Sunday, May 12, 2013

The Journey: A Journal Part 4

  Elrond had travelled me by way of a newer Chevy Impala and I took note the rough road, dreading the Corvette's abilities on such harsh pavement, particularly with the Grand Sport variety.  The Impala is a good car, and I had ridden in one before 10 years prior and know it's a soft ride, hence my apprehension.

2014 Chevy Impala LTZ interior

  Van Horn Chevrolet is, like I said, a rather small office area that reminded me of the Dodge dealership in Colorado Springs off of Platte and Chelton with late 1980's boxy, metallic desks and cold, Scandinavian-Design functional '80s chairs, square as can be with minimal padding for function, not form.  I half expected the 'Vette, "Rosie" to be in the lobby but it was not there, though a nice, supercharged 2012 ZL1 Camaro in juicy orange, arguably more of a car than what I was going to get.  I chat with the receptionist (another Chipmunky) about how she was happy I was getting the Corvette, etc. and how it was on their mini showroom floor for months and months and we waited for Brian the salesman.

Joe Van Horn Chevy chipmunky staff (actual photo from their blog page)  Can you pick out the chipmunks?  Yep.. all 3.  Win!
Elrond stayed with me, standing around.  I was told not to pay him, though I did by way of the malt, earlier.  Eventually, the dealer Brian Weiland who passive-aggressively ignored all my questions online showed-up and Elrond smiled and said my journey with him was complete and I saluted him casually, saying that there aren't a lot of good folks these days, but he was one of 'em.  He paused and thoughtfully smiled and pursued his own destinies.

Brian Wieland (actual photo)
  Brian very troll-like in shape and a bit frightening as trolls can only be killed by beheading ala coup-de-grace and/or fire as I prepare for a long battle as I don't have my lighter with me thanks to United Airlines rules about cigarette lighters but I don't need it as he's typical "Wisconsin-friendly".  It should be said that folks up in the upper-Midwest are typically nice fellows and pretty innocent-minded and fairly intelligent if not above-average for the US.  Rather wholesome like their dairy and good-natured with rarely a hidden agenda.  Pretty straight-forward.  Some from Michigan, Ohio, or Minnesota will squabble against each other, each territorially loyal, but honestly, from an outsider like myself, they're all of the same stuff.  All fine folks, hearty and healthy.  Chicago is another matter.

Apparently they hunt and caught The Wumpus here at Joe Van Horn Chevrolet!
  I was taken to the service garage area where cars were staged for departure and behold, Rosie was sitting low-slung and dark like a Marine's powder-coated bowie-knife, waiting.  I gave her a once-around and immediately checked the back exhaust to verify.. yes.. it did indeed have the NPP dual-stage exhaust where it's super-quiet under normal conditions and two butterfly-valves open-up when you romp on it: electronic cutouts that are a stock option (RPO code NPP: Dual-Mode Exhaust). 

My actual car Rosie.  A bunny is inside.  This was taken from thier website I hacked they forgot to remove.

  The car did not have the dual-roof package as suggested, nor the Plexiglas-only roof option, though of course, it did have the removable targa top.  Black-on-black stripes with black rims (the only Corvette I know of to have this combination) is stock for the Centennial 100 package, Louis Chevrolet plastered everywhere with riding goggles (in black, of course).  The suede seats were very clean, and the scraping I had complained about on the striker-plate for the previous owner's feet dragging across it was non-existent, apparently merely dirt.  The seat had rebounded as well a decent amount from it sitting all winter.  The car was very clean, though the interior was thirsty for conditioning by Maguire's products, and the leather was also a bit dry, both so much in fact that it was a hint gray more than black, and I wasn't sure if I had gotten the titanium or ebony interior (it turns out later it was the ebony, just very dried-out and unloved).  The floor mats and front-license plate mounting bracket (normally $50 for Corvettes) was included in the "greenhouse" trunk area and I installed the driver's floor-mat, removing the factory plastic covering the carpet.  The car smelled as new as factory can be, which was surprising.  The car had 2120 miles on it, give or take, according to the odometer, and I believed it.  I considered checking the oil but the oil-pressure gauge was reading satisfactory.  I throw the wheel of cheese in the backpack and put it on the passenger seat.  Wheel-of-Cheese "Cheese-us" is my co-pilot.

Cheese-us is my copilot.

 I get in and adjust the seat and steering wheel comfortably, and with the FM-transmitting fob, I hit the START ENGINE button.. nothing.  Made sure the shifter was in neutral, floored the clutch, hit start.. nothing.  A guy comes out and asks me how I like it.  I said it was great except it wouldn't start, to which he fussed and got jumper cables, had me pop the trunk (the battery's there on Corvettes, of course) and gave it a jump and she started right-up.  I carefully eased her out to the parking-lot area and contacted OnStar to do a diagnostic, set-up the car's phone number, and adjust audio settings for XM radio and the EQ settings as well.  I verified the CD player worked and that the Navigation DVD Rom was in-place.
  Brian came out and had me sign a few papers during this 20 minute setup.  I was going to call XM but they had already installed the service (which I found odd but nice).  I told Brian I wasn't going inside so as to leave it idling because I thought the battery was low on juice (it turns out later this was not the case) so he brought the last bits out for me to sign, put on the Wisconsin temporary plate good until August (I'll have to pay an exorbitant Colorado tax at 7.7% when I register it then).
 Knowing I'll be driving 500 miles or so before I stop in Des Moines, Iowa, I figure that should charge the battery just fine.  I make a few more adjustments to the computer's option section on the display screen, heads-up display that shows navigation directions, lateral-g's, speed, tach, etc. and I type in my destination hotel through the touch-screen navigation system (it finds it no problem in Iowa!)  The car's voice is a chiding 17-year-old girl (all GM cars have a distinctive voice for their system, my Saturn Sky Redline was an old man, my Saturn Astra XR is a younger guy, I suspect there's a finite number of voices, Becky's Saturn Sky had a middle-aged woman, and her Aura XR has a similar older man voice with slight variation from my Sky Redline).

  I pop-in Rush's eponymous album (I brought the box set of 20 CDs of cousre) and I head-out, attempting to not burn-rubber (unsuccessfully) and my first challenge starts immediately.  Geddy Lee screams, "YEAH, oh, yeah!" from the song Finding My Way.  (listen along above for full experience)
I have to go left from the dealership but there's a mini-curb I have to jump over.  I'm concerned I'll bottom it out so early-on but amazingly Rosie handles it with pride.  No worries as I take Highway 57 south to Hwy 43 south to Milwaukee and then onto Davenport.

  I merge very carefully onto Hwy 57 and begin the what I expect to be a bumpy ride.
  The navigation time is off, set to Pacific Time and I adjust it to Central Time and I adjust the sound system such that it will get louder as you drive with a few button presses.  I notice a loud wind-noise coming from the back and pull-over within a few miles at a gas-station.  They had left the battery cover cubby door open and I re-attach it, snapping it in-place, making note of the battery itself and its location and head-out again, trying not to burn rubber merging back onto Hwy 57 (again, unsuccessfully, though not trying as hard this time).

   I find the bumps in the road are far-muted and I take note of the "Tour" mode selected on the magnetic-ride-control knob by my right arm.  I switch it to "Sport" and after about 2 seconds the road is unbearable and quickly put it back to "Tour" where it will stay.

  The car smells overwhelmingly fresh and plastic-y and I notice all the fake leather everywhere, driving rather slowly.  Speed is an odd sensation in this car.  25 mph seems like 120 mph (and later I discover the opposite is also true).  It's hard to gauge your own speed as it all seems the same and there is absolutely NO sensation of it as if it's been stripped. There's no concern of going too fast, ever. Rosie is just as happy going 100 as she is going 10 with no difference in sound or visual input from the road. I find it's hard to shift nicely between 3rd and 4th, though the car does not stall or bog in any gear, which I find again numbing and unusual. I mistakenly shift from 1st to 6th, missing 2nd, and 4th entirely as I misjudged the distance of the shift-gate size the first few times, and despite the tachometer drooping to 400 rpms where most cars would lug, the car  pulls due to the infinite torque it has. 

Jeremy Clarkson of BBC's Top Gear reviews the Corvette line

  Jeremy Clarkson from the BBC show Top Gear mentions you can go from 0 to 200 in 6th gear which he finds astonishing.  I do to.  Very forgiving and the car accelerates hard in any gear, again, numbing the concept and making it misleading as to what you're actually doing.  Brakes are sharp and responsive without being grabby, and I'd say much better than the Lotus Elise I owned, and miles better than the LS1-Corvette-inspired (sharing many of the same parts at-the-time) 1999 Pontiac Firehawk.  Handling is exceptional and there is no body roll to speak-of.  The car handles better than anything I've owned.  The seats, despite the deep pockets you can fall into, and are very very comfortable, don't (somehow) keep you planted in a sharp turn and you tend to roll out of it, for what reason I have no idea.  I played with the adjustable side bolsters, inflating them to a vice grip and still, at any turn, despite the solid horizontal tracking of the flat-spin of the car keeping true, you're still flung about in the seat somewhat, more-so than even a Honda Civic or two I've owned, which I find odd as frack.  They are very comfortable seats though and absorb the road harshness even more due to ample padding.  Interestingly, these seats are extra-bolstered from 2011 on this 2012 version.  I am horrified to know what folks were using before on the C6 Corvettes, let alone the C5s!  The seats are still, despite a lot of goodies like lumbar support and 9-directional adjustment very cheaply constructed.  Indeed, it's only 75% leather-wrapped.  Later I find that the side-bolsters towards the center console are fabric to save a buck.  Hard braking pulls the seat forward a bit, and hard acceleration pushes it back; not much but enough to know that there's play in the construction.  All Corvette C6s have this, and I acknowledged it beforehand.  It's an American car and you're getting some cheapness no matter what you do.  It's expected.   I can imagine someone who paid the full-on price for this Grand Sport Centennial 3LT at $79,000 plus tax would be non-plussed quite a bit!  Luckily I only paid $49,000 so it's almost worth the cheesiness of it (Wisconsin cheese wheel "Cheese-Us Christ" still in the passenger seat, enjoying the ride).
  I play around with the heads-up display which becomes useful to gauge the speed as a reminder, and directions are displayed in the glass for me so I don't have to glance at the Nav system.  I figure how to increase the volume of the Nav girl voice which is independent of the volume control knob and it's time for the next Rush CD, Fly by Night as I engage Milwaukee.  I call Becky on the built-in car phone and it works well and let her know I'm enroute.
  The Nav picked the same route I had done via Google Maps which was pleasant.  The graphics on it are about 10 years antiquated but satisfactory and it has traffic-avoidance features and re-route features as well, and gives exits in full-graphics as well, though I didn't avoid (or recognize on my own calibrations at home) that there was a few toll-roads I was on, and paid as necessary the dollar here and there on Hwy 88 to Davenport.  By now I had gotten through Fly by Night and the much-hated (though I like it) Caress of Steel and into 2112.  As the song "Tears" starts, it starts to rain, and Rosie is baptized right when Geddy sings, "Tears that fall from eyes that know why.."  Cool.
 Cruise control is nice as I go no more than 5 over (I purposely did not bring my radar detector so I'd be a good boy) as I count no less than 30 State Troopers the whole distance, pulling folks over and feeding on their impatients and love of speed like wolves feeding on bunnies.
  It's raining pretty good now and I'm not sure how the car will react with 325-width tires with race-tread, it being, of course, rear-wheel-drive, but surprisingly it handles fine and I have no indication of slippage.

  I decide to get past Davenport and it's about 6pm and I haven't eaten and it's about time for gas so I stop at a McDonald's gas station area.  Rain is coming down in buckets and it's getting dark. 
 I hadn't played with the gears and monkey them wrongly, picking 6th too many times as I maneuver through the off-ramp to the fast-food joint, the Nav system chiding me passive-aggressively with sighs and fusses the way a 17-year-old girl-in-charge might.  I eat quickly a number 4 (formerly a number 2 years ago) and hop back in the car and press Start Engine.  Lights flicker, the dash gauges bounce through their initialization cycle and then.. nothing..  Dead.

No comments:

Post a Comment