Mustang Parts
   Carrying Saleen wheels and Bullitt wheels.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Fusion Confusion

This is a Gillette Fusion razor. It has 5 blades in front.

This is a Ford Fusion sedan. It also has 5 blades in front.

I'm surprised Ford isn't dragging Gillette into court.

A Port Retort [Politics]

I don't think having foreign companies running our ports is a good thing in general, but the lefties have gone overboard on the issue-they have bent so far backwards, they can be easily charged with hypocrisy. For example:
  • According to the left, Iraq was not a terrorist threat, and had nothing to do with Al Qaida ('cept for that Zarkawi guy, oops), but the UAE can't be trusted because they might be used by terrorists.
  • According to the left, enemies such as Cuba should be "engaged" instead of isolated. But in this case, isolation is the prescription.
  • According to the left, it is wrong to racially profile Arabs, so we have to strip-search Jewish grandmas at the airport--but the UAE is pre-judged to be a danger, and can't be trusted. And the left, who have never been strong on border security (strong borders are "racist" and "ethnocentric", suddenly want strong ports!
  • If Bush had torpedoed the deal, and demanded that an American company got the job, there is a good chance that this is who would have won--can you imagine the outcry from the left, then?
Here are a few reasons why I think the UAE deal is a bad one:
  • It is morally disgusting to me to support a country that promotes the spread of Sharia law. That's why I don't patronize Caribou Coffe, or shop at Loehmann's any more.
  • I would rather that the business go to an American company, so more Americans can benefit from the profits.
  • Infiltration of a UAE run port may be easier for Al Qaida operatives than infiltration of a British run port.
International relations is often a game of carrots and sticks. I suppose that Bush decided that in the case of places like Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and UAE, the answer was to offer carrots and only hint at the sticks.

Real Bullet Holes

You know how some people think it is cute to put fake bullet hole stickers on their cars?

This morning I was driving to work, and I was stuck in a crash induced traffic jam. Next to me was a flatbed tow truck, which was carrying an older model Ford Explorer.

The passenger side window was missing, and the passenger side had three large holes punched through, which looked like they were about .50 caliber--probably shotgun slugs, but I wasn't sure. Along the bottom of the passenger door, what appeared to be blood had seeped out and had dried on the door sill.

Behind the flatbed truck, a large brown van was following, which was marked "Detroit Police Department Evidence Technician". That red stuff probably was blood.

In Detroit, there are too many real bullet holes for fake bullet holes to be funny.

Update: It turns out the vehicle I saw was used by a pair of thugs who shot two police officers. Here is a picture of the vehicle, from the local ABC News affiliate website:

Sunday, February 26, 2006

A Few Thoughts on E85

With the new emphasis on E85 from the Bush administration and domestic automakers, lots of commentary is being posted on the pros and cons of E85. I won't go over everything, but there are a few points about E85 that interest me. For a detailed article about the properties of E85, see the Wikipedia article here.

First, E85 is has less energy than straight gasoline. For a vehicle that is "flex fuel", meaning it must be able to run on any ratio of gasoline/alcohol from E10 (10% alcohol) to E85 (85% alcohol), this means that fuel economy will go down for a given drive cycle. Power output will also usually go down. This is not much of a selling point, especially if E85 is close to the same price as gasoline.

However, E85 has a much higher octane equivalence number than regular gasoline--110 vs. 87. This means that it can withstand higher compression ratios before detonation, and more aggressive spark timing calibration. A vehicle such as the Saab Bio-Power can take advantage of this by using forced induction and higher compression ratios to squeeze more efficiency out of E85. An engine designed to burn E85 exclusively would be a good performer, although more expensive than its flex fuel or gasoline only counterpart. With higher efficiency, however, comes better fuel economy.

The other aspect of E85 that I find fascinating is that the political push behind it is a bizarre coalition of usually unrelated or antagonistic interests. Originally, the main proponent of E85 was the farm lobby (the very definition of corporate welfare!) which wanted subsidies to keep corn prices up.

But now that the "addiction to middle eastern oil" rhetoric has been added, the E85 club includes some of the national security crowd, as well as some Greenies. E85 is one of the few things that the Farmers, Warriors, and Druids can agree on.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Laforza Sighting

This morning, while driving to work, I saw a large SUV that I didn't recognize. It looked roughly like an over-inflated Range Rover, or 1.5x scale Dodge minivan. It was branded only with "Laforza", and judging be the styling, was from the late 80's or early 90's.

It turns out I saw one of these. The Laforza is an Italian military/government truck which was imported into the U.S. sans powertrain, and outfitted with Ford 5.0L V8 kits. The Laforza combined a heavy, square body with luxurious (for the time) Italian leather interior. Originally quite expensive, they can now be had used (if you can find one) for around $10k.

Monday, February 20, 2006

The Zoo [Politics]

Dear Detroit City Council:

Close the zoo. Detroit can't afford to keep animals, especially when its mostly rich white folks who go. Already did Belle Isle, the other shoe has to drop sometime.

Kill the Detroit Historical society. Who cares about the old days of Detroit? Not much of that is left anymore, anyway.

Then, close the DIA. Mostly rich white people go there, too, and look at art made by dead white people.

Close the DSO, if you can. They play mostly dead white man's music, and native Detroiters can't afford to get tickets anyway.

You should close the Charles Wright Museum of African History. Not many Detroiters go there, who has money for history, when the city is in debt?

Close the Science Center. Mostly suburban schoolkids go there, anyway.

Cancel the fireworks. Who can afford fireworks, when the garbage isn't being picked up? Let Windsor fire off fireworks, if they want, we'll watch from our side.

Culture is important, but what can you do? You have to pay the bills. You can't lose control of any part of the city, it would look weak. Can't let the suburbs be in control.

At least you didn't sell out! At least you didn't privatize anything. so your public employee unions can keep voting you into office.

Gotta keep the priorities straight.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Slowing Down [Blogging]

I have been pounding my keyboard here for about 10 months now, and it has been lots of fun. I am surprised at how many readers I get--between 500 and 1000 hits a day, and if I am lucky and get a link from one of the "big boys" like Autoblog, I might get double that many hits for a number of days. 500 hits is not many compared to Michelle Malkin, but for a little niche player like me, it is humbling. I can only imagine how much traffic Glen Reynolds gets--I bet he has a Linux server farm all to himself!

Many people don't realize how time consuming blogging really is. It takes time to read what the other people are writing, and unless you only are posting links to other people's stories, anything that requires any thought often takes a long time to compose. I have literally spent an hour writing up some of my longer posts, re-reading them, making changes, and adding supporting links.

So why do people blog, if it is so much work? For some, it is vanity--the thought that hundreds of other people are reading your words and shouting at their monitors that you are an idiot. Some folks probably make a bit of money off of it (Jalopnik, MPH). Some do it to cheerlead for their favorite (Trollhattan Saab, MyFordDreams) team. I'm not making any money off of this gig, so I guess my motivation is vanity--I like having a place where I can spout off my opinion on something someone else said, or wrote, rather than being buried deep in the comments or the "letters to the editor" section.

The real world is calling, however, and I have a long list of things to do piling up on my desk that need attention. So I am going to slow down a bit, and post less often. When I read something that winds me up into a righteous "I know better" tantrum, I'll be here.

Monday, February 13, 2006

VW R&D Chief on Hybrids, "Stupid" Regulations

In the latest issue of Automotive Engineering International, the SAE's trade magazine, Volkswagen's gruppenfuhrer* of research and development Wilfried Bockelmann was interviewed about VW's efforts to improve fuel efficiency (p. 78).

Most of the article was about VW's fuel cell projects, and a dual-stage forced induction engine, the Twincharger, which uses a supercharger in series with a turbocharger to squeeze 177 lb.ft out of a 1.4L I4 at merely 1750RPM.

However, at some point, Bockelmann was asked about hybrid cars. In a surprising show of straight talk, he explained the real reason why hybrids are so fashionable: CARB and its Zero Emissions Vehicle rules. I nearly dropped the magazine when I read:
"Nobody would deal with hybrids if we did not have the "stupid" regulations in California that make them necessary," he said. "But we have to have one of these models on the market if we want to sell our cars there in 2008-9. With the right kind of driving cycle it will safe fuel in Tokyo or Paris, but not when it comes to typical U.S. driving habits, such as a 55 mile drive to work with just the last five in stop-and-go conditions. Even on I-75 in Detroit, it is a case of slow cruising at 30-40mph--and at that speed you are not saving much fuel in a hybrid."
He speaks the truth. California law requires automaker to sell a certain number of ZEV's. However, since electric cars never really got off the ground, except for a few greenies, California amended the rules to give carmakers credits for PZEVs (Partial Zero Emission Vehicles) and AT-PZEVs (Advanced Technology PZEVs, or hybrids). Only to a California bureaucrat, by the way, does "partial zero" make any sense.

"Stupid" rules or not, no carmaker can afford to lose the business of California, or the several other states which have adopted their stringent emissions rules. These "green states" comprise about 30% of North American automotive volume. VW is in an especially sensitive spot with CARB, because California's emission rules keep VW's TDI diesels out.

I sometimes worry that GM and Ford have "drank the kool-aid", with the ecstatic pursuit of hybrid vehicles, but I think that they are too smart for that. Rather, it is a strategy to play environmental politics well, and pick up some electric powertrain knowledge along the way. If done right, it can generate lots of goodwill, good press, and government breaks. But if the hybrid fad doesn't pan out, it may turn out to be a very costly strategy.

*sorry, I couldn't resist.

Silly Marketing Mud Wrestling

GM: "Chevrolet is the #1 brand!"

Ford: "No it isn't, take it back!"

Toyota: "I will eat you."

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Lincoln Alphabet Soup

Everyone who I have talked to about it thinks that renaming the Zephyr to "MKZ" (pronounced "mark zee") was a dumb move by Lincoln. Customers will be confused. Not to mention the secondary market--there will be 2006 Zephyrs and 2007 MKZs, but no 2007 Zephyrs or 2006 MKZs.

If you go to, you get to Lincoln. Same with

What else is Lincoln up to? I tried typing in a few more combinations. didn't get me anywhere, and neither did

But, try these: and

I wonder what Lincoln is working on that will be called "Mark E" and "Mark L"? "Mark N" would make sense for Navigator, but no one has registered, so Ford is not changing to that name. And apparently, there is no plan to change the Mark LT to a "MKT" or "MKLT", using the domain name test. Are MKE and MKL the new names for Navigator and Mark LT?

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Dodge Nitro

The Dodge Nitro looks like a blatant imitation of Land Rover LR3 to me. Square profile, engine portholes, fender flares. The thing that screams Dodge is the huge chrome grille.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Car And Driver, Crossing The Line?

In the new March issue of Car and Driver, John Phillips has a humor piece titled "My dinner with the Big 1.5". The premise is that he went to a holiday dinner with Kwame "The Navigator" Kilpatrick, mayor of Detroit, Ford's CEO Bill "The Kid" Ford Jr., and Rick "The Wagon Master" Wagoner of GM. Here is an excerpt:
"My peeps are doin' me dirty", said Detroit mayor Kwame "The Navigator" Kilpatrick as he hacked at the undercooked Butterball. "Soon's they reelect me, they demand a recount. Gonna cost $500,000 they say".
In case you didn't know, despite his rather Irish sounding name, Kilpatrick is black. And Phillips practically dressed him up in blackface. "Soon's the reelect me".

I'm not a P.C. type of guy, but this piece surprised me for its brazen-ness. The premise isn't bad, and some of it is really funny (Ron Gettelfinger is nicknamed "Butterfinger").

Did C&D go too far with this one? Should Kilpatrick send his aptly named police chief, Ella Bully-Cummings to come to C&D's offices and open a can of good old-school Detroit police brutality on their asses?