By on July 29, 2014

Screen Shot 2014-07-29 at 11.00.15 AM

In a few weeks, at WOOT (the USENIX Workshop on Offensive Technologies — an academic conference where security researchers demonstrate broken stuff), a team from the University of Michigan will be presenting a lovely paper, Green Lights Forever: Analyzing the Security of Traffic Infrastructure. It’s a short and fun read. In summary, it’s common for traffic light controllers to speak to each other over a 5.8GHz wireless channel (much like WiFi, but a dedicated frequency) with no cryptography, default usernames and passwords, and well-known and exploitable bugs. Oh boy. And what can we do with that?

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By on April 10, 2014

EGR Buick Regal Gets 40 MPG

The current Buick Regal is an excellent car. I know, because I have one parked in my garage (it’s sweet). Still, it could be better- and the guys at the SouthWest Research Institute (SWRI) have figured out a way to enhance the mid-range Buick so that it produces fewer harmful carbon emissions and gets better fuel economy.

Can’t beat that!

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By on July 19, 2013

02 - ZF Transmission Purchase - Pictures courtesy of Murilee MartinThe 1941 Plymouth Special Deluxe sedan Junkyard Find that I bought from the Brain-Melting Colorado Junkyard last fall now has the body off the frame and is awaiting a Lexus SC400 suspension subframe swap. After much debate about what engine/transmission combo to use in this Hell Project (the plan is to build it to Pikes Peak International Hill Climb specs, while retaining a grimy-looking rat-roddish character), I decided to go with the GM Vortec 4200 aka LL8 L6 engine, with turbocharging added, and that meant that I’d need to find a manual transmission that can withstand at least 400 ft-lbs of torque. Since the Vortec 4200 never came with a manual transmission, and the pseudo-bolt-on Aisin-based 5-speed out of the Solstice and Colorado can’t take the sort of power I’m hoping to get (thus forcing me to go the machine-shop bellhousing-adapter/custome-flywheel route), I was looking for a Borg-Warner T-56 out of a fourth-gen GM F-body, or maybe a Tremec TKO out of a fourth-gen Mustang. Then, an ad for a ZF S6-40 6-speed showed up on Denver Craigslist, with a very reasonable asking price. Read More >

By on July 12, 2013

Jeep Patriot Pickup Truck

You may have gathered from my posts and reviews that I live in a mountainous and rural area. I have 9 acres of moderately steep to rolling hillside on which I have more chickens than I can count, some crops that need tending and soon a few sheep will be tossed into the mix. Up till now we’ve been schlepping anything that needed to be relocated by hand and that’s just getting old fast. My folks in Texas have tried to convince me to buy a John Deere Gator, but they aren’t exactly cheap or reliable. What’s a car nut to do? How about a backyard red-neck conversion? Before I dive headfirst, let’s run this by the best and brightest for some input.

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By on April 30, 2013

During one of my many junkyard trips, I spotted a Crusher-bound Chevy truck with an “EAT’N FORDS/SHIT’N RAMS” window sticker. It wasn’t really worth a separate post here on TTAC, but I figured it would be good for a laugh on the Murilee Martin Facebook page. So, I posted it with the comment “This truck will be GET’N CRUSHED” pretty soon.” Next thing you know, a bunch of my miscreant car-writer friends jumped in with their own versions. Within a few weeks, this meme may well be a bigger online car meme than VTEC JUST KICKED IN YO and the debilitating skabsession, combined! Read More >

By on March 21, 2013

These days, with scrappers paying $240/ton (the going rate in Denver; I hear it’s similar elsewhere) for cars and steel car parts, we’ve seen an explosion in the numbers of guys cruising around in hooptied-out minivans, pickups and the occasional bicycle with trailer, looking for metal. The older parts of the Denver urban core, where I live, have alleys between streets, and so the scavengers (I call them Jawas) spend their days patrolling these alleys in search of stuff they can turn into cash at the scrapper. It turns out that these guys can smell a transmission as they pass by, even one that’s behind a gate and barely visible. Read More >

By on January 31, 2013

Rich, the mastermind behind the Rocket Surgery Racing mid-VW-engined Renault 4CV, just got hired to install a daily-driver-suitable modern drivetrain in a ’53 Ford coupe. The owner wanted to keep it all Ford, EFI makes for much better real-world drivability, and so a late 1980s or newer Ford 5.0 or 5.8 (aka 302 or 351W) V8 engine looked to be the best choice. Running donor cars and trucks that fit those requirements tend to go for four figures, so it was time to hit a Denver-area police-impound auction. Here’s what happened yesterday. Read More >

By on January 30, 2013

It’s now apparently legal to have self-driving cars in California and Nevada, and this should spread across the country rapidly. One industry report predicts we’ll have them by 2019. For the purposes of this article, let’s assume that the costs will come down slowly but surely and adoption will grow quickly. Let’s jump all the way to the end point, where self-driving technology is safe, reliable, and mandatory (yes, mandatory), just like seat belts, air bags, and so forth.

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By on January 13, 2013

Back when Pick-N-Pull and Pick Your Part both operated yards in Northern California, Half Price Day sales used to take place at least every couple of months. Everything was half off on those days, which meant you could get transmissions for something like 30 bucks, complete engines for $75, and so on. Then, back in 2009, El Pulpo packed up and left NorCal, which meant that the competition didn’t have as much motivation to put on such sales. Now that I’m in Colorado, it appears that U-Pull-&-Pay also does the occasional Half Price Day… and this time they chose the coldest weekend of this winter. Read More >

By on January 1, 2013

I wrote a lot of vaguely-car-related stuff in 2012, and here’s my chance to show off the stuff that made me proudest (or at least took the most work to create). Enjoy. Read More >

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