Thursday, March 29, 2018

Change … in with the new; out with the old!

It never ceases to amaze Margo or me how quickly change can happen. After weeks of research on a number of cars, Margo walks onto a showroom floor to view a car not under any serious consideration and falls immediately in love with the color. The business of Pyalla Technologies continues to do well and Margo has found her niche as managing editor of the digital publication, NonStop Insider, we launched almost two years ago (with the help, of course, of our good friends in Scotland at TCM Solutions). If you have a technical inclination and perhaps more than a passing interest in what is happening today with NonStop Computers (formerly, Tandem Computers) then yes, check out the web site for NonStop Insider and page through a couple of Margo’s editorials. 

As of right now, however, a quick peek inside our garage will reveal that our trusty 2012 “Chilli Red” Mini Cooper S Roadster is no longer. In its place you will see a 2018 BMW M4 with the Competition package, of course. As for the color, well that’s a story all by itself. Turns out it isn’t a common request to order an M4 painted Ferrari Grigio Medio, but the M4 can come with the same paint you usually only ever see on a Ferrari 458 Italia – just like Quattroporte sounds so exotic in Italian (and a lot better than the English equivalent, four doors), Grigio Medio rolls off the tongue a whole lot better than “Medium Gray!”

Speaking of Quattroporte, yes, Maserati, our former Maserati GT-S, came in the same color as FCA paints Ferraris – what Maserati calls Giallo Modena. Just the name is a clue to its origins and again stirs the passions much faster than saying, yellow!  Having had a Maserati painted with Ferrari yellow and now a BMW painted Ferrari gray, all we really need next is a real Ferrari painted well, perhaps Corvette Blue! No, seriously, the color of Margo’s M4 is eye-catching to say the least, sometimes radiating a greenish tinge and under different lighting, more of a blue hue.  Needless to say, it’s a long way from being close to the eye-catching Chili Red of our Mini! On the other hand, we are getting closer to having red, white and blue in the garage!

For a family that has strong ties to GM, as we have moved from GMC to Cadillac to Pontiac and yes, Chevrolet Corvette with regularity over the years – two GMC Yukons and three Corvettes (there is still a Corvette parked in the garage) – seeing the M4 at rest alongside the i8 wasn’t something we expected. And yet, Margo has favored the marque for many years since she bought her first BMW in the early ‘90s – a BMW 540i. Here the story line shows a few twists – my first BMW was purchased during the years I spent in Canada and was a hot BMW 530i. Since then we have owned an M3, now an M4, two 7 series and yes, the i8. Who knew?

Speaking of the Corvette, we are awaiting the arrival of new catalytic converters at our front door after which it is a trip to the nearby Chevrolet service bay for them to be installed. Even as we prided ourselves on how few miles we have on our fifteen year old Z06, the lack of miles accelerated the demise of our cats – and no, they aren’t an inexpensive feature to replace. Our first indication we had a problem was the Check Engine light, but the cats weren’t the only problem that surfaced this month. That triple threat of Service ABS, Service Active Handling and yes, Service Traction Control appeared as well. Our friendly Corvette tech pulled a tech note from GM that highlighted we may have introduced this problem ourselves, as some time back we had swapped out rubber brake lines with stainless steel – appears they mess with the electronics so we are reverting to rubber.

Let’s see how this turns out as the number of times we have had the triple threat displayed on our console has been too many times to recall. The new cats were just delivered as I was writing this post so it will be off to the dealer for installation – and no, we aren’t going with the original Chevrolet Corvette parts ($3,500+) but rather after-market from Summit Racing ($750) on the advice of our good friend, Andy Green of A&A Corvette Performance, Oxnard California. If they are good enough for Andy then they are more than good enough for us. 

I wonder what they call these problems in Italian – probably a lot more exotic and yes, a lot more expensive, I suspect. The recent move to leasing BMWs hasn’t really come about by accident – keeping separate out private and company cars makes book-keeping so much easier (and cheaper) as we can account for our time in each more easily. As it now stands, we have the Jeep SRT and the Corvette Z06 for private use and the BMWs are for business where we see most of the miles tick over as we continue to drive to business events and meetings rather than fly – and you wouldn’t blame us, would you, with all that’s happening on planes these days. Margo still shudders at the time at LAX when I was threatened with arrest over such a silly act, standing in the security line.

After writing the previous post I was asked whether our Corvette Z06 would receive a franchise car endorsement. Well, as we were writing that post there was some debate going on as to whether we should swap the Corvette for a new model as our local Chevrolet dealer had the ideal Z06 car on their showroom floor – a 2017 7 speed manual with the Z07 performance options. Wow – and guess what; it was also painted Torch Red, the same as our current Z06. Turns out, smarter minds prevailed and as we own the Vette outright and have it set up as our track toy, it made little sense to buy one more.

We have kind of done the Corvette thing for now and unless the new ZR1 blows our doors off, we will be playing a wait-and-see game over the new C8 iteration that is promised to be mid-engine for the first time. So, yes, the Corvette is a franchise car in every way. For the time being, at least … 

The really big news fortunately is that our RV is about ready for pick up. Just a few weeks shy of having to return the RV for de-winterizing, it has spent many months in the shop being reworked. Mechanically, it’s all good with the only change needed was with two of the house batteries. As for the inside of the RV, we are waiting to see how the corrective measures taken to redo wallpaper, some fixtures and hardware  including items that have been on backorder for over a year. There were some Tiffin recalls to be attended to and just in general, many times to be given a once over as durability isn’t a strong point on even the finest of RVs. 

After all the incidents we lived through last year with what had to be replaced, add in what has now been done and theoretically, we should have close to a new RV to break in. With almost 60,000 miles on the odometer after six summers, we have certainly gotten good use from our company command center. Throughout the summer months it has been our go-to vehicle for driving to technology events and conferences across the country. It’s seen both coast lines and touched both the northern and southern borders. The way it is set up so that I can work from the onboard office means that my time away from our home office is every bit as productive and no matter where we park it, there are always clients who want to drop in even if for just an evening martini.

From a company marketing perspective, it has been the perfect tool helping us promote Pyalla Technologies and as the summer rolls around, we expect to be hitting the highways once again. Without the Mini it will be our track car, the Corvette, that will be doing double duty as our towed vehicle and that isn’t entirely a bad thing to have to accommodate. And thankfully, Chevrolet makes good air conditioners and on that score, the Corvette has never let us down. It’s always been such a cool car to drive! But for now, we can share one last photo of the Mini present in the garage only hours before it would become homeless. Oh well, no franchise tag for the Mini but who knows? 
Margo really loved that toy so you can never say never, now can you? On the other hand, “Arrivederci, Mini” – now that doesn’t sound so bad, does it!

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