Mourning The Queen

It bothers me that raddled old Commies like Nancy Pelosi and Dianne Feinstein can live to a ripe [sic]  old age, but wonderful women like Sabine Schmitz get snatched away from us far too early.

“Sabine who?”  you ask.

There was no one like Sabine Schmitz, the Queen of the Nurburgring, and I’m not sure there’ll ever be anyone quite like her.

Whenever she was due to appear on the old Top Gear show, I made sure never to miss it, because she was the real deal:  taunting, teasing, mocking, shouting, screaming and in general, making utter fools of all the Top Gear hosts — especially Clarkson — and then backing it up with matchless displays of driving skill around one of the world’s deadliest racing circuits.

Here’s a tribute to Sabine from, well, everyone who ever knew her professionally.  And here’s Part 1 and Part 2 of her audacious challenge:  that she could drive around the Ring faster in a Ford Transit van than Jeremy Clarkson had done in a Jaguar.

I loved loved LOVED Sabine Schmitz, and I am going to miss her terribly.

Might Get Me One

Seen via Insty:

That would be what we call the Tacoma, Over Here:

Just wondering whether the roof struts are strong enough to handle the mount… not that I’m thinking of doing anything revolutionary, of course.

Sadly, New Wife is not of the Pickup Truck Persuasion, and point-blank refuses to let me get one when it comes time to trade in the Tiguan.

Too bad;  I rather fancied this version:


From an earlier post:  “And in other news:  normal blogging service should resume tomorrow with the usual mixture of guns,  rants, booze, invective and boobs.”

I forgot cars.

This one appeared at C.W.’s place, and for its full story follow the link.

As Longtime Readers know, I am generally leery of American automotive styling, especially during the decades following WWII.  This Caddy, however, looks absolutely spectacular, in that “American Excess” fashion.  The purple slash on the sides is the only thing which makes me a tad nauseated — white would have been better, to give that “tuxedo” look — but the overall shape of the car is quite lovely.

Even New Wife, who is still more conservative than I in these matters, nodded with approval.

Investment Grade

Here are ten cars which fetched ridiculous prices at auction last year — most of which are unlikely ever to leave the garage for longer than a few minutes because of their now-rarified [sic]  prices.

Ignoring the prices, though, I have to say that I like most of them — we all know of my fondness for the Dino 246 GT, especially — but the Merc 300 SL and Porsche 928 are also quite toothsome.

The sky-high prices, of course, are largely owing to the low mileage of each car — the Dino was calculated to have done an average of 289 miles per annum over the past 48 years — which, as I said earlier is why they’ll all be wrapped in silk and stored in a climate-controlled room somewhere.

Feel free to offer up your top 3 picks of the ten listed — ignoring the silly auction prices thereof, of course — in Comments.

2020 Hangover

…and not the kind which follows delightful over-indulgence in alcoholic beverages, either.

No, I’m talking about the spiteful year of 2020, which saw us spared only a plague of crotch-eating crickets (no idea how it missed that one), but saw fit to land three quick punches in the face during the last three days of December.

1.) The clothes dryer packed up — heating element just quit, making it about as useful as a stud bull without testicles — it would go through the motions just fine, but no result.  And — stop me if you’ve heard this one before — it happened two months after the manufacturer’s warranty had expired.  However: when I was rummaging around in the papers surrounding its purchase so I’d have the details when I arranged for a service call, lo! there on the invoice was an additional cost for:  ta-daaaa! an extended warranty (which I hardly ever buy but I had this time), and it had over a year still to run.

This didn’t end the problem.  I called Nebraska Furniture Mart (NFM, as they call themselves now) to see what they could do, and was directed to their (outsourced) repair company who handled such calls.  After grappling with the poxy automated telephone system — add this bastard thing to my Ten Hates — I discovered that this outfit was only responsible for the warranty on items purchased since 2019, and my purchase from 2017 was handled by yet another company, and no of course they had no idea who that could be.  So I called NFM and politely asked what the fuck they were doing by sending me to the wrong address, so to speak.  To be fair, NFM was as always a delight to deal with:  attentive, sympathetic and helpful, they apologized fulsomely and sent me to the proper company who, of course, had an automated telephone menu which eventually got me the number of a certified repair outlet in my area… whose number was no longer in service.  So I went back to the company’s poxy website — which was designed by the same people who designed the ObamaCare government website — and eventually found a place which promised to send a guy round after the New Year to fix  the dryer.  (To be continued.)

2.) The next day (before New Year’s Eve) was cold and windy, and raining buckets.  So, this being 2020, it came as no surprise when New Wife called plaintively from her school to inform me that Sputum (her Fiat 500, thus named because of its color) was refusing to start.  Lights were working, but engine she no crank.  She and the school maintenance guy had tried to jump-start the thing, but no luck.  Shit.  A new starter motor loomed in our future, $1,200 installed.  So I went over, tried to push-start the car (stick shift, yay) so we could at least get it home or to the shop (did I mention that the day was freezing, wet and windy?) and… no joy.  So maybe not the starter motor, but some chip in the ignition system?  Crap.  Called our car service guys (EuroSport in Plano, blessings be upon them), and they said that while they couldn’t attend to the car until the New Year (natch) because they were closed on New Year’s Eve, they’d organize a tow the next day and at least get Sputum to their shop.

I took New Wife to work on New Year’s Eve (half-day only) and waited for the tow service to arrive.  They did, and took care of the business without any fuss.  I went off and did the pre-NYE grocery shopping, then went back to pick up New Wife.

3.) And lo did the “Check Engine” light come on in the Tiguan — and to be fair to VW, that light only comes on when there’s something quite seriously wrong.  No chance to get the thing checked, of course, because New Year’s Eve.  I crept home nervously, therefore, and New Wife and I faced the prospect of no cars instead of two for the entire long weekend — and we had planned on going out a bit because we both had cabin fever and needed to.

So we spent the entire weekend cooped up in our apartment, snarling at each other.  (Okay, to be fair, she moped and I was doing the snarling, as you might expect.)

The following Monday dawned bright and fair — no rain, no freezing temperatures, this was 2021, wasn’t it? — so I took her to work and set about the business of getting both cars attended to.  Here’s the full report.

Sputum’s battery was dead — stone dead, despite the lights and such working — it was no longer capable of taking a charge.  So one new battery, duly installed, and the Fiat was as good as new.  The mechanic did mention that there were some signs of rodent infestation (nests containing acorns, hence squirrels), and they’d nibbled on some of the wires, but no serious damage.  (I mention this because it will be important later.)  Our apartment complex is quite heavily forested and there are a jillion of the little tree-rats all over the place, but can I shoot them out of the trees with my trusty Baikal pellet gun?  Oh no, because city ordinance #2375-4 para. 48 “No discharge of guns including pellet guns in city limits”.  Anyway, the outcome, Fiat-wise, was not bad especially as I discovered that this was the car’s original, four-year-old battery, so all in all, not a bad outcome.

And now we come to the Tiguan’s warning light.  “Kim, at first glance it looks as though you may be having an issue with the turbo”, a comment which struck fear to my heart (and more especially to my wallet) because a new turbo is over $1,500 and double that for installation.  So I waited with trepidation for the final diagnosis, hoping that maybe it was just the sensor that was at fault (only a few hundred dollars to replace that).

It was neither.  “It looks as though you’ve had some serious rodent infestation, and they’ve chewed the wires connecting the sensor to the turbo.”

Cost of replacing the wire (which, of course, in the modern parlance means a new sensor because it’s a single unit):  $160 plus labor.

So all in all, what had threatened to cost me close to $5,000 to fix both cars in 2020, eventually cost me less than $500 in 2021.

And the clothes dryer was duly attended to — turns out it was the control panel at fault, and not the heating coil or motor — and the fix took less than half an hour.

So life is good, so far in 2021.  But later in the month will come the Presidential Inauguration, whereupon I expect not only socialism but crotch-eating crickets to follow soon thereafter.

You heard it here first.


When you set yourself up as judges to discover the “Greatest Sports Car Of All Time“, you need to use a decent track for the test.  Which the guys at Road & Track  did, choosing the lovely Lime Rock Park circuit in northern Connecticut (which I’ve driven round a couple times before, once in a BMW 3-series, and again in a restored ’65 Mustang), and the track is perfect for the task (right-click to embiggen).

However, in such a competition you can always count on amateurs such as I to question the choices of the finalists.  Which in this case were:

  1. 1949 MG TC
  2. 1954 Mercedes-Benz 300SL
  3. 1965 Shelby 289 Cobra
  4. 1967 Porsche 911 S
  5. 1988 BMW M5
  6. 1995 McLaren F1
  7. 2001 Acura Integra Type R
  8. 2020 Mazda Miata MX-5

I have no problem whatsoever with the first four cars and the last car on the list:  all five are excellent choices, and are almost perfect sports cars.  Now for the bad news.

The Beemer M5 is a fine car — I once owned a “detuned” 525i myself — but by no stretch of the imagination could it ever be called a sports car, because it has four doors.  No.  Just… no.

Ditto the Acura.  I think that the selection committee for this exercise got carried away with engine performance which, need I remind anyone, might be a prerequisite for a track car or race car, but that’s not in the sporting tradition (as I once mentioned here and here ).

In similar vein, the MacLaren doesn’t belong here, just as the Porsche 918 or Ferrari 458 would be out of place in this company.

So scratch those three imposters from the list.  Which begs the question:  what three (actual) sports cars should take their place?

I don’t think that anyone would argue against the 1960s-era E-type Jaguar as my #1 choice for inclusion.

…even though its performance takes it perilously close to the “supercar” definition (and in its time, it certainly was).

No list of “Best Sports Cars” would be complete without at least one Ferrari (with the “supercar” reservation as above), and I think the 1960 Ferrari 250 California Spyder might pip all others –even the more modern ones — in the marque:

My third replacement would be the 1966 Alfa Romeo 1600 Spider Duetto:

Finally, as a concession to my Murkin Readers, I might be persuaded to substitute the 1965 Ford Mustang for one or the other of the cars — but while the Mustang is a undoubtedly fun car, I don’t think it’s really a sports car, when compared to the above.

Honorable mentions should also go to the 1959 Aston Martin DB4, the 1955 Ford T-bird, the Porsche 356, the Morgan (any year, although the Morgan is really just a perfected version of the MG TC), the Honda S2000 and the BMW 507.


If you go along with my rejection of the two 4-door models and the outright supercar, then which three cars (not necessarily listed here) would you substitute?