Drag racing is fun. Lots of fun. Especially if you can do it on the cheap and have grudge matches against your friends. That is what this weekend was all about for me. I spent Friday putting in a new set of 4.11:1 gears in the GS (my 1971 Buick GS convertible), which was finished around 2 am, and then headed to the track 80-miles away the next day. I have not had the car on the track since it has been completed (400hp motor, fresh everything, complete build, took 4 years) and I was excited to get it going. The first run of the day was kind of lame, but I had literally just driven 80 miles and ran through the lanes and made a pass. 15.11. Ouch. All that hard work and a 15.11? Ugh. I was a little miffed.
I spent the rest of the day chasing low 14s, even though i had been hoping for 13s. Things like this are to be expected, even though we never really expect them. I made a few adjustments along the way- aired down the tires, less air means better contact patch for the rubber. That got me down to the 14s with a 14.88. My 60-foot times sucked. They sucked all night actually. The main problem there is lousy traction. Street tires are unpredictable, sometimes they work ok, sometimes they don’t, though they usually don’t work too well.
After getting into the 14s, I made some shifting adjustments. Before I was shifting at 5500 rpm. This time I went for 5800. That worked out well as I managed a 14.60 ET at 91 miles per hour. We were getting closer to the 13s. Read the rest of this entry »
I am a gearhead. Just about every piece of clothing I own has grease, oil and general car funk stains on them. Except for a few nice pants and some Polo shirts, I wear jeans and T-shirts. I even buy Mechanix Wear shoes. I live in the garage, under the dash, in the motor or under it. It is what I do and who I am. I love all things automotive—street machines, hot rods, race cars, cruisers, even ricers (they have their place). Most would call me a fanatic.
When it comes to the automotive hobbyist industry as a whole, encompassing everything from rodders and tuners to restorations and show cars, there is a lot of animosity on the inside. Cruise a muscle car through a group of old-school hot rodders or tuner cars and you will get griped at. Don’t even think about trying to park a Honda between to a ’69 Camaro and ’71 Challenger, it might not be drivable when you come back. But is it necessary? Of course, it isn’t, but this is the difference between fans and fanatics. Read the rest of this entry »
While it may seem like shameless self-promotion (which it is), my latest book, “How to Design and Install In-Car Entertainment Systems” is finally on the shelves. After months of hard work, late nights and several purpose-built systems, the book is done and on the boat from China. Yeah, they print them in China. Don’t worry, I am sure the paper is lead-free, at least I hope it is.
In case you are wondering, the book covers everything car-audio and then some. The first chapter is all about the fundamentals of car audio and electronics, which is to say a brief primer on automotive acoustics and basic electrical theory. It is presented in a way that is easy to read and understand, so you don’t get bogged down in the mire of technical jargon. The next two chapters are about planning and basic installation tools and techniques.
From there the book gets into the nitty gritty details of installation. Covering all the basics like head units, amps, subs and speakers to MP3 players and GPS. Many of the techniques shown in the book are cutting edge, things you won’t find ANYWHERE else. These are the tips and tricks that make installing car audio much simpler for the novice and may even provide the pro with a few ideas too. Read the rest of this entry »
In today’s world, brazen thievery threatens us every day. Whether it is your kid’s backpack, your briefcase, laptop or your prized muscle car, theft is on the rise. But how do you protect your belongings from these low-down dirty criminals? A couple of enterprising companies may have the answer, GPS.
While GPS tracking devices such as Lowjack have been around for quite a while, they are expensive and must be installed in the vehicle. There are alternatives that allow you to purchase a single device that remains portable, it can be transferred from one vehicle to another, and some devices are even useable in briefcases, backpacks and laptop cases. Using what is classified as A-GPS or Asssisted GPS, these new devices use both satellite-based and cellular-based tracking functions.
GPS Snitch- this device is mainly designed for automotive use. About the size of a pack of cigarettes, the Snitch is easily concealed under a seat, in the glove box or under the dash.
The GPS-Snitch device has unique alarm feature, which allows you to set the device, arm it and if the vehicle is moved, the tacking center sends you a text or email. This function is extremely useful for local car shows, cruise nights or other outings where you might leave the vehicle unattended. The Snitch can be had for $299 direct from the manufacturer. Read the rest of this entry »
So, you are bass head and you want to add some thump to your ride. The problem is that your ride is small, like a Corvette, Miata or some other two-seater with not much room. What are your options? The answer to this question which plagues a lot of audio fanatics depends on your resources. There are simple solutions and then there are complex solutions. Here are few to think about-
Pre-fabricated: Enclosures such as the universal Q-Custom from Q-logic is a great way to add some tight punch in a tight spot. Behind the seat, tucked away in the trunk, these enclosures come as small as 8”, so you can likely find one to fit your car.
Loaded compacts: There are quite a few of these on the market now, one in particular is the Rockford Fosgate Overload. The Overload is a 12” powered subwoofer mounted in a fully-enclosed (read protected) housing that is plug-and-play, featuring a remote bass control. This is an easy sub add-on for a factory head unit too.
Transducers- This is a really cool product that has been around for decades, but has recently made a big jump into modern car audio. A transducer is a motor that gets a signal from a low-powered amplifier and produces vibrations, emulating a subwoofer. You won’t win any SPL contests, but a transducer greatly increases the wow factor for any system and you don’t lose hearing . Couple a transducer with a small 8” sub and you have an incredible system that will knock your socks off and you won’t get any noise tickets. Read the rest of this entry »
So, you think the whole donk, box and bubble craze is new? Think again. Oldsmobile built the original way back in the 1911.
During my recent visit to the GM Heritage Center in Dearborn, Michigan, I got a chance to see some really cool cars. One of which inspired this post. Donks are semi-cool. In case you do not know, a Donk is a full-size sedan or coupe with 24-inch or larger wheels. The box and bubble variants are basically the same, just different years\styles. You see these things crusing in the bigger cities, with jacked up suspensions (to the point of being truly unsafe) and painted with crazy paint schemes. When in Atlanta a couple of years ago, I even saw a McDonalds-sponsored Donk.
Back to the Oldmosbile. In 1911, Oldsmobile was still a seperate company, it was not part of GM. Oldsmobile was a true luxury car, like Mercedes and Duesenberg. The 1911 Oldsmobile Limited was the largest car ever built in America, and in its day was a behemoth. If you thought a 1976 Olds 98 was a land yacht, this thing is a battle cruiser. The 42-inch rims (all wood baby!) and brass trim really set the Limited off as an imposing yet elegant ride. This whip was available as a roadster, touring car (pictured), and limosine (yes, they got bigger). Built over a three-year run, just under 700 were produced. Worth well over 1-million dollars today, Oldsmobile has owned this all-original Limited since the ’30s.
Any guesses on the original sticker price? For comparison, the 1911 Model T Runabout sold for around $680 new. The Oldsmobile Limited would run you between $5,000 to $7,000 greenbacks. Holy pocketbook Batman, that is a lot cash. Adjusting for inflation, $5k in 1911 would be $114,150.68 in 2008 (closest I could get). If you were a Baron of industry (railroad, oil, newspaper, real estate, etc) this was THE car to have.
There you have it, the first donk was an Oldsmobile, built in 1911
The Obama administration officially announced this evening that the Cash for Clunkers program will end on Monday, August 24th. The $3 billion is pretty much gone. Hopefully, dealers won’t get shafted if there turns out to be a deficit, we don’t need something like this to hurt any businesses. If you want to go out and get a new car and trade in your old junker, now is time. Stop waiting or it will be too late. The early bird gets the worm and all that stuff.
The program has been touted as a success, despite a few pitfalls. There have been lengthy delays for the dealers getting paid for the vouchers. This puts the dealer in a serious cash crunch. There are some dealers that have not been able to make payroll and pay their taxes because the money just isn’t there yet.
To combat that problem, all of the major manufacturers (Ford, GM, Chrysler, Honda and Toyota) are offering short-term loans to their dealers that have been hit hard with the delays. Nothing like bureaucracy creating more problems. This all comes on the heels of GM and other manufacturers announcing they were ramping up production to keep up with the new demand for new cars. Hold the presses, you might not want to do that just yet, General.
Unfortunately, the biggest problem with this entire program is that it is costing the American taxpayers. They can say all they want about the coming from other places, but in reality, every cent the government has comes from us in one way or another. I hope we get through this recession and administration soon so we can go about fixing the real problems.
The Woodward Dream Cruise is hands down the coolest car event ever. This year marked my first visit to the world’s largest single-day car event and it will not be the last. We arrived in Detroit on Thursday, and after checking into the hotel and having some dinner, we decided to take the 15-minute drive to Woodward Ave. to get the lay of the land. Little did I know that starting in April, Woodward is loaded with locals cruising, and only gets more packed heading up to the fabled cruise event.
Thursday evening was not so packed that we couldn’t actually drive. There were sections of the road that slowed to a snails pace, and then it would open up and you had some full-tilt drag races going on. I partook in one such race, against a ’70 SS Chevelle, it was so much fun. We didn’t get much over 80, but it was amazing. Special Thanks to Chrysler for providing me with the 2009 Dodge Challenger SRT8.
On Friday, things got a lot heavier. The traffic was thick with muscle cars, hot rods and classics. Woodward is a major artery to the small townships it runs through, so there is a lot of non-cruise traffic. You know that those non-cruisers were freaking out for getting caught in one of the 1.5-mile stretches where there are no intersections and it takes over an hour to travel a mile. The Challenger got decent gas mileage except in those gridlocked sections, it went down to 7 MPGs at one point. Read the rest of this entry »
*Picture a 6-year-old girl rubbing two ear buds together and then says “clear” playing as if the ear buds are a defibrillator jump-starting the heart on here headless Barbie. I don’t think that is going to save this poor decapitated doll.
Traveling on vacations and such with children is much different than it was just 10 or 15 years ago. Since then, the entire world has changed. Mobile DVD, satellite TV, and now wireless internet are all available in just about any new car, and can be retrofitted into just about any vehicle. While it certainly makes a long trip more relaxing, it does take a little away from the whole experience. As a kid, my family always took two long summer vacations, at least a week at a time. We went to Colorado at least once, and sometimes twice. I would have loved to have had something to do, a video game, watch movies, anything to pass the time. The speed limit was 55, so it took several more hours to get there than it does now, where driving 75 is no problem. Read the rest of this entry »
Just 10 years ago, getting a TV in your car was a challenge. Cutting up the head rests or paying $3,000 for a small flip-down tv was commonplace. In 2009, just about every minivan has a rear-seat entertainment system from the factory, and SUVs come with the option available. OEM technology has finally caught up to the aftermarket, and in many cases left it in the dust. Case in point- the 2009 Dodge Grand Caravan SXT.
As my family and I are headed to Detroit for the Woodward Dream Cruise, we are discovering the fantastic level of technology loaded in this car. Chrysler lent me the vehicle specifically for this trip, to get an idea of what Chrysler has to offer. I have to say, it is impressive to say the least.
Starting with the 4.0 liter V6 and 6-speed automatic, this minivan hauls. I am certainly not going to sit here and tell you that a minivan is super quick, nimble or any of that, but when you tell it to go, it growls back and pushes down the road. We had no trouble passing on the highway, doing well over the posted limits (I may be driving a minivan, but I am still a gearhead). The best thing about it is that the exhaust is whisper quiet until you floor, it actually sounds like a car with some balls, and it likes showing them. Full-throttle blasts down the interstate are met with ease, the van does not sound like it is straining. For a minivan, its pretty fun. Read the rest of this entry »