AutoMatters: “Need for Speed” Preview, “RoboCop,” a Car Show & More

By Jan Wagner

This week AutoMatters takes you to the movies with a preview of “Need for Speed” and a review of “RoboCop.” Then we’ll drop by a car show at the Grand Opening of TAG Motorsports in Vista, CA.

“The Need for Speed” began in 1994 as a popular video game franchise that featured street racing in cool, fast cars. As the years went by the game play got better and increasingly more realistic, as video game technology improved.

In March “Need for Speed” will come to life on the big screen. As you will see in the official preview trailer at the film’s web site (, the “Need for Speed” is about a cross-country, high-speed, adrenaline-pumping, non-stop, thrills and spills car chase. The human hero of the film is a “muscle car mechanic and street racer” named Tobey Marshall (played by Aaron Paul), who gets out of prison looking to “settle the score with the man responsible for his false conviction.” To get that done, he and his buddies race-prepare the four-wheeled star of the film: a Mustang, for what will become a wild ride across the United States as he is chased by the police and by drivers of exotic supercars who are hoping to cash in on a six million dollar reward from the bad guy.

Perhaps not coincidentally, 2014 is also the year that will see the celebration of the 50


anniversary of Ford’s iconic Mustang. I’ll be heading to Las Vegas in April in my own Ford Mustang for one of the two gigantic national celebrations of that event.

There is a scene in the movie’s trailer where a character, who appears to be a radio DJ and goes by the name of Monarch (played by Michael Keaton), speculates about whether that wicked-fast “Chariot of the Gods” Mustang is being driven by Tobey. That scene reminded me of a similar scene in another action-packed car movie called “Vanishing Point” (the original 1971 version), where a hero by the name of Kowalski (played by Barry Newman) raced along the highway, under very different circumstances, in a white, 1970 Dodge Challenger. You really should check out that movie too.

Next up is a review of the new movie “RoboCop,” starring Joel Kinnaman in the title role. Michael Keaton plays a greedy bad guy.

If you’ve seen and enjoyed (as I did) the original “RoboCop” movie from 1987, you already know pretty much what the storyline is, but almost 30 years of dramatic improvements in movie special effects have had a huge positive impact on this version of “RoboCop.”

This is a fun, action-packed, shoot-‘em-up movie that doesn’t take itself too seriously, although it might make people think about the consequences of enhancing police officers’ and soldiers’ capabilities with robotic technologies. At what point might these people lose enough of their humanity to turn into compassionless, robotic killing machines? Do the ends of sharply reducing crime, or defeating wartime enemies and terrorists, justify the means?

As “RoboCop” dramatically illustrates, robots have the potential to be highly effective killing machines, but governments have the power and responsibility to limit their use. Corporations stand to make enormous profits from the deployment of such machines, but only if their governments allow them to do so. Somewhere in the middle of all this is public opinion, which in “RoboCop” gets stirred up by the media, as portrayed by Samuel L. Jackson.

TAG Motorsports is a high performance automotive aftermarket retailer and service center. To celebrate their move to their new facility in Vista, CA, they held a Grand Opening that included a car show, a vendor fair and raffles. Prizes included several sets of tires (no, I didn’t win any).

If the cars in the show were any indication, a TAG Motorsports specialty is high performance European cars including Audi, Porsche, Mercedes-Benz and Lamborghini. Exhibitors at the vendor fair included Yokohama and Pirelli (tires), and GMG Motorsports (high performance wheels, suspension, exhaust systems and more). If you’d like to learn more, go to


Finally, mark your calendars for the California Festival of Speed. From April 4 – 6, what is billed as the “Largest Porsche Event in the Southwest” will be held at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana. There will be PCA Club and Pirelli Club Racing, a concours, a swap meet, vendors and more. Admission is free. For more information, go to

As always, please write to

with your comments and suggestions.

Copyright © 2014 by Jan Wagner – #319