“If it ain't broke, don't fix it!"

Friday, March 28, 2008

2008 Jeep Grand Cherokee 3L Diesel

I was browsing the Net for reviews on new vehicle models. I stumbled upon a review of the new Chevrolet Camaro, but I found it still lacking. It’s perfectly understandable because the 2008 Camaro hasn’t yet been unveiled, but there have been a few who have been granted an exclusive peek at the new model, so I was kinda keeping my fingers crossed there. Unfortunately, there was still nothing much about the new Chevy in the news. On other hand, I did stumble on a great review about the 2008 Jeep Grand Cherokee 3L Diesel written by Rex Roy, a columnist for the Detroit Bureau of the Auto Channel. Here are a few lines from his first-hand review:

…In industry parlance, this SUV is mid-cycle—another way of saying that its middle aged, old news, not worthy of much attention, and completely out of the media limelight. However, when fitted with the 3.0-liter clean diesel V-6 produced by Mercedes-Benz, the Grand Cherokee suddenly becomes a newly-relevant SUV.

With the exception of a small badge on the rear hatch, you'd never know this Jeep packed a huge diesel punch while sipping fuel like a tree hugging hybrid.

It's not that the tried-and-true Grand Cherokee isn't a fine SUV when powered by any of its three gasoline-fired engines. The Jeep's lightweight unibody and trail rated suspension deliver performance and refinement that compare favorably within the class of five-passenger SUVs.

Certainly, the 420-horsepower SRT-8 models lives in rarified air because of its mind-bending acceleration and cornering performance. However —more like HOWEVER—in 2008 the biggest newsmakers are attracting attention by "out greening" their competition.

The specifications on the diesel are this: 215 horsepower at 3800 rpm, 376 lb-ft of torque at a low1600-2800 rpm, and a towing capacity rated at a maximum of 7,400 lbs. What these numbers don't tell you is that while racking up such impressive performance figures, the diesel produces approximately 30-percent fewer C02 emissions than its gasoline-burning counterparts…

For an SUV, this information is definitely very surprising. And it’s also promising to say the least. How I would wish this same technology can be applied to Hummers so I won’t feel guilty every time I drive one. Maybe next week I’ll get to read a review of the new Chevy Camaro.

Tata Motors: Hoping to Breathe Life into the Jaguar

Here’s more on the Tata Motors acquisition of British auto marquee, Jaguar, and its counterpart, Land Rover.

It seems that the desire of Tata Motors for European-owned companies is already bordering on obsession. That may be a bit of an exaggeration, but just take for instance their acquisition of Tetley, the second largest manufacturer and distributor of tea, as well as Corus, which is one of the largest producers of steel. It seems like it’s all a ploy to get back at their former colonizers, but in reality it actually pans out well in the end. The incorporation of the Corus Group into the company which also owns Tata Steel, ensures the monopoly of the production of steel in most countries, and even continents. As for Tetley, well, people love tea especially the British. In fact, Tetley products are widely popular in over 40 countries. Once the transfer of the ownership of Jaguar and Land Rover is finalized, expect Tata Motors to make a play to make these two marques, which by the way are beleaguered by low sales over the past year, the best in the world. It wouldn’t be surprising, because most of the companies that this firm touches turn into gold.

Here are just a couple of the firms that the Tata Group owns:

Ø Tata Motors

Ø Tata Steel

Ø Tata Power

Ø Tata Petrodyne

Ø Tata Chemicals

Ø Indian Hotels

Ø Tata Consultancy Services

Ø Tata Sky

Ø Tata Teleservices

Ø Tata Communications

Ø Tata Ceramics

Ø and others…

That is just about a tenth of the number of firms they own. And to think that those are leading companies in their respective sectors. Ford has made a good play of selling Jaguar and Land Rover to Tata, especially if they have the best interest of the auto-makers name/s at heart. No doubt, Henry Ford, founder of Ford Motors would have sold the marques, if need be, to Tata Motors as well.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Tata Motors Acquires Jaguar and Land Rover

There previously have been talks that Tata Motors was eyeing British marques, Land Rover and Jaguar. Rumors of that began to circulate and then died down after a couple of days. In a stunning turn of events, Ford agreed to sell these two prestigious automakers for a “mere” 2.3 billion. I know it’s a lot of money, but it’s “mere” compared to what Ford paid for Jaguar alone when it first acquired the marquee. What more for both, right? Maybe it’s because of the plummeting sales of Jaguar this year. Moreover, Ford, under the sale agreement, still has to cover the pension plans of these two, meaning they’ll still be paying for the manufacturing and distribution of these two for a period of twelve months. This will be to ease the transition of ownership. It is certainly very generous of them.

The sale is not yet final though, as it will take the two companies’ months to sort out regulatory approvals. The rough estimate when the sale can be finalized is probable by mid-year. So far, this deal has benefited none of the two companies. In an article in the Business Standard, it was cited how the acquisition of Jaguar and Land Rover has affected Tata Motors’ stocks. The writer stated that:

The Tata Motors stock fell the most in two months on the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) on concerns of decline in profits of the company after it agreed to buy Jaguar and Land Rover (JLR) from Ford Motor for $2.3 billion.

The stock dropped as much as 7.3% to a low of Rs 630 and traded at Rs 647 at 1320 hours on the BSE. The benchmark index of the BSE, the Sensex, was down 110 points.

Analysts are of the view that Tata Motor's loans to finance the purchase may increase interest payments and profit may fall by 30% next year. The company had tied up $3 billion of short-term loans to fund its acquisition, seeking overseas markets and new technology.

The only good thing that it has brought Tata Motors is the recognition as a major player in the global automotive industry. And combined with China’s play on being the # 1 automobile market in the world, it seems the future is bright for the Asian automotive industry. To strengthen this idea, here are a couple of comments placed in an article in the Financial Times: Mergermarket, to wit:

The deal is small by the standards of the global automotive industry – or of other big mergers and acquisitions in industry and finance – but has been closely followed as a new high-water mark for an Asian company in acquiring two world-renowned automaking marques.

“Their [Tata’s] acquisition of the Jaguar and Land Rover brands will make the world sit up and take notice of India’s growing prominence in the global automotive arena,” said Anand Mahindra, managing director of rival Indian automaker Mahindra & Mahindra, which also considered bidding for the marques.

It may not be a big deal today since Tata Motors is still recoiling from the shock of getting two highly-renowned auto-makers. But once they take the reins, I am willing to bet that they can turn this slump around and turn it into a good thing. I won’t be surprised at all if in the following years, Indian and Chinese companies will buy-out more and more foreign marques, cementing their hold in the process on the global automotive industry. The only thing that they have to face is the challenge of building automobiles that are at par or even better than what are being manufactured today. And considering their impressive business portfolio, I wouldn’t be amazed at all if they rise up to the challenge.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Transporter’s Mode of Transportation (Part II)

I’m still very much feeling the Jason Statham fever today so I feel like continuing the post about the cars he used in his movies. This time it’s all about The Transporter 2. And if you wait long enough, maybe in 2009 I’ll write about the cars that’ll be used in the third installment. But that would have to wait. Maybe it’s the cars and not the actor that I really like. Oh, well! Anyhow, the second installment was released in 2005. I know it’s about 3 years old already, but I feel my auto-blog won’t be complete without it, or am I just bein’ too melodramatic? I’ve already started it so I might as well finish it.

Audi A8 (W12 6.0)

I mistook the first car Jason Statham used in the movie for an Audi A8, but it turned out to be a 1999 Black BMW 735i. This time around, he did use an Audi A8. And get this: he uses it to transport a rich guy’s kid to and from school. That’s a $120,000 car. He might as well have used a limo while he’s at it. But then again those types of cars are not built for quick getaways. Compared to the first car, this one’s more fuel-efficient especially in highway driving. It is able to go as far as 23 miles on a gallon. It has a 6.0 L, W-12 engine that’s able to produce 450 hp. And that’s surprising given the fact that it’s more fuel-efficient than cars which are less powerful than it. It is highly maneuverable because it has a 6-speed automatic transmission with overdrive. In the hands of Frank Martin (Statham’s character) it becomes one mean machine.

Lamborghini Murciélago Roadster

If the Audi A8 W12 is fuel-efficient, the Lamborghini Murcielago Roadster clearly isn’t. It can only travel half of what the former can travel on one gallon of gas, and maybe even less. So what’s the big deal with this car? For one, billionaires love to drive ‘em. Also, in the movie you’d see that it can catch up to a helicopter and even a jet which is about to take-off. It’s mainly because the Murcielago can reach speeds of up to 211 mph with its 6.5 L, V-12 engine. I’ve featured this in a previous post and I’ve stated that it was also used in Batman Begins as the car that Bruce Wayne, billionaire extraordinaire, favors. And you know what, I get the feeling that whenever there is a chase scene in any action flick, there has to be a Lamborghini in there somewhere. And it’s always the good guy who gets to drive it. You’ve seen it in The Rock, Bedazzled, Die Another Day, Gone in 60 Seconds, The Italian Job and even Dumb and Dumber. That’s a list of very exceptional movies, if you ask me.

Audi A3 Sportback 3.2 Quattro

I don’t remember seeing this one in the movie, although I remember it being mentioned in an interview about the movie before. It’s far less economical than the Audi A8 and smaller. It’s actually too petite for my taste. But being in the movie, it deserves a spot in my post. It’s half the size of the A8 even in fuel capacity. It also has a V-6 which is again half the number of cylinders the Audi A8 has. At first glance, it would not seem to be something that Frank Martin would drive. But, in reality it is a good car. Its top speed is 250 km/h and it can accelerate from 0-100 kmh in just 6.6 seconds. That’s not bad at all.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Transporter’s Mode of Transportation

I love watchin’ movies that star Jason Statham. Ever since I saw the movie, The Transporter, I’ve been turned into a huge fan. It was only then that I remembered seeing him in other movies that I like, some of which are The One, Snatch, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. These three preceded the release of The Transporter in ’02, and he only played supporting roles. Afterwards, there was the second installment of The Transporter, then Crank and, finally, the Bank Job. There were a couple of movies in between, but the aforementioned are the ones I really liked. I like Jason Statham’s movies for the same reason I like Bruce Willis’ and Sylvester Stallone’s movies – the adrenaline-pumping action. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve watched the Die Hard and Rambo Series. And I haven’t felt more excited when I heard the news last year of a fourth installment for both series. And there is a rumor circulating about a Rambo V in the offing. How great is that?! Well, anyway, Jason Statham is almost always portrayed as a cold, calculating and smart killing machine in his movies. In real life, he has studied martial arts, is a great diver and is an exceptional driver; that’s why he does all the driving and the fight scenes in his movies. And since we’re on the topic, I’d just like to talk about the cars used in his movies, particularly in The Transporter. I think it’s but fitting since this is an auto-blog, so here goes:

1999 Black BMW 735i

The first time I saw the car Frank Martin (Statham’s character in The Transporter) drives, I initially thought it was an Audi A8. But in the beginning sequences of the movie, he specifically said that it’s a 1999 Black BMW 735i. And, whew, what a car that was! It was sleek and fast. It even had interchangeable license plates to confuse the police and those following him. Now, that is very useful when you are evading traffic enforcers. There were a lot of shots taken of the interior of the car, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the dash kits and seats were made of leather. There were also a lot of buttons on the driver’s console. Actually there’s too much, if you ask me. It was bordering on becoming labeled as a Bond car. But, its best features are its amazing handling and power. After the first scene with the bank robbers, his car came out without a single scratch because he was able to maneuver the car perfectly. Hmmm, I wonder if that’s really the case.

1999 7-Series 750iL

The following year after the release of The Transporter, a DVD was released which includes never before seen action sequences and a documentary. It was revealed that the car isn’t really a 1999 Black BMW 735i, but rather a 1999 7-Series 750iL. The difference is basically in the detailing of the two vehicles, but when seen from afar they look the same. That could account for the mistake, but maybe it was all part of the storyline. Anyway, the 750IL has a 5.4L V-12 engine capable of producing 322 hp at 5,000 rpm. That alone spells power.

Mercedes-Benz W140

Bad guys wrecked his 1999 7-Series 750 IL. There’s no better way to get back at them than taking their luxurious Mercedes-Benz W140. Talk about payback. This bad boy features premium components geared towards enhanced comfort, convenience and safety. It is also integrated with enhanced drivetrain technologies. And don’t get me started on its specs. Judging from the V12 engine that it has, it’s safe to say it’s one mean machine. Frank Martin sure has good taste.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Cars of the Rich and Mighty (Part II)

I just can’t get enough of these “billionaire” cars. They are expensive, but they’re all worth it. I mean, once you’ve taken a peek at the specs of these cars you’ll know that you’re not just paying for the name. You’ll get the best value for every cent that you pay. You’ll get impressive horsepower and acceleration, acceptable gas mileage, comforts fit for a king, top-of-the-line features and functionality. Best of all, they are all wrapped in one impressive package. These cars do more than make people take a second look. It’s the stuff you only see in dreams turned into reality. So you better run to the nearest Walmart, buy a piggy-bank and put a dime every day. If you do that religiously, in about 30-40 years you’ll be able to buy your own “billionaire” car. Here are a couple of options that you can choose from (that is, if you’re delusional enough to think you’ll be able to afford one in the near future):

Venturi Fetish Convertible

Venturi Fetish Convertible
Whoever said green cars aren’t built for speed? This electric car is able to produce 200 hp at 5400 rpm. The engine’s performance is similar to that of a typical sports car with an internal combustion engine. It even looks like one. In some aspects, the Venturi Fetish even surpasses a number of popular sports cars. It is said to accelerate from 0-60 mph in just 4.5 seconds. That’s just phenomenal. It tops out at 160 kmh, but that is already impressive considering the fact that it only has one gear. This alternative to fuel-powered cars is very popular to billionaires who are committed to keeping the environment clean. If green cars were all like this, and they have a cheaper price tag, I wouldn’t mind trading my gas-guzzling car for one. And by the way, when it first came out it costs about $460,000, but the last time I checked it’s in the market for only $392,000. Pretty neat, eh?! If you want a flashy, but environment-friendly car, this is the one you should get.

Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren

Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren
Do you know what SLR stands for? That’s Speed, Light, Racing. And Mercedes-Benz didn’t just put that on the model name just to make it sound cooler. The car actually lives up to its name. Check this out: It sports a supercharged 5.5L, 24 valve AMG V-8 engine capable of producing as much as 617 hp at 6,500 rpm. It kinda makes you think twice about getting a Venturi Fetish Convertible. And to think, it’s a couple of thousand dollars cheaper than the Fetish. Its msrp last I checked is $453,000. It is considered the fastest automatic transmission car in production. Many people compare it to the Porsche Carrera GT and Enzo Ferrari, but I think this car beats those two by a mile. In fact, this shouldn’t be placed in a showroom next to those two because they’ll just look bad. It sounds like it should be driven only in a race-track, but it’s actually very suitable for city-driving.

Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Convertible

Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Convertible
Finally, the crème de la crème: the Phantom Drophead. Dubbed as the most extravagant convertible in factory lines at the present time, it is the production version of two very famous concept cars, the 100EX convertible and the 101EX coupe. For its seemingly huge size, it packs a mean punch; it can accelerate from 0-60 mph in under 6 seconds. That’s pretty impressive for a car which name sounds like a Russian submarine. If you want to get one, you will have to get in line because there’s a waiting list. Its base price is $412,000, so you better start savin’.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Cars of the Rich and Mighty

Venturi Fetish Convertible. Bugatti Veyron 16.4. Maybach 62 S. Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Convertible. Lamborghini Murcielago Coupe. Those names probably don’t ring a bell; that’s because it’s not often that you’ll get to see ‘em. In fact, only the rich can afford them, and by rich I mean the type who thinks your college tuition money is just cheap change. Yep! These are the cars that millionaires and billionaires get in line for. You may be able to afford these, but that’s only if you, your siblings, sons and daughters, nieces and nephews, grandsons and granddaughters no longer get to go to college. On the other hand, even if you aren’t a billionaire, if you’re driving one of these cars, people will think you are.

These cars are pretty “chi-ching” (or is it ka-ching?). Well, anyway, the price tags of new cars range from $15,000 – $40,000, but these billionaire-driven cars costs 20-years worth of grade-school teaching salary, and maybe even more. Talk about over-the-top and extravagant! But, they can afford it, and we can’t do anything about it. And besides they give a lot of cash to charity, so who am I to complain, right?

Here are three cars that billionaires drive. Prepare to do some serious droolin’.

Lamborghini Murcielago Coupe

Lamborghini Murcielago Coupe
Aside from its stunning looks, this monster of a car is built for speed. It is fitted with a 6.5-liter Lamborghini V12 engine. It tops at a speed of 211 mph. Its available transmissions are six-speed manual, six-speed sequential automatic transmission, and it has a four-wheel drive capability. Its unique features are self-adjusting side scoops, foldable mirrors, and movable spoilers. The only downside to the Murcielago is that it’s, according to the EPA, the least fuel efficient car to ever come out this year. In fact, it is said to require a gallon just to travel 8 miles; that’s like 30-liters for every 100 kilometers. On the other hand, even with the rising cost of gasoline, I bet billionaires won’t ever run out of gas money, unless of course if you’re a spendthrift like Warren Buffett. If you have about $288,000, this car is yours for the taking. And, oh! By the way, this car made a cameo appearance in Batman Begins, and it was driven by none other than Bruce Wayne himself. Now, that’s cool!

Bugatti Veyron 16.4

Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Do you know why this car is on this list? It costs approximately $1.2 million! That’s more like a gazillion to a 10-year old. And what does a billionaire get in exchange for that kind of money? Well, about 10 radiators! (Not exaggerating here!) No wonder it’s that expensive. Setting that aside, the Bugatti Veyron 16.4 is one heck of a fast car. It sports a 16-cylinder engine and a seven-speed (that’s one more than the Murcielago), dual-clutch transmission. It was advertised as capable of producing 1,001 hp. And the automaker wasn’t even kidding. It is the fastest car that’s street-legal. It was tested a couple of times and it was proven to be able to accelerate from 0-62 mph in just 2.5 seconds, not to mention that it can reach a top speed of 253 mph. That almost borders on the “redline”. But what’s impressive is the level of safety guaranteed when driving this mean machine. Engineers must’ve used thousands of crash-test dummies.

Maybach 62 S

Maybach 62 S After a tiring day of jet-setting, hanging out at the country club, visiting the ranch, getting spa treatment and raking in millions of dollars, some billionaires rest in their Maybach 62 S. It is dubbed as the car with the best backseat ever. It is as luxurious as it’ll ever get. It’s roomy, comfortable, stylish and elegant. It’s definitely special (by the way, that’s what the S in the name stands for). Can you have a car loan for $428,750 approved by the end of the year? Then you should place an order for this vehicle. I wonder what you’re gonna put up as collateral.

Well, anyway, I’m done for the day. Maybe tomorrow, I’m gonna post more pictures and comments.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Nanotechnology: The Future of Automotive Technology?

Nanotechnology is described in the Center for Responsible Technology as that field of applied science that deals with the “engineering of functional systems at the molecular scale.” Kind of deep, huh? Well, basically what it means is the manipulation of matter at the atomic or molecular level. It’s fairly hard to explain ‘cause I’m not a physicist, but Dr. Ralph Merkle, a Nanotechnology Theorist, provides an interesting and informative illustration of what nanotechnology is all about, and here it is:
Manufactured products are made from atoms. The properties of those products depend on how those atoms are arranged. If we rearrange the atoms in coal we can make diamond. If we rearrange the atoms in sand (and add a few other trace elements) we can make computer chips. If we rearrange the atoms in dirt, water and air we can make potatoes.

Today’s manufacturing methods are very crude at the molecular level. Casting, grinding, milling and even lithography move atoms in great thundering statistical herds. It's like trying to make things out of LEGO blocks with boxing gloves on your hands. Yes, you can push the LEGO blocks into great heaps and pile them up, but you can't really snap them together the way you'd like.

In the future, nanotechnology will let us take off the boxing gloves. We'll be able to snap together the fundamental building blocks of nature easily, inexpensively and in most of the ways permitted by the laws of physics. This will be essential if we are to continue the revolution in computer hardware beyond about the next decade, and will also let us fabricate an entire new generation of products that are cleaner, stronger, lighter, and more precise.
Once nanotechnology is applied in the field of automotive technology, car engineers will be able to manufacture products that are more efficient, economic, durable and even environment-friendly. This is made possible by the fact that automakers can now reduce or altogether eliminate the minute errors that are contained in their products because they now have access to areas which were virtually inaccessible before, and it’s all because of the wonders of nanotechnology. To cite an example, Jack Uldrich, a futurist and author of “The Next Big Thing is Really Small: How Nanotechnology Will Change the Future of Your Business” relates in an article in Nanotechnology Now the innovations that can and will be brought about by this new technology, to wit:
“…nanotechnology will also lead to the creation of new and more effective catalysts which will reduce the amount of platinum and palladium automobile manufacturers use. Nanoparticles will also be used to improve fuel efficiency. In fact, Oxonica is already testing its nanoparticles on buses in England (where they have demonstrated a 4.3% in fuel efficiency), and new nanocoatings such as Ecology Coatings is developing will reduce both the amount of material and energy OEMs use to coat existing auto parts.”


“Again, thanks to advances in nanotechnology (this time in the form of new nanomaterials and silicon nanowires), a number of manufacturers are producing extraordinary leaps in battery technology. Companies such as EEStor, A123 Systems and Altair Nanotechnologies should all be closely monitored because they could soon be building batteries capable of powering a car for 300 to 400 miles. (As an added benefit, they might need only minutes to recharge.)”
This breakthrough can lead to so many positive changes and innovations that the future seems to be very bright for the automotive world. And this also redounds to the betterment of the environment as well as of the community. Who wouldn’t want that, right? This new technology definitely has my support.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Automotive 101

The Electrical System

It may be gasoline that powers up an engine, but it is electricity that initially cranks it up and keeps it running. The most known electrical part in a vehicle is the battery. It supplies power to other electrical parts of an engine. Many may not know this, but the battery is highly dependent on other car parts, like the alternator and the ignition coil. The former converts mechanical power into electrical power and relays this to the battery in order to replenish its continuously dwindling power supply. The latter magnifies the meager output of the battery in order for the electrical parts to have the power supply they need. Without these two you might as well push your car to wherever you’re going.

The importance of the battery can’t be stressed enough. It is the one that relays power to the ignition system of a vehicle. Without it, your spark plug wouldn’t have its spark. The gasoline won’t be ignited, and the mechanical parts of your car won’t move as well. Other car parts that are dependent on electricity are the lighting systems, entertainment components, GPS, alarms and even the power mirrors and windows.

Body Panels

Ugly. Primitive. Unsightly. These are just a few of the words that you’d hear people mumbling if you drive around in a car that has no body panels. And those are just the polite comments. Just wait till you hear the rude ones. And it’s not as if you’d drive around in a stripped car, I’m just stressing how important the body panels are to a vehicle. It affords protection, it acts as a mounting spot for several car parts and it gives your vehicle one heck of an impressive look.

Body panels can be customized to fit your wants and whims. If your car looks sissy and too girly for your taste, you can avail of after-market parts that can make it look sporty and/or imposing. There are also body panels that can add functionality to your vehicle. The market for automotive body panels is so big that the options are almost unlimited. Examples of stock and after-market body panels are: fenders, fender flares, bumper covers, bumper fillers, hood, trims, exterior door panel, roof, bug shields, air deflectors, valances and spoilers.

The downside of body panels is that they’re actually one of the most costly parts to repair or replace. Plus, they get damaged all the time. There are hundreds of different scenarios when you’re likely to get them scratched, dinged, dented and scuffed. And if you figure in an accident, you’ll end up with a messed up vehicle and a large repair bill.


Accessorizing can do wonders for the style and functionality of a vehicle. First, there are thousands of cars of the same make and model. And if you’re unfortunate enough, in a one block radius you could have as much as two or three neighbors who have the exact same car as yours. If you want your car to stand out, you can accessorize it. Maybe you can put grille inserts, emblems and logos and decals. And this is not limited to the exterior of your vehicle, you can also place accessories in the passenger compartment.

Second of all, there are accessories which are geared towards providing your car with some added functions. Bike racks and mounts enable you to easily bring your bike and almost any kind of luggage whenever you feel like going out on a trip. Floor mats, liners, bed extenders, bed rail caps and carpets afford your car with much needed protection. Aside from those, there are still hundreds of car accessories that are ripe for the taking.

Automotive 101

The Brake System

A car would move even if it doesn’t have a brake system, but then again how can it be stopped? One would have thought that electrical car parts, body parts, the drivetrain and chassis would have come before the brake system in my list of very important car parts, but those parts do not even come close to the brakes. It is often said that the ability of a car to stop is as important as its ability to run. In fact, if you put me in the driver’s seat of a million-dollar car, I wouldn’t put my feet on the gas pedal, let alone start it, if its brakes are not working. That’s a sure way to invite disaster.

Anyway, there are two types of brake systems that are often employed in modern cars today. The first one is the disc brake system. It is so-called because in this kind of system a rotating disk is placed inside the wheel hub assembly. Enclosing this are the other components of the disc brake system, which are the calipers and the pads. These parts are hydraulically connected to the brake pedal. When the pedal is depressed, the calipers and pads are forced to press on the brake disc. The resulting friction stops the disc from spinning, as well as the wheel which is attached to it.

Another type of brake system is the drum brake. Instead of a disk, a drum is used. Not very complicated, eh? Well, when the brake pedal is depressed, a set of pads that line the drum press against it. Again, friction is produced and the drum and wheels gradually stop rotating.

You’d know instantly the second you lose the functionality of your brakes, because you’ll get nothing even if you depress the brake pedal until it reaches the floor. It is recommended that they should be checked every time you take your car out for a drive. And it is not even advisable to drive it if the brakes are malfunctioning. It should be towed all the way to the service station where the worn parts can be replaced.

Automotive 101

The Suspension System

Next to the engine, the suspension is the next most important part of a vehicle. Its functions are: 1) to allow the vehicle to adapt to road irregularities, even the most minute ones; 2) to maximize traction between the tires and the road surface; 3) to support the weight of the vehicle; 4) to maintain ride height; 5) to improve steering, accelerating and braking stability, and; 6) to improve ride comfort. That seems to be a lot, but surprisingly that’s not all. Specific suspension components have their own individual functions.

A typical automotive suspension has three fundamental components, and these are the springs, dampers and anti-sway bars. The first two are responsible for absorbing and reducing the oscillations that result from the encounter of the vehicle with road irregularities. Anti-sway bars provide additional stability by reducing the swaying motion of the vehicle, hence the name. These three along with secondary suspension parts work as a unit to serve all the functions mentioned above.

There are different kinds of suspension according to location, linkage presence/absence, design and even application. The most common types are the front and rear wheel suspensions. These two can be further subdivided into dependent, independent and semi-independent systems. But theoretically, they work the same way, so it really doesn’t matter what kind a vehicle has. And besides, car engineers wouldn’t have placed them there if it wasn’t the right one for the vehicle.

Just like the engine, it should be regularly inspected. Anything unusual should be checked out at the soonest possible time. One big difference between an engine part and a suspension part is that if the former breaks down, at worst the car will stop, but if a suspension component breaks down, at worst it could lead to an accident.

Automotive 101

The Engine

The engine is the most important part of a vehicle. I’m not downplaying the role of the other car parts. It’s just that the engine is the one responsible for making the car move with relative ease. It wouldn’t even be called a car in the first place if it doesn’t have an engine. Basically, what an automotive engine does is convert gasoline into motion. The easiest way to go about it is to ignite the gasoline, convert to power and relay it to other car parts that facilitate the movement of the mechanical parts. It is for this reason why the automotive engine is termed as an internal combustion engine.

A typical four-stroke internal combustion engine usually operates under the principle of the Otto Cycle, which relates that the workings of an engine are characterized by four cycles: the intake, compression, power and the exhaust strokes. An air and fuel mixture is sent to the cylinders under high pressure. The mixture is then compressed to facilitate combustion, after which it is ignited. The burning gases produced push the pistons downward, producing power in the process. The combustion by-products are then let out by a series of pipes and tubes. Then, the whole cycle begins again.

Since there are different kinds of engine, as well as different engine displacements, the workings differ variably. Other cycles used by other cars are the Miller Cycle and Brayton Cycle, to name a few. As for the engine parts, most cars usually have the same components, although there are sometimes slight differences. The basic engine parts are the spark plugs, valves, pistons, piston rings, crankshaft, camshaft, connecting rod and timing belt. The aforementioned parts approximately comprise only a 10th of the engine, so there are others that weren’t mentioned.

The automotive engine is so important that it needs constant maintenance. To sum up, here are the things that one should do in order to keep a vehicle running for the longest time possible: lubricate, calibrate, tighten, replace, clean, replenish and inspect. That may sound too vague, but if a person has even a hint of mechanical experience he’d know what to do. Plus, I’d be discussing those in detail in the next few weeks so those of you who’ve stumbled upon my blog don’t have to worry. And here’s two very important tips: 1) Always heed what’s written in the car manual, especially the intervals in between engine parts tune-up, calibration, cleaning and replacement; and 2) Once it’s noticed that there’s something amiss relative to the workings of the engine, the car should be brought to a service station for inspection at once.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Eye-Catchers and Jaw-Droppers at the ’08 NAIAS

I wasn’t able to go to Detroit during the opening of 2008 North American International Auto Show, although a few years back I promised myself I would again attend one of those. I remember my friends bugging me about goin’ on a road trip so we can be at the opening. Unfortunately, I was held up at work. They went without me and took a lot of pictures. I even saw some glued on my friend’s desk at his office cubicle. It’s been weeks since the ’08 NAIAS, but this is the first time I actually looked for pictures of the concept cars, as well as the new vehicle models. I figured they won’t be uploaded that soon. I came upon a website, allpar.com, that had a lot of impressive pictures taken by someone named Gregg R. Groff and Marc Rozman. I again came up with my top 5, and here they are:

Hummer HXGiven my penchant for Hummers, It comes as no surprise that the Hummer HX is first on my list. It has an imposing front-end as is typical of Hummers, but this one beats the rest. It looks like it could tow a tank. In fact, this picture reminds me of the stealthy and deadly Batmobile featured in “Batman Begins”. Added features are removable roof and doors.

Jeep RenegadeThis concept car is years from coming out of the factory lines; that’s to say it’s far from completion. It’s not very practical, given that it has no roof, side windows and a weather-proof door. Nevertheless, it looks better than most of the concept cars in the recent auto-show.

Jeep Wrangler UnlimitedOne look at the Wrangler Unlimited is enough to tell you that it can weather any off-road trail, especially if it’s fitted with after-market off-road enhancements. It has one mean look that would make any man want to buy it. It’s great for drives to the beach, back-country roads and maybe even across deserts. It would beat the other Wranglers by a mile once it goes out in production (if ever, that is!), but that just my personal opinion. But my friends actually think I’m spot on with my prediction. But that’s maybe because most them are off-road enthusiasts.

MMC GalantThis is an early model of the newest Mitsubishi Galant. And it’s on my list because of the fact that I like cars that are reminiscent of the classic cars produced between the ‘50s and the ‘70s. It actually brings to mind the original Mustang design, although I couldn’t see if it indeed resembles the first or the second generation Mustangs because the picture taken above was of the back-view. Maybe because the one who took the photo wanted to get the shot of the GTO logo above the license plate, which in itself can attract would-be buyers in the future. Judging by the looks of it, I think it packs a mean punch.

Dodge ViperPersonally speaking, it wouldn’t be to an auto show if there were no Dodge vehicles included. Yes! Detroit would still host one, but I’d bet it’ll just be a collection of lousy cars. The above photo is of the modified Viper. The 2008 Dodge Viper, particularly the SRT still has the standard 8.4 L Aluminum V10 engine. It is able to produce as much as 600 hp and 560 lb.-ft of torque. It can accelerate to 60 mph in just four seconds, and 100 mph in under 12 seconds. If that doesn’t impress you, then what will?

I wasn’t able to personally see the cars but I think the 2008 NAIAS had a pretty impressive lineup of new models and concept cars. It’s such a shame I wasn’t able to go there. Note to self: Next year, better attend the NAIAS or you’ll miss half of your life.

China: All Set to Take On The U.S. to Become the World’s #1 Automobile Market

There have been many speculations that China is going to overtake the U.S. and become the world’s number one producer of automobiles in the next couple of years. It’s not surprising considering the fact that China is home to almost a quarter of the world’s population. This steady growth in population has prompted large companies to delve into the automotive business, and the existing automakers to increase their already impressive output.

This was very evident during the recent 2008 North American International Auto Show in Detroit where there was, surprisingly, five contingents of Chinese companies, namely the BYD (Build Your Dreams) Company, Geely, Changfeng, Chamfeng (Chamco in the U.S.) and Zhongxing. While the quality of the models these companies brought to the auto-show were not as outstanding as the others, the fact that they were able to come up with fairly acceptable modern vehicles is impressive in itself. And what’s more impressive is that they are still in the learning stage. By learning, I don’t mean they’re new to the auto-making industry; I mean they are just adapting to the U.S. style/way of building cars. What more if they become adept at this field?

Anyway, the models the Chinese contingent brought were fully-functional, not like some of the other models that were brought only for show. Representatives of some of the companies even announced the release date of these models, as well as the estimated price tag. And get this, most of them are so cost-effective that the price tag trims down as much as 20% of the price tag of its competitors. That’s not bad. They’re up to the times, fairly stylish, fully functional and they’re more economical than cars in the same category/ies as them. If it’s an average-looking car you’re in need of, it won’t hurt if you get one that’s made in China, instead of a typical overpriced U.S. car.

Reference: Straight.com

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

My Take on Auto-Design Outsourcing

I think outsourcing vehicle design jobs to states other than Michigan and to off-shore countries is a good idea. First, it allows diversification. Different people mean different ideas. And since the automotive market is clamoring for more modern cars, it is high-time for automakers to start tapping into the ideas of other people instead of limiting it to the Motor City. And besides, since it has been somewhat limited to Michigan for a very long time, the ideas have probably been exhausted by now. I’m not saying all of the employees in automotive factories are all natives and residents of Michigan, but I bet most of them are.

Second, it lessens the cost of operations. Given the high monetary value of the dollar, when you bring the job to off-shore countries you can drastically cut down on costs. What you’re paying one skilled worker here can be used to pay two, three and maybe even ten persons overseas. And the icing on the cake is, they’ll give you ten times the result. That’s ten times more new ideas and innovations.

Third, it makes room for improvement and innovation. Even with the continuous influx of automotive technology, car owners are still dissatisfied to a certain degree of the vehicles available in the market. That’s just man’s nature. They can be extremely satisfied with their car one second, and dissatisfied with it the next. Car owners are obsessed with what’s new. That’s no surprise. And car makers should take advantage of that by continuously improving their car and by adding innovative technology. And besides, it does not only benefit the auto-makers themselves, but also car owners. With all these advantages, I bet auto-design outsourcing will snowball continuously for years.

The Motor City and Michigan: Are They About to be Replaced?

The Motor City might consider changing its namesake because of the recent trend in auto-design. US-based auto-manufacturers have begun broadening their off-shore business to include the design of automotive components and technology; in the process, lessening the hold of Michigan-based factories, particularly those in Detroit on automotive design.

In fact, in an article in the Tri-Cities Business Review it was revealed that:

Last year's North American International Auto Show sensation, the Chevrolet Volt concept, was designed in part in the United Kingdom.

Toyota's Venza production crossover design introduced in Detroit this year came from its California design studio. The Verve subcompact came from Ford's European designers.

Even GM's reborn Buick Riviera was designed in cooperation with the Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp.

A program announced recently by GM to focus on advanced battery technology will operate from facilities in Warren, Milford, Germany and China.

Automotive design - from conceptual sketches and clay modeling to computer-aided-design engineering - has been hit as hard in Michigan as any other part of the industry.

While it’s far from being impractical, this trend has affected thousands of Michigan natives and residents, particularly those who are skilled in vehicle design. But it seems this trend is likely to continue because the advantages of moving designing jobs out to other states and even off-shore countries greatly outweigh the disadvantages. Automakers have talked about diversifying their products, continuing to improve every car that comes out of their factories, lessening production and labor costs and giving people jobs, and those can be achieved by expanding the reach of their companies.

On the other hand, Michigan, despite all the odds, still is considered to be the “world's intellectual center for the auto industry”, according to David Cole, chairman of the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor. Clearly the effects of the changes have yet to be felt in the Motor City. But with automakers relying more and more on outsourced sites for auto-design, it wouldn’t take long until large numbers of Michigan-based workers will find themselves removed from industry support.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Hood Scoop Installation Guide/Tips

As promised, I’m gonna write a blow-by-blow on how to install a hood scoop. I’ve seen lots of DIY guides on the Net and I’ve tried some of ‘em before, but they aren’t that helpful, especially for people who don’t have that much mechanical experience. Well, anyway, give me a couple of minutes and you’ll be well on your way to knowing exactly how to install a hood scoop.

First thing that you should ask yourself: Why in God’s name am I gonna install a hood scoop? Well, there are two reasons why hood scoops are used: 1) to accessorize the hood (non-functional); and 2) to increase cold air intake (functional). If your reason is not one of the two, then I would suggest not going through with it. But if you’ve already bought one, then there’s nothing we can do but attach that to your car.

Then there’s the problem of finding the one that suits your car the best. This can be very taxing, and would require patience on your part. You can do a couple of things here. You can go to the nearest car parts store and browse through their selection. You can ask your mechanic if he has one lying around (that’s what I did when I installed mine). You can have one custom-made. Or you can check out auto parts sites online. The good thing about getting parts from the Net is that you can just input what you need, like for example a Ford Mustang hood scoop, and they’ll choose the best after-market part for your car. One note of advice though, if you have a steel hood, it’s not advisable to attach a fiberglass scoop. The latter works better with a fiberglass hood.

Once your order arrives, you gotta make sure that you have everything that you’d need at hand. It also helps if you have the instructions included in the scoop kit that you just bought because scoops vary in installation. This guide here is only general, and details the ones I’ve done myself. Here is a list of all the things that you should have according to the order you’re gonna need ‘em:

  • Mat
  • Tape
  • Permanent Marker
  • Pencil and Paper
  • Tape Measure
  • Sabre Saw or Jig Saw
  • Drill
  • Sandpaper
  • Plastic Spreader/Squeegee
  • Resin (1 pint)
  • Filler (1 pint)
    1. Remove the hood and place it on top of the mat. If your hood has a heat shield, remove it as well. You can do so by unhooking the fasteners.
    2. Take out the scoop and place it on top of the hood. If it is a non-functional scoop,you can place it wherever you want, although preferably it should be centered. If it is a functional scoop, you should take note of the position of the air intake. Some hood scoops can be held by fasteners while being marked, some need to be taped, while others require you to do some measuring.
    3. Once it is held in place, you can proceed to drilling holes as prescribed in the instruction kit that usually comes with it. Some would require the use of a sabre saw because a portion of the scoop will be inserted into the hood. There are hood scoops which only require you to drill from underneath and hold them in place with fasteners and a couple of bolts. So, the procedure will differ slightly depending on its design and application.
    4. It also works if you place the scoop on top of a pad of paper and trace the contours with a pencil. You can place this at the bottom of the hood so you can mark the spot exactly.
    5. Some hood scoops are not made to fit your vehicle so you would need to do some trimming before it can be installed. This should be done by a professional; otherwise you might end up with mismatched parts.
    6. After you have drilled a hole (any kind, be it one where a bolt can fit, or one where a portion of the scoop fits), you should sand the edges so it’ll be smooth, and to prevent the paint from cracking.
    7. Attach the scoop and hold it in place with the fasteners and bolts that come with it. If there are extra bolts, there’s a good chance you missed drilling some parts.
    8. Lastly, if you’re working with fiberglass materials, be sure to spread the resin evenly, making sure you apply the appropriate amount, nothing more and nothing less. Let dry for half a day, and sand it again for a smooth finish. Paint it to match the color of the hood and you’re done.

    You can now admire your newly installed hood scoop. Some take minutes to install, while others can take the better part of a day. Follow the installation instructions, and be guided by the abovementioned and you’ll do fine.

    Saturday, March 8, 2008

    Things That Make You Wanna Get Stuck in Traffic for a Long Time

    If you’ve driven from one end of the US to the other, you’d know how important an entertainment system is, especially if you have kids in tow. It can get irritating how often they ask “Are we there yet?” as if they don’t notice that the car is still moving. Trust me, I’ve been there. I’ve had my share of driving across the interstate and highways that I always make it a point to test all of my car’s entertainment features before I set out. And, mind you, it takes the better part of an hour with all the stuff that’s fitted to my car. And I don’t even have one of those high-end entertainment systems, which are so complex they make a supercomputer seem like a kid’s toy.

    One of my favorite hang-outs is the car service station a block away from my house. I love to ogle at all cars that are checked in for regular maintenance and inspection. Being the helpful guy that I am, I often stick my nose inside the passenger compartment and check out the features of all the newer car models. The guys there don’t mind because when they are bamboozled by something (Hey! I don’t seem to remember the last time that word was used!), they’d come to me. And with an air of nonchalance (Again, what’s up with the 18th century words? They keep popping in my head like crazy!) I help them out. During my innocent sticking-my-nose-in-the-passenger-compartment doings, I was able to see different entertainment systems in use today, and here they are:

    CD/DVD Player

    It transforms your conventional car into a movie theater on wheels. At first glance it’s not highly conspicuous, but at a push of a button a fairly wide screen pops out and you can watch movies, concerts and recorded TV shows while you’re on the go. This technology is not that new, but it certainly is still a must-have.

    Multi-Disc Changer

    Car owners are lazy people. They aren’t satisfied with high-end entertainment systems, and so they ask for more. The answer? An upgrade. Nowadays you can store a number of CDs and DVDs in your entertainment unit and move from watching one movie to the next at a push of a button. How cool is that?! Brands that offer multi-disc changers are Kenwood, Pioneer, Alpine and many others.

    HD Radio/Satellite Radio Tuner

    Forgot to bring your CD/DVD collection? Don’t worry. Most vehicles are still fitted with a radio and antenna so your car still has AM/FM capabilities. Old school radios are also taken to the next level when HD Radio, XM and Sirius systems were offered as standard parts and upgrades on new vehicle models. You may need to get a tuner, or subscribe to a network to get some of the frequencies.

    USB Connectivity

    If you’re a techie, I bet you have an iPod or a USB flash drive. If you do, then it’s a good thing that most auto entertainment units have USB ports. You can just plug and play. You no longer need to bring audio CDs because you can just download music from your PC to your USB-capable device.

    Navigation System

    Who said GPS was only made so dumb drivers wouldn’t get lost? If you have nothing better to do, you can brush up on your elementary and high school geography by memorizing the states, cities and even streets of the US. I wonder how long it would take you to do all that.

    Mobile Video Games

    I saved the best for last. If you have kids, this is the ultimate must-have. Even if your car doesn’t have a radio or a movie player, you can distract your kid long enough for you to reach your destination as peacefully and quietly as possible. It’s preferable that you place it on the front seat headrest, facing the 2nd row of seats so you won’t be tempted to grab that control stick.

    And the great thing about mobile entertainment systems is that they can be placed almost anywhere. You can have it on your dashboard, overhead, in the headrest, or even on the floor for all I care. For maximum effect, the entertainment system should be hooked up to surround-sound speakers, or speakers on the headrest. Whew! I’d just as soon live in my car if it has all of those.

    Thursday, March 6, 2008

    This is Me Doing a Double Take

    I’ve been too engrossed on “green” cars these past days. With all the hype they’ve been generating, I’ve sort of deviated from what my blog was truly about. Indeed, I said in my introduction that this blog will be about anything related to automobiles. Actually, the very reason I started this is so I can find a “container” for everything I’ve learned about cars, parts-wise. That’s why it’s called CarAnatomy in the first place. And besides, it’s easier to write here than in a notepad. And I can even add images. Isn’t that neat? So, beginning on my next post, I’ll be tackling car parts.

    Well, first on my list are car entertainment systems and most of the electronic devices found near your dashboard. Those devices are the reasons why I never pick up hitchhikers in the interstate (unless of course if it’s a hot babe!) Kidding aside, it’s never boring if the radio is blaring all day long while I’m on one of my drives. And to think, they never cost that much to have them play all day long. I can just charge the battery, and make sure the alternator and ignition coils are okay and I’m all set and ready to go.

    Meanwhile, I’m gonna leave it at that and head off to my friend’s house. I figured I need to help the poor guy attach his hood scoop, and maybe later I can write a blow by blow on how to install one.

    Honda’s “Greener” Take on Things

    Yahoo! came up with a list of the Top 100 Cars by Green Rating and it came as no surprise that Honda was leading the way for green cars. The company has been very supportive of the drive for a less polluted environment, and this commitment is seen in the impressive production of hybrid-electric vehicles that are slowly paving the way for a “greener” take on car manufacturing. In fact, in the top 10 alone, four Honda models are included, and one of those even got the number one ranking. Let’s see what makes the 2007 Honda Civic hybrid CVT AT-PZEV, the number one green car, very special.

    It boasts of a 1.3 L L4, 8 valve engine that is capable of producing as much as 110 hp at 6000 rpm. It features a variable speed automatic transmission, and it comes in two trims. Standard features that come with it are airbags, 4-wheel anti-lock brakes and a state-of-the-art entertainment system. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the 2007 Honda Civic hybrid CVT AT-PZEV is capable of traveling 49 miles on just one gallon in the city and as much as 51 miles on the highway; that’s what sets it apart from the rest of the green cars in production today. Those that follow in the list are mostly not capable of this. And because it has a very low price tag, it’s already considered to be a steal.

    2007 Honda Civic hybrid CVT AT-PZEV
    The 2007 Honda Civic hybrid CVT AT-PZEV has a green rating of 86. That means that among the rest of the green cars in the Top 100, it is the one that produces lesser pollutants. It also the green car capable of going long distances on just one gallon of gasoline. The EPA has also determined that in the process of manufacturing the said vehicle, there was a reduced amount of pollution produced. That and many other things put the Honda Civic hybrid in a class of its own.

    The clamor for more environment-friendly cars is slowly but surely being heeded by automakers. And judging from the sheer number of the green cars available in the market today, automakers are up to the challenge. Honda is just one of the many companies whose commitment to the environment comes first and foremost on their list of priorities. And, it won’t hurt if you get an earth-friendly 2007 Honda Civic hybrid CVT AT-PZEV the next time you need to buy a car.

    Wednesday, March 5, 2008

    Green and/or Mean

    Increased concerns over the effects of automobile exhaust emissions have forced governments to put pressure on automakers to build more environment-friendly cars. Presently, car manufacturers are torn between making sales and upholding their commitment to the environment and the community.

    In an article posted at The Detroit News, Klaus Maier, head of sales at Daimler AG’s Mercedes group was quoted in saying:

    “The secret for marketing in the next two years will be to make green or blue as sexy and desirable as horsepower.” And that currently, consumers don't show the willingness to pay extra for costly environmental technologies that they do for "more torque, power and more cylinders,"

    On the other hand, Lamborghini, a subsidiary of the Volkswagen group has proven that producing “green” cars that are at the same time efficient and powerful is possible. In an article in The Press Association it was cited that:
    Italian sports car maker Lamborghini has introduced a lighter, faster and less-polluting version of the Gallardo, its most successful model ever, at the Geneva International Motor Show

    The new Gallardo also cut carbon emissions by 18% from its predecessor.
    Furthermore, in a review of the new Gallardo LP560-4 in Edmunds Inside Line, it was revealed that:
    The new LP560-4 is so named for its more powerful engine, a new direct-injection 5.2-liter V10 that makes 552 horsepower, and its permanent four-wheel drive. Lamborghini says the addition of nearly 40 hp and a reduction in weight help trim 0-60-mph acceleration to less than 3.7 seconds. Top speed is 202 mph.
    There are a couple of contradicting views regarding the feasibility of “green” cars, and because of the drastic changes, it’s very hard to pick a side. All I can say is, if Lamborghini can do it, the others can too.

    Not Too Shabby For Someone Who No Longer Works

    Most people build showrooms for trophies, posters and antiques, but do you know why Jerry Seinfeld, star of famous hit TV show Seinfeld, had a showroom built for? It’s for his large Porsche collection. I am not a big fan of Porsche vehicles, but I’m impressed by the sheer number of his overpriced collection. I can’t even buy a collection of model cars. If he decides to sell all of ‘em, he can buy a small country with the proceeds. Heck! He can even do so with his income alone. And get this! The guy is no longer working like he used to, but he’s still raking in millions just from the profit of syndications of his show. Life is good to Jerry Seinfeld.

    Anyway, the most recent count puts his collection at 47 Porsches, most notable
    of which are the following:
    • 1955 Porsche 550 Spyder
    • Porsche 959
    • 1959 Porsche GT speedster
    • Porsche 911
    • Porsche Boxter
    Judging from that list, he’s got all bases covered. He’s got famous Porches, speedy Porsches, limited edition Porches, small Porsches and stylish Porsches. And that’s just five of his 47 cars. I don’t think there’s a garage big enough to house the rest. In fact, because he had a showroom-like garage built instead of a typical garage, he can only fit about half of his collection in there. The rest are stored in a rented place. The sprawling two-storey Manhattan garage also has its own elevator, kitchenette, deck, bathroom and an 844 sq/ft office. The kitchenette, deck, bathroom and office I understand, but why he needs an elevator in a two-storey building? That may be the reason why he’s not as thin as he was during his Seinfeld days. If I were him I’d build a Porsche from scratch. He could make that the centerpiece of his collection. Anyway, he’s been around cars so much that he probably knows every part of it. If the car parts needed are no longer in production, maybe he can knock on a few doors, wave a couple of thousand dollars and maybe he could have factory body parts, suspension system and engine parts made.

    Interestingly enough, Ferdinand Porsche, the founder of the Dr. ing. h. c. F. Porsche GmbH or Porsche, had a son, Ferry, who decided to build his own car because he didn’t like the ones in production. He and his team were able to build a crude version of the 356, which was later mass-produced. It’s considered by many as the first Porsche ever built, but that is in reality not the case. The first one was the Porsche 64, although most of the components used were taken from the Volkswagen Beetle. Hmmm. That’s kinda interesting. Jerry Seinfeld should definitely consider that.

    Tuesday, March 4, 2008

    Five Cars That Make Me Say “Whoa!”

    There are millions of cars on the streets today and there are probably a million more in production. It can be a daunting task to pick among that many and list down one’s favorites, but today I feel that I’m up to the task so here goes...

    1. Hummer H1

    First on my list is the Hummer. If a vehicle impresses Arnold Schwarzenegger, then consider me its fan. It is said that it’s the Governator himself who is responsible for asking AM General Corporation to mass-produce a civilian version of the Humvee. And the fact that its design is taken from military vehicles used during Operation Desert Storm blows me away, its over-all stance is very imposing yet stylish. In fact, you can drive it around in the city, or you can tackle harsh off-road trails with it. It is fitted with off-road equipment and accessories that can take on even the harshest trail. It all boils down to that. It is a man’s car. And I bet any man will scrap their boring car if they’re given a Hummer.

    2. Lamborghini Diablo SV

    Opening and closing those wing-doors are enough reason to own a Diablo. It is the definitive Lamborghini, with the Gallardo coming in close second. It’s not only the V12 engine that will power you up; the revving sound of the engine is loud enough to raise your hair on end. Some people would advise you against driving it in the evening, especially in a quiet neighborhood. But Nah! Never mind them. Anyway, annoyed people can’t catch up to you once you step on the gas pedal. When it was first introduced, it drew a lot of praise. Just when you thought that is all there is to the Diablo, Lamborghini still continued to improve it. The result? The number two spot on my list.

    3. 1974-1976 Ford Torino

    I’ve seen pictures of the Ford Torino in car magazines when I was a boy, but I only took a keen interest in it after I saw the movie Starsky and Hutch. The Torino was elevated to cult status overnight by the success of the movie. And me, I may not be able to afford a classic Ford but I can definitely repaint my stock car to look like a Torino. I can see it now in bright red and white stripes. And maybe I’m gonna add a hood scoop in order to give it a more mean look. It’s all good.

    4. 1974-1978 Ford Mustang

    I have to classify this one, because not all Mustangs suit my taste. I only like the first and second generations. The rest does not say American muscle; they’re more like conventional cars, and there’s nothing special about that. But the first two generations define power. Not that the newer ones don’t. It’s just that they don’t look that powerful. Back in those days, you can take a stock Mustang and race it against modified cars and still win. It helps if you have nitrous kits fitted to your vehicle, or several other performance parts like a cold air intake which greatly complements the sound the engine makes when it is being driven. It is a must-have for every car enthusiast.

    5. 2003 Chevrolet Corvette Coupe

    Number 5 on my list was really neck in neck. I was leaning a bit towards the Chevrolet Camaro, but the Corvette edged it out. First, the Corvette is one of the oldest cars in production. Second, the ZR1 which will come out in 2009-2010 is rumored to have a supercharged engine capable of producing as much as 620 hp, 200 hp more than the new Camaros. Lastly, the name Corvette refers to a warship, while a Camaro is French slang for companion. Need I say more?

    Saturday, March 1, 2008

    And It's All Because People Are Too Lazy To Walk

    I finally got around making a blog about one of the things that I like most. Yup! This blog is all about automobiles. I’ll be posting about latest news in the automotive world, racing events, innovative technologies, cars preferred by famous celebrities, cars that appear in movies, how-to’s for the DIY-type of people, things that you should look out for in order to extend the life service of your beloved car, basic car parts and a couple of other things. So, basically, this’ll gonna be about the whole shebang!

    Cars are a must-have in this modern day and age. If you don’t have one, then you are probably stuck in the Cretaceous period. But even then, there were cars already, although they may not be as much as cars like a piece of wood tied to round boulders similar to what you see in cartoons. Anyway, since this is the first post, I think it’s highly appropriate to start off with an introduction. And there’s no better way to introduce a blog about cars than to talk about their history.

    Just like any great invention, it all began with a general idea. As soon as man conceived of the wheel and axle, they began to invent contraptions that will work with wheels so they can travel faster and easier. Then inventions like the wheelbarrow, carts, horse-drawn carriages, push-carts and many other fascinating things saw the light of day. But, as expected, people weren’t satisfied. Those things still take a lot of effort, not to mention the fact that some of them were bordering on animal cruelty. So, again, they began thinking and drawing up plans.

    It is said that hundreds of thousands of patents enabled the creation of the automobile into what it is today. But the theory that sparked everything is attributed to Isaac Newton and Leonardo da Vinci. They drew up the first theoretical plans that were sane enough to be believable. A lot of people condemned them for their ideas, but not Nicolas Joseph Cugnot. In 1979, he came up with a self-propelled vehicle powered by a steam engine. Its design was crude and I would’ve laughed at his face had I been there. Luckily, I wasn’t there, otherwise I would’ve been embarrassed by the hype generated by his invention. Cugnot is not only credited for having invented the first self-propelled military tractor and tricycle, but he is also the first one to get into a motor vehicle accident (so much for being a genius). But, you know, intelligence has its consequences, like bad hair, eye bags or in the case of Cugnot, poor driving. Even so, he’s said to be the inventor of the first automobile.

    A number of people followed suit and invented their own steam-powered vehicle. After half a century since the first steam-powered vehicle was conceptualized, people began taking interest in building road vehicles powered by electricity. During the mid 1830s, the first electric carriage was invented by Robert Anderson. People received the shock of their lives (figuratively speaking of course) at this new innovation, but the hype never lasted long. Again, they weren’t satisfied and asked for more practical motor vehicles.

    The solution? Gas-powered vehicles like what we presently see on the streets, only the designs back then were just plain ugly. You read it right. I said ugly. If you think otherwise then you’re better off in the 1800s when people think the first designs were cool. Anyway, after reading this post, people may think that even though the design of a vehicle is very complex, it surprisingly took only a very short time to be perfected. That is far from being correct. Automobiles underwent millions, and maybe even billions of changes ever since it was first conceptualized. And you can see from the trends today that it is still undergoing changes. Cars are now fitted with turbo-chargers, high-performance chips, entertainment systems, GPS and even monster wheels which were unheard of before. Cars can even be customized according to the whims of the owner. And the 21st century is seeing the rise of environment-friendly cars or what are called green cars. And that is just a drop in the bucket. Innovations are being thought of every minute of the day all over the world. And automotive technology will continue to change until the time that we’re all driving nuclear-powered flying vehicles. And even then the changes won’t stop.