Sunday, October 07, 2007

Smart Car Drive Event

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1 hour wait for a test drive

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Home Pre

Home-Prepared Dog & Cat Diets: the Healthful Alternative

Monday, October 02, 2006

Fool Detail

Wash car.
Mask off or remove trim. I later realized the rear reflectors are easier to remove than mask. The tail lights are a bit of a pain to remove.
Once the trim is taken care of the Porter Cable buffer makes quick work of polishing the car.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Splash Guards

Today, I installed the factory splash guards. It was a nice day with no rain forecast. I went ahead and washed the car first. After that, I opened the box containing the rear guards.
I waxed them and read through the instructions. Easy.
You have to take out this plastic shield from the back side of the wheel well and make room for the screws that hold on the guards. The screws have 8mm heads. You can use a phillips head screwdriver if your 8mm doesn't fit. I used a wire cutter to clip out the notches. The rear fender already has holes.
Pop two speednuts onto the existing holes, put the shield back on and screw on the splash guard.

Rears done. Time to do the fronts.
The contents of the front box are similar to the rear. Splash guards, instructions and bag of hardware.
It looked like it might be easier to install the front guards with the car raised slightly. I took some time to work out how to use my floor jack to raise the car. My OTC 1525 just fits here. I lifted from end of the front crossmember. Once the car was up I put a jack stand at the factory jack point. Worked fine. While the car was up in the air, I removed the wheel to get a better look at why this car handles so well. Nicely done, Mazda. It started raining after I took this photo. The camera went in the trunk and I did the rest of the work quickly.

I didn't bother to raise the car for the right side. If you turn the wheel you don't need to lift the car at all. As allways you can click on the photos for a larger view.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Ultimate Drive

When BMW North America sent us an invitation to autocross the new 335i coupe we jumped at the chance. Not only is this $46,000 car still a month away from official introduction, we were using BMWs tires and brakes.

That's what a few days worth of autocrossing does to a tire. The two of used used up about $150 worth of rubber this morning.

After signing in we went to look at one of the new 335i's on static display. All of the dozen or so 335i coupes were identically equipped. Titanium Silver, Sport Package, Premium Package, Steptronic, Adaptive Cruise Control, Active Steering... And every other option in the book, pushing the MSRP to an amazing $46,000. I forgot to ask if these cars were built for the press fleet.

The first thing we noticed is that BMW has improved the styling compared to the 3 series sedan. I consider it not bad at all, while Debbie stuck with "less ugly." Compared to our old BMWs, I have to agree. BMW has been building some really ugly cars these last few years. The 335 is less ugly. If BMW continues in this direction, heading back to the "form follows function" designs from the early '90s they will have some great looking cars.

Popping the hood gave us our first look at BMWs first turbocharged engine since the uber-rare 1986 745i. One look at the size of that air intake and I knew we were in for a fast ride. This 300HP, 300 lb-ft motor pushes the 335i 0-60 in 5.5 seconds. And that's with the automatic.

When BMW dropped the coolant temperature gauge from the cluster last year, there was a large amount of complaining on the message boards. Its worth pointing out that the old temperature gauge on our 325i is fake. It reads cold or hot when the engine is at the extremes. The rest of the time a computer program keeps the gauge dead center. The oil pressure gauge on our Miata is a software simulation too. The 335i replaces the redundant fuel economy gauge with a far more usefull oil temperature gauge. Well usefull if it isn't yet another software simulation.

At 9:00 AM we were all called into a tent to hear BMW North America's 3 series product manager tell us about his new car. I doubt he normally spends his Sunday mornings telling 20 ordinary potential customers (aka tire kickers) about a car. He told us about some of the styling changes, like how the hood lines now run to the grill as well as what is new under the skin. The big story is the new motor. There are other goodies like new front suspension front, 5 link rear suspension and improved DSC.

Then it was off to the autocross course. We drove two courses. First were timed runs in 2006 330i sedans. After a demonstration lap with an instructor, Debbie plowed through at about 45 seconds. I hopped in and skidded around in 40. Hah!. Then the 3rd passenger in our car pulled a 32 second run. oh. Someone knows how to drive.

There was extra time, so we all drove one more lap with just an instructor in the car. I did much better my time dropped to 34 and a small fraction.

Here is Debbie on her last run. Its hard to tell from a still, but she's pushing that e90 somewhere around 50MPH here. Her final time was 33 besting me by a full second. The quickest time from our group was 30.1.

After that we went off to drive the 335i. It was fast. It was fun.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Polish and Wax

I went over the car with Maguiare's 82 Polish and then waxed it. It doesn't show in the photo but the car looks much better now.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Our New Toy

2006 Mazda MX-5 Sport. True Red. No options.

The car had 6 miles and the shipping plastic when we took it for a test drive. I drove it home and Debbie drove it this morning. Now it has 26 miles and the plastic is gone.

Its hard not to smile.