Sunday, December 30, 2012

Gasoline Alley

There are two Gasoline Alley's in Alberta. One is a strip of gas stations and motels just outside Red Deer and the other is a treasure trove of classic cars and trucks in Calgary. Guess which one we are discussing today?

Despite it's gritty sounding name, Gasoline Alley is a very polished and well presented car museum located just before the main gates at Calgary's Heritage Park. The museum largely funded by donations and mostly features cars and trucks (A lot of trucks, actually) from the 1900's to the 1940's. The newest car I found on display was from 1956. So while not a musclecar haven, the museum features a host of odd and interesting cars from the dawn of the automobile.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Not So Silent Hill: Chip Ganassi's Secret Wind Tunnel

So you need a full scale wind tunnel on the cheap. What do you do? Well according to Chip Ganassi of Chip Ganassi Racing, you get creative. 

Rumors of a secret wind tunnel buried deep under Laurel Hill in Pennsylvania had been swirling around for a while. Hikers reported hearing V8 engines roaring at high speeds in the deep woods and they eventually found barrels of discarded racing fuel, confirming their suspicions.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Car Art You Can Do: Framed Head Gaskets

Women will love it. Surely nothing ornaments a man's (or super cool woman's) domain quite like some car art. Framed prints are nice but if you really want to be a complete car dork make a statement, you gotta use some real car parts for your art. 

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

The Death of Suzuki in America and why it Matters

There are no French cars sold in America. The only Italian car available besides the exotics like Lamborghini and Ferrari is the little Fiat 500. (Which is just an adorable little barstool) Then you have four German brands, three American corporations, two "British" brands and a host of Japanese manufacturers. 

Well you can now count one less independent from that list because as of today, the small motorcycle manufacturer turned car maker has filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy and is withdrawing from the American market. No word yet on how Canada will be affected.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Hometown Hero: Jim Hall and Chaparral Cars

The Chaparral 2D won the 1000 km Nürburgring in 1966 and some say it's the design inspiration for Speed Racer's Mach 5.
When it comes to building performance cars, Texans are awesome. Carroll Shelby and John Hennessy are prime examples. However there's one man who never built a single car for the road (Didn't stop him from driving his racers on the street every now and then) but developed active aerodynamics, semi-automatic racing transmissions and countless other innovations to motorsport. His name is Jim Hall.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Found in the Yard: One Barge to Rule Them All

The name "Town Car" has never made sense to me. As if would only seem logical to Lincoln buyers that they would need and want a car the size of a small planet to tool around the "town". Yet despite the incongruous nomenclature, Lincoln never seemed to have trouble selling beasts like this 1978 HMS Continental Town Car. However as these cars aged and opera windows, vinyl roofs and 8 mpg became less fashionable, many found there way to junkyards like this one.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Found in the Yard: When Honda was Cool Edition

Honda used to be relevant. Honda made brilliant cars throughout the 60's and 70's albeit in very small numbers. But it wasn't until the Honda Civic's (CVCC to those who know) runaway success in the late 70's that Soichiro Honda's little cars went mainstream in North America.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

I Care Not for Sensibilities

A little backstory here. Myself and a good friend of mine swapped cars for a couple of days while he took mine to get detailed. (It's ridiculously clean now) For a brief period of time I swapped my 1989 Suzuki Swift GTi for his manual shift 2002 Nissan Sentra. Fair trade? Depends who's counting.

Both cars have revvy little four cylinders, are front wheel drive, Japanese and seat 4.5 people. But like many things, the numbers aren't the half of it.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Found in the Yard: The Last American Truck

Do you love strippers? Because that's what we've found today; the most stripped down of stripper model trucks Chevy offered that year and in my mind, the last real American truck. Allow me to explain.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Lest we Forget: The Malaise Era

Try finding couches like these in a Cruze!
Cars have evolved through distinct eras since their inception over 120 years ago. The Edwardian era brought the newfangled novelty of the automobile to racetracks and homes like never before. The muscle car era (1966-1974) brought us loud cars with louder graphics that binge drank Sunoco and made names like GT500, Hemi and Stingray legends on the street. The turbo era (1984-1995) brought us cleaner, more aerodynamic designs and livable fuel injection. But between these two eras is one that people oft look over. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Found in the Yard: TURBO Edition!

What have we found today? Why it's a 1983 Renault Fuego Turbo rusting away. This car was born in the earliest days of the turbo era. Those were the days when every manufacturer was in a war not only to turbocharge their performance offerings, but to cover every conceivable surface in TURBO stickers. This rare Renault succeeds on both those fronts, but all the turbo stickers in the world couldn't save the Fuego.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Reckless Abandon

Before the insanity...
There was no way I could've known that walking into my favorite junkyard on a weekday afternoon  I would find my friends old car. Not one like it, but his actual car that he drove and loved years ago. I felt bad calling to tell him I had found his car sitting as a hulk. But not he. He was ecstatic that I found this thing and quickly went down to have a look at it.

The car in question was a 1991 Lumina Z34. Please contain your shouts of excitement. I know I know, but this one had a lovely little quad cam V6 powering it. Putting out 210 horsepower in a time Corvettes couldn't break 300 was a big deal. Naturally GM achieved this horsepower figure in the most difficult way possible. An iron block, aluminum heads, (Because screw you metallurgy) sodium filled valves and a 7,000 rpm redline made this a properly cool engine. Making this particular car more rare is the extremely rare and equally fragile Getrag 5 speed manual that backs it. Manufactured in Germany and sold in pitiful numbers in this combination, it is an exceedingly rare bird. 

Saturday, June 09, 2012

The Refugees of Race City

Early on in the night before it really fills up. Guess which car I drove up in?

I am a disciple of drag racing. I love and worship the noise, cars and excitement that goes along with it. I love the smell of scorched tires, burning oil and unburned hydrocarbons wafting through the stands. I attended the races every Friday night since I got my license. The track, Race City had a half baked road course, an oval track that was way past its prime and a wobbly and rutted drag strip flanked with flaking bleachers. It was decrepit and dangerous. And I adored the place. 

Friday, May 18, 2012

A Different Way of Life

The Impala is a terrible car. Let's not beat around the issue here. The 46 year old relic gets abysmal mileage, requires a lead additive, has one speaker and wallows about as if it's suspended by licorice leaf springs. And yet, anyone with a soul can't help but love it.

Saturday, May 05, 2012

Suzuki: Greatest Hits

Suzuki didn't have a sexy beginning. Suzuki Motor Corp. wasn't born out of a high end race program like Ferrari; it wasn't the product of a supercar grudge like Lamborghini or even born from motorcycles and F1 cars like Honda. No, when Michio Suzuki founded Suzuki Loom Works in 1909 cars were not even a blip in the horizon. Suzuki built its first motorcycle in 1952 and has made millions of motorcycles since, ranging from tiny commuter bikes to the outrageous 1300 cc Hayabusa. Motorcycles were and always have been a huge part of Suzuki's heritage and design ethos. But today we're profiling the significant cars built by Suzuki with that unique DNA.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Introducing Myself and my First Car

      How does one begin one of these informal things? It's like a party where no one knows anyone but everyone knows why they're there. Well in this case we're here to talk about cars and the people, events and history that surrounds them. 
     Cars are and have always been more than conveyance for me. They represent an era, the mindset of the buying population and the manufacturer when it was built. For example, the 1968 Corvette was built with wild coke bottle styling, "Astro-Ventilation" and fire breathing big blocks that laughed at their refined European sportscar counterparts. It was a representation of when America had money, ambition and a fascination with the space program. And in the same way people are represented by their cars, in a broader sense so are the countries that manufacture them. 
 Suzy was quite the looker pre-rust