Modern Cars Are Gaining An Extra Spare Tyre

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The subject of modern cars gaining weight through the evolution of safety and performance has been touched upon here before, the main angle focused upon power-to-weight ratios and whether older cars are more fun to drive than their more powerful yet heavier counterparts.

However, this time around the angle is focused upon actual weight and the sheer glutinous nature of modern design and technology. Did you ever think the quintessentially British Mini Cooper would outweigh a BMW sedan?

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I read an article on the 2015 Mini Cooper S in bed this morning and noticed a familiar bhp figure: (189). That’s a horse shy of my BMW E36 325i, I thought.

Descending further through the Cooper S spec sheet I made a note of the curb weight (1495-Kg).

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Wow, I said out-loud, the 3 Series of yesteryear is 35-Kg lighter – and that’s with a larger 2.5-L in-line 6 lump.

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BMW took over and manufactured Minis in 2000, but even back then the relatively large new concept compared to its Rover predecessor was nearly 300-Kg lighter than the 2015 model. As for its Austin grandaddy, the German sibling is over double the Kgs…

Despite being a horse under power and 35-Kgs heavier, the Cooper S performs well.

Or does it?

Two decades or so separate the E36 and Cooper S, and despite the modern technology, the Mini only manages to knock half a second off the E36 0-60 time.

I do wonder how the Minis of 2030 will fare. Will they weigh in heavier than the BMW F30s of today? Will they need twin turbos just to make it out of the garage. Will a rocket and parachute be required to make a run to the shops?

What do you think? Can manufacturers continue to increase power whilst the added weight of safety and handling software and devices continue to hamper genuine performance gains?

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Give me a 236-hp per ton featherweight any day.

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Trailer Park Boys SH!T Mobile Is Actually Immortal

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The majority of the vehicles making their way around the Canadian trailer park, “Sunny Vale”, in The Trailer Park Boys are Detroit originals, although some are the Canadian versions.

Easily my favourite and the car featured here at Gargling Gas is the “Shit Mobile”, one of the main characters, Ricky’s mode of transport and home.

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After a little research I realised the car had an off-screen story to it too – the 1975 Chrysler New Yorker was owned by the show’s creator, Mike Clattenberg, and after driving right through to the second season, his wife deemed it too ugly and wanted it gone from their driveway.

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In an interview with the loveable four-eyed, Bubbles, (Mike Smith) Auto Trader discovered there is more to the New Yorker than viewers may think.

When asked about Ricky’s “Shit Mobile”, Bubbles replied:

Yup. Big. Heavy. Powerful car. That was in mint condition when we first started and we had to break the car down. It took a long time to do with axes and sledgehammers. It was hard to dent it. There’s so much iron in the thing.

The actual Shit Mobile is so banged up, but it’ll still do a brake stand to this day. You can’t kill the engine in that car. It always fires up every time someone turns the car on. The thing is still working.

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Just goes to show that the phrase “They don’t make them like they used to” really does apply to the automobile.

Gargling Gas is all about cars and their personalities, and this beat up New Yorker is the perfect example of how those knocks, dents and scratches (and even lack of doors) give a car its character.

The Bandit Makes $480K On His Trans Am

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If you like Burt Reynolds, Smokey and The Bandit films, or movie cars in general, this article I penned for Motorward should interest you.

Not only was the Bandit’s car up for sale, but Reynolds put up a whole host of items including movie props, awards and clothing.

The Pontiac’s greatest asset was the fact Reynolds kept hold of it after the movie was shot.

Click the link above for the full story.

Ken Block: My Modern Day Superhero

Now the dust has quite literally settled upon the sun-baked streets of Los Angeles, and Ken Block’s snorting ’65 Mustang is stabled and resting, I can reflect on Gymkhana 7 and how it turned back my metaphorical clock by three decades or so.

To elucidate on the actual driving that went on in L.A., I penned an article for Motorward magazine along with the video, ignoring all of the details such as driving techniques and listing reams of technical data, instead harping on about how Block and his fantastical machine took me back in time for 12 minutes, leaving me a little confused and angry at the fact I found myself back in 2014 as a 36 -year-old afterwards.

Rally purists may criticise Block and his Rally X/Drift hybrid style, but this is 2014 – if X Games dirt bike riders can get away with grabbing massive air, opening their legs and calling the move the ‘Paris Hilton’, then Block is doing the right thing here – it simply boils down to exciting and impressive viewing. Don’t get me wrong though; I’m a massive fan of the X Fighters bike format, along with all the X Games sports, and adding cars with 80’s Group B rally power to the list is obviously a recipe for success.

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Big power and exciting viewing leads me neatly onto the superhero/stuntman angle I’m pushing here – for those 12 minutes I sat gawping as the Block’s Hoonicorn tore up the streets of L.A., miles of internal wiring fused inside my head, leaving me experiencing waves of nostalgia, seamless flashbacks of stars and stripes, bleating dixie horns, and a whole fleet of toys I put through a similar ordeal to the car on my computer screen.

Evel Knievel Stunt Cycle

Dukes of Hazzard Wrist Racer

Dukes of Hazzard Wrist Racer

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007’s Underwater Lotus Esprite

The toys pictured above were my favourites, and I think it was the combination of terrific film producing, the smoking and squealing of tyres, that evil Mustang, and of course its superhuman pilot that evoked their memory.

Dressed in a retro style leather jacket and donning a glittery patriotic race helmet along with meridian goggles and skull face scarf, Ken Block was my childhood Bo Duke, my Evel Knievel, my James Bond, my Bandit, and perhaps even my Superman all wrapped up into one super-being.

So now it’s all over, do I watch it again and go back to 1982, or do I face reality and help my wife lay the table?

Buick, Please Don’t Taint The GNX Legend

When car companies decide to revive an old and popular model by building a ‘tribute’, they usually don’t do it any justice – it’s a bit like Hollywood rehashing a classic – think Gus Van Sant and his audacious yet appalling remake of Psycho.

One of my favourite cars (I’m going to own one to spank my midlife crisis into submission) is indeed the ’87 Buick GNX – I have professed my adoration for the Vader car in a previous post, Love At First Sight. The GNX is special in that is was unexpected and completely insane. Buicks weren’t and still aren’t known for power or outrageous styling; they were and still are comfortable and luxurious. When Buick released the Regal Grand National in 1982, the public took notice, and when Buick noticed the public taking notice, they upped the power almost every year until its final run in 1987 – the 87s are the most sought after because Buick wanted to bid the GNX farewell with a memorable send off, a special edition stroked by the McLaren brush and boasting a wildly underrated 245-bhp.

When Buick released the GNX, they gave birth to their black sheep of the fleet, a muscle car eater, a sinister machine fit for only Darth Vader, the choice of hitmen and serial killers.

Over the past year or so I’ve been following any news on the 2015 GNX, trying to find an accurate idea of what it’s going to look like – despite being released as a four door sedan and not like its coupe predecessor, I’d like to think it will resemble the picture above and the 2013 Regal GS below, because as far as modern designs are concerned, they looks pretty aggressive. Both the Grand National and GNX will be created on a RWD platform previously used by the sixth-generation Camaro and also the third-generation Cadillac CTS. Although concepts have varied, I know the figures are encouraging enough, but are they good enough to earn the GNX badge and status.

Owning a 2015 GNX doesn’t need to be the stuff of midlife crisis dreams either – the performance and looks will come cheaper than the 40s fantasy Porsche 911. Even if this is just out of reach, securing a car loan from a good bank will ensure the legendary GNX badge sits in your garage.

Casting the smaller engine options and models aside, the daddy GNX will have a twin-turbo 3.6-L V6. Phew, thank god they stuck with the V6 instead of using a V8. Twin-turbo is also good because it remains true to the original in that instead of using V8s like all the other muscle cars of its era, Buick decided to go with a V6 and a big turbo. The new model will possess around 400-bhp, but is this enough to challenge the likes of the Cadillac CTS, something Buick intended?

I personally don’t think it will live up to the GNX name in ground-breaking performance, but I do think Buick will create a great looking and fast sedan. The GNX will only come in black, just like its 80s daddy, so at least they’ve got that right. Perhaps if Buick found a few more horses and stripped away some of the weight using exotic materials (think BMW CSL), the GNX will be another Buick to remember. Okay, so it will push the prices up shedding weight, but it’s not like there’s going to be a shortage of people lining up to buy the new GNX.

 

Wings, Box Flares & Lots Of Paint

Not only is the BMW pictured above a thing to behold, this 1976 3.0-L CSL boasts a splendid array of colours that somehow work and highlight the car’s features. Art purists will smirk at the idea of using a car as a canvas, but artist, Alexander Calder, known for surrealism, modern art, and his kinetic sculptures, represents his chosen genres well here.

 

1976 3.0-L CSL

1976 3.0-L CSL

The above image may not be to everyone’s taste, but take in the style and compare with the rather brilliant image below. I know which “canvas” I’d rather have presented/parked in my living room.

Calder isn’t the only artist to take inspiration from the Bavarian Motor Company. Everyone has heard of Andy Warhol, right? He’s the chap responsible for Pop Art – take in the piece below and you’ll immediately recognise the style.

So what does a modern (slightly mad) artist do when he takes hold of a 1979 BMW M1 and some brushes? Take a look below and marvel at the solid German engineering combined with the insanity of an artist let loose with his paint box.

The M1 was BMW’s supercar, a fact Warhol seemed to know when he went to work on it. What would look ghastly on a human, this mix of clashing colours just looks right on this boxy retro sports car.

I’m a big BMW fan and have owned a black E46 M3 and currently drive a black E36 325i coupe. I couldn’t do a Bimmer art post without including one of my favourite looking cars, the E30 M3. Not only is the E30 iconic, this collection of car art boasted a wonderful example of simplistic and solid German design painting by an artist known for his simplistic shapes and colours.

I’d never heard of Ken Done until I saw this collection featured on BMWism.com – click the link and check out the other BMWs and the varying styles lavished and embellished upon their boxy and retro bodies.

 

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Why GM Need The Buick GNX Revived

If you follow Gargling Gas or you’ve skipped through some posts, you’ll know I love the Buick GNX from the various posts on it. In fact, “love” doesn’t even come close; the Buick GNX to me represents everything I adore about the automobile, a car possessing an aura that IS the spirit of Gargling Gas.

The Darth Vader car is unique in the fact it managed to eat muscle cars whilst bearing the badge of blue rinse and comfortable slippers. The GNX is all black and very sinister, its owners probably best left alone. It was a murder car before the term “murdered-out” was coined.  In the late 80s and early 90s (and even today), a GNX pulling up next to your Corvette or BMW M3 at a stop light would be a daunting experience – its unnerving presence is also backed up by a performance that’ll frighten a E46 M3 and terrify a Porsche Boxster S.

Anyway, here is yet another post I wrote on the GNX, a guest post for WhyDoes.com  – Why Does Luxury Marque Buick Plan To Re-release Its Black Sheep?

More GNX reading:

A GNX Dragged Back From The Dead

Buick Please Don’t Taint A Legend