Honk

An ongoing cultural commentary through the lens of an automobile-centric headspace.

Alternatively known as “what sort of racetrack is this?!”

The Displaced Collection

The Displaced Collection

The Displaced Collection

The Displaced Collection

The Displaced Collection

The Displaced Collection

The Displaced Collection

The Displaced Collection

The Displaced Collection

#gtsport

I'm getting better at replicating this one look, at least.

Extratone Racing Porsche 911 RSR

Extratone Racing Porsche 911 RSR

Extratone Racing Porsche 911 RSR

Extratone Racing Porsche 911 RSR

#gtsport #liveries

An Hour of Bathurst with Kendog0259

In a rare successful attempt at hosting a 60 minute endurance race at Mount Panorama this evening, I ended up having a very satisfying (and sweaty) battle with Kendog0259 in which we traded the lead back and forth in the last 20 minutes of the race.

An Hour of Bathurst with Kendog0259

An Hour of Bathurst with Kendog0259

An Hour of Bathurst with Kendog0259

An Hour of Bathurst with Kendog0259

An Hour of Bathurst with Kendog0259

An Hour of Bathurst with Kendog0259

An Hour of Bathurst with Kendog0259

An Hour of Bathurst with Kendog0259

An Hour of Bathurst with Kendog0259

View the full gallery here.

#gtsport

The legendary racecar made its debut last night and I'm loving it.

Aston Martin DBR9 Extratone Racing Livery WIP

Aston Martin DBR9 Extratone Racing Livery WIP

Working on version 1.0 of my personal DBR9's Extratone Racing livery.

View my full and ongoing DBR gallery here.

I also ran a successful endurance race at Mount Panorama today and streamed it.

An Hour of Bathurst at Night

An Hour of Bathurst at Night

An Hour of Bathurst at Night

An Hour of Bathurst at Night #gtsport

I didn't place all that well in today's Nation's Cup race (the very first.) I doubt I'll be able to participate in tomorrow's first Manufacturer Series race (Gr. 4 cars at Spa,) so I thought I'd record and upload this go. Note how I got too eager and bumped a player off course in the very last corner of the last lap. Disappointed with that. Sorry again. #gtsport

For my first “serious” competitive season in Gran Turismo Sport's FIA-endorsed Manufacturer's Series, I signed with Jaguar instead of Aston Martin. Though there are plenty of silk cut liveries available for the F-Type Gr.3, I chose to use Buckcherry_77's. For the Gr.4 F-Type, I used SAN_GTCONCEPT's.

View the full gallery of my snaps from throughout the season here.

I'm Actually Yelling at Big Ben to Shut The Fuck Up

Though it looks like I'm celebrating, I didn't end up finishing all that well. I'm actually yelling at Big Ben to Shut The Fuck Up.

Leguna Seca's Corkscrew

The corkscrew at Leguna Seca has never been an issue for me – it's everything else. I don't like deserts, California, or the circuit's general layout, honestly.

Training with Turismo_lester

Still, it was cool to have Turismo-lester join my practice lobby. (This was as close as I ever got to him, unsurprisingly.)

#gtsport

There's something incredibly enchanting about endurance racing at night.

Magic at the 2020 Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour Magic at the 2020 Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour Magic at the 2020 Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour Magic at the 2020 Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour #photography #endurance

by David Blue

Martin vs.

Hodges Speedway

It has continued to astound and comfort me tremendously throughout my life that the same redneck-ass institutions of my rural youth – tractor/truck pulls, dirt track racing, demolition derbies, etc. – continue in places such as these, virtually exempt from the tumult of global change. The last time I was in the bleachers, “premium handsets” meant flip phones and many of the junker entries would be considered viable restoration projects, today.

Personally, there is nothing more existentially easing than stumbling upon this bit of car culture now and then, though it always brings up a nagging question: what the hell am I doing in this office? Thank you, Missouri. I’m sorry I talked all that shit in high school. It’s good to be home.


#auto #rural #home #photography

by David Blue

CR-V Sunset

I would argue that this is the best Honda’s CR-V has ever or will ever look, no thanks to my photographic decisions.

After 9 or so years and over 100,000 miles, I have totaled my mother’s 2010 Honda CR-V – the car I drove cross-country for the first time at significant distance (St. Louis to Washington, D.C. in essentially one sitting,) and once complimented for being the best possible aesthetic compromise of its near-universally and aggravatingly-compromised breed. It was my her first 1st owner experience, which is frankly a bit of a shame. If I’m completely honest, my late stepfather’s decision to outfit this utterly utilitarian vehicle with enough kit to break the $30,000 within a segment that has always clung to the 20s as one of its truly communicable advantages feels less-than-ideal in retrospect, but what can I say, really? It was not exactly a proud thing, but it did transport a lot of young families and shelter us as we’ve navigated more blizzard-like conditions than should be the norm for what is, essentially, an expensive, extended Civic.

As per some particulars of my upbringing, I tend to get almost alarmingly attached to vehicles, but it’s hard to say I’m sad to see the CR-V go from all but the most sentimental senses. Objectively, it’s simply not as high-value or as competent a vehicle as it and its contemporaries are still made out to be by automotive media, pop culture, or the presumptions in the average consumer’s discourse. Though it was never intended to be luxurious, the resulting automobile ended up costing real luxury money.

The Event

It’s odd to have been driving so long without incident (pretty soon I’m gonna be able to say “I’ve been driving for twenty years, bitch!) and then suddenly find oneself at fault for the accident which claimed the life of the single most sublime, defining object in his existence. This incident, though, was entirely the fault of the other driver. My best friend and I were Northbound, crossing the intersection of Stadium Boulevard and Rock Quarry Road at precisely the point where it becomes College Avenue, where we were t-boned directly on the CR-V’s driver’s side rear wheel by a mid-2000s Mazda 6 that decided to run the red light. It’s hard to guess the speed of impact, but the driver’s side side airbags deployed (as you’ll see from the attached photograph,) and the CR-V was spun nearly 270 degrees around the axis of the front wheels. Neither of us nor the 6’s driver was injured, but both of our vehicles are surely totaled.

CR-V Fucked

Third-Generation CR-V Ownership in Retrospect

Two or three years ago, I recorded some (not particularly conclusive or informative) thoughts with my iPhone as I drove the old engorged Civic to the grocery store, when ends abruptly after I said “I think one time I did try to go fast.” Like most surviving crossover nameplates, though, the narrative began with a genuinely good idea: Hondarize and modernize the Suzuki Sidekick template on top of the Civic's platform and charge just a bit more for it – and like the rest, too, the concept has soured tremendously as both crossovers and the compact sedans upon which they're based have grown and fattened under their ever-increasing burden of safety and convenience features. (I say “burden” and not “expectation,” specifically because I know a grand total of zero informed people who are at all thrilled about increasing gross weights across every industry segment.)

This CR-V was my mother’s first and only crossover following a three-car line of one or two-owner-used, well-equipped V6 Accords in her garage – the later two from the era when Honda’s mid-sized sedan became a surprisingly dynamic driving machine as advances in drivetrain performance intercepted a point in the developmental timeline just before gross weights spiked up toward their current safety and electronic equipment-bloated figures. (In other words: in the sweet spot when engines were growing more powerful but just before the Accord and its peers got fucking fat.) In 2010, the CR-V was almost attractive looking as specced by my stepfather: the combination of the roof rack, bonnet bra, and EX-trim 5-spoke alloys managed to resolve most of the discrepancies in the shapes I've seen from other examples, but it also drove its price above the $30,000 mark. To be fair to Honda, this decision could almost be considered a sortof breach of function considering the CR-V's original ultra-mass-produced, utilitarian purpose.

Interior

Neither the leather nor the nav/infotainment system has aged very well, but it should be said that the latter is still 100% functional in 2018: it interfaces well with my iPhone 8 Plus with only the occasional “this device is not supported” hiccup (easily resolvable by simply re-booting the connection, in my experience.) I'm not sure how astonished I should be by the fact that the GPS still offers reliable routes 99% of the time, albeit through a user interface design that seems to grow more and more dated by the passing few seconds one may have to wait for it to calculate. Accommodation remains about as uncomfortable as it was on day 1: thanks to its hard leather and the super-upright seating position common to crossovers, I must continue to insist that operating this car is a wholly unnatural experience, but its interior surfaces shall always place well in a contest of robustness and longevity, as they certainly should.

Drivetrain

Perhaps the greatest letdown of this model year (2010) is its legacy four-speed automatic transmission, and I assume the next year's inclusion of a brand-new five-speed unit drastically improved its driving experience. The specific regret one feels when such a development arrives a year after buying any new car is one my stepfather still didn't deserve, yet he was not spared. However, if you, the reader, cannot be dissuaded from buying a CR-V of this generation for whatever goddamned reason, know that you must choose an example from 2011-onward if you want to retain your sanity. No, ye olde four-speed wasn't quite as bad as the transmission that virtually ruined Dodge's new Dart singlehandedly, but it certainly shows its age even for the most inattentive or merciless driver. Without it, I would vouch for the 2.4L four-cylinder's performance as adequate, but its contribution was and forever shall be let down by the aging transmission's developing Alzheimer's. Simply put: they are an unacceptably mismatched team.

Though I shall forever argue that part-time all-wheel-drive is almost never actually justified in normal use – and yet inadequate for any “extreme” use, for that matter – Honda’s hydraulic “Super-Handling All-Wheel-Drive” did indeed aid our CR-V’s way in a handful of circumstances throughout my mother’s ownership, though neither of our memories of these are robust enough to cite specifics. The single no-bullshit blizzard we experienced was the same type I managed to navigate years later in a sub-compact Chevrolet to reach MagFest 2016, if perhaps less intense. I would speculate that the system increases mechanical drag – and therefore fuel consumption – to a degree that couldn’t possibly justify what little aid it has offered in our use, at least.


#auto

by David Blue

Just Really Lame

The recently-discontinued Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet darkly mirrors sentiments first begun with the Pontiac Aztek, narrating Generation X’s decline.

My Nissan wheeltime for Honk has grown a massive respect for the brand’s audacity within me. My interest in the profession has spanned years of maturity — from asking can’t you just…? to active affection for those who dare reliably retort with a confident no.

Can’t you just retire your body-on-frame SUV entries already like everybody else did ten years ago?

The noble, rugged Xterra, which we shall sincerely miss.

Can’t you just follow the Golf’s unquestionably low-risk lead into the tumultuous youth market?

The Juke NISMO, which we regard as the industry’s singular steady grasp on what youth actually means.

Can’t you just take some cues from Honda and Toyota, and make your sedans easy on the eye?

The Altima and the Maxima, which constitute the last truly evil marque available.

Can’t you just step a little lighter on the Versa’s margins? You’d be insane to build a car designed by MSRP alone!

The Versa is — for better or worse — the absolute essence of automobiles’ transportive function, and no more.

And there’s the GT-R, of course, which continues to make fools of an entire culture of self-titled “gearheads” who claim speed as their one true dowry.

CrossCabriolet Blur

Throughout the years, Nissan has over and over again made me look like an absolutely absurd idiot for your display — and I cannot think of a better gift. Of all the brands to misunderstand, it is the ultimate muse.

So, in the present, I am grandiosely assuming you’ve been attentive enough to deliberate the possible outcomes of our time with the Murano CrossCabriolet.

It was quickly apparent that the experience was not going to resemble our Night of the Juke in the slightest. It could be attributed to my pre-game mentality. For the first time, I came to this monstrosity thinking I’d finally learned my lesson,desperately hoping to be whipped again — real bad — but walk away with more closure than with which I arrived. Like a good diplomat, I made myself approach without want for anything but understanding.

On first take, the Xterra was proud, and the Juke was clever.

The CrossCabriolet is a corny joke.

Take a look at an occupied, top-down example from afar. I cannot think of a more ridiculous picture.

CrossCabriolet Driver

Just since its assembly in 2011, our example’s trim has endured enough to begin disintegrating in a few bizarre locales. Not to over-iterate, but it’s needing strong mention: I had never sat in a roofless crossover before. I’m assuming you haven’t, either. It is unnatural. It is harrowing.

From the organization I have summed so many times over the years as “acutely ingenious” came this… unsettling suburban bathtub.

It’s a shame — I repeatedly remark on the extrapolated potential I can see in a roofed Murano. Everything else in sight is worth my time. If only it had been better-protected.

The sensation is simply ridiculous in what’d be a tasteful sense were this a one-off project of some hearty garage tinkerer or tuning shop, but… my God; Nissan delivered it this way, and had the gall to ask $10,000 more for their molestation.

Still, its webpage (in past tense, thank God,) proclaims “the Murano CrossCabriolet was the world’s first and only All-Wheel Drive convertible crossover” in the same language I’d tout the Xterra (may it rest in peace and eternally-inadequate glory) as the last available SUV, in the traditional use of the segment, or the Juke NISMO as the first competently-composed automotive product for millennial youth. Or the GT-R as by far the most effective, high-value instrument for the pursuit of maximum velocity across the ground. And so on.

Pontiac Aztek Concept

The language so assured, the parallels must inevitably be drawn to that cheap joke of the century’s turn… the Pontiac Aztek.

The details of its life story are reliably amusing, should you find yourself mid-research. From the journos’ gasps at its corporately-edgy concept’s unveiling to the weary original steed of Breaking Bad‘s Meth Man, there is a similar lifestyle vehicle thread between the products that weaves an obscure narrative.

My own contribution: after a missed exit outside Galveston just as Azteks first became rentable, my stepfather (the most earnestly late-history Pontiac man who ever lived) took an entirely-unexpected and uncharacteristic 70 mile-an-hour plunge into the choppy grass median after shouting “this is an off-road vehicle!”

As I’m sure you can imagine, it was the single most traumatic event I have ever experienced as the passenger of a motor vehicle, but the damned thing was unscathed, despite having repeatedly chucked us all (fully-belted) into its beige ceiling.

Gary believed in Pontiac.

Though he was keen enough to smell death, he chose to believe in the Aztek.

And you know what? His faith, too, has made me look like an idiot.

That’s what separates the Aztek from ye late CrossCabriolet: it really was a genuinely-bold innovation. Survive the laymen’s idle party chat and crude design critiques, and you’ll find an impressive clarity in its purpose, especially given the context of its conception. In the used market especially, it still represents a characterful, practical, and high-value consideration. And yet — at the expense of themselves — American buyers did not clamor for it like the informed of the populace did. Perhaps it was because the informed — like then-BusinessWeek‘s David Welch — were echoing hopes of a “design renaissance” for General Motors. The renaissance that would not come until the Flush of the Boomer Higher-Ups some eight years later.

Both tales, I think, represent a profound neglect of consumer journalism.

At the turn of the century, though, it was not unusual to go a day without accessing the internet. Today, people are still buying the few flops the industry has left to offer — making what is most likely the second-largest purchase of their life’s current epoch without consulting the volumes of diverse, intelligent, and articulate opining now accessible instantly free of charge via the subsidized slates that lightly jostle in their jean pockets as they wiggle their signatures on dealer paperwork.

Don't Let Go

ALERT: Inbound tennis enthusiasts!

Funny, isn’t it?

An American hit when the Japanese were unquestionably winning, and — just over a decade later — a Japanese miss as their winning had just begun to be questioned. Make no mistake; I am not being patriotic. For me, sovereignty does not extend beyond design houses, R&D facilities, and test centers.And it’s somewhere within Nissan’s where pillars were severed and delusions nurtured; all astoundingly with executives’ blessing. I am terribly and shockingly ashamed to report that my countrymen actually bought them.

As many as 3300 units in the last year of the Mayan calendar. The worst bit, though, is that they all made their way to my particular part of the planet.

I swear to the Sun; I am surrounded.

If you’re familiar with Columbia, Missouri, it does not take more than a moderate imagination to comprehend the sense, as grueling as it is. I see them regularly; once a month, at least. In a town where one can expect to spot a Gallardo in front of Buffalo Wild Wings marred by horrid plastic athletic miniflags wedged in its five-figure doors, they are everpresent reminders that the New Money Effect continues to flourish, unbridled in the Midwestern U.S.

The soft top is always retracted, of course, and the exposed driver is always a sweating middle-aged white woman wearing a light-colored tennis visor. She… they… are always on their way to a match. Doomed to roast forever, I suppose, as there is only one nearby court, as far as I know.

It is disheartening to realize that, now, I see many more of them than Azteks around. Though neither were designed for any tangible “lifestyle,” per se, I am saddened by the shift this minuscule tell indicates in my hometown’s morale. From an (albeit equally-vague) yearning for new adventure in an intriguing new century to an emotionally-destitute jaunt to the court, I have witnessed all of Generation X’s vigor erode procedurally away before my eyes.

CrossCabriolet Rear

Y2K, Great Depression II, an ancient apocalyptic prophecy from one of the wisest civilizations in recorded history… Surely, one of these foretold disasters will finally End it All!

Perhaps Nissan knew that even the well-read of the North American market were, by and large, simply looking for ways to pass the time before the death which they felt so assuredly approached. The number of unanimously-unbuyable prospects available has shrunken to virtually none, and the CrossCabriolet was not much of an investment; not all that highly-engineered, really. Perhaps they felt obligated to entertain us in our delusional way out. Perhaps it was all just an awfully-German prank.

And, if the End of the World is imminent, what’s to stop one, really, from leasing the world’s first and only convertible crossover?

What’s to stop one from playing tennis?

#auto

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