Archive for June, 2007

Signing off

Friday, June 29th, 2007

After a long two months doing this blog, it’s time for me to go.

I had a lot of fun writing some of the posts that were on here, and I had even more fun reading your responses. Readership of this blog went up like crazy (a little over double what it was before), so at least a few of y’all out there liked it.

For that, I am immensely happy. I couldn’t be more proud.

Now that I’m done breaking my arm patting myself on the back, I want to thank the readers of this blog, a few of the folks who sent me tips on stuff to write, and lastly the folks at 451 Press, who gave me a shot at writing professionally about my hobby and passion.

I don’t plan to do another blog anytime soon, but I am an automotive enthusiast and web nerd, so there’s a chance you might see my name again somewhere.

Until then…

–Will Thompson

Value of an Inspection

Thursday, June 28th, 2007

I spend a lot of time surfing various sites on the ‘net like Ebaymotors.com, Autotrader.com, Craigslist.org, local site AreaCars.com, and a bunch of others. Generally I’m checking out cars for sale. One thing that has always kept me from buying a car completely unseen is the idea that I’ve never actually seen the car. The person selling the car has the upper hand, because they know the condition of the car, and I’m usually a few thousand miles away drooling at a car that I can’t actually examine myself. Add to that the fact that, at least on eBay, you get in trouble if you win the bid on a car and don’t actually buy it.

Since I’m a web programmer to make money and a car guy to spend it, I thought maybe there has to be a way to get around this fear. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only person who is a bit apprehensive about buying a car site unseen. Businesses like Auto2auto.com only sell cars online - no showrooms at all.

As it turns out, you can get a vehicle inspected by a couple of places. Auto2auto.com used to use Pep Boys for inspections, but apparently Pep Boys doesn’t offer that service any longer. The other option is a vehicle inspection service, like Inspection Solution.

Inspection Solution offers a fairly comprehensive vehicle inspection with a detailed report and pictures for about $100. Not a bad price to pay for peace of mind. I actually see this becoming a very useful thing for people selling cars online. I mean, for $100 you give people looking to buy your car an unbiased opinion of the car’s condition. That might just be the bit that makes your Accord a bit nicer than the next Accord in the search results.

The good:

  • A novel concept
  • The unbiased opinion of a professional
  • Ability to post a link to inspection report online - especially good for online sellers
  • Friendly customer service (I snuck a call - don’t tell anyone)

The could-be-better:

  • Limited geographical coverage means you might not be able to schedule an inspection
  • Only vehicles 10 years old and newer are eligilble
  • Due to liability concerns, the inspector cannot actually test drive the vehicle
  • You’re buying an opinion, not a warranty or guarantee

Overall, not a bad deal for peace of mind on the second-biggest purchase in most people’s lives.

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Top 25 Cars of the past 25 years that made a difference - of some sort

Wednesday, June 27th, 2007

Celebrating its 25th anniversary, USA TODAY has been releasing top 25 lists each week of everything from biggest public meltdowns to top TV moments to most memorable quotes. In this week’s edition, the news giant revealed its list of 25 cars that made a difference.

The Top 10: 1992 Toyota Camry; 1991 Ford Explorer; 2001 Toyota Prius; 1984 Chrysler minivans; 1986 Hyundai Excel; 1986 Ford Taurus; 1990 Lexus LS 400; 1990 Mazda Miata; 1986 Acura Legend and 1996 Toyota RAV4. For a complete list, visit http://www.usatoday.com/news/top25-vehicles.htm.

The latest in tacky car accessories

Tuesday, June 26th, 2007

Just when you thought it was safe to venture back out onto the city streets without fear of being accosted by such automotive atrocities as:

Spinner hubcaps:
spinnyhubcap.jpg

or Truck Nutz:
trucknutz.jpg

All of a sudden there’s a new player in town to sap the remaining class and dignity out of your ride. Enter RhineStripes and RhineFlames from the minds of LA Stones FX. Here are some examples of these - ummm…. products.

la_stones.jpg

la_stones_lambo.jpg

That last one was especially disturbing to me, since it’s a Lamborghini Countach. It looks like whoever owns that car lost a bet to a crazy cat lady with a Bedazzler. There is no sane person who pays $300,000 for a Lamborghini Countach and then sticks rhinestone pinstripes on it.

Thanks to Zach for sending the link to me!

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The green oil rush?

Monday, June 25th, 2007

It’s weird to think about Texas oil men type guys getting all excited about biofuels, but according to this article, that’s exactly what’s happening.

I lean a bit more politically left than most of the people who enjoy my hobby, but I’m practical enough to realize that what will drive the impending (in my opinion) biofuel revolution will be capitalism. Capitalism is the reason Rudolf Diesel’s namesake engine runs on diesel fuel, as opposed to the peanut oil he envisioned.

I have no problem with venture capitalists, or “wildcatters”, when it comes to advancing this technology. Personally, big oil companies would do a lot in my eyes to get involved in non-carbon-emitting technologies sooner rather than when they are forced by the government or the market.

First one to algae based biodiesel available at the pump wins!

–Will

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Vatican releases 10 Commandments for Drivers

Friday, June 22nd, 2007

Ooookaaay…

If this helps anyone I suppose it’s worth it, but it seems a bit odd to me that the highest eschelon of the Catholic church is concerned about the world’s driving habits. I never really thought about the Vatican having a position on driving habits and guidelines. I guess they decided to do something about the number one reason people die, at least here in America, automobile accidents.

Here’s the list:
1. You shall not kill.

2. The road shall be for you a means of communion between people and not of mortal harm.

3. Courtesy, uprightness and prudence will help you deal with unforeseen events.

4. Be charitable and help your neighbor in need, especially victims of accidents.

5. Cars shall not be for you an expression of power and domination, and an occasion of sin.

6. Charitably convince the young and not so young not to drive when they are not in a fitting condition to do so.

7. Support the families of accident victims.

8. Bring guilty motorists and their victims together, at the appropriate time, so that they can undergo the liberating experience of forgiveness.

9. On the road, protect the more vulnerable party.

10. Feel responsible toward others.

My only comment is that I’m pretty sure that first one was already covered. Here’s the rest of the article where I found this.

–Will

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I’m coming, Elizabeth!

Thursday, June 21st, 2007

sanford.jpg

I just had a Fred Sanford-like reaction to an article I read.

According to the BBC, Nissan executives have declined bonuses due to falling profits this year.

You see, people? This is why Carlos Ghosn will someday be running the world. Integrity, hard data, and accountability seem to be foreign concepts to most automotive executives except this guy and maybe Bob Lutz.

Holy executive accountability, Batman!

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Google hooks up those who develop hybrid cars

Wednesday, June 20th, 2007

According to USA Today, Google is pledging $10 million to people or technologies to those who show promise in bringing plug-in hybrid automobiles to market.

Not to sound crass, because it’s not like I have $10 million laying around to give to someone, but whoopdee-farking-do. Ten million doesn’t buy a whole lot of car manufacturing facilities.

This reminds me of a story from my navy days. We’d just gotten a new division officer, Lt. McNeese, who was obviously in charge of his first thing ever. On an aircraft carrier, officers eat in the different (and most likely better) mess/galley/line of food/etc. On his first night in charge, he went to go eat, and came back with a 8 oz paper cup full of cashews. He walked into the room where we sat around most of the time, set them on a workbench, and said “For the troops!”. He’d gone out of his way to bring us eight friggin ounces of cashews to split among twenty of us.

Um, thanks….

–Will

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Gotta love little girls

Tuesday, June 19th, 2007

OK, I promise this post won’t be nearly as creepy as the headline.

I just wanted to shout out a quick comment that I’m incredibly happy and proud that my foo-foo little girl asked me for a Transformers toy this past weekend when we were out shopping. Here’s the one she picked out, Bumblebee:

bumble3.jpg

bumble1.jpg

bumble2.jpg

Coooool!

–Will

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Ice Truckers, indeed

Monday, June 18th, 2007

Back when Bill Mertz was still writing this site, he did a post about how big rigs crossed ice roads carved into the tundra of Canada’s northern provinces.

The reason I mention this is because I noticed a commercial today for a new series on The History Channel called Ice Road Truckers.

The season premiere was last night at 9 PM central. Lemme tell you, those people are friggin crazy! There was ice cracks an inch or so wide, the unnerving sound of ice stress-cracking under the load of the semis, and talk of waves underneath the ice generated by the pressure of the trucks’ weight. No way you’d catch me doing that, but I’m sure the money’s pretty good.

Pretty cool show, and even cooler that Bill called out how cool the ice truckers were a couple months ago.

–Will

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Rent a hybrid at Hertz and Avis

Friday, June 15th, 2007

I dunno about you guys, but I’m a big fan of renting cars I’m curious about when I go on vacation or have another need to get a rental. I’ve bought more than one car after renting it in a different city. I’ve also determined quite a few cars I won’t buy.

That being said, Hertz and Avis both announced that they will be adding the ever-popular Toyota Prius to their rental fleets beginning now. Both say they’ll initially add 1,000 units, with more coming into their fleet later in the year.

Hertz plans to offer the Prius for rent in Manhattan and select airport locations around the country, and Avis is sticking to the west coast.

All of this comes on the heels of a public relations initiative (pdf) from Enterprise Rent-A-Car last week touting its “unparalleled fleet of fuel-efficient vehicles”. Enterprise claims that 47% of its fleet - almost 334,000 vehicles - average at least 28 miles per gallon and that 28% of its fleet - almost 200,000 vehicles - average 32 miles per gallon.

Well done, Hertz and Avis. You too, Enterprise Rent-A-Car

–Will

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A business trip to Atlanta: part two

Thursday, June 14th, 2007

Well, my meeting in Atlanta went OK. Afterwards, we got in out in time to hopefully avoid Atlanta traffic, which I think is impossible. We left at 2:30 PM and sat in Atlanta traffic for 15 minutes or so. I don’t understand how folks down there don’t go completely postal having to sit in that all the time. On top of that, by the time we got to Chattanooga, there was a wreck that completely closed the freeway in the direction we needed to go. Getting around that was quite fun, and added another 30 minutes to our trip.

Our Lexus somehow became infested with ants, so the drive home wasn’t as nice as the drive down. I still think I have ants in my hair and underwear. I swear I can feel them crawling on me still. In the end I was very happy to get back to Nashville yesterday afternoon and jump into my 30 year old truck.

A couple quick notes:

  • Why are all the KOA campgrounds next to the freeway? That seems to me like going on vacation in the parking lot outside your office. Nothing like getting away from it all.
  • It seems that AC/DC’s Back in Black is the song that gets everyone in the car grooving. Hard to go wrong with that song when it comes on. Maybe next time I need to being a CD, since radio reception sucks for most of that trip.
  • Office roomie, who has infant triplets and therefore hasn’t had three hours of continuous sleep in ages, was riding shotgun and actually fell asleep mid-channel change while trying to find something on the radio.

–Will

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A business trip to Atlanta

Wednesday, June 13th, 2007

As I’m writing this, it’s 4:30 in the morning and I’m in Atlanta for a business meeting.

For some reason, I assumed the hotel would have internet service to each room, but apparently that’s not the case. My consolation is that there’s a jacuzzi tub in my room (that seems excessive to use, given Atlanta’s current drought conditions), a separate living room, and two TVs. There’s even a network cable coming out of the wall here on the desk where I have my laptop set up. That’s right - a desk, a network cable, two televisions, a jacuzzi tub, and no internet access. Apparently they were all booked up yesterday afternoon, so they couldn’t switch me to a room with internet access. Sheesh! Honestly, I think I could have functioned better without TV than without internet access. What does that say about us nowadays? Suddenly the idea of internet access in your car doesn’t seem like such a bad idea.

At least I did get to make the four hour drive from Nashville to Atlanta in a nice Lexus GS300 company car. It’s a pretty nice ride, and I suppose I can look forward to sitting in rush hour Atlanta traffic in it when I head home this afternoon.

Sorry for the rant, folks. I do feel better now, after typing my frustration away. Hopefully I can get this posted up sometime later today.

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Thank God this commercial is dead.

Tuesday, June 12th, 2007

Seems like car and truck commercials generate one of three feelings for me: 1.) Laughter, 2.) Apathy (if apathy can be a feeling, which is really its own discussion), and 3.) Disgust.

The Chevy truck commercials with John Mellencamp singing “This is our country” never failed to bring out a solid number 3. I wonder if that dude lost a divorce settlement or something. I’ve never heard him sound more soulless. It’s like he’s trying to sound like something else.

This is arrrrr kuuuun tray

Add the crappy song to a pandering, quasi-political, film-school-wannabe, piece of junk like the stuff below, and voila! America’s crappiest commercial ever. Don’t take my word for it. Take a look below and form your own opinion.

One of the versions of the commercial:

These commercial spawned a few million parodies, among them these two:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nv1vZG0zdhg

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SPNMERRPuHw

I’m incredibly happy these commercials finally got killed off.

–Will

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Ah, physics

Monday, June 11th, 2007

This is the sort of thing you find when you browse around the Auto & Vehicles category on YouTube late at night.

Since it’s Japanese, here’s the idea: Have a pitching machine set to throw a baseball at 100 kilometers per hour (a little over 62 MPH) mounted in the back of a truck going 100 KPH in the other direction. You can guess what happens, but it’s still an interesting visualization.

–Will

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About Automotive Blogger

Some people use their automobiles only to get from Point A to Point B. You know there's more than that. You get mad when someone makes a remark about your car that's less than flattering. You get riled when a cool car is destroyed in a straight-to-video movie. You realize when a new car doesn't deserve it's name of a great car of the past. When you see someone driving a boring vehicle, you feel sorry for them. You know it's not the destination that counts - it's the journey. Welcome home gearheads. Welcome home, car freaks. Welcome to the site that fuels your automotive obsession - AutomotiveBlogger.net

Automotive Blogger Author(s)
    » Mike-Mayder

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