My Porsche 911, Part I -- when it was brown!

OK, so let me start telling you the story of my Porsche 911, from the beginning. Note, my car no longer looks like depicted in the above two photographs. For several years now it is a far more pleasant Irish green, rather than the "shit" brown you see in those photos. But even in those photos there is distortion, for the car didn't look nearly THAT good when I brought it home. For a time I called it "Lazarus," as I had enough vanity to think I could raise it from the dead. Now I call it "Legion", for the many demons it has. For more details of the kind of mechanical and body exorcism I am talking about, see Mark 5.
Why I wanted a Porsche is somewhat of a mystery unto itself. Perhaps it was due to a tin toy that I had as a young child. It was a Porsche 356 Cabriolet, Cerulean blue with a red interior. It came from Germany, and had the weirdest remote control by cable steering mechanism. You attached a cable to the toy's steering wheel, and then steer remotely -- sort of. It had red rims and white sidewalls, and I loved playing with it. The same toy today sells in flea markets in Germany or on Ebay for between 500 and 700 Euros. I also admired Porsches while in College. I remember going to a Porsche dealer in Charlotte, North Carolina, on East Independence Blvd. looking at an Irish green 356 coupe. Relative poverty, a marriage, and some tough years kept that dream at bay until the mid-1990s.
So maybe it follows that I would seek out and buy a Porsche at the beginning of my first sabbatical in early 1996. Some men might lose their heads over women, but I do things equally as stupid during a car purchase. And in this case it was a doozy, as I brought home a somewhat running, brown 1971 Porsche targa that was worn out, had some critical rust issues, and also had an undercarriage that had parts of it covered in a stony tar-like substance, sort of like the car had been driven into a tar pit. When the flat bed unloaded the car in my driveway -- a car I had paid far too much for and without an inspection -- my foolishness was definitely confirmed. I might have a Ph.D from Johns Hopkins, but that does not mean I have any cool logic or rationality at certain times.

This story will continue in the next several posts!!

Cash For Clunkers - Art Car Renaissance???

Cash For Clunkers Art Cars
Cash For Clunkers Art Car
During the recent government "cash for clunkers" program this country witnessed an art car renaissance within the car dealership community. The program gave birth to the hidden talent that laid dormant within some of our countries finest car sales people. No longer did they just have to blow up balloons first thing every morning or make sure that the standard signage was clean and ready to go. During cash for clunkers a new and innovative signage program was needed so they took to their canvas with gusto to tell the world about it. What we saw was the raw inner creative spirit coming through as public works of art through car painting, car sculpture and even car destruction performance art. I don't know if our country will ever be the same, but I hope this new cash for clunkers art car renaissance will not effect us adversely.

Cash For Clunkers Sculpture
Cash For Clunkers Sculpture

Cash For Clunkers Destruction Performance Art
Cash For Clunkers Destruction Performance Art by two kids with sledge hammers

Telmex Daytona Prototype arriving this week

Sideways new #SW05 Riley MkXX Ganassi Racing Team TELMEX - GRAND AM Champion 2008 should arrive next week.

Van Covered with Stuffed Bear Road Kill

Van Covered with Stuffed Bear Road Kill
A van covered in stuffed bear trophies is one way to tell the world "I am cute and cuddly" or "I brake for carnival games" or "I break for garage sales" or "I am covering a major bad paint job or "my car is really a clunker in disguise"

Ronald McDonald and his Cruise-In

Hi folks -- during these waning weeks of summer, it is the time for our last feast of sponsored cruise-ins. Today it was a cruise-in at a McDonald's on Wilmington Pike in Centerville/Sugar Creek Township. The cars were really not very remarkable; several Corvairs were shown, along with a sprinkling of sports cars (Corvette, Sunbeam Tioger, Porsche 928) and pre-WWII vehicles (Essex) and hot rods. What was more remarkable about this event was not the cakewalk, or the band that played "Johnny B. Goode," but following that came to see the cars. There were the young, old, middle-aged -- all walking around the parking lot and looking at the cars. There were single women seemingly with an intereest, along with the disinterested wives who sat behind the cars and looked for other women to talk to. There were grand parents and grand children, the obese and the ones in shape (harder to find at McDonald's I guess!). I wish these late summer afternoons would never end.

NePa Slot Cars - club website

If you get the chance check out the website that I've set up for the club I race with... it's a good start I think. We've gotten the club's Carrera track up and going, and on the 5th of Sept. we're going to have our Sideways Daytona Prototype race, everyone is welcome to come and race with us at NePa Slot Car Club!

Catholics, Protestants, and the Place of the Automobile in Society

Little has been done linking the important role of the automobile within the context of the history of religion in America. A former student of mine, Peter Cajka, now at Marquette University, has done some interesting work in this area of late and is currently researching the curious story of the world's first Experimental Safety Vehicle, the Aurora, designed by a Catholic Priest living in Bridgeport, CT, during the 1950s. It is a very important scholarly topic, however, and merits serious attention. Here are some excerpts from my book, The Automobile and American Life, available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

An Answer to Prayer or Something to Pray About?

With the widespread sales of the Model T in rural areas of America after 1908, it was soon recognized that the automobile had a profound influence upon patterns of religious worship and beliefs. In terms of church worship, small rural congregations were displaced by the migration of believers to more central locations in larger towns and cities. More serious, perhaps, were the many sermons that called attention to young people who would forego Sunday services for the joys of the open road. And then there were those who somehow lost faith due to the modernism that the automobile brought to American society. For example, the following young woman’s recollection took place either in 1919 or 1920:

Our little Christian Endeavor flock of five high school boys and girls was returning for a religious retreat sheparded by our minister. The road home led up Pine Canyon from the Columbia River to Waterville [Washington]. It was a long steep grade of four miles or so. The day was hot. We were not yet halfway up when the minister’s Model T balked. The radiator boiled and the motor failed. Our good minister suggested that we call for God’s help so all six of us knelt in the road on the shady side of the car and prayed. The radiator soon ceased to boil, and we got underway again. Our prayers were answered but momentarily. Stops became frequent, and prayers increased in length. Three or four prayers later, the Model T topped the hill, and we were profoundly impressed with our convincing demonstration of the power of prayer.

Imagine the shock to my newly demonstrated convictions at what we learned from the owner of the service station in Waterville where we stopped to replace the radiator water which had boiled away and for gas. On hearing of our difficulties on the Pine Canyon Grade, he commented that all Model T’s behaved similarly on that hill. The customary and necessary way to get a Model T up that hill or any other which overheated the motor, he declared, was to stop at the instant the radiator boiled and wait to let the heated motor cool off as the Ford thermo-syphon cooling operated too slowly on hills to keep the motor at a safe operating temperature. When I learned that our prayers had merely provided the time for the thermo-syphon to overcome the motor heat, I was crushed. My faith in prayer suffered a mortal blow.

Within Catholic and Protestant contexts, strands of serious discussion about the automobile and its social consequences can be traced back to at least the 1920s. Literature of that era contained a consistent thread of critical commentary related to automobile issues that included safety, organized labor, economics, and social justice. While this stream of articles often reflected topics similar to those voiced in the secular mainstream, what made the material in the Christian literature distinctive was that a moral and at times biblical voice was often injected into an ethical debate concerning what should be the proper relationship between technology and society.

As shall be discussed, the Catholic viewpoint differed from that of the Protestant in both its emphasis on certain subjects at the expense of others, and surprisingly, perhaps, in terms of the intensity of its overall scriptural tone. Mainline Catholic literature tended to the practical and biblical; Protestant contributions were more idealistic while at the same time in language approached the secular. In both subcultures, however, authors attempted to solve difficult social problems created by the automobile during the Machine Age.

The automobile first became an issue for many American Catholics during the late 1920s, as the primary market shifted from rural to urban, and as city dwellers, many for the first time, began to contemplate purchasing vehicles. While the Catholic working class living in the largest of urban centers like New York City often would not purchase a car until after WWII, in the smaller cities and towns, like that of the Lynd’s MiddletownMuncie, Indiana – the family car came home by 1929.

To be sure, the automobile had been a topic in the Catholic literature of the first three decades of the twentieth century, but it was especially in the 1930s that it was frequently mentioned in the pages of The Commonweal, America, Columbia, Ave Maria, and GK’s Weekly. Although these essays and commentaries reflected similar articles also found in the secular literature, they often paid scant attention to those issues that Protestants characteristically echoed in their Middletown interviews; namely, discourses on how the Sunday auto trip was now a threat to Church attendance never appear in the Catholic literature. Seemingly, for Catholics, the car did not prevent parishioners from attending mass regularly. Nor was alcohol nearly as significant a topic for Catholic authors and editors as for their Protestant counterparts.

For example, an overwhelming number of articles appearing in nondenominational Protestant Christian Century during the 1930s railed against drinking and driving. Prohibition had been repealed by the mid-1930s, and one commentator after another linked the rising national auto accident and fatality rates with the “almost complete absence of regulation of strong liquor traffic.” It was more than a shrill attack on drunkenness, for it was argued that the consumption any amount of alcohol substantially increased the risks behind the wheel; therefore, for the responsible driver, the only safe course was temperance. Thus if it was sin, it was never mentioned in theological terms in these articles; rather, the evil was materially identifiable and liquid, with the simple remedy of abstinence. While far less frequently mentioned in the Catholic press, the practice of driving and drinking often resulted in an indignant diatribe despite the fact that Depression-era newspapers and secular periodicals normally ignored or hushed this type of news for a variety of complex reasons.

Protestants and Catholics found common ground, however, on the issue of what speed was doing to Americans, subtly and psychologically. And while on the whole, much of what was said in the Catholic press dealt more with practical than spiritually abstract matters, the latter was occasionally dealt with in surprising fashion. Such was the case of Theodore Maynard’s essay entitled “On Driving a Car,” that appeared in a 1931 issue of The Commonweal. The author fancied himself as a spirit-filled poet whose senses were now deadened by the automobile and speed. Sensing that his driving led to “a definite decrease in spirituality,” coupled with an increase in “a hard, dry, positive frame of mind,” Maynard had little or no inclination to learn about the technology he was saddled with, preferring to “think about it [the automobile] as little as possible.” Indeed, he looked forward to a time when he could give up the car, since then he would be “set free from the tyranny of speed, [and] I can take my pipe and stick and walk again through the quiet fields.” This tyranny of speed was part and parcel of the new world of the automobile. Increasingly, time and space were compressed. While technology had freed people from time-consuming chores and increased the pace of transportation, life was far more rushed and constrained than before. And this need for speed was apparently insatiable, as at times it was truly irrational, given the ever-increasing fatality statistics. Unlike Catholic writers who saw speed as an issue of personal responsibility and a moral decision, the editor of The Christian Century called for the installation of governors on all cars manufactured in Detroit. Clearly, responsibility was placed in the hands of the Big Three and the federal government, the latter acting as a countervailing force. It was more than just horsepower and sheer highway speed, however. As one Protestant minister remarked in a Middletown interview, speed had resulted in demands for sermons that did not run over, so church could end no later than noon. High noon marked the time “to hit the road.”

For all his acute insights, Maynard reflected a romantic strain of thought concerning the automobile, one in which it was thought that the car was a passing fad and that more eternal and simple values would ultimately prevail. According to this view, then, there was to be no American love affair with the car, for it was posited that the public would tire of accidents, and “a great ebbing of the tide of public interest in riding may set in. The novelty of speeding around in a car which has grown during the last thirty years into the great national pastime, may wear off, and people will stay at home more and tend gardens or otherwise occupy themselves in quiet and safety.” This writer, however, misjudged the power of the automobile over the individual; in contrast, as early as 1916 one astute priest remarked that “the automobile was here to stay.”

Most of the Catholic literature of the early 1930s did not concern itself with deep matters related to human beings and their relationship to the machine, however, but rather the effects of the automobile on everyday, common lives, especially in terms of the alarming rate of fatal accidents. There was a sharp increase in fatalities during the 1920s, as automobile accident deaths rose from 15,000 in 1922 to 33,000 in 1930. What most concerned Catholic writers about these statistics was the large number of pedestrians, especially the young and the old, who ranked disproportionately high on casualty lists. Authors made light of the fact that the automobile was killing more Americans than war, and that numbers were on a marked rise, despite the fact that the Great Depression had curtailed the number of miles driven. One essay equated the situation as akin to that of Herod and his slaughter of innocent children, for “It will suffice to face the central fact – that every day from one to a hundred little ones get in the path of speeding cars, are crushed to death or maimed for life. Such a toll summons to mind ancient and terrible images of gods to whom babes were tossed in sacrifice” Apparently for some it was sport, according to G. K. Chesterton:

Let me take the case of a very queer moral twist, about which this paper [G. K.’s Weekly] has often made protests; and often been practically alone in making them; the case of a motorist, clearly beholding somebody walking across the road, who drives straight at him, and knocks him down in a way that is more than likely than not to kill him.

Statistics aside, the topic of accidents was dealt with either by an exploration of causes – drivers, speed, the vehicles themselves, or highways – or remedies that included driver education and stricter licensing laws, better enforcement of speed restrictions, the construction of walking paths and better roads. Above all, it was a discussion about responsibility, and here fingers were pointed at mothers, manufacturers, government, but above all inexperienced or dangerous drivers. In the Lynd’ s followup to Middletown, Middletown in Transition, published in 1937, the complaints concerning the automobile and its threats towards child pedestrians were quite similar to those mentioned in Catholic articles, but with one important difference – responsibility and moral matters were never grappled with.

One article from the secular press that held sway in Catholic circles was Curtis Billings’ “The Nut that Holds the Wheel,” published in the Atlantic Monthly in 1932. Billings argued that many drivers were unprepared for the faster speeds now experienced, and that one needed to be properly taught to drive and maintain the car. He concluded, “It is time for us to learn that the automobile is no longer a novel toy, that it is a tremendous social force, mainly for good, but certainly for terrific evil unless it is sanely used.”

Between the 1930s and the 1950s, the frightful nature of automobile accidents remained a central theme. However, one issue quickly gained importance during the second half of the 1930s – the tensions between organized labor and the Big Three. Until 1935, it was totally absent from the Catholic Periodical and Literature Index and Readers’ Guide. But between then and the coming of World War II, a substantial number of articles can be found in both the Catholic and Protestant press that demonized capitalists while sympathetically portraying the plight of the working classes. One Catholic author who railed against capital and management was Fr. Paul L. Blakely, S.J., who characterized the condition of autoworkers as “differing little from that of slavery.” Blakely righteously blasted the automakers, asserting that

this huge and inhuman industry has grown up within the last thirty years, is sad evidence of the world’s inability to understand the message of Leo XIII in his Labor Encyclical. But the message was simply the message of Jesus Christ, and his name is not in reverence in our modern world. Decidedly, there is something rotten at the heart of our alleged civilization, something that cannot be healed or excused by the forces which have been at work in the body politic for more than a quarter of a century.

Blakely followed with an essay on spies that had infiltrated the unions, assigning to management the name of Satan. Clearly, a wing of American Catholicism had taken on matters of social justice and there was no better stage than that of Detroit auto factories during the mid-to-late 1930s. Given the ethnicity and class of many churchgoers of the decade, and in the wake of such horrific episodes as the “Battle of the Overpass” involving bullies from Ford and the Reuther brothers, labor relations in Detroit was one topic that apparently was of interest to many readers. And indeed at least until the 1960s labor-management relations would form one important cluster of writing that appeared in the Catholic literature.

Protestant literature also covered union-management issues during the 1930s and beyond, but with little of the fierce intensity and biblical ire that characterized Catholic writing. Indeed, Protestant reporting was coldly analytical, with the only bit of emotion coming when describing the life of the first UAW president, Homer Martin, a former Baptist minister from Kansas City. Martin, “who was forced out of that Church in Kansas City has by his change of pulpits become a kind of Paul, who has taken away some of the profits of Demetrius and the Ephesian silversmiths, who has been in jail for his convictions, but whose cause is so just that not even the wealth of Dives can prevail against him.”

In sum, Church literature reflected sincere and sensitive concerns about the automobile and human purposes. The numerous essays and editorials revealed that Catholic writers recognized that the automobile possessed a Janus-like two faces, and that despite all of its conveniences, cars not only could maim and kill, but also subtly alter the human spirit. Thus, these writings mirrored a struggle that was associated with the rise of automobility during the first half of the twentieth century. It was serious stuff to debate thoughtfully, and profound questions concerning contemporary culture surfaced. Would a technology become the master of a society rather than a mere utilitarian tool subordinate to human purposes? Were humans somehow less important than machinery? In what ways were we inwardly changing to accommodate patterns of automobile use? These and more tensions were a part of a dialogue that was never fully addressed then or now, as evidenced by the fact that most people remain entranced by and dependent upon a machine that changed the world, both for better and for worse.

Conrads in Chicago, Part 2: A Pieceful Day

The snoring briefly stopped for Matthew to stir at the clicking freewheel and snicker as I stood in my bike lycra amid the three of them, sprawled out in my living room like discarded laundry in growing daylight. It was 6:45 and the five drinks tossed back last night were apparently early enough...I felt strong and rested for my weekly Saturday morning ride.

65 miles and two out of four sprint "victories" later, I arrived home just before noon (would normally have been about 10:30 but our ride up to Evanston was marred by flat tires and newb unpreparedness) to see my dog, Jack, doing the snoring on the floor. The cousins had taken him to the park after grabbing brunch at The Abbey and run him into the ground. In fact on the way out, he'd simply sat down, refusing to walk anymore. They carried him home.

We had a 2pm date at Piece to meet Maggie, her friend Amanda, and her cousin Meg. I was beyond hungry from my earlier ride, and the half-pint of ice cream I ate for recovery immediately after only lasted so far.

Located on the edge of Wicker Park, near Six Corners, Piece is owned by Cheap Trick's Rick Nielsen, and brews award-winning beers and slings New Havem, CT style pizza. After catching Cheap Trick at the Taste of Chicago in 2007, a friend of mine and I went there for some pie. As he was relieving himself in the men's room, my friend realized he was standing next to Nielsen himself. Rather than impose at that personal moment, he waited to reach the sink before complimenting him on the Grant Park performance.

"Thanks!" Rick belched, and then added, "...was hot as fuck up there."

We were already on our second round of beers - with such names as "Worryin' Ale" and "Fornicator" (an IPA) - when Maggie et al walked in. Trying to get seven people to agree on a pizza would take longer than a UN resolution to pass, so we settled on two larges, a red for us and white for them. With the anchovies on one half and clams on the other, ours smelled slightly worse than a run-down fishing harbor, but it tasted wonderful. I ate more than my fair share, but it was pushed upon me since there was so much. The salty cheesy doughy meal perfectly filled the groove my hunger craved.

It was enough to keep the overall experience positive even with the slow service and three screaming babies behind us.

We then tried the newly-reopened iCream ice cream spot around the corner next to American Apparel on Milwaukee Ave. - made to order ice cream and yogurt with mixed results. The whole store resembles a nightmarish lab, done in an ashy-white color. The employees doing food prep are dressed in the same, head to toe. Each ice cream maker steams like the dry ice punch we used to drink at Halloween parties when kids, and the process is almost too complicated. Choose ice cream or yogurt, choose flavor(s), choose mix-ins and toppings. Seems simple enough until your eyes glaze over at the amount of possible combinations. Upon standing outside with my rather bland blueberry with strawberries, I realized I missed out on rootbeer, burnt sugar, and cream soda. Ironically it all sort of took the fun out of ording ice cream. We finished trying each other frankencreams and split up to catch game two of the weekend.

Much better seats this time around:

The Sox took this one, 5-3 to even the series. We each got a round of beers again, and after splitting the nachos, we all got out of there for about $30, not counting the seats, which the cousins had treated me to in exchange for the luxurious sleeping quarters. I think I got the better end of that bargain, but I'd make it up to them.

My phone, the piece of shit that it is, died mid-game. Since the dawn of digital address books, I've been unable to remember a single phone number. I briefly got it on long enough to get some important numbers for the night into Philip's phone, but it crapped out again before getting the last one I needed, permanently. We tried some creative outreaches through mobile Facebook on Matthew's phone from the next bar, but we never did in touch with anyone else.

That next bar was Margie's Pub. A first for me. A nice dive with nice people. Alberto was celebrating his 30th birthday and we had many $2 Old Styles in his honor. We actually started off with four boilermakers - which I unbelievably had to explain to the old bartender (you'd think those would be a staple in this place).

Mat showed up with Lori, his girlfriend who'd I'd not seen since Italy, and we had more Old Styles. We chatted and caught up, and they were soon on their way to meet more old friends on their week-long stay in Chicago from DC. We too said our goodbyes to them and Alberto and stumbled our way out the door, on the way to Resi's Bierstube.

Resi's is a favorite of mine. A classic Northcenter holdover from area's German roots. Kinda dirty and austere, with berber carpet and wood paneling, Resi's has a short but authentic beer list and serves some of the best Kraut comfort food in the city. Its beer garden is still one of the best kept secrets in town.

Late at night it's the best place to mingle with an unassuming crowd under soothing low light amidst the home country chatchkies while pounding some seriously heavy beers.

We started off with Spaten Optimater, a dark, malty, and yeasty 9 percenter served in giant glass steins:

...oh yes. Jagers, too. Well, four.

After finishing up with a round of whatever was on special, we hit the road at 2am for grub. We could have stayed out later but it had been a long day for all of us. No bus was coming, and the next burrito option was at California, less than a mile, so we started walking.

Along the stretch of Irving between Western and the river is a bunch of industrial buildings on the north side. As we passed an open window, Matthew pointed inside to some dude lying on a bed in the midst of a horribly messy office, watching TV. It was hard to if he was awake or not, but upon listening, he was watching an instructional video on how to make love to women.

We snickered quietly for a bit, and then I let out one of my trademark whistles, with two fingers in my mouth, the ones that make your ears ring and pisses everybody off. I didn't stick around to see it, but Matthew said Casanova-in-training came up off the bed by about three feet.

Burritos and tacos purchased, we found an immediate cab home, where upon we ate, drank the PBR in the fridge, and entertained ourselves with youtube.

Automobiles and History -- a 1967 Oldsmobile Delmont 88, the Chappaquiddick Incident, and the Political Career of Ted Kennedy

On one hand, now is not the time to be making light of the flaws of a man who so readily admitted to his personal shortcomings. By all accounts, Ted Kennedy was a great American. He gave much to the country he loved, and his efforts resulted in legislation that helped many Americans is to be fully celebrated. He was a great man, but even great men can fall to the vicissitudes of the moment when Technology Wounds, to borrow a phrase from the title of a book by Chellis Glendenning. In Kennedy's case it was panic after a late night accident in July of 1967. The fact of the matter is that automobiles are dangerous things, a technological system that can cause lots of hurt, and one that can be lost control of in a split second.
The accident cast a shadow over Kennedy that he could never completely shake. It prevented him from running for President in 1972 and also 1980. Who knows if the nation would have been spared the pains of Watergate and the resignation of Nixon? To this day Kennedy haters are quick to bring up the matter.
It is remarkable that an everyday Oldsmobile Delmont 88 was at the center of an event that changed history in ways we will never fully know.

New SCX Ford Fusion-Greg Biffle

Thursday Hate

Yesterday I pussed out and carpooled to work. As bad as I felt about myself, it seemed every car I counted on the expressway with me had only a driver inside. It's one thing if you need your car for actual job duties, but if not, think about the next time you complain about green-space being eliminated. Or the option being passed over.

It's not just about pollution or the dwindling supply of a precious resource.

Today I'm just packing a full dry kit in my bag.

(Courtesy of

New 911 GT3 Cup car from Porsche!!!!!!!!!

ATLANTA – August 26, 2009 – Stronger, wider, faster – Porsche’s new 911 GT3 Cup car is the latest-edition of the world’s best-selling and most successful production-based race car of more than 1,400 units. It will be introduced at the Frankfurt Motor Show September 17-27, 2009, along side the previously-announced 2010 911 Turbo and 911 GT3 RS.

For the first time, the race car is based on the street-legal 2010 GT3 RS version. However, in keeping with tradition, it continues to be assembled on the same production line as all road-going Porsche 911 vehicles in Stuttgart-Zuffenhausen.

Like the flat-six “Boxer” engine in the new GT3 RS, displacement is increased by 0.2 liters over the former model to 3.8 liters and produces 30 more horsepower – 450 hp with a maximum RPM of 8,500. Additionally, it comes with a standard, sequential six-speed manual gearbox and weighs 2,646 lbs (1,200 kg).

New Porsche 911 GT3 Cup Race Car To Debut In Frankfurt

Also like the 911 GT3 RS, the GT3 Cup car features the 1.73-inch wider body of the current 911 Carrera 4S, providing sufficient space for larger wheels. Wider front wheel arches allow for three-piece light-alloy rims measuring 9.5 J x 18 (previously 9 J x 18) utilizing 24/64-18 Michelin racing tires. The three-piece light-alloy wheels on the rear axle are up by one inch in width, now measuring 12 J x 18 with 27/68-18 tires.

The new 911 GT3 Cup is clearly recognizable at first sight through the special design of the front end. The striking daytime driving lights come straight from the current generation 911. Another carryover from the road-going 911 GT3 RS are the front body panels – as they prove aerodynamically-efficient for racing duty. The front spoiler lip is more than 0.5-inches lower to provide significantly more downforce on the front axle.

Downforce on the rear axle is also increased by the by virtue of a rear wing that is over 9-inches wider than the street version, 66.9 inches vs. 57.5 inches respectively. The rear air dam, with its air vent openings as well as the rear LED lights, also come straight from the road model.

Additional Unibal joints are featured on the track control arms and the front and rear anti-roll bars are now adjustable to seven different positions, allowing for an even more precise set-up of the car to best match each prospective race track.

The cockpit of the new 911 GT3 Cup caters even more to the specific needs of the driver. An additional vent in the upper part of the front lid, for example, provides the driver with a better supply of fresh air. The controls for the Info Display are now positioned directly on the steering wheel housing. And in addition to fore-and-aft adjustment, the steering wheel may now also be adjusted for height as on the regular production car.

News and photos used with permission from Porsche.

Two Funny Poems About the Model T

In 1915 the first of two volumes about the Model T, entitled Funny Stories About the Ford, was published.74 The following are a few excerpts:

The Formula in Poetry
A little spark, a little coil,
A little gas, a little oil,
A piece of tin, a two inch board –
Put them together and you have a Ford.

The Twenty-third Psalm
The Ford is my auto; I shall not want another.
It maketh me to lie down beneath it; it soureth my soul.
It leadeth me into the paths of ridicule for its namesake.
Yea though I rife through the valleys I am towed up the hill,
For I fear much evil. Thy rods and thy engines discomfort me;
I anoint my tires with patches; my radiator boileth over;
I repair blowouts in the presence of mine enemies.
Surely, if this thing followeth me all the days of my life,
I shall dwell in the bug-house forever.

You can read much more about the Model T and its influence on American thought and culture in my The Automobile and American Life -- available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Conrads in Chicago, Part 1: Charm City to the Windy City

Now that I've finally detoxed from the weekend and gotten back to my regularly scheduled homebodyness, I can finally give a wrap up from my cousins' visit from Baltimore. This morning I was pedaling Jack home from Maggie's at 5:30 after a brief but efficient 5 hours sleep when I first realized I felt pretty good. I think he did too. Jack really enjoys it down there in Lincoln Park, save for the constant El traffic outside her apartment.

As Matthew, Andrew, and Philip were arriving at Midway on Southwest last Friday, I was riding home from Northbrook to meet them at my apartment in Old Irving. Their first text came as I waited for the train through the Morton Grove station to pass, about 20 minutes from home. They'd landed safely.

Upon arriving home, I had another text that they were waiting for the train, and a warning:

"I hope you have LOTS of toilet paper."

They seemed to be having one of those magical El rides where everything syncs up, with no waiting. After less than 15 minutes, drinking a glass of Gatorade, I saw this picture pop up on Facebook:

That was just south of the Roosevelt Station. They were really moving.

I put a leash on the boy and grabbed a plastic bag and headed out to Athletic Field, just west of the Addison Blue Line to await they're arrival. I wasn't there long. Like three Sasquatch carrying overnight bags for a vacation from the woods, they came lumbering up Central Park.

Game time.

We dropped the bags off in the apartment and immediately left for Comisky Park. The Orioles were in town, and we'd been planning this weekend since my visit out to Baltimore in late April.

The rain held off and the game started on time; we arrived just after the 3rd inning started. We managed to get three rounds in, starting with four 20 oz Leinenkugel's that I spent $28 on. That always makes me feel like an asshole, but these days, that's relatively cheap. By comparison, at Camden Yards, a 24 oz Molsen Ice costs you $10.

If you can get over the vertigo from the angle of Comisky's upperdeck, they're really not bad seats at all; you get a very good view of all the action.

Philip and Andrew:

After the game we decided to keep it a relatively tame evening, as I had a 7am departure for the XXX Saturday ride the next morning. The Blue line was down between Clark/Lake and Western, so we opted to see a little extra of the city, via the Red Line to Irving, where we rode the 80 bus to a divy little Italian place at Kedzie most people don't even know is still open, Manzo's.

Two or three years ago I'd taken my dad to this place, and we were pleasantly surprised. Very cheap, and the food was better than you'd expect at that price. Very retro, with lots of berber and tinsel, but obviously not on purpose, it wasn't full. In fact, there only two other tables in there. Not caring how the place stayed in business, we loved the calamari, tolerated the steak, and were happy to pay less than $30 for a bottle of Mondavi. I figured we'd save Resi's for the next night, and take advantage of the best part of Manzo's, the ridiculously cheap bar.

I'm taking $5 top shelf cocktails here, people. We walked in, dialed Willy Nelson, Led Zepplin, and the Beatles on the jukebox, and enjoyed a few martinis and some calamari, while watching the Cubs lose to L.A.

These guys are some of the funniest people I know. Matthew, the oldest, is generally pretty quiet until he drops some heavy observation on you - about sex, alcohol, politics, philosophy, or some mix of them. Andrew's sense of humor is to generally make you look at him funny, mispronouncing common words or telling you long, rambling stories about how he twisted his elbow cleaning the toilet. And Philip spends most of his time making fun of things you say, and trying to knock your hat off. They all make fun of each other, and are probably the three closest siblings I know, in my family and out. Andrew and Matthew own a condo together, and all three of them play on several softball teams together.

I can't think of a better picture to sum up their relationship than this one I found on Matthew's facebook page:

At Manzo's:

We said goodbye to our gracious bartender, and shuffled outside. Our luck with the CTA was continuing, as almost immediately another 80 bus rolled right up taking us home.

The Witchmobile! Another Art Car By Rebecca Carthedral

The Witchmobile! Another Art Car By Rebecca Carthedral
The Witchmobile! Another Art Car By Rebecca Carthedral
The Witchmobile with rear booster brooms
The Witchmobile with rear booster brooms
The Witchmobile! CrowThe Witchmobile Driver Seat
Photo by

The Witchmobile is a 1962 Dodge Lancer decorated by Rebecca Caldwell the creator of the Carthedral and David Hilborn. Vexing, hexing, and perplexing from Oakland, California, the Witchmobile was created to bring art and craft (witchcraft!) to the mundane and to honor the creative spirit on the highway of life. The Witchmobile, a work in progress, started in June 2009 and will be at it's first Art Car Fest this September in the bay area.

Cash for Clunkers Ends Tonight at 8 p.m.!!!

Thanks to Dr. Ed Garten for the photographs, used car lot surveys, and inspiration to write this entry today. On numerous occasions, you have made me a better automobile historian, Ed!

Hi folks -- $3 Billion have been spent on the Cash for Clunkers Program, and while there are many divergent opinions on its merits, my own feelings lean towards the positive. Indeed, of the huge amounts of federal stimulus monies that have been allocated to financial institutions, this relative mere pittance has done more for average people and businesses that need help than anything else. Yet, it is doubtful that an extension of the program or another program like it will be forthcoming. Critic Glen Beck has called it a "scam," but only a few mentally challenged nuts would agree with him. After all, replacement cars average nearly 10 mpg better than the ones now of the road, and sales in July, 2009 are the highest since August of 2008. Confidence in the economy has grown, and now it is projected that the industry will sell about 11 million cars and light trucks compared to previous forecasts of only 9 million. Environmental consequences are undoubtedly positive, but not perhaps overwhelming. High mileage vehicles, often with more than 140,000 miles, are being taken off the road. And those damned SUVs are not with us they way they once were!

The Top Cash for Clunker trade-ins are:

1. 1998 Ford Explorer
2. 1997 Ford Explorer
3. 1996 Ford Explorer
4. 1999 Ford Explorer
5. Jeep Grand Cherokee
6. Jeep Cherokee
7. 1995 Ford Explorer
8. 1994 Ford Explorer
9. 1997 Ford Windstar
10. 1999 Dodge Caravan

I say good riddance to those iron beasts! But note there are no Toyotas, Hondas, or Nissans, on this list. What does this mean in the long term?

The Top Ten Cash New Cars Purchased during the Cash for Clunkers Program:

1. Ford Focus
2. Honda Civic
3. Toyota Corolla
4. Toyota Prius
5. Ford Escape
6. Toyota Camry
7. Dodge Caliber
8. Hyundai Elantra
9. Honda Fit
10. Chevy Cobalt

4 domestics in the top 10 is not too bad!

Dr Garten actually walked around the approximately 50 or so cars on the back lot at Dave Dennis Chrysler/Jeep located in the Dayton, Ohio area and estimated that the clunkers roughly fell into these groups:

30 percent vans

30 percent SUVs

30 percent trucks

10 percent cars

Of the 50 or so cars and trucks I saw none that were foreign brands.

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