The Truth About Cars » Hitachi http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Fri, 05 Dec 2014 17:06:32 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 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 editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (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 » Hitachi http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com TTAC Project Car: Citizen Sierra http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/10/ttac-project-car-citizen-sierra/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/10/ttac-project-car-citizen-sierra/#comments Mon, 28 Oct 2013 12:03:14 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=635937 It’s been a while since our last update on TTAC’s intercontinental project car: a UK-spec 1983 Ford Sierra Ghia finished in Rio Brown.  Since then the Sierra’s gifted creator passed away and more positively, Ford wisely ditched its Titanium trim level for a famous name befitting a premium offering with brown paint…even if it isn’t […]

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It’s been a while since our last update on TTAC’s intercontinental project car: a UK-spec 1983 Ford Sierra Ghia finished in Rio Brown.  Since then the Sierra’s gifted creator passed away and more positively, Ford wisely ditched its Titanium trim level for a famous name befitting a premium offering with brown paint…even if it isn’t Ghia.

Jealous much of TTAC’s sweet ride, FoMoCo?  

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We ended our last story with the Sierra’s hood cable unable to release the “bonnet”. Which was fixed one year ago this week: reaching between the front fascia and the radiator to grab the release lever and pop it free.  From there, two zip ties eliminated the slack in the cable and it’s been fine ever since.  A surprisingly easy fix!

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Any hope of getting Citizen Sierra nice and legal started with its horrible exhaust leak, probably stemming from the Nürburgring workout given by Capt. Mike at said famous race track.

I grabbed a 2.3L Mustang manifold gasket, pulled the cast iron lump off and realized that the 2.0L Pinto motor has a unique cylinder head.  With no matching gasket in sight, I swapped my unopened part for Mr. Gasket’s sheet of “make your own” gasket paper.  In less time than it took to watch a football game, I crafted a set of four gaskets. About a week before Christmas 2012, I finished the Sierra’s exhaust. Ironically, that was also the day I confronted my inner and outer demons.

Making a concerted effort to change my attitude/personality that evening, the Sierra–in some twisted way–became my catalyst for that change. So it became that Citizen Sierra joined my personal quest for continuous improvement.

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Considering the number of cars in the Mehta garage, a unique key chain was needed.  I found these vintage units (modeled after a promotional button Ford made in 1982) on eBay in the US, and they were mine in a couple of days. Nice.

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Shameless Plug: in February I scored specialty car insurance, quite affordable thanks to the extraordinary customer service at the National Corvette Museum. With proof of fiduciary responsility in hand, I motored out of the warehouse for a state inspection, a simple task with any 25+ year old car in Texas!  The ride there was surprisingly serene, and it easily passed the test.

With the Sierra legal (enough) to begin the path to citizenship, I hit another roadblock: the head lights and brake lights went berserk.  I tried fixing them: repairing frayed wiring, replacing bulbs, a new brake pedal switch, a multifunction switch from a Merkur, all to no avail.  By mid March I was 100% frustrated: so I quickly reassembled my work and drove to a friend’s shop. And a little over three months later…

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Sadly that friend had even more existential concerns than myself: after his cell phone was disconnected, I went to claim my Sierra, in whatever condition it may sit.  Mercifully he fixed it well, charged next to nothing and I learned a lesson…or three.

Soon after I took a few hours off work to get the Sierra titled. Except not: the county wasn’t pleased with the paperwork.  The Sierra is pictured here (above) in July at the Houston Police Department’s Auto Theft division, where they quickly processed/approved Form 68-A: a crucial part to obtaining citizenship in Texas.  While this was one of the creepiest, covert operations I’ve seen (they don’t even let you inside) the people were certainly pleasant enough.

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Victory!  Sort of: between an international title that wasn’t signed by Capt. Mike and two ownership changes between here and the UK, I needed a bonded title to get legal.  My friends in the classic car trade recommended a local title company. In less than a week, they made the impossible happen.  While I enjoy working instead of waiting in lines, there was a singular downside. Their handiwork set me back a painful $750.

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Legal issues cleared, the work began: first the horrible radio. While the factory unit supposedly picked up FM, it seemed to miss the land of BBC radio. Then the tape deck broke, taking away my MP3 interface!  I grabbed the same (Blaupunkt) radio from a 1980s USA Audi in hopes it would work. No dice.

Then I bought a stunning vintage, NOS, perfect DENON cassette deck, which wasn’t amplified and therefore useless to the Sierra. Stereo #4, a “so cheap its worth a shot” NOS Pyramid deck with a graphic equalizer did work, but made the original speakers crackle and pop like that “snappy” breakfast cereal.  $50 later on eBay and I was installing new 4” Kenwood coaxial speakers into a very chocolatey cabin.  The rears were a snap, but the fronts were…well you see the photo.

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While the craptastic Pyramid was an improvement, it was still a horrible radio.  Back to eBay, and this Hitachi tape deck with an AUX jack and an ingenious spring-loaded pull out mechanism (no grab handle) was mine for a fair price.  Lesson learned: vintage Kenwood/Alpine audio fanbois pay waaaay too much for cassette decks!

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After a few more miles of weekend cruises and plans for a short trip to judge a LeMons race, the Sierra developed some annoying problems. A ripped spark plug boot (that I destroyed during inspection/removal) needed attention, but ordering tune up parts for a Sierra (i.e. not of the GMC variety) at the parts store is cumbersome. And the word “Merkur” doesn’t help, either. Luckily an Autozone cut-to-fit kit (USA made!) combined with new Motorcraft plugs worked perfectly. A nice repair for less than $25.   4_1

The exhaust had problems at the rear, too.  $150 later and a local shop replaced the crusty rear resonator and it looks factory. Surprisingly, the new assembly is louder than the original, probably because it isn’t full of rust flakes.

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Then a front-end alignment: I’m stunned at the number of shops that refuse to work on a car if the alignment specs aren’t in their machine.  I had the Ford factory shop manual (purchased from a UK re-seller of discarded library books) with the specs in hand, but nobody would play…until I found a Meineke with the balls to read books, not just computers.

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Then tires: these Romanian-made Vikings were not only a poor tribute to Nordic heritage, they were past it thanks to the (mis) alignment. Since the usual places don’t stock a 165/80/13 tire, I found a vendor in California selling China’s finest speed rated radials for $34 a pop. Apparently this is a common tire size for Honda Accords from the same era, so I got lucky!

5The Sierra’s fan clutch puked its fluid at the LeMons race in late September, making it hurl coolant as I extorted bribes from cheaty racers.  Determined to find a local replacement, I realized European Ford clutches use the same removal tool as BMWs.  I was lucky to find a brilliant night manager at the local O’Reilly’s, as he hammered away at his computer to find a ($100) clutch from an E30 that dropped right in. Thirty minutes later, the Sierra was running cooler than Jonathan Goldsmith in a booth fulla hot women.

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Last month I added this custom-made LeMons bribe to the Sierra’s hatch.  One race team had a talented graphic company in tow, and it’s certainly good to be a corrupt judge with a penchant for exotic machines ending in “RI”!

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Our man in Czechoslovakia, Mr.  Vojta Dobeš befriended me shortly after my initial purchase.  Turns out he grew up with Fords from the 1970s and 1980s, so his love of Sierras is strong. Even better, his ability to find valuable parts is even stronger.  I literally bounced off the walls when his box of Ford goodies arrived. We are very lucky to have this guy in our ranks.

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As alluded to in last week’s Piston Slap, I ran into problems while installing these parts.  Bad grounds, blown fuses, dirty connections and a truckload of time with wiring diagrams to make it all work: but the result is brilliant. Now I have a well-mannered RWD hatchback with enough head lamps to bake your legs on an autumn winter morning. Yes, really.

The plan was to put the finished Sierra* back in the warehouse…but screw that!  I’ll keep TTAC’s project car in my garage until summer rears its ugly head (no A/C) once more. Citizen Sierra is now, after all, a big part of my past, present and future.

And now you know The Truth About TTAC’s Ford Sierra. I hope you have a fantastic week.

*NOTE: the Sierra is currently running European style plates with the correct license number for the State of Texas.  This, along with keeping the real plates in the spare tire well, is a temporary measure until I figure out how to install a Texas plate without modifying the body or the plate itself.  More to come.

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The Answer, My Friend, Is Blowin’ In The Wind http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/09/the-answer-my-friend-is-blowin-in-the-wind/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/09/the-answer-my-friend-is-blowin-in-the-wind/#comments Tue, 14 Sep 2010 17:44:22 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=365683 EVs are also called “Yes but cars.” As in “Yes, but the power needs to come from somewhere. Usually from a dirty plant with a huge smokestack..” Several companies don’t want to hear that anymore and develop a smart grid that powers houses and cars entirely from renewable energy sources. At least that’s the plan. […]

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EVs are also called “Yes but cars.” As in “Yes, but the power needs to come from somewhere. Usually from a dirty plant with a huge smokestack..” Several companies don’t want to hear that anymore and develop a smart grid that powers houses and cars entirely from renewable energy sources. At least that’s the plan.

According to The Nikkei [sub], Toyota, Panasonic and Japan Wind Development have each built two energy-saving smart homes in the Japanese village of Rokkasho, Aomori Prefecture. These houses are not for sale: Engineers will live in these homes, watch the recharging of cars and batteries, and look for  areas for improvement.  Once the engineers don’t experience extended power outages and can drive their cars whenever they feel like it, the system should be ready for prime time.

Toyota will test a system where plug-in hybrid vehicles double as storage batteries for the homes. They will install solar panels and small wind turbines on the houses to find out whether multiple energy sources can be mated easily with battery chargers.

Hitachi will install smart meters that will transmit data on power generation and energy consumption to a control center via a communications network.

The pilot smart grid will use power generated at existing Japan Wind Development wind farms in the village as well as a 100kw solar power plant constructed by Hitachi. The firms hope to control the power supply by making use of storage batteries at the power plants, in the homes and in the cars.

General Electric, IBM and Siemens are working on similar projects.

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EV 2.0: It Powers Your House http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/09/ev-2-0-it-powers-your-house/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/09/ev-2-0-it-powers-your-house/#comments Sat, 04 Sep 2010 12:29:43 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=364734 The Japanese seem to be convinced that EVs are the wave of the future. They are so convinced that they are thinking up schemes to use that big expensive battery in the car for other things if the car is not used for other things. Such as when that new EV is sitting in the […]

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The Japanese seem to be convinced that EVs are the wave of the future. They are so convinced that they are thinking up schemes to use that big expensive battery in the car for other things if the car is not used for other things. Such as when that new EV is sitting in the driveway while Watanabe-san commuted to work using the JR-train. Nissan, Hitachi, and Orix announced that they will work together on turning those batteries-on-wheels into dual-use technology.

“The idea is to prepare the groundwork for an infrastructure in which electric vehicles are part of a broader use of renewable energy,” says The Nikkei [sub]. This is roughly how it’s supposed to work:

  • Solar battery-chargers developed by Hitachi will keep the batteries topped off.
  • Control systems developed by Nissan enable the lithium ion batteries in the Leaf to power the house when the car is not used.
  • Management technologies developed by Orix turn the car in the driveway into a small electric-vehicle car-sharing business.

Japan’s New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization, or NEDO, will shoulder two-thirds of the project’s cost. They seem to be so convinced of the success of the EV that they are already worried about it sitting around idle.

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Culprit Of Chip Shortage Found, Automaker Hunting Down Chips http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/07/culprit-of-chip-shortage-found/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/07/culprit-of-chip-shortage-found/#comments Wed, 14 Jul 2010 12:56:50 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=360824 We finally know who’s responsible for shutting down Nissan assembly lines in Japan and the U.S.A. The shortage of a critical computer chip stopped Hitachi from making ECUs, which in turn stopped Nissan from making cars. For days, the identity of the lackadaisical chipmaker had been kept under wraps. Now, the culprit has been unmasked. […]

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We finally know who’s responsible for shutting down Nissan assembly lines in Japan and the U.S.A. The shortage of a critical computer chip stopped Hitachi from making ECUs, which in turn stopped Nissan from making cars. For days, the identity of the lackadaisical chipmaker had been kept under wraps. Now, the culprit has been unmasked.

It is STMicroelectronics in Geneva, Switzerland. Yesterday, senior executives from Nissan and Hitachi on visited the offices of STMicroelectronics in Europe “for talks to seek an early resumption of full supplies,” reports The Nikkei [sub]. Apparently, the talks didn’t go too well, as evidenced by the fact that the name of the company is now out in the open.

The Nikkei says that STMicroelectronics had issued a notice on July 2 that it could supply only slightly more than 80 percent of the 120,000 chips for Nissan vehicles that it was supposed to ship under contract. Hitachi immediately dispatched personnel to Europe, but a senior official at Hitachi’s a said the STMicroelectronics did not provide a detailed explanation.

Hitachi supplies some 90 percent of its engine control units to Nissan. They are short of STM chips that control ignition coils.

STMicroelectronics also deliver to Bosch, Delphi, and Denso. Some Hitachi officials speculated that STMicroelectronics may have given precedence to other clients.

If chips are in short supply, then the auto industry must be doing quite well. Says The Nikkei in another story: “Alarmed by the growing prospects of a shortage of crucial chips for their products, many automakers are already taking steps to secure stable supply.” A spokesman of STM said that the recovery of the automotive business is taking place at a faster rate than expected and that the whole automotive electronics supply chain is currently under pressure to keep up with the market’s demand.

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Car Chip Shortage Hits US Shores http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/07/car-chip-shortage-hits-us-shores/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/07/car-chip-shortage-hits-us-shores/#comments Tue, 13 Jul 2010 15:24:34 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=360776 The shortage of a critical computer chip that Hitachi desperately needs to supply Nissan with ECUs  now threatens to affect U.S. production. Yesterday, Nissan warned that they will close down Japanese assembly lines. Today, Nissan COO Officer Toshiyuki Shiga said that production in the U.S. may be halted until the chip shortage is solved. “If […]

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The shortage of a critical computer chip that Hitachi desperately needs to supply Nissan with ECUs  now threatens to affect U.S. production. Yesterday, Nissan warned that they will close down Japanese assembly lines. Today, Nissan COO Officer Toshiyuki Shiga said that production in the U.S. may be halted until the chip shortage is solved.

“If there is any impact, (the factories that could be affected) would be our Smyrna plant (in Tennessee) and a plant in Mexico,” Toshiyuki Shiga told reporters. According to The Nikkei [sub] Hitachi informed Nissan on July 7 that supply would not be possible from the following week. Nissan had no way to switch to alternate channels. “It was a huge decision for us to halt production lines,” said Shiga said. Especially for something as small as an itty-bitty chip. Nissan uses Hitachi-made ECUs for “almost all models” it produced in the U.S. and Mexico, Shigha said.

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Chip Shortage Stops Nissan Assembly Lines http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/07/chip-shortage-stops-nissan-assembly-lines/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/07/chip-shortage-stops-nissan-assembly-lines/#comments Mon, 12 Jul 2010 13:51:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=360704 So far, it had been striking workers at Chinese parts suppliers that brought Japanese car makers to their knees, praying for parts needed to re-start the lines. Here is a new  twist: Japan’s Hitachi ran out of chips for ECUs (commonly called “car computers”). And Japanese carmakers are shutting down the lines. Nissan announced today […]

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So far, it had been striking workers at Chinese parts suppliers that brought Japanese car makers to their knees, praying for parts needed to re-start the lines. Here is a new  twist: Japan’s Hitachi ran out of chips for ECUs (commonly called “car computers”). And Japanese carmakers are shutting down the lines.

Nissan announced today they will suspend production lat four of their plants in Japan for at least two days (July 14 through July 16) while they wait for ECUs made by Hitachi. At least 15,000 cars are affected.

Hitachi in turn is waiting for their supplier. “The supply of a specific IC chip suddenly declined this month, and the supplier has yet to tell us why exactly this is happening,” said Hitachi executive managing director Yasuhiko Honda. He wouldn’t name the IC chip supplier.

Hitachi says the chip shortage affects Nissan “and two other Japanese automakers.”

The Nikkei [sub] immediately went on the hunt for the “two others.”

Subaru uses Hitachi ECUs but “has yet to confirm whether it is affected by the delay.”

The Nikkei is still on the prowl for the third victim of the chip constraint.

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