Category: Motorized Vehicles

Why I Drive A Tank

I recently purchased a 1991 Mercedes Benz 350 SDL (W126 S class). The last couple of months have seen me on the receiving end of all sorts of jibes from my friends about driving an “old man” car!

I bought the car for two reasons. First, I can, and will, convert it to run waste vegetable oil. Second, it’s a fucking tank.

This link will take you to a video from Fifth Gear wherein Tiff and Vicki simulate speeding in the fog. The clip is really unpleasant in many ways (no humans were harmed, of course). What’s interesting is that the second car they run into the pack, at 70 mph, is a W126 Mercedes. That’s the one I’d rather be in, for sure. The Fiat is downright terrifying – no chance of survivors :-( .

Finally, this link will take you to a late-1980s W126 Mercedes television advertisement from Australia. Grim, grim carnage, but four-for-four on the survivor front.

It’s That Time of Year Again…

This morning I prepped the garage, topped up her tank, added some sta-bil, and moved her into her winter resting spot. I haven’t covered her up yet though – I’m hoping maybe there’s another riding day to be had, though I’m clearly not holding my breath.

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It could be worse: my friend Greg in El Paso TX got his new F430 delivered to him in five inches of snow. Not sure I can wrap my head around the concept of five inches of snow in El Paso TX!

“Italian Engineering” is an oxymoron

I’m a glutton for punishment. For better and for worse I now own my fourth Italian motorized vehicle, a Ducati 999 motorcycle. It’s always amusing to me when I find examples of anomalous technical data that could only be proffered by Italian engineers. To wit, I wanted to verify the proper tire pressures on the bike. The user manual I have lists the pressures as such:

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If you convert these to PSI, you’ll find that there’s about a 7% difference between the two values. Close enough for Italian engineering :-).

Tutto Italiano!

The Museum of Transportation at Lars Anderson Park in Brookline MA hosts the Tutto Italiano car show annually. This year’s event wrapped this afternoon, and it was a blast.

Every year the Italian motorcycle contingent grows and grows. The number of Ducati, Moto Guzzi, Aprilia, MV Agusta, and other Italian motorcycles have all but started taking over! At noon the show did their regular “deafen Boston” event with every car and bike revving to make some serious Italian noise. I was fortunate enough to be with the motorcycles at the time. Lovely! Lots of Ducati 1098 beasties rolling around, but I’m still in lust with my 999.

The Ferraris were stupendous, as they are every year. My highlights this year were the 250 Boano, the 250 GT PF Cabriolet, and, of course, the ex-Ralph Lauren 288 GTO.

I was finally able to spend some time in person with a couple of 599 GTBs. The design has yet to grow on me. I couldn’t see trading a 550 or 575 in on one unless you absolutely, positively had to have the performance improvements. And given the laws I’ve personally broken in a 550, I can’t imagine needing those performance improvements unless you live on a race track!

One of the highlights of the show was certainly my friend David’s 1958 Alfa Romeo Giulietta Spyder. He’s the second owner, having purchased it in 2005. The first owner drove it for about three years and then mothballed it. David tore it apart, restored it to the nines, and it just looks amazing. Great work, bro!

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Stupendous weather. Stupendous cars. Stupendous people. Great show this year.

Mille grazie!

Fun with Depreciation

All modern Ferraris depreciate. Even Ferrari Enzos have come down in price. Particularly hard hit over the past dozen years or so have been the 12 cylinder cars, starting with the 456 and 550 Maranello in the mid 90s. Sometimes these cars could lose half their value in three or four years. Not as bad as, say, some of the six-figure British cruisers, but it’s unarguably real money.

An online acquaintance of mine owns a Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano, the latest 12 cylinder two-seater in the Ferrari line-up that has a $280,000 base MSRP. He’s put about 1,200 miles on it and isn’t the type to be washing and waxing it religiously every Sunday. He recently shared:

When it’s quiet in the garage, I can hear it depreciating.

I woke my kids up laughing at that one!

The Zen of Leaning

I was first exposed to Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance when I was in my early 20s. The Chairman of the Board crooned

love like youth is wasted on the young

and I think that ZAMM might also be wasted on the young. I can tell you for sure that it was wasted on me oh those mumble-mumble years ago.

Why was it wasted on me? The primary reason is that I think I was simply burned out on allegorical learning. Although I wouldn’t trade my liberal arts education for anything (I have a BA in Computer Science, not a BS – go figure), I wasn’t that far out of school when I read ZAMM, and my brain was much more in “geek mode”, if you will.

But two things have happened that brought me back to the book. First, I now have a gaggle more gray hair and children of my own. As Pirsig writes early on in the book:

At age eleven you don’t get very impressed with red-winged blackbirds. You have to get older for that.

Second, I now ride and wrench my own motorcycle.

I had a mentally-draining day today. Lots of stuff going on. Almost uniformly good stuff, but lots of it. I was pretty stressed as I pulled into my driveway this evening. I opened the garage door to see my bike with its rear end in a dozen pieces strewn across the floor (my own doing). The weather forecast for tomorrow is looking yummy, so on a lark I decided I’d put her back together, minus the part I’ve been waiting interminably on. Forty-five or so minutes later, with nary a cuss-word issued, my bike was whole and idling, and I was a new man. Stress gone. Mind clear.

Get thee to a motorcycle dealer, folks! There really is something to this…

[With many thanks to Brad and Dave for exposing me to Pirsig in the first place!]