Mark Fords “MF/MF” Model A at Austin Speed Shop

Austin Speed Shop is doing its fair part to bring some automotive shenanigans to a city with a history of ambivalence toward hot rodding. It doesn’t hurt that Jesse James of West Coast Choppers fame is now involved. Among the sweet rods that roll out of the their South Lamar shop is this ridiculous Model A.

Mark Fords “MF/MF” Model A at Austin Speed Shop.

via Mark Fords “MF/MF” Model A at Austin Speed Shop.

In the automotive world, nothing can touch a van when it comes to proclivity to weirdness (except perhaps a Pontiac Aztec). Weird vans oft become creepy vans, and the phenomenon is sufficiently widespread that is has evolved into a sub-species of vans known as Creepy Vans. To our knowledge, no set criteria have been established to define what is a Creepy Van. Instead observers have mostly stuck with something akin to Justice Stewart’s infamous “I know it when I see it” approach. Nonetheless, various attempts have been made to catalogue the species. I have found none superior to Having adopted the quality over quantity approach, the author from time to time posts pictures of the the most utterly creepy vans imaginable along with some charming commentary. I recommend checking it out periodically. We actually saw the pictured van this morning in Austin and it reminded us to check our archives for more creepy van pics. Indeed we have discovered a few, which we intend to include in an upcoming LOL Cars uber-gallery.

New Racing Series For The Common Man

OK, I don’t know how many of you read my blog about the new trend emerging in the auto industry, The ExoCars.  Well in the ExoCar community (located at there is much talk about developing an ExoCar specific race series.  This type of series would focus on affordability.  The chassis would all be of similar design and the engine displacement and induction would be class specific, as would tires and aerodynamic aides.  Let’s break it down into a list so we can check it out shall we…

– Exo-1: Entry level, 2 seater cars, normally aspirated 4 cylinder automotive engines to keep it simple and cheap.  Single seater cars would be limited to 600cc motorcycle engines.

– Exo-2: Intermediate level, single seater cars mainly,  1,000cc motorcycle engines.  2 seater cars would be allowed turbocharged/supercharged 4 cylinder engines, etc.

– Exo-X: Very few limits for those that want to fly on the road and care more for raw performance than wheel to wheel competition.  Powertrain options are unlimited.

Now, the entry level costs to compete would be in the low $20,000 area.  For a complete track day car, that’s CHEAP!  The video posted above is of Race Car Replica’s Superlite Nemesis using a Hyabusa 1,300cc motorcycle engine with a paddle shift setup.  This car is available as a rolling chassis minus drivetrain for $19,000 (that’s US Dollars for our foreign readers).  Now, this thing weighs in at about 1,000 lbs (minus your fat ass).  Talk about fun!  The Superlite Roadster, which is a 2 seater version, is offered as a rolling chassis minus tires and drivetrain.  (Yeah, yeah, you gotta send in tires.)  That car is offered at $16,000 (again, USD) as a roller and weighs in at 1,300 lbs with a supercharged GM Ecotec 4 cylinder engine.  But, you can put any FWD drivetrain you want in there.

Now, this sounds like a fantastic idea to me.  You get the excitement and exhilaration of extreme speed, but you’re only spending pennies compared to other series.  A Spec Miata engine costs more than the Superlite Roadster as a roller.  Think about that…  A whole car, or an engine…  I’d rather have the whole car and enjoy the fun.  Plus, with spending so little, the other half has nothing to complain about!  Ah ha!!

If you’d like links to some ExoCar manufacturers, please check out , you should be able to gather any and all the information you need.


CAFE Kills?

crash_test_landwind_25810The dark side of the fuel mileage argument in terms of imposing new restrictions on automakers is the fact that the struggle to meet ever-more stringent CAFE standards results in Americans driving around in smaller cars. Smaller cars are more dangerous, hence the popularity of SUVs with parents who preferred to trust the safety of their families to the hated (by pious Prius drivers) H2s and Tahoes that saw those Prii as so many speed bumps. Still, though it has largely been kept quiet, studies show that the impact of smaller cars being foisted upon American drivers over the years has resulted in perhaps over 1,000 deaths per year. Not a pretty stat, and even less pretty should word get out that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (The Government) is responsible. Oops. Worse, there is doubt that CAFE standards have even been successful in their stated aims to increase fuel economy. You doubt? Check out this excellent study done by Sam Kazman of the Competitive Enterprise Institute. The study is worth scanning, or reading in full if you have nerdy tendencies.

What will happen to America’s Auto Industry?

bailout_25_billion_gm_chrysler_ford The world has gone to hell in a hand-basket and frankly, the only thing that concerns me is guns and cars.  I’m just a simple 30 year old man from Texas, that’s really all we think about.  I’m married so I don’t need to think about girls, so firearms and fire-breathing engines are about the length of my thought train as of late.

I’m not going to bore you with the politics of firearms, we’ll leave that to a discussion on my personal blog (and we’ll do that later). Here I’d like to discuss what the hell is going to become of our dying auto industry. Now, for the record, I’m kind of biased towards the Blue Oval family of vehicles, however that doesn’t mean I don’t give credit where it’s due. GM (formerly General Motors-now known as Government Motors) does make one of the best V8 engines around. The LS series of engines is exceptional and I will never say anything to the contrary. Dodge makes some pretty nice looking cars and hasn’t been scared to put a concept into production, even for a few years to see how it would do. Ford…  Well Ford is just good ol’ Ford.

So, what in the world is going to come of our domestic auto industry?  I understand Fiat is purchasing controlling interest in Chrysler. AWESOME! Yeah, I said it… FRIGGIN’ OUTSTANDING! Fiat has revitalized marques which would otherwise be bankrupt and gone from our memories long ago, namely a small Italian car maker who’s creator was a little too interested in racing than building production vehicles.  You may remember ol’ Enzo Ferrari?  Fiat has owned Ferrari for years and keeps it alive by allowing it the luxury of tooling, processes, and money generated and perfected from their production line of general automobiles.  Fiat will breathe new life into Chrysler and I can’t wait to see it because, honestly, Chrysler’s quality sucks. I know I’m going to get ripped by the faithful of the blue star, but you have to admit when your dash begins to fall apart at 60,000 miles, there are some issues.

GM…Oh General Motors, what will become of you? I love the new ZR1. I love the new Camaro. I LOOOOVE the new Cadillac CTS-V. Where are you going and how long will you be gone? Roger Penske recently opted to purchase the Saturn line of automobiles. This is intriguing. Will he actually breathe some life into the Saturn line and make it cool? I mean, I went to the Austin Auto Show and saw the Saturn Sky before it was available and just about crapped myself in disbelief. “SATURN BUILT THIS!?” is all I kept repeating to the Saturn rep standing there.  Then they came out with the Redline version with the turbocharged Ecotec. WOW! Why is there no friggin’ aftermarket support for this vehicle-or the Solstice? These are cool little cars. I hope Penske picks up the Saturn AND Pontiac lines of vehicles. You’ve got enough money, go ahead and buy both, Roger! GM was going to kill the Pontiac family anyway; why not have them throw that in with the Saturn purchase?

Now, I’d love to hear some comments from you dear readers as to what you think of all this.  Are you scared or are you excited for the change? What kind of vehicles are you looking forward to and what vehicles are you scared will take over the marketplace? Personally, I am scared the world will be over-run with SmartForTwos and SUV’s. To be stuck with these extremes would truly suck. I do hope we see more affordable sports cars and I hope we get to see some interesting things with alternative fuels as well. Did you know LNG/Propane is 130 octane? Ethanol is 110 octane and Hydrogen, oh Hydrogen…that’s some good stuff right there.

Anyway, I hope this blog generates some discussion and some thought on the subject.




Lamborghini Murcielago LP670-4 SuperVeloce is Mouthful, Goes Really Fast

Murcielago SV

Murcielago SV

Driver’s Republic provides a stunning documentary of the orange earth-bound stealth fighter. If you don’t feel emotion when looking at this you are either not human or you are a hater!

New Trend In Automotive Design?

There is a new trend emerging on the automotive scene-the minimalistic trend of ExoCars.  If you’re not familiar with these types of automobiles, start with a little research on the Ariel Atom.  This is the car that started it all, I don’t care what anyone says, the Atom was Adam in this Automotive book of Genesis. 

ExoCars are characterized by their lack of body panels, open cockpit design, and open wheel concept.  While some do have body panels, most just have the wonderful tube frame out in the open for everyone to see.  These vehicles also follow a doctrine very near and dear to my own heart, this is the “Less Weight = Go Faster” school of thought.  You get rid of everything that isn’t necessary for the vehicle to perform it’s main tasks of rocketing forward, taking corners with cat-like agility, and stopping so fast it sucks the tears right out of your eyes, and then you pretty much have yourself an ExoCar. 

Let me break it down for you further…
Body Panels – Gone
Windows – Gone
Doors – Gone
Power Steering – Gone
AC – Gone
Big Stereo System – Gone

What you have left is basically a frame, 2 seats, a rockin’ suspension, light weight aluminum wheels with motorcycle style fenders to keep road debris from beating you senseless, and any type of front wheel drive engine you desire to put in the back of this beast.  Now remember, this car will weigh NO MORE than 1,400 lbs without driver.  That’s right, this is a big go-kart!  With a vehicle which weighs so little, not a lot of power is needed to propel it to astronomical performance figures.  0-60 times of under 3 seconds are common, even EXPECTED from these vehicles. 

If you install a 350 hp engine in the heaviest of ExoCars you still have a power to weight ratio of  1:4.  That means every hp only has to move 4 lbs.  That’s INSANE!  For comparison, the Enzo Ferrari weighs 3,009 lbs and unleashes 660 hp.  That equals 1:4.56 power to weight.  That’s extremely close, but lets compare prices.

These vehicles are available from many different manufacturers, as stated before, but they do all share a pretty common thread… Affordability.  These cars range in price from $12,000 – $80,000 depending on your wants and needs and options.  Most do hover around the $20,000 mark though.  Most are powered by very affordable and very common bone-yard engines such as the 2.0L Honda’s, the GM Ecotec’s, and the Dodge 2.4 Turbo from the SRT-4 family of vehicles.  These engines are all inexpensive, reliable, affordable, common, and best of all LIGHT WEIGHT!!

For more information and details concerning these cars, you can visit the dedicated ExoCars forum for the latest from manufacturers, build threads, info from owners and manufacturers, as well as cool pictures and videos.



Motorsports Ranch Track Day is Plethora of Automotive Eye Candy

DB was regrettably unable to make it, but our friend Mr. Hamilton was there and in the midst of it all found time for some photojournalism. Gallery

Ken Block Infomercial/Gymkhana 2 is Most Awesome Hoonage Video Ever

If you haven’t seen this yet, watch now. It is the current pinnacle of awesomeness in the realms of drifting, hoonage, videography, brand promotion, and the skater scene. Ken Block defies the laws of physics in his Subaru while Rob Dyrdek gets slapped in the gut with a flourescent light bulb and Jason Ellis makes a cameo appearance. Just watch.

Pate Swap Meet 2008

Bus-tedThe annual Pate Swap Meet in Texas has a storied 30 some-odd year history of facilitating gratuitous bartering of rusty cars and parts. Yours truly made his first pilgrimage this past weekend and was slack-jawed at the spectacle. The proper response? Take lots of pictures. Please pardon the fixation on ’32 roadsters; there has been heightened interest around the office lately in the quintessential hot rod.