Mustang Parts
   Carrying Saleen wheels and Bullitt wheels.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Video: Motorcycle Vs. Deer

Bad for deer, bad for motorcyclist. I hope the guy wasn't too badly hurt.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Tale of Tampa Fraud-Boy

This story has been burning up the car modder forums the last few days. A 20 year old guy gave his 2004 Toyota Celica to a small custom car shop for a paint job. Then he brought over a few parts and asked them to "add it to the bill". The kid must have been a good talker, because he talked the shop into doing $16,000 worth of work on his car over the course of months.

Then, Fraud-boy showed up at the shop and demanded his car, saying that he never signed a work order for all that work, and he just wanted his car back. When that didn't work, he sent his girlfriend, who offered a $60 down payment and a payment plan. When that didn't work, he came with his mom and the police, but a call by the sop to the state the attorney general shut that down. By the way, the car doesn't even belong to him, really, it is financed by his mom. And, by the way, Fraud-boy has a criminal record, for fraud.

Now the car is located at an undisclosed location, and the shop has placed a mechanic's lein against it. Fraud-boy swears he is going to get it back Friday, but it seems unlikely.

Read the whole hilarious, sordid mess here and here. Things get interesting around page 5, when Fraud-boy (SCP_celica) shows up to defend himself, in his full illiterate glory.

The downside to this amazing story is that the custom shop, which is a two-man show, is now teetering financially because of the time and resources they put into Fraud-boy's car. A PayPal account has been set up for people to donate a few bucks to help them out (I already did), maybe if you are moved you might consider putting a little in the hat.

Unfortunate Product Naming: Fat Stripper Blend

This morning I stopped in at a local Coffee Beanery (I'm still boycotting Caribou Coffee, BTW) for a cup of coffee. As I waited, I looked over at the counter, where they were displaying five large tubs of protein shake mix. One of the protein shake flavors was called "Fat Stripper Blend".

I started laughing, and the lady behind the counter gave me the look.

"Did you notice the name of this?" I asked her, holding up the tub.
"Yes... it works pretty well, I hear" she said, not getting it.
"What if I don't want to turn into a fat stripper?!?" I said.

Then she got it. Snort.

I'm thinking that "Fat Stripper Blend" was either an ingenious double entendre, or someone in marketing was playing around to see if they would get fired or not.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

GM's Changing Volt

Lots of pundits have had lots to say about the GM Volt... but one thing that jumped out at me recently, after watching the peek-a-boo clip on ABC News via Yahoo, was that the design will not look as radical as the concept car.

Here is a photo of the concept:

Here is a clip from the video, courtesy of Autoblog:

Toyota Camry:

Acura TL

The production Volt looks like it will lose the crisp edges and cool, squinty headlamps, and will instead get a more conventional rounded shape with very Asian looking wrap-around headlamps. They didn't show us the rear end in the video tease, but I bet it is also toned down a bit from the concept car.

Note to GM: Volt's styling should be as distinctive as its propulsion system. Don't water it down, keep it cutting edge.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Smart Cars Are Ugly

The other day, I parked next to a Smart, and had a chance to look it over up close. One thing that stood out to me is that the thing didn't look well put together. In the front, the plastic panels didn't fit together tightly. Body gaps were large, and various seams and lines were not well aligned. Maybe it was a pre-production unit? Or a Canadian on a visit? I'm not sure. But it was no Mercedes-Benz.

When Saturn used plastic body panels as a trademark feature, many reviewers commented that they had large gaps. For some reason, Smart seems to get away with it.

The Smart ForOne

I guess I'm just not a fan of Smart's design overall. The small wheels and shapeless body don't generate any desire in me at all. Small cars don't have to be ugly, look at the interesting shapes of the Nissan Versa, Honda Fit, and Scion xD.

Suspend The Regs? Not That Easy

In a recent article, the automotive industry journalist John McElroy wrote that what the U.S. government should do is suspend its regulations on automobiles so that carmakers could bring their fuel efficient European stuff over here instantly.

In his article, McElroy made it sound like it would just be a matter of Congress passing a bill that suspends regulations. In reality, it wouldn't be that easy, and may not even be desirable. Here are a few reasons:

First, emissions politics. The EPA has set tough emissions standards for cars based on legislation such as the Clean Air Act, as it has been required to do by Congress. In order to suspend the emissions regulations, Congress would have to pass a law that effectively repeals many other laws. California is permitted to set its own more stringent clean air rules because of the curse of the geology of the Los Angeles area, which acts like a smog trapping bowl. European governments, unlike the U.S., have long regulated more for fuel economy than emissions, and as a result, they have lots of diesel vehicles--which won't pass NOX regulations unless complicated and expensive aftertreatment systems (like urea injection) are added.

The environmental lobby will howl that the atmosphere will be dirtied, and it will be a political brawl which will make the ANWR drilling fracas look tiny.

Second, economics. European cars, pound for pound, are quite a bit more expensive than American cars. Partly this is due to Value Added Tax and other levies, but because Europeans are used to paying quite a bit more for their cars, they tend to have more content than their U.S. counterparts. Consider the Honda Civic: in Europe, the Civic comes with standard goodies like ESC, active head restraints, and automatic climate control.

To bring European designs here, carmakers will either have to charge more than people are used to paying, or saveagely decontent vehicles to keep the price down. Already, many people are looking at Smart cars and snickering, because you don't get much for your money compared to domestically produced small cars.

Third, competition. Allowing carmakers to bring European designs here will open the gates for even more brutal competition for the reeling domestic carmakers, and even the well established foreign car makers. Brands like Fiat, Peugot, Citroen, Seat, and Renault, which were long ago defeated could come rushing back like a tidal wave.

Yes, consumers would have many more vehicles to choose from, but our already fragmented marketplace would become even more fragmented, and it would be difficult for anyone to make money.