What do you say NorCal MINIs? Should we find Adele and make her an honorary member?
Motor Trend's writers have published their 2008 guide to cars that their writers loved. These are not the fastest, plushest, most expensive or best value. Rather, the cars are the ones these professional automotive writers simply loved.
Senior Editor Edward Loh chose the 2009 MINI Clubman S, and characterized his love affair as:
. . . a rush of smashed inhibitions and highly irresponsible behavior that came from driving the right car on the right road.
While we here at NorCal MINIs are MINI Fanatics, we might be persuaded to love the late James Coburn's 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB Spyder, but then again, we don't have $10.9 million to purchase it at auction. We might be just able to afford the Clubman S base at about $24,100.
Amazing story out of Baltimore, Maryland, reported by WJZ-TV. Check out the video, it follows after the advertisement. Better watch your speed when ordering fast food!
State Police have been quite active this holiday season. Even when they are not pulling people over in the drive-thru lane of the local Taco Bell, they are pulling over women Indy drivers, like Danica Patrick, for speeding.
One consequence is it has released the imagination of scientists. For example, most tires are created with petroleum based fillers to increase tensile strength. Gas 2.0 reports that the Agricultural Research Service, the scientific research arm of the USDA, is investigating the use of defatted soy flour as an alternative to the petroleum fillers. (We wonder whether hot pavement will produce miso soup.) Yup, we can reduce petroleum consumption and end world hunger through the use of soy tires. (When they fail do you get soba noodles?)
Because Americans are driving less government is receiving less in gasoline taxes. As the US weens itself from oil these taxes will fall further. Thus, governmental entities are floating ideas on how to replace the lost tax revenue.
The federal government, California and Michigan are discussing raising the amount of the gasoline tax to offset the lost income arising from lower gas sales. Oregon, however, sees this as an incomplete solution since the volume of gasoline sales will continue to drop as auto manufacturers bring alternative fuel vehicles to market. Thus, Oregon has proposed, and is seeking to implement, a "Pay As You Go" plan which will track your vehicle by GPS or other means and send you a tax bill based on the number of miles driven. It appears that tire manufacturers may be ready to help implement a "Pay As You Go" plan. Advanced ID Corporation is promoting RFID tags for car tires to allow individual vehicle mileage tracking.
Big Brother is here folks and he is embedded in your tofu tires!
The minicar electric Tango EV, half the width of an ordinary vehicle, is no slouch in traction or torque. It can be used as a snowplow:
Plans for construction of green electric highways so that electric non-polluting vehicles can go long distances, and to remove our dependence on foreign oil, are proposed by CleanTechnica.com - solar panels along all of our highway right of ways. Another green technology for transportation doesn't involve cars at all - it is dog power.
It will not be easy to break Americans dependence on gas. What is probably the best indicator of this is the most downloaded iPhone software during Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, netting its creator over $40,000.00 in two days - iFart.
Better, yet, how about a trip to Männerspielplatz? We'd just love to play with the big toys.
Yesterday, many of you awoke to Christmas cheer, presents under the tree, and your little elves, adrenaline and sugar filled, impatient to see what Santa brought them.
Apparently Arizona has decided it is the officer's choice, not the detainee's choice, whether to use a breathalyzer, urine sample or blood sample. (We have real concern over possible abuse. Let us see - "Yes, your Honor. He attempted to resist so I put him on the ground and handcuffed him face down. As I handcuffed him I smelled alcohol so I stuck him with a hypodermic needle to draw blood. The first four sticks were unsuccessful."). Would you want a police officer to take blood from you in the field, with no witnesses and without proper medical supervision?
The Posse Comitatis Act, a United States federal law (18 U.S.C. § 1385), generally prohibits federal military personnel and units of the National Guard under federal authority from acting in a law enforcement capacity within the United States, except where expressly authorized by the Constitution or Congress. The Coast Guard is exempt from the Act. (Seems to us the CHP/USMC "partnership" in local roadblocks is illegal and just one step away from a police state.)
Even more unique would be a MaRussia, Russia's first super sportscar:
If you do drive fast and get in a serious accident don't expect a good samaritan to pull you from the burning wreckage. Now, under California law, the good samaritan would be liable if he injured you while trying to save you from your own stupidity. So leave those burning victims alone!
Driving fast, however, is not the only way to get in trouble while driving. You can get in trouble just sitting on your sofa!
This may be your last best chance to own a great American car. Even if Detroit survives, The Truth About Cars reports that China is grabbing as much R&D and engineering talent as it can from the U.S. automakers.
Sometimes you just have to wonder what these guys were on when they named these colors. We also wonder what this guy was on when he decided to do this:
UPI reports that The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has concluded that small car manufacturers have made ". . . big improvements to small cars to better protect people in frontal crashes." The MINI was also given a good rating for protection in rear-end collisions.
Parking Distance Control came standard on the prior generation of MINI convertibles but no longer. According to MotoringFile front Parking Distance Control will no longer be available and rear Parking Distance Control will now be a $500.00 option.
Half human fish found! (Yeah, right).
While you heat up your lunch, try this video for a little bizarre holiday spirit:
How about a MINI gift certificate for new wheels from the new collection of all black OEM wheels MINI will be offering commencing with March production? Here are pictures, courtesy of MotoringFile:
A little less expensive is a new non-OEM gadget that is just the thing for those of us that use hand signals (of all sorts) but do not like to take our hands off the wheel or roll down the window - It is called "The Hand" and we think it would be an awesome addition to any MINI:
Finally, You might also consider the new kinky starter!
". . . acquiescing in order to avoid confusing our customers, particularly in recognition of the fact that the company has already offered owners of the subject vehicles the same redesigned exhaust pipes at no charge that would be provided under a safety recall."
In other words BMW "volunteered" to do this recall "for its customers" since the NHTSA was not satisfied by the Service Bulletin and was ready to order an involuntary recall.
Dealers will replace the tailpipe for free. The recall will begin in January. Owners can contact BMW at (800) 831-1117.
Not all new ideas are "Eco". There are the new 2010 Signature Series Mustangs (you are welcome Jesse) from Ford and Steve Saleen with 4.6L V8 engines and up to 650 horsepower. These are not exactly gas sippers. But the effects of these Mustangs on the environment are nothing compared to the solution Dubai's Palazzo Versace Hotel has come up with for hot sand beaches.
Thank you to all club members who attended the Christmas Lights Run and Party. Special thanks to Pete and Lori for their home and hospitality! It was a wonderful event of twinkling lights, with a winter chill in the air, and warmth and friendship in our hearts. Send us your pictures of your MINI in full holiday regalia and we will post it We had rolling reindeer, candy canes and decorated Christmas trees. Those who could not make it - we missed you and look forward to seeing you all at our events in the new year.
Big changes are coming to the NorCal MINIs' website. WithIn the next few weeks this blog will become the Club's Homepage and Members only discussions, postings, and file sharing will be on the NorCal MINIs' Google Group (See the link in the left sidebar). In order to post, respond, upload and download files, create web pages, e-mail the Club and Club Members through the NorCal MINIs' Google Group, and receive access to exclusive club events and discounts, your dues must be paid. You can use the Paypal button in the left sidebar to easily and quickly pay your dues. If you have paid but have not received or answered an invitation to the Group, go to the NorCal Google Group and request an invitation. We will quickly activate your access.
Near the top of the left sidebar is a link to the NorCal MINIs' Calendar of Events. Here all the events of which we are aware in the Northern California Automotive Community are posted. If you have any additions of any sort, please e-mail them to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will get your events on the schedule.
"Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow!" Weather reports now advise possible showers Saturday morning with a 50% chance of showers late Saturday night. However, there is a good chance of two inches of snow on East Bay Hills above 1,500 feet by Sunday!
NorCal MINIs' Christmas Lights Run and Party should be a winter spectacular. The run starts Saturday, December 13, 2008, at 5:30 p.m. when we meet up at the Starbucks in Danville at Blackhawk Plaza, 4000 Blackhawk Plaza Circle, Danville, CA 94506. Here is the run map.
Make sure your MINI is in full holiday regalia!
The Christmas Lights Run will be followed by the NorCal MINIs party at Peter and Lori's home in Pleasanton. Please bring an appetizer or dessert and a new, unwrapped toy or game for the kids at Oakland Children's Hospital.
Please RSVP Here.
Like you, we here at NorCal MINIs get up early and have our fresh ground coffee. But, what do you do with the used grounds? Put them down the drain? Not great. Put them in the trash? Not much better. Caffeinate the plants? Doping is out. How about turning them into biodiesel! Obviously, a new Starbucks opportunity.
As far as green engines are concerned, we have always been partial to ones that could run on air alone. But you have to make it lightweight. How about out of Lego blocks?
The best green miles, of course, are those you don't drive at all. In fact, with the right auto insurance, such as the newly concocted "pay-as-you-drive" plan, the less you drive the lower your insurance premiums. So if you don't drive at all you pay nothing! Wait ... if we don't drive we don't need insurance. Hmmm. Told you it could drive you nuts.
10. The Agent Provocateur MINI Clubman:
8. The Trippy Alan Aldridge MINI:
3. The One Million Swarovski Crystal MINI Cooper:
Of course, if you do not have a MINI to paint you might start by reproducing a 3-D MINI Cabrio with your webcam as explained in MINI German magazine advertisements. If you already have a MINI and just want to detail, wash and wax it, through December 27, 2008, you can save 15% on supplies ordered from Griot's Garage. Just use Key Code 15DCLB at checkout. There is no minimum order.
Normally, we don't take the bus instead of the MINI to save coin, but, we might be willing to take this one:
. . .have received numerous complaints indicating that consumers’ legs have
been burned while they access the rear cargo area of the subject vehicles via
the rear hatchback shortly after the vehicles have been driven. As reflected by
the complaints, people accessing the cargo area naturally place their legs at
the rear of the vehicle. People are burned as they inadvertently contact either
of the two hot exhaust pipe tips while removing items from, or placing items in,
the rear cargo area. Some of the burn injuries are significant second degree
burns, causing blistered skin or scarring, often in a half-moon shape pattern
matching the approximately 2 3/4-inch diameter of the exhaust tips.
And we thought the MINI tattoo was all the rage as a status symbol. NHTSA has asked for a voluntary recall but MINI has refused. Instead MINI has commenced a "Service Campaign" to repair the problem. In other words, MINI will "repair" under warranty by shortening the exhaust pipe tips if you ask it to do so.
So MINI owners go get it fixed now. We don't think the UPS delivery truck is coming anytime soon.
Yet, there is one auto company that is doing extremely well, although you have probably not heard of them in the U.S. They run an assembly line that makes the Peugeot Roa and Pars, the Samand passenger car and the Bardo pick-up. They are the biggest automobile producer in the Middle East. The Senegalese president has asked the company to import to, and make its vehicles in, Senegal. Last year they opened an assembly line in Egypt. That's right, it is Iran Khodro based in Tehran, Iran.
It's so nice to know that Iran's manufacturing infrastructure is so strong while ours slowly disappears.
NorCal MINIs' Christmas Lights Run and Party
December 13, 2008, at 5:30 p.m.
Followed By The Club Party
BYOB Potluck (bring an appetizer or dessert) at Peter and Lori's in Pleasanton.
Please also bring a new unwrapped toy for the kids at Oakland Childrens Hospital.
RSVP on the Comments to the Blog Post of the Christmas Lights Run
Sat. December 27- Sun. December 28, 2008
Thunderhill Raceway, Willows, CA
Thursday, January 8 -Sun. January 11, 2009
150 West San Carlos St., San Jose, CA
NorCal MINIs' Elephant Seal Run
Saturday, January 24, 2009, 9:00 am
We will then head to Ano Nuevo State Reserve for a stop to view the seals ($7). You must have purchased a ticket from Reserve America 800-444-4445 to go on the tour. There may be limited ticket availability at Ano Nuevo. If you cannot get a ticket, close by are the Pigeon Point Light Station, Bean Hollow State Beach, and Harley Farms Goat Dairy (map)(tours by appointment only. You get to milk a goat). We will stop at Duarte's Tavern in Pescadero for a late lunch.
Sign Up on the Comments to the Blog Post of the Elephant Seal Run.
MINI 2009 Tech Session
Saturday, February 7, 2009, 10:00 a.m.
All cars that are or will be missed should the Detroit 3 disappear.. But these cars, - uh, not so much:
Auto Channel is reporting the "First Ever Collector Car Exchange In The United States with China". On hand will be the "Red Flag" first built in 1958 for Chinese dignataries. On Wednesday, December 10, 2008, the collectors, along with several Chinese dignitaries, and the media will be at the Blackhawk Museum where the historic exchange will take place. After the ceremony, The Red Flag will be on display to the general public at the museum.
Believe us, we have had our share of convertibles and in all of them you can freeze with the top down or easily get ripped off if left unattended due to the easy view into, and access to, the interior of the car. Still, there is nothing like an open top car with a cool breeze at speed and a warm sun, or a warm desert night. However, at some point you realize you want a sturdy car with some performance virtues (we should know, we once owned a '90s Mercury Capri Convertible) and it seems to us that glorification of the shortcomings of convertibles may not be a great way to sell convertibles. But, hey what do we know.
Our December 13, 2008, Christmas Lights Run will start with a meetup at 5:30 p.m. at the Starbucks in Danville at Blackhawk Plaza, 4000 Blackhawk Plaza Circle, Danville, CA 94506. Here's the run map. It will culminate with a BYOB appetizers and desserts party at Peter and Lori's. Make sure you RSVP and we will see you all there!
Each LeMons race is for cars purchased, fixed up, and track-prepped for a total
of 500 dollars or less. But before reaching the grid, you'll have to survive
trials like the Personal-Injury-Lawyer Anti-Slalom, the Marxist-Valet Parking
Challenge, and the Wide Open Throttle Rodthrowapalooza. Twelve hours into the
race, the car voted People’s Choice is called in and awarded a cash prize;
simultaneously, the car voted People’s Curse is called in and summarily
destroyed. At the end of 24 hours, a gala awards ceremony plies the survivors
with trophies, plaques, and four-figure purses in canvas bags full of nickels.
What's not to like?