The Goat…Is it Worthy of Its Name?

One of the major criticism’s of the new GTO is that is doesn’t live up to the name of the original GTO. Now, I have never driven an old GTO, but I have driven some newer Mustangs and a Corvette.

After 1 week of driving my new GTO, I can say that every minute is more fun than the previous and can only get better as I get better with the 6-speed. Not to slight the other cars I have driven, but the GTO is much more comfortable than them and is at a minimum, on par performance wise with those cars (but only because those were hopped up 😉 ).

The writer of this article managed to capture the true feeling of driving this car…and he is right. “The juice IS worth the squeeze!”

The juice is worth the squeeze – Dr. Bud cuts loose in the Pontiac GTO.

Austin, Texas. The assignment was simple: Since the AE bunch up in Detroit was going to be driving a 2005 Pontiac GTO for a few days, I could either come up there and drive it, too, or I could wrangle one to drive down here. Either way, I was to write about it. After I checked in with my usual assortment of loosely connected car freak friends, I was lucky enough to find a GTO that I could take for overnight. Ironically, it was in the same wild “Impulse Blue Metallic” with the equally wild “Bermuda Blue” leather and trim combo that headquarters had. And I do mean wild. This car gave new meaning to the term electric blue – and it was an appropriate color, I thought, because it gave this modern GTO a full measure of ’60s American muscle car exuberance.

I might as well get this part over now – as for the debate about whether this GTO is a “real” GTO or not, I am going to offend the purists right off the bat. To those who say the new GTO “doesn’t look like a GTO,” I say bullshit. “They” couldn’t tell you what a new GTO should look like even if they tried. And for me personally, the original GTO was the best one – even more so than the more popular 65-67 cars. Why? Because it was nothing more than a plain looking Pontiac Tempest with dog-dish hubcaps, a set of red line tires and a big-ass motor stuffed in it. Peter agrees, and he sent me this note before my little test drive:

“The original GTO was the very first “muscle” car, and it defined the essence of muscle car for all the cars that came after it. Don’t forget that in order to escape scrutiny from GM headquarters (that’s back when GM was still in the throes of complying with the ludicrous AMA ban on performance cars and racing at the time) the very first GTO was just an option package. Pontiac pulled a fast one on headquarters to get the car built. The GTO was faithful to the letter of its original mission: It was to be plain looking, with a fly-under-the-radar street profile, it was to be fast – with a big V-8 stuffed in it, and above all, it was to be affordable. This simple formula propelled the Pontiac Motor Division into the stratosphere, making it GM’s “go-go” division and making its leader, John Z. DeLorean, a star (even though Bill Collins, the chief engineer and Jim Wangers, the ad agency genius behind the promotion of the car deserve most if not all of the credit for the car’s success). Go drive the new one and see what you think.”

Vintage Peter. Always tellin’ you more than you need to know until you realize it’s exactly what you need to know. Guess that’s why he is The Autoextremist.

At any rate, I confronted this beast for the first time in the late afternoon, but because traffic is so horrendous down here, I just rumbled it home with Jolene following me after we picked it up. “Rumbled” being the operative word here, too, because the new GTO has the best pipes of any modern performance car I’ve ever heard. It gurgles and pops and burbles with bad-ass attitude to go. Whoever was in charge of the pipes needs to be recognized so that enthusiasts across the country can pay their proper respect. This new GTO sounds freakin’ great. As for the way it looks, I don’t mind it at all. This ’05 version had the scoops, otherwise it’s pretty plain lookin’ – more true to the original than some of the purists would care to admit, maybe? I walked around it in the driveway for a while, and I thought it looked good. Jolene looked at it for a nanosecond, said, “It sure is blue,” and disappeared into the house.

I went inside, and we had a nice leisurely dinner (sans any drinks for me), because I wanted to be sharp for my midnight run later. I like daytime speed runs the best, but the traffic down here is sucking so bad lately that I’ve had to rethink my favorite speeding roads. Now I have a route that’s lightly trafficked at night, infrequently patrolled and above all, safe. So I would bide my time. Besides, there’s still somethin’ about driving fast at night that really seems right to me. You can get lost in a car’s soul – or find out it doesn’t have one at all – quicker at night, it seems. At least that has always been the case for me.

True to form, I dozed off on the couch, and Jolene woke me up on her way to bed and told me to be careful. It was a little too early. I watched Conan to kill another hour, then I made my way out to the driveway only to see the GTO lit up in the moonlight. The damn thing about glowed in the dark with its “Impulse Blue.”

I got in and had my first encounter with the GTO’s instrumentation. You can fool with it to set up your preferences, and I put it so that I had the digital readout of the speed to augment the analog gauges. The greenish glow from the instruments was a little off-putting, but not a deal breaker, and I fired it up and burbled my way out of the neighborhood.

Your first impression of this beast is that it’s a substantial feeling car – and judging by its almost 3,900-lb. weight, it is. But it has a pleasing heaviness to it at slower speeds, the kind of feel that translates into “just right” at higher speeds, and I was chomping at the bit to find out.

The 400HP LS2 Corvette motor is so sweet that this car just begs you to put your boot in it. As for “tip-in” – this GTO gets your attention in a hurry. I gave it a short burst as I started down a freeway entrance ramp in the southwest corner of the city – and the thing just hunkered down and launched itself like it was shot out of a cannon.

Damn!

I gave my left mirror a quick glance as I merged and thankfully saw no traffic, so I decided to turn the short burst into a meaningful four gear blast – and the GTO responded to the whip like few cars I’ve ever been in. The heaviness immediately gave way to “just right” as the booming V-8 gobbled up air and catapulted me down the road, pushing me back in the seat as God intended that it should be. It took only a few seconds to realize that this GTO delivers serious performance to go with its seriously bad-ass attitude. And in just a few seconds more I was blowing past 130 mph, the unmistakable wail of the Corvette V-8 filling the cockpit with its distinctive mechanical cacophony that will never, ever get old to me.

I used to think 300HP was the absolute rational minimum for delivering satisfying performance on the street. Until now. After booting the 400HP V-8 in the new GTO for a night, I have changed my mind completely. If you’re a real driving enthusiast, 400HP is the new minimum – and you’ll love it.

I spent the next hour strafing fast bends that I know intimately, letting the GTO take a set and then feeding the power on hard for the exits – and the more I hammered it, the better it got. The GTO loves to be flogged within an inch of its raucous, rock-and-roll heart. It craves it, and then begs you for more. The essence of this new GTO is that it’s an unapologetic outlaw machine that’s constantly looking for a partner in crime. And I was more than happy to oblige.

We live in a golden era of high-performance machines. Car magazines are filled with the latest this and the fastest that, but I think some of these car reviewers have gotten carried away with the new technologies that are infiltrating our modern high-performance machines. Technology for technology’s sake turns me off. And many of the new cars I’ve driven are sensational on paper, but strangely uninvolving and cold behind the wheel – as if there is no “there” there.

The 2005 Pontiac GTO, thankfully, isn’t one of those cars. It’s refreshing to be in a high-performance car in this day and age that lives up to its expectations, but then again, the GTO is even better than that – because it so far exceeded my expectations with every mile that I wonder why enthusiasts aren’t lining up to buy them. And for $32,995 the new GTO is the high-performance value of the year – as we’ve been saying here at Autoextremist.com for a while now. You might pay more for something else, but I guar-an-damn-tee ya’ that you won’t have any more fun.

All jacked up after roaring around the countryside, I pulled into a late-night coffee place in town that I frequented when I was, ahem, AWOL from home a while ago. As I was paying, the 20-something kid behind the register said, “Is that the new GTO – the one with 400HP?”

I was kind of taken aback by the question. Isn’t this the age group that’s supposed to lust after Subaru WRXs and Mitsubishi EVOs?

“Yeah, it is,” I smiled at this kid knowing that he must be a burgeoning enthusiast – and an open-minded one at that. I started to walk away figuring the conversation was over, when I heard…

“How is it?”

I turned around and thought of the best line from one of my favorite movies of late – “The Girl Next Door” – and I said, “The juice is worth the squeeze.”

He just said, “Dude,” and grinned.

I smiled and walked away.

With Peter’s historical words echoing in my head, I thought about this new GTO and decided it’s more than faithful to the letter of the original’s mission: It’s on the plain-looking side, with its low key, fly-under-the-radar street profile, it’s blistering fast thanks to the big Corvette V-8 stuffed in it, and above all, it’s affordable.

I just might have to go get one for my own self…

Adios until the next time.

Does the new GTO fit the bill?

In my opinion, it fits EVERY LETTER!

– peeps

Never Thought I Would Own A Goat!

That’s right! I am the proud owner of a new 2005 Torrid Red Pontiac GTO with the LS2 6.0L V8 (‘Vette engine). It has a 6-speed manual transmission, black leather interior and the drive is absolutely AMAZING!

I will get some picture of mine up soon, but here are some pictures from the Pontiac site of a similar GTO.

I missed a half day of work to go pick it up this morning. Well worth missing work for 😉 Tonight when I got home I took Tasha out for a 6-speed lesson. She did pretty good for not driving a manual in several years. Hell, I think I have done fairly well for not driving a manual with a steering wheel on the left hand side since before I bought the Grand Am GT.

– peeps

The Chronicles of Philip – Indonesia

To keep this from getting very long, I will summarize my trip in bullet form for easy digestion…

Bali

  • 2 lanes means 3 lanes of cars and 4 lanes of motorcycles squeezing between the cars in each lane and the cars and the curb
  • Some customs officer pocketed USD$50 for taxes on some equipment we had to bring over. No forms filled out, no receipt…
  • I hear Bali is fun, but with late flights and early morning flights, I wouldn’t know…maybe if flights to Asia become cheap someday, I can find out!
  • I became a millionaire while there just by changing USD$100 for Indonesian Rupiahs…
  • Most of my pictures here were taken from inside the cab on the way to the airport…

32 Jawa – My home for 4 weeks

  • Sure we had cable, but 1 english channel out of the 4 available, does not make for good channel surfing
  • Somehow HBO Signature, Cinemax, Fashion TV and Star Sports are shown on the same channel at random times during the day. Interesting movie on HBO? Don’t bother starting it, because Cinemax or Fashion TV will be on before it is over…
  • Key makers in Soroako are not very skilled. After 1 week of 2 people working different shifts and sharing 1 set of keys, we had 2 more sets of keys made. Long story short…after a long day at work with roommate at work, neither of the new sets worked and had to wait in the car listening to THE radio station until my roommate left the plant at 11 pm.
  • Same night as above, upon finally getting into the house, housekeeping locked my room door…that door’s key was not in any of the sets we had. It took 3 security officers to break into the room. One with a crowbar, one with a semi-automatic rifle and one to supervise…
  • Still, same night…sleeping in a car while waiting on someone can really mess up an “exiting car routine”. I found out after security broke down my door that my keys were locked in my Toyota Kijang! Great way to end an already wonderful night…
  • All the clothes I wore while there will be permanently marked with J32 thanks to the daily laundry service. All the clothes except the ones washed by the dyslexic worker who wrote J23 on some of my clothes. This really had us and security confused the night of the key/door fiasco since there is no 23 Jawa, but the shirt I was wearing said otherwise 😉
  • I didn’t realize cockroaches came in jumbo!
  • I have never lived with so may geckos. Thankfully they were quiet, unlike that stupid Geico gecko!

Driving

  • Vehicle of choice – Toyota Kijang
  • Right hand drive is strange. I was expecting opposite pedals and shifter, but they are the same orientation as right hand drive cars. Wipers and blinkers are opposite, which screwed me up a couple times, and so far has screwed me up a couple times since being back.
  • Driving on the wrong side of the road took very little getting used to. However, looking both ways for right hand turns did take a bit of practice. Just ask the motorcycle taxi I almost ran over! 😀
  • 1.8L is not enough to get you up large hills unless you keep 3rd gear almost to redline.
  • Kijang’s are fairly easy to break into. Notice nothing above about calling security or the rental company to get the keys out of my locked car 😀
  • Motorcycles can carry a family of 5. And they will pull out right in front of you, day or night, with or without head and/or tail lights.
  • Pedestrians walk on the side of the roads with their back to same direction traffic. One lady was run over during my trip there. Apparently this is common.

After Work/Weekend Activities

  • Forms of Entertainment
    1. 1 english TV channel? Hardly entertaining!
    2. Boating – daytime only – This involved loading up the raft with food and beer for an hour trip out to “the island”, a couple hours of swimming, and almost 2 hour trip back once the wind picked up…
    3. Golfing – daytime only – The company golf course there was pretty good and scenic for how cheap it was to play. 9 holes was 50,000 rupiah (a bit over USD$5) and 20,000 rupiah (a bit over USD$2) for a caddy that would fetch your ball from ponds, rice paddies, and any out of bounds spot…
    4. Nighttime activities? Drinking or that 1 english channel…needless to say, we drank a lot!
    5. Hash runs followed by the On-On (more beer drinking). More on the hash runs below
    6. Pub crawl…again more beer drinking. More on the pub crawl below
  • There are 2 main beers that are enjoyed by those that are not locals. Anker Bir and Bintang Bir. Others are available such as Bali Hai, Guinness (mostly enjoyed by Indonesian females), and Panther Stout – a Guinness knock-off, but Anker and Bintang were by far the most popular. Anker is the better tasting of the 2 but less popular with the locals, so it usually ran out fast meaning that we unfortunately had to close out the night many times with Bintang.
  • The selling price for beer at the bars ranged from 10,000-13,000 rupiahs or about USD$1 to USD$1.25
  • 5% beer can be evil to someone who drinks all drinks fast, like me! It took a couple trips to the bar to figure out that drinking a 6-pack of 2-3% beer at home meant no problem in the morning while a 6-pack of Indonesian beer meant a headache in the morning.
  • Raft = pontoon boat, not a bunch of logs bound together like you would see in an episode of Gilligan’s Island…
  • I have never seen such clear water. You can easily see 20′ down in all areas of Lake Matano.

The Food

  • Most of the time, we ate the the TAB, which is an abbreviation for something in Indonesian. It is the company subsidized cafeteria. Most times the food was good, but sometimes it was a bit shady. On those days I would order a selection from the grill, usually a steak.
  • I discovered the greatness of ABC brand Sambal. It is a garlicy, spicy sauce that adds great flavor to anything you put it on. I grew so fond of it, I brought home 2 bottles.
  • A couple times we ate at a local restaurant called Pelangi, Indonesian for rainbow. The food there was great and I had a wonderful grilled squid!

The Hash Runs

  • No, this has nothing to do with drugs! 😀
  • A hash run is a run/walk through the jungle. A different path is set every week by the hash hares. You find your way by following trails of shredded paper through rain forest, rocks, mud, and water while trying not to follow any false trails.
  • There are no winners or losers and the only reward is cold water and beer at the end of the hour long adventure.
  • If you are clean when you finish, you cheated somehow.
  • Housekeeping does a wonderful job at cleaning mud soaked tennis shoes and clothes.
  • The first run was fairly dry, but the clay hills get very slippery when damp. I had one fall on my 1st run.
  • On my second run, it had rained the entire day before, so it was very wet. at several points, I stepped in mud that covered my foot up to my ankle. I slipped and fell on my butt twice on that run.
  • After the hash is the On-On, where everyone gathers in a circle and for various reasons people get called to the center to chug a full or mostly full beer. Needless to say, you end up drinking quite a bit…
  • There are Hash Houses all over the world. See if there is one near you…

The PPPP Pub Crawl

  • PPPP stands for Piss Pot Perambulators Pedestrian Pub Crawl
  • At each stop everyone drinks 1-2 beers, depending on the place or how fast you can drink…
  • We started at the Boat Club and took Katinkatinks (a native Indonesian style boat meant for about 2-3 people) with about 15 people on each to the 1st stop, a raft on the other side of the lake.
  • 2nd stop required another Katinkatink ride to Theiss bar on the edge of town…
  • After Thiess bar were trips to CC’s bar, then Colours (which was closed), a trip to Rakmah Satu (Rakmah 1) and then Rakmah Dua (Rakmah 2). Rakmah 2 only had Bali Hai and warm Bintang, so many people headed back to Rakmah Satu for some cold Anker.
  • The 7th stop was Sinar Haripan, a hotel bar and then a hike to Luciana’s and Pelangi (a couple of restaurants). Then another hike to the Golf Club where we had some pizza, courtesy of the TAB.
  • The 10th stop was to a small store near the houses that is the size of many large houses walk-in closets. The final stop was back at the TAB, close to where we started.
  • With 11 stops and average of about 1.25 beers per stop, I would estimate that most people who were drinking beer had 13-14 beers.

Asian Air Travel

  • Overall, Cathay Pacific, despite my flight from Vancouver to Hong Kong on the way there, was a pretty good airline and business class is the only way to fly. They put American Airlines business class to shame!
  • Singapore Airlines and Garuda Indonesia Airlines were both top notch as well. Again, much better than business class on American Airlines.
  • Airline food in the above airlines is actually very good!
  • Free beer in business class really helps you sleep on these long flights. Typically, I can never sleep on the pane for any appreciable amount of time.

General Notes About Indonesia and Soroako

  • You will not find a dumpster there. Most trash ends up on the ground and the downtown areas are very dirty.
  • Airport security guards are not very bright, especially the one who decided to take a nap in a chair while using the barrel of his loaded rifle as a pillow. The top of his head was missing when he wake up a brief second before he died.
  • Bob Barker should never visit Indonesia as the cat population is out of control. There were even cats living on site at the smelter…
  • Indonesian karaoke consists of a bunch of Indonesian songs and some American songs that have been slowed and mellowed into unrecognizable crap and all songs are played at the loudest volume possible at most bars…
  • For what the people have over there and the conditions many of them live in, they seemed very happy and carefree compared to how most from the US or Canada would act living in similar conditions.

For pictures, go to the gallery to have a look around…

I hope that one day Tasha and I can travel to Asia together to see the many beautiful areas of the world that I saw while out on business.

Well, I think I have written enough. If you want to know anything else, email or call 😉

– peeps

4 Weeks and 2 Hashes Later, I Am Headed Home!

Well, the commissioning went fairly well and I am headed home now. Sitting in the business class lounge in Jakarta, tired from the 6am flight out of Soroako this morning…

I miss my honey and my doggies dearly and cannot wait to get home and get back to a normal schedule with them. Although my schedule while in Soroako was very regular, it was VERY far from my normal routine.

I will post more when I get home and can sit and think / write clearly about my first experience in Asia.

– peeps