Tuesday, December 10, 2013 4:03:29 PM America/Detroit


I've moved this blog a couple of houses over. Please use the link below in the future. Thank you. http://crankydriver.com/word/ “Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” —Leo Tolstoy Crankiness Rating: 4 out 11 (Old dog. New tricks. Argh.) Read more

Slow and Serene

I read over the weekend that actor Paul Walker and his friend Roger Rodas died in a fiery, single vehicle car crash. They were driving a 2005 Porsche Carrera GT, a 612 hp, mid-engine exotic. What is sad for me is that three children lost their fathers in that crash, and... Read more

Time Passages

My daily driver recently turned 100,000 miles. Yet somehow I’m the one that feels old. Actually, any sense of time passing makes me feel old. Technically I’m probably middle age, although that seems so old just to type that. I don’t have my AARP membership yet, so I’m not getting the... Read more

Car People

There are dog people and cat people and bird people and somewhere I’m sure, lemur people. I am from the clan of inanimate objects, car people. When I am introduced to people I’ve seen at work or at social gatherings, the light of recognition I usually get goes along the lines... Read more

Traffic Circle of Death

[see update below] I recently witnessed an accident at a skid pad traffic circle. The handling loop traffic circle was constructed not too long ago at the intersection of M5 and Pontiac Trail (Wixom, MI—see below). A car came into the circle when it shouldn’t have and got hit by the... Read more

Say Hello, Wave Goodbye

When I was growing up, I thought my dad was extra popular and well known in our neighborhood. As we would drive through our narrow streets lined with park cars, other drivers would stop and wave to my dad, and he would wave back. At some point, I asked my... Read more

2013 Detroit Auto Show

I felt fortunate to go to this year’s Detroit Auto Show (er... North American International Auto Show) right before it opened to the public, thanks to my car club. And it was free admission for just $10. <sarcasm>Thanks MotorsportReg.com!</sarcasm> I thought I would get a chance to walk around the other... Read more

The Package

“You have 10 minutes to drop off the package.” The voice at the other end just stopped. I threw my cell phone down and started my car in the same motion. My motor was eager to prove its mettle. I had my navigation system on as I pulled out of the... Read more


I got a traffic ticket the other day. A very special traffic ticket. It was delivered to me with love and care from Germany through registered mail. How thoughtful of the German government! What was the ticket for? Well, it wasn’t for speeding on the unlimited autobahn. It was for following... Read more

Lies, Damned Lies, and Idiots

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2009, 32% of fatal traffic crashes in America involved alcohol. When I see this (or similar) statistic in some internet article, some one will invariably comment, through bad humor or ignorance, that sober people caused 68% of traffic related deaths... Read more

Old People with Old Cars

(I’m posting this a bit late, but being lazy and busy at the same time isn’t easy to manage.) “All of the biggest technological inventions created by man—the airplane, the automobile, the computer—says little about his intelligence, but speaks volumes about his laziness.” --Mark Kennedy One thing I hate about the dream cruise... Read more

Slow Subaru, Practical Porsche

[see updates below] Two months, two weeks, four days, one hour and fourteen minutes and lots and lots of dollars later, I finally got my car back. This included getting the car a new engine (short block), returning it for a check engine light (P0024 Exhaust AVCS System 2 Range/Performance), then... Read more

Ruf Mich An

VRROOOooommmmm... “Wow, that Porsche was not doing 70!” exclaimed my wife as a white Porsche zoomed by in the other direction. The speed limit here was 70 kph. The exhaust note was still buzzing in my head as I kept thinking, Pfaffenhausen. We had taken a detour from the autobahn to find... Read more

Autobahn vs. Interstate

I’ve written about the paradoxical nature of the autobahn before. Although I complain about it sometimes, it’s actually pretty good to drive on. It’s just that the fantasy Americans have about it falls somewhat short. It’s not perfect, but it’s better than what we have. My family and I landed in... Read more

The Lingenfelter Collection

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Whatever. In the internet (which replaced “Life” in the 1990s), everyone has an opinion, and these opinions rarely agree. If I were to make a Top Eleven Most Beautiful Car list, each car on the list will have its detractors. Ultimately, a... Read more

My Cars Hate Me

I started this blog because I like driving. A lot. And therefore things that prevent me from driving the way I want to make me very cranky. Up to this point it’s been other drivers or traffic infrastructure that makes me frustrated and annoyed. I’ve suddenly discovered an insidious new... Read more

National Donut Day

In honor of National Donut Day in America (the first Friday in June), I bring you random Stig/Ken Block/General Hooning videos from around the world. So sit down, grab a bagel, and enjoy! (I will not celebrate today in the Porsche, because I’m running out of cars. I will celebrate Donut... Read more

One Track Mind

[Update below] Rejoice: Curves Ahead I’m just an old, red-blooded male whose mid-life crisis was a few miles ago. Like most males my age, I tend to think of only one thing: watching TV in peace. Back in my younger days I’m sure I had something else that pre-occupied my thoughts, but I... Read more

Brain Buckets and Organ Donors

I recently bought a helmet for the track. It’s rated SA2010. This replaces my old SA95 helmet, which I’ve been wearing just to look cool at go-kart tracks (they’re quite fashionable). This really intimidates the little kids at the go-kart tracks. Once they start crying, you can easily put them into... Read more

Dead Man Driving

I’m a dead man. According to College@Home’s infographics (thanks to @klagowski), a long commute is very, very bad for you. (As an aside, it also mentions a phenomenon I’ve called the Traffic Caterpillar of Death. I just have to find someone to officially use my term.) So how does a commute... Read more

EMan’s Road Rules

A man must have his guiding principles to lead him through life, like a shining beacon of clarity cutting through the troubling fog of our times. I have no idea what these principles are supposed to be, however, so instead I will write about my Rules of the Road which... Read more

The Stereotype Games

I play different mental games in my head. One that I can actually share in public is something I call the Matching Game. It’s simply matching a person to his/her car. You can play this game anywhere, although probably not for fun or profit. Even though I don’t like stereotypes, it... Read more

My Sweet Valentine

There’s nothing like buying the love of your life a Valentine. Just don’t tell your wife about it. I bought my Porsche its Valentine in 1994, and it still uses it today. I bought another one in 2008 for my Subaru that is used daily. These Valentine One Radar Locators (V1)... Read more

2012 Detroit Auto Show

I didn’t get a golden ticket this year. I don’t get to hang out with the Veruca Salts and Augustus Gloops of this world. I don’t even get platform shoes, a green wig and sing questionable songs. Instead, I went to the NAIAS at Cobo Hall with the unwashed masses.... Read more

The Need for Speed Is a Leading Cause of Brain Drain

This internet thingy is.... interesting. When I’m not looking at videos of cute kittens (which may or may not be a euphemism) or showing 1980s music videos to my kids, I watch car videos. I recently watched this video of a Corvette crashing followed by another video of a Corvette... Read more

It’s The Most @#$%(*! Time of the Year

Ahh... Christmas. That special time of year. There’s a certain something in the air that makes me just a bit... crankier. Is it all the preparation? The stress looking for presents? The unrealistic expectations of holiday cheer? Nope, it’s all those @#$%^&* shoppers out on the road. I don’t know where... Read more

The World’s Hardest Job

The entrance ramp was waiting for me, beckoning. It’s a challenging, imperfect ramp. It’s choppy in places, marked by crumbling asphalt. There’s a pothole on the racing line (I have to remember that). The first curve is slightly off-camber, and the guardrail is pretty close on the exit. Traffic finally clears,... Read more

The Gentle Curve of Death

“Every curve is exciting, if you go fast enough.” --EMan’s sister There’s a Simpsons episode (season 16, episode 13, “Mobile Homer,” for those that care) where Homer and Marge are on the freeway chasing Bart and Lisa, who are in a recreational vehicle. Marge is looking ahead and says, “I can’t see... Read more

Where the Rubber Meets the Road Salt

I’ve already mentioned how much I like rubber. This tire fetish of mine is seasonal—I get afflicted whenever I switch the tires on my cars. This November was no different. Over the Thanksgiving break, I changed the tires in two of my cars, switching to winter tires in preparation for... Read more


It’s on. I thought we live in an enlightened society. More genteel. Mankind living in harmony, and all that crap. And then I went on the Internets Tubes. And then I was shocked and awed by this: the mis-named 650 hp 2013 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500. (source: Autoweek) What. The. Fahrvergnügen?! “If I had... Read more

Shift Happens

Every car I’ve owned has had a manual transmission. I don’t see this changing in the foreseeable future, as my wife won’t let me buy a Ferrari 458 Italia, which doesn’t come with a manual transmission. Something about not willing to sell our house and live in a cardboard box.... Read more

Back to the ’Bahn

I’ve just returned from a week long trip from Germany, and experienced something that makes me even crankier than driving—flying through Charles de Gaulle (CDG) airport in Paris. It’s a large airport, so you’ll probably have to walk pretty far for your connection. Being big isn’t extraordinary, but CDG adds... Read more

Kitchen Pass to Zebulon’s Mountain

Road trips make me un-cranky. My favorite trips tend to head west from Detroit, since these avoid Ohio. They seem to have some vague justification, like family gatherings, races, and so on, but these are just McGuffins, simply to point the car in a rough direction. What is it for this... Read more

There Is No Substitute...

... for a day off work. Especially if it involves driving Porsches. The local Ann Arbor Porsche dealership, Howard Cooper Porsche, sponsored one of the half days for a Porsche Sports Day at the Palace of Auburn Hills. We got to drive pretty much all of the different models that Porsche... Read more

My Rubber Fetish

I love rubber. Not just any rubber, though. I like my rubber black and circular. That’s right— I love tires. I like sporty tires best, of course— oversized with a low profile. And the stickier the better. When the UPS driver drops off new tires at my house, it might as... Read more

Press On Regardless (How Stupid I Am)

I took a recent road trip for work to our proving grounds in Michigan's upper peninsula, the UP. Although I've lived in Michigan for most of my life, this is only the second time I've been to the UP. The other time was to take my wife to Mackinac Island,... Read more

German Engineering for Children

Some German wise guy once said something about time being relative. One German example I have of relative time is my first apartment in Germany. My neighbors in the building kept referring to my apartment as one of the “new” ones. Later I found out it’s because my part of... Read more

The Guy Behind the Man Wearing the White Suit — Not a Review

(Warning: Much wordage ahead. Stay a while.) My copy from England looked like a BBC representative shredded one corner with his teeth I hate critics, probably because I don’t like being criticized. I think to be a critic, you have to have done that thing that you are critiquing. If you want... Read more

What Hath Google Wrought?

After a Google blog post last weekend, it was revealed that Google has been secretly working on autonomous vehicles, cars that can drive themselves. The engineers working on this project had experience from the DARPA challenges, and include Sebastian Thrun of the 2005 winners from Stanford, and Christopher Urmson of... Read more

The Vampire’s Highway

“Did gerade Linie ist gottlos.” --Hundertwasser A friend of mine is on a foreign assignment to Romania for a couple of years. The city where he’s located is nice enough, with a university and a technical industry, and was the first mainland European city to be lit by electric street lamps in... Read more

The German Paradox - The Autobahn

(Also: The German Paradox - Parking) The Autobahn. The word evokes a mystical essence about German driving. It’s the last automotive frontier, like the old American wild west. It’s still unlimited. Thoroughbreds like Porsche, BMW, Audi and Mercedes (okay— and VW for that GTI guy) still roam the autobahn. And every... Read more


Now that’s going to leave a mark. For those that don’t watch BBC’s Top Gear show with religious fervor, I’m talking about the de-helmeting of the Stig from the show. For the last seven years, the current (and likely ex-) Stig was the test driver for Top Gear, doing stunts and... Read more

The Sound of Music

I’m one of those people that can’t drive without music playing in the car. It’s an intrinsic part of the driving experience for me. If my radio is off while I’m driving, it’s probably because I’m listening to a strange sound my car is making, or I’m looking for an... Read more

Still Here

Between my current crazy work schedule, and my kids’ inability to sleep through the night, I can’t seem to put a complete senten— hey, look! Imaginary puppies! A new post is coming soon. Also, if you post a comment, I’ll be able to see it but not be able to respond. Instead,... Read more

The German Paradox - Parking

(Also: The German Paradox - The Autobahn) To a driving enthusiast, the allure of Germany is undeniable. An unlimited autobahn? The Nürburgring? Home of Porsche, BMW, Mercedes, Audi (and for that GTI owner, VW)? What could be better? It’s possible to get a taste of this driving paradise in many ways. Companies... Read more

Sign of the Times

I learned the importance of correct time while waiting for the busses in Germany. After a couple of long walks home when I missed the last bus of the day, I learned to keep my watch set accurately. These days it is pretty easy to have the exact time. Computers automatically... Read more

Me and My Porsche

I’m a pretty rotten friend. I’ve let an old buddy, my 1989 944 Turbo, languish in the garage, buried under the debris of family. Yes, bales of hay are involved. Our homeowners’ association makes us keep the goats and chickens out back. “We are all travelers in the wilderness of this world,... Read more

Kindred Folk

I was reading the Booth Babe’s article about summer driving events, when I made the mistake of reading the comments. I hate reading the comments, because I lose all hope in my fellow man (again). As I thought about the article and its comments, I found the whole thing ironic. Here’s... Read more

The Egoist

Hey! You in the dark blue Chevy Chevrolet Impala talking on the phone! Get out of the way! Die ganze Welt dreht sich um mich, denn ich bin nur ein Egoist. Der Mensch, der mir am nächsten ist, bin ich, ich bin ein Egoist. --Falco You’re driving 70 mph on the left lane on... Read more

What Comes after Two Days of Rain in Michigan?

Monday. “The best thing one can do when it’s raining is to let it rain.” --Henry Wadsworth Longfellow “Don’t knock the weather. If it didn’t change once in a while, nine out of ten people couldn’t start a conversation.” --Kin Hubbard “No matter how rich you become, how famous or powerful, when you die the... Read more

Safe at Any Speed

All drivers do stupid things. This includes you and me. At some point in time while driving, we will be distracted or not paying attention in some way. So I was pleasantly surprised when Eddie Alterman, Car and Driver’s editor-in-chief, wrote about his dinner with Dr. Ralf Cramer and Samir Salman... Read more

A Bavarian Belle

My wife is German, but that’s not really her fault. She’s actually from Bavaria in southern Germany, which is the image most Americans have about Germany. Ask an average American of their thoughts of Germany, and they may answer with Oktoberfest, Lederhosen, and beer gardens— all Bavarian institutions. (To continue with... Read more

Mercury Falling

Mercury, the Jan Brady of the Ford Automotive family, was euthanized last Wednesday after Ford decided to pull the plug. Mercury was 72 years old. (image source: artatm.com) Edsel Ford begat Mercury in 1938. Alcohol was reported to have been involved. Edsel named Mercury after the Roman god known for delivering flowers... Read more

Happy Days

Moving away from that depressing topic that is the Black Plague (a.k.a. BP), let’s ironically talk about track days, where we get to burn lots of gas in good conscience. My local car club organizes driver education (DE) events (or high-performance driver events - HPDE in some circles) at local tracks... Read more

Black Plague II: Electric Boogaloo

Being a conscientious driving enthusiast is not without its problems, especially about the environment. I wrote an article about this over 10 years ago, and more recently, the Booth Babe wrote about the same issue. I have no straightforward solution to this topic. Not even a bent, twisted one. But... Read more

Secondhand Texting

So there I was, about to text while driving to visit my family. In my mind, it was (literally) a no-brainer. My text message was going to be simple: “10.” The holiday traffic on the freeway wasn’t that bad, and the thunderstorm was turning into just a heavy downpour. Why... Read more

GM Posts First Profits in 3 Years

DETROIT — GM posted a profit of $865 million in the first quarter, its first quarterly profits since 2007, and then promptly lost the money gambling at the Motor City casino near downtown Detroit. Still in a stupor from the previous night’s partying, GM said it was unsure how it lost... Read more

Deborah vs. The Volcano

A friend of ours was supposed to fly from Germany to see us last month. Unfortunately, she timed her flight with Eyjafjallajokull’s eruptions (I wonder how many letters Icelanderians (Icelandicians?*) get to start with in Scrabble). After her flight and her rescheduled flight were both cancelled, she set her flight... Read more

Google Eyes

Sometimes I have too much time on my hands. This can be easily achieved by neglecting things like eating, sleeping and family. Generally this means I’m obsessing over something trivial. Such was the case last year when I virtually re-lived a vacation I took 15 years ago, thanks to Google. (It... Read more

Distracted Driving for Dummies

So there I was, stopped at the traffic light that had just turned red. I looked in my driver side mirror and saw a car still speeding towards the light. He eventually slammed on the brakes, and stopped partway into the intersection. As I looked over, I saw that he... Read more

Will Driving Enthusiasts Embrace Hybrid Vehicles?

No.  [update: still no]  [update: uh, no]  [update: I really, really mean it— no]  [update: Well, okay. Maybe, if they are like this, I don’t mind so much.]  “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”  --Arthur C. Clarke (Clarke’s Third Law)  Below is the Porsche 918 Spyder plug-in hybrid concept, introduced in the Geneva auto show.... Read more

Winter Wonderland

I drive faster than I should. While this is an affliction that affects many driving enthusiasts, I’m still able to lead a generally normal life. I just have to remember to follow two simple rules: 1) don’t drive in wet weather like it’s dry, and 2) let the police car... Read more

In the Region of Rally Sports

I attended my sports car club meeting last night for the first time in about 10 years. It’s a typical sports car club meeting, one where we men think we’re race car drivers and the women indulge us and drink wine. There are a few actual racers in the club,... Read more

2010 Detroit Auto Show

There are some perks working in the auto industry. As a lowly, peon engineer I don’t get too many. However, once in a while, I get a golden ticket— an industry preview ticket for the auto show. “I want the world. I want the whole world. I want to lock it... Read more

Briar Rose

I guess it’s about time I woke this blog up. It’s been quite a while since I last posted something— almost exactly two years, actually. Obviously, a lot has happened since I’ve last blogged: the economy tanked big time GM declared bankruptcy Chrysler declared bankruptcy my company got bought I didn’t receive any of the... Read more

2008 Detroit Auto Show

Yikes! Is it that time of the year already? (My 2007 coverage is here.) I got lucky this year and got a Willy Wonka ticket to the show. Some of our customers bailed out, so one of our sales guys gave me a shiny industry preview ticket. There are about 1/8 as... Read more

Hyperactive Miler

Get 50 mpg -- in your own car Back in June, when I first wanted to write this article, Michigan gas prices were at an all-time high. Right now, our prices aren’t too far off from those highs. You might want to book mark this page for quick access when gas... Read more

We’re Finally Number One...

....and I don’t like it. The Detroit Free Press had an article last week that stated that we had the highest gas prices in the country. At an average of $3.53/gallon, Michigan beat out Illinois ($3.52), California ($3.42) and Hawaii ($3.40). That’s right. We had higher gas prices than a state with... Read more

An Unexpected Turn

So there I was, driving down to my local Target store. It has two entrances from the road, the main entrance, and the driveway in the back of the store. When I’m coming from the my house, I normally take the back entrance, as it’s closer than the more commonly... Read more

Exxon Reports Highest US Corporate Profits

IRVING — ExxonMobil, the Irving, Texas-based company, posted the largest corporate profits in U.S. history. Its earnings of $39.5 billion for 2006 on revenues of $377.6 billion exceed the previous record of $36.13 billion in 2005, also posted by ExxonMobil. Other oil companies posting best-ever profits for their companies include Chevron... Read more

Ford Loses $12.7 Billion in 2006

“If money is your hope for independence you will never have it. The only real security that a man will have in this world is a reserve of knowledge, experience, and ability.” --Henry Ford DEARBORN — Ford announced recently that it had losses of $12.7 billion for 2006, its largest loss in history... Read more

Detroit Auto Show Attendance Down Again

“The average human has about one breast and one testicle.” --From Statistics 101 (If you’re one of my anal-retentive engineer friends, please don’t e-mail me about that last quote. I know that men technically have breasts as well, even if they’re not the pert, firm type—unless we’re talking about Ricardo Montalbán’s. The... Read more

Some of My Driving Pet Peeves - Vol. 1

I consider myself to be a gentle, easy-going, control-freak type of person with compulsive-obsessive tendencies. In general, as long as you do as I say, agree with all of my opinions, and have the same interests as I do, we’ll get along just fine. “It is the mark of an educated... Read more

A Driver’s Rant

I’m really just an ordinary, normal guy. I work, I pay taxes, I have a wife and a daughter. And I have simple needs—I just want to drive like Speed Racer all the time, but I would settle for people getting the heck out of my way. I could to... Read more