Monday, April 30, 2012

Headed to Dee-troit

Soon, I'll be flying for a quick visit to Detroit and Ann Arbor.  I'll visit the Henry Ford Museum in Detroit and walk by the offices of my favorite car magazine, Automobile, in Ann Arbor.


F1 low seat position

1971 Aston Martin DBS shooting brake (1 of 1)

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Tesla Model S, BMW, Mercedes, Audi room, price, acceleration comparisons

A friend asked me to compare the Model S with its competition.  It is supposed to compete with the mid-sized 5-series, E-class, and A6, but I want to look at everyone's roominess first:

The most obvious stat is luggage space.  The Model S has a hatchback configuration which doubles its rear luggage capacity vis-a-vis the competition.  Plus, it's got a front trunk, a la Porsches, that has 8.1 cubic feet of space.

The Model S comes with various batteries.  The more expensive batteries accelerate faster and have longer ranges.  I've chosen two variations of the Tesla along with two engine variations from each of the German marques' mid-sized cars and looked at their prices and 0 to 60 times.

The eagle has landed

Our resident Finn Edvin and his friends just landed in Portland, Oregon, and are about to embark on a West Coast road trip in this Crown Victoria.  Let's wish them a fun and safe journey.

Carspotting: Mercedes 220S and Studebaker at Fishermen's Wharf

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Carlos the Jackal: the movie, the cars, the music

This is a wonderful miniseries available on Netflix Streaming.

The movie:

The cars:

The music:

H/t to Alan!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Obama ad: Would Romney have killed Osama?

The general election has started!  It's on, like Donkey Kong!  Let the billions of dollars in deceptive and unfair campaign advertising begin!

De Gaulle assassination attempt Citroen DS

The first video is a dramatization from a movie.  The second includes real news footage of the aftermath.

H/t again to Tim, the DS master.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Isuzu Impulse

I had a normally aspirated version of this as my first car.  The dashboard was insane.  I used to spend every rainless weekend washing and Armor All'ing the hell out of it.

I don't know what's up with the cats.

40,000 Norwegians sing Children of the Rainbow

Mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik recently called the folk song Children of the Rainbow (Barn av Regnbuen) a product of Marxist brainwashing.

This is how Norwegians responded today, in the rain.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Citroen DS on 3 wheels

H/t to Tim!

20 year anniversary of Los Angeles Rodney King riots (news footage)

Can't believe it's been 20 years.  Thankfully, racially tensions have been virtually eliminated as a result of the invention of Xbox 360, text messaging, and Youtube.  Opiates for the masses!

This clip from the second day of the rioting is also interesting because of the local newscasters.  I grew up watching channel 4 news.  It amazes me that 20 years later, they are still on the air, and thanks to plastic surgery, they still look the same.

The male anchor, Keith Morrison, is Matthew Perry's (Chandler Bing of Friends) step-dad.  The buff blond out in the field is Rick Chambers.  Whenever there is a disaster (earthquake, riot, fire), he is out there, baring his ginormous biceps in front of the camera.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The original Mitt Romney

Am reading a biography on the candidate.  It goes over everything, from his acne condition in high school to who inspired him to comb his hair the way he does.

His real name is Williard Mitt Romney.  Willard is the name of family friend, fellow Mormon, and hotel magnate J. Willard Marriott.  Mitt was the name of Milton Romney, 1920s Chicago Bears quarterback, and a cousin once removed.

The microcars of Holland

West Coast road trip time lapse video

Our very own F1Outsider did this 2,000 mile Los Angeles to Seattle road trip recently.  It is incredible.  Enjoy.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Visiting a Fiat dealership

There are two Fiat dealerships nearby.  The one in Fremont advertises on TV.  I didn't realize there was one in Berkeley until I talked to a 500 owner last night outside a restaurant parking lot.  The one in Berkeley was closer and it got better Yelp ratings, so we went there today.

Can you believe that only ONE of these 500s has a stick shift?

Yup, this is it.  The dealership consists of a simple trailer-office and a small lot.  It's McKevitt Fiat, which is right next to the much-more-established McKevitt Volvo.  The dealership has 75 500s in its inventory, and what you see is what is displayed for the buying public.  While we were there, a young hipster type and a baby boomer couple were also looking at the cars.  Apparently, quite a few of the cars were out for test drives.  Though the car has been selling poorly in America, I expect that these sell themselves in the Bay Area.

I did a little bit of online research last night.  These are the basic trims available in the U.S.:

  • Pop (base model).  $15,500.
  • Sport.  $17,500.  16" wheels, sportier suspension, rear spoiler, fog lamps.  
  • Lounge (luxury).  $19,500.
  • 500C (convertible, but more of a roll down cloth top like a 2CV).  $19,500.
  • Abarth.  $22,000.
We were interested in a stick shift base model or a sport model.  As cool as the Abarth is, I didn't think it was worth $6,500 more.  More on that later.

Sport front:

Pop front:

Sport rear:

Pop rear:

Here are some tidbits we learned from the helpful and not-pushy-at-all salesman.  All of the Gucci edition Fiats were snapped up.  There were no Abarths on the lot.  Apparently, they only began production on them in March.  If you want one, you have to buy one and then they'll build it for you.  The first Northern California Abarth will arrive on May 1.  It will go to the president of the local Ferrari owners club.

We understood that the car was going to be small and inexpensive.  But we were still surprised by how small the car was and how sub-par the fit-and-finish and interior materials were.

First, the room.  I kept reading that the 500 had more interior room than the Mini.  Numbers-wise, that may be true.  But I felt more constricted in the 500 (both in the front and back seats) than in the Mini.  Plus, at 6' (1.82 m) (excluding my Kim Jong Il-esque bouffant), my scalp was pressed against the cloth moonroof.  I felt very claustrophobic.  Thankfully, the bright interior helped psychologically.

The deal breaker for us was the fit-and-finish.  The North American version is built in a Chrysler plant in Mexico.  (The Euro version is built in Poland.)  I've been in plenty of great Mexican-built cars, but this car just didn't feel right.  All of the interior surfaces felt chintzy.  The seat handles and manual cloth moonroof were difficult to operate.  I just know that if I was having a bad day, I would accidentally break off a trim piece or two.

We ultimately did not test drive the car.  We didn't want to waste the salesman's time.

In conclusion, I don't think the 500 is a bad car.  It is certainly beautiful and stylish.  Plus, it may be incredibly fun to drive.  It just wasn't for us.  

Sheeple, sheeple, sheeple

Bahrain 2012 = U.S.G.P. 2005?

Unlikely, but maybe the teams will pull into the pits en masse at the start tomorrow.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Bahrain bridge shut down tonight with burning tires within 2 minutes

Damn, they work fast!

Checking out the Fiat 500 tomorrow

Any tips?  Advice?  Base model, sports package, Abarth edition, or cabrio?  This will replace the trusty but incredibly dull '04 Civic.

No, really. Happy 4/20!

Marijuana vending machine:

Two Uyghurs from Guantanamo sent to El Salvador


Uyghurs are Turkic-speaking Muslims in western China.  Like the Tibetans, the small minority has had their culture downgraded to the level of exotic savages with colorful costumes and entertaining dances.  Twenty-two were swept up when we invaded Afghanistan.  They were sent to Guantanamo.

Almost immediately, it became patently obvious that these hapless men were not terrorists.  But what to do with them?  They couldn't be returned to China because they would certainly be tortured, imprisoned, or worse.  Third countries refused to take them because they didn't want to anger China and risk crippling trade sanctions.  Finally, they couldn't be relocated to the United States because, let's face it, would most Americans want former Guantanamo detainees as their neighbors?

Thus, the United States had the tough diplomatic job of convincing other nations to take the harmless men.  This meant convincing small, poor countries with little or no relationship with China.  Here is the breakdown of who took whom:

2006: Five Uyghurs to Albania.  Although Albania recognizes China, their relationship with each other has not been warm.  The Albanian government received cash from the U.S. in return for accepting the five.
2009: Six to Palau.  Palau has diplomatic relations with Taiwan, not China.  Money exchanged hands in this transaction as well.
2009: Four were shipped to the British territory of Bermuda.  The locals are not happy and want them gone.
Today: Two to El Salvador.  El Salvador also has diplomatic relations with Taiwan, not China.

That leaves five Uyghurs still at Guantanamo.  The U.S. is probably talking to the following countries, which all recognize Taiwan rather than China, about hosting the remainder of the prisoners:

-Africa: Burkina Faso, Gambia, Sao Tome and Principe, Swaziland
-Oceania: Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu
-Latin America: Belize, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

These are some slim pickings.  But losers can't be choosers, I guess.

Rimmel London mascara ad

Guess why I posted this ad.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Tires: Load index, age, and lack of use

Ever since my roadtrip to/from Los Angeles, I noticed an intermittent vibration with the Popemobile (with the steering wheel and the car itself).  I suspected that the potholed streets of Oakland and nearby freeways (I'm looking at you, Oakland section of Interstate 880!) had slowly destroyed a suspension bushing or two.

An inspection by the local independent shop revealed that the suspension was fine.  The mechanic asked me if I knew that one of my tires had a load index of 99.  I did not.  Did I also know that my car is supposed to have tires with a load index of 103?  No, I did not.  I did not even know what a load index was last week.

This is a shot of the door jamb sticker.  I suggest that you look at it again.  Previously, I've only paid attention to the size of the tires and the recommended pressure.  I didn't know the number (103) after the tire size was the load index.  According to this chart, a 103 rated tire has a load capacity of 1,929 pounds (875 kilos).

When the previous owner of the Phaeton suffered a flat, he replaced it (probably inadvertently) with a Continental tire with just a 99 load index, which has a capacity of only 1,709 pounds (775 kilos).  Given the mass of the Phaeton, the sidewalls on the weak tire had been slowly warping and collapsing.  This explained a lot of the vibration.

And since the other three tires were going bald, I ordered a full set of Continental ExtremeContact DWSs from Tire Rack.  They were installed today.

But while I was waiting for the install, I realized something.  Three of the four tires came with the car when it was originally purchased in 2005.  They must be seven to eight years old!  They were never changed because the car did not have that many miles and they still had tread left.  But with the dry and hot climate (the car was in Arizona from 2005 to 2011) and infrequency of use (the car was driven twice a month by the previous owner), the three tires were probably deformed.  Why didn't I think of this earlier?  What a dope I am.  This probably also contributed to the vibration.

You know how when you are used to seeing something everyday, you don't notice that there is something wrong with it?  Well, the old tires were bald.  But I didn't realize how bald they were until I saw the new tires on my car.  By comparison, the new Contis are like knobby off-road tires.  I briefly took it on the freeway.  The ride was beyond perfect.  What a difference!  (I hope it's not a placebo effect.)