The Truth About Cars » Accessories The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Mon, 14 Jul 2014 16:00:14 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Accessories Product Review: LX Dual USB Car Charger with Leather Grip Mon, 03 Feb 2014 13:00:22 +0000

The vehicles we aspire to own have one thing in common: timeless design over mere transportation: Ferraris over Fiats. CUVs instead of sedans, or personal luxury vehicles in lieu of a hatchback. So why not treat yourself to a leather-wrapped charging apparatus? IMG_2492 Oh yes, it charges your smartphone/tablet with precision…but where’s the passion in that? Let’s charge things up with a review enhancement to id America’s “LX Dual USB Car Charger with Leather Grip” with a two-pronged (get it? nevermind…) attack:

  1. Rename this stunning work of modern art with a more fitting title: ZOMG LEATHER USB CHARGER!!!1!  or “ZLUC” for short.
  2. Go down memory lane: showing how much better automobiles from several decades work with a ZLUC in their cigar holes.

And, for this Lincoln-Mercury fanboi, what better starting point than the famous 1961 Lincoln Continental? IMG_2484 As you can clearly see, ZLUC is a fantastic fit in one of the finest automobiles to grace American roads in the 1960s.  The leather-wrapped goodness shows itself off against the strong aluminum elements of the Conti’s dashboard.  Also note how ZLUC is intended for Apple products ONLY… Android users?  No leather wrapped chargers for you. In fact, do yourself a favor and close this browser (probably not Safari, either) and peep those all-plastic chargers on eBay. Philistine! I’m just kidding!  ZLUC’s packaging lists the following items as worthy of getting their electrons massaged by the tender luxury of leather wrapping, in this order:

  1. iPad
  2. iPad mini
  3. iPhone
  4. Tablets & Smartphones

So you Android and Windows people can indeed continue reading! IMG_2498 The Continental Mark III was well-known for the time a C/D scribe made it from coast to coast with no money, only promises to gas station owners underwritten by the sheer class of this stunning machine.  So how dare you consider any non-ZLUC phone charger to duplicate this trip today? IMG_2485 Note how ZLUC not only adds to the Mark III’s faux stitching with its REAL leather wrapping, the contrasting color actually matches the wood grain trim!  And when not needed, it hides easily in the ashtray binnacle so mere mortals who live without leather infused battery charging shall not be violently jealous of your elevated status. Like you Android users! IMG_2499 Obviously the pinnacle of personal luxury design was the late 1970s, before there was a cure for disco fever with downsized machines “from here to eternity.”  And obviously the Continental Mark V was the baddest of them all: three inches longer than a Ford Excursion when Cadillac was downsizing their rides for some stupid energy crisis. How will ZLUC fare against the toughest American Hustler? Could it possibly fail? IMG_2486 ZOMG DAT LEATHER AND WOOD!  You are an absolute fool to not rest your tired booty after a long night of coke snorting disco dancing in the super-classy interior of the Mark V, and let your iPhone recharge via leather wrapped battery rejuvenation! IMG_2489 Quite honestly, you need multiple ZLUC’s for every cigar hole in a Mark V!  Why you need TWO of these beauties for the rear of both door panels. IMG_2491 Did I forget the 1980s?  Hardly.  Yes the 1990s had mobile phones, but never such uncharted luxury as a USB charger wrapped in the same quality leather as the finest German machine of the era. Yes, the ZLUC smells as good as it looks! But I digress.. The futuristic center stack of the 1993-1995 Lincoln Mark VIII looks rather fantastic in its so good it’s almost not faux wood trimming, complete with ZLUC’s matching brown leather wrapping.  Also note the high-tech technology of the blue LED light on ZLUC’s face, proving it’s ready to take your mobile device to the next level… …with luxury in mind! 971620_10151508996138269_1350646760_n Why that leather wrapped charger is so fantastic I will never use my factory installed car phone again…ever!


But how timeless is this classic for one’s cigar hole?  Let’s put it to the ultimate test. IMG_2490 ZOMG TESTAROSSA LEATHER USB CHARGER!!!1!  As the photo shows, Crockett and Tubbs only need a ZLUC in Cocaine White Leather to completely dominate the Drug Trade! Is there a better way to look moody and intense while charging your iPhone? I think not! Can you imagine the great selfies Crockett could post on Instagram if his iPhone was connected to ZLUC? Hashtag that’s what’s In The Air Tonight!

So can you, dear reader, put a price on such perfection?  You fool, the ZLUC is priceless!  Or $24.99 plus shipping, available directly at id America’s suitably upscale website. Well, what are you waiting for?  A leather wrapped invitation to buy one of these babies for yourself?


(id America provided their LX Dual USB Car Charger with Leather Grip in brown leather for this review.)

IDPA201BRN_front IMG_2490 IDPA201BRN_angle IMG_2492 971620_10151508996138269_1350646760_n IMG_2486 IMG_2485 IMG_2498 web_feature_lxcarcharger IMG_2499 IMG_2489 coverphoto IMG_2484 IMG_2491

]]> 16
What The World Needs Now… Is A Wallet Made From Real MB-Tex… And GTO Trunk Fabric… Fri, 01 Apr 2011 03:18:34 +0000

The ad says that cotton is “the fabric of our lives.” It wasn’t the fabric of my youth, I can tell you that. There were the blue school uniforms, seemingly forged in a single piece from iron-strong polyester, hot in the summer and abrasive in the winter. There were suits and ties in rough wool to wear during the weekends, sweaters in soft Lacoste velour and miserable Brooks cable knit, and the instantly dirty, plasticized leather of the Nike “Burt Bruin” shoes on my feet. And, of course, there was M-B Tex, eternal and unchanging, perennially youthful even as the car surrounding it disintegrated into flakes of chromed rust.

You have to understand this: there was only really one acceptable Mercedes-Benz to own, and that was the W123-chassis 240D. The S-Class was for bounders, social climbers, and the irresponsible. I can still remember gagging with personal agitation as my father refused to even test-drive a W126 560SEL. “Not the message I’d want to send.” Instead, he bought an XJ6, which at least sent the message that its owner, stranded by the side of the road, waiting for the next tow truck, had a certain dash and/or panache. No, the one to have was the diesel taxi, in beige or red, perhaps with yellow foglights. It was staid, reliable, respectable, a twenty-year car. We understood, as children, that certain mommies and daddies had so much money that they simply could not contain it, that it burst from the seams of their Yves Saint Laurent flannel three-pieces, that this money resulted in acquisition of the slightly embarrassing but still acceptable 300D, with its rather brash “TURBODIESEL” script on the decklid. Still the 300D did not commit the sin of leather.

M-B Tex is the interior material of the gods. It does not wear, stain, or fatigue. It instantly adjusts to exterior temperature and/or sun load, freezing skin solid to its bolsters in winter and smoking the leg hair off the lazy women on the way to an August day at the pool. It comes in several colors, none of which are quite the color of any known leather dye. It was found in the 240D, the 300D, and even the daddy-knows-someone-who-knows-someone-who-takes-risks 230 and 280E. Every ride caught to school, to soccer practice, to the pool or playground was in one of these Tex-lined conveyances, crawling through the towns of Long Reach, Upper Arlington, Reisterstown, White Plans, and all the other little burgs where the train of my childhood came to a temporary halt.

M-B Tex is still around, but that’s like saying that Guns N’ Roses are still around. When you throw everything away that made your band, or your brand, great, it doesn’t matter if you’re slinging the same vinyl or have the same singer on the vinyl. I wouldn’t be surprised if the new M-B Tex suffered from the same lousy quality and ephemeral construction which is as much a part of the three-pointed-star’s image now as eternal, vegetable-oil-burning four-cylinder diesels used to be. I don’t like to think about it. I wouldn’t want a new Mercedes. The last one I owned, as opposed to leased, was a 190E 2.3-16. I suppose I’d consider a CL, but nowadays I tend to spend my car money on musical instruments.

No wonder, then, that when I heard about a company which made guitar straps and wallets from old “deadstock” M-B Tex, I immediately visited their website and dropped a couple hundred bucks on the stuff. The package arrived yesterday, and I could hardly wait to take some lousy pictures with my lousy camera so all of you could see this stuff. Couch Guitar Straps are made in the United States under “sweatshop-free” conditions, so I decided to pair the straps with another great American-made brand. The Heritage Guitar Company, located in Kalamazoo, Michigan, builds a very small number of guitars using the original Gibson tooling, in the original Gibson factory. Many of the employees are former Gibson people who were left behind when that firm moved to union-free Nashville thirty years ago. One of the founders, a fellow named Marv Lamb, started working at Gibson in 1957 and has been making guitars ever since. Some Heritage owners say that their guitars are “the real Gibsons”. I don’t know if that’s right. I do consider them the proper successors to those fabulous Les Pauls, Flying Vs, ES-335s, and L-5s made way back when.

I’ve uploaded these photos in 2400px size, so if you want to see the details, click away. The brown M-B Tex seen in the above photo is the basis for Couch’s most expensive strap. I’ve placed it here with two of my Heritage H-555 semi-hollowbodies. The strap has “cruelty-free” vinyl ends and Samsonite-style stitching; the guitars have inlays constructed of abalone and mother-of-pearl, ebony fretboards, gold-plated hardware, and Seymour Duncan pickups.

Also available is the infamous red M-B Tex. For some reason, MBUSA loved to saddle its dealers with beige 240Ds avec red Tex interiors. Here’s a 190E with that interior:

Quite a feast for the eyes. The wallet at the top of this article is made from the same material. Here’s the strap, pictured with my H-170 double cutaway. Marv Lamb himself “rolled” the neck on this one. The back is a single gorgeous piece of mahogany. plain-sawn near the center of a very big old tree.

Couch has a variety of different materials. Here’s another motif from my pre-teen years: the “8-bit” strap, shown on my H-535 “23rd Anniversary”. Seymour Duncan “Seth Lover” pickups and nickel hardware create a sound and feel very similar to an early Gibson ES-335.

They also have a variety of fabric straps, which can be made from more “deadstock” — in this case, fabric trunk lining originally destined for Pontiac and Ford automobiles. It’s worth checking out. Unfortunately, there’s no special TTAC deal, primarily because the company has no idea I’m reviewing the product. Maybe you can talk them into something.

I suspect these straps will last a long time. They aren’t cheap, so they had better last a long time. I’ll pass them down to my son, along with the guitars, his 911, and the other miscellany, but I suspect he won’t really be that interested. Perhaps he’ll want a sling for his sampler made from Chevrolet Volt interior fabric. More likely, I’ll have to tell him what a Chevrolet Volt was. Perhaps one of those old Benz diesels will wander by on the road while I’m explaining the difference between craft and junk.
Couch Red Wallet On Heritage H-150 8bitstrap w201interior The brown M-B tex interior of a W123. redstrap brownstrap Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

]]> 44
Product Review: Peak Wireless Back-Up Camera System Tue, 28 Jul 2009 14:25:38 +0000

Rear view cameras are becoming commonplace on SUVs, CUVs and luxury cars. But only as part of very expensive option packages. If you prefer spending your money on things like groceries and house payments, or have an older vehicle, you’re pretty much out of luck. But not entirely. Peak (yes, the antifreeze people) offer the Peak Wireless Back-up Camera System. To see if it passes muster, I installed one on my 1999 Chevrolet Tahoe.]]>

Rear view cameras are becoming commonplace on SUVs, CUVs and luxury cars but only as part of very expensive option packages. If you prefer spending your money on things like groceries and house payments, or have an older vehicle, you’re pretty much out of luck. But not entirely. Peak (yes, the antifreeze people) offer the Peak Wireless Back-up Camera System. To see if it passes muster, I installed one on my 1999 Chevrolet Tahoe.

The Peak system comes with your choice of 2.4″, 3.5″and 7″ monitors. I tested the 3.5″ system, which retails for around $100, depending on where you buy it. Inevitably, the package proclaims it “Installs on vehicles in just minutes!” True—if you don’t care how it’s installed. Being borderline OCD, it took me a bit longer.

The first step: install the monitor. It attaches to the windshield via a suction-cup bracket. Run a power cord to the cigarette lighter or power outlet and voila! I put it right next to the Tahoe’s A-pillar, where it would be out of the way but still easy to see. I ran the power cord behind moldings and under the dash to the power outlet. if you’re so inclined, you can hardwire the power cord.

The camera mounts on the rear using the top bolts on the rear license plate (provided your state hasn’t declared a jihad against license plate frames and other items that might impede the revenue flow from their red light cameras and photo radar). One wire runs from the camera; a recess in the camera housing lets you  wrap the wire behind the license plate. And then the problems begin. How do you get that wire inside the car?

The instructions suggest drilling a half-inch hole behind the license plate—if there isn’t a hole already. Personally, I’d balk at this suggestion, especially if I had to drill a hole in the body. Fortunately, my Chevy’s bumper came pre-holed.

The Peak Wireless Back-up Camera system wire attaches to the transmitter, which must be mounted inside the vehicle . . . somewhere. You also have to splice another wire into the backup light circuit. The kit comes with saddle type wire splices, or, if you’re lucky, you can hook the wires directly into the plug on the back of the taillight like I did.

Next “issue”: getting that wire to the transmitter. I managed to snake it through the wiring harness’s hole (with the help of a coat hanger wire) and pull it out under the car. Then I ran both wires inside at the bottom corner of the left cargo door and under the interior molding. From there I routed the wires behind the interior trim panels to plug into the transmitter, which I attached to the D-pillar next to the rear window. One glaring omission from the kit: any material with which to mount the transmitter. I used some double-stick Velcro® lingering in my toolbox.

The camera and transmitter power-up with the backup lights. The monitor activates when it receives a signal. The image is clear, if not high-res. But what do you expect for $100—HDTV?

When I was ready to test the system, no one wanted to loan me their toddler for the reverse-your-SUV-out-of-your-suburban-ranch-style-home test. So I took a trash can that’s about 22″ tall and a stuffed animal that’s about the same size as a crawling baby. I positioned them one, five, 10, 15 and 20 feet from the rear bumper. The camera picked them up at one foot, where obviously they couldn’t be seen in the rearview mirror. I was surprised to discover that my test items didn’t appear in the rearview mirror until they were 15 feet back—and that was just the very top of the trash can. I didn’t see the stuffed animal in the mirror until they were 20 feet away. The camera picked them up all the way.

There are a few caveats. The wire to the backup lights is only six feet long (and the wire to the camera is shorter). The Peak Wireless Back-up Camera System’s transmitter doesn’t look weatherproof. (If you want to install this on a pickup truck you’ll have to splice the wires to get them to the transmitter inside the cab.) The system works on 2.4 GHz; there may be some interference from Bluetooth and other wireless accessories. You’ll also find the monitor picks up stray signals from wireless security cameras at convenience stores and self-storage warehouses. No, really.

These are relatively minor problems, though. If you have small children or pets, or live in an area where kids and pets roam free and drive a large vehicle or one with limited visibility (you, not the kids and pets), the Peak Wireless Back-up Camera System is worth the investment. Obviously.

[Peak supplied the camera system used for this review.]

]]> 16
Product Review: SmartCover Mon, 25 May 2009 23:28:21 +0000

Yes, I realize animated GIFs are so twentieth century, but when I try to explain how my car cover works, I’m often met with looks of confusion and bewilderment. Known as SmartCover, this product lands between the nearly useless cardboard/foil foam windshield reflector and a whole-car-takes-ten-minutes-to-unfurl-and-position-before-you-realize-it’s-inside-out cover in both price and usability.

Summers in the California Central Valley are brutal. Just last week we had a few days of 100°+ temperatures that cause the leather interiors of most cars to become skin singers. First-degree burns on the backs of thighs aren’t fun (don’t ask me how I know). When you think about it, what good is a windshield shade if the sun is in its highest position or if your car is pointing away from the rising or setting sun? Not much good at all. Better to shield all your car’s windows if you’re going to bother.

How does it work?

SmartCover is a cockpit cover that “flies” on. Yes, you may look like a dork doing it (see woman in above photo) but at least you’ll have a relatively cool car interior when you’re ready to motor off. It’s dead simple to use: hold the four padded ballasts (two attach to each side) in your hands, fling the outer two towards the opposite side of the car while holding on to the two closest (I see the look on your face now), and let the ballasts pull the cover down. Suction cups at each end fore and aft may be used to attach the cover in windy conditions, but I never use them. I just place the wipers on top so as not to mar my paint with spittle. The ballasts weigh less than a pound and are contained in padded pouches. At first I worried about denting my doors, but in practice, I’ve banged them against the windows and the doors without damage to either. Ah, but how do you prevent someone from taking and making off with your cover, you ask? That’s easy.

Just keep the driver’s door open when installing and shut it over the cover locking the ballast inside. The material is thin enough to not interfere with most door seals. To remove, pull the ballasts on your side down, pick all four up and wrap the cover around them. I just pop it in the trunk and go.

How well does it work?

With an infrared thermometer I compared the inside temperatures of various surfaces of two cars: my covered, white I30 and my neighbor’s uncovered, white Lumina. It was approximately 92° outside at 4 p.m. The dashboard in my car was 111° and my neighbor’s was 142°; my leather seats were 109° while his cloth seats were 104°. Back when I had an office job, I would sit in my car at lunch listening to the radio under the cover on all but the hottest days.

The material is “space age” fabric with a silvery, reflective coating. It won’t blind you as you approach it and, in fact, seems to attract dust and pollen, lessening its effectiveness. It is machine washable but I would recommend you rinse it off with a hose and let it air dry. You see, I’ve gone through four of these in the last eight years because after a while they rip along one of the seams. I’ve added Gorilla Tape to my current cover’s seams and I think this will hold up. If not, I’ll be sure to update this review.

It’s great in the summer not having a wall of heat hit you as you open your car door and the A/C load is lighter as there’s less heat to remove. Being able to sit in shorts on the leather is nice and I no longer need to apply Bag Balm to my thighs at night; and the ability to fully grip the steering wheel means no more fingertip steering. In the winter, while we don’t get snow, we do get frost. The cover makes the chore of scraping a distant memory. Lift the cover off and the glass is free from condensation and ice. The makers claim that in colder parts of the country, the cover will still prevent ice but you may have to use warm water to un-stick it from the car.


At approximately $40 + shipping, I think it’s a good value with one drawback. Not only does it keep your car cool, but also reduces UV damage to your car’s interior surfaces, prevents ice formation on glass in cold weather and keeps prying eyes from seeing what you’ve got inside. However, its tendency to rip after a while if you don’t DIY mod it first can mean a short-lived, relatively-expensive piece of ripped fabric.

[The author bought and paid for the product reviewed.]
]]> 23