Sunday, June 30, 2013

Jenson Button and Tony Stewart Mobil 1 ads

Weird. And I believe this is the first American TV ad I have seen in recent years starring an F1 star (I'm not counting Nico in that Super Bowl Mercedes ad).

Fiat 500L The British Are Coming ad

This is getting a lot of play on TV.

And here is a crackpot comment from YouTube:

So it is not a coincidence that FIAT owns most of Chrysler, an American company.
They make a mockery of the great Paul Revere and say the "Italians are invading."
"Better than the "Tea Party." What is that suppose to mean?
FIAT is lucky America is still able to buy their shitty cars. Probably not Italy.
Not the time to start spitting in Americans' faces by insulting our founders near the 4th of July.
We will not continue to put up with this globalist trash for much longer.

B2 Audi Coupe GT

This red number was featured on Bring A Trailer recently. I emailed the owner some questions and asked a friend to see if he could check it out for me (it's in Portland). It's the FWD version, not the coveted Quattro version. Your thoughts?

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Porsche Panamera

Do any of yous have any experience with these? I'm curious.

Friend: I think I might get a Panamera.
Me: Cool! Which kind?
Friend: I'll just get the V6. No one will know what's underneath the hood.
Me: What?! But I will!

2013 Ram 1500 truck line-up

Getting press cars is more difficult than I imagined. Though we San Francisco Bay Area residents like to think we live in the center of the universe, we don't. The number of models available here as press cars is just not very high. There is no point, for example, for car manufacturers to stock any pick-up trucks for auto journalists/bloggers because how many new pick-ups do you ever see in San Francisco or Silicon Valley?

Nevertheless, T. Wade brought up the Tradesman, the base Ram truck that is for sale. I went on the Ram website and was surprised to see so many trim levels for just the 1500. This is approaching Porsche in complexity.

Friday, June 28, 2013

1997 BART strike photo

The strike is set to start next Monday. This is what the Bay Bridge toll plaza looked like during the last strike. Good thing next week is going to be a slow holiday week.

Tesla Model S v. Citroen DS

I was looking for a Tesla/Panamera comparo but found this instead.

Bert and Ernie New Yorker cover

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Mark Webber retiring

He will be joining Porsche next year to race sports cars. Here is a fun interview.

Rand Paul on DOMA and Prop 8 rulings

"I think this is the conundrum and gets back to what you were saying in the opening -- whether or not churches should decide this. But it is difficult because if we have no laws on this, people take it to one extension further. Does it have to be humans?"

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Al Jazeera and Qatari despotism

This was inevitable. As you can probably tell, I am a big fan of Al Jazeera. It has certainly been instrumental in bringing news to the world about Iraq, Afghanistan, the Arab Spring, and Syria. Its reporters push for democracy and transparency all over the Middle East. But how does it report its own patron, the Qatari government?

Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani took over Qatar in 1995, wresting control from his father in a bloodless coup. With a bottomless pit of petrodollars, he has modernized his country and spread its influence abroad. One instrument is Al Jazeera, which he/Qatar funds. So what happened this week, when a despot who has banned opposition parties, trade unions, and dissent, hands off power to his 33 year old son? What happens when this despot is Qatari? How would Al Jazeera report it?

With sycophancy. Here is a fluff piece about the benevolent dictator:

Last night, Al Jazeera tweeted the link to a story in which it "interviewed" "random" Qatari citizens and asked them whether the emir is a great man or the greatest man ever. A conversation took place between the AJ reporter responsible for that piece and yours truly.

Alfa Romeo 4C

Augie reminded me today that the 4C is coming to America. It's supposed to be on sale at Fiat dealerships later this year. First, I had no idea that it's RWD! It has a little 1.75 liter turbo four that propels it to 62 mph in 4.5 seconds. Moreover, they are assembled at Maserati's Modena plant. Are these for sale in Europe yet?

Monday, June 24, 2013

Which Chrysler product should be my first test drive?

I need your help. My Chrysler contact just asked me what car I would like to drive. I assume he has access to all Fiat-Chrysler products. Off the top of my head, I would like to drive:
  • a Fiat 500 Abarth,
  • Fiat 500L,
  • some kind of Dodge Ram truck,
  • a regular Jeep Wrangler,
  • a Challenger SRT, or
  • a Jeep Cherokee SRT.
Of course, if I could drive any Chrysler product, it would be a Viper.

But what am I forgetting? What would you like reviewed? Here are the factory websites:

A week with the Tesla Roadster

Unfortunately, my friend's daily driver, a Scion xB, was stolen from his driveway yesterday. So today, I returned his Roadster. I'll have a write-up about my week long experience with it on Hooniverse tomorrow.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Nelson Mandela's W126 Mercedes 500SE

When Nelson Mandela was released in 1990, the black factory workers at the Mercedes plant in East London, South Africa, built this 500SE for him. Mercedes donated the parts and the workers volunteered an hour a day over a span of four days to assemble this red number.

The Wire, Season One intro

I just finished the first season and watched the first two episodes of the second season. Gripping tales. Plus, I can't believe Dominic West (Jimmy McNulty) is a British actor.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Inside Guatanamo documentary

I watched this last night and it's fascinating. Most of the guards come from working class and/or rural backgrounds with barely a high school education. They want to do the right thing but their jobs are miserable. The documentary interviews a few of the people in charge of interrogating the prisoners there during the Bush administration and they are definitely disturbed individuals (or in denial). Finally, you hear the voices (but do not see the faces) of some of the prisoners there.

Plus, there's a used car dealership on the base of 7,000 inhabitants! And a McDonald's drive-thru.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Ling's Cars

A couple of warnings. First, turn down the volume on your computer before clicking on the link. Second, if you suffer from seizures, DO NOT click on the link. This is a wacky website for a British car leasing company owned and operated by Ling, a Chinese woman. Intrigued? The link is here. Have fun. Hat tip to Peter.

Paul Theroux's final African travelogue

Theroux is arguably the greatest contemporary travel writer. At 72, he declared that his newest book, The Last Train to Zona Verde, will be his last about Africa.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Triumph Stag had a V8?

Current Guatanamo detainees by nationality

Hat tip to rchen for deciphering the country codes.

Afghanistan: 25
Algeria: 13
Azerbaijan: 1
Canada: 1
China: 17
Egypt: 3
Ethiopia: 1
Gaza: 1
Indonesia: 1
Iraq: 2
Kenya: 1
Kuwait: 5
Lebanon: 1
Libya: 7
Morocco: 2
Mauritania: 2
Malaysia: 2
Pakistan: 5
Russia: 1
Saudi Arabia: 17
Somalia: 3
Sudan: 3
Syria: 9
Tajikistan: 1
Tunisia: 10
Tanzania: 1
UAE: 1
Uzbekistan: 4
West Bank: 2
Yemen: 98

Kazakh Chevron employee

This video came up today on my Twitter feed as a sponsored post. Chevron is less than an hour away from San Francisco. As you can imagine, it has employees from every petroleum-rich country in the world. My wife used to teach English to the children of employees from Angola, Brazil, and Saudi Arabia.

"American Somalia"

This really happened in America's House of Representatives two days ago.

Here is Michigan Congressman Kerry Bentivolio in action.

Need your help re country abbreviations

I was looking at a list of current Guantanamo prisoners and trying to count how many are from each country. But I am having some trouble because the USG uses some weird two-letter abbreviations for countries. For example, CH is China rather than Switzerland. I can't find a key to decipher all the country codes. Can any of you point me to a list showing the abbreviations and their corresponding countries? Thanks. Once I have that key, I can do a count and post it here.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Russell Brand on cable news punditry

I'm sort of ambivalent towards Russell Brand. His brand of humor is a bit too weird for me. But this "interview" is delightful to watch, as he courteously mocks the pathetic state of cable news in America.

Protests in Brazil

What started as protests against bus fare hikes turned into anger over the government's prioritizing of the construction of World Cup stadiums over social services.

Obama and Putin

Monday, June 17, 2013

Tesla Roadster Sport

This is exactly what I am driving (including JVC nav/radio), except the car is red. I need to figure out how to adjust the suspension firmness.

No winners in Syria

This is beyond chaos. Even if Assad goes, there is going to be years of civil war between the various factions. I wonder if it would have made a difference if we had helped the Syrian opposition much sooner.

Sunday, June 16, 2013


Apologies for the dearth of postings this weekend. My friend came by unexpectedly yesterday and now I am "stuck" with his Tesla Roadster Sport for a while. We spent yesterday afternoon and this morning trying to solve a charging issue. Thankfully, it has all been resolved. The culprit was my garage's funky wiring, not the car itself. So I'll definitely be posting about my experience with the Tesla for the next week or so, perhaps longer.

The other highlight of the weekend has been Maron, as in Marc Maron's new TV show on IFC. It's neurotic, endearing, and humorous. I also started listening to his podcast, WTF, in which he interviews comedians, 90 minutes at a time.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Mercedes G63 AMG 6x6


Carspotting: Red, white, and black

I spotted these cars yesterday.

Red cars are not that common. Seeing three red cars together is rare. Seeing an old 8-series BMW, a red Gelandewagen, and a red Mazda 2? I had to document this. I thought G-wagens only came in black and silver for some reason. Oh, about an hour after I took this shot, I walked back here and that black Panamera was still there, with a parking ticket.

I then spotted this RX-7 at the local library parking lot. It was in good shape. Unfortunately, it had an automatic transmission. Wouldn't that make it a pain in the ass to drive with the rotary engine and all?

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Nicaragua canal

It looks like Ortega and his cronies are going forward with this project. It will be built and controlled by the Chinese. There are a lot of questions and potential consequences. Just off the top of my head:

  • Will it truly rival the Panama Canal
  • Will the U.S. try to stop its construction
  • Will it actually be completed
  • Environmental impact
  • Impact on impoverished and Afro-Caribbean population on Atlantic side
  • Nicaragua's diplomatic status with Taiwan and China
  • Built by imported Chinese labor or locals
  • Will China really turn over control of the canal to Nicaragua
  • What if moderate or right-wing government wins control of Nicaragua
  • Canal's build quality/safety
  • Amount of bribes/corruption involved

Egypt-Ethiopia water row

They will go to war, 29 years from now.

Ashpoopie dog poo vaporizer

We're thinking of getting a dog, and this miraculous invention just tipped the scales in favor.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Monday, June 10, 2013

Turkish riot police water cannon truck promotional video

It is called the Toplumsal Olaylara Müdahale Aracı (TOMA). It has been sold to democratic bulwarks such as Zimbabwe, Libya, and Kazakhstan.

Specs here.

Sharp looking Ferrari Mondial

Hat tip to Carenvy/Bitcoin Pete.

Arab Spring casualty count

Bahrain: 120 deaths
Tunisia: 338 deaths
Egypt: 846 deaths
Yemen: 2,000 deaths
Libya: 25,000-30,000 deaths
Syria: 94,000 deaths

Sunday, June 09, 2013

Porsche 959s galore

I saw nine of the 337 Porsche 959s ever made yesterday at Canepa. It is incredibly cool how close the public was allowed near these cars.

Maserati BiTurbo

We had a fantastic day yesterday. I got a ride with the Hanzels in the back of a CNG-powered Crown Victoria from Oakland to Scotts Valley. The Cars & Coffee event at Canepa was not huge, but had some serious iron. Canepa opened its doors and we were free to roam the work shop and storage facility. It was beyond amazing. I'll be posting photos here and on Hooniverse over the next week.

When I stepped out of the Crown Vic, I made a beeline for this BiTurbo. I have always had a fondness for it and got to chat with the owner and his wife. Turns out, he also owns the GS we have all been lusting. (He also owns a Lotus Esprit.)

His ownership experience with this car has been, to put it delicately, frustrating. That's just water dripping onto the tarmac.

I was generously offered to sit in the car and even offered a chance to drive it. The interior was so comfortable and rich. The seat literally felt like a well-made La-Z-Boy recliner. I declined a drive, worried that I would damage the fragile creature.

On the drive back home, Henry Hanzel reminisced about the BiTurbo. Back in the mid 1980s, local car  dealer Kjell Qvale (of Mangusta fame) was the authorized Maserati dealer. The story goes like this: Maserati did not offer a factory warranty because...they weren't that crazy. The dealers bought BiTurbos for $20,000 each but had to charge another $25,000 on top just to break even if they wanted to offer a warranty to owners.

Henry had another story (he had a lot of stories). A customer came in once with a BiTurbo. As soon as it pulled up, it was leaking something awful. They determined that the liquid was the zinc heat shield!

Needless to say, I gave the owner my card and asked him to call me when he's ready to sell it.

Saturday, June 08, 2013

How much is an 11-99 Foundation license plate frame?

If you drive in California, you have no doubt seen these license plate frames. They are issued by a police charity and cost a pretty penny. So how much of a donation do you need to make to get this frame? Well, I got this solicitation in the junk mail today. Rumor has it cops won't give you a speeding ticket if you have one of these.

Friday, June 07, 2013

Check my Twitter feed tomorrow

Tomorrow morning, I'm getting a ride in a Citroen DS through the Santa Cruz Mountains to check out the Canepa Cars & Coffee show. I'll be posting pictures, so check them out!

Maria de Villota's helmet

As you may remember, de Villota had a freak accident when she struck the back of a truck in a Marussia F1 car. She lost an eye as a result. Here is her helmet.

Splitsville for the Putins

All you fellow geopolitical/Sovietology nuts will find this exchange fascinating.

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Putin wedding photo

Today, Putin and his wife announced their divorce. Does anyone recognize their wedding car from 30 years ago?

Soda lobby ad

This ad has been playing a lot around here recently. It's paid for by the sugary water industry, as it is afraid that taxes on sodas will hurt sales. Maybe this is all a karmic payback for putting Pepsi logos on baby bottles and giving them to low income, poorly educated young mothers?

Aston Martin V8 Zagato

More of Jay Ramey's photos here.

Corvette camper

Via Bolly Blog.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Turkmenistan bumper car

More incredible photos here.

Carspotting: Las Vegas edition

My mom took this picture yesterday. Thanks, mom, for taking a picture of a Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder!

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Citroen GS Pallas at Hanzel's

Look what Tim spotted while working on his DS.

Double the awesome

Mercedes E320 W124 cabriolet for sale

A couple of notes before I get to the cabriolet.

Last night, while grabbing a dinner to go, a guy asked me about my Hooniverse shirt. He quickly confessed that he drove a '65 Ford Falcon. His parents? They had a Mercedes 500E and a 1978 Porsche 911 SC. I promptly invited him to bring the cars to Seconds Saturdays.

Here is a Mercedes Fascination piece about the W124 range. Who knew that they made a 6-door version?

This local E320 looks really well taken of and seems to be priced right. I remember the first one of these I saw was on the big screen, when Tom Cruise's character drove it in The Firm.

The deets: 111k miles, one owner, always garaged, new OEM top, refurbished seats. This is a gem, if you're into that kind of thing.