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.

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.

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.



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.

What Dreams are Made Of: Pink, Teal, and Progressive Rims

If ’90s chic is your thing, this may be the perfect ’32 three-window deuce for you. If the white paint with teal, pink, and purple accents don’t grab your attention, the vintage Progressive aluminum rims will! Frankly this appears to be a really nice car, loaded with power accessories and a kickin’ stereo so you can jam out to Ace of Base. Better yet, its daily-driven, or so the seller claims. So if you’re still getting over Boyd’s Cadzilla, then you love this paragon of post-Cold War elegance.