Originally intended to document my experience of DeLorean ownership, focus is often radical and strange, boring and obtuse.

Friday, May 29, 2009

McFly Motorsports

McFly Motorsports

Vacations are neither fun nor relaxing when one spends the entire time driving. I present for your consideration the following.

First, there is the driving to your destination and the long wait sitting in your sweltering car at the U.S.-Canada border. Then, once you arrive, there's the drive all around town looking for your hotel and a nice, rat-free place to eat and perhaps relieve one's bowels. Finally, there's that long, 6-hour trip back home. Yes, driving can utterly suck the fun out of a vacation.

With one exception.

Returning home from Cedar Point, Suz and I made a pit-stop in Kent, Ohio. Nestled amongst other shops in an industrial strip sat an oasis of awesomnity: McFly Motorsports.

The owner/proprietor, Josh, who builds high performance engines for DeLoreans, was expecting me. I spoke to him earlier and was stopping by to pick up a part for my DMC-12. When we arrived, Josh welcomed us with open arms... and an offer I couldn't refuse.

The offer? To drive a high-performance, modified DeLorean.

Now when I say modified, I'm not talking a stinking little K&N air filter that adds 1 horsepower. (Okay, it's got that too) But I mean headers, exhaust, ignition and cams. And this was the "mild" performance upgrade offered by Josh.

Preparing for a ride in the modified DeLorean.This particular setup was worth about 70 extra horsepower. And if you know DeLoreans, that means a healthy output of about 200 hp. It was dynoed at 162 hp at the wheels and torque levels jumped almost equally. This much power in a reasonably light 2700-lb DeLorean translated to a very exciting driving experience.

I eagerly jumped in the driver's seat while Josh hopped in the other side. We pulled our doors closed and headed off into the countryside. This D was also lowered 2 inches with an Eibach spring set, seen here, specifically designed for the stainless wonder. I noticed immediately how much easier the car was to drive, and how much more civilized the handling was.

Acceleration was definitely brisk, despite the fact I couldn't bring myself to mash the pedal to the floor. And part of that reason was the sound of the exhaust. I'm not going to tiptoe around it. The stainless DMCH Stage I exhaust, seen here, was loud. According to Josh, the sound reverberates within the headers and can't really be muffled. It was too much for me, and takes away from the car's Euro roots. However, I can imagine many an owner out there revelling in the burbling, muscle-car sound.

We spent about 90 minutes visiting Josh at his fledgling company. But I can tell from the quality of his work and the kindness of his manner that he is going to be a staple of the DeLorean community for a long time to come.


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Monday, May 25, 2009

401 Road Rage Rampage

When parking lot rage transfers to road rage, make sure you've got a fast car to escape!

Nova Scotia, if DET 332 is your ambassador, I suggest you find another. Perhaps someone with human decency. Someone less predisposed to fits of rage. Someone who isn't just plain stupid.

Suz and I, heading towards the Ottawa area for a wedding, were travelling east on the 401 when we decided to stop for fuel. Since the Insight gets, like, eighteen billion miles per gallon, the fuel was food - for us.

When we returned to our car we found the above scene; a minivan, with no handicap permit wedged between two handicap parking spaces. It was so close to the car next to it that the poor elderly woman was unable to enter her car to leave.

The female driver of the minivan, having a smoke right behind me, witnessed me photographing this and aggressively confronted me. "Excuse me! Do you mind telling me why you're taking a picture of my car?" is how the conversation started.

"You parked your van over top of TWO handicapped spaces. And you don't even have a handicap permit!" I replied.

She motioned into the distance, towards the half-empty parking lot, "I couldn't find any parking spaces back there."

"So that gives you the right to break the law?" I asked.

She ignored me and, with dozens of people walking past us, began yelling ridiculous things about the legality of taking photos in the public. She was furious. She scrambled into her purse for her camera, "threatening" to take my picture.

Not wanting the scene to escalate, I got into our car. But as we drove away, the angry woman was screaming that she did not give her permission to take pictures and silly things like, "how about I take YOUR picture?"

Almost laughing, I launched one final insult: "Go ahead. I'm not the one doing something illegal."

She jumped in her van and pursued us east on the 401, chasing us, tailgating us and trying to intimidate us by taking photos of us. She pulled in front of us and alarmingly slowed down, trying to force us to pass her.

There was nothing we could do. Her V6 heavily outweighed our 3-cylinder hybrid. We were no match for the lunatic. Our only option was to stay the course and hope she got bored.

Instead, the danger factor increased as she became fed up with our refusal to play her game. She pulled onto the shoulder allowing us to pass her, then immediately pulled in behind us to continue the harrassment. With every flash of her camera, I felt like a rock star being pursued by paparazzi. I posed provocatively.

We decided to end the chase before she hurt someone. We exited at the first O.P.P. (Ontario Provincial Police) sign and reported her to the O.P.P. Dispatch was concerned about her unacceptable driving behaviour and said they would stop her if they saw her. Another officer stated they would also have Nova Scotia police talk to her about her behaviour. We were satisfied that it was safe to continue travelling and said farewell to the officers.

Lying in bed later that night I thought about the insane driver. I wondered if I should forgive her. Because, after all, I don't know the hardships she has endured in her life which caused her to have no human decency and no regard for the law.

Perhaps it's not her fault at all that she refuses to take responsibility for her actions. Perhaps the Nova Scotia school system failed her, her community failed her, and her parents failed her. Do we blame them, or her? I'll tell you this: I blame her. And Batman. You know, for not throwing her in Arkham Asylum.

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Monday, May 11, 2009

It's Sublime Hypermiling Time

100 mpg is easier than making ice cubes.

I yearn for this warm weather with the fervor of a teenaged dork longing for a Back To The Future Time Machine Lego kit. Not because it's warm, but because with it comes super sweet fuel economy. Hey, I'm not averse to burning up poisonous dinosaur juice, but I'd rather buy toys and candy than gasoline fuel.

The 1st generation Honda Insight is the most aerodynamic mass-produced vehicle to ever hit the streets. With a drag co-efficient of 0.25, it's very wind-resistant. And with a mere 1,800 lbs. to haul around, you can get better mileage than any motorcycle.

With warmer weather comes hypermiling possibilities, and it wasn't long before I was cranking out 99.1 U.S. mpg in the ol' Honda Insight. Convert that to the Imperial system, and it seems even more impressive at 119 mpg.

Hypermiling is the term given to drivers who squeeze out better mileage than the EPA standards suggest for a specific model of car. Typically, one can expect to achieve worse than the EPA numbers, as the cars are tested under the most ideal circumstances possible, and may or may not be covered in magical fairy dust. However, with an aluminum & magnesium car whose sole purpose is to get great mileage it is possible, with some hypermiling tricks, to achieve almost unbelievable mileage figures.

Hypermilers are stiff. I mean, we don't mind a bumpier ride. Filling the tires more than the car manufacturer suggests is the first easy step to saving money. We run 40 psi all around in our Insight. Others have gone as high as 50.

What's the rush? If you're tyring to hypermile, slow is the name of the game. I drive at the exact speed limit, carefully letting off the accelerator until I'm almost coasting. If there's no one behind me, I'll actually drive slower.

Hills help. Downhill sections of road are the easiest way to save fuel. Instead of keeping my foot on the gas and building up speed, I let off completely and let gravity take over. If there's an uphill section immediately following, I will build up speed on the downhill and use my momentum (Science!) to carry me up the next hill, accelerating only if necessary.

Over the past 3 years I've learned when the electric motor will offer its assistance. With a CVT automatic Insight, the electric motor rewards a quick pedal jab with hefty torque. Starting from a stoplight, a quick stomp of the pedal gets the electric motor spinning, and avoids using so much fuel. Slow starts use only the gas engine, so I do my best to slap the donkey's ass and initiate that electric motor.

Coast through life. Don't forget the virtues of coasting instead of braking. I watch traffic lights and plan ahead so I can coast as much as possible, which has two benefits. Brakes last longer and liquid pteradactyl consumption is much lower.

Finally, a controversial tip. Drafting. Get too close and the Police may view it as tailgating. But if done with extreme caution, you can carefully draft a transport trailer without getting too close, and increase your mileage considerably. I personally only follow when road conditions are excellent. I keep a safe and nag-free distance and ONLY follow trucks in the right-hand lane, giving me a shoulder to veer onto should sudden braking occur.

The results? Try it and see for yourself.

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