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Migrating to a Utility Vehicle

1990 Jeep Grand Cherokee LimitedAt a time when it seems almost everyone has or prefers a utility vehicle. At one time we also migrated from a car to a utility vehicle for a few years.

How did we at Strada migrate to a 4x4 utility vehicle, with a transfer case and a low range?

After years of having 2 cars, of which one was the "mommy" car which usually operated within a 10 km radius of the house doing a myriad of family errands. We move, its a relatively new area, the road in front of the house has a slight incline. winter every time it snowed once backed out of the driveway it was usually easier to go down the incline, than to wrestle with snow trying to go up the incline. At that time traction control did not exist yet, the cars would always find an imaginative way to try and make it up the incline. Imaginative...absolutely in never wanting to do it in a straight line.

This was also a time when "luxury cars" were still a magnet for envy, and mischievous behavior.

At one point in late summer an opportunity appears on a slightly used 1990 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited. Back then it seemed that everyone had a Jeep. We jumped on the opportunity and replaced the car with the Jeep (utility vehicle) which became the official "mommy" car.

It was a leap of faith going from a car to a 4x4, although this Jeep has a full complement of features similar to a luxury car. Back then it also attracted less attention which was a good thing.

Why was it a leap of faith? You go from an independent suspension all around, disc brakes, wonderful handling, to solid axles front and back, front discs and rear drums, vague steering.

But when it snowed, the Jeep was extremely useful going up the slight incline, not getting stuck anywhere.

Yes...that Jeep sort of became a member of the family for a few years.

One last thing:

The rear tailgate and cargo area was useful on many occasions through the years.





Racing...What Happened?

If you have been to races with Mark Donhue driving a Javelin, George Follmer in a Mustang, Bruce McLaren in a McLaren, Jim Hall in a Chaparral, Don Garlits in a Swamp Rat. Lets not forget Gilles Villeneuve in a Ferrari, or Dale Earnhardt in #3.

You saw these guys live, not on TV...lets just say that you have been around racing for a few years or is it decades.

There was something about "being there" the sights, sounds, the experience was unique and memorable.

The folks racing had a "brand-image-persona" about them that was captivating. There were always the folks that had less resources, with many wondering what they could/would do with more resources. need cubic money to race, and especially to win.

At some point, racing became the "business of racing". Today it is absolutely the business of racing.

What happened along the way?

Its a huge business with a myriad of stakeholders all trying to make money from racing, through a variety of agendas.

Agreed...there are some racing series that have some ties to the good ole days of racing. While some tracks hark back to the earlier days too.

In general money, corporate PR, TV coverage, the quest for eyeballs, technology, and more money has overcome and surpassed the human side of racing.

Will racing have a compelling human side in 2016? What do you think?





2015 Drakan Spyder

Get a walk around and a ride with Jay Leno.



Vroom Room

Good Morning,

Eagle over a lake in CanadaIts Friday, its the Vroom Room, make yourself comfortable we have cappuccino and biscotti, join the conversation.

Yes...2 weeks to Christmas, we hope that you started your shopping and are progressing along. Its that time of year when we all get a little busier for a bunch of reason.

This week we connected a few dots with an old school perspective. Back to the days of mechanical cars. Agreed...mechanical cars have a nostalgic feel about them. Lets not even mention the folks that clearly remember these cars. Are they nostalgic, mature, or just plain old? No difference in somw ways its good that these guys are still around.

“The bad news is when crude drops, so does the value of the currency and we lose part of our purchasing power,” said consumer advocate and former MP Dan McTeague.

Remember when the price of oil came down, and all the pedestrian comments that billions of dollars from cheaper gas would make their way in the CDN economy. At the time we mentioned that with a lower CDN dollar the savings at the pump would immdiately go for food/groceries.

You have to wonder for how long the deals on vehicles will last? The deals will endure, the quality of the deals might be a different story. You have to wonder if folks are buying/leasing a vehicle that has emotional appeal, or offers the best deal?

Our old race cars...Shelby Daytona Coupe at the Goodwood Revival, superb photo gallery.





High-Strung Cars

Back in the day you heard the term "High-Strung Cars" referring to specific models, with particular options, usually it started with the engine. high strung cars are rarely if ever mentioned.

An example: A big block Corvette was sedate, compared to an L88 big block. A Chevelle with a 396 325 HP although today touted as a muscle car was again sedate, the same Chevelle with a 396 375 HP was high-strung.

What made a high-strung car?

It always started with the engine. Back in the day of mechanical cars, to generate a ton of power engines had an aggressive mechanical lifter camshaft, heads that flowed more air, and carbureted for top end performance.

A close ratio transmission manual transmission. Why a manual? Simple high strung engines of the time had a tough time with lower stall speed torque converters. In addition to having limited vacuum at lower revolutions.

Usually the rear axle ratio was "tall" in the 3.55 and up range, you would run a 3.55 - 3.73 - 3.90 - 4.11 or for all out drag racing a 4.56 ratio.

With no OD gears the engines were spinning at around 3,000 RPM at 100 kph.

Back in the day, a hard core gear head totally wanted a high-strung car, the common muscle car dude had an hydraulic lifter camshaft, the hard core dude had a solid lifter camshaft and everything else that went along with the high-strung car.

By today's standards a high-strung car on surface streets was modestly streetable, caught in traffic it was nightmarish, the temperature would start creeping, the spark plugs would start fouling, and with the monster top end carburetors gas would make it way in the oil.

Needless to mention these cars were hard core, temperamental, and maintenance intensive. It was not for everybody.

But...when you throttled up, red lined the engine in the lower gears, it was memorable. The additional 1,500 RPM that an high-strung engine would spin was joyful. Quickly made up for all the work, maintenance that was required.




Shifters...Which One?

The other day our "wet coast" friend @lars2885 posted a fascinating video of a Ferrari GTO with a gated shifter of the time. Obvious the sound of a carbureted V12 remains "musica".

@lars2885 asks a simple question, which would you prefer, a Ferrari gated shifter, or a Hurst shifter to stay within the time frames of the mid to late 1960's. We answered both.

The deal on shifters...

Way back in the day most cars in North America had a column shifter with an H pattern, 1st gear down. While most European cars had a floor mounted shifter with all sorts of shift patterns. We could also get into a discussion of bench seats, column shifters, bucket seats, floor shifters. Lets stick to shifters.

There were transmissions with unsynchronized 1st gear, other transmission with "spur cut" gears.

Lets quickly fast forward a bit to the advent of floor shifters and 4 speed transmissions, which brings us in the thick of the muscle car era. Since these cars could not corner, or stop, they did one thing very well accelerate fast in a straight line.

To accelerate fast and turn quicker quarter mile times, you still have to "slam" shifts on the 4 speed, and not miss any. Missing a shift entailed a blown engine, or a clutch explosion.

At the time leave it to George Hurst to come with a shifter so stout that not only could you slam shifts, the linkages were substantial enough, with literally stoppers in the mechanism to allow you to apply a good amount of force when shifting gears. Especially the 2-3 shift.

The Europeans had floor shifts similar to a columns shift, a little to vague to quickly upshift, or downshift. From back in the day when a high performance dual overhead cam 4 cylinder with a couple of Webers had to stay above 3,000 RPM to perform. On a spirited drive you would stay between 3,000 and 6,000 RPM to have that 4 cylinder generate some power.

Back then Ferrari had a gated shifter, with an interesting reverse lock out, and a 5 speed transmission. To generate the "musica" you have to spin the V12 ideally with 6 Webers up and down the rev range of 3,000 to 6,000 and beyond 6,000 when you got really aggressive.

Back then most transmissions did not have overdrive gears, the rationale was that 1st gear was to get the car moving, and 2-3-4-5 were on the H pattern to make it easier to upshift or downshift. The gated shifter ensured that you did not miss downshifts.

Back in the day you wanted a car with a Hurst shifter, and a Ferrari with a gated shifter.

Agreed...the Hurst shifter was dramatically more attainable. The Colonel has on from a few decades



Be Your Own Editor - Always!

Its much easier to simply watch events, and opinions flow by during the course of any day.

While Strada we are not in the news business, or the eyeball business. We are fortunate, its our own publication, we are a niche or boutique publication, not destined for mass consumption.

We always mention that you have to be your own editor, and quickly decide if its worth your time to read, listen or watch "something". You need to be your own judge as to the content you absorb on an ongoing basis.

Here is the rant...

Lately there is "stuff" published by respectable publications that reinforces the eyeball business, and the idea of publishing stuff for the sake of publishing. Agreed...there needs to be a diversity of content to appeal to a wide spectrum of individuals, especially if its a mainstream publication. But the quality of the stuff...

You also have to wonder about the folks that generate the content. What are they thinking when they generate the "stuff" that gets published.

Let's hope that in 2016 the editors of the mainstream publications, get more stringent with themselves and raise the quality, intellectual appeal of the automotive "stuff" they publish.

Another rant...

The auto business is global, is fascinating, is complex, is hyper competitive...we could keep on going. You surely grasp what we mean. Peter DeLorenzo through the years has done an impressive job of describing the auto business at Autoextremist.

Here is the deal...a manufacturer builds a product, and they are all pretty darn good, the PR department makes products available to various segments of the "media" to raise the level of awareness. Agreed the halo models tend to garner more attention, as if everyone drives around with a "xyz 600 HP hot rod".

The same media that raises the level of awareness of the product, often for whatever reason takes a dim view of dealers, as if dealers are from another planet. The product is sold and serviced through dealers, the customer that actually puts out money for the product does it through a dealer.

When you stop and think about it, the folks that move the iron (dealers) are completely detached from the folks that talk/write about the iron and vice versa.

While everyone talks about social media...




Lamborghini LM002

With the increasing popularity of "utility" vehicles. We quickly forget that in its time the LM002 was totally over the top. An informative history of the LM002 with Jay Leno.

If you had an opportunity to ride in an LM002 back in the was a unique experience.





Vroom Room

Good Morning,

Its Friday, its the Vroom Room, come in make yourself comfortable, enjoy the cappuccino and biscotti, join the conversation. 3 weeks its Christmas.

You have to wonder where the time went.

We surely all survived the Black Friday, and Cyber Monday deals, as well as the incessant commenting by store employees that they were too busy (probably for their pay scale). Some deals get so convoluted that the staff at the check out required an explanation on how the "deal" works.

The online deals that started on Black Friday, the weakening of the CDN dollar makes the value proposition questionable. As well some of the products that are offered are of suspect quality, and value.

If you follow drag racing, and why not. You surely not only heard, but saw Austin Coil in action with John Force on numerous occasions for countless years. An informative story from Hot Rod on Austin Coil.

A few generations ago when Europeans came to Canada escaping the devastations of WWII. Lets just say that the Canadian welcoming party was not large. Talk about a shock to the human condition these folks either fought in or endured WWII, devastation, rebuilding, and relocating to start a new life in a new country.

If you have the feeling that the Los Angeles Auto Show was below the radar screen of most folks. We agree with you.

Global warming, climate change, saving the planet, we have been covering green vehicles for a few years. Take a look at Think Verde.

Canadian Sales:

What can you say another record month, in a record year. Its increasingly fascinating to see the various comments from pundits, analysts, experts. Canadians have adopted a "mobility" model replacing the ownership model. While manufacturers are inexorably backing themselves in a corner. The valuation of the CDN dollar enables the quick disposal of trade in units which helps dealers.

In case you missed it...Lexus is on fire this year.

Our usual old cars from the Alpine Trial Rallye 2015...superb photography.




If you are of a certain age, and can rewind 50 years. You perhaps remember the Corvair, Ralph Nader, vehicle safety.

This was a time when for whatever reason safety did not sell, in the late 1950's Ford to its chagrin discovered that safety was not an added value feature that was embraced by the consumer at the time.

Safety at the time was a padded dash, non protruding knobs, that sort of stuff; while keeping in mind that cars did not have seat belts, or collapsible steering columns. were positively lethal 50 years ago.

In the early 1960's engineers at GM were on a small car creative binge, today it would be innovative, disruptive, back then call it a creative binge. Chevrolet had the rear engine, air cooled, swing axle Corvair. Pontiac had the Tempest with half of a 389 under the hood, transmission in the back, and a flexible driveshaft. Oldsmobile had the F85, with a turbocharged V8, and alcohol injection. Buick had the Skylark with the aluminum nailhead that subsequently powered a myriad of English cars and SUV's.

That level of innovation and disruption over 50 years ago unleashed a myriad of shockwaves all over the industry, and garnered attention from onlookers (pundits).

Here is the Corvair with a swing axle reaar suspension, similar to a VW Beetle of the time. Here is GM the biggest corporation on the planet at the time with very deep pockets.

A swing axle rear suspension is a great cost saving exercise, but not a great suspension set up, in certain situations a swing axle rear suspension will cause a car to get out of control and flip (roll over).

An obscure Ralph Nader points a finger at the Corvair that its not safe, it has swing axles, can roll over, and already caused several deaths. Imagine rolling over in any car 50 years ago, no seat belts, hard surfaces, knobs, window cranks on doors.

GM the biggest corporation on the planet, is totally slighted that an obscure individual would point a finger at one of its product. GM has Ralph Nader followed by private investigators to uncover any personal flaw. Once Ralph Nader discovers that he is being followed by GM investigators, even 50 years ago this affair takes on a life of its own.

Obvious there was an exchange of money from GM to Ralph Nader who by now was almost famous.

The upside...vehicle safety became an issue that garnered increased awareness from the public at large, and manufacturers.

A few years later there was the muscle car movement, with massive horsepower, no suspensions, no brakes, poor tires on all these muscle cars.

Today there are millions of air bags that can perhaps potentially grenade in a vehicle, and other vehicles that emit/pollute more than they should.

 Swing axles from 50 years ago, pale in comparison.