Archives for category: – Cars

Let me start by saying this video is amazing. Now let’s backup. There’s a group called The Adventurists. They host absurd rallies, donate to charities, and throw big parties at the end. One of their events, The Mongol Rally is a 10,000-mile bash from London to Ulan Bator (the capital of Mongolia) in a 1,000-cc (or less) car. What!?

Many people accepted the challenge. A group of Swiss guys calling themselves Team PZM decided to go it one better by piloting their crap Fiat through Iran, Pakistan, and China. Armed guards, ferrying over a seriously flooded highway, amazing views, and friendly people. This looks like an epic adventure.

Want to go next year?

Links:
The Adventurists
Mongol Rally info/sign-up page

The 46th running of the Baja 1000 starts tonight in Ensenada, Mexico, and winds along an 833-mile course to finish back in Ensenada on the 17th. Here’s a video with a little bit of history about the race, including—I just learned—the traps and obstacles set by the spectators.

You can also follow along at the SCORE site. They also have a live map where you track the progress of the almost 40 different vehicle classes.

Have a look at the rest of the post for a pretty cool GoPro view of last year’s race from onboard Bryce Menzies trophy truck.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Last month, the excellent English car magazine, Octane, covered the 2013 Peking to Paris rally, a grueling 7,610-mile run across the better part of the Eurasian continent. One hundred participants spent about 30 days driving from Beijing, across Mongolia and the Russian steppes, down into eastern Europe, and through the Alps to finish in Paris.

The event is one of many put on by the Endurance Rally Association. According to their site, the route was first run in 1907. As far as we can surmise no one tackled it again for over 100 years until the ERA revived the event in 2010. And they’ve been doing it every year since then. It sounds like an amazing experience.

Here’s a link to a pdf of the Octane article where you can read all about it.

Additional Links:
The official Peking to Paris site
A gallery of images

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One hundred years ago Ford Motor Company launched the world’s first moving assembly line, the manufacturing method that enabled cars and trucks to be made economically enough to be afforded by the general public. It created nothing short of a manufacturing revolution.

Here’s a clip from Ford’s press release on the subject.

It simplified assembly of the Ford Model T’s 3,000 parts by breaking it into 84 distinct steps performed by groups of workers as a rope pulled the vehicle chassis down the line.

The new process revolutionized production and dropped the assembly time for a single vehicle from 12 hours to about 90 minutes.

By reducing the money, time and manpower needed to build cars as he refined the assembly line over the years, Ford was able to drop the price of the Model T from $850 to less than $300. For the first time in history, quality vehicles were affordable to the masses. Eventually, Ford built a Model T every 24 seconds and sold more than 15 million worldwide by 1927, accounting for half of all automobiles then sold.

“Ford’s new approach spread rapidly, not only to other automakers but also to manufacturers of phonographs, vacuum cleaners, refrigerators and other consumer goods,” said Bob Casey, former curator of transportation at The Henry Ford.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Here’s an image from the WCXC Pinterest board, the Citroen Mehari. This odd-but-cute, 2CV-based mini-jeep was produced between between 1968 and 1988. It had a 2-cylinder, 600cc engine, fully independent suspension, and a body made from ABS plastic. From 1979 to 1983 Citroen even produced a 4×4 version.

It was as simple as a box of rocks and, apparently, as agile as a mountain goat, given it’s 1,260-lb. weight. A 2-cylinder engine! It had to have been as slow as a mountain goat too.

I’ll bet it’s a hoot to drive though. According to Wikipedia, those 1,300 4-wheel-drive versions are highly sought after today.

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This year marks the 50th anniversary of Porsche’s dynamic and durable 911. Despite being a tarmac legend, the 911 did venture off-road on occasion. Case in point, this Porsche 911 SC ‘Safari’, designed for the 1978 East Africa Rally with long-travel suspension, bull bar, classic Martini & Rossi livery, and a locking rear differential. Despite being two-wheel-drive, having the engine (and weight) out back over the drive wheels, made it potent off-road performer.

The ‘Safari’ was displayed at this year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed in conjunction with the 911’s 50th anniversary celebration. Here’s a press release from Porsche describing the car and the rally.

Read the rest of this entry »

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A few months ago I thought it would be cool to convert my turn signals and brake lights to LEDs. I had seen them on my friend Greg’s truck and I liked the crisp on/off quality. I thought it updated the look of the truck and, of course, LEDs use much less power and last practically forever. In this post I’ll tell you everything you need to know to make the switch to LEDs, and I’ll also tell you why I opted not to do it, for now. Read the rest of this entry »

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I drive about 20,000 miles per year and my 1995 Mitsubishi Montero gets about 18 mpg. At current gas prices, which hover just over $4 per gallon in my neck of the woods, that’s a fuel bill of about $4500 per year.

I recently saw that Smart Cars are available for lease for $99 a month. This got me thinking. If I leased a Smart Car, which gets about 36 mpg, and drove it most of the time, say 18,000 year, at current gas prices the fuel bill would come to $2025 per year. Add in $1200 for the lease, and $450 for the remaining 2000 miles of fuel for the Montero and the total is $3675. I’d come out almost a $1000 ahead for the year, use less gas, and save wear and tear on the truck to boot.

If we weren’t buying a sailboat, I’d seriously consider it.

 

Let’s lighten things up with today’s video. I’m pretty sure the new VW Beetle Convertible is useless out on the trail but the commercial is funny.

There’s something very cool going on. All over the world small shops are taking advantage of the fruits of industrial production (like an abundance of vehicles and interchangeable parts), injecting them with fresh ideas, and rebuilding them through small-scale production. ICON in Southern California does it by turning old Land Cruisers into highly capable, high-spec wonders. Another So-Cal company, Singer, does it by reimagining the air-cooled 911.

Singer strips the car down to its frame, then cherry picks the best oem and specialty components from the model’s long history, to create the ultimate 911. They even go so far as to reshape the curves and forms of the car itself. They do what we all do when we modify our trucks: that is, build a vision of the perfect vehicle.

It’s industrial design taken back to the level of craft. That is, the design takes place, not in a remote studio, but in the same place where the thing is built. Design and manufacture are fused together. The results are extraordinary.