Average Life of an All Season Tire


Tire service life can hinge on a lot of different things. Driving habits, tire maintenance, front-end alignment, condition of suspension components and regular rotation schedules can all have a huge effect on the treadwear and service life of your tires. Also, tires can vary greatly in design and rubber compound; softer, “stickier” rubber compounds will wear much more quickly than other formulations, for instance.

All-season tires, like the name implies, are designed for year-round use and can still provide traction in winter conditions, provided that you don’t see an excess of snow and ice or extreme cold in your area. They’re designed for a comfortable, quiet ride and good performance in most conditions. Tire technology has improv ...[more]

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Aerodynamics and Design


As manufacturers squeeze all the fuel efficiency they can out of their designs, aerodynamics have been a huge concern –as well as looking sleek and advanced, an aerodynamic car cuts wind resistance for enhanced fuel efficiency. Modern designs are a pretty far cry from the boxy sedans of the 70s and 80s, but aerodynamics is hardly a new concern.

All the way back in 1923, Romanian engineer Aurel Persu ruminated on the ideal aerodynamic design; Persu decided that the ideal aerodynamic shape found in nature was a raindrop as it falls to the ground, with a super-low drag coefficient of 0.04. With that as a target, he began to draw up an aerodynamic sedan, with tall wheels mounted flush with the body inside fender wells, a steeply-raked front end, rear wheels spaced much more closely than the front, rounded contours and a rear end that tapered sharply. The Persu ...[more]

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How to Choose the Right Tire


Before we start talking about which tires you need, you should determine whether it’s time to go ahead and get tires…

The minimum depth where tire tread is still effective is 2/32”. Anything lower than that and your tires will no longer resist hydroplaning in wet weather, dry traction is reduced and traction in snow is practically nonexistent. Tires now include “wear bars” at the base of the tread, running at a right angle to the tread; when the wear bars show through, the tires are at the end of their service life. The old-timer’s gauge is the “penny test,” where you put a penny, Lincoln’s head down, into the tread. If the top of the tread no longer touches Lincoln’s head, then it’s time (some now recommend the same test with a nickel or quarter).

Of course, when yo ...[more]

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Today in History: Six Millionth Honda Civic


The word “ubiquitous” might have been coined specifically for the Honda Civic. Civics are so common, such an everyday sight that you don’t even notice them anymore…until you actually pay attention and realize that there are a LOT of Honda Civics on the road.

On July 23, 2007, the six millionth Civic rolled off of Honda’s production lines; the Civic was introduced in 1972 and has been through numerous generations and nine separate design iterations along the way. The tiny two-door first-generation Civic couldn’t have come along at a better time; in ’72, the American auto industry was being shaken up by the first oil crunch as the Middle East turned off the spigot. Big, wasteful cars were suddenly on the outs, American companies were scrambling to introduce (very mediocre) small cars, and in no time the ...[more]

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Today in History: Ford's First Order


Henry Ford wasn’t the first out of the gate with automobiles and the internal-combustion engine – Daimler had a jump on that in the late 19th century – but Ford was definitely the first to see the potential of mass production, mass marketing, and the economy of scale that could make cars affordable for the middle class.

On July 15, 1903, Ford Motor Company took its first order, for an $850 two-cylinder Model A with a “tonneau,” or back seat. Manufactured at Ford’s early Mack Street plant in Detroit, the car was delivered to its new owner, a Chicago dentist, about a week later.

Ford had been working as chief engineer at Detroit’s Edison Illuminating Company plant when he designed and built his first car, the Quadricycle, in 1896. By 1903, he had lined up the investors and financing to fo ...[more]

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TBT: 5 Movie Cars We Want


Let’s get right to it here, shall we? 

  • The DeLorean from “Back to the Future” – The DeLorean was as much a product of the 80s as anything you can think of. With its brushed-stainless skin, angular body lines, gullwing doors and complicated backstory involving the flamboyant John Z. DeLorean himself, the car wasn’t an especially strong performer…but it sure does sum up a point in time nicely.
  • The green Dodge Charger from “Bullitt” – Yes, everyone loves Steve McQueen’s Mustang from the movie…but we kinda prefer the 440-powered Dodge Charger that met a spectacular end. Something about the Charger is more menacing and brutal than the Mustang. May ...[more]

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Throwback Thursday: 1970 Datson 240Z


 

With the introduction of the 240Z, Datsun changed the sports-car world by introducing a serious, good-looking true sports car with Japanese reliability and practicality. Sold in Japan as the Nissan Fairlady, the 240Z was an instant hit in the US, with a 2.4 liter single-overhead-cam inline 6 that put out 151 horsepower. Equipped with a four-speed manual transmission, the 240Z could sprint to 60 mph in 8.0 seconds and top out at 125 mph, while getting 21 mpg on the highway.

The two-seater 240Z was fairly sophisticated mechanically, with MacPherson struts in front and 4-wheel independent suspension and twin Hitachi side-draft carburetors. It also undercut the prices of its competitors from Jaguar, Porsche and BMW, making it a popular seller in the US, and was a solid performer on the rally and ...[more]

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Throwback Thursday: 1964 Aston Martin DB5


The ’64 Aston Martin DB5 is going to be familiar to any fan of the early James Bond movies – Sean Connery was behind the wheel of a DB5 in “Goldfinger,” a role that made it “the most famous car in the world” at the time. The real-life DB5 was almost as exotic as its Bond-movie counterpart, minus all the weaponry and gadgets; standard equipment on the DB5 included a magnesium-alloy body, a 282 horsepower 4-liter aluminum inline six engine, wool pile carpets, reclining seats, power windows, an oil cooler and even a fire extinguisher. The 2 + 2 coupe was available with a five-speed manual transmission or Borg-Warner automatic, with a 145 mph top speed and 0-60 times of around eight seconds. The DB5 Vantage was a high-performance version of the DB5, with three Weber carburetors and a revised camshaft, producing 315 horsepower. &n ...[more]

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Throwback Thursday: 1957 Mercedes Benz 300SL Gull Wing


The 300SL name has been in the Mercedes stable for a long time, but the 50s-era Gull Wing models may be the best known, and for good reason. Along with the distinctive gull-wing doors, the 300SL had the world’s fastest top speed for its day and was the first car to offer fuel injection for consumer models.

The 300SL was an offshoot of the 1952 W194 race car, with “300” referring to its 3.0-liter engine and SL standing for “Sport Light.” The 300SL featured a tubular steel chassis for balance of strength and light weight. It was this frame that made the gull-wing doors necessary, with part of the chassis passing through the area where the lower half of a standard door would be. Without the gull-wing design, the 300SL would have been awkward to get in and out of; a tilt-away steering column wa ...[more]

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Throwback Thursday: 1966 Lamborghini Miura


Produced from ’66 to ’72, the mid-engine two-seater Lamborghini Miura was the fastest production road car available in its day. It didn’t come cheap – its $20k pricetag would come out to well over $100k in today’s dollars – but it was the state-of-the-art in its day.

The Miura featured a 3.9 liter V12 that produced 350 horsepower, with sheet metal that was only 0.9mm thick for a curb weight that was well under 3000 lbs. The result was a top speed of 174 mph, but the tall gearing meant a quarter-mile in over 14 seconds and 0-60 in about 6.5 seconds. It hardly mattered, though; Lamborghini Miura drivers weren’t likely to be drag-racing Detroit muscle cars anyway.

The Miura’s swoopy, aerodynamic body style was the very definition of an exotic car for the day, and ...[more]

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