Friday, May 31, 2013

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Chicago Sun-Times layoff

This photo was taken today by a Sun-Times staff photographer this morning. All of the newspaper's staff photographers, including the three pictured and the one taking the photo, were all laid off today. They are shown here reading their layoff notices.

Assad's new S-300 surface-to-air missiles

So Russia just delivered these to Assad. Its radars can track up to 100 objects at a time and engage up to 12. Set-up time is five minutes. Did Libya or Iraq have these? Because a no-fly zone is looking more unlikely.

The original classic car club

Via Motoring Con Brio.

I drive an Audi A3 tomorrow

I'm taking a Zipcar A3 Sportback up to Sonoma tomorrow. In America, we only get the five-door wagon. I'm hoping it's a diesel, but I'm not holding my breath. Also, this will be my first Audi. This Motorweek video confirms that the rear luggage area has a cover.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

1984 Greyhound bus ad

The convoy looks neat.

F1Outsider's Camaro 1LE

More pics. Scroll to the bottom for F1O's description of the car.

So it's a 2013 Camaro SS with the RS package + the 1le package. The RS package adds xenon headlights and some painted trim.

The 1le package is a handling package that makes it a more neutral handling car as opposed to the regular SS which understeers heavily.

It's different from the SS with the following items:

Monotube rear dampers instead of the twin-tube dampers on SS models.

Larger, 27-mm solid front stabilizer bar, and 28-mm solid rear stabilizer bar for improved body control

Higher-capacity rear-axle half shafts to cope with increased levels of traction

Strut tower brace for improved steering feel and response

ZL1-based 20 x 10-inch front and 20 x 11-inch aluminum wheels

285/35ZR20 Goodyear Eagle Supercar G:2 tires front and rear (identical to the front tires for ZL1)

ZL1 wheel bearings, toe links and rear shock mounts for improved on-track performance

ZL1 high-capacity fuel pump and additional fuel pickups for improved fuel delivery during high-cornering

The 1le package is Chevy's answer to the Mustang Boss 302. I'm not sure if I'll be tracking it but it has bested the Boss 302 Laguna Seca at most tracks. I won't be beating any mustangs light-to-light though.

My favorite thing so far apart from how it looks is the dual mode exhaust which will idle quietly but will open up little flaps after 20-25% throttle and really wake the neighbors.

I'll post an update after 30 days.

Addendum: The hood is a vinyl wrap with a matte finish. The wheels are painted matte I believe. They're the same wheels as the ZL1 Camaro.

The retro gauges are pretty cool but actually hard to read as the AC controls get in the way. It's more of a styling statement anyways.

2013 Peking to Paris Rally

Keke and Nico



Tuesday, May 28, 2013

F1Outsider's new ride

Give us the details, man.

Budweiser tales

I bought a six-pack of Bud yesterday, because, why not. Here are two stories:

1. My grandparents raised me in Taiwan in the late 1970s/early 1980s. They did not drink. But they did keep cans of Bud in the spare room where they had a shrine for (and the ashes of) my great-grandfather.* On special occasions, they would open ONE can, at room temperature, and drink it. My grandmother would take a few sips and burp.

2. My friend was in the army and took a boat to Vietnam. On the boat were over 1,000 GIs. They shipped out from Oakland. Somewhere in the Pacific, a passenger died of a heart attack. They had to make an unscheduled stop in the Philippines to dispose of the body. So they unloaded all of the soldiers and kept them on a baseball field like zoo animals. Each GI was given one hot dog and one can of Bud. Horse trading and fist fights ensued.

*That story is very Cold War and nationalistic. They all fled to Taiwan after the civil war. My great-grandfather's dying wish was to be buried in his homeland of China once the Communist dogs were defeated. His ashes are still in Taiwan.

Anthony Bourdain goes to Sizzler

I have watched every episode of Bourdain's new CNN series Parts Unknown. The best episodes by far are Myanmar and Koreatown (Los Angeles). Here, Bourdain dines at a Sizzler. It's a chain restaurant known for its salad bar. When I was a kid in Southern California, you could get a steak dinner there for $7.99, which was not inexpensive. Hence, whenever I went there, it was always for a special occasion.

I remember once a family friend took me there. He was a hot shot with an E21 Alpina. We were going to have dinner there and then drive to the desert to catch Halley's Comet (remember that?). He insisted that I get the steak and shrimp meal. I felt like a king. In the eyes of a 12 year old, it was fancy.

There is still a Sizzler nearby. I have not been there for almost twenty years. Now that I have had some perspective, it's not exactly haute cuisine. But after watching this piece, nostalgia has hit me and I think I'll take my wife there next weekend. I promise not to enjoy it in an ironic, faux hipsterish kind of way.

And just as background, the guy in the red suit is an artist. He painted murals for Facebook's office back in 2005. He was paid in stocks (in lieu of $60,000 cash). Those stocks are now worth $200,000,000.

Skip to 16:26:

And here is a typical 1980s ad:

Better Place-- Bankrupt

The Israeli company changed batteries for electric cars at their many stations. Here's a short piece on why it failed.

Monday, May 27, 2013


I saw a silver one with the hard top on, accelerating away from me today. It was gorgeous.

Porsche 993 promo, narrated by Patrick Stewart

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Exile Destinations, Part 8

71. Guyana-- 0
72. Haiti-- France, Venezuela, Panama, South Africa, unknown
73. Honduras-- Costa Rica
74. Hungary-- 0
75. Iceland-- 0
76. India-- 0
77. Indonesia-- 0
78. Iran-- Egypt
79. Iraq-- 0
80. Ireland-- 0

Tally thus far:
3x = France, Panama, U.S.

2x = Brazil, Ivory Coast, Morocco, Portugal, U.K., U.S.S.R./Russia, Venezuela

1x = Australia, Austria, Costa Rica, Egypt, Italy, Libya, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Senegal, Somalia, South Africa, Spain, Togo, Uganda, Uruguay, unknown, unknown, unknown

Mob hit outside Sparks Steakhouse

1991 Nissan 300ZX Twin Turbo for sale

There is a strip of curb four car lengths long near my local supermarket. It is starting to be used by residents to display used cars for sale. I had to stop and check this Fairlady out. Excuse the poor quality of the pictures; it was sunset.

It has 43,800 miles, has a manual transmission, and is priced at $14,900.

The dealer sticker and registration look new. Walnut Creek Nissan's 415 area code seems odd, as that was two area codes ago. The area population has really boomed since the early 1990s.

The rims proved that the owner is an excellent parallel parker. No curb rash.

The only items that showed age are the exhaust tips. Oh, and the "TWIN TURBO" decal shows uneven fading.

National Guard Superman ad

I saw this ad at the movie theater yesterday. By the way, the new Star Trek is a very entertaining movie, and I don't even particularly like sci-fi.

What is the truck at the end of the commercial? I saw one recently in real life. It looks almost...European.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

1980s Porsche 911 buyer's guide

I forgot to post this earlier. Apologies.

Center front airbag

The industry's first, in GM crossovers.

1982 Porsche 911SC Targa for sale

This is really tempting and seems like a pretty solid "Starter" Porsche. I'm going to pass on this, but YOU should buy it.

Hat tip to rchen.

Taiwan-Philippines row, Scion badges, and a presidential van

What was supposed to be a mundane report on tensions between two countries ended up being a treasure trove for car/geopolitics nuts like us. First, Scion and Daihatsu badges are made by Filipinos in Taiwan! Second, Ma's presidential ride is a Ford Econoline?!

Pacific Alliance

This economic bloc looks promising. It consists of Mexico, Colombia, Peru, and Chile.

Obama prom photo

The yearbook message is pretty funny. Was Obama trying to steal his best bud's girl?

From left to right: Greg, Greg's girlfriend Kelli, Obama, and Obama's date.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

BrasPetro VW Bug in Iraq, 1980

Via Flavio Gomes.

1/5 scale models at Toyota Museum

I could swear that I had posted these before, but apparently not.

Mark 4 Toyota Crown ad

This was inspired by the photos rchen shared yesterday and the comment by Ozmac that he once bought (and later sold) one for $800. This has to be the most interesting front end of any sedan out there. I was on YouTube last night and there were literally dozens of Toyota Crown ads made over the decades.

And here's a pro tip for you. When searching Japanese ads on YouTube, use "CM" (short for commercial, I assume) rather than "ad".

Anthony Weiner mayor ad

The political resurrection begins. I wonder if it will be live tweeted.

P.S. His wife Huma Abedin seems to be in a bit of trouble too.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

1983: First cell phone call was from a Chrysler K-car

Home made Toyota Previa Estima Tomica ad

This guy digs the van more than we do.

Toyota Museum photos

Rchen snapped these photos. On the day of his visit, there was a technical talk about the Toyota Previa. I think we can all agree that every one of us could spend days there.

Off-roading Australian DeTomaso Pantera

Via Bolly Blog.

Monday, May 20, 2013

2013 Q1 Colombia kidnapping stats

I have an ongoing debate with my friends and wife. I posit that my bus trip across Central America was much more dangerous than my upcoming bus trip across Colombia. With the government and FARC rebels negotiating permanent peace in Havana right now, the prospects look good.

In the first quarter of 2013, 58 people were kidnapped. This is a 40% drop compared with the same period last year. Of the 58 kidnappings, 69% were by criminals, 19% were by FARC, 10% by the other guerrilla group the ELN, and 2% by paramilitary drug gangs.

And of the 58 people, 25 were released, 17 rescued by police, 7 remain in captivity, 6 were delivered due to official pressure, and 3 escaped. Best of all, none died in custody.

I feel much better.

Dodge Challenger over the Camaro and Mustang?

F1O mentioned in a recent comment that he is considering a Camaro and Mustang. Coincidentally, when I met Carenvy Peter last week, he was driving a Challenger SRT8 with the 392 engine. Peter prefers the Dodge over the Chevy and Ford. I have to admit that I really like the looks of the Dodge. I briefly sat in the cockpit, and although it was a bit cramped, it felt very comfortable and well laid out.

Archaeology versus copper mining in Afghanistan

When the Taliban blew up Buddhist statues, it's religious intolerance. When an entire Buddhist archaeological site is razed for a $3 billion mining contract, it's economic development.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Toyota Coronas

Yesterday, I spotted a 1966 Corona. I did not recognize it at first from the rear, and thought it was a BMW or Alfa Romeo. So this morning, I did a search on YouTube and found this video. The narration is sublime. Wait, never mind. It's the opposite of sublime. And buddy, speaking as a Hater, if it's all original, it can't also be custom. Holla.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Why I Blog

(Ed.: Allow me to get a little sentimental here.)

I met Peter of Carenvy fame yesterday. He flew down from Edmonton for a Bitcoin convention. When he told me that this is the only blog he checks everyday, it made me really happy.

I started this blog in 2006 because I wanted a creative release and I had a dream of one day writing a book about my travels. I loved cars just as much then, but I didn't know nearly as much about them as I do today. The new knowledge came not only from researching for my posts, but from you, the commenters.

Peter and I talked about that. Though we are from all over the world, we are a group of guys with incredibly similar backgrounds who share a random mix of interests (passionately). We had gone to school for way too long, love obscure vehicles, travel quite a bit, and are interested in geopolitical machinations not usually covered by the mainstream media.

I really appreciate your loyalty and your contributions in the comments. Please keep coming back. And to those of you regular visitors who have not commented, please share your thoughts. We would love to hear from you.

I want to take this opportunity to thank and acknowledge the regular commenters. If I missed you, I apologize. This is an impressive group with a wealth of knowledge and experience. And as a travel/geography buff, I dig the fact that you are from all over the world.

North America
  • An Edmonton car blogger with a new-found interest in Bitcoins.
  • A Californian with a Ford Falcon XB.
  • A Citroen XM owner.
  • A Porsche 356 owner
  • A San Diegan whose writing talent and knowledge of cars easily got him a gig first at Bring A Trailer, and then at Petrolicious.
  • A Brazilian-American in Miami who is fanatical about F1 and is loyal to Mazda.
  • A Michigander, and possibly the only person in the world, who owned a Hummer H3T.
  • A Texan with a Maserati BiTurbo and an Alfa Romeo Milano.
  • A Floridian who showed me how to strut into any restricted access pit area, without invitation.
  • An Angeleno with a penchant for Warsaw Pact cars.
  • A New England car blogger and student of Eastern Europe.
  • Midelectric (he's a complete mystery to me).
  • MattC, who is currently MIA for some reason.
Central Asia
South America
  • A Chilean who has the same likes and dislikes as me, with the exception of Pinochet.
Again, thanks, gents!

Update 1: And how could I forget New York's Motoring Con Brio, whom I refer to as MTC.

Peugeot 607 review

A post by Antti at Hooniverse inspired this post.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Bluth Brothers

Michael and GOB.

Environmental protest in China

I would really like to see a detailed breakdown of how many protests are organized (and participated by) middle class urbanites. It seems like most protesters are farmers or poor working class.

E30 325i

In a sea of American Muscle, I voted for this white 325i as Best In Show, for nostalgia's sake. The owner bought the non-running basket case when he saw it in a parking lot. He fixed everything and it's as good as new. Too bad it's an automatic.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Three Citroens

From Seconds Saturdays:

This is the underside of Tim's DS. The restoration is really coming along!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Me on Motorweek!

Their interview of me ended up on the cutting room floor. Obviously, I had nothing interesting to say. But I'm so excited to be a part of a show that I have been watching since I was a little kid.

I'm at the 2:11 mark.

Gordon Ramsay at Amy's Baking Company

Unfortunately, the couple singing at the gas station last week on Jay Leno were professional actors.

But this restaurant that Ramsay visited is real. For the first time in over 100 episodes, Ramsay gave up helping the owners. This is riveting reality television.

BMWs used as currency in Argentina...

...due to ban on buying dollars. Story here.

P.S. Carenvy will enjoy the nod to bitcoin.