Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Rosie the Riviter, a Critical Review

 So I've had the car, "Rosie", a 2012 Grand Sport Corvette (Centennial Edition, aka "blacked-out") for a few weeks now.  I don't intend to talk anymore about her after this, unless the Tall Man from Phantasm shows up, in which case I'll have to fashion two double-barrel sawed-off shotguns angled to a point from the back "greenhouse" area.  Note*  As appropriate, she only plays classic '70s hard rock and metal.  No faggy, '90s, wannabe shit.

  For the Iowa boys, I sent them homemade cookies: chocolate chip.  I made quite a few (about 400) using Ghirardelli chocolate chips and real butter.  Let's hope they're not allergic.  I was planning on sending them some cigars too, with a note, "Don't let your parents find out" but I realized yesterday they had replaced the battery we had pulled from the "greenhouse" trunk without the strap "battery hold" which explained the thumping sound when I go over serious bumps.  The battery jumps around now in it's cubby, still connected with the terminals.  No cigars for you!

  I drove to Daniel's Long Chevrolet (it's a nice day in Colorado Springs for a change) and they didn't have the "battery hold" strap (GM Part #2 under Battery Z06/GS as shown on the right which screws into two posts GM Part #3 [only one shown in the diagram, but there's two of 'em, one for each side of #2) but they ordered it for me for $2.95.  They did have the two required bolts that connect it to the posts (still in-tact as #3 times two) which were an astonishing $2.50 each (made of dwarf-star alloy no doubt).  I paused at the parts counter for quite some time, debating weather I wanted to pay five bucks for two nuts with washers attached, but I also realized that at Lowe's I'd likely have to buy a pack of 10 or so (though sometimes you can buy single ones on occasion) and that I couldn't easily remove the posts to check for the right size, etc. etc. and went ahead and got gang-banged on the two bolts (assumably Genuine GM Parts).  Still, I saved $8.95 for shipping which I saw online from GM so in the end, I still did okay (minus the gas to actually get to Daniel's which was probably a gallon or so).

  So my average gas mileage back from Sheboygan, Wisconsin was 27 mpg which, considering, was pretty good despite it being slightly uphill from the Mississippi River valley to my home altitude of about 5754 feet here in rural Fountain, Colorado, right on the outskirts just 5 miles south of the South Pole.  I suspect I could manage near 30 mpg along the I-25 corridor.  It's interesting I can travel at 1000 rpm easily and best gas mileage seems to be around 1500 rpm versus my Saturn Astra XR which is around 2500 rpm.  Day to day, around town and such, I'm averaging about 20 mpg as a combined city/highway deal.  Pretty pathetic as my Saturn Sky Redline Turbo was getting 28, but then there's the extra 136 horsepower..

  I've noticed I still have a bit of a time slamming her into 3rd from 2nd as I'm timid to hit 1st gear (understandably) but I'm getting the hang of the incredibly close, notchety gates for each shift point.  I raced a comparable 2012 SS Camaro today and we were even until 120 mph where the torque and 1000 pound weight loss of the 'Vette takes over for the win.  I remember racing against an LS2 'Vette from 2005 with my TransAm Firehawk LS1 back in 2005 and how after 120 the 'Vette still has tons of room where the LS1 starts to give-up around 130 mph, slowly creeping to 165 mph from that point.  Slooooowly.  The Sky would give up around 100 mph before a slow acceleration took place.  The Grand Sport can do about 210 mph theoretically.  I've seen some Autobahn runs from some amatures in proof.  After 170 is when the Grand Sport starts to slow down in the same way the Firehawk and Sky did.  Still, it's pretty impressive.  I have the LS3 configuration with a lot of Z06 parts.

  The brakes are excellent; far better than my 2007 Lotus Elise's and light-years better than my 1999 Pontiac Firehawk.  I'd say they're about 50% better than my Sky's was after the braided brake lines were installed (which was very similar to the Elise at that point).

  Acceleration is staggering, reaching 0-60 in 3.9 seconds on a good day, and 0-100 in 9.8 seconds, which is faster than almost any car on the road today, aside from the Z06 and ZR1 editions which make it in 9.5 and 9.3 seconds respectively (but a much harsher ride, and $50k more plus an additional $2200 in insurance every 6 months).

  The car's ride is posh and refined, something I don't care for too much.  It's very quiet, though the NPP dual-stage exhaust butterfly valves open-up when romped, giving a little exhaust note that's not obnoxious.  The rear end doesn't hop around when pushed like every other car I've had (to include the Elise).  Because of this, it feels (like so many reviews indicate and understate) like a much much smaller car.  I can't exaggerate that fact enough.  It's rather impressive.  I have a descending 120-degree obtuse turn off of Powers Blvd. to Mesa Ridge Parkway where it suddenly rises, not unlike the "Andretti Hairpin" (aka turn #2) of the Laguna Seca raceway (for those that play car racing games).  The turn has an evil "bump" right as I near-exit out of it, which would upset the Lotus and the Sky's rear-end, shaking things up and upsetting the chassis for a proper exit, which, if the traction-control was left to assist (normal mode) would turn off fuel for a second to stabilize the exit properly.  "Rosie" the 'Vette does not suffer from this malady and chews it up and spits it out like it's nothing, likely because of the enormous 325-width tires (stock) and especially because of that absolutely amazing, hero-producing, magnetic-ride-control.  Makes every driver a hero, though those seats everyone bemoans in the literature, updated even further for 2012, double-bolstered, still give way to the driver being flung to and fro in aggressive multi-g turns requiring a bit of "hang on" upper-body workout and knee-to-compartment self-stabilization.  It's odd, that.  The lumbar I set to absolute zero and the side bolsters are "puffed out" to surround me deeply, still, I'm flung.  Seems the rest of the world shares the same fate when reviewing the car.  Very, "Shut up and hang on" to be sure.

  It's hard to break-loose the car.  I haven't accomplished it yet.  Taking turns aggressively (though tentatively) then romping on the gas mid-curve does not upset the chassis as it should, nor does the back-end whip around like I've seen on videos on YouTube.  I've taken a Powers-to-Bradley turn at 55 mph (northbound going right, staying in-lane) without any concern.  I'm wondering what her limits are.  I should take her out on a rainy day and push her a little more on a nice Sunday morning with no one around to see.  I can make it rain by waxing her, I'm sure.

  Speaking of, despite the "Carbon Flash" sparkly exterior, the car attracts dirt (as any black car should).  Very susceptible to "swirls" and water-spots makes it difficult to keep immaculate, though not impossible.  I've invested in some micro-fiber drying cloths and a washing hand-mit when I take her to the car-wash so as to avoid the scratchy "broom" and "spot free rinse" that isn't all that "spot free" on a black car on a hot day.

  She's dead-sexy and I get compliments, which is nice, without being overly distracting as Corvettes are ubiquitous enough and mine doesn't stand-out too much more than anyone else's except for the blackout configuration.  I've considered blackout tail light circles as it's a common cosmetic  "modification" but I think it's overkill, trying too hard as it were.  It's already got black-on-black stripes and black rims (stock) and the tail lights compliment the stock painted red brake calipers anyway.  Some people black-out their turn signals as well, but again, I'm not 19 anymore, and the Corvette community applauds a "clean" stock look more than anything else.  Matching numbers is a big deal and sort of the opposite of the Ricer community.  Bone-stock and clean (as in Don Felder sings in the song Takin' A Ride from the 1981 film, Heavy Metal at 0:50).

  There's a bit of a notoriety of the 'Vette being an "Old Man's Car", the 2014 Stingray trying to eliminate that potential by looking cooler, being cheaper a bit, and having a lot of nice video, onboard distractions like an iPhone-inspired tachometer, 3D Navigation and FaceBook and Internet access in the center console, something I sort of don't like as it divorces from the driving experience.  I find myself not listening to XM radio or my USB thumbdrive of every Rush song just to enjoy the car itself: call me "old skool" I guess.  You'd have to really wrench the car to make it fail on any level, and the 10 billion airbags as well make it incredibly safe a car (something I actually don't like much).  That and the fact the car costs $79,000 and up is a bit ridiculous that only successful (or lucky) men would consider, the women of the world probably wouldn't go for it in favor of a Rav4 or some other "practical", cute, SUV bullshit.  Honestly, the cargo bay "greenhouse" is about 5 to 6 feet long and can stow lumber for God's sake (or a double, sawed-off, pointed shotgun to fight enemies).

 I got the "Rosie the Riveter" air freshener, it's scent labeled, "Victory" which oddly smells like an old man who hasn't showered and smells like wheat and bad aftershave (so I'm letting it air-out in the garage before putting it back in the car, because I prefer a coconut interior scent anyway, the overwhelming new-car-smell is only just beginning to diminish, I won't miss the high-tech polymer smell).  "Roise" was a 1940's WW-II ad-campaign to get women to work the assembly lines while their husbands were fighting the war in the US.  Other countries were doing war-propaganda too, and the Germans were hiring women as well towards the end (actually, female Nazis was a pretty hot commodity in later "Stag" magazines in the late '50s, somewhat thanks to Bettie Page photographer/cop Jerry Tibbs.)  The imagery Norman Rockwell-like and very well crafted to be feminine, cute, and still tough, quite a fine line to accomplish so successfully in the '40s and an edgy concept not everyone embraced without workforce harassment (which, I'm sure, ran rampant at the time).  There's a song about her too, and according to it, she's got a boyfriend "Charlie" who's a Marine, just so you know she's not a bull dyke I guess, and a Marine at the time was considered a man's man, tougher than her, so it's okay.  Charlie still wears the pants, just to be clear.  Still, it gave women an open-door for equal opportunity in industry, which is great, and the Corvette is a bit of a "tough girl" in a way.  She still "rivets" with odd clacking of actuators when I sit in her, getting ready to "fight" with me well before I hit that now-working Start Engine button (she missed two more times in the last week, but started on the second press out of the dozens of times I've fired her up, as if to say, "I'm with you, but remember I got sass.")

 On a final note, the car has an information display that's monochrome but high-resolution under the speedometer.  With a bit of tinkering, you can get it to display a greeting message.  I put this on the right.  I think it's appropriate.


  1. Holy crap, that's post number 400!!!

  2. That's awesome that you can set your own custom greeting message. Starting problems aside, it sounds like a fun (and functional) car. I'm also just glad that you drive it the way it was meant to be driven. You aren't joking when you say it's got a bit of notoriety as an "old man's car." I don't know how many times I've seen a beautiful Corvette in traffic, only to creep up beside them and find out it's some 60 year old man going 5 mph under the speed limit with their blinker stuck on.

    1. Yeah, screw that going 5-under bullshite. Still, the concept of speed is a bit numbed by the car. This morning, I found myself going 85 in a 45 feeling I was going -slow- down Powers Blvd.

  3. I got my first electronic cigarette kit off of VaporFi, and I recommend getting it from them.