27 November 2008

Singularly disappointing ...

2005 Chevrolet Corvette, 6.0 Liter V-8, 6-speed standard shift, all the toys. And utterly disappointing.

Had one in the shop the other day and naturally I got to beat on road test it. You know what it reminded me (especially the interior) of? An '86 IROC Camaro. The clutch was heavy and shifting was laborous. Compared to the Porsche 911 Boxster it's a load. Handling was good but nothing impressive, no comparison to the Honda S2000 which takes off-camber, decreasing-radius turns like a slot car.

And while the 6 Liter is powerful, it's more suited to a Suburban than a sports car. When you can get a better ride and save 2/3 the fuel doing it, why bother with the big load?

70s thinking, 80s styling, and 90s engineering. No surprise why GM is losing their shirts.

23 November 2008

Interview with 'The Squirrel'

You might enjoy this interview with legendary SoCal desert and flattrack motorcycle racer and movie stunt man Eddie Mulder. He's my age and we hung around in the same neck of the woods for many years. I've met him several times. He'll be faster than I ever was when he's dead!

From the Banner is Up!:

[...] The last Big Bear Run was in 1960, and ran from Lucerne to Fawnskin and back to Lucerne. Eddie Mulder won that one on a 500 Royal Enfield thumper...

What that quote fails to mention is that one of the rear shocks was broken in two! Eddie was a crazy kid and he's a crazy old man. An inspiration to us all!

Thanks to peckhammer.

16 November 2008

Saved By The Bell

I don't know, would you pay a quarter of a million dollars for a forty five year old rust bucket Pontiac Tempest?
No motor, no transmission but it has Plexiglass windows and is one of only six ever built, I guess that makes it just a little bit rare.

Quite the amazing story behind the final price tag for this old factory produced drag racer!

The eBay auction for this 1963 Pontiac LeMans Tempest started out innocently enough. Obtained after owner died. Appears to have original interior but no motor, no transmission. Body has a little rust and some dents. There's stuff in the trunk, but no key to open it. Opening bid nine days ago was a mere $500. After one week, eBay seller 123ecklin will pocket $226,521 before auction fees. What happened between Day 1 and Day 9 is an amazing story.

The car's plexiglass windows, unusual suspension setup and a dash plate bearing the name of a racetrack tipped the owner to its racing history. But what he didn't know is that the car is one of only six 1963 Pontiac LeMans Tempest Super Duty coupes ever made. Hemmings recently did a story on the rare cars in which they listed all ever built. This one looks to have been driven by Stan Antlocer and was the fastest drag car in 1963 before disappearing.

There is a little more of the history behind this story here.

I think it is awesome that someone recognized the cars provinance and history, I do think a quarter of a million as is was a bit steep though.
I am tickled that this rare race beast now has the chance to be restored, it is part of an under told part of the Factory wars in the early Sixties.

Hat Tip to Fark for finding this story and publishing it.

14 November 2008

The Brammo Enertia

In a mind-boggling leap from the post below, here's what's happenin' now:

I want one. These guys need a gearhead venture capitalist to invest some serious money to get the retail price down.

More at Brammo.

Don's Road Tests

I like motorcycles that are older than I am. They're getting harder to find (sobs). I found a whole bunch of vintage road tests from Limey Telly at Trapper 100. Enjoy.

Don Hall road tests a Brough Superior V twin 990cc 1920-30

Here's a coupla excerpts from The Road by Thomas Edward Lawrence. Sheer writing beauty:

Boa is a top-gear machine, as sweet in that as most single-cylinders in middle. I chug lordlily past the guard-room and through the speed limit at no more than sixteen. Round the bend, past the farm, and the way straightens. Now for it. The engine’s final development is fifty-two horse-power. A miracle that all this docile strength waits behind one tiny lever for the pleasure of my hand.

Another bend: and I have the honour of one of England’ straightest and fastest roads. The burble of my exhaust unwound like a long cord behind me. Soon my speed snapped it, and I heard only the cry of the wind which my battering head split and fended aside. The cry rose with my speed to a shriek: while the air’s coldness streamed like two jets of iced water into my dissolving eyes. I screwed them to slits, and focused my sight two hundred yards ahead of me on the empty mosaic of the tar’s gravelled undulations.

Once we so fled across the evening light, with the yellow sun on my left, when a huge shadow roared just overhead. A Bristol Fighter, from Whitewash Villas, our neighbour aerodrome, was banking sharply round. I checked speed an instant to wave: and the slip-stream of my impetus snapped my arm and elbow astern, like a raised flail. The pilot pointed down the road towards Lincoln. I sat hard in the saddle, folded back my ears and went away after him, like a dog after a hare. Quickly we drew abreast, as the impulse of his dive to my level exhausted itself.

The next mile of road was rough. I braced my feet into the rests, thrust with my arms, and clenched my knees on the tank till its rubber grips goggled under my thighs. Over the first pot-hole Boanerges screamed in surprise, its mud-guard bottoming with a yawp upon the tyre. Through the plunges of the next ten seconds I clung on, wedging my gloved hand in the throttle lever so that no bump should close it and spoil our speed. Then the bicycle wrenched sideways into three long ruts: it swayed dizzily, wagging its tail for thirty awful yards. Out came the clutch, the engine raced freely: Boa checked and straightened his head with a shake, as a Brough should.

Awesome. I never caught up with no airplanes, but I've hidden from a couple police helicopters. Heh.

09 November 2008

Where I work* ...

So this is my first post since I started at Nunzio's. Completely different place than Harry's. Where Harry's place coulda been snatched up off a dirt road in the desert and dropped on Long Island, Nunzio's is Europe.

For instance, I'm there alone one day (Nunz was off on a road test) when I hear this sweeping noise. I was wondering what it was when I got to the office and there's a little old Italian lady sweeping the floor. Nunzio's mom.

"Does yer boy make you sweep his place?" I ask her.

"He dona do ita right," she replies. "People come ina here, they thinka he's a slob."

And so it goes. Couple times a week, she's in and cleaning.

Then one day, his father-in-law (another off-the-boat Guinea) shows up in his beat up old pick up truck. He takes a garage door opener out and dumps it in the shop.

Then he and Nunz argue whether it will work or not (the old man found it in somebody's garbage). It's been laying there for a week now. Nunz is waiting for the old man to forget about it so he can put it out for the trash.

Then there's the shit I work on. A first for me, in 35 years of being a mechanic, is rebuilding a differential in an old Maserati.

It's different and that's pretty good. I work on all sorts of shit I never did before. Next week, I gotta look at a gearbox in a Ferrari Quattroveloce.

Part of an ongoing, semi-regular series.

02 November 2008

Pinup Girls and Rockabilly Cars

Here's a little eye & ear candy for everybody who slicks back their hair and carries their cigarettes in their t-shirt sleeve. You know who you are.