Thursday, September 23, 2010 02:06
Planning a long road trip? There are ONLY two things you need to do to make your car ready to get you safely there and back.
- First, remember all that maintenance—tires, brakes, battery, alternator belts, spark plug wires, distributor cap—you’ve been putting off? Get it done.
- Know all that scheduled work—timing belt, heater hoses, transmission inspection—that’s due (or past due)? Get it done.
It’s as simple and expensive as that.
But what if you’ve already blown your budget on critical stuff such as ocean-view motels and margaritas? What do you REALLY have to get done? How much do you want to make it there and back? Here are some tips. You choose. More...
Wednesday, September 22, 2010 02:30
From the So Funny It’s Sad Dept., we recalled that Toyota (and other hybrid manufacturers, in theory) are outfitting their happy little smiling, partially electric cars with noisemakers. Seems someone is afraid that silent cars will not be noticed despite being large and shiny and metal and full of people and weighing thousands of pounds and being in the street all the time anyway… Hey look, there’s an upside to that horrible noisy inefficient internal combustion after all – it’s less likely to kill you, or so this story would suggest.
From Fox, in a piece called “Toyota Prius Gets Fitted With a Noisemaker,” the reporter claims a primary use of the optional hummer (the driver can turn it on and off—how’s that for shifting liability?) is to protect older pedestrians, but if recollection serves us, the first thing that went in our grandparents was their hearing. Hmmm. Who’s that over there, your big brother? More...
Tuesday, September 21, 2010 02:30
Finding folks crashing their junk and junking their crash all over the web is easy. These web-vids don’t speak too highly of mankind, though. How about something to brag to your alien buddies about? Supreme examples of professionals doing extraordinarily skillful things, piloting wonderful vehicles being used as their makers intended are also to be had. Let’s be proud of our species for a change. And, no, if you did it on Gran Turismo, it doesn’t count. Posting your video-game heroics on YouTube is, in fact, one of the sure signs you’re a poseur.
Massive Road-Race & Rally Action
Yuppers, more hillclimbing, but here they’re racers laying it down with massive prowess. The first driver on “3 Car Pile Up—Episode 8—Hill Climb” is purported to be none other than Japanese hillclimb legend Nobuhiro “Monster” Tajima (you’d be called “Monster” too if you were a six-foot seven Japanese guy), who’s come so close to the record on Pike’s Peak (and to the edge of Pike’s Peak) that he likely can actually taste it. He’s awesome. The second portion of the web-vid is of an unidentified hillclimber in Europe (traditional hillclimbing is often done on tarmac, in road-race vehicles) in a very identifiable Ferrari 333SP. And, no, the video is NOT sped up. Okay, so there’s a snippet at the end that’s got a radical trail buggy trying to go up a sheer cliff, but count that as a bonus. More...
Monday, September 20, 2010 02:30
Expletives flew as I tried to find a country lane on a moonless night. At this point, I had no choice but to resolve to get new headlight bulbs for our 2003 Camry. (Every family needs an old, roomy and, most importantly, paid-for vehicle.) Car guys: It’s easy to go fast in a BMW M3. Try tackling a mountain road in Camry on low-grip tires. Trust me, it requires precision, patience, and plenty of time dancing on the edge of adhesion. It’s also a lot of fun to go around a freeway ramp faster than a poorly driven BMW, but I’m getting off-topic.
Anyway, the next morning revealed a surprise: The Camry had cataracts—its plastic headlamp lenses had clouded over. I hadn’t paid attention before (obviously), but a glance around any parking lot will show a fair number of cars and trucks with cloudy, yellowed plastic headlight covers. And taillights and turn signals, too. Not only does all this foggy plastic make it hard to see and be seen, it makes the cars look old and poorly maintained. More...
Thursday, September 16, 2010 02:00
Try something you haven’t; the sound less listened. Expand your mind. Let us bend your brain in ways that have never come to mind, some excellriffic eargasma that doubles as genuine driving music. Better, these all have the striding, surging energy that keeps driving music in your head. The list is endless, so we’re going to start on Planet “A,” sprinkled with a few off-the-head specials. These are tracks that you must Play with your hands on the wheel. And don’t worry, there’s no “pop” here—pop is soulless by definition and, as they say, dead; it just doesn’t know.
Feeling like some tracks that carry a heavy cosmic vibe, very lush and groovy without getting weighed down with electronic overproduction? You’ve heard this track before: “Surfing on a Rocket,” by Air. It’s on Talkie Walkie, a clean, melodic album, probably the best of Air’s catalogue. “Surfing” was the track Nissan used with their Armada ads, those filmed on what looks like the North Shore of Oahu. It’s definitely a surfy sound, but not choked with bliss and BS. If you’re digging the big groovy surf-type vibe but don’t need to be carried away by modified sounds, take a taste of The Three E.P.s by the Beta Band. The Three E.P.s album is more San Fran-surf than Air’s big island sound, but they work well in tandem, for no reason. More...