Archive for November, 2008


A Winner!!!

Welcome to AutoKinesis!!!

While there were many, many entrees, this one stuck with me. so congrats to My MOM!!

That’s right, Mama K snatched the surprise win and she will receive her own Tootie Pie for her efforts as promised.

Since we’re on the subject of pies, those who entered and didn’t get one of their own shouldn’t despair. There will be many more chances to win a great big Tootie Pie of your own in the future. Plus, the holidays are around the corner and what do you think I’ll be stocking up on for dessert?

here’s a smattering of some runners up:

Soraya Navia:

  • When cars Learn To Tango
  • FLOOR IT!!

Rich Stambolian:

  • Gears and Beers
  • Car-lton Dance
  • Driven to Madness
  • and bonus points for most “car” in The Car-iest Car in the Car Car Car

Melissa Navia:

  • Notes from the Glove Compartment
  • Just Drive (so true..a close winner)
  • The Long Drive Home

Olga Navia:

  • “Musings from an Autophile” (Note: unbeknown to Olga, by entering and losing, she has agreed to join me in eating a 18 oz. porterhouse steak. get ready to get greazy!!)

There’s more than just a name change in store for this site. with the new year just around the corner you can be sure to expect:

  • More Car news and reviews
  • The header which will update with almost every post
  • More events, both re-capped and participation info
  • a *whole* lot of Vigilant Monkey updates and announcements
  • bullet points.

Thanks again for everyone who participated in the contest, it was a whole lot of fun and I’ll be doing plenty of them from now on. Another big thanks to Don and the whole Tootie Pie Co., and as always…
Thanks for reading!!!!

-Alex K-


Can’t talk…eating.



Make no attempts to lick the screen, this is only a vision of what’s to come.

That is IF you get your suggestions in by Sunday, November 16th!!

My thanks to Don for sending me my very own Tootie pie to devour and tease you with.

I’ll review cars later, after I finish this. ‘Scuse me.


Re-name this blog for Pie!!

While Blog still remains a silly word, it’s time to Re-name this particular one to reflect it’s automotive enthusiasts’ nature. Rest assured that anything interesting I come across outside the car community will still be here documented.

Now the fun part: the person who submits the best suggestion receives an apple pie for their efforts. Yes, a whole pie! courtesy of the folks at Tootie Pie Co. Upon winning, one apple pie or pie of the winner’s choice will be sent to thier home for immediate consumption and enjoyment.

(as long as they live in the U.S.)

It’s remotely possible that I might pick my own name for the blog, but a winner will be selected and sent a pie regardless.

Get your Blog name suggestions in by SUNDAY 16th to be eligible for Pie!!

and yes, there’s already an Autoblog, so try to be a bit creative, yeah?

-Alex K-


That Don’t Impress Me Much.


Dodge had a pretty elaborate arrangement at the last NYC auto show. One could gather from my brief nod to their set-up that I was not blown away by their production. It sort of went down like this: Instead of the usual glitz and dazzle the companies put on these press conferences to coincide with their car reveals, we were treated to, essentially, a full stage production of “Our Dodge”, with sets and actors, starring CFO Jim Press as the stage manager. A section of the stage would illuminate and bring us all into the homes of demographic stereotypes who hammed up a “gee, I wonder what’s the perfect car for me?” performance, to which Press was readily available to answer, with the eventual reveal of a Challenger model.

When they finally got around to it, they revealed the Challenger SRT/8, and it was indeed a sight to behold on that stage. We’ve all been strung along for a while on pictures, concepts and the usual teases, but finally seeing it in the metal was worth it. It looked like it would definitely be a handful and was very much worth sitting through the Dodge song and dance.

I have to admit, there was a pinch of personal interest since this car, and the forthcoming Camaro, is to directly compete with the Mustang, of which I am a proud owner. I don’t want them to do bad or something mean spirited like that. That won’t affect me one way or the other, I have my car and I’m happy with it, The success or failure of one of its rivals can never change that, just as any new Camaro or Challenger owner could care less about the Mustang being popular or not. If anything, I want them do be awesome, so I can get to drive them and for there to be more amazing cars on the road. Regardless, I must admit a bias, especially when I say that the Challenger was terrible.


Yes, terrible! And my disappointment with the car began well before the orange gargantuan languished in my driveway. The new Challenger was preceded by press kits and campaigns heralding the return of a classic American muscle car to the modern age, with a 6.1 HEMI blowing out horses out its ass on the street, and leaving tire marks actually shaped like mom and apple pie, but it’s all false.

This car is Canadian.

The Dodge Challenger is assembled proudly in Ontario, with all the pretense and style of a good ol’ U.S. performer with a touch of twang to seal the deal. I was fooled too, but it’s all a front. This car is Shania Twain.

Taking a good look at “Shania” off the stage and in person, you realize that she’s a bit too wide and kind of a fugly-face. She makes a beautiful noise, to be sure, but once you climb in her, the fun dissipates. Yes, I’m still talking about the car.


The interior is capacious, with a lot of bland hard plastics and lack of any style, save for the gauge cluster, which has a cool font, and also displays performance meters, such as G-meter, a 0-60 timer and a quarter mile timer. The shifter, I felt, was too far back, and getting a hold of it when you need to is a pain. When I planned to up-shift using the “driver interactive manual” (more on that in a moment), it was easier to just slap it with my forearm instead of actually taking hold of it.

The Navi/radio (do we have a unifying name for this yet? Center console?) was decent. The combining of touch screen and actual buttons made on-the-fly adjustments easily, and more sophisticated inputs didn’t take too long to figure out. I had issue with ultra bright screen, which give you that unsettling feeling of sitting too close to the TV in the dark, that florescent ambiance that makes you nauseous. If there was a method to dim it without dimming the entire dashboard, I couldn’t find it.


The back seat is proportionate with the car (huge!), so no optical illusions there, this car is big. Combine the Florescent lights and the cheap yet spacious interior with Sirius Satellite’s Blue Collar comedy channel, and you are essentially driving a Wal-Mart. It’s one of the few cars I’ve driven by myself and have noticed an absence of passengers, being alone in it feels like sitting by yourself in an empty house.

A house that’s big and orange. The centerpiece of which is it’s 6.1 liter HEMI, a real impressive power plant that should more than make up for all of its shortcomings. To lay out all 425 horses on the pavement should be a blast.


But the transmission. Oooh, the transmission. If ever something or someone dashed your hopes, it would pale to the utter disappointment that this transmission produces. The automatic that they’ve fit in there is the same one that’s featured in the Charger, the one with the offensively named “driver interactive manual,” a name that says “it’d be ridiculous to let you handle this car on your own. We’ll do all the work, you just steer and wiggle the shifter a bit if it makes you feel cool.” The HEMI makes a beautiful noise at the top end of the revs, but attempt to impress your friends by a quick rev in neutral, and you’ll be met with the embarrassing noise of the rev limiter neutering you at 4K.

When you get it moving, the car moves, there’s no question about that. Many onlookers, and there were indeed many, make a real effort to catch up to you for a quick look, but the Challenger just squirts away, unimpressed. I was dogged by a guy in his track-day BMW for 20 minutes and just left him at every intersection. The suspension is supposedly top notch, but the car maneuvered and swayed like a schooner. Highway rides are dull, but at least the HEMI makes them short.


However, and this is a big one, despite all of the transmission issues, and everything else, it is impossible, impossible not to burn out at every launch. I defy any of you to resist. It may be that it’s the only amount of fun that the car can produce, and that it’s incredibly easy to do, but this car’s sole purpose was to lay rubber down.

The Challenger gives you perfect launches every time. They are not disappointing in and of themselves, but the transmission robs you of the feeling that you did them. If I’m starting to sound repetitive, it’s because the car’s self management really takes away from the experience you’d want with a muscle car. After a few days, I just didn’t want to drive it anymore.


Shania spent a precious full day in the driveway of the short time I had it for, and I wasn’t bothered. I had my fun with it, and now it was just a big, awkward car to shuffle around in. It’s weird being so unenthused about the vehicle you are in while still getting so many thumbs-ups. Why? What are they admiring? Did they like the color? Was it the stats they’ve read or perhaps the pedigree? Perhaps it was the hype. There was a good chance that those who acknowledged me hadn’t experienced the Challenger for themselves, and when, one night, I received a wildly positive reception by a young Asian man in a really, really nice BMW M3, I was kind of taken aback. His car was black, well kept, with work done on it, but discreetly so. The car was fast, and loud but only when it needed to be. I know for a fact that it was more agile and fun to drive. His car was vastly superior to mine, not to mention the complete opposite of the experience I was having. I was confused as to why he would be giving me the time of day, let alone being impressed by the Challenger. What did other people see?


The week before, I was backing out of my driveway, like I do every day, and right after commenting on how particularly good the Mustang looked that day, I scraped the front F#%king corner on the curb. It was time again to visit Ian at North Bellmore body & fender. ( on a side note, the man/woman who opened their door in such a hurry to leave/enter the mall that you’ve dented my door and ripped my vinyl, may wolves eat your children in front of you.) The timing worked out since we had the Dodge, so when she was all fixed up, V and I headed over with the Challenger to get her.

V drove the Challenger on the way back, and I finally got to see the car through someone else’ eyes. The Dodge looks pretty cool when it’s on the move. The noise was great, and it was exciting to drive around, and this was when I realized that in order for me to enjoy the Challenger, I had to be in a completely separate car. From here, I could take in all the good points without having to deal with the handling, snooze worthy ride, and the overall nanny-ing of the computers.

Depending on how you look at it, you can say that the Challenger is a powerful and extremely easy car to drive, or a powerful car for those who don’t actually know how to drive, but want to do all the wheel spinning and posing.


I’ll say, however, that the ’09’s soon plan to have a proper manual, pistol grip shifters, and a true limited slip diff (I couldn’t get this car up a friend’s driveway…more embarrassment), so a lot of what I say has a good possibility of becoming obsolete. Hell, I’ll even get my hands on an ’09 for a follow-up. Until then, Challenger, don’t get me wrong, I think you’re alright, but…ah, you know where I’m going with this.

-Alex K-


2008 F1 Champion: Lewis Hamilton

Just a few moments ago, Lewis Hamilton secured the mother of all last minute saves at the very last corner of Brazil’s Interlagos making him this year’s Formula 1 champion.

As far as final results go, I think this one will be hard to top for a while (indeed, this was quite an amazing season as well). I can’t say that I prefer McLaren over Ferrari, or vice versa, but I was definitely in Hamilton’s corner this year. Last year’s hollywood-worthy drama made the fight between the two top teams only sweeter, or bitter depending on how emotionally invested you are in one or the other. all of that is summed up fantastically in this article of WIRED, one of the most intriguing pieces I’ve read in a while, made richer by being all completely real. Hamilton was on the short end of many penalties and it seemed to some that the stewards really had it out for him, yet he managed to persevere, regardless of his self sabotaging impulsiveness. Massa (whom I don’t particularly like, but is a fantastic driver) had his equal share of hardships, too. He sometimes schooled himself on the track, put some people out and continued, and had to endure the pit crew’s wildly disastrous performance.

But in the end, Massa won his hometown race, Hamilton one a well deserved championship, and the best car, Ferrari, took the constructor’s championship. You couldn’t have asked for a better end. well, Coulthard could.

I’m left a little bummed only because it’s all over with for the year, and I had genuinely enjoyed myself all these Sundays.

… But at least Top Gear starts in an hour 🙂

-Alex K-