Cars n’ Coffee 2018 Season

As winter is around the corner we thought it was time to remind everyone it will only be four months until the summer cars can come back out and play.  To keep you thinking positively check out this video montage of Engineered Automotive Cars n’ Coffee 2017 season closer.

The good weather cannot come soon enough.  Only 120 more sleeps 🙂

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Toyota’s TRD Pro Challenge

Kudos to the marketing and PR folks at Toyota USA for creating this cool ad series for their TRD models. The most recent episode sees Canadian veteran off-road racer Andy Bell take his two famous motorcycling friends Jamie Bestwick and Roland Sands across Vietnam behind the wheels of three beautiful Toyota Tacoma, Toyota Tundra and Toyota 4Runner models. Having traveled to Vietnam myself, I can attest that it truly is one of the most beautiful and rugged countries in the world. Vietnam’s back-country really is the perfect test ground for Toyota’s incredible off-road TRD models.

The Great Gatsby and America’s fascination with the automobile

I first learned about America’s fascination with the automobile from the pages of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. Set in the Roaring 20’s, the great American novel explores the decadence, idealism and social upheaval of the decade and has been described as the cautionary tale of the American Dream.  Cars play a key role in the novel’s plot and are intrinsic as symbols of the wealthy elite of the day. You only have to watch this clip from the 2013 film to get an idea of what types of cars the stars of the day drove.

 

 

Rush song called Red Barchetta

As a Canadian, I know a bit about the band Rush – that they sold over 40 million records, and that they continue to sell out shows across the world 30 plus years after their peak fame.  But to be honest, I wasn’t familiar with their song catalogue – I really only knew their smash hits Tom Sawyer and Closer to the Heart.  Recently however, I stumbled upon Red Barchetta, a cool song from their massive album, Moving Pictures.

Red Barchetta

Red Barchetta

The song’s lyrics tell a futuristic story where traditional combustion vehicles have been banned by “the Motor Law”. The singer’s uncle has one of these illegal vehicles, a “Red Barchetta” sports car which has been secretly kept in pristine condition for 50+ years. The uncle keeps it hidden at his secret country home which was a former farm. Every Sunday, the nephew sneaks out to this location and goes for a drive in the countryside.

“Before the Motor Law…My uncle preserved for me an old machine..For 50-odd years…To keep it as new has been his dearest dream…A brilliant red Barchetta…And on Sundays I elude the eyes…Tires spitting gravel. I commit my weekly crime.”

Very interesting lyrics for 1981 and a little apropos in 2017 with the manual transmission essentially dead and all the buzz of self driving cars.  Rush definitely was forward thinking when they came up with this hit.

Steam Whistle Brewery’s Vintage Fleet

For anyone who lives in Ontario you are likely familiar with Toronto based Steam Whistle Brewery.  Founded back in 2000 by three former employees of the Upper Canada Brewing Company, Steam Whistle is famous for its premium pilsner lager packaged in distinctive green glass bottles with a non-twist cap.

Along with making great beer, Steam Whistle maintains a fleet of classic vehicles for promotions and delivery of their products. Over the years, they have continued to add to the fleet and each new model has its own unique story. Most recently, they added a 1970 International Scout to the group.  Check out the entire fleet.

Steam Whistle Brewery

Steam Whistle Brewery

 

 

CVT Transmissions…

After a recent encounter with a deer in West Virginia left our beloved Ford Escape a write-off, it was time to go SUV shopping.

My wife and I looked at different models including the Honda Pilot, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Ford Explorer and Nissan Pathfinder and decided on a low mileage 2014 Pathfinder SL model.  It had all the features we wanted, the price was right and a good friend of mine also had one that he was very happy with.  Now of course in parallel, I had spent countless hours researching the Pathfinder (anyone that knows me understands this is not a chore for me) and was aware of a class action lawsuit in the US focused on the CVT transmission.  However, that did not dissuade me – I thought it was still small numbers that were affected, we liked the way the car drove, the price was right and Nissan has always made great products.

Well, everything was great for the first seven weeks of owning the Pathfinder until this happened…

The rescue begins.

The rescue begins.

That’s right…our new ride was being towed away by Nissan Roadside Assistance only seven weeks after we bought it.

We had it taken to Maple Nissan where we purchased the car. The team there was great and stepped up to fix the issue right away. One week later we were back on our way with a new transmission installed.

Back in action.

The CVT (continuously variable transmission) has been a bit of a negative word over the years with the world of mechanics, but the technology has seen significant improvements recently. Today, many manufacturers are using this type of technology in a broad range of vehicle models.

Designed primarily to enhance fuel efficiency, the CVT is an automatic transmission that can seamlessly change through a continuous range of gears.  As a car guy, I had always been slightly weary of them because there has been negative press citing an increase in cabin noise, unnatural driving feel and originally they were not designed for towing.

Our whole experience does make you a bit nervous about the long-term ownership costs, especially after reading numerous horror stories about multiple CVT failure. Nevertheless, I’m continuing to stay positive. I suppose it is not a bad thing to get a new transmission at 53,000 KMs if you plan to keep your vehicle for the long-haul.

 

Ken Block’s GYMKHANA NINE: Raw Industrial Playground

Over the years, we have written many times about the infamous Gymkhana series, so it should come as no surprise we are writing about the latest installment. All of the earlier videos have become viral sensations, because the King of “Hoon”, Ken Block continues to push the boundaries behind the wheel.  The new and ninth version likely will too, as it captures the epic “Hooning” tradition of the rally star and his drifting genius.

While it was originally scheduled to be filmed in Sydney to tie in with the Australian Forza Horizon 3 video game, authorities said Block was too much of a “Hoon” for the Land Down Under and would only allow him to make the video on private property.  Instead, Block chose to film in an abandoned industrial area in New York state. Yeah Buffalo!

With so many global corporations shying away from the single big endorsement deal as a result of today’s fragmented online world we do appreciate Ford’s decision to buck the trend.  The combination of a significant amount of both resources and dollars enables the team to create a world-class product in the Gymkhana video series.

As part of Block’s deal with Ford Performance that sees him compete in the FIA World Rallycross championship, these videos feature him driving the custom-built 600 horsepower Ford Focus RS rally machine.  I’m sure the real ROI isn’t great, but it does make you want to take a Ford Focus for a test drive.

Who says we need to make America Great again?

With all this seriously negative Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump election coverage we thought it was time to post something on the lighter side.  Heck, I live in Canada and have started to avoid the news channels all together and there are still 5 weeks to go to election day.

We want to share this insane video we found on the Internet today.  It comes from the 2012 Corvettes in Carlisle burnout competition. And if you call yourself a gear head this insane video has got to bring a smile to your face.

Yes I know, some people may say this type of thing personifies what is wrong with America but you know what I’d say to those folks? The people in the grandstands are enjoying themselves and the Corvette owner looks to be one heck of a nice guy.

Personally, I can’t imagine doing this to a classic car and I would not want to buy new shoes for my roadster but yeah, the guy is not me.  To each his own, and that is what makes America so great!

Seriously, who says we need to make America great again?