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Linux Powered Dodge 147

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the picture-of-calvin-pissing-on-auto-logo-goes-here dept.
Dan Koppenheffer writes "Wow! Linux (and Java) underlies the Dodge Super8 concept cars's Infotronic information/entertainment system. " The car looks pretty terrible, but hey, embedded Linux! You'd have to be a lot more careful hacking on that system, then, say, your Tivo. (Segmentation Fault: Welcome to Idaho)
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Linux Powered Dodge

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Bad news:http://www.theautochannel.com/ has the full length
    press confference videos for all the new concept cars (and the rest of the 2001 models, too).

    Good news: free, no registration, uncut footage.
    Bad news: you need Microsoft Media Player.

    follow the links to 2001 auto shows, NAIAS...
  • by Anonymous Coward
    a beowulf convoy of these?
  • Wow thinking like this is the reason SUVs are popular and there is a gas shortage.

    The reason SUVs are popular is CAFE, which are the fleet fuel efficiency standards, enforced by the federal government.

    The effect of CAFE has been the elimination of station wagons and full-size automobiles. In the place of those vehicles, people have switched to buying (even bigger) SUVs.

    Unintended consequences.

    --

  • Bah. Just give us a rear-wheel drive Intrepid with a nice big V-8 engine in it and forgo all this fancy embedded Linux crap.
  • I fail to understand how my comment is off topic? This is an appropriate expression related to a comment on the styling of a vehicle referred to in the story.

    Please allow me to explain. If one fails to understand the language of marketing we risk becoming a pawn both as product consumers and as a community of Linux users and programmers.

    I endeavoured to highlight a current marketing trend used to exploit non-critical minds, but alas I was too subtle for our moderator.

  • "It's called safety through being bigger than everyone else"

    That's complete BS. Only an ignorant person would claim such a thing. Occupants of most of the American SUVs on the roads are more likely to sustain injuries, or to sustain worse injuries in the event of a crash. That's a proven fact. All those big vehicles do is give you a false sense of security.
  • NO, it means the computer is run off coffee, just like its driver! :)
  • I'll be damned if I can find it now, but I saw a picture of the Nissan Fusion concept [cardesignnews.com] that had a Windows 95 login screen on the in-dash display. I seriously doubt it was for real; whoever did the paste-up in Photoshop got the edges of the dialog totally askew to the edges of the screen. But damn, don't scare me like that, Nissan! I've been soooo looking forward to the new Z. [cardesignnews.com] Windows 2000, I could live with, but not 95!

    I hate to admit it, but the Super 8 is the first Chrysler concept in a long time that I thought was anything less than awesome. In a way, it was inevitable. Chrysler design has been living on the edge for years. The Super 8 finally pushed them over. At least Chrysler will have the good sense to not put something that ugly into production. [pontiac.com]

    If you're looking for something easier on the eyes, try the aforementioned Z, or the Chrysler Crossfire. [cardesignnews.com]

    We're not scare-mongering/This is really happening - Radiohead
  • They aren't hacking the car's CPU at all.

    Linux is running on it's own SuperH board (four of them in this vehicle), and these embedded systems are (likely) just the Infotronic system. The computers that handle RPM/Speed-limit and another other functions related to the operation of the vehicle are part of much more critical real-time systems!

    This is a definately a separate entity that doesn't have anything to do with a car "crashing," either.
  • Your arguments are so absurd as to not require detailed response, but for some of these I simply can't resist. See what you've made me do?

    2. You are still concerned about Communism for some reason. Perhaps you stopped following politics after Reagan lost.

    When, exactly, did Reagan lose? Not at all after 1980, in my timeline. Perhaps you mean the fall of the Soviet Union. If you think that was the last we've seen of Communism, friend, you are sadly mistaken. There's still Robert Mugabe in Rhodesia, Castro, the North Koreans, Western Europe, and Canada, not to mention Maoist Senators from California and New York.

    3. You think larger wheel diameter improves handling.

    Watch much rally? Wherever road conditions permit, larger wheels with lower-profile tires are used. Shorter sidewalls are a handling win. To maintain total diameter, the wheel size is increased.

    5. You think that foreign countries do not have mountains. Actually, the largest mountains in the world are not in the USA. They are in southern Asia.

    And what car, exactly, is most commonly driven by the Sherpas up and over the Himalayas? I'm sure that if they are in common use yet, they have large, high-torque engines - very different from the little econoboxen used in Quebec and London.

    6. You are physically challenged to the point of exhaustion when operating a motor vehicle.

    Or perhaps I routinely drive longer distances than Europeans, or even Americans of the Eastern persuasion.

    7. You may be going deaf, as you seem to prefer keeping your bitchy, nagging hausfrau(s) close to your right ear.

    Or perhaps I have a wife worth snuggling.

    BONUS: You seem to have forgotten about the following -- Ferrari F40, F50, 355, 360, 550.

    Low production, high priced toys for would-be Andrettis, every one. In zero-population-growth countries where nobody has any kids, perhaps two-seat coupes are acceptable. In my country, however, life is good enough that we would like to perpetuate the species, hence the need for four doors and ample seating.

    Enough. The moderators have spoken. I am funnier than you are, sir. Good day, and if I see you on the street I shall kick you.

  • I like to see when bug companies use linux for things like this it helps put the idea of linux of being a toy out of people's heads.
  • Of course, mondern all wheel drive is far better than only front or rear wheel drive. Note that I'm *not* talking about four wheel drive that can really suck on things like Jeeps etc.

    Please don't argue with me, I already know I'm right! :)

  • You've misused the phrase, "begs the question." You have the right to remain silent, etc. etc.

    Here [drury.edu] is a discusion of how to actually use the phrase correctly so you won't make a fool of yourself in public again in this way.

    Hey, I'm just doing my job, but you're welcome anyway!

  • by pivo (11957)
    It's related because /. is a hive of raving anti-Java, anti-OOP amatures who will say anything to discredit either technology.
  • That is the most spectacularly ugly car I've seen since the Slashdork car. Gaudy and stupid looking, it's the perfect car for most 'Merkins.
  • All I can say is icky. Honestly this car looks like crap. The design looks a pickup that crunched down. *wretch*
  • SUVs are safer than smaller cars.

    I wouldn't go that far. SUVs have been shown to have a much higher rollover rate than a normal sized car. Rollovers are very bad.

    I can understand SUVs for many people. It is the loosers in LA who buy SUVs because they are hip which give them a bad name. I was recently in Texas on business, the client commented that "thats the state car of Texas" pointing to an SUV. I replied it is the same in LA, except in Texas you actually have mud on the car. (ie it is actually used for what it is meant for)
  • Someone in Chrysler's design department really likes the 30/40/50 era of cars (not a big car nut, so not positive on exact era). The PT Cruiser and this are definately influenced by that period. Just as long as we don't start getting those giant fins again...
  • Not a problem. Welding the doors shut is an afternoon project, but if you can find one that was used on the show, you have a better than even chance of them already being welded shut.

    I think it's J.M. Whitney that sold, and still sells the horn used on the show. The biggest problem is 8.1 miles per gallon of 102 octane gasoline. The 440 Magnum is a sweet performer, but it eats like a line-backer.

    The biggest problem remains finding one, at a price the Significant Other will allow. Especially now, with a Significant Rug Rat around.

    --
  • Amen. I drive a 1990 Caprice, bought used. It started out life as a State Police cruiser, and it's fun as hell to drive. Handles like a dream. Corners so much better than FWD.

    Still, I would consider trading it for a 1969 Dodge Charger R/T, we all know why.

    --
  • "Oh, no. Those litter bugs just got on a boat! We'll never catch them now!"

    "Incorrect, Michael. Look, a scenic footpath that is just wide enough for me given my precision driving program."

    "You're right! Precision Driving Mode activate!!!"

    --
  • You're probably going to get a NullPointerException than segmentation fault... which begs the question: if you're going to just run Java, why Linux vs. some embedded device from Sun or others?
  • Who cares about linux in a concept car... check out the sidebar: Dodge stock cars to be used in NASCAR next season! And by teams that actually win sometimes, unlike Pontiac drivers. This sure will be interesting after decades of being dominated by chevy and ford.

    -Chris
    Geek first, Redneck second

    .
    ...More Powerful than Otto Preminger...
  • by scode (22551)
    How are script kiddies in any way related to Java?
  • You clueless anti-Java people need to shut up.

    The ONLY reason Java is not TRADITIONALLY suitable for a real-time system is because of the garbage collection. HOWEVER, there ARE real-time garbage collection algorithms, and I'm told there are already real-time JVMs in existense.
  • I would argue that in embedded aps most of the reasons that make open source so applicable in the computer world fall out.

    Would RMS not use a TV because it had software controlling it that was not opensource? What advantage does it give the user to have the sourcecode to the TVs controller? Since the device isn't really reprogrammable, and is an embedded, fixed function device, the actual source license becomes rather meaningless.

    But what becomes rather meaningfull, is copyright. If another manufacturer were to reverse engineer, steal code, and then use it in their competing product, the original author of that code would have warrent for complaint. Especially if he didn't get any credit or advantage from the code thiefs.

    Point is: the moral arguments used by the FSF against closed source fall out of the window when applied to this type of device. And since a lot of this code is writtin in assembly anyway(or at least that I've seen), in a way, it is already kindof opensource.

  • You admit to going to car shows?

    Heh.
    --

  • What's with the marketing blurb used on the website...

    "The goal of the "Infotronic" system is to provide Infotainment, Edutainment and Entertainment services that meet the lifestyle of each individual driver or passenger. "

    So now I'll not only be driving a seriously ugly car, but it will be simultaneously feeding me adverts that it thinks I will like based on my "lifestyle"...

    How in heck is it going to know anything about my lifestyle? Is it going to require me to fill in a lifestyle questionnaire before I can start the engine? And what do those words mean?

    Infotainment - Information that is entertaining. So it won't tell me "You are now wasting gas at 2MPG" or "There is a problem with the Brakes" because they are not entertaining. Instead it will tell me "You are now passing the largest stockist of Microsoft software in the state of Oregon" as everyone in marketing knows that Geeks like Software...

    Edutainment - Educational facts that are entertaining? What the photon is this? I get to find out about stuff I couldn't care less for, because they think I want to know...

    Entertainment - AAAARRRGGGGGHHHH it's going to force feed more adverts to me on the grounds that they are entertaining. At least this one is a real word.

    Zwack...

    p.s. The car looks like they took the worst of 50's and 90's design, combined them and said "hey that looks good" If I see one of these on the street I'll probably barf on it... it will improve the paint job.
  • After reading this article about the HEMI dodge I was curious what the rest of Mopar was cooking up. Turns out chrysler has a new HEMI concept car as well. Hmmm. in addition to various other concept cars that, well, look better than dodge's. Except the charger r/t. I like that one. If for nothing else than just that they're bringing the charger back!

    http://www.mopar.com

    check it out.
  • by namgorf (28374)
    Super 8, if I'm correct, is in reference to much older 8 cylinder engines. Not to the film.
  • I went and read the article and thought it looked quite neat. Brings back some of the great styling of the mid 1900's. Sure it's not absolutely amazing and the wheels are a bit excessive, but overall it's a pretty cool idea. Besides, they've finally brought back HEMI!

    I think I'll stick to my '49 Dodge with it's bulletproof straight-six though. Despite this super8 sort of *looking* like a classic car. It's still a new car that most likely will be snapped up by trend-conscious yuppies.

    I can't imagine them selling it for less than $40,000 so that rules out us ordinary folk who don't want to spend that much money on that thing when you can spend half that and get yourself a really nice street rod.

    Regardless, I don't think it's that bad. Certainly not deserving of hundreds of "Oh barf!", "Horrible!" and "Hideous!" posts. Keep in mind that when compared with *most* cars these days it's brilliant. Honestly I'm really disapointed in the auto industry after about 1975. All these little mental boxes with no styling whatsoever. Oh well. I guess that's how it goes. Cudos to mopar for at least *trying* get some CHARACTER back into their cars. Even if it is just a cheap shot to get all the 50 year old ex-hotrodders turned corporate executives to buy overpriced cars...
  • I replied it is the same in LA, except in Texas you actually have mud on the car. (ie it is actually used for what it is meant for)

    Even as a rabid Texan I have to call you on this. On a recent return trip to Dallas I was nearly run off the road by a single person in an Excursion, who was watching a movie on three! screens, and talking on the cell phone. Of the other cars on the road nearly 20% are SUV's and I can assure you that 95% never see any off-road usage (outside of spoiled teenagers going muddin'). There's no need outside of status for such auto's, except maybe that you don't want to be killed by one. Welcome to America, where we take our arms build-up to the streets!
    --
  • I wonder if they are gonna give the source out on CD when you buy the car?
  • Did it ever occur to you that maybe those environmentalists you make fun of are right?
    That notion was considered briefly, but was rejected in light of the arguments against it. Go read Environmental Overkill [barnesandnoble.com] or Trashing the Planet [barnesandnoble.com] sometime.
    Some Americans spend so much time being angry that an environmentally-conscious person has determined something they like to do is harmful that they never stop to wonder whether that person might actually be right.
    Given the track record of the environmentalist wackos in the past (remember when they said we were headed into a new Ice Age?), I'd say we have damn good reason to be skeptical.
  • Wow thinking like this is the reason SUVs are popular and there is a gas shortage.
    It's called safety through being bigger than everyone else. It's also called living in a free country, instead of letting the environmentalist wackos dictate that we all drive tin-cans-on-wheels that do 0-60 in five minutes, fall apart if you look at them the wrong way, and put you in mortal danger in what would otherwise be a minor fender-bender.
    I cant think of a well designed american car. American cars are either designed to show how small their owners brains are or how short their dicks are.
    ...and your average stickered-up rice burner isn't? Yeah, right. My Cutlass [worldzone.net] has gone 24 years already, and will still be hauling ass when your Civic has long rotted away in some junkyard.
  • There is a reason why no one makes good cheap engines with alot of horsepower. It's not cheap to make an engine like that. You make putting two four cylinder engines together sound easy. There is a tremendous amount of engineering that goes into engines this is the whole reason that the huge (up to 8L) american engines of the 60's and 70's were so successfull. They were cheap. There was very little enginerring. I'm all for technology solving our problems, but If I can afford a 5.7L cammaro but I can't afford a porche boxter(which has 70 less HP) I wonder which I'm going to buy. BTW the camaro 5.7LV8 gets 19city mpg.
  • >who care about 'normally aspirated'

    those that care about reliability. turbo/super charged engines run hotter and have been shown to be less reliable. In fact just recently I test drove an older mitsubishi eclipse turbo and it was shitty. Pluss putting a turbo on your car will void your waranty. None of these cars come with the turbo stock. Besides didn't Mitsubishi stop making the lacer evo.

    RWD vs FWD

    There's a little something that both FWD and AWD vehicles have in common, it's called understeer.
    The only time an AWD car will be faster is when it has an engine with a HUGE amount of power, and then it will only be faster when starting from a stop(less likely to peel out with 4 wheels.). The other time it will be faster is on a slippery surface where RWD sucks hard.
    2-wheel drive vehicles get better milage(but then again so do 4cyl engines).

  • The best attempt at this that I have seen is the new Toyota MR2 spyder. IIRC Mid-engine and weighs around 2000 lbs with 135 hp. Not bad for a convertable for $23,000. Although the dealers have been marking them up much higher.
  • Read your own post 178BHP do you know of any big engines that get 100HP/Liter that are normally aspirated and not made by Ferrarri,Lotus,Bentley,...etc. No I didn't think so. Probably the best ratio on alot of horsepower in an affordable car is Ford Cobra Mustang's 4.6Liter gets 320 horsepower.
  • And it's a Hemi to boot!

    Heh, first thing I did after clicking on this story is CTRL-F, "BigBlockMopar" (-:
  • by mal3 (59208)
    That's NOT an Impala. It's the Malibu XLT. A real Impala is a rear wheel drive V8.

  • Why not use real, it can run on windows AND linux.
    ---
  • A RWD car with snow tires will do as well as a FWD car. I had a 1971 Plymouth Valiant. Me and p*ssy were mutually-exclusive during that period, slant-6 or not. It was an ugly car that repelled women but you could drive it 25,000 miles without changing the oil and not hurt the engine. Try doing that to one of those sissified cars today and it will sue your ass.
  • by mach-5 (73873)
    Yes, and we all know that a BSoD is more common than a Seg Fault.

    Add this T-shirt to the T-shirt site: "I'd rather see a seg fault than a BSoD"
  • Now all you distributed number crunching addicts will be forced to continually drive your car in order to inflate your stats!

    -Puk
  • I personnaly get tired of every car looking the same.
  • (Segmentation Fault: Welcome to Idaho)

    . . . it would be a Private crash, if it were to happen.


    Rafe

    V^^^^V
  • It'd be a convoy! Sure they wouldn't crash, but would you have to recompile the kernel to change into 4WD??? joab "take my wife please"
  • > Still, I would consider trading it for a 1969 Dodge Charger R/T, we all know why.

    Only if you weld the doors shut and get a horn that plays 'Dixie'...

    We're bought and sold for corporate gold

  • Testify brother! And actually this car seems to help with the SUV problem since these features might make it more popular with those that might otherwise buy SUV's. I understand the desire for an SUV but I sure hate not being able to see around them on the road, and there are sure a lot of people driving them that seem unskilled with the larger mass.......go Dodge. Seems strange that these guys have been leading the way in design for the last ten years but someone's got to do it. Kinda makes me remember those halycon days of the early 70's when MOPAR was king......

    and uhh, yea, embedded Linux to boot, yay Open Source!

  • The best car I ever had for the snow was a '71 Volvo (rear wheel drive) with 4 bald tires. I had to work at it to get stuck in that car. I've never had a front drive car that handled as well in the snow as that old hunk 'o junk.
  • At least it doesn't look as bad as the PT Cruiser (aka "Rolling Rectum").

    -Legion

  • It's also called living in a free country, instead of letting the environmentalist wackos dictate that we all drive tin-cans-on-wheels that do 0-60 in five minutes, fall apart if you look at them the wrong way, and put you in mortal danger in what would otherwise be a minor fender-bender.

    Did it ever occur to you that maybe those environmentalists you make fun of are right? Just because you don't want to do something doesn't mean your point of view is morally right. Here's an idea: you go ruin the environment up Mars, and I'll stay on the Earth. Until that happens, show a little fuckin' respect for the Earth.

    Some Americans spend so much time being angry that an environmentally-conscious person has determined something they like to do is harmful that they never stop to wonder whether that person might actually be right.

  • It looks like a god-awful, ugly as sin version of the audi tt.
  • Okay, if you have poor directional stability in RWD and snow, *let off the gas!*

    I think that is inherently the problem. It usually happens when I am trying to accelerate, and I try to accelerate very slowly mind you, but a sudden slipperier section of road knocked me out. Letting off the gas doesn't do much for me, I am not sure if I even have the response time.

    My very main beef with RWD systems is that in itself. IMO they just don't handle very well at all when you have sudden and unpredictable changes in road conditions. The other is that they get stuck easier, I have a friend that owns a Mark VIII and one time he didn't bother to stop by our house because we had some snow in his driveway, a concious decision made *bacause* it was RWD. He passed us and went home only to get stuck in his own driveway. The weight and the power are in totally different places and if the snow isn't perfectly manicured one can run into trouble if you have little momentum. Putting weight in the back is a poor hack at best, IMO. At least the truck has 4WD to make up for it.
  • I think the handling issue is _much_ more of a platform issue than simply FWD / RWD / AWD.

    From 1984 to maybe recently Chrysler made at least one FWD car that outcornered every GM car made up until maybe the C5 (current model) Corvette, as I have been tracking the cornering and slalom ratings in car magazines for quite a while. I have scared people with the way it corners, even with tall tires.

    It was the humble Laser / Datona platform, when both cars shared pretty much the same body. Later Lasers were built on a Mitsubishi body style, I believe they handled just about as well. I think the current Neon sport package can outhandle most cars even at twice the price.

    I have driven RWD vehicles in unpredictable icy winter conditions with much less luck. Once my rear wheels slipped I had much less directional stability than I would desire, I ended up in the ditch far more often than with FWD vehicles (well 2 and 0), even with a decent weight balance on the rear tires.

    Even if I lost traction on an FWD vehicle, I still had momentum, a similar situation would put me in a tailspin on a typical RWD system. The argument that loosing drive traction means loosing steering power on FWD systems don't mean much to me because of the way most diffs are set up. If the diffs were positraction I think I might have much better luck but they aren't on many vehicles that I have noticed.
  • Just curious, has anyone tried hacking the embedded system powering recent (1999+)Jeep/Durango/Caravan trip computers? I would _love_ to have a 'screensaver' instead of just the compass + temp.. Heck, even horizontal space invaders using the garage door opener buttons would be cool ;)

    Your Working Boy,
  • SUVs have been shown to have a much higher rollover rate than a normal sized car. Rollovers are very bad.

    Indeed, as Sho Funaki might say. It is necessary to drive SUVs with proper respect for their center of gravity. It's like the Corvair - it handled beautifully, but it didn't have the understeer common to front-engined cars of the time, so people who didn't have a good feel for what their car will do when driven hard found themselves swapping ends and rolling. That's not at all the car's fault, though.

    Also, I take your point regarding misuse of SUVs (not ever getting them muddy). It bugs me to see the lady down the block drive all of 1/4 mile in her shiny black Explorer to pick up her kids at the bus stop. I walk down there for mine, and save the big iron for going way up in the hills. The right tool for the job, sort of thing.

  • Wow thinking like this is the reason SUVs are popular and there is a gas shortage.

    SUVs are safer than smaller cars. You can drive them over bad / nonexistant roads more easily. They fill the role formerly taken by station wagons (or "estate" wagons, if you speak British), and can also be used for some country work. Some of the advantages of the pickup, and all of the advantages of a station wagon.

    As for the gas shortage, I haven't been turned away at the pump yet. BP's market manipulation has had just as much to do with the price going up lately.

    I cant think of a well designed american car. American cars are either designed to show how small their owners brains are or how short their dicks are.

    Let's see. Great American cars that could not possibly represent evidence of Genital Compensation or Stupidity. The Neon, Valiant, and Corvair (whatever that Commie Nader thinks) spring immediately to mind. Given more reasonable standards, this list would include dozens of full-size, V8 cars. They are more than reliable enough, easy to fix, and amply powerful.

    The engineering on foreign cars is sometimes great, but very few of them have that engineering along with adequate size, performance, features, handling, and price. The larger Volvo, Mercedes, and BMW models come closest - but I can get most of those features in a $750 '83 Buick, and I can fix it myself.

    -This is a flame...

    So is this, comrade.

  • That is the most spectacularly ugly car I've seen since the Slashdork car. Gaudy and stupid looking, it's the perfect car for most 'Merkins.

    Don't go to many car shows, do you?

  • I drive a '99 Grand Cherokee and would love to see this, although not until my warranty expires ;-)
  • NOW YOU'RE TALKING!!!!

    An electric car would be VERY nice because they have constant torque, and there are things like capacitors which would allow you to literally SMOKE the tires through an entire quarter mile, for far cheaper than the Viper that a feat like that requires today.

  • ...they built the important stuff on Linux...but the video is "windows media only". Does this mean drivers won't be able to see the ads for their own car as they drive around? P.S. I have to agree with the "hideous" side of the argument - this car seems to have all of the BAD aspects of 50's retro mixed with the bad aspects of modern "extruded"-looking cars... But, obviously, that's just my opinion.
    A vote for the lesser of two evils is still a vote for Evil.
  • What kind of bureaucrat-driven, masochistic engineering compromise is it to run the system on a JVM on top of Linux? Any gains you make in stability you get from Linux you give right back double by using the JVM on top of it.

    This sounds like the sort of design choices driven by the sort of thinking that goes, "Let's see who our strategic partners are and that will dictate our platform choices to our engineers." I noticed Sun's name mentioned in the Dodge release -- a pretty good indication that the Mountain View marketing machine stormed their way into the engineering castle early on in this project's lifecycle.

    MOO;IANAL.

  • It's not that awful, and at least it doesn't look like every other big car out there. Though it does look like Dodge's attempt at a VW Beetle.
  • Hopefully all code used to communicate with the outside world is written in Java. If this is the case, there will be no buffer overflows and hopefully no bugs related to some script using an insecure command line parameter.

    It's a valid concern of course. I personally think that the use of Java (or Smalltalk, etc, etc) is a good choice of platform to lessen the likelyhood of security issues.
  • A BSD (and Perl) powered Ford.
  • I haven't seen a single post asking about the source code, and demanding release yet!

  • Offtopic me, but I'd kill for a Triumph TR-8 with a convertible top, just because it's so unusual, and hated by British car purists/zealots.
  • Linux powered but you need windows media player to see the video.

    "All American" hmm .. so all linux hackers live in the US ?
    ---
  • SUVs are safer than smaller cars. You can drive them over bad / nonexistant roads more easily.

    I'm sure what you meant to say there was "SUVs are safer than smaller cars because you can drive them over other cars more easily". Although technically that's still wrong because SUVs are officially trucks [epa.gov]. Also, here's a small collection of links [fueleconomy.gov] about [cars.com] SUVs [suv.org].

    It's perfectly fitting that this inefficient bloated monster should run Java onboard...

  • This is definatly interesting, but its a car ad. Why does everything that even mentions the word 'Linux' end up on the front page of /.? This article doesn't really say anything about the system other than it being Linux.

    On another note I think the car looks pretty cool and who cares what the car looks like the stupid thing has a 353 HP!!!

    Never knock on Death's door:

  • I like the hemispherical combustion chambers and the displacement, but I really don't care for the pushrods.

    If a dohc, or even sohc setup was used, the engine would have produced significantly more power.

    None the less, it is nice to see a full-sized car made that is not for a grandmother!

  • *shrug* Yeah, but look at what Honda is doing.

    178BHP in a 1.8L normally aspirated engine (The Acura Integra). Tweak the same engine, and you get some incredibly good gas mileage, and low emissions. Good engine design produces more power from less fuel, producing less waste emissions.

  • Good Lord, what an ugly car! Even for a prototype, it's uglyugly. Yech!

    And that engine? 353BHP out of 5.7L? Big (censored) deal! Torque is a bit better, but this is the same as they got out of this size of carburetted engine in 1956!!! For a MODERN two-spark hemi engine, they should be able to drag 100BHP/L out of it easily. (and normally aspirated)

    Sorry, just a rant about crappy, big, inefficient engines. I'll behave now.

  • Well my point was that it was entirely possible. The Acura engine is a straight-four. Strap two of 'em together, and you've got a 3.6L 355bhp engine.

    You want something more powerful? How about the Porsche Boxter S engine, which gets 251HP from 3.2L. In Europe, they have the 911 GT3, which gets 360bhp from a 3.6L normally aspirated flat-6. There's that 100HP/L number again.

    Expensive--sure it is! Nobody else is doing it!

    Of course, we have to ask why we need 350HP. What if we cut the weight of the car in half, and put 220HP in instead? Pretty easy to do, when you start with a tank.

    The point is, there's no reason why the US manufacturers keep flogging FIFTY YEAR OLD ENGINES on us! Why aren't they developing high power, high torque, low emissions, efficient aluminium-block engines? Because people keep going, "Oooooh, a big heavy steel engine!" and buying the damned things.

    It's time for a bit of innovation in the auto industry. Not rehashes of half-century-old cars with cute dashboard computers.

  • It runs Java, huh?

    So bascially, you can drive it anywhere ... but you'll be driving the SLOWEST CAR EVER!

    /bill
  • Computer controlled timing? That opens up all kinds of arenas for engine tuning! Open-source hopefully ;)

    the author proceeded to reinstall, port, and then place a 'powered by freebsd' sticker on the bumper.

    ----

  • My Jetta is Linux powered and has +many+ more pimp features than that dodge. But it's fun to see where the industry is going. My Jetta has DVD, GPS, HUD, Mp3s, Quake, LCDs in the headrests, etc. Check it out at: http://juno.ath.cx/cbergeron/mp3jetta/ Enjoy!
  • If you do nothing else, watch the video promo for the car (on the page linked to in the article, Windows Media Format only). The cheesiness throughout it as a typical american family 'rediscovers the backroads' is hysterical.

  • I think the handling issue is _much_ more of a platform issue than simply FWD / RWD / AWD.

    Yes and no. There are some FWD cars that will handle better than some RWD cars. But primarily, the effects of FWD torque steer into a set of MacPherson struts is often insurmountable and unrecoverable.

    From 1984 to maybe recently Chrysler made at least one FWD car that outcornered every GM car made up until maybe the C5 (current model) Corvette, as I have been tracking the cornering and slalom ratings in car magazines for quite a while.

    Yes and no.

    The Daytona/Charger/Laser platform is, of course, an Omni/Horizon derivative. Like the Shadow/Sundance, it shares the same steering geometry, same front unibody clip, same drivetrain options (for the most part). Most importantly, while the spring rates and lock-to-lock counts may be different, the same MacPherson struts, top plates and steering rack as a Shadow/Sundance or Omni/Horizon.

    Now, that doesn't mean that it handles badly. In fact, Chrysler FWD has far less torque steer than the competition (notably GM's X-cars). But that doesn't mean it handles well, either.

    The primary problem with a MacPherson Strut front suspension is that the steering pivot point (axis) is well behind the wheels, in an invisible line directly below the centers of the MacPherson strut to inner fender attachments under your hood. The arc that the wheels cover is big.

    Now, a more conventional suspension - specifically a double-A arm - the wheel's steering axis is a vertical line drawn from the upper balljoint to the lower balljoint. Those are attached right to the steering knuckle. On most cars, that's in line with the outside of the rim. In fact, on some double-A-arm front suspensions, for example a Pontiac Fiero with alloy rims, the steering axis is almost centered within the wheels because of the offset of the rims.

    (Note that a Fiero is RWD and uses MacPhersons in the back, not on the front wheels.)

    This means an incredible reduction of the understeer associated with FWD, more specifically, MacPherson struts. And, because of the width of the engine and transmission transverse-mounted in the engine bay, designers often don't have any choice other than a MacPherson strut setup, which is small. Car companies like them, too, because they're cheap and lightweight.

    The one company that I've seen which has addressed this effectively was Honda. Now, I don't like them, but they've done a very good thing: Honda's MacPherson struts are generally shaped so that the wheel is almost directly under the top plate. This is a great enhancement to the handling.

    I have scared people with the way it corners, even with tall tires.

    That's not tough to do. Most people get frightened when they're in my truck and I swing the back end out to fishtail around a corner. I've seen bus drivers in the Laurentian mountains of Quebec do it to make corners on mountain highways. Some of the people in the bus were scared there, too.

    Hell, to scare people with what I drive, all I need to do is start the engine. (400 CID (6.6L) V8 in my 1976 Dodge Ram.) Just sitting at idle, the happy panting burble is subsonic, you feel it more than hear it. It feels distressingly powerful to most people.

    I think the current Neon sport package can outhandle most cars even at twice the price.

    Twice the price of a Neon = ~$30,000 = still FWD, still MacPherson struts, just with more body weight and sheer bulk. Yup, the Neon wins that contest. But with good tires, a Chevette (with double A-arms and RWD) will outhandle a Neon. No sweat. (Just watch out, Chevettes have really nasty brakes, so upgrade to Fiero rotors and calipers before racing your 'Vette.)

    You won't see an improvement to the Neon until you actually get into RWD sports cars and sedans, like Caprice Classics, Crown Victorias, BMWs, Mercedes, not to mention the Vipers, Corvettes and mega-buck exoticars.

    I have driven RWD vehicles in unpredictable icy winter conditions with much less luck. Once my rear wheels slipped I had much less directional stability than I would desire,

    Okay, if you have poor directional stability in RWD and snow, *let off the gas!*.

    That's all there is to it.

    With FWD, you need to stay on the gas, but you want to get off it before you turn a corner, then apply power again after you're out of the corner.

    In RWD, use the gas pedal as a steering device. Turn the wheels gently, hit the gas pedal just hard enough to lose traction, and you've used the fishtail to your advantage.

    Or, you can drive like you are with FWD, but remember to be more gentle with the gas pedal.

    I ended up in the ditch far more often than with FWD vehicles (well 2 and 0), even with a decent weight balance on the rear tires.

    Like an automatic transmission, FWD tends to be easier to drive.

    Like a manual transmission, learning how to drive RWD well is a lot more rewarding.

    Even if I lost traction on an FWD vehicle, I still had momentum, a similar situation would put me in a tailspin on a typical RWD system.

    Tailspin? Let off the gas. Be gentle. Instead of starting out in first gear, start out in second gear. Accelerate gently and skillfully, and you can make any RWD car accelerate in snow every bit as fast as the "better traction" of FWD will allow.

    The gas pedal is a steering device. It's easy once you get the hang of it.

    The argument that loosing drive traction means loosing steering power on FWD systems don't mean much to me because of the way most diffs are set up. If the diffs were positraction I think I might have much better luck but they aren't on many vehicles that I have noticed.

    When you turn a corner, your wheels rotate at different speeds. The wheels on the outside of the corner spin faster (and cover more ground) than those on the inside of the corner. A posi differential in a front wheel drive car would be a very bad thing. Instead of letting that happen, the posi would try to make both wheels turn the same number of revolutions through the corner. The result is, since most vehicles have some caster, that the car would try to force the wheels straight as you hit the gas pedal. In order to accelerate hard into a corner, you'd have to fight against the little clutch in the differential carrier that has to slip to unlock the wheels from each other.

    This is related to torque steer, but it's not quite the same thing. Olds Toronados/Buick Riveras/Caddy Eldorados were some of the early American FWD cars, had *huge* V8s (like the Cadillac 500CID (8.3L)), and often had posi FWD. Very scary to drive sometimes.)

    In RWD, since the wheels are hard-mounted in their positions, the little clutch in the differential carrier gives and slips. Since it's not trying to force the front wheels to spin at the same speed, you don't feel it in the steering wheel.


  • I think that is inherently the problem. It usually happens when I am trying to accelerate, and I try to accelerate very slowly mind you, but a sudden slipperier section of road knocked me out. Letting off the gas doesn't do much for me, I am not sure if I even have the response time.

    Make sure you start out in *second* gear, not first, if it's a fishtail off the line. And make sure that *both* your rear tires are equally worn. Otherwise, you're sliding!

    My very main beef with RWD systems is that in itself. IMO they just don't handle very well at all when you have sudden and unpredictable changes in road conditions.

    Practice.

    The other is that they get stuck easier, I have a friend that owns a Mark VIII and one time he didn't bother to stop by our house because we had some snow in his driveway, a concious decision made *bacause* it was RWD. He passed us and went home only to get stuck in his own driveway. The weight and the power are in totally different places and if the snow isn't perfectly manicured one can run into trouble if you have little momentum.

    Practice!

    And, make sure that you're starting out in second gear. For sure. Reverse is your enemy, because it's a *very* low gear (Often lower than first), so be careful if you're trying to rock a stuck car. Spinning the tires only melts the snow under them. When that happens, your car sinks into the hole, and the water promptly refreezes.

    First gear will generally make your wheels spin too easily. You want low speed torque, not high speed rotation. Automatic transmissions are not your friend here, since most of them will always start out at first.

    (ie. you put it in "D", and as you accelerate, it goes through first, then second, then into third. Put it into "2", it starts out in first, upshifts to second, and stays there. This is not what you want, you want it to be in second whenever the shifter is pointed at "2". A stickshift is a definite advantage here unless you have some years of Chrysler TorqueFlite or GM TH-350 automatic.)

    Putting weight in the back is a poor hack at best, IMO.

    Completely. It's a kludge. For sure, in most cars, FWD has the advantage of weight on the driven wheels. But the other advantages of RWD more than make up for it.

    And remember, the weight distribution on most cars is in the 60 front, 40 rear range; regardless of FWD or RWD. If you can put the weight behind the rear axle, it won't take much. You can calculate the weight required for the distribution to be 50/50 when you know how far behind the rear axle (fulcrum) the weight is on the lever (distance between fulcrum and ballast).

    *Never* put more more than 50% of your vehicle weight on your rear wheels, or you're in CorvairLand and asking for trouble.

    At least the truck has 4WD to make up for it.

    Not my daily driver!

    '76 Dodge Ram D-140 (2WD), 400 CID (6.6L) V8, 727 TorqueFlite automatic, 9.25" diff with 3.93:1 open gear (no Posi). Weight distribution unloaded, about 75% front, 25% rear. Scary.

    It's one of the worst vehicles I've ever driven in snow. It really doesn't like it. (And I can't blame it.) When I let off the brakes, the rear wheels are spinning without even touching the gas pedal. And a '76 TorqueFlite isn't one of those ones that starts out in second if you tell it to - so I lose that advantage.

    But with a good set of Firestone Radial ATX tires (yes, they're recalled; yes, the treads separate; no, that's not as bad as a blowout; no, if you can't drive through a blowout, you shouldn't be allowed to drive; yes, they were cheap; no, I'm not worried, I live in a cold climate and I keep them well inflated; yes, I like them, they seem to last really well) and an old Volvo motor strapped into the very back of the bed, the truck is perfectly well mannered.

    The best part is that people don't tailgate me because the old engine looks like it's precariously balanced on my back bumper.... yet another RWD advantage!


  • Of course, mondern all wheel drive is far better than only front or rear wheel drive. Note that I'm *not* talking about four wheel drive that can really suck on things like Jeeps etc.

    I'm not sure if it really is. I think AWD/4WD/4x4 just give most motorists a false sense of security and that leads to problems. ie. Usually, you see more SUVs in the ditch during a snowstorm than any other kind of vehicle.

    As for which is better, a high tech AWD or a Jeep-inspired low-tech 4x4? Gimme the 4x4 anytime. KISS - Keep It Simple, Stupid. No electronic controls to break. No CV joints to couple the power, just simple and brawny universal joints. No weird computer controlled differentials that will lock you out entirely if you break a wire while driving over a treestump.

    It's not that I don't like computers in cars. I think they're great for some things. But the tendency with the electronically controlled parts in drivetrains is that they either work, or they don't. If I break that wire, I'm stranded until I pull out the diagnostic equipment and figure out which wire is broken. If I crack a PC board in my traction control computer, I'm screwed.

    With a low-tech vehicle, if I break something, it's likely that I can pound it together to the point where it runs.

    I was out bushwacking once in a friend's old full-size Blazer. I popped the rear universal joint, and it was a 2WD truck, so I couldn't take out the driveshaft and use the front wheels to drag me home. I was stranded.

    So, I pulled out my toolbox, where I found that I had a couple of chisels. I drifted out the remains of the U-joint's spider, and pounded the chisels through the yokes.

    Then, I cut off a few links of some of the old tire chains kicking around in the truck, put them through the chisels, and then got out a big sledgehammer to mushroom one chisel so that it wouldn't fall out of the differential yoke.

    I hooked up the chain links to the chisel on the driveshaft yoke, pounded it through, flattened it off, and there it was: a universal joint made of chain links and chisels. It was loud (clink-clink-clink-clink!) and it was fragile. But it got me home.

    Try that with a CV joint in a new car.

    All I demand in a 4x4 is a torquey and efficient motor (like my lovely old Chrysler Slant-6!), a good four speed with overdrive manual transmission (my Chrysler A-833 fits the bill here), a New Process selectable transfer case (like the NP-170; 2WD lo, 2WD hi, 4WD hi, and my favorite, 4WD lo.) and a Dana 44 front axle. Oh, man, there's nothing you can't drive over with that - I accidentally backed over a Subaru Outback one morning. And in 2WD mode, with reasonable tires, in my old 1983 Dodge Ram, I was getting 20 MPG. (That old truck is scrapped, but I saved the entire drivetrain out of it, so I'll put it into something else someday.)


  • A RWD car with snow tires will do as well as a FWD car. I had a 1971 Plymouth Valiant. Me and p*ssy were mutually-exclusive during that period, slant-6 or not. It was an ugly car that repelled women but you could drive it 25,000 miles without changing the oil and not hurt the engine. Try doing that to one of those sissified cars today and it will sue your ass.

    That's a lovely car!

    I've got a '74 Valiant Brougham [valiant.org] (scroll down for a description, I've yet to find any pics on the 'net). It's a Valiant with velour and leather seats and shag carpets. And, despite how horrific that must sound, it's actually really tastefully done. And it's incredibly comfortable. Also, it's got the 1973-1976 styling, which combines an aggressive looking front end with lots of chrome trim, a form-fitting vinyl roof (no opera windows, thank god), tailfins (the Valiant was the last car to still have them), and a really neat shape to the back doors.

    The damned thing is timeless. Sure, it looks old, but not in the same way that a 1975 Cutlass Supreme or even the Vista Cruiser on That 70's Show looks old.

    What can you compare it to today? 2001 Nissan Maxima. It's about the same size, same passenger space, handles and stops about as well. The Slant-6 doesn't keep up with the OHC Nissan 6-cyl, though it puts out a hell of a lot more torque [tailfins.com].

    It's my baby, and I'm restoring it and rebuilding it as my "touring car" for long trips.

    And chicks seem to like it. It's not a silly little Honda with a big stereo and a chainsaw muffler like most other guys they meet are driving. It's a sensible car, and yet it's also got a shag carpet and a few other neat things. And it's one of those rare things that looks more expensive than it really is.

    Your '71 was a great about-town daily driver, and it's a lot more interesting now that something boring and expendable like a Honda Accord or some similar crap. I'm sure it would attract a lot of attention around here, especially with an immaculate body and a good coat of paint. (Gotta be something really chintzy. They looked *awful* in the gold metallic that was popular at the time. I suggest a modern replacement would be Volvo Copper paint.)

    Besides, is the chick dating you, or the car?


  • Both the Aspen and Volare could be equipped with the slant-6 (I know, I owned the stationwagon).

    Of course. I'm unclear as to where I said otherwise.

    The base engine for the Volare/Aspen - and for most of Chryslers cars and trucks at the time - was the Slant-6. The Volare and Aspen were available with either the 318 or the 360 as an option. Chrysler big blocks, like the 400 and the 440, were available in other car lines until 1978. They were never factory installed in the F-body (Volare/Aspen), though it's an easy engine swap.

    The 318 and 360 share most of their geometries with the Slant-6, so they're almost as tough, though the 318 is preferable because the heads that were being used on 360s at that time had valve lubrication problems.

    The station wagon was my favorite of the lot, too. I'd love to get a 1980 Volare Premier wagon, and bolt on a 1976-1977 hood, grille, front fenders and bumper. That's a reliable and kinda cool (in a 70's retro way) looking car.

    Amazing enough...there's a LOT of these cars are STILL on the road. (I still see valiants!) They got okay gas mileage...but they were reliable as hell.

    The Slant-6 is widely considered to be the toughest gasoline engine ever made. Consider its heritage: it was designed in the late 1950s as an aluminum 170 CID (2.8L) racing engine. In 1958, in typical Chrysler do-or-die fashion, they had to bring out a new car, the Valiant. They still hadn't found a suitable motor for it. So, they tried the aluminum racing engine: expensive to cast, unreliable if they overheated. With no time to spare, they poured molten iron into the molds (which had been designed for softer aluminum) and the Slant-6 was born. Since the block and head castings were originally designed to be aluminum, it's amazingly tough in the high-nickel iron alloy that Chrysler chose to make them with.

    By 1961, people were already starting to talk about how tough these motors were. And with their intake manifold design and the fact that they were tilted to the passenger side, they had a tunnel ram intake and a weight distribution that was set up for good handling. Valiants were quick. Chrysler eventually decided to offer a longer stroke version of the Slant-6. They brought out the 225. As emissions controls like catalytic converters and EGR systems reduced the efficiency of the cars in the 1970s, the 170 CID (and the 198, which I didn't mention) Slant-6 was dropped and the 225 was all that remained.

    The only thing I hate about Chrystler/Dodge is that their automatic trannys made manuals pointless (and I like manual transmissions). The 904 & 727 are the best transmissions I've even had.

    Yeah, I prefer a stick, too.

    I've seen a 1969 New Yorker at a Mopar show. Big 4-door land yacht. Comes with an automatic transmission. This guy factory-ordered the only known New Yorker to have been made with a stickshift - they hand-built some linkages for him and everything. A-833 4-speed manual, in a 440-powered New Yorker. Very nice. :)

    <grin> I've got a 904 in my Valiant and a 727 in my 400CID Ram. And there's a beautiful A-833 4-speed manual, full clutch linkage, Slant-6, small-block and big-block bellhousings, languishing in my garage, waiting for one of my TorqueFlites to fail. It's going to have to wait a long time...

  • a Chrysler PT Cruiser (4 star crash rating) or a Honda X car (unrated, but 2004 model will have a hybrid gas/electric engine, so the mileage will be killer, probably 50+ mpg).

    That said, note the supplier is using the Red Hat distro, according to recent PR Newswire articles (which dropped out of my cache, but occurred on Monday or Tuesday this week).

  • Seriously, if it's a Linux OS car, does that mean we can't get the drivers for the DVD player? Or can we take the firmware for the DVD player in the new Linux powered Dodge and use it in other systems?

    Hey, it's a hack. An expensive one, but just claim someone stole your DVD player that you ordered and get a new one through the dealer. After a few months, they'll probably notice, but it will be too late.

  • It seems like the embedded kernel would already be so tweaked for use in the car's cpu that the only thing it would really need in the way of modifications would be an RPM/Speed-limit remover like some chippers already do. Why would you want to hack a car's cpu? This is not rhetorical. Why would you?
  • Why did they choose Linux?

    Is it because Gates fears what will happen if people begin to use many Windows power'd computers in applications even more mission-critical than what's in their desktops- their CARS??

    A stable system that will not cost hundreds to upgrade every few years, that can be customized to the level of security required by the customer?

    Linux.

    p.s. that car is beautiful. Taco, can you auction that off instead of the slashdot cruiser?

  • by MAXOMENOS (9802) <maxomai.gmail@com> on Wednesday January 10, 2001 @11:49AM (#516136) Homepage

    The infotronic center in this car uses a JVM running on top of Linux. This represents a good move on their part IMO, since the software is easier to code and maintain, and the speed hit of a JVM isn't critical in a real time system unless you're using a GUI. It also makes remote administration of the car easier, assuming that they wrote in an XML layer.

    My question is, how easy is this car going to be to (maliciously) hack? Imagine some script kiddie rooting your infotronic center and uploading a new version of the software...or sending signals to lock/unlock your doors...or tracking your car's location via the infotronic system....

    I really hope that the designers kept privacy and security in mind, and that the infotronic center code was thoroughly tested for cracks. Otherwise we're going to see some really ugly cracks (and scripts!) and another round of oppressive anti-hacker legislation and prosecution in the not too distant future.

    ObJectBridge [sourceforge.net] (GPL'd Java ODMG) needs volunteers.

  • by Royster (16042) on Wednesday January 10, 2001 @11:46AM (#516137) Homepage
    I crashed my Dodge into a tree and it took forever to fsck the engine.
  • by tippergore (32520) on Wednesday January 10, 2001 @11:39AM (#516138) Homepage
    Two Words :

    Slashdot Cruiser

    Now there's an ugly car.

  • by RollingThunder (88952) on Wednesday January 10, 2001 @11:40AM (#516139)

    Good lord, what WERE they thinking?

    Part of it looks like a 50's Chevy. Part of it looks like a truck front-end. It makes old Volvos look rounded, when viewed from the front.

    Maybe that's why it's wired up? To distract you from the fact you're driving a god-awful dog of a car?

  • by BigBlockMopar (191202) on Wednesday January 10, 2001 @12:02PM (#516140) Homepage

    The car looks pretty terrible, but hey, embedded Linux!

    The car looks pretty terrible, but hey, big V8 without silly things like extra valves per cylinder or front-wheel-drive. And it's a Hemi to boot!

    That's the *real* priority. Linux was just a smart business decision.

    But the big Hemi-head RWD V8 setup means that the automakers have finally realized that there's a segment of the population that really responds to big, brawny, unrefined American V8s. Myself included.

    Sure, it'll be a gas pig, but that's okay. If I can afford to daily drive a 1976 Dodge Ram with a 400 CID (6.6L) big-block V8, I can afford to drive this.

    Sadly, it doesn't look anything like one of the concept cars they've had kicking around, the Hemi-powered V8 Charger. I hope this is a signal that the platform is going to happen and that they'll make the Charger, too.

    As it is, that's a great market niche for Chrysler. Police departments are screwed, because Ford's dropping the Crown Victoria, GM has already killed the Caprice Classic. And cops love rear wheel drive because it handles so much better than front wheel drive.

    You'd have to be a lot more careful hacking on that system, then, say, your Tivo. (Segmentation Fault: Welcome to Idaho)

    <grin> As long as you're not hacking the traction control, ABS or airbag computers. It's still not a teleporter, you know.

  • by jeff.paulsen (6195) on Wednesday January 10, 2001 @12:19PM (#516141)
    This car would sell great in the US. Here's a list of the strong points:
    1. Big doors - to allow people who weren't malnourished as children to get in and out.
    2. Lots of headroom for tall people unstunted by Communist ideas of proper nutrition
    3. Great big wheels for improved handling
    4. Styling - this looks like a car, as opposed to, say, a bar of wet soap
    5. Gigantic engine, because in America, we have geographical features such as "mountains".
    6. Ample cupholders, because drivin's powerful thirsty work
    7. Bench seats so your girl (or girls) can sit right up next to ya!
    8. 22 inch wheels, because everything's bigger in America
    9. Pushrod engine technology - proved effective, even before we saved Europe's ass in Doubya Doubya Two

    Remember that car that was so great, and came from some other country? Me neither.

  • by Rayban (13436) on Wednesday January 10, 2001 @11:39AM (#516142) Homepage
    Our cars can't crash!
  • by BigBlockMopar (191202) on Wednesday January 10, 2001 @12:36PM (#516143) Homepage

    363 Horsepower? Rear-wheel drive? Sounds like a 70s-era gas guzzler to me (see also Dodge Aspen).

    Okay. Where to begin. Hmmm...

    First thing, is the Volare and Aspen were made from 1976 to 1980 as replacements for the compact, efficient and highly reliable Plymouth Valiant [valiant.org]. They were not gas guzzlers, even when equipped with the optional 360 CID (5.9L) V8.

    Now, they weren't as good on gas as today's cars, but technology has progressed. The Valiant, with its base engine, the legendary Chrysler Slant-6 [tailfins.com], was routinely capable of 20-25MPG; the Volare/Aspent, because of emissions controls, got a little bit less gas mileage than that. For their day, good gas mileage. And for their size, good gas mileage.

    The cars that were really bad on gas were things like the big-block powered Cordoba/Mirada personal luxury cars, the New Yorkers, etc. of that era. That's because of the sheer size of the car (which was what people wanted at the time, and apparently again want) and the fact that they had three-speed transmissions with a final output drive ratio of 1:1. At the time, overdrive automatic transmissions were just starting to come out. So, yeah, they were gas pigs.

    Rear wheel drive does not itself mean bad gas mileage. However, it does mean marginally more weight. And because the entire drivetrain is not assembled as a single unit like in a front-wheel-drive car, it does mean more time and labor going down the assembly line.

    However, for the consumer, rear wheel drive is generally a good thing [rearwheeldrive.org], though most consumers erroneously believe that the opposite is true.

    In a front wheel drive car, everything - steering, suspension, engine, transmission, driveaxles, etc. are crammed into a small engine bay. That means that if you have to replace a starter motor, you might have to spend three hours taking out the front axles before you can get at it. It also means that in a collision, everything mechanical is probably screwed, and therefore the car is a write-off.

    Finally, rear wheel drive handles better [netscape.net]. Why? Well, if you lose traction on one of your front wheels, you lose the ability to steer. (Ever tried to steer with your front wheels locked up?)

    With front wheel drive, how your car will handle on a snowy road depends on how much traction you have, where the wheels are pointed, and how hard you have your foot on the gas. Unpredictably, one or the other wheel can lose traction - when that happens, you lose steering in that wheel. And because there are so many variables for the driver to consider, it's tough to manage.

    On the other hand, with rear wheel drive, there's less weight on the driving wheels. Put a bag of kitty litter in your trunk to prevent getting stuck. But the best part is that when you lose traction, your RWD car will fishtail predictably. Let off the gas, it straightens out. If you need to make a right turn, point the wheels a little to the right and punch the gas. With some practice, you can use this tendency to your advantage and control it completely.

    (Do your practice in a snowy parking lot so that you don't hurt anyone else, until you've got the technique down.)

    I grew up in Ottawa, Canada. It snows a lot there. And now that I live in Toronto, I can spot my fellow Snowbelters - they're the ones who *don't* slow down to take corners, they just fishtail sideways into them, and then accurately pull the car straight. I can take a corner faster in snow than I can on dry pavement.

    The same thing occurs on wet or dry pavement, and you can use it to your advantage if you know how. It's a lot more useful than silly little front wheel drive parking brake donuts.

    Why do you think it is that most police forces buy rear wheel drive cars [auto.com]?

  • by Smuj (249217) on Wednesday January 10, 2001 @11:49AM (#516144)
    [smuj@pepper ~]$ ssh -l root admin.yourcar.com
    root@admin.yourcar.com's password:
    admin# /usr/bin/honk -o /dev/horn
    admin# /usr/bin/speed
    Current Speed: 73MPH
    admin# rm -f /dev/axle
    admin# echo "Hahahahaha" > /dev/console
    admin# exit
  • by PD (9577) <slashdotlinux@pdrap.org> on Wednesday January 10, 2001 @12:01PM (#516145) Homepage Journal
    This car would sell great in the US. Here's a list of the strong points:

    1) Big doors to allow 300+ lb. people to get in and out.
    2) Lots of headroom for teased hairdos and cowboy hats
    3) Great big wheels for running over tiny animals
    4) Antique appearance - this definitely looks like your father's Buick
    5) Gigantic engine, because driving 55 in the fast lane is better with 350 horsepower.
    6) Probably zillions of beer^H^H^H^Hcupholders
    7) Bench seats so the lard doesn't get pinched, plus there's a place to put a whole tray of hot dogs.
    8) 22 inch wheels - just like your teenager's Honda Civic
    9) Pushrod engine technology - fuck that DOHC shit. This car looks old, so why not use old fashined engines too? Grampa won't get confused when he looks under the hood.

    Remember the car that Homer Simpson designed? This is just like it.

    Don't shoot me. I'm just the messenger.

Get hold of portable property. -- Charles Dickens, "Great Expectations"

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