Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Funkengroovin Wednesday - Bugs

What Vagabondblogger learned this week:
1) She should have waited another week before doing her "On The Road" post, so she could include the New York Times articles from "The Frugal Traveler."
2) Cubans love their old Frigidaires, as much as their old cars.
3) Steve Jobs sold his soul when he sold his VW Bus to start Apple. C'mon! An iCar! The idiots at VW can't get Awesome Daughter's electrical system debugged in her 2003 Jetta, and they're going to deal with all the Apple accessories on top of it?
4) Vagabondblogger's '87 VW Van (Weekender) will be up in New Hampshire with Number One Son.
5) Vagabondblogger's Awesome Daughter took Vagabondblogger's Mini Cooper S.
6) Subsequently, (as a result of #4 & #5) Vagabondblogger gets left with all the crappy cars when she returns to the States late October. I'm sure this issue, of whether the other cars are crappy, is up for debate in the Vagabondblogger household, by the people who took the nice cars!
7) Learning new things can sometimes piss off Vagabondblogger!
8) On the bright side, Vagabondblogger is getting a new pup, who can ride with her in one of the crappy leftover cars!

In Cuba, a Politically Incorrect Love of the Frigidaire

Before he disappeared from public life, an ailing Fidel Castro enlisted the prowess of Chinese industry last year to get rid of some of the most resilient totems of American imperialism: Frigidaire, Kelvinator and Westinghouse refrigerators from the 1950s. The government acquired more than 300,000 new Chinese replacements as the centerpiece of a project to improve energy efficiency in a cash-starved country and eliminate what Mr. Castro called “dragons which devour our electricity.”

But the vanquishing of these refrigerators (along with some Soviet models imported in the 1970s) has caused some wistfulness and angst here. In their decades of isolation from the American economy and from global prosperity, Cubans have been taught to take pride in the way they have kept grandiose old mechanical marvels running — ancient Cadillacs and Russian-built Ladas included.

The Chinese model makes less noise than the Frigidaire. And like many other refrigerators in Cuba, it already has an affectionate, if mocking. nickname: “Llovizna,” or “Drippy,” because of the moisture that accumulates on its shelves.

The island’s economic isolation, compounded by a United States embargo in place since the early 1960s, has made a necessity of preserving technology from before the revolution. Inspired by the ingenuity it took to keep American refrigerators working so long, a group of Cuban artists last year transformed 52 of them into art. They put on a show called “Instruction Manual” that was a big hit in Cuba and is making the rounds in Europe this year.

Ernesto García Peña, a painter, turned his into an eroticized female image. “In this heat,” he explained, “the refrigerator is almost worshiped for its role as an absolute necessity of modern life. We treat it with very special affection.”

The Frugal Road Trip
After 11,000 miles and 26 states, the Frugal Traveler columnist tries to coax his Volvo across the finish line.

Best-Laid Plans

But if even the best-laid plans go awry, then this one — more half-baked than best-laid — may have been doomed from the start. The car I found on Craigslist was a 1989 Volvo 240DL station wagon, which seemed like a fine choice, especially for $1,600. It was spacious, safe and praised as a workhorse by everyone I spoke with.

“It’s a Volvo — can’t kill it,” said my mechanic, Jerome Vasconcellos of Ludlow Garage on the Lower East Side. He then proceeded to make $1,104.88 worth of repairs: a new timing belt, new valve covers, new brake pads, a new compressor. Still, with his words ringing in my ears, I figured these would be the last fixes necessary.

So Many Roads, So Many Suggestions

As Matt Gross traveled across the United States, he asked online readers of his column to suggest places he should visit as he made his way west. Here is a sampling of what some readers had to say.


Across the U.S.A. in Twelve Weeks

Some highlights from the Frugal Traveler's great American road trip.

(There was no adjustment in color here. This is actually how it looked that night.)

And the latest must-have? An office on four wheels

Now the iCar could become the Next Big Thing: essentially an attempt to create an office and entertainment centre on four wheels, further blurring boundaries between work and private life.

It would be an intriguing marriage of two popular icons. Steve Jobs sold his VW Bulli minibus 31 years ago to fund his fledgeling company, set up in his parents’ garage in Los Altos, and apparently maintains an emotional connection to the discarded VW van.

Vintage Reds on an Italian Canvas
There are five shades of red on Nick Ericson’s Alfa Romeo GTV6 — the fourth he has owned since he first grew to love Italian cars.


U.S. Automakers Could Use a Gadfly Like Axel Friedrich

He drives German automakers crazy. His latest antic was to hire four engineering students to reduce the emissions on a Volkswagen Golf without undercutting safety or performance. Trouble is, he did this without the approval or the knowledge of Volkswagen's management. The students cut the car's emissions by 25 percent. Axel Friedrich is one of Europe's top environmental regulators. The point of his project was that while great attention gets heaped on alternative fuels, hybrids and electric cars, there are simple, practical ways in which car makers can cut emissions across the board today. And radical changes in existing engine technology aren't necessary. In a seething rebuttal, Volkswagen complained that "there is a big difference between laboratory cars and mass produced cars." Volkswagen has a point.

Drive your car to death, save $31,000

(CNNMoney.com) -- By keeping your car for 15 years, or 225,000 miles of driving, you could save nearly
$31,000, according to Consumer Reports magazine. That's compared to the cost of buying an identical model every five years, which is roughly the rate at which most car owners trade in their vehicles.

In its annual national auto survey, the magazine found 6,769 readers who had logged more than 200,000 miles on their cars. Their cars included a 1990 Lexus LS400 with 332,000 miles and a 1994 Ford Ranger pick-up that had gone 488,000 miles.

To have much hope of making it to 200,000 miles, a car has to be well maintained, of course. The magazine recommends several steps to help your car see it through.

Consumer Reports' "Good bets" for making 200,000 miles: Honda Civic, Honda CR-V, Honda Element, Lexus ES, Lexus LS, Toyota 4Runner, Toyota Highlander, Toyota Land Cruiser, Toyota Prius, Toyota RAV4

Consumer Reports' "Bad bets" for making 200,000 miles: BMW 7-series, Infiniti QX56, Jaguar X-type, V8-powered Mercedes-Benz M-class, Mercedes-Benz SL, Nissan Armada, Nissan Titan, Volkswagen Touareg, V6-powered Volvo XC90

Tagged: 10 cars with bad reputations

Tagged: Nerdy - AMC Pacer

Tagged: Unreliable - Yugo

Tagged: Dangerous- Ford Pinto

Tagged: Ugly - Pontiac Aztek

Tagged: Unreliable - Chevrolet Vega

Tagged: Nerdy - AMC Gremlin

Tagged: Dangerous - Corvair

Tagged: Boring - AMC Matador

Tagged: Ugly - Edsel

Tagged: Pathetic - Chevrolet Chevette

Question: How many new Beetles were used in the making of this video?
Barenaked Ladies - Call And Answer


  1. Yiu are really crazy about the beetle. That is not love, that is passion. I like the song music though I couldnt really figue out what is all about(lol). The thing I lked most was the initial french kiss. Do you have a daughter and a son? good for you. I can tell that you are a great young lady. I am sure those close to you are proud that they are close to you. Nice blog. Give your brain some rest from the beetle

  2. you can thank Ralph Nader for at least 2 of those tags :D.....................I love the wood paneled gremlins they're awesome.

  3. he & she: My "Funkengroovin Wednesday" is a weekly dedication to VW buses and Beetles. I occasionally do other cars, as well, but the focus is on old VW's, especially ones here in Egypt - there are so many of them. And, I've found plenty of other autos, not usually seen in the States, which I will post on later.

    zerocool: I like Ralph, but he shouldn't run for president. He was dead right about car safety though, and that's the sort of stuff he should stay focused on.