Archive | September, 2010

Fireball Run – Hot Laps on Dirt Track in the Ford Excursion

Yesterday morning we were at the dirt track in Dodge City, KS to race school buses (yes you read that correctly). Anyways, Kevin wanted to take his beast known as Big Bertha onto the dirt track and do a few hot laps. I instantly asked if I could tag along. I shot video of the experience for your enjoyment. Few things, it looks like we are going a lot slower then we are. We are going about 60 mph. Also, the camera was all over the place because I was all over the place. Lastly, on lap two the tail swung out and we came very close to the wall. That was interesting.

Fireball Run – Nelson Takes Me On The Autocross

Nelson asked if I wanted to ride along for a “fun run” on the autocross course. I said sure why not. I was moving all around because of the course but the video’s still somewhat entertaining.

Fireball Run Adventurally – See You There

That’s right folks! Chevrolet has teamed up with High Gear Media for the Fireball Run Adventurally. It is coined as the “ultimate motoring adventure.” Nelson Ireson, Tim Healey and myself will make up the team for High Gear Media. Chevrolet is sponsoring us and providing the Camaro SS (our chariot) for the rally.

The rally is 9 days and 3500 miles. We will start in Henderson, Nevada (just outside Las Vegas) and end in Galena, IL. Hey the back to the future car will be there! The event is a race to recover America’s missing children. We will be trying to raise awareness for Jade Flores. She has been missing since July 10, 2008. Handing out posters, tweeting, talking to locals along the way, everything we can do to aid in helping locate her. The event consists of missions each day with a few track events here and there. I’ve heard one of the events is racing school buses around a track (yes you read that correctly!).

You can follow our adventure the whole time! Check here often as this will be our “hub.” The site will pull in our latest tweets, blog posts and even pictures. You can become a fan of The Car Connection on Facebook or follow along on Twitter. Some of the content will end up here as well or on my Twitter, but the main sources will be the previously mentioned places. Be sure to follow along as we will need all the help we can get with the missions! Of course we have schwag for our fans/followers. See you on the interwebz!

Click here to see the full High Gear Media press release

Review – 2011 Porsche Cayenne S: Finally the Porsche of SUV’s?

Back when the first generation Porsche Cayenne came out Porschephiles (that might not have been a word, but it is now) howled!  They were grabbing their pitch forks and heading to Stuttgart.

The first generation Cayenne was heavy, it could definitely go off road and it was much more capable then most any owner would ever demand of it.  But was it a good vehicle?  That depends on your definition of good.

As I just mentioned above, the first generation was heavy.  The interior was not made of the best quality materials in certain spots (far too many certain spots).  Sure, it could go off road but who really did that with it once they owned it?

What about on-road driving?  Yeah it drove like a Porsche of SUVs, but you could feel the heft.  Yet despite that, the first generation Cayenne quickly become the best-selling Porsche model.  So did the second-generation fix those problems and finally become the true Porsche of SUV’s?

Exterior

The front of the Cayenne has evolved.  It has taken on the look of the new Panamera sedan.  The headlights are very similar and the LED daytime running lights are great looking.  The rear is no longer blocky and square looking, rather it has hips (if you will) and they curve with the tail lights which are LED and very bright at night.  The tail lights are also similar to those found on the new Panamera.  The sides have a nip and tuck towards the bottom with some nice sculpting.  The exterior has been throughly updated and overall feels more taught. The styling falls right in line with the new Panamera.

Interior

As mentioned before, the last generation’s Cayenne interior was nothing to write home about.  In fact it was worse then that, but we wont go into that.  Good news!  The interior of the latest Cayenne is all that and a bag of Skittles.  Have you been in the new Panamera?  Have you been in the last generation Cayenne?  Mix the few good things from the old Cayenne and most everything else from the new Panamera and you have the new Cayenne.  The grab handles between the seats are still there, but the rest was dumped for the new Panamera interior.  The center console rises to meet the dash between the seats.  The touch screen works well and is not ridiculously confusing.  The materials are top notch, though like the Panamera there is a sea of buttons.  Luckily, they are grouped together by function.  The rear seats slide fore and aft to either give rear seat occupants more leg room or to gain more cargo room.  The interior fit and finish, along with materials all meet the bar that was raised in the Porsche line up by the Panamera.

Powertrain

The new Cayenne has three current engine choices, with a hybrid model on the way.  For now, we will focus on the Cayenne S model I was in.  The Cayenne S features the same 4.8-liter direct-injection V-8 that is in the Panamera S sedan.  Pumping out 400 horsepowerp and 369 lb-ft to all four wheels, this is no slouch of an engine.  The power is put down through an eight-speed automatic transmission with manual shift mode.  Note that this is not the newer PDK (Porsche Doppelkupplung) transmission in some other new Porsches.  This setup is good for a quoted 5.6 second 0-60 run and a top speed of 160 mph (after all, it is a Porsche).  The Cayenne S is rated at 16/22 MPG and I saw an average of 16.2 mpg in mixed city driving.  The engine features auto start/stop technology for fuel savings at stop lights and in heavy traffic.

This is only when enough energy has been stored from braking.  It is fairly smooth and not intrusive, but you can notice when the V-8 shuts down and starts up.  To lose some of that weight (the new Cayenne is over 400 pounds lighter then the last generation) Porsche dropped the mechanical locking differential and went to a electronic locking differential, among other things.  The weight loss is hugely noticeable!  It feels like the Cayenne went to fat kid camp and came back not only looking leaner, but driving leaner as well.

Overall, this new Cayenne is better in every way compared the original.  I sincerely doubt most any owner is going to miss the mechanical locking differential and accompanying hardware.  The weight loss is noticeable and makes for a better overall vehicle.  The look is leaner, more taught and overall a nice evolution.

The Cayenne S has a base price of $63,700, but as with any Porsche the options list is more then plentiful and they add up quite quickly.  The options list on this exact Cayenne S is a small laundry list but added up to a total of $21,940!  Again, that was not fully loaded.  Total price for the Cayenne S I was in came to $86,615.

While that is not a cheap date, it certainly more worthy of its price tag then the last-generation Cayenne.  This lighter, more luxurious, better handling, better looking Cayenne is the Porsche of SUV’s.  One last thing – there is a lot of competition with more coming so while it is the Porsche of SUV’s, is that enough?  Probably, and it will most likely continue to be one of Porsche’s best selling vehicles, right next to the Panamera.

Full Disclosure- The review vehicle was provided by a local Porsche dealership

Honda CRX – The Fast And The Furious Fail Edition

I really hope you were sitting down when you first viewed the above picture. The horror…. The Honda CRX is a highly coveted piece of Honda history. The enthusiasts around this model are loyal to the end of the earth. Many CRX’s have been either heavily modified or are rusting apart. When you find a really nice one it brings tears to the enthusiasts eyes. This fine piece of fail was spotted by myself in Dinky Town in Minneapolis. I almost cried. From the horrific paint job (by a kid with a paintbrush?!) to the wicked awesome wing! Oh don’t forget those super cool exhaust cans…. *sigh* I’m going to go cry in the corner now. Call me for dinner.

First Ride – 1936 Auburn Speedster: The Hidden Car

Many of you are wondering what the heck a 1936 Auburn Speedster is. You are not alone friend, you are not alone. You see, I didn’t know what an Auburn Speedster was until recently either. But you know what? Let’s back up a tick and start from the beginning.

This particular car is owned by one of my neighbors. You see yet another neighbor at my cabin (remember the Sun Bum’s 1967 Mustang?) had a wicked cool car. However this time, I didn’t know the car existed. Turns out one of the neighbors by my cabin was a engineer in his younger years. For the sake of this article let’s call him George (George doesn’t want to be named). You see (you sitting down for this?) George didn’t know I was a car nut.

In fact George didn’t know that I liked cars. My cabin has been next to George’s and our families have known each other longer then I have been alive. Let that sink in…someone didn’t know I like cars. Guess I’ll have to try harder. Regardless, I didn’t know George was a car nut either. Well actually, George likes anything with a spark plug (huh that sounds familiar).


Turns out that the wooden garage (read four walls and a roof, NOTHING special) next door had a 1936 Auburn Speedster stashed away in it. Worse yet, my father knew! So we convinced George to take the Auburn out because, well it was a pretty day and I couldn’t stop drooling once I found out.

George opened the double doors to the “garage” and I was speechless. I’ve never seen anything like it. George wiped down the paint to remove the dust (you could tell it was his baby) and hopped in the drivers seat. He started up the V-8 and the car rumbled to life. Smoke poured our of the dual exhaust and I just got shivers down my back. He put it in reverse and backed out of the garage. The car was so ridiculously long. I was in shock.

My father went for the first ride but this isn’t about his experience. Then came my turn. I hopped into the red chariot and off we went. The long, long hood in front of me was like a red carpet leading the way.

The red leather seats were comfy and had padding in just the right places. I started asking George all sorts of questions. Where did this car come from? How in the heck did I not know it existed!? Specifications? History? How in the heck did I not know it existed (yes I asked that one a few times).

George answered every question I had with thorough answers. The car was hand built by him. Yes, you read that correctly. He bought some of the pieces here and there. Some were custom made and, piece by piece he put the whole thing together himself. Everything functioned flawlessly. The engine is from a 1969 Ford Police Interceptor. It is a 7.0 liter (!) 427 cubic inch V8. That’s Detroit iron right there folks. When I asked if it was fast, he slammed the gas – but just for a moment.

The gas was from last year and he warned me that it would knock under hard acceleration. He wasn’t kidding! It sounded like someone banging on a front door. He backed off quickly but it definitely got up and went. The power was put down through a transmission and suspension all off a 1969 Ford Police Interceptor as well. However, the suspension had to be modified and George did that himself too. The headlights are from a Cadillac and the bumpers were new, never even chromed. George had to have them chromed. And oh by the way, that engine, it was new! When George bought it, the engine was new and had never been used!

I can’t remember all the details on the car, but I remember the dash plaques. They were turned aluminum. George had them custom made from a guy out west. The metal around the windshield also had to be custom made by George himself.

When I asked George if he took the car to car shows, he immediately gave a stern no! I inquired why. I mean, a beautiful and rare car such as this!? Why not? Well, George told me that he built the car for himself. He doesn’t need prizes or awards.

He doesn’t want the attention that shows bring to cars like this. He just wanted to build the car and enjoy it. I found that to be a respectable answer.

So what did this experience teach me? One, the 1936 Auburn Speedster is a rare and awesome beast. Two, there are actually people out there that know me and do not know I am into cars (never would have guessed that one). Three, George is way cooler then I knew. Last but not least is four – I will be hitting up George next summer for another ride and the opportunity to take much better pictures.

From Experience – How NOT To Install A Rear View Mirror!

As you would assume, this story comes from experience. What a horrible experience this was! In fact, the experience was such a pain that I decided to share it with you. Hoping someone, even one person, might be able to learn from my mistake – saving you the trouble that I went through.

You see about two weeks ago I got into my Jeep Grand Cherokee on a hot summer day. I went to adjust the rear view mirror and it fell down! After cursing (just a bit), I disconnected the plug in the back of the mirror for the auto dimming function.

After all, I didn’t want the mirror just dangling there, possibly damaging or breaking the wires. I made a trip to my local auto parts store. For me the closest is O’Reilly Auto Parts. I bought a rear view mirror glue kit and headed home (note – the guy in front of me at the check out was complaining that the cheapest brake pads they had were still $19.99…which was way too expensive….).

Upon coming home, I am feeling confident. This will be a piece of cake right? Yeah….right. The old glue from the metal mirror button (I will refer to this as the button going forward) was still on the inside of the windshield. Before cleaning that off, I took a Sharpie and on the outside of the glass colored where the glue was on the inside of the glass. This showed me from the inside where to re-glue the button.

I removed the metal button from the actual mirror and used a knife blade to scrape off excess glue. Then using Goof Off I removed the remaining glue. I used Goof Off and glass cleaner to clean the inside of the windshield. GREAT! Now we are ready to re-glue and be on our way.

At this point I received a phone call. Being the multitasker that I am, I stuck my bluetooth (no, I don’t talk on it in the department stores) head set in my ear and went to work. First applying the glue to the button, I waited 60 seconds and then went to apply the button to the windshield. I held the button on the windshield for another 60 seconds. At this point I sit back to make sure I have placed the button in the correct spot. Huzzah! I got it in the right spot the first time. Terrific! Now I let the glue dry and in the morning I will re-hang the mirror.

In the morning I come out to stick the mirror on the button. I grab the mirror, a screw driver and the screw and go to slide the mirror on the button. Problem is, it’s not working – it just keeps sliding off the button. What the heck is going on? Now, remember how I was on the phone? Well yeah – I installed the button upside down. No, not the easy upside down – like wrong side facing up. I placed it with the tapered edge facing up! Crap! Well I have a meeting to get to, so no time for this stuff.

That evening I went back to O’Reilly Auto Parts and bought another glue kit. The same guy checked me out and definitely gave me a look of “how did you screw this up.” Regardless, I went home and started in on trying to remove the button.

Remember, the tapered side is facing up so I have nothing to grip. I don’t want to crack my windshield (cause that’s no fun). I start by putting some Goof Off around the edges of the button trying to let it soak into the sides. Then I use a knife trying to get under the button – that clearly wasn’t going to work. Then I tried the same routine with Lacquer thinner – and clearly that wasn’t going to work either. At this point I am frustrated and pretty ticked. So what do I do?

I turn to Twitter and Facebook! I posted my issue and the responses started flowing in. Let me tell you, the sledgehammer idea was killed quick. So was the hammer idea and the golf club. Then came the heat idea….this intrigued me.

I grabbed my girlfriend’s hair dryer and heated both the area on the inside of the windshield where the button was, and the outside. I then again tried to pry off the button. No luck. My patience is wearing thin. Maybe I should just take it to a windshield replacement shop tomorrow?No forget that, I don’t have the time and I don’t want them to look at me like I am stupid (quit making that face!).

I then grab my little torch and went to work. I avoided the glass at all costs, as this is much hotter then a blow dryer. I sat on the spot with the torch….just sat there…..and finally the torch ran out of fluid. The button was ridiculously hot, too hot to touch. I hadn’t cracked the glass.

I took the knife and tried getting under the edge to pry it off. No luck. Now I’m done for. I’m out of fluid in the torch. I decided to try and get the torch going one last time! I got it to go for a little longer. I held it in the same spot. It finally died. I went at it with the knife one more time and it went flying off. I quickly went to find it as it was hot enough to burn something.

I let the button and the windshield cool down. I got lucky! The windshield didn’t crack. I cleaned everything the same way I did the night before and re-glued the button. This time I was NOT on the phone. I gave my full attention to gluing the button and guess what, I did it right!

The next morning I put the mirror back up and was good to go. All of this experience was chronicled on Twitter and Facebook. Many friends and followers got involved and were mostly helpful. What was the lesson here? Pay attention when doing a simple task. You’ll regret it if you don’t.

Minnesota Gumball – Oh Yea, We Have One

So turns out that Minnesota has it’s own Gumball run.  Who knew!?  This event was created last year and is planned as a yearly event.  MN Gumball run offers the only road rally event spanning the entire state of MN (rally distance = 700+ miles) for one amazing day in the beauty of Minnesota’s fall.  Beginning the evening before with Large Party Downtown, tech inspection in morning, ending with car show, prizes and THE FINAL CRUISE

Date Sept 25th

  • Pre-registration involves insurance waiver, proof of car insurance and drivers license
  • Distance 700+ miles around state, last year was Northern, this year, N. Central, SW, SE and S.Central.

Four different categories in which to compete-

  • First to Scene – As stated, the first to arrive at destination will be rewarded.
  • Gas Sipper – The most fuel efficient team throughout the run.
  • Spirit of the Run – The team who perseveres the most throughout the journey’s tough 700 mile run.
  • Cleanest Wheels – There will be a car show at the end-point of the run, this is where prep work and pit stops may come into play.

Two drivers per team though additional members can be added. Cost of event is $1,500…NOW by open invitation as opposed to last year.

To RSVP or for more information email mngumball@yahoo.com

Focus of event is on pit stop strategy, navigation and longevity in day, not to mention having fun…

Roads were chosen for specific reasons.  This will be a scenic drive through MN fall to embrace our state.
Prizes will be contingent on how many people we have participating.

MN UNDERGROUND DOES NOT ENCOURAGE ANY LAWS TO BE BROKEN, this is a rally/navigational event, with no awards presented for time of completion.

At last year’s event, over $20,000 was given away in prizes!
EVENT IS OPEN TO ALL U.S. Citizens, with majority of participants hailing from our great state

They are trying to plan out a huge ripper downtown to kick off event and then people can officially pay then…hopefully a week before event.
Beginning in Bloomington, Minneapolis direction.

AutoBird Podcast – Esp 33: “Take Your Top Off Episode”

Episode 33 starts with introducing this weeks guest Nick Salvatore from SpeedSportLife.  Moving into the garage we talk about the 2011 Porsche Cayenne and 1967 Ford Mustang I drove since the last recording. We also heard about the 2010 Chevrolet Camaro SS and Hyundai Genesis Coupe 2.0T R-Spec Nick was in.  We then move along to the major news of the week segment.  This week included-

  • NADA picks vehicles with best cost of ownership (Link)
  • Nissan vs. Hyundai – Who is going to be the #2 Asian Automaker (Link)

This week we continue with the newer segment called car spotting.  Justin spotted a Chevrolet Corvair.  Nick saw a Alfa 159 Wagon when in Europe and his new Glut Orange Audi S5.

Next came our main topic which was discussing ownership “stigma” or stereotypes that go with certain convertibles.  We also hit on some positives/negatives along with reliability, and cost of ownership. (Link)
Last we plug our respective blogs, SpeedSportLifeCheers and Gears,  AutoBird Blog and Accelerate Mpls.

Download this episode (right click and save)

Video – 2011 Dodge Charger Pursuit: Production Rear End Fully Revealed

Someone at the recent police fleet expo took a little video of the new 2011 Dodge Charger Pursuit.  This is the police version of the upcoming 2011 Dodge Charger.  While we have already seen the front and plenty of spy shots, we have yet to see the rear end look confirmed.  Well…wait till the end of this one minute video and you’ll see the production rear end.

Source- YouTube via Allpar