Buy a New Acura NSX, Get a Custom Film!

Hey everyone! Sorry that it took me such a long time to put this post up, but school was especially stressful this semester. I’m glad that the semester is over, and that I’ll have more time to give the blog more attention. Look forward to more posts in 2017!

I have to admit, the 2017 Acura NSX is quite the looker!
I have to admit, the 2017 Acura NSX is quite the looker!
The interior isn't bad, either.
The interior isn’t bad, either.

Did you know that Jay Leno’s 2017 Acura NSX is #0003? I’m sure you knew that already, right? Why am I talking about this? Well, you and I both know that Jay Leno has one of the most amazing car collections in the world. What makes his NSX really cool is you can watch it’s creation in Acura’s new campaign video called “NSX Originals.”

If and when you drop at least $157,800 on a 2017 Acura NSX, you’ll receive a personalized digital film that matches the exact specifications and serial number of your NSX! Seriously, how cool is that? Pretty damn cool in my book. Oh, and if that wasn’t enough for you, Acura will give you a customized 1:18 scale model that is identical to your NSX! Now, how cool is THAT?

You can immerse yourself in some amazing films of the twin-turbo, V6, hybrid NSX on the microsite (http://www.nsxoriginals.com/acura/en/). You can also watch the build of Jay Leno’s pretty slick NSX at: https://youtu.be/2KzAeU67SXw

According to a release from Jon Ikeda, Acura’s VP and General Manager, “The Acura NSX is a bespoke supercar inspired by an original concept and this campaign speaks directly to that heritage.”

What’s in these films? You can see some behind-the-scenes action of the NSX being built at Acura’s state-of-the-art Marysville, Ohio plant, which highlights the seven key manufacturing periods of the NSX. You might be wondering what those are. Let me tell you. They include: precision robotic welding, space frame construction, a zirconium bath, paint robotics, the three-motor sport hybrid power unit, custom hand assembly, and the rolling dynamometer.

I bet that there won’t be a dry eye in the house when you show your car friends the birthing video of your car!

Also, it’s best to keep that custom scale model out of reach of the kids (or grandkids) – I’m sure that they would LOVE to play with it! Hide it or risk an almost certain, “sorry, I just broke it.” I’m going to go out on a limb and say that the adults are going to want to take the full-size NSX for a spin. But hey, it’s your supercar after all!

Here’s my two cents on the 2017 NSX: After years of teasing us with various concepts, prototypes, and general speculation, the NSX has made a return. The original Honda/Acura NSX was the car that sent Ferrari, Lamborghini, and just about everybody who made supercars scrambling to the drawing board.

The 2017 Acura NSX is what Acura wants you to think of as a “usable supercar.” It’s jam-packed with the hottest technology out there. It’s definitely state-of-the-art, but according to just about everybody who’s reviewed it, that’s not what it is. It’s certainly fast, good-looking, and everything else you want a supercar to be, but a supercar is not designed nor intended to be a car that you can drive every day. While I certainly understand Acura’s point of view, Acura should have followed the original NSX’s footsteps. The 2017 NSX isn’t going to send anybody scrambling to the drawing board. Sticking to the tried-and-true supercar formula brings money in.

I think that the 2017 NSX will sell relatively well, but only time will tell. It’s got some stiff competition, what with the Lamborghini Huracan, Ferrari 488 GTB, Nissan GT-R, and Audi R8.

Does this mean that I don’t like the 2017 NSX? Far from it! I think it’s a fantastic piece of engineering, and certainly a novel idea. Sure, it’s got a lot more computers to save your bacon every day of the week, and twice on Sunday, but every supercar out there is that way. It seems to be a fantastic car. It’s definitely not the car of the future, but it’s one of the faster ways to get to the future. I think it’s safe to say that some of the technology on the 2017 NSX will trickle down to other Acuras in the next few years.

The Horrible Car TV Formula

I can easily say that I’m a very car-obsessed 17-year-old. I’m usually found drooling over pictures of cars I can only dream of affording or watching video reviews of said cars. Like most of my peers, I find fart jokes quite refreshing, pun intended. I’m in that demographic that networks really desire when they launch a new automotive show. Why is it, then, that I’d rather sit down and watch NCIS?

The phrase that really describes the ability to capture something truly unique is “lightning in a bottle.” It also means that the person who captures that magic has no idea how to do it again.

This is the inherent problem with network executives. They could take chances and introduce new genres, take chances that pop up out of the blue, but no. They know that we as a public are creatures of habit that will binge-watch something that barely hits a few pleasure centers.

If you remember “Survivor,” then you know what I’m talking about. The network executives went out on a limb. It turned out to be a smashing success.

Want to know why TMZ exists? Watch an episode of “My 600-lb Life.” But seriously, don’t. The ability to derive pleasure from others’ misfortune is the sole reason that we turn on the TV and watch stupid shows like that. Shows like “WorldStarHipHop” make money rain like tequila in a Mexican bar.

The horrible part about all of this is that it’s migrated to car shows. Oh, joy of joys. If you have ever watched an episode of the Discovery channel smash hit “Fast N Loud,” you’re a glutton for punishment. You’ll notice several things first and foremost:

  • To introduce each and every character that portrays a one-dimensional stereotype.
  • Manufacture as much drama as possible.

If you’re unfamiliar with the show, this is a synopsis of EVERY episode:

  • Richard Rawlings, the owner of Gas Monkey Garage, gets a tip about some car worth $25,000 that’s been sitting in a field for the past 20 years. He goes to check out the car.
  • Quickly cut to an interview with Rawlings in the studio, where he recalls what he’s doing in real time just so we can’t possibly get confused.
  • Rawlings arrives at the property where the car is. Makes a fuss about the price of said car. Buys the car for $1,500 plus Gas Monkey Garage t-shirts and Gas Monkey Garage tequila (yeah!).
  • Cut again to Rawlings in the studio, where he recalls what we’ve just seen in case we got confused.
  • Some filthy rich college buddy of Richard’s makes an arbitrary $500,000 bet to make said $1,500 car a clone of the car that was in a movie in which all of the actors are dead of drugs, alcohol, old age, or some combination of those.
  • Richard has 24 hours to build the car, and that includes delivering it to the middle of nowhere Australia along with American moonshine.
  • Cut to Rawlings in the studio recapping that.
  • Richard gathers the crew and gives a pep talk about how he will sell his body to science if this build isn’t on budget and on time. THEY MUST NOT SCREW UP!
  • Parts don’t fit, one of the mechanics quits, the car won’t start, everyone at the shop takes the day off for no apparent reason, all of the above.
  • 10 minute commercial break.
  • Five minute commercial break sponsored by Dodge!
  • Remember all of that drama in the third act of the show? Forget it. The car is done, the crew has practiced a skit, but there are no actors, just Gas Monkey Garage employees.
  • Richard meets with rich college buddy. They both get immeasurably drunk, yet Rawlings is still all there.
  • Richard receives the $500,000 in cash. The car is visibly rough and thrown together to anybody who knows anything about cars. Rawlings does a burnout because burnouts equal equality. They celebrate at Gas Monkey Bar and Grill, brought to you by Dodge!
  • Cut to interview with Rawlings in the studio, recalling what we’ve just seen in real time in case we get confused.
  • Repeat for next episode.

“Mobsteel” is an unabashed clone of “Gas Monkey Garage.” It’s relegated to the Velocity network, which tries it’s worst to make the joy of car ownership as exciting as getting an endoscopy.

It prides itself on the “scripted reality first” bandwagon by introducing each and every character first. This feat takes a monumental 13 minutes. That’s right. No car work is mentioned for the first 13 minutes of a 45 minute show! Yeah, that makes perfect sense, right?

Allow me to tell you what’s in those first 13 minutes: the company’s hierarchy. It’s comprised of the wide-eyed owner, his stern wife who deals with the finances, the mechanics who all have one specific task to do, and the customers who have the appeal of a rotting eggplant.

The sole reason that shows like this exist is that they appeal to people who think that custom cars are just another toy for the wealthy. However, the truth is, you don’t need a big budget to make a cool custom car. You can build one for under $15,000 if you are a careful Craigslist and eBay bidder and buyer.

Those same people would also experience a guilty thrill watching the shop literally and metaphorically crash and burn for missing a deadline or producing a sub-par car. They stick around to the end of the show because that’s when the big suspenseful reveal happens.

I will freely admit that those shows do have entertainment value for those who know nothing about cars, it comes at the cost of the often very, uh, interesting vehicle choices that these shops build. Instead, we get great slow motion shots of the mechanics grinding down metal stock for no reason. Oh goodie!

NBCSN, the parent company of Velocity, said that nearly one million folks tuned into the first episode of Mobsteel. It’s certainly a ringing endorsement for this formula, even if it does fall short of “Survivor” and “Glee.”

Why is it then, that I feel like there’s no appeal for automotive enthusiasts on these shows? How can we solve this problem? I can answer the second question easily: go onto YouTube and look up “Roadkill” and “Hot Rod Garage.” They are both entertaining, and are meant to fill that gap. They do that well.

How do I answer the first question? The shows that truly cater to automotive enthusiasts are far and few between, and many are discontinued. “Top Gear” worked solely because of the chemistry between the hosts. NOT the chemistry between the hosts and producers, as evidenced by Jeremy Clarkson’s insane attack on an elderly producer over a hamburger. Yes, a hamburger. It held a special place in my heart because it maintained an emphasis on the love of cars. The cars chosen in each episode told a necessary story, and were just as legendary as their drivers. That’s what Mobsteel and Gas Monkey Garage are sorely lacking.

I’ll hedge a bet that other car nuts like myself echo this sentiment. The shows – the really GOOD shows – are far and few between. They show the love and passion for the automobile, not the love and passion for money like Gas Monkey Garage.

What is the reason that “Wheeler Dealers” is so popular then? It’s only got a modicum of success, but it’s got a massive repeat viewership rate. I really don’t know why. Edd China is about as exciting as that third grade teacher you liked and then met 20 years later.

“Jay Leno’s Garage” is made on a very small budget relative to it’s network counterparts. The show was a YouTube special for several years. Leno recently landed it a spot on CNBC. I’ll update you on that another time. Despite his relatively small budget, Leno pulls in far more viewers than Gas Monkey Garage and Mobsteel.

Shows like Jay Leno’s Garage focus on the love and passion for the automobile, and the smoke and mirrors treated as such. Leno regularly has Hollywood stars as guests on his show, but it’s always eminently clear that they are automotive enthusiasts. In all of the years that I’ve watched his show, I can’t ever remember an episode where there was somebody completely oblivious to the car featured. There are no deadlines, no constant fighting, no manufactured drama or controversy, even though I’d love to see a slap fight between Jay Leno and Richard Rawlings.

Marty and Moog from “Mighty Car Mods” are YouTube giants. Wanna know why? Because they do DIY content and automotive builds with a million-strong audience. It’s organically grown. Any drama you see is because somebody done and screwed up.

We, as generations of automotive enthusiasts, owe it to ourselves to support the indie shows. The entertaining, somewhat educational shows. They open up new automotive experiences and viewpoints to us, but more importantly, they give us more of the automotive content we want, more of the time. How can you not like that?

Otherwise, we’ll all be watching Richard Rawlings screaming at a mechanic of his for no apparent reason other than to get more viewers. Oh, and we’ll all be wearing Gas Monkey Garage t-shirts.

What the OPTIMA Search for the Ultimate Street Car is Really About

It all began at the SEMA show in 2004 or 2005.  OPTIMA’s Director of Product Development and Marketing, Cam Douglass, was in awe of all of the pro-built cars being shown, and couldn’t help but wonder if there was more to these cars than just having brand name parts and looking cool.

It took him a few years of talking to people and a whole lot of planning, but then Douglass met Jimi Day, and the idea became a reality.  It went from the SEMA show floor to the nearby track, Spring Mountain Motorsports Ranch.

As expected, Pro-Touring cars were all over the headlines.  I mean, how could they not be when iconic cars like RJ Gottlieb’s Big Red Camaro and Steven Rupp’s Bad Penny Camaro were competing?  In fact, they continued to grab headlines because Gottlieb and Rupp were more than willing to push both themselves and their cars to the absolute limit.

In the first year alone of OUSCI (OPTIMA Ultimate Street Car Invitational), there were some well-performing cars in the field.  There was a 2004 Porsche 911, a brand-new Pontiac G8, a Lincoln MKX of all things, a new Dodge Challenger, and several late-model Corvettes.

Why such a diverse field of cars?  Because otherwise, how would you determine what the “ultimate” street car really was?  The whole point of OUSCI is to see if SEMA show cars could perform as well on the track as they could look good at a show.  There never were, and never will be limitations on the year, make, model, or build style of the cars. Otherwise there would be no real valid way to determine whether the winner was the ultimate street car.

The OUSCI field is the most diverse it has ever been, with cars like Jonathan Ward’s 1948 Buick ICON Special to Dieter Heinz-Kijora’s 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA45 AMG, and more than 100 cars in between those extremes.  Yes, Pro-Touring cars are still a big part of the mix, but anybody who owns a street-legal car or truck has a chance at getting to the invitational.  Just ask Thomas Smith about his 120,000 mile daily-driven 2005 Subaru WRX STI.

If you’re interested in going to a qualifying event to just watch, or to try and get to the invitational, they happen all over the country.  I’ve attached a link for you, where you can register for a qualifying event if you’re interested at http://driveusca.com/events/

Every vehicle that makes the cut is placed on display at SEMA for a week, before heading out to the OUSCI at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

This is 2010 OUSCI competitor Mike Musto's 1969 Dodge Charger Daytona replica.  He's a host for the /DRIVE network on YouTube, which I highly recommend, and this is one of the coolest cars I've ever seen.
This is 2010 OUSCI competitor Mike Musto’s 1969 Dodge Charger Daytona replica. He’s a host for the /DRIVE network on YouTube, which I highly recommend, and this is one of the coolest cars I’ve ever seen.
This is just a beautiful picture from Las Vegas Motor Speedway.  It was taken at the end of the 2014 OUSCI.
This is just a beautiful picture from Las Vegas Motor Speedway. It was taken at the end of the 2014 OUSCI.
This is Bob Benson's totally cool 1972 De Tomaso Pantera from the  2013 OUSCI.  It's just epic looking, isn't it?
This is Bob Benson’s totally cool 1972 De Tomaso Pantera from the 2013 OUSCI. It’s just epic looking, isn’t it?

 

What Makes the Monaco Grand Prix So Special?

Monaco has been called the casino capital of the world.  It’s got a lot of wealth squeezed into just 499 acres.  For reference, that’s almost five times the size of Disneyland.  It’s also the oldest circuit of Formula 1, having been a track since 1929.  The route is essentially the same as it was in 1929, which gives you a unique opportunity to see cars with nearly 1000 horsepower blasting around for first place.  It’s also one of the few tracks where race cars get to run through the tight streets of a city.

For those of you who watch motorsports, you’re likely going to agree with me that the reason that people are drifting away from watching various races is that it doesn’t seem as exciting anymore.  I think it has to do with the fact that the tracks are wide (they can usually take well over three cars at even the narrowest corner), and that the cameramen are getting pushed further away from the action.  This last fact might seem trivial and stupid to you, but think about it for a second.  Thanks to GoPros (I have nothing against them), automotive enthusiasts are getting used to punching in a search term into YouTube (again, nothing against it) and seeing POV videos of some motorcyclist or crazy driver blasting their way through traffic.  You can put a GoPro on just about any surface on a car or motorcycle so that everybody can see the action.  That’s all fine and dandy, but we need to do this in the professional racing world.

Many Formula 1 races are actually quite exciting, but they don’t seem like it on your TV. The tracks are so wide that it’s nearly impossible to get a cameraman close to the action.  It just doesn’t seem quite as exhilarating as hearing that unearthly shriek coming towards you, the whirs and pops from the turbocharger, and the crackling downshifts sending flames shooting out of the back of the car.  There’s only so much action a camera can capture when it’s 100 feet away from the action, instead of ten feet away.

I look forward to Monaco for this reason: it’s one of the few races left where I can feel like I’m right there, even if I’m several thousand miles away from the action.  It’s the closest we can get to seeing a modern car whip around one of the most historic tracks in the world.

I feel that Formula 1 has turned into what NASCAR used to be.  Think of NASCAR as the WWE Raw TV show, while Formula 1 is like watching a street fight.  I know this might seem ridiculous, but if you were into watching wrestling, would you want to see a scripted and pre-ordained fight, or would you want to watch a fight where nothing is scripted or agreed to other than the fight itself?

NASCAR used to hold a special magic for me, and I only watch it at Watkins Glen and Sonoma Raceway now, as most of the drivers are inexperienced on road courses.  I’ve talked to several friends about the boring, pre-ordained spectacle that NASCAR has become, even though it’s got just enough reality to make it somewhat worth following.

Formula 1 now holds that magic for me.  NASCAR and Formula 1 used to be the bleeding edge of technology, and now it’s up to Formula 1 to do that.  NASCAR today is this: you have a larger-than-life personality, put the pedal to the metal, and let Dale Earnhardt., Jr. or Jimmie Johnson take the win.  It was a shocker to me when Kevin Harvick became the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion.  It was completely unexpected, and it helped me somewhat re-kindle my interest in NASCAR.  Formula 1 is now truly a test of a driver, his team, and their car.  If you want to make a big splash in the racing world, become a Formula 1 driver.  I know that what I’ve said has been repeated by many automotive journalists, but it’s worth rehashing.

One last thought (promise!): Monaco is a place that should be high on the bucket list of every automotive and racing fan.  It’s incredibly high on mine.  I’ve always wanted to do a road trip through Europe of all of the great European tracks (Brands Hatch, Silverstone, Goodwood, Le Mans, Nurburgring, Hockenheim, Monaco, Monza and Imola) in a Pagani Huayra.

I’d love to hear your experiences of NASCAR/Formula 1, and why you agree or disagree with me on this.  If you watch another form of motorsport that holds this kind of magic for you, please tell me in the comments section.  I enjoy watching all of the off road racing in Baja and the desert.  It’s entertaining, and it’s truly a test of a driver.

One of my friends from school wrote an excellent article about the loss of magic in NASCAR for him, and it’s worth a read, as well as this article. http://www.theoakleafnews.com/sports/2015/05/12/is-nascar-fading/

Monaco 2011

Monaco-GP-05

The Cars that Deserve a Stripped-Down Track Version

Some cars are just born to be demons on the track.  The track doesn’t necessarily need to be a road course – it could be off-road also.  These are the cars that deserve to be stripped down to the basics for maximum fun.

  • Audi TT:  The Audi TT has always been a decent sports car, but it’s always cried out for more power and aggression.  This is why it deserves to have the sound-deadening materials yanked out.  Audi being Audi will never do this, but who’s to say that some very smart person won’t?  In my humble opinion, I think it is perfectly sized for rallycross, which is like autocross in dirt or gravel.  It’s awesome.  Just add a vented hood, a spoiler, more power, beefy tires and suspension, and a rollcage, and you’re good to go.  Audi has a history of legendary rally cars, so it seems fitting to me to introduce it.
  • Chevrolet Corvette:  Yes, the new Corvette ZO6 is truly a monster at the track, but it also weighs more than it should.  I love supercharged engines, but they end up with heat soak after about 20 minutes, and then what?  If Chevy put the C7.R endurance race car’s engine in, it would weigh less and have as much power.  My idea of a ‘Vette track special would borrow heavily from the C7.R parts bin, and would utilize carbon fiber and titanium.  It wouldn’t be cheap, but it would beat just about anything this side of a race car.
  • Jeep Wrangler:  Jeep needs to build a pickup again.  Several aftermarket companies will sell you a kit to turn your Wrangler into a regular cab pickup.  It’s time for Jeep to do that…from the factory.  If Jeep put the 5.7-liter HEMI V-8 under the hood, the Wrangler pickup could actually tow and haul.  Better yet, Jeep could put the 3.0-liter turbodiesel V-6 under the hood.  Now, that would be something that would sell like crazy!  It would be big enough to haul dirtbikes, an ATV, firewood, camping gear, and other important off-road items.  If Jeep offered a toolbox where you could store stuff, that would be awesome.  I’m starting to get carried away with this now.  I’m going to let your imaginations continue your dream Jeep pickup.
  • Chevrolet SS:  The Chevy SS is Chevy’s big performance sedan.  It has the LS3 V-8 from the Camaro, and it comes with a stick!  It’s a stealth tire shredder, but it’s not very fast around corners.  If Chevy put the trick suspension and computer electrickery from the Camaro Z/28 or ZL1 in, talk about a real sleeper!  It really doesn’t need more power – it just needs less weight.
  • GMC Canyon/Chevrolet Colorado:  The new Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon are great little trucks.  The Canyon just doesn’t stand out all that much from the Colorado.  Here’s my idea:  Make a street brawler version of the Colorado available only in 2WD (jam the 5.3-liter EcoTec V-8 from the Silverado in, along with the Corvette’s 8-speed automatic), and make an off-road monster version of the Canyon that would compete with the Jeep Wrangler and Ford F-150 SVT Raptor.  It would be about the same size as the Wrangler, yet have more utility.  It would also come with the V-8, but it would be the big Duramax diesel V-8 and Allison 6-speed automatic from the heavy-duty pickups.  It would be loud, and have the perfect gearing for bombing around the desert or rock crawling, thanks to the big tranny.  
  • Jaguar F-Type:  The Jaguar F-Type is already a holy drifting terror.  If you go onto YouTube and find hotlap videos of it, you’ll see what I mean.  It’s too much engine and not enough tire.  Jaguar should start a Formula Drift team with this car.  If they put on less-sticky tires, increased the steering angle, and put in super high gearing, they would have a drifting beast.  I would buy it.
  • Ford Mustang:  It’s the first mass-produced Mustang to come from the factory with independent rear suspension.  Recent reviews haven’t been exactly kind to it, however. They say that it’s chassis is still slightly hairy.  Well, let me tell you something, grumpy overworked people:  GET OVER IT!  This is one of the best Mustangs to come out of the factory doors in recent years.  If Ford irons out the suspension kinks, the Mustang will be a much better car.  I know, I’m harshly critical too, but the Mustang desperately needs to impress.  It’s already got plenty of power from it’s 302 cubic-inch V-8, which I might add, is the second most-popular crate engine sold in America.  I would take it out and put out Ford’s 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6, which has twin turbos, but turbos do not a car make, Fast & Furious fanboys.  The reason I would choose this engine is that it is much lighter than the V-8, can easily be tuned to make as much, if not more power, and meets smog requirements with ease.  Oh, and I can mention that it has a race pedigree in endurance racing.

Those are the cars that I think really need a track makeover.  They are all amazing cars in their own right – you should own or drive at least one of them before you die.  Let me know what you think deserves to give other cars a beating on the track.

 

 

What Happens When You Put 50 Party Horns Into an Exhaust Pipe?

Well, it’s pretty shrill…and funny.  It sounds like, well, a bunch of party horns going off at once.  If you watch this without busting a gut, there’s something wrong with you.  It’s going to be the funniest 15 seconds of your life…guaranteed (or you get something back).  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iELnlCZPR5Y

I’m very tempted to do this to my car, as it has dual exhaust pipes.  Yup, that means I’ll have 100 party horns.  Maybe somebody with a Top Fuel dragster will do this, but they’ll need fireproof party horns!

What to Look for in Collector Cars Part 1

Collector cars are often daily drivers for years that were driven into the ground – literally.  They were often parked for a reason (i.e. the transmission, engine, or something major went out and the owner never got around to fixing it) in a garage or barn, and then never restored to their former glory.  They are sometimes cars that somebody bought to fix up and enjoy, but never was.  Collector cars were once the pride and joy of somebody else, so when you go to buy the car, don’t make jokes about the car or tell stupid stories about a similar car that you once owned.  It’s just a bad idea.  Here’s a quick list of what to look for, should you decide to buy one.

  • Small Animals:  Small animals, remnants of them, or their excrement are not uncommon in collector cars.  Most of the time, the cars were parked in a barn or a garage and not touched for many years.  In barns, rats, mice, and the like often make nests in the engine bay, trunk, or interior.  This is a big, smelly pain to get rid of.  However, don’t be afraid to tackle getting rid of the poop.  All you need is protective eye and mouth wear, a good shop vacuum, and a good few hours or so.  These small critters will often have gnawed their way through the firewall, into the interior, eaten up the seat cushions, and made nests in their.  Don’t worry.  Most of these collector cars are going to need a new interior anyways.  I’ll talk about interiors later.
  • Rust:  Lots of classic cars rust.  It’s a sad fact, but it’s the unavoidable truth.  Even concours-worthy cars have had rust at some point in their life.  Really, don’t be daunted by rust.  There are so many NOS (not original stock), OEM (original equipment manufacturer), and reproduction parts around that you don’t need to look far for new body panels, floorboards, etc.  I’ll do another post on where to find reproduction body panels and parts soon – there are too many to list in a relatively short post like this!
  • Seized Engines:  Most collector cars that were daily drivers were often parked for a reason.  It could be that the engine went boom, the transmission went bang, or something else major.  With a seized engine, don’t worry.  If something, say a piston, went through the valve cover due to a blown crankshaft or connecting rod, you might want to look into getting a modern crate engine.  If the engine had something smaller, like a bad timing chain, any gearhead who has a good repair manual, a couple of friends, some beer, a full tool set, and a replacement part can do that fix in a couple of days.  Do something fun like invite your buddies over for a bratwurst party, or something else fun, and then go out to the garage/workshop/man cave and fix the car.  You’ve probably read a story or three about how a guy invited a couple of friends over to his house to replace a transmission and ended up restoring the car in his garage with his buddies.  Be one of those people.  It gives you creds in the car world, and it’s fun to hang out and work on something that was built to be enjoyed.
  • Failed Transmissions:  Sometimes transmissions fail.  It’s an albeit expensive part of life, but it happens.  Most of the time, it’s better to get a new transmission in a classic car unless it was a custom-built transmission for an old race car or something like that.  Gearstar transmissions (gearstar.net) offers overdrive-equipped transmissions that come in a crate ready to be bolted in.  If you want to add an overdrive to a stock transmission, check out Gear Vendors Overdrives (gearvendors.com).  These transmissions and transmission parts will last you a long time, increase the reliability and efficiency of your pride and joy, and make it more fun to drive.
  • Body Damage:  Don’t worry about body damage.   You can easily find a new replacement body part online (again, I will do a blog post on where to find new body parts) or at a swap meet.  If it’s something simple like a ding, it might be worth it to take it to a body shop and let them fix it for a couple of days.  Or, you can find out how to do it online.  The internet is a great place to go for advice.  Just don’t rely on it for everything.
  • Brakes:  Braking systems wear out over time.  It’s scary and bad when brakes go bad.  Don’t fret.  Classic cars often come with drum brakes, which don’t really stop a car that well.  Most classic cars have manual brakes.  If you want more comfort and driveability in your car, consider going with power brakes.  Master cylinders should be rebuilt, replaced, or fixed if needed.  If a car has been sitting for a long time, think about cleaning out the master cylinder and testing it before you drive the car.  It is worth it to buy a brake bleeder kit.  Should you decide to go for bigger, better brakes in a restomod or pro-touring car, or just want better performance, Wilwood Brakes (wilwood.com) is one of the best in the business.
  • Suspension:  Lots of old cars aren’t exactly known for their handling.  If you have an old muscle car and live in an area where there are a lot of curves, think about getting Koni adjustable shocks (koni-na.com) or Hotchkis Suspension (hotchkis.net).  These suspension systems will greatly improve your car’s performance and driveability, and will make it even more enjoyable for you to drive.  With the Koni shocks, you can adjust the shocks to your liking with a screwdriver!
  • Exhaust:  The exhaust system in a car can fail quite easily.  It can get holes in it, the muffler could have gotten dented beyond repair, and the exhaust pipes could have a leak.  Exhaust leaks can be deadly.  Exhaust from cars contains large amounts of carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and many other bad gasses.  Don’t ever hesitate to replace them!  If you have something that needs to be smogged, consider going for a Flowmaster Muffler (flowmastermufflers.com).  It gives a great sound while helping keep your baby on the road.  If you do need to smog it, always tune up the engine before taking it in.  It will be much less of a headache.  If you don’t know what Flowmasters sound like, look them up on YouTube.  They sound far better than stock while looking stock.
  • Wheels:  Wheels take a lot of abuse.  Most of you have probably accidentally scraped the curb with them or gotten them scratched somehow.  Don’t worry – I have too!  There are so many aftermarket wheel manufacturers that they are a 3-piece blog post – at least!  Go for a reputable name!  Cragar Wheels (cragarwheel.com) is a leading manufacturer in wheels.  They are well-known, look great on old muscle cars, and you can find really cool old ones for sale too!
  • Tires:  Think about it.  The only thing keeping your car attached to the road is about four square inches at four corners of the car.  That’s not a lot.  Get good tires.  Don’t get bias-ply tires unless your car is a trailer queen that is only driven to it’s place at the lawn on Pebble Beach.  Coker Tires (cokertire.com) offers vintage-looking radial tires for not too much money, and last a long time.  If your car is built for the drag strip, Firestone makes vintage-looking “cheater slicks,” as well as Mickey Thompson and Goodyear.  All of these tires are good drag slicks, and most are street-legal!  Get good tires that won’t go bald quickly!

I think that’s enough for you to digest right now, so I’ll leave the rest for another time.

Chevrolet Corvette’s Valet Mode is Like a Russian Dashcam for Parking!

We’ve probably seen at least one of the hundreds of thousands Russian dashcam videos that have gone viral on YouTube of just HOW crazy Russian drivers are.  I’ve seen a fair share of them.  Chevrolet’s software designers must be Russian because of what was just introduced on the 2015 C7 Corvette Stingray.

While there are some great valets out there, there are others that like to “circle the city for parking.”  This can make sports car owners quite reluctant to hand the keys over.  A good number of sports cars offer a performance-reduction setting for just this situation, but Chevrolet is going the whole 9 yards, and including the 2015 Corvette’s Performance Data Recorder as a Valet Malfeasance Recorder.  Valets of the world, beware.

Do YOU really want a valet to go 147 mph in YOUR brand-new Corvette?  I didn’t think so either.  Most valets won’t ever get a car going that fast, especially in a crowded parking lot or city street.  But, never say never.

Should you turn on the unimaginatively named Corvette Valet Mode, and some good things happen to your baby.  Every interior storage area is locked, the infotainment system is disabled (that way you won’t sit down and get an earful of Snoop Dogg), and a 720p camera in the headliner (right in front of the rear view mirror) turns on.  That high-definition camera is paired with a microphone to record audio.  The car’s GPS receiver is turned on to provide vehicle telemetry and location, and 8 gigabytes of SD card storage can capture up to 200 minutes of driving – plenty of time for even the slowest of valets to “find a parking spot.”

That link is a YouTube video of the Corvette Valet Mode.

Should you want to see what happened after you handed the keys over to the valet, you can immediately review the “parking adventure” on the infotainment screen, or download it to your computer later.  An overlay shows speed, RPM, current gear, and g-force.  That’s pretty much the same thing you’ll get when you turn on the Performance Data Recorder.  What Corvette Valet Mode can’t do right now, however, is let you know if the car is being abused (i.e. burnouts, drifts, general hoonage) or let you stream the video remotely to your phone or tablet.  However, I think that the streaming part will come soon, as GM has a perfectly good OnStar system, and now has introduced 4G LTE connections.

What I think that the point really should be is this:  Corvette Valet Mode doesn’t reduce engine power – an odd oversight, AND a feature that would certainly alleviate more concerns about abuse than watching a video of your Corvette hitting a telephone pole at 40 mph.

Is Corvette Valet Mode useful?  Maybe.  Chevrolet is pitching this as a baby monitor for a cherished toy that you spent your hard-earned money on.  But it doesn’t alert you when your baby is crying, unlike an ACTUAL baby monitor.  It may give you some insights when you step outside of the hotel/casino/restaurant and find your Corvette smashed-up against a brick wall.

Who did this?

Or this?

 

Or this?

The Russians!

My Baby’s Running!

Remember when I told you that I was having some technological issues last week?  Well, thanks to a different IT department (NOT the Apple Store!), everything is fixed and just itching to be published.  I now have a YouTube account called unmuffled auto news.  I just added my first video yesterday to my channel (exciting, I know!)!  So, click the link provided, and enjoy the show!

Don’t you just LOVE the sound of a big old American-made V6?  VROOOM!