Never Stop Driving #30: The AI Tri-Five

This week, I wanted to write about ’50s Chevys to highlight some recent material. I was tight on time so I asked the internet, via an AI bot, to take a swing writing my newsletter. As I entered the topic into my new digital helper, I felt both giddy and horrified. Had I found a useful assistant or my replacement?

The text my new friend produced, in less than a minute, hit some of the high points: “The 1955–1975 Chevy is a classic American car known for its iconic design and reliability.” I didn’t ask to include models past the ’50s, but let’s continue anyway. “Under the hood, the 1955–1975 Chevy was powered by a range of V-8 engines, which offered strong performance and reliability. This made the 1955–1975 Chevy a popular choice for both daily driving and racing, and many models are still prized by collectors today.”

Okay, horrendously generic and the bot missed the significance of the small-block engine, but sort of impressive too, right? My son, who showed me this tech and is no doubt trying to leverage it for his homework, looked at me sadly and said, “You’ve been automated.” Someday, but not yet. That’s also a someday that might never come—a lot like self-driving cars. They’re maybe 75 percent of the way there, but that last 25 percent is a chasm that might never be crossed.

Tesla has not made the leap and is on its back foot regarding Elon Musk’s pronouncements about full self-driving capability now that a class-action lawsuit is proceeding. Tesla’s lawyers claimed its failure to deliver is not fraud. Tesla’s stock is down 50 percent this year. Meanwhile, Cruise CEO Kyle Vogt tweeted a reminder that on any given night, some 100 driverless taxis are giving rides in San Francisco.

Speaking of technology, the experiment where scientists shot a 2.05-megajoule laser into a minuscule bumble of hydrogen and started a fusion reaction that produced 3.15 megajoules was awesome. Megajoules are a unit of energy, so this means the experiment produced more than went in! A fantastic milestone. There is, however, the fine print: The scientists used 300 megajoules to fire the laser, which means there’s a long, long road before this tech throws off easy and free energy.

In any case, we are in incredibly interesting times.

Back to the Chevy. I’m ashamed to admit that before we wrote this love letter to the car, I did not know the meaning of “Tri-Five” Chevy. I thought it was an engine option of some sort. We explained that the car in question was produced for three years in the ’50s and thus this model run earned the “Tri-Five” nickname.

That car is one of those quietly ubiquitous machines. I hadn’t really thought of it until a chat with the founder of Inline Tube. That company makes brake kits for older cars and I wondered if he had shifted his business to accommodate newer cars, like the Fox-body Mustang. Yes, he had, but the oldies were still strong and he mentioned that he sells a kit a week for ’50s Chevys. “It’s like clockwork,” he said.

Coincidentally, the same week we published that article, we also appraised a restomodded one.

While we are talking about Chevys, did you hear the rumors of the Corvette SUV? They seem to be everywhere. Since Porsche has had great success with its SUVs and Mustang Mach-E sales are up 50 percent this year, if you’re in business to make money and you have the Corvette, would you not do the same? A hybrid Corvette is nearly a sure thing, according to a leaked online configurator.

Before I sign off, here are some last-minute gift ideas. And if you haven’t watched the latest Gymkhana video, where Travis Pastrana beats on the world’s toughest Subaru, it’s a masterpiece.

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    Nice 50’s Chevy article. In regards to a possible Corvette SUV – Corvette is a model name whereas Porsche is a manufacturer. So I think it would be a marketing mistake to delude/confuse the famed Corvette model “brand” by applying it to a completely different vehicle. Similarly, while the Mustang E is at least a car – it is NOT really a Mustang and as such has degraded the Mustang brand. I think Ford should have either produced an all electric Mustang that had the same form/carbody as the current ICE Mustang OR introduced the Mustang E under a new model name.

    I think Chevrolet will have a Corvette branded SUV / EV. Porsche needed to survive and a Porsche SUV was the saviour. Ford saw the Mustang as a brand to itself, like Jeep, and have had great success with the Mach E. Corvette is next performance minded SUV’s /EV’s

    The article is for 55-57 Chevys, but the article says 55-75. I know the numbers were accidentally transposed, but whoever is proofreading needs to do a better job. Thanks…

    While we are picking away at grammatical errors, I appreciate how almost always stay away from the ‘s trend these days when pluralizing a noun – almost, that is. Great article, as are all of yours, and it’s nice to have this weekly read, especially in the dark days of December, with snow on the ground and the roads too mushy to take a good car out. In the fifties, I was still in elementary school, but was old enough to appreciate I was living in a special decade for automobiles. Cheers.

    RE: That fusion energy experiment that you commented on: Turns out the lab that did this is running out of funding- they have pulled this stunt before. Shocking!!

    No you didn’t miss anything. I asked for something on the fifties and the bot spit out something that covered into the seventies

    Beyond just a Vette-branded SUV, the larger question is if GM “takes Corvette public” and spins it off as its own brand.
    It looks like we’ll eventually have Sting Ray, eRay, ZO6, ZR1, Zora, now the SUV. I’ve even heard a Touring/GT coupe/sedan mentioned too. That’s a six (or seven)-model line-up. Maybe it’s slicing the sports car pie a little thin, but it looks a lot like Porsche’s line-up to me.

    I have been thinking about the engines back then, especially the 283 and the 350 and any engine that you could work on yourself. No computer crap.

    Unfortunately, I believe the modern electronics are required to meet EPA and safety fuel mandates on newly manufactured vehicles. I’ve read that any car made on a frame made since 1974 has to meet Federal mandates. So the only way around it is to use an old frame to build a “new” car.

    I can’t wait for those self driving cars to get on the market. I’m going to play with them just like a cat plays with a mouse!

    Early 50s Chevs suspension bits lived on for another decade under early Vettes –so decades of aftermarket support.

    Tri-five Chevs were prized and saved early, and the parts shared lineage with just about everything GM that came after until the last of the body on frame cars in the 90s. I wouldn’t be surprised to see connections with current trucks from GM… point being it’s a lot easer to justify making aftermarket stuff for Chev vs. something like Nash as there is a good chance your part will fit lots of applications (and people still own some of those vehicles in enough numbers to justify product development).

    The Corvette SUV went from an April Fool’s joke to reality pretty fast. It’s too bad the article was pulled down from this site.

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