Tuesday, May 25, 2021

USMMA Auto Show Part II

Let's STOP by the Merchant Marine Academy Auto Show!

Last time I shared the 3 unique cars that I'd never heard of until this show, so here's some more of the cars spotted on Sunday. Several cars were from student members of the Merchant Marine Academy Auto Club, so you might be interested to know that in addition to learning math, science, navigating, and other sea-going skills, students at Kings Point also take welding! This comes in real handy for your truly to work on a campus with 1,000 students that are all mechanically inclined, very intelligent, and high achievers. Stop by the auto club workshop and I'll bet you'll find various Mariners working on their cars, trailers, motorcycles, getting a lot of hands-on time with the lift and tools available. 

First up, an early 60s Mercury Meteor. Back in the space race days, plenty of cars had cool space-going names like Comet, or mimicked spaceships with their tails and other trim, so the name Meteor fit right in for the few years it was built, 61-63 in the US. This one has original trim inside, which in the 60s usually meant vinyl bench seats front and rear! Normally any shade of brown as a car color does not impress me, but this one works! Super trivia, this car also has the ignition key on the left side of the steering wheel, so that's one thing it has in common with my Porsche Cayman!

Next up is one of my favorites, not because it's cool or goes fast, but because of the story. This car was basically donated to the club (so the story is told) so the members have been working on it, and hope to have it racing in autocross or rally racing, or something! Circa 1998 Audi A4 6 cylinder quattro (all wheel drive in Audi talk.) The "custom paint" job on the hood, Student Driver plate, Kings Point Auto Club KPA sticker, and other features make this a stand out in a car show of actual cars! Other features include the spray painted bumper that is now attached to the car, courtesy of a few strategically drilled holes, and what certified ASA mechanics refer to as "zip-ties."

This yellow Corvette and the Honda motorcycle were two more big hits at the show, both owned by different students. The two wheeler has been brought back from salvage title status, so it is encouraging to find younger motoring fans keeping the classics alive. These two vehicles got a lot of attention from the crowd, everyone loves Corvettes and bikes!

OK, let's hit some more highlights and wrap this thing up. Thanks again to the US Merchant Marine Academy for hosting this show, as well as all the Midshipmen that made it happen, the Kings Point Auto Club members, the Food Truck folks, and the EMT students on duty keeping everyone safe!

Nissan Z car all race prepped, very nice looking. 

There were two Chevrolet Corvairs parked side by side, of course both rear engine, one hard top and one convertible. I'm no expert on these things, and you can Google Ralph Nader or air-cooled-rear-engined cars to find out more, but let's just say they are a classic design. With model years from 1960-1969, a variety of flat 6 cylinder engines, there's still a pretty good number of them still around. One was a 140 and one was a 110 (numbers tell you the horsepower), so here's a shot of the logos on the rear deck. I noticed that you get two checkered flags with the higher HP car!

The coolest British car of the show (and ONLY one come to think of it) was this nice green MGB. Complete with rear luggage rack, you can tell it's an earlier model by the chrome bumpers, instead of the later US safety-mandated rubber bumper models. 

See, I told you I was digging the brownish Mercury Meteor and the rear tail-lights. You'd poke someone's eye out with these today!

From the 1930s, a blue Plymouth and a Chevrolet. These American Icons were very nice to see, and what a throw-back to the current crop of automobiles. 

I guess the term "Auto" show includes anything automotive, so sure enough there was this former Army truck. This was a big hit with a few kids that climbed in and checked it out too. Checking my files, I'm afraid my Army basic training military drivers license from 1985 has expired, so I'll just say "I used to drive one of these!"

I hope you enjoyed the USMMA Auto Show, and I sure hope we're doing it again 12 months from now. Check out a car show near you!

Sunday, May 23, 2021

US Merchant Marine Academy Auto Show

Most years (besides COVID like last year) the students at the US Merchant Marine Academy put on an auto show and invite the public on campus. This year the event was held just off campus (COVID) and featured some public cars, some of the students cars, and at least 3 cars that I'd never heard of before! Thanks to the Academy for another fun event, and I'm already looking forward to next year's auto show in May to be back on campus at Kings Point NY, right at Walter Chrsysler's old house. 

I probably mention Mr. C's house every other blog or so, but it's just a neat part of history for those of us that work at the Academy. Anyway, car wise, the featured car this year was a custom made, ONE OF A KIND IN THE WORLD, 1937 Chrysler Imperial, body by LeBaron, custom built for Mrs. Chrsylser, 7 passenger limo! This is a straight 8 cylinder motor, with an aluminum body. This car appeared at the 2014 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance and was awarded first in Class for American Classic Closed. Here's the photos, and the first car of the day that I'd never heard of before. 

The Chrysler featured spring loaded windows, which roll down manually like a regular window, but that action compresses a spring inside the door, so by pushing a button the window will slide smoothly and quickly back to the up position. It was cool to see this function work!

Next up, a 1950 Oldsmobile  FUTURAMIC. I've heard of the Olds 88, Rocket 88, and even drove my grandfather's 1966 Dynamic 88, but I'm a bit too young to remember the name "Futuramic" which apparently came in 76, 88, and 98 models. I just enjoyed looking at the car, talking with the owner, and learning more about this model. Here's some photos: 

Following up from the 37 Chrysler and the 50 Oldsmobile, let's go way up to 1986 and the Pontiac Aerocoupe Grand Prix 2+2. Another car I missed at the time, they built 1225 of them, only in 1986, and was an effort to get ahead of Ford in NASCAR. The "Aero" part is the rear window tapered down to a smaller trunk, and a spoiler on the back. There was also a Chevrolet Aerocoupe Monte Carlo built over two years in larger numbers, so this Pontiac is more on the low production side. In addition, most of them were regular hard tops, but here we have one with a T top that made me think it was some kind of  Pontiac Firebird Trans Am! If none of this is ringing a bell, go hit the Internet and look for a photo of Richard Petty rocking one of these cars in his blue and red STP #43 and you'll get the picture!

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

How Many Models of Car Do You Need?

Porsche Taycan, photo by Porsche

Which of the 21 models of Porsche Panamera is right for you? Also, why do I want to call it the Pan-AMERICA? If I win the bazillion dollar lottery, I can simplify this and just buy 
  all 21 models can't I?

I think most cars and their multiple models were confusing enough, although some are more confusing than others. Not that I want Ford to only make the Model T again, but it would be easier, wouldn't it? Take the Mustang as an example. Used to be it came in V8 or V6. Then they threw in a 4 cylinder. Then the Mach 1. And the Boss. and the GT350. And a GT500. Now there's the electric Mustang Mach-E. Don't forget the Cobra. 

How about our Camry? It's an XLE, which since it has three letters, I think it's fancier than the LE or XL ones that only have 2 letters. I don' know if long ago Toyota used up the A mode, B model, C model, etc. Maybe there's only 3 different versions of Camry, oh, other than the Hybrid. and the Hybrid Prime. OK, I really don't care much since I've never bothered to look them up. 

However, the Porsche folks have taken this to the next level! Their Panamera is a big 4 door high performance car, and I'm sure it's pretty nice. Like other Porsche models, there is a base version, then an S higher performance. And a Turbo. And a 4 wheel drive. Then each of those they make slightly larger as an Executive version. Then there's the Hybrid versions of all the others, PLUS the Sport Tourismo versions, AND the GTS versions. Confused yet? I know I am. 

Let's just lay it all out, names and MSRP prices are from the Porsche USA web page. To keep it confusing, this is the order you can see them on their webpage, and they aren't in order of price either:
1. Panamera $87,200
2. Panamera 4 $91,800
3. Panamera 4 Executive $98,500
4. Panamera 4 Sport Tourismo $98,000
5.  Panamera 4S $105,000
6.  Panamera 4S Executive $116,300
7.  Panamera 4S Sport Tourismo $111,200
8.  Panamera 4 E-Hybrid $103,800
9.  Panamera 4 E-Hybrid Executive $108,300
10. Panamera 4 E-Hybrid Sport Tourismo $107,800
11. Panamera 4S E-Hybrid $113,300
12. Panamera 4S E-Hybrid Executive $124,600
13. Panamera 4S E-Hybrid Sport Tourismo $117,300
14. Panamera GTS $129,300
15. Panamera GTS Sport Tourismo $135,500
16. Panamera Turbo S $177,700
17. Panamera Turbo S Executive $188,100
18. Panamera Turbo S Sport Tourismo $181,700
19. Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid $187,700
20. Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid Executive $198,100
21. Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid Sport Tourismo $191,700 

On the other hand, the one thing with German cars I like is the long words, like when VW used to use Fahrvergn├╝gen. Porsche has that one beat though, with their German name for the automatic double-clutch, the Doppelkupplungsgetriebe . Let's just call it PDK then. 

Monday, May 17, 2021

Another "World's Easiest Car Repair"

That hood isn't going to hold itself up!

Under "World's Easiest Car Repair" we've written about some simple maintenance tasks that you can do yourself and save a ton of money compared to paying someone else to do it. Of course car dealers are entitled to make a living too, and I sure don't mind seeing mechanics and technicians making a good salary either. But, me personally, I like to save money even more than to give it to someone else! Heck, if I SAVE money, then I CAN give it to someone else!

Right up there with replacing your own air filter, cabin air filter, or even pumping your own gas (outside of New Jersey,) another simple job is to replace worn out hood or trunk struts! Last week I noticed our 10 year old Camry's hood didn't really want to open like normal (easily that is) so I figured I'd just replace the 2 struts. While this IS an easy job, I'd never done it before, so I Googled it up and found a great video that showed me how easy it was. 

OK, first let's review the EXTENSIVE tool list you will need for this job:

    1) flat head screwdriver

    2) nothing else

    3) really, nothing else at all

Got that? It's easy! Actually, I seem to remember that if my writing has a number 1, then it should also have a number 2. (total lack of number 1 requiring number 2 jokes here) If I have to list another tool, maybe a 

    2) knife to open the package

Camry OEM struts from STABILUS

So you first have to remove the old struts. This step is amazingly similar to the only thing you have to do to install the new one. Grab that screwdriver, and just loosen the clamp that will hold the strut in place. Once you look at it once or watch a video, you'll see it's amazingly simple. 

This open end just slides over the ball on the hood and engine bay

Loosen the clamps on the strut on the car, both the top and the bottom connections are the same. After that the strut comes right off. SAFETY wise you might have to support the hood at this point, until the new one is in place. If you're not sure about needing to support the hood, a sudden clunking feeling on your head or hand from the hood falling down will indicate that YES YOU SHOULD HAVE HELD THE HOOD UP. 

Old dirty strut still fastened. Just have to loosen that center band with a screwdriver. 

Now to install the new strut, you just loosen the clamps enough to pop the strut in place, slip the clamps back into the secure position. That's it. Repeat on the other strut and you should be all done.

After doing this on our Made-in-Kentucky-Camry, I peeked at the struts on the Made-in-Finland-Cayman, and even though the struts said Made in Germany, they sure look like the same design to me. If you're looking for probably the cheapest prices on struts or just about any car parts, I'll again recommend mail order from our friends at RockAuto.com. The struts I ordered are from Stabilus, which is the same company that made the original ones on the Camry, and since they've lasted this long, I'm a happy customer.