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Future Fuels – What Might Fuel Your Passion In The Near Future

Theres an old saying that goes “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”.  Oddly enough, there is a little known truth to that old phrase.  There just happens to be a soluble dietary fiber in the skin of apples and other fuits and vegetables that has been shown to reduce blood cholesterol levels and promotes good digestive health.

We’ve also been told that we should have at least 8 glasses of water of water every day.  This advice too, has a very good reasoning behind it.  Water is a truly amazing substance.  We might look at a bottle of Deer Park on a hot summer day like it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread, but that bottle is definitely worth a second look.

Water is a very powerful Chemical.  There is another saying, “A steady drip can wear a hole in a rock”.  All you need do is stand on the edge, at any point along the Grand Canyon, to be awestruck at what the power of water can do.

I was lucky to catch an episode of Eco World on the Discovery Science channel that discussed Alternative Fuel such as Solar Energy, Hydrodynamic Energy (such as dams), but what was most impressive was the section on pure Hydrogen power.  For those who don’t remember chemistry (I sure didn’t), 2 Hydrogen atoms joined with just one Oxygen atom make water.  Both of which are gasses that are, under the right conditions, flammable.

What stood out the most was the home of one engineer that was completely powered by it.  So was his car, which he converted to Hydrogen Fuel Cell power.  The system is so efficient that he says he can power both his home and his car for a year on the gasoline equivalent of just 40 gallons.  With the average price of gas today, that is easily close to $150…per year…for home and car.  With gas prices steadily rising, some of us are paying $150 after 3 or 4 fill ups, and that says nothing about the tuned vehicles that eat 93 octane like cotton candy.

Another home engineer converted a $500 junkyard bought vehicle with about $4K in new parts into an electric only vehicle.  The batteries and usage he designed gives him about 20 miles of mobility which only cost him, get ready for this, just $7 a month to charge.

One step further, the cable channel Planet Green airs a show called Green Machines that pits fossil Fuel powered vehicles of all sorts against an electric powered cousin and tests them in different circumstances to see which reigns supreme.  One particular episode saw a gas powered drag motorcycle do the quarter mile with a fuel consumption equating to a little under $4.  The electric drag bike perfomed a very similar time and cost just over $.70.

That having been said, can you imagine a booster system operated simply by switch that almost doubles your current gas mileage?  How about never having to pull up to a pump ever again?  Instead, you just pull up to your garden hose.

In my next few articles, I want to explore the possibilities available to us currently in the world just burgeoning into the area of alternate fuels.  I should tell you now though, if you’re looking for a pat on the back or reassurance that you’re doing your part by using Ethanol, IM sorry.  You will find no kind company here.  It has been said that growing crops for use as fuel is a gross and now obvious failure as a true alternative.  What follows will be an insight and study on both Hydrogen and Electric vehicles and opinions on why those two sources of energy are our only real alternatives and will be our only means of fueling vehicles in the future.

Auto Americana – Why The American Auto Culture No Longer Inspires Buyers

It wasn’t long after I started selling cars that I had come to learn the difference between American, Asian and European craftsmanship.  Long before I got my first car I was stunned by the looks of the ’79 Camaro and almost every mustang ever produced (the Mustang II included).  Awestruck by the build quality and expense of my dad’s old Mercedes-Benz and ultimately impressed with the balance of those qualities found in Hondas and Toyotas of the mid 80s.  Even to this day the current products from most of the auto makers that spawned those very vehicles and eventually nurtured my enthusiasm for the automobile still stoke the fires of my imagination today.

So powerful was this need to have cars in my life that I decided I would sell them.  Eventually I became a new car salesperson for a Mitsubishi dealership where I watched the Mitsubishi Employee propaganda video.  I use that term jokingly because as I found out, Mitsubishi has been in the automotive manufacturing business since 1917 starting with the release of its very own Model A.  It became Japans first series production automobile.  The most interesting fact though of this video was the target market for the ’00-’05 Eclipse.  Initially I could not understand why they were targeting Mustang owners.

Could there be two more different vehicles to compare, a 150 bhp Single-Overhead-Cam 2.4L 4 Cylinder and a 205 bhp Dual-Overhead-Cam 3.0L 6 Cylinder.  Yes, a Front-Engine Front-Wheel-Drive coupe built on a Chrysler ST-22 Platform had firmly crushed any desire I had once had to own any ford product, let alone a Mustang.

To completely understand why I get a bad taste in my mouth whenever I see a Ford product I first have to go back to where it all began.  In December of 1979 I decided that it was time to great the word at Alexian Brothers Hospital in my native San Jose, California.  Some 2,063 Miles away the first brand spanking new Fox Body Mustang rolled off the assembly line at Fords plant in Dearborn Michigan.  It continued to roll off the assembly line until 2004.  Yes while the rest of the world was moving along, Ford decided that all it would change was the body style it laid over that structure.

Now at this point I’m obligated to bring up a very important point about one of the greatest cars of all time in my opinion, the Nissan 240SX.  What’s really important about that vehicle is this.  The First Generation S13, produced from 1989 to 1994, as well as the Second Generation S14 produced from 1995 to 1998, were both built on the Nissan S platform.  Why do I love 240SX and develop Turrets on sight when it comes to the Mustang?

The 240SX completely outclasses the Mustang for one reason.  The S platform the 240SX was built on was purposefully designed to roll out a sporty vehicle to the masses.  The platform selected for the Fox Body was not.  It first saw service in 1978 as the underpinnings for both the Ford Fairmont and Mercury’s Zephyr and Ford decided, like most American manufacturers of the day, that it would be cheaper to simply slap another body on and fit a really nice small block under the hood.  So even as a new vehicle in 1979, the Fox Body Mustang was somewhat of a hand-me-down.  Like the Star Wars T-Shirt that for whatever reason is still in your dresser drawer even though it’s still a size of two too small.

Pontiac is currently doing a similar thing with the Solstice.  Many savvy auto buyers know that the Kappa platform that holds the Solstice body is the same for the Saturn Sky.  What many might not know is that the sky is simply a rebadged Opel GT.  Pontiac has taken it a step further.  Anyone who is a fan of the GTO should take a look at the Holden Monaro.  Like the Pontiac G8?  It’s based on the Holden Commodore.

In recent years this has been more of a stroke of genius than affliction of sub-par decision making.  As auto makers bottom lines become more and more financially troubled it has become important for car makers to think this way.  However where Ford uses a singular platform to build multiple cars, many are now realizing that one platform on one model can be used globally and actually sell.  You can thank the Subaru WRX for that.  A car on the market for years in Japan and Europe that was finally allowed to come to US shores.  When it did, sales were massive, which encouraged Mitsubishi to do the same with its Lancer Evolution line.

Thanks to the brilliant minds responsible, we now have vehicles like the Nissan 370Z, Toyota’s Yaris, Hondas Fit and the ultimate in affordable supercars the GT-R.  It seems that some manufacturers word-wide have finally heard the voice of their customers and responded with exactly what they want.  If only American manufacturers could have gotten the message a little sooner.

The Dynamic Duo

I thought I would show everyone what I am personally working on.

Theise are both of my personal cars.  A 1985 Toyota Corolla GT-S and 1993 Mazda RX-7 Twin Turbo.

'85 Corolla GT-S and '93 RX-7

The ’85 Corolla GT-S The mighty '85 Toyota Corolla GT-S.

The Corolla GT-S is famed for being one of the very few sport compacts produced by Toyota as a Rear Wheel Drive.  With a close to perfect 53/47 weight balance the car was fitted with suspention and an almost bulet proof transmission and factory LSD that made this little car quite a hot number.  In tuned form it has the rare privilage of outrunning quite a few sportier models on circuit tracks even today.

The ’93 RX-7 TTThe '93 Mazda RX-7 TT

I stepped into this car after having owned a Front Wheel Drive Honda CRX Si with only 130 HP.  Making the very large leap to a Rear Wheel Drive 250 HP monster like the RX-7 was indeed a learning experiance.  With the engine mounted behind the front axle the RX-7 is rightfully considered a Mid Engine vehicle and just so happens to have a perfect 50/50 front/rear balance and gives very good feedback alowing drivers to anticipate almost everything this car is about to do.  What you may not expect is just how much of it the car is about to do.

 Right now my RX-7 sits waiting for a Dodge Diesel truck to die so it can have a single turbo transplant however the Corolla is ready for its new heart right now.  Its currently waiting for an oil pan and bearings to be picked up this week and the engine IM rebuilding for it will be finnished and dropped this month.

 Continue to check back for updates on there progress!