my hatred for American drivers, only because it’s late and grown kids need sleep too. I assure you though, I will return to this topic. It’s only a matter of time before some idiot out there inspires another rant.
In the meantime, I strongly urge you all to make this video viral.
Keep Right Traffic Safety Instructional Video – Slower Traffic Keep Right!
Posted: January 14th, 2013
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Disillusion. A word that frequently either precedes or follows ones first drive of any automobile. Thus, it’s common advice to never drive ones dream car, or cars, for this reason. Fortunately, I have not. Yet I still aspire to, despite such proven advice. That’s not to say I haven’t been disillusioned by automobiles previously in my life, but I’ve already digressed from what I want to talk about.
When shopping, for instance, most consumers tend to fall victim to hype and media over-statement. Every company is vying for your hard-earned dollar and they play on your imagination. I’m sure we’ve all read about how brilliant a car is and imagined driving it for ourselves. Right?
Right. It’s at that moment of imagining that we have fallen for the hype, at least a tiny bit, and perhaps place a degree of unrealistic expectation on the automobile that we’re imagining will satisfy our fancy. Whatever that may be.
Be it a car. Be it a truck. You may be imagining how good it will look with that expensive trailer or camper you’ve bought (for you truck owners out there), how satisfying it will be to see your co-workers faces when you arrive to work in it, or how incredible it will feel to really open the taps and stretch it’s legs on your favorite stretch of road.
At this point your imagination is going wild and you may even have that ridiculous grin on your face. You know. The one that we all get when we’re off in la-la land experiencing, in our mind, what we think to be an amazing automobile.
Someone has caught you with that stupid grin on your face before. Admit it.
Sometimes we completely follow through with a purchase and drive it home, still high on our own bit of placebo to later realize that it doesn’t live up to our inflated expectations. It may be months. It may be years. However, eventually the penny drops and we snap out of it and realize our brilliant auto is just so-so.
Has this happened to you, or someone you know?
If it has, I’d very much like to hear your story. Post it on the ismellclutch Facebook page.
Posted: August 13th, 2011
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I’m not going to be shy. I have been a Volkswagen fan for years. Perhaps even as soon as I could comprehend what a car was. Years have gone by and I’ve seen the brand evolve and where one particular car is concerned, I’m not sure that I like where they’ve ended up.
The car under my scrutinous eye is the new Volkswagen Golf R. Volkswagen’s continuation of the “R” series of Golf models.
To bring you up to speed, the “R” that this latest offering replaces is the R32. The R32 debuted in 2004 and was built upon the fourth-generation Golf chassis. It was a buffer looking Golf. The front and rear bumpers were larger, smoother and had a dominating and sporty look to them with gaping front air inlets and a rear bumper that looked just as good. It looked more sporty in comparison to even the Golf GTI of the time.
Pop the bonnet, and beneath you’d find the R32′s namesake: a 3.2 liter pearl of a VR6 connected to Volkswagen’s 4-motion all-wheel-drive system. Eureka! In my opinion, the best sounding six-cylinder in it’s class. The raspy, angry-yet-refined exhaust note, coupled with the R32′s looks and all-wheel-drive are still a seductive hand of cards. Even today, I hear and see an R32 drive past and I have to listen and watch. If I’m in my car and come upon one, I’ll coax the driver into what he thinks is a race, only to roll down my window and listen to him roar away. They look great. They sound great.
Then, Volkswagen re-faced their entire lineup. Egads! I never liked the second iteration of the R32. Based on the fifth-generation Golf, it had a ridiculous brushed aluminum nose that resembled a poorly sized prosthetic. Gone was the aggressive bumpers and it didn’t end there. The interior had also gone downhill. Those fantastic seats from the previous R had been pulled in favor of squared-off seating that resembled dentist chairs. And the cherry on this horrid cake was that some genius decided that we no longer needed to keep our left food occupied. Thus, equipping the this bastard incarnation with a flappy-paddle gearbox. It definitely sounded the same, but it was thrashed.
In 2009, while I was home during a deployment to Iraq, I took my 2004 GTI to the local dealership. Despite much discouragement from my family, I was going to test-drive, with intention of buying, a 2009 Deep Blue Pearl VW R32. It was short-lived.
Upon looking more closely at the interior and having a seat in it, I didn’t like it at all. I drove it for 20 minutes. I ran it through the gears and played with the gearbox. I took it around some nearby turns. Then I returned to the dealership, parked it back on the lot, threw the key to the salesman and walked off without so much as a word.
Rude as I was, I was that put off. The car was only decent. A commuter car at best. It was a boring movie with an awesome soundtrack. My family was happy. Despite being five years older and built on a “worse” chassis (I’ll admit that’s true), my GTI was more fun to drive than Volkswagen’s second iteration of their top-shelf performance Golf.
Some time later Volkswagen announced a third “R” car. This was to become the Golf R.
“Brilliant!”, I thought.
Then, the news got a little better.
Not only would it be offered with a manual gearbox, but it would have Volkswagen’s latest 2.0 liter 4-cylinder engine, putting out 20 hp more than the outgoing 3.2 liter-powered model. Thus, not only would the front would be lighter, improving handling, but the car should theoretically be more lively overall, as a result. Quite an improved recipe.
I was ecstatic, thinking how glad I was, to have not purchased that horrible R32 the year before.
Then the photos were released.
So, with all of the fantastic improvements, the new Golf R looks like something designed by a banker. It’s boring. Tragically boring.
Why, in comparison, the sixth-generation GTI makes the Golf R look horribly under-dressed. While stunning with it’s trademark lip-gloss and tartan seating and red-stitching, the Golf R just looks…..um….well. Lost.
While Volkswagen has (and I’m sure) made a fantastic car with the Golf R, they have again managed to forget their history in the process. Just as the third and fourth generation GTI wandered aimlessly from the path their predecesors had laid, both R32 generations and now this boring Golf R has done the same.
What Volkswagen should do at this point is crack a book and brush up a bit. Try the late 1980s.
In the late 80′s, Volkswagen was competing in the World Rally Championship with a front-wheel drive Mk2 Golf and after Group A became the main category, Volkswagen went back to the drawing board. The result was something most people don’t have any clue about, except for Volkswagen enthusiasts.
Enter, the Golf Ralleye…..Volkswagen’s original “R” car.
Powered by a 1.8 liter, supercharged 4-cylinder motor, the Ralleye had Volkswagen’s Syncro all-wheel-drive system and it went like stink. Best part of all, since rally cars had to be based on road-going versions, the Ralleye was produced in limited numbers for the public.
Unfortunately, Volkswagen seems to have forgotten all of this, or even ignored this bit of history. Reason being, the Ralleye project was plagued with reliability and performance issues and became a huge embarrassment to the company for it. However, despite being such a problem child to the company, there is a mystique and personality present in the Ralleye that is missing in Volkswagen’s “R” cars of today. Take heed Volkswagen, you could stand to learn a few things by revisiting your little bastard “R” car from the late 80s.
Oh, but wait!!! Volkswagen may actually be moving in the right direction. And that’s a big “maybe”, as earlier this year it was announced that a Volkswagen would once again be competing in the World Rally Championship. With a Polo.
Like I said….BIG “maybe” on the “right direction” statement. Time will tell.
In the meantime, I still yearn for a clean first-gen Golf R32. Yeah, I know it may not be as focused as the GTI is on it’s roots, but with a manual gearbox and great looks, I think I’d forget about that every time I let that 3.2L roar through the revs.
Posted: July 21st, 2011
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So, I just installed this blogging application onto my server. Now, for the life of me, I can’t seem to wrap my head around how this thing is organized. It’s appalling. One would think that technical people, especially programmers, would be exceptionally good at organizing things in a way that makes sense. Right? Wrong. So please bear with me, as I try to figure this thing out and don’t be surprised if the page looks different every time you visit it. It’s just me sorting this application out.
About a month ago, I sat down to recount my automotive interest; figure out where it started, what has influenced it, so on and so forth. I went back and read it and rather than reading something entertaining, it read like a refrigerator manual. Needless to say, I won’t be sharing that piece of writing until I thrash it with some heavy editing.
More or less, I simply wanted to write something short. Something to simply throw on my blog, to further assist me in getting it set up in a satisfying and attractive way.
As in the Wizard of OZ, pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.
Posted: July 20th, 2011
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