Mustang Parts
   Carrying Saleen wheels and Bullitt wheels.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Saleen's Answer To A Silly Question

Question: How can I make my Ford Expedition/Navigator go fast?
Answer (Saleen): Put our supercharger on it.
Answer (Me): Buy a used Mustang.

I saw this item on Edmunds Inside Line, about a new supercharger kit that Saleen will be selling for the 5.4L-3V V8 engines used by the Expedition, which are closely related to the 5.4L-3V V8 used in the Mustang GT. Pushing 2200cc of air per revolution, the supercharger kit claims a horsepower boost of 100HP over stock, and 0-60 times of around 7s.

I think this really cool, in an exhibitionist automotive-pornographic sort of way. If you are rich, or if your funds exceed your humility*.

But if you are an average guy with a family to haul, and maybe a jet ski, this is just silly.

Saleen also makes the claim that "this supercharger delivers with minimal effect on fuel economy". I think they need to rewrite that press release, out of embarrasment.

It is physically not possible to add 100HP to an engine with a given displacement without burning more fuel. The whole purpose of the supercharger is to burn more fuel by stuffing more air into the cylinder.

And, if you install this thing, you will have to run more expensive 91 octane (premium) fuel, or risk destroying your engine, according to Saleen's installation manual (here).

I think what Saleen was really saying is that the supercharger kit does not have a big impact on the EPA fuel economy number--which is calculated using a relatively mild speed trace.

But we all know that in the real world, if people are given an extra 100HP to play with, they will, and they will burn a lot of gas doing it. Or, as the EPA likes to say, "Your mileage may vary".

To add 100HP to your Expedition will set you back around $6,000, not including installation. If you upgrade your suspension, brakes, wheels, and maybe glue on some body kit so everyone knows you are packing, you will easily blow through $15,000 or $20,000. Add to that the increased cost of ownership from burning premium gas at an increased rate.

Hence my answer to the silly question: leave the Expedition alone and buy a used Mustang. Quick 0-60, eats regular gas, looks great doing it.

*As soon as I win the lottery, I am going to buy an Expedition, and bolt one on. Hell yeah. Just for the political statement alone.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Six Cycle Engine (Gas + Steam)

I accidentally stumbled on this article at Autoweek about a racing engine builder named Bruce Crower who is tinkering with a six-cycle engine idea.

What Crower proposes to do is to add an additional compression and power stroke to a standard 4 cycle IC engine. Water is injected, which turns to steam, expands, and drives the piston down again, while also cooling the cylinder. Crower proposes that by alternately hitting the piston with gas and water, he can improve fuel efficiency (as long as you don't count the water as fuel) and eliminate the need for a liquid cooling system.

One big problem is that water is heavy, and according to the article,the engine consumes water at about the same rate as fuel. In order to be truly efficient, a vapor recovery system would have to be installed that wold recondense the wastewater so it could be recycled into the engine.

Another issue is the problem of lubrication--how to keep the oil dry and the metal oily.

Also, the question of power balance--how much torque does a steam shot generate compared with a gasoline or diesel combustion?

Still, it seems like such a simple and ingenious idea, it would be interesting to see if it goes anywhere.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Video: Wild Racetrack Wreck

From Autoblog. Beware of flying Porsches!

It looked to me like he was trying to move towards the inside on the turn, and was either bumped by or bumped into another car to his inside, tripping him over.

Monday, June 09, 2008

I Sample The Lincoln MKS

Today my local Lincoln dealer had a reception to show off the 2009 MKS. For some reason, they sent me an invitation, even though I am not a Lincoln customer (though I did fill out a survey on the web once...) It was a modestly upscale affair, with a live jazz band, real plates, and lots of good quality refreshments.

They were showing off two pre-production samples, a dark red car with a charcoal interior and a light blue car with a tan interior. I sat in them pushed buttons, twisted knobs, and munched.

(I didn't bring a camera, so the photos are stolen from Edmunds)

Stuff I liked:
  • Exterior styling is much better than any large car Lincoln has sold in a long time. The last large Lincoln sedan I liked was the poor selling LS, and before that, the Mark VII (but that was a coupe).
  • The interior is sharp, with a good balance between style and ergonomics. The leather-like material (maybe it is real?) covering the dash is soft and has a pronounced grain. The wood grain and chrome look trim is tasteful and restrained, not too much of it.
  • The middle front arm rest is split, and the driver and passenger can adjust their two halves independently. Silly but neat.
  • Rear seats are heated and cooled.
  • The UI on the nav touch screen is sharply designed, with a black/blue color scheme, much better looking than the square grey "Windows 2000" look of the previous generation Ford nav systems.
  • There is lots of room in the 2nd row, and I was easily able to sit behind the driver seat adjusted to my size, which is demanding because I am taller than average.
  • The steering wheel is thick and substantial.
  • The trunk is huge. Very long, so long that golf bags may fit in the long way as well as sideways. Probably more golf bags than passengers.
  • Capless fuel filler neck.
  • Standard stability control.
  • Push button start.
  • Almost hidden light-up keypad
Stuff I didn't like:
  • Because of the up-swept rear styling, the rear passenger is enveloped by a rising belt line and a sloping roof line. I like the visibility from the second row of the much more blandly designed 500/Montego/Taurus/Sable cars.
  • AWD is optional.
  • The name. Would this car be any less sharp if it was called "Continental"? Why is the Lincoln F150 called "Mark LT" but the other cars called Em-Kay-whatever? "Continental" has a long heritage.
  • Keyless ignition is part of the optional "technology package".
  • Where is the turbo direct injection "Ecoboost" engine?
  • The trunk opening is comically small, compared with the inside depth and width of the trunk, and has a very tall lower edge. This is a side effect of having swoopy rear glass combined with a rising rear end. What were they thinking? How do you get full sized suitcases in and out? And while the huge trunk will easily swallow 5 sets of golf clubs, by my guess, I would hate to have to wrestle them through the high and short opening.
  • The price. Opt for a few electronic goodies and you are soon looking at a $45,000 vehicle.
  • The hidden keypad on the door pillar was not completely hidden--it has a slightly different color to it which gives away its location. It would have been much cooler to have it be truly hidden.
Overall, from what I have seen so far, I like it, though I wouldn't buy a car this expensive at this point in my career. Like the Zephyr/MKZ, this is more proof that Ford has figured out how to build solid, well rounded Lincoln cars. Ford badly needs Lincoln to take off, and having a credible portfolio of cars is key. They can't rely on anachronisms like the Navigator or abominations like the Mark LT.

Lincoln is using the "Starships Don't Need Keys" tagline in their marketing for MKS, I hope that this one is more like the starship Enterprise, and less like the band Starship.*

*The last vestige of Jefferson Airplane, "We built this city, we built this city on rock-and-roll..."

Sunday, June 08, 2008

+1 for Sierra Trading Post

I don't accept advertising for specific businesses (and I don't get enough readers to make much money from Google's ads) but I do like to post reviews when someone provdies good service.

I recently wanted to buy a pair of shoes, and I found that Sierra Trading Post ( had them on clearance for a very good price. After I ordered the shoes, the next day, I realized I wanted to add another pair to my order. I used the customer service chat function to ask if I could do that, and the rep told me that the order had already printed and was being packed, so I couldn't. However, she offered to give me a shipping discount for a second order, so it would be as if I had combined the two.

So here's a big +1 for Sierra Trading Post. If you need shoes, clothes, or outdoor gear, give them a look, they have very good prices because they focus on overstock and closeouts.

Friday, June 06, 2008

New Tires On The Rear!

Hat tip to TrollhattanSaab for this neat video which clearly demonstrates why you should put your better (newer) tires on the rear wheels of your car--to preserve understeer bias.

So what's so important about keeping the car understeering?

Most drivers aren't skilled enough to correct an oversteer condition (you typically need to apply more throttle and countersteer quickly). Getting sideways means you have a higher chance of rollover due to tripping, or side impact. Most drivers will do the wrong thing for oversteer, they will brake, lifting the rear end further and giving away even more traction, making their problem worse.

But in an understeer condition, the instinct to jam on the brakes is the right one, because it gives more grip to the front wheels, which gives them a chance to regain steering ability. And if you must crash, it is much better to crash head-on because that's where you have the most protection from your crumple zones and seatbelts.

Goodbye Trollhattan

I saw the sad news on Autoblog that Trollhattan Saab is hanging up his keyboard and letting his blog go quiet. He decided that it was taking too much time to do a good job saabblogging, and not as much fun as it once was, with a shortened temper due to nicotine withdrawal. It's a shame because he wrote persistently on the highest-volume Saab blog that I know of. (Though I am more of a Volvo man myself.)

I'm hoisting a beer in your honor, Swade, best of luck.