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NY Auto Show 2017

The NY Auto Show wraps up this weekend. Traditionally it’s the last of the big annual auto shows for the year that stars in the Fall.  I went to see two Porsches having their North American Premiere: The 2018 GT3 and the Panamera Sport (don’t call it a wagon) Turismo. Along the way there, I got distracted by a couple of Lexus and Alfas. So by the time I got to where I wanted to be, my camera’s battery died, but I did at least get a couple of photos along the way.

The 2018 991.2 GT3 is a well proportioned, beautiful track beast. Click the link and go to the microsite.  Click through until you get to the engine workshop (but turn down your speakers.) Build your own in Guards Red with manual transmission, Porsche Ceramic Composite Brakes, Sport Chrono Pack, Full Bucket Seats, and Front Axel Lift system (so you can get out of the end of your driveway) and you’re pushing $170K before taxes.  Which seems like a lot of money, mostly because it is. So then you go spec a Cayman S, and $86K suddenly doesn’t seem that outrageous.

The other car I really wanted to see was the new Panamera. I had always thought the old Panamera was the Camel of the Porsche line-up, meaning similar to a horse designed by committee. The front was from a Cayenne, the front doors and rear end from a 911, and the rear doors were just photo-shopped in by your cousin’s friend who knows photoshop.

This new generation Panamera hangs together much more cohesively.  The parts in better proportion, and in Sport Turismo (wagon) trim, seems to work —  though that’s one long wheelbase car, even if it’s not the longest.  That distinction goes to the new Panamera Executive, which is 6 inches longer. That show car must have an adjustable suspension, because the photos on the website show a higher ride height.

Lexus (which generally I don’t get anyway) was also there with their new GTD race car (or a reasonable facsimile of one.) At first I was drawn in by this strange LED wrap. Then I started to check out the GTD car, but somethings just didn’t seem right.  It didn’t have a transponder or any telemetry antennas; it had dark window tint; there didn’t appear to be any exhaust; and the space between the wing struts seemed to be fabricated by the kind of stuff I would use in my garage. Also the carbon-fauxber panels weren’t very well fitted.  Still it was an interesting car.

The final car of interest was the new Alfa SUV, the Stelvio. On a new platform that will be shared by Maserati, Dodge, and Jeep (which is a wicked mash-up), it very much reminded me of the Red Angry Bird. It’s a very striking design, but I have a few issues, not the least of which is that an Alfa SUV is somehow blasphemous.

At an angle from the rear, you start to sense that things just aren’t quite right. The rotors are too small for these ridiculous low profile wheels, but take a closer look at the rear glass.  There’s a huge panel of black masking on the inside of the glass, meaning that visibility out the back is problematic at best. The back just doesn’t relate to the  rest of the car, sort of like the enormous buttocks on some baboons. Maybe it’s an thing: “Le natiche di un babbuino”. Dunno.

I like going to car shows because you can see the entire range of cars from each manufacture in one place in similar lighting. A few trends are worth noting.  The love affair we have with SUVs shows no ending. Most manufactures now have at least three variants of small, medium, and large SUVs plus tall sedans or wagons.  If the huge profit margins on these cars allows the manufacturers continue to produce interesting sports cars, then I’m all for it.

But the problem is that many of them just aren’t that interesting.  I don’t really like the current design language of BMW or Mercedes. Chevy and VW were opposite one another on the convention center floor and given the two, the Chevys were more visually appealing.  That doesn’t say so much about Chevy as it does about how bland VW has become. “VW — when Buick is too exciting.”


Budget Dent Repair: Heat, Air, & Claybar

The High School Parking Lot. Ah, the Horror. The Horror. Since dents and dings are inevitable in this crucible of parking trial-and-error, it’s best not to get worked up over dents and dings until graduation. There are some hints that will help get you through.
Take for example this trifecta: scrape, dent and cracked paint. The most serious aspect is actually the cracked paint. If left untreated, the fender will rust making for a much more expensive repair later on. The easiest to fix is the scrape since it’s on the surface. Just use the Claybar with some Speed-shine and elbow grease.
Dent removal is the area of experimentation for this post. We wanted to see how far we could get with just a heat-gun and compressed air. The result was actually pretty good, especially considering that complex curves are especially challenging for any paintless dent-repair technique. We removed the plastic fender liner, and then used a 1000 watt heat gun alternately with a can of compressed air held upside-down. Heat the area slowly and quickly quench with the cold liquid spray. We did this combo about five times, reducing the size of the dent by about two-thirds. Once we were satisfied (ran out of beer) we decided to flake off the cracked paint, sand the gash a bit, then hit it with some primer and touch-up paint. It’s good at 20 feet and I’m sure not the last time we’ll be doing this.

Cool Tools: Universal Steering Knuckle Spreader Tool

If you’re planning on replacing a front strut on certain Audis, BMWs, or VWs, you need this tool. It’s great for cars where the base of the front strut is held in the steering knuckle by a pinch-bolt (and, in most cases it seems, rust and years of grime.) If there’s room to get a screw-driver into the slot to pry, then this will work better (sorry MINI.) If you’ve ever struggled to free one with PB-blaster, a large screw-driver, and will-power, you’ve inevitably thought, there must be a tool for this.  Well there is and it will cost you $69.95 which may be the tool-bargain of the century.  It’s from SPC Performance and it’s part number 37980.  Watch this video by SPC to see how it’s used.


Doctor ColorChip Will See You Now

I always love it when someone makes a product that performs as advertised. One of those products is the Doctor ColorChip Automotive Paint Repair Kit.  Often imitated, the original is still the best. Follow the directions and work only on a small area at a time and it works wonders.  Dab on some paint, smooth it before it dries, use the blender as directed, and then buff to polish.  No more touch-up paint lumps and near color-matches — perfect blend to your factory paint code.  We used it before on our 2004 MINI.  The photos below show it on our 2004 Jetta.





Wash Your Engine

Every see the can of Gunk Engine Foamy Engine Cleaner in your local parts store and wonder if it really works? Well, yes it does.

  1. Start with a messy but cold engine.
  2. Cover any electrical bits you don’t want to soak.
  3. Spray Gunk Foamy Engine Cleaner and let it soak for 15 min. (You may have to scrub a little for really caked-on grime.)
  4. Rinse.
  5. Remove any plastic used to protect electrical bits.
  6. Start engine and let idle to dry.
  7. Stand back and enjoy the view.

Cover Electrical BitsAfter rinseAhhhhh