The pace of automotive improvement accelerates each year. Your average V-6 Chevrolet Impala puts down numbers that would’ve qualified it as a supercar thirty years ago, and we expect our cars to last 200,000 miles without much more than oil changes. You can buy a Ford Mustang with 662 hp, and Toyota Priuses effortlessly get 50 mpg. Rolls-Royce even has technology to keep its hood ornaments from being touched by poor people. I mean, let’s just close the patent office and call it a century, right?
No, not quite. Despite our deepening expectations for no-compromise excellence across the board, cars are not perfect. For instance, I just drove the new V-6 Ram 1500 and it’s manifestly talented, a Range Rover dressed as a pickup. You’ve got height-adjustable air suspension, a ZF eight-speed automatic transmission, 305 hp, and 25 mpg on the highway. What more can you want? Well…the Ford F-150 has turbos. So I was thinking how nice that Pentastar V-6 would be with turbos. And direct injection. Basically, a Ram with the EcoBoost V-6 would be the perfect truck. Actually, a Ram with EcoBoost that looked like a GMC Sierra Denali — that’s even better. See, as a modern American consumer, there’s no pleasing me. And my demands aren’t limited to the Ram. So here are my ideas to put the finishing touches on some other cars that are just shy of perfection…
Porsche 911: It’s a great car. Lovely car. But I’d like more choices, more ways to create a 911 that speaks to my particular sensibilities. I know there’s an S and a 4S and a Turbo and a Turbo S, and eventually we’ll see a GTS and a GT3 and a GT3 RS. But what if I want a Turbo-look Targa S with the GT3 engine and all-wheel drive and a small plaque commemorating Porsche’s victory at the Okemo Mountain Hillclimb on May 31, 2003? That’s the 911 for me, and nothing else will do. Also, the entire
911 range should offer a button called Sport Plus HH, which increases the car’s performance by summoning Hurley Haywood to come drive it for you.
Subaru Impreza WRX and Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution: These cars need Petter Solberg to practice mass hypnosis on the millions of Americans who think rallying is something you do at a party when you wake up at 1:00 a.m. and perform a keg stand.
Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder: My tweak for the Gallardo is actually a freak world-currency fluctuation, a glitch that momentarily causes the dollar to be worth [euro]10,000. In the thirty seconds before the computers fix the glitch, I’ll order a Gallardo for European delivery. Actually, let’s rewrite this whole premise and say a dollar is worth [euro]100,000. In which case, I’ll take advantage of the Volkswagen Group in a different way and have myself a Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport Vitesse.
Suzuki Kizashi: This car’s biggest problem is name recognition. Which is why Suzuki should appropriate one of its more famous badges for this worthy sedan. Kizashi, I rechristen thee “Suzuki Hayabusa Car.” Suzuki, I just gave you a license to print money.
Ferrari F12berlinetta: I will research and develop an uppercase B for the badge.
All minivans: Sexiness will be somehow imparted.
Audi Allroad: I wish it were a couple of inches lower and didn’t have the body cladding. I have no idea what you’d call such a creation, but just imagine! It would be like an Allroad that would handle a little bit better and still be 99 percent as capable off-road, where you’ll never take it anyway. Creating a low-slung Allroad is definitely an avant-garde proposal, which gives me an idea for what they could name this hypothetical A4 wagon: the Garde.
Ford Shelby GT500: Give it six-wheel drive, so it could actually deploy its power at speeds below 60 mph.
Scion FR-S: I’m a little old and unpierced to be a Scion guy, so I wish that I could buy an identical car from some other brand.
Any car with a button-free electronic console interface: I’ve filed a patent for a revolutionary new system called iOracle. Radio stations could be tuned, or interior temperatures set, via a pair of circular haptic-feedback modules mounted to the dashboard or center console. The modules would spin to the right to provide more of something, left to provide less of that thing (for instance, audio-system volume). With some practice, I think drivers could quickly become accustomed to using the modules without even looking at them, since they’d function in much the same way as knobs. But they’re not knobs, they’re iOracle, a groundbreaking new thing with a new name, and you should want it.
Chinese cars: All they need is better safety and handling and power and reliability and styling and ride quality and braking and comfort, and then they’ll be right there where Kia was in 1951. When it made bicycles.
Any car in a car chase: It will be faster. People who start car chases always seem to have a getaway car that couldn’t outrun a Rascal scooter, let alone a Hemi-powered Dodge Charger police car. The most recent pursuit chronicled on the evening news was described as a “low-speed chase.” Well, of course it was. The bank robbers’ getaway car was a Volvo XC90.
Hyundai Veloster: I feel like a little bit of a jerk to publicly call them out on this, but they forgot to put one of the doors on the back.