Polaris Slingshot vs. World

In my attempt to stay current and comment on new stuff, I have decided to comment on the new Polaris Slingshot. Have you heard of this? It’s a 3 wheel “motorcycle” powered by a GM Ecotec engine. I say “motorcycle” because Polaris says so, and so does the law. Therefore you will be required to have a motorcycle license to drive it and wear a MC helmet (in applicable states), and you probably should just for noise (which is 50% of the reason I wear a helmet when I ride).

    slingshot

What a lot of people might not realize is that this concept is not a new one. Morgan  is a company that has roots (at least in name) since the early 1900’s but now they live on a nostalgic vehicle, in my opinion. The new Slingshot appears to be in a different category in my mind, more performance oriented.

morgan 3 wheeler

But there are vehicles similar to that also. Let me direct your attention the the Campagna T-REX. This is a vehicle that has been built in Canada for 10+ years. Unfortunately for them, they are now in combat with a major player, Polaris, who has a huge dealer network, and is undercutting them on price, $60k for the Campagna vs $20k for a Slingshot.

trex
There are 2 more vehicles I’d like to mention. The KTM X-BOW. This is not a 3 wheeler but it is made by a powersports player, KTM. While KTM usually does dirtbikes, which Polaris has not made, yet, they are still similar companies, in my mind. And I think it is worth mentioning both vehicles in one article for the similar angular looks they both have. Also they are both performance oriented vehicles. I envision more cross shopping between these vehicles than a Slingshot and a Morgan.

xbow

The last vehicle I’d like to bring to your attention is the Elio by Elio Motors. Unlike the rest of the vehicles in this article, Elio is more focused on economy than performance. As such they are working to promote their vehicle as an everyday vehicle for the masses. They are boasting of 84+ mpg and a starting price of $6800. Since they are trying for the everyday car approach they are also currently working to get their vehicle classified as a car instead of a motorcycle. I personally already have a hot rodded version in my head. If anyone would like to back my vision please email me hooglandaxel@gmail.com. I’m open to Elio contacting me for marketing ideas as well.

elio

So while the Slingshot is definitely exciting and is being produced by a new player, it’s definitely not a new idea. But will the powerhouse that is Polaris, having bought and resurrected Indian and having created Victory Motorcycles to contest Harley Davidson in the heavy cruiser segment, be able to bring new life to the idea?

Which vehicle mentioned is your favorite?

Do you think that the Slingshot will be a boom or bust for Polaris?
Either way I respect their choice to make a bold path.

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What is a Kit Car?

Quartermile:
Kit Cars – What are they?
Think of a Lego set, but for a car!
Why kit cars?
They are a car focused on performance or style. Imagine a Ferrari or Shelby Cobra for the price of a new Ford Focus!

Lets put it together!

I’ve written a few articles about buying cheaper used supercars or

newer muscle cars and I’ve told you about a few different styles of cars such as  street rods and muscle cars. But buying a car assembled by a major manufacture isn’t the only way to get a car. If you are the handy type or just want to break the mold, you can build a car yourself! Of course, building a car by yourself, from nothing is a pretty difficult task, and that’s not what I’m proposing, although that has been done also! Check it out here. If you’re not as hard-core as Ken, but still want something different you are in luck! You can build a kit car!

So what is a kit car? A kit car is a car that you purchase in pieces and assemble yourself, it’s basically like a Lego set, or buying a table from IKEA. Why would anyone want to do this you might ask? Well there are a few reasons.

1. You can get a kit car that looks and performs like a much more expensive car than it is.
2. You can build a car that never existed.
3. You can build a car that did exist but is way too rare to buy an original. (Think Shelby Cobra).

Why would a company want to design a kit car instead of a production car? There are a few reasons for that also!

1. It is (much much) cheaper for a company to design and sell a kit can than it is for Ford, or other major manufacturers. Often kit cars source a reliable engine from the major manufacturers. The body and suspension are the major contributions by the designers.

2. This is because a kit car doesn’t have to pass all the safety standards a new car does. They also aren’t held to the same standards for NVH and other considerations. That being said, that doesn’t mean that they are (all) unsafe, or harsh. Many companies put a lot of work into the kits to make them great cars.

Let’s look at the different types of kit cars available.

The first are replicas of current or older cars that you can build yourself. One example of this is the Factory Five Roadster . It is basically a recreation of a Shelby Cobra from the 1960’s. Why not just buy an original Cobra you ask?

 

Check Hemmings Motor news http://www.hemmings.com/ . An original Shelby Cobra is rare, and therefore expensive (think $100k+) where as a Factory Five Roadster can be assembled for $30k if you do it the right way. You also have the benefit of putting a variety of engines and upgrades suspension, electronics and just about everything else that has progressed in the automotive world in the last 50 years.

Another that is one of my favorites is a Chevrolet Cheetah kit car. What is a Chevrolet Cheetah you ask? It was a car made to beat the Shelby Cobra in it’s day. Unfortunately tragedy befell the company and only 19 (or so) were ever made. The good news is you can buy the beautiful Cheetah as a kit and put it together yourself!

Lamborghini’s and Ferrari’s are other vehicles that are popular in this type of “build cheaper than you can buy” category.

gtm

The second type of kit car is a car that never was made. Factory Five has one of these available also. Is called the Factory Five GTM supercar. It’s a “generic” supercar being that it is low, wide and good looking. That being said, it is also a lot more ‘’cost effective” than a Ferrari or Lambo, and if you were to damage it, you know you could always rebuild it!  Here are 2 other supercar kits. The Superlite (at beginning of article) is the first, and here’s a quote from their site

“Q. How easy is it to build, really? –
A. The Superlite SLC was designed to be built in your garage, using basic hand tools.  You don’t need to do any welding, or machining, or have fancy tools.”
Sounds pretty great to me!

And here’s another supercar/racecar kit, the Ultima GTR, made in England.

And here’s a final one, the K1 Attack, made in the Czech Republic.
06_K1-Attack_racing
There is also a third type of kit car. It’s not a complete kit like the cars talked about before, but it’s a massive redesign of an existing car but also bought in kit form. Pontiac Fieros are popular cars for this as they were rear engine like many supercars. Often they get made into Lamborghini’s.

There is also this car, build from a 1990’s Ford Thunderbird.

So as you can see the kit car industry is far reaching, covering many different styles of cars. They are actually relatively affordable, if you are in the market for a performance car. There are often different levels of each kit available. Often you can buy just a body and source all the other parts yourself, such as the brakes, seats, wheels and tires. There are also kit cars that the factories will in fact build for you! There are even some that will let you help them build your car!

Here is a site with a very long list of kit car manufacturers if you are looking for something different. There is a car for everyone!

As always, please share this article and Like us on Facebook

So has this gotten your creative juices flowing? Are you rip roaring ready to get down in the garage and build your own car? Or would you rather buy a production car? Have you ever seen a kit car on the street or at a car show?

Car Spotters guide to the galaxy, part deux

Quartermile:
Helping you tell the difference between a pony car, muscle car, sports car and exotics.
The topic of what makes a muscle/pony/sports car is very debatable and you’ll get 100 different answers from 100 different car guys. All opinions voiced below are strictly those of myself, and are not necessarily right. That being said, they definitely aren’t wrong either.This is meant to give you a basic understanding enough to say, who cares what exactly it is, is it cool?

Supercar, Lamborghini Reventon

Supercar, Lamborghini Reventon

La Carrera! (The Race in Espanol, why espanol? not sure, why not? Get some culture in you grease monkeys!)

If you read this article about identifying cars of older vintages approximately 1920’s to 1960’s you are on a good start to knowing what cars are driving down the road and impressing all your friends with your knowledge, or annoying your friends by pointing out every old car they don’t care about.

Either way, you still have a long way to go before you can identify every genre of cars with your eyes closed, young greasemonkey,, so we will continue our car spotters guide here with the next group of cars, in my mind and history muscle cars, pony cars, sports cars and exotics/super cars.

Pony cars – This segment of cars was started in 1964 ½ by the Ford Mustang, hence the pony reference. A pony car is distinguished by it’s physical body features. These are light 2 door, 4 seat, long hood, short truck cars. They can be physically smaller than most muscle cars (although a pony car can be a muscle car also, more later). If you have ever actually stood next to a 1965 Ford Mustang it’s quite a small car!

Notice the short trunk in relation to the long hood.

Notice the short trunk in relation to the long hood.

A pony car can even have a V6 or I6 (like early Mustangs,Camaros, Challengers).To give you some idea an earlier Pontiac GTO (1965) or 1969 Dodge Charger or Plymouth Road runner would NOT be a pony car since the rear trunk is much longer proportionally, related to the hood, than a Camaro or Mustang. Most pony cars were American made, although there might be a few Australian cars that could count, Holden something? To be honest this phrase, pony car, has more or less fallen out of use.

Pony Car, 1967 Camaro

Pony Car, 1967 Camaro

Classic American muscle – In general 1964 to 1972 was considered the heyday of the “true” muscle cars, the ones that started it all. Muscle cars are mostly an American phenomenon, although there were also some Australian muscle cars, Ford XB Falcon (of Mad Max fame)

Ford Falcon XB Mad Max

Ford Falcon XB Mad Max

or the Holden (General Motors) Monaro. Unlike pony cars which are determined by body type, muscle cars are determined by what’s under the hood. That’s why cars below like the Chevelle could be a muscle car or not based on which engine was installed in it.

Muscle Car, Chevrolet Chevelle

Muscle Car, Chevrolet Chevelle

Many argue the 1964 Pontiac GTO was the first muscle car. The GTO was an option of the LeMans that upgraded to 389 cubic inches of V8 power putting down 325 hp. So how can a car be both a pony car and a muscle car? See below.
Ex: A Mustang with a I6 or small V8 (289 CID) would be a pony car but can become a Muscle car by giving it a humongous engine, 427 CID V8. BUT a Dodge Charger, with it’s large body dimensions, is basically automatically a muscle car, but definitely not a pony car.

1969 Dodge Charger, Muscle car! Long hood, long trunk.

1969 Dodge Charger, Muscle car! Long hood, long trunk.

Muscle car, Plymouth Super Bird. A very long car!

Muscle car, Plymouth Super Bird. A very long car!

Because of their large displacement, muscle cars were masters of the quartermile drag race but are notorious for not handling great, especially in relation to lower powered foreign sports cars. Most muscle cars are 4 seaters, but the back seats are a bit more roomy than their pony car counterparts. Although, I’d argue that an AMC AMX, although only a 2 seater, was a muscle car as opposed to a sports car.

Sports car – The word “Sports Car” is a catchall term so broad you could basically use it for anything that performs better than a minivan. For older car’s I’d say that a Chevrolet Corvette and a Shelby Cobra were the two American made sports cars. This was because they were 2 seat cars, often lighter than pony or muscle cars, and had better stopping and cornering performance than contemporary muscle cars. That’s not to say that sports cars can’t have 4 seats also, ex: Nissan 370Z.

Picture showing the variety of sports cars, Nissan 370Z and an 80's Corvette

Picture showing the variety of sports cars, Nissan 370Z and an 80’s Corvette

Into the decades after the 1970’s the term sports car can be applied to so many vehicles so I’ll just list a few to show the diversity, Mazda Miata, Ferrari anything, Nissan all Z cars, most cars you refer to as a muscle car can also be a sports car. Dodge Viper. Dodge Stealth. Acura NSX.

Sports car, Mercedes C63 AMG

Sports car, Mercedes C63 AMG

Modern Muscle car – This is any car made after the 1972 date break for “classic” muscle cars. This is because in 1972 the US government began mandating emission testing for new cars. This effectively killed the performance of muscle cars for the next 15+ years.

Modern Muscle car, 2012 Boss Mustang

Modern Muscle car, 2012 Boss Mustang

That being said, the latest muscle cars, (2000 and newer) are often much better performing cars than their older counterparts, especially in the handling department. The term pony car is basically dead, as far as I’m concerned. Really, do you want to drive a pony car or a muscle car? I think we can see why that term is not so popular anymore.

Exotics/Supercars – Supercars are just what the name implies. They are super in every way. Super fast, super expensive, super cool. They are generally more capable than your average car, in terms of performance, for their time. Some 1970’s super cars could be easily beat in some competitions by a contemporary minivan. Super cars are very powerful like muscle cars, but can also employ a mid or rear engine configuration. They are also exclusively 2 seat cars. They are low to the ground, wide and aerodynamically shaped for their high top speeds and fast cornering characteristics. Italy is the hot spot for super cars with the Ferrari’s and Lamborghini’s but there are definitely many more around the world, and new supercars arriving on the scene everyday.

Exotic - Testarossa Ferrari. Top of the line Ferrari in it's day.

Exotic – Testarossa Ferrari. Top of the line Ferrari in it’s day.

Just a few are Koenigsegg, Pagani, Saleen S7, Ford GT, Porsche Carrera GT. Supercar and exotic are basically interchangeable terms, and the exotic name implies that they are made in very low numbers. This can make it a bit confusing when you start to look at some cars like a Dodge Viper or a Chevrolet Corvette ZR1. They are both modifications of a sports car for sure. Does their lower production volumes and higher performance make them an exotic? I’m not sure, you decide! Luckily there is no right or wrong answer here.

Exotic, Lexus LFA

Exotic, Lexus LFA

So that was quite the list of different cars. Hopefully you can better tell them apart now.
What is your favorite type of car? Is it in this list?

Did you like this article?
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Honda CM400C Bobber

Quartermile:
Feature write up about my 1981 Honda CM400C bobber.
Don’t forget to check out the home page for other articles and like My Wheel Life on Facebook from the home page or subscribe via email to get articles as they are published!

most recent picture of bobber July 2014

most recent picture of bobber July 2014

Open road:
A bobber is a style of building a motorcycle. Other styles are chopper, cafe racer, sport bike, naked bike, etc. In theory, any motorcycle can be built into a bobber. The term bobber refers to the rear fender being “bobbed” which basically means shortened. That is the ethos of the whole bobber is to make a simple bike. Take all the superfluous parts off and have a good time with the bike. Bobbers have a non-modified frame/front forks, vs. choppers which often modify the frame and install longer forks for the raked look. This is very expensive, vs. building a bobber. Bobbers can be thought of as similar to rat rods, or more akin to early hot rods in that the guys would remove everything to be light and functional vs flashy but slow, like customs or lowriders (generally). This is the story of my bobber.

Stock 1981 Honda CM400C

Stock 1981 Honda CM400C

I have been a car guy since I was about 14 but I actually had a dirt bike before that, about 12 years old. When I got out of college and was able to work on stuff, I migrated to motorcycles, since you can fit 5 or 6 motorcycles in a one stall garage and work on them vs. one car with very little room, and bikes are cheaper, and still tons of fun!
rear, 1981 Honda Jan 2013, as recieved
My bobber was built from a 1981 Honda CM400C. The last C is for Custom which means it has a different gas tank and options than other CM400’s such as the CM400T. This was very beneficial to me in that I believe the Custom gas tank is a good looking tank from the factory.
as recieved Jan 2013
My father’s cousin is the oldest owner of this bike that I am aware of. He had not ridden this bike for as long as I can remember. Sometime around 2007 he gave the bike to my younger brother. My brother did a little work to it here and there but mostly it sat in our machine shed and collected dust. Around 2012 after I graduated from college I was reading a lot of magazines and finally had a little money. I started talking my brother into starting to build his first bobber. He did get a good set of handlebars made (he’s a welder by trade). He had also already removed the stock airbox and installed the individual pod filters for each carburetor (there are 2).

I got the bike in Jan 2013 and took it back to Iowa with me. A myriad of things were done to build the bobber. The huge seat had already been removed and I finished that job by removing the rear half fender and tail light assembly. I also cut the frame to make it shorter. Then a LaRosa solo seat was installed. I also removed the stock battery mount and built a small box and used a bike rack mount strap to hold the battery in and I painted the battery black to make it blend in more.
As recieved Jan 2013
Since I had removed the rear taillight and license plate mount I fabricated new mounts for those and installed the Iron cross tail light. Turn signals are via hand signals.

My brother had also installed the exhaust extensions with the fishtails. I removed those and ran without that part of the exhaust for a while. After a small run in with Johnny Law, and a warning for a loud exhaust, I cut the fish tail part off and put some baffles in the straight part and reinstalled the straight pipes. Of course, being an old bike the muffler under the bike had rusted some and one of the pipes fell off, so until I get back to fixing that the bike is back to no exhaust after that under-bike “muffler”.
working on it, battery box not done yet. rear frame rails not removed yet.
I painted the tank silver and ran the bike for a while with no front fender. Being that I got the bike in the winter/early spring I was often driving in the wet parking lot and quickly decided I needed a front fender. Luckily the Honda has a nice rounded front fender (vs a square type fender like a Yamaha Virago of the same vintage. I reinstalled the front fender but painted it black to blend in. That looked good, in my opinion.
I also left the chain guard installed,and have not repainted it yet. This is another utility thing. As I actually drive the bike, I’d rather not be covered in chain lube. I have seen tons of bikes in magazines that have neither of these things and I wonder how they ride without a front fender and chain guard.

most recent picture of bobber July 2014, rear shot. see Iron cross tail light

most recent picture of bobber July 2014, rear shot. see Iron cross tail light

I also did a lot of little tuning that comes with a 30 year old motorcycle. I cleaned the carbs, changed spark plugs, tuned the clutch release, etc.

This bike is an incredibly fun little bike for running around town. It’s not extremely powerful (about 30 hp) but it’s very light and it revs to around 10,000 rpm! It’s actually quite comfortable with the handlebars and seat the way they are. I have put about 1500 miles on it in the last few years and continue to drive it mostly around town, although the longest ride I taken it on was about 90 miles. I have also had a friend, who’s new to motorcycles, ride this bike around as a starter bike. It’s great because it’s not a bike you get to worried about if it gets a scratch or is driven in the rain.

1980’s bikes are pretty cheap to buy as far as buying a motorcycle, or any project goes. But make sure you check ahead of time, because parts can be expensive! A new/used coil for my bike is something like $400! while that’s all a whole bike costs also! Of course there are workarounds for everything, it just depends on how resourceful you are. Forums are a great place to get knowledge on older bikes. One I like is http://www.DotheTon.com My name on that forum is ajh1989, add me if you decide to get on that forum. There are also tons of bike specific forums with tons of gearheads who have probably already fixed the problem you are encountering, especially if it’s a 20 or 30 year old bike. You won’t be the first person to have had that problem.

Overall, bobbers are a great start to working on your own stuff. They are cheap to buy. Cheap to modify and cheap to insure! So what are you waiting for? Go out and buy a bike and chop it up!

Have you already bought/build a bobber/chopper/cafe racer/naked bike etc. Share it in the comments below!

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14. Ferrari 360 vs. 2014 Corvette

Quartermile:
If you found $70k in a bag in an alley what could you buy?
1999-2005 Ferrari 360 vs. 2014 Corvette
Or you could buy both cars from the last comparison ! 2002 Viper and a 2012 Boss Mustang, that’s probably what I’d do, or 10 $7k cars, ask my friends.

http://www.carid.com/xo-wheels/barcelona-black-machined-15594934.html

On to the country club:

Here I am again bench racing what I’d buy if I suddenly was to come upon $70k.
I have settled upon two cars, a 1999-2005 Ferrari 360 or a 2014 Chevrolet Corvette. Lets see how these 2 incredible cars stack up to each other.
ferrari 360 48k miles $60k
First the Ferrari. This car was Ferrari’s bread and butter car in the years it was made. They about 16,000 samples of this car in those years (a lot for a Ferrari), nearly equally split between coupes and spyder (convertible) models.
http://www.ferrarichat.com/forum/ferrari-discussion-not-model-specific-sponsored-algar-ferrari/196388-ferrari-road-car-models-production-numbers.html

Here are the hard numbers on the Ferrari 360.
3.6L V8, 400 HP, 2844 lbs, quarter mile 12.8 seconds at 110 mph (Wikipedia)
The last time I checked on EbayMotors there were 6 Ferrari 360’s between $60,000 and $70,000 and they had between 22,000 and 50,000 miles.
For reference a 360 new was between $140,000 and $180,000 so a price drop of almost ½ is incredible! http://autos.aol.com/cars-Ferrari-360+Modena-2004/user-reviews/
Of course you need to shop around to get the best deal.
ferrari 360

2014 vette blue_light
This brings us to the second car in our comparison. Incredibly, the beautifully redesigned for 2014 Corvette, can be bought for as little as $53,000 (or so tells me the Chevrolet website), or up to $65,000 for a LT3/Z51 model. Of course the Z06 and other faster models will be more but they will be out of the price/performance range of someone cross shopping with an older Ferrari. http://www.chevrolet.com/corvette-stingray/specs/trims.html

2014 Corvette

2014 Corvette

For a rough comparison on volumes, in 2013, that being the last year of the C6 there were approximately 14,000 corvettes sold.This is nearly as many in one year as all Ferrari 360’s for their whole production run.
http://www.corvettemuseum.org/specs/2013/2013CorvetteStats.pdf
The 2014 C7 Corvette is one of the greatest performance vehicles ever offered, and doubly so when the price is taken into account!
455 Horsepower (55 more than the Ferrari), 12.2 seconds in the quarter mile at 117 mph(.6 seconds faster than the Ferrari). 3444 Lbs (a full 600 Lbs heavier than the Ferrari)
2014 Corvette
These are both beautiful vehicles. Which one you would buy depends on what you intend to do with it. If it were me, I’d buy the Corvette if I planned to drive the car hard. Being that it’s a new car it’s less likely to break than a used Ferrari and if it does being new it will be under warranty. It’s also a faster car in every aspect than the Ferrari. The new Corvette is also a very aggressive looking car. The new front, side skirts, and rear quarters are all sculpted to make it look ready to pounce at any moment.
On the other hand, the 360 Ferrari is, in my opinion, an extremely beautiful car. The body lines just flow and look “right”. While the Corvette is an attack on your eyeballs, the Ferrari is more inviting. It seduces you with its curves. It invites you to rev it’s 3.6L to the 8500 RPM redline (vs the 6600 of the new Corvette). As in the Viper/Mustang comparison in the other article, the both cars will turn heads, but you will see many many more 2014 Corvettes vs Ferrari 360’s. If I was buying a car to turn heads and get “the look” in I’d go for the Ferrari.

Which do you prefer? Would you buy another car if you came upon $70k?

As always please share this with like minded friends, like the My Wheel Life Facebook page, etc. And if you do happen to come upon a bag full of money let us know!

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13. What is drag racing?

What is drag racing and a little on how to attend your first drag race.

Awesome Barracuda pulling a wheelie at the drag strip.

Awesome Barracuda pulling a wheelie at the drag strip.

Quartermile:
Perhaps you’ve wondered why I use the term “quartermile” for my short synopsis at the beginning of my posts (above).
This term comes from drag racing, which is probably the quickest form of vehicular competition, hence why I use it for my short intros.
Drag racing is the original “go fast” sport.
The first drag race took place in 1900 between a Mercedes and a horse. The horse won.
Skip to the end for tips for your first track day if you don’t want to read everything, but I’d read it if I were you!
If your car is faster than 11.5 seconds in the quartermile
1. You probably shouldn’t start racing with that car!
2. You will need a roll cage (and a SNELL approved) race helmet or you will get kicked out…
Generally at slower speeds you don’t need a helmet up to a certain speed, that varies by track. It has to be SNELL approved also, ask ahead of race day.

The Flying Mile

2 Funny cars drag racing. Funny cars are purpose built drag cars that go very fast.

2 Funny cars drag racing.
Funny cars are purpose built drag cars that go very fast.

If you are reading this you are probably a car person and you probably enjoy driving your car fast. Unfortunately, Uncle Sam frowns on you going much about 70 in most of the country and often over 55 mph is a no-no. Luckily there is an option for you Speedy Gonzalez. Drag Racing!

Speedy Gonzales

Speedy Gonzales

There is so much to say about drag racing so I’ll just start. Drag racing is a race between 2 vehicles (usually). It measures how quickly each vehicle can cover a set distance (usually a quarter of a mile (1320 feet). You have probably been exposed to drag racing from the Fast and Furious movies, or just about any other car tv movie or show when people ask “What will she do?” She being the car. It’s sort of like the bench press of the automotive world. It’s a great number to impress people, but using a few simple tricks you can make a car a lot faster for the quartermile but that will make it less potent in other forms of racing. Drag slicks and skinnies aren’t really the best for autocross or other racing that doesn’t involve going straight! That being said, I like drag racing for this sole reason, it’s the easiest performance benchmark to replicate. You can pay $40 (or $70 or more) to go to a local drag strip, race your car a few times and you know how quick it is. Then you can compare it to friends. This is much harder in autocross unless you are at the same track, and often those tracks get changed each week also. Same for times around a larger set race track. So, drag racing it is.

woman prepping her husbands drag car. Does she have a granddaughter?

woman prepping her husbands drag car. Does she have a granddaughter?

The ultimate goal of drag racing is getting the car to cover the distance in the shortest time possible, because faster is better right? Drag racing sure sounds easy you are thinking right? Well yes and no. In principle yes, but have you tried accelerating fast and in control? In all likelihood, no, you haven’t, and definitely not with 300 or more horsepower. Everyone wants to do burnouts in their high horse power car, which look cool, but that is actually the opposite of what you want to do when drag racing. Burning out = no traction. Which means not moving forward which means you lose the race. Now you’re a loser. Bummer.

At the end of a drag race you will get a time slip which will show you the time it took you to cover 60 feet, 330 feet, ⅛ mile, and a quartermile. It will also tell you your MPH at the ⅛ and quartermile points on the track which is important. I will help you decipher all these numbers to help you go quicker below.

But first! How does a drag race start? A smoking hot girl throws a hankie in the air right? Not so fast Dom (inic Toretto, Fast and Furious reference for you uninitiated).20140426_151648
Before you start the drag race you have to do a few things. First, you should usually do a burnout. This will clean the debris off your tires. It will also make them warm and sticky. This will help you accelerate and not spin your tires off the line. Then drag race starts with the “Christmas tree”. It’s a set of 7 lights. The top 2 tell you when you are at the starting line (when you are staged).
Detail of Christmas Tree Lights
The top one will blink when you break a laser beam, and you will roll an inch or 2 forward and the second one will light up (from your tire breaking another beam). You are now ready to race! Once the other driver has also staged the 3 yellow lights (below the staging lights), will blink off in .5 second intervals (for normal racing, all at once for professionals). Then the green light will light up and you should start going now! Actually in all likelihood you or your car will not be as fast to react as you think, therefore the slower your car the sooner you should start engaging the clutch/removing your foot from the brake, and pushing the gas. If you leave from the line before the green light goes you will “break out” which means you have lost the race before you started, because you started too early. Not a big deal on your first day. On the other hand, the tree also measures your “reaction time” how close your car left the starting line in relation to the green light. Depending on what type of racing you are doing you might have to pay attention to this number. If you are just doing it to see what your car can do, that is fine, but if you are actually racing, the reaction time gets factored into your overall time. If you and the other car run the same time but his reaction time is .000 (perfect) and yours is .500 seconds you lose, even though your cars were equal. You can actually lose if you have a faster car even! If you run 14.00 with a .5 reaction time, and the other guy runs a 14.1 with a .000 R.T. you still lose.

Now that you know about starting, lets break down my time slip below and try to understand what all the numbers mean starting with the 60’ time which is one of the most important numbers in drag racing. This tells you how good your car is sticking to the ground and how much traction you are getting. If your 60’ time is high that means you are spinning your tires, which means you are going slow. See my time slip below.

1998 Super Taco vs 2007 Musatng

1998 Super Taco vs 2007 Musatng

This is my 2007 Mustang GT vs a 1998 Toyota Tacoma pickup (not a performance vehicle in most peoples mind!) Our Mph was the same at the end of the track (100Mph) but his 60’ times are better and his over all time is lower by .821 seconds! That’s huge in drag racing. Why is he faster? He sticks to the track and uses his power while I was taking off, spinning tires, sometimes getting “wheel hop” etc. Who wants to take their mustang to the track and get smoked by a Toyota Taco? No one! How do we fix this? It (should be) easy. Basically you want to take off slowly enough, roll on the throttle to prevent wheel spin. You can also let air out of your tires to get better traction. Finally if you can, install drag slicks on your car. There are tons of other, more involved suspension mods you can do if you get fast enough, but that’s not the aim of this article.

Next we will compare the times of 2 cars that I raced separately and copy pasted their times together for a comparison of what the sticking to the track will do for you.

Super Taco vs. Some burnout

Super Taco vs. Some burnout

 

Burnout vs. Super taco

Burnout vs. Super taco

You will notice on the right is our friend the fast Taco vs some burnout car that I didn’t bother to document. You see again the Taco had the faster overall quartermile time 13.567 seconds vs. 13.757 for the burnout. But wait! The taco has a slower MPH at both the 1/8th and quarter miles. How is that? If you look at the 60’ times you will see. The Burnout had a time of 2.174 seconds vs. the Speed Taco at 1.892 seconds. This is showing that the Taco was accelerating very good and converting all his power into forward momentum vs the Burnout was spinning tires or had a bad start. So that brings us to the MPH. How was Burnout going faster at the end and still lost? The Burnout definitely had a bad start, spinning tires etc, which put it way behind. You see at the 330’ marker the Speed Taco had a lead of .337 seconds. This was cut down to .19 seconds at the end of the race. Therefor the Burnout had more horsepower and was accelerating faster once it finally got hooked up (probably 2nd or 3rd gear) whereas the Taco was always hooked but not quite as much power. So while power is good being able to transfer that power to the ground is also extremely important for your times and your ego! Don’t get smoked in your new bazillion HP car by some guy who knows how to race! Do burnouts, don’t be a burnout!

1998 Speed Taco 13.5 seconds in the quarter mile. Super Taco!

1998 Speed Taco 13.5 seconds in the quarter mile. Super Taco!

A few quick tips for your first track day.
1. You will need to go through tech inspection before they will let you drag race. Make sure all loose stuff is out of your car! Maps, shoes, kleenex, empty pop cans, etc. You don’t want that stuff flying around your car when you take off.
2. They will check some simple things like if your battery is tied down. Make sure it’s secured by something, at least the stock battery tie down!
3. Start accelerating when the 3rd yellow light is on. If you wait til it’s green you are already behind.
4. Do a burnout, if you have an AWD car this probably doesn’t apply.

burnout before drag racing to clean tires, get them hot, and help you stick to the track

burnout before drag racing to clean tires, get them hot, and help you stick to the track

5. Take off slowly. Don’t try to launch your car at 5000 rpm the first time. Ease onto the throttle, see how your car sticks. If you stick good, then try a little more gas next time.
6. If you do eventually start spinning on take off let some air out of your tires. Maybe to about 10 PSI. This completely depends on what type of tire you have, how far from home you are, etc. Don’t let all the air out of your tires and then be mad at me when you can’t get home! But even down to 15 psi you can drive a little bit safely. Air your tires up again ASAP!
7. Talk with other racers! They will give you tons of help. They are generally a super helpful bunch, but maybe don’t ask the guy with a top fuel dragster to help you drive your stock 2000 Honda Civic… He’s probably pretty busy and has a lot of money tied up in his car and he’s probably pretty serious. Maybe ask the guy who’s just a few seconds faster.
8. If you want to start modding your car once you have the technique down, but don’t have any money, removing weight also makes your car faster. Remove the spare tire, passenger seat, rear seat (those are the 3 easiest things to remove. A general rule of thumb is every 100 lbs removed from your car = .1 second faster in the quartermile. Don’t forget you need to reinstall these things sometime…
9. Have FUN!

Now that you know all about drag racing how do you start? It’s pretty simple to drag race. You can literally drag race any vehicle. I’ve seen Dodge Caravans, pickup trucks, Buick Century’s as well as the normal car’s you’d expect like muscle cars, import tuners and purpose built drag cars. A normal one day of drag racing test and tune will cost you between $25 and $75 dollars to run as many runs as you can get in, base on how many people are there. So get to the track! What are you waiting for?!?!?!?

Per usual please share this if you enjoyed it! Like “My Wheel Life” on Facebook, etc.

Here’s a great (non-traditional) drag race staged by Motortrend magazine between a ton of cars!
Motortrend Greatest Drag race 2. This is my favorite of the 3 “worlds greatest drag race” videos.

12. Modern muscle vs. classic supercar

Quartermile:
Window shopping for cars is one of my favorite past times.
I have a diverse love of cars.
New (2012) cars often outperform, or at least equal, old (2002) “exotics” or supercars.
So for this article I’m only considering cars built basically 1998-2014

1995/6 Dodge Viper

1995/6 Dodge Viper

The Flying mile:
This article is dedicated to window shopping (or Ebay shopping). For the purposes of this exercise I’m going to assume your great uncle Alfred has died and left you $35k to buy a car. Lucky you! But sorry for your loss. 😦
My favorite place to look for a wide range of cars like this is Ebay because of it’s quick sort properties. I generally type the vehicle I want, then “Buy It now” then sort by “Lowest Price first” and that tells you the absolute bottom price you can pay for a car of that make. There are other ways to car shop, as I’ve talked about before, but this is definitely the quickest I’d say.
https://mywheellife.com/2014/05/30/6-my-wheel-life-how-to-buy-a-vehicle/

With $35k you could buy a LOT of different cars, but again for the sake of argument, lets say you are into american muscle cars. V8 (or V10 – Dodge Viper). What kinds of cars can you afford in the $35k price range? There are TONS of cars you can buy for that. Porsches, Toyota Supras, Skylines, Camaros, RX-7’s, Mercedes. So let’s say you are in the market for a newer American Muscle car. But do you want an “exotic” such as a classic Dodge Viper? or a more modern car like a Shelby or Boss Mustang? Let’s investigate the merits of each.

I’ve picked 3 cars below, an older (10+ years old) Dodge Viper, a 7 year old Shelby Mustang GT500 and a 2012 Boss Mustang. Seems like a pretty strange comparison of cars? Why not a New Dodge Challenger? Because I like the Mustangs, and the Viper, that’s why. Also, for the people who are extremely brand loyal I ask why? Any one engineer could end up working for any of the Big 3 (Ford, Chevrolet, Dodge) or any car manufacturer for that matter. They are all big companies and when it gets to these very fast cars everyone is on a pretty level playing field, despite what Brand Loyalists will argue. Perhaps in the future I’ll look at some more comparison. Anyway, onto the numbers.

The first car to consider is a 2nd generation Dodge Viper. I really love the style of this car, especially the coupe. There were approximately 10,000 Vipers made in this 6 year span. That low production,compared to 10,000 2007 Mustang GT500’s, puts the viper in the class of an exotic. Also that it was significantly more powerful than the “normal” muscle cars of the day, Camaros, Mustangs. It was in Lamborghini fast and powerful territory. What are the benefits of buying an exotic? For one exclusivity. How many will you see? From the production numbers, not many! What are the downsides of an exotic. Not as many people will be qualified to work on it and parts will be expensive. You see the Viper has taken quite a cost depreciation (for examples worth $35k vs it’s starting cost at the turn of the millennium. But there are also many selling for lots over the $35k mark. Despite being older the viper posts competitive performance numbers to the newer “common” car.

2002 Dodge Viper

2002 Dodge Viper


1996-2002 (2nd gen) Dodge Viper
Cost new: $70,000
450 Horsepower 8L Natural aspirated V10 engine
Quartermile 12.2-12.3 seconds
3420 Lbs (500lbs lighter than 2007 Mustang GT500)
Top Speed: 185 Mph
http://www.musclecargarage.com/dreamcar.html
http://www.cars.com/dodge/viper/1998/expert-reviews

2007 Shelby Mustang GT500

2007 Shelby Mustang GT500


The 2007 Mustang GT500 is the next car we will consider. Funny that it’s another snake (Viper vs Cobra).
Cobra vs. Viper

Cobra vs. Viper


It boasted 500 horsepower which puts it ahead of the older viper yet you see the quartermile time is slower. Part of this can have to do with track prep, vehicle prep, driver. You can see times vary by as much as .5 seconds on a vehicle based on those factors. You’ll see the same time slip discrepancies for a 2012 Boss below .6 seconds between different magazine tests. For reference once a vehicle goes 11.5 seconds in a quarter mile you need to install a roll cage. So for the average Joe the Viper is probably a little faster, based on the test numbers. Also the exclusivity of the Viper is a selling point. “Total production for 2007 GT500’s comes to 10,844 units with 8,150 of those being coupes and 2,694 being” – MotorAuthority. And that was only one year! same as 6 for the Viper.You will also not that the top speed of the GT500 is limited to 155 Mph this is pretty standard, unless a car is an exotic, like the Viper, but really when will you go that fast?
2007 Mustang GT500
Cost new: <$50k,000
500 HP 5.4L supercharged V8
Quartermile 12.7-12.9 seconds
3920 Lbs
Top Speed: Electronically limited to 155 Mph
http://www.motorauthority.com/news/1017481_official-2007-shelby-gt500-production-numbers

2012 Boss Mustang
The last car we will consider is a 2012 Boss Mustang. This “common” car is boasting 444 hp, almost as much as the 10+ year older Viper. The Boss went on a diet compared to it’s older brother the 2007 GT500. It also lost some horsepower, but you can see from the quartermile times that they are at least equal or some places measured the Boss as faster and equal to the 10 year older Viper which is a much higher class of vehicle. Again, this is based on a lot of factors such as track prep, driver, etc. This also goes to show what 10 years of technology will do for performance when this Mustang costs about 1/2 of what the Viper did 10 years earlier and is on the same performance level. For exclusivity there were approximately 4000 2012 Boss Mustang’s built in one year. You will see that the depreciation is not near what the Viper, being 10 years old, is, only a few thousand from the MSRP of $42k to our target of around $35k. Also you get the benefit of newer technology and with that reliability. I would say that a 2012 Boss will have more readily available and cheaper parts than a 2002 Dodge Viper.
2012 Boss Mustang
Cost New:$42,000
444 HP 5.0L Naturally aspirated V8
Quartermile 12.3-12.8 Seconds
3666 LBS
Top Speed: Electronically limited to 155 Mph

2012 Boss Mustang

2012 Boss Mustang


http://www.caranddriver.com/reviews/2012-ford-mustang-boss-302-test-review
http://www.motortrend.com/roadtests/coupes/1102_2012_ford_mustang_boss_302_test/specs_test_data.html

Based on the above synopsis, which vehicles would you buy? I am torn. All will be great vehicles down the road and will get many looks from passers-by. Do you want the raw power and exclusivity of a V10 Viper or the newer reliability and equal performance of the newer Boss or Shelby. Once you get to vehicles of this performance in competition, a lot of the performance falls on the driver as these are all more car than most people are ever exposed to. So which one would you buy? What other vehicles would you consider?