In which your Race Organizer slides all around icy North Texas in an Americanized Holden VF Commodore
For the duration of my travels all around the United States in the part as Chief Justice of the 24 Hours of LeMons Supreme Court, I typically get advantage of the genuine-planet transportation demands of a race organizer (plus the coolness-judging abilities a captive audience of automobile-crazed racers) to evaluate new vehicles.
In the Race Organizer Overview series, we’;ve witnessed the ’;13 Mini Cooper S Paceman at Sears Stage, the 2014 Mitsubishi Lancer GT at MSR Houston, and the 2014 Mitsubishi Evo GSR at Road America. A race organizer lives on the street in much the very same method as a rock star, only with out the glamor, luxury, good quality meals, and groupies of a rock star— come to believe of it, maybe we’;re far more like carnies— and so the strengths and weaknesses of a motor vehicle grow to be clear for the duration of the Thursday-through-Monday grind of a LeMons race journey.
These days we’;ll see how a 2014 Chevrolet SS in Jet Black went in excess of at Eagles Canyon Raceway close to Dallas.
When you are a LeMons race organizer, the 1st factor you do following you get off the plane and into your automobile is make a end at the supermarket to pick up supplies. Many situations of water, snacks, spray paint for the LeMons Supreme Court’;s BRIBED stencils, plus the luggage of one particular or a lot more coworkers must match into this car.
The SS, getting an Americanized Holden VF Commodore, is a suitable big sedan correct out of Australo-GM tradition stretching back to the postwar era, and so the car passed this test with prime marks. Likewise, the back seat is lots roomy for grownup-sized people. No complaints in the roominess division.
It truly is a indicate-seeking vehicle from some angles, correct out of V8 Supercar racing, despite the fact that handful of drivers seemed to discover it on Dallas-location freeways I was expecting a good deal of double-will take and approving gestures from musclecar-loving Texans, but it turned out that only the most experienced of auto geeks can choose out this automobile from a sea of black sedans.
Of program, that cloak of sedan invisibility was torn away as soon as the SS rolled into the Eagles Canyon paddock. In fact, the only new race-organizer car that has ever attracted much more consideration from LeMons racers was the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG that Judge Jonny Lieberman and I brought to the 2011 Skankaway Anti-Toe-Fungal 500 race. People Lone Star State racers hovered all around the SS all weekend, admiring the sheer extra of its Texan-style proportions and horsepower numbers.
The 6.2 liter LS3 V8 in the SS can make 415 horsepower and is the culmination of 6 decades of GM’;s regular improvement of the pushrod V8. The SS scales in at just about 2 tons, so this masterpiece of an engine isn’;t going to make the car terrifyingly fast the SS runs quarter-mile occasions in the respectable lower 13s. It does, however, make it significantly quicker than just about any nostalgia-infused GM product so beloved by its probable North American target market place, which includes this kind of totems as the Buick GNX and 1964 GTO, and (as opposed to these cars) the SS is completely civilized as a everyday driver.
Nonetheless, just a great engine and lots of interior area will not necessarily make for an perfect race organizer’;s auto. I ran into some troubling troubles with the SS more than the program of the weekend (no, not the standard complaint about the lack of a manual transmission that you’;ve been hearing about a guide would be entertaining, but the 6-velocity automatic does a fine job of selecting the right gear at the correct time). Very first of all, you can not turn off the computerized traction- and stability-manage overseers enough to get the vehicle sideways for a dramatic photograph even though the SS is content to kick its rear finish out a bit underneath heavy throttle input, I lastly had to persuade the 24 Hrs of LeMons’; tame racing driver and race controller, Jeff Glenn, to don a cardboard cowboy hat and discover a way to get the SS to pose for this not-exceptionally-dramatic shot.
I didn’;t consider the car around the race track, but I could inform from its habits on some entry roads that it wouldn’;t be as a lot entertaining on a track as the power numbers, large Brembos, and taut suspension may recommend. Then there’;s the problem of the incessant beeping. Put the SS into reverse and it will discover some cause to beep at you, irrespective of what obstacles might or may possibly not be close by begin moving forward and the maddening danger beeps will carry on. The GPS system thinks there’;s a speed camera ahead? Beeeeeep! I consider I would discover a way to hire 1337 hax0rz to reprogram the ECM to flip off this “attribute” inside weeks of owning this auto. On prime of that, the car’;s audio system couldn’;t see much more than a dozen or so files on the current-model iPod Nano I plugged into the USB jack for the whole 3 days it was plugged in, the auto gave me an “indexing files” message when I attempted to find any tracks outdoors of the authentic dozen.
Then there’;s the interior. In a $ thirty,000 American automobile, I’;d be Ok with the ersatz racy bling within the SS, but at $ 45,770 (as examined) I consider this car’;s passenger compartment ought to have greater materials and/or a lot more understatement. The seats are what GM describes as “leather-appointed,” and they are really comfortable… but then you’;ve got these fake race-harness “slots” in what I concern may be chromed plastic. The pebbled tough plastic bits are correct out of the Brougham d’;Elegance playbook, the crypto-suede on the dash appears like something swiped from an antibacterial doormat, the manually-actuated steering-tilt mechanism seems and feels Blazer-ish, and so on.
Perhaps what this auto requirements is a total-on, unapologetically skulls-and-flames interior, all done in orange-and-red Naugahyde to the specs of a crack team of third-gen-Camaro-driving tattoo artists in Bakersfield. Or perhaps shaving 5 grand off the sticker price and giving it the kind of no-frills gray-cloth-and-black-plastic interior that GM’;s fleet pickups get may work greater.
We had to throw the checkered flag of the 2014 North Dallas Hooptie 24 Hours of LeMons early on Sunday, because a vicious winter storm suddenly slammed into North Texas and turned the track into sound ice inside a matter of minutes. Snow, ice, and sleet built up on the roads fleeing the track and piloting the SS the 50 miles to DFW on icy 2-lane blacktop proved a harrowing encounter. All that energy and sticky summer tires gave me the sense that the vehicle was constantly on the edge of a guardrail-in search of tank-slapper… but it created the drive without having wrecking or receiving stuck, which is more than the owners of a lot of stranded and/or crashed autos I saw on the route could say.
So, the Race Organizer view of the ’;14 SS: impresses the hell out of guys hanging about the track, glorious engine, nice spacious interior and trunk, crazy-creating beeping, irritatingly faux-racer interior, scary on ice.
Base Price$ 43,475
As-examined Price: $ 45,770
On sale: Now
Drivetrain: 6.2 liter V8, RWD, 6-pace automated transmission
Output: 415 hp, 450 lb-ft
Fuel Economy (EPA City/Highway/Mixed): 17/14/21 mpg
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