The most dangerous car in the world

dangerous carOr at least, the most dangerous car I need to own

When I say dangerous car I’m not necessarily talking about the relative safety of the vehicle’s driving characteristics. (Though it is a kit car, so you never know.) What I mean by dangerous is the lust generated in my heart for a vehicle that will likely do nothing but cause me frustration and disappointment.

Nothing screams “DANGER WILL ROBINSON” like an almost-finished kit car. Lets face it, kit cars are always a crap shoot. You have no idea how skilled or unskilled the builder might be. In most cases you have no idea if the kit itself contained the slightest bit of quality.

At least though when you buy a fresh kit you know that all the mistakes are yours to make. With a mostly-finished car it’s almost impossible to undo the unknown mistakes lurking in the spirit of the machine.

The description of the car starts off great, using all the right words. Square tube frame, 1000c.c. motorcycle engine, 6-spd sequential gearbox, Merkur rear end. All very happy and encouraging pieces.

Then it starts to go awry. “Custom suspension all around.” OK, maybe good, maybe not. “Car should do 0-60 in 4 seconds or less.” Should?

Then the kicker, “car is unfinished and still needs work.” Why? Why after all that work have the final little bits not been done?

Then the heart-wrenching, “Yard drives until the motor suddenly stopped.” As Batman’s sound-effect graphic would say, “OOOOFF.” No more details are given.

So why am I picking on the beautiful little car? Because at its current bid I could almost afford it, and despite everything I’ve said above I still want it. I need help.

You like?
  • Yes 
  • No 
Posted in Auctions | Tagged , | Leave a comment

unemployment and other realities

Unemployment is like financial insomnia.

Not doing something correctly is not the same as doing something wrong.

Put your fear in a box under ground.

Just because Thomas Edison never actually invented anything doesn’t mean he wasn’t a genius.

Cat scat scan – looking for cat poop in the back yard

You like?
  • Yes 
  • No 
Posted in Writing | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Not your grandfather’s Studebaker

Or maybe it is. I don’t know your grandfather, or his Studebaker.

StudebakerWhen most people think of Studebaker, they probably don’t think of dragsters. Though I imagine that these days most people don’t think of Studebaker all that much.

However, in the dying decades of Studebaker there were many experiments with design and performance. The wild Hawk series and the even wilder Avanti stretched the limits of taste with varying success.

On the other end of the spectrum the lowly Lark got shoe-horned with some impressive hardware. The trick being that if you can put a straight six in a var, you can easily fit a V-8. The little Lark with an 8-banger was a spritely ride. (For the time that is.)

Often purists complain that at the end of the run Studebaker was using Chevy engines. For me though the 289 was a great engine and this blue beauty has one stretched to the very limit of not exploding. I’m not sure this car would be any good on the street and probably not the fastest on the track either, but neither would be the point.

This car is one of several Studes that were recently pulled out of storage. They are all interesting but for their condition the reserves are pretty high. The seller has a buy-it-now price of $8,000 which would be fine if it had been used a bit more over the last few years.

You like?
  • Yes 
  • No 
Posted in Auctions | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Haiku In A Week (and other thoughts)

This year I don’t have the time or energy to commit to Novel in a Month. So instead I’m doing Haiku in a Week.

I can’t wait to go to the new Bass Pro Shop in San Jose. They have nothing I need or want but I feel compelled to go there.

Lately I’m not writing so much as I am typing.

My strategy of criticizing myself and having others defend me has back-fired horribly.

You like?
  • Yes 
  • No 
Posted in Random Thoughts | Tagged | Leave a comment

Beetle Truck on eBay

Beetle Truck

What more could you want than a Beetle Truck? Sort of the hippie equivalent of the El Camino. Alternatively you could ask, who would want a Beetle Truck?

That’s the problem with “special” cars. Yes, they are fun to look at at and motorheads like me lust after them, but the specialness of the car eliminates a huge potential audience when you’re trying to sell it. There’s a reason there are so many Camrys on the road.

A special car needs and deserves a special owner. Someone who won’t outgrow the novelty after two weeks. Someone willing to maintain the specialness. Someone who doesn’t mind the stares, questions and teenage disparagement.

It’s like getting a beagle puppy at the pound. Oh it is so cute and playful and smart. Then one day instinct kicks in and it discovers it can howl and decides that its job is to protect the house and family by howling at EVERYTHING that might pose a threat.

Meanwhile, back at the Beetle Truck; If I had a business that required light delivery, this would be a wonderful machine. A little work and maybe a vinyl rap and you’ve got one hell of a rolling billboard.

Of course when it comes to special cars like the Beetle Truck having it VW-based is a huge advantage because mechanically it is only slightly more complex than a go kart. If you can maintain a bicycle you can maintain a VW. And if you can’t there is someone in your town who can.

So what is something like this worth? The opening bid is $1500 with reserve not met. The seller is asking for a deposit of $2000 so obviously expects to get more than that. There are over five days to go so you never know. I wouldn’t go over $2500 but I’m a cheapskate. Twice that might be what a VWhacko might spend.

You like?
  • Yes 
  • No 
Posted in Auctions | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Tom’s Halloween Status

So here I am upon another Halloween. 54 years old, unemployed, recovering from a phantom knee injury, unable to ride my bike in the beautiful sunshine outside. Wallowing in the comfort of sweat pants and watching marathons of World’s Dumbest on TV.

Yet, I’m teetering on the verge of happiness. Over the last two years I’ve seriously hated my job and am glad they laid me off. While job hunting after 13 years is no picnic, it’s better than dealing with Documentum all day every day.

The knee pain is almost gone and my doctor gave me advice to keep me riding and if El Nino holds off I still have some good riding weather ahead.

And out of nowhere, the urge to write has reappeared. Oddly, it’s not in the form of story ideas. It’s this odd need to sit at my desk and type. As I’m doing now. I’ve been tying for half the day so far. Cool.

Now to find the spark currently whetted by depressors. My health, family health, dog health, mental health. Battling the unrealistic expectations and digging out the hunger and bravado to win over the all-powerful and crippling excess of self-awareness.

So Tom is doing well. The top of the hill ahead. Looking forward to Halloween and then the Day of Dead.

Rex guarding the house

Rex is once again sorry for barking at nothing

TJ the Cocker Spaniel

TJ wishes I would get the camera out of his face

You like?
  • Yes 
  • No 
Posted in Tom | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Dragonfly and other thoughts

Words of thunder, dreams of lightning. Riding under the shadow of the dragonfly.

I’ve never been so involved with politics. Can someone spare some Thorazine?

This week I get to put my dogs’ crap into boxes and then put those boxes in the mail. Envy me!

Does a person’s pizza profile count as PHI?

You like?
  • Yes 
  • No 
Posted in Random Thoughts | Tagged | Leave a comment

Maserati Quattroporte on eBay

Maserati QuattroporteThe third generation Maserati Quattroporte is my favorite Maserati ever. I know, that’s weird. Out of all the magnificent machines they built over the decades I fall in love with their boxiest, un-sportiest car.

I think though that rather than comparing it against other big luxury cars of the time. When put next to a contemporary Rolls Royce, Bentley, Mercedes or Cadillac the Quattropore is way cooler.

When they came out I assumed that I would never be able to afford one. They were too expensive and I assumed the value would only increase with time. I was way wrong on that one. For some reason many of the people who bought them, at the first sign on any issue, parked them in a field somewhere.

So you wind up with two types of Quattroportes for sale. On rare occasions you find pristine examples priced in the nose bleed zone, but more often you find the ones like this that have been sitting and rotting for a long time, for sale for a very tempting price.

The problem with that tempting price is that with the work needed the end cost will probably exceed what you would spend on a clean one. After all, how often do you see ads for discount Maserati Parts.

And don’t even think of buying two junkers to make one good one. You will that both have exactly the same things wrong with them. Unless you find the mystical pot of gold of a perfect body with a blown engine and another with a perfect engine that was rear-ended by a semi.

So with 3 days to go the current bid is $999. Someone please bid or I may have to have a difficult talk with my wife. After all, I could learn body work…

You like?
  • Yes 
  • No 
Posted in Auctions | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Stupid Questions and Random Thoughts

“That would have worked if your truck was Jesus.” – Brad Loekle

A man once told me that there are no stupid questions. I proceeded to prove him wrong.

I got a lot less done when I had a job.

John Boehner was the reasonable one?

You like?
  • Yes 
  • No 
Posted in Random Thoughts | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Preserving the Automobile

Preserving The Automible

Oct 5, 2015 – Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum

Rarely does an auction have a better title. For those of us tired of the endless line of trailer queens and nose-bleed-priced gods of autolympus there are auctions like this. Not to imply that the cars at this auction are any less important or worthy of attention.

Here you will find not just complete restored pieces of envy. You will also find the bits and pieces needed to make that envy happen. Tires, wheel, fenders; the kind of stuff you usually have to dig through moldy boxes to find. And among those parts are some glorious finds.

Also available are several cars that I’m assuming the museum never got around to restoring. Usually that means basketcase, but there are some runners up for sale.

Below is a glimpse at my three favorite lots:

old engineLot No. 126
1925 Balboa 8-cylinder, supercharged 100hp engine

According to the Encyclopedia of American Automobiles the Balboa was built for one year in Fullerton California. It is described as being sleek and powerful.

The auction estimate is $3,000 – $5,000. If you happened to have a Balboa in need of an engine, or were looking to build a period-correct hot rod, that’s pretty cheap.

Result: Sold for $8,750 (Apparently more than one bidder was a Balboite.)

model tLot 227
1918 Ford Model T Brisbane Runabout

What’s so special about a Model T? Look closely and you’ll see that the steering wheel is on the wrong side. This is a rare Canadian-built export model that was shipped to Australia.

What also makes it cool is that it needs work, which keeps it out of the nose-bleed section. With an estimate of $8,000 – $12,000 and no reserve, it could be an opportunity to get a great and important car for used Camry money.

Result: Sold for $4,400 (Way below what I thought it was worth.)

Hillman MinxLot 240
1960 Hillman Minx IIIA Convertible

I love Hillmans and the Minx Convertible is the king of Hillmans. It’s the kind of car that people who know nothing about cars think is a cool car.

Cars like this are the epitome of British “Motoring.” As long as you avoid expectations of speed and luxury, and don’t do anything as gauche as driving on an interstate, you will have an enjoyable ride.

The estimate of $7,000 – $10,000 puts it in used Honda Civic range, but way way cooler.

Result: Sold for $7,700 (A great car for that money.)

You like?
  • Yes 
  • No 
Posted in Auctions | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment