Mustang Parts
   Carrying Saleen wheels and Bullitt wheels.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005


There's a new automotive blog online, eMercedesbenz. Carpundit is suspicious that they may be a plant from DaimlerChrysler, on account of the blog's very professional design, and press-quality photos of Mercedes cars. On the other hand, they may just be very passionate about Mercedes.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Dumbest Mod Ever

I usually save my bile for the huge wings that some TuNeRz put on the back of cars like the Kia Rio. As if the glued on contraption is going to give them downforce at the 45MPH they drive in the suburbs.

But this toy, the Turbo SoundFX, dear reader, takes the effing cake. Why pay $3,500 for a real turbo, when you can stuff this whistle up the tail of your exhaust system, and make your car sound like you have one?

I wonder how many HP you are giving up due to the increased restriction in the exhaust?

Sunday, August 28, 2005

My PermaCap Failure

I bought this gadget for my car some time ago, the PermaCap, which is a replacement for your gas gap. The selling point of the PermaCap is that you don't have to unscrew your gas cap to refuel--you just shove the pump nozzle through the spring loaded door, and pump away.

While it worked, it was great. After several months of use, the PermaCap caused my car to set an evaporative emissions DTC, and turned on my "Check Engine" light. After replacing the PermaCap with my stock gas gap, my code went away and did not return.


Permacap detail, showing the grungy flat rubber sealing ring on the fuel cap door

I suspect that what happened is that the rubber sealing ring on the cap door picked up some grime, which caused a microscopic leak. Today's OBD-II diagnostic systems are required to detect a 0.020" leak in your fuel system. Most of them use a pressure leak-down or bleed-up method: they apply a vacuum to the fuel tank by pumping the fuel vapor out, either with manifold vacuum or an electric pump; or they apply positive pressure with an electric pump.

Kleen Wheels Corp, the maker of the PermaCap, claims a lifetime warranty, so I will see if I can send the cap back for a replacement, and perhaps they will have some advice on how to avoid "Check Engine" lights in the future. I suspect they will tell me that I need to remove and clean the PermaCap once in a while--which would negate most of the value of having such a device to begin with.

I also see that on their web site, they are selling a "new and improved" PermaCap II--so maybe they fixed it?

Saturday, August 27, 2005

New CAFE Rules

I haven't had a chance to write a detailed post on the new CAFE rules, but DublinSaab has gone and done a nice job, so I heartily recommend that you go read his.

I love his epithet for greenies, which I have not heard before: "watermellons (green on the outside and red on the inside)".

My Chariot

What do I drive?

Nothing impressive. I drive a Volvo 850 with a 2.4L I-5 engine and a 5 speed manual. ~160HP, 0-60 takes about 9s. I have 100,000+ miles on the car, and I think I will keep it until parts start falling off. I bought the Volvo after college, used, because I wanted a safe, comfortable car with a reliable powertrain. So far it has been exactly that--safe, very ergonomic, but not very exciting.

I haven't done much to the car, except to upgrade the sound system with an MP3 capable head unit and better speakers, and replace worn shocks with better than stock units. I think the car is worth all of $4,000 at this point. I keep toying with the idea of adding an aftermarket turbo kit, and a lowered suspension kit, but I'm too cheap to do it.

Not my actual Volvo, photo courtesy of Edmunds.

What car would I drive if I decided to buy something different?

The new Volvo S40/V50 is a very good car, but it is a little too small for my taste, in the second row. I like the Volvo S60/V70, especially the R versions, but Volvos are fairly expensive to own--when something breaks, you pay out of the nose for it. And, despite Ford's efforts, Volvo is not yet a terribly reliable brand, plagued by electrical problems. I have no problem recommending a Volvo--just be aware that it will not be as cheap to maintain as a Toyota.

Also from Ford, I like the Mazda6 (3.0L V6, manual) and Mazda3 (2.3L I4 manual). The Ford Fusion looks like it might be a good car, but you can't buy on with a V6 and a manual transmission. A 2.3L Fusion with an aftermarket turbo might be fun. I love the design of the Mustang, but I think its muscle-car DNA would annoy me after a while, and I like having 4 doors. A Jaguar X-Type would be a steal, but I am not sure about reliability, and the depreciation would be brutal. Maybe I would buy a used one.

On the GM side, I am oddly attracted to the Chevrolet Cobalt SS--but I would hack off the wing, with prejudice, as soon as I got it home. I also like the Pontiac/Toyota Vibe, especially if I could get a turbo for it. The Pontiac G6 GTP with a manual is high on my list. I would also look at a Cadillac CTS, used. I think the Saab 9-2 ("Saabaru") would be a neat car, as would a Subaru Impreza wagon, despite its bland styling. I also like the Saab 9-3. I fantasize of someday owning a Corvette.

None of Chrysler's cars do anything for me at the moment. The 300 is too gangster for me, and can't be had with a stick. The Charger is interesting, but automatic only. I like the Jeep Grand Cherokee, but I wouldn't drive a large SUV unless it was given to me for free.

Toyota? I won't buy one, for loyalty reasons, but the Scion Tc looks a little like a Volvo, and a great value, so I like it. The rest of Toyotas lineup? Zzzzzzz. Toyota needs to hire some braver stylists.

Honda's Accord coupe is nice, but a little sleepy looking. There is something about the Element's boxy practicality that appeals to me. I really like the Acura TL. Again, loyalty prevents me from buying.

Nissan Altima and Inifiniti G35 are very good cars, with a great powertrains. But they are "the enemy".

My current top 3 picks are Mazda6, Pontiac G6 GTP, Volvo V50. Strange grouping, I agree.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

I Get A Noble Ride

"For he on honey-dew hath fed,
And drunk the milk of Paradise."
--Samuel Taylor Coleridge

At the Woodward Dream Cruise, 1G Racing had set up a small area where they were displaying the Noble M12, which they are the importer of, as well as a collection of AC Cobra replicas which they sell.

I stopped and admired the Noble, and spoke to one of the 1G guys about the car. He told me that if I came back Sunday, between 10:00 and 2:00, I may be able to snag a ride in the M12. Of course, I was there the next day, and was actually offered a ride. The driver was an affable Brit who was very happy to talk about the car and its capabilities.

Noble M12 photo from Dream Cruise

Noble M12 Open Bonnet.

Here you see the AC unit, radiator, and a pair of induction fans to feed the radiator. Note the tubing running from the ports to the radiator. The skin of the car is fiberglass, with some carbon fiber pieces. The frame is welded square tubing.

Noble M12 Engine View.

One of the engine choices for the Noble cars is a Ford Duratech based 3.0L V6, which has been upgraded with forged pistons, retuned cam lift, and a pair of turbos, fed through a massive intercooler. The air intakes are cone type units, visible in the box with the intercooler. This particular setup is rated at 352HP. This is not necessarily supercar territory, until you consider that the M12 weights in at about 2400lbs, yeilding a 6.82 lbs/HP ratio. For reference, the Ford GT's ratio is 6.36 (3500lbs, 550HP); the Ferrari F430's is 6.5 lbs/HP. The M400 model pushes 425HP, for a HP/weight ratio of 5.7 lbs/HP.

Noble M12 cockpit

The interior of the M12 is spartan and functional, with a few styling touches. The AC vents appear to have been stolen from a Ford product somewhere. The windows are manually cranked, to save weight and complexity. No airbags are installed*. The instruments are spare analog dials, with a few industrial looking red and green lamps aligned vertically on the matte aluminum finish center console. The carpet is a firm synthetic material, with square ridges where the frame crossmembers must be. The seats are non-adjustable racing type seats, firm but supportive, with both street belts and racing belts attached. The seats do slide, of course, and there is more than enough room for a 6' tall driver or passenger. A few red padded panels add some decoration to the interior, but the overall effect is very business-like--this thing was meant to go, not to look like fine Italian leather furniture.

A shot from the passenger seat

My driver started the M12 by pushing the aluminum start button on the console, and wheeled us onto Woodward Ave, northbound. He squeezed the throttle, and the engine spooled up quickly, going from a smooth baritone to an urgent tenor. The engine was loud, but not so loud that I couldn't talk to the driver comfortably without having to shout.

The thrust was amazing--imagine being on a roller coaster, but on level ground. I found myself laughing out loud, giggling like a little kid.

The M12's chassis was solid, with no squeeks, rattles, or other NVH problems that I heard. Road noise was apparent, mostly as vibration through the frame and body panels. The ride was quite firm, but not abusive, considering we were driving on less than smooth Michigan roads. The M12 could be driven as a grocery getter, I suppose, but I wouldn't use it as a commuter car, it is a little too tight for that.

Coming to a red light, my driver applied the brakes firmly, to show off the M12's stopping power. It was obvious, as he tipped out, that the body design and engine tuning was providing plenty of inherent braking. When he applied the brakes, I was shoved into the belt, the braking force was huge.

After an all too short ride, I climbed out of the low slung car with a light head, a real horsepower buzz. "If only I was rich..." The Noble is probably the best street-legal* deal in the super-car realm--about $67,000 for the top of the line M400, fitted with a 425HP powertrain. That's half the price of a Ford GT, and a little less than a Dodge Viper. And, to boot, they are rare--I overheard that currently only 6 cars a month are being imported into the U.S., making them fairly exotic.

There is a (large) downloadable movie of a few laps around a racetrack in a Noble car, with a lovely natural soundtrack, here.

*It is "street legal", but it is technically a kit-car. You are buying a rolling chassis from 1G Racing, only, and then paying for a recommended vendor to install a recommended powertrain; or you could install it yourself. This is because Noble does not have the resources to do a full crash design and testing program, as well as meet the complex California OBD-II software and certification requirements. In this sense, Noble does have an unfair advantage over the manufacturers of complete super-cars.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Photos from the Ford NASCAR Event

Here are the free photos that I was sent from my visit to the Ford Racing Tech Tour, aka Fusion test drive and NASCAR jubilee. See my previous post, "Flogged a Fusion".

Sorry for the photoshop job, but I have my image to maintain! :-)

Standing by the Focus rally car

A view of the Fusion NASCAR car

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Photoblog: The 2005 Woodward Dream Cruise

Dream Cruise Signs

Today was the famous Woodward Dream Cruise, a gigantic gathering of people who like cars, and who like to drive their cars slowly up and down Woodward Ave, while looking at other people who are doing the same thing.

It is pretty lame, actually, if you live near Woodward. Traffic becomes increasingly heavy the week before the cruise, and for the entire weekend, Woodward is impassable. I made peace with this, however, and decided to go to Birmingham and take some photos.

Raining Hard...

The Dream Cruise was cursed with heavy rains for the first half of the day. As late as 4:00, it was still raining steadily, and quite a few drivers bailed out early.

Birmingham Theater Area

Fords in Birmingham

Ford Motor takes over downtown Birmingham

Ford set up a large area in the downtown Birmingham park, where a large number of old Fords were on display, as well as new products. There were many Mustangs, old and new, as you might expect. There was also a strong Saleen presence, and lots of Shelby related displays.

1967 Mercury Cougar

I am not sure exactly what this is, I think it is a 2006 Focus ST. It is not much different from the 2005, that I can tell, except that Ford added a very agressive loooking front fascia, probably cribbed from the outgoing European model.

2006 Focus ZX4 ST (?)

Mobility Mustang GT--This car had a spinner knob on the steering wheel, and hand controls for the throttle and brakes.

2007 Shelby Cobra

2007 Shelby Cobra Engine

Shelby Concept Car

Saleen Mustang GT

Saleen was suprisingly well represented at the Ford area. There were numerous variations of the Saleen Mustang, as well as a S7 and a Focus.

Saleen Focus

GT40--An original example

A Bigfoot was parked by the Birmingham Police HQ.

After an over-dose of Ford corporate stuff, I decided to walk down Old Woodward to see the non-sponsored cars.

Pair of Edsels

Pair of Bentleys

Austin Healey Club

Cobra (Replica) Alley--Most "Shelby AC Cobras" that you see are replicas. Real ones are rare and very expensive.

Lincoln V12

1962 Chrysler LeBaron

Lebaron Interior

Cadillac LaSalle

Pontiac "Spirit of Daytona" race car, designed to race in the rain.

Interior of the Pontac Daytona race car

Pontiac Daytona race car engine

After walking for a while south on Old Woodward, I found myself in the Chevrolet display area. GM was showing off a collection of race cars (NASCAR, etc.) but most of these were covered with tarps after the rain. The Chevrolet product lineup was there, unlocked, and people were crawling around the vehicles. Product "models" were on hand to answer any questions about the cars, such as "Does this V8 Impala have front wheel drive?". (It wasn't me).

Chevrolet HHR. The HHR doesn't have much to see under the hood, but it does have lots of room inside and a nice interior for the price. I'm not excited by the retro styling, but overall, it seems to be a nice package. You can order one with a 5 speed manual transmission, which is a big plus in my opinion.

Impala SS with 5.3L V8 (but front wheel drive). I 'm not sure what I think about the new Impala. It has a crisp, clean design, but it is bland.

Impala SS interior

Monte Carlo--GM tried to sharpen the lines of the new Monte Carlo. It is less ugly than the previous model, but not less bland.

Woodward view, southbound, near the Chevrolet area

Leaving the Chevrolet area, I walked to the next light and crossed Woodward, near Borders Books.

Old School Cruising

Crossing Woodward

Pickup Hoops (heh)

Porsche Carrera GT. This was parked near an exotic car dealership, and it was attracting a lot of attention.

Segway. This guy was also attracting a lot of attention, but not in a positive way, I think.

Saleen S7. Not content with displaying in the Ford area, Saleen also had a display area set up on Woodward ave., showing an S7.

Saleen S7 cockpit

Update: I saw this guy the day after the Dream Cruise. Note the 9/11 Mural on the underside of his hood. He also had scissor doors, a DVD system with subwoofer, and the obligatory cold air intake.

Noble M12. The importer of the Noble M12 was on Woodward on the northbound side. The M12 is a small volume car built in South Africa, but sold here as a kit car to avoid OBD and crash regs. It is powered by a modified Ford 3.0L V6, with twin turbos, and claims 352HP.

Noble M12 cockpit

DeTomaso Pantera Club. I was not aware of the story of the Pantera, but one of the owners was nice enough to tell me about it. This amazing looking car was built for Ford, and was powered by Ford 351 Mustang engines. Only a small number were imported, and they are quite collectible, but not as prized as other Italian exotics.

Pantera Interior

"Modified" Hyundai (heh). I'm sure the blue plug wires are worth at least 10HP.

"Modified" Hyundai.

Her sign says "Burn it out" on the other side.

SmartCar. There were a small parade of these at the Dream Cruise. I am not sure if they were there from Daimler, or were Canadians mocking us.

Old firetruck

Tricked out 300, with scissor doors, spinners, DVD, etc.

Elvis and Marylin together?