Friday, April 29, 2011

Not Your Father's Oldsmobile

Or is it. This post is directed towards folks who refer to thier "sport-utility" vehicle as a truck. With some exceptions it is not a truck! We have a 2009 Honda Pilot. It is the modern day version of the Griswald family truckster. Like it or not you are driving you mom and dad's wagon from the 70's. First let get some criteria down as what a truck is.
1-has an exposed bed to put stuff in
2-has body on frame construction
3-can be driven on a farm or construcion site
4-can tow a large trailer (boat, car, horse)
This is a modern Griswald family truckster
1-unibody construction
2-ten or more cupholders
3-seating for seven or more
4-ten or more speakers
5-need to buy extra accessories in order to carry stuff (kayak, bikes, skis)
There are some vehicles that border both catagories.
Chevrolet Avalanche-truck
Hummer H2-truck
Land Rover Ranger Rover and Discovery (all early Land Rovers)-trucks
Full size Ford Bronco, Chevrolet Blazer-trucks
Lincoln Navigator, Aviator, MKX-Griswald trucksters
Chevrolet Trailblazer-Griswald truckster
Ford Explorer-Griswald truckster
BMW X5-Griswald truckster
Subaru Forester-Griswald truckster
You get the idea.
1969 Buick station wagon holds 7 passengers, weighs 4200lbs, can tow a boat.
2009 Honda Pilot holds 8 passengers, weighs 4500lbs, can tow a boat.
A "sport utility" is just the evolution of those mammoth wagons from the 70's. Now they have 10 cupholders, AWD, traction control, ABS, stability conrol, and navigation. I am sure our children will not buy anything marketed as a "sport utility" just as our generation shuns the term "station wagon".
By the way your Ford Escape is a Pinto wagon in disguise.
The reason I put the quotes around the term "sport utility" is because I do not feel this label has any meaning. Have you ever driven one? There is no sport to it, and when I go to Home Depot for plywood or sheet rock there is no utility either. How about a load of firewood?

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Automobile fun for $1

One easy and affordable way to get into the collectible or classic car hobby is Matchbox cars. These little cars originally made in England in the late 1950's are still in production today. They still follow the same simple idea as they did in the beginning. Miniature reproductions of cars, trucks, other equipment. They have produced thousands of models over the years and still make some great cars today. They quality has varied over the years, but today's toys are very good quality for the price. Matchbox has made many great sports and classic car models over the years. There is probably a model of the classic collectible or everyday car or truck you drive. I began playing with matchbox cars when I was a little boy in the 1970's and still buy them today.
The photos are a sample of some of my collection. The red bus with gray wheels is one of the very earliest matchbox models made in 1954. There is a photo of there different "matchboxes" which is how the cars were packaged for sale till about the mid 1980's. They are a De Tomaso Pantera, Alfa Romeo 155, and a Snow Trac. The "blisterpack" style packaging was introduced in the 1970's and is the most common form of packaging today. There is a photo of a variety or Porsche cars a 910, two Porsche 911 turbos, and a 935.The other photo is of some European rally cars. Two of the cars are in the modern "blisterpack" packaging. They are a Ford Escort 2000, Fiat Abarth, Ford RS 200, and a Skoda 130 LR.
Go out and buy a Matchbox car for yourself or a child you know. Open it up and enjoy this simple and fun form of motoring.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Auto Profile

A feature I will be including soon will be auto profiles. I will photograph and discuss various cars. Some will be old, some new. If you have an interesting car that you would like to be included let me know. I am not sure what the title of this section will be yet. I would take suggestions.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Saratoga Auto Museum

This weekend I took the family to the Saratoga Auto Museum to see their current feature exhibit. If you have never bee the the museum, they rotate the feature exhibit about every six months. The current one is East Coast Hot Rods built in the 50's. They are all very nice with a mix of restored and all original Hot Rods.
I try and see each new exhibit that the museum features. In the past they have done modern exotics, woodies, and "barn finds". The next exhibit starting May 7 will be Italian cars Alfa, Fiat, Ferrari, Maserati, Lancia, Iso, and Bizzarrini.
If you haven't been to the museum it is worth the trip. It is an old water bottling plant inside the Saratoga State Part. The building itself is really neat to see both inside and out. Along with the feature exhibit they have a variety of other very nice cars and displays. They have a room full of stuff for kids to do as well. The upstairs is focused mostly on racing, but not entirely. Right now there is a vintage Buzzie Ruetimann #00 coupe stock car, along with 4-5 other race cars.
The Museum also does a series of car shows either in the lawn adjacent to the museum or in other local locations. See their website for exact dates and locations. last year we went to the spring invitational show and the Hemmings sports and exotics show. Both were really great shows with a great variety of cars.
If you get a chance check out the museum and/or one of their car shows.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Noah's current Top 10

In order to give readers a better idea of where my tastes are in the automotive world I will list my personal top 10 most wanted list. In no particular order.
Porsche Carrera S (997)
Lotus Elise (chrome orange)
BMW Z3 M coupe
Triumph GT6 mkIII
TVR 2500M
Mitsubishi Evolution VIII RS
1987 Buick Grand National
2000 Ford Mustang Cobra R
1994 Dodge Viper
Porsche Carrera (993)

Car Colors

I am going to talk today about my car colors. My favorite car colors are blue, red and white. My least favorite car colors are brown, black, and silver. I am on the fence with green. British racing green is a nice color. Also green colors form the '60's and 70's were good "green" colors. The teal green Chevrolet used in the mid 90's on the Camaro is easily my least favorite car color of all time. GMC offered a "Sea Foam" green in about 1991. That color was cool because it was very different for the time. Only a small number of buyers chose it, but it really stood out. I also can't completely count out black either. The Buick Grand National only came in black and that is good because it looks great black. No other color would have looked as good on that car. I don't like black because it is so hard to keep clean. Black also requires more time and effort to clean it correctly. Sorry brown, just not a fan. I like the way the new "hot chocolate" brown looks on the Mini Cooper. It is not enough to sway my opinion of the color though. Silver as my wife would say "looks like they forgot to paint the car".
I didn't add it to the top three because it is not a real color. Champagne is a horrible color. It spread through dealer lots like a bad rash in the 2000's. It has gotten a little more under control now. I do think most car companies still offer it though. The color is expressionless and emotionless. it hides the lines and style of a car in a fog. Maybe that is the point. If you are thinking of champagne as a color for your next car consider white instead.
Blue, is a good color because it is vibrant yet not over the top like yellow or red. It is conservative but not plain. BMW has made some great blue colors the last few years. I especially like "Lagunda Seca" blue, and "LeMans" blue. I have bought three new cars in blue in the last 10 years. I will always consider blue when looking at a car to buy.
White is a nice color because it is easy to keep clean. It also stands out more than silver. if you want a plain color that doesn't say too much like yellow or red go with white. It will also keep your car cooler in the summer. Just ask the Floridians.
Red is a great sports car color. Almost all sports or performance oriented cars are offered in red. Ferrari, Dodge Viper, Corvette, Lotus Esprit, Mustang. These are all cars I think of when somebody says red. They all come in many other colors but red is the one you want for these cars. My Mitsubishi Evolution VIII is "rally" red. I wasn't sure about it at first, but it has really grown on me. I can't imagine the car in any other color now.My wife's PT cruiser is "inferno" red. She and I searched high and low to find that car in that color. She specifically wanted that color because it came with the matching dash panels.
In 1975 AMC offered 19 colors (4 different greens!) in every color of the rainbow and more. Now most companies offer about 10 and about 3 colors of the rainbow (blue and red). Mini offers the best variety of colors recently, including British racing green. Fiat is following suit with their new 500 being offered in 14 colors. I know there is cost on offering so many colors.
I realize as I write this column could go on forever. This is really just the tip of the iceberg. I am sure each auto manufacturer has done extensive research about this topic based on age, sex, geographic location and all kinds of other factors. Stay tuned for Car Colors II at a later date. I will discuss this topic some more.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

This is not really the way I intended to start this blog. Today I delivered my 1971 Fiat 850 Spider to the new owner. It was a day of mixed emotions. I had decided over the winter it was time to move on to something else. I didn't realize though until I removed the plates and walked away how attached to the car I was. We started out this morning at 11:30am headed from Niskayuna, NY to Livingston, NY about 55 miles away. I mapped out a trip using all two lane roads the night before. The weather was partly cloudy and 60 degrees. I drove the Fiat (with the top down) and my wife and kids followed in our Honda Pilot. The weather was nice and the roads in southern Rensselear and Columbia county were really great. The trip went smooth with no problems. Perfect weather and roads for a little convertible sports car. I guess that fun last ride really made it hard to let go. I will miss the car my daughter named "raspberry". I hope the new owner takes the time to learn the car and is able to really enjoy it. I will blog about the car itself at a later date. Photos attached are of the car at the new owner's place. As I drove away I wondered is that patch of mowed grass behind an old barn the final resting place for that fun little car? I hope not.