Thursday, June 29, 2006

Can anyone help Chris? A reader with a Kenny Brown Crown Victoria

A reader has a question somebody out there may be able to help with.
Chris is the lucky owner of a Kenny Brown Panther Crown Victoria.
I'll add the e-mail here;
Hello Joe I'm Chris from Weymouth MA , I own the 2001 Crown Vic Kenny Brown Panther you added to your website. Do you know where I can find info about my car that would be helpful to me ? I need rear wheel bearings and seals and the stock ones don't work , Kenny Brown was the last owner of my car so I know no one else changed anything , and his website is closed due to his illness . Any thing would help thanks a lot, Chris

So, can anyone help Chris? I wish I remembered when I posted on this car, but I just posted a generic Panther photo I found online. "Generic" if anything could not be called generic, this is it.

Good luck Chris.

My friend is selling his Expedition on Craig's List

A very good friend of mine is selling his Epedition on Craigs List, to escape the high price of gas. Now that his oldest is off to college they no longer need the Family Truckster. So as a good friend is apt to do, I've prostituting myself by posting a link to his ad above.
Mike hopes to unload the Expedition and get into something a little more economical. He keeps talking about the Mazda CX-7, but he still has enough chicks in the nest to make the new Ford Edge a better choice.

I know you're all ashamed of me for the shameless post, but things have been slow for me. I've known Mike for 20 years and nobody takes better care of their vehicles than him. And being the gearhead he is, of course there's a K&N intake and Tokico shocks ( in an Expedition?)

If you're in Metro NY area and looking for such a vehicle, check it out.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Volvo C30 and ramblings on 3 vs 5 doors

In the title there is a link to a UK article on the upcoming Volvo C30. The 3 door sibling to the S40/V50 compacts built on the Ford corporate C1 platform, that underpins the Mazda3 and Euro Ford Focus. The C30 will come with Volvo's 2.5 liter I-5 Turbo putting out 250 hp. Each company differentiates it's version of the base chassis and they aren't just badge engineering, as Joel had pointed out a few weeks ago. But this will be as close as you can get to the Euro Ford Focus ST here in the US. You see, the Ford ST uses the same I5 turbo in Europe. I wonder why Ford isn't using the Mazdaspeed 3's Turbo I4? It also puts out 250 hp, and in the Mazdaspeed 6 it makes 284 hp.
And this raised another question in my mind. Why is Ford the only one to offer both a 3 and 5 door? Volvo's C30 will be 3 door and the Mazda 3 only has a 5 door hatch. And of all of the siblings, the Euro Focus comes in the most variations, from basic economy car to tarmac burning hot hatch, with a range of Diesel and Petrol engines as well as Flex Fuel versions in Europe.
Now I had always preferred 3 doors over 5 doors from an asthetic point of view. But after buying my Mazda 3 (Axela) and taking a couple of rides in my friend's new GTI, I can see the light. My old ass doesn't want to crawl into a 3 door, and I guess I don't want to force friends to do the same.

And I don't care what anyone says, of the siblings, the Focus is the best looking version. I like my 3, but the Focus has smoother lines. And while I don't love the tail lights up the roof pilar, they're better on this new version than in past. I'd love a C1 5 door with the 2.0 TDI Diesel, 6 speed manual and the suspension and brakes from the ST in the light blue of the 3 door pictured above.

When will Ford learn and bring the C1 platform to the US? That would be a "Bold Move."

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Mike the MercuryGuy has pics of the Wankel powered Mustang and his nice Montego MX

Mike the MercuryGuy has posted the pics of the Curtis Wankel powered Mustang on his blog.
And he's posted photos of his prized 69 Montego MX coupe.

I love these cars, my Dad had a red one for a few years. Out of all the cars anyone has owned in my family, it's always been my favorite. These rare Mercury Coupes, Convertibles and Sedans were made only for two years and share no body panels with a Lincoln or Ford.

Click on the link in the title to see the Mustang and then click home to see his Montego.

Monday, June 26, 2006

MyFordDreams slowing down, sorry...

Some of you may be wondering why things have gotten so slow around here. Well, I'm nothing if not full of excuses. First my business gets very busy during the summer months, so it's not unusual for blogging to slow down. This week, I'm on the night shift, working 12 hour shifts as well.
Combine that with my feeble attempt to quit smoking and I've got no energy or enthusiasm for much.
Now this is not me, but it refelcts how I feel when near a computer.
So I'll leave you with this hit and run post, with the link in title to AutoBlog's recent article on Ford greenlighting the Fairlane Concept MPV. Ford can't cut it in the Mini-Van market, so their trying to shore up there position with this Crossover MPV based on 500/FreeStyle chassis.
Now when Mark Fields talked a few months ago about Ford's "Bold Moves" he stood between clay models of the Fairlane and Reflex concepts, so the eternal optimist in me hopes that eventually we'll hear the Reflex has received a green light as well.

See? Even as cranky and lazy as I am, I was able to get my Reflex fix!

I know the Reflex won't be "The Car" that saves Ford, but it could be one of the steps in the right direction.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Pimp My Ride at a Ford dealership?

Yet again, I'm playing catch up, but that's what I get for going away on vacation. Apparently Pimp My Ride is moving out of West Coast Customs and taking up residence at Galpin Ford, Southern California's largest volume Ford dealer.
And some of this will not be new to Galpin, who the USA Today article give partial credit for starting the 70's Custom Van craze.
And since vans aren't cool anymore, they've been customizing pickups too. I have to admit Pimp My Ride is one of my guilty pleasures, a show that I watch on a lazy weekend. So I'm looking forward to the season and will be interested in how Galpin performs.

AutoBlog article on Ford's failings with the Focus

Another interesting piece I neglected to post on earlier, AutoBlog had discussed Ford's Failing with the Focus. The biggest was not bringing the C-1 platform here.

Bob Elton of The Truth About Cars, talks Cougars

OK, I know I've been neglecting my blog, but I'm back. And before I went AWOL, I had read Bob Elton's piece over at The Truth About Cars about Cougars. Not the four legged hairy kind, the luxury brother to the Mustang. Interesting piece, and although I'm against just badging a slightly restyled Mustang, I would love to see a new Cougar with retro styling of the original.

Take the Mustang's stiff capable chassis, consider an IRS, stretch it and bring out a new Cougar. But do it right, give it the formal roof line of the origianl, design a convertible from the begining and make sure it can have every option a customer would want. A moonroof, DVD navigation system, leather interior and power adjustable everything.

Ford Australia's Falcon due for Iosis refresh?

Ford of Australia recognizes that while the Falcon range is top dog, the competition is gearing up with new product. So unlike in the US, they're gearing up some real Bold Moves down under.
And the article says that inspiration for the new Falcon's styling may be the Iosis concpet from last year. Also said to be the inspiration for the new European Mondeo, the Iosis was recognized universally as a very Bold design, unlike Dave in the US.

Seems Ford knows what's got to be done to stay competative overseas. Too bad some of that common sense doesn't translate to the US market.

Doh! What not to let out while asking the Feds for help and buying out UAW workers!

Not a surprise really, but talk about bad timing. As Ford has been buying out UAW workers and asking for help from the Federal Government, they're investing over $9 Billion in three plants in Mexico. This is obviously where new B Segment Fiesta based models will be built for the Americas.

How stupid does Ford feel right now?

WHY?? Why do this when you have the easiest drop top on the market?

Why? Mazda is going debut this hard top drop top MX5 (Miata) and I just have to ask why? The MX5 is a great little roadster, sure the new GM Soltice/Sky twins will cut into some sales, but the MX5 has the easiest top to operate and a reasonably usable trunk. It's a classic roadster reinvented for the 21st century.

Update on Wankel Mustang, a year plus later

Last year I had a series of posts asking for information on a Wankel Rotary powered 66 Mustang that I had read about years before. And I recieved help from several people. But the last unanswered question was "where is it know?" Well thanks to Mercuryguy we have a lead:

saw this car three weeks ago! It is in the National Automotive and Truck Museum of the United States in Auburn Indiana. This museum is behind the Auburn Cord Duesenburg Museum. The website is, although no photo of the Mustang on site. I have some pictures that I took of it though.

I'd really appreciate if Mercury guy would share those pics with us, maybe post them on his new blog that he's starting? But now we know where the Curtiss Wankel Rotary powered Mustang is.

Monday, June 12, 2006

What could this mean? Is there hope for RWD Lincoln?

Now, it's not a big piece, the second one down on the page, but Chicago is reporting that a second Lincoln sedan that had been planned to be built in Chicago along the new MKS and it's lesser 500/Montego bretheren, has been canceled. This stretched MKS had been rumored to be the AWD replacement for the Panther based Town Car.
So now if we read into this with optimism in our hearts, could we guestimate that FoMoCo has come to their senses? Could we fantasize about a new Town Car built on either a stretched LS chassis or the Australian Falcon? With every other luxury or near luxury brand moving or staying with RWD, could Lincoln be changing course away from the iceberg that is AWD? I hope so.

6 year / unlimited milage warranty for Ranger in Oman?

I constantly run into articles from overseas that talk about the Ranger as the "class leader" and wonder where Ford went wrong here at home. Click on the title to read about the Ranger in Oman, part of the UAE. And what a warranty they come with! 6 years unlimited milage? There must be some sort of local requirements for that.

H2ICE buses from Ford

H2ICE? Ok, Hydrogen (H2) Internal Combusion Engine it caught me off guard too. But a new story on Ford's Hydrogen powered V-10 Shuttle buses. I thought they had been in service for months, but I guess that was just testing. Now several locations in Florida will be using the rolling billboards for innovation.

Ford wins design awards for Reflex

The Reflex won awards for design, but for the interior?

Well, we'll take what we can get. I'm not a big fan of the Reflex concept's interior with it's 3 chairs and recycled sneaker material. But any Reflex news is good news.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

I guess I should start calling it "my Axela" instead of 3?

Interesting article from Japan ( in English) about the freshened Mazda Axela. I had heard the name before, I believe on the Mazda3 forum, maybe I should start using that name instead of 3? I've never actually names that are just alpha numeric.

Axela hmmm... I wish I could have called it Focus. Axela Sport GT now that's not too bad.

Leave it to Car and Driver to f*ck it up

Like any of the Blue Oval devoted, I'm looking forward to reading all I can about the new Shelby GT500. So imagine how pleased I was when I received a Google Alert containing a link to a Car and Driver piece comparing the new 500 hp Mustang to it's nearest Chevy competitor!
With the last Camaro Z-28s being produced in 2002 and the new concept not yet getting an official green light, it only makes sense to compare the GT500 to a Vette, right?
But why the base Corvette? Don't get me wrong, with 400 hp it's a monster, able to chase down the best from around the world for half the cost.

But the Shelby GT500 has 500 hp and is the top of the line Ford Mustang. It's a beast, we've all been waiting for. The most powerful production Mustang ever built. The "Holy Grail" of Mustangs.
So why does Car and Driver punk out comparing it to the base Vette instead of the Z06? The Z06 is the top dog from GM without any doubt. It's also got 500 hp and the biggest brakes and best suspension GM has ever put under anything. Why wouldn't Car and Driver compare the top dog icons? Because of the Shelby's base price of $41k? Oh God please tell me they aren't that stupid. Just try to get that Shelby for anywhere near that base price. Hell, they aren't even in dealers yet and internet auctions have set the price over $60k, and I wouldn't be surprised to see it get closer to $80k. And read the article, the Shelby starts off with a 10 point advantage over the base Vette because of it's lower price and the fact it has a back seat. What the fuck?
These lop sided tests have got to stop. What's next comparing the Ford GT supercar to a Chevy Aveo? Don't laugh, the way the mainstream auto journalists write up these tests, the Aveo could win because it has a backseat, more cup holders and a lower price.

But 550 hp vs 105 hp doesn't make the blood flow does it.

In just the latest example of how out of touch with reality they are, the Shelby's 10 point advantage is just plain stupid. People won't buy either car because it has a backseat or cupholders, they're going to put up $75 large for tire burning power and slot car handling. The Z06 may just beat the Shelby, God knows it's given every European supercar a run for their money, but who cares. Even as Wall Street gives up on the American Auto Industry, it's heart warming to see these two icons come to market. And if you want to hunt ZO6s, then buy a Ford GT.

What say you? Do you think their comparison is fair or an insult to our inteligence?

Jalopnik article on Bay Area Police crackdown on Illegal mods?

Now I know it's not Ford related, well not directly, but I found this Jalopnik piece interesting. Bay Area Police in an effort to crackdown on street racing and other automotive hijinx have started to pull over and inspect cars they feel may be illegally modified. I don't know what they mean by Illegally modified, maybe parts that aren't CARB certified or are unsafe like racing slicks.

The article says that they are training officers to identify illegal mods, and Jalopnik talks about one of his friends whose Mitsu Evo was pulled over because of the factory wing.

Again this reminds me of Gary's article at the Garage on street racing
We've all done it, street racing, public displays of horsepower like burnouts or donuts, but when does it go too far. Read Gary's article and Jalopnik's piece.

I know I've done some stupid things in my youth, some I stil brag about today, how about you? What's the craziest thing you've done behind the wheel?

How can Ford seem to react to other markets with ease, yet continually miss the mark at home?

As I said in the last post, and many times in the past, Ford has been an international player for many years, longer than some other companies have been around. And they've been able to survive by adapting to local markets quickly. In the article linked in title, Ford has been quickest to adapt to Brazil's new market reality of Flex Fuel vehicles.

So I'm left wondering how they can adapt so well world wide, yet here in their largest market, their "home" market, they seem to be fumbling. How is this? Don't tell me it's just the unions, Ford has union plants in Europe, Australia and elsewhere. It's not that they don't know how to design product people want to buy, at least overseas. Ford does very well in many markets with a wide variety of cars, wagons, CUVs, SUVs and trucks with both Gas and Diesel powerplants. I've posted about many of them here, from the South American EcoSport ( pictured above) to the Australian Falcon and the Everest sold in Asia and the Middle East. Some vehicles are international sucesses like the Ranger and F-Series truck as well as the Focus ( C-1) that are sold almost anywhere a Blue Oval can be seen.

How is it that at one time Ford had the best selling small car in the US ( Escort) Midsize car (Taurus) Small truck (Ranger) Full Size truck ( F-Series) and SUV (Explorer) and now the ones that aren't gone are suffering? There has been potential that hasn't been met, models that were released and then never updated ( Lincoln LS) and Icons that were left to die on the vine ( Crown Vic/Town Car.)

I read today, that Ford is putting off the release of a Fiesta type model in the US until it can be designed to better reflect an American image. Now I hope they know what they're doing, because while they delay everyone else is acting and the more Fits, Versas and Excels will be sold.

What do you think?

David of Auto-Future has more European Ford news

Ford is a major player in the world Auto Industry, and in the European market they are fairing better than at "home" in the US. And recently a new blog has come to my attention Auto-Future. While David's blog is not exclusively Ford, there is quite a bit of news about Ford's European operations. So click the link in the title to read the latest, and then check his other recent posts for more.

With gas at $3.20 per gallon, what alternatives for families?

Say you have a family and an SUV, with gas at $3.20 per gallon, what are you to do when looking to replace that gas guzzler? A good friend of mine was asking himself that very question. Mike has 5 kids ranging from 3 to 18 and currently trucks the family around in a Ford Expedition with a 5.4 L V8, don't even ask about gas milage. And I was talking to him this past weekend, when he was asking me about the CX7 from Mazda. Mike's a bit of a gearhead, with a heavy right foot, in his fleet along side the Expedition, he has a Miata and Taurus SHO-matic. The Turbo CX7 with 244 hp apeals to him in a big way. Especially with the prospect of better than 20 mpg and the zoom factor. The 18 year old is off to college and doesn't really travel with the family much anyway, and when she does, they pack up the full size conversion van (Brand X) for those rare ocassions.
Now I like the CX7, but for Mike and his remaining 4 children, plus loving wife, the Ford Edge would be a smarter choice. The Edge will be available with a third row seat and 3.5 L DOHC V6 that should be able to beat 20 mpg on the highway, maybe even get close to 30 mpg?

The Expedition is history for Mike's family, while they've loved it for the utility and space, the gas bills are killing them. Luckily many of the kids are beyond the juice box age, just young Jessie needing a heavy booster seat, but I think a third row will be needed, and that will eliminate the CX7.

I'm sure there are many families like my friend's that will be looking for alternatives. And luckily FoMoCo has a vehicle for them to slide right into. Actually several options, the FreeStyle, Edge, CX9 and MKX.

Too bad there isn't a Diesel option for the Explorer and Expedition to stretch those family fuel dollars a little further.

Ford going to be left out of RWD revival? Push to AWD may be unwise.

AutoBlog has a story about GM considering a Rear Wheel Drive Impala. They have the new Zeta platform being developed in Australia that it could be based on.

And while I know the Crown Victoria and it's siblings are rear wheel drive, they're scheduled to be killed and replaced with front/all wheel drive versions based on stretched 500/Montego chassis.

With all the development in the area of traction and stability control rear wheel drive is making a comeback. Just look at the sucess of Chrysler's 300/Magnum/Charger . I've read recently that Pontiac and now Chevy may get rear wheel drive sedans. Can Ford afford to ignore this trend? They seem to be convinced that AWD will be the answer.

I'm not sure that RWD will be the mass market hit, but I feel that Ford can and should take advantage of existing platforms to be in this segment. There is the Australian Ford Falcon or the American Lincoln LS that could be tapped for the job, and both have IRS for good handling and ride. So why does Ford want to be Subaru? AWD makes a great option for some of the model lineup, but everything?

Monday, June 05, 2006

Rambling reflections on a 3 day weekend

I took a rare Friday off and spent the afternoon hanging out with my brother Bob. We just spent the afternoon meandering around, and of course since I'm addicted to Johnny Lightning die cast cars, when we ended up next door to a toy store, had to go in. For the record Johnny Lightning are the best die cast collectables on the market, I have the stray Matchbox and Hot Wheels, but for authentic looks and hard to find models JL wins hands down. I picked up about half a dozen pieces including a 1957 Ford Sunliner, 1969 Taladega and Shelby Cobra with the removeable hard top.
But my favorite find was a Johnny Lightning 1971 Pinto coupe. STOCK, not a dragster, but a plain jane Pinto Runabout in yellow. It's the little things in life that can bring the greatest joy. And don't think I don't feel silly as a 41 year old man tearing through the racks of cars at Kay Bee Toys, I do, but it's worth it. My mom had a Pinto just like the one pictured here and my dad had a blue 1973 Pinto wagon. Then I had a 1979 Pinto coupe also. So Pintos were a sort of family tradition. Well, not really, but we did have and enjoy 3 of them.
On Saturday we drove to Philadelphia for a party at a friend's house. Not exactly a Car crowd, but I did find one fellow to talk shop with. He is a gearhead, but loves foreign cars. He's currently shopping for a new car and considering the Acura TSX. So being a Ford guy I did my best to steer him toward the Blue Oval. No deal, Steve like many American consumers can't get over the past sins of the US Auto Industry. Even as I argued that the quality gap had shrunk to a sliver, it's perception of quality that wins sales for Japan. It didn't help that his current car is a BMW 3 series and he's shopping for Acura. Undeniably Honda/Acura quality is very high up there, and they don't call BMWs "The Ultimate Driving Machine" for nothing. So what FoMoCo product to steer him to? Well I tried to steer him toward Mazda, and was shocked to hear him say he wouldn't consider a Mazda after Ford bought them.

Now for the record Ford doesn't "own" Mazda, they are partnered with Mazda and own a controlling interest of Mazda. And this isn't a new situation, Ford has owned a major stake in Mazda since the 1970's. But I had never heard this position before. I had heard the opposite, possative comments about Ford's infusion of Mazda DNA in new products, but never concern the other way. It's a shame, because I believe that Ford quality has risen over the last 20 years to be on parr with Japan, even in models that don't share the Mazda genes. I even walked him out to my new Mazda and showed him the quality feel of materials. He was impressed, but not enough to install Mazda or Ford on his list above Acura.

On Sunday after driving back from Philadelphia, I met my brother over at a friend's house, both of us in our new Mazdas, his the Speed6 and my 3. And of course sibling rivalry did get the best of us for a brief moment when leaving and getting on the parkway. I was ahead of him on the entrance ramp, but not for long as he flew by me, even as I was approaching 80 mph in third gear. We both quickly came to our senses and adjusted our speed to comply with the speed limit. Well OK, maybe not comply, but come closer. And as I'm typing this, I reminded of Gary over at the Garage ( link in sidebar) and his recent article on street racing. Click on over and read it, Gary raises an interesting question.

Oh and final thoughts on the drive down and back from Philly, the 3 rocks. It's meant for this type of highway jaunt with speeds reaching the century mark I still achieved 30 mpg, and the ride was comfortable.

Hope you all had as nice a weekend as I.