Exploring Cars on Various Islands

There are a number of islands that ban cars such as the Mackinac Islands which have to rely on bicycles and horses though they do allow snowmobiles during the winter months and a police car for obvious reasons. Apparently, a car was smuggled onto the island by the secret service in 1975. It was only there in case a quick getaway was needed for the president’s visit.

Although these islands without cars do seem idyllic this post isn’t concentrated on that specifically. More on that topic later though.

Islands that Embrace Cars

There are, after all, other islands which embrace the motor car such as Amelia Island, Florida. They are due to hold an automobile event in May. It includes an auction of various classical cars.

Peel P50 Microcar

Developed on the Isle of Man the Peel P50 microcar is the smallest car in production – though there have been smaller homemade (and garage made) cars. It is designed for an adult and a bag of shopping weighing 59 Kg or 130 pounds. Turning in an enclosed area is impossible, the only thing you can do is pick the whole thing up. It is road legal in the UK if not elsewhere.

Seguin Island in Paris, the site of a medieval abbey farm was the location of a Renault factory up until 2005 when the buildings were demolished and is now a cultural centre.

Shetland off Northern Scotland are to have electric cars powered by tidal power. This was created by Nova Innovation, though the charge point does resemble other electrical charge points.

A Portuguese island in the Atlantic – Porto Santo – charges up cars using solar power which in turn can add electricity to the grid (yes, it is still part of the electricity grid) and gives money back into the community.

For some islands, such as the Big Island, Hawaii renting a car seems to be the best way to get around. Even then you can’t go to such places as Mauna Kea or Green Sand Beach. If you wish to travel by public transport, there are taxis, Ubers and Lyfts available – though the latter is fairly new to the island and operates from the three main airports.

So, what about Car Islands that Don’t Work

So far, so picturesque. But the introduction of cars is bad news for paradise island in the Pacific such as the Marshall Islands or South Tarawa. These are littered with broken down cars, buses and even trucks left on the side of the road. You will also find the detritus of abandoned cars by the beach, which is sad as this is where it is believed to enter the ecosystem.

It’s not just vehicles obviously, but these items are highly visible. There’s no space to dump vehicles, the only real option is to export the car. Repairs that would otherwise be made are not carried out due to the lack of trained mechanics and car knowledge on the islands. It could be changed with a bit of training here, but even getting to the island is proving tricky nowadays.

Changing Luxury Cars

2022 Bentley Continental

The definition of a luxury car is not set in stone. We all know what a convertible is, for example, but a luxury car is constantly evolving. A luxury car is about an increased level of comfort, performance and a mix of popular-right-now attributes which increase your well-being or status.

For a long time, then needed to be large, but these days not so much. There is a whole sub-category of luxury sports brands for instance. Increasingly luxury is coming into the world of SUVs, coupes as well as compact luxury and mid-size luxury.

Luxury Brands:

Lincoln MKX

What often leaps to mind is the brands that make exclusively luxury cars, but we do get luxury models from makers who are better known for their everyday cars. Ford, as an example is best known for their trucks, but they make Lincoln and a few other pricey lines. (To be fair, most of their luxury cars are concept cars or collaborations with other automakers.)

One challenge for Luxury only automakers is that they may face a takeover from another company, Bentley is now owned by VW and BMW now owns Rolls Royce.

New Class of Luxury SUVs: (Yes its Oxymoronic)

Rolls Cullinan SUV

There’s even a Rolls Royce SUV which is due to enter the market. Why do we call it an Oxymoron? Well the idea of a luxury vehicle and a “go off road” vehicle just clashes in the mind. If it doesn’t in your mind, please comment on this post and let us know we got it wrong.

The SUV is designed to deal with any terrain in a bold new look. They don’t like the term “SUV” preferring to call it a full-bodied car. It was rumored to be based on a BMW X7 platform.

When Luxury Just Doesn’t Say Enough:

There are also ultra-luxury cars. Many potential customers are young and do not like the old style. Even Rolls Royce are shifting the focus from 60 year old’s to 40 year old’s and looking at an improved interior.

The Rolls Royce Wraith is an ultimate grand tourer not to be confused with the 1938 model with the same name. It has the hardtop design, which is more expensive than the sedan, and all the side windows can roll down.

Rolls Royce Wraith

The Rolls Royce Ghost, named in honor of the Silver Ghost, has the Ghost Extended Wheelbase. It’s designed to be more “realistic” – so more defined than the Phantom at a lower price.

The 2022 Bentley Continental is all about power and handling having air suspension by three-chamber all-wheel drive. It has a series of modes: Bentley, Comfort, Sport and Dynamic. Another selling point is the carbon ceramic brakes. It also has a darkened grille on its hood.

A Luxury Hybrid or EV?

The Mercedes C is defined as a “mild hybrid” having 48V of power as well as having four cylinders. It can rely on a battery pack or plug in as it’s a hybrid. It’s power reaches 25.4kwH, one of the most powerful plug-ins on the market. The interior has been recently updated, now the focus is the touchscreen on the central console.

Merc C

Jaguar is looking at becoming an electric vehicle only brand, but only after 2025. They also have plans to become net zero in 2039 but this may be somewhat optimistic.

Having to wait four years for an electric model might be considered a strange business dynamic but on the plus side there will be six different variants to choose from.

Apart from being electric it remains to see the features of these Jaguar cars. As this is slightly in the future it’s a waiting game.

Ultimately What is a Luxury Car?

It seems that even ultra-luxury cars have to move with the times as luxury needn’t be looking back to a golden age. Sometimes it’s just about getting a modern appearance but with noticeable extras—sometimes it’s just about price.

Buying Convertibles

Spring is in the air and what better way to celebrate than buying a convertible? If you have never owned a convertible before you need to know a couple things first. On the bright side, you have the joy of the open road on a sunny day, but they cost a bit more than an equivalent car and space is a problem.

Wait, they charge more for Convertibles?

Yes, and not just because they can (although they’re desirable and that comes at a premium). Added to that, you must factor in the cost of manufacturing a converting roof and the complex engineering involved.

What do you mean less space?

As with price, they aren’t just being mean, there are legit reasons. You lose space in the trunk due to stowing away the canvas or hard top roof. when you lower the canvas roof it needs to be stowed somewhere.

Okay, so What Else?

Convertibles don’t have as good a visibility as standard cars when the roof is up, which is most of the time. Having a built-in parking or driver assist is a game changer when parking a convertible.

It also takes longer to warm up than a regular car due to less insulation roof.

The roof is easier to damaged and if the roof does break, you’re talking about a huge payout needed to repair it, given the parts involved.

You are also best advised keeping the car somewhere secure as a canvas roof is not the best protection in the world, even if you invest in a steering lock. When not parked at home or at work, lock any valuables in the trunk as thieves will simply cut their way in and take items off the seat.

Enough of the doom mongering, what about the cars themselves?

The Mini Cooper Convertible combines style with build quality. There have been five generations of Mini Convertible to date. They have gas and diesel variants of their convertible with black trim around the wheels. There is a horizontal bar under the licence plate, despite not being needed for the US market. To access the rear seats, the front seats need to be both tilted and slid forwards which seems a bit of a pain.

The Audi A5 comes in a convertible and has two turbocharged engines to pick from. It comes with Apple Car-Play as well as All-wheel handling. Critics may point out the smallness of the trunk and the general lack of legroom in the back seat, but the latter could very well be expected by purchasing a compact.

(Please note the Audi A5 also comes in coupe and sportback versions. Just to be clear; a sportback is a four-door hatchback with a sloping roof, in other words a hatchback that looks like a coupe.)

The Mazda MX-5 Miata has a smallish interior and storage space, but plus points include user friendly safety tech. The suspension is similar to what you’d find in a sports care. It also has rear wheel drive, allowing you to reach 34 MPG on the highway.

Possibly you consider a Ford Mustang as a sports car, but the convertible version is known for having a decent trunk (unusual in a compact car) and the handling is sure-footed. There are powerful engine choices – between 310 and 480 hp. The CoPilot 360 helps with driver assist. It is a pity that the rear seats appear so cramped. The front seats seem worthy of note – they are bucket seats that have an actual curve to them (not all “buckets” do). No doubt this gives them an improved level of comfort.

You really need to live somewhere warm enough and have enough in the bank to take on a convertible. So…

…Now that you know the potential drawbacks to a convertible have you changed your mind about owning one? No, we didn’t think you would.

Car Explosions – Fact & Fiction

Op-Ed from Editors (Wimsett & Bunch)

I think my mom watched too many episodes of chips in the 80’s. She’s pretty sure that if you hit a curb at 25 MPH the car will flip into the air, roll three times and land on its top, only to explode instantly. Try as I might, nothing seems to change her beliefs around cars and explosions. (The following post contains references to some of the ways in which journalists have reported car explosions, which have mislead the public into believing they’re driving about in a bomb.)

The Truth

When a car explodes, something is definitely wrong. It’s reassuring that a car can’t simply blow up, something needs to happen first.

Cars do catch fire, in fact, they’re quite flammable and they burn quickly. But an explosion tends to be a slow process which always starts with a fire. Even when the flames hit the gas tank it doesn’t always explode. As long as you attempt to remove yourself from the car as quickly as possible before calling 911 you should be fine.

But they can explode, right?

Okay, so cars are rarely explosive, but it does happen, only not like it happens in movies. A car hit by bullets for instance wouldn’t necessarily explode.

When the battery blows up it looks like the car explodes. An oil leak can cause fires, as can faulty wiring in items like car stereos. It’s important that a mechanic deals with all of these as well as making sure any seals are secure. Shoddy work is more likely to lead to a fire.

The problem is that journalists aren’t explosive experts or mechanics, they don’t always come up with the real reason a car explodes.

This explains reports in the media of items like car fresheners causing explosions, when in fact only the front window was blown out (which may have had more to do with the heat). Whatever the real cause a blown-out window is not an “explosion.”

Can a car explode by hitting a lamp post? Reports seem to suggest so, but it may well have had more to do with the gas leak.

A car may also explode if it should crash through a house and hit the natural gas line. Sometimes explosions are a complete mystery, or at least according to the reporter.

Obviously, cars can be exploded.

Some cars are the victims of controlled explosions if they are in the wrong place or believed to have something explosive in it.

It is possible to trigger an explosion by attempting to unlock a door by laser if there is an acetylene tank in the car. Fortunately, not many people carry acetylene tanks in their car.

So, what does it take for a car to explode on it’s own?

A build-up of pressure inside a gas cylinder leads to a gas explosion. It may shatter nearby windows.

Sometimes the car explodes from the gas in gas stations. But the flames around petrol do not always lead to an explosion. The fumes from gas are more explosive than the liquid gas, however the pressure needs to reach a certain point.

It’s more dangerous when an electric car catches fire. So, it’s especially important to keep away from these types of fires.

On screen Explosions

It should come as no surprise that when a car explodes on-screen things aren’t always as they seem. Sometimes it’s only a plastic shell with nothing inside it. Or it may be swapped for a much older model just before the explosion.

Alternatively, a car could look pristine outside but suffer from some kind of damage inside (water damage, no seating and so on).

There are some explosions which aren’t explosions at all – it’s pure CGI (computer generated imagery), allowing the car to look as photogenic as possible despite exploding into bits.

This goes to show that what films well in the movies isn’t really like real life, but at least in this instance it should put our minds at ease.

The Various Types of Carports

We think that a carport is a fairly recent invention, but the first carport was built for Sloane House in Illinois by Walter Burley in 1909. It wasn’t technically called a carport by name, instead Burley called it an auto-space.

The first carport to be known by that name was created in Madison, Wisconsin by the architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Draw a picture in your mind of a Model T and it makes sense to keep these early cars undercover—not exactly water-tight. What you may not know is that they could also be damaged by the cold or even by too much heat.

Types of Carports

This is by no means an encyclopaedia of carports and their designers (and who wants to read that anyway) but this short guide focuses on different types of carport on the market.

If you live in cold, even snowy, areas it makes sense to have a full garage where the space is closed off.

Wood carports are less expensive than steel or aluminium but it can be affected by the elements. Steel and aluminium carports do have the disadvantage that they take longer to install, but they are worth it if you can handle the hassle.

One way to keep the costs down is to look for a self-assembly carport. To ensure that the carport is at the right level having a carport with adjustable height is a must.

You need to make sure the site is level before you can build a carport.

Roof Options

In sunny climates it’s not unusual to see flat roof carports to keep the sun from damaging paint and interior, and also to keep the car from being too hot when you go to start it up.

Some carports have a diagonal roof which is much better in snow and rain, and can allow you to place a number of cars underneath.

Expenses

The biggest expense in a carport is the steel understructure, some businesses offer a galvanised steel choice—a worthwhile upgrade when available.

Other expenses involve the site excavation, installation, electricity and painting. Electricity is optional, but again, its wise to do. Paint is not optional on wood structures as it protects the structure.

As you may guess, the expenses soon add up so coming up with a budget is vital.

You may have restrictions on carport building in a specific area. If you don’t have a concrete base already, it will cost more, and likely more to maintain as they need to hold up against the strengths of the storms and it is rust free.

What style of frame do you require?

A cantilever relies on a curved frame system which touches the ground only on one side (but may be supported by something like an out-building) and then there’s post and purlin which is a single slope design.

Canopies

It is vital that the canopy is load bearing. Some are made of metal, others are shingled wood. The idea is usually to match a nearby house, but often apartment complexes will do something entirely different for carports than they do for the buildings. It may come down to how close the carport is to your other structures.

You may need to consider rubber sealing for the roof and some form of drainage, otherwise the canopy will not protect the car for that long.

A solar carport has a solar canopy over the car. The canopy has a surface from where solar energy is derived. The plus point is that you may not need to run house power out to your car port in order to have lights or even a charging station for your EV. Solar canopies can produce more energy than a rooftop solar panel. Massachusetts and various other states provide a cash incentive for buying a solar panel. You will also receive a reduction in your electricity bills.

In Conclusion

If the job is done well, it will protect your pride and joy for several years and may mean you don’t need to spend as much time waxing and polishing your car. Though having said that, all cars benefit from some attention now and again.

Wheel Balance and Alignment

Wheel balance is how the weight is distributed around the wheel. This can be rather fiddly to achieve; it is done by adding weights to the rims of the tires. In order for it to be balanced, you will need to add a number of weights to the other side. If you leave it unbalanced the tire will lean to one side. You can only achieve a comfortable ride in a car with balanced wheels. There may also be a feeling of nausea if you travel at high speeds in an unbalanced car.

Types of Alignment

There are a number of alignments to consider when you balance your tires – sorry but it now becomes rather complicated! – the front caster, the front and rear camber, the front and rear toe and finally the thrust angle. How these relate to each other is the amount of balance a vehicle has as a whole.

The Front Caster – is all about the stability of the front tire vertically; this should be as straight as possible; the front camber is how vertically upright the front wheel stands; surprisingly this is a negative number as the top of the wheel is meant to lean in rather than out, towards the center of the vehicle.

The Front Toe – The final variable of the front wheel is called the front toe which determines how straight your wheel is when it pulls forwards. (Think pigeon toe.)

The Rear Camber – Now to the back wheels…the rear camber is similar to the front camber, but in order to keep the vehicle stable the camber at the back should be greater (It’s in order to keep the car’s center of gravity).

The Rear Toe – is how much the back wheels point forward; unlike the front toe this doesn’t alter that much during driving.

The Thrust Angle – describes the angle of the rear axle to the vehicle. If this is off you may have to oversteer or understeer in order to achieve the desired effect.

This type of thing is also known as breaking and tracking and the idea is to keep the wheel as “straight and true” as possible. In adjusting the tire’s angle you are affecting how the wheel makes contact to the ground. It’s important to get the wheels back to factory settings, but also to make sure that they are aligned with each other.

What a Layman Needs to Know!

It’s complex for a layman but like so many things it’s not that bad if you do it every day. What you need to know is this:

  • You will damage your tires if you don’t regularly add air or rotate your tires. If your suspension has been changed or parts have been replaced it may affect the state of the tires.
  • If the suspension is damaged or you constantly hit potholes you should have your alignment looked at.
  • With the wrong alignment the fuel consumption is worse, thanks to drag or the rolling resistance. It will mean you will probably have to fork out for new tires, and you will take longer to brake.

Okay, there has been a great deal of jargon here but it does go to show how so many variables keep a car operating to the best of its ability and how much balance and alignment play a part.