1985, Somewhere in Ohio, Luke Sinistra’s Sunbolt
He revved the engine menacingly, as he’d done four times before in that same night, and had been doing for months now. The high-revving V6 responded eagerly, 220 horsepower demanding to be unleashed. Luke put the Sunbolt in first, pinned the engine to the rev limiter, and dumped the clutch. The back of the car, already an astounding racket, burst into squealing tires as Luke threaded the Sunbolt through a careful dance, the rear tires spinning madly. The lazy loops slowly formed letters, and after a couple minutes, formed words. “Don’t Buy This Junk, Buy a Sinistra.”
For the past three months, Luke had been doing these covert missions with the Sunbolt, driving into competitor’s parking lots in a dark-colored sports car, almost always a Charcoal black Sunbolt, though occasionally one in Crimson Sky was used, and ripping off a loopy, cursive burnout to warn people away from his competition. But for Ardent, he’d reserved judgement, and had done his striping in the Sunburn yellow menace, his personal car, complete with the license plate “GOOD SIN” visible. He didn’t care if they noticed this time.
Of course, he’d cared a lot more when he ripped one across a couple of Erin dealerships, and he’d only left a squiggly mess of stripes through the Bogliq lot, but for Ardent, he was throwing down a gauntlet. He was telling them, “This is what my first generation sports car can do.”
And, of course, the bright yellow car was long gone by the time the cops could arrive, back on a highway heading toward Nevada, the tires worn nearly bald from doing burnouts.
He knew the other company CEO’s could tell who was doing this. If it wasn’t him doing it, it was someone he hired, someone who could handle the rear-engined car’s twitchy handling.
1988, Sinistra Motors Headquarters, Nevada
“Are you fuckin’ kidding me?!” Luke yelled, sending Jeff back-pedaling out of Luke’s office. “I authorized you to spend money and create prototypes because I expected results! Yes, the Sunbolt is a success, I know that. That’s the only reason I haven’t fuckin’ fired you yet. Where the hell are my god-damn turbochargers!?”
“We’re trying to manufacture them in house, so we…” Jeff started to say, only for Luke to go on another outburst.
“Why the fuck are you reinventing the fucking wheel!? You could have contracted with a company and we could have had turbos five-fucking-years-ago! Do the in-house manufacturing once we have a product line, you shithead!”
“I… Didn’t think about that.” Jeff admitted.
“Get the fuck out of my office. And Jeff, if you don’t have a Turbo Sunbolt ready for me in two years, you better have your desk packed before you come to my office. This has gone on long enough.”
“We… Could adapt the engine with variable valve lift.” Jeff said, in a half-hearted attempt to calm Luke down. He relaxed when it seemed to work, and even more so when Luke said, “Do it. It’s half of the Sin-Cam project done, then, and we’ll figure out the other half when we have time. At least it’ll fix the crippling gas-mileage of the Sunbolt.”
Jeff hurried down the hall, back to the engine design room. Before making any calls, he opened the locked filing cabinet and grabbed the bottle from within, pouring himself a large glass before downing it, putting the bottle and the glass back into the cabinet, and locking it back up. He knew if Luke ever caught him drinking on the job, he’d be fired. Luke was known to dislike activities that wasted company time, and he’d soured a few friendships when he imposed a no-smoking policy on the property. And Jeff remembered warning two new employees to his department about not smoking or drinking on the job, only for both of them to get busted, one that day, and one a week later.
The first guy had simply shrugged it off, wasn’t the first time he’d been fired, let alone gotten in trouble for smoking in the bathroom. The second, however, had also crossed Luke’s hard stance against drugs. Jeff had smelled the pot and tried to find the source, but Andrea, Luke’s current head of the Performance Division, had found the guy first, and then found Luke before Jeff could. Luke had the cops on site before Jeff could even warn the guy, and Luke made sure he left in handcuffs, to make a statement about drugs on company property.
Jeff picked up the phone and started calling companies, asking if they could contract out to Sinistra Motors for some turbochargers. He hoped he could find some that were suitable for the Sunbolt before 1990, because he really needed to keep this job.