Welcome to 2006. Dick Clark came back for his "Rockin' New Year's" party from New York. I came back with, hopefully, more interesting stuff than in 2005.
Let's start with new cars and the dilemma in Detroit city.
I went to the L.A. Auto Show and it was rather a ho-hum show. The good news is that is appears that some chrome is coming back in some interiors. GM has about the most chrome-covered plastic interior work, especially in their dashes.
Steve Saleen introduced a F331 "Thunder" Saleen Ford pickup truck with a standard 325 horsepower 425 lb. torque monster. The super-charged model has 450 horsepower and 500 lbs. of torque in the F332 Thunder Ford truck.
Saleen also spoke about one of his other production vehicles with 1,000 horsepower, "the largest horsepower available for the street." I was impressed.
However, Saleen was wrong. The Bugatti Veyron claimed 1001 horsepower and 925 lbs. of torque out of a 16-cylinder engine. Hooked up to a seven-speed manual transmission, the Bugatti will run 0-62 miles per hour in 2.5 seconds. The top speed of the Bugatti is 253 miles per hour. At $1.2 million, it's a pure bargain.
For the 0-60 five second blast, I recommend the new Cadillac XLR-V. The Northstar motor with 443 horsepower at 6400 RPM and 425 lbs. of torque at 3600 gives it, in my opinion, a great power band.
The six-speed automatic intercooled supercharged Northstar setup is perfectly acceptable to this writer at a bargain price of $70,000. The difference between the Bugatti Veyron and the Cadillac XLR-V is a mere $1,130,000. The Bugatti will get you to 62 miles per hour in half the time, however.
The Saleen Company will surely tweak another five or 10 horsepower somewhere in their race for the King Kong of horsepower.
Talk about incorrect statements: last year Chrysler indicated that the coupe market was pretty well gone. When the Mustangs were cut loose by Ford for record sales in 2005 someone at Chrysler looked foolish.
Now, guess what? Chrysler has a concept Challenger coupe. And guess what other news is out? The Challenger will have a hemi. Zero to 60 miles per hour will take you 4.5 seconds for about half of the Cadillac XLR-V's price. Like the Bugatti, you have to shift a six-speed with a manual-style transmission. The Dodge has a pistol grip shifter.
Right now it's a concept car. Tomorrow...who knows what Chrysler is thinking about?
GM, noticing the hot rod and muscle trend, thanks to the Ford Mustang, may bring back the Camaro. But why mess around? The 2006 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 Pace Car with 505 horsepower goes through the quarter mile at 125 miles per hour in 11.7 seconds and will get you to 60 in 3.7 seconds. This is the automatic transmission model.
I look at the Corvette like this: the tires cost about $250 each. Mobil One oil changes are not cheap. And other maintenance on the car would probably break my budget.
The only thing worse for expenses would be owning a Bugatti. The worries of a couple of bucks of maintenance would probably not bother the owner of a Bugatti. And with only 300 of the cars to be manufactured, there will only be 300 people in the world who'd have to worry about it, anyway.
How about a new product test? They guys from Gunk gave me a sample of their new Liquid Wrench L4 at the AAPEX Show in Las Vegas. The L4 product has "Cerflow" in it that is supposed to free up things very quickly.
Historically, I would have used WD-40 (an all-time favorite) or the yellow can Liquid Wrench for the job. Both work well.
The test was on the 1962 Plymouth. My project was to remove the rear end and springs. After 44 years, most everything was pretty well rusted, undercoated, or beat up.
Following the directions, I shook the L4 up well and began to spray. But the product didn't spray. It came out as a foam. I shook it up some more and more foam-like product came out. It had a petroleum smell and it dissolved some surface rust but the spray didn't work.
The more I thought about it, the more I concluded that the foamy texture of the L4 was by design. I got out a small bowl and filled it with the L4 foam and then painted it on the car with an old paint brush.
The next day, removing the spring shackles was a breeze. The 3/4" frame spring front bolt was no problem. I hit the u-bolts with the air wrench and they came right off. It seems like the L4 worked.
And there was a bonus. The driveway cleanup seemed easy without oil stains.
Gunk L4 passed the test of working well. The application of the product, however, was a problem.
Speaking of applications, I used to have a great puller. It was a general purpose puller. It was strong and simple with reversible jaws.
Somewhere between moves from Phoenix to Las Vegas to Anaheim the multi-purpose puller disappeared. I probably loaned it to someone and they forgot about it.
Still trusting, last week I loaned my Champion spark plug gauge and points feeler gauge to a neighbor. He didn't bring them right back or leave them in the mailbox.
Anyway, at the Pomona Swap Meet I found the exact same puller, used, for $10. I bought it just in case I ever needed it.
The seller was very nice and explained he was selling it simply because he never used it. Other than steering wheels that have a special puller, I seldom use that kind of tool myself.
Like most guys, I have more tools than I will ever use on a regular basis. And I loan them out never to be returned. I could write a book on my loaning experiences.
Women who have a lot of kitchen stuff have solved the problem. They don't loan out their pots or pans.
That's my New Year's resolution: no more loaning tools. Of course, I've already broken that resolution because I loaned those gauges last week but the year is young. My plan is to save my money for the Bugatti instead of buying replacement tools.
Wishing you and your family the best for 2006: health, happiness, and the joy of simple pleasures.
Originally published in the February/March 2006
Automotive Booster Magazine.
Copyright 2006 by KAL Publications Inc.
Covering the California auto parts aftermarket since 1928.