Autonomous Vehicles are Coming Fast


Oh, yes, they are coming fast- but not driving fast. When they hit the roads, you can imagine that they will all be putting along at the same speed. But more on that later. I would like to report that the RPM Bill is coming along right nicely. We currently have over one hundred b-partisan legislators onboard. If you are not familiar with this Bill, it is all about the GearHeads vs. the EPA. Go over to SEMA.com and get educated.

In earlier columns, I have been reporting on EVs and AVs, and providing conjecture as to how all of this may come down upon us. And coming, it is. I am trying hard to keep track of all the new info as it comes down the pipeline, that is becoming overwhelming to track it all. I have already related how there are literally hundreds of corporations jumping into this, feet first. This is without a d doubt the greatest change of this century, so far.

Swatch: Wants to build the batteries.

Uber: Hired a NASA expert for the Airbus A-3 VTOL. Vertical Takeoff Landing Vehicles. Yep, this one flies.

GM in Mexico: Now we are talking about “Giant Motors” in Mexico City who has partnered with Binbo, the largest bread producer in the world. They bought Hostess Twinkies. Now they will be building EVs.

GM: Now a few things about General Motors here in the US. They are building and testing AVs in San Francisco, Scottsdale, and their own proving grounds. They have since expanded in metro Detroit. Their Bolt factory is currently in mass production of the AVs.

BMW: Working with Autonomous Transport Robots and trains to deliver parts between plants.

Mercedes: Jumping big time in EVs. They are pulling their diesel cars from production.

Samsung: Acquired Harman, a huge supplier of in car digital systems.

Verizon Communications Inc.:  Acquired Fleetmatics Group, a global provider of fleet and mobile workforces’ management solutions.

Apple Inc: Setting a gadget ship date of 2019 for their EV cars.
Ford: Has invested one billion into their company, Argo Al, founded by Google and Uber leaders.

Pal-V: Is now selling the Liberty Pioneer and Liberty Sport, commercial flying cars.

Dubai: Passenger carrying drones will be whisking people around the big city later this year.

Hang on GearHeads. There is plenty more to follow.

EPA Goes After Their Biggest Power Grab Yet

NOT GOOD FOR GEARHEADS

Here is a topic that’s often discussed by many people in the car hobby.  The one about transplanting a later model engine, transmission, differential, suspension, steering or brakes in an old car.  This discussion sometimes goes like, “I’m going to put an LS based engine and an overdrive transmission, in my blah blah blah.”  Speaking from experience, one then starts seeking out info from others on how to do this transplant.  Seeking out books, publications and articles in a myriad of magazines is also a source for accomplishing this goal.  I’ve looked and read and talked to many people about how my goal could be met, as have many of my friends.

One thing that seems constant is how, when talked about, it’s always an ‘easy’ ‘simple’ one or two step process.  Well, some of that is right, the process part.  I’m here to tell you the easy part or the simple part usually ain’t.  And the “all you gotta do is…” is never ALL YOU GOTTA DO. Neither is the, “you only need one of…!”  It just isn’t true.

It’s unfortunate that is no “Best” way to make one of the “updates” easy.  I read maybe three or four “How too…” books on what parts to buy, what parts work together and what don’t.  Why this way or that is “Best.” And still I’m frustrated at every turn.  Here is an example.  One book said that “this” pan was the best fit and would work with my engine transplant into my 55 Chev.  Well it fits alright but the sump is too low, a couple inches below the front frame cross member.  Of course I wanted the car to be lower than stock so I bought dropped spindles, new springs etc. to use with my new tubular “A’ arms, new and improved power steering gear box blah blah blah.  It all seemed to fit together and it looked great when I assembled the frame but then when I set the engine in on the new motor mount brackets and tried to install my new headers, the one on the right side of the car fit and cleared everything well but the driver’s side header wouldn’t clear the steering gear box.  More research revealed the dreaded answer, “Oh, those headers won’t work with that application, you need to use…”

I’ve discussed this situation almost at every turn with many of friends.  We have all experienced a similar thing.  Bob installed and uninstalled his engine and trans maybe 30 or 40 times, (I’m exaggerating, it was only 29) but you get the idea.

My friend Jeff and I were narrowing and building Ford 9” differentials at the same time and the same was true in that process.  Ford 9 inch diffs are offset to one side and have to be centered in a Chevy to keep the driveshaft in the proper relationship with the engine/transmission.  This is in addition to making sure you have the correct pinion angle.  My son was putting a 400 small block in his pickup that had had a small block in it already.   He experienced difficulty with fitment issue too.  He was exasperated (and tired) when he said, “I just want it to go back together with ease, I’m tired of fighting every step.  I don’t understand why it won’t work…”  I tried to calm him frustration by explaining that when we get these bright ideas to “fix” our cars and trucks we are actually re-engineering a machine.  Unfortunately we don’t have the knowledge that trained engineers have or the resources, so our process is simply trial and error, or my case, error and error.

It’s almost funny when I think about how many parts I’ve bought only to find out “that won’t work with this” or “that only fits if you also use one of those.”  I’m sure that many of you can relate to this situation.  You know though, it’s really all part of the fun.  I like the challenge of figuring out how to do things I’ve never done before.  I get a sense of accomplishment when I succeed.  I think that’s one of the reasons we mess with this car hobby.

SEMA 2015

sema-2015

SEMA2015 has outdone itself again. The SEMA Show has grown throughout the years—along with it, the Convention Center down in Las Vegas has expanded as well, out of necessity. Because, this year’s show utilized every square inch available. Additional displays filled the Sands Convention Center and areas of the Westmark Hotel. This show is one of the largest in Vegas. Many were complaining of walking the over thirty miles of aisles – but, not yours truly!

We heard Linda Vaughn was in the house but never found her. Her good friend George Barris, builder of who knows how many way out, Hollywood hot rods, died before the show ended. Godspeed—He will be missed by many.

Every year this show set the pace for what we will be seeing in the coming years in the Hot Rod world. There is plenty to talk about but for now, we have a few observations. As usual the number of bitchin’, badass, brand new hot rods was in the thousands. Nowhere on earth will you see this many brand new builds. We were covering them as fast as we could for #GearHeadsWorld. Check it out online in the coming weeks to view the most extensive video collection of the event.

To start off, one thing we were not seeing was a proliferation of roots style superchargers, along with the muscle car style pro Streeters’ we used to see. Now, the Pro Touring style is more the order of the day. The Prochargers’ and the turbos are more hidden down in the engine compartment.

Something we are seeing a lot of is carbon fiber all over some of the cars. Some cars are completely made of carbon fiber. Some of the builders are getting into making molds for this. There were many custom, carbon touches made for good eyeball candy.

Continuing on that subject was the proliferation of body wraps. Dozens and dozens of companies have sprung up that can wrap your car from head to toe with a brand new paint job, without painting it. It’s all decals GearHeads!
But when it comes to actually painting your hot rod, this is what we found: Flatz paint is in.  Make no mistake about it. These kinds of paint jobs are tough to do but it looks like they are here to stay for a good, long time. We were seeing them on all kinds of vehicles. And the color selection was nothing short of amazing. All kinds of bright colorful variations of flat paint.  Be ready – it is coming to your neighborhood soon.

One final observation would have to include the wheels. With all of the new cad/cam and billet machining capabilities that are available nowadays, wheel styles have exploded.  Be ready for the largest selection of wheels ever! ‘Nuff said.

Rockin’ Around the Block

rockin-around-the-block

If you happened to find yourself passing through town on the second Saturday of August and suddenly ended up hip deep In what appeared to be a hornet’s nest of hot rods, you might have felt some concern for your health and welfare—that is, if you were not a GearHead. After all, Hollywood had once made horror films about hot rods taking over a town!
Car guys and gals from all around know that this is the Gresham, OR.  Rockin’ Around The Block Annual Cruise spectacular! This is the day that the Northwest Motorsports Association takes over downtown Gresham and proceeds to line Main Street with all manner of muscle and hardcore hot rods.

And not to worry Martha. This horde  runs a clean operation… Well, there was that one year… You see, there was this thing called the “Brick It.” And well – there was this T-Bird that caught fire! It seems the engine blew up and spread fire to all of the plastic on the car which proceeded to burn and burn and could not be put out. Ultimately the fire department had to be called in. But then that is another story.



The fact is, the NWMA has been producing this event for seventeen years running with the blessing of the entire downtown district. This event is a fundraiser for the Mount Hood Community College automotive technology program. During that time it has raised over $150,000 for scholarships.

Long time Street magic car club member, Scott sayre has been working this event since its inception. We asked him what stood out in this year’s show? Not surprisingly his answer was – a car. Specifically it was a ‘66 Nova out of Schroeder Speed and Custom speed shop In Troutdale, OR. This car has been pulling down multiple trophies and wins since it was recently introduced to the car world. It did it at the Portland Roadster Show and at this event as well.



There really was much more going on at this spectacular event than we can mention in these pages. This is a huge draw for the Gresham Chamber of Commerce. Sponsor, Jon Weston introduced a really bitchin’ old ‘54 Fire Engine that would have come in handy years ago (see above).

The show is heavily supported by a number or recurring sponsors. Not only are all the streets and lots throughout the core downtown area filled with Detroit iron but the Farmers Market fills up adjacent streets. All together it adds up to throngs of people jamming the streets and sidewalks throughout the day.

Speaking of throngs – we would be remiss if we didn’t mention the Gresham Bed Races. What are those…  uh, watch the vid. Actually, this has been part of the tradition. On Friday evening, the locals line the sidewalks on Main Street to witness those crazy bed contraptions that local businesses and organizations have built. Teams push them down the impromptu dragstrip set up on the closed down street. This year’s competition was mostly dominated by Tae Kwon Do fighters. Show promoter, Vern Ferris was happy to include a  raffle this year for wounded veterans. Two lucky winners went home with some really bitchin’, little miniature electric KIA cars donated by Show sponsor Westin Buick Kia GMC. Then there were the hundred or so trophies given out to the deserving winners.



Ron Ruedi and the Hurricanes rocked out throughout the afternoon on their Main Street stage right up until the Main Street Cruise closed out the event that evening.

It was a great day for a car cruise And this one did not disappoint. The weather was nice and mild and the whole town was filled with hundreds of hot rods all throughout the day. Were you there? Let us know what you think.