Saturday, November 27, 2010

A Winter Series - Dream Picnics. A Pairing of Alfresco Menus and Cars.

Painting from Kris Wallace, The Picnic.

Despite the fluke of weather that has me out driving with windows down and sleeves rolled up, I know winter is hard upon us in Colorado. As such, I was rolling around a few ideas for articles that would give me a reason to post a few times a month. And I've decided to do a series on picnics.

But not just picnics. Soggy(you do know why they were soggy...) ham sandwiches like the Griswolds ate in Vacation. But proper picnics matched to proper automobiles. Picnics like that featured in To Catch a Thief along with a beautiful Grace Kelly and Sunbeam Alpine.

Maybe I will be able to make a few of the coming picnic pairings a reality someday. Maybe not.

But the fun of just imagining them will be one of my salves, along with Bourbon, to get me through the cold months.

It will also give me an opportunity to write about food and cars together. A joy for me, but according to some of my novel's reviewers a bore. It seems half the people like my book, the other half hate it. Really, some people ought to know if you want the same info about car stats and facts, there are lots of other places to find those out. My writing is not one of them. I respect the facts, but choose to write about the experiences. So much more fulfilling.

So, throughout December, January and February I will put up four 'Picnic Pairings' a month to whet our appetites for cars and good food while most of us are hibernating away. Oh, but don't worry, I am sure my ramshackle collection of cars will give me somethings worth posting about in addition.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Holiday Greetings from Jaguar

Click on the photo for a large version.

With a too rare for me combination of time off+good weather+no chores to do, I was able to just have a little fun today with the Jaguar. Drove around for a bit, grabbed lunch with my wife and son at Park Burger and then spotted this beautifully deserted aggregate plant and thought it would make a good photo.

This was after I nabbed the wreath we had on our front door and zip-tied it to the MKII's grill. I would never have done this in summer what with the car's penchant to run a bit warm, but now that it is cool out, I had no worries. And the enthusiastic smiles that this adornment elicited from passerby showed it worth the effort.

Hope all you out there who read me have an enjoyable holiday season and are able to get your cars out a bit and exercise them. A perfect excuse to enjoy some time away from family.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Further Adventures in 944 Torsion Bar Adjustment

Now that the racing season is over, I decided to make some of the larger changes that I refrained from during the season. I wanted to complete the races this year with basically the same set-up so I could work on my driving and get used to the tracks, not different set-ups.

The work today, it was sunny but brisk in Denver this late November Saturday, was to lower the rear of the car. I went out thinking it would be a one hour job. It took three and a half. Why? Me make stupid mistake sometimes.

So, I jack the car up, unhook the shocks and get ready to easily remove the torsion bars. Or so I thought. I had drilled holes in the rockers and affixed tabs to the torsion bars to specifically make this job easier.

But no matter what I did, I could not get the torsion bars to budge. And since they were new and well-greased I knew they should easily slide out when the splines, pressure and planets aligned. But no go.

I used the standard approach of a jack under the trailing arm to move up and down and get the torsion bars to be de-stressed. But still, they would not slide out. Even when asking for my neighbor to come over and help I could not get the bars to move. I was frustrated.

So, after two hours I jacked the car higher and removed the jack stand from under the torsion tube carrier(that is the round end that sticks out into the wheel well). I was about to call it a day. But then I decided to try removing the bar again. And it worked. WTF?

My best guess is the weight of the car on the torsion tube carrier was just enough to tweak the angle of the carrier and wedge the bar in place. Once my idiocy was uncovered I got to lowering the car. I was running at 5.5 to 5.75 inches on the rear measured ground to rocker at the seam. This was WAY HIGH for a leading 944 SPEC car. I wanted to get down to 4.5. A full inch lower. Many of the winners run 4 inches flat.

I got the passenger side in one shot. The drier side took three tries. There is no exact formula to this, just trial and error. But one trick is to make a mark on the shock, and measure form there. So, that is what I did, make a mark and jacked the trailing arm up one inch and then reinserted the torsion bar.

Just take a look at the pictures. Once inch does not sound like much but the look is dramatically different. I hope the handling is dramatically tighter. I think this will make a big difference in quick transition corners and also on the high-speed sweepers on some courses that have a big 'pucker' factor in my car as it wags its tail.

Final height adjustments will be made in the spring with my new race tires when I corner balance at the beginning of the season. There is 3/4 of an inch of adjustment available in the trailing arm set up without reindexing.

Don't clown the photos, it is riding high in front. But that is because I was too tired to lower the front down so that the car, according to Dave Dirks(my engine builder and 2010 944 SPEC national champion), is co-planer. Which in my case means 4.5 inches from ground to rocker at all four corners.

Improving a race car just doesn't happen in the race season. In fact, it is best to make the big changes during downtime so that when the season rolls around, all a racer has to do is worry about tire pressure and showing up.

Now, off to the couch to relax, rest my back and fall asleep warmed by a rather special Imperial Stout.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Back Date 911 = '32 Ford

It is with sadness that I have come to the conclusion that the early 911 look is as tired and boring as that of the ubiquitous 32 Ford Hot Rod.

Now, so you know I am not just a hater, I have a 911 and my father owns a 32 Hi Boy. But damn, I am just sick of all the hype around both of these cars. Like a new type of wash on denim all the variations. People trying to do something different that in the end, is not different. 

And it is pretty obvious at any sort of cruise, gathering, cars & coffee that both the 32 Ford and early 911 have lost their appeal. The only people checking them out are the other owners. "These are the French market driving lights, very rare here..." or "I had the guys at Pete and Jake do a special powder coat color for me..." Ugh.

The cars with the interest are the goofy ones. The rare ones. The odd survivors. Which, is really good. Because the cars that are interesting to the majority of auto hobbyists today are not just the expensive ones.

Anyone agree or disagree?

Photos from brembo on pelican boards and

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Porsche Design Driver's Selection Quality is Horrendous

How hard is it for a company to disappoint a long-term brand loyalist? Hard. I know, I have been in advertising for over a decade. Your brand loyalists are your strongest asset, but they can also be your strongest adversary.

And Porsche Design/Driver's Selection/Porsche AG whatever you call yourself, you have an adversary in me now.

If Porsche built their cars as shoddily as they do the glasses, watches and toys that bear their name they would not be in business. Period. I thought that their items would be built like their cars in that they were meant to be used. That is what I and so many of you like about Porsche cars, they can be used as intended and not be the worse for it unlike a Lotus or Ferrari. But read below and you will see that is not the case.

Let's recap my passion for Porsche. I have owned three 951s, two 944s, I race a 944 SPEC Car, I have owned two 911SCs, I have owned one 912. I have convinced two of my friends to buy 911s. I have driven across the country for the right car. Oh yeah, I have also written the only Porsche novel. So you could say I am a brand loyalist. Doubt it still, I even defend the Panamera design. I write this blog for no monetary compensation, I hope my readers enjoy the lack of ads. It would be only one click of the button labeled 'monetize' for me to allow them, but I want the site to be unsullied. I do this because I love it.

My opinions and decision to bring this to the world, (OK Porsche world through my blog) is because I do not want anyone else to be disappointed like I am.

WATCHES. I was pretty happy when I bought my 911 To the Core Watch. I even made a post about it. But that was before I even wore it out once. Much to my chagrin, I have worn the watch approximately two dozen times. And each time I do, a new fault seems to appear. Enlarge the pictures and notice the frayed stitching on the band. And the remarkable amount of scratches on the housing. I am not kidding, I can scratch it with my fingernail. Compare this to the Christopher Ward watch I recently won from Octane. I have worn this watch almost daily since then and guess what? It looks as good as the day I pulled it out of the very impressive packaging. The list price on both these watches is around $500. So, apples to apples, Porsche Driver's Selection your watch quality stinks!

TOYS. I have a one year old son and I of course wanted to indoctrinate him into the Porsche brand early. So, I bought him the My First Porsche wooden toy. A friend of ours bought him anAutomoblox. The Porsche was $20, the Automoblox $30. Enlarge the pictures you will the Porsche paint flakes off on a whim. Every edge is scratched remarkably. Guess what, he usually plays with this car in his crib. Compare that to the Automoblox which looks brand new, and this with much abuse from the four year old neighbor who takes it out of my house and plays with it on the driveway. Seriously, I have wooden toys from Target, not cars I admit, that have not flaked off any paint as of yet. Thanks for the junky toy Porsche!

GLASSWARE. This is my favorite. Do you like my set of four, I mean two drink glasses? Pretty nice huh? I have had this set for three years and use it on the rare occasion that I would mix up some Tom Collins. Well, two of the soldiers are down. One cracked on the lip when an ice cube was dropped in. The other broke in half when hand washing. Now, compare this to the complete set of four glasses I was given by my grandparents who purchased them in the 60's. These glasses have been moved countless times, sipped on porches(not in Porsches) and washed in dishwashers yet they all remain intact. The Porsche glasses were $80 for 4, thats $20 a piece. My grandparents were poor so no way did they spend the equivalent funds FORTY YEARS AGO.

NOTE - I have bought all these items new from approved Porsche dealers. Not second hand. Not off a resellers site.

I have gone and sent this posting link to Porsche Driver's Selection, Porsche NA and Porsche Design. I will let you know what I hear back.

But, I cannot recommend any Porsche products besides their cars at this time. It is all too obvious to me that these items and I am sure all the others in their catalog are designed to make money not live up to the Porsche brand promise of excellence. They seem to be designed as gifts to be admired on a shelf, not used and enjoyed. And with the gift giving season just coming on us, that is too bad.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Classic Spotting in NYC

I was in NYC the past few days on a photoshoot for one of my advertising clients. Yes it involved models in bathing suits. Yes it still feels like work.

Though the work part was lessened because of a great client, staying at the steampunk meets Victorian ACE hotel and meals at Momofuku and Spotted Pig. All fueled by coffees from Stumptown. An Americano from the latter feels more like taking part in a play, than it does in ordering a coffee because of the performance of making your coffee and carefully curated facial hair of the baristas.

On to the car spotting. Just a block away from the Spotted Pig, I saw this late chrome-bumpered MGB. The wheels on these always reminded me of the rims on certain Buicks. Sure the dash is a bit puffy and it rides a bit high, but to see this used as a car, not a collectible was pretty cool.

Then, on the next day I was in Williamsburg and when we pulled up to the studio this very nice Sherwood Green XK150 was parked out front. I thought, 'How f'n cool is that someone is driving this thing and parking it on the street?' But, several hours later I found out it was a prop for a photoshoot at the studio next door. Bummer. Still a nice car, but not anywhere near as cool since it was trailed to the studio. And I heard run, pretty rough. But, look for it to appear in a Saks Fifth Avenue ad soon.

Friday, November 5, 2010

VW stASH Found in Indonesia...

This puts the 'ash' in 'stash'.

Alright, maybe this is not super funny, but this image from the NYTimes today of the aftermath of the Mount Merapi eruption had me thinking one thing;

If the folks at BaT put this up on their site and described it as 'VW collector decides to part with cars. The red one looks to be restored original. While the blue one covered in precious dust looks to be hot rodded with minilites wheels" the hoards would be in a frenzy.