Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Funkengroovin News

As promised last week -The newwws!


Bad Dad: Letting Kids Drive
"When Michael Schumacher was just four years old, his dad put a small motor on his pedal cart. Schumi promptly ran the cart into a light post, so his parents decided to take him to a track. Two years later, he was the karting club's champion ... three decades later, he retired as the best driver that Formula One has ever seen."

Dominate Your Son's Pinewood Derby
"A father-son team muffing a three-legged race is one thing, but doing poorly at the Cub Scout pinewood derby? Welcome to loserville. Here's how not to let the tyke down."

France's August traffic jam

No Cash For Clunkers

Cramer Comet Lands on Pebble Beach
"Back in the days when gas was cheap, the planet was cool and a carbon footprint meant you had oil on your shoe, the easiest way to make a car go like hell was to stuff the biggest engine you could find under the hood. Few people took that basic tenet of hot rodding to greater extremes than Tom Cramer, who shoehorned a 1,350-horsepower airplane engine into a one-off custom called, appropriately, the Cramer Comet."

The Art of the Restoration
"To win the top prize at a prestigious car show, owners don’t just take the muscle car they owned as a teenager and give it a shine.

So what separates a nice, shiny old car from a potential Pebble Beach winner?

“First and foremost is the quality of the project — the car itself,” said Don McLellan of RM Auto Restorations of Blenheim, Ontario, which has done the work on several Best of Show winners. “It’s got to have the flow of design, history, provenance, rarity. Most are one-of-a-kind cars, such as the 1931 Daimler Double Six we restored. It was a show car when new. You’ve got to start with a great one.”'

(Check out the rest of the story and related video too.)
As Gas Prices Swell, Trailers Shrink
"If this trend were a movie it would be called “Honey, I Shrunk the Camper.”

BRIAN ENDTER’S 30-day road trip this summer from his home in Bend, Ore., to his native lands of the Midwest unfolded like an American greatest-hits tour: national park campgrounds, stops in the Tetons, a visit to Old Faithful. His 6- and 4-year-old sons were ecstatic when a buffalo wandered through their Yellowstone campsite, and they relaxed in his dad’s cabin in northern Wisconsin. Good times. The funny thing was, the trip wouldn’t have happened but for one thing: a new trailer/tent hybrid called the SylvanSport Go.

By day, the Go is a gear-hauling utility trailer. At night, it opens into a hard-roofed tent that sleeps four. The willowy unit weighs only 800 pounds, meaning the Endters can tow it with their four-cylinder Honda CR-V. Their gas mileage dropped from 27 or 28 miles per gallon to 21 or 22 m.p.g., but that now seems like a small price to pay."

At Home on the Road
"For one couple, falling in love with a vintage motor home turned out to be as fraught as falling in love with a Victorian house."

Slow-Moving Vehicle
"An alternate title for this surprising, enlightening look at the psychology of human beings behind the steering wheel might be “Idiots.”

Traffic jams are not, by and large, caused by flaws in road design but by flaws in human nature. While this is bad news for drivers — there’s not much to be done about human nature — it is good news for readers of Tom Vanderbilt’s new book. “Traffic” is not a dry examination of highway engineering; it’s a surprising, enlightening look at the psychology of human beings behind the steering wheels."

A photogallery of Junkyard Treasures, from the L.A. Times.

No Keys? No Worries. How to Hot-Wire Your Car.

Earthtalk: Are oil changes necessary every 3,000 miles?


"I've been through just about every aspect of old VW ownership – the rescue, the rehabilitation, the joy of driving, the agony of a blown valve, the rebuild, the discovery of another problem, the expensive restoration ad nauseam. And I only come out of it each time with a powerful lust for more old Volkswagens.

What would I do if I blew a valve in my father's Toyota? Well, I would be completely lost. Though it burns me to my male core to say this, I couldn't begin to know how to fix it...

Repair of the old Volkswagen is much less daunting. To fix a FUBAR carburetor, simply string together a combination of swear words unique enough to impress the vehicle and you are back on the road. To repair a blown fan belt, simply borrow a pair of pantyhose, tie them together at the ends, and put them in the fan belt's place. The air-cooled Volkswagen makes you feel like MacGyver."'

No Lemons Here
"Today, they're mostly sticking to the plums. This Volkswagen ad from China may seem a bit risque for the market, but what better way to demonstrate the continued relevance of an iconic 1960s vehicle than through images of two women one in 60s attire and one wearing an absurdly short minidress?"

(Video and story)
Chattanooga man turns VWs into trucks and other vehicles

Karmann Ghia Sold for Record Price

'Bottle Shock': A Giddy Ode to Vino
"As for the trucks, they're all over the place, along with a one-eyed, limping, primer-smeared VW Beetle, as symbols of the surfer/hippie-like culture that prevailed in Napa in those years, before it acquired swank, class and really expensive motels, the emblems of success."

Volks folks rally to camper van circuit

'Taking Woodstock' brings taste of Hollywood to local town
"Both sides of the road are being transformed into Sullivan County, NY, circa 1969, in the days leading up to the now legendary Woodstock festival. The movie is being directed by Ang Lee, of "Brokeback Mountain" fame...

One of the New Lebanon businesses seeing a boost is Chuck Geraldi's auto body shop. The filmmakers sent up vintage autos -- like an iconic '60s VW bus -- to him, instructed to get the vehicles functional again.

"I don't see many any more ['60s cars]," Geraldi said. "Getting parts has been an adventure."'

Check out my ride: Shane Stiefel loves his Volkswagen
"For the past 10 years, he’s created a collection of Volkswagens that includes a 1958 Bug, a 1967 Bug, a 1967 Microbus Deluxe, and a 1971 Super Beetle. But the centerpiece is undoubtedly his 1969 Bug."

Car Talk: The wrong wheels on the VW bus

(And they live happily ever after.)
Gap year travel: working in Europe
"With no educational commitments until autumn, Nick Porter and his girlfriend decided to spend the summer working their way around Europe in a campervan."

"As I had once owned a Meccano set, the responsibility of selecting the campervan fell to me. Naturally, our budget wasn’t huge, so I viewed a large number of rusty old wrecks before finding the ideal van: a 30-year-old VW Camper in great nick, which would surely have no problem coping with our European round trip. Famous last words.

Bilbo (as we subsequently named him) made it across the Channel to Rouen, about 150 miles from Calais, before his first mechanical hissy fit. After that we had to make sure we parked on a slope, as otherwise he was too heavy to bump-start. None the less, I could disregard his minor faults because at least he was fun and, as it turned out, more reliable than our would-be employer."

Eccentric England with Rory and Paddy
"The scene was set from the off, with rolling green hillsides and strains of Blake's anthemic Jerusalem as comedian Rory McGrath and Phoenix Nights' Paddy McGuinness took to the roads in a VW camper van. It was an incredibly simple show; you could just hear the back-slapping lads' pitch in the production offices: 'Two disparate comics in a comedy vehicle trying out lots of quirky British pastimes. Easy.'"

Anyone know anything about this VW Transporter?

(Really? - We have these things crawling all over the place. And let VB add, they are ginormous!)
Black widow found in imported van

(Not necessarily about VWs, but James May seems to think he's got it all figured out.)
James May: Here today
"And now, after almost two weeks, and having donated more than half of my equipment to some cash-strapped students in a truly tragic VW Transporter camper van, I am in a position to tell you what is essential for caravan living and, ipso facto, life itself.

Each occupant will need one - but only one -- of the obvious things: fork, knife, spoon, Pyrex plate, cereal bowl, mug. The preparation of any dish cooked by real people rather than TV chefs requires nothing more than the following: small chopping board, large knife, small knife, wooden spoon, wooden spatula, large saucepan, small saucepan, and a poacher of the type that makes the eggs come out like the breasts of Botticelli's Venus. The bottom half (of the poacher, I mean) can be separated and used for frying the bacon. And that is all."


  1. We managed to avoid that Huge mess on the French Autobahns by just a few days... it is the slowing down to pay the toll that causes the problem... Germany has been debating whether they should charge TOLL for years... thank goodness they don't!

  2. lynda: just drive over the border, on the highway, into Massachusetts (or New York, or New Jersey, or Pennsylvania) and you'll encounter one toll booth after another. We have a thingy on our window, called E-Z-Pass, which lets you use a quicker lane, and goes straight into a computer for toll charges. Otherwise, you get stuck in long lines, and during the summer, and it's dreadful. According to Number One Son, the George Washington Bridge, in NYC, is the absolute worst - he has often (and regularly) gotten stuck there for hours.