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Author Topic: Some cool car related blog posts I stumbled onto.  (Read 787 times)
Chauncey
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« on: August 16, 2013, 07:01:31 PM »

Freedom is a Smoky Burnout… But Not For Long

I take comfort in the fact that I can still drive old cars instead of new ones. I don’t have to have six air bags, stability control, back-up cameras or OnStar. If I like, I can use an old F100 pick-up as my daily driver. Or enjoy the computer-free rowdiness of my ancient muscle car. I do not want all the Stuff that today’s (and surely, tomorrow’s) vehicles are fitted with, by order of DC. I don’t feel the need. It’s expensive, often absurdly complex – and a lot of it is simply overbearing. I don’t like being assaulted by a “belt minder” buzzer if I choose not to wear my seat belt. I don’t have any use for a back-up camera (never having run over a child). And most of all, I like being able to squeal the tires without being countermanded by an electronic Mrs. Doubtfire. I definitely do not want a vehicle fitted with any sort of data recording device or GPS transponder – which pretty much all new cars now have.

If I’m signing the check, I’ll do what I like with the damn thing.

But I fear this window is closing. At some point,  probably within the next five years if not sooner – older, pre-computer vehicles will be forcibly decommissioned. It will become a crime to use them for anything other than “parade” or “cruise” events – strictly monitored and enforced. It will be done in the name of the environment – or safety.

Maybe both.

Several states have passed laws making it much harder to register and drive an older vehicle on public roads. In my home state of Virginia, for instance, the police have the authority to conduct roadside “inspections” of any vehicle wearing antique plates. If, in the opinion of the cop – who is a cop and not a mechanic – the vehicle does not meet either safety or emissions requirements, he may physically seize the car’s plates and registration on the spot – and have the vehicle impounded. It’s then up to you to prove your car has not been unlawfully modified ( just as it’s up to you to disprove whatever charges are filed against you by the IRS).

Other states have repealed laws that once exempted antique vehicles more than 25 or 30 years old from the emissions inspections required of modern cars – even though the number of cars over 30 years old in regular use is so low that their impact on air quality is nil.

That’s the leading edge of the spear. Rigmarole such as the above can be a hassle – but at least, it can still be dealt with. Most old car hobbyists are fastidious about maintenance – and keeping their cars up to specification is already par for the course.

But there’s the rub: “… up to specifications.”

What happens when laws are passed requiring older cars to meet current safety and/or emissions specifications?

You know the answer. It will be the end of the road. Old cars will become true museum pieces. We will no longer be able to operate them on public roads – unless you’re rich enough to retrofit your car into compliance. At the very least, I expect the government to pass a law requiring that every motor vehicle be fitted with a GPS transponder. Progressive Insurance is already pushing for it – voluntarily, of course.

For the moment.

Don’t doubt it – the day is coming when it will no longer be voluntary.  The “safety” lobby and environmental fanatics will demand it. Government will be happy to oblige. It wants information, in real time – all the time.

And most of all, it wants control.

Your movements will be kept track of, the information stored in computer banks and cross-referenced against other bits of data to aid the state in properly profiling you. It is already happening. To expect that it will not happen to cars is wishful thinking.

The technology exists to erect the “intelligent highway” – one where transponders in your vehicle communicate in real time with satellites overhead and receiver/transmitters posted along the side of the road. It is possible to make driving any faster than whatever the speed limit is impossible simply by sending a set of instructions to your car’s computer. And if a cop wants to stop you, he’ll be able to shut you down at the touch of a button – literally. GM’s OnStar system already has this capability – and it has been used. So far, only against car-jackers and other deserving parties. But that’s just the opening chorus of the opera. Just as the “enemies of freedom” were – at first – only swarthy young men of Middle Eastern extraction.

Any old car that can’t be monitored, that isn’t subject to immediate control, will be outlawed.

Preventing you from doing a burnout is only the beginning.
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Chauncey
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« Reply #1 on: August 16, 2013, 07:02:12 PM »

The Beauty of the Burnout

One thing I really like about old muscle cars is the freedom to do a burnout without having to beg a computer for permission first.

I got to talking about that the other day with a friend who, like me, is into old Pontiacs. He has a ’79 10th Anniversary Trans-Am with the “T/A 6.6″ high-performance version of the 400 Pontiac V-8 and 4-speed manual transmission (last of the line; Pontiac discontinued the big 400 V-8 after 1979).

We both agreed that there is something wonderful about bringing up the revs, sidestepping the clutch and being in full charge of what happens next. With an old muscle car – no computer, no traction or stability control – there’s an element of real danger involved. The back end first slides violently left, then snaps back right as the tires fight for grip – the driver countersteering while modulating the throttle to keep the car in line. You must be brave to keep your foot in it. And you’re in the now while you’re doing it – balancing delicately on the knife edge of controllability.

Surprising things can and sometimes do happen; every trip down the quarter-mile’s an adventure.

This kind of thing took skill – which made it a challenge. And that made mastery of the art a real achievement, something to be proud of. It took an expert driver to hook up an old school muscle car with a big-inch V-8, skinny tires no computer-assisted electronics and extract the maximum performance of which it was capable without killing himself in the process. Here I’m reminded of legendary stunt man Evel Kneivel; the guy did 100 yard jumps on a no-suspension Harley; that took either serious balls or serious stupidity – as well as incredible skill. The kids on their purpose-built Motocrossers doing “extreme” stuff today have no clue how genuinely extreme things were in Evel’s day. The dude was The Man.

Now, there are some potent new cars being built today. I recently spent some seat time in a new Corvette Z06 and the thing will do tricks that full-on race cars could not do when I was in high school (1980s).

But with the old stuff, you’re riding The Beast; not merely a passenger along for the ride. Anyone can drive the new stuff fast.

The other thing my Trans-Am buddy and I got to talking about was the quirkiness of older stuff – even when it was new.

Today’s cars are incredibly uniform; the paint’s nearly always perfect, for instance – and you never encounter weird disparities in body panel alignment, fit and finish. Back “in the day,” in contrast, it was not at all uncommon to find two examples of the same brand-new car that were in a number of ways very different from one another. The night shift at the plant might have had less conscientious (or, let’s face it, sober) line workers – so one car got put together a bit less precisely. Or maybe you’d see orange peel in the paint of one – but not another. Maybe the guy spraying the second car was pissed at GM. Today, new cars are painted by machines – not men. The machines never get tired, hung over – or hostile. So the paint jobs are almost always show quality perfect – every time.

And believe it or not, some otherwise identical cars back in the day would run better than others, too. It sucked if you got a bad one – and it was a happy day if yours was a good one – but the lottery-like nature of the new car business in those days made for variety, good times (and bad times) and always some interesting stories.

Today, old car restorers go to elaborate lengths to document – and even reproduce – the eccentricities of the factory. That will likely never be necessary with modern cars when they become old cars – because build standards have tightened up and there’s virtually no slop in the line anymore. Standardization has been honed to the nth degree. It has given us vastly superior quality control, reliability and longevity that would have been unimaginable in the ’70s.

But when it comes to personality, individuality – soul – there is nothing to compare with sliding behind the wheel of something put together in that more slapdash (and long-gone) world.

Every time I light the back wheels up, I’m taken back to Then.
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Chauncey
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« Reply #2 on: August 16, 2013, 07:28:16 PM »

The Golden Years

Back in the ’80s, you may have had to “Drive 55″ on the highway – but in other ways, things were pretty damn good. At least, a lot better in a number of ways than they are now. For instance, you could:golden lead

* Fill up a V-8 muscle car’s 22 gallon gas tank for about $25.

Imagine that! Unleaded regular for about a buck a gallon. Premium  – without ethanol -  for a few cents more.

This made it economically conceivable to drive a V-8 muscle car every day – even as a high school kid working part-time at a fast food place. It also helped that V-8 muscle cars were relatively cheap back then.  At least, the used ones.  The ’80s were close enough in time to the ’70s – and the ’60s – that used V-8 cars from those eras were still abundant on car lots and in the classifieds. A high school friend of mine bought a ’71 Plymouth GTX with the big block 440 (375 hp) in 1986 for $2,700.  That’s about $5,700 in today’s Fed Funny Money – about what you would need to spend to buy a so-so used Civic or Corolla. That ’71 GTX my buddy bought for $2,700 back in the day would cost you at least $30,000 today.

Nowadays, there is no way you’re driving a V-8 muscle car as a high school kid – period  – unless someone else is paying the gas bill. Most adults working full-time can’t afford to feed (or even buy) a V-8 muscle car.golden 2

So, it’s four cylinder Civics with fart can exhaust for the kids – and FWD V-6 Camrys for Mom & Dad.

* Electronic voices may have told you, “the door is ajar” – but costumed goons didn’t threaten you with guns to “buckle up for safety.”

The state was not your mommy – or your wife – not yet. It actually left you alone – for the most part – unless you had committed some sort of external violation. Something that at least plausibly (however thinly) could be argued impinged upon the rights of other people.

You could ride in the bed of pick-up trucks – and hang a shotgun rack loaded with actual shotguns (loaded shotguns) on the back window of your pick-up truck and no one batted an eye. Much less any worries about being thug-scrummed by a dozen black-clad Ninja cops fretting “officer safety.”

You could “sleep it off” in the back seat – and cops would not only leave you alone, they’d commend you for being responsible.

Today, Big Brother is married to Big Momma – and we have been reduced to a sort of second childhood, enforced at gunpoint.

* It was still legal to have an open beer on you – so long as you didn’t have too many beers in you.golden 3

Drunk driving was illegal – but you weren’t considered “drunk” simply because you’d had a beer. Either in your belly – or in your hand. These days, you will be crucified without mercy if caught with an open beer in your hand while driving – even if you’ve only had a few sips and even if a single beer cannot possibly render you “drunk” – even by today’s demented standards – under the law.

Zero tolerance – for common sense.

* It was easier to  “speed” – because it was easier to get away with “speeding.”

Today’s cars – including economy cars – are much quicker (and faster) than the cars of the ’80s. The problem is using that capability. In the ’80s, a good radar detector made you almost invulnerable. Today, cops have instant-on radar as well as laser – which neutralizes the advantage of having a radar detector. By the time it alerts, you’re already caught.

And of course, there are automated speed cameras today. These didn’t exist in the ’80s.Or even the ’90s – mostly. (When I worked in DC in the mid-1990s, I routinely banshee-ran down Constitution Ave at warp speed; do that today and you’d find your mailbox stuffed with payin’ paper a week later.)

Also, the consequences if you did get pinched weren’t as over-the-top and punitive as they are today. Mostly, you just had to deal with a relatively small fine and maybe some DMV rigmarole. Today, the fines are not small – in part because of all the add-on “fees” (such as “contributions” to the state’s “safety awareness” program). Some states will slap you with several hundred dollars in fines over a simple speeding ticket. And mere speeding can, in several states, very easily become statutory reckless driving – a huge bust with life-changing consequences. It has sapped the fun out of driving – and cowed the populace into submission. Even if you want to drive fast, it’s often hard to drive fast because everyone else is driving at a snail’s pace – out of fear of The Man.golden 4

* Burnouts were possible – in almost any car.

By the start of Reagan’s second term, RWD cars were going away – and FWD cars were coming online – but interventionist traction control was still years in the future. If you felt like spinning the tires, you could spin the tires. Maybe you had to dump the clutch – or power brake it, if the car was automatic. But lay rubber you could. Today, it’s often hard to squeal the tires – even in a powerful V-8 RWD car – because the computer doesn’t want you to. Even high-performance cars must be “safe” and “controlled.

Which makes them a helluva lot less fun.

* No sail fawns.

That meant (among other things) when you were in your car, you were incommunicado. A respite from work – and people, generally. If you spent an hour or two in the car everyday, it was your time. Not time to be “reachable.”  People – adult people – also necessarily spent more time driving than gabbling like teenage girls over the latest Twilight movie.

Grown men did not “tweet.”

It was a better world.golden 6

* Two-strokes.

Engines that burn oil on purpose. While the feds had cut the nuts off most cars by 1975 – the year catalytic converters became mandatory – bikes were still wild (and thus, free) well into the ’80s. RD (and RZ) 350 Yamahas, still smokin’ – brand new – when it was “morning in America.” You could buy leaded regular gas, too. And diesels – though slow (and smoky) – were also economical – and affordable.

Two things they aren’t anymore.

* No spandex.

Well, not on the road.

golden finalDavid Lee Roth may have worn skintight yellow leotards, but cyclists generally did not. The “live strong” cult – and its lurid ball-hugging/package-displaying accoutrements – were still a few years yet to come.

If you rode a bike back then, you probably wore cut-off shorts and T shirt.

And no one insisted – at gunpoint – that you wear a helmet.
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« Reply #3 on: August 23, 2013, 11:50:52 AM »

The last one talking about "The Golden Years" car prices and gas prices.. I just can't get behind the logic.

cars in those days weren't sought after as much as now.. Then you only had 10 years of rust to be on them where now we're dealing with 40+

Just some quick research..

In 1980, the average wage was: 12,513.46 in 2011 the national average was 42,979.61

Gas in 1980 was $1 now its 3.50.. I think wages to gas prices are following suit rather closely Smiley


sure the computers take some of the fun out of the cars now a days.. But its nice and convnient to go out to your car 30 below and your darn sure that babys gonna fire up no issue Smiley
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« Reply #4 on: September 24, 2013, 09:08:47 PM »

This one can be seen here, but I'll post the text here just for the heck of it.  The site has a bunch of cool pictures mixed in with the paragraphs.  Anywho,...

Automotive Enthusiasm is not mutually exclusive

There was a time when most of us hummed car noises while scooting small diecast cars across the kitchen floor. There were toy boxes filled with all sorts of matchbox vehicles. From a bass-boat finished C3 Corvette with shiny pipes out the side, to a car-crushing monster truck sitting atop gnarled tires, the collections were as diverse as it gets. Little metal dump trucks shared space with racecars, fire trucks, and sports cars alike. I’m certain we all had a favorite that displayed our love in the form of faded colors and chips, but on any given day, each of the cars and trucks held a role in the imaginary scenarios that played out on the carpets of our living rooms. As young children, if a vehicle had wheels and made loud noises, it awoke something in us that caused us to tug at our parents’ arms in excitement. Whether passing a construction site, wandering the aisles of a classic car show, or sitting on a hill overlooking the race track, we found unexplainable joy in automobiles of all makes and models. So the question arises, when does all of this change? What causes people to feel obligated to narrow their minds and choose sides?  Why is there such tension between the various genres of automotive enthusiasm?

Somewhere along the way, as we age, people begin to segregate the car world and put up walls. Rules are developed about what’s “cool” at the time and cars are lumped into categories, further dividing the community. “Shoulds” and “Should nots” are repeated across web forums as members explain to others how they ought to enjoy their own cars. Euro guys bash JDM guys while track enthusiasts patronize stance enthusiasts. It’s as if, with age, we all receive a declaration that the lines are drawn and we are obligated to choose sides. People pick a style and pledge their undying allegiance to it, putting on blinders and forging ahead certain that their style is the “right” one. Before you know it, people are putting down fellow enthusiasts simply for enjoying their cars in a manner divergent from their own with an air of superiority. They toss around tired internet clichés like “You’re doing it wrong” or “Epic Fail” to establish that their way of doing things is the only true “right” way.

Of course, this is not to say that everyone falls into this trap, and certainly no side is any less guilty than the other, but that’s the problem. This is a matter that is prevalent enough to pervade all realms of the car world and cause tension throughout. It’s important that we take a moment and reflect on the bigger picture: you don’t have to pick a side. There is no reason to limit your car enthusiasm to any single style, purpose, or brand. You can appreciate cars built for function while still applauding the beauty of a car built with form in mind. While you might prefer to dial in the stance of your car, take a moment to bask in the impressive nature of race car engineering and performance. Re-establish that excitement that you had as a child with no bias or prejudice. Open your mind to the wealth of inspiration that lies beyond the niche that you’ve found yourself in. Explore the other styles that are out there and realize that they all hold a value of their own.

Too often I read the statement, “You’ve ruined your car” as someone seeks to demean another car owner for modifying their car in a slightly different fashion from their own. To "ruin" means to destroy or cause irreparable damage - a car is ruined in the unfortunate occurrence of automobile accidents when it meets its demise and parts lay strewn out amidst puddles of oil and coolant. A car is ruined if it’s left to rot away in a field or barn, unloved and uncared for. It’s unfair and rude to claim that someone has ruined their car when they dump their blood and sweat into their build. Whether or not you agree with the style or purpose with which someone modifies their car, the reality is that the owner truly cares about their car and they’re pouring their passion into it. Regardless of the style, that car is one that is loved. It’s being used and enjoyed as it was meant to be.

In these battles, you often hear “shoulds” thrown about insinuating that there’s only one correct way to enjoy your car. There’s a general misconception that behind every car lays an intrinsic purpose or function that we ought to abide by. Perhaps you’ll read that S2000s should only be modified for performance because that’s what they were intended for, or that you shouldn’t dive into a 500hp engine build on your Volkswagen because it was meant to be a FWD commuter car. You shouldn’t body-drop your truck because trucks are meant to carry heavy loads, and you shouldn’t lower your Subaru because it was designed to be used as a rally car. The list of "shoulds" is endless and it goes against what it means to be a car enthusiast.

The reality is that cars are not developed with one sole purpose in mind. Car designers are given the task to develop a car that is going to sell. Performance, style, comfort, safety, and reliability are seen as marketing tools to promote their product and encourage buyers to purchase their car over their competitors’. Each car developer balances these factors to best meet the needs of their target customers. If a car were truly designed solely for performance you wouldn’t find yourself with AC, sound deadening, reclinable seats, or navigation. If a car were simply about style, car companies wouldn’t employ large teams of engineers who work day in and day out to produce high horsepower engines and nimble suspension. Cars are a balance of form and function. Some brands will sacrifice a bit of comfort to deliver a fast sportscar and others will sacrifice a bit of performance to build a comfortable luxury car, but at the end of the day, these cars are built to bring enjoyment to their future owners. For those of us who have chosen car building as a hobby, cars are an empty canvas with no pre-defined direction. They are simply meant to be enjoyed in any way you know how.

So let’s shed these imaginary guidelines and misconceptions. There are no rules. There is no right or wrong way to enjoy your car as long as it’s bringing you joy.  Open your mind to the other styles and learn to appreciate them for what they are. Talk to other owners and develop an understanding of where they’re coming from. Take a moment to drool over a show car and a moment to listen as a racecar screams its way down the back straightaway. Don’t limit yourself to any single segment of the automotive world. We all may prefer different styles, but we’re not that different. We’re all excited by four-wheel gas guzzling machines and it’s because of this shared loved that we should all treat each other with respect and applaud each others’ accomplishments.
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« Reply #5 on: October 06, 2013, 03:43:46 PM »

wow..... crazy
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