Monday, November 14, 2011

Is it possible?

Is it true? LeMons has published their preliminary list of dates for 2012 One of those dates is in the new Ridge Motorsports Park in our own backyard of Shelton, WA. A beautiful shiny new track, I would adore the excuse to go take a look at it. My personal biggest concern? That SCCA National Office uses that same weekend for our local Packwood National Tour. The schedule hasn't been released yet, in fact, I'm sure it's still under negotiation. But I can think of a few teams that would certainly have a hard time choosing between the two events. OK, maybe 3 at the most. ;) But it's worth a shot.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Announcement: A Cessation of April Fools Tomfoolery

I've been flattered and charmed by the response I received over the years to my April Fools gags. It has been fun writing them and seeing who, each year, falls for the link. However, I need to call an end to the fun tradition due to a new professional commitment. Some of you may have read the announcement posted yesterday to Jalopnik that Ray Wert has left the site following its acquisition by the Huffington Post. Well, I'm proud to say that starting next week I'm going to be stepping in as Editor-in-Chief of Jalopnik. I've been freelancing under a pseudonym for a few years and am excited to step out from behind the mask of anonymity.

Currently posted to Jalopnik is a snarky post with a mashup of Huffington Post's AutoBlog logo melded with the Jalopnik logo. The post implies Jalopnik is going away. This is not the case at all, Jalopnik will continue and is going to get even better. Not to worry, AutoBlog will continue informing the world about the exciting new shades of silver and beige available on the new Camry and Accord. Jalopnik will not. Huffington Post is freeing Jalopnik to be strictly an enthusiast site.

Jalopnik is rolling up its sleeves and baring it knuckles. We won't post any reviews of new crossover SUVs or the next Chrysler Sebring. You can probably tell I'm not heartbroken by this. Jalopnik will be where enthusiasts find reviews of new Porsches, Ferraris, and enthusiast cars like the Fiat 500 Abarth or Focus ST. We're going to differentiate Jalopnik reviews from the rest of the pack by actually reviewing the performance of the press fleet cars by throwing sets of Hoosiers on them and entering them in SCCA Divisionals, National Tours, ProSolos, or even track days.

We are not likely be invited to the luxurious PR flack controlled product intros where the manufacturers shower high end experiences on auto writers in exchange for favorable reviews. My integrity is worth more than a trip to a French chateau with a group of folks who say positive things about crap cars. We will call BS on the car companies that deserve it (plastic cladding and oversize wheels do not a sport package make) and laud the few companies that deserve it.

Jalopnik will be participating in events, not just watching and reporting. An example is an adventure we're taking this summer. I'm going to enter a 24 Hours of LeMons car in the Targa Newfoundland. That's right, Pujo!, the Cheese Eating Surrender Monkeys' Peugeot 505 turbo is going to run an international tarmac rally. The right seat is currently open... (I'm driving). If you can read pace notes, or can learn by September, and want to join us in Newfoundland, drop me a line.

We're also going to feature, in Huffington Post tradition, user submitted content. Are you not seeing content on the web you want? Here's your chance, send me your ideas or even your articles. If it's good, we'll publish it.

I'm not allowed to post anything to Jalopnik until Monday, when the transfer from Gawker to Huffington Post is finalized. I want to hit the ground running. Please send me any ideas you have, even if it's the location of Abe's milk producing goat.

-Bret "a LeMons Monkey in Arianna's Court" Dodson

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Street Parked: Solid Axle TR4A

Wait a tick, what have we here?

This TR4A materialized one day just down the street from my office.
Parked in front of Seattle's former Model T plant

The TR4 and TR4A are instantly recognizable by their hooded headlights and cool fighter plane-esque hood blister.
The bulge scares the rain away

This appears to be a solid axle TR4A. Most TR4As have independent rear suspension. To appease traditionalist customers and dealers Triumph offered an optional live axle. Is there any other car that offered solid or independent rear suspension as a line item option?. This must have been a frustration to the chassis engineers since the TR4A has a different chassis from the TR4. You identify the live axle cars by the absence of an "IRS" badge on the boot lid and no discernible camber in the rear wheels.
No IRS tramp stamp means added simplicity

Elegant features abound, check out the side marker light!
It looks like a jet powered arrowhead

The headlight styling has never really worked for me. It's unique and stands out, but I have always preferred the look of the TR5 and TR6 headlights.
Did the hood melt over the headlights?

The dash is classic British sports car - Smiths guages scattered across a wood dash.
Love the banjo steering wheel

The profile of this car lived on in the TR5 and TR6. The blister on the door works well with both body styles.
Steel wheels are refreshing
I've only seen this car once and I'm glad I had my camera and caught some picture of it. I love that it is not over-restored to the point of being not drivable. As it sits, it car looks ready to drive to the coast for some surfing.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Street Parked: 1973 Dodge Dart winter driver

Seattle is blessed with relatively mild winters. The occasional paralytic light dusting of snow we get completely shuts down the city. The average Seattleite will only venture onto the road cloaked in airbags, traction control, antilock brakes, and all wheel drive, peering from the precariously fall-overy commanding view of their SUV. This makes today's feature car stand out even more! I spotted this lovely brown Dodge Dart on a sleet-filled trip to the video store.
This is a handsome car, even with the underbite

From the battering ram 5mph front bumper and the tight chrome panty of a rear bumper, I'm betting this is a 1973 Dodge Dart. You'll notice this impeccably kept survivor has a Michigan plate. Has it migrated west for a rust free retirement?
Such a spankably clean posterior
This is an honest, standard car; the sort we don't see anymore. Purposefully capable with no overt pretense of luxury. Gold kit Accord, I'm looking at you...

This car is 'just right', not too small, not too big

This is a Dodge Dart Custom, a mid-level model in the Dart range. The vinyl roof "Vinyl Roof Topper" in Mopar-ese was a dealer installed accessory.
Custom, one of just 62,626

My suspicion is the full wheel covers come with the Custom package, rather than the dog dish hub caps that would probably be seen on a base model car.
Look at all that comfy sidewall!

Also part of the Custom package was the snazzy vinyl and cloth bench seating. The cloth seating surface makes this a great winter car. There is no way to make a person more uncomfortably chilled than by forcing them to plop onto a freezing cold leather seat.
Bench seats: the cure for separation anxiety

This Dart was born with the legendary slant six backed by a Torqueflight automatic. In 1973 it made 95 horsepower from its 198 cubic inches (that's 3.2 seriously unstressed liters). This car is so original looking that I bet that same slant six is still living underhood. This car looks new, I'd love to know its story. Is it a survivor? Has it been restored? Is it a Hemi-packing Q-ship?

Regardless of its backstory, this is a very cool car to see being used - especially on a day that chased most drivers into hiding.