Archive for Driver’s Seat

20R Us

Murilee Martin turns up a 1978 Toyota Celica GT in a Denver junkyard, which promptly called up memories of my ’75 GT, which I was still driving in the early ’90s.

It’s all about the engine:

The very sturdy 2.2-liter 20R engine made good torque, as befitted an engine well-suited for hauling Hilux-driving, Soviet-fighting mujahideen over mountain passes. You couldn’t spin the R much, as many LeMons racers have discovered, but it would outlast the rest of a Celica.

Indeed. The tinworm would burrow into this buggy at several points and would never, ever go away.

Still, the 20R was hard to kill, though it expected you to fiddle with the valve clearance every 60,000 miles. In return, it delivered 96 hp at 4800 rpm — redline was a lowish 5500 — and 120 lb-ft of torque at 2800, on the crummiest gas you could find on the wrong side of town. And one night when a throttle spring broke, I discovered that it would run for extended periods at 5200 rpm, though this far beyond the power peak it produced more noise than power. When I gave it up in 1995, it needed new rings, but was otherwise in pretty decent shape for 195,000 miles.

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There can be only one way

In retrospect, I suppose it was my fault for being on May Avenue on a Saturday in the first place, May Avenue being basically where strip malls go to die. (There’s exactly one stretch of May between 10th and 150th with no discernible commerce: east side between 43rd and 47th.)

6900 block of North MayThis strip mall at 6900 North May is largely indistinguishable from other strip malls: there are two entrances, one in front of the north building, the other in front of the south. (If you live in these parts, the north building is distinguished, if that’s the word, by the Honeybaked Ham Company; Ted’s Somewhat Mexican Restaurant Escondido Cafe is near the opposite corner.) I’m southbound on May at 4:00 or so when the lumbering SUV ahead of me pulls to a stop, just before the north entrance. There being no left-turn facilities between 69th and 65th, I figure someone a block or two ahead is making a left turn. The flow of northbound traffic ceased for a moment, and up ahead, barely, I could see someone indeed making a left turn.

We plow ahead, slowly, and then the SUV signals a left turn into the southern entrance. Now there was a window of about 30 seconds when the driver could have pulled into the northern entrance while that other character up the street was turning; but no, it’s got to be the southern entrance. This is the sign of a person who not only hasn’t developed Plan B, but who is several steps away from a workable Plan A.

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Cents and sensibility

More of the former than the latter in this case:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: Can I pay my car payment in pennies?

Justification:

I recently purchased my first vehicle from a used car lot in LeFlore County Oklahoma. They promised me it would be a great truck for the price and will not fail me when driving to and from work. The 2nd day I had it the brakes went out, and one week after I drove it off the lot, it broke down for the first time. It has now broken down 4 times, and this last time the rear differential locked up on me ($500 for the part) I’ve owned the truck for 2 weeks now. I signed papers that said ‘As is’ and ‘No Warranty’ My first payment is coming up and is $250 and I wanted to pay in pennies. I put $2000 down. Do they have to accept my payment even if its in pennies? is there any way I can send it through the mail so I dont have to sit at the office while they count it all? These guys are real scumbags that cheat any ol person dumb enough to buy a used vehicle from them (me)

“Send it through the mail”? Twenty-five thousand pennies at 2.5 grams each = about 138 pounds. It’s going to take several trips to the Post Office. Good thing there’s a truck available.

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Attaining a grasp of the obvious

Admittedly, some of us are better at it than others:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: I'm buying a 94 geo prizm but it don't have a starter do that mean it wont start?

Perhaps he should ask the ever-lovin’ 8-ball.

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Maintaining the escape vehicle

You’ve heard of drama queens? Here’s a jack, or maybe the nine of clubs:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: Is it possible to flee from a cop chasing you if you overfill your windshield washer fluid box?

No, he says he’s serious:

I do not have any coolant nor oil. All I have is windshield washer fluid. Will I be able to get away long before my vehicle stalls on me?

I only had a few dollars so I had to buy windshield washer fluid and fill it up before my engine overheats.

I did not have enough money to buy all 3 fluids, so I made sure that I bought windshield washer fluid because I had none because it was empty.

Would I be able to elude 200 miles off into the distance as long as my windshield washer fluid box if full?

And in case you missed it the first time:

ONCE AGAIN, MY WINDSHIELD WASHER FLUID BOX WAS EMPTY AND I HAD TO REFILL IT IMMEDIATELY AND I ONLY HAD A LITTLE BIT OF MONEY, SO THEREFORE, I WAS NOT ABLE TO GET COOLANT NOR OIL BECAUSE OF IT!!!

Based on your reading of the above, how much Thorazine does this guy need?

  1. 10 mg.
  2. 20 mg.
  3. 40 mg.
  4. 80 mg.
  5. Enough to turn his brain pan into a wok.

Yeah, I know; that’s just the way they troll. I live in the hope that these people can get, if not the help they need, at least the hardware failures we’d appreciate.

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Multiple offenses

Against the eye, if nothing else:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: Can i put 22 rims on 2007 monte carlo with no problem?

Fortunately, someone has dealt with this chap with dispatch:

I believe you can only put 4 rims on it. Not sure about 22 of them.

Were it possible, some jerk would try. Count on it.

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The ultimate automotive click bait

Readers of commercial sites will tell you that they want long, drawn out, involved pieces with plenty of cultural references and historical perspective. Of course, they lie through their teeth:

Don’t get me wrong; I am obsessed with putting high-quality, hype-and-PR-free, ethically outstanding articles on TTAC’s front page as often as possible. That doesn’t mean there’s a lot of money in the hopper to do so, however. More annoyingly, those articles almost never do the kind of numbers that you could show off to an advertising sales department or senior management. The readers want click-friendly content more than they want to be lectured or taught or even informed. Even if they say they don’t. Even if individual readers truthfully don’t. As a group, they want an idealized article which could be summarized as

A Naked Playboy Playmate Drunk-Drove A Diesel Wagon Off A Giant Ramp While The LAPD Gave Chase. What Happened Next Will Touch Your Heart. (NSFW Photos Of Gorgeous Women And Diesel Wagons Inside.)

and if you don’t give it to them, the stats will sag and before you know it, you’re too insignificant for Alexa to rank you. And then, as Bill Paxton says in Aliens, IT’S GAME OVER, MAN!

Unless this is a brown diesel wagon with a manual transmission, I’m not interested. (Much.)

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More than just a toy

Toy cars for kids to “drive” tend to look plasticky and, well, toylike. And that’s only fair: you wouldn’t want the resident three-year-old tooling about in a shrunken Malibu.

On t’other hand, where does it say that a vehicle for grownups can’t be toylike?

street-legal Little Tikes Cozy Coupe

This is a street-legal Little Tikes Cozy Coupe, built by John Bitmead at a cost of something like $6500. Supposedly it will do 70 mph. I suspect it probably doesn’t have side airbags.

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Curve negotiation

Don Gammill has a nifty weekly column in the Oklahoman called “Traffic Talk,” much of which is devoted to answering questions from people who are tired of being stuck in it. This particular example wasn’t, but it was pertinent to me for other reasons. Sharon writes:

When … on Interstate 35 going north and turn(ing) west onto I-44, you curve off to the left and go on a large curve above I-44 and nowhere is there a sign to reduce your speed in the curve. I don’t feel the speed should be the same as on I-35 as it is in that curve. The same is true when you exit I-44 from the west to go south on I-35, again there is no reduce speed sign of any kind. As an experienced driver, I know to reduce speed, but young drivers don’t necessarily know or realize this.

You may remember this little expostulation from 2009:

The ramp from I-44 eastbound to I-35 southbound, which I use five days a week, sometimes six, is about a 75-degree curve that I routinely take at 60 mph unless it’s wet or the 6:30ish traffic doesn’t permit. (I’m going from a road where the speed limit is 60 to a road where the speed limit is, um, 60, so 60 seems like the most logical speed.) In fact, I consider this a test of car and/or tires: if there’s any squeal, it’s a fail. Hardly anyone else pulls this sort of stunt, which makes me wonder if I’m pushing too hard.

Since then, I have switched to tires with a little more cushiness and a little less stick, so I’m usually taking that ramp at 55 now. Curiously, the other ramp in this stacklet, from I-35 north to I-44 westbound, I seldom take at faster than 50. There are two reasons for this: on the return trip, there’s generally a lot more traffic, it being on the bleeding edge of rush hour, and what’s more, this ramp is very narrow and lined with Jersey barriers, which allow for a whole lot less slop.

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A finite list

Jack Baruth explains the bottom of the Infiniti car line — the truck line makes no more sense, but that can wait for another time — thusly:

The G37 is no more. Enter the Q40, which is basically last year’s stripper-model G37 with a different badge. Supposedly an entry-level compact-lux car is coming, which would be named Q30. Think of the Q30 as being the old G20, the Q40 as being the old G37, and the Q50 as being the new G37.

You already know what I think of this scheme. We can only imagine what names they threw away to arrive at this point:

  1. T42
  2. asi9
  3. EcoBurst
  4. 1WK
  5. Z71
  6. 4.9GX
  7. Aluminum Duke
  8. 10.2.4
  9. 2002ti
  10. WD-40

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Save ferrous

Somehow this makes me, if presumably not Ford, giggle:

I heard a rumor. Supposedly, the F-150s on display in Detroit — the ones representing the new aluminum-bodied 2015 model — were magnetic. As in, magnets stuck to them. Which would mean that they’re not, in fact, made of aluminum. I decided to test this out with science.

Science!

And so he did the Obvious Thing:

So I went back to the show last night with a magnet in my pocket anyway. While an accomplice created a diversion, I reached over the cordons and attempted to slap my trusty Miss Hurst Golden Shifter magnet onto the truck. I tried fenders and tailgates of a couple different trucks. She didn’t stick. That proves that the rumor was false and they’re not steel, and the logical conclusion is that the trucks are actually made of aluminum.

Farking magnets! How do they work?

Now, whether anyone actually wants an aluminum F-150 remains to be seen.

(Via the Instant Man.)

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Slopelessness

Jack Baruth considers the current state of F1 racer Michael Schumacher:

I’ve wondered what would have happened if someone had appeared in front of Michael that morning. “I’m from the future,” the someone would say, “and I’m here to tell you that you’re facing massive risk this morning, you shouldn’t go skiing, you should lay off for the day. I don’t have any proof of this, but trust me.” I know a fair number of people who could be dissuaded from just about anything were someone to appear in front of them with a story like that. Even if they didn’t actually believe the whole time-travel thing, their jimmies would be sufficiently rustled by bringing up an exact accounting of their actual risk on a given day in a given activity. Michael Schumacher was not one of them, I’d suspect.

I have no way of knowing for sure, but I suspect I can be counted among the dissuadable: more than once I’ve seen something that I couldn’t possibly have seen before — and yet somehow I had, which tells me that bomb bursts seemingly from the future carry more credibility with me than perhaps they should.

Schumacher, most likely, would have none of that:

He’d likely have responded with something like: I know the risk, I’m aware of it, used to it, I’ve taken all precautions, kindly step out of the way, I have some skiing to do. The response of a competitor, a champion. Make no mistake. He was never just going to “switch off” that discipline, that courage, that determination, any more than the man on the street can “switch off” laziness, addiction, envy, underachievement. He was always going to be someone to push the boundaries a little bit. He may never return, but who among us will accomplish what he’s done, given twice the lifetime or more?

I tend to minimize my own accomplishments, to the extent that I admit to having accomplishments at all; I have always suspected myself of being an underachiever the easy way, by allowing people to overestimate my capacity for — adequacy? (I tried “greatness” in that spot, but it looked ridiculous.) Just yesterday, someone I need to know better suggested I might have brass balls sufficiently massive to cause an audible clink when I walk; I didn’t demur, exactly, but it occurred to me that with regard to the incident in question, I didn’t do anything a kid a quarter my age couldn’t do, though odds are the kid wouldn’t dare.

And I believe Schumacher will come out of this. I’d feel better, though, if I’d seen it in a dream.

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Does “kill it with fire” work for you?

Were you ever in the right place at the right time — and then wondered if maybe you really didn’t want to be?

You didn’t ask me, but if you had, the phrase “weapons-grade fugliness” would have been heard.

A commenter at TTAC is even more direct:

Who is the person they’re getting their styling from???

H.R. GIGER?

This Nav has exactly one example of redeeming social value: it’s not named MKanything.

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Underdrive

The truth will be painful, but it must be spoken:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: Why doesn't my automatic car not hit 5th gear?

We’ll ignore the double negative and read on:

Hello, I have a 2012 corolla. It has 30,000 miles in it. I’ve noticed that whenever i drive it never hits 5th gear and it just stays at 4th and it will get up past 3,000 rpm without shifting while keeping a constant shift. I heard it may be the overdrive button but i don’t know where to find it in my car. Please help. Thank you.

The overdrive button is almost certainly on the shift lever. But the key here is “2012 Corolla,” which was sold with a four-speed automatic. There’s no fifth gear for it not to hit.

I’d hate like hell to find this out at 30,000 miles, but not as much as I’d hate not finding it out at all.

And yes, this is probably in the owner’s manual, but I’m beginning to think that people throw it away the moment they leave the dealer’s lot.

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With wheels of precious Unobtainium

J. Random Whatever, as a general rule, isn’t going to get to date a supermodel. And he has only a slightly better chance of finding this:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: Looking for a car between 2010-2013?

Specified criteria:

I really only have a few requirements:
Must be a coupe
Must give at least 20mpg in the city
Must be no older than 2010
Must have at least 180hp
Can’t be more than 30k
Should go from 0-60 in under 5.5 seconds

His best shot, arguably, is an out-of-warranty 3-series BMW, but I have to figure that he has no idea what he’s in for when the maintenance comes due.

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Revved up for the Deuce

There are more 1932 Fords now than Ford ever built: the demand for the ’32 body, the basis for so many custom rods, has never slackened, which has insured a steady supply of fiberglass reproduction bodies. It’s not too surprising to see that Ford has decided to get a piece of the action, but they’re not going to sell you plastic:

The aftermarket is replete with companies that will sell you a fiberglass body in the form of a ’32 Ford coupe, but quality can be hit or miss. So to help meet demand among hot rod builders and enthusiasts, Ford has teamed up with United Pacific Industries to offer officially licensed body shells.

Announced at the SEMA show in November, the ’32 Ford 5-Window Coupe body is made from stamped steel according to original specifications from original machinery where possible or reproduced machinery built to the same original specifications where necessary. The bodies are ready to accept vintage powertrains or crate motors from the Ford Racing catalog, and join the 9,000 other parts offered in the Ford Component Sales catalog.

Don’t want a Deuce Coupe? Dearborn will happily sell you a ’40 Ford or a first-generation Mustang shell.

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We are the eye in the sky

You may remember this from a few days back:

Last week, Ford’s Global VP of Marketing and Sales, Jim Farley, told a panel discussion at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas that Ford has access to data on its customers’ driving habits via the GPS system installed in their cars. “We know everyone who breaks the law, we know when you’re doing it. We have GPS in your car, so we know what you’re doing. By the way, we don’t supply that data to anyone,” he said.

It took about 24 hours for Farley to backpedal:

The next day Mr. Farley adjusted his statement to avoid giving the wrong impression saying that the statement was hypothetical and that Ford does not routinely collect information on, or otherwise track, drivers through their GPS systems without those drivers’ consent and approval. That approval comes from turning on and opting into specific services like 911 Assist and something called Sync Services Directions, a system that links the GPS system to users’ cellular phones.

Which you, as a Ford owner, were aware you were consenting to, right?

Then again, most of us give up information something less than grudgingly:

Years ago I read a factoid that said when most Americans have the opportunity to opt out of junk mail, things like advertising brochures and store catalogs, we actually sign up for more. I think that’s as true today as it was back then. We don’t like intrusive forms of advertising like phone calls during the dinner hour and pop-up ads in our browsers, but generally speaking the average American doesn’t mind things like targeted ads that appear off to the side or above a website’s banner. These things are, we know, a necessary evil, the price we pay for free content. After all, someone has to pay the bills in order to keep a website running and targeted ads based on my browsing history are an effective way of getting me to see a product I might actually buy.

Or, in my case, getting me to see one I looked at but didn’t buy, and continuing to get me to see it until I give in.

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No one ever steals “YIELD”

An observation from World Tour ’04, along US Highway 2 in Montana:

[T]he last milepost in the state is Mile 667. If there’s a post for Mile 666, I didn’t see it, and believe me, I looked.

Something similar seems to be happening in the Stoned State to the south:

Thieves have been stealing the 420 mile marker sign so often, the state’s transportation department has changed it to “419.99″ in an effort to try and stop the problem.

A photo of the 419.99 mile marker sign, which is about 148 miles on Interstate 70 east of Denver, began circulating on twitter through the @JournalistsLike twitter account on Friday.

“So this is our way to test it out. So far it’s working,” said Amy Ford, a spokesperson with the Colorado Department of Transportation. “It’s a traffic safety thing. It’s a helpful thing to have these signs on the road. But people kept ripping them off.”

The last time I was in Memphis, I did see one actual sign for Elvis Presley Boulevard — but it was mounted about two and a half times higher up the pole than usual.

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Glued to the showroom floor

Autoblog has compiled a list of the Worst-Selling Vehicles of 2013. To get on this list, a car or truck must have been priced under $100,000 — no limited-edition supercars, thank you very much — and must have been on sale for the entire year. The best-seller of the bunch moved fewer than 2,000 copies; it was the only domestic, and the only truck, in the bunch — and, oddly, it was up a couple of percentage points from 2012.

But enough about the Escalade EXT. What you want to know is the identity of the Absolutely Worst, and it’s an Acura, though not the RL sedan so roundly rejected by Canadians. Instead, it’s the ZDX sport-utility, spun off the successful MDX, offering less space at a higher price. In 2012, Acura moved 775 of them, versus more than 50,000 of its brandmate; in 2013, they unloaded a mere 361. Still, this is hardly the worst-selling car ever.

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Fast and frivolous

This may have all the plausibility of the Penthouse Forum, but trust me, this really came from Yahoo (now with no exclamation point!) Answers:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: Where can i buy a powerful clutch for an R34 Skyline in the US?

Continuing:

I was in my R34 last night on a long back road going for a top speed run and see how fast my car can go and see how far i can jump the bridge at the end of the road, so i was a mile from the bridge and i was going 205 MPH and it was in 6th gear and i had the Nitrous activated, after i got the nos blasted i jumped the bridge about 30 yards but when i landed, i heard a loud crash and i immediately started shifting down, i got out and there was smoke everywhere and my heart was pounding, i thought i blew the motor but i looked under the car and saw that i blew the clutch out, its a Fluke racing clutch that can handle the power my car has but since its out, i need a new one, where can i get a clutch for an R34 Skyline in the US?

How many actual R34s are there in the States? Pretty damned few.

An actual Nissan tech responded as politely as he could without going into guffaws.

And if the clutch could handle that much power, wouldn’t it still be there?

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My car says it’s cold

Yesterday Jalopnik asked people to send in pictures of the temperature readouts from their cars. By the time I saw it, though, it was already about five degrees warmer than the single-digit low I’d seen that morning, and besides, I figured no one in the Frozen North would be at all impressed with anything above zero.

That said, I do know how far down the little ambient-temperature gizmo goes, and it’s on the cusp between -3° and -4°: at that point, it switches constantly from one reading to the other until it warms up to a nice balmy -2°. They also sold this model in Canada, so I assume there’s some internal toggle to set it to Celsius.

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We are none of us immune

Saturday in rural central Ohio:

A two-vehicle accident on Saturday resulted in multiple injuries, with one patient transported to by Med Flight.

Witnesses at the scene report that a 2009 White Ford Lincoln was traveling west bound near 5708 State Route 229 when it lost control on a curve about 12:18 p.m. The vehicle traveled left of center and was struck broadside by a Maroon Hyundai Sonata.

Three occupants of the Lincoln were transported to local hospitals, one was transported via Med flight. An unknown number of occupants of the Hyundai were also transported.

I like that: a “Ford Lincoln.” Jack Baruth might have been amused by it, but it was his Ford Lincoln Town Car that went off the road, so he has more immediate concerns.

I heard about it from TTAC writer Caroline Ellis on Twitter; TTAC posted a story yesterday, incorporating a statement from Baruth from his Facebook page:

This is Rumor Control. Involved in 40mph offset today on rural road. Wasn’t speeding, the other car wasn’t speeding, we just hit some ice. My son’s fine. My partner is in the proverbial dire straits. I had spleen surgery and I’ve broken the stuff I broke in 1988 — minus the neck.

We do, of course, wish him and his — and the occupants of the Hyundai — the fastest possible recovery.

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Because Castro

The new “opening” of the Cuban automotive market, you should not be surprised to hear, is not much of an opening at all:

Previously, Cubans were first required to request permission from the monopoly, in order to then try to purchase a vehicle from the monopoly.

Now, they can just try to purchase a vehicle from the monopoly without first requesting permission from the monopoly.

Oh, and there are additional charges involved: a 20-percent tariff (imports, you know), plus 10 percent tax, plus 8 percent surcharge. The result is a price list that looks like this:

Oh, and those prices are quoted in convertible Cuban pesos, which are officially worth US$1. So the Peugeot 4008, a small (think Honda CR-V) front-drive SUV, will cost nearly a quarter of a million dollars.

This is such a pathetic scheme, with such amazing potential for government graft, that I can’t believe some lunatic American legislator hasn’t already proposed something similar to inflict on the States.

(Via Fausta’s blog.)

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The shiftless mind at work

Something — all right, everything — tells me that she didn’t think this all the way through:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: When it comes to the Infiniti g35 coupe, is manual better than automatic?

“Better”?

And furthermore:

I don’t want opinions. I want facts, please.

I gave her a by-God fact, you may be sure.

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Quote of the week

Jamie Kitman, New York bureau chief of Automobile Magazine, writes in the February ’14 issue about the difficulty of being a left-of-center car buff:

Many of my more extreme fellow travelers on the left end of the dial disdain any interest in cars, much less full-blown habits like mine. Automobiles, they’ll tell you, are vulgar, polluting mechanical expressions of the will to power and male sexual insecurity, hence emblematic and highly beloved of the patriarchal, capitalist war machine.

“Well, duh!” I reply. But cars are useful, sometimes essential, and often a lot of fun.

Critics on the right brand me and my kind as freedom-suffocating communists, because we like cars but believe the law ought to require that air and water be clean, that cars be safe, and that manufacturers who break those rules or are found guilty of gross negligence in the design and manufacture of dangerous machinery and fuels ought to be held accountable.

The tricky part here is coming up with a definition of “safe” — or, for that matter, of “gross negligence.”

Okay, there’s one thing trickier: finding a suitably female counterpart to some phallic sports job like Jaguar’s original E-Type.

Then again, in my neck of the woods, both men and women tend to drive humongous trucks or cars that try their darnedest to look like humongous trucks; there are, of course, parts of the country that find this practice somewhere between inscrutable and inflammatory.

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The wheels on the bus restart

Nothing’s graven in stone just yet, but it might be too soon to bury the Volkswagen Type 2, which supposedly died on the 20th of December:

Just days after the production of the Kombi ended, news comes in that the van could get a second lease of life.

Guido Mantega, the Brazilian finance minister is investigating whether there is a possibility to exempt the Kombi from the new safety regulations. His argument is that the original design could not include these features, as in 1950, airbags or ABS were not available, at least not to passenger cars.

This argument, of course, wouldn’t play in the States, where they create standards and then expect you to invent products that meet them. But VW Brazil has this going for them:

The VW Kombi is the sixth best selling commercial vehicle in Brazil, and is the quintessential mode of transport for local businesses.

Good luck, Sr. Mantega. You’ll need it.

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Thou shalt pay here

Near the bottom of any conceivable automotive market is the buy-here-pay-here dealer: you know going in, or should know anyway, that the interest rate will be stratospheric, the vehicle’s condition will be questionable, and the terms will be unforgiving.

Now: is BHPH compatible with JHVH? The following flyer was stuck under a wiper while I was grocery-shopping:

If your family is like most, you are struggling between buying the kids some Christmas presents or getting the family that much needed newer car. We are here to help solve that problem. <><

Our cars, trucks, and vans start at $1,000 and go to $7,195 with down payments as low as $500 to $2,000 depending on your stability factors. All it takes is just a few minutes to drop by the lot to look at our selection of second generation cars, trucks, and vans. <><

So saith By Faith Auto Sales, 19th and MacArthur, including the little fish-y brackets. The flyer, it says, doubles as a $250 “gift certificate.” And it does say not to bring it out until they start the paperwork, which strikes me as a good sign, but I’m still a trifle suspicious of the whole thing: it’s like the Godfather suddenly resurfaced as the Archbishop.

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And the front seat rules

Some things I was wondering about, answered by the California Department of Motor Vehicles:

You must:

  • Be at least 16 years old.
  • Prove that you have finished both driver education and driver training.
  • Have had a California instruction permit or an instruction permit from another state for at least six months.
  • Provide parent(s) or guardian(s) signature(s) on your instruction permit stating that you have completed 50 hours of supervised driving practice (10 hours must be night driving) as outlined in the California Parent-Teen Training Guide (DL 603). Visit the Teen website at www.dmv.ca.gov/teenweb/ or call 1-800-777-0133 to request this booklet.
  • Pass the behind-the-wheel driving test. You have three chances to pass the driving test while your permit is valid. If you fail the behind-the-wheel driving test, you must pay a retest fee for a second or subsequent test and wait two weeks before you are retested.

Once you have your provisional driver license, you may drive alone, as long as you do not have any collisions or traffic violations.

Which explains how it is that Rebecca Black, aged sixteen years, six months and six days, drove herself to the KTLA studios on Sunset this morning to appear on a news-like show.

Also discovered this morning: “Saturday,” her duet with Dave Days, has made the Billboard Hot 100, charting at #55 — three positions higher than “Friday.”

And for laughs, RB turned loose four minutes’ worth of outtakes from her last six months’ worth of vlogs. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of reading the comments — you never read the comments — and happened upon this:

Rebecca, do you know what a brony is

Oh, dear God.

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The unintentional hypermiler

McGehee is trying to give the impression that he’s being lulled into submission by a dashboard fuel-economy gauge:

It shows an accumulating average MPG since the last reset, as well as an estimated range on the current fuel level (this after almost ten years without a fuel gauge in the Bronco) and a realtime graph displaying the current MPG based on current fuel consumption and actual motion, with a marker showing where the current average is so you can see whether you’re improving your average or undercutting it.

I famously eschew these things: I figure, not unreasonably, that if I start paying attention to such matters, it will affect my driving, and not in any positive way. This is why I reset the B trip meter every time I gas up — and then switch back to the A meter so I don’t have to look at it. (I usually use the A meter for Miles Since Last Oil Change, which is currently about 730.)

Besides, I’m not the only one who doesn’t necessarily benefit by the standard fuel-saving techniques:

I am also finding that my idea of best driving — conditions and practices both — seems to be about the thriftiest way to drive there is. I wouldn’t have expected this, mainly because my idea of best driving is solely a matter of temperament rather than conscious frugality.

I’ve beaten the EPA numbers on my last three vehicles, by a small margin according to the original stickers, and by a hell of a lot according to the 2008 recalculations. Gwendolyn, say the Feds, should get 17 in the city and 25 on the highway; I think I’ve had two tanks under 20 mpg in the last seven years. Keep in mind that this car is 13 years old and has run nearly 150,000 miles. Then again, I am not known for stinting on maintenance.

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One of your safer bets

General Motors has announced that Holden, its Australian brand since 1931, will be reduced to a sales-and-parts facility: actual production of Holden cars and utes will be moved offshore after 2017.

This drew more anguish in the Australian press than the similar move announced earlier by Ford, perhaps because Ford is, well, an American brand at heart, perhaps because the Australian government has turned rightward since then and therefore the political left, fond of anguish as a motivational tool, can now blame it all on the government.

One Victoria Rollison, described by Telegraph columnist Tim Blair as a “caring leftist,” sent an open letter to Holden chairman Mike Devereux which ended with “Please let me know if there’s anything I can do to help keep Holden here.”

Blair scoffed: “Buying a new Holden would help.” And then he offered to put his money where his mouth is:

Readers are invited to speculate in comments about the car Victoria currently owns. If she provides proof that it’s a non-secondhand, locally-made Holden, I’ll walk into my nearest Holden dealer and hand over a $250 donation.

“Caring leftists,” after all, don’t buy big rear-wheel-drive sedans. (Well, Barack Obama did, once upon a time, but he decided that his Chrysler 300 was a campaign liability, and he went out and bought a hybrid.) No chance Tim Blair has to part with a single Australian dollar on this one.

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