Wednesday, May 2, 2012 11:34
The car collecting hobby ain’t no thinkin’ thing, to quote the words of philosophers Tim Nichols and Mark D. Sanders. It’s, as popularized by Trace Adkins, a passion that we can't hold back.
I became infatuated with restoring an ex-Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Memphis 1960 Ford F-100 that’s been in my family since it was new (my grandfather was CEO of the Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Memphis). It’s got a 292 Y-block V-8 and a three-speed manual transmission.
I dreamed and schemed. After not seeing it for 11 years, I discovered the truck had been vandalized. All except one piece of the chrome had been stripped away. The dang pillagers even stole the carburetor. Someone, who will remain nameless except to say his last name is “Demere,” shot out the windows. At least they didn’t steal the serial plate and the hood ornament.
I was thinking about finding a restored 1960 F-100 and fitting it with as many surviving pieces, including the serial plate, as possible. Then recreate the Coca-Cola paint job. After five years of work and $50,000, I’d have a truck worth $20,000. Maybe.
My left brain steered me toward a fully restored ’54 to ’60 F-100. The problem is finding one I can afford. I’ve used autotempest.com to search craigslist offerings across the country. A car-guy friend looked at a ’56 in California. It was listed at $15,000. My friend responded: “No.” Oldride.com, oldcarsonline.com and classiccars.com show some really nice ones...starting around $25,000 and passing $50,000. Mrs. Demere said, at that price, the bed better be comfortable because that’s where I’d be sleeping.
Also, I’m picky. My dream must be as original as possible. No 5.0 Mustang engines, disc brakes, lowered suspension or Tremec transmission. (And no automatic trannies, either.) I’m not looking for a racecar. I want a time machine.
Sing along with Trace: There's nothin’ that we need to analyze. There ain't no rhyme or reason why ‘cause it ain’t no thinkin’ thing.
Wednesday, March 28, 2012 06:52
“Put some ice on it and take a double dose of Advil.” That’s my physical-therapist wife’s standard answer to people who request free cures for their pains. Car guys, at least those with fair-sized egos, need a handful of similar diagnoses for car problems.
Before answering any car-advice question, make sure you’re not stumbling into a trap. Ask what repairs have already been made and the results. Many want to compare your answer against a professional’s. If the repairs worked, I say: “That’s just what I was thinking.” If the repairs weren’t fruitful, I recommend taking the car to another shop.
Ask those who haven’t taken the car to a shop how long the problem has existed. Unless they say it started yesterday, know they are unlikely to heed any recommendation. They WANT you to say, “It’s nothing. Just keep driving and I’m sure the grinding and pounds will go away.” Feel safe in telling these people anything.
If you want to offer potentially useful recommendations, here are a few: More...
Wednesday, March 14, 2012 17:13
Ah, Nuts. As we rode up a mountain road, my friend repeatedly swerved to miss squirrels darting across the road. I told him: “If you crash while trying to dodge a squirrel, I’m going to go back, kill it and fry it up for your last meal.” This Chicago-area driver should have taken my advice.
Something's Fishy on I5. The “Most Dedicated Trooper Award” should go to the Washington State Patrol’s Jamie Arnold. Instead of leaving potential hazardous and certainly disgusted fish heads in the road, Trooper Arnold grabbed a broom and cleaned up the mess. Now, THAT’S how we want our tax dollars spent!
Friends Til the End. Using a designated driver can be a great idea, but this pair failed on several levels. They didn’t abstain from alcohol, they failed to get medical care for their friend, and they didn’t stop driving when they discovered he was dead.
Wilmaaaaaaa. Maybe he was trying out for the role of Fred Flintstone. A Michigan man knew his brakes were inoperable (and his license suspended), but he drove anyway. While trying—and failing—to stop his vehicle by dragging his feet on the pavement, the man’s pickup hit a total of four cars. The driver passed sobriety check, so he can only fall back on the “I’m stupid” excuse. And you drive among people just like this every day.
Wednesday, February 22, 2012 17:49
“You’re crushing my canaries!” My driving students, whether car-company test drivers or teens on their first lesson, often hear me shout some version of that phrase. All are first told to hold the steering wheel with a gentle, light touch: “As if holding a bird.”
A white-knuckle grip does several bad things. The driver’s biceps, trapezius and neck muscles are rigid. Steering motions are made with a Heisman Trophy-style straight arm. Small, precise steering inputs are impossible. Passengers get queasy or frightened.
White-knuckling performance drivers can’t feel what the front tires are doing. The car could be on the edge of adhesion or miles away. I can feel more from the right seat than do these inexperienced, untrained drivers.
For racers, vibration transmitted through stiff muscles produces blurry vision or what Wile E. Coyote sees after taking an Acme anvil to the head. (When I tested a Reynard 95I CART Indy car, regular driver Parker Johnstone warned that I’d see several rotating images in bumpy corners. “Don’t try to drive them all,” said Johnstone. “Just pick one and drive it.”)
I make white-knucklers repeatedly open their grip. Sometimes, I require they hold the steering wheel with just their fingertips. I’ve even massaged trapezius muscles in an effort to get drivers to relax.
White-knucklers often are concentrating so hard that they fail to breath. One student was very rough with the wheel, so I glanced at his hands: white knuckles. Then I noticed his face was turning blue. “Sir, let’s slow down and take a breather,” said I. “I’m not breathing!” said my student. “Yeah, I know,” I responded. “And you’ve squeezed the intestines out of the bird!”
Wednesday, February 15, 2012 15:15
GoDaddy, through Stewart-Haas Racing, purchased a guaranteed starting spot in the 2012 Daytona 500 for Danica Patrick. Those involved hope they also bought an assured starting spot for the other nine 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup races she plans to enter.
“Why did NASCAR allow this?” you ask.
The short answer: Guaranteeing a starting spot for the top 35 teams in owner’s points is NASCAR’s version of the franchise system in other sports. It allows the top teams to assure the sponsors their cars will start every Sprint Cup race. (Imagine the riot if Junior wasn’t fast enough to earn a starting spot at Talladega!)
Also, race teams have something to sell when they leave the sport. Formula 1 employs a different system to assure all but the worst team starts every race, and that owners have residual value. More...