Friday, May 22, 2015

Friday Car Pr0n #81

And we delve further into the 1980s...

1981 saw the introduction of the car that pretty much defined the 1980s: the Plymouth Reliant. Ah, the K-Car. Bland styling. Horrible performance (the 2.6L "Hemi" Mitsubishi engine, which was a significant upgrade in power, had a 0-60 MPH time of 13 seconds. That's dumptruck territory...). Depending on who you talked to, they were either super reliable or horrific POSs. However you look at the K-car, the little car designed by Lee Iaccoca saved Chrysler at the turn of the decade.

Mrs. G. owned not one but two Reliants, both hand-me-downs from her parents as she got her license and they upgraded their cars. The first was an early 1980s version, the second a 1986 (first year of the 3rd brake light). We started dating in 1991, so the newer one was only 5 years old - and had significant mechanical problems at that point. Trouble starting in winter, power features dying, a tendency to stop working for no apparent reason. Yeah. Good times...

1981 also featured the debut of the Nissan Maxima, which is still around, while the Reliant sits in the dustbin of history - read into that what you will...

That is all.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Letting the Pig Out of the Bag...

Those of you who are friends with me over on the book of Face have seen the news about my whereabouts this week. Suffice to say, I've managed to snag a most excellent hunting excursion whereupon I will be helping to rid the state of Mississippi of a few (hopefully) feral hogs. The good folks at Crimson Trace and Mossberg will be providing hardware, and we'll be hunting at night with infrared scopes courtesy of FLIR.

Night hog hunting. This is so cool I can barely sit still.

Anyways, stay tuned over on FB for pictures - hopefully of soon-to-be-bacon - and other events. Posting will be rather light, as I'm not certain what the connectivity is going to be like. Also, I think I mentioned night hunting, so things will be up in the air as far as when I'll be conscious, etc.

I'm both really excited and really nervous about this trip. While I've done some varminting in my time, this is the first night hunt I've been on. I've used night vision gear previously, so it's not my first rodeo there, but putting everything together is going to be challenging.

Fortunately, I like a good challenge. I figure I have a decent chance with a rifle or shotgun (they're not having us hunt with handguns. Yet.) and there may just be some ham coming home with me. Wish me luck, and hopefully there will be some fresh pulled-pork in my future.

Anyone got a good recipe for wild pig?

That is all.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Blog Dinner Update...

Had lunch with Old NFO yesterday, and he lit a fire under me reminded me that we needed to move on the blog dinner. We discussed possible dates, and one that worked for both of us was Saturday, June 6th. That's a little over three weeks, so it should be enough advance warning.

So, that leaves us with location. I'm thinking somewhere in the general NoVA area, as we have folks that would like to participate coming from MD (and further north, even). It doesn't necessarily mean we have to stick to the greater DC area (although I refuse to go into the District, period). I'd prefer to avoid MD if at all possible, sorry folks in that area.

Now, Murphy's Law has scouted out The Cajun Experience and testifies that they now have a large outdoor eating area. That matches what NFO, MBtGE, Stretch, and Wandering Neurons and I found last year. If we'd like to try that again, only in a larger venue where we can mingle, I'd be up for that. Otherwise, let's come up with a restaurant, or a general location, and finish these plans up quick.

It's been too long - let's eat!

That is all.

Friday Car Pr0n #80

Well, we knew it would come to this. Cars introduced in the '80s...

1980 Chevrolet Citation. This is the sport package, the X11. It has a 110 HP V6. The Citation, a GM X-body, was the successor to the Nova. It's pretty fitting that the car that "It doesn't go" was replaced by an anemic FWD mushwagon to signify General Motors' entry to the 1980s. It would take another 7 years to kill every RWD car save the 'Vette and the Camaro, but the Citation was certainly the beginning of the end.

Interesting side note: The anemic 2.8L V6 that was in the "sport" version of the Citation, the plant that put out a whopping 110 horsepower, is the same engine that was in my S-15 Jimmy. With 4WD. And a plow. 31" tires. Yeah, that truck could not get out of its own way. That was another project - a small block 350 would have fit in that engine bay with minimal work needed. Alas, I was stuck with the little 6-banger, until it started rotting out from under me. At all of 4 years old...

The 1980s may have been great for legwarmers and Arnold movies, but not American automobiles in general.

That is all.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Talk Me Out of It...

As much as I love the concept of the Elio, I keep seeing delays on the rollout and am starting to have doubts as to whether we'll ever see an actual vehicle. Don't get me wrong; I would love to own one, as I think it's about as perfect a vehicle as I'm likely to find for my commute: high gas mileage, able to use the HOV lane, storage for items for going back and forth to work; it's really just about the perfect *second* vehicle for me. I can keep the (paid for) Earthf**ker longer and bang the Elio back and forth to work M-F. At under $7K, I can almost buy one cash, too.

You know what they say about something sounding too good to be true, right?

So, I started looking. And man, if the Polaris Slingshot doesn't look appealing...

It's considered a motorcycle, so I can still take the HOV lane. It's sporty and can take a passenger with much greater ease than a motorcycle. With the windscreen, it can handle most inclement weather, and with the recumbent seating position it's easier to add layers in the cooler months. Plus, 173 horsepower in a vehicle weighing 1,600 pounds has got to move pretty good. And it's a 5-speed.

The downsides are pretty steep, though. The price, for starters: $23K for the version with the windshield and sound system. That's more than 3X the price of the Elio. It's not enclosed, meaning that winter driving and moderate rains are also out. The closest dealer is 20 miles away, which isn't a huge deal, but it's still far less convenient than the Honda dealer 5 miles out. There's also no stats on the gas mileage, which is pretty important to me - if it only gets 20 MPG around town (the bulk of my driving), then I might as well drive the Dodge.

But damn, that's a sweet looking ride...

That is all.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

BAG Day Gun, Revealed...

I'm allowed personal gun posts. Here's one...

This is my BAG Day gun:

Beretta M9. Standard issue to our Soldiers. 15 rounds of 9 mm goodness (or, in the case of our fighting men and women, standard ball crap, but that's another rant...). This and the SIG P226 (okay, and the Smith & Wesson 3rd Gen. And the CZ clones. And...) pretty much define the SA/DA genre. Star of "Diehard." And "Lethal Weapon."

So, you ask, why this? Why now? 

Well, that's a story for another time (actually, it's a story I need to get posted for the work site), but I'll just leave it that I won this M9. In competition, no less; not just luck-of-the-draw. As it turns out, I'm apparently handier with a carbine than I give myself credit for, let me just leave it at that.

You want to hear the funniest thing about this M9? It shipped with two magazines. Two TEN ROUND magazines. Thanks Maryland! Looks like I'll have to pick up a couple of the 15 rounders. Heck,  a couple 20 rounders too. Because I can...

So, say hello to the first Beretta in the G. armory...

That is all.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

That's A Nice Neighborhood...

World famous author and all-around good guy Marko asks (over on the book of Faces):
Question for the car nuts:

Say a man wants to get a used funmobile strictly for tooling around when he doesn't need all the space in the big box on wheels. Assume a man wants to maybe shell out something like ten to fifteen large for a not too old but not brand new small car with a high fun factor, ideally with stick shift and maybe AWD. What sort of car should a man look at?
There are DOZENS of cars that fit into this range. First off, there's little runabouts like the Mazda Miata/Honda S2000 (although, honestly, the S2000 you'll find for $10K is going to be a little beat around the edges...). Small, light, RWD so they'll handle great in the corners, plus they're ragtops for summer fun. The Mazda RX8 is also RWD with oomph, but no ragtop. Ditto the Scion FR-S/Subaru BRZ.

Secondly, there's the FWD autocross gang: Mitsubishi Lancer EVO, VW Golf GTI,Hyundai Veloster, Honda Civic, Kia Forte, etc. Problem with this group is you're going to run into cars that have been bought by teens/early 20-somethings, beaten into an unrecognizable pulp, and then sold before the illegally modified chip blows up. I had a used GTI. I got rid of it within 6 months because I was tired of fixing broken stuff.

Third, there's the Detroit trinity: Dodge Challenger, Ford Mustang, and Chevy Camaro. Not quite as much fun to throw through the curves, but hell-on-wheels in a straight line. $15K might push you back to 5-7 years old with the V8, but there's a better chance it will have been adult-owned and not thrashed to within an inch of its life. Another option in this class, although it's probably more pricey than he's looking to spend, is the Nissan 350Z. Might have to push out to 7 - 10 years old on that, but it's a Nissan...

Of course, the fourth option is where you can really go off the rails. Pick something old, put money into it, etc. Mid '90s C5 Corvette. Early 2000s Camaro/Trans Am with the 350 V8. Late 1990s Toyota Supra. Nissan 300ZX from the '90s with the T-roof. Porsche 944 Turbo. Heck, you might be able to snoop around and find a late '70s 911 for $15K. But it sounds like Marko's looking for something turnkey, and something that will be a daily driver, so these are more or less out.

Later in the thread, he alludes that AWD would be good to have, which really limits the search. Basically, for a sporty AWD car there's a very limited pool to begin with. Subaru WRX, some of the BMW 3- and 4- series, Audi RS, and the Lancer again. In a few years there will be more Golf R's hitting the used market to hit his price range.

How else can we help Marko spend his writin' money?

That is all.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Friday Car Pr0n #79

Well, here we are. Last car of the 1970s. The decade started with the Chevelle 454SS and the GTO Judge and ended with this:

1979 Volkswagen Jetta. While it was introduced a year earlier in Europe, the Jetta (basically a Rabbit with a trunk) hit US shores in '79. There were no American-made cars introduced in 1979 (The Dodge Ram 50 was a rebadged Mitsubishi; it doesn't count. Right on the tailgate, in the "D" for "Dodge" were the words "Imported for". I kid you not).

It's rather puzzling why Volkswagen even offered the Rabbit/Golf and the Jetta as separate vehicles. The only difference between the vehicles is whether it had a trunk or a hatchback, and pretty much every manufacturer on the planet keeps the same nameplate - except VW. I could understand it if the Rabbit/Golf was 2-door only, but it comes as a 4-door, and the Jetta was initially available as a 2-door. Same car...

I owned an '86 Golf GTI for a brief period after I graduated from college. My little sister got her license and I gave her the Buick Regal that had served me through most of my college career (she killed it in less than a year...), and I was looking for something sporty. I checked out a Mustang GT, a couple of Camaros, and then, finally, the GTI. Several friends had owned them, and they were awesome on the autocross track, so I trundled home with my new (to me) GTI. It was fun to drive - when it wasn't falling apart...

And next week we start the 1980s - be afraid.

That is all.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

I'm Trying to Keep Up...

So, it was the organizer's fault for the shooting in Garland, TX? Is that really the message you want to convey?

She provoked the two men into attacking? Really? Leaving aside the soft racism of "those poor savages can't help themselves," isn't this a variation on the "if she didn't want to attract attention, she shouldn't have worn a low-cut shirt"?

She held an event centered around cartoons, for crying out loud. If your religion is so tenuous that you have to threaten deadly violence upon people for drawing a goddamn picture, maybe you need to rethink your tenets.

Christians didn't shoot anyone over The Last Temptation of Christ.

Or Piss Christ, for that matter.

"The Holy Virgin Mary"

Heck, Sinead O'Connor.

Now, there's a good deal of violence perpetrated over the subject of abortion, I'll grant, and while I vehemently disagree with it, at least there's an action at the root of it, not a cartoon.

Of course, we've also got Chris Cuomo claiming that the Constitution has a "hate speech exemption" in it, so at least there's some consistency. They at least hate the first amendment as much as the second, and have about the same grasp of Constitutionality on both. 
  • The Second Amendment is not about hunting. Nor does it apply only to muskets. Or state militias.
  •  The First Amendment doesn't just protect "love speech." It protects speech we find distasteful, or obscene, or provocative.
Those old white European dudes knew what they were doing, unlike, it appears, most of what passes for educated folks these days...

That is all.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Very Cool Gear...

Man, I don't know why I haven't put this up sooner...

The guys over at Magpul have just been crushing it out of the park lately. From a 60-round AR-15 magazine to a new 10/22 stock, they're expanding their product line far beyond the standard AR-15 furniture and 30-round magazines. There's a modular stock for the Remington 700, as well as box mags for 700s so equipped.

Lost in the flurry of new gear, though, was this:

Magpul Zhukov-S Folding AK-47 Stock

It's a folding, adjustable stock for the AK-47 series of rifles. If your AK came from Romanian, Yugoslavia, or even a pile of parts like mine did, you can swap out the ergonomic-as-a-2X4 commie stock for something *functional*. Even the folding stocks left something to be desired, though, coming in the ungainly and stamped-metal underfolder variant, mostly. And adjustable? I guess with a bench grinder...

Now there's a better option available, in a multitude of colors. The stock has five positions and is set up to accept an optional QD sling mount. Matching pistol grips and handguards are also available, and I'll be putting together a web piece for the work site on how hard it is to swap stuff out (hint: It's not hard at all. Heck, *I* can do it) and with before and after shots. So stay tuned for more gunnie goodness, of a variety.

Is AK-47! Is good rifle!

That is all.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Brotherhood of the Bike

So, yesterday, after the errands were done and the chores were completed, I found myself with a little "me" time. Naturally, that meant a ride.

After dropping a not-inconsequential amount on new tires/brakes/tune-up (needed and overdue in the case of the tires, but still...), I decided it was time to put some more miles on the Harley. I'm still exploring the new area, so I've been keeping somewhat close to home for the time being. As I explore more and more, and widen my circle, I venture and further...

But I digress.

I don't know if it's the longer riding season, or just that people are friendlier down here, but *everyone* waves to their fellow biker. Up in MA, maybe half would wave back on a good day. Sometimes as low as a quarter. Down here, though, it's north of 90%. Sometimes I'm not even the first to wave.

And no, I don't wave only to Harley riders. Sportbikes, Goldwings, Beamers, heck, I've been known to wave at riders on larger scooters. Even the goofy-looking Can-Ams will get a wave. "If you're behind handlebars, I'll wave" is my general belief, and since we're all in this together, quibbling over something as silly as brand is pointless.

We're all brothers - and sisters - in the saddle.

That is all.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Friday Car Pr0n #78

In keeping with the rest of the numerical series, here's a car that was introduced in 1978:

1979 Toyota Celica Supra. The Supra package was rolled out in 1978, so it was first available in 1979 model cars. It started life as an option package on the Celica, but became a separate model in 1986. The Celica was changed to a front wheel drive 4-cylinder configuration, and the Supra retained the rear wheel drive, inline 6-cylinder set up. 16 more years would elapse until the Supra was eventually discontinued in 2002.

 Numerous concept cars have been suggested as potential bearers of the Supra mantle, including a 400 horsepower, hybrid-power 3.5L V6 based on the 2007 FTHS:

but it may also be the FT-1 concept car that eventually calls itself the Supra. Time will tell, but it would be nice to have a rear-drive Toyota with some ties to the Supra back in the line-up. Toyota doesn't even have a coupe any more, let alone anything sporty.

You can only coast on the success of the Prius for so long, guys...

That is all.

Thursday, April 30, 2015


Last Friday's car pr0n, the Lincoln Versailles, brought up an interesting comment from Jim:
That Lincoln can be tweaked into a credible car, just with some modern suspension bits, and dropping in a new crate engine and computer.

Makes it into quite the sleeper.
And it took me back...

You see, for a (short) period in the 1990s I owned a 1983 Cadillac Coupe DeVille. In the span of eight months, I was in two bad car wrecks (both requiring a trip to the hospital), neither of which were my fault. After my van got totaled, I went out looking for the biggest, heaviest chunk of V8-powered Detroit iron I could find. It came down to a mid-70s Lincoln and the DeVille, and the DeVille won.

The Caddy was in good shape, body-wise, but mechanically it was a mess. It lasted about four months before everything started falling apart: alternator, radiator, water pump, exhaust... I wound up parking it on the property where I would build my house and getting my second Dodge pickup (I just realized that the Caddy was my first V8, and that I've owned naught but 8-cylinder-powered vehicles since 1997...). I was offered chump change for the Caddy (literally, I think it was $100 on trade-in); so I decided to keep it.

The idea was to find a big block motor, either a Chevy 454, Buick 455, or one of the Cadillac 502s (although that would have necessitated a transmission overhaul as well), drop it into the DeVille and have a real sleeper. A strong Hurst transmission, a big block V8, perhaps a supercharger, and it'd be a good possibility of owning a Cadillac that could do wheelies... The body was in good enough shape that it could take a fresh coat of paint and a new landau roof and look pretty new.

Alas, it became a rodent and bee condo just sitting there, and eventually got towed away for scrap (I think I made more money junking it than trading it in, because there was so much metal in the Caddy). I still giggle at the thought of a 1983 Cadillac Coupe DeVille with a 400+ horsepower big block V8...

A friend of mine growing up had a sleeper. 1972 Oldsmobile Cutlass S, tan with the black vinyl roof. Whitewall tires, plain jane hubcaps; this car looked like the little coupe your granny drove to church on Sunday. Except that under the hood was a Rocket 350 V8 coupled to a Hurst dual-gate shifter. We were trying to find out where the Olds topped out one night. The 120 MPH speedometer? Insufficient.

One night he asked me to drive, a combination of cold meds and vodka shots (we were young, dumb, and invincible; fortunately I had to work in the morning and had the sense not to drink). The transmission was sticking, so he advised me to take it out on the highway and "rev it out". I hit I95 and mashed the gas pedal to the floor; the Olds obliged by achieving low earth orbit. At about 90 MPH I heard it shift, so I took my foot off the gas. My buddy looked over at me and asked what I was doing. I replied that it had shifted, so we were all set. He then reminded me that it shifted from 1st gear into 2nd, and that there was another gear to go...

Ah, to be young and invincible again - and to have hair...

That is all.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

I Wonder...

First it was Ferguson and Michael Brown.

Then NYC and Eric Garner.

Now it's Baltimore and Freddie Gray.

Racial tensions are inflamed as people clash with police. In each case, claims of racism and disproportionate use of force when dealing with black suspects abound. In the Michael Brown case, even a Federal review found the police officer to have acted appropriately; yet we still hear the (complete fabrication) of "Hands up, don't shoot."

Are some of these claims legitimate? Almost certainly. I'd be astounded if there wasn't a hint of prejudice and profiling behind some of the incidents. Maybe not the ones we're hearing about, but there have been enough legit cases - like the SC police officer who shot a suspect in the back and is now facing murder charges - to support at least skepticism.

I have to wonder, though. I wonder how many who are standing with the protestors also claim that "only the police should have guns" or that police should be exempt from gun laws? How many of these same people claim that police are better trained, the "only ones professional enough" to handle firearms, etc.? I'll bet that Venn diagram overlaps a lot more than they would like to admit.

And on the flip side: How many FOP are *still* going to stand behind gun-grabbers at photo-ops? How many police chiefs are going to throw their support behind politicians grandstanding on these events? I suspect, here, that we won't see any significant shift from the status quo despite the rhetoric being tossed around.

As a supporter of the Second Amendment and the RKBA, I have to shake my head in disbelief. For years we have decried states - like Massachusetts - where the local police decide who can exercise their 2A rights. We've watched as state after state passed draconian gun bans, "assault weapon" bans, magazine capacity bans, etc. with every single one having a law enforcement exemption. Heck, the Federal ban had an LEO exemption.

And now we're watching many of the same politicians, talking heads, and "community activists" accusing police officers of all kinds of heinous crimes. Murder, assault, battery, racism; for the past year we've watched city after city burn as the media fans the flames of racial division, almost exclusively aimed at the law enforcement community.

These same police officers that for the past 20+ years we've been told are the only ones that should own guns, or have standard capacity magazines, or adjustable stocks; all of a sudden they went from Officer Friendly to persona non grata. It begs the question, does it not, of whether or not the next time gun control is brought up - and it will be - will the police go back to their lofty position of "Only Ones" despite these protests?

That's a rhetorical question, mind you...

That is all.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Friday Car Pr0n #77

In keeping with the theme...

1977 Lincoln Versailles. Perhaps one of the most flagrant cases of "badge engineering" that's not the Cadillac Escalade. Take a Ford Granada, execrable in its own right. Then slap a Lincoln badge on it, some rich Corinthian leather, and double the price. That's a Lincoln Versailles. SCI-FI and I used to go back and forth with odd, esoteric trivia. The Lincoln Versailles was one of the answers (others included "frizzen pan" and "David Rice Acheson", FTR).

The Versailles was one of those utterly forgettable cars of the late 1970s/early 1980s like the K-car or the Monza. Borne out of the ongoing gas crises in the 1970s, cars were downsized from the mammoth land yachts they had been and burdened with horrific emission controls that throttled horsepower down to ridiculous levels (the early 1990s Chevrolet 1500 pickup with the big block 454 was rated at something like 205 horsepower. Yes, the same motor that put out 455 horsepower in the Chevelle. Some of it was ratings taken from the rising part of the power curve, but still...)

It's one of those things. We look at the bland styling of cars today and lament that "they don't make 'em like they used to," but that statement is only half-right. While the styling of cars in the 1950s/60s and early 1970s might be more attractive, the technology in the earlier years was downright primitive (a choke? Really?) and in the later years outright awful. We've gotten to the point now where a generic sedan with a six cylinder engine (think Nissan Altima) would kick the ever-lovin' snot out of pretty much anything in the 1960s shy of the AC Cobra.

But then again, no one ever went for a joy ride in an Altima...

That is all.