30 November 2006

Even yet still more Tesla

A road test review, with video, in the LATimes.

But I can tell you, even from my brief spin in this dog-eared prototype, the Tesla Roadster delivers on its promise, which might be summarized as "stupid fun for smart people." I think the Latin translation of same should appear on the company crest.

Once the transmission is warmed up a bit (by the way, Tesla will use a dual-clutch gearbox instead of the Xtrac-supplied unit, which has proved balky), I nail the throttle. It's not the violent, near-breakaway acceleration of a Porsche 911 or Ferrari F430. It is, instead, an instant, fluid, irresistible surge that doesn't hesitate for mechanical housekeeping like gear changes. The oft-quoted number of 0-60 in 4 seconds is impressive but unfairly limited, since the real heart-flutters begin after that. The motor torque (about 205 pound-feet) stays constant until about 6,000 rpm then gradually falls off until about 13,500 rpm, which is dentist-drill territory.

I only dared a few short bursts up to 85 mph before having to choke off the electrons, but clearly, this car will sling itself up to three-digit territory like a ride at Six Flags Over Hell.

It's over too soon.

Sounds like good sex!

28 November 2006

Where I work

A continuing series:

So, I'm bent over the hood of a car, changing a vehicle speed sensor, basically lying on the engine. PDB, sensing my vulnerability, comes up behind me, grabs my hips, and starts making like he's sodomizing my nether regions. Sam, our 17 year old intern, walks into the shop with some papers Harry has to sign for school. She looks at us and, without missing a beat, says "you know, we have a Gay/Straight Alliance at the high school. Maybe you guys would like to lecture there one day?" Yup, she's working out well.


So, we have a cusomer's old (25 years) Ford E-150 van. It's shot and we finally talk him into junking it instead of sinking more money into it. Fine, someone listens. So it has dual gas tanks and he just filled them up before the piece of shit gets drug in on the hook and he wants the gas out of it. PDB, in his infinite wisdom, lets him use our electric fuel pump and a battery to run it.

5 or 10 minutes go by and the customer runs in the shop, goes into the bathroom, gets a towel soaking wet and runs back outside. PDB and I had 2 sets of tires to mount and balance, one of the reasons we let him get the gas out himself. We look at each other and yell, "what's going on" at him but he doesn't answer. Harry comes running in a second later yelling "dipshit set the lot on fire". He was trying to put out burning leaves and gasoline with a wet towel. Dope. I run out with a fire extinguisher as Harry and PDB frantically start moving customers' cars.

Seems the moron was done filling one gas can and was too lazy to disconnect power to the electric fuel pump before taking the hose from the full can and sticking it in the empty can. As soon as he pulled it out of the first can, gas sprayed everywhere (over all the dead leaves that have fallen) and it startled him. He drops the pump and a wire disconnects from the battery, creating a spark ...

Needless to say, I got the fire out before the fire department showed up and no customers cars were damaged, but it was hot enough to melt the aluminum running boards on the van. Never a dull moment ...

16 November 2006


If your business depends on having a vehicle in good running condition, buy one. I had an argument with a customer yesterday and I told him to take his crap to somebody else.

This guy is a carpenter and he works out of a 20 (180,000 miles) year old Chevy Cavalier station wagon that we've been keeping together for the past 10 years. The car is 1000 pounds overweight, we've already put 3 sets of rear springs in it, and underpowered. The transmission is failing and he can't keep motor mounts in it thanks to the extra weight.

I've been telling him for the last 3 years to get rid of the thing before it falls apart like the Blues Brothers' car at the end of the movie. His reply: It's still a good car.

So I tell him fine, you need a new transmission. He doesn't want to go for that ($2500 when the car ain't worth scrap value). I'm supposed to pour some shit in it to make it shift like an Indy Car. Ladies and germs, miracles do not come in cans.

The car also has an intermittent 'runs like shit' condition (correction, runs shittier than normal). Personally, I think it's the torque converter going to full lockup at low speed (again the transmission has to come out) but he doesn't believe me. He thinks I can turn a few wrenches, make some adjustments, and the thing will be ready to race at Talladega. I tell him it gets to a point where I can't adjust out the effects of wear and abuse from doing a job the engineers at Chevrolet never intended it to do.

And all this time I hear the car, like a dying old dog, begging me to put it out of its misery.

So I tell him I can't work on the damn thing anymore. The car is dying and the only right thing is to let it go peacefully. Either that or dump five grand into it, and that's not including the body work it needs. Did I tell you the thing is rusting away?

So suddenly I'm an asshole and I'm trying to rip him off by pointing a metaphorical gun to his head. Fine, take your piece of shit and get out of my shop.

Look, if your livelihood depends on having a vehicle in good running condition, get one that's up to the job. It's a cost of doing business, just the way the equipment in our place (tire machines, wheel balancer, lifts) is. I can't do my job with shitty equipment and when it breaks it gets fixed the right way. I don't ask it to do things it can't do because if it doesn't work, I'm out of business. If I can't afford to maintain my shit, I gotta start thinking I'm doing something wrong, or maybe I'm in the wrong line of work.

01 November 2006

V-A Lot!

I'm a big Mopar fan, but this proves the old adage that "wretched excess is barely enough". I'll bet them Krauts had a hand in this!

V-10 Motorcycle Tomahawk

With a cruiser set-up, this might even keep Fixer calm for a while.