Planes, Trains, and Used Automobiles

When most folks talk about travel it tends to revolve around the destination. People willingly sit aboard tubes of jet propelled aluminum for hours on end, just to look at some buildings that are different from the ones at home. People spend thousands of dollars to wake up with their body clocks still set to night when the sun in front of them is rising, to eat foods they saw once on Pinterest, and to check-in on social media in order to craft an online persona that’s more cosmopolitan than their suburban hometown would suggest.

To each their own. My aspirations are a little different.

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50 Years On – Still Here

Once upon a time the majority of new cars had these funny things called carburetors, devices that would dump into a motor some guesstimated amount of leaded fuel that would mostly combust before being ushered through the catless exhaust and into the lungs of the guy behind you. During this time those fancy automatic transmissions were a dammed expensive option, so the car in your driveway most likely had four speeds that required you to work three pedals to direct drive to the rear two wheels. During this time, also referred to as the Mid-Sixties, that driveway might have been occupied by that sweet, new Rambler powered by a 290ci ‘Typhoon’ V8. Or maybe you wanted to be a little different and parked-up a nice Barracuda with a more sedate but adequate Slant-6.

Or…maybe you went with one of them there foreign jobbies.


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A History of Vehicles – ’85 Mazda RX-7 GSL-SE

On tonight’s episode of Tribulations and Trials of the Impulse Buyer

Flying alone underneath the tree canopy, I flick on the main beam. Though the lights are merely halogens, I marvel at how effective the H4s are in the night. The light seems to fill every nook in front of me, yet there’s a softness that preserves the colors. The darker green of the canopy, the lighter tones of lichen along the trunks, the mustard colored divider tightening up to the right…

With a slight feint, I huck the car in. The archaic rear stick-axle wants to slide, so I let it. The FB RX-7 does not want to be driven tidy, it wants to move. Happily, it seems faster this way. Switchback after switchback, come in with speed, flick the unassisted Nardi Classico, and delight in the tiny angles it clears the apex with.


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Spotted – Porsche 914

Mid-engined, fuel injected, open topped, and available only with a manual transmission. Such a feature list is music to my ears. Music that sounds nearly as good as the horizontally opposed engine that powers this normally unloved canyon carver.

Is it a Porsche? Yes. Does it have a numerical designation? Yes. Is it a 718 Boxster?


Showin’ a touch of leg..err, foot?

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A History of Vehicles – ’01 Honda S2000

Some believe there are nine circles of Hell, each addressing the various sins of human beings against one another. But for those of us who hold a driver’s license, there is a tenth ring for the most cardinal of trespasses:

Failure to observe signs bearing the inscription: Slower Traffic use Turnouts.

Pardons may be offered for those that stay within spitting distance of the posted speed limit. But no mercy shall be granted unto those – pilots of motorhomes, rental minivans, tyrannical Prius’ – who not only crawl through the twisties at half pace, but pass turnout after turnout without the slightest acknowledgement of the vehicular train building behind them.


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A View to a Car – Caterham 485 // Pure Roads

I rely on background noise when I’m working. Sometimes it’s music, mainly Jazz as there’s lots of energy but no words to distract me. If I’m working outside the office, I’ll go to a coffee shop just to have the bustle around me, without actually paying attention to it. Often though, I’ll just use car videos.

The best for my purposes tend to be track-day videos, especially from the Nürburgring. Videos from the Nordschleife tend to be long and without dictation or music. I’ll choose a particular car, and just have the noise of the motor revving out in between bits of subtle tire squeal and the occasional lull as the driver creeps by on-track incidents.

The other day I came across something a little better on the Pure Roads YouTube channel. In addition to the song of a Caterham 485 as background noise, I’ll occasionally take a break from whatever I’m working on to enjoy the driver working through the Swiss Alps.

The videos on this channel have everything I care about in driving vids. A view of the driver’s steering and shifting movements, decent audio from the external mic, and a view of the scenery. Which in this example takes advantage of the Caterham’s open cockpit.

The beautiful views and ‘just right’ pace make for a good watch. You’ll have a hard time choosing between taking in the expansive scenery, or the hairpins constantly challenging the driver. Happily, the videos are long enough for you to enjoy both. The only thing to look out for is the eventual tug you’ll feel to tackle those roads yourself.



Around the Corner – NorCal’s Old School Import Meet

During my summers growing up there was a classic car meet every Thursday in the parking lot of a local diner. For the most part it was old school American cars. There’d be the usual variety of Mustangs, Camaros, and Darts. Plus a couple Bel Airs or Thunderbirds.


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A View to a Car – Ferrari 348 Challenge

On today’s episode of LOUD NOISES.

On my YouTube account I have a playlist titled “Noise”. There are so many facets to cars, but one of the most important ones is the noise they make. Like the voice of your favorite singer, it’s all good and well to know the lyrics of a song, but the way that one note gets under your skin is the reason no cover will ever come close.

But this is no cover. Remix sounds wrong, and tribute too narrow. Rather, this is Stacey Slead’s remastering. By adding the twin turbo track of the 288 GTO, he answers the question of what the 348 could have been if Ferrari themselves had continued the lineage.

Matt Farah of The Smoking Tire sums up the experience as, “…every single sound I love. Ferrari V8. Turbo wastegates. The click-click of a gated shifter…it’s an eargasm.”

Couldn’t say it better myself.


Spotted – Dodge Viper ACR

Like many other Americans I’ve spent the lead up to November 8th pouring over my Sample Ballot and Voter’s Guide, along with the various special interest junk that’s been clogging my mailbox. For the most part, I’ve also been shaking my head at the mess that is this year’s election.



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Quick Spin – ’83 Audi ur-Quattro

The road snakes this way and that, hoping to outrun you on the next bend. It changes direction, comes up and down, tightens radius to the right and sharply snaps to the left in a rising hairpin. Trees fillet the sunlight, playing tricks as to if the road surface is damp or merely shaded. There’s a smattering of fallen leaves leading up to a blind crest; it might be followed by a long straight, a break in the trees, or a gravel filled sweeper.

How better to get acquainted with such a car?


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