Treasure is what you value

I was at the 2006 FSAE race car competition up at the Ford Proving Grounds in Romeo this afternoon, and on the way home I hit several stretches of dirt road which were so bumpy one of my hubcaps flew off the wheel. I didn't realize this until I got home.

I looked all around in the woods by the stretch I remembered to be the worst, and found the hubcap. Then I looked around in the road and found the centerpiece. A good, lucky feeling.


Where, oh where, did my gas cap go...

I've just read a bit by lifehacker which I found through jalopnik praising the little arrows which point toward your gas cap. Users offered several theories to help the arrowless motorist tell which side his tank is on:

"the tank if often on the same side of the car as the gage is of the instrument cluster"

and my favorite-

"The gas tank filler cap is almost always on the opposite side of the car of where the exhaust muffler is."

BUT- this is the real reason for gas cap locations:

Foreign gas stations don't have much room to drive around in, and gas stations in the US do.

So in the US, drivers can leave room between the car and the pump, open the door, and pump the gas. American cars typically have the gas cap on the left.

In cramped foreign gas stations, drivers sometimes have to park really close to the pump, get out on the other side, walk around, and pump the gas. So foreign cars have the gas cap on the HOME MARKET'S passenger side. Nobody switches their gas caps when they export cars.

So German, Italian, and French (all left-hand drive countries) cars have gas caps on the right side, passenger in the home market.

English, Australian, and Japanese (right drive countries), have caps on the left side, passenger side in the home market.

If a car has been badge-engineered, you must think where it originally came from.


Fee Fi Fo Fum, Give me back my glasses!

You're not going to believe this. I wouldn't. I have read that news story too, about the lady who just figured out who attacked her in the woods 20 years ago. People who solve crimes years after they were committed seem like they are lazy, lucky, or lying.

I have solved a crime which puzzled me for two years. First, a scoop of backstory. In 2002, while spending time and money in CT, I wound up buying a pair of Oliver Peoples sunglasses. After seeing them in the store, none of the other brands would ever again seem so desirable. They were called "Nitro," and had brown polarized lenses made of glass, which, every time I looked through them, made the world look exactly as I'd always hoped it would.

In 2004, I worked at Autocar magazine in England, and toward the end of my time there I heard the road test editor's thoughts on sunglasses, and explained to him what I so liked about mine. He thought they were "sensational" and I suggested he try them for a few days. He must have liked them as much as I did, since I saw neither him, nor my beloved sunglasses, ever again.

I've been looking carefully at every picture of him I see, and finally, two months ago, what caught my eye but a 2-page spread of the thief wearing my glasses. Here are the pictures for your perusal. Between 2004 and now, I have pleaded with him for their return to no avail (he hasn't responded, and I assumed that he still had them, and hadn't sent them to me, as we had agreed when I left Autocar) , but now I have proof he's hung on to them.

Exhibit A)
A picture of me in the 6 July 2004 issue, wearing my glasses:

Exhibit B)

And here is a picture of him wearing them, in the 15 March 2006 issue:

I am confident the glasses in the picture are mine because of the brown tint to the lenses, and the gently curved brown earpiece. A letter containing a detailed report on the matter is on its way to Oliver Peoples, in the earnest hope that they will help me get ahold of another pair.

Do you think they are my glasses?

Farewell, my lovely!

I normally yawn when it comes to SUV's, so I don't know why I'm sad that General Motors announced that they are going to stop producing the Hummer H1. Maybe it's because I liked that it spearheaded the brand which symbolizes excess (and America), that it was put together in the mid-80's, or that it looks 'engineered' the same way that the newer trucks look 'designed.'

Whenever I drove alongside one, I liked to look at the lopey wheels with their central tire inflation arms, and I marvelled at how ridiculous they looked in any configuration. My favorite was the ragtop, though wagon, slantback, and 2-door pickup versions were also available.

I liked the drop down wheel holders too, which gave the H1 unequalled ground clearance.

I even like the blurry smiley face steve-o got tatooed on his arm while being driven over a long set of whoops in one.

In 2005, I sat next to a Yugoslavian jounalist in an H1's shiplike interior at the Detroit Auto Show. He mused "look at this thing, seriously, if you only want one car for the rest of your life, this is it." You'd get tired of the cramped interior, and wind up dating the gas station attendant, but the thing is designed to go a million miles.

I always wondered who was behind the wheel of these beasts. Over the 12 years they were for sale, more than 14,000 people walked into Hummer dealerships with enough money and desire to walk out with one.

When cars feel more and more generic (Dodge Magnum, Chrysler 300C, and Dodge Charger come to mind), it was nice to have a bully on the block who didn't feel like sharing any of his parts.

It seems like everyone uses nameplates to sell mass market bits on expensive cars, (Ford's Vantage and S-type, VW's Continental, Audi's Gallardo), it is rare to see someone taking a small name (AM General) and pasting a big name over it, smearing it with a touch of civility, and offering it to the public.