In Defense of the Good Old SUV

Warning!  I am killing two birds with one stone, as I need to practice my persuasive essay skills for the 7th grade writing test.   

If you are in the market to buy a new family car, then I believe that you should buy an SUV.   

Americans like SUV’s because Americans love big cars.  Why?  They like the three S’s; Safety, Space, Status. 

People think they will most likely be safer in a big car in a crash.  The bigger the car, the less likely they will get killed.    

Many people haul kids or carpools.  Kids come with stuff (just ask my mom). Many like to go camping a lot.  They most likely will have a boat or trailer that they tow.  They are geared towards the great outdoors.  Many SUV’s are great on just about every terrain, so skiers and campers can get around in the snow or mud. 

Even retirees like SUV’s.  My three next-door neighbors all have SUV’s for the utility of it.  They haul skis, bikes, grandkids and big dogs!  The SUV appeals to all ages. 

I can anticipate the arguments you have against the SUV.  I know all about their bad rep, so don’t go sending comments to me about this! 

SUV’s are getting eco-friendlier as emissions and fuel economy standards are going up.  It’s true that many SUV’s still guzzle fuel like my sister’s chickens guzzle food.  The SUV’s may not get nearly as good fuel economy as a Prius.  The Prius gets 48 MPG; the SUV with the best fuel economy is the Ford Escape Hybrid, which gets 26 MPG.  It will be a while before the SUV gets that good MPG, but they will get there.  

In addition, many automakers are starting to put powerful, but smaller engines in their SUV’s.  A good example is the Honda Pilot.  It has 5,000 pounds of towing capacity out of a 3.5 liter V6 that makes 250 horsepower.  There are also a lot of car-based platforms like the 2011 Ford Explorer.  Its advanced electronics allow it to go off road with ease and it can also tow up to 5000 pounds if properly equipped.  It has class leading fuel economy for city and highway. 

Some people might think that an SUV is too much car for them, but there are many small SUV’s out there on the market.  Check out the Hyundai Tucson or the Subaru Forrester. 

SUV’s run about the same price as cars out there on the market.  There are a few SUV’s that are expensive, but they cost the same as a luxury car.

Thanks for being my guinea pigs!  Do you want to get an SUV?  I want to get a 2011 Porsche Cayenne Turbo.  Now where’s that lottery ticket?  I swear that I just bought one!  Oh!  I found it!  NOOOOO!!  I didn’t win!!  Whaa! 

Sorry that I didn’t post yesterday!  I really am!

Making dreams come true. This is not a marketing exercise for Disney!

What if you could start a business that includes all of your interests, and then later in life, start a museum?  Could you imagine starting a museum that has many of the things that interest you in it?

If you could do that, then you would be Robert Petersen.  Robert E. Petersen was quiet, but very determined and also extremely successful.  A happy, creative and insightful man, he started the Petersen Publishing Company and the amazing Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles. 

Robert Einar Petersen was a native of Southern California who was born in 1927.  His mother died when he was 10, leaving his Danish father to take care of him.  His father was a mechanic and often took Robert to work with him.  At age 12, Robert knew how to weld and fix an engine- any engine at that.  After graduating from Barstow high-school in the early 1940’s he went to work in the Hollywood movie studios as a messenger boy.  After a brief Army Air Corps stint of just one year, he started a publishing company. 

In 1948, he started Hot Rod Magazine, which was all about the growing hot rod culture.  He sold copies of Hot Rod at local speedways, such as Riverside International, for 25 cents apiece.  It was a way for him, and the others that worked alongside him, to give helpful advice to teens and have fun.  He was instrumental in creating the first hot rod show.

In 1949, he created Motor Trend, a magazine that was focused towards the production car enthusiasts.  Production cars are cars that come off a production line and are not custom built.  In addition to Motor Trend and Hot Rod, he created about six more magazines, such as Teen and CARtoons.

He is firmly remembered in the business world as a success story.  He was actively into sport shooting, and was the Commissioner for sport shooting in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.  He had to construct a sport shooting range on the site of an old dairy farm within a month. 

In 1994, one of his lifelong passions came true; he and his wife Margie Petersen created the Petersen Automotive Museum as an educational museum.  Most of the cars inside the 300,000 square foot area are from his own collection. 

He was the president of the Los Angeles Boys & Girls club for many years and was on the national board for the boys and girls clubs throughout the U.S.  He also supported many charities for children until his death. 

The Directors of the Petersen Automotive Museum said “What made him so special was that he gave every ounce of his energy and abilities to his dreams.  He was a quiet man who truly became an American icon.”  The Directors also said “He made his living doing things he loved and he found success at every turn.  The way he lived his life, always looking for ways to give back in return for the success he enjoyed, made you proud to count him as a friend.  The museum is now his legacy.” 

He died on Friday, March 23rd, 2007 after a short but valiant battle with cancer at age 80.  His wife Margie survived him.

Overall, Robert E. Petersen was a man of few words, but loved to pursue whatever he wanted to with a passion.  He was also very much into hunting and having a good time.  Robert E. Petersen gave back as much as he got out of life.  What a lucky man!

If you would like to read more from the Petersen Museum website, then I hope you will enjoy the link.

The Great Race

In 1908, someone came up with an idea that countries leading in the automobile industry could participate in a global car race.

The Great Automobile Race was conceived as an endurance race that would go from New York City, USA to Paris, France.  The board chose to have two French entries (plus one unofficial entry), one American entry, two Italian entries and one German entry.  The six official companies that competed were: Thomas, Protos, De Dion, Zust, Sizaire-Naudin, and Moto-Bloc.  The unofficial company was Werner (as in the stove company).  The New York Times said “It will be the personal pluck and ingenuity of the driver that will bring victory to a car rather than the equipment…. It is the man and not the machine that will win the New York to Paris race.”

The cars and the people

The French teams.

The Sizaire-Naudin: Auguste Pons who was the captain and the second oldest of the French, he was 32 years old.  His teammates were Maurice Beth, 24 and Lucien Deschamps, also 24. 

The Moto-Bloc:  Another crew was for the Moto-Bloc. They had Charles Godard as its captain.  He was 31.  He had teammates, Arthur Hue and R. Maurice Livier.  Hue was 26, Livier was the youngest of all the competitors, and he was 19.  Godard raced in a Peking to Paris race on a motorcycle, that ran out of gas in the middle of the Gobi Desert!

The De Dion: The De Dion had two Frenchmen as drivers, and a Norwegian navigator.  The De Dion’s captain was the Commissioner General of the race, G. Bourcier St. Chaffray.  St. Chaffray was 36.  His two teammates were Autran (Autran declined to give his first name to the board) and Hans Hendrik Hansen. Autran was 25, Hansen was 43.  Hansen was an explorer and a wild man: he had mined in the Alaskan Gold Rush and supposedly sailed a Viking ship by himself to the North Pole.  Nobody really believed the latter claim. 

The German team.

The Protos: The Germans were Lieut. Hans Koeppen, 31 and Ernest Maas, 33 and Hans Knape, 29.  Koeppen was the captain of the German car: the tank-like Protos.  Knape liked to flirt with women, so he barely got to go into a town to flirt.  They would keep him out of a town so he would keep his mind on the race.    

The Italian team.

The Zust: The Italian’s captain was Antonio Scarfoglio, 21.  Scarfoglio’s teammates were Emilio Sitori, 26.  The one non-Italian was Henri Haaga, was German and 22.  Haaga was referred to as the “big, blonde baby”.  Scarfoglio was very poetic and loved to write and recite poems. 

The American team.

The Thomas Flyer:  The two original American teammates were Montague Roberts, who was the captain and 25.  His teammate was George Schuster, 35.  Later, George Miller and George Macadam joined.  Monty Roberts left the team in Seattle.  Schuster took over as driver for almost the rest of the race, switching with Macadam.  Macadam was a reporter for the New York Times.

The Race 

The race was scheduled to start on February 12, at 11:00 AM.  The starting point was Times Square, New York City.  The competitors could not get off to a fast start, as the crowds of fans and well-wishers crowded the square and tried to steal parts and gear as souvenirs. 

The race route was supposed to go through New York City to Utica, New York, then to Buffalo, New York and down to Columbus, Ohio.  It would then go to Chicago, Illinois.  The next stop would be Omaha, Nebraska.  They would then pass through Ogden, Utah.  They would then go to San Francisco, California.  Then next stop would be Seattle, Washington.  They would go up to Valdez, Alaska.  They would then catch a steamer to Yokohama, Japan, where they would go to Kobe, Japan.  The next stop would be Vladivostok, Russia.  They would go through Manchuria, a Russian controlled province of China.  Then, up to Harbin, Manchuria, then Chita, Irkutsk, then to Tomsk, then Omsk.  Then to Ekatinburg, then to Moscow.  They would go to St. Petersburg and then all the way down to Berlin, Germany and then as fast as they could to Paris, France.  This all seemed possible, but the Midwest part of the U.S. had the worst blizzard in over 50 years!

The Midwest was terrible: ten foot high snowdrifts and chest high mud that the cars had to slog through.  Lieut. Koeppen was personally given a six-month leave by the Kaiser of Germany (who was a car fanatic who bought cars with his own money) so he could compete.  The Germans made it in 182 days, just five short of six months.  The Americans made it in 183 days. 

The hardships they endured were unbelievable.  Car parts were hard to come by, and they used whatever parts they could find or wait weeks for parts.  The Italians Zust broke 10 gear teeth off the reverse gear and had to file nails down to put them on, as the Zust could not go backwards.  The nails that they got came off the canvas top of the Zust!  The Zust broke down so many times that they sold the car in Salt Lake City.  They bought a less used Zust from a resident for $500.  That was a lot of money back then, but cheap for a Zust. 

The Germans and Americans traveled on the railroad tracks for most of the U.S. When they came to Omaha, it was considered cheating, and all cars had to travel under their own power.  The Germans broke their suspension numerous times.

When the competitors came to Russia, they traveled on the “Great Russian Post Road” for about 250 miles.  Again, the Thomas team and the Protos team went on the railroads- this time on the Trans-Siberian railroad.  Most of the time spent traveling through Manchuria and Russia, the Italian’s went on the Post Road.  The Post Road is a road that was built to get supplies to the railroad.  In the 1960’s, it became a Russian highway and was repaved.  Now it is called the Road of Bones because it is so bumpy.

At one point, the Americans were going along on the railroad tracks when they saw a flagman running towards them telling them to get off the tracks or get killed.  They pushed the Flyer off the tracks- not a moment too soon, the St. Petersburg express came rushing past.  Another time, about 100 miles further down the line, the Flyer’s driving gear snapped and they pushed it off the tracks.  Schuster went to Moscow to get parts.  He was gone for two weeks.  Macadam and Miller made themselves comfortable waiting for Schuster to return, by sleeping under the car.  Luckily, it didn’t snow! 

When they were traveling through America, the contestants often had to tow each other out of the mud or snow.  When the Germans broke down outside of a small city in the Rocky Mountains, Koeppen had to hike 50 miles (that is about as far from my house to San Francisco) before he could get a team of horses to pull them out of a sandpit.  The Italians nearly had worse luck, a couple of hoboes were walking by and Haaga offered them $2 apiece if they would help pull the Zust out of some mud.  The hoboes were very interested in the spare rear axle.  Scarfoglio pulled his pistol out and made them give the axle back and pull the Zust out with Sitori and Haaga. 

When all the contestants were in Japan, it was slow going.  At one point the Protos was going along on a narrow bridge when suddenly Maas floored the gas pedal, not a moment too soon.  The bamboo bridge snapped under 4750 pounds of car.  Hansen quit the French crew because of personality clashes with St. Chaffray.  He joined the Americans in Yokohama.  The Flyer had worse problems as it tipped the scales at a hefty 5700 pounds.  That is almost 3 tons!

The food that the contestants had in the U.S. was typically pasta, as there were many Italian immigrants.  In Manchuria and parts of Russia, the food was tea, bread, eggs.  Scarfoglio said “every day it tea, bread, eggs.  Eggs, tea, bread…”  As you can see, the contestants hated tea, bread and eggs by the time they got to Paris. 

The lodging they stayed in was mostly their cars in the Western part of the U.S.  In Manchuria and most of Russia, they slept in their cars because of the fear of bandits.  One time in Japan, the Germans fell asleep in the Protos, only to wake up in the morning and find out they were less than half a mile away from a sizeable town!  They could have slept in a real bed!

The way they got parts for their cars was fairly difficult: in the U.S. and Europe, it was easy because of the railroads and they were close to their companies.  The Germans, in Russia, had to wait a week before they could get a new transmission.  When two of the Georges (Macadam and Miller) were waiting for Schuster to come back with a new driving gear, they dubbed their campsite “Camp Hard Luck” because at night the trains would keep them up and the howling of the wolves and the fear of bandits kept them up most of the night. 


Who won? Well, the Germans arrived in Paris first, but Koeppen’s father didn’t tell the committee about them finishing until the Americans had been in town for two days.  That was not a very smart move!  There has been a great debate of who finished first.

The placement officially.

  1. Americans
  2. Germans
  3. Zust
  4. Moto-Bloc
  5. De Dion

     6. Sizare-Naudin

What happened to the cars and the people? 

Koeppen got promoted to captain and got to fight in WWI and survived.  In the beginning of WWII, he was a general for Adolf Hitler.  He pled sick leave as he needed a break.  It was granted and he fled the country and joined the Resistance.  When the Resistance found out he was German, they held him prisoner until he was able to convince them into letting him fight with them.  Nobody knows what happened to the Protos.  Hansen went on to open a law office in St. Petersburg. 

Schuster went on to open a private mechanics shop in Virginia.  The Thomas company went bankrupt and sold the car to Monty Roberts, who sold it to somebody in Dawson City, Alaska.  It was bought in 2000 by a gambling tycoon, who invited Roberts to come and see if it was the original Flyer.  It was.  Nobody really knows what happened to the French teams.  The Flyer ended up in the Harrah Museum in Reno, Nevada. 

I think that they endured a lot of hardships, but they had the adventure of a lifetime.  There were some fights between some of the contestants, but they all figured it out.  They all had an exciting experience going around the world.

If you would like to learn more than I have told you, then you can visit these websites.


Keep Your Funny Bone Funny

This entry is guaranteed 100% to keep you interested and laughing.  I have been a bit technical in my last posts, so I thought I would relax a bit.  These are very funny car jokes that I have either copied or modified.  Please send me a funny story or joke of your own as a comment.

I have a calendar that was made by Car Talk, a radio show out of San Francisco. It is made by Tom and Ray Magliozzi.  They are hilarious.  Here’s some of their stuff.  I hope you enjoy, they are very funny.

This is by Will (a reader).  The Amazingly Efficient Fiat.

When I was a Volvo mechanic, our shop foreman bought a Fiat.  For a week, he did nothing but rave about its terrific gas mileage.  We decided to help.  We began adding gas to his tank on the sly-at first a pint, then more.

He’d brag about getting 34, then 50, then 63 miles per gallon.  He’d snarl at our gas-guzzling Volvos.  The Fiat dealership had several explanations for this amazing car: tight engine, American gas, driving habits.

Finally, we began reducing the amount we added.  Then we started siphoning increasing amounts from the tank.  The bragging stopped.  He became surly.  He kept taking it to the dealership, which had several explanations: tight engine, American gas, driving habits.  In the end he found out, and our schedules were screwed for months.  I worked 11 hours that Christmas Eve.

Please do NOT get any bad ideas from that story!!!

Some more?

“These are the “Recently fired Car Talk staff members.

Car-Seat tester’s: Fitz Matush and Drew Lee Weiner.

Grammar consultant: I.M. Shirley Wright.

Luxury car horn tester: Tony Blair.

Official spokesperson: Howie Vasive.

Corporate spokesperson: Hugh Lyon Sack.

Complaint-line operator: Xavier Breath.

Photographer: F. Stop Fitzgerald.

Senior-citizen driving instructor: Tonya Blinkeroff.

Regional director, Atlanta: Frank Lee Scarlett.

Leo Tolstoy biographer: Warren Peace.

Car Talk opera critic: Barbara Seville.”

Based on ahajokes:

“I was going on a freeway and a cop pulled me over.  He asked me if I knew that I was going 70 miles per hour in a 55 miles per hour zone.  I told him “I’m not going to be out for that long…”

I went through a stop sign and a cop pulled me over.  He asked if I knew that I went through a stop sign.  I said “I never believe everything I read”.

The archive of deleted jokes:

These jokes tried to make it to the upper pages.  They are not that funny, but, what the heck!


Who’s there?


Hum Who?

Hummer the car.

By: my little sister (hey, at least she knows what a Hummer is).


Who’s there?


Cargo’s who?

Cargo’s honk-honk!

By: my mom (my mom has not evolved a more sophisticated level of humor.  But I still love her.)

Germany’s rise from the ashes of WWII

In the postwar years in the continent of Europe, much time was spent rebuilding all that had been destroyed.  London was a shell, France was recovering from bombing and German occupation, and Germany was just a bombed out wreck – a shell of what it used to be.  In Germany, however, things were different because their country was divided in half (kind of like the American Civil War).  The Russians were in charge of rebuilding East Berlin, and the Germans were in charge of West Berlin (with Western help).

Many automakers survived WWII by making vehicles for the military.  Mercedes-Benz was no exception.  They also provided all the cars for the government and military, except for the Gestapo.  To prove that they were rising from the ashes and smoke of WWII, and to show off Germany’s rising economy, they created the 300SL (a collector’s item nowadays).  It was a sleek, gull winged, curvy race car for the road.  It was (and is) very cool.

The SL was originally built to compete in GT3 racing class.  A GT means Grand Touring and the car was designed to be fast and comfortable when touring.  It’s relatively underpowered carbureted engine made 115 horsepower.   That is as much power as a 2011 VW Jetta with 4 cylinders.  That is not a lot of power.  The 300 SL had a dirty secret.  It had a very light tubed chassis that was made out of aluminum and tin.  It only weighed 1600 pounds before racing accessories, and that is really light.  Those 2-seater Smart Cars that are in production today weigh 1875 pounds.   With the roll cage, fluids, and driver, the 300SL racing car weighed only approximately 2000 pounds.  Basically, the 300SL went fast, because it was light.

It won a lot of races.  One of its most famous wins was the Carrera Panamericana.  It was a summer rally through Mexico that ended in 1957, when a driver flew off the road and killed himself. 

Mercedes-Benz decided to make it into a road car.  “SL” stood for “Sport Leicht” (Sport Light).  It was and is best known for being the first ever four-stroke engine car to have fuel injection.  It also kept its distinctive gull wing doors.  Instead of having normal doors, the doors went up and down, instead of in and out.  It came with a four-speed manual and a 3.0 liter in-line six (look at Geeky Speak post for translation).  It was a beauty.  It is considered one of the coolest classic cars of all time (though I wouldn’t say no to a 1970 Lamborghini Countach!  It is so low it could drive under our kitchen table!!).

More than 80% of the 1,400 300SL’s produced between 1955 and 1957 were sold in the U.S.  The 300SL changed the world’s image of Mercedes-Benz from building solid and luxurious cars, to making fast, sporty cars.  The SL was the fastest car of its era.  The auto magazines said it could go 161 mph. 

The German’s have the reputation of being ahead of the auto game, and the SL was no exception.  It was the first road going car that came with fuel injection.  It came fitted with a Bosch mechanical Gasoline direct injection (GDI) system.  The 300SL road car had almost double the power of the race car (190 horsepower).  The oil amount was geared towards racing, it had to have 10 liters of oil on it at all times or it would not function properly.  One of the key roles of helping the SL go so fast was that it had very good aerodynamics. 

Unlike many of the cars of the 50’s, the SL had very good steering and was fun to drive.  One of the reasons being that it had four-wheel independent suspension.  One had to be careful driving it because of the rear swing axle.  It could be very dangerous in the wet and on rough roads. 

It is now one of the most collectible cars in MBZ history because of its technological firsts, gull wing doors and good looks.  Prices have reached U.S. $700,000 for its Gull Wing models.  Sports Car International (a publication) ranked the 300SL the number five sports car of all time.

If you would like to see pictures, go onto the website for the SL, then here it is.  It is very cool:

One interesting fact is that Mercedes-Benz still supplies parts for every car that they have made. 

Now for its successor: the SLS AMG.  The SLS AMG is the first car built from the ground up by Mercedes Benz’ performance division, AMG.  The SLS is a luxury grand touring super car developed to replace the MBZ SLR McLaren.  The SLS is also the spiritual successor to the 300SL.  It was unveiled in 2009. 

Fun Facts: the SLS is featured as the cover car for the PlayStation 3 racing game “Gran Turismo 5”, and was the safety car for the 2010 Formula One season. 

The engineers decided against auto-closing systems for the doors as they would have added 90 pounds to the car.  Currently, it is made in four different configurations.  The first was the Desert Gold Edition that debuted at the 2009 Dubai Auto Show.  Next was a GT3 racing version.  For the 2011-2013 model years, there will be a roadster version with normal doors and a soft top.  For the eco-minded there will be an electric version called E-Cell that will most likely be a coupe.  Hmmm, could this be a competitor to the Nissan Leaf? Uh, no! Coming up, will be an AMG Black Series version with as much as 661 pounds reduced. 

Coming up soon: fuel injection, four stroke.  That will help decode the article.

The Beach Boys and the car-crazy song legacy they created.

The Beach Boys are one of the most well known bands that have sung about cars.  They gave an impression that all kids should be hopping into their car and going to the beach to surf.  They celebrated independence and freedom in life for teenagers.  I can’t drive yet, but I CAN hop onto my bike and go to the beach.  It might take me a while (especially with a surfboard on my back!), but it sounds fun!  The American postwar economy was booming and cars were being sold left and right.  The young men who had fought in WWII came home and had kids, and those kids were the true cool of the 50’s and 60’s.   Those were the kids the Beach Boys were singing to. 

The Beach Boys’ lead singer, Brian Wilson, and his cousin, Mike Love, and other members of the band, wrote some very famous songs that referred to cars.  The 1960’s were the golden postwar years after WWII.  This is important because cars and money were everywhere and people thought that it would last forever.  It could have, except for the 1970’s oil crisis. These are some songs I chose to mention.

Brian Wilson wrote most of the songs mentioned here.  His cousin Mike Love also wrote some of these songs.  I am also attaching the YouTube videos of the songs so you can watch them.  (Parents, just so you know there is no inappropriate language.)  I hope you enjoy watching and reading about them. 

“Little Duece Coupe”.  A deuce coupe is a chopped down three or five window coupe.  A coupe is a French word meaning two doors.  I hope you enjoy it.   

“409”.  This is one of the Beach Boys’ more famous songs.  The opening line is “She’s real fine my 409. I saved pennies and I saved my dimes.”  With words like that, how could you go wrong?    A 409 means 409 cubic inches.  Chevrolet made a 409 CC V8.  If you don’t understand CC, then go back to my earlier post, Geeky Speak, it talks about engine size and CC’s.  I hope you enjoy the video.

The next song that is coming down the road is “Custom Machine.”  Custom Machine was written in 1963 for the Album “Little Duece Coupe”.  A custom machine is simply a custom-built hot-rod.  Custom Machine is a good song, but is not as well known as “I Get Around”.  I hope that you enjoy it:

Roaring down the road is “I Get Around”.  It starts as “Round, round, I get around.”  It was one of the Beach Boys’ best-selling single songs ever.  Brian Wilson is leading vocals on “I Get Around.”  Critics and the remaining members of the Beach Boys all say that it deserved to be one of their best-sellers of all time.  It makes me want to hop into a car and drive with my arm hanging out the windowsill.  The video is very enjoyable.

Next up for me is “Honkin’ down the Highway.”  Weird title, anyone agree?  This time, it is the band member Al Jardine singing the lead.  I once saw somebody actually honking down the highway.  Their horn was broken and wouldn’t stop honking!!  Ha Ha!!!!  I hope you enjoy the video and the story.    

“In my car” was written for the 1989 album “Still Cruisin”.  It was homage to the early days of the Beach Boys.  For them, it was back to the simpler days of singing when they sang great singles.  “In My Car” was about just going into your car and driving in it.  I hope you enjoy it.    

The best-seller in Sweden in 1963 was the Beach Boys song “Little Honda”.  Really.  I am not joking.  I don’t know why it was a bestseller!  Maybe the Swedish just liked the Beach Boys a lot.  Maybe the Beach Boys were just trying to impress the Swedish with this song.  Watch the video for fun.

Another good song is “Our Car Club.”  It was made about the local car club in the town where the Wilson brothers grew up, Hawthorne, California.  Carl Wilson (Brian’s older brother) remembered watching them go by every night in front of his house.

“This car of mine.”  This car of mine was written after Dennis Wilson (Carl and Brian’s older brother) went to a car dealership to buy a car and found out that somebody had just bought it a half hour before.  I hope you enjoy the video.

Let’s finish with “The Little Old Lady from Pasadena.”  The song originated when after WWII, an elderly man would die and leave his wife a powerful car that she almost never drove.  The song is about an old lady who was left with a “Super Stock Dodge”.  This lady not only drove it every day, but would race all the young adults and teenagers with their souped-up musclecar’s. 

When I went across the country with my family, we visited some friends in Virginia who we called Grandma and Papa.  When we were going out to dinner with them, Grandma Lois drove.  I don’t mean she just drove.  I mean DROVE F.A.S.T!  We had to floor it to keep up with them.  Go Granny Go!!  I hope that you enjoy the link.

There will be other bands I will write about later, so listen up!  It sounds like a lot of fun driving with the terror of Colorado Boulevard! EEEK!

Enzo Ferrari- a biography of a great man who invented the term fast

Enzo Anselmo Ferrari was born on February 18th, 1898 in Modena, Italy. At age 16 he joined the Italian Army and fought on the front lines of WWI. In 1916, his father and brother died as a result of the Italian Influenza. Two years later, he caught the flu pandemic (a disease throughout an entire country) and was very sick and discharged from the Italian Army. In 1918, as a result of being unemployed, he found a job at a company called CMN. CMN took old WWI trucks and converted them into small passenger cars. In 1920, he left CMN to work at Alfa Romeo in Turin, Italy. 

In 1923, he started racing for Alfa Romeo, where he won his first race and met Count and Countess Baracca, the parents of the Italian ace pilot Francesco Baracca.  Countess Baracca allowed Enzo to use the prancing horse logo.  Which, unless you have lived in a cave for the last 30 years, is known as the Ferrari logo.  It is also the coat of arms of Stuttgart, Germany.  He started racing as an official driver for Alfa Romeo.  His first major accident happened in 1921, when on the eve of the Brescia Grand Prix, he swerved to avoid a herd of cattle blocking the race route and went off the side of the road. 

In 1927 he started Scuderia, a racing company that tuned mostly Alfa Romeo’s and motorcycles and was very successful.   In 1928 he was made a Cavaliere, which is the Italian word for Knight.

In 1931, he finished his last race because of the impending birth of his son Alfredo.  He finished second place in his last race.  In 1933 he took the post of head of Alfa Corse (the racing division of Alfa Romeo) and held the post until 1939.  He moved to Maranello, Italy to have a new factory for Scuderia and to have a newer house. 

In 1941, he moved Scuderia to Milan, Italy as a result of the wartime fear of getting bombed.  In 1943, he started Auto Avio Costruzioni.  Later in the year, he moved Auto Avio Cotruzioni to Modena, Italy which was the old headquarters of Scuderia. 

In 1944, the factory in Milan was bombed, rebuilt and believe it or not, bombed two weeks later.  To most people that would be a serious bummer, but Enzo never really was sad about that.  He always helped out in rebuilding it, and always used his own money that he was saving for retirement to rebuild the factory. 

In September 1945, he started designing the first production Ferrari.  He had started a new company again so he could beat Alfa Romeo in everything.  He wanted the car built with a V12.  Why a V12?  Because it could be a good engine for winning races and be good for a supercar and for grand-touring.  In 1946, Enzo himself took the first road going Ferrari prototype out for a test drive on the roads of Italy, where it was a head turner for the peasants. 

In 1956, Enzo’s son, Alfredo died of muscular dystrophy.  Alfredo was involved in designing a new 1500 CC V6 until the very end of his life.  Alfredo was better known as Dino.  All Ferrari V6 engines have been named “Dino”.  It is not pronounced like Dinosaur, but Deeno. 

In 1962, he was awarded the Hammarsjkld Prize by the United Nations for his business and mechanics knowledge.  In 1965 he was awarded the Columbus Prize.

In 1971, he dedicated the Fiorano Test Track at the factory in Italy, to test new Ferrari’s. 

In 1979, he was awarded the title of Cavaliere di Gran Croce della Repubblica di Italiana (try saying that 3 times fast, if you do, then leave a post!) from President Percini.

In 1987, the last car to go out under Enzo’s leadership of Ferrari was the F40.  He had both design and mechanical influence over it. 

In 1988, Enzo Ferrari died at age 90.  He inspired a legacy of Supercars and Grand Touring cars that have set a standard for years, hopefully for years to come.  In 2003, Ferrari unveiled a car in memory of Enzo.  It was called the Enzo Ferrari.  Sound similar to anybody?

Enzo Ferrari was a man of great compassion for his race car drivers.  When his driver Nicki Lauda suffered nearly fatal burns at the 24 hours of Le Mans, he was in Lauda’s hospital room for days comforting him while he healed.  Enzo also cared about the quality of his cars.  He would be very upset if a Ferrari was not made right, and he would be in a rage for days until the car was fixed.  Enzo Ferrari was a man of great compassion for people he knew, and loved his cars.

Geeky Speak

The purpose of this entry is to help in decoding the auto-speak language that many gearheads use (and I used in my previous post).  If my previous post made you want to go outside and bang your head against a brick wall, then, hopefully this post will chill you out!  My mom says that if she and my sister can understand my posts, then everyone should be able to.  I need to make my posts readable to her and my sister.  I shall refrain from any comments… 


Let’s get started with cylinders and how they work.  Cylinders are similar to holes in the engine block.  Except, they are not exactly like that.  Imagine a bottle inside the engine block.  That bottle (also known as a cylinder) has a fist inside of it that goes up and down (that would be called a piston).  Sitting inside the bottle is a mixture of air and fuel. The piston comes up with a lot of momentum and creates an explosion inside the cylinder.  The cylinder really just holds the piston from going too far up and also keeps the air/ fuel mixture inside it to create the explosion. Cylinders keep the air/fuel mixture contained so the pistons can move the mixture out to the exhaust system and keep your vehicle moving.

More cylinders mean more power and usually worse fuel economy.  A V6 is a six cylinder engine that has all of it’s cylinders in a “V” shape.  You can only have an even amount of cylinders to have a “V” shape of the cylinders.  If you have an odd number of cylinders, say 5, then you must have them in an in-line shape. The benefit of a V shape is that you get more power and torque (to be explained another time!), and usually better fuel economy.


CC stands for cubic centimeters.  You can ask “why not cubic inches?”  Well, you can use cubic inches or litres.  You will be left behind because all the big auto media brands use CC’s.  You use any of those three to measure how much (otherwise known as volume) air and fuel can go through the engine in one complete cycle.  That means that they measure how much air and fuel can go into the cylinders in one complete cycle.    Another word for that is engine displacement. 

I always thought that I would have to drag out Algebra 1 sometime or another.  According to my Algebra 1 book “Volume is a measure of how much space is occupied by a solid figure.  Volume is measured in cubic units.  One such unit is the cubic centimeter.  It is the amount of space occupied by a cube whose length, width, and height are each 1 centimeter.”  That brings up some unpleasant memories for some, but not for me.  I like Algebra 1.


A turbocharger is an add-on power booster that can be bolted onto an engine.  The Turbocharger acts as a small air compressor that compresses the air that goes into the engine.  That means that more air can be added to the engine, it also means that more fuel can go into the cylinder.  That means that the driver is getting more power per explosion inside the cylinder.  The turbo needs a turbine (a turbine is a fan that spins air around inside it until it is compressed) to have all the air pass into the engine.  The turbine spins at 150,000 RPM, about ten times faster than a normal engine.  There is also a waste gate in the exhaust system.  The waste gate lets out all the air that wasn’t compressed.  A turbo can bring the same or better fuel economy to the same engine without the turbo.

Cool turbo trivia: Diesel engines all have turbochargers.  Did you know that a turbine compresses the air in it for just ½ a second and before sending it off to the cylinders?  Did you know that many Formula 1 race teams use two turbochargers on smaller engines to get better fuel economy and more horsepower?  The proof is that McLaren’s Formula 1 team cars get 20 MPG and 1500 horsepower.  That is amazing because a Porsche 911 Turbo street car (I call them big butts!!), only gets 18 MPG. 

I hope that your understanding of the above will elevate you to higher heights of understanding.