Sunday, March 31, 2013

A Beautiful 1970 Plymouth Cuda Convertible

It's Easter today and so this post will be short. But I wanted to share with you all this amazing video of a 1970 Plymouth Cuda Convertible I ran across.

Enjoy the holiday!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Keep Baby Car Carrier Handles Folded Down!

Photo copyright: Dmyto Samsonov, stock.xchng

I'm a parent and I vividly remember the time I brought my first child home from the hospital. I think I read through the installation manual for the car seat a few dozen times and checked that the base was cinched down as tight as possible. I was incredibly worried that something would happen to my baby, and my worry was completely justified.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

I Think I'm in Love With the New Cadillac CTS

2014 Cadillac CTS. Photo courtesy General Motors

In case you have been locked in a closet or was lost in the woods for the past week, the New York Auto Show has been going on and quite a few great cars have been revealed. I have to say that I was totally shocked when I saw the 2014 Cadillac CTS Revealed.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The New Mercedes S-Class Will Make You Feel Like You Went to Automotive Heaven

2014 Mercedes-Benz S-Class interior. Photo courtesy Daimler

Have you seen the photos of the exterior of the new Mercedes-Benz S-Class Exterior? Mercedes has been putting out some great designs lately and the new S-Class is no exception. As can be expected with the flagship sedan, the S-Class delivers a plethora of creature comforts and snazzy new technology that will keep everyone who drives or rides in the car satisfied in just about every way imaginable.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Installing Exhaust Headers in the Spring

Image copyright: Hector Landeata, stock.xchng
Modifying a car can be a lot of fun even if it does involve some knuckle-splitting work. When you are young and dumb you make some mistakes when it comes to modifications, but hopefully those mistakes teach you a lesson. This post is all about one such mistake I made.

I had a cat-back exhaust system installed on a car of mine. After that installation job, which was done by a professional because of the weld joints that needed to be done right, I ordered and decided to install some exhaust headers. The only problem was that it was springtime and I didn't have a garage to work inside.

I live in Utah where spring really is just an extension of winter. We don't get a real spring where it is nice, moderate weather. Normally it goes from snowing one day to almost hot the next and so forth. The day I had set aside to install the headers turned out to be frigid, and it started to rain when I was partway through the project.

Laying on a cold cement driveway is a good way to chill yourself to the bone. Luckily I had a friend with me, so we took turns laying under the car and freezing our backsides. Installing an exhaust header isn't difficult work, unless you are freezing cold and it's hard to even hold a wrench steady. That and the catalytic converter on the car hooked up directly to the header, and it used springs in its connection which were difficult to work with in the cold.

So what's the point of this story? First of all, it's best to work on your car in good weather, or at least to have a garage you can sit inside out of the elements. I would have killed to have had an electric space heater and a dry garage. Since then I don't even change my oil outside when the weather isn't nice. Trust me, a frozen back is not worth it.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

60 Years of the Corvette

2013 Chevrolet Corvette. Image courtesy General Motors

Anyone who has actually driven a Chevrolet Corvette understands that it's a special car and not just an everyday driving machine. The sports car that was almost canned in the beginning by General Motors has become the company's crown jewel, being easily the most recognizable model GM has ever produced.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Mitsubishi is on the Ropes in America

2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X

Back in the day I owned a couple of Mitsubishi vehicles. One was a Mighty Max pickup truck. It was an extremely cheap vehicle, and I'm not talking about just the price. The good thing about the truck was I had no misgivings about throwing whatever kind of crap in the bed because nothing could have made that truck look worse.

The second Mitsubishi I owned was an old Montero. Even though it was pretty Spartan inside, that truck was fun to drive and was great at off-roading. I still kick myself for selling it, but I had my reasons when I did.

Just as I have mixed emotions about my two Mitsubishi vehicles, I have mixed emotions about the company. Some of the products are amazing and exciting, like the Evolution or the Pajero (it was called the Montero here, and yes it's still very much available in other parts of the world). But Mitsubishi lately has been producing some pretty crappy vehicles. The quality isn't bad, despite the overall impression Americans have of the brand's quality, but the vehicles are just so odd I don't know what to make of them. For example the Outlander is a vehicle I just can't quite categorize, and not in a good way. I know some of the most revolutionary vehicles have been hard to categorize at first, but Mitsubishi lately hasn't been putting out revolutionary vehicles.

This is the kind of fun you have in a Mitsubishi Evolution
I read an article on Jalopnik the other day where they very briefly touched on the whole Mitsubishi mess. According to them, Mitsubishi is considering several new vehicles to amp things up in the Americas as well. One of those possible vehicles is a full-size SUV, which Jalopnik of course hates the sound of (Jalopnik very much has a bias against family vehicles for reasons I can only guess at). Personally, I think a full-size SUV would be a smart move. Other Japanese automakers have moved into that space with some good success, so why not Mitsubishi? There's a huge market for them (and I'm in that market). Larger vehicles provide larger profit margins for automakers, particularly full-size SUVs and trucks, and right now Mitsubishi needs more cash in a bad way. Just look at how Porsche has done by producing a mid-size SUV, the Cayenne, which now makes up half of the company's sales in the United States! Like I've said before, if producing less exhilarating but more practical vehicles keeps an automaker in business so it can keep making those exhilarating vehicles, then it's a good thing. Not everyone can afford nor wants to drive a hepped-up, turbocharged rallycross vehicle to work each day and if automotive enthusiasts can't understand that, then they're out of touch with reality.

Of course I'm also excited that Mitsubishi is saying it wants to also produce a replacement for the Evolution. My mind could go crazy thinking about what the company could churn out as a replacement (likely a hybrid high-performance vehicle, given the racing tech we've seen from Mitsubishi lately). But it doesn't matter if the company can't stay profitable. Large SUVs are profitable, as long as Mitsubishi plays its cards right.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Body Roll and Riding With Friends: a Childhood Memory

1970 Buick GSX

Last week I was writing an article about handling modifications for cars. Of course the subject of body roll came up, that thing that automotive enthusiasts absolutely hate. Body roll is when the body of a vehicle literally rolls in the opposite direction a car is turning. What ends up happening if you roll the body too much is the tires on the inside of the turn actually pick up off the ground. Let me tell you that having any of your tires leave the ground is bad. You can lose control and possibly roll the vehicle, plus you at least temporarily lose forward momentum.

There are all kinds of technologies to help prevent this from happening, such as stabilizer bars and chassis braces. But back in the day when I was a kid most cars (particularly the huge land yacht American cars) handled like garbage. Those cars had body rolls like the Biggest Loser.

A strange childhood memory came flooding into my mind as I was writing the article. When I was a kid and I would go somewhere with friends, all of us sitting side-by-side in the backseat of a mom's car, we would play a little game with the car's body roll. Every time we went around a turn we would all lean with the roll like we were on a roller coaster. It sounds stupid now, but for some reason the game was fun. We would even scream like we were on some amusement park ride.

Thinking about it now, I realize that none of those moms were taking any of those turns at more than 15 mph. And I remember that even if we had tried to not sway from side-to-side in the car we wouldn't have been able to stop our sideways motion. Cars really do handle better these days, considering I have driven vehicles where I can take a 90 degree turn at 25 or 30 mph and the tires barely squeal. Anyone who complains that cars these days aren't as good as back in the day needs to stop looking through the rose colored glasses.

But I do have to admit I have a fantasy about buying an old muscle car, be it a Chevy, Buick, Ford, Dodge, etc. With a huge V8 and tire-evaporating rear-wheel-drive, I would attack the car's suspension and chassis with vigor, tightening things up so the body roll would be almost eliminated. Or I guess I could pick up a new Dodge Charger SRT8 that has a modern suspension system and have both knuckle-dragging power and incredible handling all in one package. But there's something cool about having old muscle, especially old muscle that handles better than you would expect. 

Sunday, March 17, 2013

The Risks of Racing Supercars

Porsche Carrera GT. Photo courtesy Porsche Cars North America

A while ago when I was purchasing a vehicle, everyone at the dealership where I made my purchase was buzzing about what had happened the day before. Apparently some guy had ordered a Porsche Carrera GT (this was back when the cars were brand new) and had come by to pick up the German supercar. I wasn't surprised when the dealership employees told me that the guy also came with an enclosed trailer, simply loading the Carrera GT into the back and towing it off instead of driving the car away. I'm sure these guys were thinking that if they had bought a supercar that costs as much as many people's homes they would speed off into the sunset in a cloud of tire smoke. The guy who bought the car was likely thinking of its value, since he likely planned to drive it as little as possible and mostly garage it until later.

There are plenty of people who think that supercars should be driven and driven hard. Unfortunately there are plenty of supercar owners who do not subscribe to this philosophy. There are owners who take their cars rally racing or even on a challenging racetrack like the Nurburgring. Anyone who knows about the 'Ring also knows it's a challenging track, and one Porsche Carrera GT owner paid for this challenge in the form of some new wheels and bodywork. Check out the video below, which unfortunately doesn't show the crash but does show the aftermath in excellent detail. Would you drive your supercar fast on a track?

Friday, March 15, 2013

How to Look Rich Driving a Lexus ES

Behold the poser vehicle of choice! Photo courtesy of Lexus.

I've found that there are many people in life who go around trying to act like they make drastically more money than they actually bring in. Over time I've developed several theories about why people try to act like they're rich, and in the end I've concluded that such poser activities are pathetic, foolish and completely misguided. In fact many of the richest people I've ever known try to downplay their wealth by making efforts to not stick out amongst the crowd.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

How NOT to Load a Car into a Trailer!

I'll be brief: the following video shows exactly how you shouldn't load a car of any kind into a trailer. They make ramps for that for a reason. A group of not very bright guys decide to jimmy-rig their own ramp out of wood, an old ladder, old wheels and such, so they can load an old Nissan Prairie into a trailer (sporting a nice set of green painted steelies, I must point out). What happens in the end is... well, you'll see.


What Whiny Porsche Fans Can Learn From Saab

2012 Porsche 911 GT3 RS. Photo courtesy Porsche Cars North America

If there's one thing in life I hate more than anything it's whiners. We all know people who are never satisfied with anything, who always pine after "the good ol' days" when everything was obviously so incredibly superior and who find fault in so much that surrounds them. Sadly there are many Porsche fans who fall into the whiner category.

Monday, March 11, 2013

The Duesenberg - the Original "Duesy"

Duesenberg Model Y

Have you ever heard anyone say "that's a real duesy" when they're talking about something that outdoes other things of its kind? What you likely don't know is that the term actually comes from an old American luxury automobile, the Duesenberg. The company and its cars were lovingly given the nickname "Duesy" which was instantly grafted into English slang.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Disneyland and Cars

Cars Land at the California Adventure
Not too long ago I was able to enjoy a short trip to California, with some time spent at Disneyland. One thing I love about the resort is there really is a little bit of everything for everyone. Of course I'm a car guy, but the good news is there is car stuff at Disneyland. Anyone who has been to the park in the past few decades or so knows about Autotopia, the ride where you get to drive an internal combustion miniature car through an outdoor course. The car is kept on the pathway with some rails, which you can slam into pretty hard if you really jerk the wheel. Autotopia is a tribute to some old-time car culture, including the retro designs of the cars you get to drive. If you haven't been to Disneyland, I highly suggest going and checking out Autotopia.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

A Car That Detects Cyclists and Brakes for Them?

Image courtesy Volvo Car Group

For those of you who don't follow the news in the automotive world, you should know the Geneva Motorshow is going on right now. Geneva always features some big launches that make the show quite exciting and this year is no exception. We have seen the unveiling of Ferrari's new supercar, Volkswagen's new incredibly fuel-efficient vehicle and a new safety technology from Volvo that's caught the world by surprise.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Automotive Infatuation is on Etsy!

I'm proud to announce that I have established an Automotive Infatuation shop on Etsy. This is one of many steps that will take this blog to a different level, transforming it into something more than just your average blog that talks, rants and reports on cars.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Why Wagons are Better Than Sedans and Crossovers

2013 Cadillac CTS-V Wagon. Image Courtesy General Motors.

Before I started having kids I thought sedans and coupes were the only vehicles to own and drive. I was amazed that having one kid filled up part of the backseat and most of the trunk of our sedan, which seemed so big before. When we had a second baby it became apparent to me that we needed something with much more cargo space. We looked at SUVs, crossovers and minivans, but that performance hunger screamed when I drove those other vehicles. Many of those larger vehicles made me feel like I was literally driving the short bus. They took forever to stop (because of their high curb weight and wimpy brake systems), many had significant body roll and some even felt as if they would topple over with each right turn made. Crossovers were new then and were billed as a great SUV alternative, but one look at their puny cargo and third row space made me laugh.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Why So Many Vehicle Recalls These Days?

Some people dread finding this in their mail. Photo credit: Steven Symes.

Yesterday I received in the mail the dreaded recall letter for my Honda. I had read in the news not too long ago that the NHTSA was looking into complaints about a safety problem, something I myself had encountered with the vehicle before. So it wasn't really a surprise when I opened the mailbox and found this notice sitting inside. Instead I was glad Honda was owning up to the problem (whether by choice or force) and I will get a remedy free of charge.