Well, it's 4 in the morning and I just sat down to write my last editorial for the year 2007. I've admitted before that I really like to watch TV, but the first thing I heard when I turned on the tube this morning was a news tease with the announcer claiming scientists had just discovered it's not good to wake up early in the morning: "Being an early riser might not be good for your health." Well, I could go back to bed, but unfortunately, I'm also one of those people who ignored the last breaking news story on TV about coffee being bad for you, and I don't think I could get back to sleep if I had to. That said, it's time to get this month's editorial rolling.
With the passing of each new year, I like to look back and reflect not only on the year, but on the decades as well. Pondering 2007 takes me back 50 years ago to 1958. Actually, the place in time I was revisiting was more like mid-September 1957. I was with my mom and Aunt Rita in my Aunt's rose pink metallic '57 Olds 88 two-door hardtop traveling through Colorado when we rolled into a small town where we all got our first look at the all-new '58 Chevys. The world changed forever for me that day, because the new cars had quad headlights. Somehow it made me feel like I had just advanced into the future. It was exciting and weird at the same time; the entire face of the planet was just somehow different.
I think maybe it was the word "quad" that I liked about the '58 model's headlights. I'd heard the word many times before when my dad talked about wanting to put a quad on the 303 V-8 in his '50 Olds 88. A couple of weeks after my mom and Aunt and I returned to California, my dad bought a brand-new '58 Chevy pickup, and probably less than two weeks after buying the truck, he paid $15 net for a new cast-iron four-barrel manifold from Clippinger Chevrolet in Covina, California, and then plopped a Carter WCFB quad on top of it.
You know, it was a funny thing about the trucks back then-it seemed like it didn't matter if a pickup had a V-8 or a six-cylinder-it was only going to get around 10 mpg no matter what. I was thinking about this on a recent banzai run to Arizona while driving my '05 GMC. For the entire round-trip, my Jimmy averaged over 20 mpg at 80 mph, and that included an occasional burst up to 100 mph where the speed-limiter kicked in as I passed slower traffic. You know, when a person really thinks about America's full-sized trucks, they truly are amazing.
When I bought my new GMC, I was actually thinking about buying one of the hybrid models, but as it turns out, I'm real glad I didn't because I've come to learn they are real dogs. While I was at Sean Murphy's shop, SMI (Sean Murphy Induction), in Huntington Beach, California, we started to discuss gas mileage when I began bragging about my '05 GMC. As soon as I did, I knew something was up when Sean's expression turned from his usual smile into a look of extreme aggravation. In a semi-angered voice Sean recounted buying an '05 GMC hybrid brand new and stated he hasn't been able to get better than 10 mpg in town and 13 mpg out on the highway. When I asked Sean if he had taken it to the dealer, he looked like his head was going to explode. Long story short, after months and months of messing around with General Motors reps, the ordeal concluded with a two-hour run on Nabers Cadillac's dyno in Costa Mesa, California, with the A/C off and the cruise control locked on at 55 mph, and the hybrid couldn't do better than 13 mpg. After it was all said and done, Sean told us the GM guys didn't seem to be too concerned and asked if there was anything else they could help him with.
You know, as much as I like owning a new truck, I don't think I will be buying one again real soon. I think that things have evolved to the point that the smartest move a person can make these days is to drop new technology into an older truck and enjoy the benefits of both worlds. Just think, with the millions and millions of barrels of oil saved by all of us classic truck enthusiasts pitching in and recycling our old trucks, it will be just like scrapping all the General Motors manufactured buses and putting Los Angeles' Red Cars back on the tracks...whatever that means.-John Gilbert