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New Cool

New Cool




I’m not embarrassed to admit that I like feeling “cool”. Not the slightly lowered temperature kind of cool but the kind of cool that you feel when from within you emerges that little bit of Steve McQueen, Elvis Presley and Johnny Depp. Many people attain “cool” in many different ways and my way always seems to have four wheels attached.

Producing TV’s “Vintage Vehicle Show” and writing for various automotive publications is both a lot of work and a lot of fun. On the fun side is getting to drive “press cars”; new vehicles provided by automotive manufacturers for the purpose of eliciting the automotive media’s opinion of a vehicle’s virtues and, hopefully, not too many vises. I’ve had many assorted types of vehicles to scrutinize including some that make me feel indulgent (sophisticated luxury car), cheerful (small two seat sports car) or adventuresome (SUV). These are all worthwhile and important feelings, but “cool” is the best feeling of all.


Recently I had the use of a new Dodge Charger SRT8. This hemispherical V8 powered modern muscle car provided “cool” by the spacious trunk load. It was an eyeball burning “TorRed”, 20 inch wheeled, fire breathing 6.1 liter V8 hemi powered dragon that screamed “Fun cars are back!”. My first impression upon its arrival was of the color. “TorRed” is not just red, it’s a red that can be seen from any orbiting space shuttle. The second impression was about the interior. The black leather trimmed seats with the “preferred suede” inserts, and best of all, red stitching, beckoned me to buckle up and step into the ring knowing that this prize fighter can whoop any opponent. Impression number three was about to explode; this car sounds fantastic. Automotive manufacturers have engineers that do nothing but figure out how to make cars sound great. I think the Dodge boys in the auto audio department have earned a bonus and two extra weeks of vacation. I gripped the shifter on the five speed automatic transmission and backed out of my driveway while enjoying the sound of “burlapburlapburlap” resonating from the dual exhaust system.

Just north of Seattle, in the City of Lynnwood, is a Friday night “cruise-in” hangout for car people that continue to enjoy the excitement that cars have brought to them their entire lives. My arrival in the SRT8 was met with curiosity, excitement and unending solicitations of my opinion of the car.

The parking lot was full of the typical cruise-in fare; mid 50’s Chevs, a few Ford coupes & roadsters from the 1930’s and 1940’s, and muscle cars from the 1960’s. Corvettes rumbled by, Mustangs new and old mingled and occasionally a British two seater passed through. The Charger was received as enthusiastically as any car there and the one question repeatedly asked, proving that some icons never die, was “Does it have a hemi in it?” I think they all knew the answer but just wanted to say the word hemi. I opened the hood and the gathering crowd warmed their foreheads over the cooling power plant..

The 6.1 liter 425 horsepower V8 provided as much power to the rear wheels as I’ve experienced in the recent past. The below the surface technology provides all of the cornering and stopping requirements that any veteran or new arrival to the performance car world can hope for. And best of all is that this modern engineering successfully brings back an era when there were very fun and very “cool” cars available. Did I have any personal complaint about the car? Yes, lose two of the four doors. This is a car for having fun, not for utilizing the car pool lane.

As I left the cruise-in I gave the crowd a wave and a look that combined McQueen’s raised eyebrows, the King’s upturned lip and Johnny’s rakish, and cool, grin