Been Pulled Over by Officer Chevy Caprice PPV?

Over this holiday season I was so dazzled by cars in la-la land that I forgot to post.  I’m back on track.  Are you ready for some more interesting posts?

As you know the traditional donut-carrier is the Ford Crown Vic.  Some of you who’ve been pulled over for speeding might know this…  And I’m NOT talking to you Schmooey…

15 years ago, the only true Ford Crown Vic competitor from Chevy, the Caprice, was phased out.  Since 1996, we’ve been terrorized by donut-eating cops in Ford Crown Vics and Dodge Chargers.  True, the Charger is a great car, it’s just not meant for much except pursuit…  Now, Chevy is a player in the game… Since the Pontiac G8 (we all should have good feelings for it!  RIP Pontiac…) was killed along with the rest of the brand in 2010, there’s been no cop car (definitely NOT the Impala!) to compete with the Charger and Crown Vic.  Behold the all-new, all-cool Chevy Caprice Police Patrol Vehicle (PPV)! With a mighty 385 horsepower, 355 lb-ft of torque, 6.2 liter V8 (a de-tuned Corvette engine), fast-shifting six-speed automatic with overdrive and sport mode, traction control, 2,000 lb towing capacity (up 550 lbs from the Crown Vic!), stability control, optional light bar, standard titanium push bar (bye-bye UPS truck…), and special wheels forged out of steel.  Inside, there’s a MacBook Pro laptop computer (no more PC’s in cruisers!), column shift, plastic rear seat, a trunk big enough to fit a dirt bike, navigation, alarm system, CB radio (we can’t seem to get rid of these things!), a special nook in the driver’s and passenger’s front seats for cops to have much less lower back pain (stop eating donuts!!). Really it’s so they can drive without having to worry about jamming their guns. It also has an automatic parking brake, and front leather seats!  Now I’m wanting one…Hint, Officer…

According to GM chairman, Rick Wagoner, “we’re hoping to start getting these cars’ keys into police officers’ hands by 2012.  If we can do this, what’ll Ford do?  We’re also thinking of selling them as fleet cars to rental companies.”  Don’t start selling them to rental companies just yet!  Wait until next year, and use this car as the next-generation Impala!  What I just said is my hope, and previous GM chairman, Bob Lutz’ dream. Just so y’all know, this car isn’t all American.  It’s based on the Australian-market Holden Commodore (which is SOOO popular for road racing).  If this does become the next-generation Impala (or better yet, Chevelle!), then it looks like I know what my new Baby is!  Oh, and it’s got a 155 mph GOVERNED top speed.  Theoretically, without the governor, think closer to 190 mph!  VROOOOOOOOOM!! If you’d like to know even more, please visit:

And Ford is trying to sell the Taurus SHO as a pursuit car!  Good luck with that, Ford…

Even MORE Gifts for the Car Enthusiast!

Hi All, sorry I didn’t post Tuesday.  It’s vacation time…  And if you want to know where I am, I am in good ol’ Los Angeles.  If you don’t believe me, watch Randy Newman sing “I Love LA”!

“Nutty” granny, or ‘odd’ uncle (I know NOTHING about that…) wanting to know what’s on the wish-list of the car enthusiast for Chanukkah?  Here’s some great ideas for them.

Hemming’s Motor News is “the Bible of the Industry Since 1954.”  It offers good deals for tools, lifts, shop manuals, cars, and even planes!  Hemming’s is mainly a magazine that specializes in the classic car industry and market. Their magazines contains lots of ads, auction coverage and articles reviewing classic cars.  They also host monthly cruise nights in Bennington, Vermont, live coverage (on their website) from auctions such as: Barrett-Jackson, Russo & Steele, Bonhams, and swap meets.  There are well-used cars, trucks and SUVS, fussy collector cars with under 1,000 miles, and so on…  Here’s an example of how Hemming’s works: Let’s say you’ve got a 16 year old son.  He wants a 1953 Packard Carribean.  You decide to get him one for Christmas, so you look in Hemming’s and there’s a practically brand-new Packard Carribean with everything your son wants: big V8, four-on-the-floor, air conditioning and so on – for only $13,000!  That’s what Hemming’s has to offer us!  If you get the enthusiast of the family a subscription before January 1, 2012, then the family enthusiast will have Hemming’s for only $31.95 a year!  So, overall, Hemming’s Motor News is probably the only good classic car magazine around (since 1954…).  I highly recommend going to a local bookstore and picking up a copy!  You’ll stand there until closing time (and then some!)!

Car & Driver is another GREAT gift for the family enthusiast for Christmas, Hannukah, Kwanza, Festivus (sorry, just couldn’t help myself…), or whatever else you might celebrate.  A subscription of around $18.00 will get the enthusiast twelve issues of great comparisons, a 10Best issue, a New Car/SUV/Truck Buyer’s Guide and SOOOOOO much more!  Hint: I would be fine with Hemming’s, and/or Car & Driver!…  My personal favorite of the Editor’s Columns for Car & Driver is John Philips.  He is funny, tells a lot about what’s going on in the auto world with a sense of humor, and funny stories about the auto industry.   But, the one reason that I LOVE Car & Driver is because they have great comparisons, good(ish) choices for 10Best cars, cool road test data, among other things.  Overall, Car & Driver is one of the authorities if the new-car industry.  If you don’t want a subscription, then your local library will most likely have all the issues of Car & Driver from the past two years (at least!).  By the way, I’ve got a 1952 copy of Car & Driver.  

Pappy, What’s a Jimmy?

Due to some very. . . shall we call it OCD reasons,  this morning I did NOT want to stop reading the new Eragon Inheritance book, Inheritance.  It is a GREAT book, and I did NOT want to put it down, but I didn’t want to disappoint you either.  Enjoy my short definition of ‘Jimmy’.  Haven’t you always wondered why the word ‘jimmy’ was attached to certain vehicles? I thought so.

Jimmy (auto-related):  A name designated for a short-wheelbase, sport utility vehicle.  Primarily, the name has been employed by GMC truck, but is used as a popular term to describe all such trucks.  The car, the GMC Jimmy,  is the clone of the Chevy Blazer, but under the GMC name (Sierra pickups, Sonoma pickup, Yukon SUV, etc.).  Funny enough, the term ‘Jimmy’ is also a popular name for all GMC parts.  Jimmy superchargers, Roots-type superchargers for diesels (they’re all called Jimmy!).

Awwww Crash!

Note: I posted this on Saturday, but something went awry.  This went out to my subscribers, but never posted to the blog.  SOrry if you receive this twice.

Hi, sorry I wasn’t able to get to the computer Friday.  I was shadowing at a local high school and Biology went 30 minutes late!  After that, it was time for community service. When I got home, I just wanted some time to sleep (stereotypical teenager…), so I did.  When I woke up, I realized it was late, so I didn’t want to endanger your shortish sleeping hours…

About ten days ago, what must have been a very messy – and expensive crash happened in Japan.  Eight Ferrari’s (two 355 Spyder’s, a F430 F1, a 360 Modena, a 458 Italia, two 599 GTB’s, and a 599 GTO), a Lamborghini Gallardo, three Mercedes-Benz’s (a CL600, an SL65 AMG Black Series, and a S500), two Toyota’s (a 2004 Corolla XLE, and a 2000 Sienna), and a Honda Civic have crashed on Chokogu Expressway on the island of Shimonoseki, Japan.

There was a group of eight Ferrari’s from a nearby island on a travel route, when one of the Ferrari’s skidded on the slick road (from recent rain), hitting the center divider and quite literally shredding the side of it off.  This set off a chain-reaction wreck that wiped out the rest of the Ferrari’s, the Lamborghini, the S500, the SL65 AMG Black Series, the two Toyota’s and the Honda Civic.  When flying parts flew over into the other side of the freeway, the CL600 was hit.

According to local police, ten drivers were hospitalized, but there were no serious injuries.  That’s good (I DO care about other people…), but I’m sad about the cars.  The drivers have money, but they have to get new cars (unless they want to spend about $100,000 in repairs!), so I think that they should get Bugatti Veyron Super Sports (as they have all-wheel-drive, and won’t slip!)!!!!

Here’s a picture of two of the Ferrari’s, and be sure to watch the video and see the damage to the Ferrari’s! of crash involving Ferraris, a Lamborghini and three Mercedes Benz cars in Japan, no one was seriously injured

Ready for An Awesome Interview (I thought so…)?

What’s red and definitely green all over?  Hint: it is not a christmas tree…Well, read on and you’ll find out.

Today, we are interviewing Ellen Setchko-Palmerlee and her dad, John Palmerlee.  They converted a truck from gasoline power to electric power!  How cool is that?!  Over the course of two years (mostly weekends…), they converted the truck.   If you’re wondering what the truck is, it’s a 1985 Toyota 1/2 ton pickup truck.

The truck has lead-acid batteries that give it 15-18 miles of range.  Don’t mash your face up at these words – it’s only a truck!  Since Ellen and John wanted to have range over utility, they took off the bed.  This saved about 300 pounds from the total weight of the truck.  When you look at a truck, you think “that bed can only weigh about 50 pounds…”  Well, think again.  The bed is one of the most important parts of the truck, as it has to carry a ton (literally) of weight a lot.  The bed John and Ellen made has a plywood battery box that holds 900 pounds of batteries.  Behind it, there is a smallish bed that can hold about 1,000 pounds or a 1/2 cubic yard of manure, gravel, or dirt.  Since the truck is electric, it has a good bit of torque generated from a 75 pound forklift motor that has around 115 horsepower and 230 ft-lb of torque.  So, I’ll stop my blabbing and get the show on the road…  Of course, the truck can’t tow that much, as they might tow the trailer all of ten feet!

The Setchko-Palmerlee family has always had a passion to have an eco-friendly Earth, so the truck is a perfect way to help get there.  Plus, Ellen has home schooled (like me!).  The perfect home schooling project…  Working primarily on weekends, Ellen and John worked tirelessly 8 hours a day every Saturday and Sunday, as a father/daughter project. They started in September 2008, and just finished in June 2010!  When I asked them how much it depleted their wallets, I was surprised.  I was thinking it was somewhere around $20,000, but in reality, it was only about $8,500!  So, in theory, I could convert my Baby to electric power by the time I’m 16 (only if Mom and Dad let me!  Hint!).  Plus, they got free lead-acid batteries donated to them by a fellow member of the North Bay Electric Automobile Association who had just installed new lithium-ion batteries.  Here’s a picture of the 900 pounds of batteries that take only 4-8 hours to charge.

To keep the costs down, Ellen and John tried to use materials from around their house.  The materials that they mainly used were: about a 1/2 mile of wire, a couple hundred pounds of plywood, fiberglass, and found materials from around their house (some old metal mirror trim and some steel from a shed John had to tear down a few years ago.).  They also sold unneeded parts from the truck, such as the bed and the engine.  That helped to defray costs.  When I asked Ellen and John how much they think it will cost to annually maintain, their estimate is around $500.  This will include: new tires, replacement parts, lubrication for the 4-speed manual, and other things.

When asked about how the driving experience has changed, Ellen and John said that the truck used to be kind of loud (it blew a head), but now it’s very, very quiet, and sounds like something out of a science fiction movie.  However, there is some jerkiness in first gear that they are trying to fix.  I also asked how hard it was to convert the truck to electric power.  They said that one of the hardest things to do was figure out where to put everything, and how to put it together.

Here, one can admire the plain n’ simple cockpit of the truck.  If you’re wondering what the heck that little thing hanging off the windshield is, it’s a message center that allows them to see how many amps they are drawing, and other helpful things.  Since there is an audio system (which draws a LOT of power), they try not to use it, as they are afraid of the engine stalling when the batteries die.

I asked Ellen and John if they have plans to convert another car in the future, they said they would like to, but it takes a while, isn’t cheap, and it’s hard to find a good insurance company. When I asked them how somebody would go about converting a car to electricity, they came up with a few steps:

  1. Get a car (they said it’s nice if it’s on the light side).
  2. Clean everything before you start converting.
  3. Find batteries and a motor.
  4. Start attaching everything together however you like (as long as it works…)
  5. Install the charger and random parts.
  6. Make sure everything works well (this can prove fatal if done wrong!)
  7. Enjoy the car!

Now, I will list all the places where you can get money to start working on converting a car to electric power. offers a place where you can contact a local shop that does work on electric cars, is the North Bay branch of the Electric Automobile Association, which has a branch for pretty much every region of the U.S. is a good place to find good sources for getting parts and information (as long as you’re a member), and offers something REALLY cool: you can go on, get a membership, and put on the website how much money you need for the electric car.  People will then bid money until the time frame runs out.  If you don’t get the desired amount of money, then all the money goes back to the bidders.  I REALLY like the awesome logo for NBEAA, so I took a snapshot for you…

Oh, and on the first picture, the brown spot is NOT rust!  It’s a cool sticker that says “electric.”   AND if you tune in on Friday, look for a post on a very expensive car crash in Japan involving a Lamborghini Aventador, some Ferrari’s, two Toyota’s, and a Mercedes-Benz CL600!


Even MORE Live Coverage from the San Francisco International Auto Show!

So, I’m sure that most of you know that the San Francisco International Auto Show ended  sometime last week.  But, I CAN give you the inside scoop on a few cars…  At the Toyota stand, there were two Camry Daytona 500 Pace Cars that were unlocked!  Toyota did a great paint job on their Camry Pace Cars, so I just HAD to snap a photo of the Daytona 500 logo.  

This was the Camry I was able to get into.  Even though Toyota put a five-point harness in, beefed up the airbags, and put an awesome paint job on, this Camry is totally stock.  It’s the newest generation (9th), an XLE model (V6, six-speed automatic, cool rims, leather interior, navigation system, Toyota Entune entertainment system, HID headlights, and it makes 268 horsepower!  WHEW!  That was a long sentence.  

Sticking with the Japanese, the REALLY small Mitsubishi IMEIV took up almost as much space as a SMART fortwo!  The IMEIV looks a bit bigger than it is…  So, I went to the SFIAS (San Francisco International Auto Show) with my good friend Joshua Valentino.  While at the Hyundai stand, we met another car nut; Greg.  Since the Mitsubishi stand was right next to the Hyundai stand, we decided to take a look at the IMEIV.  Greg decided to try hitting the backseat with his elbow.  The backseat was so flimsy that it flipped BACKWARDS, taking Greg with it!  Joshua and I thought it was REALLY funny!  So, I’ll give you the inside scoop on the IMEIV.  It is all electric, built for eco-weenees who only have $10,000, want a car with 50 horsepower and 177 lb-ft of torque, and only drive 100 miles a day…

Over at the Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep/Ram stand, there was once a mighty Jeep Wrangler with lots of chrome…  Okay, I’ll stop with the bad poems…  This Jeep Wrangler has the all-new Pentastar V6, a six-speed automatic, chrome, beefy tires, and a leather interior.  Oh, and I almost forgot to mention that it has RUNNING BOARDS!!  Just 30 years ago, you had to weld running boards onto your surplus Jeep, there was no chrome, no Pentastar V6, no six-speed automatic, and no leather interior!  This Jeep is part of Jeep’s new way to attract buyers who want looks, power, off-road capability, and be comfy inside.  The Pentastar V6 makes 283 horsepower and 290 lb-ft of torque hooked up to a six-speed manual or automatic.  It has the option of rear-wheel drive, or four-wheel drive .  

Staying American, we head over to the Fisker stand.  With their brand-new (good) Karma, Henrik Fisker, the man who penned the: BMW Z8, Aston Marton V8 Vantage, and Jaguar XJ220 believes he can sell 2000 Karma’s a year.  Priced at $81,300, the Fisker Karma is the working person’s cool car.  The Karma has a total of 403 horsepower and 960 lb-ft of torque, mated to a 1-speed automatic transmission.  It has a 3.73:1 rear axle ratio that helps propel it to a top speed of 125 mph!  

Straying back to Asia, the small SUV, the Hyundai Tuscon was a star attraction over at the Hyundai stand.  With it’s 176 horsepwer, 155 lb-ft of torque engine that’s mated to a six-speed automatic and in this case, four-wheel-drive, it can tow up to 2,000 pounds, haul 1880 pounds, go mildly off-roading, and go to a maximum speed of 112 mph.  Plus, it gets 20/28 mpg for city and highway, as tested by the EPA.

Thanks for putting up with my HORRIBLE poems and okay pictures (I promise better ones next year)!  Even though the show has ended (only five days ago…), I was thougthful enough to attach the website for you to look at

I hope to see some of you next year…