From the June 2022 issue of Car and Driver.
In hopes of getting him back in the fold, we sent John Phillips a Tesla Cybertruck. A week later, he sent this back.
Roll me in petunias, but didn’t Car and Driver ship me a Tesla Cybertruck via FedEx? Not tootin’ my own horn, but I’m a guy who notices the little things in life, such as things that sting or bite. Course, the C’truck is a darn big thing. Does it bite? Let’s find out!
I usually hate to bust into math straight off, because me and numbers equals Confucius. But here goes: Tesla says right out loud that their truck will carry 3500 pounds, meaning it could haul my 1970 Mustang Boss 302 in the cargo bed if somebody slid her in there half-teeter wedgewise. The battery pack has to be as heavy as the Hummer EV’s, so add another 2923 pounds. Then the truck itself is, I don’t know, 2.5 tons? Check my math, but fully loaded, this gray goose is gonna stomp dirt at right around 11,400 pounds, give or take, depending on that day’s Starbucks selection. That’s the weight of the Detroit Tigers plus 1.5 hot-dog stands.
[The tech department would like a word with you—Ed.]
Another thing about battery packs: You’re always driving around loaded even unloaded, because it doesn’t matter how much juice you pour into her, what with electricity hardly weighing anything—which I seriously did not know. A whole frying pan full of 110 volts, even 220 of them, weighs less than the hair clogging my sink, practically zero, even on those teal scales that Costco sells.
So it seemed peculiar that the one that arrived from C/D weighs only four pounds with a battery pack of mere ounces, meaning, I guess, that Elid Mulkx has slid headfirst down a lubed downsizing chute. Sorry, but I cannot ever remember that man’s name, though I once jumbled the letters and came up with Lone Smuk. That doesn’t sound South African to me. Icelandic, maybe.
I’ll tell you, this is the truck you want on that weekday that the missis and I like to call Make Your Own Goddamn Dinner Night. Also a good truck if you own a souvenir stand.
Two tech matters: (1) I couldn’t catch air until I rented ramps from Robbie Knievel (pricey) and it broke the ramps, and (2) 3500 pounds in the cargo bed equals wheelies (four-wheel drive not so effective).
[The tech department just left for the bowling alley in the long-term Sienna. Please, carry on, John—Ed.]
I must report that Tesla’s remote fobulator to engage the nonexistent engine is now so bulky it won’t slide into my pocket. Had to grab my grandpa’s cargo pants with pockets floppy enough to hide a regulation NFL football plus a pint of elderberry with a screw-top covered in lint. Then the remote got hot and made my thigh sweat.
Would’ve been nice if C/D‘s tech department had made it somewhat clearer that electricity is required for all of this. I mean, before that big scene at the Pilot pumps and all. Two more things: The Tesla Cybertruck smells more plasticky than Fourth of July picnic plates. Also, I think its styling was stolen from a drawing that yours truly fashioned by his talented lonesome in ninth-grade study hall, where Mrs. Sanderson yelled, “You can draw trucks or go straight home. Which is it?” To which I replied, “Can I do both?” (Yeah, so next she phones my mom, saying how high school wasn’t sufficiently structured for a youth of my potential.)
I searched the owner’s manual for the lubrication interval. Not listed. So I called Etol Milks, who suggested fresh applications of Pacquin’s or Jergens, the one with the aromatic jojoba, every night before bed. Yeah, well, fine, but if you follow his advice, you won’t be swirling on Turtle Wax anytime soon. Gunk don’t stick.
Did you know that the prototype C’truck had bulletproof glass? I wondered how many buyers asked for that option, but Enot just glared, cause he’d already publicly swung a sledgehammer or a brick or his entire brain at the driver’s-side window in some sort of demonstration intended to prove he was twice his own gender. Did not witness this myself, but two words: insurance claim. Now he only throws bricks at the federal government.
I took the truck to a NASCAR race, but they don’t allow electric vehicles or hybrids on the property (so-called Prius Amendment, Section VIII, Article 5.4-a.). Nevertheless, a sunburned fellow in the paddock named Razorback Earl said he could attach fake valve covers and chrome exhaust tips to my Swizzla, as he called it. Then Earl and I parked the truck on display, and it attracted as many as two spectators, one of whom tucked an NRA application under the wiper. Then he thought about it and ripped it up. Later, between Kyle leading Stages 1 and 2 of the big race, I attended what Earl called the Our America’s Heroic Distillers Brought to You by Miller celebration, closely followed by the Girls Gone Somewhat Wild/American Rifleman/Stop the Steal/Keggeration Nation/Dance-a-thonic. The dancers asked me to rev my Tesla’s motor but seemed disappointed. It sounded more like the high-pitched wheeze of my old basset hound, Winston. So Earl told me to stash the truck in a shed behind his trailer and close the door real tight, I guess so it wouldn’t get stolen, then suggested I look into employment opportunities at a nearby farm called Ride the Pony.
I steered this truck to an actual construction site where they’re building a tanning booth in Fancy Dan’s All-U-Kin-Chew Café (Dan invented the Gravy Avalanche, earning him the Fancy title). One thing I noticed about the Cybertruck: Folks smile. Laugh, actually. My point being, with construction foremen and all, you’re gonna develop an image problem while Tesling. What worked for me: Lean real casual on the door and spit. Small gobbets, negativo on the loogies. Mind your Jordan Fight Clubs.
I told Elan Monks that all of this talk about his truck’s “exoskeleton”—real big highlight in his glossy brochure—reminded me of, like, a beetle. Then he blurted politically incorrect stuff about Beetles during the war. I also suggested he hire a kid in Bushwick to redraw his official Cybertruck logo, which right now reads, and I quote, “crabbrakk.” That’s possibly a fishing term but with the downside of being in hieroglyphics. Because I nudge up against the literary world, one of my buds happens to be in charge of King Tut’s bandages, so I asked for a translation.
“Hell if I know,” he said.
“Okay, so who would know?” I wondered.
“No,” he answered, “that’s the translation: ‘Hell if I know.'”
Turns out he speaks numero languages (as if that’s even possible) and told me that another translation is “Beaucoup de bozos.” So maybe the DMV is involved. By the way, keep your Tesla Cybertruck away from your Samsung widescreen unless you really enjoy white noise.
[Breathe, John, breathe—Ed.]
Which reminds me, Tesla should hire Matthew McConaughey for their commercials, apart from Matt having trouble with personal pronunciation when he talks to himself, which lately is a lot. Idea: Have Matt talk about fracking with Malcolm Bricklin sitting in the passenger’s seat. Is Malcolm still alive? Know what? Better idea: Let Tiger Woods take the wheel for the high-speed stuff, see how she handles. (Then Tiger tells us, “Hey, this is a drivers’ truck!” Funny!) Either Tiger or, honestly, any guy named Darrell.
Folks criticize the form-over-friction styling. Not me. Know why? Earl and I could rebuild this entire truck from pieces falling off an Airbus A320. The windshield is so flat that pigeons, U-joints, and Renault coupes just Teflon right off. Course, if you ever bust that glass—size of a square-dance floor—your insurance agent will total the whole truck. Food for thought.
The owner’s manual goes mental over the perils of water, especially driving your C’truck into, say, a settling pond or the Los Angeles River. Funny, a recent news report actually insists the truck might skate on top of water, but that turned out to be a claim Econ Mole made for himself.
Anyway, I decided to work some science, give ‘er a full reservoir-dog dunking. Color me red-faced, people, but that marked the end of my road test. Still, I got the job at the pony farm. Self-hug.
[Mr. Quiroga: Sorry, but I’m out of practice after losing my column two years ago. Anyway, no need to pay me, although my lawyer, Cal “Amine” Goshen, might be in touch right after his skin heals. Pretty sure it’s psoriasis. Give him a couple days, he’s in some sort of paternity pickle with his secretary Brittnee—Love, Johnny]
No Body, No Crime
A close inspection reveals that the wheels and tires are one unit, entirely rubber with heavy knobulations that are ideal for off-roading but will negatively affect rolling resistance. Goodyear should investigate this novel design. The battery pack is way smaller than expected, so hats off to Mr. Muscatel, although in this photo it appears he lost drive to the front wheels. Suggestion: Look behind the sofa.
John Phillips’s most recent book, Four Miles West of Nowhere: A City Boy’s First Year in the Montana Wilderness, is published by Pronghorn Press.