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Timing Is Everything…Especially When its Bad

A few enterprising fellows at U. In , the Rover V8 made its debut in the P5B luxury sedan; three years later, it was used as the power unit in a brand-new off-road vehicle called, simply, Range Rover. The V8, then, is a global superstar. But what makes it so good, so desirable, so widely adopted for both street and competition cars?

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There are several answers to that question. The first is that the V8, in its traditional overhead-valve, degree bank-angle form, tends to be light, compact, simple, and smooth. It's light because the block is considerably smaller than the block of an equivalent inline engine. It's compact because it is the same length as an inline-four of half the displacement, without being twice as wide.

It's simple because it has a single short camshaft to serve eight cylinders and 16 valves. And it's smooth because most V8s have a degree crankshaft that balances the firing order, reduces vibration, and spaces out the power pulses. The degree crankshaft also gives the V8 the unique burble that has threaded its way into the popular consciousness over the past 80 years. It's the stock soundtrack for every action movie and television show, so much so that Back to the Future used a Porsche 's engine noise instead of the actual sound of the DeLorean's V6. But the V8's cultural impact goes deeper than an exhaust note.

The Beach Boys' "little deuce coupe with a flathead mill" was "stroked and bored," and their "" was, of course, the big-block Chevy engine. Chuck Berry's "Maybellene" is about a race between two V8s—an early Coupe de Ville and a V8 Ford, most likely a flathead since it appears to have that design's tendency to overheat at high speed. Nor can you even begin to consider the automobile's relationship to the silver screen without seeing the outsize star power of the bent-eight. The Bandit's Trans Am? V8, of course—but you might not know that the Firebirds used in The Rockford Files also had the Pontiac under the hood.

It's about as basic as a Mustang can get, except for the motor—but did you think that Steve McQueen would have been caught dead driving the Thriftpower inline-six that came standard? When the fuel crisis of the Seventies hit, the V8 acquired a new name and a new reputation: gas-guzzler. It didn't help that newly mandated emissions equipment and the unleaded fuel required by the catalytic converter stole a lot of its power and prestige.

But even in the darkest days of the energy crisis, when the speed limit was a dismal double-nickel and Jimmy Carter was on television telling us to turn our thermostats down to an equally depressing 55 degrees at night, the romance of the V8 continued. Mad Max drove a V8 Interceptor in 's idea of the future, while the Corvette still had a small-block. All the V8 needed was some good news on fuel price and maybe a bit of technology to help it reach the next millennium.

Both were forthcoming, leading to a veritable supernova of new V8 designs and new homes for those designs. Ford modernized its V8 with the Modular overhead-cam engine, while Chevrolet reengineered the traditional small-block into the LS series. The horsepower wars returned in earnest, and the V8 led the charge. Over the past few years, greater concern about CO2 emissions and overall fleet fuel economy has seen the configuration fall from favor slightly. Several of the cars that had gone to V8 power after the turn of the century retreated to forced-induction six-cylinders, as did Formula 1 racing.

Cadillac and Lincoln each have a brand-new full-size luxury car on showroom floors, but neither can be had with what many people still consider the only proper engine for either marque. Even that all-American icon the Ford F now offers twin-turbo V6s as low-fat alternatives—and they're selling like hotcakes. There are solid reasons behind this move away from the V8. Smaller-capacity sixes and fours take up less space, cost less to make, and burn less fuel in EPA fuel-economy tests.

As was the case back in the days of the oil embargo, there's a gas-guzzler image to the engine's design no matter how much cylinder-deactivation or direct-injection technology you throw at it. In one new-car press conference after another, engineers and marketing people stand up and solemnly assure us that we won't miss the antiquated V8. After all, isn't the all-electric Tesla Model S quicker than but a scant handful of eight-cylinder cars?


The good news is, there are still plenty of brilliant V8s on the market. Affordable V8 choices exist in the form of both pickup trucks and pony cars from Ford, GM, and Chrysler. Somewhere in the middle, you have the stunning rpm flat-crank 5. The latter engine is a testament to what can happen when modern technology is applied to a traditional formula.

Born of a House Divided

From its iron block to the single camshaft nestled in the bank between its cylinders, very little about the Hellcat's basic design would shock the men who designed the hp Oldsmobile Rocket V8 for the model year, but every aspect of that design has been painstakingly massaged and computer-engineered to a space-age level. That's the good news. The bad news is that the V8 engine will probably never again be America's default choice for affordable and accessible power.

In that respect, Henry Ford's revolution of has finally come to a halt. If the internal-combustion engine has a future in mass-market transportation, it will probably be the humble inline-four doing the motivating, the same way it was in the days of the Model T and Model A. The V8 will return to its origins as an engine for the wealthy, the competitive, and the committed. On the Clash's third album, London Calling, Joe Strummer sang "No man born with a living soul can be working for the clampdown.

A boosted V6 or inline-four might turn impressive numbers on the dyno or the drag strip, but the bent-eight remains the gold standard of internal-combustion engines. It sounds right. It feels right. And it looks stunning beneath the lifted hood of a Mustang or the glass engine cover of a Ferrari. We'll continue to cheer, and choose, the V8 as long as we can. Even after the last small-block Chevy or flathead Ford or flat-crank Shelby GT is silenced forever.

As long as that sound exists, even in our memories, the V8 will continue to be the only engine that matters. Type keyword s to search.

The only scents are mechanical and synthetic, save for the occasional, poltergeistal appearance of animal shit, skunk spray, or rotting carcasses. Many readers currently blanch at the news that the roads will one day be filled with cars hurtling brainlessly along at high speed. But those people fail to realize one thing: They already are. As I grew older, my distaste for the macho pretensions of car culture crystallized into something like horror. Cars may no longer be solely for playboys tearing through the countryside inspiring Trotskyism, but the technology remains unjust.

Driving correlates with obesity rates, which, separate studies have shown, correlate with poverty rates. Heavy street traffic lowers real-estate values, and the people who live on those streets tend to spend less time outside and have worse relationships with neighbors.

Ford Didn't Invent The Car - WheelHouse - Donut Media

Traffic accidents are the leading cause of death worldwide for people ages 15 to Emissions have a disproportionate effect on the health of communities of color, and nearly 90 percent of air-pollution deaths occur in poorer countries. Meanwhile, 80 percent of car capacity goes unused, which means that most cars on the road, which can seat at least five people, carry only one. I had forsaken the freedom of driving for a new freedom, which others all around me were finding too: I was finally free from cars.

Shortly after returning to the Soviet Union, Khrushchev announced to the citizens of Vladivostok that Russia would avoid this terrible blunder.

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Odder still, his collectivist dream is thriving in the Bay Area, the site of that original traffic jam, now home to the corporate headquarters of Tesla, Uber, and Lyft. This year, the presidents of all three companies made public declarations announcing the imminent arrival of a driverless future. As a result, traffic would lessen, parking spaces could be converted to other, more productive purposes, and people could use exactly the driverless car that suited their current task — a pickup for hauling lumber, a van for hauling kids, a single-seat pod for hauling oneself to work.

Zimmer calls this the Third Transportation Revolution. He was careful to couch his argument in terms of freedom — but in a clever rhetorical twist, his service promises to resolve the dialectic between the old-fashioned automotive freedom and the newfangled freedom from cars.

What exactly is that freedom worth? In answering that question, we as a society will schism in curious ways. For those of us who see driving as a kind of imprisonment — which, spatially speaking, it quite literally is — an extra hour to work or play or eat, or read, or meditate, or fix our hair and do our makeup will be cherished. But for those who see driving as a physical expression of freedom — which, spatially speaking, it also quite literally is — the end of driving will feel like confinement.

The question will become even more complicated once it becomes entangled in the sticky web of partisan politics, which it inevitably will be — another sign of just how loaded the car is as a pack mule of American symbolism. Will the left resist driverless cars because they threaten to disrupt union jobs and transfer trillions of dollars to a few new privately held companies?

Some on the right are already equating steering wheels to guns, making it plain that they will not give them up gladly. Studies show that deaths are highest among young men living in rural areas and red states; Montana has the third-highest automotive-death rate in the nation; Wyoming tops the list. It may seem ironic that the folks who have the most to gain from driverless cars will be precisely the ones to resist them.

But in fact it makes perfect sense. The reason why rural people die so often in cars is because they spend so much of their lives in them. When you live out in the country, the car — especially the pickup truck — is something you rely on, something whose workings you know inside and out, something you, in some very real, non-metaphorical way, love. A hundred years ago, people predicted that, in the automotive era, horses would become practically extinct. But this did not come to pass; Americans still own some 5 million horses, which they keep for both work and pleasure.

Even in a predominantly driverless future, many people in rural areas will likely still own cars that they drive themselves, albeit at opposite extremes of the socioeconomic spectrum — some vintage-style cars will function as show ponies, others as workhorses. These cars will in turn become more equine: The trucks will become more muscular, and the sports cars will become sportier, giving drivers more intense sensations of speed and danger.

For some people with cars as it is with guns and drugs and unprotected sex and extreme sports and sugary drinks , freedom means the freedom to gamble with their lives. Personally, I reject the notion that the freedom to die a fiery death and endanger the lives of others in the process is a valid reason to defend driving. What concerns me more is the constellation of lesser freedoms and subtler joys driving provides, which we will scarcely miss until they are gone. You will never take a turn a little too hard, causing that little droopy feeling in your gut. You will never do doughnuts, never peel out, never gun your engine.

The shared experience of American adolescence — much of it spent in cars, acquiring a nuanced understanding of when, and how, it is okay to break certain rules — will simply vanish. In exchange, we will be given a few more minutes each day to stare at screens. Lives will be saved, but life will become duller. This is simply a continuation of the shift that took place when we switched from horses to cars: greater safety, greater convenience, but also greater atomization, a deeper numbness.

But perhaps this forecast is too gloomy. Perhaps the cars will be programmed to give pedestrians and bicyclists more space, and streets will finally become less menacing to the frail human body. Or perhaps, following a great tidal shift in our values, the sprawling suburbs will wither and cars will be relegated to a minor role, as people decide they would rather walk and ride bikes through human-scale towns and dense, effervescent, welcoming-and-yet-weird-as-fuck cities.

Who can say for certain? The future is unfathomably strange, and always has been.

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A top aide to Democratic presidential candidate Tom Steyer in Iowa has privately offered campaign contributions to local politicians in exchange for endorsing his White House bid, according to multiple people with direct knowledge of the conversations. The campaign has so far largely flouted traditional politicking, wagering instead on robust on-the-ground organizing to bring new voters into the political process.

A not-so-surprising revelation from the forthcoming book by the anonymous Trump op-ed writer: Cabinet members thought Pence would go along with a move that would remove Trump and make him president. That letter would need to be signed by a majority of the Cabinet, delivered to Pence for his signature and then submitted to Congress. According to Anonymous, there was no doubt in the minds of these senior officials that Pence would support invoking the 25th Amendment if the majority of the Cabinet signed off on it. On day one of his administration, the candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination said, he would place a moratorium on deportations, end raids by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, stop construction of the wall on the US-Mexico border, end family separations and shutter for-profit detention centers.

In his proposal, Sanders expands on his support for extending legal status to the 1. Already a subscriber? Log in or link your magazine subscription. Account Profile. Sign Out. The self-driving car and the future of the self. Is the self-driving car un-American? Tags: driving self-driving cars tech and design cars technology cover story new york magazine select all More. Most Viewed Stories. An adviser to the billionaire got caught hinting that local candidates endorsing him might come into some campaign contributions.

New survey data suggests nonvoting Democrats are less ideologically progressive — but more anti-Establishment — than their co-partisans. Most Popular. Some spicy impeachment testimony today from the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State. Giuliani, at that point, had been carrying on a campaign for several months full of lies and incorrect information about Ambassador Yovanovitch … His assertions and allegations against former Ambassador Yovanovitch were without basis, untrue, period. Throwing an elbow — or a bomb — in Atlanta is one way to make the stage in Los Angeles.

Steyer aide offered money for endorsements. With Sessions ready to jump into the race for his old seat, his GOP rivals hope Trump punishes him for recusal in the Russia collusion investigation. Why would Harris try to give low-income students a better education when she could simply reshape society? By Gabriel Debenedetti and Benjamin Hart. Bernie Sanders' immigration plan would put moratorium on deportations, end ICE raids.

The interesting part is why. Intelligencer staffers discuss a much-discussed survey that included some very scary results for Democrats. Virginia is one of the most anti-labor states in the union. Democrats finally have the power to change that. The new arrangement for Uber riders at the Los Angeles airport is a case study in why consumers just need to be flexible sometimes.

Current total on the Kentucky board of elections website is that 1. In , about , people voted. What will look like? Mark my words.

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