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By on June 2, 2011

Michael writes:

My mom’s 1998 V70 with 215k miles is starting to leak coolant, with no major puddles on the ground.  I told them to look at the oil to see if there were any signs of the coolant in the oil.  I personally think the time with the Volvo is almost over as the dealership (an independent dealership) said that its time was slowly approaching about a year ago, but they couldn’t promise how fast.  My mom loves this car and my dad likes it too.  Her requirements are preferably station wagon, heated leather seats, and automatic.  They live in Michigan so it gets cold.  AWD is not a necessity, and she knows that snow tires work just fine.  She does haul a bike on occasion, so it must be easy for her to haul the bike without having my dad there at all times.

She loves her Volvo and would like another if she could find one that would be reliable.  I recommended the Outback, especially the 2005 and later models.  What are other possibilities?  Their budget is around $15,000 or less.  They tend to drive their cars into the ground, so reliability is more important than the badge.  What should she look at?

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By on June 2, 2011

Announcement, carried by the Chinese Government’s Official Web Portal:

“The Chinese government is carrying out a nationwide investigation into the status of official motor vehicles in a bid to reform the way in which they are purchased and used.

Official vehicles will be surveyed and checked for registration as part of the campaign. Data collected during the survey will be used to lay the foundation for reforming the way official vehicles are managed, according to a statement from the central authorities. Read More >

By on June 2, 2011

A couple of years ago, I was lucky enough to have noted Speed World Challenge and Grand-Am driver Randy Pobst on my team for a weekend endurance race. He was calm, gracious, and absolutely committed to the success of the team. He even allowed me to compare my data with his for the purpose of improving my performance. At VIR, that data showed that on our fastest laps I was almost 0.3 seconds faster than he was from the start-finish line to the exit of Turn 5a. Unfortunately for me, the race was not just to Turn 5a, and in fact he made up that gap (and, um, 2.2 seconds more) over the rest of the course.

More impressive than his driving, however, was the absolute sense of preparedness he brought to the event. He showed up right on time, no earlier, no later. He brought everything he needed and knew exactly where to find everything else. He was visibly fit, well-rested, and alert from the moment he stepped out of his rental car to the brief moment of consolation he offered me at the end of the race (“Did you survive? Yes? Well, that’s enough”). He communicated with the crew chief and team owner in short, informative bursts. When the team needed him to be present, he was simply there, and when his presence would have added nothing, he was mysteriously absent. In short, he was the perfect fly-in racer.

My plan for this weekend’s 24 Hours of LeMons at MSR Houston was to be the perfect fly-in LeMons racer: down to a reasonable weight, prepared for a three-hour stint in 105-degree heat, physically strong and mentally sane, alcohol-free, and with multiple nights of eight-hour sleep under my Nomex belt. That’s what I wanted to be. Here’s what I currently am: completely non-packed for the flight, celebrating my second day of vomit-free existence, feeling quite sleepy, and frustrated with myself for wasting valuable prep time learning the guitar part for Prince’s “Computer Blue”.

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By on June 2, 2011

For years now, Detroit’s inability to compete in the increasingly-important hybrid drivetrain has been part of its larger perception issues, driving the view that the American automakers are both less environmentally responsible and technologically adept than their Japanese competitors. GM waorked through a number of underwhelming hybrid technologies, including its BAS “Mild” Hybrid system and its Two-Mode V8 hybrid, while Ford had to back away from Bill Ford’s precipitous promise that it would build 250k hybrids per year by 2010. For a while now, it’s seemed that Ford and GM were content to avoid direct hybrid competition, focusing on “leapfrog”  technologies like pure EVs and the Chevy Volt extended-range electric car… but now it seems they’re going back into Prius-style “parallel hybrids” in a big way.

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By on June 2, 2011

California drivers do not need to use their turn signals if no other car is nearby according to a ruling handed down Friday by the state’s second-highest court. A three-judge panel of the court of appeal found that La Habra Police Officer Nick Wilson was in the wrong when he stopped Paul David Carmona, Jr. for making a right-hand turn in his Chevy SUV without signaling. Wilson was about 55 feet away traveling in the opposite direction at the time Carmona made his turn. The road was otherwise empty.

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By on June 2, 2011

According to lore, Germany’s autobahn is teeming with S-Class, Porsches, and the occasional Veyron mixed in. Not so, says Germany’s Über-DMV, the Kraftfahrtbundesamt, in an article about the 50 top selling cars in Germany of 2010. “Upper class and sports cars are not in the Top 50,” say Germany’s keepers of car data. The truth is in the following table. Read More >

By on June 2, 2011

 

Fresh indications that the Japanese auto industry is getting back on is feet faster than thought. Honda and Toyota were – in numbers of cars not produced – hardest hit by the ripple-effect of the March 11 tsunami. Both originally thought they would not be back to normal before year’s end.  Today, The Nikkei [sub] writes that Honda “will likely have its domestic production nearly back to normal in July, sooner than expected, as autoparts manufacturers quickly get output back on track.” Yesterday, Toyota had confirmed, that the company will be back to 90 percent in June in Japan. Nissan is also near normal and wants to increase production capacity from September. Read More >

By on June 1, 2011

Are Audi’s Mad Men missing Bertel’s services? They must be, as the Detroit Free Press reports that Eminem’s licensing firm has filed a motion in German court seeking to ban this advertisement. Joel Martin, manager of Eight Mile Style, tells the Freep that Audi did not license the Eminem song “Lose Yourself,” adding

It’s stunning. What makes it extraordinary is the similarity to the way Chrysler is using (the song). We saw it and said, “This has got to be a joke.”

At this point Audi’s only statement on the matter comes from its US operations, which simply notes that the A6 Avant will not be marketed here. “This has got to be a joke,” sure seems to sum the situation up…

By on June 1, 2011


Of all the cars at the ‘Shine Country Classic, none inspired more speculation than the ’75 LTD of the Tunachuckers and ’79 W116 of NSF Racing. So many questions! Would either car be ready for the green flag on Saturday morning? Which one would be quicker around a road course? Could an ungodly complicated Teutonic flagship even make one lap on a race track after 32 years and a 99.97% value depreciation? Could Grandma’s long-abandoned big Ford roar into life and survive on the race track with little more than a cage installation and a hasty tune-up? Each team had joined the elite of LeMons veterans, with one Index of Effluency win apiece, so expectations of horrible failure were high. Read More >

By on June 1, 2011


In Part 1 of this series, I described the purchase of a 1965 Chevrolet Impala in early 1990, for use as the raw material in a complex performance/installation art piece. Within a single day of taking ownership of the car, I began the process of modifying it to suit my artistic vision. Read More >

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