RIDE OF THE WEEK: Seven days in a five-door Toyota Prius V…

There are practical cars and exciting cars, adventure cars and silly cars, custom-built cars, manufacturer cars and over-the-top cars.

There’s a car for everyone, which is why it makes sense that the 2017 Toyota PriusV exists.

We all like different cars for different reasons and I’m not one to pooh-pooh anything with four wheels, especially if a company wants to send me a car. I drive just about everything between a classic ’38 to an exotic Jaguar, but sometimes you just have to put your feet on the ground and hop into a Prius.

Up until now, I wasn’t really into the Prius, as most people I see driving them either drive too fast or there are just too many of them.

But get behind the wheel as we do on our show for about seven days, and your perspective begins to shift.

Any car company that sets out to create a product to better the lives of human beings as a whole is to be commended. Sure, we can easily criticize just about anything, but as an evolutionary species, criticism doesn’t help us grow. Gratitude does.

So when the folks at Toyota built the original Prius, it wasn’t perfect or necessarily good looking. But as the years have gone on, the eco-friendly model has come into its own, adopting new, more interesting styling and refining its ability to transport us with ease.

Where the Prius excels is its ability to slowly adjust to our way of thinking without making us shift in monumental moves. Good thinking. Not everyone is ready for an electric car yet, but most are ready for some sort of transition.

The Toyota Prius fills that with its $23K price tag, five-door wagon configuration and 43mpg. Just about anyone can afford to keep the planet clean along with picking up after yourself. But that requires a conscious awareness, which many still don’t have yet.

This is why we still have gas guzzlers, trash on the beach and McDonald’s. But as we cruise into the 21st Century, many are experiencing a shift in their lives to expand and enhance their outlook.

What can I do to make my life better? The Toyota PriusV is certainly an option. Can it be refined more? Sure. Does it need more upgrades? Of course. But where it stands now is pretty good.

Need a conscious car that won’t necessarily break your bank, end up in a movie or wow your neighbors? The PriusV just may be it.

But if you’re like me, then you may want a Mad Max Cadillac Monster Truck Limo also. But parking that at Ralphs will be a bit challenging.

I commend Toyota for sticking to its guns and committing to creating products that serve humans best.

Yes, they aren’t the only tool in the shed, but from a practicality viewpoint, it’s an efficient tool that gets the job done. And that’s what you want so you can go get a cup of coffee, relax and know it was a job done well. Sounds like a plan.

Want to be featured in Ride of the Week? Send Fireball an email at askfireball@fireballtim.com.

The CARS of BLADE RUNNER 2049…

Being a Hollywood Car Designer for many years, I’ve gotten a chance to create some fun vehicles. And although I did not work on Blade Runner 2049, I can appreciate what goes into creating vehicles for film.
In the original film Blade Runner back in 1982, the main vehicle (known as the Spinner) was designed by my good friend Syd Mead.
 
A legend in the design world as a futurist, Syd created most of the look of Blade Runner as a Cyberpunk Utopia that was layered with buildings, costumes and vehicles.
But in Blade Runner 2049, Syd was only a consultant and a new team developed the vehicles. Officer K (played by Ryan Gosling) drives his own every-man version of the Spinner and if you look closely, you’ll see that it was branded as a Peugeot.
 
Now the interesting thing about using Peugeot as a brand in the film, along with Atari, is that Peugeot’s are not sold in the states. Although BR2049 is set in the future, it’s actually an alternate future. So let’s delve…
When the first Blade Runner came out, it essentially predicted what 2017 would look like. Although, now that we’re here, it doesn’t look anything like it. So, the Producer’s had to create a future that was based on the direction that the first Blade Runner was heading and not where WE were actually heading.
 
Thus, instead of using Tesla or a well known brand for their vehicle placement in the film, they made a conscious choice to use a brand that was uncommon here. The result, a puzzle piece that felt right with the rest of the film.
Blade Runner 2049 is a masterpiece of film making. You’ll get thousands of reviews everywhere, but since this is Ride of the Week and we love cars, this film uses them to advance the film expertly. Blade Runner 2049 is full of them, but… you may have missed them.
The movie is so dense with atmosphere that you could miss the VW Bug that piddled by followed by a Taxi. Or the Cadillac shaped Spinner that roared into Deckerd’s hideout in Las Vegas.
 
But one thing is for sure, this movie will require you to come back several times to absorb it all.
The Peugeot wasn’t new, which was also interesting. Although futuristic, it seemed to be an older model with scratches, dents, dirt and grime. Pretty sure there wasn’t one clean thing in the film except for some costumes.
 
But from a design standpoint, K’s Spinner was a clear de-evolution of the 995 Spinner in the original film and brings the overall texture into a reality perspective.
The film is flawless due to all the tiny interconnected parts which include the vehicles. I applaud the film makers for their attention to detail in all ways down to the ‘enth degree. Go see the film, in fact see it several times to absorb it’s meaning.
 
And if I’m lucky, I might be able to drive the new Spinner on my show at some point. Caffe Luxxe anyone?
 

How to prepare for CAR SHOW SEASON…

So you love cars, eh?

And as passionate as you are here in the ’Bu about your ride(s), you’re having trouble finding the time to (pick one): 1) Wash it, 2) Drive it, 3) Build it, 4) Fix it, or 5) Modify it.

Well, I understand your dilemma and I hope this here article may help. Our lives are compartmentalized into time sections.

Time managed in order to complete the things you want, need and have to get done, right? And if you don’t handle all compartments in a day, your day can go south.

So, let’s discuss this for a moment and identify each compartment.

1) Clean it. The options are to wash the car yourself, go to a drive-thru car wash, or get a detail. Each one costs more than the other, but this is about time. If you wash the car yourself and do a decent job, it’s about an hour of your time.

A drive-thru is about $8 and takes about 2 minutes. A detail typically ranges from roughly $40-$120 and takes two hours. So, since this is about time, doing a drive-thru wash makes sense, unless you’re driving a Bugatti Chiron. Then, opt for the detail, at your mansion, along with your 22 other cars.

2) Drive it. Seems like a simple notion, but when you have a classic car, exotic car, muscle car or any other cool wheels, driving it is key. So, you need to make time to put your butt in the seat and go up and down PCH or into the canyons, preferably during the week when there’s not a bunch of crotch rockets.

Or, take it to one of the car shows in town on Sunday for two hours. It’s time well spent for the drive to and fro.

3) Build it. Well, here we get into a bit of an issue. Those who have unbuilt cars in their garages will say they don’t have the time.

But the truth is that they don’t have a plan. So, write out everything that needs to get done, put it in order and just concentrate on the first thing.

Dedicate 10 minutes, half an hour, or an hour a day and it will get done. It’s just like walking from LA to NY. Take it one step at a time. It may take a long time, but you will make progress and you will get there — eventually.

4) Fix it. Simple. Again, you need a plan or a good mechanic. Stop lallygagging and take the car in. Or start the plan and do the first thing. Even if it just means ordering the parts.

I have a friend who had a motorcycle in his garage for 40 years. He only recently built it and finally is enjoying the fruits of his labor. He’ll be the first to say that he should have done it 40 years ago. Time wasted.

5) Modify it. Again, a plan is key. Make a list of modifications, put them in order according to cost and do the cheapest one first. Don’t try to do them all at once as it’s a recipe for disaster.

An automotive lifestyle is a rewarding lifestyle. But so are others where you’re passionate about whatever it is that you are doing. A well-thought-out plan can create an abundant life. A good life. The Malibu life.

Want to be featured in Ride of the Week? Send Fireball an email at askfireball@fireballtim.com.

2017 NISSAN MAXIMA SR brings the unexpected…

The beauty of getting to drive a lot of cars is that it reveals many things.

And while most people would think you’d begin to notice all the faults and inconsistencies of cars and design, the exact opposite is actually true.

What stands out in cars as they arrive at my pad is what I notice. What decisions did the car manufacturers make that separated them from the rest of the heap?

Cars can begin to blend together when you get as many as I do. But when a car shows up that truly raises the bar, you’re reminded of the fun of driving rather than the mechanical act of just getting somewhere.

The 2017 Nissan Maxima SR is such a car and, at a little over $40K, it enters into a low-end luxury class but feels high-end. The design of the car is racy, especially in the dark red over black rims and black multi-clad interior.

The Maxima has really evolved over the years into a world-class design champ and has a great language that has become its own.

Mirrored with a 3.5l DOHC 24Valve V6 with 300hp and 261 lb-ft torque, the raciness is just about right.

It’s a sprinter when it needs to be, a luxo-cruiser when it needs to be and an all-around PCH mover. I like it. I mean I really like it.

It’s a hard thing to separate yourself from the rest. It’s generally considered an ego thing to stand out, but it’s really about giving something to the world that the world can love. And that brings us to the whole point.

It may seem that car companies are in it for the money. But go a bit deeper inside this idea and you’ll have to ask one question: Why? Why make the money? Why is society so consumed with it?

Well, the answer is simple, and many will scoff at it, but it’s my belief that in order to get something from the world, you have to give it something first. And our job is to put as much love into the world as we can while fending off incoming stabs, accusations and negativity.

How do you get the best from the world? Just give it your best. Are you doing that? Are you willing to step up and do that?

It seems like Nissan is — and has been for many years. My second car was a Nissan Sentra in 1985 and I loved that car and was sad when I finally sold it many years later.

But the Nissan brand and its commitment to making the world a better place through its products stuck with me. I’d buy one again.

So it comes down to this, as always. Buy a car because of the way it makes you feel and for no other reason. In fact, buy all things that way and your life will slowly evolve, too.

Have a great week, folks.

Want to be featured in Ride of the Week? Send Fireball an email at askfireball@fireballtim.com.

The CARPOCALYPSE has begun… and it’s Cool

So there I was, coming out of Starbucks and heading to my daily ride when the corner of my eye dragged me to a down and dirty sight.

There in the Malibu Country Mart parking lot stood a 2012 Dodge Charger with some serious modification.

FADE IN: Christopher Rutkowski is a director/producer of cool car content. He loves cars and his passion is to film them not only in movies, but also on his Youtube Channel (theAFICIONAUTO and www.driveTA.com). He is a serious movie car fan and has owned many of them.

But this 2012 Dodge Charger (apocalypse edition) wasn’t just any movie car. It was fully armed with zombie-splattering mods and blunt force mods. Let me explain.

Under the dented, smashed and hammered skin lies a 3.6L Pentastar V6 with 290 horsepower — just enough to cross town and launch zombies into neighborhood yardage.

But the car also includes a defense exoskeleton, front ramming guard, extra large truck steelies, and Mickey Thompson Baja tires with lots of gross leftover zombie parts. 

With real rust, fake rust and rusty rust, the car had an apocalypse wrap convincing enough that zombies would think it’s real (as they can smell fresh paint a mile away) and window cages that allow one to put their wallet in the dash with cash hanging out and no worries that anyone can do anything about it!

“I’ve had this car for about two years now,” Rutkowski started. “I got it in a prop auction online for the TV show ‘Defiance.’ It is the perfect car for me and my business, theAFICIONAUTO. I document and sell movie cars online, so when I was looking for a new business car to replace my ‘Jurassic Park’ Jeep, this was the perfect candidate.

“The show ‘Defiance’ itself wasn’t that popular so it can easily be identified with me and my brand,” he continued. “The fans of the show will love it when they see it. It’s robust and strong for a V6, and the cage keeps it secure and safe.

No one will ever be able to break in and steal my camera gear. It’s also pretty ideal for my dog to hang out in with all the windows open since the gates keep him from escaping.”

Sounds pretty frickin’ awesome to me.

According to Rutkowski, the best part of the car is the wheels matched up with the exoskeleton.

“[It] makes it look like the baddest thing on the road and people get out of your way,” he said.

Except for the zombies. Stupid zombies.

“It’s my daily driver, my camera car and I use it to go to Costco and for TV and film shoots,” Rutkowski said.

I’m pretty sure that taking this car to Costco would scare anyone. If I was in the driver’s seat, I’d just drive it right through the store and scoop up lots of paper towels for zombie cleanup.

The car was also recently the star of a ‘Mad Max’-style car chase in the deserts of California City.

“Just three weeks ago we had the ambitious idea to produce and shoot a large-scale chase scene with this car and many other apocalyptic cars in the desert,” Rutkowski said. “Twelve hours of shooting on the hottest day of the year and surprisingly the engine didn’t fail or overheat once!

“Other than that, everyday is a great story. People surround it at gas stations and parking lots and ask every question under the sun. Surprisingly, many think it’s a proper race car or some kind of dune racer.”

Nope, it’s a zombie killer and people ought to get that right off the bat.

The best thing about driving in Malibu for Rutkowski?

“The roads in the canyons coupled with the best weather in the region. It’s smooth and curvy and the community of auto enthusiasts is so strong here,” he said. “You don’t feel alienated by everyone for having an octane addiction. It’s my motor paradise.”

Well, I can appreciate that fact … and Rutkowski’s passion. But underneath all his kindness and movie-making expertise lies a zombie eradicating monster machine of death.

Oh, and it’d be a great car to have in the event of a mummy attack, too.

Want to be featured? Send Fireball an email at askfireball@fireballtim.com.

2017 MAZDA MX5 MIATA RF… The sleek little ride that embraces curves

Malibu is made up of one really long straight away and thousands of little curves.

So it makes sense that what you want in a new car will handle just that. Remember, driving is supposed to be enjoyable and not a chore. And this little car I’m about to introduce you to will carry four bags of groceries easy. So there.

SUVs are fine for the straights and can certainly go up and down canyons, but as far as having fun, it’s not an end game car.

But when Mazda sent me the new 2017 Miata MX-5 RF Edition the other day, I knew that the curves of Malibu stood no chance. It was a fun wrapped in a Japanese package.

Now you may know that my friend (and Malibuite) Derek Jenkins designed this car or the initial version of it, and at $35K, it’s a steal at having fun.

But as a summertime ride with an electric push button top, this car scoots PCH looking for fun and will give you a tan like you’ve never had before.

The RF Edition comes with Brembo Brakes, cool skirts and a host of additions, plus 155 horses under this bonnet making it as tight as a drum.

But the design really turns heads even in this metallic bright primer color. By the time this article comes out, I will have carved Malibu into thin slices of cool.

But you realize that driving in Malibu can be a blast when you have the right car, right? Well, let’s discuss this for a moment.

Some people might think that a Ferrari, Lambo or McLaren would be perfect, but high horsepower cars in the canyons are not necessarily the way to go. And you see what happens to them sometimes on PCH at warp drive speeds.

What you want is a car that fits our town like a glove. Small and agile — like a greyhound. You can park it anywhere and get smiles without an ego. It’s just a good feeling car without having to show off.

The RF gets 29 miles per gallon, which is pretty snappy for a two-seat roadster. And the only thing that would make it more perfect is to do an electric version, sans the six-speed.

Yeah, I know what you’re saying: “How can you get rid of the six-speed?” Well, you obviously haven’t lived in Malibu long enough to know what’s it’s like to be in a convertible, in traffic, in summer.

And fun is where it’s at, people! I’m grateful to Mazda for sending me this tiny ride. We’ll be featuring it on my show all this week, so be sure to wave.

For those looking for a car with spirit, comfort, cutting-edge tech and a super great design, I’d consider this little beast.

It’s fully modifiable for those who want more, but stock out of the Matchbox package, it’s sweet enough to plaster a smile on anyone’s face.

Want to be featured in Ride of the Week? Send Fireball an email at askfireball@fireballtim.com.