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Tag Archives: Chevys

May the VW be with you

Volkswagen’s Super Bowl commercial for the 2012 Passat rocked my world on so many levels.

Level 1:
-I’m a VW champion/nerd.

Level 2:
-Huzzah for “The Imperial March”!

I didn’t exactly watch the Super Bowl this year. More like, I caught glimpses of it while super bowl-ing.

However — in between sets and achieving a score that would be admirable only in golf — the car commercials definitely caught my attention. Kudos to Chevrolet for debuting the Volt’s spicy little 30-second slot. It’s exciting to finally see them surging forward and giving their electric line some attention.

In class we’re currently discussing the differences between diesels and gasoline engines which made BMW’s diesel commercial relevant. But dang if they didn’t hit below the belt.

Okay, I’ll give them that semi-trucks are often viewed as gross emitters.

Did they really need to single out Mercedes and Volvo though?

Sure, both companies have come a long way from their signature 1980s diesels, particularly since emissions standards have required the automotive industry to sit up and listen. But the Mercedes 300 series happens to be the body style of the 1984 Benz I learned to drive on. Furthermore Volvo’s iconic 240 station wagon is the first image that always comes to mind when I recall my childhood and all the times Mom schlepped us around town.

Way to go BMW. Just label my formative years gross and disgusting. See if I care.

[cough] Bring More Wallet [cough]

Dashboard Confessional

Since starting this whole crazy automotive adventure I have helped tear apart two dashboards and have reinstalled the instrument cluster of one. So far my record’s not looking so good on the reinstall side of things, but I’ve averaged one a year so far and my internship this summer only started last Tuesday.

Last time it was a matter of replacing the switch on the steering wheel for the washer fluid. This time it’s a matter of putting one of the vents back in place for the A/C and heater. Only it’s become a lot more involved than the master technician I’m shadowing anticipated. Currently the entire heater unit’s sitting on the bench as we wait for new parts to arrive.

All told my dashboard experiences have made me acutely aware of how much but also how little is actually contained under the guise of an aesthetic concealment job. A lot seems to be clever engineering to enhance air flow but in some cases — like on the early 1990s Chevy Suburbans the school district owns — it also contains the car’s computer. It continues to amaze me how tech savvy the automotive industry has become. It’s not on the same level of computer cleverness as an iPod, but without that, the Suburban is going nowhere fast.

The PCM, car’s computer, hangs out on the far right of the car behind the glove box. But then there’s all that space in the center with the radio, so what’s going on there? With my forearm shoved up one of the larger air vents that area contains useful wires and more duct work for airflow. These hollow cavities seem to be engineered to collapse in the event of a crash. Basically, they crumple and you don’t.

Moving across to the left is the instrument cluster. It’s pretty straightforward on the the inside. The gauges tell you about the vehicle’s health and all that is processed by way of just a handful of wires. It just helps when you put the wires back in properly … The steering wheel and its accoutrements also takes up a lot of room.

But it still seems like a lot of interior space that’s just there. Maybe that’s where the engineers should look to condense fuel mileage on future concept cars. Either that or an easy way for drivers to vacuum out the airways on their own. Not everyone has a technician with a skinny little arm to flail around up there and dust.

Flat rates and why labor is so dang expensive

Really, this post is just a teaser of things to come. (Real things I promise…I have no idea what happened to August but I think it had something to do with vinyl and really nice weather.)

I disassembled a 1987 Chevy pickup truck’s steering column today. Just learning to take it apart with help took 2.5 hours. According to All Data, the standard when it comes to vehicle repair and shop rates, I should have been able to take it apart, fix the broken part, and put it back together in 1.7 hours.

The pieces of the assembly are scattered across three red shop rags and the dash board of the truck. According to the master tech who helped me, even if I worked on this particular type of vehicle daily, this task would still be a bear. A large black bear that will maul you over a garbage pail I might add.

More on why the steering column needed to come apart later. After sleep etc. This career choice seriously challenges my college part I resolution to eschew bedtime. Then again, I didn’t have to be functional around heavy equipment at o’dark thirty in college either.

The cars of Twilight

Right. So posting on a more frequent basis starts now. March brought me my quarter-life birthday and bronchitis. I keep forgetting the former happened while the latter set me back on my derriere for two weeks.

While having little else to do other than cough and drink A LOT  of orange juice, I had the opportunity to read like mad. The copy of “Twilight” I reserved from our local library finally arrived and thus I now understand what the hype is about (Or rather I don’t really but that’s another story to be told another time).

Stephenie Meyer’s “Twilight” pushed enough of my writer buttons that even though I’m miles behind the media bandwagon on this one, the cars of “Twilight” need to be addressed.

We’ll start with Edward, our “stupid shiny Volvo driver.” Given that this novel came out in 2005, I’d wager that our hero drives an S80. For ultimate speed and handling, I personally would have put him in the C70 convertible. Based on lines alone it is by far the sexiest in the Volvo family. But since Edward’s sister drives a convertible, that would just be repetitive.

Here we have a 2004 S80. And look, it’s even sparkling!

volvo-s80-t6

Which takes me to Bella’s car. The Thing. Early on Bella makes reference to her vintage Chevy pickup truck as “the thing” yet after that early mention it never receives that moniker again. The truck is one of the sadly overlooked parts of the book. It has character just reeking from its exhaust pipe and out from under the bulbous hood and yet, Meyer easily dismisses it as soon as Edward starts driving Bella to school. Poor Thing.

By my estimation, based on Meyer’s description of Bella’s truck, I’d wager it to be an early 1950s  model. The best picture I could put my hands on is this one of a very well-loved and restored 1950 pickup truck.1950chevroletpickup

Now I haven’t seen the movie so I may be out on the freeway and beyond the ballpark in my imaginings. The identity issue is this: Edward is reliable while Bella’s built like a tank.

What gets me the most though about the treatment of cars in Meyer’s novel is how easily her characters give up on their identities. Edward is old reliable throughout the novel, but at the same time he’s also presented as a ne’er do well. A Volvo is not a car that strikes terror into the hearts of parents everywhere. In fact, its crash-test ratings and the overall quality of the machine inspire confidence. To give Edward more of reputation as a hard-to-get bad boy I would have put him in Mitsubishi Lancer. At least it looks presentable with a spoiler.

Bella, is certainly not built like a tank. Portrayed as clumsy to the extreme she is the most fragile, dependent and submissive female character I’ve encountered in a long time. Maybe that’s why she works well in the Chevy. It provides the character she otherwise lacks.

My final bone it pick with the cars of “Twilight” is Bella’s indifference towards the one thing most teenagers covet above all else: HER car.

At one point Edward drives Bella’s truck to her house and she doesn’t so much as protest that he’s behind the wheel. It wasn’t long ago that I was 17-year-old girl, and if my boyfriend would have assumed he was driving my car anywhere – even if he knew the way better than me – he would have had another thing coming to him.

Chevy photos courtesy of: http://oldcarandtruckpictures.com/PickupTrucks/1950-1959.html

Volvo courtesy of: http://www.volvocars.com/us/tools/CertifiedPreOwned/Pages/default.aspx