Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Across the country in less than 29 hours

No doubt by now, you have heard about how this guy shattered the record in a used Mercedes CL. I'm really conflicted about this. No question, this is an incredible achievement. But the blatant law breaking, for nearly 29 hours straight, put dozens, if not hundreds, of innocent people's lives at risk. I read Alex Roy's book about his drive across the country in an M5, and I felt very uncomfortable about even supporting the guy by buying his book. What say you?

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Goodbye Lenin

I'm finally going to catch a matinee of Rush on Thursday. I thought the guy who played Niki Lauda looked familiar.

Nissan President

53 year old tuk-tuks in Myanmar

These were donated by the Japanese government in 1960 to apologize for World War II.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Nothing to see here, folks

Today, three people in an SUV plowed into a large crowd in Tiananmen Square, and then set themselves on fire. Five were killed (including the three occupants) and 38 were injured. The list of pissed off people willing to sacrifice their lives to protest a grievance is long-- people who lost their homes to developers, Tibetans, Uyghurs,....

Express bus from Lima, Peru, to Bogota, Colombia

Great news! Cruz del Sur just opened up a Lima to Bogota route this year. It leaves every Wednesday. The trip takes 3 days 3 hours and 45 minutes and costs $180 US. Now, I just have to find out how to get from Bogota to Turbo (the end/beginning of the Darien Gap) to complete the South American portion of my Pan-American Highway trek.

I took Cruz del Sur from Lima to Tacna, near the Chilean border, and it was by far the nicest bus I have ever ridden in. The deluxe seats recline 160 degrees, they serve three hot meals a day (with your choice of beef, chicken, or vegetarian), and there's bingo every night!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Saturday, October 26, 2013

The current state of entrepreneurs in Cuba

One of my favorite travel TV presenters, Simon Reeve, visited Cuba last year to talk to new entrepreneurs-- kitchen supply salesman, rice farmer, restauranteur, real estate agent. It reminds me of the 1980s when Deng really started dismantling the command economy in China.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Classic Wartburg Vista Cruiser and Skoda Miata

Beautiful. And we learn the origin of the Skoda name.

Lancia Flavia review

37,000 euros. Crikey.

A Filipino "naval base" in the Spratly Islands

This multimedia story in the New York Times is by far the most informative (and entertaining) piece I have ever read about the dispute. The Filipinos purposely ran a ship aground and left eight marines on it to assert its sovereignty over the island chain. And to fulfill the stereotype, there are three fighting roosters and a karaoke machine onboard.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Monday, October 21, 2013

Michael Jordan's rides

Harbin, China, today

According to the Chinese government, that's fog, not smog.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

I drove a DeLorean today!!!

It was wonderful. I had such a great time. Thanks, B.! I'll do a write up on Hooniverse.

The Land Rovers of Nauru

The tiny island nation of Nauru was known for two things. 1) It lost all of its phosphate mining fortune (the island's only resource) on bad real estate (one office highrise in Australia) and 2) Australia is parking asylum-seeking boat people in a detention facility there.

But now, you'll know it for its old Land Rovers!

Citroen SM with a V8

The story is here.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Maserati Khamsin

The owner of this Maserati Khamsin owns/runs the Maserati museum in Riverside. At the time this car was made, Citroen owned Maserati and its influence could be seen everywhere, including the hydraulic power seats. 

The book they mention in the video is on the top of my Xmas list. I leafed through a copy in Monterey in August and should have bought it then. 

And this is what the DOT/NHTSA did to Khamsins imported here. Crime against humanity, this.

Replacing the Crown Vic Police Interceptor

Police departments all over America are trying their best to cling on to their Ford Crown Vics. My town's PD, Oakland PD, and SFPD all still use the old Panther. But progress is inevitable, and here are the replacements.

Dodge Charger. It has a 370 hp 5.7 liter Hemi.

And finally, we have the Ford Police Interceptor, which is based on the Taurus. It comes with a variety of engines, including a 3.5 liter turbo V6 that's good for 365 hp.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Season 2 of The Wire... so f'in' good!

W124 500E Mercedes for sale

It was inevitable. One of us-- Peter, rchen, me-- was going to go down to Buggy Bank and test drive that 500E that's been sitting on the lot for a while. It was originally listed at $9,950. Last week, it went down to $8,950. With some skillful negotiating, I think you can get it down to $7,500, which is a steal.

rchen drove it today and has these thoughts to share.

+ Feels insanely rock-solid, no rattles like E34 M5
+ Feels like a powerful highway cruiser for all-day drives
+ Very very clean interior. No dash cracks, perfect seats
+ Rear suspension feels fine, but I can't tell

- Cosmetic issues: Fading roof paint, dangling headliner
- In-op drivers window
- Pokey on Berkeley city streets, like E34 M5

The first half of this video features the 500E. Shatner owned one, and so should you!

Global Slavery Index summary

The report just came out. It's 136 pages. This is what you should know.
  • 29.8 million people in slavery globally.
  • 162 countries ranked.
  • Slavery includes debt bondage, forced marriage, sale/exploitation of children, human trafficking, and forced labor.
Highest prevalence (weighted measure)
1. Mauritania (98)
2. Haiti (52)
3. Pakistan (32)
4. India (30)
5. Nepal (27)
6. Moldova (26)
7. Benin (24)
8. Cote D'Ivoire (23)
9. The Gambia (23)

Lowest prevalence (weighted measure)
150. Austria, Belgium, Greece, Denmark, Finland, Luxembourg, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland (1)
159. New Zealand (1)
160 UK, Ireland, Iceland (1)

Highest, in absolute terms (in millions)
1. India (14)
2. China (3)
3. Pakistan (2)
4. Nigeria (0.7)
5. Ethiopia (0.7)
6. Russia (0.5)
7. Thailand (0.5)
8. DR Congo (0.5)
9. Myanmar (0.4)
10. Bangladesh (0.3)

And if you're not depressed enough, watch this movie.

NWA nominated for Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

I had no idea that rap and R&B count as rock and roll. I also had no idea that Public Enemy was inducted this year.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Ringo Starr's Facel Vega to be auctioned

American V8 bargain, sorta

I have always liked the looks of the Mercedes CLS. But with a 2007 MSRP of $80,000 for a nicely equipped CLS550, it was way out of my price range. But just look at how cheap it is now. 0 to 60 in 4.7 seconds for less than $25,000. Only in America.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Interactive road trip from St. Petersburg to Moscow

Via the New York Times.

Edvin: I had no idea how close Helsinki is to St. Pete and Estonia!

Chevrolet Forester (India)

Monday, October 14, 2013

Argentine president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner leaves hospital in Audi

A brain clot was removed. Her vice president is supposedly a joke. But with a bunch of yes-men surrounding her, there is no one competent who can replace her. Kind of like what happened with Hugo.

RosAtomFlot: The Russian nuclear powered fleet

I got the latest issue of GeoEx's travel catalog this weekend, and it has a trip to the North Pole in the new-ish Russian nuclear-powered icebreaker, 50-Year Victory. It is the largest in the world. The 14-day trip starts in Murmansk, where the RosAtomFlot fleet is based. The trip starts at $24,995. What a bargain!

And what is RosAtomFlot? It's a state enterprise with a fleet of:

  • four icebreakers, each powered by two 75,000 horsepower nuclear reactors; 
  • two icebreakers, each powered by a single 50,000 hp reactor;
  • a nuclear powered cargo ship with a 40,000 hp reactor;
  • two service ships;
  • a tanker for liquid radioactive waste; and
  • a vessel for personnel cleanup and dose measurements.

Volvo V50 update

I showed the Mrs. a V50 yesterday at a used car lot and she likes it. I have given up on a turbo and a manual transmission. It is just too difficult to find. I think I am gonna just get an auto and the normally aspirated five-cylinder. The plan is for me to use it for a year or two, pass it to my wife (and get rid of her trusty Civic), and I'll get something else (probably a sports sedan).

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Meanwhile, in Azerbaijan...

...election results were published a day before the election. Officials assert that it was just a test and that the results were from the previous election.

And here's another story about Azerbaijan this week, about its amazing, new architecture.

I get to ride in a DeLorean next week!

I'm meeting with B next Sunday to check out his recent purchase. Can't wait.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Friday, October 11, 2013

Carspotting: Mystery pickup truck

I spotted this yesterday. Raphael Orlove thinks it's a Datsun. Agree?

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Australia to England in a Fiat Multipla

Link here, via Stipistop.

Mission to Seafarers

I just finished Ninety Percent of Everything, a book about container ships. It was an okay read. The subject matter was very interesting, but the writing itself was lacking. The author described an 80,000 horsepower boat engine as the equivalent of 1,000 family sedans or 80 F1 cars. Sentences like that leave me thinking, where else are her statistics off?

Nevertheless, the book has me thinking again about how much these ships pollute, Somali pirates, and taking a freighter ship to Japan, Singapore, or Vladivostok.

I also learned about Mission to Seafarers. It's an organization with centers in over 200 port cities. The crews are usually poor, uneducated Filipinos or Indians. When they dock and get on shore, they are often taken advantage of by hucksters and cab drivers. So at every major port, these missions are set up where crew members can get SIM cards and batteries at discount prices, a free ride to town to run errands, wifi and computers to communicate home, etc. It's a really worthwhile program. And the preaching is kept to a minimum. Studies show that less than 10% of the mission visitors step into the chapel portion of the mission. There is one in the Port of Oakland. I might swing by and take a look.

Monday, October 07, 2013

CNN flunks geography, again

Pantera GTS

Comedian, and car nut, Adam Carolla is polarizing. People either love him or hate him. I started listening to his CarCast again. He discussed the Pantera GTS, which may go up in value soon, as they are still relatively affordable and SEMA is expected to show off two modified GTSs at its upcoming extravaganza in Vegas.

Saturday, October 05, 2013

Carspotting: Mexican Audi A1

Being a full day's drive from the Mexican border, I rarely see Mexican cars here. But this week, while attending a seminar, I saw this Audi A1 with Nuevo Leon (think Monterey) plates in a motel parking lot. I never even knew there was such a thing as an A1, as the A3 is the smallest Audi sold in America.

Here is a review of the regular A1, which competes with the Mini.

And here is a review of the A1 Quattro, which Viva Chile introduced me to. Only 333 of them were ever made.

25,000 mile Chrysler Conquest / Mitsubishi Starion for sale

Hat tip to rchen. This is a real time capsule. My high school friend Paul's dad was an American Airlines pilot (when that used to be a huge deal) and had a small fleet of cool cars. In addition to one of the first Lexus LS400s sold in America, he also had a PURPLE turbocharged Starion. Paul would get the car on weekends and we would cruise around our boring, planned community, listening to tapes of KMFDM, Skinny Puppy, and Meat Puppets (I didn't get a say in the music).

And you know what else was cool about Paul? He had an Amiga computer!

CL listing here.

Adrian Newey and Ayrton Senna

I listened to James Allen's BBC Radio Chequered Flag Formula 1 podcast interview of Adrian Newey. It sounds like his brilliance and hard work has really taken a toll on him and his family. It also sounds like he wants to quit/retire/slow down but his brain and ambition just won't let him. Really tormented. The other thing that really resonated was his lingering doubts about whether or not the car he designed caused Senna's death.

Friday, October 04, 2013

Mystery McLaren tractor-trailer

I have a lot of car thoughts for this weekend. The Chevy Cruze is a very nice car, but it has a few issues. Yesterday, I saw two Phaetons and a Mexican Audi A1.

On the way to the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge yesterday, I saw this McLaren truck in Larkspur. I literally hung up on my wife to snap this picture (I have never hung up on her in the entire 12 years we have known each other). Does anyone know the story behind this?

Update: It belongs to the local McLaren of San Francisco (Palo Alto) dealership.

Sultan of Brunei's Rolls-Royce

Capt_Badass of Crasstalk just got a job in Brunei. And within a week of getting there, he got invited to the Sultan of Brunei's birthday party (and even shook his hand). This Rolls was parked outside. I asked him to send us pictures of whatever else he sees (car-wise) during his stint there. This should be fun. More pictures of the Rolls here.