The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

5 February 2008

Now that's intake timing

Eric Sauck goes to school in Ann Arbor, Michigan; he sent a letter to Automobile Magazine, which is based in Ann Arbor, and sent the same letter to Motor Trend, which is on the West Coast but which is owned by the same outfit: Source Interlink Media. (The other two major motor mags have a similar configuration: Car and Driver is in Ann Arbor, Road & Track in southern California, and both are owned by Hachette Fillipachi.)

It should be obvious here that the two editorial staffs aren't looking over each other's shoulders, and the text varies between the two magazines: Automobile's version of the letter is slightly shorter. Motor Trend gave Sauck the sort-of-coveted "Letter of the Month" award and a 30GB Zune, which they probably bought off Woot.

Oh, the letter itself? Sauck was complaining about the sudden vogue — especially in car mags — for electric parking brakes, and points out what happens when the battery goes dead:

You're locked out of your car (smart keys), you can't pop the clutch to start it (auto-clutch transmissions), you have to find the radio reset code (anti-theft audio), you have to schedule a pricey dealer visit to clear that OBD fault code, and, oh yeah, your car might roll down that hill like a two-ton bowling ball. I'll sacrifice my Big Gulp Mountain Dew any day if it means I get the reassurance of a good mechanical handbrake.

I have to admit, I admire this guy's outlook — not to mention his skill in repurposing content. If he doesn't have a blog, he should.

Posted at 10:00 AM to Driver's Seat

On the other hand, the parking brake in my pickup freezes in temperatures below 20 degrees, so I might like to have one of those electronic ones.

Of course, my wife's truck has electronic locks, so they freeze in temperatures under 30 degrees, rendering them inoperative without the fob.

I guess it's the cold, not the electronica, that's my problem.

Posted by: Brian J. at 10:38 AM on 5 February 2008

I confess that when I lived in Fairbanks I didn't tend to use the parking brake much, relying instead on the transaxle being in Park to keep my car from rolling away down the hill. If I ever parked it on a hill. Which I tended not to do anyway.

The main problem I ever had with cold up there was when the fan on my heater quit running and it was 40 below. How quickly the inside of the windshield ices up!

Posted by: McGehee at 11:59 AM on 5 February 2008

"repurposing content"??? That's almost as confusing as your blog's subtitle.

As to Eric, he's obviously a fellow luddite and should not be driving anything built since 1960. Basically you've got two choices: embrace electronica and all that it entails, or reject it in toto. All this disection of the merits of electronicness misses the point: the transistors are out to take over the world and you are either with them, or against them. This is war, and no halfway measures will be tolerated!

Posted by: Charles Pergiel at 6:19 PM on 6 February 2008

Haha, thanks to the person who posted the original thread for the heads-up.

Although I had begun reading my March issue of Automobile Mag and saw my letter published there, I had not yet seen my March edition of Motor Trend--I am a bit behind. It was only last Friday that I learned from my sister (who had google'd my name and found this blog) that the same letter had been printed in Motor Trend. To my surprise, it had won Letter of the Month.

Previously, my letters had never been published in either of these mags, so I tried sending it to both in hopes that one would find it worthy to print. Funny how the publisher printed the same letter in both mags. Unfortunately, I didn't get Letter of the Month from Automobile, or I would have gotten two Zunes!

And yes, I did receive the prize Zune today, in an unmarked cube postmarked from California, with an enclosed letter signed by Matt Stone.

As for a web log, I'm afraid that, between my full-time internship at an automaker and reading car magazines, I don't have the time. (See, I AM a luddite! I won't even call it a "blog").

Actually, I do like electronics--a lot--for noncritical features. But it didn't take mechanical engineering classes for me to learn to trust the chemical energy in the muscles of my right arm more than the chemical energy in the battery of my car.

Posted by: Eric Sauck at 9:37 PM on 25 February 2008