Thursday, November 25, 2010

He Ruled With an Icy Rubber Fist

Ivan the Terra Bus

Ivan the Terrible was the dreaded leader and grandest of the entire vehicle fleet on the ice.  All 4x4s and Pisten Bullies bowed to him in fear of being squashed under his giant balloon tires.  Snow mobiles fled the seen at his sight as he swallowed the inhabitants of McMurdo Station and begged for more.  Nary a Beaker nor a fresh Fingy can keep his jaw from dropping upon the sight of this red beast.  Oh…wait, that wasn’t Ivan the Terrible, it was Ivan the Terra Bus king of icy vehicular travel.  Ivan the Terra Bus is one of the many specialized vehicles at McMurdo Station Antarctica.  He is among a fleet of 4x4 Ford vans and trucks equipped with block heaters, locking differentials and big bad ass off road (Dick Cepek) tires or Mattracks.  Also on the ice are an array of old and new snowmobiles and Pisten Bullies (a vehicle that can go anywhere and shake your spine to pieces with the same efficiency).  Check out some of the rigs I photographed while visiting the continent, including the infamous Ivan the Terra Bus. 
The most bad ass city bus I have ever riden on.
A bullet proof Toyota HiLux
Another awesome Yota that you will never see in the states.  Damn Americans want for soft riding suspensions instead of capability.
Ivan's cousin (I did not take this picture, I believe my friend Kritsin took this.)
Who knew Route 66 went so far?  Ford E350 with big axles and Dick Cepek tires.
This old girl is still kickin on the ice.  Ski-Doo...yippeeee!
One of the various Pisten Bully type vehicles
A Mattrack equipped Ford F350

Friday, November 19, 2010

Muscles Not From Brussels

I used to live on the central coast of California in my early twenties.  If there is one thing that is appreciated in this part of the country it is cars and motorcycles.  Highway 1 winds down the Pacific Coast and is a playground for guys and gals wielding sports cars and motorbikes.  There was a time back in the day, when I was a strapping young lad; no not gun toting, strapping meaning young and stupid and fearless.  In those days I was absolutely cool with flooring my 71 240Z around the twisty blind curves of Highway 1 so I could hear the headers and open exhaust echo off the mountain walls.   I would chase my buddy on his motorcycle while he dragged his knees left and then quickly right on the pavement with a screaming gal holding tight to him in both fear and excitement.   We would do this fun run all the way to an old stagecoach/Pony Express stop now turned into an out of the way bar called The Cold Springs Tavern.  At the tavern we would eat tri-tip sandwiches and take a looksy at all the other cool cars and bikes that others drove in.  This buddy of mine is still dragging knees on motorcycles and now does burnouts through the hilly farmlands of Pennsylvania in his sweet modified Mustang GT.  Take a look at this weeks featured Wheeled Wonder Pantser, Mustang Matt.
Alias: Mustang Matt

My Ride: 2006 Legend Lime Mustang GT with 5 speed

Special because: It’s the car that truly helped kick off the latest pony car/muscle car wars. Not only is it the rarest color of that generation of mustangs but it’s been a blast to drive and relatively easy car to mod, one step at a time. I’ve done all the work myself and slowly seen it go from low 14 second quarter mile times to running mid 12’s at 110mph all while still being a daily driver and getting good gas mileage. It’s also special because it’s the first high performance car I’ve ever owned.

If I had to replace: If I had to replace it I would probably try to get another one just like it, although I would also consider a new 5.0 mustang in either Kona blue or Grabber blue(even though the rear end of the new mustangs looks like hell) or a possibly a SRT8 Challenger.

First car: My first car was a 1965 Plymouth Valiant 4 door with a 225 slant six. My parents got it for 600 bucks and it was in pretty good shape but it had a bullet hole in the rear c-pillar. It had been sitting in a field before we bought it and some kids probably took a pot shot at it. All my friends thought it was really cool that it had a bullet hole in it. Some of my friends also joked it would be a good drive-by car since the rear windows went all the way down unlike most modern cars at the time that had child safety windows, which only went down about halfway! After a couple years my Dad and I repainted in an AMX color called Big Bad Blue and put a set of Cragar mags on it which really set it off. My friends still liked it but were disappointed we filled in the bullet hole when we painted it.

Favorite car movie: Without a doubt my favorite car movie is Two Lane Blacktop. Engines never sounded so good on film and the whine of the rockcrusher transmission in the 55’ Chevy is awesome! Be sure to watch it on a good sound system!

Fondest memory involving a ride: I once went to look at a 2-door 1967 Chrysler New Yorker with a 440 in it. The guy had a back yard full of cars and the Chrysler was blocked in by a few. So he starts it up and after a while of jockeying cars around, all while the big Chrysler was sitting there burbling away, he gets it out of the drive way and off we go. He takes off down his street rather easy which was a residential street lined with parked cars, trees and houses, and after a couple seconds I realize our speed is picking up pretty up quickly and I look over and realize he’s got his foot to the floor on a residential street! The car just started picking up speed like a jet and all of a sudden trees and parked cars were wizzing past us. I stole a glance at the speedometer and he let off when he hit about 90mph! Don’t know why I didn’t buy it, but I’ve wanted a 440 Mopar ever since then!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Honorable Mentions

Every once in a while I am in the Costco parking lot loading groceries or behind a strip club drinking a 40 of OE I come upon a car that I think is worth taking a picture of.  These are always cars that to me deserve a second look and maybe need someone to make a fuss over them just to get credit where credit is due.  Here are a few recent pics I have taken of some wheeled wonders.

Military might; this variant of the M35 cargo truck although now mostly replaced through the US military has been in service since 1951 and still sees some limited use.  I think this is a bobbed M35 or Deuce and a Half as it was affectionately known.
Okay so I would be lying if I said I didn't want a car like this Ferrari f450 that I saw in a local parking lot.  I guess the world is lucky that I am not rich or they would have to deal with me doing burnouts at every stoplight.  Since I am not rich though I will just continue to call guys who own these douche-bags.  I wish I was a douche-bag.
I found this old pony sitting behind a tobacco shop in Alabama.  On further inspection I found what looked to be a 1981 Pontiac Trans Am also rotting in the yard.  Some cars are just doomed.
Do you have a cool car you snapped a picture of just because it caught your eye?  If so load it up to a photo hosting site and give it an honorable mention in a comment here on the Wheeled Wonder Pants blog.  

Monday, November 15, 2010

Bad Ass Bread Boxes

Many of the car brands out there have a model that is targeted at the younger crowd.   These ride’s are usually cheap, cost very little to maintain and will bore you to death like the NPR Science Friday podcast’s I download every once in a while.  With their weak motors, cheap materials and made in Chinaesque interiors they aren’t cars that scream fun.  One company though tries to grab young buyers with cars that have a little excitement and character.  Scion is Toyotas young brand touting a few model’s that are modestly priced and have a bit more excitement in the sheet metal than do the cars of the parent company.  I came across this article in the Air Force Times and it made me for at least a second think that a Scion xB is cool.  Check out these rides that were provided by Scion to three military teams to customize for SEMA.  Of course I really dig the ruggedized all wheel drive entry by the Marine Corps team.  Which one would you drive?
 This is the entry by the Army team dubbed "Sapper"
 The Navy entered this "Squid"


The Marines went all out with this lifted xB with all wheel drive and a turbo "xB Assault"

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Company I Keep

I have come to realize that not everyone has the passion for the coolness of vehicular transportation that I do.  Some folks are just okay with a car that gets them from point A to point B (Corola drivers).  They don’t give two shites if a car has character, is fun to drive or how many horse power it has. These are all the folks you see driving Corola’s and the like.  That got me to thinking; I have a lot of friends that actually do have some sort of passion for things that go vroooom.  Okay…ya got me, I don’t have a lot of friends, but the ones I do have, have a bone in their body that gets excited at the smell of  a two stroke (not that kind of two stroke!) or the rumbling of a big engine.  Friends that have strong opinions on blow off valves or what tire tread pattern works best on wet granite at a 30 degree incline.  These friends of mine love cars, motorcycles, weed whacker powered scooters and big ol rock grappling 4x4’s.  Where the hell am I going with all this rambling about my friends?  Well here it is, I went ahead and sent questionnaires to these insane buddies of mine to let them express a little about their love of their very own wheeled wonders.  Take a minute, think of your favorite car, truck or motorbike……………Is it the 90 horse power 1982 Camaro Iron Duke?  Yeah I didn’t think so.  Anyway, now that you are thinking about your ride check out what one of my friends rolls in. I will feature one of my buddies rides every once in a while on my blog so that I don’t actually hve to come up with anything on my own. 

Today's featured Wheeled Wonder Pantser is Mr. OG himself.  Check it out ya'll............

Ok my ride is a 2000 Red Grand Am GT (or "grand ma" as some may call it). My car doesn't have to much done to it. It has some iridium spark plugs, a short ram intake, 18 inch aftermarket Zinik rims and is dropped about an inch and a half to reduce the wheel gap. It's nice looking and she's been good to me.

Why is this ride special?
This ride is special because it's the first car that I paid all on my own.

If you had to replace this vehicle what would you replace it with? Why?
If i could replace my car right now i would go for the Audi S5. You can see a picture of it here:
I like many of the models that Audi has released recently and I would drive many of their cars and SUV's but the S5 is my favorite.

What was your first car; tell us something funny or crappy about it or a problem that you lived with because you were just happy to have a car.
My first car was a 1986 blue Grand am. No i'm not a Grand Am aficionado, I just happen to have owned two Grand Am's....but I promise I won't buy another one. The only major problem I had with it was that it started overheating a lot so i had to stop driving it.

What's your favorite car movie?
I would have to say that my favorite car movie is probably Gone in 60 seconds. They have so many lovely cars in the movie. But one of my favorite car chase scenes is in the movie The Italian Job.

What's your dream car?
My dream car is the Aston Martin DBS. You can see a picture here:
It's the one that James Bond had driving in the movie Casino Royal.

What's your fondest memory involving a ride?
I would have to say that some of the fondest memories involving a ride was being able to go to the SEMA aftermarket car shows in Las Vegas. For those of you that don't know what that's the biggest aftermarket car show in the world and its held at the Hilton convention center. Being able to see so many cars that have been modified to make them look their best had been a sight to see. The trips to Vegas were also amazing and have created lots of great memories.

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Coolest Worst Car of All Time.

Six of the twelve DeLorean's we saw at DMC Houston

I was watching the History Channel the other day because I am such an exciting individual.  Whilst doing so something came on about John Z. DeLorean and his creation the DMC-12 or more commonly known as the DeLorean, or probably even more commonly known as Marty McFly’s 85mph time machine.  A stainless steel car with gull-wing doors, a super car look without the super car price.  This was a car that would get noticed wherever it was taken.  You can’t hide in a car that’s sun reflection can be seen from space.  This car, although kind of neat was just a bad idea to build a whole business around.  It was expensive, it was heavy and its little Peugeot V-6 motor was barely adequate.  John DeLorean’s business of car building went down the tubes along with whatever cocaine the FBI busted him with. 
Anyway, that’s enough about the business failure bologna.  In this History Channel piece on the DeLorean they happened to mention that the remainder of the failed companies’ cars, parts and everything related were shipped to a place in Houston, TX; where I happen to be at the moment!  The place is called DeLorean Motor Company or DMC.  They actually still build cars with the parts they have, they service them, restore them and are a parts dealer for the three DeLorean collectors that are out there.
I told my wife “Banessa” about the goofy back to the future car and that I wanted to travel back in time and check one out.  She was all about it as long as I promised not to say, “Where we’re going we don’t need roads!”   I agreed and we were off to DMC.  When we pulled into the parking lot of this place set back in some run down industrial section of Houston we were greeted by six stainless steel DeLorean’s, all waiting to be restored.  Walking up to the cars you realize just how low they sit as their roof lines barely reached to my lower chest.  You also realize what kind of guts it would take to try and build a whole car company based on such a niche type vehicle.  I have to admit, I like the DMC-12 but the one thing about it that really bothers me is the stainless steel.  I used to go insane at my teenage job where we had stainless steel appliances and I went to my wits end trying to keep them clean. It is just so not right but at the same time is probably the biggest single element of the cars neat character.  We went inside and were greeted by the shops ferocious junk yard dog.  As I bent down and petted the tiny poddlelasabichonchiuauaterrier mix thing a man walked out (James) and said, “Wow, you’re the first person she’s never bit.”  I then backed away from the miniature mongrel.  The man was very helpful.  He gave me a little history on the DeLorean, showed me a bare chassis, (which looks like it would twist like a prezel in hard cornering) a motor, some other parts and then handed me the keys to a DeLorean with 24,000 miles on the clock.  I proceeded to rev up the engine, did a burnout and hit 85mph to go back and check out how my mom and dad made me.  Okay, just kidding, I only used the keys to check out one of the three cars on the showroom floor.  The interior felt something a kin to say an 80’s Porche 944.  It smelled like old leather and the speedometer really only went to just above 85mph.  Did I mention that the doors opened up gull-wing style?  Man that is actually pretty cool.  You get to the rear of the car and you lift up two compartments to reveal the Peugeot V-6 that in a lighter car may have been pretty good.  James told me that John DeLorean wanted anything on the car that you could touch our see to be unique from other cars but that he wanted the working parts to be common so that they could be found anywhere and so that car guys could work on there own cars.  That right there I think made me a fan of this quirky stainless steel car.  The uniqueness just made me want one and the ability for me to identify all the working parts made me think I would like to keep one in my garage to tinker with.  Then we left and saw some guy transporting a camper shell on the roof of his Chevy Astro van with one tie down strap and I forgot all about the DeLorean.  Here’s to the folks that are keeping that dream alive, I have other garage visions back in my future.