Tuesday, November 30, 2010 04:10
Does anyone remember the Infiniti marketing program that ran in 1990 or so, a key part of the campaign to introduce the Q45? Many, many pretty trees, luscious green forests and sinuous sexy roads, the silence punched through by the sound of a relatively sonorous, tachy small V8 being given a workout on those curvy roads… All of these seductive elements framed the mystique of a fleet-footed sedan, one would hope, a car whose performance was clearly being indicated by the alluring morsels of sound and activity being portrayed in the ad. Any lover of fast luxury sedans would love this one. Except no one knew what it looked like.
Problem was, Infiniti refused to show us the car. People wanted to see what made those sounds, what handled like that. Sales and fate showed that shoppers weren’t going to waste their time seeking a new car that they can see in their mind’s eye… Who wants to read a book that doesn’t have an end? The ads didn’t stick.
Now Fiat has taken the same path to introduce the cutesy little 500 they plan to retail through their newly purchased line of dealerships… err, I mean, Chrysler—in a year or two. Fiat’s been notoriously fickle about the when of their U.S. return. More...
Wednesday, November 24, 2010 03:05
While Government, er, General Motors big wigs, charity cases and corporate sycophants dash about with confetti and sparklers to celebrate their reintroduction to the stock market (as a lapdog “popular” media stands by with jaws agog), a much sadder spectacle is taking place far back in the wells of GM’s history. Witness this, true gearhead and blue-collar human, the bit-and-piece salvage and sale of the innards of General Motors.
The Wall Street Journal did a reasonably good job of fleshing out the hair on the knuckles of this sorry hand of cards, one that poor planning, predatory unions and questionable government intervention have dealt GM. See GM's Other Big Sale: What Am I Bid for This Wrench?
Author Mike Spector called the bits on sale “old machinery,” but for every one of you amongst us who’s used tools knows, old tools are often better. From all the photos I witnessed, plus tales from an old hot rod buddy who made the pilgrimage to this massive pseudo estate sale (I suppose that something died, so it could be a bankruptcy-estate sale), this was more about a pitiful yet fabulous assortment of all the details and bones of what made Chevys, Oldsmobiles, Pontiacs, Buicks, GMCs, Cadillacs, and a sprinkling of other variants happen. It’s the bones of GM, ripe for the scavengers. A party at a funeral. Well, more like a party in a corpse. More...
Thursday, November 18, 2010 03:48
Ahhh, the junk in your trunk. Your garage, to be more specific. The trunk where you park your junk. Do you have a real garage? The things in it tell you so. Is your barn/shed/port/garage full of poseur parts or all the neato bits necessary to confirm your adultivity? We’ve got a starter list for you. Try it on.
Got a full size toolbox? Many separate toolboxes won’t do. They’re also easier to steal. Big box can’t be carried. It’s got to be hauled. You’ve still got to secure your big box, though, because the hardcore thieves can get that too (the same way they steal your motorcycle—two big dudes and a pickup truck).
Sink a bolt into the floor or the studs and put a chain on it. Welding the wheels works, too, but that’s kinda permanent. Spare toolboxes are good for putting smaller assortments of tools together, or carting things on adventures (and you can reshape the plastic ones with a heat gun). More...
Monday, November 15, 2010 04:44
When you find a story that makes you think, it’s not always the story that matters. In this case, a brief overview of the confluence of Toyota and Honda recalls spurs some serious manufacturing and OEM thoughts that affect anyone who buys a new car.
The article is titled “Honda Joins Toyota in Brake System Recall. 472K Cars Affected.” Read it for yourself. Its nothing special, describing a Honda recall of about a half-million cars and minivans, and how the same simple brake system part – a seal in the master cylinder being broken down by brake fluid – just caused a mill-five recall for Toyota.
There are questions and thinking left after flitting through this story. Honda says, “Certain types of brake fluid could affect the seal” – what does “affect” mean? What kind of fluid? If it wasn’t an approved brake fluid, then it would void parts warranties, and Honda (and Toyota) wouldn’t bother with a recall, which means this seal (probably part of the plunger in the master cylinder), is being destroyed by brake fluids that the manufacturer has recommended. Whoops. More...
Tuesday, November 9, 2010 03:54
Speaking of rolling over into the abyss, plus demolishing and flying things. You see these things … they roll in from the web like tumbleweed on a dry breeze. Lots of it is crap, with strange people behaving oddly, often for the sake of the world bearing witness to why people think they’re strange in the first place. Some of it ain’t crap, though, like this radical—there aren’t too many words that work better—wreck for Pro 5.0 racer Dennis Bailey.
You could use the near ubiquitous YouTube to dig this up, or go through Stang TV and support a non world-dominating organization. Search Dennis Bailey + rollover + drag and you’ll probably be able to dig this up through a search engine, too. (Sorry, they wouldn't let us embed the vid here.)
Trapping with sub-five second times in the quarter-mile, the Pro 5.0 class is about as fast as you can go in a Mustang—in any stock-wheel-based dragster, really. That made it even harder on Mr. Bailey, who waited until the top of the run (at well over 200 mph), to tell his wheelie bars to fold up. At least that’s what it looked like—the YouTube isn’t the best quality.
As with lots of the best wreck action (as good as something this atrocious can be), many things happen in a very short amount of time. We see Dennis Bailey’s SN-95-bodied pre-stage, bring up the turbo against the trans-brake, stage, leave (rather nicely, I might add), and only at the top of the run (it’s the car in the far lane, in case you didn’t notice) do things go bad—quickly.
At the far end of the track, the front end lifts a little, then a little more, at which point the bars probably give up the ghost and things get bad. The car lifts up and over the K-rail, and proceeds to roll for at least ten more seconds. This is serious yard-sale wreckage, folks, so dig it while you can and it’s not you. This wreck got so much mileage we heard about it on a gearhead radio show in San Diego called Hank Watson’s Garage Hour. The good stuff gets mileage.