Here we are...Spring 2008. There is lots of activity going on. We have an election coming up. The Republicans have pretty well ended up with their candidate. Democrats are still working on their candidate. Crude oil is at $100 per barrel and gasoline is almost $4.00 per gallon. The battle cry throughout California is 'think green.' Add to all of this a possible recession. What next?
In my little world there is not really much going on in comparison. I still have been going to car shows: Long Beach; Pomona; the Big Three in San Diego; Mopars on the Strip in Las Vegas; and my favorite, Donut Derelicts.
Donut Derelicts have been around for about 25 years meeting in a strip mall at Magnolia and Adams in Huntington Beach. There are no official rules or structure to the group. It's just a bunch of guys talking to each other. There is no board of directors or president or staff. It is really a simple operation. If you have an old car and you get there early, you can find a place to park. If you get there later you may have to park across the street. Without being told, at 8:00 a.m. when the rest of the businesses open, all the old cars leave.
As you might expect, Donut Derelicts is a great place to discuss politics in an open and colorful way. This week's political discussion started with Hillary Clinton. Most agree that the shoot-em-up in Bosnia around Hillary's plane seems somewhat confusing. One of the Derelicts, an ex-pilot for American, indicated that the pilot of Hillary's plane had stated that there were no shots fired. Another Derelict, who was a fighter pilot in World War II, said that if you are being shot at the pilot would definitely know.
The Bosnia event was only the beginning of Hillary's troubles with the group. There were more bullets flying about other issues. Obama didn't do much better. His activist preacher and the fiery sermons beat him up. The Republican McCain from Arizona emerged from the discussion as the clear favorite of the group.
At exactly 8:00 a.m. the group grove to Papa Z's for breakfast and car topics were back on the agenda.
I think we all can agree that the current price of gasoline is making us think about fuel economy. My son in college mentions it often as a negotiating point for a higher allowance. I suggest that he consider getting a part-time job.
I hear that some people are dealing with expensive gasoline by reducing other expenses like going out to dinner. I wasn't surprised to hear that the mid to high-end restaurant business is down. Of course, the car companies are going for advertising their vehicles as fuel savers with slogans like "I want my MPG."
When I drive the old cars, I couldn't care less about MPG. I want to hear the sound of the motor and listen to the Flowmasters.
In Dallas, Texas, they are trying this device that records and indicates if you are wasting fuel in start-up and braking. I know that when I put my foot into the Superstock that two things are going to happen. Number one: the car will take off like a wild animal, pinning me to the seat. Number two: I will use a bunch of gasoline doing it! And, hopefully, I won't be observed by the police.
Personally, I think that an occasional blast-off is one of the freedoms we have...if we can afford it. Because of that, I am sure that someone in the car business is looking at a modulator for acceleration to be put on all cars.
My GMC truck is an excellent example of this kind of control. The engine will rev to over 5,000 RPM. However, the truck's top speed is limited to 100 miles per hour. At 100 miles per hour, the truck is only going 4,000 RPM. I only learned about this the other day when I was towing the Plymouth to Las Vegas for Mopars on the Strip. I had plenty of power with the trailer, but without the trailer at the track the top speed I could get the GMC to go was 100 miles per hour. My buddy, who works at GMC Trucks, told me that all the vehicles are now governed in one way or another. I guess if we can't — or won't — control ourselves, someone will try to control us.
As I have written before, the next restoration is an outboard motor. I have three right now and no boat. All are under three horsepower. Two are British Seagulls and one is a Johnson Sea-Horse. All three are two-cycle, meaning that they burn a mixture of gasoline and oil.
Two-cycle engines have been around for a long time and include weed-wackers, chainsaws, small generators, and snow blowers. In some watercraft and snowmobiles, the oil is injected.
Here in California, the green state run by Governor Schwarzenegger, there has been legislation presented to ban two-cycle engines. This is why I have three engines and no boat. As I see it, by the time I get one of the old outboards running they will be illegal to operate.
The good part is that after they are restored, they will look great in the reception area of a seafood restaurant. Hopefully, there will be enough drivers of high MPG cars so after the cost of fuel they can still go out and eat seafood.
I am seeing a recession personally. Go to any car show and look at the vendors. They are not busy. Many of the car exhibitors, car drivers, and vendors have started to bring their own food and drinks. Historically, we always ate at the show from food vendors. But I am taking both food and drink to Pomona next weekend. What's next?
For the American economy, I think we need to balance import and export tariffs. It's nuts that U.S. goods going to China have a 20% duty going into China and the duty for Chinese goods coming into the U.S. is only 2%. No wonder Wal-Mart has those cheap-ass auto accessories that never last.
McCain, Clinton, and Obama — if you're reading this, pay attention. Whoever hits the importers with an equal duty than the one we pay to export gets my vote. Hillary, if you can balance import/export duties, I will overlook the Bosnia shootout at the airport. Perhaps a balance of duties might slow the recession. At least, it will put American manufacturers on an equal plane.
Originally published in the Spring 2008 Automotive
Copyright 2008 by KAL Publications Inc.
Covering the California auto parts aftermarket since 1928.