most women would rather cry in a jaguar than on a bus
V12 E-Type Jaguar
Jaguar XJ S V-12 Convertible
Series One Land Rover
Caterham 7 de Dion
Caterham 7 with a girl riding shotgun
my other Ford Mustang
a miniature Aston Martin
I’ve owned, rented, or just driven examples of all of the above.
Sometimes I feel like I’m living on the edge of a fault-line.
If you live in an earthquake zone, somewhere on the ring of fire, then sooner or later where you live is going to experience a big one. One thing that you should bear in mind if you suffer a serious earthquake ~ there will be dangerous aftershocks. And nobody can predict when or where an earthquake will strike.
To have the best chance of surviving an earthquake, you should;
- Have a plan, write it down, keep it safe.
- Be somewhere else at the time.
- Always keep a half-tank of gas in your car ~ you may need to get out of town in a hurry.
- Keep an earthquake survival kit in the trunk of your car.
- Have some basic tools in the trunk of your car, including a hatchet, fire extinguisher, and high powered flashlight. These should be in the trunk of your car anyway, along with a space blanket and first-aid kit.
- Keep your hiking boots and 2 pairs of clean socks in the trunk of your car.
- Have plenty of bottled water at home, and always keep some in your car.
- Stay away from buildings, when it’s safe to get outside, find an open space to be even safer from the aftershocks.
- Stay away from windows, street lights, utility cables, and overpasses.
- If you are indoors, do not use an elevator. Stand in a doorway, the door-frame might just protect you. At worst get under a table. Do not try to leave the building until the quake stops.
- If you are indoors, stay away from anything tall, such as cupboards, wardrobes, and filing cabinets. Get away from anything hanging from the ceiling or walls.
The snag is, if you follow this advice the trunk of your car is always going to be full of survival equipment, making it untidy and not much use for collecting groceries from the supermarket. Also, real survival would mean you buying a 4X4 off road vehicle, like a Land Rover or Jeep instead / as well as whatever car you drive now. And you would keep a tent and other camping things in your 4X4.
And not much of the above matters one jot if your car is in a garage, which collapses on it during a big earthquake.
Anyway, survival is a state of mind. Staying alive during and after a disaster is more about psychology and physiology than it is about having a ton of survival gear. Perhaps the best thing to do is go in an appropriate course at a survival school instead of a beach vacation next year.
Land Rover, the best 4X4 by far
A new report says that more and more women are buying classic cars, both as an investment, and as fun and sexy drive. So, is it a good idea for women to buy classic cars? Generally speaking no, or maybe yes.
Classic cars are a much, much, more satisfying buy than any ‘ordinary’ used car, and a financially much better buy than all but a miniscule proportion of new cars. Buy a new car, and as soon as you’ve driven it off the lot you’ve lost a huge proportion of its value, (the exact loss depending on how well you’ve chosen in the first place). In contrast, most classics will at least hold their value in real terms, and may well appreciate in real value over the years, (again depending upon how well you’ve chosen).
There are a couple of problems owning a classic car, and especially for women owning a classic car;
- As an investment a classic car really only offers capital appreciation. It’s not impossible, just very, very difficult to generate an ongoing income from your classic car. However, in most tax regimes there is no tax liability on the gain in capital value of your classic.
- Classic cars are difficult beasts to drive on an everyday basis. A classic car will need regular specialised maintenance, and a more sympathetic driving style than your regular automobile. In my experience, most women are not good at either of those. Some will not even be able to start a classic car.
For example; your classic will likely burn oil, have suspension and drive-train joints that need greasing, carburettors that need tuning and balancing, and an electrical system designed by Heath Robinson on a bad day. It will most likely have manual gearbox, (stick-shift), use more petrol, (gasoline), than a more modern car, it won’t stop as well, and it will most likely leak when it rains.
On the upside; it will be better looking than a ‘modern’ box, have loads more character, be much sexier, (any attractive woman looks even better getting out of a classic car), it will be cheaper to insure, and if it does go wrong a good mechanic will be able to repair anything and everything on it. For example, take the little Austin-Healey Sprite. I can, (and have), rebuilt one of these things from the ground upwards. They’re cute, fun, nice looking, great when the sun is shining, and when properly looked after will keep up with modern traffic and run forever.
At the other end of the scale is the utterly beautiful Jaguar XJ saloon. This gorgeous car re-defined luxury transcontinental motoring. Lovely to look at, comfortable, blisteringly fast, and as reliable as the sunrise if properly looked after. But the XJ is complicated ~ take one of these beasts into your usual garage and they probably wouldn’t have a clue, (if it’s a V12 they definitely won’t have a clue).
Or for something completely different, the ‘proper’ Land Rover is now achieving status as a classic car. If you live out in the country, or need to tow anything, or you live in an area where it snows a lot, or you just want to intimidate other car drivers, then a ‘proper’ Land Rover may be the classic car for you. Once again, these things are very strong and very reliable, if they are properly maintained.
In some ways a classic car is a very good investment, it’s almost certainly a much better home for your savings than any savings account / product offered by any bank. You benefit in other ways too, a classic is a great car to drive every day. But, no real classic car is a plain vanilla, drive it and forget it, eco-box. Classic cars need tender loving care to survive and thrive. This is where a smart woman will find a can-do guy.
Any interesting car can become an appreciating classic, especially if it’s a sports car. My tips for upcoming classics; Land-Rover Defender, Early Mazda MX-5, Toyota MR2, Jaguar XJS and XK8, just about any Saab, And the first generation Ford Ka.
If you’re thinking of buying a classic car then, read the magazines and look at the prices, go to car shows, think about who you are going to get to look after the thing, (because it will need on-going care and maintenance at least every weekend). When you think you’ve made your choice of car, then join the appropriate owners’ club, take specialist advice, and never, ever, wear rose-tinted spectacles. (The Triumph GT6 pictured is a really cute and practical car for any woman to own and drive on a daily basis.)
Personally, I think I’d really like an MGB GT V8, with full length Webasto sunroof. Or any MGB GT really.
Rest In Peace, The Best 4×4 By Far
All good things must come to an end. My Lightweight Land Rover was one of the best things I ever had. Proper Land Rovers are fairly ugly, ( the Lightweight pictured is incredibly ugly), boxy, heavy, slow, uncomfortable, thirsty, rugged ~ a ‘proper’ Land Rover is one of the coolest cars a man can buy. And, should you ever want to take off into the middle of a desert, on a dirt road, for a couple of weeks at a time, then there is no better car to choose than a ‘proper’ Land Rover.
The modern ‘proper’ Land Rover is called Defender, but before Land Rover went chichi and upmarket on us, all Land Rovers were rugged off-road vehicles equally suited to driving down Regent Street in London as they were to carrying troops across a battlefield. The iconic Land Rover is said to be The Queen’s favourite car.
The very first Land Rovers were built, by the Rover Company, to replace the ubiquitous Jeep just after the end of WWII. The whole design ethos can be traced back to those 2 simple facts. It had to replace the Jeep and it was going to be British, and Britain was broken and destitute after WWII. The Land Rover had to be a rugged, go-anywhere 4×4 workhorse. Steel was in short supply in the UK so the body is aluminium, it had to use as many existing components as possible, looks and comfort didn’t much matter, and it had to be cheap. The 1948 version cost £450.
The simple solution found by Rover designer Maurice Wilks was to manufacture a strong box section chassis, and just hang everything else off that. Just look at that chassis. Rugged or what? Over-engineered perhaps. At the beginning all Land Rovers came in sage-green because a job-lot of surplus paint was acquired from a fighter aircraft factory.
Basically, once the basic steel frame has been welded together, everything else is bolted on. Or pop-riveted. Or screwed. Or banged in with a hammer. For English boys of a certain age if I say that a Land Rover is just a man-sized Meccano, they will know exactly how it was built. (USA Erector Set) As the blurb for the Erector Set says the ability to build a model, then take it apart and build something else, over and over again. And, do you know what? You can do the same thing with a full-sized Land Rover.
If your Land Rover is falling apart, you can take it completely apart, down to the last nut and bolt, and then build it again, but perhaps differently, and better. Choose cart springs or coil? Part-time or full-time four-wheel drive? Pick any engine you like, and as far as the body is concerned, the choice is too wide to mention. The most extreme Land Rover bodywork is the 101 Forward Control, which makes a fantastic camper / RV. This thing was mostly used as a military ambulance or command car.
This flexibility and rebuild-ability means that the Land Rover is the greenest car ever built, dust to dust. More than 80% of all the ‘proper’ Land Rovers ever built since 1948 are still in use~ they don’t get thrown away, they get recycled. Which should have pleased the environmental nutcases is California, but didn’t. Perhaps they didn’t like its military connections.
Since the first Land Rover was built in 1948 some 200,000 have been bought for military use, and like all Land Rovers have appeared in a bewildering range of variants. As well as the 101 there were tracked, amphibious, fire engines… The most famous variant being the Pink Panthers used by the SAS, (Special Air Service), the UK’s and World’s premier special service force. The pink colour is desert camouflage. You would understand that if you’d ever been into the desert.
However, there are a few problems having a real Land Rover as your only car. For example; they are illegal in the USA, they are slowish and use a lot of fuel, comfort isn’t what they are built for, they are tall and a long way off the ground, the heating system is pathetic…. But, as I said, if you really want to drive off into the desert, this is your vehicle of choice, at least you will stand some chance of returning.
There is an all new Land Rover Defender coming off the stocks. But the new Land Rover Defender isn’t even going to be built at its traditional home, in Solihull, in Britain. A new factory in Slovakia, (Slovakia? Did anything good ever come from that part of the world), will build the chichi new Defender DC100, which looks like a bigger version of BMW’s Mini that’s been frightened by a plastic bath-tub. More suitable for the supermarket car park than the Sahara Desert.
Good Grief! But money talks. Land Rover will be able to sell this toy car in the USA. They are just dumb enough to buy it if it’s cheap.
I have owned a couple of Land Rovers, including a Lightweight, and the kid’s toy look of the new DC100 just doesn’t cut it. It’s a girl’s car, or maybe a hairdresser’s, at least a metrosexual guy who worries about his manicure more than his car.
Don’t worry, get a tool kit and build your own ‘proper’ Land Rover. All you need is a hammer ~ well maybe. It’s the tool of choice in Slovakia.
most photographs from google
It’s not a sports car.
Real sports cars don’t have wooly power steering, air conditioning, four seats and a decent boot, (trunk). However, all 3 versions of the Mustang come with more than 300 bhp, and reasonable independent suspension. The downside is there almost two tonnes to lug around, (3705 lbs), most of which is sitting over the front wheels.
In comparison a Porsche 911 has around 400 bhp and weighs around 3,300 lbs, (still a porker, still with all of the weight behind the rear wheels).
The six speed auto-box is slick, but don’t bother with the ‘sport’ setting.
A Porsche will set one back around $84,000. You can buy a Mustang for $33,000. Men would buy a Mustang. Wankers buy a Porsche. Only real men would buy a 7.
esprit universel, amant, combattant, écrivian
FIRST THERE WAS THE FLAT PACK WARDROBE, THEN THE FLAT PACK KITCHEN, THE FLAT PACK HOUSE AND NOW THE FLAT PACK CAR
If you thought only IKEA did flat pack, take a look at the OSVehicle Project. Italians Francisco Liu and Ampelio Macchi are behind the Tabby Car, which is to be available as a flat pack kit for between £3,300 and £5,000 (Euro 4,000 to 6,000). Seemingly; all electric, hybrid and traditional engined versions can be built in a multiplicity of 2 and 4 seat versions.
Plans are already available on line from http://www.osvehicle.com and plans for a fully street-legal version, the Urban Tabby, are to be available soon.
From the website; ‘Tabby is an open source framework for vehicles’ which takes only 1 hour to assemble, allegedly. I’ve spent hours not assembling an IKEA chest of drawers. Non the less, looking at the specifications and a timelapse video of a Tabby being assembled, I’m pretty confident that a half-way competent mechanic could build the basic vehicle in an afternoon.
Then it would get a bit more complicated. Seemingly an all-electric version can be shipped now. An Integrated Hybrid Engine is due for release in the winter of 2014; (presumably that means Q4 2014). Fitting a small petrol or diesel engine will need a fair amount of work from the builder. Making the thing road legal will need a lot of work.
As far as I know the Tabby will be covered by The Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) regulations 1986, (as amended), in the United Kingdom. Other countries will have their own versions of these rules, to which all road cars must be built. If you build your own Tabby, then in the UK it would be registered as a kit car http://www.direct.gov.uk/vehiclereg A twelve page document is available on line and by post; Guidelines on how you can register kit cars and rebuilt or radically altered vehicles.
Making the thing fit the regulations should be fairly easy if you opt for the Urban Tabby, much more difficult if you fit your own bodywork, lights, engine… However the team say that this will be the first ‘open source’ car it will be legal to drive on roads. Interesting. Having built a few cars I can confidently say that, it’s easy if you know what you’re doing, but a lot more complex and involved than you’d think.
Having built a few kit cars, rebuilt several classic cars, modified a few cars, built a flat pack tractor, repaired a Massey Ferguson, I can confidently say that it’s worth an interested person with some relevant skills downloading the ‘free’ drawing and specifications for the basic Tabby. At least that will give you some idea of the engineering behind the project. I would not attempt to build a chassis from scratch, that will require lots of unpleasant cutting and bending, and that is too much like hard work.
You can also pre-order 2 and 4 seat chassis, (Euro 500), battery packs, (Euro 698), and electric powertrain, (Euro 1,520). One thing is for certain, that will teach you a lot about vehicle engineering. Going from that to something you can use on the road needs a bit more effort.
The hard truth is; Personally, If I wanted to build a 2 seater car from a kit, I’d start looking at something like Westfield http://www.westfield-sportscars.co.uk Caterham http://www.uk.caterhamcars.com JAS Beach Buggies http://www.beachbuggies.co.uk or I’d buy ex ex-military Land Rover and rebuild it. However, if I wanted to set up a small business building say; Golf Buggies, or Electric Delivery Vehicles, or Funky Sports Cars, or something like the old Mini Moke, then I would take a serious look at the Tabby from the OSVehicle Project. The plans are free to download. Remember, to be road-legal the finished car must meet a hell of a lot of regulations, and if it’s a one-off go through a very rigorous inspection. Ideally you want the initial manufacturer to have done a lot of that legal legwork for you. Ideally you don’t want to have to read all of the regulations to ensure the stop lights are in the right places.