Driving Rant!

It has been 2 days of crappy drivers, so I felt like I should vent…

I have 1 core ideal while driving…try not to screw things up for the guys around you! This covers most every point of driving courteously and I have given a few examples below, in no particular order.

  1. Take opportunities to make maneuvers as they present themself and if they don’t present themself, keep driving until they do…don’t impede traffic because you can’t merge properly.
  2. Don’t cut people off
  3. Don’t pull out in front of someone and go half their speed
  4. Don’t lazily lag behind traffic only to then speed up as you see a light turn yellow…maybe the guy behind you would have like to make it through the light too had you been keeping with the flow of traffic while the light was green.
  5. Don’t sit in a right turn lane when there are 2 other empty lanes going straight. What good does right on red do for me now as I sit behind you when you could have been a nice guy and moved over a lane as you approached the intersection.
  6. Don’t try to enforce the speed limits by driving slow in the left lane, you are not law enforcement.
  7. Occasionally glance in your rearview and if you notice someone coming up behind you…move over! Its the law for slower trffic to keep right!
  8. Learn how to work a 4 way stop efficiently!!!
  9. Don’t react to stuff that isn’t your problem. If I get an opportunity to pass you because I want to drive faster than you, don’t react to me passing you…my world doesn’t revolve around you! I have no problem with you and could care less if you are driving the speed limit! I just want to drive faster than you because I enjoy it and my car just sped past you like a bat outta hell not because I was irritated with you but because it has 400 frickin’ hp and it CAN speed past you. You give me some smart ass reaction to my desire to drive and my wish to just drive changes to my wish to annoy you for as long as possible.

I’ll give a few examples that happened today…

  • 4 way stop, cars on 3 sides, all stopped. I’m sitting on deck to make my move at the stop. Car in front of me goes, I move up. In the time that it took me to move up, the car opposite my direction was turning left and never made a move. The car to the left that was stopped before me never made a move either. As I stopped, I notice their lack of action so I go and receive dirty looks from both of them! Don’t get mad at me because you can’t work a 4 way stop efficiently!!! Use the actions of the other cars as your cue to get a move on. Guy across from you has a left turn signal and you are going straight? Pull out there and let the guy pull along side and turn behind you and vice versa if you are the guy turning left. Guy at 90 degrees from you to the right enters the intersection? Make your move out into the intersection as he passes you instead of waiting for him to fully clear the intersetion….he no longer presents a threat to you!
  • 50 mph road…don’t slow down to 5mph and expect to cross 2 lanes to make it to the left turn lane. Continue on down the road until you can move over safely and make a u-turn or turn into a lot so you can wait for traffic to clear so you can make your turn safely. You screwed up by not changing lanes properly! Don’t screw me up in the process because the traffic around us is moving at 10 times your speed and leaves me no option to maneuver around you!!! Maybe partially my fault for not changing lanes quick enough to get around you and failing to follow my rule #1 above, but seriously!!! 5mph in a 50mph zone to cross 2 lanes of rush hour traffic?!?!?!
  • A witness to me laying on my horn behind above 5mph guy flips me off! Dude, it wasn’t your problem so stay out of it…but guess what…it is your problem now! So don’t get irritated when I get in front of you now and give you a problem by harassing you. Don’t react to stuff that isn’t your problem. If I get an opportunity to pass you because I want to drive faster than you, don’t react to me passing you…my world doesn’t revolve around you! I have no problem with you! I just want to drive faster than you because I enjoy it and my car sped past you like a bat outta hell not because I was irritated but because it has frickin’ 400 hp and it CAN speed past you. You give me some smart ass reaction to my just wanting to drive and my wish to just drive changes to my wish to annoy you for as long as possible.

Anyways, those are just the ones that happened today…let me know your driving pet peeves by commenting below…

– peeps

A Pair of Pliers and a Blowtorch

…and I still didn’t fix the problem. Who knew Tarantino’s methods were good for fixing broken mechanical things, not just for torture?

My shifter on the Goat had a weird rattle to it, so yesterday I decided I would take it apart to see if I could track down the rattle. To get at the shifter, there are 4 nuts underneath the car above the transmission that hold the rubber boot that fits over the shifter mechanism to the floor. I was able to get to 3 of them without much hassle but the 4th was just out of reach. I ended up being able to get the boot out without the 4th nut off, so all was good for now. I saw some debris sitting in the old pivot point for the stock shifter and thought that may have been the cause of the rattle. I got all of it cleared away and then noticed the handle of my shifter had a bit of play in the lower 2 bolts, so I decided I would try to re-tighten them. It was already pretty tight, so that didn’t help. Since there was still some play in it, I decided I would take the bolts out and replace them. As I was taking the 1st of 2 out I started to struggle due to the red loctite we had used when installing the shifter since these bolts are notorious for coming loose. To get ssome more leverage, I got out my breaker bar to really show it who was boss and as I tried to turn it, it gave and it sheared right off! I took the rest of the shifter apart so I could work on it outside the car and tried to get the sheared off bolt out with some vise-grips on the threaded portion that was still protruding out of the threaded handle. All that did was tear up that portion of the bolt. By this time it was time to head out to Jason’ party for swimming, eating, and drinking which I figured would be a nice escape after a frustrating day. After showing all the GTO guys at the party the handle, they all just said it would come out with a bit of heat to break the hold of the red loctite.

So after a night of chillin’, I went out to the store to get a torch. After wrestling with it for about 30 minutes using the torch and the vise-grips, I was FINALLY able to get the damn thing out. Now that I could get the handle back together, I had to figure out how to get that pesky 4th nut for the boot ring removed. After battling claustrophobia and frustration from trying to work in close quaters under the car with my arm and hand in tight spaces, I begged Tasha to get on some grubby clothes and see if she could snake her arm and hand up there with a wrench to get it out. Sure enough, she was just itty bitty enough to get the job done.

With that out of the way, I got it all back together enough to drive it but still troubleshoot, got Tasha to get the 4 nuts back on, and was ready to take it for a drive to see if the rattle that started this whole ordeal was gone. After a quick drive down the road, I realized I had gone through all that for nothing…it was still there! So I got Tasha in the passenger seat to listen and feel for the rattle while I drove. Sure enough, it is the washers on the other 2 bolts that seem to be loose despite the bolts holding the handle nice and tight. Those guys are red loctited in also, so I just gave up. I put it all back together to tackle another day. Now that I know to just “go to work on the holmes here with a pair of pliers and a blowtorch” I should have a less eventful fix the next time around…

Now for my remaining 3 hours of defensive driving that I had planned to start this morning…only 6 days left to finish it and I am out of town for 3 of those!

– peeps

1,460 Days with a SEG!!!

The supercharged Roush Mustang on the tollway today witnessed my SEG. He had one too as we hit ~120mph.

Well, today I have had my car for exactly 4 years and stomping my right foot to the floor never seems to get old. I try and try to wear that pedal out, but it just keeps asking for more. No matter how much I flog it, it just asks for more even after 66,000 miles!

I just want to say thanks for the fun times, GTO…THANKS!!!!!!

So how about an update?

So, here is what we have been up to the last couple months.

August
We spent a couple days tubing the Guadeloupe River (actually the Comal one day which wasn’t as fun) with some GTO buddies. It was fun to do 2 river days back to back and now that we have tubed the Comal, I can’t say we will ever try it again. The Guadeloupe is just SOOO much better. Natural rapids, less developments around, etc. After a weekend tubing the river, we spent a day or so in San Antonio checking out the Alamo, Natural Bridge Carverns, and the Riverwalk since it had been a while since we were down that way. From San Antonio, we headed towards Galveston (despite tropical storm Edouard hitting the area at the time. We killed some time on the way there at the Spoetzel Brewery where the lovely Shiner beers are brewed. If you have never been, I suggest you take the trip down to Shiner next time you are in the area to check it out. They give you 4 little cups of free beer and the tour is pretty cool too. We spent the rest of the week and weekend in Galveston at BJ and Jim’s beach house on the Bolivar Peninsula soaking up the sun, chilling out, and celebrating with friends. It was great to get away for such a long time and enjoy what would turn out to be probably our last trip to that beach house (thanks alot Ike! We enjoyed that place!!!!) More on that later… Rae and Hugh came back and spent the following weekend with us and we went to a place in Denton and saw a cool old man sing the blues!

During that trip, we “adopted” an addition to our family. With Rae and Hugh heading on a couple month vacation around Central America and then headed to Asia for who knows how long, Rae’s little doggie Darwin (a 7 lb Crested Malt) needed a place to hang while they were out gallivanting all over the world. We of course welcomed him in. So far, he has been a trip! Watching him and Jester play just cracks us up and the way he barks at ANY animal on the TV is always worth a laugh.

Mid-August, I took another trip to Indonesia that I covered while on my way there, so you can read all about that below. Jakarta was quite different than the places I had stayed before in Indonesia, but not different enough… 😀 Traffic is INSANE there!!!!

At the end of August, our friends Doug and Renee had their 3rd child…Cade Carson! We went up to the hospital to visit the day after he was born (since I was flying back in from Indonesia the day he was born). I’m sure he will grow to be just as fun as his siblings!

September
We spent a weekend in Austin and Burnet a couple weeks ago for Sara’s baby shower and Lisa’s birthday. I got to see Byron, who informed me that he and Christy are expecting! We chilled at Sara’s house for the shower while enjoying good food an good company. For Lisa’s birthday we drove into Kingsland to eat at the Junction House. While we were out that direction we drove out to see the Rybaski lake house…not sure if they still live there, but it still looked nice!

Last weekend was Kai’s 1st birthday party (son of our friends Charity and Greg). He got all sorts of cool toys! Ahh to be a kid again!

This coming weekend we are doing the Texas Motor Speedway Laps for Charity again! It is always fun! Hopefully they give a bit more room to stretch the Goat’s legs this time!

In sad news, Hurricane Ike let loose on the Bolivar Peninsula and wiped out much of the area. After scouring the web, I found the aftermath photos of BJ and Jim’s house. It looked like it was still standing, but likely had lots of roof damage and no telling what else. They will head down there once they are allowed to check things out and gather whatever they can salvage. I guess that is always the chance you take when owning Gulf property, I just wish Ike had chose somewhere else! Good luck to them while getting through this.

I am loving that football season is here now, although I know Tasha isn’t nearly as excited. She pretends to like it to humor me…she is a trooper! That’ why I love her! 😀

Well, that’s all I have for now…Hook ’em! and Go Cowboys!

– peeps

Absense DOES make the heart grow fonder…

Now this won’t be some sappy post about how much I love my wife (which is immeasurable by the way 😀 ). Although I’m sure she would love that. 😉

No, this is about a longing you feel only when deprived of the pavement pounding, rubber burning, gas guzzling, adrenaline pumping acceleration that gives you that SEG (shit eating grin) every time you tap the right pedal of the 400 hp beast known as the 2005 GTO.

After 3 1/2 weeks of being gone to Indonesia and doing basically no driving, I almost forgot how much fun my Goat is to drive…the key word there is ALMOST! I was itching to get back to that sweet, sweet, rumbling Torrid Red monster.

Since I have been back the past 2 weeks, I think I have sat in Tasha’s car maybe 2 times. Its not that her car isn’t nice. I just can’t say no to the GTO begging me to stretch her long legs after 3 1/2 weeks without any “exercise”. The only day she saw sunlight for the time I was gone was on the day Tasha took her in to get the windows tinted (thanks again honey!).

I went back today and read my post that has the Autoextremist review of the 2005 GTO and after having the car for 2 years, I still think this article is spot on! The juice is DEFINITELY worth the squeeze!

It is a shame that the current generation GTO production has stopped. I can only hope the next generation invokes the same feelings in anyone that has the privilege to drive one. Long live the Goat! 😀

– peeps

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