Bugatti Veyron, Elio And My Wheel Life

I read an interesting article today about the Bugatti Veyron, the most expensive production car, that had any significant volume. Don’t tell me about the $4 million Lambo they made 3 of, they’ve made hundreds of Veyrons. That a lot for a hypercar. It ended with this sentence. “The Bentley customer on average owns 8 cars. The average Bugatti customer has about 84 cars, 3 jets and one yacht.” Along with a book I’ve been reading, this sentence got me thinking.

Bugatti Veyron Thanks to Axion23 (Flickr Creative Commons)

Bugatti Veyron
Thanks to Axion23 (Flickr Creative Commons)

What is the purpose of a supercar (or 84). I’ve lusted after supercars, muscle cars, dirt bikes, Harley’s, rat rods and muscle cars since I was young. My father was a “car guy”, and really he was a race car driver, which is a special kind of car guy who loves to spend even more of his his money than the average car guy on his car and a car guy who actually drives his car hard 99% of the time (except when idling around the pits.)

Dad racing picture

Anyway, between that and the time I saw a guy who was about 5 years older than me driving his Firebird around with some attractive girls, I’ve always been attracted to cars (and girls).

I am pretty lucky and blessed as peoples lives go. I currently own a total of 5 licensed vehicles, including a Honda bobber I built mostly myself and a GSXR 600, a Monte Carlo SS Aerocoupe, a Mustang a winter beater truck, and a dirt bike, just for fun, and even some projects sitting at my parents home to be completed…. sometime. I recently had a realization of sorts that it just might be financially feasible for me to purchase some of the vehicles I had lusted after as a child. 2012 Boss Mustang? Dodge Viper? Corvette? Ferrari?

I ran into a few problems once I started down this line of thinking. One problem was the insurance, registration and maintenance on the cars I had already was a pretty significant annual cost. Another was, as I’m a big fan of “giving back” I started to contemplate if it was reasonable for me to have so much while some has so little.

Which brings me back to the question, why do we keep building more and more vehicles for ourselves? Are we trying to buy happiness? This has lead me to ask myself “What will really make me happy?” A sentence from “Deep Economy” by Bill McKibben states “volunteer work of all kinds generated ‘high levels of joy, exceeded only by dancing’. Why? The most common answers included ‘I meet people and make friends through it.’”

So are we really getting all this satisfaction from more and more cars? My personal answer seems to be a no. Which is a difficult thing to say. I have loved cars since I can remember. I even went school to design them (I’m working on diesel engines, a bit of a compromise, but still designing and engines, I’ll count it as a win).

I’ve been attending a financial club which has been telling me some things that are not novel by any means but might sound that way just because of the stories we’re fed by the media. One is “Don’t buy a car with a loan, pay cash.” What a crazy idea? I’ve bought 3 vehicles with loans since I graduated college, granted they have each been under $10000 so total, they are about equal to one $20,000 car a “normal” person would have bought, but being a car guy, I have had the urge for quantity over quality at times.

Recently I reevaluated my finances. I determined my recurring monthly and told a friend about it. After she told me my monthly recurring expenses was greater than her salary, I thought I could make a change. I’ve been living in a single apartment for 2 years. I’m hoping to move in with a roommate and cut some that expense about in half (I have already talked to a few people and believe I have plans made, but it’s not been executed yet so I have to count it as in progress still). I have also had to re-evaluate my eating habits. No doubt, the normal person would take one look at my eating habits and say “WTF”. I often eat out for lunch 5x a week and usually 2+ times a  week for diner, and not counting weekends in that even, those are free right? Wrongo-Bongo. I’ve tried to be a bit more reasonable in that and purchase food at the beginning of the week and make a lunch. That cuts the expenses in half at least. Couple that with eating out less overall and I feel I’m on a good path.

I have had a hard time giving up the cars. I still have them all, although I have threatened to sell the Mustang (to myself) a few times. I just haven’t pulled the trigger yet. It sounds nice and makes me smile. I’m not advocating for complete immaterialism, although minimalism has made a lot of folks happy. I’ve been considering a quote from a priest friend “I live simply so others can simply live.” That really makes you stop and think.

So to bring it back to cars, what car is living simply? What is the complete opposite of a Bugatti Veryron? How about an Elio? This is a car that’s not designed to be a “look at me car”. It’s built on practicality. On preserving the earth. On getting 84 MPG instead of 2.3MPG for the Veyron (at 253 mph). To be fair, it likely won’t be driven that fast, or likely at all, considering the 84 other cars, and 3 jets and a yacht it’s average owner has to spend time driving. Lets be honest, if you make that much money, you likely don’t need to drive yourself around, and probably you don’t! Your body guards probably won’t let you. What if instead of measuring our success by the number of cars we have we measured it by the number of people we’ve helped? Or what if businesses didn’t measure success by how much money they made but by how much they let the people buying their products keep? Crazy?

elio

Here’s my proposal (because I still like cars, a LOT!). Someone who’s rocking one of these 84 cars (Jay Leno maybe?), please let me borrow one, just for a year (and pay my insurance please 🙂  (or maybe about 8 months) and let me use it to find myself and influence people in a positive way. That’s My Wheel Life today. Hope you enjoyed it. And if you know someone who’s own 84 cars, please forward this to them.

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What idea most affected you out of this article?

How do you measure your own success?

 

First Time Seeing A New Car Model In The Wild

Quartermile:

That magical moment you see a new car model driving in the world for the first time.

The Sighting!

The process of a new car being released in an interesting one. There is first the concept car, usually shown years ahead of time. Is it an accurate representation of the new car? Maybe? Maybe it’s just market hype. Often the cooler aspects of the concept car are removed to make the car more cost effective. For this article I will be focusing on the 2015 Mustang since from what I understand you could begin taking orders September 9th 2014. How did we come to this car? First there was the concept, the Evos, released around 2011 (3 years before production). While it wasn’t directly a mustang those who were thinking ahead and looking deeper could see the gears turning in the minds of the designers at Ford.

Evos – Autoviva – Flickr

Ford Evos concept Photo - Autoviva - Flickr

Ford Evos concept
Photo – Autoviva – Flickr

Next came the spy photos. For the 2015 mustang these were around June 2013, so a year before production at the factory. These often tell you less than the concept since it’s a car but completely covered with leather and canvas to hide the true shape of the vehicle.

photos – Karen Roe Flicker 

New Mustang spy photos?  Flickr - Karen Roe

New Mustang spy photos?
Flickr – Karen Roe

After that came the first release to magazines. This is our first view of a new vehicle and we can begin to get a feel what it’s like, but we’re still not really sure. Pictures often can make a vehicle look better or worse, depending on the angles. For the Mustang this official unveiling was around January 2014 (9 months before production).

Shortly after that the Mustang was debuted at motor shows around the world. This allows people to look at and touch the car for the first time. It’s a magical time. You can determine if you were right or wrong about the looks of the new car.

Then it’s months of magazine comparisons and hype.

Depending on how much you pay attention to a new vehicle, you’ll know the exact day it was made available to the public to buy, or not.
But one day you will be sitting in traffic and that car you’ve been hearing about for so long will go driving by unassumingly. You might even miss it!
You’ll question, was that a new X.

Photo provided Kyle Harris - Flickr

Photo provided Kyle Harris – Flickr

photos – Kyle Harris -Flicker 

It then becomes a game (at least for me) of if and when I can spot a new model.

The most recent time this happened for me was the new Corvette. A co-worker bought one, but was pretty low key about it. So I kept my ears and eyes open. Eventually I bumped into him outside of work and got a peek at his beautiful new car! What a treat!

Since that time I’ve seen a few more new Corvettes around town. They are all exciting, especially keeping a mental tally of each new one by color. There’s now a red one, white one, blue one etc.

So the next new car I’ll be keeping my eyes peeled for is a new Mustang, which I should be seeing in the next month or so.

Don’t forget to Like us on Facebook to get continued interesting auto news and musings.
What is the next new car you’re looking forward to seeing?
What was the most exciting new car you saw for the first time in the wild?

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?

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10. My Wheel Life – Hot Rod Power Tour 2014, Part 2 of 3

Quartermile
Continued coverage of HRPT 2014
The greatest road trip in America!
Check my Part 1 if you haven’t yet.
https://mywheellife.com/2014/06/15/8-my-wheel-life-hot-rod-power-tour-part-1/

Clean Chevelle (to show you all I'm not only about rat trucks!)

Clean Chevelle (to show you all I’m not only about rat trucks!)


The Full Mustang?

Tuesday June 10th 2014 Drive from Charleston, WV to Norwalk, OH
This day started by picking up the parts we had ordered the day before for the Mustang, lower a-arms and front struts. $600 and we were on the road with the rest of the tour.
We arrived at Summit Motorsports Park around 3 pm. This was one of the easiest venues to get into. I suppose because they had plenty of room and are set up to handle that many cars? We parked the Mustang by the GM rescue mechanics. As I mentioned before, if you are having serious problems and bring these guys parts and a broken car, they will fix it, no charge! This is my official “Thank You” to those guys!

GM mechanics saving our Ford! Great guys!

GM mechanics saving our Ford! Great guys!


They won’t swap your new cam in! But if your car has brakes fading away, clunky suspension (guilty) or other safety issues they will help in a heart beat. They also were helping some guys with rough running vehicles, etc once they got caught up on the safety stuff. I asked Robbie to watch the car get fixed while I went and got my Golden ticket for the Comp Cams drawing. I talked with quite a few folks while walking around in my Spartan outfit. Many people gave me thumbs up and took pictures. A few shook their heads, some asked if I lost a bet, all understandable.
HRPT golden ticket Spartan!

HRPT golden ticket Spartan!


One guy I talked to while walking around was David Brown. He had 2 vehicles on Power tour, a 1928 Ford and a 1964 Ford, both trucks.
David Brown, 1928 Ford

David Brown, 1928 Ford


David Brown 1964 Ford truck. Very cool shop truck style!

David Brown 1964 Ford truck. Very cool shop truck style!


Once our car got fixed and I received my Golden Ticket we walked around a little. We ran into the guys driving the Evil Atom. They have to at least be in the running for the toughest guys on power tour. This year was pretty nice weather, but the lack of any roof makes it even tougher to drive (through rain) than most rat rods, and this is something like these guys 6 HRPT.
http://evilatom.com/
Evil Atom (Screen shot stolen from the Evil Atom website)

Evil Atom (Screen shot stolen from the Evil Atom website)


That night we stayed at a small hotel and once again meet some cool folks there. Robert Brown (no relation to David) shared with us his 1973 Firebird. What a clean car!
Robert Brown's Firebird

Robert Brown’s Firebird


Don't drink the Kool-aid from the Firebird's radiator!

Don’t drink the Kool-aid from the Firebird’s radiator!


20140610_204339

Wednesday June 11th Norwalk, OH to Crown Point, IN
The next day we headed out and what a great drive that was! No clunking, our stuck brake pad had been replaced, the drive was quiet and we could actually enjoy it! Today’s drive included a stop at Lane Automotive. We choose to skip it, much to my angst now. I was told by fellow Power Tourer’s that it was a great stop! I guess the lesson here is “Never skip a lunch stop!”
We arrived at Lake County Fairgrounds in Crown Point, IN around 3 pm. This was a very cool stop! The fairgrounds was a very cool setting, it wasn’t rows of cars, they were parked in between trees, around a lake etc. It made for a nice walk. There were a ton of great cars this day (just like every other day).
I met Bobby from Sons of Anarchy! (Not actually, but sure looks similar!)
How serendipitous that I had my Sturgis Motorcycle Rally shirt on from last year.

Bobby! (almost)

Bobby! (almost)

Actually Bobby from SOA

Actually Bobby from SOA


After checking in we started walking around the pond. This was where we met a ton of cool Hot Rodders!

I had been seeing these “Laid-Back” stickers popping up on everyone’s cars. Shane was putting one on his 1966 Ford with the 7.3 diesel earlier in the week when I met him, and a ton of other vehicles had them on also. I finally took the chance to stop and say to these guys. I talked with Chris Barker at that booth. They had a couple cool woodie wagons there and Batavus scooter. I studied abroad in Holland and this particular model was made in Holland so I am a bit more partial to it than most people.

http://laidbackusa.com/

Laid Back scooter/motorcycle. I studied abroad in Holland and this particular model was made in Holland so I am a bit more partial to it than most people. The brand is Batavus.

Laid Back scooter/motorcycle. I studied abroad in Holland and this particular model was made in Holland so I am a bit more partial to it than most people. The brand is Batavus.


This car was a popular car at every stop. Didn’t get the guys name.
This was a very popular car at HRPT. It has a overhead cam Inline 6 cylinder Pontiac engine. Quite the unique power plant! The rest of the car was very unique also.

This was a very popular car at HRPT. It has a overhead cam Inline 6 cylinder Pontiac engine. Quite the unique power plant! The rest of the car was very unique also.

Here’s another vehicle I didn’t get much info on but I thought the rusty flames were pretty neat!
20140611_164741

cool rust flames!

cool rust flames!


The next vehicle I stopped at was the Ring Brothers party camper. These guys build incredible cars. Check out this custom Pantera they recently finished. On the HRPT they were just having fun, I didn’t see any vehicles, besides the party camper, which was pretty awesome!

https://ringbrothers.com/
http://www.autoblog.com/2013/11/06/ring-brothers-adrnln-pantera-sema-2013/

RingBrothers party camper. You see they let me brand their gas tank with a MyWheelLife.com decal. cool guys who build awesome vehicles! Check them out.

RingBrothers party camper. You see they let me brand their gas tank with a MyWheelLife.com decal. cool guys who build awesome vehicles! Check them out.

After them I walked past the dyno, which was at every stop on the power tour. It was a popular attraction every day.

Saleen Mustang on the traveling dyno

Saleen Mustang on the traveling dyno


Overlooking the dyno I talked with Ryan of Rusted Knuckles Garage. I was unable to find his website but I did find his youtube channel. Check out the pictures of his truck below. He was running Buick GN turbos from a 3.8 V6 but he had 2 of them on his SBC V8. He was nice enough to let me sit in his cool truck. It was awesome but a bit tight for me! The truck is named “Hands Full” because it’s a handful to control all that power when you hit the gas!



Crazy twin turbo small block Chevrolet rat truck. The turbos were from a Buick Grand National.

Crazy twin turbo small block Chevrolet rat truck. The turbos were from a Buick Grand National.


The Hands Full truck was a pretty tight fit. That's what happens when you channel a body over the frame.

The Hands Full truck was a pretty tight fit. That’s what happens when you channel a body over the frame.


Awesome front view of Hands Full!

Awesome front view of Hands Full!

After Ryan’s truck I ran into another rat. This one was built by Rich of the Hoosier Head Hunters. They were from pretty close by and had brought a few cars. Ryan’s was very cool. If you check out their FB page you can probably get in touch with Ryan. He said the truck was up for sale or trade if you are interested!
https://www.facebook.com/HoosierHeadhunters

Rich from Hoosier HeadHunters car club from Cedar Lake, IN.

Rich from Hoosier HeadHunters car club from Cedar Lake, IN.


There was one more awesome rat truck I took pictures of that day. Are you starting to feel a trend here? Is there something in the water in Indiana? If there is I hope I got some!

20140611_162802
20140611_162711
Later that night we stayed at Red Roof Inn and there were a TON of hot rodders there! Here’s a few pictures.

Cool HRPT parking lot!

Cool HRPT parking lot!


20140612_074005

One more vehicle that wasn’t a rat! Quite far from it! This just shows the variability of HPRT vehicles which is what makes it so great!

Cool Lotus on HRPT!

Cool Lotus on HRPT!


What were your favorite parts of Tuesday/Wednesday of Power Tour 2014 (Norwalk, OH and Crown Point, IN)?
What were your favorite cars?
Very nice 1969 or 1970 Mustang (to show you all I'm not only about rat trucks!)

Very nice 1969 or 1970 Mustang (to show you all I’m not only about rat trucks!)


Crazy Holden Ute from Australia? El Camino anyone?

Crazy Holden Ute from Australia? El Camino anyone?


What was the strangest car you saw on HRPT?
Did you meet as many cool people as I did?
Who was the most interesting person you met?
There are a lot more cool stories from HRPT, more cars, more people, more burnouts! So stay tuned! Subscribe, follow on FB, share with your friends, so you get to read the exciting final HRPT 2014 article (probably sometime in the next week or so).
As always, thanks for reading!
Here are all my pictures from HRPT 2014. They are on my FB page.
https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.285163794988893.1073741832.278105162361423&type=3
https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.285152084990064.1073741831.278105162361423&type=3

9. What does Hot Rod Power Tour cost? – Answer: It’s worth it!

Quartermile:
It’s definitely worth the cost!
But the Hot Rod Power Tour isn’t actually about the cost, it’s about the the cars, the comradery and the burnouts!
A lot of people are probably interested in what it would cost them, hence why I thought I’d write this up.
There is no price you can put on being a “Long Hauler”. You will get recognition and instant friendship with any other Long Haulers you meet up with at any car show.
Check out my daily logs of HRPT 2014 and all the cool people I met and all the awesome cars I saw!
https://mywheellife.com/2014/06/15/8-my-wheel-life-hot-rod-power-tour-part-1/
https://mywheellife.com/2014/06/19/10-my-wheel-life-hot-rod-power-tour-part-2-of-3/
https://mywheellife.com/2014/06/28/11-hot-rod-power-tour-2014-part-33/

Robbie and I, HRPT long haulers

Robbie and I, HRPT long haulers

The Full Monty
$1988.73. That is what I figure the raw cost was for me to be on HRPT this year. That takes into account all the food, snacks, gas, hotels, broken parts, registration, magazine renewals, t-shirts, etc. Some of this will be reduced when I split the hotels with my buddy, Robbie (watch for a bill in the mail). I’d definitely recommend doing power tour with at least one friend. This lets you talk to someone while driving, maybe I’m just a sentimental person like that. You also will have someone to split gas and hotels with, and you’ll have a navigator, which is very very helpful!

Cool HRPT parking lot!

Cool HRPT parking lot!

I spent $630.57 on parts and service by a shop on my car. So if you take that out my cost would have been $1358.26, which is not bad at all. That being said, power tour is a very demanding trip on cars and you should be ready to spend money on broken parts. Don’t be surprised! I was quoted $1400 to replace the struts and a-arms on my mustang, luckily the GM performance mechanics were able to replace the a-arms for a total of $0. This will be one place I take to say “Thank You” to those guys. They saved so many cars this year (and every year) for no charge. They are really great guys, super friendly, and obviously they kept me going and allowed me to finish the HRPT in one piece!

Mustang getting alignment

Mustang getting alignment

To break down the costs by what they were spent on:

Registration:
My registration was $93.50 because I registered the first day at zMax in Charlotte. Because I used a credit card it cost me an extra $3.50. If you registered early it was $80 instead of $90.
Really the registration is a deal. Your long hauler ticket gets you tons of free stuff from the aftermarket companies that have booths at HRPT. Magnets, the all important HRPT stickers!, posters, car polish, and tons of other goodies, and at the end if you complete the whole thing there is always a long hauler “prize”. This year was an awesome 20th anniversary tin sign, so while this seems like a lot of money up front, it’s really all paid back to you. This registration is per car, and you get 2 “punch cards” per registration.

Long hauler punch card, you get all kinds of free stuff with this!

Long hauler punch card, you get all kinds of free stuff with this!

HRPT 20th anniversary Long Hauler tin sign

HRPT 20th anniversary Long Hauler tin sign

All important HRPT year sticker. (also MyWheelLife.com sticker, available for your own car, email me)

All important HRPT year sticker. (also MyWheelLife.com sticker, available for your own car, email me)

Hotels:
7 Hotels cost me $570.28
To be fair Robbie, did pay for one night’s hotel which was not included.

Gas:
All the gas to drive from Iowa, to North Carolina, back to Wisconsin and back to Iowa cost me a total of $410.36. That’s not bad! to be fair here, I was driving a 2007 Mustang that got 25 mpg average.
The HRPT prescribed route was 1602.1 miles this year. Just to drive that with my mustang would have cost $225 (assuming $3.50/gallon gas).
If you are calculation costs for the tour you simply have to take the number of miles for you from your home to the start, the total mileage of HRPT (usually about 1500) and then the miles from the end back home, divide that by the mpg of your car, and then multiply by and average gas/gallon price (I’m using $3.50 for now)
So if you drove a total of 3000 miles with a car that got 10 mpg it would have cost you $1000. Still not that terrible.

Cool Camaro at Gas station

Cool Camaro at Gas station

Food
I spent $175.63 on food (at restaurants) this year. This was usually a fast lunch and a pretty good diner. Robbie paid for some of my diner’s and I paid for some of his so I believe this is a pretty good average.

To be fair my co-pilot (Robbie) bought us a lot of snacks/breakfast/donuts. We didn’t eat breakfast too many times.
I spent about $40 on snacks/drinks.

There are a ton of variable costs for power tour. There are a ton of great deals for shirts. Comp cams and Petty’s Garage were both selling $5 t-shirts.
I also renewed my Hot Rod and Car Craft magazine (for 3 years each) for a total of $52, and got a free t-shirt! Since that was something I would have done anyway, that was basically a freebie!
The HRPT shirts are a bit expensive, $20+ for a t-shirt (that’s expensive to me when Comp Cams is selling $5 shirts) but some of the HRPT t-shirts are very cool and I wouldn’t dissuade anyone from buying one.
I also spend $30 on supplies to make my Comp Cams drawing costume. The drawing was Friday at the last stop, Wisconsin Dells, WI and the winner got $10,000 in Comp Cams (and other companies they own) shopping spree. This year I got $100 to buy stuff from Comp Cams for my troubles, as a consolation prize. The Comp Cams guys are great and it was fun walking around talking to people so that was worth it to me.

HRPT golden ticket Spartan!

HRPT golden ticket Spartan!

Overall, the HRPT is really a pretty cheap vacation. Really if you wanted, your only costs could be gas, hotels and food, and you’d get to see a ton of cool cars. Probably the cheapest way to see the whole HRPT would be to drive a station wagon with 4 guys, stuff all 4 of you in one hotel room, split gas and then just a bit of food would be it. That would honestly be awesome! Let me know if anyone has done that!
But like I said at the beginning, HRPT isn’t about the cost. It’s about the cars, the comradery, the friendships and the memories, and you can’t put a price on any of that.
“It’s worth it!” – Axel Hoogland
So will you be making HRPT in the near future?
What’s your favorite car road trip besides HRPT?

Hope you all enjoyed this post. If you did please follow me via email so you don’t miss any future posts. Also like my Facebook page, share this post with your friends, etc.
Keep the wheels on the road!

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8. My Wheel Life – Hot Rod Power Tour, Part 1

Quartermile:
Hot Rod Power tour is a 7 day traveling car show.
It changes it’s route every year.
It starts in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin, next year.
You need to attend at least one day, preferably more, if it comes through your town see it!

The Full Monty:

Robbie and I, HRPT long haulers

Robbie and I, HRPT long haulers


My college friend Robbie and I participated as “Long Haulers” in the Hot Rod Power Tour (HRPT) this year. What is HRPT you ask? It’s probably the largest touring car show in the world. The core group of hot rod cars are early “hot rods”, 1960’s and 1970’s muscle cars, and late model cars. Some people would argue that HRPT is only for muscle cars or hot rods, in reality just about any cars are welcome, gassers, hot rods, muscle cars (new and old), super cars, kit cars, trucks, rat rods, there are even a few imports. All cars are welcome and most guys on the tour are cool with all cars. The cars are the stars at HRPT but meeting thousands of other hot rodders, talking about what they did to their car, learning tricks and tips for your next build and forming friendships that will last the years, is what HRPT is all about!
Gasser Chevrolet Shoebox (1955 or 1956)

Gasser Chevrolet Shoebox (1955 or 1956)


This year HRPT took place from June 7th to June 14th. HRPT changes it’s route every year. There are approximately 1500-2000 “Long Haulers”, people who do every day of the show. There are also thousands of people who show up for one or two days locally wherever the show stops. The show takes a meandering route through the country, avoiding as many interstates and main roads (as possible, usually). This year HRPT started in Charlotte, NC at zMax Drageway-Charlotte Motor Speedway for the opening day. Sunday morning we left from there to Chillhowee Park in Knoxville, TN. From there Monday morning we drove to downtown charleston, WV. Tuesday – Summit motorsports Park, Norwalk, IA. Wednesday – Lake County fairgrounds, Crown Point, IN, Thursday – The Isle Casino, Bettendorf, IA and finally Friday June 13th at Chula Vista Resort in Wisconsin Dells, WI.
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http://www.familyevents.com/event/229
There was also a final long hauler only send off early Saturday, June 14th, which we left town by 9 am. I’ll be sharing about half of my trip in this post and half in another. Power tour is too big and awesome for one article!

Onto the show!
The first thing is to get to the start of the show. I left from Iowa early morning Friday June 6th and drove to Knoxville, TN and stayed there. Then I drove to Charlotte, morning Saturday, June 7th for the first day. You can register ahead of time or at the event, I choose at the event and it was $90. The first day was at zMax drag strip in Charlotte, NC. The drag strip was open and a lot of hot rodders were racing their cars. Walking back to my car I met Joe from 513 Motorsports out of Ohio. He had a very cool 1993 Dodge Dakota that is currently running a twin turbo setup and a Megasquirt 3 fuel management system, all built by himself. He said he hadn’t used a tig welder until he bought some pre-bent mandrel tubing and started making his headers. They turned out beautiful! Check Joe out at 513 Motorsports on FB.
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513 Motorsports twin turbo 1993 Dodge Dakota, runs 11's in the quarter mile. Sweet!!!!

513 Motorsports twin turbo 1993 Dodge Dakota, runs 11’s in the quarter mile. Sweet!!!!


Later that night I met up my friend Robbie at our hotel. Hotels are a great place to talk to other HRPT participants. The first guy I talked to was Rick Brooks of the Newberry Car Buffs club. He was driving his 1952 Chevrolet Deluxe. He had a very extensive restoration. He also performed an LT1 engine swap, a huge upgrade over the original I6 in power. This was a very beautiful car and nicely restored.
http://www.newberrycarbuffs.com/
1952 Chevrolet Deluxe, with LT1 (1990's version), by Rick Brooks, Newberry Car Buffs.

1952 Chevrolet Deluxe, with LT1 (1990’s version), by Rick Brooks, Newberry Car Buffs.

Sunday June 8th 2014
This was the first day driving, we left around 10 am and followed the recommended scenic route. The general daily drives are 200-300 miles. And can take up to 8 hours once you take into account stops, traffic jams (caused by 2000-3000 HRPT cars), lunch breaks and burnouts through small towns. The drive is an integral and fun part of HRPT, especially since there are thousands of cool cars all around you. We rolled into the show around 5 pm. At this show I met a fellow Iowan, Shane Sherman (shanesherman22@hotmail.com), who has his own shop, Honus Motorsports (Like on FB) in Williamsburg, IA. He was driving a very cool 1970’s Ford 2wd truck that he had swapped a 7.3L Ford diesel engine into. He had built that truck between Feb 2014 and June 2014!

Shane’s 1966 (I believe) Ford with a 7.3 diesel

Shane’s 1966 (I believe) Ford with a 7.3 diesel


This was also where I saw my favorite build of an 2002 (approximately) Camaro. I really like the side skirts and the “Remember the Buster”tribute to Paul Walker (Bryan Oçonnor – Fast and Furious movies) was also a nice touch.
2002 (ish) Camaro

2002 (ish) Camaro


R.I.P - Paul Walker

R.I.P – Paul Walker


A third great vehicle from this day was a late 80’s, early 90’s GMC S-15 that had a modern LS GM engine swapped in. These engine have been swapped into about 1 million vehicles, and a lot of them were on HRPT. It’s a great engine, makes good power, is reliable, good fuel economy and makes tons of power relatively easily.
GMC with LS V8

GMC with LS V8

Another great part of power tour is the hotels. You can meet up with tons of hot rodders in a closer environment, have more time to talk with each other etc. This night we met up with Chris from Oregon. He was driving an old Toyota 4×4 with his brother. It had a a small block Chevrolet V8 swapped in for power. In the same parking lot was a “rat” VW bug and a very new Nissan GTR (one of only a few “tuners/imports” on the HRPT. This just shows the variability of the tour! Great!

VW "rat rod"

VW “rat rod”


Nissan GTR

Nissan GTR


Monday June 9th 2014
This morning I took my car to a shop to have a lower a-arm bolt tightened. The day before going through the mountains, when braking hard there was a shudder in my steering wheel. That’s not good! We got a bolt tightened and it seemed to have stopped clunking for a while. I met a few hot rodders at the shop so that helped pass the time.
Our next drive was to Charleston, WV. The drive through the mountain was beautiful but part way the car started clunking again. I stopped at Appalachian tire service and spoke with the mechanic, Elvis. He was very gracious and put my car up on a lift and told me that my bushings on the a-arms were shot, so that as good to know so we could fix it.
At Elvis' shop

At Elvis’ shop


While at this stop we were also able to see a cool van, being driven by Rutledge Wood, auto racing analyst and Top Gear (US version) co-host.
Rutledge Wood's van

Rutledge Wood’s van


Again, we arrived later, 5 pm. I was told parking was difficult and some people had to walk miles to get to the street parking. I ended up having a “creative” parking spot and we were only 2 blocks from the main stage. We walked up and down the row of cars, got out long hauler tags punched and headed out. This night we ate and then drove to Walmart to get supplies. Comp Performance Group (Comp Cams, F.A.S.T. Racing Head Service, and others) has a giveaway each year, a shopping spree to their products. They choose 5 people a day who promote their products. I did it 2 years ago and wanted to get my name in the drawing again, 1/30 change at $10k of car parts I’m in!
Later that night we were able to get parts for the mustang to get it fixed the next day. I also ran into some really cool guys from Level 7 Motorsports. They had built a 1968 C10 (the C if for 2wd, a K is 4wd) truck with an LS engine. The truck had a great patina and I had seen it earlier in the week. I went to get stuff from my car late at night and ended up talking to Jesse and his crew in the parking lot for about an hour. Very cool guys! Check them out on FB at Level 7 Motorsports.
Level 7 1968 C10 with LS V8 swap

Level 7 1968 C10 with LS V8 swap

This was just the first few days of HRPT. Stay tuned for coverage through the end of the week. Lots of burnouts, more cool car people and more cars on the way!
Thanks for reading. Follow on FB, My Wheel Life, or follow via email at the top of the main page so you don’t miss a post!

All my pictures from HRPT 2014 are on my FB page.
https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.285163794988893.1073741832.278105162361423&type=3
https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.285152084990064.1073741831.278105162361423&type=3

6. My Wheel Life – How to buy a vehicle

How to buy a vehicle and look as happy as this guy!

My friend on the 1982 Virago 920 he just purchased. It was his first motorcycle. Bought from the 2nd owner who had owned it since 1984.

My friend on the 1982 Virago 920 he just purchased. It was his first motorcycle. Bought from the 2nd owner who had owned it since 1984.


Quartermile:
Have an agreed upon way to transfer money between you and the seller.
Bring a blank Bill of Sale to fill out to show you have ownership of the vehicle. (just google “bill of sale or use this link http://www.jogero.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/Car-Bill-of-Sale.jpg )
Do a bit of research on the vehicle you are considering buying for price and common failure modes of the vehicle (weak points, ex: this engine had a tendency to blow head gaskets, or the paint was bad on X year of this vehicle)

The Full Monty

While watching racing or walking through a car show is fun, there is nothing like having your own pride and joy to ride, drive, race, modify or show off. That being established, I’d like to share some of the things I’ve learned from buying cars with my father, from my own experiences or guiding friends as they buy their first toys. To be clear most vehicles I buy are toys but most of the points in this article can be applied to toys or to basic transportation vehicles or even lawn mowers or tractors.

Often the first thing you will need to identify is how much money you are willing or able to spend.This will depend on the year of vehicle you are buying and your access to credit. I have been lucky to be buying vehicles less than 10 years old lately so I have had access to credit. If you are buying a car more than 10 years old or an ATV/dirtbike you will likely have to come up with the cash. When calculating what you are willing to spend on a vehicle remember there are usually a lot more costs than just the purchase price. You will have to transfer the title to your name. That will cost somewhere between $20-$100 (rough guess). When you transfer the title you will then have to pay a “road use tax” at least in Iowa. This is basically “the Man” getting you for sales tax. You will also have to pay for insurance within a certain number of days. I like my current insurance company because all my vehicles are covered through them so any new vehicles are automatically umbrella’ed under my coverage when I buy it, so when I drive it home I am already covered. Lastly, if you are like me you will likely want to immediately modify your vehicle in some way to make it yours. You should keep in mind any maintenance you will have to perform immediately. New tires? $400. Oil change? $30-40. New wipers? $10. Fixing a leaky rear window that you forgot to ask the previous owner about because that seems like a silly question to have to ask? Turns out that cost me about $50 and a days work. More on that in a later post.

Where to find a vehicle?
The easiest place to find vehicles these days is Craigslist. It breaks the whole country down into areas that you shouldn’t have to drive more than an hour to find something you want. Browsing craigslist is tons of fun since there is new stuff everyday. If you are looking for a specific vehicle make/model you can become a CL power user and search via SearchTempest.

About the funniest Craigslist ad I've ever read.

About the funniest Craigslist ad I’ve ever read.


http://www.searchtempest.com/
Another way to find a certain make or model is to look on a forum for that vehicle. Most specialty vehicles have a dedicated forum and usually there is a thread for vehicles for sale. Often these vehicles are well taken care of as the previous owner took enough time to look at the vehicle specific forum. Ebay Motors is also another good place to look for vehicles. My personal preference is to know what a vehicle will cost, so on Ebay Motors I prefer to search for “buy it now” vehicles only. Often Ebay Motors listings will include contact information outside of Ebay. I am not condoning or condemning that practice. I will leave that up to your judgement.
http://www.ebay.com/motors

This is a 2001 Dodge Viper I found for sale on EbayMotors for $31k. The MSRP on this car new would have been anywhere between $65k-$75k. It has 15k miles which basically is a new car. For window shopping purposes, you can buy this Viper or a brand new V8 Camaro or Mustang for the same price. The Dodge will probably cost more for insurance and replacement parts. The upside of car like this is there will be thousands of other Camaros and Mustangs. How many Dodge Vipers will you see on the road? Not many.

This is a 2001 Dodge Viper I found for sale on EbayMotors for $31k. The MSRP on this car new would have been anywhere between $65k-$75k. It has 15k miles which basically is a new car. For window shopping purposes, you can buy this Viper or a brand new V8 Camaro or Mustang for the same price. The Dodge will probably cost more for insurance and replacement parts. The upside of a car like this is there will be thousands of other Camaros and Mustangs. How many Dodge Vipers will you see on the road? Not many.

It’s a great practice to bring at least one friend when vehicle shopping. Often you can get caught up in the excitement of buying a new vehicle and you can look over any problems the vehicle has. Review the following questions with your friend, bring someone you trust and enjoy the car buying experience.

Once you have found a vehicle and set up a meeting there are a myriad of questions that you should ask.
Does the seller have the title? If not why?
How long will it take to get the title? Will they hold the vehicle until they get the title for you?
Does the vehicle have a clean title?!? If not why?
Is the vehicle still under a loan? (In Iowa the bank holds the title until the loan is paid off.)
How long has the seller owned this vehicle? If it’s been a short time it’s ok to be a bit suspicious and ask a few more questions about that.
What is the primary reason for selling this vehicle?
What problems are there with the vehicle?

Then you should check the vehicle over for a few things:
Do you see any rust?

The bad spots on this car were a bit more apparent than on some cars. Floors and quarter panels, and around windows are good places to look for rust

The bad spots on this car were a bit more apparent than on some cars. Floors and quarter panels, and around windows are good places to look for rust


Do you see any dents or dings? If so where did they come from?
Take the vehicle for a drive. You should actually drive the vehicle a little “hard” during a test drive, at least I think so. You should probably ask the seller and be clear that if you break it you don’t buy it. I’m not saying hard as in reckless, but accelerate, brake, turn sharply a little, obviously safely. Note any strange noises, slow accelerations or hick ups etc.

The topic of cash is an interesting one all by itself. Do you really want to pay for an $8000 vehicle in cash? Will the person selling the car be willing to take a check? The last vehicle I helped a friend purchase, a pristine 1982 Yamaha Virago 920, we had to make an atm run the day before and the morning of, because he had hit his daily limit for withdrawing cash. If you don’t have a physical bank in your area, just getting a large amount of cash can be difficult! One time a friend of mine paid the seller via paypal. The important thing here is to establish with the seller before you show up how you will pay them, and have the money ready when you get there.

What to pay? The negotiation.
If you decide you are ready to buy the car the next thing to discuss is the price. Here you should always do your homework before you go. Kelly Bluebook is always a good place to start at least. It will get you in some sort of neighborhood if you have no clue what you should pay.
http://www.kbb.com

Hemmings Motor news, ebay, and craigslist are all good places to baseline similar vehicles too.
The most important thing when negotiating is that you never pay what seller is asking because he undoubtedly inflated that number because he was sure some donkey like you was going to come along and lowball him, and he was right. Ok that is a joke, but normally, in my opinion, people are willing to come down a few hundred to maybe even a few thousand, depending on exactly what you are buying. If you don’t ask you will never know. One thing though, often I will not enter a negotiation unless I’ve already decided to pay the asking price and I am mostly looking for a good deal. I’m not saying that’s the only way to do it, maybe you really won’t buy it unless the seller comes down $500 on a $10k car, but really, if you are that interested is $500 really worth you not having the car you really want? Sometimes the extra time you’d get driving the car will be worth the little extra money. Also you need to consider the time and money you are investing driving to look at all these vehicles. Gas isn’t free and neither is my time (maybe your’s is). In case anyone is interested in hiring me for anything my time starts at $100/hour, but I can be negotiated with also….

Once you have sealed the deal on your new beauty you are almost ready to take it home. You should always bring a blank bill of sale to get signed. This is always good to cover your butt. It is a document both you and the seller sign with all the relevant vehicle information and it is a legal document. You can use it in lieu of a title for 30 days (at least in Iowa). It also is something you can show the police officer when you get pulled over on your way home testing the limits in your new pride and joy.

The last vehicle I purchased (April 2014).

The last vehicle I purchased (April 2014).

I’ll share a quick story of when I bought my crotch rocket. I was cruising back to my home, it was about 60 miles away. As soon as i got on the freeway I thought “lets open it up and see what she does!” then i had a 2nd thought that said, “That’s too stereotypical crotch rocket guy I’ll just cruise” and not 1 minute later there was a cop camped between the 2 lanes. I was so happy that i had not gunned it because I probably would have ended up with a ticket and it probably would have been fast enough to lose my license! So let that be a lesson to you all!

Keep the rubber side down and go out and buy something!
Do you think I missed something? Let me know! The best thing about the internet is I can always edit it away!
What was the last (preferably fun) vehicle you bought?