Thursday, August 30, 2007

Ford Fusion Review Pt. I

Enterprise gave me a Ford Fusion for my trip here in Chicago. I have been very impressed by the car so far. Rides smooth, all the controls are in the right spot, good interior space, nice trunk, and it doesn't look to shabby either. This one is the base model, 4 cylinder engine and cloth interior. The cloth is actually a big step up from what I have seen from American cars in the past few years. Base stereo has some nice features, CD player with mp3 play back and a aux input located in the center console along with a 2nd power plug. Only real beef so far is the height of the rear deck, it is hard to see cars that get behind you especially at night.

I'll post some more thoughts on the car later this weekend.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Back from the Beach

We got back from a much needed week at the beach on Saturday. Had a great time and wish I was still there. Digging out at work today and tomorrow trying to get caught back up.

On the car front; I have everything that I need to clean up the floorboards in the TR. If I have enough paint and primer left I am going to hit a few spots under the hood (battery box and area underneath the master-cylinder). Going to try to take the TR out for a spin tonight since I head back out of town tomorrow and won't be back until Labor Day.

I looked at the Nissan Patrol in person today and I am mulling it over. Such a sweet truck but it needs a good amount of work. One of the brake cylinders needs to be replaced right off the bat and I would need to find some way to get the thing home. I would have to start from the bottom up. Clean up the frame first then clean up the tub second and fix the hardtop last (actually the piece that I think is going to take the most work). So we'll see. I hate to pass on this extremely rare truck but I don't know if I have the room/time/skills to keep the TR running and do a body off restoration on the Patrol. I think I would have to find somewhere to store the TR while working on the Nissan in the garage. It would give me something to work on every night during tax season though.

I'll update the Patrol situation while on the road this week.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Vacation Time

Posts will be lite for the next two weeks. Heading to the beach next week, hoping that Hurricane Dennis stays away from the Florida panhandle. I will only be firing the computer up a couple of times, mainly to check on work e-mails and hand-hold my Korea account as usual. After the Beach it is up to the Windy City for some customer visits with Exelon Nuclear and a small football game on September 1st (GT vs. ND). That is the rest of my month. Things will pick up with football season starting up, tennis season starting again and hopefully work will pick up with a few of my plants heading into outages.

I did not get a chance to look at the Patrol today, hoping to go see it tomorrow. The guy selling it seems pretty nice, says that he started it up today and it runs with no problem. Hope it is in the same shape as the pictures.

Thats all for now folks.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Quick Thoughts

Not much going on this week.

I taught BMW Street Survival School on Saturday and had a blast. A very cool driving school aimed at new teen drivers. Teaching things that you don't get to experience in everyday driving. What it feels like to brake and have the ABS kick in, what the car feels like when it under-steers and over-steers and how to correct each, plus a few other set ups and a class room session. All of the students left looking like they had a great time even if it was 102 degrees out! You can check out more infomtion about the program here.

Looking forward to a week of vacation next week. Our annual treck to Destin for a week at the beach. Do a whole lot of nothing but read and sit on the beach. Then it is back in town for a day or two and off to Chicago for 5 days.

I am waiting on an order of some rust prevention/convertor to get in this week. Once I have it in hand I will go buy a few wire wheels for my drill and go to work on the surface rust on the TR floorboards. Figure it is better to catch all of it now than wait and have to replace everthing. If the floor boards are not too tricky the I think I will hit the few surface rust spots on the body and the battery box. I am hoping that I can find a place to paint the TR this winter or next spring.

Thats all for now.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Nissan Patrol

Well I may have found a substitution for the CJ2a jeep I have been wanting. I stumbled across this one on the net while hunting for old Land Rovers. It is a 1969 Nissan Patrol. Yes, they did import Nissan's into the state in the '60s. In fact the Patrol was imported into the states from 62-69, selling a robust 2616 trucks. This one has a 4.9 liter straight 6, 145hp and 253lbft of torque. I am going to check it out in person in the next week or so. Current owner says that it runs and drives well but needs body work, it currently has no floorboards! So, I'll have to wait and see what it looks like in person and if it is a project that I want to tackle.

If it looks worth it then I think my obtainable dream garage of cars is pretty much done. The idea of picking up a Datsun Sports 2000 has kind of faded. Doesn't make much sense to have two clone cars (TR4a and the 2000) when the TR is worth more and plus it is English.

Update on the TR: This week I am taking out the seats and trying to re-grease the slider rails so that I can actually move the seats forward and aft. While the seats are out I am going to give the inside of the car a good cleaning, inspect all the floorboards and clean up and paint any spots that are looking rough. After that it will be on to checking out the rear brakes, double checking the fronts again and then to replace the rear differential seal.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Triumph of the Mountains

I finally got the chance to take the TR on a long road trip this weekend. I made a trek to the N. GA mountains to do a shake down run on the brakes and see how the TR handles some curves. Well, it did quite well. Dare I say that the TR can take corners as fast as my MINI. The brakes did well except for one annoying design fault. In corners, the outside front brake rotor has a habit of pushing the outboard piston back into the caliper, so your first press on the brake after a hard turn tends to head very far to the floor. I was expecting this so I didn't have any pucker moments. IN the turns the car has almost no body roll and the engine pulls great in 2nd gear on exit. The engine did struggle on some of the steeper climbs but I think it did quite well for a 40 year old 105hp lump. Tires held very well though made plenty of noise. The handling was very neutral. Front in turned in lighting fast and the back stayed in line though it would hope and step out a bit when exiting a corner under acceleration, though not enough to warrant any counter steer. I wish the MINI handled this well. I know no why these cars (TR3, 4, and 250) where so popular in the SCCA race scene 40 years ago. Add a little umph under the hood and these things where hard to beat. The TR held up great, better than I did on a day when the air temps where in the high 90's. It even made it through a brief rain storm on the way home. I am just happy that it made it through the trip without a single hicup. Water temp never got near 1/2 on the gauge (thanks to water wetter and a 160 degree t-stat), oil pressure never wavered and the engine just kept humming along. This little trip under very harsh conditions have me very confident that the TR can make nice weekend drives to the mountains when the temps become a bit more bearable to the pilot.

One interesting note, I pulled up behind a sweet looking 1956 Studebaker Sky Hawk. Wow, a very beautiful car done up in glossy black paint and nice shiny chrome. My car was getting waves and gawks for most of the trip but when I pulled behind the Sky Hawk my car disappeared, and for good measure.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder Review

After putting almost 1200 miles on one of these cars in 4 days I will share some of my thoughts.

First, the car I had was an Silver 2008 Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder. It was the base model car with the 4-cylinder engine, automatic transmission, Rockford Fosgate CD/MP3 stereo, and a cloth interior.

I liked it, both with the top up and the top down. It is a pretty good looking car, one that gets attention at stop lights. Nothing glaringly wrong with the shape, has a nice semi-mean looking front end and lights, handles, tail pipes, and badging all work well with the shape. So, overall the exterior is one that is not too aggressive for my tastes but does look the part of a neat little import convertible. One warning, when ever you pull up to a stoplight in this car every 16 year old with a ricer will want to race you.

First things first, the front seat are amazing! They are a pretty aggressive racing type seat that a lot of people will not like but I love 'em. I want these seats in my MINI. Great for holding you in when you are tossing the car around but very comfortable after 5 hours of interstate driving through Iowa. I felt great after sitting in them for a long time. That is my biggest complaint about my MINI is that the seats really start to bug me at around the 3 hour mark. I hope this type of seat makes its way into the Evolution X. The rear seats looked nice but not all the usable for adults. A child or very small adult could have fit behind my seat but not very well. Kids would work in the seats but I think they are there more for decoration than anything. All the controls where reachable and in good spots. Radio was easy to work with the steering wheel controls. I used a borrowed FM modulator to play my iPod but I could have used the aux input if I had the correct cable. Stereo sounded pretty good except for the buzzing speakers, something that would have had the car back at the dealer pronto if I owned it. It was hard to see out of the car with the top up (what convertible isn't?) but after driving it a little I figured out how to tilt my head to see out the back when reversing. The only complaint that I had with the interior was the window shut-off button. You can't tell which position it is in and it is a hard button to find from the drivers seat. It is next to the window button but you can't see it when sitting in the car. The strangest thing about the button is that it only turns the passenger window on and off. If my wife's car the button disables all the windows, including the drivers. Why have a button that only turns the passenger window on and off I don't know. This feature lead to a half a day to me not being able to get the passenger window to roll up because I 1. Didn't see the window shut-off button and 2. Was used to a window shut-off feature that disabled all the windows. It also lead to me checking every single fuse in the car but that is another story.

This is a nice riding car. It tracks well, soaks up bumps, and isn't all that loud inside with the top up or down. I was surprised with the lack of wind and noise with the top down. It was nice to be able to drive at highway speeds with the top down and not feel like I was getting beat up. When driven hard the car does under steer quite a bit and unfortunately the car feels very large when driving aggressively. The steering feel is ok, gets pretty vague when you are in the middle of a corner and doesn't instill a lot of confidence in the driver. Brakes do feel good, not to touchy. Acceleration for the base model I had was acceptable and the auto-stick feature was a nice option, especially when needing to pass someone. I would rate this car as more of a cruiser than a true sports car. It would be nice to put the GT through its paces to see how the bigger engine, different tires and reworked suspension change the car.

So, if you are looking for a nice convertible then it can't hurt to look at the Eclipse Spyder. I priced up what my renter would have cost and it came out to around $28k. This puts it in a tight group with the MINI Cooper and Cooper S Convertibles and the VW Eos hardtop convertible to name a few. But, if you like the import tuner looks, the pretty good warranty that Mitsu offers now then this might just be the convertible for you.