About 18 years ago, I went to Florida to visit my grandparents. While we were down there, my dad and I escaped from the rest of the family for a bit, and found ourselves at a local junkyard. I remember very little about that day, except for a glorious pair of convertible Packards that we found. When we first entered the yard, we exchanged pleasantries with the yard owner and wander through the dusty gates. Sitting right before us were two 1948 Packard convertibles that looked like the had been off the road for quite a while, but probably not at that junkyard for long. They weren’t in bad shape overall, and had beautifully patina. Back then, patina would have been removed immediately. These days it would have commanded top dollar. Sadly, we had zero room for a set of gigantic Packards in our driveway back up in Massachusetts. So, much to my chagrin, we left them behind. Since that day, there has always been a spot in the back of my mind, yearning for one.
Today on eBay is exactly that, a 1948 Packard 2 door convertible. It actually looks extremely similar to the mental image of them that is branded in my mind, though a little worse for wear. This one is for sale for $6500, and looks surprisingly solid. If it were mine, I would drop a good running engine in it, some nice brakes, a decent bench seat, a new windshield, and drive the heck out of it. What can I say, I just love that
barn woods-fresh look.
10 days left – eBay Item # 290675332786
Somewhere in Massachusetts there is a double nosed truck that doesn’t know if it is coming or going. This is what it looks like. I wonder what it has under the hood..s….?
If you caught this years Daytona 500, it seemed as though the race would never get started, and then it almost seemed as though the race would never end. Lucky for Dale Earnhardt Jr. (being the night owl that he is) the race went to 1:00 Tuesday morning. Matt Kenseth claimed the checkered flag at Daytona International Speedway, Dale Jr. came in second, while “The Biff” finished in third.
Right out of the gate it seemed as if something was in the air at Daytona. Jimmie Johnson hit the outside wall on lap 2, taking with him Kurt Busch, Danica Patrick and also a couple of other drivers.
There were wrecks and crashes all night long, the biggest one came from Juan Pablo Montoya when he was trying to catch up to the field, while the track was under a caution. Montoya came out of the pits after complaining that there was something wrong with the car. As he made his way around the track something broke in the rear end and send the Target machine skidding sideways right into the tracks jet dryer truck which exploded on impact.
Both Juan and the driver of the track truck were ok, and evaluated. Juan was checked out and released from the medical center right away, while the truck driver was kept for observation and then released. Montoya’s car sat in the infield grass in a smoldering heap.
This week the Camping World Truck Series is off, the Nationwide Series will run on Saturday, and the NASCAR Sprint Sup Series will run on Sunday at Phoenix International Raceway.
Jimmie Johnson seems to be the fan favorite at Phoenix with 14 top tens and 4 wins, and Jeff Gordon also knows how to get the job done at Phoenix with 2 wins and 18 top tens. Both driver should be a great pick for you fantasy league. It will be interesting to see how Jimmie Johnson does this week with a new fill in crew chief for the short-term.
Recently I was perusing my favorite car blogs and said to myself “hey pal, reading these blogs is a real breath of garage-fresh air, maybe I should write a 1A Blog post about how awesome some of these other car blogs are! Yeeeaa buddy!” So today, that’s my game plan. After all, when somebody shows you a great automotive blog, it’s like getting a free subscription to a totally sweet magazine, and you can even talk to the people that write it (most of the time at least)! I guess the internet is not just for lolcats anymore! Now where was I? Ah yes! Gearhead blogs! Some of these auto-car-motorcycle-welding-racing-fabrication blogs are more “main stream” you might say, than the others. However! They all provide me with hours of pure, indulgent, gearhead entertainment in the form of knowledge and eye candy. So it’s only right that I share them. Are you ready? Are you all amp’ed up yet? I bet you are, you little rascal. Without further adieu, here are my personal Top 11 favorite and most frequented gearhead blogs, in no particular order…
Just A Car Geek
There was once a time in my life when I believed that I knew a lot about cars. That was right before I began religiously reading the Just A Car Geek Blog. I quickly learned that there were a metric crap-ton of cars out there that I had never even heard of. Since I began reading JACG, my interest and knowledge of foreign cars has grown exponentially. More often than not these days, I find myself pondering if I really do need a 1960’s Simca or a Reliant Scimitar GTE in my life? Maybe I do, err…then again, maybe I better not. Dave, the guy that runs Just A Car Geek, is a fantastically smart and entertaining writer and you should most definitely sign up for his email feed. I guarantee that within a couple weeks, you too will be craving oddball foreign motahs (say it with a British accent) more than ever before! I pinky swear.
Just A Car Guy
Although it is a similar name and acronym to the above auto blog, the Just A Car Guy blog is very different, yet equally awesome. This car blog is like a massive museum of fascinating mechanical greatness. I can’t even begin to imagine where Jesse finds the photography that he posts up, but it is an endless supply of everything that you have ever wanted to stare at (okay, almost everything). There are beautiful photos of classic motorcycles, hotrods, trains, planes and just plain everything with wheels. Jesse also often has fresh pictures from major gearhead events that you can only dream of attending. That means that like me, you can live vicariously through him and his photography. Does life get any better? Unlikely. Be sure to click through the different categories on the right side of the Just A Car Guy Blog page. Be careful though, I have been known to get sucked in deep and lose multiple hours at a time. It’s addictive! Go there now. Thank me later.
Silodrome is one of the cleanest
blogs websites that I have ever witnessed, and I’m sure that you will wholeheartedly agree. It is filled with truly outstanding vehicle photography, amazingly thorough and interesting articles, and wildly talented writing. Vintage motorcycles are the primary subject, though there are plenty of cars, planes, boats and car enthusiast gear to go along with them. James, Luke, Benjamin(?) and their crew are great people, and deserve more internet traffic than I could ever provide them with. If you are a gearhead, you are already a fan of Silodrome. Trust me. Don’t even bother wiping the bugs from your goggles or the grease from your hands; just grab your leather jacket, and roll there now, do not walk. It’s better than human words can describe.
If you are a car-guy, you already know what Hemmings Motor News is. If you don’t, you need to hit a local book store or library immediately. Yes, I’m talking about the big brick building in the center of town, with the shelved rectangle things inside. Maybe you have seen them in your grandparents house? No? Anyways, not only does Hemmings publish outstanding books and an absolutely legendary monthly magazine, but they also have a classic car blog that will remind you of how much you love your project car. Their blog is always filled with educational history lessons, dreamy barn finds, and the rarest of rare collector cars. They have quite a few writers that passionately contribute to the automotive cause, and each one of them seems to have their own niche. This always makes for a fantastic automotive cornucopia to feast on. They also have a newsletter that you can sign up for so that you never miss out on the newest Hemmings Blog updates.
Much like Hemmings Motor News, the Eastwood company is a staple for every do-it-yourself’er that is knee deep in an auto restoration. Without them, you likely wouldn’t have half of the cool restoration tools and supplies in your shed, garage and basement. Their blog is unique in the fact that it is written by their employees, many of which have ongoing projects that you can follow along with. Not only that, but you also get to see how Eastwood products actually work in real life. For me, that’s a big deal because I don’t often read the directions on the can, but I do like to know how to use the products. Between ongoing Volkswagen and B-Series hotrod Dodge truck projects, it’s a place that you will want to frequent regularly.
Ah yes, Hooniverse. Something about the name of this automotive blog make me feel like I’m saying a swear, even though I know that I’m not. I like that. Go ahead, say it yourself out loud – Hooniverse, Hooniverse, Hooniverse. It sounds wrong, but oh-so-right. Am I right? Well, not only is the name of this car blog entertaining, but the content is too. See, Hooniverse is comprised of an enthusiastic bunch of real-deal car people that truly love writing about the strange and exciting automotive universe. You’ll find automotive news and reviews, plenty of 24 hour of lemons coverage, and then there are times when they post treasures found in the junkyard. No matter what it is though, it’s always a great read! Most of these blogs that I’m sharing with you today have RSS feeds that you should sign up for as well, Hooniverse is no exception.
Okay, Speedhunters is flat out hot stuff. You will likely not find more vibrant and exciting automotive photography anywhere on the internet (other than a couple of the other blogs mentioned here). Speedhunters has automotive photography totally locked down, double stamped, and Vise-Grip’ed in the winners circle my opinion. As you can logically gather from the name, it is primarily focused on cars that go fast, or at least look fast. I’d also say that it tends to lean heavier on the import vehicle scene, though you will occasionally find some sexy hot rods, lead sleds and customs peppered into the mix. The written content on Speedhunters is always highly professional, and highly detailed. You rarely, if ever, walk away with additional questions about the cars that they feature. In fact, if you are like me, you may end up reading the articles a few times to make sure that you took it all in. Needless to say, if you enjoy going fast or looking fast, Speedhunters is a great place to hang. Oh, and they also have free desktop wallpaper that will change your life. Go. Now.
The CarGurus Blog has the automotive news that you don’t see on every other automotive blog out there. I can always find a plethora of posts about interesting new automotive technology, and fancy new concepts that I haven’t seen elsewhere. Being a website primarily focused on buying and selling cars, there is also a ton of great information about doing exactly that. I’m not talking about sales pitches either, I’m talking about real clever sales ideas that an actual gearhead can put to use in their own driveway. You do like buying cars cheap and selling them for maximum cash right? Check. It. Out.
There isn’t a car enthusiast on earth that doesn’t love a great build thread. I mean, I literally join forums just to stalk other peoples build threads. Is that wrong? Maybe. The Build Thread blog is entirely … you guessed it! BUILD THREADS! Awesome automotive projects are submitted by people like you and I, and the best ones are featured on the site. It may be a build thread on a drift truck, a stanced Datsun, a supercharged hotrod, or a full out drag car, there is absolutely no limit. If it is an addictive or elaborate build thread, you’ll probably see it featured here. I cannot get enough of this place. Seriously.
Everybody has heard of Autoblog because it’s sort of the go-to for breaking automotive news. I personally like it because since they are an authority in the automotive world, so they often get to test new cars and give real world opinions on them. They also have crazy amounts of spy shots as well, which is something I will never have the sneakiness or photographic skills to do. As you can imagine, the writing is top notch in professionalism, and the photography is crisp magazine-quality. Reading AutoBlog makes me feel more adult and professional than I really am (shhh!), and real journalism makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside. Whenever I wrap up a good Autoblog article, I have learned a lot about cars, the people that drive them, and how to be a better writer.
Jalopnik is another that you probably already read because it’s chock full of great stuff. It is sort of like Autoblog (Gasp!), but more relaxed, with slicked back hair, and a package of cigs rolled up in its tight sleeve. While it is always filled with terrific automotive news coverage, ridiculous for sale ads, videos, car racing, and everything in between, Jalopnik has been known to ruffle some feathers with their stories from time to time. One of the best parts about Jalopnik is its fan base. It’s comprised of enthusiasts like us, who comment on the articles, and take it all to the next level of knowledge and sarcasm, both of which I appreciate thoroughly. For several years now, it has been one of my go-to automotive blogs to give me my mechanical fix on a wintery day. If you aren’t already reading it, check it out, and I recommend “blog view” at the top of the page. It is a spectacular car blog as long as you can take a joke, and if you like the 1A Blog, you will probably enjoy Jalopnik as well!
So there it is, my official top 11 list of car blogs worth reading, other than the 1A Blog of course. You don’t have to check them out now, but I recommend that you do visit them at some point in the near future. I grab inspiration regularly from each and every one of them. Hopefully some of the extraordinary talent that the writers of these car blogs have will rub off on me some day. If you know of any other great blogs for gearheads, leave a comment and tell us why it’s so great.
Until next time…
One vehicle that is often underrated, and almost unnoticed in traffic is the Trailblazer SS. They came with 6.0L LS2’s under the hood that pushed nearly 400 horsepower through the AWD drivetrain. In stock form these things are sick. Stuff a supercharger under the hood of one, and you have yourself a gigantic load of fun, especially in a large empty parking lot.
Oh and by the way, these run low 14 second second quarter mile times in stock form, and 11’s at 120mph with this supercharger strapped on. I would link to the video, but it’s got some questionable language in it, so…I’ll let you hunt that one down yourself.
Can’t see the video? Here is the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JOvG_2Y-aN8
I recently picked up a great new toy in the form of a 2006 Subaru Legacy GT. Much like all vehicles that I buy, it needed some major work before hitting the streets again. When I first heard about this car, the local Subaru dealer had just declared that it needed a new engine. Technically speaking, it did still run. However, it was running really rough due to lack of compression in cylinder #3. With the higher mileage that it had, and the repair being a seriously labor intensive job, it just wouldn’t make sense for the owner of the car to have it fixed. For me though, I get a weird thrill over fixing cars that other people condemn. Before long, a deal was struck, and the red Subie landed in my driveway.
The first step of any repair is determining what the problem is. Since I already knew that one cylinder was missing compression, I began the diagnosis by determining where all of that compression was going. I knew that if the piston was damaged, the compression would have to be filling the crankcase like crazy with air, so I started the car and yanked the oil filler cap off. I then waved my hand around above the oil filler tube. If the piston was damaged, there would have been massive amounts of compression pumping out of there. Luckily for me, there wasn’t. This, along with a quiet running engine, told me that the piston & rings were probably in good working condition. Next on the check list, and really the only other option, were the valves. I shut off the car, and installed a cylinder leakage gauge into the spark plug hole. I then set the engine to TDC on cylinder #3, and pumped 90psi of air into the cylinder. Sure enough, all of that air immediately flowed right out the exhaust system. Tada, an exhaust valve was damaged! This meant that the engine was coming out, and the heads were getting pulled off. Most of Saturday came and went, and the picture above is what I discovered.
So what causes burned valves? Well, from what I have read about these engines, the valves aren’t known to be the best quality to start with. Compile that with the fact that the valves were never adjusted in 140K miles (which is rarely, if ever, done by anybody with a Subaru), and the valves were given the opportunity to hang open just enough to burn. Yeap, a total bummer for sure. This car though, is getting a second chance at life, with new valves, head gaskets, timing belt, water pump, etc. I cannot wait to get it back together!
More to come in the weeks ahead…
Click Here to See What Happens Next!
If you watched the Budweiser Shootout on Saturday night like I did, more than likely you were at the edge of your seat for the entire race. NASCAR has done a great job with all of the changes that they made in the off-season to their super speedway package.
They worked hard to get the cars back to pack racing that the fans have longed for over the past couple of seasons, and by golly it’s BACK! The two car tandem seems to be gone and we’re back to pack racing!
The Budweiser Shootout Saturday night was one of the best that I’ve seen in years. A guy could push the guy in front of him, make a charge for the lead and then pull out of line with enough horsepower to control his own destiny. That was what we were missing and what seemed to be back during the Budweiser Shootout. That race was so good I’d watch it again.
How about that Kyle Busch save. Halfway through the race he all but lost the car in the middle of the pack. He turned to the left and then to the right, sparkes were flying everywhere off the front air dam and somehow he gathered her up and kept on cruising along at 200 mph.
If that wasn’t enough for you, on the green-white-checkered restart Kyle Busch pushed Tony Stewart towards the front as they created a 200 MPH freight train that took off from the pack; coming out of turn 4 Busch broke formation, made the slingshot move around the right of Stewart and took Stewart right at the finish line winning the Bud Shootout by half a fender!
If this is a preview as to what’s going to take place during the Daytona 500 next Sunday, I think the race fans are in for a treat. This should be one of the best Daytona 500’s in years.
Video Borrowed from YouTube:
Kyle Busch Save During The Race…THIS IS CRAZY!