Happy New Year! I wish all of our loyal readers good health and prosperity for the future.
The L.A. Auto Show is always a good place to see the future and to this writer, the future looks bad.
Leading my list of vehicles I will never own is Ford's Think electric vehicle (EV). Ford's creative guys really showed their marketing expertise on one display that read, "TH!NK EV." I wouldn't get close to that vehicle at the show.
It personifies my fear of the future. From the designs and the options on the new vehicles, it is this writer's opinion that someday most cars will have little style, differentiation, or personality.
Now let's go back in time to my last article that included a test of the z-Max with Linktite that I was given to try at the AAIA Show. As I mentioned, the early tests seemed to show this writer an increase in driver-felt power. Unfortunately, the mileage claim was never proven in three tankfuls (approximately 90 gallons) in normal driving.
The 1997 Dodge Van has consistently delivered 14 mpg in city driving and 16 mpg on the highway. Z-Max had no affect on my vehicle's mileage at all.
I want to believe the actors' testimonials in z-Max's infomercials. They are fun to watch and to some seem credible. I also want to believe A.J. Foyt's comments on the product. But my final conclusion is I did seem to notice a power increase but little action in fuel economy.
Talk about fuel economy — Toyota has a car called the Prius that has a gasoline motor and an electric motor. This vehicle, according to Toyota, gets 52 mpg in the city and 48 on the highway. Compared to what I'm used to, this is pretty unbelievable mileage.
The Prius has been sold in Japan since 1997 and 17,000 of these beauties are in the United States. Toyota's advertising indicates that the performance is brisk for the Prius with a 70 horsepower, 4 cylinder and a 1.5 liter electric engine combination.
Meanwhile, on the engine dyno in Anaheim, the engine test of the 440 Chrysler engine going into my 1963 Super Stock Plymouth is taking place. The results are as follows: 424 horsepower and 472 pounds of torque. Off idle the engine produces 250 horsepower. A Toyota Prius driver will get 70 horsepower total. The Plymouth will definitely have brisk — or should I say brute — horsepower.
Hopefully I can get the Plymouth on the road in the next 60 days and give you a report. I am sure of one thing: fuel economy will not be one of the Plymouth's strengths.
Back to Ford's Think EV. Did you know it has a range of 30 miles and a top speed of 25 miles per hour? This will be a perfect car for the teenage driver in the family. You can't go fast and you can't go far.
Another interesting item to test arrived from a company by the name of Link Tools International. Mr. Tim Bregenzer was kind enough to send me a 3/8 Link locking drive set.
I have been using them for a few weeks on a number of small and large projects. The best part of these tools is the locking feature. The ratchet, extensions, locking universal joint, and unidriver work extremely well. The trick of it is you need to have good sockets for the locks to work. I didn't have a good set and purchased a new set of Craftsman sockets to go with the rest of the Link set.
I am on board with Link. Everything worked better than anticipated and I used them everywhere I could without failure, even on a kitchen job under the sink. The guy who thought this up was Pete Rodgers who, I guess, originally invented the quick release ratchet from Sears. You can see their stuff at www.link-tools.com. Don't let the price scare you. If I had a dollar for every time I went fishing for sockets and extensions I could have bought the system twice.
Speaking of buying things twice… consider this: how many times have you purchased something and replaced it immediately due to poor performance? My garage is cluttered with automotive parts that have been upgraded or changed on the quest for more performance.
On the Plymouth project, I enlisted the help of my friend, Ted McKinley of Orange County Speed. Ted came up with, among other things, the carburetor (AED), intake (Weined Stealth) and ignition (Petronics). The goal on the 440 engine was to build a strong street engine with tons of torque. The experience of veteran drag racer Joe Jill of Superior Automotive building the engine made all the difference on this project.
Together Ted and Joe put together an engine the first time, under budget for this project. In my older years, I am learning that some restoration assembly should be left to the professionals — and it is cheaper in the long run. This has certainly been the case for the Plymouth's heart, the 440 engine.
Hopefully I will be able to write about the Corvette restoration soon. I am told by the painter — after three years — that 2002 will be the delivery.
Another automotive subject that is of interest is the "Tuners." You know, the guys that have the Japanese cars with the 5" exhaust. I've got to see The Fast and the Furious first, though.
Originally published in the February 2002
Automotive Booster Magazine.
Copyright February 2002 by KAL Publications Inc.
Covering the California auto parts aftermarket since 1928.