Thursday, December 2, 2021

Smog and Electrification -Looking Back While Looking Forward

                           The feature article in the June 1967 Road Test magazine was:


 Sounds like we are still discussing this topic today!  Well, for this post I thought the end of a year is a good time to reflect back- way back 54 years on a topic that's in the news every day. Isn't it amazing the lack of progress we have made in electrifying our fleet of cars in America!  That has a lot to do with personal preference from the buying public for ICE vehicles.  It also has a lot to do with battery technology, or lack thereof, given the strides made in other areas such as computing power, space travel and even our everyday television sets.   My opinion is we are not there yet on either front.  

The typical car buyer is gun shy about getting an EV because of 'range fright' and inconvenience of recharging a battery. On the second major point, battery technology is better but it has a ways to go and buying this year's EV might prove a disapointment when in 18 months to 2 years superior battery technology is offered in updated vehicles. You could get stuck driving an 'antique' in todays hyperfast changing technology.

                                                 Take a look at this BS from 1967:


What is amusing is the political side to this discussion. The politicians are so full of it, you can't take anything they say seriously. Like the underlined section of this article- basicly outlawing ICE vehicles in California starting in 1980.  What happened to that deadline? Sounds like New York state when they passed a law a few months ago banning certain ICE vehicle sales after 2030- 2035.  Allowing for a phase in period.  Politicians tell you what they think you want to hear wether it makes sense or not.

And for a little review of the science behind the development of EV's here's a few of the automakers attempts that may give you a chuckle, or may give you a sense of how complicated and diverse a set of 'solutions' can be:   Point is - automakers have been studying this subject a long, long, time.

I know some of you will say its a conspiracy by the oil companies to prevent EV's from becoming the norm. I say no - it is not easy to mass produce EV's that are economical to buy, environmentally friendly to produce in the millions, and acceptable to the mass market given the downsides to owning an EV.








ON TO THE NEXT SUBJECT- ICE VEHICLES AND THEIR CONTINUED IMPROVEMENT:

If you think things have not changed much with car engine performance and continual efficiences found by reducing weight and perfecting aerodynamics, think again. The difference in ICE performance and the overall improvement in how cars are constructed is amazing.  I am still blown away knowing the hottest muscle cars of the late '60's can't compare with even 'sporty' compact cars of today.  ( I'm buying a 2022 Honda Civic Si that blows every one of these away in fuel consumption (double the MPG) while matching these 1/4 mile times at 15.1 seconds and besting top speeds with 130 MPH )!!  Take a look:





                                           AND THE SUBJECT OF SMOG CONTROL

Back in the '70's all the talk was smog control for cars. Every car enthusiast was pissed because the government mandates were essentially killing performance and making cars run like crap.  All at a higher cost for the consumer.  Nothing like paying more for a car that ran worse and felt like a sick dog to drive.  We had just been treated in the '60's to some phenomenal cars, only to see that get stripped away by government regulation for pollution and smog. And the biggie- the dreaded Catalytic Converter!

There's a wonderful editorial in the December 1972 issue of Motor Trend that summed it up with the

cartoon caption " The emisions are down to zero, but the car doesn't run!"    Check it out:



So you see the debates we are having today are not all that different from the debates of nearly 50 years ago. That's the paradox, we have come so far with our cars's technological advancements yet we still have the bugaboos of further controlling pollution (Smog) and we can't ever be satisfied with how far we have come. Like the cartoon implies - how far are the politicians going to push this.  Well they are pushing hard for EV's and they want to kill ICE's but maybe we should be happy with how much we have improved.   

ONE LAST INTERESTING COMPARISON:

Since I'm getting a Honda Civic Si, I thought back to my cars of the past and my '82 Chevy Citation X11 came to mind. What a similar car to the Civic Si! It even resembles the new 11th Gen Civic if you use a little imagination. The formula is the same- a compact, fun to drive car that gets good mileage and handles well yet is affordable. Bingo- The Chevy Citation X11. The Citation came in a coupe and a 4 door and was a hatchback. In coupe form it looks a little like the new, slope back Civic 4 door sedan.  One big thing I remember when getting the Citation X11 was how good it was on gas. I was getting 24 MPG on the highways which was about 5 MPG better than anyting I owned before. And it was a zippy little thing with a nice exhaust sound. Honda- did you copy Chevrolet when you designed the first Si in 1986?  Maybe.  Here's some pictures to compare. Use a little imagination and you will see Civic all over this Citation!



And here's the new Civic Si:



            That's all for now.  A long look back into the future?  


Check back soon for the delivery of the 2022 Honda Civic Si- sometime in December.

Carcamerastory, brought to you by Paul Ziegler, Publisher

Follow on Instagram @wownowpics


 


Monday, October 25, 2021

Rooster Tails And Power Boat Racing - InCahoots, Again!

                                         Like a fighter pilot, Jim Aid Ready To Launch

 Yes, power boat racing, which is a new subject for this blog. It all came about when my friend, Jim Aid a national winner in his class a few years back, asked me to crew for him at the Orange Cup Regatta in Lakeland, FL on October 15-17th.  His boat is named InCahoots, Again.  (There's a story behind that)

The Orange Cup is a race santioned by APBA or the American Power Boat Association.

This was a new challenge for me as a photographer, having some factors to deal with while capturing the action on the one mile course from land.  The hardest part was to know where to be when the race started to capture the best pictures since moving from one vantage point to another was out of the question.  The races last 5 laps or 5 miles and at over 100 MPH things happen quickly. The other factor is water spray from the skid fin which helps to turn the boat and the 'rooster tail' from the propeller. Get two or more of these boats together and you get a spectactular show, but a real problem for picture taking. In spite of this, I was pleased with the pictures you see here.

To get an idea of Jim's class, he races in the 2.5 liter modified that is described in the link below. What is nice is that there's quite a bit of leeway in the rules allowing the boat owner to be creative in ways to be fast.  And Jim is fast.  A few years back he held the national speed record for the mile course in the 2.5 Modified hydroplane class. Try 130 MPH at the end of the straightaway on water!

The other thing that's fun to watch is how they use cranes to get the boats in and out of the water. If you want a treat, attend one of these races!

APBA 2.5 Mod Class Description

It was a beautiful weekend. perfect weather and a light breeze, good for racing. I've put a link below for anyone wanting to see a video of the race where you get a chance to see the action.  I am also posting a set of pictures of some of the other boats along with Jim's.  One of the most fun to watch are the Jersey boats, which are vintage looking, but new Rum Runner boats used in the past to smuggle booze.  They are manned by two people and it is one of the wildest rides on the water. Like riding a bucking bronco as I describe it.

So take a peek at the video and enjoy these pictures.  

Watch The Race Here:

                         
                        Jim and co-owner/crew chief, Norm Cameron talking strategy.
    
                                                                        

                                                                    Jersey Boat



                                                       Jim in center waiting for lift in.                

                                                                       Lift In!

                                             Bobby Gunn doing final check of systems


                                                Jim talking with a race official.              

                                       Crew attending the boat before lift in.

                                                                          On throttle!
                                                  

                                                            Hold on at 130 MPH
                                                                   

                                                         Can two make the turn?
                                   

                                                          Yep- Jim turns on a dime!



                                              And here's a sample of the other races:
















                                                                   A good days race.

I hope you enjoyed this post. A lot different than car racing but just as exciting. Plan on coming to Lake Hollingsworth in Lakeland Florida in October 2022 for this race.  It's free for spectators and a bunch of fun for the family.  

Photos and story by Paul Ziegler, Publisher, Carcamerastory.co.  Follow on Instagram @wownowpics .
Also, author of "Echoes From The Glen" on sale now.






Friday, September 24, 2021

Robert Wickens Returns To Driving In A Hyundai!

 Rising star Robert Wickens was making a name in Indycar in 2018.  I watched as he won the pole for the 2018 Indycar Grand Prix run on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida in March that year.  He had already accomplished so much in other racing series including FIA Formula Two, the GP3 Series, Formula Renault 3.5, DTM and now Indycar.

A horrific crash in August 2018 nearly ended his life, let alone his racing career. But like Niki Lauda of F1 fame, Robert fought back with dedication and vowed to return to racing.  He is still progressing to this day and a major milestone has been achieved by landing a seat with Brian Herta Autosport using a hand control system developed for driver, Michael Johnson in a Hyundai Veloster TCR car. 

Click Here For Video:

The next year  Robert attended the St. Petersburg Grand Prix and I was fortunate to meet him at the drivers autograph session. It was there that I gave him a copy of my book, Echoes From The Glen that highlights Niki Lauda on the cover. I remember inscribing inside the jacket a personal note to Robert that said let Niki Lauda be your inspiration as you recover so that you in turn, can inspire others recoverinig from a spinal cord injury.  Here's the pictures that recorded my brief meeting with Robert:

                     That's me handing Robert a copy of my book 'Echoes From The Glen"



So for more on this story, here's a video of Robert back in a race car!  Thanks to Brian Herta Autosport Bravo!    Click Below:

Robert Wickens Interview


And here's some pictures of Robert on the track at the St. Petersburg Grand Prix in 2018. 




Good luck to you Robert and I can't wait to see you in a Hyundai at a track near me soon..

Brought to you by Paul Ziegler, Publisher of Carcamerastory.com 


Sunday, September 19, 2021

Why I May Be Switching To Hyundai

 Hyundai has never been a brand I thought of for performance cars until recently.  I am most familiar with Porsche, BMW, Alfa Romeo and even Honda, having owned all of them in the past, but Hyundai never came to mind.  Until now.  To show you what I mean here's a quick look at what is helping me change my thinking to possibly buying an Elantra N when they are released later in 2021:

How Hyundai Is Changing Its Image

                New Hyundai Elantra -  At the Michelin Pilot Challenge Watkins Glen International

I first got a hint that Hyundai was up to some good things when seeing a Veloster N displayed at the Sahlen's IMSA Six Hours of the Glen race a couple of years ago. I took a look at the car and was impressed but then went on to dream of owning an Alfa Romeo Quadrifoglio, powered by a 505 HP Ferrari derived twin turbo V6.  (Which I ended up buying in September 2019)  I needed the utility of a 4 door sedan to carry the grandkids but wanted a wicked fast, good handling car when by myself. The Veloster was not big enough for my needs.

I also remember seeing articles in the major car magazines a few years back announcing the somewhat shocking news that Hyundai had persuaded Albert Biermann to join them. Yes, that Albert Biermann - the engineer who made the BMW M  cars earn their stripes. Hyundai appointed him President and  Head of R&D Division of Hyundai/ Kia Motors and assigned him to making fast performance cars in 2018.  That did get my attention and I remember his name being mentioned often at the launch of the Kia Stinger. Obviously he had a lot to do with that project.  ( See attached for his credentials- very impressive)

Albert Biermann- Why he's good at making performance cars people want to buy:

But back at the drawing board Albert and company were working on developing the 'N' Brand of performance cars for Hyundai.  These cars would be fast, but affordable.  That is a tall order. First came the Veloster hot hatch,  then very recently the Kona N and any day now, the Elantra N.  At the same time they were developing the N Line cars for the lineup which are tamer versions of the N car concept.  (For example the N Line Elantra and the N Line Sonata.)

The Elantra N is so very new there are no real world extended tests or driving impressions published.  The few quick reviews and driving impressions I've seen on YouTube are promising.  Everything said so far is that this car is the real deal at a fraction of the cost of the brands I mention above. We will have to wait and see, but I have an inkling that this Elantra N will make a big mark in the enthusiast world and perhaps be the start of a new generation of Nthusiasts.  Like the Alfisti that drool over classic GTV's, or Porsche Aficionados that dream of owning a 356, or Beamers that wish they could own a 70's 2002; the Elantra N and the Veloster N may become the new cult cars that my grandkids will dream of!

Why is this happening?   In this world of rapid EV development, and predictions of the future death of the ICE vehicle, how is it that Hyundai is bringing cars like the  Veloster N, Kona N and Elantra N to market?

I think they are very smart, that's why.  Like Honda and Datsun in the late '60s and early '70's, Hyundai recognizes what people want.  Hyundai is creating a buzz, they are energizing the consumers with an exciting product that will get them to come into the showroom to see what the excitement is. And even for those that don't care about performance cars, the fact that Hyundai is winning races says they are bringing technology from the race track into their entire car line paying dividends in terms of reliability, durability and quality.  They are spot on IMO.

And now here's a teaser report on the new Elantra N that should be on sale by the end  of 2021.  Watch out Honda Si, Volkswagen GTI and Subaru WRX!

Hyundai is Gunning For Honda   Click here to see how!

To wrap up, here's a few pictures I have from seeing the Veloster N and Elantra N TCR cars racing at Watkins Glen back in July.  They are currently leading the series and they just came off an impressive 1, 2,3 finish at Laguna Seca,  which is Hyudai USA's home track.







        This is the N Line Elantra- Not quite the full blown 'N" but a real bargain at about $26,000

That's it for this report.  Stay tuned to see if I get that new Elantra N.   Performance Blue if you please, Mr. Hyundai.

Brought to you by Paul Ziegler, Publisher and Author of Echoes From The Glen.  Follow at @wownowpics