Friday, May 2, 2014

Local paper features my kart team, expectations completely unobtainable

Myself and fellow Detroit ex-pats Brian Rutkowski, Dushyant Wadivkar, and Fabian Hartwich will represent the Motor City at the 6 Hours of Sonneberg kart race this Sunday. The town near Thüringen closes the streets and throngs of spectators show up for the spectacle.

A team of foreigners is apparently newsworthy for the local paper which is cool. However the attention is entirely undeserved. We've all turned fast laps in cars but none of us are serious kart racers. If you'd like to follow team Detroit Motorcity, there's a live timing link on the race website at http://www.6h-sonneberg.de

The Lemans style start is 2pm European time Sunday.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Veteran Gearhead, Rookie Blogger

20 years ago, I looked a lot like the guy driving this '64 Spyder convertible.  Actually, 20 years ago I *was* the guy driving this '64 Spyder convertible.  That's my "never shoulda sold it" car, but I was young and dumb, with visions of wheel-to-wheel competition in my head, so the Spyder had to go.
I sold it to fund the build of a '69 500 into an SCCA Improved Touring road racer, but the 500 was a survivor, way too nice for ITA, so it became a very clean and lightly modified street car.   Problem was, it never satisfied me as a street car the way the Spyder did.  So I sold the 500 and bought a '65 Monza coupe that became my first Grassroots Motorsports Magazine $20xx Challenge car, back in 2002.  Soon after the '02 Challenge, my automotive ADHD kicked in, and I sold the '65 to make room for a '66 Monza convertible with a Crown Manufacturing mid-engine small block Chevy V8 conversion.   Lather, rinse, repeat, for 15 cars over the last 12 years.

Hi, my name is PC, and I've got a problem.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Beat on die Strasse: Beater Golf MkII

I don't mean to generalize, but as a whole Germans don't really get beaters. Bi-annual vehicle inspections and accepted norms of vehicular upkeep are effective at sending eye sores to the scrap heap or Eastern Europe. Despite the TÜV, this Mark II Golf proves at least one German knows the importance of petina.

Don't Be Gentle, it’s a Renault Megane Rental

One perk of my day job is travelling to warm test tracks during the colder months of the year. A trip to a semi-exotic location driving a late model rental car is my best opportunity to sample Beaters-to-be before the original owners drive them into a lake. At the rental desk, I express no vehicular preference. My fate lies in the hands of a friendly middle-aged Spanish woman holding a square piece of plastic that apparently unlocks and starts an almost new Renault Megane (apparently pronounce MAY-ghan) hatch back. My first time behind the wheel of a French car is about to begin.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

New Project Acquisition - '96 BMW M3


In my mind, the E36 M3 is an automotive right of passage for the grassroots enthusiast, similar to how an Alfa GTV or bugeye Sprite might have been in decades past. Perhaps it was a crime of opportunity or maybe my soul was being sucked dry by driving something as slow as a Rabbit Diesel Caddy every day but I have been lured into BMW M-cardome. The point in time arrived where an E36 M3 came around that I could actually afford, on offer from my brother, so I jumped on it. In a few short weeks, I will have a new conduit for irresponsible driving.

There were a couple caveats though; it couldn't be driven home as the rear trailing arm bushings were so bad that it corded brand new tires in 400 miles, the front end shook like it had tremors, and the interior and paint were ragged and sun-faded.


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Cherokee Cylinder Head Failure/Replacement

The universe has an interesting way of self regulation. This is manifests itself whenever I seem to be coming out ahead in my automotive endeavors. Case in point, I get an E36 M3 for a song and I get rewarded with cylinder head failure in my '97 Cherokee.

What started as a nearly undetectable misfire morphed into a coolant drinking, combustion-stifling dropped valve and cracked head after dragging the E36 back from Raleigh. As it turned out, the misfire was due to an intermittently sticking valve at low loads. As soon as the load was high enough to overcome the loss of compression through the valve, all cylinders ignited properly. However, if you drive in that misfire load range for a long, long time you may start to notice some other problems pop up. The valve itself was good enough to go on the wall of offerings to the Gods of Speed. There was some galling so bad on the side of the valve stem that it looked like it was made from aluminum.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Beat on the Street - Lifted Wonder Wedge

One of the great side effects of living in a place devoid of tyrannical organizations like VicRoads or TUV to mandate roadworthiness is seeing vehicles like this hot, sweet angular mess.

Comprised of a Subaru XT (maybe an XT-6 given the 5 lug pattern - help me out XT fans) and a scrapyard's worth of angle iron and rectangular stock, this wedge is doing its best AMC Eagle impession.

StanceWorks Ute - Lowes is a Lifestyle?

I'm afraid that 1,200lbs of Sacrete, 4x4x10's, fence panels, and 14" Ansen Sprints is as close to 'stanced out' or 'hellaflush' as I'll get...so I might just leave that stuff in there.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Beat on die Strasse: M-B 0321 H Window Bus

Germany has lots of interesting cars I couldn't otherwise see but rarely do they park right infront of my apartment. This was an exception. I looked up from my musli one morning to see "Sonja" arrive on my street. She stopped on my block for about half an hour to load up for a scenic tour. Although the weather wasn't great, I'm sure everyone had a tremendous view through all those sky-lights. More infor at Sonja's website

Monday, October 14, 2013

Beat on die Strasse: GMC C/K with Ford Bed Hybrid

As automotive rivalries go, the Ford vs Chevy (or GMC) pick-up feud is as strong as they get. The question of which truck is better starts fist fights between drunk cousins at family reunions all over rural America. Such a heated conflict is not a good environment for parts sharing as any intermingling would suggest a weakness on one side that can be fixed with parts from the other. Your hybrid immediately becomes hated by both factions. Perhaps this GMC-Ford love child was sent to Germany for its own good. More pics, after the jump