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Cars > alwaysakid’s Garage > Blog

 

Gas Mileage Extremes

By alwaysakid

Filed under: /blogs/browse/t/vehicle/v//p

My car of choice for long road trips is the 2001 Toyota Celica. But this time I took the 2011 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport to see how it does on a long trip, mainly because my wife had hurt her ribs and it was hard for her to get in and out of the low-sitting Celica.
So, we drove to western Montana (an annual excursion) in the Mitsubishi this time.
This is my synopsis of how the Outlander did in comparison to past trips in the Celica. And the biggest surprise was the gas mileage.
The Celica is much more fun to drive because it handles so well. And while I thought the four-wheel-drive might come in handy in some areas of Montana, in the end we never went anywhere that the Celica couldn't have handled. And driving over the mountain passes is a blast in the Celica, but became a chore in the Outlander.
The disadvantage of the Outlander's height affecting its handling was only a small part of why it isn't so much fun going over the passes. The biggest reason was because the cruise control was grossly inefficient over the passes.
In driving the Outlander on the Interstate highway, I usually put it on cruise control. And on the way west I found my gas mileage varied from 18 MPG to 24 MPG. But when I quit using the cruise control, the gas mileage improved to 26 MPG in the mountains because I managed the speed so that the RPMs never went over 3100 even if it meant losing 5-10 MPH while going up the hills. With the cruise control on, the RPMs often went up to 4500.
We did hit some head-winds on the way out, which I'm sure was a factor, since like many SUVs this car has a large profile to push through the winds. But the cruise control didn't start accelerating the car until it had already started upgrade and was losing momentum. The trick to efficiently driving over hills is to avoid losing any momentum.
On the trip home, we had a strong tail wind and I did not use the cruise control unless the terrain was flat. We got 25-31 MPG. That's an amazing difference in my mind.
The car is rated at 28 MPG on the highway. I've never owned a car before that exceeded it's manufacturer's MPG rating. And this car did it on more than one tank of gas!
My conclusion is that this car is very well made for efficient operations by a 4x4, but it's cruise control design sucks. And while it is more comfortable for long drives than many other cars I've owned, it still does not live up to the bar set by my Celica (which doesn't lose hardly any gas mileage when the cruise control is on).
The Celica is still my first choice for long trips, but I wouldn't mind taking the Outlander again, either, now that I know when not to use the cruise control

Keep Them Running And Values Stay Up

By alwaysakid

This is the oldest motor vehicle car in the world that still runs.
It was built one year before Karl Benz and Gottlieb Daimler invented the internal combustion engine.
The world's oldest running motor vehicle has been sold at auction for an astonishing $4.62 million, more than double the pre-sale estimate, as two bidders chased the price up in a three-minute bidding war.
The 1884 De Dion Bouton et Trepardoux Dos-a-Dos Steam Runabout drew a standing ovation as it was driven up onto the stage at Friday's RM Auction in Hershey, Pennsylvania - to prove that this 127-year-old car really does run! - and attracted a starting bid of $500 000, which was immediately doubled to $1 million. Encouraged by the applauding crowd, the bidding went swiftly up to $4.2 million - 4.62 million including the 10 percent commission - before the car was knocked down to an unnamed buyer.
The Dos-a-Dos (Back-to-Back) Steam Runabout was built in 1884 by George Bouton and Charles-Armand Trepardoux for French entrepreneur Count de Dion, who named it 'La Marquise' after his mother. In 1887, with De Dion at the tiller, it won the world's first ever motor race (it was the only entrant to make the start line!) covering the 32km from the Pont de Neuilly in Paris to Versailles and back in one hour and 14 minutes.
La Marquise has only had four owners, remaining in one family for 81 years, and has been restored twice, once by the Doriol family and again by British collector Tom Moore in the early 1990's. Since then, it has taken part in four London-to-Brighton runs and collected a double gold at the 1997 Pebble Beach d'Elegance in California .

How Long Before Bad Reputations Are Forgotten?

By alwaysakid

I went to a car show this past summer and saw a Yugo there. I don't know much about Yugos, as I've never owned one, but I've heard a lot about them and none of it was good. They sound like they are cheaply made and VERY prone to failure. A friend of mine who had one called his Fewgo.
So, if everyone hates Yugos, why would someone want to bring one to a car show, much less preserve or restore one? And it even got a trophy in my photo album of that car show, but no disrespectful comments (except maybe my photo description)!
That got me to thinking. You don't see Yugos anymore. It's not that they're antiques, but maybe just rare because they were hard to keep going and didn't last. And if they are rare, maybe they're collectible now.
It got me to thinking about Ford's Edsel, if I can dare make the comparison. Not long after the Edsel came out it got a reputation for being an unreliable and unwanted car. But now they're highly collectible. Instead of a lemon, it's called an icon.
How long did it take for the Edsel to gain popularity? Is the Yugo there yet? And if not, will it ever be there?
I have to admit, the Edsel has a very distinctive appearance, whereas the Yugo looks like just another econobox. But maybe some day econoboxes will be iconic reminders of a distinctive era. And maybe the Yugo will be highly sought after as one rare example.

I've Got The Blues

By alwaysakid

Usually one doesn't want to have the blues. But I like the blues. I like rhythm and blues music, and I seem to like cars that are blue in color.
After I purchased my Mitsubishi, I realized out of four cars I currently own, three of them are blue. Had I thought about that before I bought that car, I might've held out for something in a different color. As much as I like the color blue, I like variety, too. I think I like variety more than I like blue, which might be partly why all four of my cars are different makes.
While I like the color blue, I wouldn't say it's my favorite color. But there sure are a lot of nice shades of blue out there. And whoever makes the paint for cars deserves accolades for a lot of those nice shades.
Of the three blue cars I own, I didn't buy any of them because they were blue, but it was a factor in two cases.
When I bought the Celica, I wanted something small and sporty and there weren't many choices out there. In fact, of all the car lots I visited in Sioux Falls at the time, all I found in my price range were a red Mustang, a red Celica, a white Celica, a black Celica and the blue Celica. There weren't a lot of options, and it appeared the odds were stacked in favor of getting a Celica. I got the best deal on the blue Celica, and I liked the color.
Then came the Studebaker. I actually went to buy a '61 Studebaker Hawk but it turned out to be in much worse shape than the seller first told me and the work it needed was way more than I could afford, never mind the price of the car. But I knew he also had the '50 Champion for sale and asked to see it. I've always liked the bullet-nose Studebakers, but because of the shade of blue this one wore, it appeared to be the prettiest bullet-nose I'd ever seen (OK, I know, I know, the bullet nose is chrome, don't get technical on me).
When I went to look at Mistubishis, the one I purchased seemed to stand out on the lot because it was such a nice shade of blue. I really went to look at Mitsubishis because I had never owned one before (there's that variety thing again) and always liked the Eclipse. I had first sought a Nissan Juke and looked at a red one, but the Nissan dealer didn't like our trade-in (the yellow [not blue] Mazda), while the Mitsubishi dealer seemed to really want it. And since the Outlander was similar to the Juke but had more interior room and got slightly better gas mileage, I ended up with another blue car in the garage.
Then I started thinking about the cars I've had in the past, and quite a few of them are blue. In fact, if I counted right, I've had nine blue cars, way more than any other color.
So, why am I telling you this? I don't know, it just seemed like a catchy title for a blog, "I've Got The Blues." Why did you read it?

Remembering the NYC attack

By alwaysakid

It's been 10 years since the bold terrorist attacks against New York City and Washington, DC, using airliners full of passengers for missiles.
I thought I'd take this opportunity to share some of my son's thoughts after standing guard over the site of the Twin Towers in NYC shortly after the attacks. He was activated as a member of the National Guard to beef up security at NYC. After serving a couple months and then being released, he sent an email to all his family and friends about the experience, as he knew everyone was wondering what it was like for him. Here is some of what he said:
"As I was standing there, a woman approached the police barrier to view what she could see. As I looked at her, she had a very lost look on her face, like she was trying to figure out what everyone was looking at. She seemed lost as to what had happened here. I could see a pain in her eyes, confusion, someone looking for resolution. Then she looked at me. This took me aback, because at that moment her facial expression changed. She came here to see what had happened, and now that she knew, her eyes asked me what I was going to do about it. It was like she was pleading with me, to bring back all the people, to single-handedly raise the towers back into existence. I didn't have to see my own facial expression to know that my face said despair. No matter what I did, or how much I helped with the effort, it would not make one damn bit of difference to the people that were already gone. Then the woman turned and walked away, and I was relieved to find myself alone again, but more alone than I had been before.
After a few hours, I was relieved to go to the church that the Red Cross had set up for rescue workers and soldiers. I walked down the street to the church, seeing store windows broken from debris, and dust that had not yet been cleaned up. Most of the streets had been cleaned, but a few stores had not been visited by their owners. It looked as if it had snowed inside the shops.
Another strong sense that was ever present the time we were there was the smell. After a month of the actual attack, the odor carried for blocks still. You could not get away from it.
I reached the church and ran quickly inside. It was very cold and when you stand out in the cold all night, it doesn't help much. The church was wonderful. It was so quiet. Rescue workers were sleeping in the balconies upstairs, and random bodies were seen to be dosing off in the pews. I sat down in one of the pews, and I couldn't seem to get warm. I said a prayer, and sat up so I wouldn't fall asleep. There were other guys standing out in the cold that I still needed to relieve. I turned around, and in the row behind me was a mother holding her daughter close to her, glad to still have her family, and sad because others had lost theirs. She seemed to hold her tightly, as if she was afraid to let her go because she might not be there for her tomorrow. I can understand how precious life is, especially for those who are shown how quickly it can be taken away. I found myself missing my family very much at that moment. I had to turn away to keep myself from weeping, but it did no good, as I wept anyway. I gathered myself after a few minutes, and went back into the cold."
May we never forget.

Too Much Of A Good Thing

By alwaysakid

I guess when it's too big to handle, it's too big to enjoy. A week or two ago I posted a photo album of the Back To The Fifties event in St. Paul. This is an annual event that draws in excess of 11,000 collector cars every year. I tried to only take pictures of the vehicles I thought were particularly interesting and still ended up with 328 photos.
As a result, almost nobody has looked at this album. And those who have can't even get half way through it. I think I've had fewer people look at this album than any other album I've posted.
Of course, it is summertime, when people are outdoors instead of in front of the computer.
And we live in a busy society, where people don't have time to sit down and look at over 300 pictures on the computer.
It's too bad, though, because there were a LOT of interesting vehicles there. Some of the photos I got include a Packard convertible sedan from the classic period, Cadillacs, Studebakers, radical customs, flamed streetrods, gassers, a panel with a saloon in the back, a dog peeing on somebody's car and even a hotrod that looks like a traffic cone.
Even if I do say so myself, if you've got time, it's worthwhile going through this album.
But for those of you who do not have time, I understand.

Where The Spark Plugs Belong

By alwaysakid

Filed under: /blogs/browse/t/vehicle/v//p

My son says I'm "such an old school hotrodder."
I was changing the spark plugs in my Toyota Celica, and since he's a mechanic, I had to call him about it.
"What's up with this car?" I demanded to know. "The spark plugs are, like, six inches down inside the engine! They're supposed to be sticking out the side of the engine block, where you can see them without having to pull parts off!"
He laughed at me.
OK, it's been a while since I changed the spark plugs on a car. Now that they only need changing every 100,000 miles, you don't do this job very often.
I'm not sure why they put these covers on top of the engines nowadays, although I have seen them on some fancy customs, so maybe the car makers are just trying to make their cars look fancier. And I don't know what those long, plastic tubes were that sat on top of the spark plugs. But I'm sure they were necessary because the thick spark plug wires have been replaced with small, telephone wires that come out of a plastic strip on top of the engine manifold (at least I think that's the manifold because it used to be the manifold was always on top of the engine, but that was also when the spark plugs stuck out of the sides of the engine).
All this leaves me wondering, why doesn't all that plastic on the engine melt?
Well, I got the new spark plugs installed and put everything back together and the car started and ran fine. But it always has run fine. Maybe its all the plastic that makes this car run so good.
Hmmm, I think I'll go bolt a Tupperware container on top of the flathead-six in my Studebaker and see if that enhances it any.

Paddle Shifting

By alwaysakid

Filed under: /blogs/browse/t/vehicle/v//p

OK, so I keep hearing on "Top Gear" how the host Jeremy hates flappy paddle shifters. Or is it floppy paddle shifters? I don't know, I've never had them before. The owner's manual calls them paddle shifters.
Anyway, our new Mitsubishi has them, so I had to try them.
My verdict? I guess I haven't played enough video games; I don't like them so much, either.
But to be honest, my biggest problem is I shift by sound, not by sight. The Mazda was somewhat noisey. In fact, that was the only complaint Consumer Reports had about the car: it had too much engine noise. That's bad?
The Misubishi is quiet. If I have the radio on at a very low volume (what fun is that?) I can't hear the engine at all. How am I supposed to know when to shift? Look at the tach? Aren't we supposed to keep our eyes on the road?
Well, it is an automatic, it just has a setting for manual, clutchless shifting. The problem is, going to that setting puts you in first gear, so I haven't figured how to go from automatic to manual on the fly so I can down shift on downhill grades. Maybe that's possible, maybe not.
Of course, the best answer would've been getting a manual transmission to begin with, but shifting gets old in daily city traffic. I like being able to do that just occasionally. So, I'll go to the Studebaker if I want real manual shifting.
In the meantime, I think I'll just keep the Ditsi Mitsi in automatic mode. At least for now. The time will come, though, that I'll just have to try that paddle shifting again, sooner or later.

Good Bye Old Friend

By alwaysakid

Filed under: /blogs/browse/t/vehicle/v//p

It's been a good car, but it was time to move on.
We traded in the 2003 Mazda Protege 5 yesterday for a 2011 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport. It was with some hesitance that we let this car go, as it has been a good car and a very fun car to drive. In fact, in some ways it is better than its brand-new replacement. It's certainly faster, as it has been thee fastest four-cylinder car we have ever owned.
But we have found on more than one occasion that if we're going to continue living in the North (and circumstances currently dictate that we will for some time), then we really should have something with four-wheel-drive. And the only way we could buy another vehicle was to let one we currently own go. The Mazda drew the short straw, mainly because our other daily driver, the Celica, gets about 25 percent better gas mileage and has more comfortable seats for long distance driving.
We turned down one dealer's trade-in offer on the Mazda because we felt it made the Mazda the better value in comparison to the price of the Nissan we were looking at. But a few days later we went to a different dealer to look at the Mitsubishi and they showed much more desire to acquire ole "Yeller." Apparently they saw at least some of what we could see in this Mazda.
And so, the Mazda now wears the "No Longer Owned" tag on Motortopia. But the photos are still there, as will be our memories of this fine car.

I Might Want to Buy a Baja

By alwaysakid

I was looking at a 2006 Subaru Baja today. I might want to buy it.
But I was troubled because the sales dude said the turbo version requires premium grade gasoline, whereas the Baja without a turbo can run on regular unleaded gasoline. Why does a turbo require higher octane? It's the same engine and same compression ratio in the cylinders.
With the price of gasoline continuing to rise, I don't think I want to have to purchase the higher priced premium gasoline.
But without the turbo, the Baja drives like any other regular car.
Does anybody know, does the addition of a turbo really bring the need for the higher grade of gasoline in the Subaru? Or is that a automotive legend and the Subaru with a turbo can run just fine on regular gasoline and still maintain its reputation for longevity?

A New Car for $600?

By alwaysakid

I got an email forward touting this car as a new model VW will be marketing in China that gets 258 miles to the gallon of diesel fuel and sells for the equivilent of $600 US.
What do you think? Is this for real or another cyber legend?
This is what the email said:
This is not a joke and they do sell for $600.00.
They wont be able to make them fast enough -- be good just to run around town.
Here's a car that will get you back and forth to work on the cheap....... $600 for the car. 258 miles per gallon... Only a one seater however.
Talk about cheap transportation....... Volkswagen's $600 car gets 258 mpg -- It looks like Ford, Chrysler and GM missed the boat again!
This $600 car is no toy and is ready to be released in China next year. The single seater aero car totes VW (Volkswagen) branding.
Volkswagen did a lot of very highly protected testing of this car in Germany, but it was not announced until now where the car would make it's first appearance. The car was introduced at the VW stockholders meeting as the most economical car in the world as presented.
The initial objective of the prototype was to prove that 1 liter of fuel could deliver 100 kilos of travel. The aero design proved essential to getting the desired result. The body is 3.47 meters long and just 1.25 meters wide, and a little over a meter high.
The prototype was made completely of carbon fiber and is not painted to save weight. The power plant is a one cylinder diesel positioned ahead of the rear axle and combined with an automatic shift controlled by a knob in the interior. Safety was not compromised as the impact and roll-over protection is comparable to the GT racing cars.
Better than Electric Car? 258 miles/gallon: IPO 2010 in Shanghai. This is a single seated car.
From conception to production: 3 years and the company is headquartered in Hamburg, Germany ..
It will be selling for 4000 Yuan, equivalent to US $600.
Gas tank capacity = 1.7 gallons
Top speed = 62 to 74.6 Miles/hour
Fuel efficiency = 258 miles/gallon
Travel distance with a full tank = 404 miles.

One of the Most Reliable Cars I've Ever Owned

By alwaysakid

Filed under: /blogs/browse/t/vehicle/v//p

I hadn't posted this car, the 1978 Datsun 510 station wagon, in my Motortopia garage until now because I had so few pictures of it. In fact, I don't have any of the whole car by itself. This is a real shame, because this car served my family during good times and bad like nothing else built by man. We drove it across country a couple times, neglected it during difficult economic times and yet it always got us where we needed to go. And it got 30 MPG, without an overdrive, which is quite good for that era.
I put studded snow tires on it for the winter and it never got stuck. In spite of it being a rear-wheel, two-wheel drive station wagon, it was incredibly easy to control in the snow.
It was the family transport when the kids were growing up, and became the teenager's transportation when we finally replaced it. And we only replaced it because it was getting old and had a lot of miles on it.
I'd have to say it was probably the best car our family ever had. I like my current Toyota Celica just as well, if not better, but it's not a family car and would not have served our family like that Datsun wagon did.
So, if it was such a good car, how come I don't really have any pictures of it?

Is it Happy Birthday or Happy Anniversary?

By alwaysakid

Filed under: /blogs/browse/t/vehicle/v//p

My 1961 Ford Thunderbird is 50 years old this year. Actually, I haven't taken the time to look up the car's actual build date, but just going by the car's model year and present actual calendar year this is the year it becomes a half century old.
Looking at the car it's hard to believe it's actually half a century old. Maybe that's a reflection on how old I am, because when I start using the word "century" I have thoughts of headlights that are attached on top of fenders that are attached to the sides of the cars. My '61 T-Bird actually looks kind of modern for an antique car.
Then we get into that great question of "How old does a car have to be to be considered an antique?" Based on Minnesota automobile license plate laws, any car 20 years old or older is an antique, although they have sub-categories within that antique definition that would indicate a car built after 1948 is a "collector" car. I've heard other arguements that a car must be 25 years old or 50 years old to be an antique, or that it must've been built before World War II (what, not enough people were killed in any the wars after WWII to create a new dividing point for antique cars?). And if the latter definition is used, how many years do we wait before we finally move that WWII boundary up to include some of the millions of cars built after then?
Regardless of whether or not my T-Bird is an antique, there is no question that it has become a half century old this year. And when we're talking about a mechanical product that is still performing its intended functions, I think that's very significant. And when I look at the odometer, it means this car averaged about 2400 miles per year; try making it to work within that many miles of driving in a year. And try looking as good as my T-Bird when you turn 50.
I don't think I'll be around when the car becomes a whole century old. So, I'm celebrating the half-century as a landmark moment in this car's existence by writing this blog dedicated to it.
Happy Birthday, T-Bird! or would that be, Happy Anniversary T-Bird? I don't think it really cares.

Snowed In

By alwaysakid

Filed under: /blogs/browse/t/vehicle/v//p

The last big blizzard in Minneapolis (about 2 months ago) I got stranded in downtown Minneapolis, but this time I got stranded at home, thanks in part to my employer.
I was at work Sunday, Feb. 20, and people were struggling to make it in to work. Enough so that I was worried if I could make it home again. But I didn't want to get stranded downtown again, and I knew it would cause a hardship if I was unable to make it in to work Monday. So, I went to my immediate supervisor and said, "If the company wants to put me up in a hotel I'll stay so you can be assured I'll be here at work Monday. But if not, and I don't make it home tonight, then I won't be able to make back it in to work either." He went to his boss, who said "no" even though one other employee was already staying at the hotel.
I was cool with that. I'd rather get snowed in at home anyway. So I headed home, and I was doing OK, even in my little two-wheel-drive Celica with the roads full of snow. I passed a lot of other vehicles that were stuck or had slid off the roadway, but I had no problems.
That was, until I got to my neighborhood. Then I turned down the street that led to the street I live on and it was full of way more snow than the others (apparently the plows had been out on the major arteries although it didn't look like it). I tried following a pair of ruts from a previous vehicle, but they turned off. It was downhill from there, so I thought maybe if I got enough momentum I could slide into my driveway. That worked until the car got high-centered from snow built up in front and under it.
I decided the easiest thing to do was to walk home and get the snow-blower to cut a path for my car. The snowblower broke before I got it out of the driveway.
So my wife and I returned to the car with a couple shovels and started digging. An hour later the Celica still wouldn't budge, so I returned to the garage and got a hydraulic jack to lift the car so I could shovel the snow out from under it. That did the trick. At least it enabled me to get it into the driveway and out of harm's way, barely.
It was 2 a.m. and I finally got to bed.
When I got up in the morning, I discovered the snowplow had gone down the street and burried the rear end of the car. Back to shoveling again.
That pretty much sealed the deal. I called work and told them I was unable to get in.
I finally got it freed again and the driveway shoveled (because the snowblower was still broken) but by then it was mid afternoon, way too late to go to work.
This is the first "snow day" I've had off from work as far back as I can remember. The news reports said it was the worst February snow storm on record. We got about 18 inches in a 24-hour period, and a couple more inches after that.
But it's behind me now. Only 27 days until the official start of spring.

Old maps

By alwaysakid

Who needs GPS when you have all these old maps around for just about every state in the union? OK, so maybe the highway system has changed some since 1972, which is why I tossed the old Atlas. But I'm not sure I should toss the individual maps. The ones from the auto club (AAA) may not have any value, but I'm thinking the ones from the gas stations maybe do. There are people who like to collect memorabilia from the old gas stations, and a couple of my maps proudly display Exxon and American oil companies' logos or related art work. Then there's the official, Canadian government map of Ontario which features a photo of a 1971 Chevy Nova. It's not a very good photo, but good enough I could determine what the car is within a year or two.
So what do I do with them? List them on ebay? Display them on a shelf (that could displace one of my toy cars, heaven forbid!)? Maybe just hang on to them for posterity -- I think that's what I did some time in the past and now I found them again almost 40 years later!
What do you think? Am I making much ado about nothing or have I got something here?

Watch Out For The Plows

By alwaysakid

OK, I admit it, I'm a dummy. The weather forecasters and news outlets warned us a winter storm was coming. But they said it would be 5-7 inches of snow and I figured I could shovel that, never mind that I hurt my back in the last storm slipping on ice.
Well, we got 10-12 inches, and the '61 T-Bird was blocking the path of the snow blower, which had no gas anyway. I should've moved the T-Bird and got gas yesterday, when they were warning us of the impending storm, but I didn't.
After about 45 minutes of shoveling and having barely put a dent into the accumulation, my back was starting to hurt. So, I swallowed my pride, and asked our friend who is staying with us and has 4-wheel-drive to go out through our unplowed driveway and get some gas for the snowblower. Our friend Mary took the gas can and saved the day.
So, I'm out clearing snow, and figuring the plow had already been by our street and was done there, went to work on clearing the snow birm it left in my driveway. But while in the midst of that, I turned around and there was the snow plow again, stopped just short of my driveway, waiting for me to get out of his way (I didn't hear him coming over the snow blower as he may be bigger but I make more noise). I looked at all that snow in front of his plow about to be deposited in my driveway, and then I looked at the driver. He had a big smile on his face. Determined, I stood my ground. This is my driveway, and I am not going to let him pile a bunch more snow in it. I tightly grabbed both handles of my snow blower and revved the engine, attempting to stare down that big, five-ton, plow-equipped dump truck. And you know what? He lifted his blade and drove around me, still smiling. I put my finger to the side of my nose and gave a nod of my head (oh, wait, that's that other seasonal story), and we both went about clearing mother nature's blanket for the free movement of the community's cars.
Merry Christmas to all, and to all, a clear driveway!

Did Anybody Miss Me?

By alwaysakid

I've been gone for several weeks, working out of town and then moving out of town. My job got transfered to Minneapolis, so after living out of a hotel for a few weeks, I moved from the Sioux Falls area to the Twin Cities area. After the move, it took almost two weeks to establish internet service, so I've been away from Motortopia for most of about four or five weeks (I did use the hotel computer a couple times for a quick peek at Motortopia). But I'm in my new house in Burnsville, MN, now, and the Internet is up and running. The new house has TWO two-car garages, while the old one had only one three-car garage. In my book, that's a nice step up. Who cares what the rest of the house is like.
Since the company moved my job and liked me well enough to want to keep me, they offered to move my stuff, including two of my cars. So, I had the '61 T-Bird and '50 Studebaker shipped. But since the company was paying, they picked the mode of transport -- an open trailer. That had me a little worried, since we were moving in November. But God is good, although he also has a sense of humor. The Sunday before the move, we got almost 10 inches of snow in the Minneapolis area. I admit it, I was worried. But then things cleared up and we had excellent weather for the move. The cars arrived dry and clean. The following weekend, it snowed again, but by then the cars were tucked away in their new garage.
Now to wait until spring to find out what the Twin Cities, and specifically Burnsville, offer in a cruising scene within the limitations of my work schedule.

Automated Tolls Blues

By alwaysakid

So, a couple weeks ago I drive to Upstate New York to see my son. As I go through Indiana, I find the toll booths are devoid of humans -- they've been automated. Starting out, it's not so bad, you just take your ticket, like so many pay parking lots. But then I get to where I have to pay the money. I'm sitting behind a car, wondering what's taking him so long, and finally it's my turn. I'm about to learn what took that guy so long. I insert my ticket in the clearly marked slot, but it spits it out. I try again, and it spits it out again. The third time I quit being gentle and shove the ticket as deeply in the slot as I can. Then the price I'm supposed to pay, along with the number of axles I'm being charged with, comes up. What!?! $48 for seven axles?! I'm driving a little Mazda for crying out loud. So I push the button for help and I get a recording telling me all the agents are busy and I will receive assistance when my turn in the que comes up. Meanwhile, I glance in my rearview mirror and notice cars are starting to back up behind me. Finally someone answers and when I tell him the problem he quickly corrects it to the propper $4 toll (apparently he's gotten used to having to fix these problems). So, I start pushing dollar bills in the slot. The first one is rejected, so I try another one. The second one goes in, but the third, fourth and fifth are rejected. After going through a dozen singles, I start asking my passengers for dollar bills, and pretty soon I have rejected dollar bills lying all over my lap and the floor of the car until we finally find four bills good enough for this machine. The gate goes up -- apparently it's the only part of that contraption working properly. If any of you live in Indiana, call your transportation department and tell them to put their employees back in the toll booths or they're going to have to hire more people to help all the poor motorists that can't get off the toll road, not to mention the traffic cops to deal with the jams at the toll exits. This automated system is so bad, that when I got to the next toll booth in Ohio and saw a human there as I pulled up, I said to her with longing eyes, "I love you." And she knew exactly what I meant.

It's Gone

By alwaysakid

Filed under: /blogs/browse/t/vehicle/v//p

I sold Not-So-Big-Foot last week. It was kind of a fun vehicle to drive in that it definately made the operator feel like a truck driver. And it was convenient to have a pickup truck available. But I just didn't use it much, and it often sat for a couple months without turning a wheel.
But the main motivator is that I'm getting transferred soon to Minneapolis by my employer and thought it would be convenient to have one less vehicle to drive there. Part of the relocation package is they'll ship up to 2 vehicles, but I'll be taking advantage of that even without the truck. In fact, when the relocation person was explaining the benefits available, she said she was sure nobody would use that feature because each family member can drive their own vehicle. I raised my hand and said I'd be using it. When she asked why, I said I have 5 vehicles and only 2 drivers, and she then not only rolled her eyeballs, but her entire head with them. Obviously, she's not a motorhead.
Anyway, friends at church were lamenting that their son lost his vehicle and couldn't afford another one and didn't know what to do. I offered the truck and a deal was struck. Their son loves it.

I'm The Rebel Now

By alwaysakid

Filed under: /blogs/browse/t/vehicle/v//p

James Dean and Marlon Brando, step aside. There's a new rebel without a cause in town.
That's right, I think I'm a rebel. I'm the guy that people look at funny, and wonder what he could be thinking.
What makes me such a rebel? Well, just look at most of the cars on Motortopia, or at the local car shows, and then look at what I'm driving.
In this current time, everyone wants to have the fast car. Muscle cars are back on the new car lots, and those who don't have them are hotrodding what they've got. Even the old cars, they're not left stock anymore. They have to have custom touches (preferably to make it look fast) and powerful, fast engines. The pipes must rumble and the wheels gotta be chrome.
Then I come around the corner in my 1950 Studebaker. No wheel flares or frenched headlights, just what the factory gave it. The pipe (yep, there's only one) is quiet and raising the hood reveals only six cylinders. No turbo charger and only one carburator on this stock, flathead six! 0-60 is measured in miles, not minutes.
Everybody else has their hotrods, streetrods, muscle cars and sports touring cars. But not me. I'm in a genuine, stock, antique car that drives just like it did 60 years ago.
What an unusual person I must be; what a nonconformist; what a rebel!

Do Not Judge Lest You Be Judged

By alwaysakid

I've been reading a few blogs posted about inaccurate judging at various car shows, so I thought I'd throw in my two-cents worth.
I've been to three "judged" events this year, two with the Studebaker and one with the T-Bird. The one with the T-Bird I didn't even stay to see who won because the show ran for 7 hours (too long), had only one trophy to award, and I would've been disappointed if I had won it because of the caliber of several of the other entries.
As for the two events I attended with my Studebaker, the results really raised my eyebrows.
At one show, the Studebaker was entered in an "orphans" category for obvious reasons. But the car that won was a Chrysler! That's right, a Chrysler in the "orphans" category, apparently because it was a Crossfire and Chrysler doesn't make Crossfires anymore. I guess, based on that definition, 75 percent of the cars in the show should've been in that category, but the owner of the car gets to choose the category in which his or her car is to be judged. And I suspect the owner of the Crossfire knew there wouldn't be much competition in the "orphans" category (wait until all the Plymouth, Pontiac and Oldsmobile owners figure that out), and he wanted his trophy.
At the other judged show in which I took my Studebaker, I knew I was in trouble when a friend of mine came up to me and announced he was chosen to judge the Studebaker class. He's a diehard hotrodder, and there's no way he would ever choose a stock six-cylinder car to win anything. Sure enough, he chose the Hawk with the blower sticking through the hood (personally, I think the original '63 Avanti should've won, but that's beside the point). When he came up to me to announce he had been chosen to be a judge, he told me he would probably choose that Hawk before seeing all the Studebakers, and I never even saw him get closer than 30 feet to my car to determine his decision.
Am I mad at my friend? Heck, no! That's because I understand him. I know he is a hotrodder through-and-through. I think even if he had some kind of super car, he'd still be looking for a way to tweak it and get some part of the engine to stick thorugh the hood. That's his way and how he enjoys cars. And he's a nice guy.
The way I figure it, he's volunteering his time so he should be able to choose whatever car he wants to be the winner. If I don't like it, I should volunteer to be a judge next year (which I probably won't because I seldom get to the same show two years in a row). Likewise, the other guy (and I don't know who he was) that chose a Chrysler as the best "orphan," well, that's his perogative since he agreed to take the time to judge the cars at that show,
I came away from the show where my friend helped judge without any plastic statues, but I had an excellent time. I saw a lot of great cars, trucks and motorcycles, and enjoyed visiting with several car and biker friends I ran into there. And I've been able to prolong my pleasure by posting pictures of that show on Motortopia and read and discuss comments with my Motortopia friends.
One of the things they did at the one show which I thought was an excellent idea, was instead of awarding second and third place awards, they chose some of the better cars that didn't win to receive "Outstanding In Class" awards (I did get one of those). I thought that was an excellent idea as it gives the car owner some prestige without having to be the first or second loser.
I recognize the importance of scoring points to help determine the historical accuracy of antique cars. But most shows are not judged by "historians;" they're judged by average guys not much different from me, and we're going to have some limits to our historical knowledge. And how do you score points on a car that's been customized or hotrodded? That's going to be almost purely subjective.
So, I guess the moral of my story is don't get too caught up in the judging and trophy thing. It's more important to enjoy yourself. If it's the judging part you enjoy most, then start contacting some car show organizers and offer yourself as a judge. Most of these events are always needing more help. But be aware, as my friend said, whenever you're a judge, you're going to probably make somebody mad. That's because a lot of people get caught up in the judging and trophy thing.

The T-Bird Takes One For The Mazda

By alwaysakid

Filed under: /blogs/browse/t/vehicle/v//p

I wanted to call Mother Nature mother-something-else!
We had severe storms come through our area Saturday evening with some very strong winds that caved in our garage door. The Mazda was unscathed, but that's because the '61 Thunderbird next to it was a much longer car and served as a block for the Mazda, stopping the garage door from caving in any further.
But the T-Bird held up very well. The only damage is a slight, barely negligible dent by the taillight. It appears when the garage door hit the bumper, it was stopped from going any further. Other garage doors in the neighborhood, all on houses facing west like ours, were punched in much farther than ours.
And two large trees behind us were uprooted and knocked over.
The cost of replacing the garage door will be less than our deductible, so I'm doing some customizing to the budget. But the T-Bird has good, full coverage, so I don't anticipate that to be much of a problem. It's just a question of whether the dent can be knocked out of the original bumper.
Or since it is the original bumper with the original chrome still good and the dent is barely noticeable, maybe I should just leave it alone.

Wrong Kind of Cruise

By alwaysakid

I wasn’t real enthused about the idea of a cruise trip. To me, cruising is supposed to be done in a car, not on a ship! And the idea of a top speed of 20 MPH seemed ludicrous, although when we got into heavy seas I was glad they didn’t try to go that fast.
But this cruise was going to Alaska, and I’d seen pictures of the beautiful scenery there. That did interest me. Well, the wife, son and daughter-in-law really wanted to go on the Alaska cruise, so I reluctantly agreed to leave my car behind and climb aboard.
By the end of the second day, I was beginning to show signs of withdrawal symptoms. I hadn’t seen a car in two days. The round life preservers on the ship were beginning to look like wide-white-wall tires to me. As we got closer to shore, having entered the Inside Passage, the scenery was beautiful, everything I expected of Alaska and more. But I strained to see the one thing that was missing. There were no roads. No wonder so many people take these cruises, you can’t get to these shores by car because there are no roads! Sure enough, as we arrived the first port, Juneau, we were advised that even though this is Alaska’s capital, there are no roads into this city. The only way in and out is by boat, ship or seaplane. Not even Sarah Palin can drive to the state capital!
But as we got closer, I thought I saw a cut in the trees. It looked like a road. Yes, there it was, a four-wheeled vehicle, some kind of SUV, traveling along the way on the outskirts of the town. Not even Juneau is so backward as to have no cars for getting around. In fact, as we disembarked to look around the town, there were a lot of cars there. Almost enough to make a traffic jam. And they had more than one traffic light, too!
Then it happened. I thought I caught a glimpse of the rear of a red 1966 Chevy Nova. I could hear the rumbling of a high-output engine that could be a hotrod or a redneck’s modified 4x4 pickup. I ran to the other end of the park, and there it was, turning down a street. It was a ’66 Nova! I wanted to get a picture of that, nevermind the surrounding mountains or the stuffed grizzly bear in front of the gift shop!
So, I spent much of the day reenacting Kurt’s frustrations in American Graffiti – trying to catch a cool old car cruising around, but always just missing it after brief glimpses. Granted, it was a Chevy Nova, not a Ford T-Bird, and I never even got to see if it was driven by a voluptuous future Hollywood star (not that I care since I’m married, in case my wife reads this). But I shared Kurt’s frustrations, because it was the only car in the entire town I cared about and I couldn’t even get a picture of it. I thought about looking for a local radio station to see if I could make a special request over the airwaves, since that worked for Kurt, sort of, but then it was time to return to the cruise ship. And so, I left Juneau, never to see that red Nova again.
But the story doesn’t end here on such a sad note. Because the next stop was Skagway, which actually had a road in and out, even if it was only open half the year. Nonetheless, it probably had less vehicles than Juneau. But it had hotrods. And you could ride them.
There they were, as I got off the ship. A 1927 Mack bus! And shortly afterwards a second one drove up, and it was driven by a young, attractive blonde (not that I noticed)! Yes, I did say hotrods. These were no ordinary antique buses. They were powered by Chevy 350 V-8s, which kind of makes them hotrods. If you were as desperate as I was at the time for something automotive that was interesting, these were hotrods.
Also parked nearby, waiting to greet me as I came off the ship, was a 1966 Ford Falcon. It was in pretty rough shape, but it was an old car and I liked it, almost enough to take a picture of it in spite of the severe rust and miscolored doors.
And they had trains in Skagway, including one powered by an old steam engine. I like seeing old trains, so this helped divert my attention from the limited number of cars in the area.
I liked Skagway.
It was a long two days at sea again before we made it to the next port, Victoria, B.C., which had several roads in and out and lots of cars around. And some of the local owners of antique cars knew how to get the most out of their investments. There waiting at port for the tourists were an old English Austin taxi cab, a 1954 Ford convertible and two mid-1960s Pontiac convertibles, each offering tours of the town for the small fee of $190. But it cost me nothing to photograph them. Ah, things are starting to get back to normal a little bit.
The next day we were back in Seattle, where it was raining again. We got up early in the morning to catch a flight to Minneapolis and drive home 4 ½ hours from there. But we made it home in time to catch the Saturday night cruise. I was exhausted from all the traveling, but before we actually got home I stopped by the cruise to see who was out. I had seen most of the cars before, but they are some extremely good-looking cars and it was good to see them again.
Now I was ready to go home and end my vacation with a good night’s rest.

Fix Or Repair Daily

By alwaysakid

Filed under: /blogs/browse/t/vehicle/v//p

This old Ford F150 is frustrating me. I bought it for a winter vehicle, particularly to get around in bad snow storms, and it's proving to be a fair-weather vehicle. Lately, it's broken down every time I've tried to drive it in wet weather. It starts up fine, but as it's going down the road, it just dies. It restarts, but after a little ways dies again. I can see the tach, while I'm cruising at a constant speed, just drop to zero (and feel the loss of power). When I restart it, it backfires from the unburnt fuel, so I'm pretty sure it's a wiring problem. So far, I've replaced the spark plugs, spark plug wires, distributor cap, rotor, fuel pump relay wiring, starter selenoid, the alternator, fuel filter; and I've put fuel cleaner in the tank several times. But as long as the roads are dry and the sun is shining, it runs fine. As you might imagine, I'm getting tired of throwing parts at it. I tried idling it at night with the hood up, but couldn't see any arcing.
Any suggestions out there?

White Christmas

By alwaysakid

Filed under: /blogs/browse/t/vehicle/v//p

Did we ever have a white Christmas. For five days in a row, it snowed. The snow bank on one side of the driveway is getting so high, the snow blower can't blow the snow over it anymore. I have to blow most of the snow to the one side because the wind is always blowing and when I try to blow it on the other side, it just blows back in my face.
I made it into work Christmas Eve using the 4X4 truck, but wasn't sure if I'd get home. They ordered all trains to be parked that evening so the crews could have Christmas Day off, although a few local jobs had to work to serve customers that operate 365 days a year and need a switch every day. But they decided only one dispatcher needed to work Christmas Day each shift and the dispatcher with the lowest seniority would be the one to work, so I got Christmas Day off. But I almost had to spend it in a motel room. I finally got to where all of the trains I was handling were parked at 6:15 p.m., and shortly before that they announced that the interstate highways would be closed at 7 p.m. I told the people at work that either I would have to leave right then or I wouldn't get home, so it was agreed that I would go and another dispatcher would handle anything that might come up on my desk. As I was getting off I-29 on the way home, I saw state workers putting up the barricades on the I-29 ramps.
We stayed home all day Christmas. I waited until the end of the day Christmas to even try to dig out because it was snowing and blowing so hard. It was still snowing pretty good, but the winds were calm so it seemed a good time. Apparently during the night the winds kicked back up, because when we got up in the morning, we were snowed in again with more big drifts. I got the snow blower out and got most of the driveway done again when the snowblower ran out of gas. I had gone a whole winter last year without having to refill the snowblower's gas tank, and I had filled the tank just before this storm hit. Well, the driveway was cleared enough to get out, so I threw the gas can in the truck and figured I'd stop for gas on the way home from work. When I got out of work, the truck wouldn't start. Tried jumping it with a co-worker's truck and still nothing. The headlights were bright, indicating it wasn't the battery. Finally it just started. But I wasn't going to risk stopping on the way home and getting stranded, so no gas for the snowblower. When I got home, the driveway was full of snow again, with just a space open to pull the truck in, in front of the garage. Well, I didn't want to park it on the street while I dug out again, because if it didn't start, they'd tow it away for the plows, so I pulled in, and sure enough, the next time I tried to start it, nothing. So, now I had all of my vehicles blocked by a broke-down truck and no gas to blow out the rest of the driveway. I had to dig it out with a shovel to make a way to get my other car out, then drive down to the gas station to get gas for the snowblower to finish the job. Now I have to figure out how to get the truck to the shop; it probably needs a new starter, and I'm not going to climb under it in the cold and snow to do it myself.
Didn't make it to church yesterday (a rarity for us). Spent much of the morning digging out --again!

Briefly a Fugitive

By alwaysakid

The police got me last weekend.
I was coming home from work, and upon turning off the Interstate ramp, I saw the county mounty parked in the empty parking lot. It took both hands, but I managed to keep my foot from pressing too much on the accelerator.
But he quickly pulled out behind me and came up close on my tail. Hah, I thought, he wants to presure me into speeding, but I'm not going to do it!
Then the lights came on. What do I do? Should I pull over or make a run for it. My home was less than two miles away, I could make it there before he got reinforcements. Then I could hole up and make a Randy Weaver-type stand.
My better judgement quickly took over and I pulled over. The officer wanted to tell me I had a burned out headlight. He probably also wanted to smell my breath and look inside my car for suspicious cellephane-wrapped packages of white powder, but I was okay there.
We're in the 21st century. Why am I getting pulled over for a burned out headlight? I still have the other headlight, my daytime running lights, parking lights, fog lamps; heck, I've got more lights on the front of my vehicle than a UFO!
The officer said he was just giving me a verbal warning, not to worry.
But it's the weekend, what happens if I don't get it fixed right away, I asked?
He said he wasn't concerned. He was sure I'd get it fixed once I got tired of being pulled over by police.
My burnt out headlight is repaired.

NEWS FLASH - Great Pumpkin Missing, Frosty Implicated

By alwaysakid

SIOUX FALLS, SD -- With only weeks until Halloween, The Great Pumpkin is missing and is presumed to have been run out of town. Frosty the Snowman is under police custody and is being called a "person of interest."
Many business are gearing up for the Halloween holiday, but business is slumping since children have discovered The Great Pumpkin has been run out of town. While rumors have The Great Pumpkin seen playing with seagulls in southern California or surfing in Florida, his actual location has not been verified. Pieces of a broken pumpkin found in a dark alley have been sent out for forensic analysis, but police say they have no evidence connecting this with The Great Pumpkin and they believe he is simply "out of town."
Police point to the evidence of unusually early snowfall on Oct. 9 in the Sioux Falls area, accumulating about an inch, and then again Oct. 12 with three more inches piling up. While they will not say Frosty The Snowman produced the snow, they said his presence during the phenomenon along with his known preference for such conditions make him an obvious "person of interest" in The Great Pumpkin's disappearance.
However, attorneys for Frosty are quick to point out that Santa Claus requires snowfall to travel in his sleigh, and his whereabouts during the alleged crime has not been accounted for.
The investigation continues.

Super Challenger

By alwaysakid

Maybe I missed something, but I haven't seen anything on Motortopia about Mr. Norm's Super Challenger. Famous for building high-horsepower muscle cars out of hot new cars in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Mr. Norm is back at it again, using the new 2009 Challenger. It has some of the retro looks of the old muscle cars, such as striping and such, but a lot more horsepower. I was wondering if anyone has looked into these deeper than myself, and if so, what are your thoughts?

Want To Support Orphans?

By alwaysakid

I started a new group, but have been kind of surprised at the lack of interest in it. I thought now would be a good time to start a group on orphan cars, since so many automotive divisions are falling by the wayside.
Of course, my main interest in starting Orphan Owners Group was because I recently purchased a Studebaker. But orphan car makers is no longer confined to Studebakers, Hudsons and Desotos. The orphanage is getting crowded with the likes of Oldsmobile, Plymouth and even Pontiac!
I thought we could have some good forums in this group on where some of these makes came from and what brought about their desmise, or maybe on some of the cars they made that just seem like they should have saved the day.
If you're interested in automotive makes that are falling by the wayside, come check out our group. Maybe you'll enjoy it.
We're at http://www.mo....com/group/OO or,
http://www.mo...rphans_owners
Or maybe there just isn't a lot of interest in these makes that have died off and that's why they died off. Hmmm.

Bought Another One

By alwaysakid

Well, I went and did it. I bought another car. The neighbors are probably looking up the number of the padded ambulance as you read this. Or the city ordinance on the number of vehicles allowed at a residence.
I always kind of wanted a Studebaker. And while I really wanted a Hawk, when I went to look at a '61 Hawk, the guy had this, too. The Hawk was in really bad shape, in that all he could say about it was the body was solid (never mind the smashed quarter-pannel) and it ran good (if you kept pouring oil in it every hour). And for just a couple more grand, I got into a restored 1950 Studebaker Champion. It seemed a no-brainer to me, especially since my wife and a friend living with us both fell in love with it based on pictures online.
The garage kind of had a hole in it anyway, since I left the '51 Chevy with my son in New York. What do I do if he returns the Chevy? Ah, well, I figure by then my wife will be so in love with the Studebaker, she'll give up her spot in the garage. Yeah, maybe I'm dreaming, but I don't think my son's going to let me have the Chevy back anyway.
So, I bought the Champion and drove it home about 450 miles during which it ran great. The sun visor that the previous owner had put on blew off, but the car seemed to handle better without it anyway. I don't think I'm going to put that back on.
It's no hotrod, with a flathead six for power. But it runs very smooth and quiet. It got about 19 miles per gallon, and is kind of like driving a luxury car, even though it was built more to compete with Chevrolet than with Buick.
But what I like about it most is the radical styling. In 1950 there was nothing like it on the road, nor has there been since (except maybe the 1951 Studebaker). It was definately over the top, which is probably why they went for a major restyle only 2 years later. But I think it looks great. It's very much like a piece of art.
 

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