Honda just released an electric update to the Motocompo, a tiny foldable motorcycle they designed and built for city traveling back in the 1980’s. The original gas-powered bike was produced for two years and now sell for ridiculous amounts of money; the new Motocompacto is listed for $995. Cleaner, lighter, and just as funky, it folds down into a 30″ x 21″ x 4″ box, is good for about 15 miles of range, and takes 3.5 hours to charge. If I was commuting into DC every day and had a longer walk to deal with, I would have already placed my order for one.

Date posted: November 2, 2023 | Filed under cars | Leave a Comment »

Saturday morning, Jen was walking across the street to church when she spied an antique pickup truck parked on the side of the road with the hood up. Even though she was late, she walked over and asked the owner if he needed a hand, pointing at the Scout in our driveway. After hanging up the phone with her, I hustled out to the street to see if I could lend a hand. The owner was puzzled; he’d just rebuilt the carb and had driven it all week but now it was randomly dying on him. I pointed out the gas seeping around the gaskets on the carb and told him I figured it was something clogging the jet inside. After a couple more tries he got it running again, and I offered to follow him back to his house to make sure he made it. He led me to a beautiful little farm in Oella where he had a mid ’60’s Corvette in one garage bay next to the original Deere tractor used to work the farm before he bought it. We talked cars and houses and threw his shepherd Barney half of a frisbee in the sunshine; he prank-called his son to tell him he’d bought my Scout. I had work to do so I said goodbye and extended an invite to stop the next time he spied the garage door open. All in all, not a bad way to spend an hour on a Sunday morning.

Date posted: October 3, 2023 | Filed under cars | Leave a Comment »

My friend Bennett went out and found himself the high bidder for a 1950 Hudson Hornet at an auto auction last weekend, and asked the boys if anyone could help him get it home. I love an adventure, so I met him at his storage facility and we drove down into D.C. to pick it up. He’s got a good hauling truck and a heavy-duty trailer with a winch, so the actual recovery was pretty drama-free.

When we got it back to the storage lot, we had the first real opportunity to look it over, and realized it was very complete. Someone had pulled the original Hudson straight-6 out and put a Chevy 350 in with an automatic transmission. It was done well as far as we can tell, too—they put time and effort into the wiring, welding, and engineering. It has a new gas tank, driveshaft, and exhaust, so we figured what the hell and tried turning it over. With a new battery and some gas in the bowl of the carb, it fired right off. So we put some extra gas in the tank and kept it running long enough for the fuel pump to draw from the tank, and it idled on its own happily. Bennett tested the transmission, which appears to shift cleanly.

So this brings our record of dragging-shit-home-from-an-auction-and-getting-it-to-run to 2 for 2; the plan for next weekend is to bring a couple of guys back over and see if we can cruise it around the parking lot.

Date posted: September 9, 2023 | Filed under cars, friends | 1 Comment »

There are a lot of “Will it Run??!?!”-style videos on YouTube these days, which all follow the same basic format: a guy (they are usually guys) drives or flies somewhere to find a long-abandoned car in a field or barn, spends 3/4 of the video trying to get it running and driving with a minimal set of tools, and then spends the last 1/4 driving it halfway across America to get home. They are hugely popular for reasons I can completely understand: they involve older cars, the host explains what they’re doing, there are usually one or more catastrophic things wrong with the car they must address, and there’s always something that breaks on the way home. I love these videos because I like old cars, I appreciate learning how to fix things, and I love road trips. I would love nothing more than to do this for a living—but I’m not a good enough mechanic yet. Much of what I’ve learned from these videos has come in handy as I’ve gotten the Chrysler and the Travelall running, fixed the brakes, and worked my way through the other systems.

Anyway, there are a lot of these out there now, and I like some more than others. As with podcasts, it’s all about the host; some people are insufferable and rub me the wrong way, and others I enjoy spending time following. I just found a new one with a guy who split a major revival into two parts: a get-it-fixed half and a get-home-but-visit-interesting-places half. The car in question is a beautiful rusty 1960 Impala, abandoned for years, and he manages to keep it running across the country as he checks out some really interesting landmarks. Subscribed. 

Date posted: September 8, 2023 | Filed under cars, entertainment | Leave a Comment »

Curbside Classic just reprinted a really good article on the 1967 Chrysler Newport, which was the base model full-size sedan in their lineup, and also the best-selling model they offered for seven years. The Newport is the platform they built the 300 cars on, their halo high-performance models—my father-in-law’s convertible being one of that group.

Date posted: February 16, 2023 | Filed under cars, shortlinks | Leave a Comment »

(Image: David Tracy)

One of the authors over at the Autopian, my favorite car site, bought a car sight unseen from a field in Australia, then flew there and spent five weeks rebuilding it out of rusty parts with a group of local car nuts. The goal was to then drive it 400 miles to a car meetup. When I say that I was skeptical of his ability to succeed, I’m not kidding; in the previous installment of the story, things were looking grim—the third engine they’d sourced was garbage, so they dragged one out of a chicken barn and threw it in the car. He posted the final chapter of the story, and it is as inspiring and awesome as I was hoping it would be. They got it running, passed the inspection, drove all 400 miles to the show, and then drove back home.

Something I learned: in Australia, they market and sell a brand of starting fluid called “Start Ya Bastard”. I sense an import opportunity and the promise of big dollars here…

Date posted: December 25, 2022 | Filed under cars | Leave a Comment »

I was down in DC three weeks ago for a work thing, and because I had to hump a bunch of video gear from the office to my old CEO’s house as well as meet up with a bunch of folks for lunch, I drove the Accord. We were eating at a restaurant I’d never been to before, so Siri took me in and dropped me at an empty parking spot right out in front of the place. I went in, lunch was had, and we left two hours and five minutes later—just enough expired time for the Accord to collect a $50 ticket. The ink was still warm when I pulled it from the wiper blade. Last week I went online to pay it, grumbling, and found a cryptic message that said I owed $0. Puzzled, I waited for the official paperwork to arrive. Yesterday I got two (?!?) letters from the DC government that confirmed things: the officer hadn’t turned in his paperwork on time, so by law I owed nothing. That was a nice gift.

* * *

We got the CR-V back from the body shop yesterday, looking like a half-brand-new vehicle. The list of stuff they replaced was long, but the visible stuff included a new bumper, bumper surround, front fender, and weatherstripping; the rear hatch opens and closes again, and the spare tire hangs straight. It’s good to have our old girl on the road again, even with 150K on the clock, and I hope we can keep her going for another 50. Now I need to bust out the buffer to shine up the sheet metal that wasn’t sanded and repainted so that it matches correctly.

Date posted: November 4, 2022 | Filed under cars, honda | Leave a Comment »

Look at what popped up on this morning: a 1966 Chrysler 300 convertible the same color as Bob’s. From what the commentariat says, it’s in rough shape (it’s in Louisiana) and probably worth nothing more than parts. This one is red over white with a white top, and features a 383 with air conditioning. I’d prefer having A/C, but the white upholstery and top look pretty lousy to me.

Date posted: September 13, 2022 | Filed under cars, shortlinks | Leave a Comment »

So my MotorTrend Online subscription lapsed about a year ago, and I’ve held off on renewing it for reasons I can’t really explain. Dirt Every Day was always one of my favored shows on that channel: two guys cutting and welding and building crazy vehicles to take on crazy adventures. Turns out they’ve ended the show—no idea if they’ve cancelled it or if the hosts have hung up the towel. There are some other shows on the channel I like—it’s the best place to see the old episodes of Top Gear, but I’ll have to reassess whether or not I’ll renew it now.

Date posted: August 25, 2022 | Filed under cars, entertainment, shortlinks | 1 Comment »

I’ve run across this site in the past, and meant to link to it: Rambler Lore is a collection of information about Nash/AMC Ramblers and the upkeep of a small fleet of them; the author has driven them for 20+ years and does all his own mechanical/engineerig/fabrication. This is the kind of thing I’d love to be able to retire and do with my free time.

Date posted: August 17, 2022 | Filed under cars, shortlinks | Leave a Comment »