Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Ben bought a Czech radio truck!

Totally normal. It's a 1963 Praga V3S communications truck. It has a top speed of 34 miles per hour and took forever to drive the 200 miles to Ben's home.

Thanks for sharing, man!





New car show starring Orlove and Ballaban

Raphael is one of my favorite car people out there. I am so happy for him and his weirdo fondness for cars. The show premiers on Fusion TV tomorrow night.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Another Darien Gap documentary

This is the most recent documented crossing by a journalist. Really informative, with the drama filtered out.

Vaccinations and travel alerts for Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru


I just realized my bus trip is only three months away. Time to check what I need in terms of vaccinations.

Colombia

Yellow fever vaccine, if coming from Angola, Brazil, DRC, or Uganda.

U.S. citizens should exercise caution, as violence linked to domestic insurgency, narco-trafficking, crime, and kidnapping occur in some rural and urban areas.  This replaces the previous travel warning dated April 5, 2016.  
Organized political and criminal armed groups are active throughout much of the country and their methods include the use of explosives and bomb threats in public spaces. Violence associated with the armed groups occurs in rural areas as well as Colombia's major cities, including in the capital. These groups are heavily involved in the drug trade, extortion, kidnapping, and robbery. On November 30, 2016, the Colombian government approved a peace accord with the largest guerrilla group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). The peace agreement is in the process of being implemented and does not include other active armed groups.
Violent crime is a threat throughout Colombia. Kidnapping remains a threat, although U.S. citizens are not specifically targeted. Violent political groups and other criminal organizations occasionally kidnap and hold civilians, including foreigners, for ransom. 
Ecuador

Yellow fever vaccination, if traveling in the Amazon Basin.

Exercise caution when traveling to northern Ecuador, especially the provinces of Carchi, northern Esmeraldas, and SucumbĂ­os.  U.S. government personnel may travel to the northern bank of the Napo River in SucumbĂ­os, where tourist lodges are located, an area approximately four miles wide.  All other U.S. government travel to the northern border area is prohibited without prior permission.  This region has a high rate of ransom kidnappings.  U.S. citizens are not targeted, but have been kidnapped there in the past.  

  • Pick-pocketing, robbery, and hotel room theft are the most common crimes.  Tourists have been robbed at gunpoint on beaches and along hiking trails.  Passengers arriving at the Quito and Guayaquil airports have also been targets of armed robberies.
  • Use hotel safes if available, avoid wearing obviously expensive jewelry or clothing, and carry only the cash or credit cards that you need.  Stay alert in crowds and on public transportation.  Be aware that thieves might create distractions to target you.
  • Be alert for express kidnappings, in which criminals enter a taxi and force victims to withdraw money from ATMs.  Some victims have been beaten or raped.  Avoid hailing taxis on the street.  Order taxis by phone or use a service affiliated with major hotels.  Avoid withdrawing large amounts of cash at one time.  Use ATMs in well-protected indoor areas.
  • To avoid carjacking or theft from your car while you are stopped at intersections, drive with your doors locked and windows rolled up. Do not leave valuables in plain view.
  • Sexual assaults and rapes can occur, even in tourist areas.  Travel in groups, do not leave food or drinks unattended, and never allow a stranger to give you a drink.
  • Do not let your credit card out of your sight in order to avoid credit card “skimming.”
  • Incapacitating drugs, such as rohypnol and scopolamine, have been used to facilitate violent robberies and sexual assaults.
Peru

Yellow fever vaccination is recommended.

Narcotics traffickers, terrorist groups and other organized, armed bands still operate in some remote parts of Peru. 


Armed robberies, express kidnappings, carjacking's, and petty theft occur frequently. Credit card fraud is also common in Peru. “Smash-and-grab” style robberies are most often reported on main tourist corridors immediately following arrival at Lima’s airport. Use only official airport taxi services. Do not hail taxis on the street. 
While violence committed against foreigners is infrequent, robberies involving violence have been on the rise. Do not resist a robbery attempt.  Victims who do not resist generally do not suffer serious physical harm. Some criminals with a motive of robbery or sexual assault may target victims by drugging them in bars and other areas frequented by tourists.
 Looks like I'm all set!

Two Virginia Museum of Transportation cars

On the way back from the Duncan Collection, I stopped at the Museum of Transportation. It contained mostly train and bus stuff and some pre-war cars. These two caught my eye.

The GM EV1, subject of a documentary. The funny thing is, the only electric charger I saw in Virginia last week was in the museum parking lot.




And this, an old Chevy Caprice cruiser. It was used a few weeks ago in a TV show.





Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Duncan 900-car collection

Are you ready?

Earlier this year, I learned about the existence of this vast car collection from Jalopnik. It's in the middle of nowhere-- Christiansburg, Virginia, near the Appalachian Mountains. Fortunately, my wife grew up 3 hours 15 minutes from the middle of nowhere, in Richmond, Virginia. Richmond is infamous for being the capital of the Confederate States of America. Her 20th high school reunion was last weekend, so...two birds, one stone.

On Friday, I rented a second car and went to Christiansburg. Note: Car companies' computer systems cannot handle one person renting two cars simultaneously. I had breakfast along the way in Charlottesville, the scene of the recent white supremacist rally.

I pulled up to this non-descript warehouse in an industrial district.


Mr. Duncan is a successful businessman with around a dozen car dealerships, including a Honda store. This mannequin holding tiny Bibles greeted me in the lobby. Mr. Duncan's right-hand man Jerry gave me the tour.


The layout consists of a large warehouse, two annexes, and a yard. There are cars everywhere. Virtually every make and model is represented, except Italian cars. They are mostly ordinary cars that our parents and neighbors owned. Like this Oldsmobile. My mom had this and it was the first car I got to steer. I was around eleven and my step-dad let me scoot over on the bench seat and steer it on a windy road. I thought I would take a couple of photos of cars that interested me, but I promptly gave up after this Oldsmobile. There are so many cars!



With American makes, the collection had many unloved/mocked cars, like this Prowler and Maserati-Chrysler.


This fleet of Japanese trucks reminded me of the Toyota Museum in California, except there were more Toyotas here!


Here is a Japanese hearse, based off of the Crown, which is often used as taxi cabs.




More unloved Americana-- Reatta, Allante, Crossfire.


This is the only car that stumped me. Is this a Mazda Cosmo or some kind of RX? Note the huge speakers behind the back seat.




AMCs.


A Camaro next to three Soarers. I noticed the roof panels were ajar and yep, they're all Aerocabins. I had never seen one in real life, let alone three.




El Camino SS.


Centuries. Lots of them. When Jerry introduced himself, he asked: Are you here to just look at the cars or to test drive them too? I had never contemplated test driving them, but why not?!

Most of the cars, probably 3/4 of them, are for sale. The best Centuries are not for sale.


Now we enter Annex No 1, which was dimly lit. This might be a Rolls-Royce hearse, or just a weird station wagon.



This W126 hearse, with the dim lighting, was downright creepy.


This 7-Series has 6,000 miles.


The width and depth of this collection knows no bounds.


This XR4Ti unfortunately did not have the bi-wing rear spoiler.


Hondas.



Three first gen Integra coupes, with much less mileage than the one I drove to Radwood.



I note that a Celica in this condition is rarer than the NSX next to it.



The second annex consists of Figaros, Seras, Beats, and mini fire trucks. There are 125 Figaros in the collection. Mr. Duncan has contacts in Japan who pick out the best examples at auctions. There are not many left in Japan. Most are in Britain, the Netherlands, and this second annex.


There were a few Cappuccinos too. Look how small it is compared to the Honda City cabrio.


When I was visiting, a gentleman from North Carolina bought a Beat. He bought the second best example in the inventory. The best example was recently purchased by a Honda engineer in Ohio.


Seras, with butterfly doors.


I had never heard of a Daihatsu Leeza before.


I knew the red car was an Acura/Honda Vigor, but I did not recognize the other sedan. Turns out it's just a first generation Acura/Honda Legend with a Japanese face.


There were over 100 Japanese 4x4s, from Pajeros to Land Cruisers to Delicas to Samurais.


I took a picture of these Cimas because this is what my aunt and uncle owned just before the Japanese Bubble burst in the 1990s.


Two red Previas. One.


Two.


I would take this van on the Road of Bones in the Russian Far East.


A Subaru SVX with a Skyline and a Sera reflected.


I have not seen an Isuzu Stylus in over a decade. I knew a guy who owned one. He was a manager at a Chevy's Mexican restaurant and once told me the funniest dirty joke. He is a priest now.


An Isuzu Bighorn/Trooper, with handling by Lotus.


Mind boggling.


And then I saw this, an Impulse Turbo. It's a little newer, faster, and handles better than my 1983, but it's definitely an Impulse!


I took a photo of this Starion only because it says MMC up front (Mitsubishi Motors Corporation). Even though this came from Japan recently, it had an AC/DC sticker on the rear.


Suzuki Mighty Boy.


Another nostalgic car. I wanted this Trans Am so badly when I turned 16.


Test drive time. This was a 1991 Century with 100,000 kilometers. The driver's seat did not go back very far, presumably for the comfort of the rear passenger. I barely had enough legroom. Half the switches were in Japanese so I was a bit flustered. What was also discombobulating was the steering wheel location. Everything was reversed, from the column shifter to the turn signal stalk. It was also weird to look at the fender mounted mirrors.


I got to drive approximately six miles of a country road. The ride was soft and pillowy, reminiscent of a Citroen DS. I felt that the perfect speed in this car was 70 kph.


Next up, the Impulse/Piazza. It was a little difficult to start up the car. It stalled a couple of times. But once it warmed up, it was fine. I loved and missed the weirdo switchgear so I took some photos. The ride was meh. It was not a great driving car. This may be why it never had the following that other Japanese sports compacts had.










I really have to thank Gary Duncan and his assistant Jerry. This was definitely one of the most memorable automotive days of my life. Here is Duncan Imports' website.