Thoughts

A look at lubrication inside an engine, in 1937

Nowadays, when we rarely pop open the hoods of our cars on our own, and the only things we usually worry about are putting in the gas and taking them to the dealer or the mechanic for their scheduled maintenance, we can hardly fathom what goes on inside those modern engines.

This wonderful video, made in 1937 by Chevrolet, shows how a typical engine was lubricated and is guaranteed to amaze you. I bet you had no idea that an engine we think of as primitive, given its almost 100 years of age, is so complex.

At the same time, the video will give you a new appreciation for what goes on inside your car’s engine. I bet it’s even more complex now.

Are you inclined to take your car for granted now? It is a marvel of modern engineering, isn’t it?

If you’d like to see more videos like these, subscribe to the US Auto Industry channel on YouTube.

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Thoughts

I love Morgan Cars

Did I ever profess my love for Morgan Cars publicly? It’s time I did. I love them!

For years, I decried the ugly design of modern cars and I wondered where old design went. I looked at cars made in the 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s and wondered when cars were going to get beautiful again. About a year ago, I found out there’s a car company that never abandoned the old design principles and has been making gorgeous cars by hand in their factory in Malvern, in the UK, since 1909.

Skilled craftsmen bend the sheet metal laboriously into its iconic shapes and carpenters carefully assemble the wood frame of the car by hand. (Yes, you read that right, the frame is wooden.)

Not only are the cars made by hand and bespoke, but they’re also affordable. Would you believe prices start at £32,000 for a car made to your desires? That’s awesome.

I just plain love the design. I can’t explain why. It simply appeals to me. It feels like it’s meant to be, it fits in with my soul and it fits in with the environment. It’s so seldom that a machine, an artificial construct, feels natural in the middle of nature, but in the case of a Morgan, it’s a match made in heaven.

I’m planning a trip to their factory. I plan to test drive a few models and see which one Ligia and I like best and then… we’ll see! 🙂

Photos used courtesy of Morgan Motor Company

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Thoughts

A folding, fully electric city car

Hiriko is the name of this new foldable ultra-compact car, which is great for cramped city driving (and parking). It can turn sideways and fold upwards, reducing its wheelbase and allowing it to squeeze into spots where normal cars just can’t go. And it’s also 100% electric. From the videos (posted below) I can see a solar panel on the roof, meaning it’ll be able to charge at least partially while you’re on the go. Other details are hard to come by on their website (can’t find the specs), but I do know that it’ll go on sale next year for 12,700 Euro.

Via MediaFax

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Thoughts

In the MINI

One stable element in our life through the past decade has been our 2003 MINI Cooper S. I placed the order for it in the closing months of 2002 and got it in March of 2003, exactly as I wanted it.

Although our life has undergone major changes in those years, and even though the MINI’s had more than its fair share of problems, we kept it. We even brought it over to Romania with us, and it sits in our courtyard right now, just waiting to be driven to some fun place, ready to eat up Transilvania’s twisty roads.

Our car’s seen a lot of ground during its almost 10-year existence. We plan to keep it around so it sees a lot more of this incredible blue world of ours. Even now, as we open its doors and get in, somehow the new car smell hasn’t gone away. The design (both exterior and interior) is still appealing to us. The engine still pulls like a fine horse and it still tears up the curves. And the fact that it’s been with us this long, through thick and thin, through incredible changes, has provided us with no small amount of comfort and it helped ease the transitions that took place in our lives. It’s a keeper.

I took these next few photos in the MINI, as we were driving around DC one winter day, a few years ago, with a 35mm film camera, an Exakta EXA Ia.

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Places

North Bethesda and Rockville at night

Here are cityscapes of North Bethesda and Rockville at night. Most are taken from a vantage point in Grosvenor Park while some are taken from the walkway above the I-270. I do love it when cities and architects take the time to think about color casts and the impact they will have on the way their places are seen at night. The right lighting can make a place look magical at night. And let’s not forget about incidental light from cars and other road vehicles, which has its own amazing charm in long exposure photographs.

There are more photos in the gallery below. Click on each thumbnail to view the images in full-screen mode. Enjoy!

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A Guide To A Good Life

An antique Audi at Tess Auto

We were at Tess Auto in Ghimbav (near Brasov) for service to our car recently, and we saw this beautiful antique Audi on display in the showroom. The car was so old the logo still said “Auto Union” across the four circles.

They sure don’t make cars with these designs any more. About the only company still around who makes such beautiful cars is Morgan.

I realize these designs aren’t aerodynamically efficient and they aren’t meant for high speeds. It’s also possible that the drag coefficient may be higher, meaning fuel efficiency could be better. But cars like these had something modern cars can never have: life — an organic feeling to the design which gave them life and draws our eyes to this day.

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Places

The C&O Canal in winter

I still remember fondly one occasion back in 2005 when, after copious snowfall, we took our MINI out for a drive with our new Michelin winter tires. We lived in the DC area at the time, and those of you who live there know we only get about one serious snowfall every year, usually toward the end of January or start of February. Well, that day, we had our annual big snowfall, and we wanted to make the best of it.

We took the car out on River Drive (it runs parallel to the Potomac River) and turned onto an access road that took us downhill, toward Lock 21 of the C&O Canal. It was quite possible that we wouldn’t be able to get back up onto the main road, but we didn’t care at the time. We were thoroughly enjoying ourselves.

Our MINI handled itself beautifully thanks to the winter tires, and we drove uphill through the thick snow without a hitch. Soon we were back home, sipping on hot tea and warming ourselves after the wonderful outing. We had so much fun!

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Places

Las Vegas: A Night On The Strip

A video from our recent trip to Las Vegas. It’s a tour of the Las Vegas Strip at night, featuring most of the famous hotels and casinos, plus impromptu shows by the dancing fountains at the Belaggio and the volcano at the Mirage.

There’s an upcoming video dedicated to Bellagio’s dancing fountains, where huge artesian fountains spit water into the air from hundreds of jets, all of it synchronized to music. I thought they were amazing. I also have a day tour of the Strip, which is an interesting contrast to all of the lights and colors you see at night, and I’ll edit that in the near future.

The video you see here is a 3-day editing effort. It takes a bit to assemble all the sequences, and there’s a fair bit of software motion-stabilization to steady the shots.

Enjoy!

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