This “barn find” was found at Johnnie’s Sales and Service just the other week, down on Warwick Rd., somewhere in the middle of Massachusetts, where the car has sat for… seems no-one hereabouts can quite remember. (Read More…)
Posts By: David Holzman
Twas the day before Christmas, and driving from Lexington, Mass., to northern Virginia, on the New Jersey Turnpike just two miles south of the Molly Pitcher service area, my ’99 Accord 5-speed hit 200,000 miles. I love the New Jersey Turnpike so this was a highly appropriate spot for the milestone.
From all the hype it gets, you would think hybrid technology is intrinsically green—and many Americans, including some policy-makers actually believe that. The Union of Concerned Scientists’ (UCS) new hybrid scorecard lays that canard to rest.
The rot-gut whiskey powered good ol’ boys who turned their fleet flite from revenooers into stock car racing must be flipping their ‘40 Fords in their graves. Nah, on second thought, they’d be so proud that their Prohibition-defying race car culture has swept the nation they’d be bemused by the news. Nascar is going effete… uh, green.
“Ask Amy” advice columnist and self-help memoir author Amy Dickinson has the late Ann Landers’ old slot on the Chicago Tribune. She also has a 1967 Morris Minor. She fell in love with the car the first time she saw one, soon after she moved to London with her then-husband, in 1986. “They are so cute, they look like ice cream cones,” she says. She loves the clatter of its engine, and the way people smile when she drives by, and she says it is her favorite material object in the world.
So after her husband embarked on an open-endedly extended business trip, in 1988, Dickinson, then a housewife, took her five week old baby, Emily, in a taxi to a dealer who restored Morrises, and made her purchase, for 1,500 pounds (roughly $5,000 in current dollars). “One advantage of driving a beautiful, quirky vintage car is that it really helped me meet people,” she says. “So many men said to me, ‘I had one of these,’ and ‘my dad had one of these,’ not to mention ‘getting rid of my Morris Minor was my biggest mistake.’”
One of the worst things about traffic is that it’s so unpredictable. You can be whizzing along one minute, and crawling with the snails the next. Even the real-time traffic information that a few companies, notably Google, now provide, can be obsolete by the time you’re on your way.But a small cadre of lucky San Franciscans will soon be finding out where the traffic will be before it happens, thanks to a joint project by the California Center for Innovative Transportation (CCIT) at the University of California, Berkeley (my alma mater) the California Department of Transportation, aka Caltrans, and IBM.
Some nutcase on a big wheel trike beat a bus in a mile-long race in midtown Manhattan—by an absolutely incredible two minutes and 38 seconds.Meshugina Mark Malkoff, the comedian best known for living in the Ikea off the New Jersey Turnpike between exits 13 and 14 for an entire week; for visiting all 171 skcubratS in Manhattan in less than 24 hours, and buying something from each, and eating or drinking it; and for disappointing his mother by refusing even to apply to medical school (I made that last up, but logic dictates that it had to have happened) accomplished this feat on a Razor Rip Rider 360, obeying all traffic signals, and averaging 4.7 mph. The bus averaged 3.8 mph, which, as Mark pointed out in the video, is slower than a brisk walker, a skate boarder, someone on a pogo stick, or a snail riding on the back of a turtle. Not to name-drop, but Malkoff just happens to be my sister-in-law, Alison’s first cousin once removed. Which makes him my first cousin-in-law, once removed. (Read More…)
I was four the first time I rode across the country, from Menlo Park to Cambridge, sharing the back of the 1950 Studebaker with my older brother, Tom, and Mab, the 75 pound Airedale. Mab sometimes stretched across the back seat, pushing us onto the floor, but I digress, partly because I want the reader to know that I actually remember that trip. I also remember the aneurism in the tire, in Utah, and my fear as we approached the Holland tunnel, which my father had explained went under water, and my amazement as we sped dry through that marvel.
Other automotive firsts…
Side head and torso airbags have greatly boosted driver safety in left-side impact crashes, according to a new study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Side bags alone can make the difference between a “poor” result, and a “good” result, as they do in the case of the 2003 Accord, although structural integrity is also very important. Drivers in cars with a good rating were 70 percent less likely to die in such a crash than drivers in cars rated poor. Drivers of vehicles rated “acceptable” and “marginal” are 64 percent and 49 percent less likely to die in such crashes than drivers of poor-rated cars, respectively.
The last time I attended a ball game, JFK was running for president. My older brother tells me that Mickey Mantle hit a homer. He would remember. Tom was a baseball fan.
I loved cars, not sports. At age six, I asked my mother to count the days until I could drive. I loved especially the elegantly maternal Mercurys. Nonetheless, I saw brands as classification systems, like the species of my beloved butterflies, rather than as foci for tribal loyalty, like my brother’s Yankees.
But fandom–the word derives from “fanatic”–is a holy grail of marketing, and I was not immune. At age nine, I sacrificed my objective appreciation of cars on Madison Avenue’s altar. In choosing my favorite car, loyalty trumped aesthetics. We had a Chevy.
I’ve test driven new cars during three periods in my life. The first of those periods, the year before I bought the Saturn in ’93, I went out every couple of weeks with a friend to do test drives. The second period was in ’96, when the same friend had me test drive the cars he was interested in while he sat shotgun, telling me that if I didn’t scare him, that would mean the car had passed the handling test. He rejected a Volvo 850 and several others, and bought an Audi A4. Then, in ’00, I helped a friend buy his Boxster, breaking my personal Vmax record on Rt. 128, Boston’s beltway in the process. My testing procedure didn’t call for 115 mph; but the car felt so firmly planted–like the Pentagon!–that I had no idea how fast I was going until I checked the speedo.
Backup beepers are everywhere, it seems. Wherever the heavy metal–trucks, steamrollers, steam shovels, cement mixers, buses, or any other vehicle with substantial girth–is backing up, you know it, even if you can’t see it. Because like [monochromatic] laser light, monotone sounds carry further. And now, within the last couple of years, the backup beeper comes standard equipment on your Prius (and, pending passage of the Motor Vehicle Safety Act, all electric-drive cars). But if you don’t like it, you can disconnect it. My brother Tom—who has always considered cars to be appliances, but LOVES his Prius—has not disconnected his. “I am not bothered by it particularly,” he says. TTAC Prius owners: what about you? Have you left it on? Disconnected it? Why or why not?
At least one of the institutions financing ads damning Democratic candidates this election season wants to put ethanol in your gas tank. The American Future Fund was founded by one Bruce Rastetter, the CEO of Hawkeye Energy Holdings, one of the larger ethanol companies in the US, according to an article in the New York Times. The fund is financing ads aimed at Democrats in key positions to influence booze fuel… so is the problem their “liberal” policies, or the fact that they’re insufficiently supportive of the farm lobby’s beloved corn juice?
Just when we thought that EVs and hybrids might begin to make our city streets quieter, Congress proposes legislation—so unlikely not to be passed—that would require electrics to announce their presence with an external noise source. Section 109 of this year’s Motor Vehicle Safety Act [PDF here], reported out of the House Energy and Commerce committee in early July, requires new hybrids and EVs “to provide an alert sound” so that pedestrians, notably the blind, can hear them. Fortunately, it could take six years before we’re subjected to this, due to the creaky slowness of the bureaucracy. The secretary will have three years after the enactment of the transportation bill to issue the final rule, and “full compliance” won’t be required until September 1 or later of the calendar year that begins three years after the final rule is issued.