Thursday, September 21, 2023

National Drive Electric Week 2023

Brian checks out electric cars in 2014

Come on now, you've heard of electric cars and trucks by now! Shoot, you might even own or lease one. Maybe you know somebody with one. OK, or maybe you hate the idea of electric vehicles. Regardless, you can learn more about electric vehicles and test drive some during National Drive Electric Week! Formore info, or to find an event near you, check out their website: National Drive Electric Week

2014 BMW i3, our previous pick for best electric

I don't have anything to do with this event, and I don't know if the folks in charge have already thought of this or need a cool slogan, but if it were up to me, I'd recommend they use "DEW" for "Drive Electric Week." How about "Just DEW It America!" In their email they refer to it as NDEW, but I think they could cut 25% of those letters and save some ink while they're at it!

Nissan Leaf: we liked it just a hair less than the BMW i3

We attended a Drive Electric Week a few years ago in Blythewood SC (future home of the Audi Scout SUV all electric factory) and had a blast test driving some all-electric cars, so we'll hopefully get to do the same this weekend up in North Carolina. I think electrics are like hybrids, they may or may not fit your driving needs, such as commuting or long-distance trips. If they do fit your plans, then it's worth taking a look. 

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Clover SC Car Show and Fall Festival

Modern kit-car version of the epic Ford Cobra, one of two at the car show!

Here in York County SC, last Saturday was the annual Clover Auto Show and Fall Festival. If you've never heard of Clover, that's OK, it's not the largest city in the USA. OK, it's not even the largest city in South Carolina. Oh, and it's not the largest city in York County. However, it is in the top 5 for York County, coming in at a population of 7363, so way ahead of 6th place Sharon with 475. Anyway, 

There was a big turn-out of classic cars, lots of other booths selling stuff, bouncy houses for the kids, so let's take a look at just some of the cool cars that we spotted.

The original Ford Maverick was a car.

What says "THE 70s" like this Maverick interior!?!?

1964 Mercury Comet, bring it on!

They don't make rear ends like this anymore!
Gas filler panel in the center too. 

Mercury logo
When station wagons ruled the world!

Plymouth Custom Suburban!

When station wagons ruled the world part II
1956 Dodge Sierra
I think the bit of rust gives the two-toned paint scheme more of a three-toned look!

Dodge with "Mad Max" plate!

Random trivia, the Dodge had this dealership badge from Great Neck NY, which is where we just lived on Long Island!

1966 Chevrolet Corvette

It's always a great day for a car show!

Awesome Buick circa 1959

Sorry I didn't check out the Army Jeep, but I drove one in 1986 in basic training

Decal on an old VW Beetle

What's better than a Four Barrel?

A SIX Barrel!

Monday, September 18, 2023

We Rented a Ford Edge "or Similar." Guess What We Got?

Rainbow, Bishop California. About to drive up to 9200 feet elevation in our "Similar."
I took this as an awesome sign on the day we were spreading my parents ashes. 

On a previous trip this summer, we headed to Michigan to visit some family, and rented a Toyota Camry "OR SIMILAR" and ended up with a RAM 1500 full size truck! Keeping that theme in mind, and still wondering who makes a car named "SIMILAR," our latest trip was to California. We reserved a "Ford Edge or similar" to haul 4 of us around, from Los Angeles out to the eastern Sierra mountains, and over to Sequioa National Park. Guess what we got?

Cool billboard near Edwards Air Force Base.

HINT #1: It wasn't a Ford Edge; therefore, it was the proverbial "or similar." This time it wasn't a Ram pickup either! (There, that should narrow it down a bit!)

Seats 4 people with luggage

HINT #2: It is a very popular vehicle, one of the top 10 sellers in the USA. Since it wasn't a truck, that eliminates the Ford, Chevy, GMC, Dodge and Toyota Tacoma trucks, so that narrows it down to maybe 5 out of the top 10 sellers. How many hints do you need?

Here's all the relatives that met up on this trip. They all did NOT fit in our rental. 

BONUS HINT #2A: It's NOT a Tesla, which is also in the top 10, so now I've got you down to only 4 vehicles! You're welcome!

Panoramic shot. Which one of these cars was ours?

HINT #3: Pick one: Toyota RAV 4, Toyota Camry, Jeep Grand Cherokee, or Honda CR-V. 

If you don't believe me on the top ten selling vehicles, here's my source: CNBC ARTICLE

In the Owens Valley we visited the Manzanar Historic Site, where 10,000 Japanese Americans were held during WWII. 

HINT#4: OK, it was a Toyota RAV 4. 

Toyota RAV 4 at Sequoia National Park. Nice sunlight in the afternoon and GIANT trees! Seriously, Toyota, you can use this photo in an ad!

It held all 4 of our family members, and our suitcases, and kept us on the road around Southern California. It survived Los Angeles freeways, up and down to 9,200 feet in the Sierras, as well as say 7,000 feet in Sequoia National Park. Brian and I both drove on this trip, and we agree that the radar cruise control on ANY car is not worth it, but other than that the Rav4 was OK. Not my favorite car, and it felt pretty average, but with the reliability of Toyota in general, well, I guess that's why people buy them. 

Julie and Katie HIGHLY recommend you visit Yosemite, Kings Canyon, and Sequioa National Parks. Holy crap these trees are HUGE. Plus, the driving up to 7,000 or more feet is AWESOME with a capital "A."

Mostly we learned that when a rental car place offers you model X "OR SIMLAR" we keep ending up with "or similar." Oh, and if you really want to drive some awesome roads, head out to California and check out the Owens Valley and the Sierras, the Kern River valley, and Sequioa National Park. Lots of great scenery, and especially in the park you will be on some awesome 2 lane very slow roads in an awesome landscape. LA traffic, not so exciting! Maybe you should do like my brother and fly into Las Vegas and drive from there! He was going to go thru Death Valley, but the recent storm closed all the roads!

Brian and Julie in Vegas. We did NOT win millions of dollars and buy matching Ferraris. Yet. 

Friday, September 15, 2023

NMS Preps for Track Night in America

Well, yeah, we might have altered this photo. 

A few years ago, the Sports Car Club of America started a program called Track Night in America, in an effort to get more first timers out on a racetrack. This program has grown in popularity and runs events all summer long at locations across the country. Somehow, I've always been too busy working, or didn't live close enough to attend a TNiA, but on September 20th that will change. I'll be at Carolina Motorsports Park CMP LINK from about 1pm to 6:30pm and get 3 sessions (20 minutes each) of lapping the track. Score 1 for being retired!  TNiA at CMP LINK 

CMP = 14 Corners
The high speed "Kink" marked turn 10 may or may not be flat-out.

One concern with doing regular track days on a weekend is the cost. You will likely pay $200-$300 per day and up, sometimes WAY UP above that. Add in the gas, tire wear, brake wear, food and maybe lodging, and to enjoy a hobby of driving two days on a track and the cost really adds up. The attraction of TNiA, if you can take a day off of work, or maybe even half a day, is that you head out to a track on a weeknight, still get 3 sessions in, and the SCCA does a good job to hold the costs down. From what I know about renting a track, they generally charge more on the weekend, so with TNiA being during the week it's a bit cheaper. 

Fresh brake fluid, yes please. 

Safety is important, so all drivers must attend a driver meeting, wear a helmet on track, and obey other rules like how/when you can pass other cars, so I feel good about driving at this event. I've driven at CMP before for a track day and two 24 Hours of Lemons races, so getting lost on track should NOT be a problem. It isn't racing, there's no prize money, it's just a FUN event. Huh, imagine that! Every driver takes the checkered flag and WINS at TNiA!

The Motive Power Brake Bleeder makes this job easier.

To get ready for driving on track, today I took off my 18-inch wheels and put on the 19s, torqued the ol' lug nuts, looked at other fluid levels, put on the track brake pads, and changed my brake fluid. A lot of drivers focus on making their car faster, which is good, but I know I also need to be able to STOP! Other than that, I just need to show up, pay attention, only pass when allowed by the driver in front, drive safely, have gas in the car, take a helmet and water, maybe some food, and throw the canopy in the car since it will likely still be warm. 

Swapping wheels, bleeding brakes, checking brake pads.

This will be my first time in the Cayman at CMP, so while it's not competitive, I have to figure I can go a bit faster than the other cars I've driven there, like the NMS Miata, NMS FIAT 500 Abarth, and the "Altimate" Driving Machine Nissan Altima. Here's the schedule for the day, with 3 different driving groups taking turns on track. I'm doing the BLUE Intermediate Group schedule:

1:00PM- Gates Open

2:15PM- Worker Meeting (includes Run/Work participants)



3:20PM - Advanced Group: Session 1

3:25PM - HAWK Novice Group: Briefing 1 

3:40PM - Intermediate Group: Session 1

4:00PM - HAWK Novice Group: Session 1

4:20PM - Advanced Group: Session 2

4:25PM - HAWK Novice Group: Briefing 2

4:40PM - Intermediate Group: Session 2

5:00PM - Track Tour Laps (Open to All)

5:20PM - HAWK Novice Group: Session 2

5:40PM - Advanced Group: Session 3

5:45PM - HAWK Novice Group: Briefing 3

6:00PM - Intermediate Group: Session 3

6:20PM - HAWK Novice Group: Session 3

6:40PM - Track Close

8:00PM - Gates Close

Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Labor Day Car Show: Matthews NC

Ferrari 328

Thanks to the Internet, I learned that there is an annual car and motorcycle show in Matthews North Carolina, and since it was on Labor Day, and I was off of work...I mean, since I'm retired, we went to Matthews! We'd driven through the downtown area, and remembered it was a nice-looking place, one of the many suburbs on the south side of Charlotte. This was a fun event, free to be a spectator, and of course there's always car people that want to chat about cars. Here's some of my favorites from what we saw:

Having seen a variation of this Super Bee logo on the Bunch of Idiots Dodge Coronet race car, it always looks cool to me. I'm a sucker for cool badges, stickers, and hood ornaments. 

Pontiac Chieftan, you don't see these every day! Oh, and stay tuned for more orange/red cars today!

Maybe it was orange car day! A classic VW bus is always worth noting.

More orange, and more 50s Corvette!

I believe this is a 1957, so it's older than me. The early Corvettes still look great. 

What car has a flat-six air cooled motor in the back?
An older Porsche?
Well yeah, but so does the Chevy Corvair.

Bonus easy question: What is better than a Chevy Corvair?
TWO Chevy Corvairs!
You're welcome!

This 51 Mercury was chopped, but I like the grill even more. 

There is just something cool about old cars with unique or distinctive hood ornaments.
This is a Packard. 

I'm guessing this is not an original steering wheel, but either way, the hood ornament design in the steering wheel is pretty cool!


Chevrolet Belair Nomad wagon! There were two of these on display, so let's stick with the red/orange one!

This was the best (and only) French car on display, Citroen 2CV. 
That's the front two seats on the ground, holding a display sign describing the car. 
They look more like lawn furniture.

I didn't ask why a photo of President Trump was in the driver's seat of this Prius. 

Ferrari 328, I talked to the friendly owner. He said he is the 3rd owner of this car. 

OK, this might be my favorite of the day, and I'm pretty sure I've never seen one. This is a 1959 Buick Electra 225 Convertible. It was big. Like as big as a 7-11. 

The Buick interior looked to be original, with real wear on it, and this awesome GREEN steering wheel!

Oh yes, it has fins! And a great sense of humor with the arm sticking out of the trunk. 

As a fan of unusual car logos and hood ornaments, as much as I like seeing a Barracuda, it's just not the most beautiful fish in the world. 

Chevy Belair, not sure if you can see the writing on the back wall of the trunk embossed in the leather.

1915 Ford Model T. They sold a few of these (15 million) from 1908-1928 before his son talked Henry Ford into maybe coming out with another car. 

Ford Rat Rod, note custom saw windshield visor. 

1934 Ford 3 window coupe.

Plymouth, we'll call it Plum Crazy