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The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

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On: Fri, Jul 16, 2010 at 4:02PM | By: John Welch

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

I was skeptical at first. I saw the name "Dallara" and, like most of the sheep watching the Izod IndyCar Series 2012 announcement, I was immediately put off to the point of nausea. A day or two has passed, and I have let the idea of "Lego Cars" roll around in my tiny brain for several evenings. My opinion has changed, somewhat, and I would be glad to lay it out for you. In case you don't have any clue what I'm talking about, we will cover the new IndyCar rules in depth inside the post.

Where are all the disasters? Is it just me or has the auto-doom media train slowed down a little bit? This really isn't a bad thing; the fewer recalls the better. It just makes finding actual "news" a little tougher. Good? Bad? I'm not sure . .  discuss amongst yourselves . . .

Hybrid wheel designs are stuck in the 20th century. Supposedly they have to be manufactured using aluminum, and supposedly aluminum has to be blocky and chunky and downright eye-offending in order to support the weight of an automobile. Usually, a rather diminutive automobile. Bull-honky; we explore awful hybrid rims and some decent designs, inside the post.

The Good: So, who remembers Play-Mobile? Though not quite as complicated as Legos, Play-Mobiles were the other Western European construction toy that we all drooled over as children. The new IndyCar is, in essence, a giant Play-Mobile. Teams are free to mix and match body parts and aero devices as they see fit . . . to a point.

Teams must purchase a mono-coupe chassis from Dallara, a chassis that will be built next door to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Good for America! There is no denying that Dallara is trying to help out the good 'ole US of A; it doesn't hurt that this manufacturing facility is probably what won the chassis contract for Dallara over its main competitors, BAT-Engineering, Swift Race Cars, Lola, and Delta-Wing Race Cars. Mind you, the losing companies are still more than welcome to build aero-kits for Dallara's chassis, and Lola, for one, definitely will do so.

The video below reveals some of Dallara's ideas for aero-kits . . . and here I get upset again. Some of these concepts, the hideous shark-finned road course model specifically, are appalling, and obviously are just for show. Also, having watched F1 teams attach higher and higher raised noses to their cars, I think wings connected directly to the body/nose of the car is off-putting at best. At worst it represents an absolute refusal to march into the 21st century. I may be wrong about that, we'll have to wait and see what an actual, fully-kitted IIC car looks like. Expect such avehicle to make its debut sometime around December of 2011. The poles shift their axis faster than this car will be built. More info on the new, 4- or 6-cylinder power plants as it becomes available . . .

The Bad: Over the course of the last year we have been able to bring you bad news from every corner of the auto-industry, fairly regularly. What happened?! Bad news is still news, and without it we have little to discuss. Of course, we love autos, and will always find something to write about, but geez, American automakers are making quality cars again, they're topping their foreign counterparts in quality AND profit-generation surveys, Toyota is fixing more than it is accelerating unintentionally anymore, and Tex Whitacre Jr. just plain doesn't say stupid things, ever. How can I work with all this harmony??!

It makes my job slightly tougher, but in the grand scheme of things, this lack of bad news is an excellent sign of recovery, both for the industry and our country. Either that or BP just has us all so pissed off we overlook Ford executive shuffles. Or GM sending Susan Docherty to Timbuktu. Or more strikes at Chinese auto plants. Or that awful doofus that wrecked his gleaming, solid chrome Shelby Cobra . . . damn, I guess the news is the news, good or bad . . .

Trying to start a discussion with this one, Felluhs: do you think the industry is on the way up? Do you think the media is just being controlled by corporate Puppet-Masters? Lobbyists? The Ghost of Harley Earl? Buick has been doing well lately; surely that little tidbit raises some conspiracy-theorists eye brows? Let me know what you think in the comments . . . or don't; I don't need your approval!

The Ugly: I am so sick of hybrid cars, in general, but one thing that really sticks in my craw are the awful rolling-stock automakers shod these nickel-wasting ess-boxes with. Drew made an astute observation this morning: "The Civic Hybrid's wheels look just like the blades in the food processor I just got rid of!" Yes they do! Hideous!

Making thinner spokes out of aluminum shouldn't be that hard, but apparently it is. Has anyone noticed the strangely attractive spokes underneath the 2010 Toyota Prius's oogey wheel covers? There are actual, attractive rims under there! I'll be damned . . .

I know it isn't impossible to put a nice rim on a hybrid; GM is doing just that on its line of hybrid pick-ups! Look to the image gallery; how can a massive pick-up don spokes when a tiny, near-city car has to lug around such awful, spinning kitchen devices? The world may never know . . .

Photo Gallery (click a thumbnail to enlarge)


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