Mustang Parts
   Carrying Saleen wheels and Bullitt wheels.

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Ford Ditches Mathers

Ford was, according to a Detroit News item, approached by representatives of rapper Eminem (Marshal Mathers), asking for a hot new vehicle for a rap video. At first, Ford was going to give them pre-production Fusions, but then they figured out that Mather's rap is not exactly family oriented music.

Ford: Eminem lyrics too shady

Ford Motor Co. marketers were thrilled two months ago after being approached by representatives of Detroit superstar Eminem. For his next music video, the rapper wanted a hot vehicle not yet on the market, Ford says. The automaker offered its upcoming Ford Fusion midsize sedan and Eminem's people agreed. Boom! Instant street cred for a key new vehicle. But Ford marketers cringed when they saw the title of Eminem's new single: "Ass Like That." And when they read the lyrics -- essentially middle school locker humor that rhymes -- the fledgling alliance with Slim Shady crumbled. "It wasn't any problem with Eminem," said Ford spokesman Jon Harmon. "It was just that the song was over the top. It just wasn't Ford." An Emimen spokesman said he wasn't aware of any dealings with Ford.

Good move on Ford's part--the kids who value "street cred" don't have money to buy new cars. The Fusion is not supposed to be a Scion--it is supposed to be Ford's bread-and-butter family sedan. Leave songs like "Ass Like That" to Chrysler's marketing group, which revels in a lack of taste. (Remember "Concorde", or "Size Does Matter"?)

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Ford Sells Ranger EV's

Unlike GM, which responded to environmentalist protestors with a single digit salute, (some were even arrested) when they demanded the right to buy off-lease EV-1's, Ford has decided to allow people to purchase the remaining 200 Ranger EV's. LA Times article here.

It is a minor, and mostly symbolic gesture, in an attempt to curry favor with the Greenies. It is good public relations, on Ford's part, and it won't cost Ford much money, but I doubt it will generate any lasting goodwill from the likes of the Rainforest Action Network or the Blue Water Network.

The RAN publicly accuses Ford of intentionally "underproducing" hybrids, to slow down the development of the hybrid market. The BWN is currently lambasting Volvo for selling SUV's. It would rather have Volvo go out of business, than do they best they can.

That's the real goal.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

UAW's Viagra Benefit

I heard an amazing thing today, driving in to work. WJR's (AM760) Paul W. Smith was interviewing The Car Connection's Paul Eisenstein. According to Eisenstein, who has it from a reliable source, GM spends about $15,000,000 a year providing Viagra to its active and retired healthcare beneficiaries.

[Insert your own bad puns here]

When the ship is in danger of sinking, I think it is wise to give up on medical treatments which are in the cosmetic or "quality of life" category. Let the retirees pay for their own Viagra.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Baby Mirror Safety

We have friends who have a baby, and along with the rear facing car seat, mounted in the rear seat of the car, they use one of those little mirrors so they can watch the baby without having to crawl back into the back seat.

Recently, the mom went to a free carseat clinic put on by the local police department. After checking the car seat installation, the officer told her that baby mirrors are a safety hazard. In a crash, the mirror could detach and become projectile, hitting the baby or the other passengers of the car. Instead, he told her, "If you want to check the baby, have someone ride in back, or just pull over. If you are looking at the baby mirror, you aren't looking at the road".

This is an excellent point, and one that I did not think of before.

If you do want a baby mirror, I would consider a hard-mount, maybe by screwing the base onto the rear pillar, or bolting it down through the rear deck.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

The Jaguar Daimler

Jaguar owns the rights to the Daimler name. According to the Detroit News, Jaguar is going to build a car in the $100,000 range, placed above its current high end car, the XJR. They may call it the Daimler.

I have two questions.

First, why does Jaguar think they will make money in this market, when VW (Phaeton), Mercedes (Maybach), and BMW (Rolls Royce) are struggling? Will they be able to add enough value and cachet to their current platform, to make it desirable, while at the same time keeping things common enough that costs will be low?

Second, does Jaguar think that U.S. consumers, even high-end ones, will keep the Jaguar Daimler brand separate from the DaimlerChrysler corporate name? Shouldn't Jaguar be worrying about fixing the Jaguar name, first and foremost? They are bleeding money.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Do You Use Engine Braking?

Autoguy has finally joined civilization, and taken up the art of manual gear selection.

Ben Kraal argues that "gears are for going, brakes are for stopping", and advises against engine braking.

A question for my fellow gear rowers:

Do you use engine braking to help you slow down, by keeping the car in gear and just stepping on the brake, waiting to clutch-in until the RPMs drop to near the stall point?

Or do you always clutch-in at the start of braking, and use only the brakes to stop?

Or, do you drive like a "race car driver", and downshift before braking, to maximize engine braking? And, I believe, maximize clutch wear!

In my experience, there is less braking effort required if you use technique #1 above, and I suspect less brake wear. If you rely only on "foot" braking when driving downhill, you will boil your fluid, and have little braking power at all.

Some people claim that keeping the engine in gear will put additional stress on the drivetrain. I don't see how this is so, but then again, I'm an electrical engineer.

Carnival of Cars #3

AutoMuse has done the honors, this time, and posted Carnival of Cars 7-11 (#3).

Friday, July 08, 2005 Selling Car Stuff has started an online store devoted to automotive goods. They are building a large index of various parts, accessories, and tools. You can't order a new engine yet, for your El Camino, but you can order a set of floor mats. Or a carbon fiber faux spoiler wing, for your 1987 Cavalier.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

The Mazda5: Automotive Origami

My local Mazda dealer is showing off a 2006 Mazda5, ahead of the official August roll-out. I stopped in today to take a look at it, and I was blown away.

The Mazda5 is somewhere in between tall wagon and minivan. You might call it a "microvan", except that it is not that much smaller than the MPV minivan. Like a minivan, it has third row seats, and sliding rear doors. Unlike a minivan, you can get it with a manual transmission (yes!!!).

Image from

I wasn't able to test drive the car, but I did crawl around it a bit, and here are some quick impressions:

The overall length of the vehicle is about the same as a Mazda6. It is much taller, though, and is within a few inches in height of the MPV.

It has an attractive wedge shaped design, which makes it look more like a tall wagon than a minivan. The wheels are proportionally large, and pushed towards the corners, for relatively low overhangs. The rear of the vehicle has a slightly down-sloping roofline, which combined with a up-swept beltline, and a rounded tailgate, gives it a more wagon-like rear.

Image from

Sitting in the driver seat, you are sitting fairly high, but not perched on captains chairs like in a minivan. The seating position is closer to a Mazda3 or Ford Focus. The shifter is located on a pod coming out of the dash, rather than on the floor, which is a good place for it--it is within easy reach, and you get some space open on the floor. If you opt for the DVD nav system, there are nav controls right next to the shifter. The ergonomics are great. A tilt/telescope steering wheel is standard.

Sitting in the second row, I was pleased that there was plenty of room for me. A critical test is the "can you sit behind yourself" test. I am 6' tall, and in many cars, I can not comfortably sit behind myself; in the Mazda5, I did not have a problem. The 2nd row seats slide forward and back and recline. They also have seat cushions that pop up, revealing a storage space. A console with cupholders folds out of the passenger side seat cushion, and can be stowed in the under-cushion storage space.

The real surprise was the third row. It actually has room for 2 adults. It isn't hard to get into, because the 2nd row seats slide and tilt forward. Once I was back there, I was less squashed than I expected, although my head was grazing the roof. The head restraints are usable, offering whiplash protection. You are forced to use them, because if you don't they annoyingly poke you in the upper back.

If you aren't using the 3rd row seats, they fold down into a flat floor, offering about 3 linear feet of space from the liftgate to the 2nd row seatbacks. Behind the 3rd row of seats, there is about a foot of space, with a covered tray under the carpet. If you fold down the 2nd row seats, you have a nearly flat floor that is about 5 feet long.

The only engine offered is the 2.3L I-4, with 157HP @6500 RPM, and 148 ft*lbs @3500 RPM. The standard transmission is a 5 speed manual (!). Given a weight of 3333lbs, it should have similar performance to the Mazda6 2.3L wagon (~3300lbs), so I would expect a 0-60 run of about 10s--I would call this underpowered. The plus side to being under-powered, however, is that the estimated fuel economy is 22 city/27 highway.

If Mazda is smart, they will offer a Mazdaspeed upgrade in the future, such as the the Mazdaspeed6 turbocharged 2.3L powerplant, yielding 270HP @5500RPM and 280 ft*lbs @3000RPM.

I suspect most of the zoom-zoom in this car will be in on the handling side--I would expect solid road feel, and good cornering, considering the Mazda3 underpinnings. The Mazda5 uses electrically powered hydraulic power steering, which is said to have a speed-sensitive boost.

Some important safety equipment is standard: 4 wheel disc brakes + ABS; side airbags and side curtains. All-wheel-drive is not available. A mistake, in my opinion.

I think the Mazda5 is going to be a hit. The packaging is fantastic, like an automotive example of origami. It is not a sports car, but should be a fun-to-drive alternative to the minivan, in a handier and more fuel efficient size.

Ford GT Refund

A British writer buys a Ford GT, one of only 28 destined for his country. He has dreamed of owning such a car since his childhood, when the GT40s beat Ferrari at LeMans.

His car arrives, and promptly starts to malfunction. The anti-theft system constantly thinks the car is stolen. The Check Engine light comes on. After numerous ineffective repairs, he gives up, and asks Ford to buy the car back, which they do.

They put £126,000 in my account and sent a man to pick up the car. "“Is it the alarm system?"” he said. "They all do that."

So there we are. A 35-year dream. A two-year wait. Ten years of damn hard work. And what do I get? The most miserable monthÂ’s motoring it is possible to imagine.

Strangely, however, as the GT rumbled down my drive for the last time, I felt like Julie Walters watching Michael Caine getting on the plane at the end of Educating Rita. I actually cried.

"They all do that?" Ouch. And Ford wonders why it is struggling in Europe. A halo car cuts both ways--nail it, and you get free buzz. Screw it up, and you screw your whole image.

(HT: Just Auto)

Monday, July 04, 2005

Pikes Peak Run on IFilm

There is a short movie of a French team's run up Pikes Peak circa 1990. Absolutely amazing stuff.

George Orwell Was British

Lately, the Brits have been proposing all kinds of improvements for their cars. Each "improvement", however, sounds more sinister than the last. The latest news comes from the Sunday Times. A system has been developed and tested which combines a GPS nav system with a database of speed limits, and has an interface to the ABS. When you exceed the speed limit, the system slows your car down by pressing on the brakes.

The system is not being pushed as a requirement, yet. It is being proposed as a voluntary system, which would allow people to get a discount on the congestion tax.

Could you imagine buying yourself a nice sporty car, knowing that Big Nanny will step on the brakes if you drive with too much enthusiasm? Would anyone still want to buy powerful cars?

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Britain Considering Carbon Rationing

According to the Telegraph, Britain is considering rationing energy useage by its citizens, and creating markets where energy misers can sell their credits to energy gluttons.

Under the scheme for "domestic tradeable quotas" (DTQs), or personal carbon allowances, presented to the Treasury this week, everyone - from the Queen to the poorest people living on state benefits - would have the same annual carbon allocation.

This would be contained electronically on a "ration card", which could be the proposed ID card or a "carbon card" based on supermarket loyalty cards.

It would have to be handed over every time a form of non-renewable energy was purchased - at the filling station, or when buying tickets for a flight - for points to be deducted.

Think about that. You like to drive, so you use up your carbon ration fuelling your Opel. Then you decide that you want to take your family on a holiday overseas. You would not only have to pay airfare, but you would first have to pop into the carbon market, and buy enough credits to pay for your jet fuel.

It would certainly have the intended effect--people would be much more careful about how much energy they use. But why not just let the real markets work? When the markets think that oil is becoming scarce, the futures prices shoot up. Eventually, things cost more, and people use less.

Global warming? 1) Not proven to be due to human activity. 2) Will Britain invade China, India, and Brazil, and force them to join the carbon market?

(HT: Captain's Quarters)

Bloglines: Cool. [Blogging] is a great free service which lets you subscribe to RSS feeds, including most blogs. If you subscribe to all of your favorite blogs, you can see at a glance which ones have new posts. You can also access your feeds and blogs from anywhere, since bloglines is a web based service, not a local RSS reader. Check it out.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Tom Cruise Worships A Space Alien [Culture]

I don't normally pay attention to what the "stars" have to say, since many of them can't think their way out of a paper bag, and few of them have any weight on any issue other than maybe their profession. I do grant that some of them do good works.

Tom Cruise is getting on my nerves. His criticism of Brooke Shields is irresponsible, because unlike your blogger, there are some people who do listen to what the idiot has to say. Tom Cruise may contribute to actual harm to another person, if that person is foolish enough to be swayed by Cruise's "arguments" against psychiatry.

Let's review the facts. Tom Cruise is a Scientologist. Scientology is a psuedo-religion, or perhaps more of a cult, which was started by a second rate science fiction writer, L. Ron Hubbard.

Scientology teaches that the universe exists because of spiritual energy, which in humans is called a Thetan. Humans have problems, diseases, and bad behaviors because Thetans are re-incarnated in different bodies, and over time accrue hurtful experiences. These hurtful experiences form bad "programs', called Engrams. If a person gets rid of his Engrams, he purifies his Thetan, and becomes happy, successfull, powerful, immortal. To get rid of your Engrams, you have to be audited by an Auditor. This is process where you are connected to a mysterious lie detector like device called an E-Meter, and asked probing questions. You are then given exercises (brain washing) to do to try to rid yourself of the Engrams.

All of this costs lots of money. If you reach the highest levels of Scientology, "Operating Thetan", you have the opportunity to learn the truth about the universe. Here it is, OT level III:

Data (1) (1)
The head of the Galactic
Confederation (76 planets around
larger stars visible from here)
(founded 95,000,000 yrs ago, very space opera)
solved overpopulation (250 billion
or so per planet) -- 178 billion
average) by mass implanting.
He caused people to be brought to
Teegeeack (Earth) and put an H Bomb
on the principal volcanoes (Incident 2)
and then the Pacific area ones
were taken in boxes to Hawaii
and the Atlantic Area ones to
Las Palmas and there "packaged."
His name was Xenu. He used
renegades. Various misleading
data by means of circuits etc.
were placed in the implants.
When through with his crime Loyal Officers
(to the people) captured him
after 6 years of battle
and put him in an electronic
mountain trap where he still
is. "They" are gone. The place (Confed.)
has since been a desert.

That's right folks. A space alien warlord named Xenu created us by "mass implanting" Thetans on earth. He also put some h-bombs in volcanos.

In short, Scientology is a mishmash of ideas from Buddhism, science fiction, hypnotism, mind control, and L. Ron Hubbard's drug induced hallucinations. It has all the characteristics of a cult: secrecy, coded language, paranoia, expensive dues, ostricism of refusers.

Scientology claims to be scientific, but Hubbard's claims, and his E-meters have not tested, peer reviewed, and debated by scientists. There is no body of Scientology research. It is all invented by Hubbard. Hubbard goes so far as to call his writings "the Tech" (the technology), as if it is a hard scientific fact. It isn't.

Psychiatry, on the other hand, has been tested, peer reviewed, debated, and evolved over many years. Try as Cruise may, he cannot make the claim that psychiatric treatment does not work--because the science is there.

Nothing Tom Cruise says about psychiatry should be given any weight whatsoever.

For lots of information about Scientology, see

Activation Code [Politics]

This is a message for all field operatives of the Michigan cell of the Vast Rightwing Conspiracy.

Clambake Foxtrot Zulu Zulu. Elvis has left the building. Activate plan 173.

Arise, Vast Rightwing Conspiracy! Arise, Zionist Shadow Government! The Supreme court will soon be ours! And their little dog, too!


(Sandra Day O'Conner is retiring. Should be entertaining.)