Category: Motorized Vehicles

A Driving Epiphany

I had an epiphany last week. I had an epiphany about driving.

Over the past 15 years or so, I’ve been lucky enough to drive and/or own some of the finest motor vehicles ever conceived of by humankind. From top-of-the-line, ultra-luxe sedans to world-record-setting, exotic sports cars. A number of years back, I totally lost my interest in what my dear wife always referred to as “stupid cars”. It got to the point where I’d see a neat car – be it a Ferrari, a Bentley, or whatnot – and I’d admire it casually but feel absolutely no interest in possessing or driving it. None whatsoever.

My assumption was simply that I’d gotten this “stupid car” thing “out of my system.” But it turns out that’s not what happened.

My epiphany happened as I watched a white 2013 Chevy Camaro ZL1 convertible take an off ramp on the opposite side of the highway I was on. I thought “hey – that’s a cool lookin’ droptop.” And then it hit me. Like a load of bricks.

I don’t dislike cool cars. I’m simply totally fucking sick of driving.

Driving is a chore. It’s a dollar- and time-expensive inefficiency. Gas. Maintenance. Parking. Insurance. Traffic. Accidents. Tolls. Law enforcement. Idiot drivers. Stupid bicyclists and pedestrians. BLEH!!! At one point I got joy out of it – but no longer. I’d rather spend that time with my family, playing with our cats, working, listening to music, geeking out, sitting in the sun, or, frankly, doing just about anything else.

So starting this week, I’m going to stop driving any more than I absolutely have to. The MBTA commuter rail train will get me into town. I’m gonna get my bicycle back in shape and ride to the train station. I’ll run errands when I have to – but bundled together to minimize trips and maximize efficiency. We can walk to our downtown when we have errands there. Providing taxi service for the kids isn’t entirely optional, but those tend to be super-short trips and we can do better with them. We’ll see how it goes.

Something tells me I’m gonna be a happier camper! Wish me luck!

Bye Bye BCM :-(

I learned via the New Englad Ducati Owners Club forum that BCM Motorsports in Laconia NH is going to be closing its doors in mid-February. What a bummer!

I purchased my Ducati 999 there in 2007 (a new 2006, leftover) and have never had a motorized-vehicle purchasing process that was as easy, reasonable, or fun – before or since. Superb people on the sales floor and in the shop. Fun customers to hang with. It’s an institution that will be sorely missed.

Apparently they’re doing some big deals to clear out the inventory, so if you’re looking for a new or used Ducati, now might be the time.

Good luck with your new venture in PA, guys. We’re saddened to see you go.


For the love of Pete, why wasn’t I made aware of this site the day before it launched? The Internet Movie Cars DataBase is just like IMDB, but (yeah, you sussed it!) it collects all the info about what cars appeared in what filmed entertainment.

Where else can you learn that the majority of the Ferrari scenes in Magnum P.I. utilized a Ferrari 308 GTSi (as opposed to a 308 GTS or a 308 GTSi quattrovalvole)?

Or, keeping to the always-appropriate Italian theme, that a Ducati 999 was used in an episode of The Simpsons (S17E08)? No, 999s never came from the factory in any shade of blue … this one must have been custom painted 😉 . Brilliant and fun! Enjoy!

The Music of Brembo!

Although a quick search of the USPTO suggests that brake manufacturer extraordinaire Brembo S.p.a. holds only a paltry few-score US patents, the most visceral piece of IP they own IMO is the totally mesmerizing sound that their motorcycle brakes make.

My bike’s front brakes are twin 320mm semi-floating discs with 4-piston 4-pad calipers. The noise is something of a cross between that dull buzz you get from the insects at night out in a field mixed with something mechanical – like a low whirring of ball bearings being spun. I can’t really put it into words. All I know is that it’s distinctive, memorable, lovely, and makes me smile! They should get a trademark on that noise! Fantastico!


As many of you know, I have an affection for motorized vehicles (the  boss is rolling her eyes – “more like ‘addiction’, thank you” she’d say). In the past, I’ve  torque-fed that affection, but after about ten years of such goofing around, I grew weary of what I now fondly call “stupid cars”. Although I am now playing with “stupid motorcycles“, cars aren’t entirely out of my system.

I am overdue to officially blog-unveil the Über-Slëd – so dubbed, most endearingly, by my friend Tom.

She’s a 1991 Mercedes Benz 350 SDL. She currently has ~75K original miles on her clock. For the non-car-nuts in the crowd, the model name dissects as follows:

  • 350 means it’s a 3.5L engine (it’s a straight-6); that’s about 215 in3 for you Americanos.
  • S means it’s an S class – the big guy in the product line.
  • D means its’ a diesel engine – more on this in a second.
  • L means it’s the “long wheelbase” model. What does ‘long’ mean? Just assume that my kids and your kids could play soccer in the back seat and get winded running to and fro.
  • 1991 means she’s older than some of the folks reading this 🙂 .

She joined the stable in mid-February. For the MB geeks in the crowd, this was the last model year of the W126 chassis, and, yes, this model uses the OM603.97 engine that has a bad rep (deservedly so) for bending conrods – c’est la vie.

So why on earth would someone buy an eighteen year old car? Early-onset dementia is always a reasonable assumption, but there was some logic involved too.

First, I wanted a big car again. My last big car (and my only previous Benz) was a 2003 S55 which was a superb beast (493 hp/516 lb-ft – YOW!), but which I ultimately only kept for a year since the boss wouldn’t drive it. She still gleefully drives my old 1998 Audi A4 2.8 QMS with ~110K miles on the clock. In fact, she seems to have taken a page out of Moses’s book on the stupid old thing, continuously mumbling something about her “cold dead hands”.

I wanted a big car for two reasons: space and safety. I wanted a ton of room in the back for the monsters and all their crap – whether we’re driving to school in the morning, or going on vacation. Oodles of space in the boot was also a requirement, and this car has a three-body trunk 🙂 . As to the safety issue, I have previously blogged on that. This car is, pardon my French, a fucking tank. Will refers to it ‘studly’.

Of course the challenge with big cars in today’s petrol market is that they’re damn expensive to get from point A to point B. As such (and my second reason for picking this monster up) I wanted to play with alternative fuels.

This old diesel engine hopefully has a few hundred thousand miles left on her. She is currently slated for a conversion to burn vegetable oil. Diesel engines were built from the get-go by Rudolf Diesel to combust just about anything, and Rudy’s first demonstration of his new engine design was a single-cylinder machination running on, of all things, peanut oil! I really like the idea of re-using an old machine (the decades-old car, which is in stellar shape) and fueling it with something that historically has been a waste product.

Obviously I’m not going to single-handedly solve America’s petrol addiction, but I look forward to playing with this stuff. As I like to say, “you can take the boy out of the geek, but…”

Autostrade Hogs!

Last week, Harley-Davidson announced they were acquiring MV Agusta. My head spun.

I assume that the overlap in their markets is something along the line of zero percent. That said, it does seem like a generally intelligent move to help diversify their product offering. This could be a huge win for consumer access, as MV’s dealership network is anemic and HD’s is definitely not.

The deal will purportedly cost HD $109M of which $70M is existing debt that HD will be presumably retiring. It is consistently entertaining to watch non-Italian companies try to run Italian companies. Hopefully HD will fare better at it than other similar historical examples.

Hats off to Claudio Castiglioni and Massimo Tamburini! This all will presumably give Ducati a run for their money in a couple years. Nothing like competition to benefit the consumer!