Friday, October 28, 2016

Turbo Two-Stroke Triple: Modified DKW Monza

Pretty wild. I searched high and low for a video of it running with no luck.

Here's a standard car, which I think is quite pretty.

No one knows exactly how many of the fiberglass bodied coupes were built, but most seem to agree well under 300, with some guessing as few as 75 or so. Regardless of production numbers, about 50 are believed to remain.

100% Paper: Working Wankel Rotary Model

Wait until the end when it's connected to a compressed air source--looks like a fair bit of RPM!

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Just Why? Intentionally Ruined Low-Mile SC400

I can't even bring myself to say much of anything productive, so I'll just copy and past from the eBay ad.

"I purchased this car from the original owner when it had 66,000 miles. It truly drove like a new car and considering the age, the finish spoke of the care it had had. While a fan of the SC400 (I have another one with 28,000 original miles), I also wanted the look of a Corvette so I had the rear end of the car (there was no accident damage to the car) cut off and replaced with 14 gauge steel to give a different look. I don’t know if I like it or not but it certainly attracts attention. I was concerned about the drivability with the shorter rear end but it has not suffered at all. I think it handles even better but that could be my imagination since at 77 years of age, I am not much of a hot rodder anymore. The shorter body length sure does make parking lots easier but there is no trunk at all for anything. The spare tire which had never been used lost its space as well. The tires are from Costco with a 70,000 mile warranty and have about 5,000 miles on them. The mufflers were removed and this provides a good deep V8 sound to the exhaust. The lower part of the passenger door got a couple of dents while it was in the shop doing the makeover."

I mean GODDAMNIT right? And that's coming from a committed atheist. Just ugh. Why? Why.

Incredibly, it sold for $5,000. Probably would have brought 125% of that had it not been intentionally ruined.

Keep scrolling, it gets worse.

check out how clean it was! now it looks like a kit car with LED trailer lights and a gold fucking license plate frame. stay classy, Arizona.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Bedford Vans (Three Different Ones)

Super-wild and strangely beautiful (?) custom. From the photographer's Flickr: "Straight from the set of Thunderbirds. I have no idea what it was except it was in the pretty bay area of Birżebbuġa, Malta in the late 1980's."

Very early photo of Pink Floyd as snapped by Syd Barrett, 1966.


Tuesday, October 25, 2016

From 1974: Stanford Scientist Drives His Alfa Spider Through Particle Accelerator

As featured here last week, I've recently been watching a lot of BBC science documentaries, particularly those hosted by Professor Jim Al-Khalili.

This clip from a 1974 episode of Horizon (American readers: think PBS Nova, similarly excellent and long-running) shows a brand-new Alfa spider being driven from one end of Stanford's Linear Particle Accelerator to the other, 2.0 miles away.

Housed in the longest building in the US, Stanford claims it's also "the world's straightest object." Continuously operating since opening in 1966, the accelerator passes underneath I280 as can be seen about halfway through the clip.

Says the narrator: "Even for an experimenter driving a fast car, it's a long ride, yet the electrons that fly along the accelerator do the journey in 100,000th of a second."

Bonus cool points for the soundtrack--Pink Floyd's "One of These Days" from the album Meddle, one of their spaciest.

Insubstantial Two Wheel Tuesday: Kriedler-Van Veen 50cc GP Bike

Circa late 70's, early 80's. Approximately 55kg soaking wet. 50cc single, 18k RPM, ~21 HP, 90+ MPH top speed. In the video below, note that the tach doesn't even start til 8k RPM.

Van Veen was also known for Wankel-powered street bikes, arguably the best of the era. More on that subject later.

Citroen Axel: Convient Votre Livres Deleuze, Dépareillés Low-Fi, Autel et Tackle Box.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

My Favorite Neil deGrasse Tyson: Jim Al-Khalili

Recently I discovered Professor Jim Al-Khalili and his fantastic series of BBC science documentaries.

Born 1962 in Baghdad to an Iraqi father and English mother, the family permanently relocated to the UK in 1979. Now involved with teaching and research as a professor of physics at the University of Surrey, Al-Khalili's style is highly reminiscent of NDT's. By this I mean that he's able to break down incredibly abstract, complex, and often completely counter-intuitive concepts into entertaining, easily understood explanations that never feel dumbed-down.

He's funny, too, in an understated, intellectual, British kind of way, and the material never comes across as overly academic or dry. Production value is through the roof, with beautiful art direction, writing, pacing, and score, all serving to treat epic subject matters with an appropriate level of scale, atmosphere and magic.

Watching through most of these videos over the past few weeks, I now have what feels like a very solid layman's understanding of how the universe works on the smallest, subatomic level, and to say that this has shifted my perspective is a huge understatement.

This episode is a good place to start I think, as it appeals directly to those with an interest in engines and mechanical engineering. With the embedded video above, I've skipped ahead about 10 minutes to a scene shot in the Crossness Pumping Station, a stunningly ornate and pretty temple to steam power and the promise of the Industrial Revolution.

In a nutshell, within it Al-Khalili explains how the search for more efficient steam engines led directly to the discovery of thermodynamics, itself the key to our modern understanding of everything. I can't recommend it enough.

Other series-within-a-series episodes to consider include Everything and Nothing, Chemistry: A Volatile History, Atom, Shock and Awe: The Story of Electricity and The Secrets of Quantum Physics. There's many more to choose from, most of which can be found on YouTube or even torrented.

Just started reading his book Quantum: A guide for the Perplexed. Thus far I remain mostly perplexed, but endlessly fascinated.

Craigslist Corvascort

The seller:

"So with a heavy heart its time to post my 1999 Ford ZX2/1965 Corvair which many have called the 'Corvascort.' It runs and drives but does need some TLC and some bodywork to get it back to the dream cruise head-turning car that it once was. A little rough on start-up, but once it's going it'll take you anywhere."

all yours for only a thousand bucks

Monday, October 17, 2016

Aston Martin V8 Vantage Convertibles & Hand Gestures

Yesterday, entirely unprovoked, a navy blue Aston Martin V8 Vantage convertible pushed me eight feet onto the shoulder in order to pass the car in front. This was on a two-lane toll road, and we were all doing roughly 15 over the limit to begin with. His move was rather slow and quite deliberate, but still terrifying, particularly to my front seat passenger wife--our two year old son in back wasn't bothered.

I kept cool and in control, then called 911 and reported him as a violently erratic drunk driver. Tons of cops in the area on any given day, and not many Astons with that plate number, I'd guess.

I hope you're in jail, scumbag. Also, I'm entirely confident I could have just dusted that fancy Aston if I had also woken up as a psychopath.

because I've smashed them with a hammer
Today I renewed my license for the first time in at least ten years. Before leaving I took a quick practice test. The ghost of Lucas still haunts us.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

A Furious Torrent of Bullshit: Supreme Bricks & Front Wheel Drive Mercedes

Lovers of brands and forced lifestyle imagery everywhere rejoiced late last month when hype purveyors, Supreme, released a brand new gimmick promising to fill a gaping hole in their shallow, reflectionless souls.

A new, inexplicably expensive hat/shirt/pair of sneakers with a logo? $50 palm tree socks? An ugly, overpriced sweater endowing its end user with an inflated sense of self worth? Fuckin jorts?

Nope, a brick. A $30, red clay brick. Identical in every way (excluding a value-adding logo) to the type I just overpaid for at 50 cents a pop. $30 worth would have nearly filled my little pickup to capacity.

Yep, thousands of very cool and 100% self-assured people stood in lines for hours to snag their bricks this past September 29th, many of whom left unfulfilled and even sadder when stocks sold out almost immediately.

Then they all hopped in their brand-new Mercedes CLA's and drove home to read up on what everybody else thinks is worthy of their money, passion and finite life force.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Billet Internals, Methanol Injection, & Twin Superchargers: Big Block Dodge Tow Monster

I'll let the seller tell the story.

"1968 Dodge Crew Cab dually. You are looking at drag racing history here. This is the '68 Crew Cab that the J&S East Valley Garage Jay Roach/Arley Langlo Top Fuel team used as their tow rig throughout the late 70's and early 80's.

Originally purchased at auction at Vandenberg Air Force Base. Slant-six, step-side crew cab.
Now sports a massive 512ci 440 iron stroker with a Top Fuel billet crank, Venolia forged pistons, and two, yes two Paxton centrifugal superchargers. Transmissions are a SM456 4-speed with a 3-speed Brownie overdrive behind it. Out back sports a 14-bolt corporate rear end with massive custom cooler and 4.10 gears. Genuine mag wheels. Fenders are from a mid 80's ford F350, and the hood is actually a '69 louvered stock piece. Custom made dual disc Borg/Beck clutch and custom pressure plate. 1-3/4" primary/ 5" collector headers built in chassis. Air conditioning still blows R12 cold with roof mounted cooler and fans. Three 20+ gallon custom fuel tanks with Holley blue pumps and regulators. Total fuel capacity is over 80 gallons. Custom water/methanol injection and cold air fender intakes for blowers.

This truck fully loaded and wet weighs 9390lbs! This is a man's tow rig with well over 1000 ft/lbs of torque on 100 octane. In its hay day it toted a 30' trailer stuffed with a Top Fuel dragster, spare engines, tools, and plenty of nitro.

Stored under cover its entire life, except for the last couple months due to storage limitations. Very minor rust in one drip rail. Camper is watertight and has bunk beds and full carpeting. Paint is the real deal--hit it with the buffer and look at yourself in the mirror. 

note the shift pattern plaque on the dash--easy breezy
This truck is NHRA history from the good ol' days. It pains me to see it go along with the history, but space and time limitations have made it necessary. Charge the batteries, give it a bath, top off the fuel and hit the key--it's ready to run."

Absolutely insane. These Frankentruck type of builds are rarely as well put together as this one sounds to be, and are almost never turnkey. Great history, too.

I bet it gets 4 MPG, which should still work out to a respectable 240 mile range.


Thursday, October 13, 2016

Craigslist Crash Tester: 1984 McLaren ASC Mercury Capri

A collaboration between the American Sunroof Company and McLaren (but not that one...), these semi-factory official cars were offered in both coupe and convertible from 1984 to 1986 or so. Just 557 drop-tops were made.

No fully FoMoCo-made Capri convertible was ever offered, and these McLaren ASC cars were essentially coachbuilt. From Wiki:

"Convertibles required redesigning of the car's unit construction and the fabrication of a replacement rear decklid, floor reinforcements, quarter panel caps, tonneau cover and a windshield that was raked back an extra 10 degrees. They received a manual convertible top that took up residence in the area once designated for the rear seats. They used a smaller top than the Mustang convertible that is unique to that car, as are the seals, weatherstripping, windshield moldings, etcetera"

This one's an early crash test car, likely among the first handful of pre-production prototypes ever built, presumably almost entirely by hand.

How something like this A. avoided the crusher and B. survived the past three decades intact is certainly a mystery.

Reads the ad:

"This was a crash test car. No drivetrain, dash or seats. No title. $350 OBO."

It's obviously no good as a car anymore, but if art is (at least partially) defined as something with no practical purpose beyond existing for its own sake, for the reaction it solicits from its viewers, then I think this intriguing old heap fits the definition perfectly. Besides, those taillights have to be worth at least a couple of bucks on eBay.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Oval Piston Volkswagen Diesel Prototype

You might be familiar with Honda's incredibly exotic oval piston NR750 street bike, itself developed from GP machines that experimented with the same layout. Like me however, you'll probably never have heard of Wolfsburg's take on the concept.

Developed in 1990, the goal was to increase displacement to 2.3 liters without adding to the existing, conventional, 1.6 liter diesel four's external dimensions.

Note that the piston itself is more of an elliptical shape than that of a true oval, as was the case with Honda's bikes. Another key difference is that VW utilized only one conrod per cylinder, whereas the Japanese doubled this component.

Bore was 99.49 mm in the long direction, and 76.5 in the short. Pistons were specially developed by Mahle, but ultimately the project was abandoned. Interestingly, VW was also deep into VR6 prototype development at the time, which likely wasn't a coincidence.

One thing I've always wondered about oval piston designs is how their engineers intended for cylinders to be accurately re-bored, an inevitable need for any engine over a long enough service life.

Though I've yet to discover how it's done, presumably there are existing methods for honing non-round cylinders, as evidenced by the existence of OEM oversized replacement pistons for the NR750.

NR750 piston--note eight valve recesses and twin wrist pin bosses

If was a smoker, and if I was rich, I'd have a full set of four upturned and scattered around to collect my cigar ashes.

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