Category Archives: Fun Stuff

Here contributing editor Paul Daniel blogs about just anything that’s on his mind about cars or maybe something else. Fun Stuff.

New Toyota Supra is super fun

We’re on a mission from God….

joliet prison, the blues brothers, jake, elwoodA  line out of the 1980 hit movie The Blues Brothers and totally appropriate for this blog entry as Mark and I traveled to the Midwest Automotive Media Association’s (MAMA) Fall Rally just outside of Joliet, IL, home of the Joliet Prison where after his release from prison, Jake (John Belushi) reunites with his brother, Elwood (Dan Aykroyd) — collectively known as the “Blues Brothers.”  Yep, we drove right past the front door. Continue reading New Toyota Supra is super fun

Fueling collector fever with just two wheels

Making the cash/time continueum work

Imagine two pie charts next to each other. In one is all the money that you allot for the fun stuff you do. Unlike the government, you need to stay on budget so if you want to do more fun stuff, you to take funds away from the stuff you currently do. With me so far? OK, now for the other pie chart. In this one is the amount of time you spend doing your fun stuff so if going to a car show took up 20% of your time and like me want to take up flying, which will take 20% of your time, you’re done going to car shows for a while. It’s a simple concept. You’re on a strict financial and time budget. Where am I going with this? Well I tried the car restoration/collecting thing and it was a disaster so I’ve turned to motorcycles.

It’s like the car thing utilizing about half the time, money, and space

I’ve been riding motorcycles since the middle 70’s when I bought a 1975 Honda 125 to commute to school. I’ve owned a couple that I wish I hadn’t sold (and where have you heard that before?) like a 1978 Kawasaki KZ 900 and 1981 Kawasaki ZR 1000. Both of them in good shape are worth a fair amount of money because they were the fastest bikes of their time. I flip bikes and currently have two, a 2007 Suzuki Hayabusa and 1981 Honda CX 500. The Busa was a trail blazer when it debuted in 1999. Out of the box it was capable of going 200 mph and was the fastest bike on the planet. It has almost a cult-like following. Right now they don’t really appreciate in value but I think they will someday. I’ve learned to do most of the work on it myself while I rely on a local bike shop for the big stuff. Over the winter I had it dyno-tuned and it is faster than snot for having 57,000 miles on it.

The Honda is a different story. A good friend of mine had it sitting in his garage for a long time and I was always after him to help bring it out of its long sleep. Then one day I got a text from him asking if I wanted the bike because his wife wanted it out of the garage. I love her. The CX were developed by Honda in the late 70’s and featured technologies not found in that era such as liquid cooling, electric-only starting, shaft drive, and dual CV-type carbs. The item that is most recognized is the crankshaft configuration aligned longitudinally with the axis of the bike sort of like a Moto Guzzi. When I rev the engine, it feels torquey even though the transmission spins contrawise. There was also a turbo version of this bike which was manufactured into the 80’s. Honda made thousands of these and they are a very affordable first bike to learn how to work on.

honda cx500, cafe racer

I wanted nothing to do with the bike’s traditional design and went straight for the cafe racer look. I had to clean the old gas out of the tank, rebuild the carbs, replace the front fork seals, get new tires, and bleed the brakes. I like yellow and painted it with a rattle can. I cut the seat down and then fiberglassed the tail, ditched the old tail lights, bought a bikini cowl for the front, and installed a new handlebar and mirrors. I had a friend of mine do the vynyl graphics. I don’t have more than $600 into the bike and if I wanted to flip it for around $2,000 but it’s a fun bike and think I’ll hang into it for a while. So now I have two bikes in my garage taking up about the same space as a Nash Metropolitan.

Take this as far as you want to within your time/cash continuum

I would love to own a Ducati which is why this Paul Smart 1000 LE caught my eye. I mean, this is a rolling piece of art that wants to go fast. The engine is air-cooled, fuel injected, electronic ignition 1000DS (dual spark) 90-degree v-twin engine 992cc, two-valves, a quoted 92bhp at 8,000rpm. Ducati only made 2,000 of these which is why it was sold for $19,500. It has just 800 original miles on it. I would add another 800 miles pretty quick on it if I could afford it.

An American original

There were a bunch of motorcycle manufacturers in the US in the early years one of them being Vincent. These bikes were legendary for their speed in their battle with Harley-Davidson. My grandpa had one. That’s where i got the motorcycle bug from.

While it’s not numbers matching this Vincent Rapide is still a fantastic bike and the restorer spent a lot of time on it, especially the chrome parts. If I were to purchase this bike and ride it the bike would only go out on sunny days where there was zero chance of rain. Getting the chrome to shine this well takes a ton of work as does keeping it that way. Up for auction at $52,000 is really a deal because it probably would take about three times that amount to restore it.

A hometown favorite

I’d be remiss if I didn’t include a Made-In-Milwaukee Harley-Davidson. HD bikes from the early years can be a great investment like this 1945 Harley Davidson Knucklehead. This example looks frozen in time. Older Restoration with mostly original parts.  Numbers Match. Original Engine, Frame, Carburetor, Tins etc Less than a 1000 of these bike were produced in 1945!

What’s great about this bike is that all you would need to do is put gas in it and go. It would be a real head turner in a parade or bike night. Auction price was set at $35,000 and it was sold.

The grandad of big Japanese bikes

Before there bikes like my Busa, there was the Honda CB 750 which turns 50 this year. Introduced in January it is described as the first superbike. It waa the first bike from a mainstream manufacturer featuring an electric start and disc brakes needed to slow down what was the fastest bike of its time running the quarter-mile in around 12 seconds with a top speed of 120 mph. All this fun came for just $1,495. Sales quickly outpaced Honda’s projections and the bike remained in production until 2003.

Early production models can command a decent investment, the prototypes, which only two of the four are known to survive even more. Just last year one sold for around $224,000.

But you don’t have to spend that kind of money to get in the game. Most of them are very affordable like this 1977 Honda CB 750 which sold for just $2,500. What you get for just a bit more than the original list price is a bike that has so many ways to go. You could go crazy with a full restoration or like I did with my CX500, turn it into a Cafe Racer.

There are tons of performance parts for the bike from carbs to exhaust. What I love about the Cafe Racer craze is that every bike becomes an extension of the owner. The bike is super-easy to work on but if you get stuck it has very active owner forums like Honda Twins so don’t feel intimidated or bashful. I’ve gone to the CX 500 forum a bunch of times and always found them helpful.

So there you have it, lot’s of options that don’t have to make you worry how you’re going to pay for your kid’s education or missing a mortgage payment. Best of all, even owning several bikes will all fit in even the smallest of garages.

 

Drone races an F1 car

Drones are everywhere

droneThat segment of radio control flight has gone sky high compared to the planes and jets that I fly. They are so affordable and do so much more than the early models that I flew. I love reading and seeing new types of photography utilizing drones but this one looked like great fun.

As a rule, drones are not particularly fast unless it’s a racing drone. Those really rip and can go up to 130 mph. Pretty quick but not fast enough to chase an F1 racing car. Great effort though as you will see in this video.red bull f1 car

 

 

 

 

The perfect surprise gift for a car lover

From a giver who has lots of money to burn

How many times have you imagined what it would be like to win the Powerball? I known I have and I buy tickets when the jackpot is really big. I’m talking big six figure big! Of course I’d quit my job, or maybe buy the place. I’d buy some of the cars I’ve always lusted over, buy a home on a lake and another one someplace warm so I wouldn’t have to put up with the cold winters here in Wisconsin. Then it’s time to start giving away some of my new found fortune. Cash is good but I think a thoughtful gift is more fun.

The Submarine Sports Car

I have these two friends that taught me how to fly, Dave and Tim. These guys are over the top fun and love stuff out of the ordinary. Tim likes cars and currently owns a Triumph TR6. They both love the water which is why I would get them this gift.

Photos: Hammacher Schlemmer

I found this on Hammacher Schlemmer who are known for their unusual stuff. If you’re a James Bond fan you will recognize this as Continue reading The perfect surprise gift for a car lover

So that’s a Matador! And an expensive one!

Print ad from my collection

A line used by American Motors in marketing the Matador. AMC introduced a newly designed two-door coupe in 1974 as a luxury coupe. Members of the automotive press pretty much loved it. Car and Driver said, “There’s an undeniable smuggnes stamped on the fenders of AMC’s new Matador X. And each arrogant crease is integral to an overall air of confidence.” The X package, the sportiest, was one of three offered, the other two being the Broughram, and upscale Oleg Cassini.

For 74, production totaled 62,269, 31,169 base coupes, 21,026 Brougham coupes (including 6,165 in Cassini trim) and 10,074 of the X. That was a huge jump from the previous year’s boxy design when 7,067 went down the line in Kenosha. It was a Matador coupe that reached a production milestone for AMC becoming the six millionth car they produced since its founding in 1954. Its competition was the Chevy Chevelle Coupe, Ford Torino Coupe, and Plymouth Satellite Sebring. Base price was $3,699, with a loaded one at $4,350. Engine choices were the 232 and 258 6-cyl along with three V-8’s, 304, 360, and 401. Continue reading So that’s a Matador! And an expensive one!

MAMA 2019 Spring Rally: Car heaven for auto journalist

So many cars to choose from

Mark and I love this event. We get to hang out at our favorite race track, Road America, that’s practically in our backyards. For two days, May 22-23, we attended The Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA) annual Spring Rally.

We joined about 100 other automotive journalists from all over the country driving the latests from the automotive manufacturers on the track, on the streets of Elkhart Lake, off-road and even some autocross. The manufacturers tell us they love this event because of the quality time they get to spend with all of us and receive lots of feedback on their vehicles. So, what to hop in first? Hop in and go for a ride.

There were some other fun cars that we took for a spin that we did not capture on tape like the Ford Mustang GT 350 that had the best growl of any of the cars. The color kind of reminds me of the Mustang that Parnelli Jones drove in the Trans-Am series during the late 60’s.

Dodge had two of their Challengers, the Redeye and this Hellcat Scat Pack. The Redeye was pulled from the track because of the slick conditions that morning so we hopped in the Scat Pack. I’ve driven one before but not at Road America. The 485 hp Hemi did not disappoint and even though they did their best to keep our speeds down at Kettle Bottoms I was able to get the Challenger up to 127 mph.

We closed out the afternoon both with an opportunity to drive this brand new Acura NSX. If the other cars we drove were cuts of meat, this was the prime rib. So smooth to drive. We both decided to start saving up to buy one but at $199,000, it’s going to be a while.

By far the best paint job of any vehicle at Road America. It takes the factory 5 days to paint this Acura TLX PMC edition. It was almost like you could put your hand in, it was so deep.

Time to do some off-roading

Mark and I split up in Thursday morning with him going to do so auto cross on Road America’s go kart track while I headed for some good muddy fun at the off road course. There, I got my second chance to drive the new Jeep Gladiator.

Related: Read about my first drive of the Gladiator.

This Rubicon edition was the most capable of the test vehicles in its class, which included the Chevy Bison and Ford Ranger. While the course wasn’t as large as the one I drove on in California, it had a good mix of mud ruts and hills. It’s not just me that has this love fest going on with the Gladiator, my fellow automotive journalists liked it as well as it was one of three nominated for MAMA’s Family Vehicle of the Year. There was also a Gladiator Overland Edition (MSRP* Starting at $40,395) went for a spin in enjoying the twisty roads around Elkhart Lake along with the sunny day topless. Good windy fun especially remembering how Wednesday morning was so damp and cold.

Next I grabbed the Gladiator’s little brother, the Renegade, to get dirty. I have been really sceptical of this Jeep since it’s based on the Fiat 500 L which has a choppy ride and interior that looks like it assembled with a bunch of cheap plastics found in a dumpster. Not so with the Renegade. This Trailhawk edition came with the 177 hp, 1.3L turbo mated to a nine-speed automatic. Other features included, all-speed traction control, electronic stability control, Select-Terrain System with rock mode, and 17 inch wheels among other goodies. With the Trailhawk package, a running ground clearance of 8.7 inches, approach angle of 30.5 degrees, break over angle of 25.7 degrees, and departure angle of 34.3 degrees, it’s clearly the most off-road capable against its competitive set which includes the Mazda CX3, Chevy Tracy, its cousin the 500L, Honda HRV, and Kia Soul. It’s optional My Sky Power Retractable/Removable Panels added $1,595 to the $27,290 base.

The beast of the group, and by far muddiest, at the event was the Ram Power Wagon. There was no mud hole or hill that challenged this bad boy. I even had a couple off opportunities to goose it and heard its 6.4L, 410 hp Hemi growl.

While the Ford Raptor is built for speed, the Power Wagon is built for rock crawling. Its approach, departure, and breakover angles are big, 33.6, 26.2, and 23.5 degrees. It has 14.3 inches of ground clearance and can ford up to 30 inches of water. Oh, in case you were to get stuck, it comes with a Warn winch that can pull 12,000 lbs, almost a third more than the truck weighs. If you’re into rock crawling, at $53,015, it’s a good deal.

Mark and I both had a chance to take the Kia Telluride out for a spin. I was impressed with Kia’s biggest SUV yet. It reminded me of my 2017 Dodge Durango but I think the interior in the Telluride is nicer. Its 291 hp V6 was very responsive, it had a really quiet ride, and the latest tech. Pricing ranges from $31,690 all the way up to $43,490. If you’re in the market for an SUV, the Telluride is for sure a consideration.

It’s hard to say goodby

So Mark and I were done for the day but took one last look at some of the cars that were in the paddock area taking a break from the racing event going on Thursday. We saw this Corvette that looked as if someone had lobbed paintballs at it. I kind of liked it. Then there was this cherry Mustang, and finally the official car of Road America, the Corvette in Elkhart Lake blue.

Missing my car guy on Father’s Day

My dad made me the car freak I am today

This coming Father’s Day will be my first without my dad as he passed away February 14th. At his funeral, I did the eulogy, and after rewriting it a couple of times, decided to go with a car theme comparing his qualities to the window sticker on a car, one produced by American Motors where he worked for 27 years.

While going through pictures to display at his funeral, I found a bunch with the cars that were part of growing up. It also jogged my memory of things we did, or places we went over the years that I will fondly remember like the following.

Traveling to Kenosha for the American Motors Owners Association homecoming event where there were hundreds of Nash, Rambler, and AMC cars that were built there over the years. We never did buy a car but did purchase rare promotional model cars we were missing from our collections.

Photo: Kenosha News

When I was in high school nearby the AMC National Parts Distribution Center, I would come and meet dad for my ride home. Many times he was tied up in some meeting so I would head down to the Tech Center and see what cars they had in torn apart, many times seeing AMC cars that were a year or so from production. It was the tech service guys that gave me a manual to help me figure out how to install an engine in my 1970 AMX after blowing up the 390 that came with it. Those tech guys were great!

Dad was also there when i decided to hop up my 1972 Gremlin by replacing the exhaust manifold with high performance headers. How’d that work out? Not so good.

Photo: FCA archives

When AMC sponsored Mark Donahue’s Trans-Am Javelin and raced at Road America in the early 70’s, the Chicago Zone Office chartered busses for employees and set up a tent by turn 14. We always made the trip. It was so much fun. We’d get a ride on the track in a Javelin and Roger Penske and Donahue would swing by the tent to sign autographs. I grabbed this flag from the event one year and today display it on my slot car track which is a replica of Road America.

Related: Read about my blogging partner, Mark Savage, and our recent trip to Road America.

Until dad had problems getting around, we would spend a day up in Oshkosh at the Experimental Aircraft Association AirVenture event. He loved seeing the WWII vintage aircraft he was familiar with having served in the army during that time.

Fond memories. Happy Father’s Day dad. I be thinking about you.