Every year I try to come up with a way to improve myself as an automotive enthusiast. In the past I’ve vowed to learn more about mechanics so I could become more self-sufficient, I’ve also told myself that I wouldn’t spend as much money on auto related things. For 2011 though, I’m finding it hard to nail down a good one. I mean I would love to say that 2011 is the year that I’ll be buying a dedicated track car, but that requires money, which is something that is in short supply at the moment. It’s also not really a resolution, but more of a want then anything else. I suppose I could say that I’ll be more diligent about automotive maintenance, but I’m already pretty good about that. One thing that I was thinking about was restoring and extra grill that I have for my 1968 Dodge Charger. It’s all there, but the biggest problem is not having the space to properly dismantle it. I suppose that I could make it work if I really wanted to though, but we’ll see. So what about you guys, what’s your automotive New Year’s resolution going to be?
Identity theft may not sound like a very frightening thing, but I assure you that if you’re the victim of it your life can be turned upside down. This week American Honda announced that computer hackers got into their systems and stole the information from 2.2 million of Honda’s customers. Thankfully the information did not include such things as social security numbers, and or financial data. It did however include vehicle VIN numbers, customer names and email addresses. A second list of 2.7 million Acura owners was also stolen, but that listing included only the customers email addresses. Owners who were on these lists for both American Honda and Acura have already been notified. If however owners would like to get more information, they can do so at an FAQ page set-up by Honda.
If you were going to build a motorcycle honoring Porsche, what would you create? Would you start with the V-Rod motor, since Harley-Davidson consulted with Porsche on its design? Would you shoehorn that into a light frame, hand built from aluminum and wrapped in carbon-fiber-goodness? Would you paint it in silver, the traditional color of racing Porsches, and would you make sure that it was fast in corners as well as in a straight line? Wouldn’t a bike like this embody what Porsche was all about?
2010 was a good year. The venerable Lancia Stratos came back from the grave. Jaguar built a car with two jet engines in it. The Mustang shaved its mullet and proved itself as a more-than-capable sports tourer. Chevy’s long-awaited Volt turned out to be pretty good. And Cadillac made the most bitchin’ station wagon ever. But my favorite cars this year didn’t make the glossy magazines. They won’t end up in posters plastered to 15-year-olds’ walls. They won’t be featured in Forza or GT5. They are, however, spectacular in every way imaginable. Here they are, in no particular order.
I spent a lot of years traveling on business. I’ve worked for companies based in the UK, Germany, Italy, Japan and the U.S., so it’s safe to assume that I’ve spent a fair amount of time in each country (and plenty of others in between). When people would say, “Oh, you get to travel on business, how lucky,” I’d remind them that I HAD to travel on business, and there’s a distinct difference. You GET to travel when you’re staying in nice hotels, sleeping late and sightseeing. You HAVE to travel when you stay in convenient hotels, sleep when you can and see the inside of a conference room or a convention center. On business, there isn’t much of a difference between Des Moines, Iowa and Tokyo, Japan, except that Tokyo is a longer flight.
Looking back on 2010, it was one hell of a roller coaster. Like any other year, it had it’s good times and bad times, but the good times seemed fewer and farther between than in years passed. On the automotive front, enthusiasts got some great new choices, greens got the first modern mass produced electric car (and the first serial hybrid) and everyone else got improved quality and reliability. Car sales were up, despite a down economy, and both Audi and Hyundai posted record years. GM proved that they’re well on the way back to financial health, and Ford continued their growth in market share. Even Chrysler rallied in 2010, introducing the new Jeep Grand Cherokee, the Fiat 500 and the revised 2011 Charger and Challenger.
2011 is right around the corner and we all know that New Year’s Eve is when the champagne flows and inhibitions are forgotten. And when drunk driving is especially prevalent.
As a reminder of such dangers, AAA has released the results of a survey finding that one in ten American drivers within this past year have admitted to getting behind the wheel despite believing that they were near or in excess of the legal blood alcohol content limit. In addition, AAA reviewed NHTSA data on alcohol-related fatalities between 2000 and 2009 and found that almost two and a half times as many people are killed in alcohol-related crashes on New Year’s Day than on the same day of the week in the weeks surrounding the holiday.
Sometimes there is only so much stress a car can take. This is an Australian build Ford Falcon XB Coupe, a car similar to the one Mel Gibson drove in the movie MAD MAX. Here we see the owner having a little fun in the burnout competition when all of a sudden BLAMO!! The transmission goes pop. Ladies and gents cars are made to take abuse, but there comes a point when even the best parts give up, which is exactly what happened here. This blast also signifies an empty wallet and a fight with the wife as soon as this guy tows that baby home.
If you’re the parent of a new driver, you’ve probably heard about Ford’s MyKey. Announced last spring, the MyKey feature allows owners of equipped vehicles to set limits for various drivers by reprogramming keys. Using a master key, owners can set a maximum speed limit, set a warning tone and mute the radio until the seat belt is buckled, set a longer “low fuel” warning and prevent safety features (such as stability control, traction control and blind spot warning) from being de-activated. Maximum audio volume can also be limited to 44%, and owners can set warning chimes at speeds of 45, 55 or 65 miles per hour.
Who knew that taking a squirt on the side of the road could lead to such mayhem. You see one of the best parts about being a man is that we have the option of relieving ourselves while standing up. It’s a wonderful feature and one that most of us cherish. Take this guy for example. Maybe he’s had one too many cups of coffee, or maybe he has a bladder infection, either way though he found it necessary to relieve himself in natures backyard. Unfortunately he positions himself right in the center of a tight corner on a back country road where an overzealous driver in an Audi almost takes him out. Obviously startled by the man and his exposed winkie, the Audi driver panics and proceeds to plant his car in a tree line ditch. What happens after that, we have no idea.