Posts tagged “boston

Snow-Inundated Brighton, And A Hard Earned Beer …(Blizzard Photos)

As Nemo raged last night, so too did many residents of Metro West at the Brighton Beer Garden, Joey’s, and whatever that Irish place is called in between them.  Apparently a few Allston bars were open as well.

Nothing like the refreshing watery fizz of Bud Light or weak of prospect of hooking up with a stranger to bring Bostonians together through these difficult times.

Despite a minimal interest in such things myself, I reckoned a trek through the blizzard would be a riot and a great excuse to don some of my old expedition gear in earnest.

Boston Blizzard Nemo 2With a few sweaters, L.L. Bean hoodie, my faithful keffiyeh, and the same Carhartt jacket I used in the Swedish Arctic, and plunged into what would probably be the only exciting walk to Brighton Center all year.  Besides that time I got to pet that German Shepherd puppy.

I provisioned with a sleeping bag and small flask, the latter to maintain motivation en route and the former in the outside chance I’d have to sleep on some strange couch should I be unable to continue.

I didn’t expect to see anybody out there besides Mr. Tumnus, but I was impressed by the impetuousness of the dozen or so Brightonites I encountered carrying snowboards and bottles of Captain Morgan.

Boston Blizzard Nemo 1 Boston Blizzard Nemo 7 Boston Blizzard Nemo 6 Boston Blizzard Nemo 5 Boston Blizzard Nemo 4 Boston Blizzard Nemo 3 Boston Blizzard Nemo 15 Boston Blizzard Nemo 10 Boston Blizzard Nemo 9 Boston Blizzard Nemo 8

As I write this morning, the snow dumps on.  A diesel DRW Ford has been running up and down my street in what seems like an exercise in redundancy.

Boston Blizzard Nemo 11

Perhaps I’ll offer to refill his Dunkin’ Donuts mug with a french-pressed delicacy in hopes I might entice him to free my Acura…

Boston Blizzard Nemo 13

Boston Blizzard Nemo 16

Which is looks like it’s going to stay well put for the foreseeable future.

Here inside RoadRoving HQ, we’re hunkered down with coffee, computers, and some back-issues of Rovers Magazine.

 


Driving In MA Temporarily Illegal

MA Governor Deval Patrick (D) has just issued an executive order banning cars, trucks, motorcycles, and presumably every other road-registered form of conveyance from Massachusetts’ roads starting at 4pm today (February 8, 2013).

State officials say; “The travel ban applies statewide and bans all motor vehicle traffic starting at four, [and lasting] until the ban is lifted.”

Hm.  All motor vehicles, eh?  I’m putting the word out: Any pedi-cabbie who’s man enough to take advantage of this situation, bring a bottle of The Macallan to the RoadRoving Metro West headquarters and I’ll tip at least 30%.

Just kidding, we keep enough reserve here to survive inundation (or house arrest?) until Summer 2015.

Public safety workers and public works vehicles “critical to government functions” are exempt of course.

For you hoons who reckon this is a perfect time to practice drifts, donuts, and other vehicular nonsensery without the inconvenience of passive motorists… you’re right of course… but you risk a penalty for up to one-year in prison and a fine (amount undisclosed) for the privilege.

“There will be great temptation to play in the snow [following the storm] and so forth, and I totally understand, but please, please exercise caution and use common sense,” said Governor Patrick.  You know he can’t wait to build an epic sidewalk snowtunnel in front of the State House tomorrow.


Garage Living

Apartment hunting is the worst.

Just as car salesmen continue to perpetuate their less than favorable reputations, the realtors I’ve met don’t seem to be in any rush to improve their image either.

My requirements are pretty basic; I just want to live downtown, equidistant from a gym, bar, and coffee shop, with easy highway access, one of those sweet stainless-steel microwaves, and of course climate-controlled indoor storage for a car, 4×4, race car, and three… maybe five… motorcycles.  I mean, I don’t even have any pets!

It’s not like I haven’t been trying.  Every day I go on Craigslist, type “batcave” into the search bar of the Housing section, and hope for the best.  Still nothing.

But recent developments in my domestic situation have taken my thought process to the next level (or perhaps, the next level down).

Our shower stopped working, so I effectively ceased usage of the apartment’s bathroom (having a much nicer one at work for poop-related ventures).

I’ve already long since abandon the kitchen, having found it’s highly preferable to outsource all cooking to the falafel guy in Davis Square, the near unlimited supply of bagels at my office, and Taco Loco.

Ergo, the question I had to ask became obvious: Could I live in a garage?

A big one, of course.  At least three-car sized… my bed/home office would occupy about a car’s worth of space, my Acura would sleep on the far end and my motorcycles could rest in between.  Obviously sacrifices will have to be made this summer if Project 2002 comes to fruition, but at that point it will be warm enough for me to sleep outside.

But if I’m already showering at the gym, eating every meal from food trucks, and taking my dumps with the ducks in Boston Common, why waste money on renting a bathroom and kitchen I don’t need?


I Convince Myself It’s Hip To Be Square As A New Build Begins

TL in Boston Seaport 1

There’s a reason parents don’t give their kids multiple dinner options… choice is overwhelming.

Such was my problem in searching for a new vehicle.

Between the four auctions I attend almost every week to source vehicles for my company’s clients, I have about 10,000 cars waved under my nose between any given Monday and Friday.

I had been living off the vehicular charity of others, borrowing vehicles wherever I could to defer the cost and inconvenience of getting my own, but when the owner of the Ford Focus I had been using returned from his tour of duty in the Alaskan fishing industry, my hand was forced and I no choice but to step up my shopping efforts.

I poured over auction run lists, Craigslist postings, eBay, and enthusiast forums.  Test drove about forty cars, from a 2010 Honda Civic to a 1974 BMW 2002 (the latter of which I desperately wanted, but couldn’t set up to survive my commute).

Finally I picked up an E46 BMW 3-Series from an auction in Quincy that I thought would serve my purposes well.

Slick manual gearbox, cool color, fresh interior, under book value.  Boom.

So I closed the deal and had it shipped to one of my reconditioning facilities.  Where it promptly exploded.

When I stopped by the shop to have a look, one of the techs was just standing under it shaking his head.  “Is very es’pensive for fix” was the backbone of his report, so we dragged the car back to auction and pawned it off on someone better equipped to deal with it’s issues.  Presumably.

And thus the search continued.

By this point I had an idea of what I wanted; a sleekly-styled luxury rocket ship that would be just douchey enough to gain the acceptance of my BMW/Mercedes/Porsche-driving colleagues but subtle enough to not get keyed if I left it downtown over night.

I was also pretty set on a silver exterior on black leather and had always had an affinity for in-dash navigation.  An automatic gearbox was of course out of the question.

And then one faithful Monday night, destiny was manifest.   Cruising the website of Manheim, one of America’s biggest automotive wholesalers, I happened across the car I had been creating in my wildest lower-middle class dreams.  Just writing the lane and run number down on my clipboard, my excitement was palpable.

It was a flawless-looking Honda UA6, known to the American public as an ’05 Acura TL.  Silver paint, perfect black leather, massive infotainment screen and probably the best six-speed gear box in the price range.

I had already accepted that the RWD sport-lux options in my price range were inefficient, difficult to work on, and generally in a poor state of repair.

I’ll just have wait ‘til the S1000RR gets cheap to have my first BMW.

In my search had test-driven several TSX’s and been happy with the result, but remained unable to find one in the colors I wanted for what I was willing to pay.

I had not, however, driven a full-sized TL.

For those outside the Hondasphere; an Acura TSX, or Accord Euro R as it’s called in Japan, is a little sedan like a 3-Series or a C-Class.  The TL is adult-sized, like a 5-series or an E-Class.

I got to the auction in an apocalypse-level downpour.  As I walked around evaluating cars, I’d duck inside something comfortable looking every few minutes to avoid becoming completely saturated with water.

But I was determined to evaluate this TL, so using my clipboard as a (piss poor) umbrella I encircled it, inspected everything, scanned it, and took it for a “ten-foot test drive”; between the space it was parked in and the one behind it.

Auction lanes don’t typically permit driving any further before you’ve bought the car- a rule I learned after being scolded for whipping an SL55 around the yard under on a slow day.

In any case, this Acura was a beast.   Worn paint on the front bumper, but other than that as flawless as a car could be with 160k on the clock.  Even the engine bay was clean enough to host a dinner party.  Whoever owned it was obviously on a maintenance-nut level of Jason Statham in The Transporter.  And that’s exactly who you want to buy a car from.

Despite my certified Honda-fanboy status, I had originally resisted their offerings because I didn’t want another FWD car.  One my best friends grew up with an EM1 and we loved it to death, but I knew all too well that hell (and the front tires) broke loose should the driver dare redline acceleration.

My own first car had been a DC2 Integra, and before completely destroying it in a street race I had my shares of close-calls and single-car wipeouts due to the effect of accelerative forces on the drive/steering wheels.

Of course I have no choice but to admit I didn’t know a about driving at that point… they don’t teach you apexing, heel-toe shifting and drifting in Driver’s Ed, you have to figure that stuff out yourself.

Regardless of the drivetrain layout, I was smitten but this FWD sport sedan and made the call to pay whatever it took to get it to my garage.

I’m pleased to report I was successful without overstepping the limits of reason, and after a little documentation runaround I was motorized once again.

And finally, another build begins in earnest.  As soon as I can afford to put gas in this thing…


British Car Day 2012

Jaguar XK150

Being in Boston for Larz Anderson’s British Car Day I couldn’t resist making the pilgrimage to the event, despite having sold my Land Rover years ago.

Conveniently I was able to convince Matt Weaver of Bootleg Racing to give me a lift in his Cooper S provided that I paid his registration fee and brought the beeahs.

The event would be a good chance for Matt to gain some exposure for his car- the Cooper is currently being prepared for Auto-X and RallyCross events and he’s gathering sponsors to make it all happen.

And of course, the event would be an even better chance for me to sit under my car show awning, crush PBRs in the middle of the world’s prettiest parking lot and nerd out on cars for four hours.

So, solid weekend.

We managed to pack all my tailgating gear into the aptly-named MINI and get ourselves in the front seats for the journey across Boston in 100-degree heat.  My new roommate Abby was wedged in the back, and had been surprisingly willing to to take part in this despite being both apathetic about cars and a woman.

Once we reached the park we nabbed a spot square in the middle of the lower show field and I proceeded to build our encampment.

No matter how many car shows I go to, I’m always surprised I’m one of the only exhibitors who brings his own shade and comestibles.

It’s not like there’s a shortage of space at these things… why get sunburned and eat the park’s gnarly $9 hot dogs?  Anyway, seeing as I’m about thirty years younger than your average auto show exhibitor I don’t think their habits are going to change anytime soon.  I expect I’ll continue to see old farts toddling over and making the same goofy “in my day we didn’t have coolers” comments for the rest of my car show career.  Ha, these events are always crawling with characters as wacky as the V8-swapped TR6′S or single-seat XK150′s they roll up in.

Check out some photos of the beautiful iron in attendance this year, courtesy of Abby and her fancy Nikon DSLR.


Across The Finish Line (ML Across America Stage 10)

...added 20 horsepower at least.

The last leg of the ride, New York to Boston, was a well-worn path I had driven many times living in the Northeast.  Compared to the nation-spanning conquest we had just completed, it felt like a ride up the block.

I took the wheel with my knees as I wolfed a breakfast sandwich from one hand and sipped lava-hot coffee from the other after a Dunkin’ Donuts stop I demanded.  I delegated horn-honking and finger-giving to Birdie who was reading me the GPS’s instructions from the passenger seat.

We stopped on the Massachusetts South Shore to catch up with my friend Matt and see his new racecar; a MINI Cooper S. 

Try as I might to convince him the drive wheels were in the wrong place he seemed happy with it.  I asked him how awesome a light bar would look on Birdie’s ML and he shrugged as she rolled her eyes.  Maybe they’ll be convinced when I get that Jurassic Park paintscheme on there…

The last stop before our final destination was Mike’s Pastry- an exceptional canoli purveyor and Boston institution.  Bringing home a take from Mike’s for my family would win me some points right off the bat.

Just over an hour later we were pulling into my parent’s lawn.  I had been dreaming of ripping a big, ignorant donut to announce my arrival but I aborted when I realized dad had just put down grass seed.  I’d need to stay in his good graces a little longer if I expected him to let me use his tools.

A couple days of showing Jess around the North Shore and she was on a plane back to LA.  I was left with a very tired SUV that was clamoring for a detailing and an oil change.

Thus concluded the longest and somehow most incident-free land expedition I’d accomplished yet.  I don’t care if it was build in ‘Bama or Bremen, those boys at Benz know what they’re doing.  Forget selling this rig, I’m adding it to the fleet!

The End • ML Across America


Tesla Test Drive: 2011 Roadster Sport 2.5 in Boston

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Thanks to the generosity of Tesla Motors, I’m excited to say we had a chance to shakedown the new Roadster Sport 2.5 this week.

Boston traffic hindered us from performing a “proper” test, but we still got a decent impression of the car’s behavior and usage, which is a unique experience indeed.

The absence of a gear lever was a bit unnerving and the fixed-gear like operation of the throttle took some getting used to, but the car proved very exciting in the short time we had it.

As this is the “2.5″ version of the Roadster, some of the problems Jeremy Clarkson noted in his test several years ago have been dealt with.  The car’s now much more reliable, a bit quicker on the charge, and has what I’d call a much prettier gauge module.

Of course it’s not perfect; things like tiny gaps between carpeting remind you that this is a “boutique” car, and the driving experience is so Mario Kart-esque you’re liable to start hucking turtle shells to make other motorists get out ‘the way.

But you’ll be willing to do whatever it takes to get a clear lane in this car.  While the top speed is a punky 120something, the Tesla can blast from 0-60 in 3.7 seconds.

And since all you have to do is mash the pedal, even my grandmother could send a Ferrari F430 home crying… at least right up to the speed limit.

The cabin is snug to be sure, members of the Wal-Mart nation might want to allow some extra time for getting into the seat.  But if you’re a “one-with-the-machine” kind of driver, you should find yourself right at home.

We had the opportunity to record some of our escapades in the car, and despite limited technological means it turned out alright.  Click here to see our driving impressions or watch the video below.


German Car Day 2010

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Too lazy to read?  Check out the video/slide show:

Lamenting my absence at British Car Day this year, I was determined to attend the next lawn event at the Larz Anderson Auto Museum despite the fact that all two of my remaining local friends were otherwise engaged.

It took awhile to maneuver through the crowd, as I kept getting stopped by show-goers who wanted to know more about the car I was driving.

“Yes, it’s an original Honda Odyssey.  It’s got the optional sunroof, no big deal.”

Ironically my mum’s ratty minivan did stand out a bit in the parking spot I finally found- between a Ferrari 360 and Bentley Arnage.

The show itself benefited from having many more exhibitors as last year’s- probably twice as many, in fact.  I think that can mostly be attributed to the weather, as last year’s show took place in rain.

German Car Day tends to attract the largest group of uninteresting vehicles, as anybody with a 3-Series or E-Class (which is everybody in Brookline) decides to “exhibit” since the cost is less than admission if you have more than one person in your car.

This year, however, I am pleased to report that the stock E36′s stayed away for the most part, and the field was full of interesting specimens including many race-tuned 911′s, a few 300SL Mercs, more Opel GT’s than I thought existed, and even a BMW M1.

I got a raging semi when I saw an E30 M3, E39 M5 and a 2002 parked in a row.

You know what a 911 looks like, so I won’t waste your time with pictures of the fifty I saw.  Instead, I’ll show you the special cars I saw that most non-dorks wouldn’t appreciate.

Fine here's ONE.

This 80′s Mercedes-Benz is the not only the predecessor to the E-Class, but was/is the roadgoing version of Merc’s foray into the DTM (Deutsche Tourenwagen Meisterschaft, “German Touring Car Championship” in English).  With an engine worked by British tuning company Cosworth, these things are pretty rare and some of the few Mercedes in America you can find with a five-speed manual gearbox.

I don’t care much for Audis in general, but this Quattro Coupe is one seriously cool car.  Brutally 80′s in design (check out that giant Audi logo on the door), like many of my favorites, but a really original performance car to be driving today.  I give the owner of this one a lot of respect for keeping it in such fantastic condition.

The only times I’ve ever seen BMW M1s have been at car shows.  Talk about rare.  Another so-80′s-it-hurts piece of work, but serious performance icon and probably as fun to look at as it is to drive.  Interior, unfortunately, is one of the lamest ever.

The dudes over at Total BMW Magazine cream their pants over these- it’s an old E28 BMW M5 tuned by a company called AlpinaTBMW always has limp-wristed adjectives in its captions like “rapid” and “dashing.”  …I’ll spare you the British verbiage, but this car is pretty damn cool and probably one of the only examples of its kind in the U.S.

It wasn’t all yuppies and eurotrash… one group took a stand against The Man and brought his hippie wagon and a “f*** you” to the three R8′s parked right behind him.

My girlfriend tells me that seeing another woman at a social gathering with the same dress is a major buzzkill (her words)… so imagine dropping $150,000 on a fresh Audi and seeing two other dudes with the same idea.  The R8 doesn’t even look like a car… but it’s hard to say no to all that carbon fiber.

Other than that, German Car Day attracted the usual flock of German-car driving douches- I saw one guy jump out of a black Carrera with some seriously tight pants and a pony tail.  And whether he was fresh from Europe or fresh out of a time machine from 1991 I really don’t care… I didn’t like him.

Next lawn event is the much-anticipated Italian Car Day… where we’ll be exhibiting our FIAT in its newly-restored glory, if we ever get it back from the mechanic.


Out of the desert, into a field… of Italian cars

If anyone was hoping to read about my Land Rover’s journey to Arizona and back, or about anything new at all over the last five weeks, I’m sorry to have disappointed you.

Sadly, the great destroyers of all poorly planned expeditions; time and money, dropped their ugly axe of practicality and forced me to make the 6,000 mile journey like a normal person.  In an airplane.

…this time.

Anyway,

No sooner do I clear my head of recycled aircraft-cabin oxygen then I find myself at one of my favorite annual auto shows in the Boston area; Italian Car Day at the Larz Anderson Auto Museum.

Yes, I’ve mentioned this place before.

My Land Rover and I had been there about two months ago for British Car Day (are you seeing a pattern here?)

This time it was my father’s chance to exhibit.  He brought his 1979 FIAT Spider 2000, which has as much time between waxing treatments as Gertrude Stein.  But on this day it was slippery as a well-lubed cow inseminating glove, and actually looked pretty decent as long as you didn’t get less than ten feet away.

$10,000 and it's yours.

$10,000 and it's yours.

We were one of the first vehicles to arrive.  My 5:20 AM landing time prompted us to get going sooner then usual.  But by around 10:30 the field was well packed with lovely cars and motorcycles from the land of pasta and moonlit dinners featuring a guy with a striped shirt playing the accordion.  Or is that France?

Ducati had a setup with several bikes available for test rides.  Unfortunately I didn’t have my helmet with me, so that was an attraction I was forced to forgo.

Ducati... the Ferrari of the motorcycle world.

Ducati... the Ferrari of the motorcycle world.

The vintage Ferraris are always exciting to look at, and the museum even had one of those Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione on display.  Of course I had already checked it out in Geneva a few months ago, but it was cool to see one of the 99 here in the States.

If you’re hoping one of those 99 can be yours, MSRP is just shy of $300,000.  You might be better off buying ten Honda S2000s.

Ferrari... the Ferrari of the car world.  ...are you following?

Ferrari... the Ferrari of the car world. ...are you following?

By the time we were ready to leave a few other FIATs had joined us, including some Spiders.  We may have had more rust on ours then all the others combined… but we had more character too.  Or something.

Overall the show was great.  Lots of beautiful machines you don’t see everyday, fair weather and a fun atmosphere.  I read on somewhere else on the internet that people were complaining about the quality of the sausages… but I say if you pay $6 for a microwaved cow dick you deserve what you get.

Maybe by next year the restoration fairy will have visited our garage and turned our Spider into a show piece… or the judges will forget their glasses.


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